Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 6:37 pm Post subject: Commandant Osson-What Was He After?
The LGG made mention of Commandant Osson of Almor, about how he was undertaking some grand expedition to Rauxes. Was this an invasion to put down the evil menace posed by the Great Kingdom to Almor? Was it an attempt to "convert" the people of Rauxes for their own good, or liberate them from the Overking's tyranny? I'm not quite sure what Osson planned to do when he got there...anyone able to help me with this?
Joined: Aug 10, 2003 Posts: 220 Location: Harker Heights, TX
Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 6:58 pm Post subject: The Great Almorian Raid
The History of the Great Almorian Raid
Osson was an Almorian commander who could see what was coming at him during the initial stages of the Greyhawk Wars. Knowing that the armies of Almor had no chance against the massed forces of Aerdy, he decided that the best (and only) defense would be to take the offensive, and he boldly led his cavalry into the South Province to draw Ivid's armies away from Almor, hopefully buying his land some more time.
A drive to Rauxes may have been Osson's initial idea, but there was just no way for him to make it all the way there with the force at his disposal. Ossan instead moved south, hiiting the city of Pontylver and other locations in Medegia. Ossan met his end when he trusted the Lordship of the Isles to extract his forces by ship. Once the lordship went over to the Scarlet Brotherhood, Ossan was stranded and he met his death at the Flanmi River in the attempt to flee to the Hestmark Highlands.
The tragic part of this story was that while Ossan bought valuable time for his nation, Ivid was so enraged by the stunt that Chathold was completely destroyed on the Day of Dust.
Sources for Osson's raid includes Ivid the Undying, but the best source is the old Greyhawk Wars board game. This game had an insert with some great historical information in it. I think it is available as a seperately down loadable product somewhere out here in cyberspace.
I'm not sure a drive at Rauxes was ever Osson's plan. He knew that that would be suicidal. That's why he struck into the eastern portion of the South Province, whose forces were massed in the west for strokes at Irongate and Idee at the time.
He seemed to be using guerilla or tactics, using fast moving cavalry to disrupt the communications of the Great Kingdom with mobility and surprise as his main weapons. So he managed to hamstring Aerdy's attempts to bring their lumbering forces to bear on Almor (for a time).
Once the South Province and the Aerdi armies from the Flamni heartlands began to converge on him, he avoided giving pitched battle against a superior foe and led his men south into Sunndi, liberating it from the control of the Aerdi Glorioles Army.
Stopping in Pitchfield only to resupply his weary men, he had to keep the pressure on the Great Kingdom, lest they turn against to the conquest of Almor. So he made his abortive attempt at investing Nulbish. Not having the siege train to take the city, he was forced to raise the leaguer and move south and west towards Medegia, as Aerdi relief columns apporached.
In Medegia, the burghers of Pontylver negotiated a truce with Osson, and so were spared a sack and Mentrey fell quickly probably due to a lack of resolve by Spideza, the Holy Censor, who fled suicidally to Rauxes.
So Osson now had control of Medegia, but was hemmed in to the north and west by the armies of the Great Kingdom. Had the Lords of the Isles not succumbed to the machinations of the Scarlet Sign, their ships might have been able to rescue Osson from the corner he'd painted himself into. As it was, he had to attempt to break out of Medegia towards Sunndi, and in doing was forced to do the one thing he'd tried to avoid - attack a superior enemy force on ground of its choosing. The Battle of the Great Confluence was a massacre and the Almorians were cut to pieces.
Ultimately it was all in vain. Almor fell anyway, but at least Osson gave it a go - doing the best he could in what was probbaly a hopeless situation from the beginning.
This thread inspired me to rummage through some boxes and I discovered that I still have a printed version of Katzman's history of the Wars. Here is the portion on Osson's Raid (it seems a bit long for a single post, so I'll post it in two parts). Again, this is not my work; the by-line says "Joe Katzman (and Sean Copeland)":
The Great Kingdom'd intentions could hardly pass unnoticed. One country that held an anything-but-casual interest was the Prelacy of Almor. This small nation had long witnessed the brutal ambition of the Overking at work and therefore knew not to be caught unawares. The Prelate Kevaunt had personally organized an extensive spy network to monitor the lands of the madman. That network now reported the mustering and movement of massive armies in all landed quarters of the kingdom. When he received this intelligence, Prelate Kevaunt dispatched messengers to Nyrond and the Iron League and sent the war banner throughout the country.
