All Things By His Will
Languages: Common, High Ossandrian
Government: Imperial Theocracy
Ruler: Divine Imperator (also known as Rex Aeternam) via Senators
Example Names: Lycus Catulus, Cynon Laterus, Antisius Orolaunum, Sextus Castra Nova, Solon
The history of Ossandria is a history of conquest. The story of a city turned kingdom turned empire. Ambition, strategy, and a leader possessing celestial wisdom forged the heart of the Imperium and the fanatically devoted masters of the legion took it further. Since its inception dozens of kingdoms and cities have fallen under its banner and hundreds of distinct groups have been forcefully “united” under the Imperators rule.
Ossator: Clandestine marshals and spymasters of Ossandria, imbued with the highest authority of the empire and a portion of the Imperator’s will. Secret dominars, puppeteers and inquisitors of the Empire.
Lictor: Specially selected imperial bodyguards who are ‘altered’ in a secret ritual that grants them enhanced abilities. Mighty guardians and executors of the empire’s will.
An expansionist slave built empire led by a deified Imperator, Ossandria boasts religious tolerance, the highest population of any nation, and the most populous army on the continent. It is also known for its brutal culture, obsessed with blood sport, competition, and the pursuit of rule over all humanity. The 25 Legions of Ossandria are feared across Aeldos, known for their fierce skill and ruthless efficiency. They are considered the primary threat to peace by all of their neighbours and have, at one time or another, engaged in military adventures against all of them. Ossandrian legions currently occupy the northern half of Nehep and have made recent forays into Mujin as well.
Ossandria is an opulent and powerful empire driven by a three-part ideology.
- Habitat: Ossandrian cultural beliefs promote expansion of the Imperial borders to ensure room for growth and view the right to such growth as a law of nature for the healthy and superior peoples of Ossandria.
- Superiority: Ossandrian leaders promulgate the cultural, racial and religious superiority of the Empire. They argue that everything Ossandrian as superior, descended from the Urul empire and blessed by the divine Imperator, and go to great lengths to diminish the achievements of other cultures and emphasize their own.
- Resource: Ossandrian culture emphasizes the divine and inherent right to all advanced technologies and the leadership of a new and unified grand empire under the Imperator. To this mindset all resources should be in the hands of Ossandria as they cannot be trusted to lesser cultures.
Within the Imperium the Patricians push an image of a flawless and holy empire, expanding every day, which is easy for many to believe; Ossandria has been expanding across the core of Aeldos for the better part of three centuries, annexing dozens of smaller countries as it progresses. However, while the Senatorial class likes to speak of their steady and inevitable progress towards dominion, the myth of Ossandrian superiority has suffered from significant issues. Most distressing to the common Ossandrian are rumours and speculation on the relative silence and secrecy of the Rex Aeternum for the past several decades, which many speculate is due to the devastating loss of two legions during an attempted invasion of the city-state of Selene. According to these rumours the Senators and Legates of the Imperium now vie for power without the celestially empowered leadership of the Imperator. Those who give weight to these rumours suggest that this is the reason for several ill-conceived and ongoing military endeavours over the past two decades:
- In Lux, where Ossandria has engaged mercenary companies and expeditionary cohorts to raid and pillage southern Luxi settlements and take Luxi slaves. These attempts at conquest have been frustrated by ongoing losses to the Luxi who utilize a highly mobile military strategy and cadres of assassins equipped with advanced camouflage technology to terrible effect.
- In Nehep, where several legions have been bogged down for decades occupying the northern Nehepi cities, seeking to stabilize their dominion while being harassed by brutally effective Nehepi rebels from the still independent south.
- In the Badlands where an ill-conceived exploratory expedition by the the Legio Fulmen vanished, apparently slaughtered by an unknown horror according to the lone survivor, Primus Pilus Haevian Navarrus.
- In Mujin where attempts at invasion have been stalled by both the fierce and skilled resistance of Yunfa warlords such as the Sidereal Regent Ai Yeong Shan, and the arcane mists of the Jade Forest.
- In eastern Ossandria where the internal rebellion of the conquered Ikari Var people, led by a priestess of Oto named Vodicia, has thrown local governance into chaos.
