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Old 11-18-2014, 10:38 AM
Immion Immion is offline

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Default Wildhammer Military and Culture?

For an upcoming P&P campaign taking place in the Hinterlands, I am currently trying to delve deep into the background of the Wildhammer clan, and I sure could need some help.

This is what I’ve come up with so far:


The world naturally becomes much larger in the P&P, and the Hinterlands encompass much more than just Aerie Peak in terms of Wildhammer settlements. Aerie Peak will be the capital of course, but there will be one or two other cities, as well as great number of small fortresses and villages harboring many different clans, and more Wildhammer dwarves will in fact live in these villages rather than in the great cities.

I would consider the gryphon riders to be the Wildhammer’s elite fighting force. Surely, there are not enough gryphons for just anybody to become a rider, and even if there was, the clans would still have need of regular guardsmen and soldiers to protect their settlements, as the gryphon riders have limited use against enemies sneaking through the great forest expanses. In this context, I am wondering about what the Wildhammer’s military might have looked like during the War of the Three Hammers. They did not have gryphons back then, and still they were able to go toe to toe with the forces of the Ironforge and Darkiron clans, so they must have been formidable even back then. One possibility would of course be that they were much more similar to their cousins in those days, also military wise, probably meaning heavily armored, tough infantry. Was it ever established when firearms were actually invented in Azeroth? Might the Wildhammer of that time have used them? For flair reasons, I would not like that very much, but I don’t think it is impossible.

Back in the present, I am going for a kind of primitive Highlander kind of culture. In the villages, I wouldn’t expect for the clans to have organized military units aside from the prestigious gryphon riders. Rather, each and every able-bodied clansman (and woman) would be expected to take up arms and defend the community. Of course, there would be those better suited to that kind of work, who would become something like regulars, but who still would not be soldiers in the strictest sense, and who would still have other duties/skills aside from that. The cities would still have soldiers and guardsmen, but after millenia of fighting against little more than disorganized troll warbands, I doubt that even these units would be highly organized and disciplined, relying on individual prowess rather than tightly knit formations.

Economy-wise, they these rural clansmen would for the most part be farmers and breeders of cattle and sheep. Even awesome dwarves have to eat, after all, and all that ale has to be made out of something. Despite of being more feral than their cousins, the Wildhammer are also still dwarves and would work with iron, which probably means there would be some sort of mining going on. Now, keeping in mind that the hill dwarves that love to live under the open sky would probably abhor little as much as crawling under the earth to dig to ore, this poses a potential problem. I tried to solve it with the following.

The different clans bicker and argue a lot. Each clan normally pretty much keeps to itself, and rivalries among the clans are common. Young dwarves are pretty much expected bring glory to their own clan by humbling its rivals. As a result, thefts between the clans are common, even somewhat encouraged. Sometimes even potential spouses are stolen from other clans, though rarely kept against their will if they truly wish to return to their clan afterwards. The idea is humiliation of the clan as a whole, not cruelty against any particular member. Usually, an appropriate fee is decided upon by the two parties, accompanied by lots of swearing and oaths of revenge, and then the abducted clansmember is returned to his/her family (this is especially embarrassing for male dwarves having been abducted by a woman from another clan). Sometimes, however, such potential spouses are actually quite smitten by their abductors’ courage and bravado, especially if no member of their own clan have displayed similar determination in showing his/her interest.

The more important part about this is what happens if these “criminals” are caught. First of all, a failed raid of this kind of course only shames the perpetrator’s own clan. Secondly, the potential value of whatever the dwarf was trying to steal has to be repaid in full, and this usually by working it off in the mines. If the clan in question owns a mine on his own, the sentence is usually carried out there. If it doesn’t, the perpetrator is “lent” to another clan who has a mine for the appropriate compensation, either in money or in ore. These transactions would be supervised by the shamans of the clans, who are considered to be neutral and working for the best of the land and all of its inhabitants.

That being said, I also intend for a few human villages to be around, as well as an elven village next to the hunting lodge, and many of the humans would actually work as miners for those clans that are not too proud to let them.

I also intend to carry over the classical notion of gryphons hating horses for some reason. I mainly like this idea because it gives me a good reason why the Wildhammer should have never sought to use horses as mounts or animals of burden. So while there are still wild horses roaming the Hinterlands, few people would be crazy enough to risk riding one, as there is always the risk of some wild gryphon deciding to take a swoop at you, as the new human settlers had to find out the hard way. So aside from a few crippled gryphons (alces) used as mounts by downed gryphon riders, the way to get around the Hinterlands would be either flying or on foot, maybe by ox cart between the villages and cities.

I think that’s pretty much all I have at the moment. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. If there is anything directly conflicting with established lore, don’t be shy to point that out. Otherwise, I am pretty open to other ideas to paint a more complete, plausible picture of what the Wildhammer society could look like.
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Old 11-18-2014, 10:42 AM
Yaskaleh Yaskaleh is offline

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You should look up the Twillight highlands. It has the majority of wildhammer dwarves from what we've seen from Cataclysm. It most likely had another name once upon a time, Wildhammer highlands or Northeron Highlands.
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Old 11-18-2014, 11:00 AM
BaronGrackle BaronGrackle is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Immion View Post
That being said, I also intend for a few human villages to be around, as well as an elven village next to the hunting lodge, and many of the humans would actually work as miners for those clans that are not too proud to let them.
What time period are you at? For a long time, the Wildhammers had a better relationship with the high elves than with the humans or other dwarves.

