League of the North
Long have the Dwarves mined these northern lands, coaxing iron from the hills and wresting rarer prizes from the earth. In ages past, Dwarves hewed a road through the forbidding forest, to ease traffic between the great city of Khazad-dum and these frontier colonies. But as with all things, the traffic began to fail; evil things crept into the woods; and now Men of ill sort have burst in from the East, disrupting trade and threatening travel. Few messages come from Khazad-dum these days.
The villages of Northmen that cluster about the lakes and rivers are filled with refugees from the south, bringing tales of wild men slaying, burning, and enslaving. At the feet of the Lonely Mountain, the men of the dale gather and begin to arm, asking the Dwarves for aid. So once again, as in days of old, there is an alliance between Dwarves and Men. No Dwarf-king leads them, but a Dwarf-lord of proud colonists, stubborn folk who have carved their mansions in this land and will not yield it to Easterlings who have only lately mastered iron. Joined to their cause are the Northmen, rough but hardy people, skilled with beasts and bows and strong of arm, unwilling to shoulder a foreign yoke.
And, should this League prove strong, perhaps other lands can fall under its banner. There are untapped riches in the mountains north and west, and room for many herds and farms to the south. If not snuffed out too soon, perhaps this alliance can grow – a lordship to command respect among the Houses of the Dwarves, and to shield the people of the North from the menace of the East.
Stone-hard both in battle and on the march, the Dwarven Axes are the mainstay of a Dwarven army. Like the axes they carry, these warriors are tough, warlike, and strong - reliable to the last on a battlefield. With a shield in the off hand and a hauberk of strong mail, these are excellent soldiers of the line for both attack and defence. The cry of 'Khazâd ai-mênu!' - 'the Dwarves are upon you!' – is feared across Middle-earth thanks to the devastation caused by these warriors. Raised underground like all Dwarves, they learnt the skill of mining early, making them of excellent use in siege warfare where they can undermine an enemy's walls.
Staunch and strong-armed, these Dwarves are equipped with shield and spear and trained to hold a line. Wielding a spear may earn a Dwarf-warrior less renown than cleaving enemy ranks with an axe, but a wall of spears and shields can stop an enemy charge and allow other troops to crash into the foe’s flanks. Dwarven Spears provide an anchor to the already solid Dwarven line, and are especially effective when defending against cavalry.
Dwarves, though skilled in weapon-making, care little for bows when compared to their melee and siege weapons. But they do grasp the value of a bow's superior range. Training for the bow is often neglected by the Dwarves and only a few can claim to genuinely love the weapon as many love their axes, but strength and training can have their benefits, and these archers will stand up to many lower classes of bowmen. In melee, these Dwarves will overpower other archers and, thanks to their toughness, may even hold their own against some dedicated infantry, despite their lack of heavy armour.
Throwing an axe is not easy to learn, but these Dwarves are both skilled and experienced in the art of war. Carrying two (comparatively) light axes, they can disrupt an enemy's rank before charging. Indeed, belying their stature, a Dwarf can roll along at quite a pace and deliver a powerful charge. In Dwarven lands east of the Ered Luin, the throwing axe has proven a most useful weapon in wars waged within the confines of tunnels and caves. Over long years of combat against the hated Orcs, the Axethrowers have become somewhat specialist Troll-hunters: the flurry of axes followed by a sudden charge confounds the beasts.
Smaller in scale but no less mighty than the ballistas built by engineers of the Dúnedanic realms, the Dwarven Ballistas can deliver great destruction at impressive range. They are most effective when deployed against masses of slow-moving enemy infantry, as their missiles are flung with enough force to tear through many ranks of soldiers. These engines are pushed and worked by stout Dwarves who will fight determinedly in their defense, but a wise commander will take care that the crew and machines are well protected against a sudden attack.
Few weapons can displace the special affection of the Dwarves for the powerful axe, but many commanders have begun to recognise the value of the long-hafted warhammer. These fearsome weapons consist of a heavy hammer crowned by points of Dwarven steel on the top and back, producing a tool equally capable of battering and piercing. Despite their ungainly appearance, these thrice-forged weapons have broken many soldiers and won many battles for the Dwarves. Lacking a shield but clad head to toe in strong mail, the versatility of the hammer leaves this unit equally capable of defence and attack. They are warriors to be admired – preferably from a distance.
Dwarven Siege Ballista
The Dwarven Siege Ballistas are a terrible force on the battlefield. By far the largest siege engines constructed by the Dwarves, these tools of wood, metal, and sinew hurl stones or fiery missiles over great distances and with devastating force. Against walls or gates, the stone missiles are more effective - and the crew are equipped with enough stones to reduce several sections of even the highest walls to rubble. Against troops, the fire-filled clay pots can wreak fearful destruction, engulfing dozens of enemy warriors with only a few volleys. On attack or defense, the siege ballistas are one of the most terrifying and effective weapons available to a Dwarven captain.
Dragon Slayers (bodyguard unit)
In the wilderness of northern Rhovanion, a Dwarf-lord must go well-armed, and in a company of trusted fellows. The Dwarves know that dragons lair in the Grey Mountains, and have had dealings with them in the past - but whether they face worms or more mundane threats, the bodyguard of the lords of the League boast superb armour, crafted from metal won from the rich veins of the Iron Hills, and they are renowned fighters with the heavy mattocks they bear. Working an area of Middle-earth that has long been mined but still faces threats from many foes, these Dwarves take pride in their independence and are eager to come to grips with those who would threaten their lands and mansions.
