The Dark Conquest
Table of Contents
The Dark Conquest
Deployment of the Dark Armies
The All-Out Assault
The Whirling Hail
The Swooping Crow
The Use of Magic
The Great Battles of the Dark Conquest
The Dark Occupation
The Dark Conquest: Advantages
The Dark Conquest was the series of Blitzkrieg attacks wherein the evil forces finally managed to conquer the free peoples of Farland. The military strategies of the occupying dark folk of Farland, while largely considered to be both brutal and savage, were also quite advanced for the time, though mostly through the use of vile magic.
Units and squadrons in Farland were well led and organized by a very supernatural power called the "Dark Will." The Dark Will was a mighty enchantment that the Dweller in the Vale instilled within her powerful captains, using the Book of Seven. Much as a shepherd knows his flock, the Lords of Sin could then guide the movements of their multitudes of units with a mere thought. This ability to guide otherwise chaotic troops with precision, and to keep them from fleeing combat, was probably the single largest reason that the Dark Conquest succeeded where other previous attempts at conquest had failed.
Also, the Dark Will provided a way for the Deadly Lords to conscript massive armies in a small period of time, as lesser dark folk began to breed at an amazing pace and existing dark folk could be summoned out of the wild lands.
Another powerful motivator behind the Dark Conquest was, of course, fear. The powerful Lords of Sin and the enigmatic Dweller in the Vale, whose newfound use of the Book of Seven would prove to be the bane of the common man, ruled their soldiers with an iron fist, not having to suffer committees and laws that governed the more civilized lands. Instead, insurrection was put down fast, and any who disobeyed were caught, tortured, and killed ruthlessly.
These special abilities, combined with the vast array of powerful troops at hand, proved to be too much for the good people of Farland, and a pall of darkness swept over the land like an unstoppable tide.
During the Dark Conquest, goblins were used to fill two very important roles: that of foot-soldier and worg rider.
The overwhelming mass and highest percentage of goblins in Farland are, and always were, slaves. As such, they were quite untalented and left with little real choice but to be forced at the end of sword and spear into the enemy lines. These goblins were the little, unorganized warriors that crashed into enemy lines before orcs and others charged in to clean up.
Those goblins of exceptional skill, however, can gain at least some semblance of honor and strive to break free from their predestined social status. These goblins become the main cavalry of the Wintervale's military machine: Worg-riders. Upon mighty canines of unnatural strength and ferocity, these riders would strike fear into the hearts of even the sturdy pikemen of Wyvernia with their thunderous charge. The worgs would nip and bark as they loped forth, their riders filling enemy lines with darts from their shortbows and opening gaping holes where their thrusting spears would break through defensive formations. While not very numerous, these riders did indeed serve as the main cavalry of the dark folk forces, charging into the fray to break lines, sweeping through squads of longbowmen, and running down any unfortunate victims without an effective method of escape.
Worg-riders were typically armored well, with studded leather or chain armor and barding to match. The typical weapon package for these mounted troops included short-bows with a slight recurve, long, steel-tipped spears for charging, and a cutlass or scythe for close-range battle.
The goblin foot-soldiers of the dark folk army typically fought with crude and simple weapons like spears, slings, clubs, and long knives. Rarely were these troops given any weapons of value like swords or short bows, though there had been some reports of their possessing rare items like bolas, blowguns, and whip-daggers. Their armor was typically leather or hide, pieced together in a haphazard fashion.
Kobolds have, much to their dismay, found themselves at the very bottom of the hierarchy during every battle for the occupation of Farland. In fact, there is only one real trait that the Lords of Sin and their commanders in the field saw in kobolds that was of use: their numbers.
This lowliest race of dark folk can procreate at an amazing rate, making them the most numerous of the vile humanoids loyal to the Dweller. Thus, the commanders of the dark folk armies have historically used the kobolds' great numbers for suicide missions, diversions, and massive charges to overwhelm their physically superior opponents.
