Background to my store undead army. The locations and time-line is vague enough for it to be placed in any number of fantasy settings.The rule set I am using is currently Kings of War from Mantic. Kings of War game rules can be used in a number of fantasy settings and I encourage everyone who has not done so to try them out.
I believe many people are under misconception that certain fantasy armies are good and others evil. In an age where it is common for people carry axes and swords.Where folk can be killed due to their race and/or religious beliefs, quite openly and their deaths welcomed. Where many castles have torture chambers. Good and evil can cease to carry any meaning.
Undead armies in particular are nearly always portrayed as the bad guy. How many times has the word evil preceded ghost or dead. Though I am of the belief that folk do not return from the dead for no good reason. Anyone who has seen “The crow” may agree with this.
While I am not trying to create an army of heroic, dead, good-guys. What I am trying to present is a more balanced view, of an army containing flawed yet honourable individuals who happen to be on the wrong side of life.
Kings of Death
They hail from the ruins of Ceargwarchodwyr. In life they were a force of brutal but honourable warriors. Sworn to protect their fortress and the roads from any who would challenge them. Ceargwarchodwyr was also a military academy of incredibly high standards. They would accept only the strong and most courageous fighters of all the land. Training was brutal, long hours and tough physical and mental challenges over seen by a graduate. Death and injury was not uncommon among prospects. Upon completion of training usually at a battle a prospect was welcomed as family member.
The Oaths taken by prospects upon elevation were binding and complete. They swore fealty to their order, the roads, their comrades. They swore against dishonour, cowardice and dishonesty. They were not however a deeply philosophical or spiritual people, though they may have started that way. Having hailed from many backgrounds the warriors had one part of philosophy that united them which was courage. The differences in each faith mattered less and less over time. Even the binding vows that were still made were misunderstood as “mere ritual”, as “courage is the true soul of life”.
Their responsibility was to protect trade routes and lines of communication. They maintained several keeps at various intersections. Their enemies could be anyone, and once found the wardens would demand reparations for the transgressions. For small groups of brigands this usually amounted to all their possessions and their lives. Were any quarry to have origins in a village, town or larger settlement a tribute for reparations would be demanded from the leaders. If the tribute could not be met, the city would be besieged and tribute taken by force.
The Wardens built a number with the many settlements of the different races across the lands. This aided the towns for trade in times of peace, though hindered the machinations of the ambitious warlords. Most of the worldly languages were learned and news began to travel fast. Ceargwarchodwyr was set to become one of the dominating powers of the world. Diplomacy and trade however is a two way street and no King needed reminding of to whom they defer…
It did not take long for the enemies of Ceargwarchodwyr to begin to conspire. A well placed bribe to the lord and chancellor of the keep to ‘look the other way’ so as “Individual Kings may decide to exact their own justice, without troubling the brave Wardens” was all that was needed. And soon Ceargwarchodwyr itself was besieged. The lords who had broken their word were eradicated by the forces which they swore against. The resultant backlash of power breached the fortress walls and the enemy poured in.
For the warriors who remained true, they found themselves on the loosing side of the battle. Unable to keep their vows, betrayed and outflanked they soon were all defeated. The remaining keeps remained steadfast though eventually they all succumbed. The binding forces, upon which they had sworn refused to let them rest in peace. They had sword upon their lives, to the land herself that the roads will always be safe, to the sanctity of their fortress and to each other. Once the vows were broken the imbalance was clear – storms, earthquakes and diseases tore through the lands they once protected. Propaganda was spread regarding the “true dark nature” of the once noble protectors. The intemperate world added “proof” and the people cursed and then forgot their former wardens.
Next time – survival in un-life and the cult of death