Blame for this streak of Imperial misfortune is very typically traced to the most severe and embarrassing loss suffered by the Imperium; the defeat of two full Legions by the forces of the city-state of Selene, where thirty years ago the small city-state employed an array of mighty first age technology to decimate the Ossandrian invaders.
Despite the mixed military record and ongoing political turmoil the Imperium remains powerful, in no small part due to its considerable natural advantages. The heart of Ossandria, often known as the Golden Plains, encompasses some of the most ample and fertile farmlands in all Aeldos. This area is heavily settled and aberrant and monstrous threats that plague many similar areas across the continent have been extirpated by regular Legionary patrols. This cornucopia at the heart of Ossandria allows the Imperium to feed and sustain both its numerous Legions and burgeoning population, enabling Ossandrians to bear more children than any other culture. This coupled with a steady supply of slaves from across the continent, particularly from Nehep and southern Lux, has allowed the Imperium to thrive economically, even while its politicians and military seem to struggle.
While most lorekeepers point to Ossandrias slave economy as the source of their power, and certainly this cannot be understated, some credit for the Ossandrian Empire’s success is owed to the common values instilled upon free and slave populace alike by their religion and culture. Works of art, culture, and religious oratory alike emphasize the civic duty, martial spirit, and importance of the Imperium to the return of mortal dominion over the world. For many Ossandrians the concepts of the Imperator’s grace, only attainable by service in his name, and the superiority of the Ossandrian race, are deeply ingrained.
The governance of Ossandria is ostensibly conducted by the Senate under the direction of the Imperator, with a clear hierarchy and roles for all involved. The actual daily politics of the Empire however can be a confusing spider-web of greed, conflicting loyalties and aspirations to power among the upper and Senatorial classes.
Ossatores: Members of the ‘Court of Bones’ are the Imperator’s chosen agents, granted the highest Imperial authority, and allowed to operate entirely outside normal channels. Ossators act as spymasters, inquisitors, and special military commanders, guided directly by the will of the Imperator.
Senators: The Ossandrian Senate is elected by landowning patricians but vetted by the Imperator. The requirement for being a Senator is that they be a free land owner with 12,000 gelt in wealth and the ability to raise at least 300 cavalry if required by the Imperator. Initially the Senates only real role was to bring the concerns of the people to the Imperator’s attention and they were largely at the Imperator’s mercy. If the rumours are to be believed, the Imperator’s enigmatic and increasingly reclusive nature means that Sentorial power has grown significantly over the past few decades.
Consuls: The appointed governors of a province of the Empire. Chosen from the Senate.
Praetor: The appointed governor of a city. Chosen from the Senate or Military.
Aedile: The figures appointed to enforce public order, responsible for many facets of civil life, including infrastructure, festivals, census, and tax collection.
Qaestores: Investigators, justices, and auditors appointed by Senators and Consuls. A common position for those landowners aspiring to the Senate.
Patrician: Male members of the upper class who lead a notable house or ‘Domus’. While all Senators are patricians, few Patrician’s reach the height of Senator and while all Patricians are landowners, not all landowners are Patricians. Ossandrian law forbids foreigners and who become citizens and own land from ever being considered Patricians. This prohibition extends to three generations of descendants, making most Patricians ‘old blood’ Ossandrians.
Matrona/Materfamilias: The female head of a domus. Matrona are typically responsible for oversight of the slaves and children of the house and any mundane or regular tasks that may arrive. Matrona are significantly better off than lower class women but are still excluded from many other parts of Ossandrian society and most are judged based on their ability to provide heirs and enhance the prestige of their husbands.
Customs and Culture
The success of Ossandria is largely based on two kinds of slavery; conscripted labour and true slaves.
Conscripted labourers are those conquered peoples who are forced into labour for the Imperium by public administration under the justification that their ‘talents’ are best utilized where the Imperium decides. Though they are entitled to own property and spend their down-time as they please and possess some legal rights in relation to other labourers, they are granted virtually no legal protections from the vicissitudes of “True Ossandrians”. As terrible a situation as this is, true slaves have it worse.
