Nipponberg and its allies
This is the backround i'm working on for my Warhammer Fantasy Battle army. There's still much i would need to do (charecter backrounds, more specific history of Nipponberg and its surrounding areas, war stories etc.), as soon as I have the time and inspiration.
Anyway, do tell me what you think...
Nipponberg and its allies
An outtake of the Nipponian Chronicles, translated by Adolf Geiss
After the Onin Wars, the most powerful Shôgun, Yoritomo Ieysau, allowed trade with the Westerners. This allowed the rear luxury items and exotic war machines to be brought to the Land of the Gods. Yet, this was no enough for the mighty Shôgun, as the items came as small dripples, where as he desired rivers. He turned to his advisors, and one of them, the grey haired Damiyo Kureno Kawazoe, suggested a daring plan to the Shôgun.
The Kureno-damiyo had served Yoritomo-dono loyaly during the Onin Wars, and the Shôgun eagerly listened to his old comrades wisdom. The respected Damiyo spoke of a colony in the West. The existing trade routes with the Marienburgers should be made more permanent, the wise Kureno-sama proclaimed. The possibilities of them was much more then what the Westerners were currently using them for.
-But how, my old friend, should we force them to use them, as you believe, is the best for Nippon? the Shôgun asked.
-One does not catch a bird with a hand full of worms, but seeds, answered Kureno-sama.
Kureno-sama suggested that the colony should be a large one, not only should it be occupied by Samurai and their families, but also ashigaru. The colony should act as both political sign of strength and determination, as well as a key point of trade and education.
Long did the bakufu consider Kureno-sama's suggestion, before finally the last of the damiyo agreed to support the plan. And so it was that Shôgun Yoritomo-dono and Emperor Oda Takagura gave the order of forming a more efficient trade with the Westerners as well as founding a local colony to the area that is known in the toung of Empire as Border Princes. The colony, that was named Nipponberg, was to be led by one of the wise Kureno-sama's sons, Fujimoto, who would bear the title of Uesutan Damiyo- Western Damiyo.
The founding of Nipponberg was agreed soon after the Shôgun and the Emperor of Nippon gave their order by the nations of the Old World around the year 2511. But it would not happen in fact until 2525 ,after the latest Great War against Chaos. Indeed, this was even better for the Nipponians, as the nations of the Old World were just recovering, they easily made a strong precens within the contested lands, and within decade, Nipponberg had become a powerful city in its own right, whose ashigaru, both non-nipponians and nipponian, defended its borders and mighty walls, and who’s Samurai were well known and feared as mercenary fighter, and tales tell of even the deadly assasins, ninjas, to have made their precense felt across these lands.
The city of Nipponberg is something of an oddity in the eyes of any Old Worlder and traveller, not least for its already colourful collection of nationalities and its unique architectural appearance, that proudly holds up its Nipponian legacy as well as combining it to that of Old World. It exists on a the banks of River Staknek, roughly a hundred miles north of Barak-Varr and south of Khyprian Road. The city has land connections to both South and Khyprian Roads, and it also has a number of small vessels that are suitable for sailing in the shallow waters of the rivers, as well as a handful of vessels for long ocean voyages, namely to transport western goods back to the land of Nippon and vice versa. The Damiyo (or Lord) Fujimoto Kureno has struck a deal with the dwarven hold of Barak-Varr, as well as Karaz-a-Karag, enabling the nipponian merchants to trade goods with the large number of merchants from all across the Old World that visit the Barak and thus profiting even further. The Nipponberg’s merchants regularly trade silk, gems, and exotic goods as well as masterly crafted weapons and other miscellaneous object that are rather rear in the Old World. But perhaps the most successful item that the nipponians brought with them was, rather surprisingly; rice. Many nobles of the Empire have found rice to be an exiting new dish among the old favourites, and this has created an interesting new market for the plant. Even nobles in Bretonnia, Tilea and Estalia have created a liking of it, but for now the production is struggling to keep up with the demand.
