Symbols, Flags, and Control SystemsEdit
Imperial military formations use pennants, banners, and flags to mark commanders and to provide a visual marker for troop movements. All are roughly similar, based around a 10-14' thin pole with a crossbar near the end. The pennant, banner, or flag (called a color) hangs vertically from the crossbar. An metal emblem such as a legion identifier sits atop the crossbar. Colors are carried by the senior Kunzo of the company, regiment, or legion.
Pennants are the smallest marker, a 2' high by 3' wide cloth rectangle painted with a distinct number and a regimental symbol. Each Pennant Zo flies his own pennant and is fiercely proud of it.
Banners are larger than pennants, 3' high by 5' wide, and hang from a taller pole. They are not numbered, but are embroidered with a symbol identifying the regiment. Multiple regiments with similar names (such as the two Dogblood regiments in Hanist) have differences easily identifiable at a distance, such as a red ring or green diamond outlining the main symbol. Banner staves are topped with tusks when multiple orc regiments operate together outside of a Legion; the tusks indicate the senior Banner Taeza.
Flags are the largest symbol, 5' high by 5' wide, and hang from the tallest poles. Flags bear the personal symbol of the Luminal commanding the legion, and the topping emblem is usually larger and more elaborate and includes a mithril crescent moon. When command is delegated to a General instead, the crescent moon is absent and flags have the legion's symbol quartered with the Luminal's symbol instead. Legion symbols are usually variations of the Luminal's symbol.
Imperial formations use drums and horns to pass orders to the troops. The flags are used solely to indicate the position of the commander. Intricate maneuvers are difficult due to the crudity of the signaling method and the difficulty of separating out orders intended for other nearby formations. Magic illusions or communication spells are used to get around these limits, but this can break down in the face of hostile counter-magic.
- Imp and Demon units
Imp companies and demon regiments also carry pennants and banners. They are not carried on poles, but are suspended from a crossbar made of human thighbones bound together around a thin metal bar. A pair of imps or demons, one at each end, support the crossbar during flight and use their spare hand for combat.
- Zombie units
The shambling zombie hordes of Gravecall's Whitewers Legion need neither flags nor music to rally around or pass orders, as they are slaves of their necromancer masters' wills. High command still needs to know roughly where units are, so flocks of rotting carrion crows, crudely dyed and ribboned in distinctive colors, fly overhead to mark positions. The ribbons and dye quickly get covered in dirt and rot, and most end up an indistinct brown hue after a few weeks.
- Dragon Knights Personal Armor
Orc knights wear heavy plate armor. The armor is enameled in green, red, brown, or blue, according to the preferences of the regiment, and there is some effort made to keep the colors consistent. "White" steel or black armor is never seen. Engravings on the armor surface suggest a pattern of overlapping scales. Gauntlets have decorative "claws" at the end of the fingertips, and the area around the mouth on the helmet visor is usually decorated with fangs. Protrusions on the elbow and knee guards, meant to cover gaps, look like stylized wings. All these adornments are worked to minimize interference with the use of the armor: dragon knight armor is still functional and not ceremonial. Arming garments, worn under the armor, are made of strong fabrics and attractively dyed in either a contrasting color to the armor or to some other pattern per the preferences of the regiment.
Dragon Knights wear an armet style style helmet. There are often small decorative spikes, horns, antlers, fins, or crests on the back of the helmet where they won't act as weapon catchers against most attacks, but still make the wearer look a little more like a dragon.
- Dragon Knights Horse Armor
Dragon knights armor their cavalry with a headpiece, a segmented covering over the front of the neck, and a chest piece that covers a bit of the shoulders. Horse armor is enameled to match the rider, and engraved to look like scales. The shoulder guards are stylized to look like wings, and the front of the headpiece is pointed and befanged like a dragon's mouth. A charge of dragon knights looks like a solid wall of color above the horses' legs.
