The World.   Posted by Blade GM.Group: 0
Blade GM
 GM, 7 posts
Sun 16 Jun 2019
at 19:51
The World
This thread will hold information pertinent to understanding the world at large. As there is no group yet, there is no world yet. However, There are three options for what happens here:

1) We use the back-of-the-book Xoth as a setting.

2) We burn up the outlines of a world during a play session or by post, and then I fill in the gaps.

3) I simply make a world.
Faubus
 player, 1 post
Sun 16 Jun 2019
at 22:20
The World
I vote for #2.
Blade GM
 GM, 15 posts
Wed 26 Jun 2019
at 20:17
The World
ALright, if we world gen, a few broad topics I'll propose to the group for consideration. I think I can work with any basic themes, but if you want something specific, by all means ask:

Geography This doesn't have to cover the whole world, but should focus on the style of the setting. There is obviosuly a difference between a campaign set with wandering nomads on a steppe, city states in between stretches of unirrigated desert, an archipelago, a land of mountains and vallies, and starting the camapign in a primate city like Rome.

Technology I'm thinking an approximately Crecy-esque tech level at the high end, in that it allows all the goodies - pretty much the whole complement of medieval weapons conceivably - but is still appropriately restrictive that things like suits of plate armor are expensive and rare. That said, I'm open to discussion.

Governance and Social Structure In short, what is the standard means of governance? Feudal lords, merchant oligarchies, an imperial presence? Obviously different areas and peoples have different governments, but for the setting start...

Religious Influence What it says on the tin. Of note, there is no such thing as a god granting favors in this system. Sorcerers tame the chaos through their own steely will, not as a gift for playing by certain rules.

Factions Is there a faction you just absolutely have to have because its good for the story, makes everything work in your head canon, or is just pretty cool?
R2excelsior
 player, 3 posts
Thu 27 Jun 2019
at 02:33
The World
Geography: No real strong opinions on this one, I'm good with most anything.

Technology: I like middle or late medieval. I could take or leave gunpowder.

Governance: You know, since you mentioned Crecy, medieval/Hundred Years War France might make good inspiration. A nominal king but with powerful nobles who basically do what they want (there was a time where the King of France basically couldn't leave the lands he held personally for fear of being kidnapped by some ambitious "vassal"), parts of the country under control of a foreign invader, armies and mercenaries moving about mean there are plenty of bandits and brigands taking control in more lawless areas... Doesn't have to be a 1:1 correlation but it makes an interesting starting point IMO.

Religious Influence: also largely ambivalent.

Factions: My first thought for a character was a viking-esque adventurer/raider, so pseudo-vikings would be nice :) If we go with a late medieval tech level that's pretty far past the viking age, but still.
Faubus
 player, 6 posts
Thu 27 Jun 2019
at 23:33
The World
Geography: Two suggestions: First, a collection of small city states, like Renaissance Italy, with varying levels of technology, government, and stability. Some are always warring with others, and there is a good living for mercenaries to be made. On the outskirts there are wilder lands with nomads and hillmen. Each city state has differing culture, sometimes even different dialects or languages. I want the "Customs" skill to mean something. The second idea is a variation on this-- the same region but more post apocalyptic. Most city-states are gone, razed or ruins. The climate is worse--farmlands are now mostly desert. Only a few states remain, widely separated.

Technology: Anything, even advanced technology, as long as there is a range from stone-age up to whatever. And science-fiction stuff should be rare, if it exists.

Governance: See above. Small states, differing forms of government and security. Regions where there is no law.

Religious Influence: I am OK with religion being a strong cultural factor, but I want to lean into the game's built in mechanics that say it has no effect or no actual power.

Factions: Again, many small states. Gives lots of room to adventure, right?
Blade GM
 GM, 17 posts
Fri 28 Jun 2019
at 22:16
The World
It is a world lit only by fire. King Julian IV sits on the Lyrian throne. He is the heir to a formidable legacy. When Ulric the Red sallied forth from the spine of the world, it was Lyrians who finally slew him and liberated the northern marches. When the Telles came with their worship of strange gods, it was in Lyria that they were stopped,and it was Julian I who drove them out and formed the modern kingdom in the process. While the Roanish were squabbling as petty kings east of the river Maine, Lyria was bound together across the land by liege oath and common law. A proud history, Lyria.

Alas that it's day seems to have passed. The eleven great houses, nominally vassals to the king, have reached the point where they will only let Julian IV lead them where they want to be lead. In all other things, each house keeps its own counsel and reserves what it decries as sacred and ancient rights to war and justice. They answer calls to levy if it suits them, and only those supporting the king for their own means bother with taxes. The great houses in turn are built upon countless lesser nobles who claim the same local right. Theory says an intricate web of liege oaths, blood, and worship hold together each house. Ture, but in practice is that there is virtually always a "legitimate" reason to change loyalties buried deep in one ancient oath or another.  And when there isn't and an opportunity is too appealing or a threat too great, who's to say who said what or who killed who so many centuries ago?