The fortifications around Nipponberg are some of the most formidable in all Old World. It consists of a series of ditches, a wooden wall, a moot and finally the actual wall. At each end of the walls, next to the river, are massive forts, where the most of the garrisoned troops live. The forts also have an outer terrace, that house the large nets and chains with wich the river can effectively cut off, and the actual forts themselves house a number of cannons and have a number of shooter windows. The walls along with the river divide the city in to its districts: the Upper City, the Lower City and Merchant District.
The Upper City is the place of Damiyo’s Palace and the nobility of Nipponberg. Damiyo Kureno’s own bodyguard Samurai guard the walls of the District. The district is situated in the “fork” of Staknek river (Nipponberg was built on the spot where the river form into a shape of letter Y), and it is also the most heavily fortified part of the city. Some of the grand houses of the nobilities are indeed small strong points in their own right, boasting strong, western styled brick walls and even outer thicker walls around the properties of a lord in question..
The Lower City is on the western bank of the river. It is sometimes also called the Beggar City, as most of the poorest citizens of Nipponberg live on this district. Crime is not uncommon here and on the Merchant District, tough the fear of the strict laws and harsh punishments carried out by the Ashigaru Militia make any thief think twice. The dwellings of these commoners, most of whom work on the rice fields right outside the city gates, live in what most would consider decent conditions. The average citizen of the district can atleast expect three meals a day and plenty of fresh water. Not so in their home land, where only the whims of the fickle kami determine the every day life.
The Merchant District on the eastern bank of Staknek river is the beating heart of the city. It is also the largest part of the city, with large warehouses and the homes and inns for the many merchants. The Ashigaru Militia are responsible for the public order of the district, tough they are strongly supported by groups of Samurai. The Samurai class has never had much interest in such things as “counting”, “imports and exports” or “cutting a deal”. Those are things for lesser men, those that do not have the guts to nor the will or blood right to carry a katana, but are still skilful and clever enough not to be mere farmers. Despite this outlook, the merchants and the Samurai get along well enough, and even the sailors tend to keep up the peace, rather than get any trouble.
Out side the walls of Nipponberg open the waste open and fruitful fields of the farmers. The roads that arrive at the three large gates of Nipponberg snake amongst these patches of lands where the normal folk earn their living. The Merchant Trail that leaves the East Gate is split in to two main routes: one following the Stackneck river to the north an the Khyprian Road, while the other travels further to the east to join the South Road at the point of East Trails crossing over Skull River.
The roads and the surrounding areas are protected by Ashigaru and Samurai patrols, as well as look out posts and the occasional small villages that provide atleast some shelter from the wild lands and bandits.
Should an enemy ever march against the city of Nipponberg or its allies, it will meet a grand host of sturdy Nipponians, determined to fight to the death, if necessary. The armies of Nipponberg are led by the nobility, great Samurais to the last, and the mighty Samurai warriors, each bearing a fabled katana. Tough most Samurai prefer to fight on foot, some of these noble warriors also ride to battle with mighty warhorses. But the main bulk of the Nipponbergs forces are made of the peasants, formed into Ashigaru units armed with spears, halberds and Empire style handguns. Others would also flock under the banner of the Kureno family: old allies such as Brashl the Swan, Jules the Black Wolf and the Dwarfs of Barak-Varr and Karaz-a-Karak, mercenaries that roam the lands of Border Princes, as well as other forces from Bretonnia and Empire would take up arms. Such is the influence and respect that the Kureno family and the city of Nipponberg have created in the surrounding lands, and thus far no foe has ever been able to breach the mighty walls that guard a thriving and ever growing city, a true Jewel of the Border Princes.
Border Prince Brashl the Swan:
One of the most bizarre persons to ever be called as an ally and a friend by the Kureno family, Border Prince Brashl the Swan is known to the people living in the hotly contested lands as a bandit and pirate lord. His band of mercenary like army, called the Crimson White Swans, are known for their extraordinary discipline, their highly powerful Longbow men called the White Feathers, and their white clothes and crimson red painted armours.
