Age of Worship
Year 0. The Fall of Hazliah brought the end of the Old Dominion and, in time, the rise of Theism and Deism.
"The Last Argument" by Otto Nikelius
Commissioned by the late Count de Lerac after the events in Riismark, to serve as a warning to the Conclave about the rising tensions with Haustellum.
"The Last Argument" – Detail
Detail from the commissioned piece by the late Count de Lerac after the events in Riismark, to serve as a warning to the Conclave about the rising tensions with Haustellum.
The First War
Young dragons assault the Skyrion Spire during the first known war between mortals.
The Breath of Nepenthe
Riismark, 657 P.R. First recorded battle between Spire and Men since the Fall.
While the points of view and flavor differ, we continue to find the same repeating factors in all Genesis mythologies: a force of Creation and a force of Destruction held in check by a third force, one of Balance, usually presented as the ideal. - Sophides, “Rational Faith”, 482 P.R.
"The Last Argument" – Detail
Detail from the commissioned piece by the late Count de Lerac after the events in Riismark, to serve as a warning to the Conclave about the rising tensions with Haustellum.
"The Fall" – Gravure by Carrus Bechits
Commissioned by the Paeneticum, which later burned the artist as a heretic, for the added detail of the mother shielding her child.
Riismark Campaign Map
Huskarls vs The Crimson Tower
Nords vs The Hundred Kingdoms
Hundred Kingdoms Hunter Cadre draw first blood vs Nord Shaman
The Knighting of Prince Fredrik
A gift from his father, King Willem of Brandengrad, the portrait displays the fabled Battle of Lions of 284 P.R., reminding his glorious lineage to his son.
The Sealed Temple
Guarding the Pass of Aus, the founding place of the Orders and headquarters of the fabled Order of the Ashen Dawn.
Dawn and Dusk
Pray, stranger, tell me, where lies the seat of the Empire?
Dorná de Rosmund
King Fredrik of Brandengrad
Order of the Crimson Tower
The Gilded Legion could have had a reputation and a history at least as storied as that of the Steel Legion, as both trace their origins to the first professional forces Charles Armatellum established in his bid for Empire. Their position, however, as guardians of the Imperial Mint, their attendant duties as the protectors of the Imperial tax collectors and the controversial past of their legion, have served to forever overshadow their accomplishments.
Recruiting the best men their money can buy, the Household’s Guard is often an eclectic mix of veterans, washed out Legionnaires, foreign mercenaries and the younger progeny of lesser nobility with few alternative prospects.
The Hunter Cadre are bounty hunters, plain and simple. Gifted with the right tools and know-how, they are tasked with hunting down the most dangerous of beasts and spellcasters who would threaten the main battleline of the Hundred Kingdoms force. Their dedicated professionalism has spelt the doom to countless dangerous foes across hundreds of battles.
The cornerstone to many a commander’s battleplan, the longbowmen of the Hundred Kingdoms are a tremendous addition to any force. Providing a withering amount of long ranged firepower, these troops fulfill a vital role in the Hundred Kingdoms war machine.
The Militia Act has been one of the most stabilizing and far reaching reforms ever implemented in the Hundred Kingdoms, curbing the power of the noble lords, while helping the population defend itself against outside threats. This holds doubly true in the old imperial province of Braeonia, where the peasantry has mastered the use of the longbow.
To those who are familiar with military structures and hierarchy, the structure of the Theist Church is remarkably similar to the command structures established by professional armies around Ea. It is perhaps only natural that the Theist Church has embraced the militarism that so pervades the Hundred Kingdoms. Their origins are steeped in the lore of the Old Dominion, where both steel and faith armed and armored the armies of Hazlia and the earliest records of the Church Apostles heed back to the turbulent times that followed the Fall: the Exodus and early years that named the Bitter Sea.