The only thing keeping the King on his throne is his own house's holdings and the three great charter cities of Kallia, Thorne, and Poole. What began as license for artisans and merchants to assemble under the king's charter have grown into indispensable trade hubs for the region, and with growth they have become near states in their own right.  So indispensable are they that the King presses no claim or right against them, provided the money flows. Indeed, wars between the cities - all nominally Lyrian - are as frequent as those between minor houses. Still, no one acts. The great lords will not spend their strength on the matter and for Julian IV it is their tax money increasingly makes the sinews of his power.

Indeed, while the royal house has its own feudal retainers, it's strength is increasingly based in mercenaries and foreigners funded by those cities. This does not sit well with the nobility for reasons of power, or the small folk for reasons of culture. Of those, the Axe Guard is singled out for scorn. Composed almost entirely of spinemen, it is considered an affront to the honor of the nation that the King's most famous personal troops are made of the same peoples who invaded Lyria under Ulric the Red. Paid by funds from charter city banks, composed of former invaders, answering to no noble but the king, it is no surprise that they are universally mistrusted by the lords and people. Perhaps this is why they were ceremonially reduced by half last year.

Still, no one would release them all, for above all it is a time of war. Not of storybook wars fought against noble outsiders in pitched battles, but of squabbles between all and any. Banks and merchants fight each other, or nobles who default, or launch small invasions against their trade rivals in the League of Eight across the sea. Families fight each other for reasons as varied as the stars; in the cities by the rules of vendetta, but in the country by war in the full. Blood feud is an ever popular reason for violence, and to many it is among the most sacred duties a man of the family line can carry out. Each holy order maintains its own warriors, and fights for faith, or often as not, more temporal means of sustaining and expanding their own faith.

An entire class of lower nobility, possessed of no land, lives entirely for war for only there can they make their fortune. While not at war, they attend constant toruneys, and often as not end up as indistinguishable from the mercenary companies that roam the country. The mercenaries, in turn, are close to indistinguishable from brigands. For when a man knows only war, he is not likely to stay a starving plaster saint in the months between contracts. There are a few of note for fighting prowess, but like as not they are a cheap way to put a few hundred more men into a line of battle - or optimally to force a negotiation before battle, because it would be a foolish prince who trusted any but the most reputed company when an actual battle loomed.

And this, of course, was before the Roanish invaded...
Blade GM
 GM, 20 posts
Fri 12 Jul 2019
at 23:32
The World
As you are both quite interested in earning glory, loot, and status through violence, here are some of the more conventional and at least semi-legitimate means that would be available to a man of no particular reputation . No doubt you would have heard of them:
———
Cities and Bravos: The charter cities have ritualized forms of internecine warfare, predominantly meant to allow the grand old tradition of blood feud to occur between the powerful while at least limiting the damage to the mercantile interests and the cities themselves. Most Lords Mayor generally acknowledge that clean, somewhat controlled, and open violence between willing parties is preferable to rivals burning down warehouses, factors being stabbed in taverns, and ships having cargo seized. Those things still happen of course, but at least it’s more a matter of interest than avenging which daughter slept with which son. Each city has different customs in to who exactly who has this right and how violence may be used, but generally they range from formalized duels to fights between small groups of men centered around a family member.

Any time a feud flares up, parties rush to hire men with a talent for this sort of thing. A patriarch or such will naturally have his own loyal bodyguards, but not every cousin can warrant such largesse outside of a feud. Enter the Bravos. Duelists who seek to make a name for themselves in these conflicts, or by dueling each other outside of them, in search of fame, fortune, or at least an offer of steady employment if they prove skilful.

While a talent for violence is clearly needed, the ritualized nature of these conflicts often means that fighters find themselves needing to maneuver socially to set conditions for a clean kill or to avoid condemning their charge. After all, if it’s done outside of the rules, it’s just murder...and usually of someone important enough for people to care about.

———
Contract Soldiers: The nobility naturally have their household troops, their vassals, and their levies, but times are slowly changing in Lyria. Tenants are expected to provide up to seventy days of service a year and be armed by their lord. Useful enough for a short local defense, but more and more nobles allow tenants to pay a scuttage in lieu of service, and then use the money to hire full-time soldiers for the duration of a campaign.

Recruiting sometimes consists of dealing directly with a noble’s retainers, but just as often means signing on with a leader who is raising a temporary band or company, and then the leader signs with the noble in question. The greater reputation a man has, the more of his fellows who will choose to ride with him this campaigning season. The nobility will and has signed everything ranging from individual men to bands of a dozen up to full companies numbering in the thousands.