The tale of Brashl the Swan is clouded in mystery, and the truth of it is only known by Brashl and the oldest and closest of his men and lieutenants, the grey bearded Swan Herders. What little is known about him for a fact, that he is a son of a noble lord of Estalia or Tilea, and a maiden of Bretonnia. The inn rumours and speculations then start to web around the tale, making it impossible for most to actually tell the truth. The most popular tale is that Brashl had a hard childhood, spending more time with soldiers under his fathers employ and the Knight Errants serving in his mothers household or studying the vibrant undertones of the politics and history of his parents homelands than anything else. He had few if any friends outside the small rings of soldiers and Knights that accepted his company, less because of his blood or parents and more because of the skill that the boy showed in the art of war.
When Brashl turned 15, so it said, his older brother had their father assassinated, forcing the young boy to exile from the court, wich he had never truly considered his home in the first place. His mother had already died a few years earlier, after his Bretonnian grandfather had abandoned his daughter. With gates and doors closing around the young fallen noble, he took what few trustworthy members of his fathers guards and his mothers Knights he could, he fled to the only place he felt possible. The Border Princes.
The small band of men became mercenaries, selling their protection and skills to every village possible. Many are the stories of the achievements and deeds young Brashl and his men, now known as the White Swans, made and did. One of the almost legendary tales tell of a battle where Brashl and his Swans were protecting a small village some miles south of Barak-Varr, desperately fighting against a large horde of green skins. Brashl is said to have been on top of the wall, swing his great sword, the Swans Peak, from left to right, beheading Orcs as soon as they were climbing on top of the large mountain of their own comrades bodies that had piled in next to the wall. When the fighting reached it climax, Brashl had a duel with the Orc Warlord, killing the monster and thus breaking the horde. It is in this battle that he is said to have acquired his nickname, the “Crimson Swan”, because according to the most devoted gossip-mongers not one drop of blood stained his metallicly gleaming white armour and fine cloak, even tough the rest of his clothes were forever stained with the crimson red of blood, and that these colours have become his personal trademark.
Some 10 or so years the Swans trekked up and down the roads that crisscrossed across the Border Princes area. From Lissa Road, to Khyprian Road, along the East trail all the way to the crossing at Howling River near the World’s Edge Mountains to the Old Silk Road and even the Arabyan Trail became to know their boots. According to the tales, because he got tired from the endless marching, because he realised the great wealth that travelled in the Gulf or because of the hate that he had for the greedy merchants that asked for such high prices even from the poorest residents of the villages they visited, Brashl the Swan acquired some boats for himself and his men, starting a new life as an infamous pirate. He was quite successful indeed, and even more so, as he hired some more men in to his band who could navigate the boats even in the most shallow parts of the rivers that expanded from the Black Gulf. Part of his success was due to the fact on how he used his forces: he could easily use his smaller boats to slip next to merchant ship, especially during the dark nights, and quickly board them, by sending men in from both sides of the ship, but the trick he became most well know was to raid the caravans. He would navigate his boats up the rivers the linked with the various roads north-west of Barak-Varr, and send part of his men ashore early on, using them to spot the approaching caravans and set up the ambush site, making sure that there were no places for the merchants to run off to. When the moment to struck came, the boats would suddenly appear from their hideouts, be it behind the corner of the river, from under the heavy camouflaged sheets or from even under the bridge, stopping the caravan in its track at the bridge, while the land crews took care of the possible guards and trouble makers. Few were the caravans that had the chance to survive this sort of attack, but Brashl was very careful on what caravans or merchant vessels he would strike, never attacking any dwarf caravans or ships or the vessels of their close allies. One story tells of a time when the Swans accidentally seized up a caravan that was also transporting an important dwarf emissary from Barak-Varr, and upon learning this he showed that he was also a clever politician when need be. He made a small show in front of the emissary, slapping and screaming at the men that had been on watch that time, scolding them as best as he could, telling of the horrible fates that would await them, before sending them off and turning to address the emissary. He apologized for the unfortunate event, and offering the emissary and his caravan a safe passage all the way to Barak-Varr. During the trip he discussed broadly with the dwarf noble, using all his skills taught to him by his fathers teachers. In the end of their journey, so impressed was the dwarf emissary by the knowledge, good manners and the respect that Brashl showed him, that he allowed the Swans to keep some of the valuable cargo of the caravan.