Even in modern times with Blood Elves in the Hordee, you could play the angle that these border Wildhammer-Elven villages have a respectful admiration and working relationship with each other, despite official policies of Aerie Peak and Silvermoon.
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Old 11-18-2014, 11:17 AM
Yaskaleh Yaskaleh is offline

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Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
What time period are you at? For a long time, the Wildhammers had a better relationship with the high elves than with the humans or other dwarves.

Even in modern times with Blood Elves in the Hordee, you could play the angle that these border Wildhammer-Elven villages have a respectful admiration and working relationship with each other, despite official policies of Aerie Peak and Silvermoon.
There are high elves in the Hinterlands, you know. No need to infect the woods with felblood vermin.
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Old 11-18-2014, 02:06 PM
Immion Immion is offline

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Originally Posted by BaronGrackle View Post
What time period are you at?
Good point. The campaign will start before the events of Warcraft III, so no Sin Dorei for the time being. As I said, I plan on expanding the High Elf hunting lodge into a sizable village. But with Quel'thalas being somewhat far away and having withdrawn from the Alliance (by which I mean focusing on themselves rather than other people), I don't think there would be much more of an Elvish presence in the Hinterlands. The relationship between the Wildhammer and the High Elves will be good, but that is mostly because Quel'danil is dominated by the presence of its rangers and farstriders rather than anything mage- or noble-related.
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:24 PM
Thunderbraid Thunderbraid is offline

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I'd imagine Wildhammer ground forces to rather 'primitive' in how they go about things, despite being well-equipped. They would be skirmishers first and foremost, able to form a battle line but preferring to engage in small groups and the likes.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:55 AM
Valtheria Valtheria is offline

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There are high elves in the Hinterlands, you know. No need to infect the woods with felblood vermin.
Okay.

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Old 12-04-2014, 09:59 AM
Philostrate Philostrate is offline

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The novel "Tides of Darkness" offer us some insight into the Wildhammers. For the most part it would seem that the Wildhammers try their best to always fight from gryphon-back, swooping down and strafing enemies. During the Second War, the orcs quickly learned to hide themselves underneath trees to keep the gryphon riders from getting a good hit at them. But Kurdan adapted to this by having his riders throw their Stormhammers at the trees themselves...shaking them up and causing branches and debris to fall on the orcs, which would force the orcs to scatter from underneath them and allow the riders to fare better with their stormhammer throws.

I imagine that living in the Hinterlands in close proximity to trolls has made the Wildhammer riders skilled when it comes to fighting enemies in trees and under tree cover. This is advantageous for them as well since it would be harder to throw something at a gryphon from the ground when you have branches and leaves blocking you.

The novel (pg.155) also indicates that the major danger for a rider when facing orcs is swooping in too close and being assailed with spears while the danger with trolls in swooping in too close to the treetops whereupon they will jump on the gryphons to try and dismount the riders. To quote Kurdan: "Well, we'll just have to hit them afore they can react. Tell the lads to come in fast and hard, and stay beyond the greenskins' throws. They're working against gravity and we're working with it, so we've got the advantage."

I would say that being a gryphon rider is prestigious among the Wildhammers, but quite common. With any engagement, the gryphons will likely form the centerpiece to any stratagem.

Infantry among the Wildhammers is likely primarily to defend settlements and clanholds. We see this in Outlands where Wildhammers fight infernals that directly assault their keep. We see this in the Twilight Highlands when the Dragonmaw attack. I imagine that Wildhammer infantry is composed of younger dwarves that have not yet been given a mount or stormhammer as we see in Legends #2 "Warrior: Divided" the extent of training the riders must undergo to be considered true Wildhammer gryphon riders. During emergencies, when the enemy closes in on a settlement, veteran riders will dismount to fight on foot. And for the most part, their infantry will use two-handed mauls or one-handed hammers and bucklers. Unlike the Bronzebeards, Wildhammers will opt for mobility in their armor and so we see them using leather with scalemail pieces to protect the chest and legs. ((There are always exceptions to the rules and you can sometimes see some of the notable Wildhammers like Kurdan or Keegan Firebeard wearing plate pieces.))

Now, the Hinterlands clans are more or less centralized under High Thane Falstad and it would take him little effort to call on the clan thanes to muster troops. We see in the Twilight Highlands that each clan possesses a number of gryphon riders that are loyal to the clan specifically. For them to be deployed, the clan thane must dispatch them. In the Highlands, which has decentralized leadership if any at all, it is more difficult to get the clans to provide their riders in joint operations. This is why the Alliance player in the Highlands must spend their time winning over each clan and why there has to be an arranged marriage between the Thundermar clan and the Firebeard clan to settle out disputes. I do not think the Hinterland Wildhammers are so divided. Clans for them might be a thing of pride, but their allegiance is to Aerie Peak and not their family clans. Of course, in a P&P it might be interesting to have something like that…

I know this is probably giving too much info, but I will wrap this up with siege warfare. It seems that the Wildhammers like to soften the enemy up from the air and then land their gryphons within a fortification and dismount within (Unless they are supporting ground troops). In the Twilight Highlands, we do see that the Wildhammers use catapults to sling boulders at enemies---likely to destroy fortifications that might pose a threat to their gryphons.
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