Unlike a Free Company, these men rally and are raised for a specific campaign or season, and just as quickly disband when it is all over. While many veterans may clump together, there is no expectation of it and the nobility firmly see the Contract Soldiers as men to fill their ranks with, not independent tactical units.

Signing on is simply a matter of listening for who is hiring. Internal conflicts, of which Lyria has many, are likely to be smaller affairs - easier perhaps to gain local recognition and shine brightly in than an an anonymous face in a full scale war, but also possible to create enemies in...and of course, you’d have to do a great deal before a name spread across the land.

At the higher end, the King has issued a call to arms to fight the Roanish, with his vassals to be sure, but also any able and armed men can rally near the capital and take up his cause for pay. It is easy to be a faceless man as armies in the tens of thousands clash, and you may very well die anonymously in the mud with a Roanish arrow in your eye, but if you were to be noticed, it would be by the highest powers in the land...

———

The Free Companies. Actual standing mercenary units are unconmon, but not unheard of. Alas, since employers stop paying them when the fighting is over yet they remain an organized force, they have an ill reputation as brigands. Since they are a business rather than a collection of individuals chasing glory, they have an ill reputation as being cowardly and unwilling to fight battles which might result in heavy losses. Because they are a cohesive body of men with a specific leader who is often not a noble, they are little trusted not to change sides in war or seize power in peace.None the less, they are one of the fastest ways to buy a unit of professionals, and so are barely tolerated.

While a new man in a company will have far more certainty than many other warriors of the time, the room for independent action is limited, and the mercenary preference for preferring forage to battle, and preferring only to fight when it looks like a sure win, means that opportunities for glory and status are few unless one rises internally...
R2excelsior
 player, 4 posts
Fri 26 Jul 2019
at 00:08
The World
Something I wrote up relating to one of Sverke's goals for the campaign:

Ulric the Red
The Men of the Spine are an independent lot, a patchwork collection of petty kingdoms ruled by Jarls and bound together by little more than similar languages and customs. Conflicts and raiding are and have always been prevalent between them, even before the wolf-ships sailed forth and terrorized the kingdoms to the south with fire and axes. And yet, attempts have been made to unite the northmen under one ruler—most unsuccessful. The sagas tell of an ancient king of legend, Hradock Dragon-Tooth, who supposedly led the northmen to the Spine, seized it from the dragons and their thralls, and installed his most steadfast companions as Jarls. According to the stories his line ruled the northmen as one, until a cruel and greedy king was murdered by his vassals with no successor. Several would-be warlords have claimed descent from Hradock—most recently Erik Ironmane. He came close to installing himself as High King of the Northmen, starting life as a fairly minor Jarl and using both diplomacy and force of arms to bring many of the other lords under his sway, before being defeated and killed by those who resisted his rule. The kingdom fragmented before it even formed.

Erik’s son, Ulric, was forced to flee his Jarldom. Seeing that the northmen would not easily be subjugated and knowing it was only a matter of time before one of the Jarls slipped him a dagger or a poisoned mead, he decided to turn southwards with a small band of followers. He attacked and stormed a Lyrian castle, but instead of taking everything of value, torching the rest, and leaving, he stayed—putting a call out to the fighting men of the north that gold, land, and glory awaited those who would join him.

The local lord took his time assembling his forces, believing this to be a simple raid. By the time he marched forth to meet Ulric in battle, many more ships bearing warriors from the Spine had arrived, and Ulric’s army dealt the Lyrians a crushing defeat.

By the time the King of Lyria took notice and called forth the royal army, many more castles and towns had fallen to the invaders. Still the Lyrian nobility expected that this was just an extended raid, but after dealing another defeat to the royal army Ulric still showed no sign of leaving. Ulric handed out titles to those who served him faithfully, appointing them guardians of the castles which fell to his relentless advance, and his army grew steadily with more adventurers pouring in from the north.

Eventually the Lyrian King raised a massive force to stop the invasion, calling on mercenaries from across the southlands, emptying his coffers and marrying off every eligible family member to secure alliances and troops. This host fought Ulric’s army to a standstill at the bloody Battle of the Black Forest, at the end of which Ulric (now known as Ulric the Red) was slain. Ulric’s son buried him on the field in the night, for it had always been the warrior’s wish to be laid to rest on the battlefield surrounded by fallen enemies, and retreated. The Lyrians were in no shape to reconquer their lost lands, but neither could the northmen continue their advance.

Ulric’s descendants ruled the little kingdom for several generations, gradually losing ground to the Lyrian king, until the last northern lords were either conquered or swore fealty. Those who kept their holdings have over the generations partially assimilated back into the Lyrian culture, though they keep some holdovers from the old ways. Ulric the Red’s final resting place was never found, and the only one who knows for certain—his son—took the secret to his grave. The ferocity of the northmen under Ulric and his successors is said to be one of the main reasons the Lyrian kings began recruiting such adventurers from the Spine to serve in the royal household.