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View Full Version : A small kingdom falling apart. Want to Game of Throne-ize a setting



Scalenex
2019-05-11, 08:07 PM
I'm testing out a homebrew fantasy RPG mechanics system. The specific system is not super important. It's like most D&D setting but the power is capped magic wise. No raising the dead. Very few magical effects exceed that of a 4th or 5th level spell.

I kept it simple so far. The characters wander around until a poor villager brings up a problem and then they solve it, but now I want to build this into something more sophisticated.

One of these problems was a tribe of orcs was demanding protection money from some frontier villages and an evil god worshipping provaceture tried to steal the tribute from two villages just before the orcs were coming and tried to frame the other village for producing the thief.

The PCs caught the villain and recovered the tribute for both villages. Yay. A player commented "Aren't these villages part of a nation. "They should have an army to defend them!" I figure a small country falling apart would give a band of politically savvy good aligned adventurers lots to do and relative freedom to act indepently so I don't have to railroad them.


So here's my basic idea. The young of Fumaya is genuinely kind and wants to serve his people, but is somewhat naive and not very ruthless. The kingdom has a lot of problems and very little in their treasury. King Henryk beieves his people are already barely keeping up with the current taxes so he doesn't want to raise them.

So his first response is to cut royal expenses in the luxury department. He doesn't live like a king making due with less fancy food and clothes and very few ostentatious displays of wealth. He also laid off about half the servants in his castle. Many of the servants and a few courtiers were laid off are bitter and more than a few of these embittered servants were privvy to useful secrets. Now desperate for money, they sell their secrets to the highest bidder. I'm just trying to figure out who the highest bidder is.


More about Fumaya. The concept is that it's a small nation of hardy people with the misfortunate of being sandwiched between larger powers. It's not quite as skinny as the modern country of Chile but that's a good analogy. It's a country is pretty long and narrow though it expands at the north and south a bit like a dumbell.

Their western border is mostly with a mountainous Dwarf nation. Pretty stereotypical. They live in the mountains, distrust arcane magic, like axes, sound Scottish, etc. The eastern border is mostly with a fairly traditional Wood Elf nation. As the buffer between a mountain realm and a forest realm, Fumaya is mostly gently rolling lightly forested hills.

The Dwarves and elves are pretty isolationist but they are midly pleased to have a small human nation form the buffer in between them. They both realize they would probably start fighting if they shared borders with each other but the dwarves and elves have their own problems so they aren't likely to send aid to Fumaya even if they are moderately friendly to them.

One of the PCs is a Wood Elf of noble birth but he is a member of a disgraced house. His uncle, the family head, has a well deserved reputation as a fool. Wood elves very rarely leave their home forests except when they reach the age of adulthood they have a sort of rumpsringa where the young adult experiences the outside world for a short time (for an elf, a short time is 20-30 years, plenty of time to become a seasoned adventurer). Those elves who like the outside world more than their home never come back and this suits the traditioanlist elves just fine. The player of the elf figured he's not coming back if he doesn't have enough accomplishments to return in honor.


To the north is basically the "Here there Be Monsters" part of the map. No nation claims the semi-artic lands to the north and it has a lot of monsters and orc tribes and other dangers. Most Fumayans farm along rivers and other water bodies and a lot of Fumaya is wilderness ruled by the king only on paper. Fumaya has it's own "Here There be Monsters" pockets. If this was Fumaya's ONLY problem, the army might be able to handle it, but there is a more existential threat to the south.


To the south separated by a large river is the nation of Swynfaredia, one of the two most powerful human nation in the world. Swynfaredia is unique in that their nobility wields heriditary arcane mystical power. Swynfaredia gradually conquered and expanded neighboring nations ovewr the centuries but they were held back by their own intercine civil wars. Now things have settled down in Swynfaredia but there are tensions, so the Queen (or King, I haven't decided which yet) of Swynfaredia is considering conquering Fumaya as a means of redirecting the energy of potentially rebellious vassals against an outside foe.

Fumaya is no match for Swynfaredia in a one-on-one fight, but if Fumaya was conquered but manages to bloody the nose of the invaders sufficiently costing Swynfaredia more money and manpower, this could leave Swynfaredia vulnerable to invasion from their neighbor Uskala, who happens to be the only nation that roughly equals them in power. I figure Swynfaredia's queen would prefer to let Fumaya weaken itself internally for a few more years before actually invading. She should probably send some spies in, but I'm not sure what form the spies would take. Also, the spies don't have to come from the queen. Some of her vassals probably have competing spies because Swynfaredian nobles all want the biggest piece of the Fumayan pie as possible.


