Friday, 16 September 2016

The Army of the Grey Mountains

Since writing yesterday's post I've been batting around ideas for my Bretonnia / Dwarf allied army: who they are, what they're doing, how they're doing it. I'm not yet ready to forge it into a complete narrative but here are a few of the ideas I think have legs (horse legs or short legs but legs whichever way)...

Castle Desfleuves
and the Warden of the Passes

Castle Desfleuves is located in the Gisoreux Gap, one of the two passes through the Grey Mountains to the Empire. Its purpose is pretty obvious: not only to protect against invading armies coming through the pass or down from the mountains but also to handle the diplomacy and trade with the Empire and the Grey Dwarfs.

In my version, Desfleuves is the seat of the Warden of the Passes, supreme military commander of all castles and holdfasts from the Pale Sisters in the north to the southern border of Montfort just south of Axe Bite Pass. Now, that territory happens to cross two duchies so there can be some nice political complications for the warden.

Solution to this would seem to me to be that the warden acts under royal warrant and that their authority supersedes the dukes of Gisoureux and Montfort. Also, they would have access to long term alliances, such as...

The Dwarfs of Karak Ziflin

Karak Ziflin, like Castle Desfleuves, is completely undefined in the canon background. All it has is a location: it sits in the mountains just north of Axe Bite Pass. Its a Grey hold which means it is rather poorer in terms of materials than the holds in the Worlds Edge Mountains and so maybe they don't have as much material to make armour and weapons and supply their armies. Thus, centuries ago they entered into an oath of mutual protection with the wardens at Castle Desfleuves.

This explains why the fast-moving, gun-hating Bretonnians are tooling around with the slow-moving, gun-loving Dwarfs. Karak Ziflin tithes troops and engineers to Desfleuves including Rangers and Gyrocopters to act as outriders. The two armies operate independently in the main but when they need help they know who to call.

There's tension in the different ways they fight. Bretonnians have this hatred of ranged warfare, “the coward's weapon that kills from afar”, but they can't debate the honour of dwarfs which is beyond reproach. Still, a little tension between allies never did a story any harm.

The Brothers Borsson

Main characters for the dwarf contingent are Aelfrid and Lief Borsson. Aelfrid is my Runesmith and Lief is my Master Engineer. They're both makers of things and I imagine, given how mobile the Bretonnians are compared to dwarfs, that the dwarfs' main job in the alliance is building and maintaining defences. I also like the idea of having family ties between the scientific and religious officers of the army, not that the two roles are opposed in dwarf society what with both engineering and runesmithing taking place in the forges.

Still, some tension between the traditionalism of the runic arts and the experimentalism of the engineering guild could make for some nice conversations.

The Family de Martrand

The Warden of the Passes is Lady Sabifa de Martrand. Sabifa is a character from my Empire army. She's Bretonnian on her father's side (her mother was Arabyan, they met during a crusade) and has been living in exile in the Empire for some years. She's a Bright Wizard, hence her exile, its not one of the disciplines that Bretonnians make common use of and might have been seen as witchcraft. However, with her father death she's acceded to the title and has some measure of royal protection.

I've already talked to my friends and they're happy for me to run her as a Damsel of the Lady using the Lore of Fire.

As to the rest of the family, my Bretonnian Lord will be Sabifa's uncle Black Hal de Martrand, so named for his killing a black dragon in single combat. He'll probably have a son or something to be the battle standard bearer.

The Rangers of Karak Ziflin

So, the basic Dwarf infantry kits have a funny number of models in them. They date back to the days of four men to a rank so you get sixteen of them to a box. So here's the plan:

I have two boxes of Warriors and one box of Thunderers. The Thunderers I will just make as Thunderers but keep the spare parts on hand. Twenty of the thirty-two warriors will be made as warriors. As for the remaining twelve I'll mix up warrior great weapons and the crossbows from the Thunderer/Quarrellers kits to make Rangers. I'll also use the cloaked bodies from the three kits (which come to an even twelve) so I can give them a unique visual character.

Graeme and his companions

I have dwarf spare parts. Lots of dwarf spare parts. I have a character known as the Friend Of Dwarves, a natural liaison between the two sides. Not only can I make a nice, characterful model for Graeme himself but maybe also use some other bits to create a whole unit of dwarf-themed Questing Knights.

Enemies Everywhere

What can we have as antagonists? Obviously there are Orcs & Goblins in the mountains; Night Goblins and Skaven under them; the ever-present threat of Chaos; Imperial deserters and Bretonnian outlaws taking refuge in the peaks; and the undead out of Mousillion. Plenty to be getting on with even before we get to the Bretonnian nobles who aren't happy about this Imperial-educated witch being handed a wardenship by the king.

Yes, things are going to go a bit Richard Sharpe, plenty of enemies on the same nominal side as our heroes.

The Colours of War

Bretonnians are as varied as they come, each knight having a different heraldry but I think I can stretch the point to having some recurring motifs. Red and black as the de Martrand family heraldry to be used on banners, on champions who will be nephews and cousins of the family, and on the shields and shirts of peasants seems like a nice time saver.

As to the dwarfs, there are some illustrations in the army book that make me like the idea of deep blues and reds unifying the army with plate armour in silver and scales armour in bronze. I tried an all-bronze colour scheme once and it looked terrible but I think mixing it up a bit will give things a lot more visual interest for me. First order of business will be to test this colour scheme out, probably on something singular. I think the Runesmith has all the requisite materials: plate and scale armour, some sleeves and a cloak, enough to test out every colour I'll be using.

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