I was told to write a back story for this map, so I spent some time on vacation this week doing that. Not quite sure what this should look like, so here goes.
Many years ago in the North Lands there arose a mighty empire forged by the will of Lintin the First. From a humble birth in the City of Sawstin he began his adult life in his lords’ infantry ranks gaining acclaim while saving the Duchess of Triny from highwaymen. His Lord, Prince Hector Sawstin rewarded the rescue of his fiancée with a commission to captain and an appointment to the Royal Guards. From this point Lintin’s organizational and leadership skills where allowed to develop until he was finally named Marshal of Sawstin Ground Forces, second in command of the Sawstin Army.
The marriage of the Prince gave Sawstin it’s most powerful ally. Triny was at the time the most prosperous maritime province in the North controlling not only Stortinia and Squrdel but also Land’s End. She traded as far away as Halprin and the Outer Shoals. As he rose in the ranks Lintin absorbed all of this. When he traveled with his lord to Mandlin he saw their riches for himself. He also saw a difficult land to defend from the sea. On the long voyage back he sowed the seed in his lords’ mind, of a united North under Triny rule, under his lords’ rule.
On their return Lintin was sent north into the region then known as Brinn. There he was able to unite a large bloc of northern tribes and clans. He returned to the capitol in Sawstin with 4000 spears only to find his lord dead and his generals revolting against the Duchesses rule.
Quickly he struck with fiery. First the ancient citadel at Stretin was razed to the ground. Then 2000 men assaulted the armies of the Duke of Jaltrin capturing 600 men and the Duke himself. Slowly life returned to normal. Her Majesty was coroneted and the eastern empire Lintin had forged for her was brimming with excitement over the coming invasion.
The invasions of the city-states of Brend and Flastin where the first step and would deny long time enemies a flank to exploit. Nirthia was conquered next, violating that nation’s 400 year old neutrality, with the idea of attacking the powerful kingdom of Throlia, at the time the largest, most powerful army in the region. However, after the islands where taken her Majesty died suddenly of poisoning.
Lintin returned home expecting to find the capitol in revolt again. Instead he was welcomed by the revolutionaries as a hero. The Queen, he was told had made a deal with the Throlian King to divide Mandlin between them. Lintin was to made King and allowed to continue with the plans as before. Lintin agreed and was crowned the following day.
His first royal act was to have four conspirators, including two of his own brothers, hanged from the neck and more than a dozen more where rounded up and imprisoned or tortured to death. His second act was to sign the treaty with the very nervous Throlian delegation. Throlia agreed that Triny was the new power in the North and would agree to attack the Upper Dinn and Halprin. Meanwhile Lintin dispatched two assaults, one against the Outer Shoals and one against the Hasbrin.
The Outer Shoals where sparsely populated and virtually undefended and they fell in a matter of days. “As fast as we could row to the next island,” recalled one veteran.
Soon after Mandlin found itself assaulted on all sides and was helpless in a matter of months. By the fall she had capitulated and signed treaties dismantling her nation. Lintin by this time was an old man and dying. He lived to see the North come under his control but left it to his son, Holtin, to see the entire North united under one banner.
That winter Lintin abdicated while he was still well enough to make sure that Holtin’s ascension went smoothly. By the time he died the following summer the ships of Norlan, as the empire came to be known, where already sailing far to the south and trading with many ports in strange lands. He had also seen the camps of armies that would bleed the following spring on the fields of Yades and the shores of Claredale. He thought he knew the empire would last forever.
But alas the conquest of Throlia marked the downfall of Norlan. Holtin was killed on the final field of battle and lesser men assumed his place. Finally the nations of the south saw Norlan itself as a threat and began to move against her. Armadas from the south raided the Outer Shoals and Land’s End, with a few even finding the fertile plains of Hoppele. Internal dynamics played out as well. Of the line of military men who ascended to kingship only one, Fenter the Bold, had the power to completely unite the provinces of the empire. He managed to turn away southern raiders and even make small assaults on far away shores. But without support those gestures where meaningless.
Fenter’s single largest contribution to Norlan’s downfall was to institute a Tribunal Council that would assume emergency powers if the Emperor where disabled or killed. Over the years the Tribunal Council expanded from three to five, then eight members and increased its prestige and power accordingly. The name was also changed at this time to the Imperial Council.
Soon they where vetoing Fenter and raising private armies to back up those vetoes and calling for an expansion of the Council into a 23-member body with the ability to make and write law. Civil War loomed in the air as people began taking sides, Loyalists against the Republicans. In the south these fires where flamed as Counter-Revolutionary groups sprang up, funded by jubilant southerners hoping to tear apart their northern neighbor.
The only thing that saved Fenter and the empire was the coldest winter in a hundred years. The Republican armies couldn’t be fed as they couldn’t move into the cities without a fight, and they weren’t ready to fight yet. So the men simply went home as armies do when they aren’t being fed. In the spring the Republican forces had dwindled to less than 2000 and these had little fight in them when confronted by well-fed and well-clothed Loyalists.
