Military Forces of the Late Third Age
Although Saradomin is from Teragard, he has little remaining tie to the culture or technology of that world. Saradominist culture is instead based largely on icyene culture, filtered through the interpretation of Saradomin himself and his many human followers. As more and more humans from the former Zarosian empire joined Saradomin, they brought with them Zarosian cultural mores, some of which were adopted into the culture as a whole. Saradomin's people and forces are nearly fanatically loyal to him, as he devotes a great deal of effort to making sure this is the case.
Theme & Terminology
Saradomin's forces use a mixture of Ancient Greek/Successor (800-200BC) and Byzantine (600-1100AD) terms, especially the Eastern Orthodox church which combines Catholocism and Hellenism. Centaurs and icyene, both highly mobile on the battlefield, tend to use cavalry terminology. The official language of the Saradominists is Icyene (koine greek) but a huge proportion of the human population can only speak Infernal (latin).
In the second age the forces of Saradomin were divided by race into tourmai. There were four tourmai, one each for icyene, centaurs, dwarves and humans. Each tourma is led by a tetrarch who represents that race to Saradomin. Historically the tourmai fought separately by forming complete armies of the separate races.
Over the course of the god wars, Saradomin reorganised his forces into combined arms regiments called tagmata. Each tagma included complementary troops from each of the tourmai and were far more effective in combat. A tagma is commanded by an officer called a strategos. In principle a strategos could be of any race, but in practice almost all of them are icyene. Although they started out as mere organisational divisions, in imitation of the successful Zamorakian legions the tagmata have each formed more and more of a unique identity to foster morale and camaraderie. By the end of the third age Saradominist soldiers typically see themselves as members of their tagma first and their tourma a distant second.
Together the tetrarchs and strategoi form the war council that advises Saradomin, although the influence of the tetrarchs has started to lessen in recent centuries as the tourmai have become less relevant. Saradomin's title as commander is polemarchos autokrator.
Saradominist tactics changed dramatically during the conversion to the integrated tagmata, but haven't significantly changed since. The humans form a solid and near immobile defensive formation called a phalanx which is positioned in an attempt to control the battlefield. Imcando dwarves deploy behind the phalanx and direct devastating artillery fire. Skirmishing units of centaurs and icyene harass the enemy and try to force them to confront the phalanx. At this point heavy centaur shock cavalry attack the flanks and rear of the enemy once they are engaged and attempt to break the enemy formation. The centaurs and icyene then run down and slaughter the fleeing enemies.
Tactically the Saradominist weakness is their overreliance on hierarchy and a strict chain of command. Saradominist leaders are expected to verify orders with their direct superior, who verifies with theirs (and so on) and given little independent tactical authority. Under optimal circumstances this can prove very efficient, but if anything disrupts communication or a leader is removed from the hierarchy, it can throw huge portions of the army into chaos.
Stronger, faster and more intelligent than the other Saradominist races, the icyene fill the role of elite and mobile forces within the tagmata. Although not quite as comfortable on the wing as the airborne aviansie, they still take full advantage of their ability to fly to manoeuvre and outflank in combat. The icyene's abilities, especially compared with the comparatively limited humans, has given them a strong arrogance which Saradomin has done little to discourage.
As all icyene are natural spellcasters, they default to providing devastating mobile ranged fire on the battlefield, often flying up and out of range of any retaliation. Dealing with this capability has become one of the key requirements for Saradomin's opponents, and the loss of the vampyres in Drakan's betrayal has left the Zamorakian legions extremely vulnerable.
Another alien race imported by Saradomin, centaurs are hybrids of human and unicorn famed for their powerful strength, tremendous speed and reputation for expert archery. In any other army, centaurs would serve proudly as elite ranged cavalry, but the flying icyene surpass them in this role. The centaurs thus embraced a role the lighter and more fragile icyene cannot, that of line breaking shock cavalry. This has lessened the battlefield use of centaur archers and subsequently lowered the value of archery within their culture.
Although most of the dwarves retreated underground at the start of the god wars, several clans renounced Guthix, swore loyalty to Saradomin and remained on the surface. Of these, only the Imcando clan survived to the end of the third age in sufficient numbers to remain relevant. The Imcando are very unusual dwarves, both for their fanatical faith in Saradomin and for their highly developed magical abilities. To the Imcando these are one and the same thing.
