The Westridge Ducal Guard were the elite knights and footmen of Westridge who are sworn to protect the House of Montclair in both war and peace. Previously serving under the direct command of House Montclair, they have since been fully integrated into the Royal Army. Customarily leading the charge during field battles, these veteran men and women are well known for their prowess in combat, many being renowned as masters of their weapons.
The Ducal Guard of Westridge serves not just as an exclusive order of elite troops within the First Regiment of the Elwynn Brigade, but also has a contingent of soldiers who serve as the personal protectorate guard of the Duke of Westridge, the Praetorian Guard. The order demands supremacy in martial prowess and unyielding devotion to the Kingdom of Stormwind. Obtaining membership is a grueling task, not fit for the weak of body, mind or spirit.
- 1 History
- 2 Oath of Loyalty
- 3 Code of Honor
- 4 Structure
- 5 Order Leader
- 6 Roles
- 7 Ducal Guardsman aspirancy
- 8 Rites of the Ducal Guard
The Westridge Ducal Guard's origins are traced back to the founding of the noble house of Montclair centuries ago when the Montclairs married into the House of Wrynn and were granted the Duchy of Westridge to maintain. The men-at-arms in service to House Montclair would become the duchy's guard, standing to protect the Montclair bloodline and its newfound holdings.
Legend has it that the Ducal Guard fell into turmoil during what would come to be known as the Brightwood Rebellion. At the time, the reigning Duke Ralaph Montclair was considered an ineffectual leader of Westridge who only acted on edicts passed by the House of Wrynn, taking no initiative to stop his lands from deteriorating during a time of famine. Of the Duke's two younger brothers, the eldest, Alexander, blamed the House of Wrynn and advocated secession while the younger, Frederick, believed that the Duchy needed the Kingdom of Azeroth's support during its time of need.
When the Brightwood Rebellion broke out and the kingdom was thrown into civil war, Alexander Montclair secretly gathered support from the disheveled men-at-arms of the Ducal Guard, promising them land and titles should they aid him in seizing power and declaring Westridge independent from the Kingdom of Azeroth. At his command, the Ducal Guard under his sway assassinated the reigning Duke Ralaph in his sleep and quickly took over Westridge Keep and the surrounding countryside. Frederick Montclair gathered his own supporters and barely escaped with his life as he fled to Stormwind City.
Upon arriving in Stormwind, it is said that Frederick and his guard were greeted by King Samson Wrynn, who gave the following term for his aid; that each soldier and knight of Westridge now swear firstly to the House of Wrynn before their loyalty to their ancestral patrons of the House of Montclair. Frederick bent his knee to Samson Wrynn before all of his men-at-arms within the halls of Stormwind Keep, encouraging them to do the same. Not one of his knights refused the call. Each swore ultimate fealty to the House of Wrynn, binding them by oath and honor to serve the King of Stormwind and preserve the Kingdom of Azeroth.
With the full support of the Azerothian Army and King Samson Wrynn, the youngest of the three brothers Montclair was able to crush the rebellion and bring the traitor to his knees. Alexander Montclair and his supporters were executed for their betrayal and Frederick was elevated to the Duke of Westridge. For their loyalty to the crown, the Westridge Ducal Guard were reforged as an elite unit of knights and armsmen of the newly established Royal Army.
The Westridge Ducal Guard has since served the kingdom and Westridge with pride, weathering the Orcish Wars and preserving the Montclair bloodline. It remains one of the most elite units of the king's army within the first regiment of the Elwynn Brigade.
In more recent times, the rebellion of nobles in various Kingdoms, including Kul Tiras, have placed a spotlight on the potential for this unrest. To alleviate this concern in Stormwind, Duke Maxen Montclair offered up his Ducal Guard, to fully integrate them into King Anduin Wrynn's Royal Army. Since then, the Ducal Guard has sworn not fealty to the Montclair bloodline, but the Wrynn bloodline.
Oath of Loyalty
On my honor, I pledge absolute loyalty to the House of Wrynn and the Kingdom of Stormwind;
To lead with distinction and to follow without condition;
To know the enemies of my liege and, as a master of battle, to never falter before them.
My blood for the Kingdom.
Code of Honor
- Absolute Loyalty to Kingdom, Liege and Guard – The guardsman exemplifies absolute loyalty to his kingdom, to his liege, and to the Ducal Guard after those.
- Lead with Distinction, Follow without Condition – The guardsman should expect to lead others in the absence of orders, and follow with unconditional obedience otherwise.
- Responsibility for Self and Team – The guardsman takes immediate responsibility for any actions he or his team take, or any incidence those actions may cause.
- Never Hesitate, Never Quit – There is no place for the weak-willed or hesitant. Only by firm and resolute application of force will Stormwind survive. No sacrifice is too great.
- Know the Enemy – The Guardsman understands his enemy as well as he understands himself. Ignorance of the enemy is ignorance of his profession.