Dragon knight mounts are powerful destriers drawn from the herds of Menkgu, supplemented by smaller horse farms in most countries. The quality of the steeds varies from regiment to regiment, but is generally good and sometimes exceptional. Most of the horses have fairly uniform chestnut, sorrel, liver, or golden bodies with minimal markings. Manes and tails sometimes match the body but are usually a different color. Pure white or pure black horses are never ridden by the dragon knights. Horses within the same company will vary in color, but each company in a regiment gets horses from the same set of ranches and the variation of markings and colors within a regiment tends to be small.
- Dragon Knights Weapons
Some dragon knights carry shields: these are usually medium sized kite shields with the regimental insignia painted on the front, quartered with a personal symbol of the knight.
Dragon knights mostly carry lances and axes or scimitars. Some knights prefer massive, two-handed axes to crunch through enemy armor while other carry smaller axes or scimitars and use a shield. Knightly weapons are well-made, with good grips of exotic leather over well-shaped handles.
- Dynfarch Armor
The dynfarch regulars of Zerniless and Menkgu wear a brigandine of bronze plates between a quality canvas carrier, covering their humanoid torso and arms and equine withers and shoulders. The canvas is always dyed a deep navy blue, but the hems are dyed in one of the colors of the regiment that they serve. Dynfarch muster out with their armor at the end of their term of mandatory service, and thus militia wear similar armor, but the colors are usually faded to a sage green-gray canvas and a muted hem. Dynfarch wear a conical bronze skullcap with a nasal covering the nose.
- Dynfarch Weapons
Dynfarch carry huge longbows, made from the nearly black Keveteen Yew tree that grows in the Keveteen Sema. Even ogres find it difficult to pull the thick-limbed longbows, and a dynfarch arrow can sometimes penetrate the ridiculously thick plate armor of the ogres. They carry surprisingly short and heavy bronze falchions and scimitars as secondary weapons. Dynfarch weapons are well-made and carefully maintained by terrified kobolds while the dynfarch is in the service. Dynfarch militia weapons tend to be notched, blunted, or covered in verdigris as few kobolds live in the deeps of the Keveteen Sema and the dynfarches have little patience for the tedium of maintaining their weapons.
- Roughrider Armor
The orc roughriders of the Menkgu plains are considered common orcs, not something special like the Dragon Knights. They wear a light brigandine indifferently dyed gray canvas and riveted iron plates. Over time, the sun tends to bleach out the grey, and the armor ends up a sandy beige or yellow-ivory. Roughriders wear wide-brimmed pot helmets with a minimal lobstertail to protect the back of the neck, often with a light colored hood of cheap linen to provide a little more shade.
The horses of the roughriders are never armored. The tack and saddles are dyed a light tan that bleaches quickly under the sun to an unattractive, faded yellow. Roughrider horses are rejects and spares from the breeding projects that produce the dragon knights' destriers, and are sent to the various companies from multiple different ranches. Though many of these horses are objectively of high quality, they tend to be overly strong, somewhat slow, and often lack the endurance compared to the ideal mount for light cavalry. They have much more variation in their color, and appaloosa and pinto patterns are common. Few horses within a company or regiment will have similar colors or patterns.
- Roughrider Weapons
Roughriders use wide, wooden crossbows with a fairly long pull. The bows are just rigid enough for the average orc to be able to pull it back with some difficulty but without the need for mechanical aids. Construction quality is low, with square grips and sticky levers. As backup weapons, they are issued cheap hand axes or heavy falchions. Individual orcs often pay others to improve the mechanical work and user comfort of their weapons.
- Common Infantry Armor
Common orc heavy infantry wear heavy plate armor, similar in outline to Maximilian harness but without the fluting or other adornments. Orc infantry armor is painted gray to minimize maintenance requirements, but there is no effort to keep a uniform color between soldiers (and often even on a single soldier's gear), so infantry formations have a mottled appearance. Orc arming outfits, worn under the armor, are indifferently bleached cloth that range from off-white to a dull tan. Infantry wear barbute style helmets, often with a leather underguard protecting the nose and lower face.
- Common Infantry Weapons
Orc infantry carry rectangular shields painted with the regimental insignia. Hues are not standardized and paint work is rarely done to a pattern.