Weak, slow and ignorant in the judgement of Saradomin, humans nevertheless compose the vast majority of his forces. The teeming masses of the Zarosian empire which have since converted to Saradominism provide an endless source of troops for his armies as the number of icyene and centaurs falls, especially since the loss of Hallowvale. In battle humans are slow and immobile, and focused on defensive line holding and pinning enemy forces in place while the centaurs and icyene outflank.
A large organisation and cultural division exists between those humans who hail from Saradominist lands and those who are converts, sometimes less than willingly, from the former Zarosian empire.
The worship of Saradomin is open to any being provided they give themselves completely to his service. A relative handful of other creatures, native to Gielinor or from further abroad, serve him in this capacity, even a few demons and stranger things. They do not exist in large enough quantities to influence military organisation.
An ancient order of icyene knights, the hetairoi date from Saradomin's arrival on New Domina where they fought at his side as he conquered the planet. Some of the most politically important icyene nobles fight amongst the hetairoi, and many of them are extremely old and powerful. In combat they are heavy melee fighters, a rarity now amongst icyene, and only ever deployed where their mobility and power will turn the tide in a very significant battle with no great risk to themselves. Their skill at arms is almost unmatched on Gielinor, but they are quick to retreat to protect themselves in combat as each hetairos values its own life more highly than the outcome of the battle.
The optimatoi are a later order of knights that date to the invasion of Gielinor. Commoners who performed valorous feats that impressed Saradomin personally were inducted into their ranks, where they served as the most reliable heavy melee fighters of the icyene forces. The optimatoi are driven by personal honour and the need to achieve victory at any cost, and tend to be driven to unnecessarily risky tactics. The integration of the races into the tagmata has changed the battlefield role of the optimatoi, who are less tradition-bound than the hetairoi, and they now fight more frequently as elite magical skirmishers. The optimatoi maintain a great rivalry with the hetairoi, whom they see as undeserving elitists and opportunists.
With the fall of Hallowvale, there are not as many common icyene soldiers as there once were. Those that still remain fight as fast skirmishers, trying to preserve their numbers with long range hit and run tactics to harass the enemy and break up their formations. The unarmoured psiloi are vulnerable to the attacks of melee flying units, especially the demons and vampyres of Zamorak
Prodromoi are icyene scouts and spotters who range far ahead of the tagmata reporting on enemy positions and movements. In battle they serve as individual skirmishers and snipers, supporting their tagma by picking off vulnerable or isolated enemies. Individual prodromoi are resourceful and powerful individuals, but their small number means that their direct impact on battle is limited. In Saradominist folk tales, prodromoi are often heroes who arrive in troubled regions and personally resolve all of the problems facing the people there.
With the ascendance of the multi-racial tagmata, the kataphractoi have become the pride of the centaur, who previously valued skill with the bow. Kataphractoi are super-heavy shock cavalry, armoured from head to hoof in thick armoured plates that leave no part of them unprotected. Slow and unmanoeuvrable by centaur standards, the kataphractoi strike the heaviest part of the enemy line in order to turn the tide of battle with a devastating charge. Only the strongest centaurs can keep up with the full gallop while laden with so much armour, and this has led to a strong sense of aspiration and elitism surrounding these troops. Kataphractoi carry heavy lances called xystons and heavy hoplon shields. They also still retain bows for skirmishing, although they are not required to be especially proficient with them.
Prior to the integration of the tagmata the toxotai were the dominant portion of the centaur armies. Highly mobile and expert archers, they fought by outmanoeuvring their opponents and wearing them down with hails of accurate arrow fire before finishing the exhausting and demoralised enemies with a charge. In the tagmata, the toxotai have often been reduced to skirmishers and outriders, protecting the flanks of the human phalanx against flankers while the much more mobile and magical icyene perform the missile cavalry role. Recently though, as the icyene numbers dwindle, the toxotai have begun to recover more of their traditional role.
