Carlton’s Riders is the foremost elite soldiering guild in Mastaria. At only five thousand fighting members, they are the smallest guild by far, but make up for it with excellent training, and comparatively liberal recruitment standards. They and Five Spears are the only two guilds to employ women in combat roles, and the only one to accept smitten.
Carlton’s Riders is an offshot of a Knights regiment by the same name, formed about a hundred years ago. It had existed in The Knights for about fifty years prior to the departure, and had rapidly gained independence since its formation. It was originally labelled as a veteran regiment, headed by Friedrich Carlton. As members fell, they picked their own replacements.
Increasingly, though, the soldiers in the regiment, continuously including the foremost instructors and officers, would also train and house their soldiers separately. They also started gaining a closer sense of loyalty with their unit commander than with the actual Grandmaster of The Knights.
After fifty years of steadily increasing influence and power, there came a point where the unit commander of the Riders was as influential and exerting as much power as the Grandmaster. Tension increased and the regiment largely became a guild inside the guild, dealing with their own. This arrangement caused a marked decrease in the overall training of the soldiers, as the Riders made sure to snatch up the most promising talent. The problem of the regiment was not only that it caused a brain-drain from the rest of the guild, but that several of the top generals were members as well. The situation threatened to become all-out war due to a series of offending events aimed at both sides.
Before it became so severe, though, the Grandmaster, Aran Thorn, came to an agreement with the Riders’ unit commander, Daria. Carlton’s Riders would agree to submit to the authority of the Grandmaster. In return, the Grandmaster would make Carlton’s Riders a separate soldiering guild, built on the ideals and goals of The Knights. The deal seemed like the Riders walking away with all the goods, but it carried many advantages for The Knights. First of all, Aran stepping in to lead the guild meant Daria stepping down. Daria was loved by her soldiers, and the foremost mascot for the regiment, but caused great friction with the rest of the guild, not the least of which being the controversy of her gender. Removing her from power was a big step towards mending relations between the guilds, as The Knights saw it as their own leader ruling the Riders instead. The Riders, however, kept Daria in their ranks and used Aran’s experience to build their own guild structure. When Aran stepped down ten years later, Daria took over just as the first Sølv rebellions gained momentum. Furthermore, Aran ensured that the guild was similar enough to The Knights to ensure a stable relationship. Scholars have later debated that this change of power was the best that could have happened to either of them. Aran was reportedly hesitant to engage, and not all of The Knight’s decline in that period is because of Carlton’s Riders. Daria, on the other hand, had little leadership experience beyond that of politically active military commander.
Recruitment and training
Carlton’s Riders accept anyone of fighting age (fifteen or a certain height and muscle mass), be they men or women. This open policy is further supported by their acceptance of smitten in their ranks, rare among guilds in the first place and unique among the soldiering guilds. This is where their acceptance ends, however.
The trials for passing are notoriously gruesome, involving extreme physical excercise and mental pressure, as well as relentless combat drills. While many apply each year, almost no one make it through.
Once accepted, the recruit is given a residence and often given simple duties at increasingly erratic times. This is not only another disciplinary exercise, but also to make the recruit more alert. After a few weeks of that, the recruit is officially introduced to combat training, the specifics of which are secret. They follow a training regimen that is being continuously developed and prioritised, and the quality of Carlton’s Riders’ training is the core of their success.
As a soldiering guild, their influence is extensive, but they are by far the smallest and poorest of the six. Their elite focus tends to make guard duty too expensive in manpower, a practise that is otherwise one of the main steady sources of income for the other guilds. Instead, they make money providing elite services, among others providing soldiers to Mastaria’s Chosen for the City Lord’s personal bodyguards, as well as protection for important or wealthy people and/or their goods. This itself might have bought the small guild a decent monetary base, the House of Three Pennies being famously generous to admirable protection, but the guild has in the past fifty years deployed increasing amounts of attention and resources to the South-East Region, which has further strained their coffers. It does make them one of the major colonization powers in the region, though.
In the heartland of Mastaria, Carlton’s Riders have little to say. Any required services were filled long before the Riders were even formed, and they usually struggle so much for economic gain that there is little time to devote to other matters. This makes the Carlton presence in the heartland largely a matter of prestige and proximity to the capital, and many outposts are simply drains on the coffers of the guild.
They retain a manner of weight in military matters due to their quickness of deployment, and extensive training, though.
Carlton’s Riders was originally a cavalry regiment, and that legacy shows. Carlton’s is largely composed of cavalry, fielding a full four thousand light cavalry soldiers at any given time. It is exactly these soldiers that are Carlton’s pride and joy. These are undeniably the best in the land, and their reputation is all but stainless. They focus on speed and evasion, even in melee combat. Their primary means of attack is to deploy enough force in the first encounter that the opposing casualties far outweigh their own. After that, they will disengage as soon as possible, and continue this strategy. Secondary goals are usually akin to dividing opposing forces, tiring them in the days beforehand, and so on.
The remaining thousand fighting members is the infantry. This is largely regarded as a grooming ground for the cavalry, and time there is usually filled with drills, patrols and diverse training. The infantry is generally not prioritised in the guild, as it is widely regarded as the chain around the guild’s foot, holding it down in case of rapid mobilisation. Furthermore, given the extensive tendency to promote promising soldiers to the cavalry, there are fewer veterans available for training. This is not to say that the infantry is useless, far from it. It maintains high levels of discipline and training, but it does suffer from neglect.
Carlton’s Riders maintain trading stations in the South-East Region and are usually involved with trade to and from there. Recently, mining efforts have been attempted to improve the region’s output.
Carlton’s Riders have recently signed an agreement with Moorhigh to provide them with training in exchange for various magical equipment. Optimists in the guild hope that this will provide them with the means to escape their economic slump. The theory is that most magical equipment is very durable, and large quantities of them will, over time, significantly reduce the cost of maintaining distant regiments.