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The Swamp Rats - A History

Top level Gæa Campaign Notes

A brief history of The Swamp Rat Century.

The Swamp Rat century first gained its name some four years after Taramis ascended the throne of Dalatia. It was a time of strife and struggle in northern Gaia. The great kingdom of Dalatia had been deteriorating for many years under the inept leadership of a series of weak kings.

A Short Recent History of Dalatia

Dalatia was a proud kingdom of vast proportions. Many would say that the very size of Dalatia would make it impossible to govern effectively as a single state, yet somehow the past kings of Dalatia had done just that. They had forged a massive kingdom governed from the capital city of Draskor. Over time a diverse assortment of cultures and people had, through regional lords loyal to the throne become citizens.

Dalatia had grown string and civilised. Though its very size dictated that large portions of the kingdom remained as wilderness, its human kings had slowly exterminated local orc tribes. Civilisation had flourished around various centres and slowly expanded across the land until for the most part, especially along the various great roads that had been built, Dalatia became dotted with villages and small towns.

Times change and this was no exception for Dalatia. A series of weak kings, coupled with The Red Bitch War, culminated in king Elkor sitting the throne. Though his kingship had started with promise, he had weakened and become ineffective in dealing with the economic and social challenges that assailed Dalatia as a result of the war that had devastated his kingdoms eastern neighbours.

It was into this scene that Taramis had come. The bastard child of Elkor, raised in the distant northern stronghold of Dun Athol, she had grown to become a great horsewoman and leader of men. King Elkor’s legitimate son had died in the war, part of a contingent sent from Dalatia to bolster her eastern allies. His nominated successor, Lord Julian had been biding his time, awaiting his ascension to the throne on the death of the king.

Elkor had never acknowledged Taramis and to his relief, it had seemed he would never have to, since she had apparently disappeared and had not been seen in recent years. Thus it was much to his surprise when, the dying king was advised that Taramis approached his capital, with a large contingent of horsemen. Her timing had been perfect. While Julian, Cedric and other lords loyal to the king were still travelling to Draskor, Taramis had the kings ear.

None know what was said in their conversations, though many assumed some sort of coercion, for it prevailed that Taramis was named Elkor’s legitimate heir while he lay upon his deathbed. Julian et al arrived to a Draskor in turmoil as they discovered that the king was dead and that Taramis was to be crowned queen!

Taramis had not been idle while she had been gone from Dalatia. She had ancient western isles, gaining allies in Illium Cromia. Furthermore, she had visited that Onyx Empire, which spanned the distant land of Araktor, far to the south. There she had entered into a pact with the lizard emperor. To this end, a legion of the Empires finest, along with a cohort of Cromian marines had arrived on the shores of Dalatia. These two forces marched on Draskor and set up camp outside the city before Julian and his allies could raise any sort of force of their own. The very sight of the foreign legionnaires was enough to stop any thought of resistance. Taramis was crowned queen.

Swamp Rat Beginnings

While the emperor had loaned Taramis a legion as part of a new alliance she, as the new queen, had been able to forge, that legion could not remain in Dalatia indefinitely. Taramis was very astute and knew that so long as a foreign force remained on Dalatian soil, the people would perceive her as a usurper, the puppet of a foreign power.

Her own forces were however not sufficient to stave off Julian and his allies indefinitely. She needed an army that was disciplined and strong as the legions of the empire, but was also made up of local people. To this end a recruitment campaign was launched, with assistance of her new ally, the Onyx Empire.

Over the following year a motley array of punters signed on to the Offshore Legion (Taramis). They came from all walks of life and from all lands, though a large portion were Dalatian, or from her neighbours. Some joined for the splendid uniform, some for the promise of regular decent meals while yet others to escape a shady past, or just out of sheer boredom. Slowly this motley array of future legionnaires made their way south, to Araktor and the Onyx Empire where they were to receive training and eventually become legionnaires, sworn to the Emperor, and through him, to the service of Taramis, queen of Dalatia, the Empires ally.

Within the Offshore Legion, there was a cohort where legionnaires ended up not by choice, but as punishment. This cohort was based at a fort on the northern shore of a great lake. North of the lake stretched an endless lowland of swamps and smaller lakes.

The empire was not without its own problems. One major issue being a guerrilla was that had been going on for decades. Though the last guerrillas had been thought destroyed centuries before, over the past decades attacks had begun again. Like Dalatia, the empire had also been the victim of poor leadership and the guerrillas had become bold. Now with a new strong emperor in Grim-Giss, the empires capital, something had been done. The guerrillas had for the most part been found and killed, but one last stronghold remained, and that was the vast swampland that spanned a goodly portion of north western Araktor.

