“We are the heart of Europe, and as any good physician will tell you, heart muscles are very hard to crush or burn, and immensely powerful.”
– Sire Ludwig Sigismund, Commander of the Land Fleet, lecturing to the General Staff
Since the turn of the century, the mighty Prussian Empire has been the dominant military and economic power of Central and Western Europe. Constructed over the course of the course of the Eighteenth century with a combination of patience, diplomacy and when necessary, calculated aggression, Prussia rose from a minor kingdom within a confederation of petty states to the major force it is now. The empire leads the world in engineering and scientific research, and its industrial might is a match for even its greatest rivals.
Despite its great power, the empire has known considerable civil and military strife in its recent past. The megalomania and paranoia of the fifth Emperor Heinrich Otto drove a wedge into relations between his realm’s many different peoples that almost shattered it asunder. Combined with major military defeat at the hands of the Britannians in 1815, the Prussians were left humbled and spent. However, Heinrich’s successor, Frederick Grunder, has proven to be a wise and patient leader during his long reign. While the Britannians pursued their costly ambitions of global dominion, Frederick quietly and efficiently rebuilt his nation’s economy, military and pride. Now, threatened once again by outside aggression, the Prussian Empire is more than ready to grind its way to victory.
From a small, poor north German kingdom, the Prussian dominions have grown to encompass the bulk of the European continent from France in the west to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the east, and from the heart of the Balkans to the Arctic Circle. Much of these lands, such as the Dutch provinces, were annexed before and during the reign of Heinrich Otto before madness overtook him. Taking advantage of Austrian weaknesses after their defeats by Napoleon, the Prussians annexed the former territories of the Habsburg Empire into their own dominion. Norway and Sweden followed suit in 1810, to provide a buffer against Britannian and Russian ambitions.
As a result, the Prussian Empire is home to a large number of different peoples and cultures. Germans form the vast majority of the population, but the far northern and southern portions of the realm incorporate many non-German populations and political entities. The major powers are the Dutch, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Croats, but the emperor’s subjects also include Norwegians, Swedes, Slovenes, Serbs and Romanians
The empire’s borders have stood more or less unchanged since Frederick Grunder ascended the throne in 1819. Even after the empire had begun to recover, Frederick considered that territorial expansion was not a priority, being both costly and likely to antagonise other nations. Although Prussian migrants and settlers have established themselves in other regions around the world, most notably South-West Africa and several ports on the Chinese coast, the Prussian Empire does not officially sponsor overseas colonisation. Also, with the advent of war with the Commonwealth and the Russian Coalition, several provinces of old Prussia, especially those on the Baltic Coast, have effectively become warzones and placed under military rule. Prussia’s principal concern at the moment is with expelling invaders from its existing holdings, rather than obtaining new ones. Nonetheless, Frederick and his advisors will not miss an opportunity to extend the empire’s borders eastward to push the enemy further away from their heartlands.
His Imperial Majesty Frederick Grunder is the current Prussian Emperor, the sixth man to bear the august title. Chosen by the Reichstag to succeed the childless Heinrich Otto in 1819, Frederick has occupied the throne for fifty-one years. Although now crowding eighty years old, his mind remains as sharp as ever, and he handled the delicate negotiations that led to Prussia’s treaty with the Blazing Sun personally. Frederick is noted for being a deep thinker, carefully weighing up decisions before committing himself, and never too dogmatic to change course if the situation warrants. He is also known to possesses and even temper and considerable personal charm; both important qualities, given the fractious nature of many of the political and social forces within the empire.
He has also focussed on building a web of alliances that tied many other powers to his own, chiefly France and the Italians. The kingdoms of Denmark and Romania, though nominally independent, are guaranteed by treaty with Prussia, providing buffers against Britannian and Ottoman expansion respectively. Frederick’s treaty with his newest ally, the Empire of the Blazing Sun, is likewise intended to relieve Britannian pressure on his empire.
Although theoretically an autocracy, the Prussian Emperor rules in concert with the regents of the many kingdoms, principalities, duchies and other political units of the empire. Hence, imperial politics involves a great deal of negotiation and patience. Frederick’s main concerns are ensuring the parity of his German and non-German subjects – always a potentially contentious matter – and dealing with the machinations of the Kingdom of Austria. The Habsburg family still serve as Austria’s regents, and have never fully forgiven the Prussians for supplanting them as an imperial power. Nonetheless, the appearance of a major and direct foreign threat in the shape of the Russian Coalition had done much to unite the realm’s disparate peoples.
With its huge population – second only to that of the Russian Coalition in Europe – and powerful industrial and technological base, the Prussian Empire boasts one of the strongest and best-equipped militaries in the world. The empire’s main strength has traditionally been its huge army, but the demands of war against a sea power like Britannia have compelled the Prussian military to expand their naval and aerial strength as well.
The Prussian land fleets are the largest in the world, with over five hundred Land Ships currently in service. These massive mobile fortresses are backed up by massed regiments of heavy tanks and self-propelled artillery. A Prussian battlegroup on the move resembles a mobile citadel upon the great plains of Eastern Europe, with tanks as its curtain walls and Land Ships its impregnable keep. The imperial army supports hundreds of regiments of infantry, kept up to strength by a long established tradition of conscription. Even the ordinary line infantry are well-equipped and trained, while the elite Grenadier and Luftlancer rocket soldier companies attached to them have a formidable reputation as shock assault troops. The two branches of the army operate in concert with one another at all times.
The Imperial Air Fleets are built around the colossal Zeppelins and Sky Fortresses that provide floating strong points wherever they are deployed. Wherever they cast their giant shadows, those on the ground brace themselves for when these craft unleash the power of their arcance Tesla electrical weaponry it is as if the fury of the old thunder gods rains down upon the surface. These dreaded craft are supported by massed squadrons of aeroplanes. Prussian pilots consider themselves knights of the sky, and frequently paint their aircraft in bright liveries, to strike fear into their enemies.
The navy is expanding rapidly in the face of the threat from Britannia – indeed, it was responsible for the most audacious coup of the conflict so far; the chemical raid upon London itself. Traditionally basing its strength on aggressive cruisers and small craft in the confined waters of the North Sea and Mediterranean, the navy has recently embarked upon a great expansion of its battleship and dreadnought strength, to challenge the Britannian strength in this area.
The last and most mysterious branch of the military are the Teutonic Knights. Although known as a powerful political force, and the Emperor’s own bodyguards, the Knights also field forces alongside the regular imperial military. Though few in number, the Knights boast some of the most skilled and feared soldiers in the world, backed up by technological expertise second only to the Covenant. The Knights command many secrets, and their forces are frequently reinforced by mechanical soldiers, from humanoid Iron Men all the way up to their gigantic crewed behemoths known by the apt name of Metzger or ‘Butcher’.
With these forces at their disposal, the Prussians will not rest until their enemies are thrown back from the borders, and their power is secured in Europe once more.