SP Native Calradia Unbound: New Lore-based Factions

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Calradia Unbound: The beginnings of a lore-based mod.

Hello everyone, I wanted to share with you some creative writing I've done as the bare bones of a new mod. Up front, the ambition is to introduce eight new major factions and cultures to Calradia, and minor changes to existing territories at campaign start, including the addition of a handful of towns and castles. The vanilla mechanics would remain intact, albeit with the addition of new troop lines, faction clans, removal of a few minor factions, and some new weapons and armour.

The Idea
I have always loved vanilla Bannerlord, particularly the historically inspired lore that mixes eras. But I feel the existing factions do not do justice to the full breadth of flavour you can find in the encyclopedia, and the map can feel bland at times, particularly in the central Empire. A player can end up battling against the same cultural enemies time and again, and the game stagnates.

I have read through the in-game encyclopedia, pulling out a few strands to develop on. In almost all cases, I have built on existing canon, but employed some artistic license to flesh out factions as necessary - some have been done before in other, great mods. I've done my best to emulate the writing style already in the game.
I wanted to open my ideas up to the community for feedback and further inspiration from you - with the longer term ambition to put a team together to develop what would I believe would be a relatively simple mod, although my Bannerlord modding experience is next to nil. It will however, be heavy on lore!

The Factions
As I've said, each faction is based on in-game lore, and I will add in encyclopedia references in time. Each faction draws its inspiration from a historical group, and provides a unit specialism balanced against its regional enemies. I will add a proposed map later this week. The entries below are supposed to read like the relevant page in the in-game encyclopedia

The Vakken Confederacy
Where the icy wind blows through the wildlands north of the Empire, the Vakken people have dwelt amongst the trees and tundra long before the arrival of Calradios. The origins of this primeval people are lost to myth, dwindling yearly as the young Sturgian kingdom subsumes more and more of the ancient culture of the “people on the woods”. Content to subsist in fractious tribal groups for centuries, the Vakken have at last recognised the need for unity in the face of the steady loss of their ancestral homelands. In a great meeting in the holy groves of Omor, the leaders of the last independent tribes of the Vakken have elected the first High Chieftan in their history, whom they hope will lead their people to restore the territory of their forefathers.

The Kingdom of Jumne
The villagers of the northern coasts of Calradia keep one eye out to sea for fear of Nord sails on the horizon. The Nords, driven by adventure, greed and an escape from the barren lands of their frozen continent, have for generations arrived in Calradia to raid, trade and settle. In Sturgia and Vlandia, Nords have established flourishing towns and integrated into the local population, but many Nord kings still gaze restlessly across the Byalic sea. King Njal of Jumne is one such ruler. Driven by dreams of fortune and glory, and rumours of the crumbling Empire, King Njal has called warriors to his banner to launch a great expedition. The Jumnings have arrived in large numbers along the Chertyg mountains, swiftly subjugating the Nord colonies there. The peoples of the north, native and settler alike, wait anxiously for the next move.

The Kingdom of Massa
Of all the tribes that joined Wilund the Bold to battle the Empire’s enemies for a share of treasure, the Massa were among the most feared. They carved a path of devastation into the continent, preserving the Massan name in notoriety after their leader treacherously captured the Palaic city of Lageta. With the Empire ascendant, its leaders bequeathed land to the Massa in the Gavys Valley, in hope that settling would curb their warlike ways. Massan mercenaries continued to fight the Empire’s wars and launched expeditions to pillage Battanian and Aserai lands, growing wealthy by trading captured slaves in vast markets to merchants from across Calradia. The Massa honour the strong; and seeing the powerlessness of their Imperial lords to prevent Vlandian independence, have followed suit. The bronze horns of the Massa will be heard across the continent once more, marking a new legacy of ruin and conquest.

The Epiric League
According to legend, the wealthy and refined city of Charas is where the first Calradians arrived on the continent. At the gate to the Perassic sea, Charas is a vibrant centre of maritime trade and melting pot of cultures. The powerful merchant guilds of the city have long chafed at the clunky tariffs and controls imposed on commerce by the nobility. In recent years, the push for autonomy has grown, and a network of like-minded towns sprung up south of the Epiric Hills. Thus, the Epiric League was born, an alliance of mercantile city-states with designs on independence. At last, the conspirators have found a highborn leader ruthless enough to challenge the authority of the Vlandian crown, electing Ingalther dey Cortain to assume the title of Grand Duke. Today, the pretense of fealty to Vlandia has all but evaporated, but the noble lords of the Epiric League will do well to remember that their ambitions are tolerated only by the grace of their merchant patrons.

The Kingdom of Palaic
You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea. In the rural heartlands of the Empire, the tales of the Palaic have slumbered among the traditions of common folk for centuries. The original inhabitants of the continent, the Palaic tribes ruled expansive lands before they were conquered during the Calradic expansion. Their people were subjugated and subsumed, and even the names of the tribes lost to history. Although all that is left of their language and rituals is a pastoral dialect and quaint harvest ceremonies much ridiculed by the Imperial elite, a sense of cultural identity has endured. Troubled by the burdens of tax, crop levies and military service to support distant foreign wars and endless political wrangling, slumbering resentment has finally boiled over. As the Empire descends further into disarray, those claiming to be the successors of the Palaic kings of old have emerged from obscurity, throwing off the shackles of Imperial oppression to reclaim their ancient dominion.

