Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Taking the Magic out of Birthright

I've been gone for a while. I don't know if I'll be back any time soon. Law school has encompassed my entire life, essentially swallowing everything that's not law up. I've had time to run games, but barely. Absolutely no time for posting blogs.

Birthright is already a low-magic setting, so what the hell could I be talking about? I'm discussing lifting the rules for realm governance up out of Birthright, stripping them of their magical-feudalism, and making them useable

Major Changes to the Bloodline Rules

Bloodline now represents legitimacy. Rather than the mysterious purity of a divine bloodline, this score is now known as Legitimacy. This represents the perceived right of the regent to his position. Legitimacy can be degraded by alienation of territories, major losses in war, etc.

Regency points now represent political capital. Instead of a magic bond to the land, RP is a mechanic to represent the accruing of legitimacy and the various little enterprises that give a lord favors to call in, authority to flex, and power to exercise.

Loss of Territory. Loss of territory in war directly affects legitimacy; a lord's legitimacy degrades by 1 point for every rank of the province lost.

War. Regency points are gained or lost in large battles. Massive defeats may affect a character's permanent legitimacy.

Proclaiming a Successor. When a lord proclaims an adult successor, he grants that successor 1/2 of all his banked regency points.

Passing the Torch. When a lord no longer wishes to rule and passes his power on to his chosen heir, he loses 2/3rds of his permanent Legitimacy, which is gained by his heir. This must be accompanied by a public ceremony of investiture.

Alienation from territories. Each month that a regent has none of his basic holdings (provinces or law for fighters, temples for priests, etc.) their Legitimacy score is degraded by 10%.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Training Day

I've been playing with training times a little in my games, always treading the line between forcing too much downtime between adventures and forcing too many potential adventures that are ticking away and getting worse (or better) on their own. The current state of affairs in the campaign is that characters require one night of rest in a town or other defended position (8 hours) in order to gain the benefits of levelling up (no resting and gaining hp in the dungeon).

Now we're here to talk of training and acquiring new WPs and NWPs. My rule in the past has been that 1 month of uninterrupted training time will grant any WP (3 months of attenuated "every night but also adventuring" time will grant it) while 3/6 months for NWPs is the norm. However, I'm thinking of approaching this from an entirely different stance.

The new rule, effective as of now (I'll let everyone know if the results are catastrophic) shall be based on hourly quotas.

Weapon Proficiencies: Must accumulate 6 months of general use OR 60 hours of training with some other character who knows how to use the weapon.

Non-weapon proficiencies: Must accumulate 120 hours of training with some other character who knows the skill sought or 240 hours of experimentation on the character's lonesome. Language skills can never be learned without a teacher.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

News of Arunia, Festing 506

A great battle has been fought in the Hammerdeep Vale of Auruxol. Hundreds of orcs lie dead, joined by many dwarves and leveemen from the imperial heartland. The Imperial Oculus, Hydrophis Schoolman, in command of the relief forces dispatched by Miles has made use of a cunning strategy to draw the orcish foe out of the mountains. Two hundred or more of these foul beasts came ravaging through the countryside on the evening of the 15th of Festing. While the rest of the empire celebrated the Summerfeast, Hammerdeep frantically prepared to receive their guests.

The orcs, led by the worg-mounted chieftain Azok, launched an all-out assault on the town of Cardun, home to both dwarves and men. The Ironbreaker serjant, Sieur Lucian Martel (Lucanus Martellus in Varan), raced to Hammerval to summon the dwarven militia and instruct the Knights of Miles to garrison themselves in the town. When the orcs came howling out of the mountains, burning and thieving as they went, it was only to meet the combined arms of thirty knights, alongside the famous Knight Militant, Sieur Thetis.

As the Knights of Miles twice attempted to throw back the orcs, the Hammerval militia (under the leadership of the Gaethaff Sveila Whiteaxe) moved in behind the orcish lines and made fast the dwarven shield-wall. With a great clangor the dwarves beat their blades upon their shields and made themselves known to the orcish foe. The orcs, realizing they were caught between two forces that were maneuvering to annihilate them, turned about and threw themselves with frantic desperation against the dwarvish lines, hoping to escape.

Azok was one of the many felled, and most of his Companion Warriors. The southernmost camp of the orcs has been completely destroyed, scattered to the winds. This represents a massive blow to the orcish plans to lay siege to Hammerval. However, the war may not yet be won.

Across the sea, during the last month of spring, the Sacred Armies are on the move. Vagrysj the Lion has suffered repeated losses along the borders of his slave-empire. For all those victories, the Sacred Army itself has suffered setbacks; the cities of the goblins are notoriously untrustworthy. Mamil al-Tyfir has raised an army of its own to ensure the Sacred Armies do not lay permanent claim to goblin lands. Even so, clerics of the Northern Rite have constructed a temple-necropolis in the Moon Kingdoms and threatened to withdraw their forces if the goblins threaten it. The alliance of the Sacred Armies thus threatens to dissolve even as they punish the ogre king for his hubris.