True Slaves have no legal rights and are considered chattel, equivalent to livestock. Any abuse they suffer is relevant only in regards to the rights of their owner and the treatment of their property. While conscripts are often viewed as lesser peoples, true slaves are often not even seen as people at all.
The Ossandrian slave economy is advantaged by the Ossandrian knowledge of Bindings, First Age penal devices re-purposed to control slaves. Bindings are a relatively simple device that Ossandrian engineers have succeeded in replicating in vast numbers. They are made of thin, flexible, and resilient pieces of alloyed materials, forged into wires which are wrapped around a slave’s arms, legs, and neck. Upon command, when tampered with, or when fleeing a set perimeter, the threads constrict causing deep lacerations, amputation, or dismemberment depending on the desire of the controller. They can be keyed to multiple words, with each one causing a different level of injury. These devices are outlawed in most other nations.
In addition to slaves taken by the Legion, private Ossandrian slavers supply the Imperium with ample fodder. Both groups are un-discerning, readily trading with bandits and mercenaries for new stock. The value of slaves is such that the reach of slavers far exceeds that of the Legions, and they can be found far from Ossandria proper. The prices they demand are based on age, origin, and health, and Ossandrian natural philosophers have developed a variety of justifications, cultural stereotypes, and mathematical formula to monetize foreign humans.
While many Ossandrians are brutal tyrants towards their slaves, using violence and the threat of binding to control them, this is not universal. Some Ossandrians treat their slaves with a measure of compassion and dignity, almost as children or favored pets. They are given limited freedom and in some communities enjoy their own holidays, religious ceremonies and festivals, and other luxuries. Many patrician houses even utilize Vilici (singular Vilicus) or slave stewards. These individuals act as governers of other slaves and often also oversee the business of the family. The wife of a Vilicus is known as a Vilica and often fills a similar role with the Lady of the houses servants.
Ossandrians have an almost spiritual love of both blood sport and racing and the Empire has numerous lethal gladiatorial battles which are used frequently for both entertainment and religious practice. Gladiatorial battles can be between humans, beasts, or both, entail individuals or dozens of combatants, and often involve cruel innovations to enhance the novelty of a match. Chariot and Horse Racing is another common pass-time for patricians and senators and often nearly as bloody as gladiatorial battles, with some entrants even entering exotic and dangerous animals for races.
Ossandrian Harphan is a ball game played by teams of 10 on a large flat field, typically outside or in the larger arenas of Ossandria. The ball used in this game is fist sized and made of layers of hardened leather. The goal of the game is relatively simple – players must bring the ball into a goal zone and hold it there for at least 10 seconds, with the successful team gaining a point for every ten seconds. The game is extremely violent, with many top players indistinguishable from gladiators. While the game is played unarmed it is not uncommon for players to be grievously injured (indeed more Harphan players die from their sport than Ossandrian gladiators). There are rules for going out of bounds and for kicking the ball. Harphan has found popularity beyond Ossandria in Lux, Tollam, and occupied portions of Nehep. Women are prohibited from playing Harphan in Ossandria but not in Lux.
Four Ossandrian cities/settlements have been built on or atop first age ruins. This includes Airuno Oss, Canis Oss, Kerv Oss, and Tremitis Oss. The suffix ‘Oss’ is used to designate such places.
All Ossandrian property owners are expected to have a symbol of the Imperator in their domestic shrine. While it is not something that is actively persecuted, shrines absent this symbol are evidence of disrespect and improper fealty to the Imperium. Coins or carved wooden auroch-skulls are the most common, though some have full Auroch statues. Elaborate symbols can be taken one of two ways; as particular devotion to the Imperator or as an attempt to curry his favour. Beyond primary worship of the Imperator, people are free to offer devotions to the Ayr as they see fit, though there is a limit to religious tolerance. There is a much loathed cult in Ossandria known as the “Custodes Veritate” that believes the Imperator to be a false god. This cult believes that the true Imperator hid himself from his people a century ago and will return one day to lead the Empire. Veritate oracles believe that the return will be heralded by fire in the sky. Members of this cult are pursued by the Imperial Inquisitors and executed publicly if found.