The prestigious martial tradition of the Hundred Kingdoms demands leaders whose men believe in, whose training and experience foster confidence and whose skill demands admiration. A Noble Lord who issues orders can reasonably expect his men to storm the battlement, one that leads from the front knows his men would brave the gates of hell.
The Chapter Mages of the Hundred Kingdoms have long been a powerful political tool, their magics more suited to the civilized environment of the court rooms and balls, than the raw elemental puissance demanded on the battlefield. Be one a noble, a bishop or a merchant, keeping a Chapter Mage in one’s retinue is proof of power and influence.
The Steel Legion is one of the oldest fighting forces in the Tellian Empire. Taking its name from the storied legions of the old Dominion and tracing its origins to the very first professional armies the Emperor fielded, only the Orders can claim a more storied or glorious past.
The crossbow represents a significant technological improvement over the bow and longbow. While some could argue that the longbows increased range and rate of fire outclass the crossbow, mastery of that massive weapon requires years, while a man can learn to competently care for and use a crossbow in a matter of days.
Men at Arms
Freed from the need to work and protect their land, Men-at-Arms were able to focus exclusively on their martial pursuits, allowing them to march on extended campaigns and travel in search of employment, ensuring that sufficient trained men were available to all commanders with the coin to spend in securing their services.
he massed charge of Household Knights is one of the most powerful weapons at the disposal of a Hundred Kingdoms commander. Hundreds of pounds of obdurate metal and muscle, forged through years of training and experience, they have shattered men, formations, and kingdoms throughout the ages...
Vanguard Clones draw first blood vs jotnar
The Merchant Prince Chemistry Variant, known as the Alchemist of Nepenthe, plans his response to his enemies’ next moves.
Haustellum, Devil’s Finger, Nepenthe, Cnidaria. It is unknown whether the different types indicate different ages of Spires or adaptations to their environment.
Abomination vs Steel Legion
"How..? How are men supposed to fight such monsters?" - Inga Khlaus, Man-at-Arms
The Fractured Concord
The Faded Magenta
With bones lightened to the degree they can scarcely support the musculature that power the mighty pinions that bear them aloft, they would be incapable of posing a significant threat on the battlefield were it not for the lethal, toxic payload they carry in their bloated sacks.
Forgoing any attempt to create a viable organism that could meet their expectations the Directorate instead cultured individual organs to their specifications and assembled them over a reinforced skeleton. Sacrificing almost all attempts at elegance in return for function, the Incarnates are the most successful efforts of the Directorate at overcoming the limits of flesh.
The Ward Receptor
There are occasions where even the Spires see the merit of reducing casualties amongst their forces. This is where the Ward Preceptor steps in. With his preternatural reflexes and heavy armor, this elite warrior seems to be everywhere at once, his massive tower shield covering any gaps the Spire forces may have left in their defenses.
The Preceptors are a creation of the Directorate. Originally intended as a front line unit to replace the Vanguard strain whose combat prowess was based on coordination and reaction, they were retired citing the very resource intensive training process they required to be considered battle ready. Of course, one could argue, the Sovereign would also not look kindly on a tightly structured and well-coordinated fighting force capable of autonomous thought and communication. Loath to waste resources, the Directorate repurposed the project, introducing Preceptor leaders to Vanguard Clone formations to increase their coordination and cohesion. So far, preliminary trials show a significant increase in battlefield performance…
Nothing epitomizes the Spires’ approach to warfare more than the Catabolic Node. Every drone contains the latent genetic code to become a Catabolic Node. With it’s twisted body is seething with toxic gasses and corrosive vital fluids a Catabolic Node is so unstable they are only created on the eve of battle. One shudders to imagine what could happen if the Spires found a way to stabilize these deadly sacrificial troops.
Among the highest echelons of the Lineages, none are truly expected to risk their lives anymore, much less for something as simple and trivial as combat. The chosen warriors of the Sovereign’s Lineages stride through the battlefield safely projecting their consciousness into their Avatara: outlandish creations bedecked in all sorts of ornament and Biomantic enhancements, whose lithe, androgynous frames bely the speed and power they can bring to bear.
