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Karrnath

Karrnath, born in war Karrnath, land of night Karrnath, we salute you Let the world marvel at your might! - “War March of the Karrns,” Karrnath’s national anthem
  Known as the “birthplace of kings,” the nation of Karrnath was born in war. The art of war remains the birthright of every true son and daughter of the land, and it sings in their blood and their dreams. The first humans to settle the region were Lhazaar marauders. They built outposts along the barren coastline and raided the softer lands to the south. Slowly, these outposts developed into towns and cities, and the people that remained in the land were tempered by the long, harsh winters.   As the descendants of the Lhazaar raiders continued to spread out and eventually divide into five distinct nations, Karrn the Conqueror rose to power. He transformed the pirates and pillagers of his northeastern realm into a deadly army. Under his leadership, the Karrnathi forces swept the remnants of the goblinoids out of the land and made war upon the other human settlements. Karrn dreamed of ruling a vast kingdom, and in his zeal he conquered two-fifths of the human lands. In the end, no single foe defeated Karrn. Rather, he was overcome by the sheer size of Khorvaire and his own penchant for cruelty.   Karrn’s legacy remains, and most people tend to forget the atrocities and prefer to remember the accomplishments. He cleared the heartland of the human nations of the remnants of the goblinoid empire. He galvanized the people and kick-started the march to civilization. He built the greatest army of his age. And he died in a kingdom that bore his name. Centuries later, his descendant Galifar, a true son of Karrnath, would pick up Karrn’s dream and unite the Five Nations.   Galifar utilized the military power of Karrnath to forge his kingdom, and no force could stand against him. Of course, he tempered war with hope and a dream of a better society, and thus succeeded where Karrn had failed. After the Kingdom of Galifar was established, military officers from across the land trained at the Rekkenmark Academy. Military traditions and training were disseminated to the rest of the kingdom, but as a people the Karrns continued to be more dedicated to and proficient in the art of war. To this day, every citizen of Karrnath serves a term in the military, and every citizen of Karrnath practices with the local militia.   Life in Karrnath can be cold and hard, but the Karrnathi people are colder and harder. When the Last War began, the people of the land rallied behind their king. It seemed unthinkable that the other parts of the collapsing kingdom could stand against the military might of Karrnath. Better equipment and training could take the Karrns only so far, however. They underestimated the arcane weaponry of Aundair and Cyre. They underestimated the divine power of the Silver Flame that bolstered Thrane. And they failed to account for the sheer heart and determination of the Brelish people, perhaps the most underrated nation at the start of the war.   Karrnath suffered a series of embarrassing and potentially destructive setbacks, forcing the King to accept aid from The Blood of Vol. Using the necromantic arts at their disposal, the Vol priests called Karrnath’s fallen warriors back from the grave, setting the stage for the rest of the long, long war. The tireless undead troops bolstered the nation’s living soldiers and brought a sense of otherworldly terror to the battlefields. The Karrnathi undead were some of the most unusual troops deployed in battle until the creation of the Warforged.   A military dictatorship since the start of the Last War, Karrnath continues to operate under martial law. This makes it a bit tougher on visitors and adventurer types, but the land isn’t totally closed to travelers. With the end of the Last War, a handful of the more stringent laws have been lifted, but the overall oppression of a martial system remains.   When Kaius III rose to power he immediately set about ending the war. But even two years after the Treaty of Thronehold, Karrnath is still a militaristic society that’s reluctant to abandon its war footing. The warlords remain the most powerful and influential of Kaius’s nobles. Most towns still have large standing militias, and service in the national army is compulsory.   Today, Karrnath enjoys its role as one of the architects of peace, but there are undercurrents of unease throughout all levels of the nation. It came as a surprise when Kaius III, leader of a harsh band of hardened warriors, pressed for peace. Most of the Karrnathi warlords (the highest-ranking nobles in the land) believe that their king is simply rebuilding the strength of the nation and searching for an advantage to turn against the other nations. They trust that he will unleash their armies again when the time is right and grasp the throne of Galifar as his own. But there are those among the warlords and nobility that believe that Kaius is too soft, not at all like his father or great-grandfather. They see the Treaty of Thronehold as a symbol of his cowardice, and his efforts to curtail the power of the Blood of Vol as a rejection of the religion of the people. When the current peace finally breaks, it may be Karrnath that swings the first sword—despite the wishes of its king.     While Kaius has officially broken ties with the Blood of Vol and declared it no longer the national religion, a significant portion of his citizenry continues to follow the tenets of blood as life and undeath as divinity. The crown has gone so far as to ban the open worship of the Blood of Vol in Korth, but shrines still draw followers in the towns and villages, and the Crimson Monastery in Atur continues to hold open ceremonies to mostly packed audiences of the faithful.   Kaius has had better success in curtailing the influence of the Order of the Emerald Claw. In general, the nation has come to see this group of one-time patriots (at least that was how they were portrayed when the group was originally established) as violent extremists who no longer have the best interests of Karrnath at heart.    

