“I can’t wait to see home again, the beer there is a damn sight better than the piss they serve in Pendor!
” exclaimed the Melitine Lancer, Flavius, through the heavy downpour, his kettle helm providing a iron umbrella against the cold rain lashing at his face. The dour Fierdsvain warrior at his side merely grunted as he shifted his weight to be more comfortable against the roll and pitch of the ship.
“It’s home that I am leaving. Soldiering is all I know, this new king may have brought peace and prosperity to the land but left me without work.
" The Fierdsvain was barely audible above the drumming raindrops that hammered against the woodwork.
A loud whinny from behind them sent the Melitine spinning on his heel, and he was at the side of his mount in second, calming the terrified beast against the awful experience of being on a ship.
“The Emperor sent notice to all Melitine mercenaries abroad to return home immediately
” the Lancer called over his shoulder at the Fierdsvain, who had turned to watch his companion tend the animal with obvious disgust. “Pendor might be at peace, but there are rumours of war on the wind. Our lord and master must be worried if he is calling us all back. If this is indeed the case, then there should be plenty of employment there for the likes of us!
The Fierdsvain warrior hawked and spat then turned back to regarding the sea. His eyes rested on the ever darkening clouds which spread far out on the horizon; subconsciously he placed his palm on the haft of the axe which had hung from his belt for many years now.
Faction history and current events
The Melitine Empire is an old offshoot of the Baccus Empire. Hundreds of years ago, the rich and decadent Baccus Empire was overrun by an alliance of barbarian tribes - the Melitines were largely spared and used the opportunity to secede and proclaim themselves the true heir of the once proud Empire under Amorion I the Defender, who stopped the barbarian invasion at the Melitine borders.
Eventually the Baccus Empire was restored, although with diminished size and prosperity, competing with its Melitine siblings for trade routes and military prestige. This resulted in minor border skirmishes and full-scale proxy wars in overseas colonies, largely by client kingdoms. The Melitine and Baccus Empires largely avoided coming to serious blows by vigorous diplomacy and the unwillingness of the military and the populace to fight their former brothers. Especially the Melitines were adept at avoiding wars and their devastation, frequently relying on bribes from their coffers filled with taxes and custom duties on trade, this income largely due to the well situated capital, placed as it is on a prominent trade route. The city of Melitine is the largest and most prosperous in Amala, dominating the southern coastline and the twin rivers in the fork of which it is built. It is from this position that it can control the trade flowing up the rivers, along the coast and the major road which runs from east to west and passes through Melitine lands.
The national character of the Melitines was developed over the centuries by external threats. The old Empire was a fertile ground for new sects and cults, and trying to protect the cohesion of their Empire, the Melitines became fairly dogmatic and uncompromising about their true gods, treating any other beliefs as heretical - burning alleged heretics at the stake on public holidays is a common sight in the Melitine lands.
The periodic invasions from various Northern tribes with their excellent archers and heavy cavalry forced the Melitine military to develop similar skills in their armies, moving away from the traditional heavy infantry army. Compounding this a brilliant led to the Melitine Empire managing to conquer a number of their neighbours and turn them into tributary states, many of them formerly numbering themselves with the restless Jatu who consider the vast plains stretching out to the north as home. The size of this land to defend has forced the Melitines to develop their own defensive network based on the principle of defence in depth. Frontier garrisons are made of solid infantry who have to hold the line until the large standing cavalry forces can be alerted and deployed. These small units hold the enemy up allowing the main Melitine army to position itself and deliver the killing blow.
Other Jatu influences also slowly crept in the mainstream of the Melitine society. There was increased tolerance to cruel punishments like cutting off various limbs and appendages for fairly minor crimes. Some sections of the clergy have denounced the portrayal of Gods in paintings and statues as blasphemous, which may lead to serious internal strife in the future.
Watching the onslaught of the Serpent Cult on the Baccus Empire from a relatively safe distance, the Melitine rulers are of two minds. The Melitine magnates are pleased their old trade rival is on the ropes and they say that the Cult may be reasoned with, and even cultivated into a junior trading partner. The clergy and the populace are horrified of the Cult and apprehensive - they fear that their land will be the next victim, and many in the military want to strike first.
GeographyThe Melitine lands are placed astride the trade routes to the east, bringing merchants from the West and the East to trade in Melitine, the capital city. The city itself has a large port placed on major maritime routes. The climate is relatively dry, yet there are rich fertile lands among the gently rolling hills, feeding the empire and producing for export.
Melitine Military Overview
The Melitine Empire is phenomenally wealthy and enjoys a good standard of organisation thanks to a dedicated officer corps, and many years relative peace. On the flip side however, their army lacks battle experience other than tracking down the odd Flayed outcast or chasing down a Jatu raid. The system of recruitment also comes into play here, while the Theme system provides many able bodied men for the army, they are untested and untrained, fresh in from the fields. To compensate the Melitines equip their militia armies far more generously than other factions, and it is not until the Frontier level where the soldiers have the same training and experience as their neighbours. The crack Imperial soldiers however enjoy significant training and combat experience combined with the very best arms and armour that money can buy.