Kobolds are rarely if ever used as anything but the most simple of foot-soldiers. Those kobolds that have ever shown enough intelligence and ability to advance to a position of leadership could be counted on a single hand, and the likelihood of kobolds being used as cavalry was even less probable than their being used as projectiles in one of the army's catapults.
Indeed, as lowly foot-soldiers and infantry, kobolds of the occupation were seldom armed with any but the simplest weapons. Wooden spears and clubs, slings, and sometimes stone daggers were common, and armor was more often than not a collection of rags.
Orcs throughout the history of the Dark Conquest were the most versatile and adaptable soldier in the dark folk armies. Though orcs typically don't ride horses and are thus never used as cavalry, they do manage to fulfill nearly every other station in the dark folk army.
As an infantryman, or dog, the typical orc is a savage fighter bent on using sheer numbers, strength, and ferocity to overwhelm enemies. Battalions of these naturally disorganized fighters can be quite efficient when managed by a mighty Oluk orc, hobgoblin commander, or even the Lords of Sin themselves. Plus, the use of the Dark Will served to sweep these battalions forth en masse to wreak havoc among the armies of good.
As orcs scavenge from their fallen foes, they can be found with nearly any weapon or armor imaginable. If given the choice, orcs will opt for serrated scimitars with black blades and short bows or javelins. Swords, spears, and axes of all makes and designs are also not unheard of. Orc infantry will also serve as the armies' archers in times of need, and if directed by their commanders.
The mighty crossbreed of several races, the Oluk Orc was a powerful and prominent figure in the fight for the domination of Farland. While not overly numerous, Oluk Orcs were immensely powerful and intelligent fighters. As such, they reached well into the uppermost hierarchy of the mighty military of the Dweller.
These dangerous dark folk were well respected for many of their strength, intelligence, and, surprisingly, craftsmanship. Many of these creatures gained a high station merely by creating sturdy engines of war. Whether in control of a team of slaves or even working with his own mighty arms, an Oluk orc could build a killing device out of nearly anything. The Oluk orc often served to fill the position of over-general (Hoth) or under-general (Hai), commanding battalions of goblins, kobolds, orcs, and other evil creatures.
In addition to being respected builders and designers, Oluk orcs were among the most deadly fighters in the enigmatic Dweller's military. These fighters were more often than not masters of their chosen weapons, having practiced since birth in their use. These soldiers, when not in charge of legions of their own, were used as shock troops, plowing through the good folk of Farland in a wide swath. Usually, however, Oluk orcs were in a position so high that they rarely had to get their hands dirty-a fact that never seemed to stop them from spilling blood now and again.
Any Oluk orc worth his weight in blood grog will have crafted his own weapon at a young age and wielded it over many years with almost reverent care. Many take to the broad hand-and-a-half sword, respecting the great weapon's ability to allow its user to wreak havoc even when completely surrounded by foes. Others will take to axe or mace, but each piece will be a great work of utility. An Oluk will sometimes craft a bow as well, and these are often created with such a mighty draw that few save the hardiest of dark folk can pull them back.
Hobgoblins played quite an important role during the vicious campaign that led to the overall occupation of Farland. The commanders of the dark folk forces, hobgoblins were responsible for ensuring the action and obedience of the lower races through fear.
Brutal cruelty and a militant nature serve as a dangerous mixture, a point that many a goblin or kobold in the dark folk army learned quite painfully during the Conquest. Hobgoblins served as battalion leaders, Hoths, or Hais during military excursions, and were thus responsible for micromanaging the Dweller's forces to follow the orders of their powerful leaders, the Lords of Sin .
Hobgoblins are also inherently racist, thinking that any of the other races of Farland are well below their notice. This point was never lost on the dogs, or foot-soldiers that were ground under their heels during the mobilization of the Dweller's forces.
Though quite enamored of their weapons, Hobgoblins do not typically craft their own. They obtained their arms through trade and supply from above, but were always given more well-crafted weapons than their dogs.