These axemen are not professional soldiers but are hardy and strong. Fighting with axe and shield, they are capable offensive warriors, especially in the woodland they call home, and are for some Northmen settlements the only defenders of their peoples' homes. Still, their lack of armour means that in battle they are more useful as a reserve or flanking force than as soldiers of the line.
Clad only in light hunting leathers to facilitate swift passage through the wood and scrubland, Border Foresters are hardy but undisciplined men, more accustomed to the rugged ways of a hunting camp than the regimented life of a soldier on the march. Still, a wise commander will always find a use for men with an intimate knowledge of the land - and the fortitude to undertake punishing journeys on short notice. Preferring the tactics of skirmish and ambush to bold strokes in open battle, these foresters are most effective when their javelins can be a deadly surprise for the horsemen and wains of the Easterlings.
Drawn from the communities of the Northmen, these spear-warriors are hardy and swift, and when fighting in good order can repulse cavalry charges and hold the line against light infantry. Their helms and shields offer good protection, but they should be guarded on the flanks, as they may be unable to weather an unexpected attack. When supported by other troops, they will prove to be capable defensive soldiers.
Armed with axe and bow, companies of these rugged men are a great boon to their villages, and can offer good service to a captain in battle. Their woodcraft allows them to ambush approaching foes and retreat from danger, and while they do not have the range of longbows they can do great damage to a lightly armed enemy. Though they are not armed for melee, at need they are enthusiastic flankers, and can hold their own against other light troops.
More well-armed than many who have gathered in Dale and northern Rhovanion to seek refuge from the eastern invaders, these Northmen wear mail armour and bear their swords proudly. They are some of the staunchest defenders of their settlements, able to ward off enemy blows and inflict great loss on spearmen or lightly-armed foes. They are less effective when fighting riders, and a charge of cavalry may scatter them – but when protected against those threats, Northmen Swords prove strong and versatile warriors.
Used to the rough conditions of the frontier, where the territory of the League ends and the uncertain lands of Easterlings, Elves, or others begin, Border Riders are scouts and skirmishers, often used to harass slower enemies and retreat before coming into melee. Their hardy mounts are tough and swift, allowing the riders to get into range to cast their javelins and keep out of reach of infantry or other riders. Although equipped more for trekking through unsettled country than for open battle, the Border Riders may surprise a foe with a sudden charge, especially into the flank or rear.
Bearing great bows and protected by mail armour, these Northmen command great respect among their companions and the Dwarf-lords of the League, who recognize the value of fielding companies of strong bowmen. Whether defending the walls of a settlement or deployed in ranks on the battlefield, longbowmen can shatter the morale of an enemy force and devastate lightly armed troops. Care should be taken to protect these archers against cavalry, but when entrenched in a solid defensive position they are a stubborn threat to any foe.
The companions of local leaders among the Northmen, the Chief’s Hearth-troops are clad in the finest armour available to the men of the League – forged with techniques learned by the Dwarves themselves. Protected by a large round shield, each warrior bears a pair of throwing axes and a well-balanced sword. Their gear is a mighty prize, and the skill of these men is proof that it is well bestowed. They are among the strongest men of the League of the North, suited either to holding a position against an enemy host or leading a charge of foot.
Riders of Rhovanion
After the fall of Rhovanion’s once-great princes, broad lands, and proud herds, those who were not killed or enslaved by the Wainriders were compelled to flee. Many struck out west, finding new homes along the Great River; some gathered under Erebor with their kinfolk in Dale; others entered the service of Gondor. But some remained in the lands of plain and copse, exiles in their own land, taking the fight to their sworn foe and joining with capable lords who would see the Easterlings driven back. Riders of Rhovanion are superior cavalrymen, mounted on hardy and intelligent beasts who are as loyal to their rider as the riders are to each other. Armed in mail and driving foes before their spear-points, these men are a terror to the enemies of the North.
Horse-archers of Rhovanion
Companies of light riders banding together on the fringes of Mirkwood or on the plains of Rhovanion, these horsed archers range the wilderness, striking enemy camps and fleeing back into the shelter of the trees. They are eager to join with foes of the Wainriders, the Easterlings who stole their lands and enslaved their people. In open battle, they are adept at circling enemy formations and shooting into the flanks and rear, where their arrows can strike under shields and find the weak points in armour. While they wear a helm and some light armour they are not equipped for melee, and are more useful at running down routers.
The River Running may now be a border between foes, but it is still the quickest path for trade, from nigh the eaves of the Woodland Realm to the Sea of Rhun. It passes through many lands, inhabited by Northmen, new-come Easterlings, and other peoples, and of late merchants who travel this route do well to go armed. These men are clad more for boat-work than for battle, but they bear strong axes and bows in case they should be attacked by bandits. A lord may convince them to join his host, provided he can pay well, and their versatility and hardiness will serve them well in combat, where they may shoot down approaching foes or charge into the enemy flank.
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list! All rosters are a work in progress and unit list may not be complete or finalized; appearance and description may change in the final release.
Phew, that was a big one!