The King is dead.
To men of Gondor, the Kin-strife and the Great Plague seem but precursors to this great evil: the uprising in the wild East of the Wainriders, who in the space of a few years have shattered the bulwark of Rhovanion and scattered or enslaved its people. Hoping to halt their relentless advance, King Narmacil II met them in a great battle beyond Anduin, but he was killed and his army defeated.
Not since the death of Minardil at the hands of Corsairs two and a half centuries ago was a King of Gondor slain by a foe. While the new king, Calimehtar, orders the defences of the north, withdrawing the frontiers of the realm to the Anduin and the Emyn Muil, he plans for the counter-stroke against the invaders.
But his eye cannot look only to the East. Umbar, the most southerly haven loyal to the crown, has only recently been recaptured from the rebels that had made it their chief stronghold; Corsairs and renegades remain to trouble the coasts and South Gondor, while farther inland men of the Harad grow strong. North across the Ered Nimrais, hereditary chieftains guard the approach to western Calenardhon at Angrenost, supported by folk native to the mountains and hills. Far from the heartland of Gondor, these men protect the realm from threats further to the north. If they should fail, or prove false, Calimehtar may face danger on all sides.
Across Middle-earth, threats new and old arise to trouble the heirs of Numenor and their allies. Men in the South-kingdom fear that the days of Gondor’s glory are in the past. But some see in this new king bright promise, a sternness of character and a clarity of sight that may yet stave off the darkness.
Although they are militia, these young men are familiar with the spears and shields they wield through a basic training that exceeds that of other kingdoms. They are mainly employed as garrison troops and a policing force, and are only called upon in great need for service upon the battlefield. Their large shields offer much protection and they can use their spears to keep the enemy at bay long enough for better trained allies to come to their aid. Without these allies, however, they may find themselves quickly overwhelmed if they take on too much despite their superior militia status.
Swordsmen of Gondor
These men wield their swords single-handed with a stout shield in the off hand, lending them confidence in both attack and defence. Over mail hauberks they proudly display the emblem of Gondor: a white tree flowing upon a sable field beneath seven glittering stars. These swordsmen are the epitome of Dúnedanic discipline and will hold their ranks to the last hope, only running when all seems lost. Gondor has been famed for its infantry for many centuries and it will come as no surprise that the Swords of Gondor will outmatch their counterparts in enemy armies most of the time.
Bowmen of Gondor
The Bowmen of Gondor are well trained and efficient, as all soldiers from that land, and they have quality enough in their shortbows. But, while they are useful in sowing panic amongst an approaching enemy, their bows cannot deliver an armour-piercing punch and will not be of great effect when faced with a heavily armoured foe. These archers wear only linen and a small cap to allow a full range of movement, which leaves them vulnerable in melee fighting.
Spearmen of Gondor
Although Gondor is perhaps better known for its swordsmen, these men provide the defensive capabilities that swordsmen cannot. Like all of the Kingdom's troops they are well trained and armoured in high quality mail, making them tough opponents for any attacking force, especially cavalry. The spearmen are often veterans of many battles, who are the most trusted to hold any battle line: very rarely do they betray this trust. They are, however, not given to attacking as their spears and large shields are unwieldy at a run.
Longbowmen of Gondor
Since the Second Age, the descendants of Númenor have had a proud tradition of bowmanship. Although the bows they now use in the Third Age are no longer of tubular steel as they were in the Second, they still possess great accuracy and power. These archers are well disciplined, and they carry a plentiful supply of arrows into combat - which makes them perfect for thinning and confusing enemy ranks. They also have the skill to use fire, and use it well. These troops can cause fear and devastation in an enemy unit before they ever get close enough to be a threat. Although a shade of their former glory, the King's Longbowmen remain some of the best in Middle-earth, bar of course the Elves, and though not superior in close combat they are better equipped and armoured than their counterparts in other Mannish cultures.
With the loss of their homeland to the Wainriders, many lordless men of Rhovanion have made their way into the service of the King of Gondor, who was quick to adopt them into his armies as skilled light cavalry. Unlike most of the soldiery of Gondor, Rhovanion Scouts are fast and nimble riders, often operating far ahead of the main host or on its flanks, where they can hurl javelins at a slower foe while remaining out of reach. While their armour is of necessity light and flexible, their skill with spear and shield may allow them to defeat similarly lightly-armed foes.
Men at Arms
The Men at Arms are the standard superior unit in most of the armies of the Gondor, and they reflect well the values of their commanders. They are highly disciplined and enjoy the benefit of armour and weapons forged in the advanced smithies of Gondor, making them more the equivalent of some elites among other peoples. Their tall shields give them an advantage while defending, although they are equally proficient at using their swords in attack. Men at Arms wear the traditional winged helm and surcoat of Gondor, and continue its legacy of bravery and skill on the battlefield. Their status as part of the king's mighty army is well respected - such men have honour in the land.
For centuries have the golden-haired Northmen served in the armies of the King. Hailing from a far, strange country on the fringes of the great forest in the North, the ancestors of these men swore allegiance to the Kings of Gondor, joined in its wars, and guarded its borders. Since the days of Eldacar, proud Northmen and their steeds have settled in Gondor itself, where their valour and loyalty have been welcome. Now, with the sudden defeat and enslavement of the people of Rhovanion, even more of their kinsmen have sought homes here, not a few of high birth among their folk. These Princes of Rhovanion serve as a mighty cavalry arm of the King, wielding bitter lances from atop mounts that are unmatched in Gondor. They fight fiercely against the enemies of their lord, and few foes can withstand their thundering charge.
