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The Geopolitical situation before the Nomad Invasionby Ville Lähde
Here are some general notes concerning the political situation of the nations that will be mostly affected by the coming Nomad Invasion.
HULE & SIND
The ancient cult of Hosadus has arisen again in Hule. The last time it was on ascendancy after "the Time of Withdrawal", when the Nomad armies attacked the area now known as Darokin (then a loose confederacy of human kingdoms). The new incarnation of Hosadus is again looking hungrily at the eastern nations. He is one of the few people who know that the cult of Hosadus is actually a front for Thanatos-worship.
Hosadus is now the lord of Hule and Sind.
Darokin is a powerful merchant state. Also, the techniques of agriculture and goods production have evolved substantially there. Rudimentary fertilisers based on alchemy are in use, and the first manufactures are in operation. This enables Darokin to raise a powerful military force without having to allocate soldiers to harvesting etc. The diplomatic corps are not so powerful as the Gazetteers imply, but still Darokin has capable diplomats and "intelligence gatherers" deployed in most realms (not in Ethengar, as there's no central government).
Even though the Darokin military is strong, it is not mobilised continuously (as the Gazetteer suggests). Each major city has a strong guards garrison, and the border forts have small legions (equivalent of Reserve Division). Areas bordering strong humanoid nations have of course stronger garrisons.
This is a relatively unknown realm. Right now there's no central government. The seven clans war with each other periodically, but they abide by traditional rules of engagement. During the last year there's been some bad blood between the Atruaghini and Darokinian prospectors. A militant faction (like the violent wing of the Ghost Dancers) has arisen among many clans.
Agents of the Desert Master have made contacts with many tribes. It is likely that as many as four clans will join the war on the side of the Master.
The magocracy is a strong nation, although it seems to be politically divided. Lacking a strong central figure the Council of Princes tends to squabble more than it used to. (Note: As Etienne was only released from imprisonment a few years ago, his power isn't so great as his votes in the council suggest.) The Council is very worried about the possibility of a new Great Khan in Ethengar, and may yet try to intervene.
When the ambassadors from Darokin come to ask Glantri to join the war, the vote of the Council will be a tough one:
The Igorovs will abstain from the vote and will not actively oppose the intervention. They don't want to draw attention to their deal with Aphastes. The Ritterburgs will be sceptical, but they recognise the importance of good diplomatic relations with their friends the Darokinians. If they vote for the war, they are sure to insist on a clause that would leave the bulk of the army to defend the eastern border from Ethengarian assault. The Singhabads are for the intervention, as they have been working towards it all the time. The attitude of the Ellerovyns depends on the state of Alfheim, but they can be persuaded to join the war if someone rids them of a "forestry problem". In this case the Alhambras are sure to vote against the war. The Sylaire family may well vote for the war if the ambassadors remind Etienne of the favour they did (released him from imprisonment). But the rest of the family may do something nasty to their old enemies...
Thar will not take any part in the war, if some sporadic raiding of the supply lines of Corunglain is discounted. Thar is busy with his plans to gather the 20 000 -strong army to invade Rockhome. Agents of Aphastes have tipped him off about the future (Aphastes tends to create "an earthquake" with his groundwater powers and release Denwarf, when his own invasion takes place. This might yet remove one dangerous enemy. But this will happen in 5-6 years...)
This confederacy of wilder elves and Thyatian settlers is still recovering from the conflict with the Shadowlord. Half-elven king Gylharen will probably sympathise with the Darokinians. But the best guess is that he'll see the involvement of his duke Yuri Turambar in the Darokinian diplomatic effort a good enough involvement from Wendar. In any case, the Wendarians couldn't do much more than join the Heldanners in a late assault on Chanai Khan.
During this time Heldann is a loose confederacy of freeholders and independent lords. Heldann suffered greatly from the recent civil war and the attack of the Hulagu Khan's forces, so it won't involve in the war directly. However, if the Ethengarians are weakened enough, some Heldannic forces might yet try to extract revenge on the Uighurs. The Heldann League will most likely to try and assassinate Chanai before he gains Great Khanhood (Note: The silvery dwarf Flint, who will be one of the Darokinian ambassadors, will have a hard situation if he happens to be in Ethengar during these events. He has made a pact with the League a long time ago, and part-took in a bloody massacre of a small Bortak tribe. Flint has been thinking about cutting his ties with the League, but then again the militants could be helpful against Chanai.)
Backed by the Agents of the Master, Chanai of the Murkit tribe will try to become the next Great Khan during the war. His first action would be to declare a full-scale assault on Glantri. The Brotherhood of the Bolt will be a great asset then, especially if the Ethengarians try to breach the Skullhorn Pass.
