Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dominion Stats -- Randel

Randel is an impressive and troublesome neighbor.  It explains the paranoia of the Shadow Lords who spend a considerable amount of effort and resources to dissuade the Randelese from coming their way as they had so many times in history.

At a glance, Randel enjoys a living space just under the size of Haven and an army of equivalent size for the same population density.  For Arogansa, this is an awful fact.  Randel’s population and military are about four times that of the tourism capital.  Theranderol hardly presents a challenge to Randel for similar reasons, however, politics wholly disqualify the former as a target, since it ties directly with the imperial family.  Despite Eadrin’s more densely populated realm, Randel still outnumbers more than two-to-one its population, land forces, and navy.  For that matter, Randel’s warrior caste lines up almost as many troops and about twice as many ships than Vertiloch’s Imperial Cohorts and could easily double these numbers.

In spite of a relatively low population density, Randel benefits from the relatively recent founding of new towns financed at great cost by visionary merchants and bankers in exchange for royal charters guaranteeing autonomy from local feudal authorities.  Under pressure from the monarchy, Randel’s dukes and counts went along with the scheme, transferring some of their own lands in the process.  It was a stiff price to pay, but these high-placed aristocrats negotiated with the monarchy guarantees of their own that towns under their control would never be granted any such charters.  This was imperative because all of the older towns had also started to investigate the possibility of obtaining similar autonomy.  If the latter had their way, consequences would prove disastrous to the wealth and prestige of dukes and counts controlling them.  Furthermore, preferential trade rights were consented to the aristocracy in their dealings with local chartered towns.  The presence of wealthy trade centers also boosted commerce and population growth within nearby dominions, outweighing the initial loss of real estate.  This consideration was crucial since nearly a quarter of the realm’s entire population clung stubbornly along the banks of the Randel River.

The largest beneficiary of the new arrangements was the Grand Duchy of Dmilikovia, by far the largest dominion and virtually deserted.  The majority of its population resided in Dmiliburg, the second largest town in Randel, very far behind the capital city.  A crafty character, Grand Duke Vadim Dmilikov, sponsored the founding of no less than three free towns to help develop his dominion’s population, including Telsadun (the oldest and most successful of such towns,) Scythe, and Morningstar.  Nearby Sealidun helped establish the free town of Awlsburg more as a buffer with Dmilikovia than for any other reason.  Not to be left behind, the County of Dmiress followed suit much more recently, with Blayde, to help open up for navigation the silted mouth of the Greenwind River and thus compete with Dmiliburg for lucrative upriver trade.  The most recent venture came with the free town of Earspoon, sponsored by the Count of Pemskaya as a way to help develop the county’s lawless hinterland.

No other charters succeeded thus far, especially in the realm’s western half because the most practical and potentially profitable sites lay closest to the more highly populated east coast, preferably on navigable rivers.  Potential candidates nonetheless included the Duchy of Kedylebone, unsuccessful for lack of a good-enough spot, and a joint-venture involving the Counties of Hoddivia and Ranseur, for a site between Vervelles and Hounskull along the Icewind River.  Lady Valoria of Ranseur speculated that a free town there would benefit her dominion economically, while Lord Marnal of Hoddives saw it more as a good way to help defend Hoddivia’s northern border from potential Bettellyn invasions.  So far, negotiations have focused on where along the river to found a new free town.  Hot tempers of the two aristocrats, interested parties from the two nearby villages, merchant greed, and disagreeing military advisors have so far prevented any resolution despite the monarchy’s arbitration.

 Anecdotally, some have wondered about the unusual “Earspoon” moniker for the southernmost chartered town, to which Earspooners cheerfully answer: “Because it hurts more!”  Despite the plethora of polearm-inspired names, free towns are primarily merchant endeavors.  These urban centers do not harbor any household warriors answering to local aristocracy, let along royal troops.  They rely entirely on their militias, which, compared to older towns’ levies, prove generally of good military quality.  Despite royal guarantees, a fear persists in the back of the merchants’ minds that local dukes or counts might seize their towns by force, now that they’ve grown so successful—a good-quality militia stands as a further guarantee of peace and prosperity.  As part of the charters’ agreements, free towns are nevertheless obligated to furnish the monarchy with a significant part of their militias in times of war, or pay expensive fines.