Brashl and his Swans made good of the time they acted as pirates, and their fame spread across the Border Princes area, reaching the ears of a bandit lord named Galmar Blackbow. Blackbow was a well known and quite well respected amongst his peers, and the hand of his beautiful and beloved daughter was sought by many a bandit chief with ambitions of their own. Instead, he gave his daughter to Brashl, and should one believe the tales, the young couple was made for each other.
Soon after the marriage Brashl started to recruit more men into his Swans, slowly swelling his small band in to a formidable mercenary army, and also reforming his small fleet, acquiring new and slightly larger and faster vessels for his men to use.
As Brashl became to be known as a feared and respected Border Prince, who’s call to arms hundreds of men would answer, he became more bold with his raids. He still maintained his policy of avoiding the dwarfs and their allies, but he attacked for more larger ship then before, even engaging small fleets. Eventually he did make a mistake, or atleast one of his younger and more rash lieutenants, that on an occasion of bad judgement boarded a merchant vessels belonging to the fast growing and ever more influential city state of Nipponberg. The Uesutan Damiyo Kureno Fujimoto responded immediately to the incident by dispatching and army of his already famous Samurai warriors, lead by his eldest son, Kureno Yamashita. Brashl the Swans response was also quick; he took a large part of his own forces with him to meet this newest threat, possibly hoping that this kind of show of force would earn him some hope of negotiations. The exact spot where the two armies met is another fact that is hotly debated subject in the inns as is the events that unfolded. What most agree on is that the two generals met before engaging in battle, and that the meeting was disrupted by an attack of a large horde of green skins, seemingly drawn to the battlefield because of the presence of the two human armies. A huge battle ensued, and according to the tales, the two generals fought side by side the whole battle, in the most critical moment of the fight when all seemed lost they together killed the green hordes leaders, thus turning the tide and forcing the Orcs and Goblins to flee. The now few Men that survived, left the field together, all forms of grudges gone and forgotten. A close friendship was created between Brashl and Yamashita, and Nipponberg would have a new powerful ally to call upon in the dangerous times in the future.
Brashl the Swan has two young sons, both still learning the ways of the warrior in Nipponberg and in the lands owned by their father.
Brashl is known foremost as an infantry commander, for he dislikes the nothing more than horses. “All I need is solid ground or a sturdy deck and a good pair of boots, not an over grown pony!”, is what he said to one of his lieutenants when he asked if his lord might like to acquire a horse. Of what else can be said of his personality, is mostly good. He has issued several restrictions on his men concerning prisoners, drinking and looting, and he is known to have personally whipped one of his men half death after the said bandit had tried to take a woman by force after a successful raid. Otherwise he lets his men do as they please. He is also quite cunning, a learned man that uses it all to his advantage, and many dodgy situations have been avoided thanks to his ability to put any situation in to the right kind of light.
Brashl wears the already famous armour of Silver Swan armour, the first of the two items he gifted by his father and he was able to keep as he was exiled. It is said to have been made by the most skilful of the Dwarf Runesmiths and it is made of pure Gromil. His sword the Swans Peak is the second item that he inherited from his father. It is said to have been crafted on Ulthuan, the island kingdom of the elves, and is said to hold great power. The now almost grey cloak Brashl wears is said to be a gift from his mother, an enchanted item that was blessed by the Damsels of the Lady to protects its wearer, and it is most affective against fire.