- Master the Trade – The guardsman who does not constantly expand and improve upon his capabilities is a guardsman that will soon be beaten.
The Westridge Ducal Guard swear ultimate fealty to the King of Stormwind and thus its members serve as elite troops of His Majesty's Royal Army. This is a requirement laid upon the Duke of Westridge by the King, and as such the Ducal Guard is organized to work well within the ranks of the Royal Army.
The First Guard are chief in organizing the Westridge Ducal Guard and maintaining its standards, working alongside the Lord’s Hand in protecting the Wrynn bloodline and continuity. It is the First Guard's direct and personal responsibility to ensure the efficacy of training methods, maintain the philosophy and integrity of the Ducal Guard's Code of Honor, and lead the Ducal Guardsman in battle.
Immediately reporting to the First Guard are the Master Guardsmen, a cadre of highly experienced guardsmen responsible for maintaining standards of discipline and enforcing the word of the King and First Guard. They oversee the many of the most critical functions and operations of the Ducal Guard, serving often where the First Guard himself cannot be for various reasons. These guardsman are occasionally chosen to become Royal Guards of the King himself due to their skill and renown.
Those men and women of the Ducal Guard who have served with distinction may be promoted to Senior Guardsmen. These veteran guardsmen are responsible for directing training and commanding unit formation movements in battle. The bulk of the Ducal Guard are known simply as Guardsmen, and while at the bottom of their internal ranking system they are still extremely talented soldiers.
Despite the ranking system, the Ducal Guard treat each others as equal brothers and sisters, no matter their position. The fraternal overtones are strong and date back many generations, and it is not uncommon for members to consider the Ducal Guard their second family. An overwhelming number of Guardsmen serve for life, and many who do not perish honorably in battle continue to serve even after retirement in advisory roles.
Count Ismond Barathen Laldere is a well-known knight of the Brotherhood of the Horse for his service in the First Regiment of the Stormwind Army, having conducted numerous campaigns in the various locales of Azeroth on its behalf. He is as well known for his barbarous tactics in defending Stormwind as he is for his barbarous appearance; despite his average height, he stands as a brutish and imposing figure. He was born a bastard to a woman of the House of Montgomery of Wanduke, who perished in childbirth, and an unknown father. He was then raised by outcast relatives in Grand Hamlet until the time of the First War, where he began to prove himself while fighting as a man of the First Regiment.
Through numerous successful campaigns, and contributions to both the Army and Westridge, he quickly rose to prominence within the courts of Westridge and became a close friend and confidant of Duke Maxen, who raised him to the Lord’s Hand and provided him with lands within the duchy. With the death of the former Count of Wanduke, Richard Montgomery, he has since inherited the territories of Wanduke and continues to serve the House of Montclair with pride and distinction.
All guardsmen are expected to master the skillset required for all roles of the Ducal Guard and have the capability to serve in any position to meet the demands of each engagement. While the arms and armor of the Ducal Guard are specially crafted for each member, the multitude of roles and physical expectations combined with the sheer difficulty of wielding the equipment demands that each guardsman maintains themselves in peak physical condition and prowess.
When embedded within a formation in a defensive role, a vanguard is expected to absorb the brunt of enemy frontal attacks. Carrying their tower shields and polearms or swords, vanguard units are chosen to work closely in tandem with the formation they are embedded in and rarely break formation. Impervious, implacable and immovable, these warriors are legendary defenders, holding formations together by sheer force of will. Vanguard are renowned for their stubborn refusal to retreat, and their presence on the line effectively means total commitment to a battle.
Halberdiers serve as secondary defensive linemen when wielding spears, or potent, versatile combatants when wielding their signature halberds. These fighters typically strike back against the initial offense of their enemies, taking down any who run into the Vanguard in front of them in formation. Their spears are swift and devastating, and their halberds destructive. Their prowess with formations is virtually unmatched.
When given more authority to wreak havoc on their own, arms masters serve as shock troops and duelists against greater foes. Attacking from the flanks and penetrating deep into enemy formations, these units can quickly create problems for the enemy. Bearing large two-handed weapons, these soldiers become masters of single combat and are veritable engines of destruction on the battlefield. As they advance deeper, their blades, hammers and axes blur and weave, knocking aside arrows in mid-flight and leaving trails of bloody spray wherever Westridge steel tastes flesh.
Ducal Guard Sidearms
All Ducal Guardsman are armed with flintlock technology developed with the emplacement of new foundries and production facilities in the northeastern county of Westridge. It has been deemed necessary for Ducal Guardsman to carry ranged capabilities, and their use of them is just as potent as their normal weapons. They are equipped with heavy, expensive and durable Wanduke-fashioned rifles and pistols – often carrying four to six of the latter and using them only when most effective.
