In keeping with my usual habit of just writing whatever inspires me rather than really having any rhyme or reason, I started thinking about military units that might exist in my homebrew campaign and how they would operate. Eventually, I thought my players might use them, especially since one of the options I gave them for the campaign was for it to be a story of conquest. Of course, being players, they’ve shown no interest in what I thought the campaign would be so only a couple of these units have appeared. Though, I am using them in my fiction, too.
Anyway, the Ravnivori Empire is much like Spain, France and Britain during the colonial era. The people who can afford to mount an expedition get to and most of the military units are pseudo mercenaries. While there is a standing army, there is not a void navy large enough to transport it, so invading Retra would be a mistake but mustering up a planetary invasion force is currently impossible for the Ravnivori.
One common method for determining and describing the effectiveness and abilities of one of the Imperial Military units is by identifying the wolf it carries. A unit that has proven its worth to the Empire is granted the right to bear an Imperial wolf on all the standards that the unit carries. The Emperor himself grants this honor and he generally only grants one or two per year. However, simply gaining a wolf is not the end. The Emperor not only grants the unit the right to bear a wolf but names the type of material the wolf can be made of. An Imperial wolf is always a high honor so they are never made of mundane materials but always a precious metal. When a wolf is granted, it is usually established as a copper wolf. If the unit later proves itself more valuable to the empire and distinguishes itself further in the Emperor’s eyes, he will grant the unit the right to bear a better wolf. Only the most honored units gain the right to bear a platinum wolf. And both of these processes can be reversed if a unit displeases the Emperor. A unit can suffer a demotion in the level of wolf they can bear or even have the right to bear a wolf stripped entirely. The ranks of Imperial Wolves in ascending order are: None, Copper, Brass, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Hammers of Doom: A strictly Ravnivori Dwarven unit, the Hammers of Doom are lead by Ulfgar Ironhead. A rather unique unit, they are one of the few Dwarven cavalry units in the Empire. What makes them unique, however are their steeds. Rather than riding living mounts, the Hammers of Doom go into battle riding mechanical rams. These wonders of artifice are not as fast as flesh and blood horses, but are much sturdier and bypass many of the limitations such flesh and blood mounts suffer. For example, they need no food or air and can stand completely still indefinitely and even be partially collapsed and stacked atop each other. This makes them perhaps the most efficient cavalry unit in the Empire for traveling on Void Runners. The Hammers of Doom need only stock provisions and account for air usage of the Dwarves themselves and the entire unit and their gear take up only 5 tons worth of cargo space whereas most cavalry units require an entire hold for their animals. The Hammers travel on their own Hammership, a vessel also named the Hammer of Doom and the unit essentially lives on the ship. In addition to the unit itself, there are also dedicated sailors and weapons crews as well as a handful of Arcanomancers who construct and maintain the mechanical rams. As an elite unit, recruitment into the Hammers of Doom is quite an honor. Only dwarves are chosen with preference given to Ravnivori dwarves. The dwarf must be a master rider, which is quite rare and an expert with the warhammer, eliminating even more potential candidates. Not a few dwarves practice for years, focusing all their energy on the unique skills needed to become a Hammer before even being considered. The Hammers of Doom are a relatively small unit with only 20 members, though there are an additional 30 dwarves who serve as support to the warriors.
Hurzah’s Ravens: Lead by Kreok Hurzah, a skilled Troglyn archer and master ranged tactician, the Ravens recruit only skilled archers. While not every archer in the Ravens is a master marksman, Hurzah recruits each member personally. He looks for natural talent, developed skill, a sharp mind and the ability to follow orders rapidly and precisely with no care for gender or species. This combination of traits in each of his archers means that none of them are particularly remarkable but as a unit, they are extremely lethal as a unit, capable of laying down withering clouds of arrows in enemy units. Until approximately 5 years ago, this unit was lead by the Amazon Ionia and was known as Ionia’s Ravens. Hurzah was her lieutenant and she bequeathed the unit to him when she became and independent contractor for the Emperor. The Ravens are a fairly large unit, currently numbering 46 members. This value varies from as low as 40 to as high as 50 depending upon how many losses they have taken and how much time Hurzah has had to recruit replacements.