The Crimson White Swans:
Brashl the Swans mercenary army called the Crimson White Swans is a truly powerful military force in the Border Princes. They are recognisable from their uniforms, that consist of a slightly red coloured armour and the pure white robes they wear under it. The majority of the Swans serve in regular Empire style formations, equipped with spears, swords and shields. The Blackbows form the long range force, but they also can engage the enemy as skirmishers, harassing their flaks and lines as the foe advances. The swans have also been successful in acquiring some medium cavalry. Armed with lances and shields, they are fast and flexible, able to attack the enemies flanks with terrifying charges.
On water the fast boats of the Swans are a feared sight, although rare can ever see time before it is too late, the Swans already boarding their ship with ruthless efficiency.
Jules the Black Wolf:
Jules the Black Wolf is a Bretonnian Knight from the woeful lands of Mousillon. He is said to be able to track his family’s bloodline all the way to Landuin of the Grail Companions, the first Duke of the city, even if ever so remotely. Jules’ family did not have much of a chance of receiving the title of Duke, due to their distant relation to the previous family, the direct descendants of Landuin, but after the Affairs of the False Grail, the bloodline was crushed and the King order no new Duke has been appointed. This did not mean that Maldred’s, the last Duke‘s, surviving relatives didn’t try to use the situation for their own good. In the last two centuries the court and noble families of Mousillion have tried to take the position as the leader of the dukedom and make the king to declare them as the Duke. Years have passed and Mousillion has became a disgrace in the eyes of the entire Bretonnian people, and the city has become a dark and vile place indeed. The light of hope has steadily dimmed, and the people of Bretonnia only wait the day when the king declares Mousillion and it people to be permanently erased from the face of the world and all knowledge.
But, a new, small spark has been lit, as a young Knight named Jules the Black Wolf has set on a very personal quest. In his youth he was enthralled by the tales of Giles de Breton and his Grail Companions, Landuin of Mousillion being his greatest inspiration and idol. In the later years, upon learning of the great treasons of Merovech and Maldred, a great desire and need arose in him to clean the taint of those two and to return the greatness of the days of Landuin and Giles. When he became of age, he sought out a Damsel of the Lady of the Lake, and sought her advice and blessing, pledging himself to the Grail Quest. What were the Damsels advices, are unknown, but what is known is that Jules received a great artefact: the Sword of the Quest, with wich he has slain many a foe. His skill at using the large two-handed sword has become a legend amongst his fellow knights, as has his determination of cleansing the name of Mousillion and his bloodline.
Where ever this black armoured figure rides, he is greeted with fear by the enemies of Bretonnia, and with suspicion and respect from the other Knights. He is notorious for fighting according to his own accord, not heeding the orders of his superiors. He is also accused of improper show of etiquette and respect to his elders, for, it is said, he has made a vow not to bow to any mortal or god, except the Lady of the Lake. This has lead some of the older Knight to treat him almost like a peasant or an outcast, denying his offer of aid even in the most dire of situations. Another thing that makes other Knight to look at him down their noses is the fact that he gets very well along the common peasants, helping them as if they were equal to any noble Knight of Realms! Yet, none can deny his bravery and incredible skill, and his already numerous heroic deeds.
He has now left the kingdom of Bretonnia and has travelled to the Border Princes, whether out of his own decision or a vision, none can say. He has already made a name for himself as an ally of Nipponberg, where every warrior worthy of the title and a name is welcome.
Jules the Black Wolf is said to be a quiet man, speaking rarely and showing little emotion even in the heat of battle. His Black armour and grey garments are easily recognisable, as is his crest, a leering face of a wolf on black. His Sword of the Quest is also easy to spot, usually slung on his back when not in use. He does not wear a helmet, and his jet black hairs and short black beard make him look almost savage according to some.