The Gathering Storm - Mod

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"The Gathering Storm is a total conversion mod for the Creative Assembly game Medieval II: Total War.
Beginning in the late 4th Century, this modification will attempt to portray the migration period/ late Roman era as authentically as is possible within the confines of the computer game.
26 factions are currently planned; the majority of these will be playable.
The research and planning which has gone into this mod has been long, exhaustive and extensive.
The real-world map stretches from Ireland to beyond Karachi, and will be as accurate as we can possibly get, with the following kept in mind:

1) The maximum number of provinces allowed by the engine is 200, including water.
2) We don't want certain factions to become too (inaccurately) powerful or too weak.
3) We want to include the most important settlements, even though some of the historically accurate ones were in the same region.
4) The game has to be balanced, with enough open ground to allow for field battles and not just be dominated by sieges.
5) There can't be too many rivers because it would make the game unplayable.

The map still needs some tidying up; ground types and climates will need some extra tweaking. Some temporary names are still being used as placeholders. We will need to see how it actually plays before the map will be finalized, but that won’t be until the mod is play tested. So it’s a bit of chicken and egg situation.
Faction icons and symbols for banners will be as authentic as we can possibly manage. Of those 26 factions, perhaps only two of them actually had what could be described as a national emblem; even so these were not like the established flags of the later periods. We have therefore chosen icon images based on what we know relate to those factions during our timeline.
The completion date for the mod will have to be an annoying “when it’s finished” because there is a lot of work involved and it’s impossible to say. We hope that we can have something playable ASAP in the form of custom/historical battles.
We will try to keep people up to date with our progress when we can, but we don’t envisage doing a big preview every few weeks. It makes more sense to post small updates as and when, and to update the content on the website; taking a lead from CA."

Overview taken from the first official preview by the Gathering Storm Team

Faction List:

Eastern Roman Empire

The Eastern Roman Empire is the most financially strong faction in the game, but certainly not the easiest to play. With the Sassanid Empire as strong as ever to the East as its ultimate goal, and the Germanic and Steppe tribes to the north, the Eastern Roman Empire will be hard pressed to maintain itself in the face of the coming turmoil.

Western Roman Empire

The Western Roman Empire has but one major objective; maintain the borders, and weather the storm of Germanic migrations to preserve its ancient heritage. The Western Roman Empire will require complex management of cities and military, sometimes trying to play its foes off against each other to succeed.

Romano-British

Should Roman authority wane in Britain, its people will not simply stand idly by while migrant invaders from Northern Germany, or the ancient peoples north of Hadrians Wall and of Ireland. The Romano-British represent an emergent effort to preserve the Roman way of life, even when it has forsaken them. Using a variety of Roman style militia's and a variety of mercenary type forces, the Romano-British will first have to struggle to unite the remaining Romano-British people's, then defend itself against its foes.

The Sasanian Empire

The ancient land of Eranshahr in this period, saw itself at its potential height; the Sasanian Dynasty in power during this period having an incredible effect on its heartland Persia, the Near East, and ultimately most of the world, it's empire at some points stretching from India to Asia Minor, even reaching faraway lands such as Yemen. In game, as one of the largest and most powerful factions at the games outset, the Sasanian Empire, will, as the Eastern Roman Empire, find itself holding enormous amounts of wealth, cities and armies, yet unable to deliver a hammer blow to its long standing rival, thanks to the even greater threat of the Huns in the East and North, poor relations with Armenia, and the simple inability for its logistics to at all times maintain its vast size.

Armenia

Historically, the first Christian nation of Armenia found itself wedged between the twin giants of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire. Long having been a political tool manipulated by the two, Armenia was a divided country, some of its Nakharars siding with Constantinople, the others with Ctesiphon. Despite this, ultimately, Armenia was a nation striving to maintain itself against these twin powers. Throughout the period, time and again, the Armenian people's fought and largely survived, taking great losses yet proving itself worthy of independence.

Alamanni

The Alamanni are not simply one people, but like many of the Germanic factions portrayed in the game, a confederation of smaller tribes. Translated as "All men", the Allamanni will find themselves initially facing the heavily fortified Rhine lime. Should it break this, the Allamanni may finally be able to take lands from the Empire that has defeated them time and time again.

