The Empire classifies its military forces according to broad categories:
The Imperial Legions are the core of its fighting force, highly trained professional soldiers.
The Militia are units raised by local lords, guilds, and the like; they provide the bulk of patrol and enforcement duties, and are called into Imperial service as needed, usually in times of emergency or war.
The Foreigners include units provided on loan or as tribute by other realms and kingdoms; also included in this are a number of mercenary companies, and some units sponsored by private individuals or organizations.
The Blessed Empire relies on local forces – the Militia for most routine duties: border patrol, tracking and eliminating bandits and highwaymen, destroying dangerous monsters, and suppressing revolt. These local forces vary widely in organization, training, and equipment; some (like the Evik Guard) are skilled professionals, while others (such as the Greater Proset Patrol) are little more than ad-hoc militia. To bolster these local forces, the Imperial Legions are posted throughout the imperial territories.
In addition, there are a number of special units: while not technically Legions, these troops do bear the Imperial standard, and are typically dedicated to special tasks; much of the siege artillery is organized into independent companies, for example, as are units dedicated to Imperial Embassies and trade legations sponsored by the throne. One of these units is, or was, the Cohort Petreteichos, described below, one of the more famous of the non-legion units of the Imperial forces.
The Cohort Petroteichos
Orc-kind has ever been violent, barbaric, and enemies of all that the Empire stands for – with some exceptions. The most striking example of this has been a company of guardsmen recruited from those who came into the Empire from the Chaos Lands to the west. Those of orcish blood were gathered into a single cohort, and employed as a shock assault force: the Cohort of the Stone Wall proved its worth an several battle against enemies of all kinds. Within a generation, the cohort had made a reputation as rough and ready warriors, as potent in battle as any, and gained a grudging admiration as ‘bad boys’ of the army, with a high rate of demerits and complaints about behavior wherever they were garrisoned. Eventually, they were incorporated into the motley collection of units stationed around the imperial court, in order to better keep an eye on them when they were not sent on campaign.
For over a hundred years the cohort served as a potent force in the imperial arsenal, gathering recruits of all kinds while retaining their orcish majority and wild reputation, breaking half a dozen raiding armies on all frontiers. For all their rough reputation, however, they remained fiercely loyal to the emperor; if they neglected their parade step and their armor polishing, they were all the more focused and pragmatic when it came to war.
When the usurper seized the throne, much of the army turned to follow him – but not the Stonewall. In fact, their heroic and fatal stand during the Battle of Pereshok, which ended the reign of the Usurper 132 years ago, enabled the Imperial forces to rally and turn defeat into victory. The cohort was slain to the last man, but never faltered or broke, and thousands of enemy dead strewn around their bodies bore witness to the orc-bloods’ skill and determination.
Since that day, the cohort has been left empty: not officially disbanded, but kept on the roster despite having no members.
So-called Foreigners include units from other realms – provided on loan or hire from foreign princes, or specifically recruited from beyond the borders. A number of mercenary companies also exist, and are labeled ‘foreigners’ even though many are made up of Imperial citizens. One of the most respected is the Scaled Legion, a unit of dragonborn sent from the tributary state of Arkhosia – distinct from the guards sent for its embassy, the Scaled Legion is entirely under the command of the emperor’s generals, and is the only foreign unit allowed to use the title of Legion while within the Empire.