- 1 History
- 2 Noble Titles
- 3 Military Organization
- 4 The Issue of Leadership
(This is the history of the Empire of Coronaria only - for earlier Achaean history, see Achaea) The modern Empire was created when King Exar I of the city-state of Coria began his campaign of conquest. Together with his son Xandros, he led his legions against the other city states of Achaea, which were weakened after years of civil war. King Exar was assassinated only five years after they achieved victory, so his son Xandros became the first Emperor of Achaea at the age of 21. Coria was renamed Coronaria in honor of its new position as the Imperial capital.
Sweeping southward, Xandros conquered the great, ancient empires of Parsanshar and Kemhet as well, but he never lived long enough to secure his reign over these territories. He died of a poisoned wound while fighitng his way across the Great Waste in an attempt to reach the untouchable East. Parsanshar reestablished itself within a year, though Xandros's general who took control of Kemhet kept his power by adopting the customs of the local population and calling himself Pharaoh. His dynasty has ruled there ever since, independent of the Achaean Empire.
Xandros was followed by a series of Emperors with short but relatively peaceful reigns. This was a sort of golden age for the Empire, as it worked to strengthen its armies and secure its borders. In year 250 of the Imperial Calendar, the leader of the cult of magi called the Hidden murdered the last of these good emperors and became the much-hated Mage-Emperor Ildrius. His reign of terror instilled a great hatred of magic in the people of Achaea. In 269, he was slain by Sir Durand du Vide, who then crowned one of his allies Emperor Severus I and went on to create the Inquisition.
For centuries after this, the Empire continued to grow in strength even through great adversity. At one point after the reign of a particularly mad Emperor, it was a Republic, until another Emperor established himself. Through all of this, it continued to grow and expand.
The Empire failed to push much farther southward, but its northern border pressed farther and farther into Northrim. For a while it seemed to end with the establishment the Northwestern Kingdom, its capital at Illikon. The conquest was stopped because of the disastrous Battle of Blackforest, in which three legions led by Emperor Valorus II were crushed by an alliance of Northrim tribes as they marched through the great forests of Northrim. The Emperor was killed, and the leader of the tribes, Kundaric the Terrible, had his skull hollowed out and made into a golden drinking goblet. This effectively terrified the Achaeans, who ceased their attempts and conquest and instead began heavily fortifying the border with Northrim, hoping to simply keep the barbarians out.
This 'permanent' border did not last long, since in 1068, General Elius Skiera began an ambitious campaign into Northrim and siezed control of one of the major settlements of the Great Bear Tribe, Rimegard. The Emperor then gave him the pretentious title of "King of Northrim," hoping he would finally break the "barbarians" and end their raids on Imperial settlements. Elius failed to make further progress, however, and his successories had their hands full simply defending Rimegard and the surrounding territory.
There are those who say that the Empire's borders have grown too large, and that the fate of the unified government of Achaea is standing on the edge of a knife. Its resources are constantly strained, for its northern and southern borders must be protected from enemy armies, its southwestern border from monsters and Amazons, its eastern border from the Chaos Races, its shores from pirates and raiders, and of course it must keep its ever-growing population fed and under control. Rebellions are common, and though usually put down easily, they cost the Empire dearly each time.
The sovereign ruler of all the Empire, who leads from the capital city of Coronaria, advised by his council of Senators and Delegates from the kingdoms under his rule. He answers to no one but himself, and is traditionally regarded as divinely blessed by the gods, not to be touched... though many Emperors have not enjoyed this level of respect. His personal retinue of knights are the Paladins, who act as his representatives in the field when he cannot be present. They are meant to be obeyed at all times.
The Senate is an ancient institution within the Capital City of the Empire, its seats usually held by stuffy, high-born patricians still set in the old traditional ways. Once proud and intellectual, the Senate has waned in power and glroy, and is now only a shell of its former self. Although Senators are usually wealthy and accorded a large degree of ceremonial respect, many now consider it merely a plaything of the patricians in the Capital. The Senate is rarely called into session by the Emperor anymore, and the Delegates of the Kings hold greater sway.
The most powerful title one can hold below Emperor. Practically independent, each King or Queen answers only to the Emperor himself. Rules a Kingdom, which is divided into Duchies or Dukedoms. A King or Queen's seat of power is usually a large, well-fortified capital city.
