Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World-Building Exercise: A Brief History of the Legion of the Red Lord

I posted something last week about how I thought Hasbro ought to market and monetize D&D in a way that was similar to what they’ve done with G.I. Joe.  I noted in passing that D&D has miniatures in much the same way that G.I. Joe has little green Army men, and that I thought that D&D could therefore have named character personalities for marketing in the same way that G.I. Joe has done in order to make some of the typical “green Army dude” archetypes more marketable as individual characters.
I’ve wanted to expand on that idea ever since, but time being what it is, I haven’t been able to until today.

I would probably do this differently if I was actually doing it for Hasbro as part of one of their established settings (like the Forgotten Realms setting) for D&D.  But since I’m doing it for myself--and potentially for my kids if I can figure out how to turn this into a short story or something like that for them--I decided to set it up as a mash-up of Continental European and Chinese history.  That makes it a little different from the idea I laid out last week, but it still ought to work.  Hopefully.
As before, let’s start with the bad guys.
The Legion of the Red Lord is the largest, most-decorated, and most well-known of the traditional fighting regiments of the Godsworn Republic of Holy Sentralia.  Founded more than six centuries ago, the Legion began as the personal regiment of Duke Badden Sentra, who was the ruler of the duchy that bore his family’s name at the height of the “Warring Princes” period of continental history.  At the time, the Duchy of Sentra was itself little more than a semi-independent principality lying along the northern coast of what was then, at least nominally, the northenmost part of the Hauptman Empire.  But by the time of the Legion’s founding, the “Empire” existed in name only, and there is now general agreement among scholars that, regardless of what came later, Duke Sentra founded his Legion solely--or at least,mostly--to protect his land and his people.  
Mars, the Red Lord.
Even at its height, the Hauptman Empire was never much more than a loose collection of disconnected principalities and vassal-states held together by a web of politically expedient marriages and ancient liege-vassal treaty obligations.  However, the “Warring Princes” period saw even these slight allegiances disregarded.  Where once nominally allied vassals of the Emperor might have raided each other’s territories over matters honor or simply to pillage and plunder, now such conflicts became open wars of conquest, with larger, more powerful principalities seaking to expand by conquest--and the will of the Emperor be damned.  
In a larger sense, historians have noted the “Warring Princes” as a time when religiosity and spiritual observance were at a low ebb amongst continental nobility. Matters temporal and political eclipsed the vows of vassalage made before Jupiter and His Holy Triad[1], leaving the Divine Right of Kings and its accompanying logic at something of a loss as far as the keeping of the peace was concerned.  The princes of the period quite prefered the maxim that “might makes right”, that only the strong deserved the Mandate of Heaven, and they acted accordingly.  It is therefore significant that when Badden Sentra raised his Legion, he raised it specifically as a religious order.  
Legend has it that Sentra founded his Legion in response to a dream.  On the night before the Battle of Westhindland in 1623, it’s said that Sentra saw himself standing on a battlefield while he slept, victorious.  The troops he’d vanquished were not the Nordlander Hussars he was to face at Westhindland but were instead Imperial troops under the command of the Emperor himself, Charles IX.  Moreover, Sentra was not wearing his own House colors, nor was he surrounded by his own men.  Instead, he wore a tabard of red embossed with the Red Star of Mars, and he was attended by a bodyguard of Black Dwarves of the Kaukasia Mountains, who cheered him as their own prince.  
When Sentra woke the next morning, he donned the red of the God of War and took holy orders in his command tent.  When he conquered that day, it was with the name of the Red Lord on his lips, and soon thereafter, he sent an emissary to the Black Dwarves.  
The rest, as they say, is history.

[1] I learned on Wikipedia this morning that there were actually several versions of the trinity in Roman mythology.  The one I intend to use is the ancient one, occupied by Jupiter, the all-father and god of the sky, Mars, the god of war, and another indo-European god named Quirinus, who was somehow also a god of war.  
In this fictional version, I’m going to replace Quirinus with a god of politics and/or economics to give this thing a callback to the work ofClausewitz--if I can find one that’s appropriate.


  1. Dude, I would totally read more about this. Well done.

    BTW, I think the Red She-Hulk book was pretty good too though I was underwhelmed with the Tesla connection. It read, to me, like the writer always wanted to tell a Tesla story and was like, here's my chance. Sadly, I think they're going to announce this weekend, the cancellation of RSH. :(

  2. Thanks Alan. I've been thinking about building out the world a little and then using it as the campaign setting for a D&D Next Solo Adventure. The one I wrote for 4e is BY FAR the most visited bit on this blog, so it would likely generate substantial traffic. But they take a LONG time to write, and I'm not totally sure what all I have going here yet. So for the time-being, I'm writing for background.

    Typical for RSH. A girl-friendly book I can give to my kids? Forget about it. No wonder they're can long it.