Standing six feet tall, their spindly bodies have been adapted to the rigors of their academic life. Digestive systems have been reduced to minimize distractions. Their senses, particularly sight and smell, have been enhanced to an astounding degree, so much so that the clothing they wear to battle is designed to reduce the sensory overload, allowing them to focus on the task at hand.
Brute Drone Mask
Force Grown Drones
Abominations were originally an advanced and cruel form of punishment, devised on a whim by the Sovereign. Ensconced deep within an Abomination lies the body of an Exile who has betrayed his trust or breached the most sacrosanct of Spire laws. Survivors speak of a keening whine, just on the verge of hearing that pervades their memories, a sound that registers deeper than the cries of their fallen comrades. This is the only sound an Abomination can make, the only sound it is allowed to make: a keening howl to convey the depth of their misery and torment.
Those that survive a brutal culling process undergo a brutal training regime to enter the Vanguard regiments. This first training regime focuses on physical development and a martial arts training. By the end of their third year of conditioning and training, a Vanguard clone is equally comfortable with killing with bows, snap bows, blades and limb. Their training has been skewed to emphasizes evasion and speed over raw power but raised to peak physical condition and trained in combat for three years, the average Vanguard Clone is more than a match for even a veteran man at arms.
Towering well over two meters, with most specimens touching the three meter mark, Brute Drones are a towering mass of vat grown muscle and aggression. Their skin, where it can be seen beneath the ichor soaked bandages they bear, is a ravaged mass of scar tissue and subdermal bone deposits. Their armor is literally sealed onto their bodies, held in place by alchemically treated cartouches that establish Lineage ownership, lot number and enhancement date of the particular drone.
Spliced from a number of tissues to ensure their keen eyesight and flawless hand-eye coordination, these Clones are amongst the most effective ranged troops one can encounter on the battlefield. The addition of a third arm was pioneered by the Fourth Indigo Lineage, which traded the marginal increases in accuracy that other houses blindly pursued for a significantly increased rate of fire.
High Clone Executor
Ignored and often resented, High Clone Executors provide a critical role that not even the most arrogant of the Lineage Highborn can deny: direct battlefield experience and a core of professional officers to lead the troops. While Biomancers and Pheromancers might turn the soldiers into ravening automata and Lineage Highborn might be unstoppable on the field, it is the High Clone Executors who time and again deliver victories across a hundred different battlefields.
The Directorate has long sought to produce the perfect assassin clone, but their efforts have been incessantly stymied by the Sovereign. He has made it a matter of personal interest to ensure that all Ark vaults containing pertinent data to this research fall squarely under his direct supervision, denying the Directorate access to chameleonic strand sequences and certain personality traits, which it has sought for so long. They have instead been forced to adapt and improvise with those strands they already possess: agility, strength, aggression and some limited biomechanical functions.
Nords vs Dweghom
Fall of Dragons
"Break the earth where he stands" he said. "Break the earth deep, break it until he falls to the lava pits below".
The Chamber of War
The memory of the Dheureghodh, the Breaking of the Chains in the Deep, is the defining moment of Dweghom history, that changed not only the race itself, but the face of the entire world.
The Memory Hold of Ghe’Domn
Archive, Judicial Court, Record Keep, Proving Ground and dwelling of the Mnemancers, the Memory Holds are the beating heart of each Dweghom Hold.
Dweghom Flameforged draw first blood vs Spire Drones
Ognisros – The Burning River
Artist's rendition of the Dweghom Hold in northern Braeonia. No actual depiction exists.
Ardaum – Deep Guard
Speculated to be abandoned, Ardaum may either be further proof that the Dweghom often abandon higher levels as time passes, sealing all buildings behind them, or just extremely aptly named.