Hippikon are the closest thing the centaur have to basic infantry. Lightly armoured compared to the kataphractoi and armed with spear, shield, bow and a backup sword, hippikon try to outflank enemy formations and attack them from behind while engaged with the human phalanx. They are also responsible for engaging any enemy cavalry and can fight as skirmishers like the toxotai when necessary.
Ordo Templi Saradominis
A strange organisation with a strange history, the "Order of the Temple of Saradomin" are a human knightly order. They were originally the Ordo Templi Zaros, part of the church of the Zarosian empire. When Saradomin first started converting Zarosian civilians, the Ordo fought to stop him and the grand master sought to confront Saradomin in single combat. The outcome of this battle was that the grand master converted to Saradominism and brought most of his order with him, which was a great boon to the Saradominists in the early part of the god wars. In exchange the order were permitted to keep most of their name and traditions. They now fight as fanatical elite soldiers, typically reserved for special or secret missions rather than deployed to the battlefield.
The human forces fight in a single huge formation called the phalanx. They are armed with huge, five meter long pikes and deployed in such a way as to create an unassailable line across the battlefield. Even the largest monsters find the bristling wall of pike points to be a serious threat, and the phalanx is only really vulnerable from the flanks and from above. Discipline and trust are the most important characteristics of the phalangites, as if part of the line breaks the entire formation will fall apart.
The phalanx, though extremely effective, cannot be effectively deployed on rough terrain like hills, woods or settlements which break up the formation. In such cases the humans split into much smaller phalanxes and exchange their pikes for smaller spears and larger shields which are more suitable for close quarters fighting. While so armed, most of the humans are referred to as hoplitai. Even though they are separated into smaller units, hoplitai still fight in disciplined, organised lines that form shield walls to repel frontal attacks.
The hypaspitai are the elite of the human forces, the strongest and bravest of their kind who form elite units within the army. They are armed and armoured in the same way as the other humans, either with a pike or spear and shield. When placed within the phalanx, they are carefully positioned at the most vulnerable part of the line in order to reinforce it. When fighting independently, they form reliable units that the hoplitai can rally around.
Human slinger ranged support
By the end of the third age, only the Imcando clan of dwarves still had any significant forces available to Saradomin. Those that remain fight almost exclusively as technological battlefield casters. These pyrophoroi bring a huge assortment of fiendish half-magical, half-technological engines to the battlefield in whatever forms they can imagine. Huge fire throwers, lightning cannons, giant mechanical spiders, all manner of golems and kolossi have been seen. Not every contraption can be reliably replicated, and very few have become standard models. Though varying wildly in function and capability, Imcando take safety and reliability extremely seriously. Tactically most pyrophoroi function as artillery of varying ranges, providing the backbone of the force for siege warfare.
Zamorak's military forces have two distinct origins: the traitor legions of the Zarosian empire that sided with him during the rebellion (and those Zarosians who have switched allegiance to him since) and the Avernic revolutionary forces that he brought back from Infernus after their liberation. Over the course of the god wars, these factions have merged and changed into a distinctly Zamorakian army.
Theme & Terminology
Zamorakian forces are loosely based on the late Roman empire (~300-500AD) combined with a medieval interpretation of the feudal hierarchy of hell. Zamorakians speak Infernal (Latin) which is the native tongue of ex-Zarosian humans and all demons.
Zamorak inherited the magical and demonic technology of the Zarosian empire. Much of it was lost during the insurrection and the subsequent god wars, especially the secrets of the mysterious purple crystals which provided magical energy in Zarosian settlements. Although a strategic genius and brilliant leader, Zamorak has little ability for innovation and experimentation, and most of the more inventive and scientific Mahjarrat did not side with him. They excel in two specific fields: using imprisoned demons as power sources (both for civilian and military purposes) and necromancy.
Zamorak is very traditional and at a high level his forces resemble the army of the Zarosian empire that he led for thousands of years. The largest organisational unit is the legion, each led by a legate and their assistant group of tribunes. Each legion has a distinct identity and history, with their own unique customs and traditions which give the Zamorakian forces a unique sense of camaraderie and very high morale, even now as they are making their final stand.