Orc infantry mainly carry hand axes, heavy falchions, or long scimitars with minimal endcurve. Orc weapons are functional, but roughly made with hilts of minimally sanded wood. Individual orcs usually pay someone to grind down the burrs, resand the hilt, and rewrap the grip in decent leather.
- Crossbowmen Armor
Orc crossbowmen wear a brigandine of dyed gray canvas with wide rivets holding the armor plates on. Simple pauldrons protect the upper arms. They wear wide-brimmed pot helmets with a minimal lobstertail to protect the back of the neck.
- Crossbowmen Weapons
Orc crossbows use wide, wooden bows with a fairly long pull. The bows are just rigid enough for the average orc to be able to pull it back with some difficulty but without the need for mechanical aids. Construction quality is low, with square grips and sticky levers. Individual orcs often pay others to improve the mechanical works and user comfort of their crossbows.
- Spellcaster Gear
Orc wizards and priests wear a brigandine, slightly lighter than crossbowmen's armor, in the same colors as the dragon knights, and trimmed with fur. They wear pot helms trimmed with the same fur. Wizards also wear animal skulls hanging from braids for red, grey, and white ribbon, with darker shades of red and grey indicating more senior wizards. Priests hang their holy symbols from similar braids. They are uniformly armed with a small target shield and a heavy mace which serves as a spellcasting aid.
- Goblin Armor
Goblin wolfriders wear a hooded, long-sleeved hauberk of 4 in 1 mail, made from low quality steel and iron. It is usually unadorned aside from red or purple ribbons threaded through links on the hems of the armor. The skirt of the armor is split up the center, front and back, to make it easy to straddle a wolf. Wolfriders wear brown, gray, or green cloaks over their armor and tunics and trousers in contrasting colors under it.
Goblin foot scouts wear similar outfits, but their hauberks are split on the sides instead of through the center and are slightly shorter. Foot scouts often end up wearing wolfrider hauberks due to supply chain issues, which they dislike and causes the wolfriders to bully them.
- Goblin Weapons
Goblins use a bamboo and horn composite bow with an extreme recurve and a mild asymmetry. These bows are ideally suited for use on wolfback as they are compact and powerful. The bows are of average quality. Goblins carry cheap short swords or hammers as back-up weapons, and the quality of these weapons are low. As most goblins rarely use their back-up weapons, few make any effort to improve them or maintain them.
- Ogre Armor
Ogres wear extremely heavy armor, massive slabs of steel similar to the common infantry armor but larger. The armet helmet is stylized to look like a skull and painted ivory, and the the armor is painted a charcoal grey with vertical ivory stripes. Combined, helmet and armor suggest walking skeletons.
- Ogre Weapons
Ogres all carry a harpoon, which they throw before engaging the enemy in melee. Against heavily armored foes, the harpoons are used to foul shield and snag enemies and pull them out of line; against lightly armored foes, the hail of harpoons disrupts formations with heavy casualties. Ogres also carry oversized halberds, reasonably well made with thick wood staves and rough iron heads.
- Kobold Armor
Kobolds are sometimes impressed into the regiments, and often impressed into the Legions, as sappers and engineers. The Empire considers them disposable auxiliaries and issues them dark brown smocks as uniforms, with an armband in regimental colors. The dye on the smocks is cheap and reacts with kobold skin oils by turning dark red. They are allowed to wear sandals, gloves, and hats, but each kobold must provide his own. Individual kobolds often improvise concealed armor, often a skullcap under a hat and an iron pectoral over the heart, as well as thick iron shanks in their sandals to protect against caltrops.
- Kobold Weapons
Kobolds are armed with a variety of extremely cheap mattocks and hammers, made quickly by apprentice smiths from cheap iron and low quality wood. Individual quality is terrible, and their owners often do what they can to sand down the grips or cover them with leather to make them more comfortable. The kobolds make no real effort to maintain their weapons beyond reinforcing the heads to the shafts so they don't fly off when working; very few kobolds think a better weapon will help them survive a combat.
