Faction Overview: The Goths

by General KickAss

My name is Segimerus, son of Segimerus, who was the son of another Segimerus. I am a warrior of the Goths, and in case you do not know, I command the chosen guard of our mighty and respected chief, King Ermaneric, as with the long line of Segimerus who had always commanded the bodyguards of the lineage of kings. Being Ermaneric's household troops, we follow him everywhere, both in his many victorious wars and the negotiations that punctuate them - with the Romans, Sarmatians and sometimes the Vandals too.

Introductions and other such meaningless niceties aside, it is time we get down to the purpose of your coming, lord. Gutžiuda Žiudinassus is in chaos these days, which is not surprising when the king has swine by his side instead of real advisors who know what they are doing. Ermaneric is an efficient and decisive man, but even the cleverest of rulers will have trouble leading the kingdom away from ruin when self-serving serpents whisper poison into his ears. Leovigild, the royal steward you just met, sent for your lordship to come to the king's halls because he thought your counsel might finally hammer sense into Ermaneric and his great lords. I was notified by the guard of the new advisor's arrival, so I came to see who it was that could be the one to deliver us from disaster, and to acquaint him with the status of our kingdom. So let us begin, lord.

King Ermaneric is uneasy, for once in his long reign. The tribal embassies from the north bring disturbing news: a new people from the steppes has arrived in the Ocean of Grass, displacing the entire host of the Vandals along with half the Sarmatians in the process, and may be looking to shoo the Roxolani and their herds away too. The hideous bastards call themselves the Huns, and from the reports we have so far, they number hundreds and thousands of horse-masters and foot-borne warriors - much more than any of the northern tribes can handle alone, which is why they come asking for our aid against the eastern menace.

Speaking of which, perhaps it is time we look at our realm, and see where we stand amongst the big throng of tribes north of the Empire's Danubian borders.

The Lands

The Kingdom of the Goths was built on the former Roman province of Dacia, a place our forebears found in their long journey from our people's poor ancestral homes up north. It was taken after a hard war of large and small skirmishes, raids and border actions that finally forced the province's abandonment. As we set up the main town of Colonia Dacia as our new capital, the Romans fled back south across the Danube with their fine togas on fire, re-establishing the great river as their empire's new frontier, which now bordered our young kingdom - an act we hope to provoke again soon. Other peoples' lands lay to the northern fringes of our realm, chief of all the steppes-roving Sarmatians whose main town can be reached after a few days' ride from the Tyras. Even further north lies a broad expanse of wilderness interspersed with few patches of grasslands, on which the Vandal tribes once grazed their herds for a time. The short eastern shoreline of our kingdom has little use other than to provide a means of sea trade with our neighbours, though we have neither the ship-building expertise nor the enthusiasm to learn it. Through the western Carpathians lie the foul Iazyges, whose still-unconquered and stinking fields are not much better than our own, and thus have been left alone by the Romans living further to their west, even if the Iazyges themselves do not usually do the same in return.

Now that we have had a brief overlook at our fledgling kingdom and the neighbouring peoples, I shall give you a layout of the agents and armies we currently command. Our agents stand ready and raring out there. Berig the spy awaits instructions near the Tyras border some distance south of the Sarmatian capital in case the king wants him to go north at once, while my friend Hunimund the assassin thinks high command is wasting his time by holding him back at the northeastern Carpathian pass instead of telling him to go crack some heads in places like Vicus Sarmatae, Sirmium or Constantinople. Our chief negotiator - a man called Theodobald who has a mind like a weasel's and a tongue like a viper's - is waiting somewhat more patiently to carry out your bidding, in his southern country villa. Don't let the old fox get too comfortable there.

The Lord Vithimer rode out of Colonia Dacia three days ago with some spearmen and raiders along with his own household troops towards the western hills, with orders to hunt down the Iazyges reputedly marauding through the local villages. Unlike the king and myself, Vithimer is a pagan, which makes him heathen scum, but I'll admit that he is a capable leader, and wish him success in slaughtering the Iazyges thieves who are even worse. His departure has thinned the city's garrison, which now consists of a roughly similar force of spearmen and raiders, supported by a squadron of lancers together with the king's household warriors under my command.

The present state of our military capacity is, in all sincerity, quite feeble. Colonia Dacia lacks both the financial muscle and size to upgrade our warriors' weapons and train the best fighters available among our people. Though it will eventually reach the required size given ten or twenty years, I fear that the time is a luxury we will not have. But still, I will go over the full might of our army with you once. Listen closely.

The Units

The Gothic army in its prime is indeed a fearsome mechanism of destruction. We can bring to battle a limited but no less resilient mix of light infantry, a dependable selection of heavy infantry, which are condemned to the fate of constantly being overshadowed by our horseborne warriors, who make up some of the most versatile cavalry in all Europe - just ask the Romans for that truth.

Goth Raiders are our only choice of missile troops, but they are very flexible fighters: remorseless brutes roaming the enemy countryside with a powerful bow, a quiver of arrows and a sword at their side have to be, if they want to wreak maximum havoc wherever they go. They combine master archery with reasonable hand-to-hand fighting skills - useful assets to every Gothic commander who knows his business.

