Monday, December 15, 2008
Sappers of Urbino
The Montefeltro Dukes of Urbino were a perfectly Italian combination of patrons of art and learning and hard nosed soldiers, not to mention that many of their family were wont to ply their trade as Condottiere. In the early 15th Century a small group of military engineers gathered around a few leaders, notably Giocomi (one of Sir John Hawkwood's bastards) and Francesco of Naples, a half sotted former Dominican, who escaped the clutches of a life of the cloth by faking his death in a bridge collapse. The Montelfeltro's support and encourage this "school" as it provides a useful resource for the defense of their beleaguered lands in the ongoing struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines in the Marsche region. The Sappers don't just study military science, gunpowder and engineering, they also actively try to piece together Alchemical knowledge in order to figure out how to best turn it to military ends. They do this with the Duke's full knowledge, but none other's. If word got out, not only would the Duke's "edge" be spent, but for one reason or another, most of the warring factions in Italy, not to mention the Church itself, wouldn't rest until the Sappers and those associated with them were burnt, beheaded or strung up.
Skills: Alchemy, Arcane Arts, Dominion Lvl 2, Craftsman, Military Arts.
We've got Explosives! (Craftsman (Engineering) Mastery) Once the Sapper has been out in the world a bit and had a chance to apply their "diverse" skills to all sorts of different problems, whether on a battlefield or not, they are ready to learn the "tricks of the trade". Their skill, ingenuity and understanding of the engineers' secrets wins them the coveted title "Master Sapper" and the right to wear the striking blue and yellow striped sash that sets them apart in any room. They also get taught one of the schools best kept secrets, how to turn a simple combination of household items (Vinegar, a little yeast, flour, sand or grit and guano) into good honest gunpowder. It's a messy process taking a full hour and a lot of smoke and bad smells, but out of it enough gunpowder to create a solid blast it created. Labour all day and night... and enough to demolish a house is created.
Demolitions (Craftsman (Engineering) Grand Mastery) Counter artillery work is painstaking and dangerous. Learning the precise ways to get this task done is the core of a Military Engineer's art and the Sapper's of Urbino pride themselves on their flawless execution. However, if you know how, it's much better to bring the while bastion down and cause as much commotion and cover as possible for the breach to be stormed and the garrison overrun before they can even muster a defense. With a little black powder (say enough to blow up a house or two) and a lot of stealth, Giocomi or Francesco have ended sieges that were expected to take months, both beating reinforcements and pocketing hefty bonuses. A lot of smoke and commotion in a public place could also be turned to all sorts of other useful purposes creating confusion and opportunities in an urban setting.