In the capital, I like the idea of a thieves guild/mafia group having the locals bent over a barrel. Now the mafia absorbed a lot of the recently laid off staff of the king's castle. I'm thinking of making the head of the criminals or their chief enforcer be a doppleganger. They are certainly going ot have spies in the royal court because they have inside information for which royal courtiers are susceptable to bribes and blackmail and which ones are not.


I have nine homebrew deities in my world (one for each aligmment but they have traits beyond just their alignment). Most of the Fumayan priests are sitting on their hands avoiding greater political events and just acting on the individual level. One of the PCs is a Lawful Good priest of the Lawful Neutral deity and he is very much a socially oriented character rather than a combative one. I figure having most of the priests be on the fence would give this player a lot of opportunity to roleplay out political bartering and negotiations.

The Lawful Neutral goddess of knowledge and the sun, Khemra, has a small following in Fumaya but one of her priests is an advisor to the king. One of the PCs is a fairly high ranking member of this clergy, so this give the PCs a means of communicating with the royal court and a reason to be sympathetic to the status quo.

The Lawful Good god of hard work and just warfare, Hallisan, has many priests in Fumaya but the high priest in charge is convinced that Swynfaredia is going to invade any week now. Nearly all their priests are deployed near the southern border to reinforce the army and they have essentially given the monsters to the north a free pass.

The Lawful Evil god of commerce, Phidas, has a small local priesthood. They are considering opening up their coffers to provide loans to the king to get him in their debt, but the king grew on fables of great men and women being ruined by being indebted to the bank of Phidas. Also, the Phidas bankers know that if they loan money to the king and he is overthrown despite this, they will never collect on their debts AND they will find themselves on the naughty list of the new regime, so they are hedging their bets.

The Neutral nature/agriculture god Korus has priests are mostly staying out of things. They want to help farmers and tend to nature. They don't really care much about who sits on the throne or what criminals do. If the PCs turn to them for help, I'm thinking of having the local leader be all about strict neutrality, but I'll throw in a few idealistic acolytes that don't want to sit on their hands and offer to help the PCs.

The Neutral Evil magic goddess, Greymoria's, priests nominally want to help Fumaya defend their borders but they don't want to die defending Fumay. Greymoria's worshippers have a major schism between wizards and sorcerers. Since the pro-sorcerer faction is very strong bordering nation of Swynfaredia, Fumaya has become a stronghold for pro-wizard worshippers of the magic goddess.

The Neutral good goddess of water and family, Mera, has priests who prefer to stay apolitical. They heal and minister to those who need it, and they believe that if they take political sides, Mera's clergy will lose their ability to freely move over borders.

The three Chaotic deities don't have a lot of powerful worshippers in Fumaya and they rarely as a unified group. I figure there would be enough of them to make much differnce but I can use them as X-Factors. If the PCs are in danger of drowning metaphorically, I can have one of the Chaotic god's followers swoop in to save the day. If the PCs are flying high, I could have one of them clip the PCs' wings.


The one thing I'm running a blank on is what the Fumayan king's vassals are doing. I figure some would want want to bring order to the realm and some would be resentful that the king cancelled all their beloved tournaments, hunting parties, and festivals to save money.


Anyway I'm open to suggestions on how to improve this. Thank you for reading through all these blocks of text.

maxriderules
2019-05-16, 03:29 PM
You may want to consider the role of the nobility of Fumaya, beyond just the king. Does the king directly tax the peasants, or does he tax the nobles who own the land the peasants live on? Does the king control the army, or would he rely on levies raised by other nobles in times of war?
By having nobles under the king, there's more options for your PCs to interact with people in political power, or take political power for themselves without having to depose the king.

Scalenex
2019-05-17, 08:27 AM
You may want to consider the role of the nobility of Fumaya, beyond just the king. Does the king directly tax the peasants, or does he tax the nobles who own the land the peasants live on? Does the king control the army, or would he rely on levies raised by other nobles in times of war?
By having nobles under the king, there's more options for your PCs to interact with people in political power, or take political power for themselves without having to depose the king.

I guess I figure the king would have a relatively small parcel of land that he taxes directly and a small army that reports directly to him.

His vassals all have their own land and their own armies. He gets a percentage of their taxes and limited ability to levvy their armies.

I figure the land gets more fertile the further south you go, so the nobles in the south have more prosperous lands and thus have more gold and more soldiers. They are panicked about the nation of Swynfaredia invading them since their lands would be the front lines. The northern nobles are pretty strapped. They are the ones that have to deal with orcs and monsters.