Compared with the Zarosian legions, Zamorakian legions are much smaller but more tactically flexible, and accustomed to working together in larger armies where the Zarosian legions typically fought alone. Zamorakian legions are divided into four grades: limitanei, comitatenses, palatini and scholae. Earlier in the god wars these grades had specific meanings: the limitanei were local militia and border guards, the comitatenses were field armies that deployed to defend against enemy invasions or as an expeditionary force, the palatini guarded the capital at Senntisten and the scholae were the elite personal forces of Zamorak himself. The depredations of the god wars (and in particular the loss of almost all the borders and Senntisten itself) have left these roles vestigial, but the terms are still used to refer to the quality and reliability of the legions.
Legions (about 1000 soldiers, led by a legate) are divided into organisational units called cohorts (200 soldiers, led by a tribune), which are further subdivided into maniples (100 soldiers, led by a centurion) and then into contuberniums (10 soldiers, led by a decanus). Down to the maniple level, legionaries are drilled and practiced at individual manoeuvres and are capable of extremely sophisticated battlefield movements such as splitting and reforming their line. When multiple legions fight together, the most senior legate has overall control of the force.
Zamorak, an egalitarian, does not believe in dividing his forces racially as the Saradominists do. Instead, at least in principle, they are divided strictly by merit. In practice, the wildly different capabilities of the Zamorakian races lead to a lot of division – there are almost no humans in the flying alarii units, for example. As much as is possible, however, the forces are racially integrated and so it is normal to see, for example, humans and byzroth standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the legions.
Although philosophically Zamorak believes in freedom and chaos, the thousands of years he has spent leading forces in battle have made the value of military discipline and organisation very clear to him. Although soldiers must be disciplined and obedient, Zamorak also demands that his leaders inspire personal loyalty from their troops. Failures of discipline, especially in battle, are punished extremely harshly with the execution of one tenth of the unit. The leader is also considered to have failed and will at the very least be stripped of their command, if not executed themselves.
Zamorak himself still bears the title Imperator, an honorific bestowed upon him permanently by the college of cardinals when the Zamorakian forces finally captured Senntisten from the Zarosian loyalists.
Zamorakian battle tactics are adapted from Zarosian tactics, although a huge part of that knowledge was written by Zamorak himself. Fundamentally their battle strategy is the independent tactical flexibility of the legions and the cohorts and maniples within the legions. Each of them is capable of operating both independently and part of a larger force, and the leaders of units even down to the maniple level are given the operational authority to make decisions on their own. Whereas the other god armies operate through the communication of orders which are expected to be followed, Zamorakian leaders are instead issued objectives and are expected to accomplish them.
This combination of discipline and tactical flexibility is unique to the Zamorakians and is the cause of much of their early military success, even over and beyond the large numbers of demons at Zamorak's command. Where Saradominists spend much of their time in prayer, and Armadyleans spend their time building culture, the sole profession of a Zamorakian legionary is soldiering. Any time not spent fighting is spent practicing drills and tactical exercises.
On the battlefield Zamorakians have a myriad of strategies for almost any imaginable enemy, terrain and circumstance. Typically the legate need only announce a pre-formulated strategy by name and the maniples of the force will quickly assemble into an appropriate formation. As battlefield conditions change, the tribunes and centurions are free to adapt as they see fit in order to accomplish the overall objective, and each leader knows and trusts his soldiers and the other leaders to work together cohesively.
A typical deployment places the milites in an adaptable line supported by sagitarii and flanked by clibinarii. The foederati are positioned in front of the line to bog down and confuse the enemy forces. A typical battlefield tactic has the center of the line intentionally weaken and fall back, drawing the enemy forces in and flanking them. This sort of false retreat and rapid redeployment is typical of the intricate strategies Zamorakians will deploy.
Very few Mahjarrat remain on Gielinor now, and those that do are almost exclusively powerful sorcerers and leaders in the Zamorakian forces. Most are legati, with a handful serving as tribunes. Mahjarrat support their forces with magical offence and defence when they are not busy supervising the tactical situation. Zamorak, normally egalitarian to the extreme, has often shown favouritism towards his Mahjarrat siblings, failing to punish them to the extent he would a human or demon and granting them commands when a more effective non-Mahjarrat candidate was available. Some even whisper that the Zamorakian's recent failures can be attributed almost solely to this.