Ducal Guardsman aspirancy
Once an enlisted soldier of the Royal Infantry has passed their Advanced Weapon Proficiency Combat Exam, they must seek out one of the First Guard and elaborate on their qualifications and accomplishments in their time within the Royal Infantry, and desire to join. The First Guard may then offer a chance to begin the five Rites and whether or not the candidate is to be approved. Should one be accepted, they will be formally declared an aspirant of the Ducal Guard.
The aspirant will be informed that discipline is paramount to serving in the Ducal Guard. At no time will complaints or outbursts be tolerated, nor will substandard performance. They are expected to understand and follow orders to the absolute letter with minimal need for clarification, even if the orders do not immediately make sense. They are also expected to follow strict personal hygiene standards to the highest degree, and substandard maintenance of their issued gear or their own bodies will constitute negligence of duty.
Basic Aspirancy Requirements:
- The tabard must remain clean at all times and free of rips, tears, or stains. Damaged tabards must be mended immediately. Replacement tabards will not be permitted.
- Armor and weapons must be maintained according to strict standards of cleaning, oiling, sharpening, and/or colouring. Damaged armor must be repaired immediately.
- Health must be maintained. While aspirants will not be removed from aspirancy simply for sickness, it will result in negative influence on their progression and often ultimately result in dismissal from aspirancy.
In order for an aspirant to rise to the status of Guardsman, he must complete the Ducal Guard Rites to the satisfaction of a First Guard.
Rites of the Ducal Guard
The Rite of Cleansing
The Rite of Cleansing is strictly ceremonial and offers no true challenge. The rite represents changing from one’s old form, to beginning a metamorphosis into the form of a guardsman. The First Guard will ceremonially shave all hair from the head and face of incoming aspirants. Female aspirants are given the option of short-cropped hair rather than baldness, however, guardsmen are rarely skilled barbers and the result is often a hack job. The second stage is for the aspirant to bathe within Westridge waters – thus, requiring that the ceremony takes place within the duchy. For enlisted soldiers, this portion often takes place in the river near Westbrook Garrison.
The Rite of Agility
When an aspirant has determined they are prepared to continue on with their training, which is often well after their Rite of Cleansing, they may approach a First Guard in order to begin the next trial. To ensure that the aspirant is meeting the strict physical discipline the Ducal Guard requires, they are taken to a large obstacle course fitted with a series of challenging structures the aspirant must navigate successfully. Becoming a great soldier requires balance, and strength must be balanced with agility and control. This Rite ensures that the aspirant is not focusing too heavily on any one area.
The Rite of Discipline
A time honored tradition, the Rite of Discipline is a deceptively easy task. The aspirant must stand guard in front of the garrison on a specific spot for three days, beginning at the sound of reveille in the morning and ending with taps in the evening. They are permitted a fifteen minute break in the middle of this for food and water but otherwise are forbidden from moving. They are to stand at attention and be vigilant as to the going ons of their surroundings, crafting a report of each day's activities that is submitted to one of the First Guard that also details their own thoughts as to how they handled the day. They are not allowed to respond or speak unless asked direct questions by a superior and responses even then should remain efficient. The task becomes far more difficult than most ever think it would, testing even the most disciplined soldier's resolve.
The Rite of Endurance
Those in the Ducal Guard are those who can fight near endlessly, and to exemplify and prove the aspirant matches this mystique and reality, they are taken by a First Guard and chased on a run that would seem impossible to some. They must run the entirety of the King's Road, starting at Westbrook Garrison, through Westfall to Moonbrook, then through Darkshire to the Three Corners, and back to Westbrook after passing through Redridge. If the aspirant fails to match the First Guard then they fail the trial.
The Rite of Precision
After proving their dedication, knowledge, agility and endurance, the aspirant must then prove their precision with firearms. With the widening access to firearms, all Ducal Guardsmen are to be trained and capable in the use of explosives and firearms. To that end, the aspirant must strike targets accurately and quickly. The aspirant is placed in a field with targets and must strike targets called out with ordinal numbers. If they miss too many, take too long to reload in time for the next target, or simply fail to understand the commands, they will fail the trial and require more training.
The Rite of the Bulwark
With their knowledge base tested and proven, the aspirant may move on to the next trial which will test their physical prowess and capability. The ultimate trial in an aspirant’s training is a test of their abilities against poor odds. Given their choice of weapon, they’re pitted against three opponents and tasked with defending or assailing a high-value target depending on their choice. As they are still but an aspirant, some do fail this test. However it is not a victory the First Guard look for, but perseverance. They seek confirmation that the aspiring guardsman will never give up or back down, even when they’re losing. These tests are often held in front of their peers in the army, more as a public relations showcase but also for the added peer pressure to succeed.
Once the Rite of the Bulwark is completed to the satisfaction of the First Guard attending, the aspirant will be sworn into the Ducal Guard and become a Guardsmen.