Known as the Northern March of Trinitian Realm, the Kingdom of Weichsel lies on the southern coast of the North Sea. Settled by nomads and tempered by centuries of northern raids and incursions, Weichsel evolved into a militant nation that sat on the crossroads between the major cultural groups of Hyperion.
|System||Centralized Military Aristocracy|
The reborn Kingdom of Amudaria
After the rising Dawn Imperium in Eastern Eos defeated the nomadic Baygal Confederation, they absorbed several of the tribes while driving the others west. Those who left journeyed toward the plateaus of Wester Eos (present day Shahdom of Chorasmia's eastern borders) and claimed the land to rebuild their nation, which in turn evicted the local inhabitants and forced them further west. Although historians are not certain where exactly the Amudarian tribes originated from along the chain of westbound movements, it is recognized that they traveled to Eastern Hyperion around 500:Imperial as a result of this domino effect, seeking fertile land to rebuild the realm they lost.
Approaching the height of its power, the Imperium of the Inner Sea offered the Amudarian tribes a strip of land along the North Sea's southern coast in exchange for their fealty. The Amudarians agreed, settling down as a protectorate of the Imperium, paying reasonable yearly tributes to the Emperors of Arcadia in exchange for military aid whenever the barbaric Northmen invaded. The arrangement was mutually beneficial. The influx of Amudarians brought people friendly to the Imperium into a sparse region once dominated by northern paganism, granting the Emperor a buffer state against Northmen raids and invasions. Meanwhile the Amudarians received rich lands to claim as their own and a powerful ally to back them up.
The realm of Amudari was reborn.
Over the course of the five centuries, the Amudarians gradually forsook their past to embrace a new life. Nomadic culture was abandoned as agriculture -- its output enhanced by the Imperial techniques in four-stage crop rotation and magical soil replenishment -- replaced herding as the primary source of food. The introduction of new production methods and goods also brought Imperial language and culture. By 967:Imperial, Amudari formally abandoned its traditional language in exchange for the Imperium's hybridized universal tongue for its northern regions, commonly referred to in present day as 'Imperial'. Meanwhile, Amudarian culture became a melting pot between their traditional ways, lingering lifestyles of the northern locals they absorbed, and influences from its Imperial, Samaran, and Lotharin neighbors.
The Founding of Weichsel
After Emperor Aurelian I converted to Trinitian and forced the rest of the Imperium to follow, tensions between the pagan Amudari and the Holy Imperium began to mount. As the Cataliyan Rebellion began in the south and drew the Holy Imperium's attention away, the Northmen decided it was time for a massive invasion of the continental coast. With their legions spread thin pacifying the south while suppressing religious unrest across the realm, the Holy Imperium sent only token forces to Amudari's aid. Unable to resist the onslaught, King Bazyli died during the Siege of Odra as his citadel was breached, sacked, and burned to the ground.
When all hope seemed lost, House von Drachenlanzen stood up to rally the defenders of the coast. With its military tradition dating back to the Grand Coalition Offensive during the Dragon-Demon War, the elite Drachenlanzen cavalry were the only major force to break out and survive the Siege of Odra. Enacting a state of emergency, Ferdinand von Drachenlanzen created the Writ of Universal Conscription to bind nobles and commoners alike into an equal agreement in defense of the realm. After rebuilding his army, Ferdinand crushed the combined Västergötland/Skagen invasion force at the Battle of Königsfeld in 61:Faith. It was there, during the victory celebration, when Ferdinand proclaimed the beginning of a new nation. The Kingdom of Weichsel was born, with a promised new capital city founded upon the site of glory that renewed their people.
A converted Trinitian, Ferdinand requested Pope Alexander I to bless the new realm. The Pope responded to his piety by traveling north and personally crowning the new king. Ferdinand then took advantage of the situation by maneuvering the Pope into making a denunciation of the Holy Emperor for failing to uphold past promises, and thus voiding previously agreed obligations in return.
The new Kingdom of Weichsel would no longer be a protectorate and tributary of the Holy Imperium of the Inner Sea.
King Ferdinand I's tremendous popularity and his ability to call upon Trinitian crusaders (not to mention the Pope's Templars) against northern incursions allowed him to convert Weichsel into a predominantly Trinitian state. By establishing Trinitian as the official religion of the realm and appeasing the Pope, he discouraged any military expeditions from the Imperium through papal displeasure. After the religious unrest that initially plagued the Holy Imperium began to fade and the threat of invasion renewed itself, the elderly Ferdinand I requested the martial Pope Saint Peter VI to launch the first Holy War against Cataliya Caliphate in 129:Faith.