TheYell
2019-05-17, 01:00 PM
Apparently allowing any faction a genocidal monster is unpopular in the end, so, remember that going forward

maxriderules
2019-05-18, 06:59 AM
What sort of campaign are your players interested in? As far as I can tell, the major possibilities within the country for the party to work with/against are the thieves guild, the nobility (for or against the king), and the king himself. Since the clergy are remaining uninvolved, their aims might only be important if the players want to rally them to their side, or work with the clergy and ignore dynastic politics.
You also might want to consider fleshing out a few individual noble families, since they could be good for scheming that the PCs can oppose or assist with. For example, a rich southern noble with no heir who's planning on letting the Swynfaridians invade in return for keeping his lands and a marriage arranged with one of their noble families. Or a northern lord who's sending some of his soldiers south to raid the rich Fuyaman provinces to fund the defence against the monsters. A charismatic orc warlord on the border who demands the king cede certain lands to them based on an ancestral or religious claim, which the lord holding the lands wants kept quiet and the warlord executed.

Grek
2019-05-18, 02:07 PM
Possible threats to Fumaya, in roughly the order it sounds like they'll be going off:
One or more of the courtiers is obviously plotting a regime change and spill their secrets to whichever noble seems the most ambitious or has the best claim to the throne, in exchange for a high position in the new order. How this plays out depends on whether the King has an heir and what his security arrangements are like, but even an attempted coup will be expensive and damaging to deal with.

If the King dies or if word of the attempt reaches Swynfaredia, the Queen will sense weakness and attempt to invade. If the coup is thwarted early enough, that buys some time (during which the PCs should be allowed to defuse one of the later scenarios) but ultimately, the nation is one serious monster attack away from getting invaded either way.

While Fumaya can likely survive an invasion if they can hold out for Uskala to counter-invade, doing so would require assistance from at least three of the Elves, the Dwarves, the Wizards, the Nobility, the Churches and the Mafia, but getting each faction into the coalition either precludes getting help from another in the long term or comes with strings attached.

Depending on who they got to help defend the nation, the King's ruling coalition will be opposed by whoever dislikes the coalition members: Allying with the Elves or the Wizards means annoying the Dwarves, allying with the Dwarves means annoying the Elves, getting a loan from Phidas means paying it back somehow, getting the Meraites to help means dealing with the diplomatic fallout, working with the Mafia means tax payments going missing and even harsher budget cuts, etc.


As far as nobility goes, I can see three important factions that would have handles that the PCs can tug on (names are placeholders, naturally):

The lands of Lord North are constantly raided by monsters and were seemingly abandoned by the Hallisans, leading the local defenders to suffer heavy losses and go into debt with the Bank of Phidas. The price is grim, but it is worth it to protect the people of the realm. Lord North will be pleased by slaying monsters, shaming the Hallisans and by getting the Bank to offer better terms of repayment.

The lands of Lord Margin have grown fat on elicit smuggling between the dwarves and the elves. While both nations detest one another, each side has things that the other side wants and is willing to go through a middleman to acquire. Lord Margin loves parties, hates the Mafia (they're competition) and resents anything that would disrupt the flow of trade.

The lands of Lord South are braced for invasion, but everyone knows which way the winds are blowing. Someone at the court - perhaps even Lord South - has been cutting deals with Swynfaredia and hopes to become the regional governor in exchange for their treachery. If this traitor were exposed, the loyalists would be tremendously grateful - but a false accusation would be a diplomatic disaster.

Scalenex
2019-05-19, 12:06 PM
What sort of campaign are your players interested in?
On the continuum between Kick in the Door and Deep-Immersion my players seem to like one third door kicking, two thirds immersion. When they do kick in the door, they like to do tactical and strategic planning ahead of time, Mission Impossible style.


As far as I can tell, the major possibilities within the country for the party to work with/against are the thieves guild, the nobility (for or against the king), and the king himself. Since the clergy are remaining uninvolved, their aims might only be important if the players want to rally them to their side, or work with the clergy and ignore dynastic politics.
I deliberately made the clergy pretty non-committed because this gives my socialite priest PC an opportunity to shine. The PCs lean towards Lawful Good (though a new player I’m trying to entice to join wants to be Chaotic Good which is fine) so I figure the PCs will back the king.

You also might want to consider fleshing out a few individual noble families, since they could be good for scheming that the PCs can oppose or assist with.
I’m kind of getting writer’s block on creating nobles. That’s 90% of the reason I created this thread is to get suggestions for interesting nobles.