With the pseed of a people ever poised on the brink of war, Almor's defenses were fully manned. A prudent ruler, Kevaunt did not personally take command of Almor's troops. The old prelate had long led his country by wisely recognizing the best men for every job. In this case, the best men were the Honorable Osson of Chathold, a knight and strategic genius, and Meural of Veluna, a charismatic ex-leader of the Grandwood bandits, recently risen to prominence in the Prelate's court. Kevaunt appointed the energetic young men as Commandants of the Field, with every knight and yeoman of Almor's forces under their command.
Commandant Osson had little difficulty assessing the grave situation facing Almor. The Great Kingdom could squash the tiny country through sheer numbers - and apparently intended to do so. Though the dilemma was clear, the solution was not. Recognizing that Almor could not be defended against such a foe, Meural argued for taking the offensive - committing a daring raid into the Great Kingdom's lands to keep its forces from attacking. Osson agreed, and proceeded to create a masterpiece of logistic and strategic planning. This plan would have met with insurmountable objection from older and "wiser" knights had the Prelate wavered even momentarily in support of his young proteges.
The plan was simple and daring. Osson divided the army into two forces, posting the first along the border with the Great Kingdom. Too small to block a major attack, this force aggressively patrolled and probed the frontier. Their rigor would make them seem twice their number and thus hopefully forestall any major assault by the Aerdians. The second half of the army consisted of all available cavalry, riding under Meural's personal command. Baggage, notoriously cumbersome and complicated for most armies, was all but forbidden. Osson ordered that each man live in the saddle, forsaking all the comforts normally carried. For the outnumbered forces of Almor, speed could make the difference between life and death. Having divided their forces, Osson set his plan in motion.
Knowing that neither of his armies could long withstand the ful attention of the Great Kingdom, the commandant hoped to divert Ivid's armies away from Almor. Almor needed time for Nyrondese aid to arrive, and if they could fluster the mad Ivid like a wasp in the helmet, the Overlord might never attack. Either way, Osson preferred to keep the battle on Aerdian soil. Meural first struck south, passing through the Thelly Forest.
Osson's Ride (part 2) (by Joe Katzman and Sean Copeland):
With speed and surprise on their side, the horsemen brushed away Ahlissa's ill-trained troops and plunged into the South Province. The land fell quickly into disarray. The peasants, long oppressed by their Herzog, welcomed the Almoran forces. The Herzoh himself was slow to respond, for the bulk of Ahlissa's troops were massed on her western border, preparing to assault Irongate. Rushing detachments of his army toward the east, the Herzog reluctantly accepted offers of aid from the Overking. The Aerdi army marched southwest to engage the intruders, but before either force could catch him, Osson and Meural advanced again. Instead of returning to Almor, Meural led his horsemen into the Rieuwood. The Glorioles Army of the Overking, though victorious, had suffered badly in its conquest of Sunndi. Osson had calculated that a defeat in Sunndi would swing Ivid's attention from Almor.
Once through the wood, Osson and Meural found the Overking's forces arrayed and ready for them. Even badly hurt, the Glorioles Army would have proved an equal match for the Almorians but that the Aerdians did not have a general of genius on their side. At the Battle of Rieuwood, Osson initiated the tactic of false retreat that was to become his hallmark. Believing the cavalry routed, the Aerdians gave chase, only to blunder into a deadly trap. The Glorioles Army was decimated. After a brief delay to reorganize, proclaim Sunndi's liberation, and recruit volunteers, the Almorians set off again.
Crossing the Glorioles, the commandants made a stab at Nulbish on the Thelly River. Sadly, the good fortune that had followed them to this point fled. The garrison commander at Nulbish, Magistar Vlent, had the military training that other Aerdi commanders lacked. Refusing to fight outside the city, Magistar Vlent used a heavily armed river flotilla to maintain supplies and harry the Almorians. After several weeks of futile siege, Meural received word that the Aerdi Army was descending from the north. Any return to Almor was clearly impossible, for a massive army now blocked the path.