After a few decades of trial and error, chartered towns had attracted new population and business from other mainland Alphatian regions and Bellissaria, yielding more manpower and income for the kingdom as a whole.  The monarchy’s policy of encouraging the creation and prominence of knightly orders sworn to loyalty is another way to militarize a greater part of the population without the risk of treachery or rebellion inherent to large numbers of people bearing arms.  Farming in Randel easily covers the needs of growing urban centers and of the warrior castes.  Such fellowships as the Draconic Orders are very well regarded because of their strategy of self-sufficiency rooted in the establishment of commanderies to settle the wilderness.  Their goal of protecting and yet keeping under control Randel’s significant dragon population is another clear benefit, as it enables reasonably secure farming within relative proximity of lairs.

Royal Troops for the most part remain in Rardish, the capital city.  One might wonder why, since an objective observation should reveal Bettellyn as the greatest peril.  The ancestral siege of the kingdom in Rardish and the gut-level distrust of Eadrin’s Shadow Lords have traditionally convinced Randelese monarchs to keep a strong force in and around the capital city.  Bettellyn agents provocateurs regularly stoke the fire of Randel’s phobias, perpetrating paranoia on both sides to keep as many of Randel’s troops as possible away from the northern border.  A conflict between the two is even more desirable, with Bettellyn quietly helping one side or the other to prevent closure of the conflict.

Border forts and castles (other than those belonging to knightly orders) house royal and local county forces.  The latter usually guard towns and villages within aristocratic dominions*.  The small town of Ranseur exceptionally features a royal garrison for strategic reasons.  Out of the realm’s six small towns, five are chartered and thus rely solely upon their own militias.  Ranseur accounts for all of the 2,000 troops listed in the statistics for the six small towns (see chart at the end of the article.)  Telsadun has grown enough to qualify as a “large” town with more than 5,000 citizens.

(*) Using this definition, it becomes easy to estimate actual troop strengths under each dominion's control.  For example, Dmiress commands 2,000 troops (or HD-worth of such) in Dmireton, plus a whopping 20 brave fellows in the villages of Vambrace and Pauldron, and about half of the troops in Fort Fauchard and Fort Guisarme, for a total of 2,520 (not counting royal garrisons.)  Light mobile forces usually patrol borderlands and enforce the count’s laws.  There is no authority to be enforced in wilderness regions.  The population density map shows in yellow where wilderness lies (click HERE for this map.)  In addition to Dmiress’s forces, 100 experienced combatants hold the Commandery of the Eye.  Draconic Orders as a whole line up a grand total 7,500 troops (or HD-worth of such) if all five brotherhoods are in play (see previous post,) among which figure 211 mage-knights.  Naturally, only one order may be called in battle to avoid frictions.

Although Randel is a powerful military force, it remains somewhat fractious.  Its military orders don’t necessarily work together well.  Rivalries notorious among Draconic Orders exist among other fighting fellowships.  The only truly integrated land force is the one under direct control of the monarchy.  It consist of 11,856 household warriors in Rardish (including 160 of the King’s Dragoons,) the entire garrison of 500 at Fort Spetum, 1,500 troops out of the 2,000 posted in Ranseur as mentioned earlier, and half of all troops assigned to border forts and castles (another 4,500), for a grand total of 18,356 troops or HD-worth of such.  This represents about 40% of all land forces defending Randel.  Considering there are fifteen dominions making up the remaining 60%, royal authority appears very stable and uncontested from a military point of view.

The King’s Dragoons are unusual troops.  They qualify as mounted infantry carrying single-shot rods enchanted with lightning bolts.  These sturdy, three-foot long carved rods are curious devices with hammer-axes or pick-axes at one end and a sharp silver spike at the other.  They only carry a single charge to prevent the enemy from capturing and using them.  Dragoons are trained to ride to a threatened area of a battlefield, dismount, release their bolts in a devastating volley, and flip their rods around to their armed ends, enabling them to fight in a melee and hold their ground.  Dragoons can also be used as engineering sappers or for law enforcement in rural areas.  Their horses are generally of a lesser quality than traditional cavalry because dragoons do not fight while mounted. They can easily be recognized from their high boots, elaborate steel breastplates, and shiny helms fitted with long horsehair tails flowing from the top.