Ferdinand I was declared a martyr after Cataliyan forces that outnumbered him five-to-one brutally crushed his army during the Battle of Trian Pass. But the bloody war he began would draw Imperial attention south for centuries to come. After two successive Holy Wars which not only failed to make gains but lost further land to the Caliphate, the Holy Imperium was forced to turn their attention towards the northwest as the Lotharin Rebellion began in 298:Faith.
With the Imperium distracted, Weichsel busied fortifying itself against both the north and south. As the Lotharin Rebellion grew into the Rhin-Lotharingie Independence War, Weichsel aligned itself by supplying arms to the rebel coalition, thus establishing the one-time protectorate as a strategic foe of the Holy Imperium. This was further exemplified during the War of Imperial Succession, when Weichsel joined the Holy Imperium's other neighbors in seizing border territories. A conflict of interests initially brought Weichsel into de-facto war with the Empire of Rhin-Lotharingie, but negotiations between accomplished statesmen of the two powers yielded a Defensive Military Alliance would soon dominate Hyperion politics.
Geography & Climate
"Black as the dragon that protects us. Black as the soil that nourishes us. Black as the coal that warms us. Black is a good color indeed." -- Weichsel saying.
As a coastal nation bordering the North Sea, the geography of Weichsel is predominantly flat -- plains and beaches with scattered hills and woods. Only the Dead Mountains that rise sharply from the coastal plains hold any significant geographical change, but the murderous mists that still curse the mountains to date prevent most locals from journeying in.
Two major rivers cross modern day Weichsel: Nordkreuz, flowing from southeast to northwest before pouring into the Lotharingie tributary at Cross Lake; and Weichschwartz, named after the rich black soil on its lower banks before flowing into the North Sea at Königsfeld.
Regulated by the North Sea, Weichsel's climate is temperate on the cold side. The mountainous Fimbulmark Isle shields much of the North Sea from the arctic fronts that buffets Northern Rhin-Lotharingie and the Skagen Peninsula. Nevertheless, the waters are rarely above chilly, leading to cool summers and freezing winters. Yearly precipitation is moderate, and the two major rivers rarely flood.
Culture & Religion
Built upon the cultural crossroads of the north, the people of Weichsel embraced one of the most diverse cultures on Hyperion. The Amudarians absorbed many of the Northmen values local to the region after settling down from eastern nomadic traditions. Over the years, knowledge transfers from the Inner Sea Imperium, plus traders from Rhin-Lotharingie and Samara alike, would gradually meld their ideas into the customs of Weichsel today.
The Weichsens believe strongly in the spirit of coordination and organized efforts. Centuries of continuous raiding from the North Sea forced the fortified coastal towns to work together, relying upon their neighbors and inland reinforcements to repel incursions. Meanwhile, inland residents learned that only powerful coastal defenses funded by wealthy towns could protect them from major raids until the army arrived. This spirit of cooperation has also given the people the strong sense of national unity, as Weichsens are arguably more nationalistic than any other people on the Hyperion continent except for the core regions of the Holy Imperium. But through their organization also comes a degree of arrogance, as Weichsel views itself as 'more civilized' than their Lotharin and Samaran neighbors, and certainly the pagan Northmen.
Among the feudal nations of Hyperion, Weichsel's society also exhibits the least class divide between the varying ranks of the nobility and the commons. The military's meritocratic traditions have proven that any man may earn a title of nobility through accomplishments (although those of lowly backgrounds often have to work harder to earn the same attention). Knighthoods -- the lowest rank of nobility -- are handed down alongside every Knight's Cross award, while countless landed titles up to and including a dukedom have been awarded to commoners for exceptional service over the centuries. Given the role of Universal Conscription in Weichsen culture and the importance of national defense, most adults, especially those with past military service, see little wrong with nobles mingling among commoners or vice versa. However, the gap between social classes does increase as ages get younger, due to most children being raised among others of their own kind with fewer interactions across class divides.
Although the common people have long abandoned their nomadic traditions, the militant nobility still organize their ancient Grand Hunt once per year during mid-autumn before the Harvest Festival. The traditional sacrifices in animals however have been abandoned since the onset of Trinitian worship. Instead, results of the hunt are now handed to organizers of the Harvest Festival, to be cooked and shared among the populace as a symbol of the aristocracy's 'trickle-down' contributions toward society.
As part of Weichsel's papal appeasement policies, the realm holds itself open to the Papal Inquisition. Thus, while Weichsel itself does not outlaw the practice of other religions, practitioners who do not bear the protection of a foreign state (i.e. the Grand Republic of Samara) must hide their faith to prevent a heresy investigation. Non-Trinitian preachers and evangelists are both banned under the penalty of death.
