Motes in the Serpent's Eye
Military power and defense are delicate issues in the Dragon Empire. On the one hand, everyone wants a strong military to keep the peace and protect the Empire from outside threats. On the other, no one wants too much power to be controlled by one dragon lord or even one house. The Imperial Charter addressed these issues by incorporating a number of checks and balances into the organization of the Dragon Empire’s primary military force: the Imperial Legions.
The Imperial Legions are ultimately commanded by the Emperor. However, the forces stationed within each domain are under the immediate command of an officer appointed by the ruling house of that domain. For example, while the Legions stationed in the Domain of Deserene are ultimately under the command of Mezzenbone, Lord High Marshal Finwyr, the nephew of King Khelorn, is the local commander-in-chief of the Imperial Legions stationed in the Domain of Deserene. The lord high marshal is obligated to execute any orders passed down from the imperial command but is otherwise responsible for training his troops, selecting his officers, and maintaining the military readiness of his forces.
This system works, for the most part, because there are legal and political limits on the orders an emperor can issue to the lord high marshals. As a general rule, the only orders Mezzenbone can issue to the Imperial Legions stationed in the Domain of Deserene are those “necessary and conductive” to the defense and security of the domain. While Mezzenbone can and does endeavor to stretch the meaning of this section of the Imperial Charter, there’s a hard limit on his ability to use the Imperial Legions in the Domains of Qesemet against the wishes and interests of the metallic dragons.
Nevetheless, this heavily politicized command structure creates a pervasive tension in the Legions. Mezzenbone has fueled the flame by assigning ISPD operatives to many units, especially those campaigning In the Outlands. The ISPD is a legal extension of the Emperor’s authority, and it is difficult for many Legion officers to stomach their orders, interference, or even their mere presence.
The justification of Mezzenbone’s Outlands campaign was conveniently provided by a number of incidents since he assumed the throne. Mind flayer raiders operating out of the Dark Zone have attacked several imperial colonies in the Rimward Barrens. Piracy and smuggling – much of it controlled by the Black Hole Syndicate – is on the rise throughout the Outlands. Several independent Outlands worlds have themselves presented a threat to the security of the imperial frontier, usually as a result of uncontrolled outsider activity.
Each planet controlled by the Empire has at least a minimal Legion garrison in addition to any local forces it may support. Recruits are drawn from every world in every domain, and the numbers of conscripts drawn from annexed Outlands worlds are on the rise. These conscripts usually have little or no military training, and most have no understanding of or familiarity with modern weapons and battlefield tactics. They must undergo intensive training programs before they can be expected to contribute as soldiers in combat.. Under the guiding hand of the ISPD, however, many of these conscripts never receive this training. Instead, they are essentially used as unskilled labor, digging trenches, building fortifications, working the kitchens, and performing other menial tasks in support of the combat troops.
The command and rank hierarchy of the Imperial Legions is infused with the semi-feudal social and political structure of the Empire. Enlisted personnel are drawn from all parts of society, but officers must be of noble birth or granted title. The following table lists the various ranks and their duties:
Legionnaire = lowest ranking common soldiers
Sergeant-at-arms = veteran soldiers who assist with the training and command of small units
Master Legionnaire = highest enlisted rank, assist with the training and command of platoon and company-size units
Lord Captain = lowest officer rank, command platoon and company-size units
Lord General = command battalion and division-size units
Lord Marshal = command the Legions of planetary or sector garrisons and armies
Lord High Marshal = local commander of a domain’s Legions