Many options, all of them grim, came under debate in Osson's war council. Some of the knights argued for fighting back to Almor, others suggested wintering over in Sunndi, and a handful even proposed a drive for Rauxes, capital of the Great Kingdom! In the end, Osson chose none of these, heeding instead Meural's call for a march on the See of Medegia. For Almor's sake, Meural argued, the cavalry must continue to pressure the Great Kingdom. If reports held true that the Lordship of the Isles and the Iron League were planning to ally, surely the Lordship's fleet coudl provide an escape to the Almoran cavalry.
Though the attack into Medegia surprised the Overking, his reaction was equally surprising. As soon as Osson's intentions were clear, Ivid ordered his armies to stop their pursuit. Rebellious Medegia would receive no aid from the Great Kingdom. In a series of stunning field battles, Meural's army crushed the forces of the Holy Censor and seized the land from Pontylver to Lone Heath. Spidassa, the Holy Censor, fled to Rauxes to beg his imperial majesty's forgiveness. Compassion failing him, Ivid V arrested the chief cleric and sentenced him to the Endless Death.
After finishing "Osson's Ride", I now realize that the story continues. Katzman describes the events in North Aerdy, the Pomarj, and, most notably, the Scarlet Brotherhood's take over of the Lordship of the Isles. Osson's story continues in "Conquest of Almor":
As the clouds of spring cleared in the east, Commandants Osson and Meural, still encampled in Medegia, could little deny the fate dealt them and their men. The hope they had posted on the Lordship of the Isles proved misplaced. Ships of the Sea Barons - the sharks of Ivid V - patrolled the waters of the Aerdi Sea, whil the rested and refitted Aerdi armies under the command of the much-feared General Kalreth awaited them across every border. Even the peasantry that Osson hoped would arise remained quiescent, fearing retribution when the Overking's legions returned. Debate raged into the night, and when the war council finally broke, it was decided that Osson would lead the cavalry into battle while Meural led the foot soldiers back into the world of guerilla warfare and banditry. Osson and Meural, close friends, bid each other farewell and godspeed, and parted.
Thus, with certain knowledge of his doom, Osson and the cavalry took the field one last time, in a break-out attempt toward the Hestmark Highlands. Though Osson planned an orderly dash for safety, it was not to be. As the cavalry charged across the Flanmi River, most of its officers fell to the bowmen of the entrenched Aerdi Army. So many fell, in fact, that even the energetic and brilliant commandant could not reign in the cavalry. Before even securing the field, every horseman who still drew breath rode hard for the hills and the safety of Sunndi. From there, the ragged line of cavalry wormed its way home by way of the Iron League. Commandant of the Field Osson of Chathold did not return, and his final fate remains a mystery. Meural's forces went to ground to begin their new role.
The great Ride of the Almoran Light Brigades had finally met its end. Only after the fiends among the Aerdi legions had sated themselves on the dead did the Overking occupy Medegia. Ivid ordered the land - protected from looting during Osson and Meural's brief tenure - raped and looted. Unsatisfied by the eternal punishment meted out to his Holy Censor, Ivid wanted every man, women, and child of the upstart province to suffer. The Overking authorized plundering and spoils for every soldier, and commanders even fought minor battles over the right to sack each town.
Ivid's commitment to despoiling Medegia thus removed his mightiest army from combat for some time. It also finally pushed the populace to sympathizing with Meural and his outlaws. As time passed, his support, and the damage his troops did, grew accordingly. Osson and Meural's raid accomplished much for Almor: detsroying the Glorioles Army, redirecting the Aerdi army to conquest of Medegia, and providing Almor time to raise armies and fortifications. Even so, Almoran resistance ultimately proved futile. The Overking - with Ahlissa, Medegia (what loyal parts remained of it), the North Province, and the Bone March at his side - unleashed all his might against the hapless Prelacy.
[After Nyrond and Aerdy expended the last of their strength against each other and the Great Kingdom disintegrated,] Meural of Almor swept out of the Grandwood and into Rel Astra, before leading his army of Freemen back into Medegia and easily toppling the remnants of the Overking;s rule there. In the sea of darkness washing over the Flanaess, therefore, there appeared at last a flickering light. Out of the ashes of Chathold and Medegia has risen the independent state of New Almoria, a potential bastion of good and neutrality in a region long under the sway fo evil.
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