Subordinate to a King, in charge a Duchy or Dukedom, which is further divided into Counties. Usually rules from a castle in a large city.
Subordinate to a Duke, in charge of a County, which is sometimes further divided into Baronies. Usually rules from a small city or town, or a freestanding castle. Sometimes called an Earl (from the Northrim word Jarl) in northern parts of the Empire.
Subordinate to a Count, in charge of a Barony. Usually rules from a small city or town.
A fighting nobleman who typically owns a manor on an estate. For more information, see the Knights section under Military Organization below.
King Exar I was able to conquer all of Achaea not only because it was weak from civil war, but because of the discipline of his armies. Coria was nestled at the foothills of the great Jagged Edge mountains, and may have once been a dwarven settlement. Whether this is true or not, the Imperial legions, with their strict discipline and heavily-armored infantry forming its impenetrable line of tower shields, were clearly based on the model of the dwarven army.
The official, professional military forces of the Empire are the Legions. Each one is composed of several thousand troops and operates from a Legionary Fort. These are scattered throughout the Empire and along the frontier. Where a Legionary Fort is constructed, a city usually springs up before long, composed of the Legion's families and those who wish to profit off the troops. Most major cities within the Empire contain a Legionary Fort or have one located nearby. In the fort, the legionary soldiers are drilled regularly to ensure strict discipline and maximum efficiency. Hard workers, they are also the builders of much of the Empire: they construct their own forts, maintain the Imperial roads, and dig trenches with palisade walls every time they set up camp. A legion is a fighting force to be reckoned with, and without them the Empire would fall.
There are currently twenty-one legions operating in the Empire, though more may be raised if needed. They range from the Legio Prima, the First Legion, stationed within the Imperial Capital; to the Legio XXI Apri, the Legion of the Boar, stationed in Rimegard. Each legion has its own emblem and colors, and usually its own fortress. For a list of the different legions, see the Imperial Legions article.
Legatus - The General. Leader of an individual legion. Every legion has a Legatus, usually a nobleman. Their armor is usualy highly decorated with personal embellishments and a large crest.
Centurion - Leader of a century, or about 100 men. Six centuries working together forms a cohort, which is then led by the most senior centurion. Marked by a side-to-side crest atop the helmet.
Lieutenant - Minor officers under the centurion who help him relay orders or perform other tasks for him. They have a front-to-back crest atop their helmets.
Each unit of a legion may serve one of several roles...
In ancient times, the phalanx of hoplites served as the heavy infantry, but gradually their armor began to grow lighter in weight, and havier suits of armor were introduced for the main line infantry. The hoplites now serve the role of Light Infantry. They usually are positioned on the wings of an army wheir their maneuverability can be used to great advantage. They also serve as skirmishers, scouting the area ahead and weakening the enemy with missile fire before falling back behind the main line. They wear relatively little armor, but always carry a shield, one or more spears, and a small sword or dagger.
The backbone of every legion is its heavy infantry. Wearers of the most standardized armor in the Empire, each legionary is equipped with a tower shield, a spear, and a gladius. In battle, they form a nearly impregnable shield wall and press upon the enemy, carving at them with their swords and spears like a meat grinder, led by their centurion, who makes sure that none of them break rank.
Not all legions have a cavalry unit attached. Each cavalry unit might be Light Cavalry (sometiems referred to by their ancient name, Prodromoi), who serve as scouts and ranged skirmishers; or Heavy Cavalry (Cataphracti or Kataphractoi), who wear full armor and charge in to break enemy lines directly. They have largely been replaced in recent times by Knights, who rose from among their ranks as the Ordo Equester.
Light cavalry or light infantry units which specialize in archery are called Sagittarii (singluar Sagittarium). Archers are used to weaken the enemy at range until the heavy cavalry and/or infantry can advance. They never serve as the main fighting force of a legion.