Essad, this spring, was rocked with discontent and rebellion. The slave uprisings in the Agricon have become an endemic threat to Thurayn and the Masters who command it. It seems these slave risings may be funded by Dorlish coin, for none other than the master scholar Reynarius di Llun has volunteered to lead an assault on the forces of the Iron Guard of Thurayn from the Dorlish border with the hopes of burning down the southern slave camps and ending the reign of the Rex Exactor.

In the west, the elvish reavers have been quiet for another year, striking but rarely against the Ralashite borders and, by sea, not at all. Some turmoil has been heard in Tailimisia concerning the continued rule of the Hierophant. In Silversong, King Anundarien Towerborn has called a council of the nobility of that kingdom for the purpose of determining where that kingdom stands in relation to the Elvish Question.

And lastly, in Agstowe, it is said that plumes of smoke have been seen curling from the maw of the Wyrmburg, indicating that perhaps the great Wyrm of Agstowe is stirring in his sleep.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Libram Mysterium Vol. II

Ladies and Gentlethings, in time for halloween I present to you the Libram Mysterium Volume II, the Horror Collection. Featuring a tale by yours truly, Le Dieu Perdu. Buy your copy today!

Tome depicted does not represent actual tome delivered.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dwarves of the Hammerdeep

The dwarven clans of the Hammerdeep settled in the borders of the First Empire of Miles during the reign of the Empress Lyrulan, who was the first Milean ever to meet a dwarf. As a sign of good will, the empress made a pact with the reclusive dwellers in the great gray mountains of Hârnholme and invited many to come and settle within the bounds of her kingdom. This they did, establishing the city of Hammerval in the dawn of recorded time, and marking them as one of the earliest official colonies of the home country to receive a colony-stone.

The nature of the Hammerdeep settlements is such that fresh travelers come from the Arinnfal and points north each year to settle within the comfortable structure of the imperial clans. While the life of a dwarf in the Arinnfal seems perpetually at risk (of war with the Stonemarkers, the Karlungs, and the Weyls, or at risk of slipping into civil war or war with the great underground orcish and goblin kingdoms of Middlemark), that of a dwarf in the empire is safe, protected, and well-appointed. Indeed, the dwarves of Hammerval have reached an agreement with the emperor and their duke, Darius Anarjent, that grants them essentially free reign in the Hammerdeep and the mining towns in exchange for their services as the official imperial mint of golden coin.

The largest clans in the Hammerdeep are listed below:

The Goldhar are an ancestral princely clan of the great city. Their clan name refers to the predominance of their golden hair. Many golden beards can be seen in the great city of Hammerval and its satellite settlements. They are one of the ancient noble clans of Hammerval, having lived in its walls since the city's founding.

The Goldhar clan-prince, Aedwin Thorosson Arnulfr Goldhar, is also the hall-prince of the city. He is known for his conciliatory politics with the imperial authorities and often refuses the advice of the elder thanes of his council, who were appointed by the hall-prince Thorgi Malufsson Vhítøx nearly two centuries ago.

The thanes of the Goldhar clan are:

Halgrinn Magnisson
Thorold Gurnisson
Haraldr Hadrasson
Thinga Alfirsdottir

The Vhítøx are one of the great noble clans of the duchy. Their name means "white-axe," and they are a clan of weaponsmiths who provide swords and spears to the city. They are one of the more powerful noble clans in Hammerval, having hosted a string of hall-princes in the last few generations. Their leader, the clan-prince Hurri Goroldsson Thengrist Vhítøx, stands in open opposition to Prince Aedwin.

The thanes of the Vhítøx clan are:

Tolmund Fargonsson
Grimund Berdredson
Eirik Angirson
Malgir Hurlison
Forgrinn Alaksson
Thormar Thormansson

The other noble clans, of lesser importance, are the Barsteinn (Blackstones), Drengrinn (Stouts), Eikir (Oakwood), and Fjalltind (Highpeaks). Their thanes are:

Torsti Oroldsson Magnus Barsteinn
Otha Othasdottir Horolf Drengrinn
Ledda Hengisdottir Lond Eikir
Torri Torrisson Tordir Fjalltind

The Hársmitha are the minting and smithing clan that produces the coinage for the entire empire. The Hársmith clan-prince is Ogundir Logirsson, and he personally owns many of the smelters used to melt the Auruxol gold.

The Strekdei are the mining clan that controls the mines directly adjacent to the city, including the works at Nainon and in the mountains. The Strekdei clan-prince is Agmundir Agmundirsson, and he is a very conservative dwarf indeed, little concerned with the goings-on outside the mines.

