The League military concerns Revision as of 11:25, 23 July 2012 by Harry
The League provides only a single army to fight in the Imperial wars. It is a constant frustration for many Merchant Princes that they cannot match the military strength of nations like the Marches or Dawn. However, the structure of Imperial forces does not appeal to many citizens of the League and attempts to find additional volunteers have come to nought.
Most citizens of the League who seek a military life look instead to the Free Companies and it is here that the nation excels. The Free Companies are the mercenary units for which the Bay of Catazar is famous. Threats are considered downright rude, but most Carta still employ mercenaries; only a fool relies on the rules alone to protect their interests. After all, not everyone in the League is of the League.
Joining a Free Company is a serious undertaking. A Free Company is still a Carta, members are expected to show the same loyalty, and that loyalty will be tested on the field of battle. The League emphasis on loyalty has given the Free Companies a reputation that foreign mercenaries cannot match so they are often eagerly sought by Imperial Generals looking to bolster their forces. Although Free Companies are renowned for their discipline on the battlefield, they are equally notorious for their riotous behaviour on the streets. Not for nothing are their members called Bravos, fighting by day and drinking through the night. When two Free Companies are housed in the same city then rivalry easily spills over into violence. Brawls and duels abound and running battles in the streets are not unknown. The leaders of the Free Companies turn a blind eye as long as the bills for the damage do not mount too high, and as long as civillians are left out of the conflict. The Imperial authorities turn a blind eye provided nobody is reported killed.
If the League lack military numbers, they strive to make up for it with competent generals. League tacticians are a byword for brutal brilliance; men and women prepared to contemplate the unthinkable to achieve victory. General Anke Carsten von Temeshwar infamously stated “I am an artist, the battlefield is my canvas” when called before the Synod to justify the cruel tactics she employed against the barbarians.
Crossbows are very much in favour with the League – everyone from wealthy merchants to street Bravos totes one of these exquisitely made devices and the Free Companies have taken them up with great enthusiasm. While they may lack some of the speed and finesse of the longbow, for sheer stopping power they cannot be matched. Indeed, martial philosophers wax lyrical about the advantages of the crossbow over the bow. It is a device that propels a projectile through clever engineering much more than the "brute strength" approach of a bow. Once the crossbow is cocked and ready, physical strength is irrelevant. It is moderately easy to use, if not to master, in that the process of firing simply requires pressure on a trigger. The quarrel, unlike the arrow, always travels a straight line, making it a brutally direct weapon that hits whatever is in front of it. Of course bowmen disagree and argue that it lacks versatility and finesse, but there are not a great many bowmen in the League, and the bow is considered more of a "hunting weapon" than a weapon of war.