Knights and Local Armies
A special case within the Imperial military and nobility are the knights. They arose from the heavy cavalry of the Legions, which was often composed of nobles who owned their own horses and armor. This class of low nobility came to be known as the Ordo Equester, and later merely the Knights. They would lead the armies in battle and take newly-conquered lands for their own. They developed the practice of heraldry to identify knightly families and orders easily on the battlefield. They also developed a code of conduct called Chivalry, in which knights are held up to rigorous standards of moral conduct, but also are valued above all other soldiers. Militiamen and Legionaries are seen as expendable, but Knights, being noblemen, are more valuable. In wars between kingdoms, knights are usually captured instead of killed, so that they may be ransomed back to their home kingdom or family.
Despite their being nobility, it would be foolish to consider knights pampered and soft. At a very young age, those nobles (or sometimes simply wealthy individuals hoping to become nobles) looking to become knights must go to a castle and serve under a lord as a servant-boy or page. During this time, they are trained in loyalty and the basics of combat, until at age fourteen they may become a squire. Squires train personally under a knight, sometimes even riding into battle with him. Later, if deemed worthy, they may dubbed a knight themselves by a knight or other nobility. Sometimes those who did not undergo such training from a young age, such as members of the Legionary Cavalry, may be dubbed a knight for deeds of great loyalty or heroism. Most knights either live with their lord in the castle or are granted an estate and a manor of their own.
A group of knights may fight as a cavalry or an infantry unit, but most often cavalry. When fighting together, the highest-ranking noble present is assigned the role of Knight-Captain, or else they are led by a local lord or king.
A few kings choose to train professional armies of their own, outside of the Imperial Legions. These are sometimes called Royal Armies or Home Armies. They wear the colors of their kingdom and answer to the King rather than directly to the Emperor as the Legions are supposed to do. Usually limited in size so as not to cause suspicion from the Emperor, they are nonetheless a sign of a King's desire for indepedence.
Royal armies have different ranks than the legions. They are usually led by a knight or other noble, but occasionally an experienced commoner may take the role. He is then given the rank of Marshal. Leaders of individual units are called Captains, assisted by their Lieutenants.
More common than professional Royal Armies are militia. Drafted from the ranks of young men within a nobleman's domain, they are usually poorly trained and equipped. Still, they are used quite frequently, especially when a Legion cannot become involved in a battle for one reason or another. They answer to their local lord rather than a legionary commander under the Emperor, and they are usually commanded on the field by knights, or captains from royal armies or mercenary companies.
Increasingly common within the Empire as its borders grow, mercenary bands are hired by some lords in leiu of Royal Armies, Militias, or Legions - perhaps because these options have been used up, will not suffice, or refuse to perform a particular job. Some mercenary companies have thus become quite large and powerful in their own right, operating out of their own fortresses independent of any other leader. Others are independent warriors who may answer a call for hired blades when they find one.
Mercenary companies are especially common in southwestern Achaea, where they are contacted to fight feudal battles between local lords, since the Legion refuses to get involved.
Most navies answer to a local king or duke instead of directly to the Emperor. Each ship is commanded by a Captain, and together several ships may be led by an Admiral. Although ships may be equipped with catapults or ballistae on board, most naval warfare is still fought by ramming and/or boarding the enemy vessels. Thus, ships serve mostly as transports. They may have their own crew of marines on board trained specifically for naval warfare, or they may carry other troops with their own commanders.
The Issue of Leadership
Leadership is a fragile thing in the Imperial military. As the reader has seen, there is no overall command structure. The legions, local militaries, mercenary companies, etc., all have their own command structures that may not precisely coincide. These are some of the major issues that plague Imperial leadership:
The Issue of Experience - A more experienced field commander, especially one from the Legions, may expect to take charge, the way that a senior centurion commands a cohort. But when working with local lords or knights, they may refuse to bow to his commands, mostly due to...
The Issue of Blood - Nobility hate to take orders from somone of "lower" birth. If a local lord, even one as low-ranked as a Baron, suddenly decides he would like to join in a war, he may expect to be given leadership due to his title, even if he has no military experience.
The Issue of Rank - Officers of the Emperor, like Legionary Legati or even one of the Emperor's own Paladins (who are supposed to be obeyed at all times), may have trouble controlling local armies. This is again mostly due to the issue of blood; a King does not like to take orders from anyone, even a Paladin, despite the risk of being declared a traitor to the Empire. The same issues arise with leaders of knightly orders like the Knights Templar.
These problems have never been resolved, and sometimes a dispute over leadership of an Imperial army in a crisis may still come to blows.