Due to the ever-present threat of raids and invasions, the fortified coastal towns rely mostly on trade, crafts, smithing, and redeployable shore fisheries. Trade is particularly important along the Nordkreuz River and the Saale Corridor; one links the Imperium to the Lotharingie Rivers, while the other is caught between The Dead Mountains and the North Sea as the only 'safe' northern passage into the Grand Republic of Samara. The inland regions however are predominantly agricultural, taking advantage of Weichsel's flat geography and fertile terrain.
In addition to excellent soil, the banks of the Weichschwartz River offer rich deposits near the bedrock, particularly iron and coal. Combined with the abundance of coastal limestone, which are used to help remove impurities in smelting, Weichsel has become the largest center of steel production in the north.
Limestone glassmaking is also a significant part of the coastal economy, and Weichsel glassworks may be found throughout all corners of the continent. The arcane craftsmen have even created a durable but lightweight composite akin to fiberglass, which is used throughout Hyperion as a major component for upper-class vehicles.
Weichsel is a feudal monarchy with high, near-absolutist centralization. Landed nobles are given authority over their lands provided that they obey the crown laws of the land, which sets acceptable ranges on everything from maintained troops to taxation and road tolls. Feudal power is limited in military affairs due to the authority of the Army's General Staff, which upholds the right to maneuver forces, distribute troops, and reassign commanders at their discretion. However, landed nobles are nevertheless responsible for raising and maintaining local forces appropriate to their realm size and wealth.
Central governance is divided into five ministries under the King's rule:
- Ministry of the Interior (Administration & Taxation)
- Ministry of Trade & Transit (Commerce, Production, & Infrastructure)
- Ministry of Law (Courts & Enforcement)
- Ministry of War (General Staff: Command, Personnel, & Logistics)
- Ministry of Relations (Public & Foreign Affairs)
Due to the aristocrat military tradition, almost all high-ranking ministry staff are veterans who have retired into the reserves. Nobility is hardly a requirement for career advancement, as many trusted retainers and staff officers who proved themselves in military organization have been elevated to department heads in the past.
Weichsel is feudally divided into five Margraviates which fortify the coastline, two Landgraviates that guard the land borders to the north, and six inland Duchies:
- Greater Margraviate of Königsfeld: Realm of the House of von Drachenlanzen, including the King's crown lands.
- Landgraviate of Nordkreuz: Realm of the von Moltewitz family.
- Margraviate of Altmark
- Margraviate of Altsteier
- Margraviate of Saale-Holzland: Realm of the von Zimmer-Manteuffel family, a branch of House von Manteuffel.
- Margraviate of Saale-Westeroder: Realm of the von Krupinski family.
- Landgraviate of Saale-Osteroder: Realm of the von Mittermeyer family, descendants of the renowned 'Commoner Marshal' of founding King Ferdinand I.
- Duchy of Kostradan
- Duchy of Starigard
- Duchy of Polarstern: Bestowed upon the House of von Manteuffel after the creation of Weichsel, this region was renamed by Ferdinand von Drachenlanzen in recognition of von Mantteuffels as his right hand in restructuring the noble rights and privileges.
- Duchy of Mitterfels: Newly granted to the young heir of the von Seydlitz family.
- Duchy of Aschafalen
- Duchy of Wischhafen
- Königsfeld (pop: 68,000): The capital of Weichsel. Located at the mouth of the Weichschwartz River, the city serves as headquarters to the smithing and craftsmen guilds of Weichsel. Its businesses are mostly industry focused, especially the countless weapon and armor smiths who support the armed forces. The city's powerful fortifications meet the North Sea Coast at the mighty Black Dragon Castle -- the throne of Weichsel and symbol to its unyielding resistance against northern incursion from the sea.
- Neuoder (pop:23,000): Rebuilt from the ruins of the Amudarian Capital, Neuoder is the largest settlement in the Saale Trading Corridor and home to the Weichsel Merchant Guild.
- Nordkreuz (pop:61,000): Situated on the eastern bank of the Cross Lake river junction, Nordkreuz is the largest trading hub in the continental north. Occasionally called the 'Pearl of the North' for its mercantile riches, its strategic importance, and its location atop the most powerful nexus of ley-lines in northern Hyperion.
- Falkenstrom (pop:43,00): Once a northern gateway city of the Inner Sea Imperium, Falkenstrom was taken during the War of Imperium Succession. The city overlooks the important Nordkreuz-Weichschwartz Canal which connects the two major rivers of Weichsel. It also serves as an important center of trade for goods moving between the Imperium and Weichsel.
