This post has the following content warnings:
Jun 04, 2023 12:19 AM
I want to just write geopolitics and fight scenes
« Previous Post
+ Show First Post
Total: 200
Posts Per Page:



Did someone say internationally accepted excuse to conquer things?


... The opinion of the Queen is now very rapidly shifting towards the belief that armies of undead trying to take over Ustalav is actually a good thing, as was, perhaps, inevitable.


This it is, actually, true about New Razmiran: They can learn from their mistakes. It takes a lot of mistake for them to do a little learning, to be clear! But they can do it.

The remnants of the Razmiran flotilla, arriving downriver at Odranto, would like to negotiate a deal with the barons of Odranto in which they provide food and money to the Razmiran army, Razmir is accepted as a recognized god of New Razmiran, the Church of Razmiran is given a special place, and all other religions except ones everyone wants to persecute are legitimate. And, in exchange, New Razmiran will ally with them against the armies of undead.


The number of Odranto barons who are capable of standing the slightest chance against a seventh-circle sorcerer are few and far between. They'd like to go for it, especially as the Red Witch over in Sinavia is causing them problems and, uh, they can notice the undead armies.

The independent Whispering Way warlord nearest to them is the greater ragewight Righ Curaidh, a Kellid champion whose death three thousand years before did not rob him of his desire for vengeance, but who possessed enough of a mind that, when awakened, he could be talked by the individual who was shaman of the same tribe two hundred years later (reanimated at roughly the same time as he was), into delaying his conquest until the reanimated Kellids combined a clue with a hope. This ended up only being twenty years, but the army of wights that he accumulated is still pretty impressive.

They would like it if the armies of New Razmiran made him go away.


Ragewight with an army of wights? Yeah, New Razmiran can do that.

(It was mostly the more powerful characters who survived the defeat at Ardis; wizards who could afford Teleport spells had a real advantage getting away compared to ones who couldn't.)


Cairn wights, technically.

The difference is that they know how to wear armor, they know how to use weapons, and some of them are clerics of Urgathoa. 

Now. Ahem.



Right. What's the actual geographical situation look like, for this battle?


Having attacked nearby towns, two or three hundred wights and crypt wights along with scattered other undead, under the command of Righ Curaidh, his shaman Sul Dorcha, his strategic advisor Vormygon (an independent necromancer of the barely-fifth circle allied under the Oath of the Way) and a few other ragewight commanders and Whispering Way necromancers of lesser power, are now laying siege to a castle under the control of one of the more minor Odranto barons.


... Two or three hundred?



... Yes? Necrofeudalism doesn't stretch that far.


Insert mad cackling here.

A single New Razmirani regiment, modeled after an unreformed Chelish tercio of the sort that won the civil war for Queen Abrogail I and has since become standard model to imitate among most countries that can afford professionals, marches to face them. Its companies have all been completely gutted in the fighting - more than fifty percent losses, after the units too maimed to fight have been disbanded and their remnants integrated into the surviving tercios - putting it at, oh...

Twelve hundred troops.

All veterans, because, frankly, anyone who survived the Night of Blood and the Battle of Ardis is a veteran.

Plus Razmiran Priests! Plus the Called outsiders they still have, actually!

The other two tercios are going to start recruiting while the Second Tercio, under the command of the Second Vision, Eike, annihilates these barbarians.


These CR-3-at-the-weakest barbarians whose actual regular troops (crypt wights) have AC 21-plus apiece, not counting buffs? And whose swords drain the life from anyone they touch?


Drain the life from anyone they touch in hand-to-hand combat?


... This isn't good news, is it.


Sorry to tell you this, but combat has moved on since your day.

Wights at the run move 120 feet a round, which coincidentally is the exact range increment of a heavy crossbow.

The first volley the blessed crossbowmen fire off has very little effect, even though they direct it at the unarmored lesser wights. The second has a little more. The third has more. The fourth has more.

The wizards start throwing fireballs at the sixth volley.


Heavy crossbows are not very damaging weapons. Especially if you're up against undead, and can't score critical hits, and especially if they have clerics of Urgathoa.

It takes an average of five to kill a wight, without channeling. There are only three hundred crossbowmen. Some wights will make the infantry lines, even if the fireballs, and they will be very mad.


And the crossbowmen will fall back behind the pike wall, and the wights will get two Attacks of Opportunity and three readied attacks apiece before they get to attack anything.

The standard-issue army pike has a fifteen-foot reach. That's five opportunities for braced troops to stab attackers before they get to them - apiece. Two from the front row, two from the second row, one from the third row.