Most of the tribes will stand together with Chanai, even though some tribal clashes may cause some trouble. Batu of the Bortaks won't play ball, to everyone's great surprise. The most untalented and cowardly of all Khans invaded and annexed the Kiyat lands just a few years ago, so he controls two hordes now. In addition to that a group of Makistani militants has joined him, as Batu promised the lands of the Kiyats to them if he becomes the new Great Khan. Batu has also forged alliances with the Sliktor orcs and Hooplak hobgoblins. If Batu wins Chanai, he'll grant the humanoids the whole of the western Ethengar, thus getting a convenient buffer zone against the Glantrians. He doesn't for a minute believe that Ethengarians can succeed in the Glantri invasion, and is probably right. (Note: The Ethengarian hordes aren't so strong as in the Gazetteers, as the strong leadership of Moglai doesn't exist.)
Batu also has an extra card in his sleeve: a mutual military aid pact with the duke of Estine, Ivan Ivanovich. If Ivan respects the pact during the war, his crack troops and possibly those of his neighbours the silvery dwarves of the Red Fangs will be very valuable against Chanai. Who knows, possibly Yuri Turambar will force march his elven cavalry to assist from Wendar?
This kingdom is ruled by King Tenitar, a staunch follower of the Forsettian faith. He will follow the council of his close friend Ivan Ivanovich. Vestland can't obviously send troops directly against the Master, but perhaps an assault on Ylaruam might be in order.
This powerful seagoing nation is a close ally of Thyatis, and thus it will be practically impossible to king Olaf Cnute to get involved in the war directly. Then again, he's greatly in debt to Ivan Ivanovich, who saved his life, killed his dark sister Ala the Seawitch and helped him in the Ostmann rebellion. He might "coincidentally" start a raiding campaign against the enemies of Darokin, and possibly give some Ravenguard to them as bodyguards etc.
As usual, the Soderfjordans are in disarray. The relations with Vestland are a bit strained, but not enough to start a war. When it comes to the war, they are a wild card, albeit a weak one.
Ylaruam has been ruled by the militant Kin faction for some years now. Sultan Ali-Ben Faizal (the Wise or the Fool) eyes hungrily at Selenica, which he considers Ylari territory. He has been already contacted by Hosadus, and will join his side in the coming war, very early on. The Preceptors have been driven underground, and will not pose a significant threat. Barimoor isn't any longer around, he vanished after the Time of Withdrawal.
Other tempting lines of invasion might be Thyatis, if Selenica is conquered, or Soderfjord. The latter will prove difficult for mounted armies, though.
After the demise of its southern colonial legions Thyatis isn't so keen on engaging in a costly conflict. They have enough trouble in reconsolidating their imperial power elsewhere. But if the war goes badly for the Ylari, the Emperor is sure to send his mainland legions to gain the old colonies back.
King Everast has very friendly relations with all of his neighbouring states, so the war will be a problem for him. Although he wants, really wants, to support the Darokinians, their valued marketing area, siding with Alfheimers will be a hard nut to crack. If he joins the war, his first objective would strategically be to cut the Ylaruam invasion towards Selenica. But this would disrupt the good relations with the Ylari. One possibility is to wage "a gentleman's war": cut the supply lines in the mountains but let the Ylari pass back home if they understand what's good for them.
There's an internal crisis, too. Frost giants have gathered together and are no doubt beginning to construct the legendary Jotunheim. The giants have allied with the Master. If they are defeated and this connection revealed, the course for Rockhome is clear.
Karameikos has recovered phenomenally from the near- civil war two years ago. The Elvenguard has been strengthened, and the Military command decided to modernise the armies and augment them with cavalry forces. (Note: The army won't be so strong as X10 suggests, as the forces of Kelven suffered greatly during the Hazar incident, and Luln is no longer standing.)
The Black Eagle barony has formed an alliance with the Master, and a civil war is imminent. Two Desert Nomad legions have been shipped there with captured Minrothaddan and Ierendian ships, and supplemented with local humanoid forces. Now von Hendricks has the first real chance to beat Stephan. But he is convinced that Bargle will try to overthrow him during the war. To get out of this danger he has gathered a number of ex-Iron Ring slaves that he "forgot" to set free, as the peace treaty with Stephan would have dictated. He's planning to blackmail some Karameikan heroes into assassinating Bargle.
THE FIVE SHIRES
Well, the halflings are sure to back up their friends the Darokinians. But right now they are having a lot of trouble with a legion of spectres sent by Hosadus. Unless the undead fiends are eliminated, the Shires are forced to stay neutral.
The spectres have also located a part of the Crystal dagger of Cymorrak, a powerful artefact that was crafted to battle the powers of Thanatos on Mystara. (Note: Cymorrak is an ancient god of warfare, and an old enemy of Thanatos. He is worshipped in Thyatis, but traces of his worship can be found in the Shires and Alfheim, tracing back to the last nomad war.)
The elven king will surely join Darokin in the war. He is old enough to remember the last Nomad War, or at least his father/mother told him about it. He is well aware of the Thanatos connection. But early on during the war, the magics of Hosadus will disrupt the Bad Magic Points in the Forest and temporarily divert the attention of the elves. If the Darokinian ambassadors will aid the elves in this crisis, the elven king will be sure to reward them with an alliance. (Note: Another part of the Crystal Dagger is in the Tomb of Alevar that will be invaded by an ancient green dragon, a close ally of Hosadus.)