Magic and Religion

While Karrnath originally put more stock in swords than in spells, this view quickly changed after the first few engagements of the Last War. Observing the war magic of Cyre and Aundair, the King ordered all youths to be tested for arcane aptitude at the enclave of the Twelve. Over the course of the Last War, Karrnath has made its own strides in the mystic arts. Its greatest accomplishments have been in the arcane schools of evocation and necromancy. The country still lags behind the civic accomplishments of the wizards of Aundair, but they have become almost their equal in the art of war.   The worship of the Sovereign Host dominates the land of Karrnath, despite almost a hundred years in which the Blood of Vol was the national religion. Boldrei, Dol Arrah, and Dol Dorn are seen as the patrons of the land, with a strong emphasis on the virtues of honor, strength in battle, and love of community. Divine spellcasters are rare, and most priests fall into the category of expert, aristocrat, or fighter.

History

Since Karrn the Conqueror rose to power, his blood has flowed through the rulers of Karrnath. When King Galifar I established his united kingdom, he set up a system wherein the Wynarn family would rule over each of the Five Nations. This took a bit of getting used to in the other parts of the kingdom, but the Karrns have long had the blood of Karrn sitting on their throne.   Occasionally over the centuries, as happens when there are fewer suitable heirs, governorship of Karrnath fell to trusted regents drawn from other parts of the family.   Like the others among the Five Nations, Karrnath was administered by governor-princes as part of the Kingdom of Galifar from the founding of the kingdom until 894 YK. In that year, as the struggle for the crown that caused the Last War escalated, Karrnath broke from the kingdom and declared itself an independent monarchy under the rule of King Kaius I.

Military

Karrnath, always the most martial of the Five Nations, boasted an army larger and more well trained than any other faction early in the war. Combined with its advance knowledge of the coming struggle—Kaius was, after all, one of the war’s instigators—it seems inconceivable that Karrnath would not emerge from the war as the clear victor. Still, a series of devastating famines and plagues, combined with diplomatic and political blunders caused in part by the military’s reliance on brute force over creative thinking, offset the nation’s military power for much of the war.   Long before the Last War, Karrnath’s culture had been steeped in military reverence. The army was a high calling—the scions of the rich and noble were groomed as officers. Of all the nations, Karrnath’s citizens were the most eager to fall in behind their leaders on the march to war. Karrnath’s rulers maintained the focus of the citizenry by never leaving a wartime footing and constantly employing nationalistic rhetoric to keep the people’s anger stoked. Karrnath’s efforts were devoted mainly against Cyre and Aundair in the early part of the Last War, then shifted largely to a violent conflict with Thrane in the later years. Even after the war, the interaction between these former allies nearly qualifies as a cold war unto itself.  

Military Structure

While many of the other nations focus on smaller and more mobile units, Karrnath makes substantial use of enormous legions and heavy cavalry. Its goal is to defeat an enemy force simply by overrunning it and crushing it into the earth. The undead soldiers for which the nation became infamous—and which resulted in the final diplomatic break between Karrnath and Thrane—are most often formed into separate units.
  • A legion is two brigades led by a warlord.
  • A brigade consists of two regiments with a general as its commander. The two regiments in a brigade might include one cavalry regiment and one infantry regiment.
At the regiment level, the cavalry and infantry have different structures, and at the company level, the regular infantry and undead infantry have different structures. Below that each is divided into platoons and squads.  