- Imp Armor
The imp skirmishers of the mountain regiments do not wear much armor: a hood and apron of iron or steel mail, sometimes with a short kilt that covers about half the thighs. Much like goblins, the hems of their armor are twined with ribbon or cord in the regimental colors. Imps' backs are always bare, to allow movement of the wings, and their arms are usually uncovered. Imps wear simple leather sandals with thick, hobnailed soles.
- Imp Weapons
Imps wield light bows, often made from bamboo or Keveteen yew. Though they are competent archers on the ground, they have difficulty hitting anything smaller than a few hundred soldiers in tight formation while they are flying. Imps rarely carry any manufactured secondary weapons, but their horns, tail spikes, and hand and foot talons are often enameled, polished, and poisoned with extremely powerful poisons.
- Demon Weapons and Armor
The various demons that make up elite companies and sometime regiments within the Legions are armed and armored for a variety of roles. In general, the demons themselves have powerful supernatural protection and great strength, so skirmishing demons rarely bother with armor and demons fighting as shock troops wear heavier armor than orcs in the same position. Demon weapons and armor are often made from soul-steel, or at least soul-steel alloy, and are inherently a glossy dark gray with unsettling red highlights and reflections. Demonic armor is often semi-ornamental, and is often styled for greater intimidation at the expense of utility: horns or spikes are placed forward enough to catch enemy weapons, and there are often shot-traps or gaps in the armor.
Demons fight with heavy axes or picks, often coated with a dull green or gray poison. They are usually made from a soul-steel alloy. Although the initial construction quality is high, the demons rarely take care of their weapons or make kobolds look after them, so blunted, notched, rotten, or otherwise eroded weapons are common with long service demon regulars.
- Zombie Armor
The Whitewers make some effort to armor their zombies, in order to make killing them again even more difficult. Reanimated soldiers, Imperial or Dwarf, continue to wear whatever armor they died in, in whatever style and condition it was at the time of death. Other corpses have recycled armor from a destroyed zombie or sheets of crude iron, painted dull gray, riveted to them before they are reanimated. There is no real attempt to separate different corpses into different units or match armor to corpse, so a given zombie mob will have the corpses dwarfs, orcs, kobolds, ogres, minotaurs, goblins, and humans in it, each "wearing" a different style and color of armor. As the zombies themselves are too stupid to maintain their armor and the numbers are too vast for kobolds or other smiths to perform any real maintenance, the armor pieces are subject to rust, mold, and general decay.
Zombies created by Imperials in emergency to fill gaps in their lines are usually not armored, beyond any armor that the body was wearing at the time of death. As the zombies are usually considered a desperate and temporary measure, no effort is spent to maintain the armor and it rusts quickly.
- Zombie Weapons
Zombies made from the corpses of soldiers continue to carry their weapons in unlife, and other zombies are recycle these weapons or get extremely crudely and cheaply made axes or maces. In both cases, no one maintains the weapons and they are quickly covered in a disgusting mess of dirt, dried blood, bits of rotten flesh, and rust. Zombie weapons are not intentionally poisoned, but most carry tetanus and similar diseases. Somewhat fortunately, many are blunt or rusted to the point that they will not penetrate most armors.
Sometimes zombies are made in a hurry to reinforce gaps in the ranks or to serve as expendable warriors in a key location. These zombies are usually unarmed and rely on brute strength and filthy bites to harm their foes.
Noble, Luminal, and Royal EquipmentEdit
Imperial nobles wear orichalcum alloy plate armor, similar in appearance to Gothic plate, with lots of graceful points and batwing pieces to cover any gaps. Noble armor is a deep solid black, highlighted with silver or copper filigrees. The exact style of the armor depends on the Legion or other formation that the noble serves in, and usually has some resemblance to the commanding Luminal's armor. Nobles usually wear a black surcoat and wide black cloak with a hood and mantle. The surcoat and cloak are rarely worn into actual battle.
