And to start this off, here's the WIP for an antagonist faction that I hope you'll all come to hate.
The Order of Aurelius
Located at the southwestern edge of the Achaean Empire, the Order of Aurelius is a chivalric order dedicated to combatting beastfolk in the Southwestern Wilds. Operating out of Devona Citadel, a former Legionary fort midway between Fort Slaughter and Fort Greenwall, they officially task themselves with defending the borders of the empire from beastfolk marauders making incursions into Achaean territory. Unofficially, they conduct plenty of their own raids and small assaults which often prove just as brutal and violent as the attacks they’re supposedly sworn to protect against. Hostile to all beastfolk factions and characters.
The Order of Aurelius takes it namesake from Aurelius Lucretius II, a wealthy nobleman from Heliora who, many years ago, led a band of knights that defended humans in the southwestern countryside from beastfolk raiders at a time when the Legions were unable to adequately protect them. After several years of basing themselves in their home city, the knights relocated to Devona Citadel on the very edge of the Empire’s borders; while in reality little more than a crumbling fort, it was an adequate enough place from which to continue their efforts to protect the region’s human inhabitants.
With the eventual death of Aurelis, his loyal soldiers formally created the Order in his name, dedicating it to the continuing protecting the local citizens of the Heliora region from any beastfolk or other dangerous creatures that might menace them. The first Knight General of the Order, Sir Malden Kepsus, rapidly began expanding the organization with funding from the noble families of Heliora, recruiting both a larger band of veteran knights and complementary forces of less experienced commoner levies and mercenaries.
Over the years, as the Imperial presence has increased and the two coastal forts near Devona Citadel have helped to provide better security on the border, the Order’s mission has gradually shifted. A reduced need to rush to the defense of farms and small villages being raided has led to the Order’s forces being directed into increasingly common raids of their own into what would traditionally be considered beastfolk territory. In past years especially, these marauding acts have proved to be incredibly brutal in their own right, with both the common mounted troops of the Order and even its supposedly upstanding knights engaging in senseless violence and pillaging.
Still, it maintains a legacy as group that has long been at the forefront of defending the citizens of Heliora, and for that the local nobility has long been willing to continue their financial support of the Order. Rumors have recently abounded that the current Knight General, Lady Solia Crevius, is attempting to increase discipline in the ranks and prevent mindless looting and needless violence; how much success her efforts will be met with remains to be seen.
At one point in time, the Order was a mounted force of well-armed knights that rode to the defense of local settlements, crashing into raiding groups of beastfolk with their lancer assaults before routing the survivors in hectic melees. Over the past decades, however, the decline in a need for quick responses to such incursions has pressed the Order to invent new missions and operations that provide it with some purpose.
To that end, a policy of regular raiding of their own has been in place for years now, with knights supported by hired mounted soldiers launching attacks against any sort of beastfolk encampment, group, settlement, or travelling party that they can challenge. These raids, when successful, typically culminate in the Order’s horsemen looting everything of value and committing violent acts against the surviving beastfolk so foul that even their comrades may be uncomfortable discussing the details. Naturally, the beastfolk who have had the misfortune to know of the Order’s existence rarely have any feeling towards them beyond absolute contempt.
Despite the implications of the name, Devona Citadel is not the height of defensive emplacements by any stretch of the imagination. Once a fort manned by Legio IV, the old hilltop military encampment was repurposed by Aurelius as a staging area for his knights, centered around a small at the heart of the settlement. Since the order’s foundation, the Citadel has undergone significant reinforcement and expansion into what is best described as a small castle, and has been surrounded by what amounts to a small town full of barracks, storehouses, and some civilians providing support and services to the men and women of the Order. The entire fortress and its infrastructure have grown so large over time that nearly a full Legion’s worth of knights, soldiers, and workers now inhabit the Citadel and its outlying buildings.
The Order of Aurelius was, at its start, a force of barely a hundred men; today it has expanded to just over a thousand all-mounted troops, varying widely in their equipment, training and experience. However, all troops generally perform one of three roles:
-Lumen form the largest group, composing nearly half of the Order’s troops, and are typically commoners hoping that their service will provide an opportunity for social advancement. Every Lumen is provided standard equipment by the Order: a round wooden shield, a steel spear, a sword, padded armor, and a (usually cheap) horse. Like all members of the order, Lumen are free to use their wages or personal savings to purchase newer or better equipment.
Less experienced Lumen are typically kept in a scouting or support role, while more veteran men and women form the core of the Order’s fighting force. Their tactics are usually simple, focusing on constant movement and outflanking the enemy at every opportunity, as well as occasionally serving as a force to bear the brunt of the enemy’s wrath so as to spare more valuable lance-armed cavalry. Should a situation require them to dismount, Lumen can function as spearmen or simple swordsman infantry.
-Arcus compose another quarter of the Order’s forces, and function as its ranged troops. Two types of Arcus exist: Arcus Throwers, who tend to be poorer, common folk armed with javelins or other throwing weapons, and Arcus Bowman, trained archers who specialize on firing from horseback. Despite not being as well-equipped as knights, and rarely being of noble descent, the Arcus Bowman are some of the region’s best archers as a matter of necessity; tremendous skill is required to accurately fire an arrow while a horse gallops underneath you.
-Lancers are the genuine Knights of Aurelius, the fully-armored nobleman who the Order are most commonly associated with. At any given time, a little over two hundred lancers, all veteran warriors, nobly-born warriors, or both, will be spread out between the patrols maintained by the Order and the forces defending Devona Citadel. Every lancer is armed with the weapon of their namesake, a lance, usually decorated with brightly-colored striping, that serves as a single-use weapon in charges before the knight begins fighting with a sword, axe, mace, or other such close-combat armament. All of the Lancers are paid handsomely for their service, and many who retire go on to be financial supports of the Order in their later years.
Since the death of Aurelius, the Order has always been commanded by a Knight General, a lancer veteran who has proven by their actions that they are capable of strong leadership and loyal dedication to the cause. Knight Generals are officially chosen by a unanimous decision by the three Knight Legates--the knights in charge of the Lumen, Arcus, and Lancers, respectively--in a closed council, but almost every Knight General in the Order’s history has selected a successor who was appointed without dispute from the Legates. The current Knight General of the Order is Lady Solia Crevius, a native of Heliora and experienced Lancer.
Beneath these highest-ranking officers, the command structure of the Order mirrors that of an Imperial Legion, with the same unit sizes and even titles being in use; this system has proved to be a boon to Legionary recruiters, as men who once served with the Order before joining a Legion come into service already familiar with at least some elements of the unit’s composition.