Riders of the Storm
The Rimen'arrana (literally, "Riders of the Storm," but often referred to as Stormriders) are unique among military units in all of Audalis. This group of elite sylvari troops rides mighty griffons into battle, serving as aerial cavalry, as well as filling the role of scout in an unmatched fashion. No other nation, human or otherwise, can boast a force such as them.
Stormriders are chosen purely by worth; while the nobility is certainly represented among their number, commoners are free to apply, and are often chosen. Females comprise between a third to a half of the total strength of the forces, making them even more unusual as a fighting unit.
Any syl who wishes to become a Stormrider must show exceptional ability with the longbow, as firing from a flying mount can be quiet a daunting task. Applicants must also have good skill with a blade, be exceptionally disciplined, and possess a fearlessness that borders on recklessness. Many sylvari literally wait centuries to be accepted into the ranks of the Stormriders; to become one is both a high honor, as well as a high duty.
As mentioned above, griffons serve as mounts for the Stormriders. These creatures, which have the head, wings, and front feet of a giant eagle, and body, tail, and back feet of a lion, are quite fierce and extremely loyal mounts. They are strong, swift, agile, and very tough, making them perfect combat mounts. Griffons, which can live to be 250 years old, live wild in the far reaches of the Chakran Mountains.
Every third spring, an expedition to the Chakrans is made for the purpose of collecting griffon eggs and fledgelings. Eggs are preferred, since griffons born in captivity are easier to tame, but eggs can be extremely difficult to find, so young fledgelings are often taken. This is not without considerable risk to the sylvari, as griffons are murderously protective of their nests, and will band together into groups to slay any who threaten their young. If not for a special enchantment (one which the sylvari guard the secret to as jealously as they do the forging of mithril), it would be quite impossible. The collectors are very careful, however, to take only as many as are needed to keep their supply of mounts constant; poaching of griffons is considered to be a capital offense.
Most Stormriders develop a special bond with their mount, and the bond cannot be broken without the death of either the rider or the animal. The griffon will loyally protect its master with no regard to personal risk, and the sylvari will gladly reciprocate. Stories abound of griffons braving horrible battles in order to carry their wounded masters to safety; the relationship is one of mutual trust and respect.
Every Stormrider carries a longbow, three quivers of arrows, a longsword, one or more light lances, and several javelins. Leather or studded leather armor is worn to reduce fatigue on both rider and mount. The griffons are equipped with a saddle, but reigns are not necessary, due to the advanced training the mounts receive.
The basic unit of Stormrider organization is the elen (star), consisting of five sylvari and their mounts. Four elenae compose a kosta (bolt). At their most complex level, five kostar comprise a loomi (cloud). During times of peace, there are usually no more than two loomae on active duty, but wartime has seen as many as five in existance.
Great emphasis is placed upon acting as a cohesive unit in combat. Each member of every elen has a specific set of duties in a given situation, and cross-training is emphasized to maximize combat effectiveness in the event of the death of individual members.
In combat, Stormiders prefer to soar high above their earthbound enemies and rain arrows down upon them. A favored tactic for breaking enemy morale is to dive down upon an enemy unit, have the griffon grab up an opposing soldier, then soar to a fatal height and drop him, screaming, among his comrades.
Stormriders are excellent at breaking cavaly charges, as they can easily outflank even the swiftest horses. Even plate offers little protection from a lance from above, or from the crushing talons of a griffon mount.
Despite their relatively small numbers, the Stormriders are among the most feared and effective troops in all of Antaron. As no other race has yet perfected any sort of aerial cavalry of their own, the Sylvari enjoy a huge tactical advantage, which helps to counterbalance their typically smaller overall combat forces.
(these stats reflect the average rider; lieutenants, captains, etc, should be adjusted accordingly)
|17 (longbow, longsword) or 18 (other)
|1 or 2 (per weapon)
DM's should be careful when considering this stat; this only represents the Stormrider's normal THAC0. If mounted and in flight, chances to be hit should be adjusted accordingly, as it is nigh-impossible to hit a swiftly moving target far above you!
|12, FL 30 (C, D if mounted)
Thanks to Olan Suddeth for this contribution!