For example, a rich southern noble with no heir who's planning on letting the Swynfaridians invade in return for keeping his lands and a marriage arranged with one of their noble families. Or a northern lord who's sending some of his soldiers south to raid the rich Fuyaman provinces to fund the defence against the monsters. A charismatic orc warlord on the border who demands the king cede certain lands to them based on an ancestral or religious claim, which the lord holding the lands wants kept quiet and the warlord executed.
Such as these good ideas/\. I especially like the idea of the northern lord raiding the lands of the south for funds.


Possible threats to Fumaya, in roughly the order it sounds like they'll be going off:[list]
One or more of the courtiers is obviously plotting a regime change and spill their secrets to whichever noble seems the most ambitious or has the best claim to the throne, in exchange for a high position in the new order. How this plays out depends on whether the King has an heir and what his security arrangements are like, but even an attempted coup will be expensive and damaging to deal with.
I was figuring I’d make the king pretty young and fairly recently married. Leaning towards giving him an heir that is a helpless infant. I haven’t figured out if he has a brother or uncle who could theoretically take the throne if the king and the heir both died.
The king’s father was a spendthrift. Spendthrifts are often but not always promiscuous. I could throw in some bastard half-siblings. They might be good X-Factors that would be willing to conspire with the mafia, orcs, or Swynfaredia.

If the King dies or if word of the attempt reaches Swynfaredia, the Queen will sense weakness and attempt to invade. If the coup is thwarted early enough, that buys some time (during which the PCs should be allowed to defuse one of the later scenarios) but ultimately, the nation is one serious monster attack away from getting invaded either way.
I like the way you think.


While Fumaya can likely survive an invasion if they can hold out for Uskala to counter-invade, doing so would require assistance from at least three of the Elves, the Dwarves, the Wizards, the Nobility, the Churches and the Mafia, but getting each faction into the coalition either precludes getting help from another in the long term or comes with strings attached.
I think my players would enjoy this sort of thing. Trying to play politics with these various factions at least.


Depending on who they got to help defend the nation, the King's ruling coalition will be opposed by whoever dislikes the coalition members: Allying with the Elves or the Wizards means annoying the Dwarves, allying with the Dwarves means annoying the Elves, getting a loan from Phidas means paying it back somehow, getting the Meraites to help means dealing with the diplomatic fallout, working with the Mafia means tax payments going missing and even harsher budget cuts, etc.
Nods approvingly.


As far as nobility goes, I can see three important factions that would have handles that the PCs can tug on (names are placeholders, naturally):

The lands of Lord North are constantly raided by monsters and were seemingly abandoned by the Hallisans, leading the local defenders to suffer heavy losses and go into debt with the Bank of Phidas. The price is grim, but it is worth it to protect the people of the realm. Lord North will be pleased by slaying monsters, shaming the Hallisans and by getting the Bank to offer better terms of repayment.

The lands of Lord Margin have grown fat on elicit smuggling between the dwarves and the elves. While both nations detest one another, each side has things that the other side wants and is willing to go through a middleman to acquire. Lord Margin loves parties, hates the Mafia (they're competition) and resents anything that would disrupt the flow of trade.

The lands of Lord South are braced for invasion, but everyone knows which way the winds are blowing. Someone at the court - perhaps even Lord South - has been cutting deals with Swynfaredia and hopes to become the regional governor in exchange for their treachery. If this traitor were exposed, the loyalists would be tremendously grateful - but a false accusation would be a diplomatic disaster.
This is pure gold. Thank you. I might add a Lord Loyal to the king to the mix. Maybe Lord Loyal is the father of the queen. Maybe he is just patriotic.

I also looked over some old notes I made months ago. Long ago, I was going planning to make Fumaya a brutal theocratic dictatorship that demanded obedience to the state and goddess for everyone’s own good because Fumaya is surrounded and must be constantly vigilant.
While I obviously scrapped the idea of making Fumaya repressive theocracy, I think I might sneak a radical fringe group into one of the priesthoods that is hoping to use the chaos of the current situation to pave the way for a religious coup.

Dienekes
2019-05-19, 12:55 PM
Well if you want to get a true asoiaf feeling to your game your major NPCs need two competing influences that makes the entire setting feel like a tangled political web.

1) the necessities they have because of their location
2) the necessities they have because of their personal desires.


To go with Grek’s great ideas of the powerful lords. Lord North may have the monster hunting which gives him a respectable name and the debt to the bank which gives him the dark hidden influence. But to really come alive he needs something personal to disrupt the right balance he has between those influences.