Nobles usually carry long, slender sabers or rapiers made from orichalcum alloy, powerful double recurve bows made from a pale white wood, or short wands or batons made from a similar wood. Most nobles carry at least two of these weapons, and often a small buckler or target shield. The weapons of the nobles are made from high quality steel, mithril, orichalcum alloy, or rare and expensive woods. The blades or grips are usually engraved with elaborate patterns but are rarely bejeweled. Although beautiful, the weapons of the nobility are quite functional and dangerous, and often mildly enchanted to be more damaging or protective.
Nobles ride black horses or white pegasii; their coaches are drawn by black steeds. Horses for nobility are drawn from the finest breeds in the Empire and bred for a specific purpose: jennets for travel, coursers for hunting, or percherons for hauling. Nobles do not fight as shock cavalry and do not ride destriers.
- Standard Luminal
Luminals wear orichalcum plate armor in the same style as the nobles, but the highlighting is done with mithril and orichalcum. Individual luminals customize their armor to their needs and tastes, such as Masque's signature solid red faceplate or the all-seeing eyeband around Whitemist's helmet. Luminals wear black cloaks and kilts or surcoats over their armor, but like the nobles, remove them before fighting.
Luminal weapons vary greatly in form, but are uniformly made of the finest materials at the most exacting standards of construction. Each one is very functional, but nevertheless a beautiful work of art.
- Imperial Regalia
The Liberation Equipment StylesEdit
1st Legion Footman EquipmentEdit
Most of the Liberation's 1st Legion is outfitted with salvaged orc gear. The Kobolds serving as smiths and armorers are more interested in protecting the soldiers than coordinating their colors, so individual soldiers often wear pieces from several different orcs' armor. Mixing cavalry and infantry armor is common, although the cavalry armor is preferred for being lighter, better made, and more protective. Although much of the Liberation's loot originally came from only two orc regiments and is relatively consistently colored, the influx of looted equipment in May and June came from ten regiments and is a bewildering array of color. 1st Legion foot formations are confusingly colored, with individual soldiers sometimes mixing infantry gray with the colors of two different cavalry units and no two soldiers out of ten having the same colors on the same locations.
Weapons are also salvaged from the enemy. Until July 508, arms were in short supply, and troops had to use whatever was available. The recent surplus of equipment has let newer recruits be somewhat choosier in what weapons they used, but many of the early veterans are still using rusted or damaged orc gear. A few of the veteran units, such as the Kell Hounds, have gone back for retraining and have upgraded their equipment in the process to at least average quality weapons and armor.
Orc crossbows cannot be operated without mechanical aid by most humans. Liberation crossbow units make liberal use of goat's hooks and some use of hand cranks.
1st Legion Cavalry EquipmentEdit
Liberation cavalry gear is based on stolen and salvaged orc gear, just like footmen gear. Sven's forces did not make much use of kobolds as armorers, and their equipment is usually badly fitted. Colors are mismatched as individual soldiers sorted through the loot of a legion's supply caravan, looking for individual pieces that fit them best.
After joining the Liberation, there has been an effort to get the cavalry into well-fitted armor. Color co-ordination remains a distant concern.
Air Cavalry EquipmentEdit
The Pegasii and their riders also wear salvaged orc armor. As Magnus speaks for the pegasii, and has concerns about appearance, more effort has been made to make the colors match and pegasii armor is painted black (or black-ish) with tar covered tack and saddles. After the pegasii joined the Liberation, one of Magnus' prime concerns was getting the pegasii armor properly enameled in black and tack and gear of properly and uniformly dyed black leather.
Mage Equipment Edit
Magi and priests are trained in staff combat as an adjunct to their magical training. Each mage or priest is presented with a fine staff at the beginning of training and upon graduation or promotion the bands on the metal caps are tuned to balance the staff as well as display rank.