And it's even more effective if the wights are straggling, of course, and can't maintain a disciplined formation while being Raging barbarians charging people who just ticked them of quite a lot.


Righ Curaidh, his shaman, and his scariest ragewight will teleport out with Vormygon. 


Ah, my good fellows of the Whispering Way! Have you all learned the lesson about 'small, independent undead warlords' yet? This rebellion is only going to get anywhere under my direction. Your 'dozens' and 'hundreds' simply will not cut it before the UNITY and DISCIPLINE of my marching legions! Sign up or get crushed!

And, having absolutely not withdrawn his aid to Righ Curaidh in any deliberate attempt to sabotage him, but merely because he thought he could serve the war with Lastwall best by deploying it elsewhere, Wielki Ksiaze will finish up his conquest of Ardis and get ready to crush all his neighbors.


There are other ways of making war, Remek, that do not depend on your armies. Perhaps when the time is right, this you shall see.

(There are many reasons why the Mirrorgrave is one of the few who might claim the title of 'first among the faithful servants of the Whispering Tyrant'. They do not involve his rather petty host of necrofeudal minions, nor his cloak of mirrors crafted by the Whispering Tyrant himself that renders him nigh-impossible to harm nor affect with spells he does not permit, nor his extraordinary teleportation abilities; nor, for that matter, his fanatical village of trained assassin-monks fed by zombie labor and armed with dark relics. Everyone has one of those, really, if they're anyone.)


To briefly summarize the geopolitical Map of Ustalav, prior to the campaigns that are about to take place:

Southern Ustalav, which consists of Caliphas and most of Versex, is separated from Northern Ustalav by the Hungry Mountains. The Razmiran Road, connecting them, is blocked by ghoul armies under Pakhhan, sixth-circle ghast necromancer. Southern Ustalav is therefore not participating in the second round of the war now brewing.

Eastern Ustalav, which consists of Varno, is not participating in any of this nonsense because Count Ristomaur Tiriac does not care which of Wielki Ksiaze or Carmilla Caliphvaso becomes overlord of Ustalav, and neither of them care about him and his experiments in the slightest.

Western Ustalav, consisting of the Palatinates of Canterwall, Lozeri, and Vieland, is the three autonomous republics who are united with Lastwall in an alliance against Wielki Ksiaze.

Northern Ustalav is divided between Wielki Ksiaze and his VAST ARMIES OF THE UNDEAD in Ardeal in the center, New Razmiran and its local allies in Otranto in the north, the Red Witch in Sinaria to the far northeast, and Barstoi under the Order of the Pyre to the east. None of the three living factions like any of the other three.

Virlych (west of Southern Ustalav and south of Western Ustalav) has not exploded yet but probably will soon. Undead forces are amassing at Renchurch, on the western border of Canterwall, for some unknown purpose.

Lastwall and the Order of the Pyre are allied against Wielki Ksiaze, and nobody else likes him much, either.

The obvious observation: Wielki Ksiaze is completely surrounded from all sides by his semiunited enemies, who may, perhaps, have higher priorities than bickering with each other, related to, say, utterly crushing him.


The non-obvious observation, but the observation Wielki Ksiaze has nonetheless made, would involve putting numbers on things.

The armies of Odranto have between between three and four thousand professionals, plus baronial retinues. The armies of Lastwall are deployed on three separate fronts, neither of which is with him; the troops they have bordering Ardis are - perhaps five or six hundred, scattered across sixty miles of border, and a town guard in Chastel that will also number in the hundreds, with a militia well under a thousand; between Ardis and the verdant fields of Canterwall and southwest Lozeri are thirty miles of swamp and forest broken only by thin streams. The forces of Lastwall are still mobilizing. Sinaria, no doubt, has its own host, but though their elite companies of sorcerers are of great value in war, Ksiaze would guess their full numbers at under two thousand; the old structure of the counts that once was has been destroyed, and the Red Witch has not yet rebuilt her forces. Any militias or town guards she calls together will be under a thousand, for Sinaria has never been a warlike province. And the Order of the Pyre have no more than three hundred Hellknights and a thousand armigers, and the same number of Barstoi militiamen; hardly a threat to the Grand Prince.

And what, pray tell, does Ksiaze have? Ksiaze has client necromancers, and scattered lesser allies of the Way who have placed their thralls under his command, and undying beasts of war... and four hundred years of skeletal champions.

