location Nomadic, with outposts in every kingdom. banner A snow-white cow on a green field.
With no loyalty to any one kingdom yet present in all, the Jacks are a highly mobile force tasked with protecting the continent from the ongoing threat of giants. Many people consider your average Jack as being a little rough around the edges, but together they operate as one sophisticated, well-oiled, and deadly machine. Joining the Jacks is not a commitment not to be taken lightly as the lifestyle is both physically and emotionally demanding. At least twenty years of constant service is expected of all recruits, and compensation for the average Jack is not extravagant. They are, however, highly respected and it is rare for a Jack traveling between kingdom outposts to be denied hospitality.
Jacks have three ranks: Choppers, Slayers, and Bonesmen. Slayers are the soldiers, specially trained to respond to attacks and dispatch the giants. Choppers are the scouts who scour the land for forming beanstalks and dispose of them, as well as dispatch giant corpses after a battle. The Bonesmen are senior Jacks, singled out for prowess throughout their careers and given the duty of training new recruits.
Unflinching, unwavering, and uncompromising, the Tin Soldiers are a military force befitting of their icy mistress. Tin Soldiers are selected at a young age, allowing for their loyalties and necessary survival skills to be instilled from the earliest possible stage. They are skilled sailors, able to confidently navigate the treacherous, iceberg-clogged waters of Forstelind's harbors, and the continent's most capable mountaineers. Beyond protecting the kingdom and enforcing the Queen's occasional tempestuous decrees, they are responsible for locating goblin glass and those infected by it. It is the duty of every Tin Soldier to provide care to those suffering from the glass's affects and protect others from stumbling into storms or snowfields containing it.
There are very few ranks within the Tin Soldiers: Soldiers answer to Commanders, Commanders to Steadfasts, and Steadfasts to the Queen and her Prince. This is why, though considered merciless by outsiders and not always beloved by Forstelind's residents due to their relentless enforcement of the Queen's whims, they are highly respected almost always immediately obeyed. They are rarely, if ever, seen further South than Vellemont of their own free will, as their training leaves many unable to abide warmer climates for extended periods of time.
Though the animal forms of Vellemont's shapeshifters are an asset valued highly within the Riding Hoods and magic users seeking to join their ranks are generally subject to some degree of suspect, any and all are welcome provided they prove their abilities and pass through the rigorous training. Their inclusiveness originally devalued the nobility in the eyes of other Kingdoms and some prejudice against them stills remains, but tunes have a habit of changing once their skills have been displayed. Beyond knightly arts, Riding Hoods are trained extensively in the identification, tracking, and trapping of beasts and witches, and their survival frequently counts on their abilities in this area. They are accomplished archers, though swords and axes are the preferred weapons, and when in ceremonial uniform wear capes with red hoods with their armor.
The Riding Hoods have two divisions in which they can serve: the Royal Guard and Rangers. The Royal Guards are a smaller force that directly protect the royal family and the castle. Rangers are stationed throughout the kingdom and maintain a constant patrol of the lands, protecting them from beasts, witches, and other threats. Rangers, particularly those who frequently find themselves in the Eastern border forests, tend to form staunch alliances with the Huntsmen of Nourwittchen.
If, while traveling through the woods of Nourwittchen, you find that you've wandered off your path, your best hope for survival is the mercy and diligence of the Huntsmen. Bows, arrows, axes, and small, portable weapons are the bread and butter of their arsenals, as there's little room for sword swinging in the denser parts of the kingdom's woods. They are a large force that, for the difficulties presented by Nourwittchen's terrain and ongoing battle with the witches, should not function as seamlessly as it does. The secret to their success comes from a period early on in their founding, which coincided with the Red Forest suffering an influx of activated magic beans so severe that many Jacks remained there for a decade clearing the wood. During this time they imparted much of their training to the Hunstmen and over the centuries they adapted and expanded their organizational wisdom. The Huntsmen function both autonomously and collectively across Nourwittchen's intimidating terrain without a ripple of disruption, with many of their intimidating numbers also belonging to the royal army.
Although there are no official titles amongst Huntsmen, they do sort themselves by region and skill sets from within. Woodsmen patrol the forests, Lakesmen defend and assist in navigation along the lakes and ports, and Mountmen attend to the mountains and maintain the day to day diplomacy with the Dwarves. Each group reports to leader(s) usually elected from within and endorsed by the crown. They, in turn, report to The Huntsman; their representative on the ruler's council who also often serves as the ruler's head bodyguard.
Unlike the other kingdoms, the first line of defense for Perrillion's royals is not their army of exceptionally shiny-armored knights, but the politically and magically savvy Stiltskins. Originally, and for many centuries, the Stiltskin council consisted exclusively of members of the Miller house. However, as time marched on and Perrillion became a wealthier and more prominent kingdom, they began to cast a wider net in the hopes of ensnaring the continent's keenest minds. Their efforts have been a success, though most of their ranks still consist primarily of nobles and warlocks who have been educated in magic and the nuances of magical contracts for the purpose of earning a spot on the council.
The Stiltskin council consists of five members with an army of underlings beneath them -- some simultaneously providing support while plotting their rise up the ranks. The royal family doesn't mind the intrigue, as the rampant paranoia keeps the quality of the Stiltskins' work impeccable and their paperwork forever in the triplicate. They are the bane of Godmothers, forever stepping in to delay any wishes or blessings for the royal family and attempting to police their activities within Perrillion borders.
Although observers from other kingdoms sometimes mistake the Brotherhood as being mercenaries, it would be a mistake to discount their loyalty to each other and to their realm. They boast some of the cleverest minds of Acryssus, each member specializing in a skill that can help his (or her) brothers. Over the years, the order has seen everyone from swordmasters to tailors and blacksmiths to thieves among their ranks. Together they work to protect travelers and merchants, doing everything from solving sphinx riddles to fighting pirates. Occasionally they even slay dragons who venture close to the capitol city in hunt of its gold. They value experience and ingenuity over formal training, and as such, it's not uncommon for the Brotherhood to recruit directly from orphanages or the streets. There are opportunities for even the most downtrodden to find opportunity among their ranks if only they are talented, resourceful, and clever enough.
The Brotherhood is made up of Brothers, whom form crews ranging from three to five. Each crew selects a Captain among themselves, usually choosing the most experienced or the most cunning. These Captains are given direction by a council of the Cleverest Captains, whom report directly to the ruling family of Acryssus.