- Plain Iron Band - graduate of mage or priest training
- Single Brass Band- Decanus
- Two Brass Bands - Decurio
- Three Brass Bands - Tessararius
- Brass Cap - Century Decurio, Auctorus, or Auctorus Rex
- Singe Silver Band - Optio
- Two Silver Bands- Century Princeps
- Three Silver Bands - Princeps Primorus
- Silver Cap - Cohort Vertex
- Silver Cap and Gold Band - Vertex Dux
- Gold Cap- General
They wear light mail hauberks and pot helms in battle and tend to co-locate with archery units with pavises.
Liberation Second LegionEdit
The Second Legion (understrength) was formed in July 508 to act as the border guard manning the fortresses in northern Hanist and Venrike. Commanded by Himmel Detfinger, the four cohorts of the Second are the first large formations of Liberation military not outfitted with any salvaged gear. The colors of the Second Legion are black, red, and gold.
- Horse Archers
All of the second legion's cavalry is composed of lightly-armored horse archers, acting as scouts and harassing forces but lacking any heavy plate armor. Standard issue is a long-sleeved steel mail hauberk, split up the center and trimmed with black, and a conical helm with a nasal bar. Noncom armor is trimmed in red; officers in gold. They carry asymmetric short composite bows modeled on those used by the goblins of the Empire as well as short swords for close work.
- Light Infantry
The Second's light infantry wear brigandine armor in splotched gray and green, a hooded cloak in similar colors, and a wide-brimmed pot helmet and lobstertail similar to that used by Orcish archers. Officers and noncoms are distinguished only by the badge holding their cloak to prevent easy identification by the enemy at a distance. Typical armament is a short composite bow, shortsword or short spear, and buckler.
The deep forests of southeastern Hanist provide ample wood for bows, and the archers of the second have given up on the Orcish crossbows in favor of longbows and clothyard shafts. Their armor is identical to that of the light infantry, but dyed black, with red cloaks; officers and noncoms are marked with red or gold trim at the collar and hem. The typical element of Liberation Bowmen consists of five dedicated archers and five shieldbearers. The large pavises they carry serve as portable cover, and each man of the element is issued two full quivers as well as a shortsword in case the unit finds itself in melee.
- Heavy Foot Troops
The Heavy Infantry and Pikemen of the second were trained together in formations dedicated to countering the Empire's heavy cavalry advantages. All of the heavy foot troops are equipped with blackened plate armor functionally identical to the orcs' heavy infantry harness; like the cavalry and archers, noncom armor is trimmed in red and officers' trimmed in gold. The heavy infantry are an even mix of halberdiers and swordsmen, with formations designed to lock the swordsmens' large shields into a wall backed by halberds and (when possible) backed by a third line of pikemen. The infantry's large shields are emblazoned with the company's crest, and officers' helms are (at the insistence of Uster Vaipnesterk) plumed.
The bulk of the Second Legion's artillery are semi-portable scorpions and light ballistae served by small crews. Artillery crew armor is light brigandine similar to that of the light infantry but dyed plain black instead of the blotched gray and green, with the standard red or gold trim for noncoms and officers.
The Scryguard of the Menkgu deserts are impoverished raiders and assassins fighting against an overwhelmingly powerful enemy. They wear whatever gear they can steal or loot from their foes, adapted to the Reptilian physiology by crude hammering with rocks. They supplement salvaged gear with crudely made animal by-products, usually rawhide belts, kilts, and cloaks. All their equipment is dyed or painted to blend in with the desert sands, though the quality of the paint and dye is uneven and generally low, so splotches, runs, and fades are common.
Scryguard loot the skullbraids and holy symbols of orc wizards and priests as trophies. They then deface and desecrate them, pad them with cloth or leather, and wear them under their cloaks as proof of their prowess.
Scryguards fight with stolen orc melee weapons out of preference, fire-hardened javelins made from stunted desert wood otherwise, and their claws as a last resort. The Reptilians maintain their steel weapons as best they can, but a lack of resources means their weapons are usually notched, blunt, and rusty. Scryguards never have enough ammunition to gain or maintain proficiency with bows or crossobws, and most tribes only loot those weapons with the intent of turning them into something else: many orc crossbows are turned into three to five short spears or javelins.