Avernic are fractious and undisciplined by nature, and this has been challenging for Zamorak's disciplined military leadership style. When he conquered Infernus during the Avernic rebellion, he re-organised the demon forces into the system that he had perfected on Gielinor. While it would be a lie to say that this had a major impact on Avernic society as a whole, his influence has perpetuated within the standing armies of Infernus. Zamorak is a holy figure on Infernus, and service in his forces on Gielinor is considered the highest honour in their military tradition. Because portal capacity is so limited, only the finest and most disciplined troops are considered.
The largest and most physically powerful troops at Zamorak's disposal, Tsutsaroth (better known as elder demons) have proven difficult to fit into the military hierarchy. Even though on Infernus the tsutsaroth rule through their unquestioned might, in the legions they are poorly suited for command, being rarely intelligent or even-tempered enough to remain behind the lines and issue orders. Most tsutsaroth have ended up in the alarii where their mobility and power can be deployed with the most flexilibity.
Small and weak next to the Tsutsaroth, the alyaroth still tower over humans. As a species, alyaroth (or greater demons) are probably the most flexible troops Zamorak has at his disposal, although each individual demon has their own abilities and proclivities. Many serve in the alarii, but they can also be found amongst the foot legionaries and even in command positions. Those alyaroth who have magical ability serve in that capacity on an ad hoc basis.
The smallest intelligent Avernic, byzroth (or lesser demons) are not too dissimilar in capability to humans and can be found in any part of the legion as a result. Some byzroth can even rise to become high-ranking leaders, although this can occasionally lead to problems when larger and stronger demons are unable to overcome the bigotry they hold for smaller and weaker members of their race.
Shakroth, better known as hellhounds even amongst other demons, are pets and beasts more than they are soldiers. On the battlefield they are deployed in packs either to disrupt enemy formations or chase down and destroy fleeing enemies.
A handful of other demons, and even a few more bestial chthonians such as ripper demons, can be found in the legions.
Where the others gods see humans as weak fodder, or a necessary but undependable force, Zamorak places them at equal position with all others, save perhaps the Mahjarrat. He has spent thousands of years leading humans, and rather than bemoaning their lack of wings and physical or magical strength, he instead prefers to focus on their potential. They are both more disciplined and more adaptable than demons, and often more intelligent. They can be found all across the legions, even at the highest levels of command, and even in the alarii where a few brave humans armed with flying enchantments or riding flying beasts can keep pace with the demons and vampyres.
Vampyres were once a stalwart component of Zamorak's forces, giving the legions aerial superiority even over the icyene and aviansie. In recent years Lord Drakan betrayed Zamorak and withdrew to Morytania with most of the Gielinorian vampyres. This has devastated Zamorak's air forces, although the god has given strict instruction that the remaining vampyres who chose to remain loyal are to be treated without discrimination for the betrayal of their kin. Vampyres are experts at aerial combat and capable of devastating melee and ranged magical attacks.
Though Zamorak dislikes their use, in recent years as his forces have become more desperate, they have started to rely more and more on undead troops.
Wights are animated using a complex and demanding process which results in them retaining some degree of intelligence and independence. Although somewhat less cerebral than a human, they are stronger and much tougher, and capable of serving on the front lines of the legions. The ratio of wights to living soldiers has to be kept low because they are largely incapable of participating in the legion's camaraderie and tend to lower morale. However, as things have become more desperate for the Zamorakians the proportion of wights has been rising. By the end of the third age as much as one fifth of Zamorak’s legionaries are wights.
Zombies are almost mindless and completely incapable of independent thought. They are impossible to integrate into the legion structure which requires operational independence, and instead herding into battle in great mobs as disposal shock troops.
As the heir to the Zarosian empire, Zamorak has inherited – or earned – the fealty of a great many strange beings from across Gielinor. These creatures can be found within the legions where Zamorak's egalitarian principles work in their favour.
The backbone of every legion are the milites, heavily armoured legionary soldiers. They wear heavy banded plate armour and are armed with swords, large square shields and spears. Creatures whose natural weapons are more effective are permitted to fight with them, but every miles must carry a shield. Milites are expected both to reliably hold a battle line against any enemy assault, yet also remain flexible enough to take advantage of any battlefield opportunity. Creatures of every race can be found within the milites, where loyalty to the unit and to their commander overrides any racial considerations.