The Myzeiad Republic
“Everything gives way, and nothing abides”, or so said the senator and philosopher Litos, before his execution for rebellion. The citizens of the sunny highlands of the Myzeiad recall his wisdom as the Empire fractures, debating their future in forums across the country. The city of Myzea is a jewel of learning and the arts, its famed academies producing some of Calradia’s greatest thinkers. But this also makes it a troublesome subject, its people having long harboured an attachment to the Calradic republican system of antiquity. Today, scholars decry what they see as a perversion of the Empire’s founding principles; the self-serving oligarchs of Lucon’s senate, the coercive military strongmen of Garios, and Rhagaea’s narcissistic tyranny. Virtuous rule, they argue, lies only in democracy; the right of land-owning citizens to govern themselves. With the Empire corrupt and collapsing, the Myzeiad Republic will forge its own future as a beacon of righteousness.

The Itlanar Khanate
In the shadow of the mountain from which they take their name, the Itlanar prospered before Urkhun the Khuzait united the nomadic clans of the steppe. Descending from the peaks of Sulan Dag centuries ago, the Iltanlar carved out a khanate to dominate the lucrative trade route that winds between the glacial lakes of the portages of Iltan. Protected from Imperial ambitions by biting winter, and extorting trade between the Empire, the steppe and the fur trappers of the north, the remote Itlanar Khanate thrived. But their golden age has passed, their ancestral fortress conquered by the Khuzait horde, and their sacred mountain lost to the encroaching Sturgian principality. Nevertheless, the remaining free Itlanar are fierce and unbowed, determined to restore their dignity of ages past.

The Shahdom of Darshi
Across the steppes lies a fabled land, a mighty and verdant realm to rival the Empire at its height. Few Calradians have visited the Pershahdom of Darshi, but a handful of merchants and mercenaries bring back tales of scientific wonders and strange peoples. Distance has meant that the Pershahs and their client Shahs have historically made few incursions westward, content to trade and send mercenaries to manipulate events in the steppes and Nahasi desert. But while the Empire has been in decline, the strength of the Darshi has grown. Inadvertently, this has had momentous consequences for Calradria, setting Urkhun the Khuzait on his path to unite the horse clans and overrun the eastern provinces to escape Darshi expansion. The far reaches of Darshi lands lie to the south-east of the Empire, and the ruling Shah there receives word from his master, seeing both opportunity and cause for concern in the Empire’s upheaval and unity among the steppe peoples and Aserai.

Faction Inspiration
Below I have listed some inspiration for the new factions, to help you imagine what they would look like. I will add some pictures in time.
  • The Vakken Confederacy: I think it is well established the Vakken are based on Sami and Finnish tribes.
  • The Kingdom of Jumne: no prizes for guessing here!
  • The Kingdom of Massa: the Massans are inspired on the pre-Roman Iberians, and the Punic states of North Africa.
  • The Epiric League: early Italian city-states.
  • The Kingdom of Palaic: the Palaics should remain largely Imperial, but with a barbarian-esque twist, drawn from the Battanians (something like Gallo-Romans), Thracians, and the Illyrian tribes of the Balkans.
  • The Myzeiad Republic: ancient Greeks and Macedonians! I think these would fit brilliantly into the world of Calradia, as long as bronze abs are kept to a minimum.
  • The Itlanar Khanate: a tough one. The encyclopedia mentions the Itlanar use the title 'Bey' - which was used by the Seljuks and others, but I think this would end up looking to similar to the Khuzait. I settled on the Scythians to imagine the Itlanar.
  • The Shahdom of Darshi: a mix of Khwarazm, Persia, Timurids and early Ottomans.
Faction Specialties
These are my early thoughts on how faction troop lines could be developed. They are not all in strict keeping with their historical inspirations, but intended to look for gaps in the current balance of the game, and make them viable against their regional enemies.
  • The Vakken Confederacy: archer specialists. The Forest People minor faction already specialises in this (and will likely be subsumed by the Vakken), but some thinking required to differentiate them from the Battanians.
  • The Kingdom of Jumne: heavy infantry specialists. A return of the huscarl line from Warband. Again, some thinking required to create some difference between the Jumnings and Sturgians.
  • The Kingdom of Massa: light infantry specialists. High athletics, high morale, anti-armour weapons - clubs reflect their slaver culture. Maybe a glaive infantry line? Horned helmets!
  • The Epiric League: pike infantry specialists. Massed pikes to defeat Vlandian and Imperial cavalry charges, and crossbows to take on Vlandia's best.
  • The Kingdom of Palaic: skirmisher specialists. Both dismounted and mounted. Throwing weapons are deadly if used correctly, and I think it would be interesting to see an Army based around them (although the Battanians are already throwing heavy).
  • The Myzeiad Republic: spear infantry specialists. Hoplites with spears and large shields to protect them from Imperial cataphracts and palatine guard.
  • The Itlanar Khanate: light cavalry specialists. Horse-heavy in keeping with the steppe theme, but a focus on light lancers to differentiate them from the Khuzaits, and capable dismounted archers to reflect their mountain heritage and combat the Sturgian infantry.
  • The Shahdom of Darshi: heavy infantry specialists. Focus on armoured infantry to protect them from the projectiles of the Khuzait and Aserai, and provide some regional non-mounted variety. The Darshi will likely subsume the Ghulam troop trees. Plus a pure camel cavalry line - camel cataphracts, yes please.
Mod Future
At the moment, I'd love to hear your ideas and feedback. If nothing else, hopefully this thread has given you an interesting read.
Once the lore is more developed, the next stage would be to create troop lines, new armours (drawing from exisiting mods, and make changes to the map and minor factions.
In the future perhaps, it would be interesting to look at incorporating some culture shift mods or a new system.

Please let me know what you think! Your ideas are very welcome. If you are a modder and feel this might be a project you could get bind, I would love to hear from you.
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