There are few peoples in Middle-earth with technology advanced enough to create such a devastating war machine as the ballistas of Gondor. These weapons utilise the elasticity of animal sinew, cured over a period of many months, to shoot a huge bolt over hundreds of feet on the battlefield. They are crewed by a team of some of the strongest men in the Kingdom, and it requires all of their power to operate the machine; two men are needed to pull each of the pair of cranks, as well as one for loading the bolts into the ballista itself. Therein lies the weakness of the magnificent machine, however. For all its ingenuity, it needs men to work it.
Guards of the Citadel
For many years now have the Guards of the Citadel watched over the highest level of Minas Anor, where resides the King of Gondor. Their domain is the fair court in which the White Tree of Gondor grows, and they leave their posts only at the direst need or at their king's behest. Their arms and armour reflect their status as the true elites of Gondor; they wear helms of the finest steel set with wings of seabird's feathers and wield long bladed spears that stand twice their own height. A black-robed Guard commands respect not only in Minas Anor, but throughout the Kingdom, for they are the finest soldiers in all Gondor.
These mighty contrivances hurl great boulders over many hundreds of feet, sowing destruction and panic amongst even the most disciplined of armies. Although primarily used in felling the walls of besieged cities, adaptable Dúnedanic commanders have found use for them on the battlefield. Noting the devastation caused by flaming arrows, they devised the fire pots that can be thrown by their war machines - pots of clay filled with oil with a flaming rag thrust into them which explode in a shower of flames upon impact, destroying masses of tightly packed troops.
Knights of Gondor (bodyguard unit)
The bodyguard of the King and the nobility of Gondor, these knights fight on foot with sword and shield. Equally suited to defending a point in the battle line or attacking an enemy’s position, the Knights of Gondor are only truly vulnerable to charges by cavalry or wains – and if drawn up in a strong defensive formation, they may hold out against even these threats. They are the staunchest defenders of the kingdom, visibly announcing the presence of a noble captain with their heavy armour and tall, winged helms.
Never heavily settled, the open lands of Calenardhon were devastated by the Great Plague, and in the ensuing centuries the Kings of Gondor found their attention drawn to other borders of the realm. Now, with the emergence of a powerful enemy from the East, the Great River seems likely to become the frontier of an uncertain war. River-wardens are some of the few troops of Gondorian descent who man the Anduin’s banks and crossings. They go garbed as hunters rather than knights, for the King’s forces in this part of the realm have never been sufficient for bold strokes of open war. Through stealth and ambush, and carefully marshalled strikes against the foe, they hope to hold the river in the name of the King.
The Númenóreans have a long and proud history of sea-faring, and it continues into the Third Age with the Mariners of Gondor. These are a sea-borne infantry unit, some of Gondor's most distinctive soldiers, for a life aboard ship does not lend itself to the weak. For boarding actions they carry a pair of heavy javelins. For closer work they bear a sword of Númenórean design, the eket, a short and broad blade used in a manner that fits the small confined spaces upon the decks of ships. A versatile weapon, it can be used for both stabbing and slashing and in combination with a small shield of wood it is highly effective. While their gear is specially suited to fighting at sea, these hardy men will give a good account of themselves wherever they are called to battle.
Guards of the Haven
The great Haven of Umbar was one of the most powerful and prominent strongholds of the Númenóreans in the Second Age. Its defensible location made it mighty; its position as a trade port brought it wealth. Far enough from Gondor to house exiles from that kingdom, and yet near enough to threaten its coasts, Umbar has ever been irresistible to Dúnedanic kings or lords wishing to bring it under their power. But once captured, such a prize needs strong wardens. The Guards of the Haven stand watch over the walls and palaces of the city and fortress, wielding spear and bow in its defense. Some of the finest soldiers in the realm, they know they are entrusted with securing a vital stronghold far from aid and often the target of Haradrian covetousness. Any captain will be thankful for the vigilance of these tireless men, whether they are securing the city walls or supporting a host in the field.
Swan Knights of Belfalas
The blood of Númenor runs strong in the noble houses of Belfalas, and is said to be enriched by a distant Elven ancestor. The lords of the castle-port of Belfalas are held as great among the Dúnedain, for they have much purer blood than elsewhere Gondor. For this reason they form one of the finest units in the Dúnedanic armies, a rare elite cavalry force of the Kingdom. They fight on grey steeds draped in proud blue barding, and they themselves wear an awe-inspiring array of mail armour. They arm themselves with long spears, fine blades, and a shield emblazoned with their emblems - the Swan and Ship of Belfalas and the White Tree.
Disclaimer: All rosters are a work in progress and unit list may not be complete or finalised; appearance and description may change in the final release.
You might well expect the Gondor roster to be very similar to that of the Reunited Kingdom in Dominion of Men (the southern part, anyway) and as you can see a lot of the units are taken from that source. However there are some additions and omissions that may surprise you. It's actually been a lot of fun imagining this particular version of Gondor, which is still ruled by the heirs of Anarion. More than 1000 years of struggle and reorganization under the Stewards has yet to take place before the events of the War of the Ring come to pass.
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