Alarii are aerial cavalry. They are deployed to make rapid strikes against the rear of the enemy formation or any targets of opportunity, such as isolated artillery or enemy commanders. Of all the forces of a legion, the alarii make the most use of their operational independence. Only flying creatures can serve in the alarii, although some landbound beings ride flying beasts or use magic. Alarii are not expected to be able to make ranged attacks, although many vampyres and alyaroth can. Some legates concentrate their ranged alarii into a single unit and others distribute them more widely giving each unit some capability.
Clibinarii are heavy ground cavalry. The default clibinarius is a fully armoured human riding a fully armoured unicorn, and any being that can match that pace is eligible to ride with them, which includes some demons on foot. Clibinarii have two primary battlefield roles – they can be used as flanking cavalry to attack enemy formations in the side or rear, or they can be used as shock cavalry to attack a weak part of the enemy line and attempt to rout it.
Auxilia are light missile cavalry. They move at the speed of a human riding an unarmoured unicorn, and attack with composite bows or equivalent magic. They are typically deployed in defence of the clibinarii, to screen them from enemy skirmishers, or to harass enemy formations and try to disrupt them. Creatures significantly more powerful than humans are rarely found in the auxilia.
Legionaries armed with bows to provide missile support, still wearing the same heavy armour as the milites. Occasionally a powerful demon or other spellcaster might be found amongst their ranks, but the sagitarii are mostly human.
Arcani are spies and agents of various races that serve Zamorak's interests within and without his borders. They can occasionally be found on the battlefield, acting as stealthy assassins. Their capabilities vary wildly, from powerful Mahjarrat archmages to simple humans with knives.
The mass of zombies deployed to the battlefield ahead of the legion, that has become a hallmark of late Zamorakian doctrine, are called the foederati. They cannot effectively manoeuvre or utilise tactics, and serve simply to distract and confuse the enemy forces while the legions move into position or use the chaos to strike unexpectedly.
Bestial creatures like hellhounds, rippers and bloodvelds are grouped into formations called praeventores which are supervised by specialised handlers. These packs are deployed either to disrupt light enemy formations (such as archers) or, more commonly, to run down and slaughter fleeing enemy forces that cannot be caught by the heavily armoured legionaries.
Armadyl's forces are composed of distinct factions of varying degrees of loyalty. Unlike Saradomin, Armadyl has no interest in enforcing worship, and so a huge part of his army is composed of aviansie who follow him as a war leader without paying attention to his teachings.
Theme and Terminology
Aviansie are loosely based on the Mongolian (1400AD), Hun (400AD) and Avar (600AD) hordes and empires. They use bird and air force terminology rather than references to horses.
Aviansie are not a deeply technological people. Most of their skills are focused on practical survival, crafting simple objects, tents and so on. Their metallurgy is undeveloped by Gielinorian standards but they make up for it in expertise at enchanting, which can produce deadly weapons without an industrial base. This same affinity for enchanting allows them proficiency in the creation of golems and similar tools.
Armadyl's forces are split into three distinct factions: the People, the Favoured and the humans.
The People are non-Armadylean aviansie. They follow Armadyl as a war leader, but not as a god, and they largely ignore his teachings and principles. The People outnumber the devout aviansie by about four to one, and so Armadyl cannot afford to exclude them from his forces. The People on Gielinor are organised in the same way as they were on Abbinah. Zu'uks (tribes) of several hundred individuals are led by a kakhan (chieftain). Zu'uks are composed of multiple small and irregular aravaks (families) which double as the smallest unit of military organisation. Multiple zu'uks can be grouped together into armies, although they will only rarely coordinate properly, preferring to act independently within roughly the same area of operations.
The Favoured are devout and loyal Armadylean aviansie. Armadyl has attempted repeatedly to organise the Favoured into coherent military units in imitation of the other gods, but the basic tribal structure keeps re-establishing itself because he is unwilling to force soldiers to separate from their aravaks even during wartime. He has managed to assemble two elite units called keshiks which are composed of orphans, exiles and other aviansie soldiers who do not have a place in the zu'uks. Favoured outside the keshiks are organised along the same lines as the people, but are more willing to listen to Armadyl's strategic direction.