Enter the Protagonists

For various reasons (mostly due to some drunken revelry in Grim-Giss), certain player characters found themselves at Swamp Fort. Among these were Skwib and Brin, the primitives from the Great Southern Peaks, a Nar-Haaz orc called turf and a horseman from the grasslands of Cordia, in southern Gaia.

These punters had not been at Swamp Fort long before a night raid against the fort was launched. During the raid the centurion of their century was mortally wounded. Shortly thereafter Skwib was promoted to centurion, on probation, due to his excellent leadership shown during the raid. Shortly thereafter he led a small contingent into the swamp to find the base of the sorcerer leader of the local guerrillas. The base was found and destroyed and as a reward Skwib;s promotion was made permanent.

As further reward, Skwib, Brin, Turf and Bilge Rat, along with a motley band some thirty strong was sent off onto a mission deep into enemy territory. This took them through many leagues of swamp, across lakes and even through a cavern complex that saw them through a mountain range that would otherwise have taken them months to traverse.

The campaign trail was tough. Those that survived faced a final battle that saw the destruction of a hill fortress stronghold of the northern guerrillas which was a key stroke in the empires campaign to quash the uprising. Those who survived took on the name of The Swamp Rat Century, a name that stuck and was ratified by the legions commander on their arrival on the far northern Araktor shoreline and the sea port of Unkomaas.

For their troubles, they inherited some new troops, Turf was promoted to Optio and they boarded ship for Gaia. It was at least five years, sometimes more, since those who had hailed from that continent had seen their homeland.

For the Swamp Rats, it would not be a welcome homecoming. Winter already had the north under her sway. The transports they were on could not travel further north than Slavinia, the land that formed Dalatias southern border, for fear of sinking in storm waters. The Rats disembarked at the sea stronghold of Korais with orders to travel overland towards Draskor, dealing with any resistance to Taramis’ rule along the way.

Thus started a second campaign, traversing the icy woodlands of Slavinia and entering into southern Dalatia. Taramis’ support did not stretch this far from Draskor. Since the protagonists left to join the legion a civil war had erupted, and southern Dalatia was under the sway of the local lords, under Cedric, who opposed Taramis’ rule.

Many battles ensued. For the Swamp Rats this was a difficult time. No longer used to snow – some had never seen it before – they froze their way from siege to siege, all the way eking out supplies to keep them alive. Eventually they raised the town of Osta before forcing its surviving populace on the fortified hill town of Lutzkor in a ruse that saw the town taken with minimum bloodshed. By this time winter was in full swing and the Rats over wintered there.

By the time spring came, the Rats had already taken on a different look. Some had died in battle, others, including some local orcs had joined. Bilge Rat – dispatched for Draskor many moons before had not returned. The sallied forth, travelling north until they encountered resistance in the form of river boats ferrying an army north. Some boats were destroyed, but the Rats were forced to flee into the eerie, haunted land of Barrymoore.

Diverted thus the Rats continued in a roughly north easterly direction, crossing the desolate sourland and enduring the suffering of those desperate folk who lived there. Supplied had dwindled to nothing and the rats were forced to hunt reindeer that belonged to a dragon. It was only some quick thinking and well spoken words that allowed them to continue into the remote county of Carillo, where they met resistance and ended up taking the castle of the local lord.

By this time the Swamp Rat Century was tired. They had marched half way across a continent. They had lost comrades. Many thought they should take Carillo as their own and settle there, but Skwib was strong. He gave a rousing speck that raised their morale. After a few days rest they set off again, this time marching north around a range of hills before striking east back towards Draskor. It was late summer when they reached the battlefield. The forces of Taramis were marshalled against those of the Julian/Cedric alliance who opposed her.

A great battle ensued, one in which the Swamp Rats put all their knowledge of dirty tactics to good use. Once again their role became pivotal in winning the day. They were hailed as heroes, the latecomers who had helped Taramis prevail!

Back in Draskor a Triumph was held. Each Rat was awarded land in Carillo for their efforts, where they were welcome to settle, but were still considered Swamp Rats, who could be called on by Taramis in the future. Skwib however had different ideas. He and a small band of the Rats of similar mind were not happy to settle. Neither though were they content to still slog along wearing holes in their caligulae.

Partings and New Beginnings

Skwib contrived to meet with Taramis, whose beautiful spell he willingly fell under – for the queen was indeed as lovely of appearance as she was accomplished with horse and sword. She agreed that he hand over leadership of the Swamp Rats to Brin, that he may start up a new century of cavalry. Turf joined him and along with a few others, they began training in riding and mounted combat. Thus ended the story of the Swamp Rat Century – for now. Thus also began a new story and chapter in the life of the few ex Rats who would serve Taramis as cavalry.


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Gygax Magazine Issue 3 Out
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