Now that the local area where the PCs are starting has been filled in a little more, I’d like to pull back out and take a look at some of the more macro bits of detail. Specifically, I’d like to look at the merchant houses and mercenary companies that were either brought here or established themselves here during the time of the settlement.
Several large mercantile concerns dominate Artania, importing finished goods from Hanar-across-the-sea, transporting raw materials from the interior to the ports, or moving goods within or between the colonies themselves. These are starting to enjoy great political power thanks to their economic position, and some are even rivaling the feudal lords in authority and prestige.
House Bourdaine. Based in Hanar, with a local headquarters in New Montrose, House Bourdaine is run by the Bourdaine family, which controls almost all of the sea traffic between New Valais and Hanar. Operating with a royal charter, and kicking back enormous sums to the crown to maintain its privileged status, House Bourdaine controls half of New Montrose, but its influence outside the city is small. Its symbol is a ship with a crown on the mainmast.
The Onjoi Company. Chartered by the Duke of New Valois, this company is an amalgam of several different families, and is chaired by the Comte d’Firstwater, who owns the rights to most of the river traffic on the Firstwater. They have expanded their operations to include trade across Lake Onjoi and up the Shining River, making them very powerful in New Valais. They are constantly pushing the weak Marquis d’Onjoi to expand into the interior. It operates by a ducal charter, and its symbol is a red hand and a silver scale.
House Greystark. Chartered by both the Duke of New Valois and the Earl of South Aedgaria, this house has found its niche in the expanding trade between Aedgaria and New Valois. It is headquartered in Dubton, and has an arrangement with House Bourdaine to only pass its trade through the port of New Montrose. This vexes the Earl, who wants very badly to see Port Westview expand its trade, but he is willing to accept lesser revenues for now. Their symbol is a fleece (a sheep being weighed).
House Ellenhame. Chartered by the Duke of Aedgaria, Ellenhame is contracted to expand trade into and out of Aedgaria’s ports. It has been somewhat less than successful, due to a number of factors (some of which are not their fault, some of which are due to their own mis-management). They do very well collecting agricultural goods along the Long Road to ship through Port Westview, but find themselves at odds with House Greystark. Their symbol is a beehive.
House Grendine. Chartered by the Earl of North Aedgaria, this house is closely allied with the rulers of Norton, who form their chief supplier of precious metals and other products. Their leader holds the feudal rank of Viscount. It is unclear which party has the upper hand in the relationship, but the baroness Ursula is rarely taken advantage of by anyone. Their symbol is a scale atop a cloud.
The Lippegen Company. Chartered by the kings of Grott-Heimburg, this company has a stranglehold on most trade throughout Lippegen, and its managing director is said to be more powerful than the Herzog himself, and holds the royally bestowed title of Graf. The company is not ruled by any single family, but by a board of directors (located in Grot-Heimburg) which is made up of prominent families, including those of the kings, who have a 49% stake in the company by law. Their symbol is a heron wearing two crowns.
House Glott. Chartered by the Markgraf von Osttur, is incredibly poised to take a huge chunk of business away from the Lippegen Company, since they are based in Osttur and often manage to sneak prime opportunities out from under the nose of the local agents of the Company. Thusfar their activities have been little more than a nuisance, but a few more nuisances and the Company might decide to scratch the itch. Their symbol is a black tower.
In addition, there are other, smaller companies, with two or three based in each town. These I’m leaving for further expansion as needed to facilitate plots and adventures.
Few of the feudal lords in any of the three colonies have anything close to an army suitable for their full defense and the security of their people and borders. Because of this, they have brought mercenary companies from Hanar-across-the-sea to do the bulk of their fighting. The chief enemies of the colonies at the moment are native orc tribes, various monsters, and renegade deserter goblin/ hobgoblin/ bugbear troops. Only occasionally have the colonies gone to war against one another, and even then such encounters were swift and mercifully over quickly. The feudal lords are much more likely to engage in petty cross-border skirmishes and banditry, but this is normal and to be expected, even within the boundaries of a particular colony.