The characteristics of the army reflect that which they are most well known for – the cavalry. The Theme system relies on mobility to be effective which is why even the infantry expect to ride to battle, and they only dismount when the two armies face off against each other.
The Theme SystemThe Theme System represents the Melitine military effort to protect their borders, essentially splitting the empire up into autonomous military districts which are tasked to defend their own area. They do this by holding up invaders for long enough for the central Imperial army to muster and show up in overwhelming force to utterly destroy the attackers. Each theme maintains four separate divisions, the militia charged with the local defence of small villages together with the general maintenance of law and order. The Guard are infantry forces tasked with a single duty, holding the line. Their come in good, solid armour, hold large shields and wield short stabbing spears. The Watch are armoured similarly to the Guard, but lacking shields and using bows to support the battle line. Finally there is the backbone of the Melitine Army, the Lancers. The Lancers are the pride and joy of the nation, and go into battle armoured in the best the nation can produce. They act as the hammer to the infantry’s anvil.
The militia comprises the new recruits of the Melitine Empire, raised by individual villages for their protection, and sent to war by their respective regional themes. Compared to other factions, the militia is surprisingly well equipped considering their role, however they are mostly peasants in off the fields with very little battle experience or even training. The Levies and Militia are tasked with forming a buffer between friendly forces and the enemy, while the heavier Village Watch support with their bows, or act as a reserve being equipped for both ranged or melee fighting.
The Town Guard and Watch
The first tier of the regular army belonging to each theme, the Town Guard and Watch are the permanent garrison to the towns under the jurisdiction of the theme, presenting the most strategic assets to defend, with enough infrastructures to support significant forces. The Town defenders are well equipped, though still lacking in much combat experience.
The Frontier Guard and Watch
The best of the Town defenders are sent to the frontier forts on troubled borders in order to keep hostile tribes at bay, and to provide a serious obstacle to invading forces. Frontier troops are tough, hardly men, already veterans of a number of wars and skirmishes. Their themes provide them with the best equipment in their armouries.
The Imperial Guard and Watch
The Imperial army is funded directly by the Imperial administration and all the troops swear loyalty directly to the emperor, not to an individual theme. Therefore the Imperial troops march only when the Emperor commands, usually to meet a stubborn or numerous foe. The Imperials, have far more resources at their command, and as such have access to the very best of the Melitine armouries. The soldiers themselves are promoted from the most decorated troops from the Frontier garrisons.
The Melitine horsemen are infamous throughout the world for their skill and effectiveness as shock troops. Although they cannot match the Jatu for sheer horsemanship, they have a certain elan and confidence in the saddle which pays dividends in battle. On the charge the Lancers are unmatched, their lances driving deep into enemy lines, but may suffer should their momentum be lost. Even if a charge is brought to a halt, the Lancers can fight on with their sabres though they are far less effective in this way. The very finest of this cadre make it to become Imperial Lancers, who perform on a par with the noble knights of different nations.
The Melitine Empire is lucky in that it has a number of tributaries who are mostly small clans of nomads, especially from the north of their realm, and these people have to share their lands with The Flayed and the Jatu. In fact, because the Melitines share such long borders with the Jatu, a number of their tribes have over the years either been conquered or been tempted by the luxuries by the Imperial court. As such a number of the Auxiliary troops fielded by the Melitines are of Jatu origin. The Auxiliaries provide a light cavalry screen to hide the actions of their more heavily armoured brethren. They also serve well as horse archers, but they are not especially famous for it.
The Nobles who serve in the military tend to be the younger sons of the wealthy patrician families. Surprisingly there is quite a good military tradition among the nobles, many of the families keen to preserve the reputation established by their forebears. In battle the Nobles ride with the general and are thrust to where the battle rages thickest, or where the line looks about to break. Being wealthy they have the best equipment they can afford and have the training and skills needed to turn the tide in difficult circumstances. Although the general cavalry of the Melitines function as lancers, the Nobility prefer to fight in a more hardy shock role, capable of inflicting great damage on the charge as well as in the brutal melees which so often bog down and overwhelm their lighter mounted companions.
(Please note, all unit details are subject to change, particularly their equipment but you get the idea!)
Hold the Line!
Advance of the Imperial Guard
Imperial Lancer Charge
Battle Line 2
Imperial Lancer Charge 2
The Hammer 2
Stabby Stab stab
ConclusionThe way the Melitine Empire fights is one of exceptional patience. The battle lines will smash into each other, and the Guards will stand their position against all odds, supported by the Auxiliaries and the Watch. Meanwhile the Lancers eat away at the flanks, ruining the archer support and morale of the enemy, finally when the enemy line begins to buckle the Nobles and Rolling Thunder crash into the enemy line scattering and finally destroying them.