Human armadyleans are organised into part-time militias that defend the region in which they live against attack. They are not a professional standing army and standards and quality of training vary wildly depending on the people who live there.
Aviansie, especially the People, are extremely independent, and do not follow orders well. In general the tribes of the People are left to organise themselves, and given only vague objectives to accomplish. Too often even these vague objectives are not carried out, and the People instead end up raiding and scavenging behind enemy lines. Armadyl has learned to accommodate this behaviour, and depends on his more reliable Favoured to accomplish specific goals while the raiders cut off supply, distract reinforcements and otherwise wreak havoc.
A typical aviansie battle strategy involves making use of their mobility to refuse to be drawn into a pitched battle. They will continually attack, withdraw, outmanoeuvre and harass their foes over days or even weeks. When the enemy are thoroughly disrupted and demoralised, they will launch a devastating surprise strike, preferably under cover of darkness or with some other tactical advantage. They slaughter as much of the enemy force as possible, destroy their supplies, and rapidly retreat, taking as much loot as they can with them.
Where the forces of the other gods are obsessed with capturing and holding territory, aviansie are concerned with nothing more than they can carry, and concentrate their efforts on depleting the enemy force over time. This leaves the human Armadyleans vulnerable in particular, as even the Favoured will retreat and regroup rather than defending a fixed position, abandoning the humans to fend for themselves. It also makes it difficult to defend the farmland that Armadyl hopes to use to feed his people, and over the centuries their lands have been burned again and again, forcing them back into a predatory existence.
On the offensive, however, the aviansie are devastating as they attack seemingly everywhere, burning and looting, forcing the defenders into fortifications which they then bombard from above. Even the other flying races such as icyene and demons cannot reliably engage the aviansie, as their sheer numbers overwhelm them.
On the battlefield aviansie fight primarily as ranged flying cavalry. They have adapted readily to the use of the crossbow, providing them with a reliable weapon that can be fired and reloaded while in flight without obstructing their wings. The Armadylean humans, who are mostly former Zarosian peasants, fight using spear and bow.
Armadyl's people, the winged aviansie, form the greater part of his forces. They are strong and fast compared to humans, although not as personally powerful as the icyene. They are fiercely independent, but take personal loyalty very seriously. This results in a high level of discipline as long as they are led by a respected leader. On their homeworld, aviansie existed as predators and much of their culture and military outlook is based on this heritage. Almost all adult aviansie can serve as hunters and warriors, and only those who are much too young or old to fight are left behind in a safe place a long distance from the battle. Aviansie breed quickly, faster even than humans, and this has left Armadyl with a steady supply of troops to fight his wars.
The Favoured of Armadyl
The Favoured are those aviansie who follow Armadyl as a god and try to learn his teachings. Armadyl's creed is quite different from what the aviansie are culturally and biologically accustomed to, and so these followers form the minority of aviansie even on Gielinor. Armadyl preaches peace, and on an occupied world like Gielinor this requires a shift to an agrarian livestock society over the predatory hunting preferred by the historical aviansie. Despite the destructiveness of the god wars, the Favoured have not lost hope.
The People of the Sky
Those aviansie who have not embraced Armadyl's teachings are referred to by the Favoured euphemistically as the 'People of the Sky'. The People are culturally almost identical to the aviansie of their homeworld, and they follow Armadyl as a powerful leader who brings them opportunity rather than because of his teachings.
Abbinahn aviansie are nomadic predators and hunters. They form hierarchical tribal groups who freely spread out to hunt and come together for social gathering. In transferring this behaviour to Gielinor, they have found rich hunting grounds in the fertile lands of the empire, with livestock seemingly freely available. Armadyl did little to discourage the raiding of Zarosian farmland, but with the ascendance of Saradomin across the continent this has become a serious diplomatic problem between the two factions.
The People still follow the animistic religion of their homeworld, although they are a practical rather than intensely religious lot. Their priesthood seek wisdom in the spirits and for now at least, the spirits are telling them that their future lies with Armadyl. The People see no real conflict in this, seeing Armadyl as a part of their religion rather than they as a part of his. The young god is free to teach whatever he wants, just as they are free to ignore his naive proclamations.