Infantry

The Karrnathi Army at its core is made up of squads of soldiers, trained with specific weaponry and for a specific purpose on the battlefield, these squads are organized into one of four formation types.  
Infentry Squad Formations
Formation Commander Fighters Support
Regulars 1 Sergeant 10 Soldiers 1 Battlemage
Soldier 1 Elite Sergeant 10 Elite Soldiers 1 Battlemage
Arcane Battle Team 1 Arcane Sergeant 10 Elite Soldiers 4 Arcane Specialists
  A standard infantry platoon consists of two regular squads and one soldier squad. In an arcane platoon, an Karrn Arcane Battle Team replaces one of the regular squads. A captain, leads a platoon.  
Infentry Platoon Formations
Formation Commander Squad Personel Command Staff
Infentry Platoon 1 Captain 36 Squad Members 3 Support Staff
Arcane Platoon 1 Captain 48 Squad Members 5 Support Staff
  An infantry company is made up of two standard infantry platoons, and an arcane company consists of two arcane platoon. A major commands a company.   A regiment includes three companies, usually one arcane company with either two infantry company or two undead companies. The commander of a regiment is a colonel.  

Undead Infantry

Karrnath was initially reluctant to mobilize large undead units that lacked living officers, due to the inability of the undead to think creatively. Toward the end of the war, however, this approach became more and more difficult to maintain. There are two basic squads that make up the backbone of the undead infantry.  
Undead Infentry Squad Formations
Formation Commander Fighters Support
Light Undead 1 Sergeant 6 Warrior Skeletons 7 Commoner Zombies
Heavy Undead 1 Dread Sergeant/Dread Marshal 10 Skeleton/Zombie 1 Necromancer
  An undead platoon consists of two light undead squads and two heavy undead squads. Late in the war, Karrnath switched to using heavy undead platoons which were made up of four heavy undead squads. A platoon is commanded by a captain.  
Undead Infintry Platoon Formations
Formation Commander Platoon Personel Command Staff
Undead Platoon 1 Captain 52 Squad Members 2 Support Staff
Heavy Undead Platoon 1 Captain 48 Squad Members 1 Support Staff
  An undead company consists of two undead platoons, usually one undead platoon and one heavy undead platoon under the command of a living major. Later in the war a Karrn undead company was completely made up of heavy undead platoons, there were refered to as an undead shock company. Above the company level, undead infantry are part of the standard infantry structure.  
Undead Infintry Company Formations
Formation Commander Company Personel Command Staff
Undead Company 1 Major 105 Platoon Members 4 Support Staff
Shock Company 1 Major 100 Platoon Members 4 Support Staff
 

Cavalry

A standard cavalry platoon consists of three cavalry squads. In an arcane cavalry platoon, an arcane strike team replaces one of the regular squads. An undead cavalry platoon is made up of three undead cavalry squads. A captain, usually a 3rd-level fighter, leads a platoon.  

Cavalry Squad Formations

Formation Commander Fighters Support Mounts
Light Horse 1 Cavalry Sergeant 10 Regular Cavalry None 11 Warhorses
Heavy Horse 1 Cavalry Sergeant 10 Regular Cavalry None 11 Heavy Warhorses
Arcane Strike Team 1 Arcane Sergeant 10 Elite Cavalry 4 Arcane Specialists 15 Warhorses
Undead Cavalry 1 Cavalry Sergeant 10 Skeleton/Zombie None 10 Heavy Skeletal Warhorses
  A cavalry company consists of two cavalry platoons—a standard company has standard platoons, an arcane company has arcane platoons, and an undead company has undead platoons. A major, usually a 4th-level fighter or knight, commands a company.   A cavalry regiment consists of three companies—usually one arcane cavalry company with either two cavalry companies or two undead cavalry companies. The commander of a regiment is a colonel, who is a 5th-level cleric, fighter, or knight.   Above the regiment level, cavalry are incorporated into brigades along with infantry regiments.  

General Tactics

Despite the skill and determination of their soldiers, and the dependable obedience of undead troops, the armies of Karrnath suffer from a lack of creative tactics. For the most part, they rely on the size and strength of their forces, and the expertise of individual soldiers, to overrun the enemy. Armies as large and rooted in tradition as Karrnath’s take a long time to adapt to change. The introduction of the undead—most of which, even if intelligent, lacked imagination—didn’t help matters. Even by the war’s end, Karrnathi forces would, more often than not, attempt a straightforward assault unless doing so was clearly the wrong decision. Undead are often used for pursuit and patrol, missions on which their ability to remain constantly active is a major advantage.  