Angles and Saxons - Two Factions

Densely populated Northern Germania and Scandinavia is home to a multitude of tribal organisations. The Angle's and Saxons historically occupied regions here, and later migrated to England alongside the Jutes, thus transforming its culture forever. In game, the Angles and Saxons will have the option to either expand from their core territory, or recreate history and using its superior naval technology, cross the seas to Britain to prey upon the weakened Romano-British peoples.

Burgundians

Historically, The Burgundian tribes were throughout their history, a pawn in the Roman attempts to "manage" the German people's; used to assist Rome against the Allemanni in the late 4th century, and in the 5the century by Aetius, the Burgundians effectively represent the many peoples of late antiquity simply trying to have its people prosper and grow, using the Western Roman Empire's patronage to attempt to find its place in the world.

Franks

The Frankish confederation ultimately benefited greatly from Rome's demise; eventually expanding from a core in central and northern Germania, the various Frankish tribes first had to carefully work towards unifying themselves, with various tribes within the lands siding with Rome where others clashed with it. Upon doing this, they were perfectly situated to pursuing a new goal - of settling their people and culture in the rich lands of Gaul.

Gepids

Historically, the Gepids were a vassal of the Hunnic Empire at the outset of the Gathering Storm, providing men and arms to their Hunnic masters. Upon the death of Attila, the Gepids revolted along side other tribes at the battle of Nedao, eventually carving out territory in the Carpathian Mountains for themselves. In game, upon the dissolution of the Hunnic Empire, the Gepids and other tribes could quite easily break out to make a grab for independence.

Langobards

Situated in northern Germany, the Langobards found themselves with little opportunity nor political willpower to enter the crumbling Roman Empire, only finally reaching Italy well after Rome in the West had fallen. Despite this, throughout the period, their migrations through Germany acted to further stir up other confederations in the region as they made their slow migration into Italy. In game however, should a leader such as Alboin find himself at the top sooner,the Langobards could well find themselves establishing themselves far sooner.

The Goths (Visi and Ostro) - Two Factions

When the Huns first reached Europe, their impact upon the Goths north of the Danube was to have wide reaching consequences. Many of the Gothic tribes were turned into vassals of the Huns, and would for the next century find themselves fighting their wars. The rest, the Visigoths, migrated south of the Danube, into the Roman Empire, changing the face of Roman foreign policy forever, with the vast population of Visigoths within the borders continually shifting between aiding and attacking the Empire in equal amount. Sacking Rome on the way, the Visigoths eventually settled in Spain and Aquitaine, where they eventually aided the Empire in defeating the other barbarian elements that had entered the Empire since their arrival in the 4th century. At the start of the game, the Visigoths will already be inside the Empire.

As for the Goths under the Huns, their peoples fought for many years under their banner, and, like the Gepids and other tribes, they revolted and turned on their masters at or proceeding the battle of Nedao. With the political backing of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Ostrogoths eventually claimed Italy from Odoacer, creating a second Gothic Kingdom along side that of their counterparts in Spain. In game, acting as another emergent faction upon the dissolution of the Hun Empire, they will prove unpredictable, powerful and flexible, having adopted steppe cavalry warfare to augment their already powerful fighting abilities.

Suevi

Having long been a powerful political body since before the Roman Empire had even been founded, the Suevi, like the Allemanni, had engaged in conflict with Rome for centuries. In the early 5th century, they, alongside the Vandals and Alans, crossed the Rhine, pushing their way into Spain, where they established a kingdom there, lasting until well after the Roman Empire in the West fell.

Vandals

Having been displaced through conflict with the Huns and other Germanic neighbours, the Vandals crossed the Rhine in the early 5th century, embarking on a trail of destruction ranging from France to North Africa, sacking cities along the way, and conquering parts of Spain and most crucially, the financially basis of the Western Roman Empire in North Africa. Seizing this financial base, as well as the bulk of the Western Roman Empire's navy, they could launch attacks virtually unhindered within the Mediterranean, forcing the Empire's hand to meet their own ends. In game, meeting these objectives could prove the Western Roman Empire's undoing.

Alans

Upon the Hun's arrival into Europe, the Sarmatian peoples were the first to find their Nomadic lifestyle broken in the face of Hunnic aggression. The scattered remnants of the largest tribe, the Alans found themselves all over Europe; within the ranks of the Huns, following in the wake of the Vandal and Suevi attacks over the Rhine, and even surviving in some parts of the steppes, even as late as the Medieval period. Their long history as a powerful steppe people will be put to the test in game, with the small remnants attempting to find a new home within the new order of things.