Initially skeptical of the small, flightless people who infested every corner of Gielinor, Armadyl has since grown to respect them. He has found humans far more receptive to his teachings than his own people, and they are a plentiful source of troops that can be trusted to defend their farmland rather than flee from it.
Aviansie have had the ability to create magical golems on Abbinah since before their recorded history. However, they had little use for this technology on their homeworld beyond the creation of toys and trinkets. On Gielinor they have found a new use for it, created all manner of artificial soldiers to help defend their vulnerable farmland. These golems come in a huge variety of sizes, from towering war golems to man-sized automatons. One significant development still eludes them, which is the creation of golems that can fly at any reasonable speed, which makes it impossible for them to keep up with the aviansie forces.
Armadyl holds relatively little territory, and his refusal to demand worship has seen him gain few converts from the former empire. There are a handful of other creatures, but the vast majority of his followers are humans and aviansie.
The keshiks are two groups of elite units that are loyal to Armadyl and focused on full time soldiering rather than part time raiding as part of a migratory group. They are composed of orphans, exiles and others who do not or cannot fit into tribal aviansie society. All keshik soldiers are highly trained in melee and ranged weapons.
The dayguard are the keshik focused on battlefield fighting. They are too few in number to hold or take a battlefield by themselves, but they are accustomed to working within the chaos created by the less disciplined aviansie to achieve the goals set for them by Armadyl. They are, by aviansie standards, disciplined and reliable troops, and their speciality is splitting up into small groups to give the appearance that they are a far larger threat than they are, misleading and misdirecting the opposition.
The nightguard are the keshik focused on stealth operations, particularly assassination and other targeted attacks. They are adept at taking advantage of the intentional confusion created by the dayguard and exploiting vulnerabilities in the enemy's formation, but they prefer to attack when the enemy are camped or otherwise not prepared for battle. The major difference between a nightguard strike and a regular aviansie raid is that it will be carefully targeted to inflict the most damage rather than wherever will give the best spoils.
The majority of aviansie troops are archers, wielding crossbows from the air to deadly effect. In battle they rarely go anywhere near the ground, preferring to continually move and manoeuvre making it impossible for conventional forces to catch them. Only the very best enemy archers or wizards can return fire at the archers-of-wing, and where possible the aviansie will position themselves directly in front of the sun, making it effectively impossible.
Less common are formations of spear-armed lancers. These aviansie make devastating melee charges which put them far more at risk, but also kill enemies much more quickly. They are especially effective against rival flyers, who can be difficult to accurately target with crossbow fire.
Armadylean humans equipped for melee combat fight using spear and shield, and armour if they can scavenge any. Most are peasant farmers who are fighting to defend their land, poorly trained and equipped because Armadyl does not know how to do better. In some regions, former Zarosian soldiers have left a legacy of military discipline.
Similar to the spear militia, these humans defend their homes with bows. As the bow is still a useful hunting tool that they train with anyway, they tend to be more effective on the battlefield than their spear-armed counterparts.
War golems are massive magical constructs which are deployed primarily in the defence of human settlements. Although devastating offensive troops, they fit poorly into the rapidly mobile aviansie style of fighting and so are not used for that purpose. The first war golems were built according to aviansie aesthetics and so were huge, winged humanoids, even though they couldn't fly. More recent golems have been designed by humans and have tended towards more abstractly humanoid forms. Being made of enchanted stone they are highly resistant to most attacks and only the strongest opponents and magics can stand against them on the battlefield. Armadyl has tried to distribute his golems as widely as possible so that every human settlement has at least one to defend against minor raids.
Automatons are small, man-sized versions of the same golem technology used to make the huge war golems. They are better suited for fighting in formation with humans and able to wield the same armour and weapons. Automatons are used to bulk out local militia and provide a standing, tireless defence force for the humans. Although still exceeding the power and resilience of a human, they are significantly less intimidating than the war golems, and only more useful when their smaller size is a benefit, such as fighting inside buildings. Unfortunately the human militias rarely have a choice in the matter, and the small unit of automatons assigned to most settlements is better than nothing at all.