Most of the mercenaries brought over to New Valais and Lippegen are goblinoid troops, consisting of goblin foot-soldiers, hobgoblin and norker sergeants and officers, bugbear officers, and human captains. These were used extensively in the full-scale wars in Hanar-across-the-sea, but are somewhat overkill in Artanis, where there is no large-scale war and no set-piece battles to fight. Hence, there is a much higher level of desertion, with entire companies simply dissolving into the wilderness. Troop strengths given below do not include sergeants and officers.
It should be remembered that the goblin troops worship various demons and devils, despite the official distaste for such. It is tolerated because the troops fulfill their function; fodder in war. They do so privately, and never ostentatiously. It is something more of a concern in Lippegen than it is in New Valais, due to the difference in official faiths.
The Bitter Embers are a force that has been in the employ of Valais for generations. Consisting of 600 heavy footmen armed with glaive and axe, they are a powerful battering ram. They are currently led by General Renauld Jil (F 11), grandson of the original commander of the force. They are currently stationed in Duchais, Chamlin, and Anleans, broken into several companies that patrol endlessly. Their unit insignia is a red torch, and morale is low.
The Risen Fist is a relatively new unit that was raised specifically to be used in New Valais. It consists of 300 archers and 200 skirmishers armed with sling and short sword. They are led by General Prince August Wegman (R 10), a disgraced former scion of a cadet member of the royal Heimburg family. They are well-suited to the guerrilla warfare practiced by the orcs in the wilderness, and are currently on loan to the Marquis d’Onjoi, who has them ranging up and down the Shining River region rooting out the several orc tribes ensconced there. Their unit insignia is a mailed fist, and morale is high.
The Steel Owls are a long-standing unit imported from Valais. They number some 400 wolf-riding cavalry, and are spread throughout the colony as scouts and reinforcements for the other troops there. They are led by General Prospero Vouchand (MU 10), who has protested about the scattering of his forces, but pay-and-a-half has kept his protests muted. Their unit insignia is a grey owl, and morale is high in areas where they are engaged against orc raiders, and medium where they are guarding sheep but paid well for doing little.
The Black Skulls are an ancient unit, one of the most decorated in the history of Grott-Heimburg. A well-balanced force consisting of 800 medium spear, 300 archers, and 200 wolf-riding cavalry, they are very well disciplined and have a much higher ratio of hobgoblin non-commissioned officers than most. They are led by General Gräfin Maria Bettendorf (A 12), and form the core of the mercenary strength of Lippegen. They are based in Zweistadt, and are constantly engaged in action in the Rojanois Mountains and the thick forests to the north. The Gräfin is fully enmeshed in the politics of Lippegen, and has her sights set on a permanent role in the feudal structure, although her own lands are back in Hanar. Their unit insignia is a black skull, and morale is high.
The Holy Orphans are a new unit, raised specifically for service in Lippegen. They consist of 400 spearmen, all of fairly low quality. They are led by Oberst Herr Hans Reichman (P 8), who is attempting to sway his goblin troops to the Church, with next to no success. He is certain that if he can demonstrate the righteousness of his religion through personal victory in combat in front of his men, that will be the breakthrough he needs, and in that quest he constantly throws himself into the thick of battle, taking risks that in all honesty are reckless. His troops are based in Osttur, and morale is medium.
The Laughing Hounds are so named because of their barking-laugh battle cry. They consist of 200 wolf-riding cavalry. Their leader is Oberst Josef Winter (F 14). He is a dedicated warrior and hardened fighter, unhappy that he and his troops are in the rear, assigned to policing duties in the western portion of the colony. Unit insignia is a red dog, and morale is low.
As noted earlier, there are no goblinoid mercenary troops in Aedgaria. All their military force consists of local militia and troops maintained by the feudal lords. To date, this has been sufficient, but if either Lippegen or New Valais decided to mount a full-scale invasion, Aedgaria’s future would be quite uncertain. What is certain, is that reinforcements from Hanar could never arrive in time to prevent a rout.