A reasonably competent crafting wizard may make four hundred gold a week; one gifted enough, as Ksiaze and his underliches are, to reach the point they do not need to be careful about every petty detail can make a good deal more than that. There are upkeep costs, yes... but bodies are not expensive. The main cost of his graverobbing expeditions is the Scry and the two Teleports required to collect the bodies, and he made a crystal ball to handle the scrying for him generations ago. He pays his graverobbing operations well enough to let them drive out competition, and yet, in actual fact, he still spends less than four thousand gold per corpse he obtains.

And, frankly, the costs of maintaining these stealthy operations are the main limit on how many minions he can obtain, not how many Evil adventurers die in Golarion. If all else fails, he can just set up in another city, somewhere else in the world. It's a big world!

Or, in other words, he has spent the past four hundred years raising more than sixty thousand skeletal champions.

Now, his numbers are not quite so good as you might think. Some broke under the strain of undeath and went mad; some refused to serve and had to be put down, some were useless after their time in Hell or, for that matter, destroyed in his recent battles. But the actual core of his force is terrifyingly immense, for the graves of the Hellknights are filled with the bodies of random peasants whose corpses were easy to swap with their fallen paralictors.

But he still has the largest army in Ustalav.

And the mightiest.

But that's not necessarily something that anyone else knows, especially if they assume he has some technique for controlling very large number of skeletons, which is really more plausible than him having a technique to control very large numbers of skeletal champions.


And this means that he must strike quickly, before the news spreads and his forces can be diminished by attrition. When the armies marching from Ardeal march out, they will fork, splitting to go after individual targets. Ksaize had divided his armies into four when he began the campaign; the largest, now based at Ardis in western Ardeal, will leave only as many troops as are needed to maintain order in Ardis before linking up with the smallest (hardly more than a detachment) at Kavapesta and move to control the shores of the Whitsuntide, driving Lastwall from its improvised fortifications on the west bank of the river and leaving a few forces to hold and enhance those fortifications, before moving upriver with its main force to seize Chastel (in Lozeri, but on its eastern border) and invade Odranto from the west. The other two, under the control of various of his lieutenants, have already begun swinging to take control of Ardeal; as the castles of the knights of Ardeal fall, they will concentrate on the borders of Barstoi and Odranto. And if any suspect that these forces are of mere skeletons unfit to serve as more than laborers - well, his champions will provide any such fools who seek to challenge them with a rude awakening.


The day Razmir began discussing his plans to conquer Ustalav with them, Lastwall began drawing up plans for fortifications on the western banks of the Whitsuntide. This was not so much foresightedness, which would have told them not to encourage Razmir to conquer all of Ustalav that moron, but simple prudence.

There are, of course, two possible locations to build this fortress line, if one wanted to defending the Palatinates from the rest of Ustalav. The first, and more ambitious, would be the two river junctions that separate Ardis from Canterwall; where the Vistear flows into the Whitsuntide at the Ardis-Canterwall-Lozeri junction, and where the Senir and Upper Whitsuntide form the Whitsuntide. The problem is, of course, that Ardis has built fortresses there to cover an invasion from the west, and that it is indeed a much better defensive position from the east than from the west; there's about a hundred and fifty square miles of swamp where the rivers meet, with the only really good solid high ground being on the east side of the Whitsuntide (behold, Ardis sitting there) or north of the Vistear at Chastel.

Lastwall there only started with watchtowers at the two locations; building a castle in a swamp is very tricky business if you don't want it to sink, involving a lot of summoned earth elementals to steer the stone to where you can turn it into a foundation, and the construction of a castle at Chastel occupied most of Lozeri's attention. (Also, they weren't sure just when it would be needed.)

The other option for a defensive line is twenty miles further west; the Vistear-Whitsuntide marsh hinders any crossing from east or from west, and the soggy trees west of it (and the massively, tremendously haunted ruin at its heart) are a serious barrier for an army. But where the Vistear flows between the Rotwood and the Shudderwood (USTALAV!) it is the sole pathway between northern Canterwall and the east, and a pair of fortified and warded castles on each side of it can command the river against almost any assault - while that assault would, yes, need to get all its supplies from the Vistear and through Miles And Miles Of Bloody March.

The problem, of course, is that this leaves southern Canterwall, which has a fifteen-mile border instead of any kind of chokepoint, vulnerable to raids across from the flatlands of far-northern Amaans and hills of central-western Amaans, which have been swallowed into Wielki Ksiaze's empire of undeath, and abandons the most populous stretch of Lozeri between the Whitsuntide to the Shudderwood, to the enemy.

Lastwall would say they hate hard choices but in fact they do not, actually, hate life that much.

Total: 200
Posts Per Page: