Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Imperial Background: Purple, White and Steel

The traditional colours of the County of Sylvania are purple, black and red. As part of Sylvania, these were the colours originally worn by the garrison at Krakenberg. The standard uniform of a soldier of Krakenberg was half-purple, half-black. This was then accented with the occasional patch or sash of red, largely to the taste of the individual soldier or regimental commander.
Wanting no association with the murderer Vlad von Carstein and his treachery against the Empire, the young baron Heinrich began his household’s self-imposed exile in Middenheim by ordering his house’s colours be changed. The uniforms of the soldiers were gathered up and altered, with the black half being replaced with a stark white. This change was echoed throughout all the household’s possessions, until no trace of the original purple-and-black could be found. The white was said to display the honour of Krakenberg, untarnished by the events that were transpiring.
A halberdier wearing the traditional half-and-half colouring of Krakenberg, and some examples of the variations found in the army
The revised colours of Krakenberg have remained in use by the Krakens throughout the centuries, making them a common sight on the battlefields of the Empire and beyond. Use of the traditional red accent colour has become rarer over time. A long-time sergeant of the Halberdiers was once heard to remark that his uniform got enough red on it in battle as it was; he didn’t need to add to the mess. Small items of red can still be seen from time to time, however there are no real restrictions placed upon the soldiers – particularly flamboyant individuals have been known to add all manner of colours to their outfits in an attempt to liven up their ensemble.

It is generally held amongst the Krakens that their true colours are purple, white and steel – with steel being the dominant tone. Being exceptionally well equipped by the standards of most mercenaries (and even most State regiments), this saying has an element of truth to it. Even amongst the Halberdiers of the Krakens, it is not unknown for a soldier to be clad head-to-foot in steel, leaving little room to display the colours of his unit. 

Like many mercenary units, the Krakens have long included a number of Ogres in their ranks. Ogres are natural mercenaries and make a powerful addition to any force. Unusually however, the Krakens often incorporate the Ogres into their human regiments, adding some muscle to unit’s bulk. These Ogres are equipped in a manner consistent with their human counterparts, which often results in them being far better armoured than your average Ogre mercenary. Pay in the Krakens is good, and employers have been known to turn a blind eye to fallen enemies being devoured after the battle (although eating fallen comrades is strictly forbidden). As such, individual Ogres have been known to travel with the Krakens for half a century or more, and recruitment of replacements is never difficult. An Ogre who chooses to leave the employ of the Krakens is permitted to do so with all the equipment he has been supplied with; however, this has rarely occurred. It is in fact more common for an Ogre to retire from active service, but remain with the Krakens in the capacity of a weapons-master or some other auxiliary role to which they are suited.
In the Krakens, Ogres are equipped in the same manner as the units they fight alongside.
The Krakens also maintain a small standing force of Halflings, who serve as cooks for units on the march. They have been known to take to the field as scouts and groups of light archers. Their irregular status in the front lines, coupled with their role as scouts has resulted in the Halflings wearing an altered version of the Krakenberg colours – purple and green. Nevertheless they consider themselves to be an integral part of the Krakens, and their dedication to the arts of sneaking and cooking are appreciated by their larger comrades.

The Knights of the White Wolf who have joined forces with the Krakens in recent times do not traditionally wear purple as one of their colours. However, desiring to work closely with them and be properly regarded as belonging, minor changes have been made to their uniforms. Their white wolf cloaks have been lined with purple, and what little colour they wear on their sleeves has also been changed. This attempt to fit in is considered extraordinary by the standards of the White Wolves, who are known to be fiercely protective of their ways and their heritage; however, their agreeing to follow von Krakenberg so far from Middenheim on an indefinite basis is already unprecedented.
The Knights of the White Wolf and Priests of Ulric are a valuable addition to the forces at Krakenberg.
The overall strength of the Krakens ebbs and flows, depending upon their fortunes in battle and the need for intensive recruitment during times of prolonged conflict. In addition, it is common for not all of the army's strength to be in a single place at once. Smaller bands are often engaged on contracts, under the command of a trusted captain. A capable commanding officer is always included in such detachments, to ensure there are no "misunderstandings" that involve the mercenaries being conveniently wiped out instead of being paid (a common occurrence in the Warhammer world).

Despite having relocated to Krakenberg, the need to rebuild the town in order to accommodate a decent civilian population means that no recruitment will be coming from Krakenberg itself. Recruiting parties will be forced to travel to nearby towns and beyond. This is a potentially perilous task, and one the Krakens have largely been able to avoid in the past - a prominent mercenary company in a city the size of Middenheim finds no shortage of volunteers.

In general terms, the Krakens are formed around a core of several regiments of halberdiers. It is no coincidence that these soldiers form the heart of most Empire armies; the halberd is a versatile weapon, able to be used as a spear or a heavy axe as the need arises. The halberdiers of the Krakens are often better armoured than their state trooper counterparts, however being a halberdier remains one of the most dangerous roles in the army. They often take the brunt of the fighting and are expected to hold their position whilst reinforcements get into position to relieve them. The halberdiers are supported by solid numbers of spearmen and swordsmen, giving the heart of the army some flexibility, depending upon the nature of the opposition.

The Krakens employ both handguns and crossbows for ranged support. The crossbows offer greater range and are cheaper to maintain, however the handguns are unmatched in their ability to punch through armour. In addition, small numbers of outriders and pistoliers provide more mobile support. The repeater handguns used by the outriders are prohibitively expensive and difficult to maintain, however the storm of lead they can unleash makes them a valuable addition to the army.

The von Krakenberg household guard consist of a regiment of greatswords and one of knights. These soldiers are the elite of the Krakens. The majority of the pistoliers are those who aspire to become members of the household knights, whilst the greatswords are hand-picked from the best of the infantry. 
A household knight of Krakenberg
Another recent addition to the Krakens are the Knights of the Snow Leopard. The order's past is somewhat shrouded in mystery, however it seems that these are in fact former members of the Knights Panther, with that order having been divided over some unknown dispute. The Snow Leopards make no attempt to hide their status as worshipers or Ulric, and there is speculation that the schism that divided the Knights Panther revolved around religion.

The Snow Leopards effectively invited themselves to the party travelling from Middenheim, once word of the Krakens' intent to return to Krakenberg became public knowledge. Their demands for pay were minimal, however their conditions did include the ability to establish a new chapter house upon arrival in Krakenberg. Given the potentially difficult road ahead, Baron Kristoff readily agreed to the addition of some 100 knights and infantry, plus sundry supporting personnel.

Like most sizeable military forces in the Empire, the Krakens maintain an artillery train of Great Cannon, Mortars, and the occasional Volley Gun or Rocket Battery. Maintenance of these devices generally falls to their dedicated crew, however it is not unknown for the Krakens to employ a Master Engineer. Even so, not all repairs can be made in-house, and teams are often dispatched to Nuln to resolve more serious problems, or to purchase replacement machines. These trips become particularly frequent in times of war, as the toll of regular battles on artillery can be unforgiving.

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