I have discovered what is possibly the worst reason conceivable not to update a blog about geekery, with a particular emphasis on tabletop RPGs. One of the reasons why updates have been spotty lately is that I haven’t been able to get together with my brother and play Hoard of the Dragon Queen lately, which robs me of my easiest source of filler and makes posting M/W/F updates difficult. That’s not the worst reason, though. The worst reason to stop updating a geeky blog is because all your free time is occupied by designing the setting for a tabletop game. Which you then don’t blog about. I don’t even know why it didn’t occur to me that the things I am writing right now could be copy/pasted into my blog with very little effort and it would be a perfectly good update.
So here’s the fluff I wrote for Tyrannassyria (working title), one of the kingdoms I’m writing up for a game called Dinosaur Riding Barbarians (also working title), which is basically about a vaguely Conan-esque aesthetic but also there are dinosaurs freakin’ everywhere.
Tyrannassyria is a military state led by a warrior king. While they maintain a priest class just like every other kingdom, the king derives his right to rule not based on being high priest or some kind of incarnate god, but rather due to his martial prowess and proud lineage (which, granted, does go back to a god). The Tyrannassyrians marshal their forces and go raiding every year, sacking cities that neighbor their empire to bring back treasure and slaves. Some cities pay a smaller annual tribute to be taken off the list of potential targets.
Every able-bodied Tyrannassyrian man is expected to take part in these raids at least once, and every household is expected to send at least one man to each annual raid. As such, the Tyrannassyrian army is primarily comprised of light infantry and artillery slinger units, however they also have a professional core of heavy infantry, artillery archers, and triceratops cavalry. These are fulltime soldiers who work directly for the king and his officers. The king’s inner circle have complete legions of professional soldiers, while other officers have smaller forces and govern a section of the hinterlands, including having the right to gather up forces from those hinterlands. The king himself leads the most feared and most infamous of all Tyrannassyria’s military units, a powerful cohort of tyrannosaur cavalry.
All of Tyrannassyrian society fits into a chain of command. The king is on top, his most powerful ministers lead legions underneath him, beneath them are the captains of individual cohorts, below them are the ordinary soldiers (professional soldiers outrank, but do not directly command, citizen soldiers), beneath them are a soldier’s family, and beneath them are the family’s slaves. Everyone is a part of this hierarchy. The blacksmith is also a soldier, a priest is likely second in command to a cohort, a merchant is a lesser captain of a special cohort who is outranked by ordinary captains but himself outranks soldiers, and so on. Captains of cohorts and commanders of legions are free to structure their men in any way they’d like, so the exact chain of command within a legion or cohort can be anything from very simple to a byzantine nightmare.
Anyone outside this hierarchy has no rights at all in Tyrannassyrian society, and when a sacked city is temporarily occupied for longterm looting, the unfortunate citizens of that city can be and often are slaughtered with impunity.
Working for Tyrannassyria
First of all, you’re an asshole. This is totally playable, however. Tyrannassyrian commanders and captains are perfectly free to hire foreign mercenaries on a temporary or permanent basis, and a legion commander who wants a steady stream of non-raid profit might promote one or more of his professional soldiers to a position of minor captain of a caravan-cohort, whose job is to make bank and give the commander ten percent. Any foreign companions the captain ends up adding to the caravan are then a part of his cohort, and thus a part of Tyrannassyrian society. Tyrannassyrian caravans will be left to their own devices about 75% of the time, and spend about 3 months on average on campaign with the Tyrannassyrian army, which will march on a hapless neighboring city, pillaging towns and villages in the countryside before closing in on the city itself, whereupon they may attempt a siege but, being in rather a hurry, will usually make an attempt to storm the city and secure a quick victory.