To take Tywin Lannister as an example. He is the ruler of a mine. This makes him rich, his lands are also pretty self sufficient so he doesn’t have any real ties of dependence to other houses. Which means he can exert most of his energies on dominating the throne. So far so good. But he would not be a tenth as interesting as a character without his tangled relationships with his children. His hatred of Tyrion and failure to recognize his children as anything other than extensions of his will constantly become a tension that makes him imperfect and interesting.

Give your characters these kind of personal tensions and you’ll find them become way more interesting for your players to maneuver around.

TheYell
2019-05-19, 01:25 PM
Uskalan Blue faction of Uskala is pro-status quo. Forms the majority of the Uskala government, they expect Swynfaridia to stay on its side of the river. LN to LG. Openly back King Henryk of Fumaya and Fumayan independence. Uskalan diplomats in Fumaya belong to this faction as does Uskala monarch.


Uskalan Red faction is a hated minority of Uskalan nobility, headed by a border marquis secretly dominated by a rakshasa. Figures Uskala can win a big war with Swynfaridia, ought to start one, and an invasion of Fumaya by Swynfaridia will be a great excuse. Want to start the ball rolling with a coordinated assassination of King Henryk leading to civil war in Fumaya, leading to Swynfaridian invasion, leading to major war with Uskala. Red operatives in Fumaya operate under cover of worship of the Chaotic Trinity of the 9 Fumayan Gods.


So that could be a hook for your party, running into Red Trinitarians and finding out there's something more in back of them.

Scalenex
2019-05-19, 08:09 PM
Well if you want to get a true asoiaf feeling to your game your major NPCs need two competing influences that makes the entire setting feel like a tangled political web.

1) the necessities they have because of their location
2) the necessities they have because of their personal desires.


To go with Grek’s great ideas of the powerful lords. Lord North may have the monster hunting which gives him a respectable name and the debt to the bank which gives him the dark hidden influence. But to really come alive he needs something personal to disrupt the right balance he has between those influences.

To take Tywin Lannister as an example. He is the ruler of a mine. This makes him rich, his lands are also pretty self sufficient so he doesn’t have any real ties of dependence to other houses. Which means he can exert most of his energies on dominating the throne. So far so good. But he would not be a tenth as interesting as a character without his tangled relationships with his children. His hatred of Tyrion and failure to recognize his children as anything other than extensions of his will constantly become a tension that makes him imperfect and interesting.

Give your characters these kind of personal tensions and you’ll find them become way more interesting for your players to maneuver around.

That is a very good suggestion to keep in mind when creating noble houses and characters.


Uskalan Blue faction of Uskala is pro-status quo. Forms the majority of the Uskala government, they expect Swynfaridia to stay on its side of the river. LN to LG. Openly back King Henryk of Fumaya and Fumayan independence. Uskalan diplomats in Fumaya belong to this faction as does Uskala monarch.


Uskalan Red faction is a hated minority of Uskalan nobility, headed by a border marquis secretly dominated by a rakshasa. Figures Uskala can win a big war with Swynfaridia, ought to start one, and an invasion of Fumaya by Swynfaridia will be a great excuse. Want to start the ball rolling with a coordinated assassination of King Henryk leading to civil war in Fumaya, leading to Swynfaridian invasion, leading to major war with Uskala. Red operatives in Fumaya operate under cover of worship of the Chaotic Trinity of the 9 Fumayan Gods.


So that could be a hook for your party, running into Red Trinitarians and finding out there's something more in back of them.

THe two rival Uskalan faction is a good idea. I'm not sure if I want to get the king of Uskala involved. King Drosst is an extremely powerful villain that is way beyond the levels of my PCs. If the game lasts a long time and the players become much more powerful then they can take on the King of Uskala.

Uskala's king is a human who is many centuries old yet he never seems to age. He is never seen during the day. He banned mirrors from his palace. Rumors circulate that young women summoned to his bed chambers are never seen again.

He is actually a dragon.

After the First Age of Dragons came to an end, the gods decreed that elves dominate rule the world. After the Second Age of Elves came to an end, the gods decreed that humans would dominate the world. When the human race was young, a dragon yearing for the glory days of his ancestors tried to ensalve the fledgling human race. The Nine didn't like this. As punishment for his hubris, they locked him in the form of a human permanently.

For years, he wandered the world in shame. He came to the conclusion that advance magic might restore him to his draconic glory but he needed resources to do this. He usurped a city-state and declared himself king. It was not enough, so he conquered the neighboring city state. Over centuries he gradually conquered more and more human lands.