Our close-combat infantry is available in three different types. Like many steppe peoples moving into Roman territory, we come across, receive, and arm many of the escaped slaves across the Empire, calling them Runaway Slave Spearmen. However, the long name does not help them one bit even in simple tasks like holding a line, because they cannot even stand in formation, for the love of God! Apart from this rabble I now regret speaking of, we do have real warriors like the trusty Gothic Spearmen and the staunch Gothic Warriors. The first can hold against most kinds of medium cavalry thrown at you, while the second are reliable and steady swordsmen who make up for their lack of discipline with individual bravery.

Although I am perfectly happy to speak about the horsemen who form the real backbone of our armies. There are, excluding horde-warriors, four different kinds: Goth Lancers whom I already spoke of, Goth Horse Archers, Alan Horse Archers, and Goth Noble Warriors. The Lancers are armed with long spears, as even the likes of you can guess, and despite being capable of a very powerful charge, they are vulnerable to counter-thrusts that can puncture their light armour when tied down. Both Goths and Alans fight and shoot in our horse archer squadrons, and while they can shoot equally well, the Alans tend to be better fighters, which is somewhat helped by the fact that they don more armour than Goths. Having said all that, it is still the many nobles in our society who contribute some of the most dangerous horsemen in our armies. How can they not be, when their wealth and status gives them access to all the first-rate gear out there: well-crafted swords, lime-wood shields, quality chainmail that would have cost me six months's pay, and the finest warhorses outside the royal stables? Apart from the fact that every one of them also train in swordcraft and horsemanship from the time they can stand, of course. The difference between them and the Lancers is their approach; instead of focusing all their strength on the line-breaking charge like the Lancers do, the Nobles relentlessly hack and slice their way into any battalion they face.

Our footborne comrades would challenge me to single combat inside the green boughs if they knew I said this, but it is really us horsemen who do the winning, while they mostly do the pushing and shoving and grunting and dying. Use our cavalry well, and a warlord wins. Although there are exceptions when we move in a horde: while our Steppe Horde Horsemen maintain their customary performance standards, our Steppe Horde Chosen Warriors actually outperform our regular Gothic Warriors. This variation helps a lot when we need to scale high walls teeming with heavily armoured Roman soldiers.

The Gods

This is where I tell you about the state of our religious affairs. King Ermaneric has declared Christianity as the official religion, while numerous large and small figures within our kingdom are still pagans. Lord Vithimer, for instance, still worships the old gods: Tyz and Agni, the god of war and the goddess of the hunt. He likes to argue about the benefits of sticking to paganism - improved weapons quality, experience bonuses and the like - benefits useful in war but not much else. He also likes to argue about an awful lot recently - sometimes even sticky subjects like the unity of our people - which is why the king has been keeping him occupied of late by sending him up and down the land to clean up brigand-infested territory.

I am a Christian, though perhaps not the most fervent among us, but I still am. My father and his father were not, and would probably be ashamed of my faith in Christ, yet I feel no regret in discarding the old worship. My little girls, Brunna and Alba, were taken from me in an Iazyges raid five years ago, along with a score other women and children. And though I led a raid into their lands in return and searched the country day-and-night for them, I never saw the sweet little things again. Instead I soon found a group of Iazyges warriors much larger than our own blocking the way. I was forcibly carried home by my men, and wrecked with grief at my inability to protect and save my own children. I howled at the gods for the injustice inflicted upon my poor girls. I wailed at Agni for deserting me in my hunt for the Iazyges raiders, and screamed at Tyz for allowing the enemy to go unpunished for the wrongs they committed on our women and children. I was so angry with the gods' desertion of me, that it made me ready to forsake them in return. Christianity was part of the answer to all that grief and rage in my heart, in addition to my launching and leading many more slave raids into Iazyges territory myself. I found some comfort in the priests' words, and found even more solace by ramming my sword into countless Iazyges men and herding home scores of their miserable folk afterwards, whom we often sold to the slave traders from Sirmium and Constantinople. The priests taught me about God's mercy, and I learnt, but I also learnt that I was under no obligation to extend Christian mercy to heathen thieves and murdering scum.

Ha, what was I doing telling you all that. The point is, Christ makes the people happier than Tyz and Agni ever will, and every Gothic ruler as well as his advisors ought to know that.

The Mods

Perhaps it is our people's insignificance at this stage, that has led to our absence in the many other worlds which are inhabited by some of our neighbours like Rome. Still, I have great faith in the powers of heaven to see to that injustice, very soon.

To be honest, with its cragged and desolate landscape, Dacia is not exactly the very best piece of land in these parts - what with the previous war and the extensive Roman exploitation that had ravaged most of its countryside over the years - but it was still better than the hole our fathers and grandfathers travelled from, otherwise they would not have bothered wasting years fighting for it. But now the Huns and other tribes threaten to undo all that our forefathers have achieved.

The good thing about the situation is that the vile Vandals and sly Sarmatians will help buffer our kingdom against this new eastern menace for the moment and give the king and his great lords precious time to devise our next steps. Yet the biggest problem remains: we just do not have the numbers to fight all the wretched hordes off should they come, not with this rabble we have right now. So I hope you now have some idea as to how we can get out of this cess-pit fast, lord.