The Military in Aerdy
During the rule of the House of Naelax, large standing armies have been maintained. This was primarily due to the desire on the part of North and South Provinces, and Medegia, to have security for their independence.
Of course, it was natural for the overking to respond in kind, and the one area where the overking undoubtedly had supremacy was naval (the Sea Barons being under Ivid’s control, unenthusiastically). Most of these armies had, in fact, relatively little to do most of the time outside of North Province, where the need to secure the Bone March and to maintain patrols and mount skirmish raids after its fall to humanoids in CY 563 kept troops busy.
Elsewhere, the Grandwood and Lone Heath were not attacked by Medegian armies, which were simply defensive for the most part. However, the Adri was raided by imperial armies of increasingly humanoid makeup. Ivid’s imperial armies also periodically stormed lands to take them into “royal trust.”
In most lands, though, without any wars, the armies grew ill-disciplined and poorly-trained.
Organizationally, the overking had his own imperial armies which could, in theory, be strengthened by calling upon a number of additional troops from each land – including the North and South Provinces and Medegia – whenever the overking so decreed. This principle stretched down the line; princes with large landholdings would often appoint liegemen purely on the grounds that those liegemen had strong militia the prince could call upon when needed (or which acted purely as a deterrent to other princes eyeing up the lands).
In practice, however, the overking only could call upon extra armies from his nobles to the extent that he could persuade or cow them into supplying – as Ivid V found out in the Greyhawk Wars.
The final chapter of this book gives details of the major armies in Aerdy at this time; their troop numbers, equipment, morale and more. Individual gazetteer chapters also describe any unusual, elite, or otherwise special military units, such as the Companion Guard in Rauxes. In this initial overview, we can take a look at the politics of the military.
Aerdy rulers always have been careful to ensure that senior military commanders do not acquire too much political power. In theory, of course, the overking himself is supreme commander of all his armies and military forces. The imperial army has also always avoided having any landholding princes of real note among its generals and marshals. This was done simply to reduce the possibility of any military coup.
However, the House of Naelax introduced a distinctly political quality to the senior commanders in two ways. First, it favored its own scions of Naelax as commanding officers to ensure loyalty. Second, it favored minor, powerful princelings who had some grudge with members of their own house.
Disinherited princes, princes left with little or no land, or poor princes not supported by their richer siblings were the usual candidates. This allowed the House of Naelax to claim that commands were fairly spread around different royal houses (disguising their own nepotism). Actually, they made sure that other houses were divided, rendering major princes insecure and vulnerable. This prevented the princes from offering a serious challenge to the rule of Naelax.
These minor princes were almost always incompetent and weak commanders, so that the armies they nominally led were commanded in effect by their advisers and junior officers—who tended to be hand-picked by Ivid to serve his interests. This worked well for Naelax in some ways, but it also generated a growing contempt for the senior officers among the more able junior and middling officers and even veteran troops of the imperial armies. This, in turn, made it more likely that they would desert the overking and mutiny from sheer disillusion when the opportunity came.
The humanoid armies increasingly recruited in North Province by the overking were always commanded by Ivid himself. On the ground, priests of Hextor or fiendknights usually controlled day-to-day discipline and operations. Although humanoid armies often have poor morale, the Lawful nature of orcs and the leaders chosen to marshal them made up for that by ensuring that discipline was usually good. That was before the Iron Schism, of course, but more on that shortly.
A special mention must be made of armies maintained by certain churches and religious orders within Aerdy. This always has been a strong tradition with martial faiths (Heironeous, Hextor, etc.). Outside of Aerdy, it is seen in its strongest development in the Theocracy of the Pale, for centuries part of the Great Kingdom.
Such armies were paid for by tithes and taxes levied by priests, who were themselves landholders, especially in Medegia. Or they were paid for from monies given by other landholders to the church.
The independence of Nyrond, Urnst, and the Theocracy was pivotal, so far as Aerdy’s religious warriors were concerned. Turmoil followed for decades between the crowns and the priesthoods of Heironeous and Pholtus to a lesser extent. The autonomy of the governments caused a great rush of exiles. Powerful men defected to the Theocracy, Urnst, Nyrond, and Almor, even to Furyondy, often taking their armies with them. This left the priesthood of Hextor in a position of unchallenged supremacy among the martial faiths.
There are now few church armies left intact in Aerdy – Medegian armies having been decimated by the overking’s destruction of that land. Where they do exist, however, they are of superior quality and morale. Few of them are actually priests, paladins, or ardent followers of the faith. But they tend to have fair to good equipment, and they know that either combat magic or magical healing are routinely on hand, which helps their morale.