The brutish sunderers and powerful skull-crushers of the Conquest, ogres filled a vital role in the armies of the Dweller. Half as smart but twice as strong as an orc, ogres followed orders to the best of their limited capacity and showed a loyalty that was hard to come by in the dark folk armies. Their strength served a definite purpose, and their lack of true ambition beyond their own immediate physical needs made them the perfect soldier, but only when given what they wanted.
Battalions of ogres were often called "stompers" or "siege-breakers." They were typically clad in heavy armor of reinforced steel or wooden plates interlocked to protect against missiles. It was thought that these ogres would rarely see melee combat with finesse warriors that could find vulnerable joints between the plates, so they protected themselves against volleys from afar.
These protected behemoths would find their ways into the thick of a stalemate, or make their way to unguarded siege weapons. Then they would use their great strength and blunt weapons to eradicate the opposition, be it living or not.
Often, these Stompers were loaded up with drugs like Battle Grog or Rotgut and sent into the thickest and most concentrated of their foes' lines. Their rage-filled attacks would strike fear into any lucky enough to escape their mighty swings... but they wouldn't get far.
Ogres during the Conquest almost always wielded heavy blunt weapons like clubs, hammers, maces and mauls. These weapons would serve to make the most of the ogres' strength of arm, splattering any piece of matter that got within striking range. The only drawback in using these forces was that they were not subject to the Dark Will.
If Ogres were used to inspire trepidation among troops, then Trolls served to bring about abject horror. The sight of these slavering, green-skinned humanoids was usually enough to send even the most stalwart troops from the frontlines, to "guard the rear."
These trolls, armor clad and battle ready, were used most frequently as the elite guard of the Hais, or of the Lords of Sin themselves. Their strength, savagery, and unmatched regenerative properties made them the first choice of nearly all the high commanders in the dark folk army.
Of course, these nightmarish beasts took some amount of control to keep in order, because they were not subject to the Dark Will, and it was especially difficult to maintain their lines when fiery pitch was shot at them. But, if used properly, the troll was a ripping, rending tool of destruction that wrought havoc on the good armies of Farland.
Trolls, more often than not, used jagged-edged weapons. In contrast with ogres, these fell beasts were fond of tearing the flesh from their victims, either through massive awl pikes, pointed military hammers, axes, the spiked ball and chain, or simply with their claws and teeth.
Deployment of the Dark Armies
Although much of war is admittedly won by having the best response to one's enemies' actions, a solid plan was still well respected during the occupation.
Much of the strategy of dark folk during the occupation was simple: outnumber and overwhelm. However, this tactic wasn't always available or effective. In such situations, commanders on the field of battle had a set of viable deployments that they could make use of with their troops. The Dark Will made these tactics especially viable, as pre-Conquest many of the dark folk did not have the organization to pull them off.
The All-out Assault
Undoubtedly the chosen deployment of the dark folk armies, the all-out assault referred to the tactic of throwing the entirety of the army directly at the enemy with no real rhyme or reason. Historically, this was effective due to the immense advantage of numbers that the kobolds and goblins provided.
Even if these little humanoids were not deadly, their sheer mass would serve to confuse all but the most wily of commanders. Orcs and other more powerful troops would follow in their wake to clean up any unfortunate souls left standing.
The Funnel is a common deployment that an intelligent Hai will set up to make use of his vast array of different types of troops. In such a deployment, the front lines will be broken into separate groups (traditionally three), with a small space left between them through which other troops can "funnel" as needed.
The main group usually would consist of goblins and kobolds, armed with spears in the front, and whatever other weapons they can dredge up in the rear. The spears in the front would provide at least some defense against the pounding hooves of human cavalry.
The "wings" of this formation were typically versatile orc soldiers, with small arms and also bows. These infantry could launch arrows as needed into an approaching mass of infantry or cavalry.
Of course, these groups alone had a multitude of weaknesses that the good folk of Farland could exploit...thus, the funnel. If human archers, whose bows almost always boasted a greater range than those of the orcs, were to advance, then worg riders could funnel out from behind the mass and break the group. If engines of siege were set up, ogre berserkers could funnel forth, charged up on Battle Grog.