Although the people of Weichsel have long abandoned their nomadic lifestyle, the revival of the military by House von Drachenlanzen gave rebirth to the predominance of cavalry. Since then, under the Writ of Universal Conscription, all Weichsel nobles are legally required to be schooled in horsemanship and a wide selection of combat spells. Due to the threat of periodic Northmen incursions, many noble houses even embraced their duty and began dynastic military families. Although tiny compared to its massive neighbors, the military aristocracy tradition has allowed the Kingdom of Weichsel to field the highest percentile of nobles -- and therefore mages -- among its forces.
Weichsel army tactics rely on the Mobility Doctrine. It prefers to use the superior speed, maneuverability, organization, and logistics of its smaller armies to engage enemies on advantageous grounds. Due to its emphasis on mounted mages supplemented by missile troops, Weichsel prefers to whittle down and destroy its enemies at range while maneuvering over open fields.
Weichsel maritime policy is exactly the opposite of their army. Unable to compete against the Northmen's superior ironwood trimaran-caravels (aptly named 'Dragon Boats' for their rimefire siphons), Weichsel relies mostly on coastal fortifications augmented by armored barges serving as floating batteries.
Predominant armaments and armor include:
- The swordstaff, a hybrid weapon capable of being used as either a sword or a polearm. It was created as a compromise between needs against the Northmen who prefer a chaotic, close-quarters melee and the formation-fighting styles of Imperials.
- The arbalest repeater. This is in fact a compound repeating crossbow, using a pulley system to reduce the draw strength, a grip trigger similar to a gun, and a long stock to brace against the shoulders. The bow is twisted at a 60 degrees angle when shooting so the right arm may efficiently pull the lever. The bolts also have a thin, rotary fletching which spins the projectiles as they let loose.
- 'Partial Plate' armor, a suit of leather reinforced by plate cuirass, spaulders, bracers, tassets (infantry only), and greaves. It is a lighter and more flexible version of Half-Plate armor which allows infantry to freely maneuver and cavalrymen to turn and attack in any direction. The smiths originally named it 'Quarter Plate', but this name was deemed too 'demoralizing' by General Staff logistics and hence renamed.
- Black Eagles (elite): The King's personal guard battalion, with an extended intelligence network that serve as the Kingdom's primary espionage and counter-intelligence organization. As the King's agents, official Black Eagles answer to neither the Ministry of Law nor the General Staff, and has higher authority over local officials two ranks higher.
- Knights Phantom (elite): Elite aerial cavalry established prior to the War of Imperial Succession, organized into independent companies with a three step up in rank. These mage-knights are equipped with varying weapons and partial plate. They ride conjured Phantom Steeds into battle, although many wrap the spell around their winged mounts instead. A standard company of Phantoms include one armored gryphon "shock" platoon, two squads of pegasi cavalry, and the rest of two platoons as dragoons (ride shadowy steeds but fight dismounted once engaged).
- Noble Reiters (feudal): Conscripted nobles led by professional officers. These light cavalrymen are mages who serve as mobile artillery, as they lack martial training for close combat.
- Weichsel Cavalry (feudal): Noble spellswords supplemented by thrice their number in mounted professional Landsknecht. These cavalry wear partial plate, occasionally bucklers, and are equipped with both polearms and missile weapons (predominantly swordstaves, javelins, and arbalests/repeaters). They wear down enemies with mixed volleys of projectiles and spellfire before charging in.
- Swordstaff Infantry (militia): Line infantry equipped with swordstaff polearms, back-carried shields, and partial plate. Founded upon a core of professional Landsknecht soldiers and augmented by mage officers, these units multiple fourfold during war times by absorbing thrice their number in militia, reserves, and recruits.
- Arbalest Infantry (militia): Missile infantry equipped with the powerful arbalest crossbow and arbalest repeaters, plus pavise shields, sharpened entrenching tools, and partial plate. These units utilize the same organization as swordstaff infantry.
- Light Horse Artillery (artillery): Weichsel prefers the use of light artillery which can keep up with the rapid maneuvering of its forces. Loaded onto specially-designed wagons and drawn by teams of two to four horses, these weapons may begin providing fire support within half a minute after reaching their position. Artillery pieces used by Weichsel field armies include the the heavy bolt ballista, the scorpio repeater (capable of firing on the move), the eight-shot springal, and the 150mp mortar.
- Armored Barge (naval): Slow, flat-bottomed ships with hulls armored by thick, wooden planking. Most barges also feature a layer of steel riveted on, with steel spikes driven in to dissuade boarders. They serve as floating batteries for river estuaries and are equipped with a mix of ballistae and springals.