Attention turned to the counter-revolutionaries, when it became known that there were traitors amongst them, working with foreign powers the population, loyalist and republican alike, had had enough. The counter-revolutionaries where hounded out and rounded up for quick hangings and for the time Norlan was stable. But the Republicans where never completely eliminated and persisted as a political group for years to come. Six of the eight council members where hung as traitors. But the council, root of the problems, was reformed-- eight strong, with new members, more loyal to Fenter, including his two sons.
With the threats to the south under control and the fighting fresh on peoples mind the Norlan Army and Navy became complacent. Recruitment dropped and an unpopular draft was raised. Also, for the first time in 200 years levies where taken in the spring for induction training. Fenter’s death was seen as a blessing by some.
However, all would come to miss the days of his rule. The Council split on a successor. Fenter’s sons, Clydus and Politin both claimed their father’s throne. The final vote came down 4-4. Sabers where rattled and finally the death nail: to save the empire the empire would be divided. Clydus would inherit Trindania, with the southern part of Sawstin Province, the Outer Shoals, and Nirthia. Politin would inherit Mandlin, Throlia, and Lintin. But Sawstin would be divided into three provinces, Sawstin in the south and Jaltrin and Stretin in the north.
Here the boundaries where laid and Politin moved by ship with Clydus to Throlia where he would then move to Mandlin. Over the years the two brothers clashed infrequently and traded to the south even less so. Norlan fell behind in the times and began to become more and more isolated from the world. Upon Politin’s death his heirs where able to maintain their wealth and kept Mandlin strong, but Clydus left no heir and his death left a weak Imperial Council in control that men from the south exploited.
An invasion force was landed on the Outer Shoals. 19,000 men total, they moved swiftly and with purpose. By the following spring they had moved into Trindania and taken Greysmiths’ Falls. Trindania was weak by this time and offered no hard resistance. If Norlan where to be saved then the men of Lintin and Mandlin would be the ones to do it.
In the valleys of the Lower Dinn and the swamps of Dinn they fought and bled, but there where simply too many invaders, Norlan was too weak. The heirs of Clydus and Politin had been spoiled by their wealth and had let there fortresses crumble and their warships rot in harbor. When the capitol at Halprin was finally assaulted all the once glorious empire could do to defend her was to arm women and old men.
Scattered bands fled for the countryside. There they waited out a dreadful winter and made plans to renew an offensive in the spring. The Southern men had a harder time with the harsh winter even though they where in the comforts of cities and towns. By the time the roads had thawed the Southern men where ready for home. When the small legions of Norlan faithful assaulted them that spring the Southern Armies where pushed back onto the coasts. They had their backs to the ocean and rarely patrolled inland, but they had control of the sea and would sortie men up the coast to attack villages and garrisons of opportunity. They also received shipload after shipload of supplies from home and stayed behind their coastal strongholds for three long years.
Finally in the summer of that third year the Norlan Army and Navy had been rebuilt. Their commander Marshal Yulpy, Duke of Brend had a simple plan: surround the five major Southern ports from land and sea. After the supplies where cut off they would infiltrate small groups of men to destroy supplies in the city and kill stragglers. It was also the only way to release nearly 8,000 cavalry for the almost impossible job of patrolling the remaining coast and keeping an eye on the dozen or so smaller Southern garrisons along the coast. These smaller garrisons would be attacked in turn by a smaller force of 1,500 men. This would still give odds of better than five to one against the smaller garrisons and allow the larger forces to block reinforcement. Small naval forces where also sent to deny escape. The plan would take the remainder of the year and into the next Yulpy reasoned, but it was the best that could be done. The Imperial Council agreed and approved his plan.
Slowly through the summer and fall the small garrisons where wiped out, captured, or evacuated to the larger ports if time permitted. When naval operations where halted because of ice flow dangers Yulpy ordered the small assault force, now at 800 to attack the last two small garrisons before spring. He reasoned that if his men where afraid to sail anymore the southern ships would be too.
He was slightly wrong. It the last days after Yulpy pulled his navy out of blockade the southern navy was able to run ships into harbor and then ice them for winter, their crews joining the infantry for the duration. It wasn’t much-- but it got the 10,000 men in the major port garrisons through the winter.
In the spring the plan was simple also, assault the smallest garrison at Halprin first. Then use the assault force and the blocking force as a combined force to attack the next port at Throlia. By the summer Yulpy had also captured Land’s End and the East Reef. He made the difficult decision to attack Triny and Sawstin at the same time now that his force was nearly 16,000 in the combined force and 2,500 in each blocking force. His estimate was that 6-7,000 Southerners remained, divided between the two ports.
That fall the armadas left Throlia and Nirthia for there beaches. Triny fell quickly and without much of a fight. Sawstin held out into the winter before surrendering on the brink of starvation. However, before the city fell disaster struck. Yulpy was aboard ship bound for the new capital at Triny when Southern raiders fell upon his convoy. He and all three ships where lost with all hands.
The power void has descended over Norlan once more. Generals, Dukes, Republicans, and Admirals all vie for control of the once again proud empire. Do you have what it takes?