Prelate: The highest ranking members of the Curate and heads of the imperial cult of Ossandria.
Primus Lictor: Special, religiously ordained bodyguards and imperial agents who undergo a ritual where they are exposed to the blood of the Imperator, granting them enhanced abilities.
Banded armour, scutum, lightly armored cavalry, long spears with gladius for short range; crossbows are their preferred distance weapon. Ossandrian blades tend to be sturdy and practical. Ossandrian shield formations are renowned for their effectiveness, and Ossandrian shields are accordingly well crafted.
Trade Goods: Wine, Corn, Grains, Cotton, Olives, Olive Oil, Meat, Metals
Primary Legions of the Imperium
I – Legio Tauris Magnus / Legion of the Great Bison
II – Legio Stella Cadens / Starfall legion
III – Legio Fulmen / Lightning legion
IV – Legio Clades / Calamity Legion / AKA The Glorious Fourth – Renowned for their brutality
V – Legio Arenestas / Sandstorm Legion
VI – Legio Ignistas / Firestorm Legion
VII – Legio Grando / Hailstorm Legion
VIII – Legio Glaciestas / Icestorm legion
IX – Legio Chionothellas / Blizzard legion
X – Legio Imber / Torrent legion
XI – Legio Tempestas / Tempast legion
XII – Legio Typhon / Whirlwind legion
XIII – Legio Cataegis / Hurricane legion
XIV – Legio Ventus / Wind Legion
XV – Legio Nivisus / Avalanche legion
XVI – Legio Monigneus / Volcano legion
XVII – Legio Incaendium / Wildfire legion
XVIII – Legio Vortex / Vortex legion
XIX – Legio Aesus / Tidal legion
XX – Legio Victrix / Victorious legion
XXI – Legio Soter / Redeemer legion
XXII – Legio Indagator / Hunter legion
XXIII – Legio Quies / Quiet legion
XXIV – Legio Felix / Lucky Legion
XXV – Legio Araneam / Spiderweb legion
There are additional unnumbered ‘legions’ or armed forces of legionary soldiers under the control of powerful figures of the empire such as Praetors, Consuls, and Senators. These forces are frowned upon by the Senate but not illegal and most are much smaller than a standard legion to avoid any additional scrutiny. Such ‘personal legions’ are often made up of retired legionaries with significant field experience or other soldierly types.
Legio Nepa / Scorpion legion – Personal legion of Praetor Vaius Kolok
Legio Sentis / Thorn legion – Personal legion of Praetor Galerius
Legio Catadupa / Waterfall legion – Personal legion of Senatrix Pallaestra Grypus
Legion = 10 cohorts
Cohort = 6 centuria
Centuria = 10 contubernium
Contubernium = 10 legionaries
Subtotal = 6000 Men/legion
Total = 150,000 soldiers
Legatus: Commander of a legion appointed by the Imperator or Senate, typically from the Senatorial class.
Praefect: Second in command of a Legion, Praefects are either patricians or long serving veterans. This can result in Praefects who are from lower social status than the Tribunii they outrank. Praefects are often in charge of training a legion.
Tribune: Head of any specialist unit such as the Vexillationes, Praetorian Guard, or Auxillia. Usually five in a legion and typically young men of high birth who were not necessarily experienced.
Primus Pilus: First spear or just Spear commands the first cohort. Akin to a Colonel in other militaries. Commands 60 times the pay of a normal legionary.
Pilus Prior: Commands the second through tenth cohorts. Commands 40 times the pay of a normal legionary.
Primi Ordines: Commanders of the first cohorts Centuria under the Primus Pilus, these elites have better prospects and better pay than other soldiers, commanding 30 times the pay of a normal legionary.
Centurion: Commands the centuria and is akin to a captain in other militaries. Earns 10 times the pay of a normal legionary.
Optio: An Optio is assigned to each Centurion, acting as a second in command and akin to a Lieutenant in other militaries. Earn twice the pay of a normal legionary.
Tesserarius: Guard commanders, of which there is one for each century. They report to the Optio and are equivalent to First Sergeants in other militaries. Earn 1.5 times pay.