Rolling Thunder: A relatively new unit, it was formed in the latter years of the conquest of Shan by a Ravnivori soldier named Matias. He was completely fascinated by the elephants and assorted kaiju that existed in the Shan lands and even more enamored of their usage as living war machines. With the help of a few backers, he managed to capture and buy a few elephants and a single kaiju and get them trained. In the few battles they were able to fight in, they proved quite decisive but, unfortunately, for Matias, the war ended soon after he formed his unit. There was little use for the massive beasts in the peace keeping capacity that the Ravnivori military took on after the conquest of Shan and he retired, earning a meager living by charging curiosity seekers for the privilege of seeing his animals. His hopes were raised when he discovered that there were Void Runners and that the Imperial conquest would continue. He was certain that the Imperial military would need his animals. He was largely wrong. While Rolling Thunder is quite effective when it is fielded, it suffers from a logistical problem. Each of Matias’ animals is so big that it is difficult to transport more than one or two on a ship and they utilize a great deal of the air that is held on a Void Runner. He has actually found little work for his unit though again his hopes have been raised. A magical researcher has developed a method for putting living creatures in a sort of hibernation that greatly reduces the amount of air and food they need. It takes some time to put the animals into hibernation and to take them out, so Rolling Thunder still has not become very popular though Matias remains hopeful.
Star Sharks: This unit only came into being after the use of Void Runners and are quite specialized to that purpose. Their focus is on combat on Void Runners and everyone in the unit brings some skill that accentuates Void Runner combat. Many of the members of this unit are Mechanids, both sentient and pre-sentient and not a few members are undead. A few of these undead are intelligent but most of them are mindless creatures controlled by other members of the unit. Low oxygen usage is a priority and the Star Sharks attempt to get as many combat worthy bodies upon a ship for as little oxygen use as they can. Those who are among the living in the classical sense are all highly trained and highly skilled at the usage of the assorted siege weapons used in ship to ship Void Runner combat. The most highly prized members of the Star Sharks are their impressive collection of living siege weapons. These creatures not only take up no air but need no crew to fire them. The Star Sharks were founded and are lead by a Mechanid named Art Fisher. Despite this public leader, rumors abound that the Star Sharks are actually a puppet organization for the Children of the Night and serve one of their unknown purposes, perhaps to gain information on the military structure and strength of the Empire.
The Right Hand of Amaz: Founded by the Temple of the Virtuous Maiden in the Sea of Grass plains in Almatia, this unit is composed entirely of females. These women all begin as orphans at the Temple and are trained from a young age to join the unit. They are trained in military tactics, archery and horsemanship. After a decade of training, and just as they become adults, those who excel at their training are inducted into the Right Hand of Amaz. A group of mounted archers, the Right Hand of Amaz specializes in hit and run and harassing tactics, supporting infantry, archers and siege units. They are highly skilled and greatly feared. Unlike some other units, they do not have established rates for their services but charge on a case by case basis. It is impossible to prove but most people assume that they charge males more than they charge females. Because of this and because of the high air need of their mounts, they have not found a great deal of success when Void Runners are involved.
The Adamant Corps: One of the oldest units in the Empire, the Adamant Corps was formed in the middle of the unification wars of the Ravnivori continent. In fact, they were friendly rivals to the Legion of the Abyss. Under the brilliant leadership of its founder, Tilion Kray, they expanded and proved themselves invaluable in the continuing expansion of the Empire. They have been an integral part of every war that the Empire engaged in during the conquering of Almatia and Shan. On countless occasions, they have held the battlefield against overwhelming odds long enough for the remainder of Ravnivori forces to reorganize. Even once the conquest of Shan was completed, the Adamant Corps did not disband like many other of the Empire’s units did. Thus they were still organized and ready when the Void Runners were discovered and have extended their service to the Empire into the stars. The Adamant Corps is a mixed unit. It includes infantry, cavalry, archers, siege engines and even still uses chariots. The unifying theme of the unit is that they are heavily armored. The Adamant Corps is known for its battle cry “Feed the Wolf” all most as much as for any of their history or acts.