This type of deployment allowed for a quick movement of troops to and from the front lines, while still maintaining a strong defense.
The Whirling Hail
The Whirling Hail was actually more of a per squadron deployment than an entire army deployment. Because the dark folk forces didn't typically hold heavy shields like tower shields, they needed to use fast movement in conjunction with their smaller shields to defend their assault.
In this deployment, two columns of infantry, typically orcs, would line up side by side. The front lines would hold shields and spears (skirmishers). If a volley of enemy arrows streaked in, this line would defend with their shields and then "whirl" out of the way, revealing the second line, which would promptly loose bolts and arrows in response. Then, before the enemy could strike back (in theory), the missile line would whirl away, revealing another line of skirmishers.
The "Whirling" action would appear much like a door pivoting on hinges. Then, the line would back-step to the rear of the force to set their column again.
This Whirling Hail deployment, when used properly with a force of infantry, could prove disastrous to enemy forces, as they could advance, fire, and protect much at the same time. Of course, this works in the ideal situation...some commanders are better than others, and the notorious chaotic nature of the orc made this a difficult maneuver to pull off.
The Swooping Crow
The Swooping Crow appeared much like a traditional all-out assault at first glance. However, there was a method to this deployment's madness.
In the Swooping Crow, the center of the army would be filled with common infantry, and lots of them. The Crow's "wings" would be made up of elite fighters like Worg Riders or Ogre Berserkers, along with orc skirmishers and archers.
As the army advanced, the skirmishers and archers would serve to defend the elite warriors from counterattacks like missile strikes and cavalry, while getting them closer to the main army. When in range, the Crow would "Swoop," that is the wings would collapse upon the enemy army, cutting them in pieces. The wings would then, ideally, meet the main force of infantry near the center of their enemy, having cut the opposing force into sections that could be easily dispatched.
Performed by goblins, the Pyramid was not an offensive deployment by any means. Its main use was to breach walls. When using this deployment, goblins would willy-nilly charge up to a defended wall. Those goblins left alive (for scores of the creatures would inevitably be slain) could "scale" the walls of a defending fortification by climbing on each other's backs, with a running start, and within 12 to 15 seconds could create a "pyramid" capable of getting the last tier to the top of the wall. Using this tactic, goblins could be boosted over a wall some 10 to 15 feet high. Once on the wall, the pesky creatures would secure grappling hooks and chains, which orcs would then climb.
The Wedge is a fearsome deployment performed to split an army in two. This can work with really any of the previous deployments, as long as a force of elite fighters lies in wait behind the main army.
This force, usually made up of powerful trolls, would break forth from the main host during battle, coming on in a wedge shaped form with its point aimed at the heart of the enemy. The design of the wedge would serve to protect the backs of the fighters in it, while concentrating their most powerful fighters at the tip.
The wedge was used to break many lines of practiced infantry defenders during the Conquest, forcing to split the army so that its parts could be annihilated by the forces coming behind.
The Use of Magic
Magic played a key role in the success of the dark conquest. Many wizards, Sorcerers, and priests also felt compelled to heed the call of their dark masters. Priests seemed most likely to resist the call, but many still joined the armies of the Lords of Sin in hope of spreading the worship of the Walker in Darkness, but also for personal fame and glory. Bards and druids also came, but these were much rarer as the dark folk tended to use wizardly and priestly magic more commonly. Priests, unless uncommonly powerful, usually turned their efforts towards healing the important soldiers and leaders that became wounded during the fighting. There were also priests who didn't specialize in this type of magic but were instead instrumental in controlling the elemental forces and unleashing their fury against their enemy.
All of the Lords of Sin used magic to their benefit, but there were a few lords who depended on it more than the others. The Lord of Envy had a strong respect for magic and utilized it well in his calculated attacks in Orland. The Lord of Sloth was delighted to see the long range damage that his war wizards could inflict on a force of foes. He encouraged the use of this long range destruction at all costs. Then when he did lead a charge into the demolished area, there was much less fighting for him to deal with. This pleased him well. The greatest tactician of all the lords was the Lord of Anger. His highly-trained and organized hobgoblin shock troops became legendary during the period of the Dark Conquest. He ordered war mages and dark priests to use much of their magic to bolster the fighting prowess of these troops.
