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Battle Standards of the Thyatian Imperium

by James Ruhland

Pondering how a "regular" unit might be able to still survive/function on a battlefield where there might be hundreds of Wand of [Fill in the Blank] effects, I came up with the below (this is in addition to, for example, making Displacement and/or Protection from Evil either Permanent or Semi-Permanent on members of elite units, giving them various protections without the expense of enchanting magic items). Other nations might have similar objects for their soldiers, and I encourage people to describe such things. The below is what I've designed for Thyatis:

Battle Standards of the Imperium: These insignia are borne by every major Thyatian military unit. They provide a variety of magical protections (see below), but their use isn't as easy as simply displaying the Standard or Banner. Upon induction to a unit, each Thyatian soldier goes through a special ceremony, presided over by a high-level priest. This ceremony invokes a mystic connection or bond between the soldier, his (or her) unit, and its standards. These ceremonies are highly secret, and have never yet been duplicated by anyone who has managed to capture one or more of the Standards.

These ceremonies themselves are not sufficient, however, to invoke the power of the Battle Standards. Each day, one of the priests in the unit must perform a Blessing over them. This conjures up the power of the Standards; on any day when a Standard is empowered, it provides its protections to every member of the unit on the battlefield. The Battle Standards used by Thyatis include:

Eagle: Borne by every Imperial unit, the Eagle Standard consists of a golden, two-headed eagle grasping lightning-bolts and wrapped in a golden wreath, over an emblem emblazoned with the acronym "SPQT", under which the unit's banner flutters. The Eagle Standard provides a +2 bonus to morale, and protects soldiers from hostile mind-affecting magic (such as Fear, Confusion, or Domination affects.) It also provides protection from hostile divinatory inquiries and scrying (these effects are similar to those provided by a Non-Detection or Mind Bar spell). The Eagle Standard is borne by an Eagle-Bearer, invariably a high level fighter (hero type).

Dragon: Borne by nearly every Imperial unit, especially those who are going into battle against Alphatians or other magic-heavy enemies. The Dragon Standard looks like a sock-kite in the shape of dragon, mounted atop a pole. But instead of being made out of silk, it is made out of tiny, iridescent scales of adamantine, and its ability to "flutter" or "float" in the wind is a magical effect. The Dragon Standard provides immunity to hostile necromantic magic, provides +2 to saves vs. Evocation spells, and the following additional effects: if the save fails, the affected unit-members still take only half damage. If the save is successful, they take quarter damage. If the spell does not allow a save, all damage it causes is at -1 per die rolled. The Dragon Standard provides superior protection against magics cast by or through items (such as Wands or Staffs) - even if the effect is not an Evocation, saves are made at +4, damage is one quarter (failed save) or none (successful save), and effects that allow no save are actually reflected back (50% chance) or negated completely (50% chance). The Dragon Standard is borne by a Draconarius.

Phoenix: A much rarer Battle Standard, this emblem is borne only by guard units and other elite units (such as Retebius Air Fleet units). It consists of a blazing bird (phoenix) emblazoned on a large oval shield (which functions as the Standard) that is used by the standard-bearer. The Phoenix Standard provides only one benefit, but it is an excellent one. It allows unit members to avoid fatal effects (weapon blows, spells, etc) with a successful save vs. death. (This Battle Standard is thus almost identical to a similar Nithian Standard).