Elite Units

For the most part, Karrnath’s elite units are formed from knightly orders. The Knightly Orders Karrnath’s military culture has given rise to a number of knightly orders throughout its history. Some of these groups are loyal to a specific noble or warlord, others to a religious institution, and still others to Karrnath itself, but all are considered quite prestigious. For the bulk of the war, the most honored of these was the Order of the Emerald Claw. Consisting of devout patriots and military minds, the order spread throughout the armed forces—at its height, it accounted for over a quarter of all Karrnathi officers, and several legions were made up entirely of Emerald Claw members. Only late in the war, after Regent Moranna declared the order to be traitorous and began purging the most vocal members, did its luster fade. The Emerald Claw was far from the only knightly order that became heavily involved in the war. Several other groups were able to field whole regiments of their own members, and quite a few military units consisted of a majority of one order or another. Although this situation often increased feelings of camaraderie and solidarity among the officers and soldiers, it also created friction. Rival orders competed with one another, sometimes to the detriment of an overall battle plan, by covertly undermining or lightly sabotaging each others’ efforts. Soldiers loyal to one order might prove reluctant to follow the orders of an officer belonging to another.   Described below are the largest and most widespread of Karranth’s wartime knightly orders, including the region in which each is based (though this was not necessarily its only area of influence or strength), and a brief overview of the group.  
Order of the Adamant Fang (Vedykar)
Trained in both traditional and woodland warfare, its members are among Karrnath’s almost nonexistent light cavalry.  
Order of the Blackened Sky (Karrlakton)
Champions of industry, the Order of the Blackened Sky makes substantial use of alchemical and mechanical weapons; in recent years, it has also become one of Karrnath’s greatest defenders against monstrous incursions from the Mournland.  
Order of the Conquering Fist (Vulyar/Korth)
This is a relatively new knightly order that has not yet gained the respect of others of its sort. During the war, the Conquering Fist was based in Vulyar, and often led a charge into enemy territory. After the expulsion of the Emerald Claw, Kaius relocated the Conquering Fist to Korth, and has been advocating them as the new patriotic heart of the Karrnathi military.  
Order of the Emerald Claw (Korth)
This group (discussed above) is made up of Karrnathi patriots who have since been declared traitors; they are secretly servants of the Blood of Vol.  
Order of the Inviolate Way (Rekkenmark)
Restrictive even for a knightly order, the Inviolate Way accepts only applicants of noble blood who are members of the Order of Rekkenmark; it is responsible for assisting, serving, and protecting nobles, royals, and warlords.  
Order of the Onyx Skull (Atur)
The first knightly order to truly embrace the presence of the undead, it provides many of the officers who oversee undead units, and is responsible for the creation of the bone knight.

Foreign Relations

Karrnath was the most vocal proponent of what became the Treaty of Thronehold, and it remains an active player in the intrigues of the postwar period. But Karrnath isn’t quite as active diplomatically as Aundair or Breland, for two reasons. First, Kaius expends more effort on internal matters than Queen Aurala or King Boranel does. He has the Blood of Vol and the Emerald Claw to deal with, after all. Second, years of plotting have taught Kaius the value of patience.  

Aundair

Karrnath is wary of Aundair and still regards it as an enemy. Kaius often opposes Aundair’s Queen Aurala diplomatically, but he doesn’t believe Aundair has the will or the ability to make a significant move against Karrnath. In general, Aundair is a lot more worried about Karrnath than Karrnath is about Aundair.  

Breland

Kaius regards Breland’s King Boranel as his most powerful rival at the moment. Breland’s industry is second to none, and Kaius respects its capacity to return to a war footing and outproduce Karrnath at a moment’s notice. Karrnath thus supports anything that distracts or divides Breland. It offers a measure of diplomatic recognition to Droaam’s Daughters of Sora Kell quietly encourages firebrands in the Brelish Parliament.  

Cyran Refugees

Karrnath supports the creation of a new homeland for the Cyran refugees, mostly as a way to provide another headache for Breland.  