The Huns

The Huns (also known as the "Black Huns"), from their arrival into Europe during the 4th century was to prove instrumental in the events of Late Antiquity. With an army composed of horse archers, the likes of which had never been experienced before, they smashed into Europe, forever changing its political environment forever, reducing the delicate balance of diplomatic relations developed by Rome over centuries into turmoil, terrorising lands from the Levant to Italy and ultimately setting the chain reaction of events that lead to Rome's fall into action. In game, reducing tribes to vassals, and using the superior strength of the Hun horse archers to defeat opponents, the Huns will act as the force pressing others to migrate against their will. The name "Black Huns" derives from the old nomadic tradition of designating colors to the cardinal points (White for West, Red for South, Black for North)

The Slavs (Venedi and Rosi) - Two Factions

The Slavic peoples during Late Antiquity were never united, but the period saw them beginning to band together and eventually migrate away from their ancestral lands in what was now modern Russia, and into the Balkans, eventually conflicting with the Eastern Romans. In game, they will start off as one of the smallest factions, having to attempt to grow in stature, attempting to create a population and army large enough to survive the migration over Europe.

Hepthalites

The Hepthalites, (also known as the "White Huns") were a vast political body that emerged in Bactria in the early 5th century. Despite having a fearsome reputation for their cavalry, And being compared with the more well known "Black" Huns for their skill on horseback and use of the bow, the Hepthalites were a "town dwelling" society, who were responsible for a highly organised civilisation in Tokharistan, with numerous coinage finds proving testament to what was a highly complex society, developing a distinctive culture mostly from Iranian and Turkic influences. In game, they appear early in the 5th century, immediately conflicting with their eventual arch-enemy, the Sasanian Empire, and expanding into India. The name "White Huns" derives from the old nomadic tradition of designating colors to the cardinal points (White for West, Red for South, Black for North)

Kidarites

The Kidarites (sometimes known as the "Red Huns") are an obscure group emerging at some point in the 3rd century. Renown for their quality as warriors, this set of peoples, led by a mysterious man called Kidara, left their lands in Eastern Central Asia to eventually invade and settle down in the lands of Tocharistan, Bactria, and even northern India. They saw themselves as the restorers of the Kushan Empire, and managed to form a powerful and prosperous multicultural, multiracial Kingdom. The name "Red Huns" derives from the old nomadic tradition of designating colors to the cardinal points (White for West, Red for South, Black for North)

Berbers

The Berbers never had a centralized political power within late antiquity, but instead were composed of numerous nomadic tribes that raided and traded with the Western Roman Empire in equal measure, and later against the Vandals. In game, they will represent the potential for an overall leader to emerge, uniting the tribes to greatness in a land that had until this time remained comparatively at peace.

The Picts

The Pictish tribes of Northern Britannia were one of the few peoples who had managed to cling onto their ancient way of life following the Roman Invasion. Historically playing a minor role, as a faction in the Gathering Storm, the Pictish tribes could unite and finally reclaim Britainnia, bringing it back into its Celtic roots.

The Gaels

Having never felt the sting of Roman intervention upon their lands, the Gaels of Hibernia represent a people who had long feuded amongst themselves in the ancient manner, never having to face the threat of Rome arriving on their shores. When Rome wanes however, there is potential for them; the minor raids that had long occurred against the Western coast of Britannia could easily become greater, or they could choose instead to focus their attacks against the Picts before trying to assert their authority on Britannia as a whole.

The Arabs (Lakhmids and Ghassanids)

As an important center of trade for the most exotic goods from around the world, and a vital battlefield for Ethiopians, Persians, and Romans alike, the tribes of Arabia have chosen their sides in the great competition taking place in their land. The Ghassanid tribes were a powerful confederation of tribes wich went from raiding and pillaging Roman lands to become one of their most trusted allies in the eastern frontier. Sometimes told to be most powerful and civilized than the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids often went to battle with them in the name of Roman civilization. The Kingdom of the Lakhmids was fromerly a raiding party whose main targets were in Mesopotamia and Persia, part of The Sasanian Empire. After being driven back, they were invited to settle in the oasis city of Hira to defend their former enemies, and a distinctive Arab culture flourished and survived. This is not a land in peace however, and fight the Ghassanids with one objective in mind: The Conquest of Arabia, under the Sasanian Banner.