Monday, March 8, 2010

Notes on the Jarpha

Taciturn mercenaries of inhumanly dour countenances from the swamps and jungles of Kalashtu.  Most Jarpha encountered outside of Kalashtu are expensive, heavily armored mercenaries, usually serving as elite troops who are notorious for preferring to defend a comfortable position rather than storm any ramparts or attack defenses that they deem too costly to breech, at least personally.  Jarpha are very fond of sending in other, less expensive units to soften up an enemy's defenses before getting directly involved themselves.  Some Jarpha mercenary companies have gone so far as to hire their own mercenaries to serve as cannon-fodder that they can command and control as they see fit.

All Jarpha mercenary companies have a number of officers, accountants and support staff equal to or greater than the number of low-level grunts that they have to put into the field.  Their sergeants are legendary and feared throughout the Great Rift and beyond.  Each company also has a standard-bearer for each platoon that acts as both the primary shield-generator, communications conduit and aethyr battery for their particular specialist unit.  Jarpha are fervent believers in both specialization and central command/planning.  That said, fully 90% of all Jarpha units outside Kalashtu are infantry, and the remainder are engineers, sappers, and back-up accountants with a smattering of artillerists and combat-sorcerers who are triply as expensive as any other Jarpha unit, when they can even be hired.  Even the most incompetent and low-level Jarpha combat-sorcerer commands such high wages that they often get shoved into messy situations as soon as they are identified or discovered.  (The gift for magic is rare amongst the Jarpha and if it shows up at all, it tends to be at random and can happen at any point in a particular Jarpha's lifespan, though it rarely does.  Most grunts consider it a lottery that may not be worth winning.)

Physically, the Jarpha are upright, bipedal hominids with extremely thick skin, stocky builds, and thick features.  They tend to be physically powerful but slow and plodding, with prodigious reserves of stamina.  Resilient and resistant to fatigue, disease or infection, the Jarpha easily shrug off the effects of spores, pollen, bacteria and parasites.  It is curently unknown what it takes to poison a Jarpha; the last person who  re-discovered an ancient technique for concocting a toxin that would affect the Jarpha was summarily executed along with everyone else within ten miles of their laboratory, with all buildings destroyed and the ground salted so that nothing could be grown or linger too long there ever again.  Slow they may appear to be, but the Jarpha are methodical, implacable. They can continue marching long after all other troops have collapsed or fallen due to fatigue, that includes their officers and accountants.  All Jarpha consider it a matter of pride to march farther, longer and over more difficult terrain than any of their allied units.  When aroused to anger, the Jarpha do not act precipitously but instead build up their forces, and when they strike they leave nothing in their wake.

Jarpha endure a great deal of hardship with only the usual grumbling and complaining traditional to soldiers in any army.  Unlike many other peoples, the Jarpha do not care about anything other than each others' demonstrated merits and proven accomplishments.  All children are communally raised and are trained in the arts of war, logistics, military-mathematics, and accounting from the moment that they can walk unassisted.

Their tails are sinewy, just short of prehensile and end in a very hard, bony mass that the young Jarpha dip into molten metal upon becoming inducted into a particular unit, again dipping the ball-like mass into silver or gold when they rise up through the ranks as officers, should they prove themselves worthy.  An adult Jarpha can snap their tail fast enough and hard enough to crack open most people's skulls and they are very adept at using their tails in concert with whatever other weapons they are issued, usually one main melee weapon and a gonne, luxwand or medium-grade beam weapon if available. If not then they will demand some sort of personal shielding-mechanism.

The only unarmored Jarpha are the dead who have been stripped in the aftermath of a defeat by scavengers.  Even a Jarpha merchant, artisan or magic-user will wear heavy armor: they literally would not be caught dead without it. 

Jarpha are masters of defensive fighting and they are very accomplished at coordinating their efforts whether in small groups or larger armies with harsh discipline, endless drills and the toughest sergeants that money can buy.  Many opponents have made the mistake of thinking the Jarpha lazy or dull-witted and suffered terrible defeats for their hubris.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! And poor Skran, having to evade these folks. Yuck!


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