He has been at it so long, that he is not 100% sure he wants to return to his original state. His human form doesn't age and he's already outlived the natural lifespan of a dragon. Still, he hates his body (that's part of the reason he banned mirrors from his palace). But mostly he pretends to be a vampire prentending to be a human as a defense mechanisms. He doesn't want the other dragons to find out what happened to him. Also it's convenient when his would be assassins attack him with silver and garlic or "trick" him into walking across an open window during the day.

He probably wouldn't mind conquering Swynfaredia, but he is far more interested in regaining his draconic body. Uskala holds the world's largest wizard school, so he might not NEED to take over Swynfaredia.

King Drosst has created the most a culture of Byzantine ruthlessness among his vassals. After all, anyone who is okay with serving a vampire cannot be that moral. Ambitious Uskalans could easily planning to carve chunks out of Swynfaredia even without Drosst's involvement.

I think Drosst has good development based on his 1) location and 2) personal desires but I don't want to include him yet because he kill the PCs with a flick of his finger.

TheYell
2019-05-19, 09:20 PM
May I suggest

Drosst lives in seclusion in a forbidden city governed by Clan Miskai-Generen, a faction Drosst created 60 years ago by ordering intermarriage between the two greatest Houses in Uskala. Now in its fourth generation, Clan M-G controls the royal bureaucracy-- you have no hope of wielding any degree of the King's power without a blood tie to M-G, and you have to get royal permission to marry into M-G. M-G runs Uskala and they support Drosst in his magical quests, with varying degrees of understanding. Only a select few in the Forbidden City know the great secret -- Drosst is often unconscious from the mystic rituals he is undertaking these past few years. M-G likes the King's Peace, at home and abroad, because it pays so nicely.

The Forward Future Faction is a broad spectrum of non-M-G nobility that wants everything from looser rules about marrying M-G to outright replacement of M-G with other Houses. Ever since Drosst slaughtered 40 FFF nobles for proposing a Charter, the radical wing of FFF sees foreign adventure as the best hope for breaking M-G's hold on the kingdom.

All of the formal Uskalan representatives in Fumaya, like the ambassador, are M-G, and FFF infiltrators in Fumaya are shadier and sneakier. Your party is most unlikely to cause Drosst to rouse himself to oppose them directly, though it's technically possible.


Graf Hyunda Miskai-Generen is the Uskalan ambassador to the court of King Henryk. He has four main tasks as ambassador -- to help stop King Henryk from provoking Swynfaridia through diplomatic naivety; to identify and thwart Swynfaridian mischief in Fumaya; to identify and thwart FFF mischief in Fumaya; and to get his King Drosst the magical ingredients he demands through fair means or foul.

Hyunda's job is more complicated because he's fallen in love with Lady Patrykka, a bastard half-sister of King Henryk. She's only open to marriage, and as a M-G he'd have to get Drosst's permission for the wedding. On top of that, Henryk's uncles will tolerate the royal bastards only if they keep a low profile, and a big wedding to a foriegn ambassador doesn't qualify. So far the relationship is a secret, but Hyunda has to figure his next step carefully.

Scalenex
2019-05-20, 12:46 PM
May I suggest

Now in its fourth generation, Clan M-G controls the royal bureaucracy-- you have no hope of wielding any degree of the King's power without a blood tie to M-G, and you have to get royal permission to marry into M-G

Your M-G idea is very good, I will probably use your idea though I am likely to change the name. I need to figure a naming convention to use for Uskala but for now I'm going to focus on Fumaya.Here is what I have based on all the helpful feedback I received.

So the names are consistent, I pulled all the names from a baby naming guide for ethnic Polish names. The houses are from English to Polish translated words that I then proceed to mangle.
Since “Swynfaredia” is based on some mangled Welsh, I am going to give Swynfaredians ethnic Welsh names.

I use baby name sites so much that Google ad sense sometimes gives me maternity commercials.

House Polnoc
House Polnoc is a lesser house, but it’s on the front lines. Generations ago, Polnoc, the Bear, was a knight of great strength and courage. This giant of a man led an army which drove back a massive orc invasion into northern Fumaya roughly a century ago. The king rewarded his valor by granting him a noble title and dominion over Fumaya’s northern most lands. House Polnoc took the Bear as their sigil. It was expected that Polnoc would tame Fumaya’s northern most and wildest province. This also represents the last time Fumaya expanded territory.

