I’ve posted earlier versions of this before, but I think this might be interesting to some. This is the edited and revised overview of the Sartar Army for the forthcoming reprint of White Bear & Red Moon.
During the Hero Wars period the army of Sartar underwent many changes. The general evolution of inexperienced tribal militia to veterans to exhausted and semi-rebellious mercenaries was probably inevitable. But the power and charisma of the prince kept him supplied with armies and warriors to fight his long war with Lunar Empire.
Argrath began assembling his army soon after he was driven from his home on Starfire Ridge when he took refuge among the nomads of Prax. Most tribes there had strict laws and customs restricting any foreigner from holding a position of authority or power, but there were several secret societies whose membership crossed all social or political boundaries. Incredibly, Argrath worked his way to supremacy among three of them. These units, the Twin Spears, Sword-brothers, and Bullocks, formed the kernel of his Free Army. After he received the gift of the Dragon’s Teeth, Argrath returned to Dragon Pass.The native Sartar tribal militia and the first initial units of the Sartar Free Army and the Sartar Magical Union, reinforced by Praxian nomads and some Holy Country volunteers, carried the weight of the early fighting. Argrath’s successes and personal achievements led his people to become a unified and armed state at the pinnacle of their rush to power. During this time many local peoples were allied to him as well, like the Grazelanders and the Tarsh Exiles. As the lengthy war began to wear even upon the magically supported morale of the native populace, Prince Argrath was able to almost release them from their military responsibilities to him, letting them return to their homes and lands. Naturally, they continued to muster to the defense of their lands, but the brunt of the fighting even then was carried by the volunteers. The Sartar Free Army and Magical Union grew in importance. Militia units on campaign were paid as if mercenaries.The voluntary recruits for Prince Argrath’s army were remarkable even in their own time. Sir Ethilrist, who had seen many unique sights during his centuries of mercenary existence, observed, “The charisma and personal power of the Sartar Prince are incredible, excelling even my own during the flush of my youthful career.”These volunteers can be divided into two types. First, those who joined the permanent standing units assigned to the Sartar Prince’s command, such as the Antlercast or Eaglebrown. The other type are whole armies or units which came to Dragon Pass from all across the world. These include Gold Gotti, Tosti Runefriend, and so on.
Collective, Argrath’s army formed a motley conglomeration, with many varying factors that defy a neat and easy organization, This is typical of the ever-present frontier spirit, and in it lies the basic strength and weakness of the entire army.
SARTAR TROOP TYPES
At the time of the Lunar Occupation, the Sartarite army was primarily foot. Since the return of Argrath, not yet Prince, to the hills of Sartar, the decisive arm of his army has been cavalry, not footmen. Ancient documents, from before the Lunar invasion, made great importance of Sartar’s shining ranks of spearmen, but the traditions which Argrath resurrected did not include footmen.
The reasons for this are several:
1. The existing warrior structure of Sartar had evolved to become rich, mounted noblemen (called “thanes”) leading armed mobs of freemen;
2. Dragon Pass, and especially the traditional friendship between the House of Sartar and the Grazelanders, was rich in horses;
3. Argrath’s own life and training was among the animal-riding nomads of Prax (except for the three years he spent as a Wolf Pirate) and he made brilliant use of the cavalry at his disposal (however, Argrath’s generalship always made excellent use of the forces he had at hand, even second rate infantry);
4. The magical powers which Argrath summoned to his aid were closely bound with wild rampages and shock tactics. However, despite his decided bias for cavalry as the decisive arm, Argrath was not ignorant of the value of a solid infantry center. Whenever he did need infantry for some specific campaign, he hired mercenaries from the Sun Dome Temples, the Holy Country, Dragonewts, or his own tribesmen. Sieges were usually left to specialists which were organized and led by the famous engineer, Haraspac, rumored to be of dwarf blood.
Argrath’s friendship with the dragonewts extended to wyrms and even dream dragons. Such draconic allies were increasingly common in his later campaigns.
SARTAR CITY MILITIA
When Argrath returned to Dragon Pass in 1627, Lunar influence was at a low, still recovering from the Dragonrise and having twice failed to reconquer Sartar. No puppet ruler sat in Boldhome. Instead, thieving regiments of tax collectors roamed at will, terrorizing the people and disrupting their efforts to organize. With a brilliant raid, Argrath succeeded in rallying enough support to drive the enemy out, and then turned to invade Lunar Tarsh. He raised the banner of Sartar, and re-established trade lines between Prax and the Holy Country. The tribes were organized into economic co-operative ventures, centered on the cities. Their troops formed the “militia” of the Sartar Army.
SARTAR FREE ARMY
The Free Army was gradually collected. It was made of up bandits and exiles, like the Thieves Arm and the Freedmen, or volunteers from elsewhere, like the Pavis Royal Guard and Gold-Gotti, a Wolf Pirate. Large clans, like Two-Ridge Farm or Colymar, or special organizations native to Sartar, like the Bush Children, were excluded from the militia and worked with the Free Army.Though Sartar had little in the way of arms manufacture, they traded wisely for bronze and good weapons. Their constant warfare also gained considerable booty from the better-equipped Lunar Army, so that many among them wore bronze breast-plates and greave. Also the constant fighting had brough about the evolution of some units which were regularly outfitted and trained. The success of Argrath’s army partially lay in its ability to imitate Lunar strengths, although these traditions were molded by the barbaric local flavor. Some of the regiments of his home army gained an independent status, so that the Twin Ridge warriors, once a band of tribesmen under a local chieftain, was later an all-volunteer unit of men from all across the world.
SARTAR MAGICAL UNION
The Sartar Magical Union was an extraordinary innovation of Argrath’s, first appearing at the Battle of Sword Hill in 1627, although its antecedents can be seen as early as the Battle of Pennel Ford in 1624. While the Lunar Schools are trained together and have comparable magical power, the mounted battalions that Argrath organized are a dizzying array of bush priests, Earth witches, twisted warlocks, wandering mystics, crazed holy men, and various masters of talismanic devices. Yet Argrath melded them together by creating new secret societies; it is a compliment to his skills that he put together such diverse and often hostile individuals to make compact and effective fighting units. This high understanding of magical principles should have been far beyond Argrath’s skill and experience.
The more powerful magicians were relatives or incarnations of the Storm God, who heads the local pantheon.
The Barbarian Horde was made up of clans who owed Argrath loyalty, a debt, or were lured by the hope of Lunar plunder. Any reason easily excited them to battle, and when war gathered in Dragon Pass they mustered at the fringes awaiting opportunity or duty.
In many RQ campaigns, these are your adventurers. A given year your adventurers might have their own adventure, a battle or two, some community activity, and even a hero quest, as Argrath encourages would-be heroes to seek mythical powers for use against the Lunar Empire.
In short, the Sartar of RQG has a very different pace and is a very different society from what is described in the KoDP computer game.