Decanus: The head of a Conterbernium, a unit of 10 legionaries and equivalent to a Sergeant in other militaries. Earns standard Legionary pay.
Special Duty Posts
Signifiers: Enormously important and prestigious roles, the Signifiers bear the Legionary and Centurial Signums or standards. This makes them rallying points for actions places considerable weight on their protection. Losing a standard is considered a great dishonour. Signifiers are typically selected from steady veteran soldiers with excellent understanding of tactics. A Signifier can, by social pressure alone, force an entire legion to advance for fear of losing the standard. Signifiers earn twice the pay of a normal legionary.
Cornicen: Horn blowers who work with the Signifer to issue audible commands. They earn twice the pay of a normal legionary.
Imaginifer: Just as the Signifier carries the Legion standards, the Imaginifer carries the Imperator’s standard as a reminder of the troops loyalty. Imaginifers must be selected by a Prelate and often wield outsized power for their official rank. Imaginifers also often act as a banker for the legion and its troops. They earn three times the pay of a normal legionary.
Immunes: Fully trained legionaries with specialist roles such as engineers, artillerymen, musicians, drill and weapon instructors, hunters, carpenters, medics, and military police. Immunes are so named because they are excused from guard work and general labour. They receive additional pay based on their skills.
Evocati: Veteran legionaries with the right to retire who have chosen to stay on despite their tenure being up. Like the Immunes they are excluded from regular duties such as manual labour and earn twice the pay of a regular legionary.
Standard Legionary Wages: The regular legionary earns 10 copper per day, or 255 silver per year. They pay only a food and clothing tax to the legion but all pillage is untaxed. Slaves prisoners obtained through official legion business are divided among the legion for later selling which brings in additional funds. On retirement a Legionary earns a praemia of *either* 300 gelt or a plot of good farmland, typically located in a frontier region.
Auxilia: Soldiers recruited from non-citizens and organized into smaller units of cohort strength known as regiments. Auxilia can earn citizenship after 15 years of service and are often as numerous in a given legion as the legionaries themselves.
Equites: Wealthy Ossandrians who can afford the costs of serving as cavalry troops. This prestigious role is typically short term for young patricians, a necessity of service before pursuing a political career.
Velites: Skirmishers, scouts, and light infantry, typically representing the lower class citizens of the Empire.
Clipeates: Citizen legionaries who bore the full equipment of the Legion; helmet, shield, armour, spear, gladius. The principal unit of the Legion.
Vexillationes: Task forces split from a legion for a specific task.
Classis: The Ossandrian fleet or navy is a relatively primitive institution with lower prestige than the legions. The classis was only truly developed in the past century in anticipation of potential coastal conflict with the Victrans.
The Eastern Rebellion
While the Ossandrians put forth an image of a singular empire the truth is that many parts of modern Ossandria are relatively recent acquisitions and the people of these conquered lands still chafe at Ossandrian rule and in particular, Ossandrian religion. The Alkar mountain clans of the west, the northern river folk, and most notably the people dwelling in the forests and wetlands of the east known as the Ikari Var.
The past decades have seen the Ikari Var in constant conflict with the Ossandrian legions and would be rulers. This was not always so. For many years the land was under the nominal control of a temperate Ossandrian governor who granted the people considerable latitude and permitted local rule in action if not in name. Trouble only arose when this governor was called away to lead the ill-conceived invasion of southern Mujin. In his stead, his replacement, venal, cruel, and largely incompetent, resorted to violent demonstrations of power and aggressive slave-taking in the belief it would cow the population and demonstrate Ossandrian superiority. Instead these actions inspired widespread revolt and conflict.
Raised in arms by Vodicia, a priestess of the old ways, and spurred to action by the barbarity of Ossandrian occupation and slavery, these eastern folk hide in the deep wood and conduct brutal raids on any target that presents itself. Their attacks have been keen and devastating to Ossandrian loyalists, with many Ossandrians fleeing the territory in favour of the more secure central lands.
The Ossandrians play off these attacks as mere banditry, but have committed legions to the issue with no results.