His great grandson, Obrect, is the current head of the house. He’s an old man, but he still has not outgrown his unfortunate nickname “Obrect the Cub.” He is not an imposing leader of men nor is he a courageous warrior. Lord Obrect is not the man needed to rule Fumaya’s least fertile and most exposed province.

Obrect outlived all his sons and most of his daughters. Some to disease, one to suicide some on expeditions where they never came back. Obrect’s heir is his seven year old grandson. Losing so many children broke his heart and arguably his mind. He is worthless as a protector to the commoners in his lands because he has a siege mentality. Terrified of losing his remaining family members, his troops almost never leave his castle unless they are going to get supplies.

House Zimoz
House Zimoz is up north, but not quite as exposed as House Polnoc. House Zimoz still has to deal with less fertile land and being relatively exposed to attacks from creatures beyond the edge of the map. Their heraldry is a Silverwood Tree (aka a silvery pine tree). Their house was one of the first houses established by the first kind of Fumaya hundreds of years ago. Their house founder was a skilled ranger, and Silverwood trees are the most value and stately trees. Silverwood has many valuable, first and foremost Silverwood is solid to corporeal creatures, but that’s neither here nor there. Just because they took it as their house symbol doesn’t mean they have much Silverwood.

Their leader Lord Cezerary is a competent leader genuinely concerned for the welfare of his people. His troops are some of the busiest in Fumaya patrolling the lands and they are equipped with the best weapons and armor available. Cezerary is generous in giving rewards to adventurers who solve problems in his realm.

He is good at managing his realm’s resources but he still has to take out loans to keep this up. He owes the Masks of Phidas quite a sum. This galls him. He used to be a devotee of Hallisan, but since the Guardians pulled all their warriors and spell-casters out of his realm to defend against an imaginary invasion from Swynfaredia, maybe a new priestly ally is called for. He is pretty unhappy with the lack of support from the southern lords as well.

He doesn’t realize that his son, Andrzej, is taking his father’s prejudices much farther. He and some of his most trusted men have been disguising themselves as masked bandits and staging raids on southern lords in order to steal gold to pay the Masks off with, especially House Frymar. That’s technically treason against the realm even though it’s for a good cause.

The mafia is investigating the actions of these extremely well combat trained, very well informed bandits. If they find out who is behind it, the best Andrej can hope for is expensive blackmail.

House Frymar
House Frymar is one of the original founding houses of Fumaya. Their sigil is a red owl. I don’t have a story for this, I just think a red owl sounds cool. Apart from the king and the capital, the lands of House Frymar are arguably the most central to the country. That means if the Swynfaredians invade from the south or orcs invade from the north, House Frymar will be the last land to face an attack on their own lands.

The current head of the house, Lord Nanda, is a shrewd and greedy businessman. His house has made a lot of money acting as a middleman between the Dwarves and the Wood Elves. The Dwarves and Elves don’t like talking to each other, but they are willing to trade with humans. By acting as middleman and taking a modest percentage of each transaction, Lord Nanda is the richest lord in Fumaya.
Lord Frymar has not lifted a finger to help his fellow lords in the north nor his fellow lords in the south. He has no friends and the other lords would love to see misfortune befall him. It has, but it’s subtle. The mafia’s is muscling into Frymar’s racket of underground trade so Lord Frymar is the strongest voice for being tough on crime for purely mercenary reasons.

Lord Frymar’s parents were….fertile. Frymar had lots of younger brothers and sisters who had zero chance of inheriting any lands or getting a big dowry for a prestigious marriage. Most of these “extra” children were sent to the Church of Hallisan. A lot of Guardians bear the Frymar family name. This is not an asset for Nanda. In the echo chamber of Hallisan’s noble and selfless values the holy Frymars have convinced themselves that their brother/uncle is a disgrace to the family name.

House Wiern
House Wiern is one of the original founding houses of Fumaya when the first king bestowed titles on all his old adventuring buddies. House Wiern’s sigil is a griffin, because why not? House Wiern is the most influential southern house. Their farmlands are the most fertile and their current house head, Lord Garland is the father-in-law to the king and grandfather of the rightful heir. Pretty naturally, Lord Garland is very strong supporter of the king.

Lord Garland’s top priority is to defend the nation against Swynfaredian aggression. He is trying to save a nest egg of emergency funds and he’s vigorously drilling his soldiers. He feels guilty about leaving the north high and dry, but he rationalizes that this is a reasonable action given the circumstances.
He is so fixated on his daughter, the queen, that he has neglected his other children to an extent figuring that they are adults that can take of themselves.