King Bharregh Orobdhuo
Known as the Pale King of Twice Darkness, Bharregh is one of the few ruling Kings known to Men.
King Theurodhin of Ghleulgas
Humans have translated "Ghleulgas" as "It Cries Joyful", based on the whistling sound the wind makes as it passes through the Hold’s tunnels, resonating in the surrounding mountain slopes. For the Dweghom it means "To Our Joy, It Cries".
All Dweghom possess, in varying degrees, some affinity to the Primordial Elements of Fire and Earth but those among them that actually wield sorcerous power are invariably tremendously powerful in either one, or both, Elements. This is the direct result of the labors of their Tempered ancestors who sought to master and control the raging forces of War’s Prison. What these Ancestors could not foresee, however, was the lack of control over these powers that the Dweghom display. Their control is so limited, in fact, and their power so great, that gifted Dweghom are doomed to die, consumed by their own gift.
Exemplars of the Ardent creed, the Kerawegh have gone farther and deeper than any living Dweghom in the Dheukorro: they have reached the very gates of War’s Primordial prison. Refusing the dark call of that promethean threshold, the Kerawegh find in their devotion to kin and creed the strength to turn back to the surface. Acclaimed by their fellow Ardent, the respect they command among their fellows naturally pushes them into positions of leadership in their anarchic creed.
For many in the Tempered Caste, the Steelshaper represents the pinnacle of Dweghom development, but the sad truth is that none of those who aspire to this lofty title and incredible achievement truly understands what the transformation entails.
To behold a Hold Raegh on the field of war is to witness a Paragon of his craft at the very pinnacle of his prowess. To rise to the position of Raegh, a Dweghom must reach a value of Aghm determined by the Mnemancers of each hold (considering the population, productivity, history and achievements of the Hold in question) while surpassing all others. In a society as militarized as the Dweghom, there is only one path that can lead to such heights: the craft of war. In the early stages of his prospective career, an aspiring candidate earns his Aghm directly: feats of arms and valor at the trials, and later the field of battle.
Unlike the undoubtedly fine weapon of the warriors, each of the arms and armor that the Hold Thanes bear has been personally crafted by a member of the Tempered marking them to stand amongst the Hold’s elite forces. Capable of weathering the heaviest blows and cutting through the finest chain, these weapons make the Thanes deadly opponents, equally proficient on the attack as in defense.
Clad in armor forged in a bygone age when dragon fire was the greatest threat to a warrior, every vulnerable part of a Dragonslayer is covered in alloys not seen since the breaking of the world. The weapons they bear were those used by their Ancestors to pierce the nigh invulnerable hides of the Elder Dragons. Forged from adamantine and now quenched in dragon blood, no mortal armor could hope to withstand a blow.
The Fireforged are a military force composed of those Dweghom who possesses a strong affinity for fire, but not enough power of discipline to become a Sorcerer. Ostensibly guards to the Forge Temples of the Tempered, along with the Stoneforged and Steelforged, their gifted nature and implanted shunts give the Forged units a unique advantage on the field of battle: the use of enhanced exoskeletons and weaponry.
When the last Dragon finally fell, the Dweghom stood as the sole masters of the once mighty Rooks. Deep within these lair-fortresses, the wealth of the Dragons gleamed. Most prized among these possessions were the massive elemental constructs the dragons had created. Powered by a single primordial shard, these automata are timeless and tireless, their unceasing labor and power capable of sustaining thousands.
It is this, above all the other overwhelming advantages, that make Flame Berserkers such a terrifying foe to face. Only when one faces them on the field of battle can one truly grasp that behind the swirling flames and red-hot flurry of axes, lies a being that has consciously chosen self-immolation over survival; destruction over preservation; the death of their foes at the price of their own.
