It’s that time of the week again when I bring back to you another dev blog for Mountain blade 2: BannerLord. We’ve been through many of the factions in Bannerlord. But today, we are probably one of my favorites and one that I’ve been waiting for: The Sturgians.
The Sturgian forests are forbidding and cold, but great wealth lies within. Wild honey can be found, and bog iron, but the real prize has always been fur. For centuries, brave traders ventured there to buy the pelts of fox, rabbit and ermine from the tribes of the woods. As the empire expanded eastward, that trickle of traders became a flood. Great towns sprung up on the rivers. Fortune-seekers came from the coast, from the steppes, and most of all from the Nordlands. Tribal elders made alliances with the newcomers, sealed by wedding vows, and with their share of the trading profits hired mercenaries to subdue other tribes. Sturgia became a collection of principalities, then a kingdom, the great powerhouse of the north.
The motifs and styles of Sturgian equipment – gilded and peaked helmets, furs and gold brocade, runes and gripping beasts and folk embroidery and Arabesques — will make it some of the most spectacular in the game. Raganvad, the current Sturgian prince, knows how to punish but not how to reward, and he’ll put to the test the old dictum that it is better to be feared than loved.
Sturgia is Nordic-influenced but it’s not really a Viking state: the Nordlands are off of the map (for the present, anyway) and they wouldn’t really form the kind of proto-feudal kingdom that the Bannerlord factions represent.
The Sturgians are based on the federation of city-states known as Kievan Rus, located in today’s Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Like many boomtowns, the Rus river cities attracted people from faraway lands. Predominantly Slavic communities were forming into states at a breakneck pace and borrowing institutions, religions, and ways of trade and war from their neighbours.
Greek missionaries, Finnic foresters, Turkic and Iranian steppe tribes, and most famously the Varangian Norse all left their mark on the aesthetics of Russian art, arms and armour. We think the motifs and styles of Sturgian equipment – gilded and peaked helmets, furs and gold brocade, runes and gripping beasts and folk embroidery and Arabesques — will make it some of the most spectacular in the game.
As with other factions, we let history be our inspiration for Sturgia’s politics. The chroniclers weren’t shy about expressing their opinions about the different princes. Some rulers, like Vladimir the Great or Yaroslav the Wise, have come down to us as far-sighted rulers. Others, like Sviatopolk “the Accursed,” accused of murdering his brothers, or Vseslav, the sorcerer-king of Pskov, were depicted as some of the more colourful tyrants in medieval Europe. Raganvad, the current Sturgian prince, is cut out of the latter mould: he knows how to punish but not how to reward, and he’ll put to the test the old dictum that it is better to be feared than loved.
The commercial ethic was strong in early Rus, with the town veche or council ensuring that merchants had a major role in state policy. Danger and opportunity went hand in hand. A Muslim chronicler recalls how the Rus father of a newborn boy would show the baby a sword and tell him this would be his only inheritance: the blade would have to win all the rest of it. The Icelandic sagas, though geographically very far removed from the Rus, have also been an inspiration for the Varangians’ ideal of businesslike warfare and warlike business, the kind of society where a father could say, “Son, you’ve been lazing around the fire all winter. Time to get up and show you can take some responsibility for your life. Go pillage someone.”
The Rus employed both cavalry and archers, but the core of their forces in the early period was most likely formed infantry – also a Norse speciality. We’ve been working on the close-up foot-slogging side of Mount and Blade. Look out for high-tier AI opponents bashing you with their shield in the teeth, following it up with a blade going into your ribs.
Disciplined infantry will be more likely to stay in formation, and will leave a space for a player in their ranks so you don’t get crowded too closely by your allies.
We can assume from artwork and the historical inspiration , that Sturgia will employ cavalry, archers as well as highly disciplined infantry , making this the first Mount and blade title to have all factions making use of Cav.