Randel’s naval forces boasts 86 vessels, 49 of which theoretically hailing from Rardish.  That many ships right on Eadrin’s border would be a truly worrisome predicament for the Shadow Lords, except that this threat just isn’t there most of the time.  There are two reasons for this.  One is that an equally troublesome neighbor blesses Randel’s entire northern border: Bettellyn.  If Randel generally demonstrates a bellicose disposition, Bettellyn scores no worse.  Because both command large numbers of troops, imperial authorities have deemed useful in their infinite wisdom to rely upon Bettellyn and Randel as a main source of troops to enforce its more-muscled diplomacy abroad.  This last detail tends to “otherwise occupy” up to half these two realms’ warriors and their ships--ever so thankfully for everyone else involved, including Vertiloch.  Compensation to Bettellyn and Randel has proven adequate so far to sustain the judicious policy.

So, by a prompt fiat of imperial statesmanship, we’re down to 43 ships, 25 of which based in Rardish.  Those sent abroad include primarily sailing ships better suited to high seas navigation, including every single troop transport.  The remaining metropolitan navy therefore includes 8 of the navy’s 10 airships, all 8 submersibles, 12 small galleys, and the 15 heavier galleys.  And these vessels do have their work cut out for them.

The home fleet’s responsibility is to patrol more than 600 miles of coastline and vital shipping lines, task assigned exclusively to airships and submersibles.  This gives them a frequency of one vessel for every 40 miles approximately (5 hexes.).  The fifteen largest galleys patrol the busy Randel River, allowing them a similar frequency as they sail in pairs.  Half of the 12 small galleys handle the daunting task of sailing the remaining rivers (the Firewind, Swordsmelt-Strongbolt, and Icewind-Greenwind Rivers.)  This amounts to nearly 300 miles of meandering waterways, allowing a frequency of 48 miles per galley.  All these rivers flow roughly eastward, which means ships must either use oars or be towed by teams of oxen on the banks to proceed upstream, unless winds are favorable.  Predominant winds blow toward the northeast, slowing progression upstream to a laborious 18 miles per day, whether towed or propelled by oar.  Traveling downstream doubles rowing speed (to 36 miles per day) and only partially helps sailing vessels, resulting in half their normal speed (averaging 45 miles per day.)  The purpose of patrolling rivers is to watch settled and borderlands areas, the staggering majority of which cling to coasts and waterways.


  1. Hello Bruce

    Excellent article, as ever.

    One quick question - you have listed the dragons in the military as level 3. Assuming that levels = Hit Dice, why is this figure so low?

  2. Oops - I've just realised that I read "dragoons" as "dragons"! Sorry about that.

    1. You beat me to it! The King's Dragoons are at the same XP level as heavy infantry. I understand the confusion with "dragons" considering the number of times I misspelled "dragoons" when I first typed the article.

  3. Hello, Bruce and thanks for all the marvelous stuff about Alphatia.

    I've just a question:
    How do you figure out the number of civilians (auxiliaries and camp followers) needed by an army? and number of tents, wagons... and so on?

    1. These numbers reflect research I'd made several years ago on medieval warfare. Books like Philippe Contamine's "War in the Middle Ages" were a good source among others. Are they accurate? Some guesswork is needed when it comes to "scientific data" on medieval strategy (at the end of the day, they're more like oil and water.) Information I post on auxiliaries and equipment are approximations meant more as illustrative guidelines than hard facts. If you have different numbers, please let me know--I'm always curious about these things.

    2. Thanks for the answer.

      About my methods, I just use proportions given in the rules (BECMI in my case) for some specialists (ex. smiths) and from that point I try to find some "plausible" proportions for others (like cooks and so on).

      An exemple about wagons: if I have 100 men, they'll eat a total of 100 rations/week; I know the encumbrance of the single ration and so how many of them can enter in a wagon....and so on including horses and other stuff (of cource a bit of excel saves me from tons of calculations ^_^)....

      Anyway, excellent work. I love Mystara and i've always wished to see a good close up on Alphatia like yours.

    3. Yes, I know exactly where you're coming from. Bear in mind that medieval armies tend to forage a lot, meaning that an "undisclosed" amount of food isn't transported at the onset of an expedition. Plenty of troops just walk (getting carried is a privilege for most.) Etc. Excel is indeed a savior when it comes to "gamefying" that sort of thing. :-)


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