The sword and shield remain the traditional equipment of the Dweghom infantry. Even while mass produced in their massive forges, the swords remain exceptional examples of Dweghom craft, with function placed firmly before form. Similarly, their shields are modular locking metal sheathed wooden planks over a steel frame, allowing for the quick repair and replacement after battle. On the other hand, battle with a flying opponent quickly cured the Dweghom of preconceptions against ranged combat.
The ballistae were the first ranged weapon developed to combat dragons, but were quickly outclassed by the more esoteric weapons developed by the Tempered. They are nonetheless a powerful instrument of death against lesser foes, and their ease of production and repair have made them a staple of the Hold armories.
Jotnar vs Wurm
Nords draw first blood vs Dweghom
Once the home of the Aesir and the Vanir, a place fit to house Gods, Yggdrassil today, while still standing, is but an ashen, faded image of its former glory.
The Fall of Oddbjörn
The clash of Einherjar and Jötnar at the end of the Fimbulwinter shaped the fate of Mannheim, leading not only to the liberation of the humans, but to the subjugation of the giants.
Many were the titles given to this painting: Dark Cry, the Landing, the Fall of the Legion, the Invasion, the Throne of Steel, a Dozen Silent Deathcries, Steelbreaker, the First Wave. In the end, one title sufficed.
The Lone Huscarl
"It’s true, then. It only takes one of us to scare those southerners." – Eingos the Merchant, upon seeing the Lone Huscarl.
Life in Mannheim
The old seer Hungar urges on Kløn the Ogre, who wants to pick flowers for Bruhilde.
The fragmented leadership of the Nords respects only one thing: power and strength. Less than a dozen leaders among the Nords can claim, and hold, the title of Konungyr. Ultimate recognition of this accomplishment is an invitation by Angbjorn, last of the Einherjar and titular High King of the Nords, to the High Table in Aarheim.
When raids are planned, or musters drawn for battle, clever Jarls and Kings will seek out the Blooded within their realms and entice them to service to lead the… wilder… elements of their forces. The Blooded thus stalk across the battlefield like demigods of old, leading a monstrous host straight into the heart of the enemy forces.
The position and role of Shaman once commanded a great deal of respect in Nord society. Before the coming of the Einherjar, they were the only force capable of blunting the worst excesses of the Fimbulwinter and the Jötnar. Their rune castings and mist weavings could, and did, save countless villages from extinction. During the war with the Jötnar, Shamen were often found at the right hand of the Einherjar, granting their wisdom and guiding them through the many difficult decisions that had to be taken.
While the Nords often ridicule their southern cousins in the Hundred Kingdoms for the sheer variety and profusion of titles that the nobility uses, the truth of the matter is that the Nord description is no less complex or confusing, despite the seeming simplicity of it. Nords effectively recognize but two titles: the Jarl and the King.
Few and far in between, Ice Jotnar are the nobility of their kind and the most powerful of the jotuns. Gifted with an innate mastery over storm and ice, their massive forms are sheathed in heavy ice and rime allowing them to wade into battle unscathed while conjuring jagged shards of ice from thin air to hurl at their foes until they close distance with their hapless foe. Sapped of his strength and vitality by the aura of unnatural cold that wreathes their titanic forms, foes are easy prey to these massive warriors.
Every Nord Jarl has a few men he can trust to get the job done. They are known as the chosen men. The Bow Chosen are those of his men he knows he can dispatch deep behind enemy lines to wreak havoc among his enemies reinforcements and battle plans destroying the well laid plans of his opponents with a withering hail of fire from a favorable position.
While they don’t like admitting it, all Nords know that they share a bond of blood with the Trolls who sacrificed more than any other to secure victory over the Jötnar in battles that have been swallowed by myth and legend. Today trolls march at the vanguard of most Nord forces, their preternatural endurance and healing abilities allowing them to shrug off even the most powerful weapons of the enemy.
While raiders might form the bulk of a Nord ‘expedition’, a wise Jarl will always look to secure the services of his Huscarls for a raid before even considering the enterprise. These men are the survivors of a dozen raids, wealthy enough to no longer need to work the fields and instead devote themselves to the pursuit of war exclusively.
