Imperial Scout Service
The Imperial Scout Service, or ISS, was founded in the year 864 as a military branch tasked with surveying the wilds of Imperius, the dispatching of minor threats found, and the reporting of threats too large for what the small, one to four man groups could handle.
Throughout the millenia to follow, the ISS has evolved into the predominant covert intelligence-gathering resource available to the Vigilant Empire. Applicants must have at least three years of military experience, and are carefully screened and vigorously tested before finally undergoing a training regimen that lasts for just under two years.
ISS training emphasizes a broad curriculum, including armed and unarmed combat, assassination, the fluid adoption of cover identities, marksmanship, sabotage, scouting, tracking, and the use of magical and technological devices. Many scouts also possess airship, cavalry, naval, or aerial cavalry skills from their careers in other branches of the Imperial military; while these skills are refined and often put to good use, they are not an integral component of the training regimen.
ISS scouts generally work in small squads, ranging from three to five people. A standard squad will have between one to three field agents, one or two home agents, and occasionally a supply agent. No particular squad rank holds a position of leadership; rather, the highest ranking officer in a given squad is the commanding officer, whether he holds the position of a home agent, a field agent, or a supply agent.
Home agents are often the first agents to arrive at an area of interest. The primary goal of a home agent upon arrival is to establish a home base, and usually at least two safe houses (if in an urban or populated area) or at least two backup camp sites (if in the wilderness). Once that is completed, home agents will passively gather intelligence until the field agents arrive. Once the field agents have arrived at the mission site, home agents will usually adopt an analyst and support role, and are generally the only connection that a field agent has with the Empire, sometimes for months—or even years—at a time.
Field agents usually arrive at the area of interest after the squad’s home agent, and, at the best of times, are greeted with a fully-functional home base, where they can make the final preparations before entering the fray. Field agents perform a variety of duties, but generally they perform one of three jobs; undercover surveillance/assassination, guerrilla-style sabotage/assassination, or wilderness tracking/monitoring.
Only about ten per cent of the ISS is comprised of supply agents, who are usually airship pilots of considerable skill. Supply agents are tasked with the transport of agents to the mission site, as well as the extraction from the area. In addition, it is their responsibility to make sure that the squad remains well supplied, often having to fly through extremely dangerous airspace. Most ISS airships are not well-armed, in an attempt to draw as little attention as possible, so when supply agents are engaged by enemy forces, they often must defend themselves with little more than repeating ballista and pure, refined skill.
Squads are named after weapons, and often the same squad members will work together for years. When a batch of recruits finishes training, as many as twenty new squads will be formed, which will contain at least as many experienced scouts as recruits. As scouts retire or die, squads are decommissioned, the remaining members moving to other squads. As a sign of pride, many scouts will carry the namesake weapon of their squad, even if they rarely use it for combat.
Legendary squads are often anything but—as nearly every mission the ISS embarks on is highly secretive, the deeds that they accomplish are rarely known by the average man. However, once a squad has accomplished a task of truly vital import, their squad is known as a ‘legendary’ squad, and will never be decommissioned; new squad members will always be found to join the ranks. Becoming a member of a legendary squad is considered a great honor, and is the goal of most ISS members before retirement.
Legendary Flail Squad
Legendary Longsword Squad
Legendary Sickle Squad