Boosting the fighting prowess of key leaders was used most often by the Lord of Anger regarding his fearsome hobgoblin forces, but all the lords used this tactic to great success. Not only would these enhanced fighters kill more efficiently, but they would also inspire and raise the morale of their troops. A large measure of the control and respect that regiment leaders of the dark conquest were able to maintain were due to these magical enhancements. It was not uncommon among the chaotic hordes of dark folk for a battle weary soldier to challenge his superior's orders by threatening him physically. If a leader was unable to withstand many of these attacks, he could not keep control of his troops. If a leader could appear to be a strong and fearsome fighter in front of his troops, respect would grow for him, and he could use this fear-based respect to strengthen his command and the discipline of those he commanded.
In similar fashion, many of the dark armies used brigades of trolls and ogres to wreak havoc and destruction amongst the troops of their foes. Even the rumor that one of these fearsome battalions was on the field could cause morale among the defenders of good to suffer. A brigade of muscled ogres could cause fear in any poor human farmer intent on defending his town from the enemy. And these units were also often enhanced with magic. A highly trained fighting force of soldiers at the gates of a large city might know that the secret to vanquishing the attacking group of trolls was to use fire, but when fire had no effect on their enemies, many a disciplined soldier lost his will to continue in the presence of a seemingly invincible foe. These magical enhancements helped units of dark folk to beat back key defenders and even cause large routs in the smaller towns and cities.
Wizards and sorcerers were invaluable in the attacks. They were well known for creating illusory sounds and dancing lights that served to increase the eerie and fearsome quality of the swarming dark hosts. Many other tactics were used as well, and some of the Lords of Sin came to depend largely on magical interference to dispatch their foes. They were also well known for making night fall early or sometimes even in the middle of the day. Though this also affected their allies, the dark folk were often given an advantage since many of them were used to natural darkness. During the daylight hours, the light of the sun was often blocked out by the use of mists and fogs that confused soldiers and allowed the endless hordes of dark folk to fight in comfort, since the sun hurt many of their eyes. Missiles of pure energy and magical bolts of lightning were also commonly used by the dark wizards to unerringly attack their foes from great distances.
Perhaps the most effective use of dark magic was to cause the dead to walk again. There was no greater horror for the forces of good. After a hard day's fighting, these soldiers could at least take pleasure in the site of a battlefield covered with the corpses of their foes. Then under cover of night, the necromancers of the dark forces would come out and do their evil work. Come dawn, renewed attacks would commence and a portion of the battlefield that was thought dead would rise and shuffle again towards the walls. This sight could cause fear in even the most disciplined warrior. Most of the Lords of Sin made use of this tactic, but in Daven it was raised to the level of an art. The Lord of Gluttony relied heavily on wizards who would often operate for many months raising an army of the walking dead to use against the defenders of good in the land. These legions were highly successful against the superstitious and uneducated peasants of the countryside and small towns of Daven.
Destructive magics were also utilized, though this took more planning and strategy. Few city walls and gates could withstand the force of a few well balls of magical fire. A magical earthquake was even used in the taking of the Far City under the Lord of Anger's command. However the havoc caused by such explosions and destruction was dangerous and could only be used when allies were not yet in place. Of course, if the area was swarming with goblins or kobolds, magic that caused destruction to an area was fair game. One of the great advantages of the dark forces was willingness to expend their infantry. However, a wizard had to be very careful. Many a young and ambitious mage lost his life by using destructive magic. One never knew when a troll warrior or a high ranking hobgoblin leader was in the midst of the targeted area. Woe to the mage who injured but didn't slay a strong leader using his destructive magic.