Mror Holds

The loyalty of the dwarven clans of the Mror Holds was a key strategic advantage for Karrnath throughout the early years of the Last War. The dwarves provided an immense amount of war materiel, and many a column of dwarf troops marched alongside Karrnath’s army. As the war progressed, however, the dwarves decided to take advantage of the turmoil and break out with their own nation. Karrnath has not yet forgiven what it sees as a treacherous act by treacherous people, and tensions between the two run high.  

Talenta Plains

Kaius uses talk of mutual protection to maintain relations with the Talenta halflings. Karrnath keeps a standing army garrisoned in the southern Talenta Plains, taking pains to point out how it’s beating back incursions from the Valenar elves on a monthly basis.  

Thrane

Karrnath and Thrane have cool relations for both geopolitical and personal reasons. Thrane’s military might be a match for Karrnath’s, especially when augmented by the many spellcasters of the Silver Flame. Kaius has no love for the religion. There is no love lost between the two nations, and hostilities between the two could break out at any moment, despite efforts to keep the Thronehold Accords alive.  

Valenar

The peace between Valenar and Karrnath exists only on paper. Every few weeks, the Karrnathi army clashes with riders from Valenar in a series of raids and counterraids that have so far proved inconclusive. But neither side fully commits to all-out war because both recognize the clashes for what they are: a sideline. Both Karrnath and Valenar are too busy establishing themselves in the postwar political landscape to be distracted with a real war—at the moment.  

Lhazaar

Of all the nations formed at the Treaty of Thronehold, Karrnath enjoys the most contact with the sea barons and merchant princes of the Lhazaar Principalities. During the Last War, Karrnath employed a number of the sea barons and their fleets, and received significant assistance from the Bloodsails of Farlnen. Since the end of the war and Kaius’s rejection of the Blood of Vol and the Order of the Emerald Claw, the Bloodsails have withdrawn support and have started attacking Karrnathi ships and villages along the coast. Other merchant princes regularly trade with Karrnath, but it is getting hard to tell which Lhazaar ships will be friendly and which will loot and plunder as they pass through Karrnathi waters.  

Other Nations

Karrnath maintains some level of diplomatic relations with every nation on Khorvaire, plus Aerenal and the Riedran Empire. Kaius’s representatives are welcome where other diplomats fear to tread, including the Great Crag of Droaam.

“Death holds no terror.”

Heraldry
A blood-red wolf head on a shield of silver and black
Type
Geopolitical, Country
Capital
Alternative Names
Land of Night
Demonym
Karrnathi, Karrn
Head of State
Government System
Dictatorship
Power Structure
Feudal state
Population
2.5 million
Area
1,350,000 square miles
Major Cities
Karrlakton, Atur, Vedykar, Rekkenmark
Climate
Temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; central to northern region has short, cool summers and long, harsh winters
Highest Point
Mount Tharzil in the Ashen Spires, elevation 9,925

Five things every Karrn knows

  1.) How to play Conqueror. This chesslike board game reputedly invented by Karrn the Conqueror is enjoyed across Khorvaire. But in Karrnath, it’s the national pastime and a popular way to spend long, wintry nights.   2.) Their own family trees, going back at least four generations. The Blood of Vol has encouraged interest in genealogy. Combined with a Karrn’s natural pride in heritage, it’s not surprising for everyone to know their families well. Two Karrns who meet in a tavern will often start a conversation by mentioning their ancestors, trying to find a common link.   3.) A bit about military organization. Almost all Karrnathi adults spent some time in the military, so they know the difference between a sergeant major and a major, the proper way to salute superior officers, and what various uniform insignia mean.   4.) An appreciation for art. During the Last War, many of Karrnath’s artists painted colorful propaganda posters that adorned walls in major cities. Though the war is over, many Karrns have taken the posters into their homes, where they hang as decoration and a reminder of Karrnath’s military past.   5.) A keen sense of the weather. Of the Five Nations, Karrnath gets by far the worst weather. Karrns love to talk (and complain) about the weather, and they’re adept at comparing one day’s snowfall to the next. They aren’t necessarily any better at predicting the weather, but they’re quite good at answering questions such as “How hot was it yesterday?” in detail.  

Karrnath Knightly Orders

Knightly Order Region
Order of the Adamant Fang Vedykar
Order of the Blackened Sky Karrlakton
Order of the Conquering Fist Vulyar/Korth
Order of the Emerald Claw Korth
Order of the Inviolate Way Rekkenmark
Order of the Onyx Skull Atur

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