The Boerhúl clan includes most of the largest farms in the duchy.

The sign of the city is a pair of crossed hammers above a triangular mountain peak. The other sign of import, that of the Strekdei, is a mining pick with its pick side down, surmounted by a dwarven lamp. This sign marks out mines of importance in the Duchy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Baronial Houses of the Heartland

Administration in the imperial heartland relies on the loyal baronial families that directly serve the emperor. The families are here enumerated.

The Baronies
Noble Family: The Sercel
Seat: Sercellus
Sign: Three shells argent on a field verde
Patriarch: Lord Domnus Sercel

The Sercel family is a relatively new one in the scheme of the Thyrnessan heartland. They rose to prominence during the time of King Aras, particularly in his service during the War of the Sword. Several of the young knights of one family perished to uphold the king's law; in gratitude, he knighted and elevated their father, the families' founder, Sercellin, to the rank of a Magnas and granted him the territory of Beaulan—the "good land" of the forest.

Noble Family: Dracus
Seat: Dragas Hill
Sign: Two green dragons intertwined on a field d'or
Matriarch: Lady Filia Dracus

A family with a pedigree more ancient than the Dracus cannot be found in the Heartland. They claim descent from an ancestral branch of the First Men and tell many tall (and likely unfoudned) tales about First and Second Empire ancestors who fought and slew dragons in the north or Synd. Whatever their stories may be, they do tend towards slightly duskier skin than other noble families of the heartland, and many of the Draconian children have amber eyes.

Noble Family: Averl
Seat: Aversford
Sign: A hart chief on a field argent, a chevron azure
Patriarch: Lord Morlanus Averl

The Averls of Aversford were minor knights in the time of King Aras. They distinguished themselves under Tamerin I by helping quell the outlaw rebellion of the Bandit Kings. Morlanus' father, Ephicus, was granted not only Aversford, but all of Colmir as his reward.

Noble Family: Ruber
Seat: Torne
Sign: A field gules
Patriarch: Lord Huthorus Ruber

The Ruber family can trace its line back to the time of Myrea the Witch-Queen when the red-bearded northern men who helped fight against her sailed into Miles. They have held Cordrais ever since, though their red beards have long since left them due to intermarriage in the heartland. However, many Rubers still have a few strands of red hair amongst their wild thickets of brown.

Huthorus Ruber is known as one of the mightiest drinkers in the province, and often goes toe to toe with Heimiran priests. Three of his doughty sons are captains in the mounted tagmata.

Noble Family: Solander
Seat: Solander
Sign: A sun in chief d'or on a field gules
Patriarch: Lord Calvus Solander

The Solanders have ruled Delac since before the Galoen kings took command of Thyrnesse. Their manor in Solander is as large as the homes of many counts, and they are one of the few heartland families not to support the emperor without reservation. The Solanders have no children in the civil service, nor in any knightly order. Calvus Solander rarely attends court in the city of Miles, and instead can be found administering justice over his people in Solander itself.

Noble Family: Mirandolus
Seat: Tor Mirandol
Sign: A tower argent on a field azure
Matriarch: Lady Tolana Mirandolus

The Mirandolus were castellans of Tor Mirandol until Aras Galoen elevated Sieur Vorgas of Mirandol to the position of baron. Since then, his family has held Gilmair as a joint-barony beneath the rule of the Duchy of Auruxol (since its re-creation under Darius Anarjent by Tamerin III) and the emperor's heartland. Tor Mirandol provides one of the essential bulwarks against the chaos of the Auruxol Mountains and orcish incursion into the heartland.

Noble Family: Melun
Seat: Melun
Sign: Two olive trees on a field azure
Patriarch: Lord Gerolus Melun

Noble Family: Beauclerc
Seat: Beauclerc
Sign: Three sun discs on a field verde
Patriarch: Lord Durus Beauclerc

Noble Family: Calamus
Seat: Calamyr
Sign: Three bundles of flax on a field azure
Patriarch: Lord Lambertus Calamus

Noble Family: Sejent
Seat: Tumilent
Sign: Five roses on a field d'or
Patriarch: Lord Mornus Sejent

Noble Family: Arcantis
Seat: Arcantor
Sign: Three rings d'or on a field verde
Patriarch: Lord Mellifleur Arcantis

The Arcantine family of Valmont maintains a single castellan at Castra Martellus (Sieur Ardel Martellus) for the purposes of controlling both the outlaws of the Noranian Forest and the dangers of the Mermarche Mountains. The Arcantines claim (though none are certain if the claim is true) to be descended from the wizardly servants of King Roland the Wise. Legend has it that Arcantor was granted to them in honor of their service to this goodly king, but the truth of the matter is lost to the mists of Thyrnessan history.