The forces of good also made use of magic to help their cause. Many small villages and hamlets had a resident cleric. This cleric usually wielded little true power, but did his or her best to use healing magic to protect town leaders. Their powers were usually insufficient, and against cunning leaders of the dark armies, these clerics were often quickly spotted and dispatched in order to weaken the defenses of towns. Many of the dark folk saw the Dark Conquest as a spiritual war. They served the Walker and often chanted his name and raised his banner as they massacred the forces of good. Therefore, orders that encouraged sacking the temples of good gods and killing their priests were usually followed with alacrity. This foresight on the part of the Lords of Sin served well to cripple the magical abilities of the forces of good. In larger cities and within the few armies of good forces that were assembled, wizards and priests were able to do much to harass the great armies of darkness that assailed them. Bards were often key battle leaders whose magic roused their men to great and heroic victories. A few druids and rangers became legendary as they single-handedly awoke the forests of Farland to help attack the evil armies of Sin. These few druids helped the forces of good immensely, but the time when they were common in the world had passed on by the time of the Dark Conquest. Rangers were more common, but like the bards they mostly figured in leadership roles. Their manipulation of the forces of nature on the battlefield served their troops well.
As with the dark forces, wizards, sorcerers, and priests figured most prominently as users of magic in the armies of good. Priests were most commonly used for healing. Every large city had camps for the wounded, usually in or near the main temples of the city. Priests of Heshtail, Bestra, and other good gods worked tirelessly to dress the wounds of the fallen and use their precious powers of healing to return their soldiers to good health and battle ready condition. If not for their efforts, the Dark Conquest would surely have occurred in a much shorter time. Arcane magic was useful to the forces of good just as with the forces of evil. In large cities where the fighting went on for long periods of time, the most valuable contribution of these arcane magic users was their research and access to knowledge about their foes. They were able to ascertain through their magical insights and vast libraries that trolls were highly vulnerable to fire, that ogres and giants were often too stupid to recognize obvious feints and ambushes, and that many dark folk and some undead were adverse to bright light. They used this knowledge to ready their magical arsenals and attack accordingly. Their use of long range fire attacks seemed to be on the verge of obliterating the troll threat in many areas until their evil brethren started using countermeasures to negate this advantage.
The wizards of good also helped to protect their great warriors and leaders as did the forces of evil. They were very effective in this role. They used their powers to enhance strength, fortitude, the mettle of their blades, the strength of their armor, and the force of their will. Great heroes were ready made at the touch of a wizard's hand. It was indeed said that the weakest peasant could be transformed by the college of wizardly magic in the Far City into the greatest of battle-hardened warriors. In fact wise wizards from this college, well aware of their reputations, transformed many more warriors than their powers actually allowed. For even the belief in a warrior's mind that he had been rendered invincible by magic was enough to make him fight like ten of his brothers.
Arcane magic was also used to create traps and alarm systems to protect the forces of good. Many powerful wizards of ages past had put in place magical wards in ancient cities such as Dragonspur City. Mages struggled to enhance these ancient wards with less powerful wards of their own. Many wizards spent sleepless nights in their libraries researching and poring over ancient tomes in search of an answer to their impending doom. One of the greatest contributions of the mages that did roam the walls with their fellow soldiers was to dispel or counter the effects of evil mages. They also used many of the tactics that were used by their evil counterparts. They manipulated fires, confused attacking forces with hypnotic lights and lights that danced about invitingly, and caused great numbers of the enemy to fall instantly into deep slumber. A sudden charge of the enemy often slowed to a mere walk as the powerful magic of the defenders hit them. Lightning and missiles of raw energy streaked from the walls to decimate the enemy ranks. But always the evil hordes replenished those who had fallen and the magic of the wizards of good did little more overall damage than the arrows of the archers to the enemy army. As the odds of victory grew slimmer, more and more wizards turned to their books, as is their nature, searching in vain for an answer to the horrible turn of events outside their city walls. Perhaps this was the downfall of many of the bulwarks of good. Defenseless against the magic of the evil wizards they faced, soldiers were unable to hold the gates and walls, and again and again the defenses of good were breached and surrender or massacre followed.