Ugr occupy a very strange place in Nord society. They are the exalted progeny of demigods, capable of doing the work of a dozen men and terrifying foes when roused to anger. On the other hand, it is difficult to stand in awe of a being that is challenged by numbers that exceed a single digit, simple concepts such as personal hygiene, or the mind-boggling mechanics of doors, for that matter.
Following Ragnarok and the burning of Yggdrasil, the Jotun threatened all human life in the northern continent. The emergence of the Einherjar from their slumber brought their dominance to an abrupt and final end. With their greatest Shaman-Kings broken, the Jotun were made to bend the knee and swear allegiance to their Einherjar and their human subjects. Today, the few remaining Eihnherjar can grant truly exceptional leaders authority over one of these towering behemoths. Strong and tireless, a Jotun is a priceless asset to the community he is assigned to.
For most Stalkers, the onset of their powers is more gradual. As they manifest, the din and clamor of village life makes it impossible for them to sleep or concentrate, to say nothing of the stench their nostrils bathe in at all times. Slowly driven from their homes, they soon find a peace of sorts in the frozen forests and mountains of Mannheim.
The wealth that can be earned in a single successful raid far eclipses anything a Nord might hope for while working one’s own lands. If particularly lucky, a Raider could secure enough captives, wealth and booty to truly secure his household and devote himself entirely to the perfection of his martial abilities...
The Old Man and the Sea
Ezimdala, the Fallen King
Nagral of the Coati
Zenduali of the Manucode
A young race like the W’adrhŭn would naturally prize life giving females above all roles in its society. So, what does it say of those females who eschew these roles and chose, rather, to follow the example of their living goddess, becoming peerless warriors and leaders? Simply that they have earned every ounce of respect from their warriors and every iota of fear from their enemies through sheer talent and application.
o call those W’adrhŭn who lead the Hunter caste a word as menial as hunter is an insult to the terrifying proficiency they have attained. Predator is the word that can convey their talent. Capable of stalking and slaying almost any beast, their talents and those of their team are bound to be useful to any aspiring war leader.
Scion of Conquest
Only a War-Priest dedicated to Conquest is trusted enough by the Tribal Council to lead troops on the field of battle. Dedicated to the most farsighted and adaptable of Gods, they are the most capable of bringing the true power of the Cult Bands to play in the most hotly contested battles.
Shunned by the rest of W’adrhun society, these genetic throwbacks often band together into combat units. Huge, fierce and with little to lose, Warbred are a terrifying force on the battlefield as they seek to atone for the sin of killing their mother at birth and earn the notice of the Cult of War to join their ranks.
As a byproduct of the diverse genetic material from which the W’adrhŭn were developed, a portion of their population has developed an almost supernatural empathy with beasts. A curious twist to this legacy seems to be that the females bond with predators while males bond with herbivores. Mounted on fierce raptors these agile warrior units can range across the entire battlefield bringing their savagery to play where most needed.
Braves are the young W’adrhŭn warriors who have completed the merciless training regime all W’adrhŭn must serve and have earned the right to support their Tribe is battle as a warrior rather than a gatherer. They have yet to prove themselves, so their equipment is basic and defensive in nature and they are often relegated to secondary positions within the battlefield.
The Blooded are those W’adrhŭn Braves who have proven themselves in battle. Having earned their standing, these warriors have secured better weaponry and a prominent role in the battlefield. In time, their success might allow them to be recognized as a veteran, granting them access to the coveted metal armor and weaponry.
The humble sling they wield is a weapon of surprising efficiency when wielded by a proficient human. In the hands of an experience W’adrhŭn, these primitive weapons become a terror. Backed by the savagery of their wielders, few formations can withstand a double volley followed by a charge of these fearsome warriors, who have cut their teeth hunting the most dangerous of prey on jungle and plains alike.