His second eldest son, Lord Tacitus believes that Fumaya cannot possibly fight off Swynfaredia and is quietly putting out feelers to make a deal with the Swynfaredians. Since he’s not a sorcerer he cannot hold a noble title in Swynfaredia but he could still get a cushy government job. A daughter of one his father’s vassals and a cousin of Lord Tacitus, Lady Pallavi, is a budding sorcerer and this is as of yet not widely known. She is not of marrying age yet, but Tacitus doesn’t believe Swynfaredia is invading tomorrow. He has maneuvered to adopt her as a fosterling.

Felicja is Garland’s youngest daughter. After her older, prettier, oh so perfect sister was betrothed to the Crown Prince years ago, Felicja went into a deep rebellious phase which she never grew out of. It got so bad that she joined the Decadents, an insidious Maylar cult made up of jaded rich people. They inflict egregious atrocities on the lower classes for the perverse thrill it gives them, then they use their wealth and privilege to avoid detection and punishment.

I might throw some lesser foibles upon Garland’s other children. Bohdan is the eldest son and heir apparent. I should probably give him sort of flaw that his father is blind to, but given how Garland views his children through a political lens, Bohdan probably faces much more scrutiny than his evil siblings.

House Linijka
This the King Henryk’s house. We can make the sigil a blazing arrow. Why not say their distant ancestor was a great archer. Sounds good.

King Henryk’s father was a selfish wasteful man who cleaned out the royal treasury built up by three generations of thrift. As mentioned before, King Henryk is a kind man who does not want to overtax is commoners, so to free up funds he cut back on royal luxuries and fired a lot of his staff. This barely made a dent in his budgetary woes. He grew up on tales of how duplicitous the masks of Phdias can be and they are the only person or group that he has access that he can borrow money from except in theory the dwarven nation of Stahlheim, and the dwarf king said no.

Some of his staff are bitter and they are selling secrets to enemies of the Crown. The doppleganger who runs the local mafia has enough insider information that he walk into any room of royal castle anytime he wants because he knows which servants to impersonate and how to imitate their personality and foibles. He doesn’t like to impersonate a lowly servant all the time, so he’s paid a lot of human servants bribes for regular information and guards bribed to look the other way. None of these servants on the take suspect that they are working for a doppleganger.

I might throw a Swynfaredian spy into the royal court, but I want to keep it at one or two spies in at most, instead of a small army of spies, so I want to be careful with that.

The young king has a three year old daughter and a one year old son who is the crown prince. He has no brothers in line for the crown, most of his siblings are bastards. Henryk’s late father was lecherous and didn’t care for Henryk’s mother much (the queen mother is still alive). If the king died without an heir, his elderly uncles would inherit the crown. This uncle in question is not the regicidal type nor are his sons, most of whom joined the Church of Khemra or Hallisan which is generally pro-status quo as a rule, but there are some third parties that wouldn’t mind a dynastic shift.

Henryk tries to be polite and fair to his bastard half-siblings, but at least a few of them are bitter about not being true-born and willing to act against him.

I’m open to suggestions if Henryk needs a character flaw in addition to his mild naiveté. Also, if anyone has any ideas for fleshing out his half-sibling, cousins, or uncles, I’d be open to hear it.

I think I have a good cast here. I feel like I should add another major vassal house or two but they don’t have to be as politically important as the three I listed above.

At some point I need to develop Swynfaredian noble houses, at least those noble houses that are trying to meddle in Fumaya. Except for House Polnoc, each of the aforementioned houses have lesser noble houses answering to them but I think it would be overkill to develop these lesser houses unless the PCs decide to set up permanent shop somewhere, in which case, yes I should figure out who rules the lands they live in.



Clergy
Hallisan’s Guardians
Hallisan’s priesthood has more spell-casters and competent fighters in Fumaya than the rest of the Nine’s priesthoods. They have chapels in every sizeable town and they fall under the auspices of single temple in Fumaya’s capital.

Revered Mother Aleksandra Frymar is the head of the Church of Hallisan in Fumaya. She believes Swynfaredia is the greatest threat and has redeployed all her most powerful spell-casters and warriors to the southern border to reinforce the army. She is unlikely to change her mind unless the north falls under a full scale invasion from orcs or she can get some sort of airtight assurance that the Swynfaredians are not coming.

If the PCs visit a chapel or temple away from the border they will find pleasant and helpful non-spellcasting priests that could provide useful local information to anyone who seems interesting in solving problems but they cannot really fight their way out of a paper bag.

If the PCs go digging they will find that a lot of the mid ranking priests and holy warriors under Aleksandra would rather be up north fighting orcs and monsters rather than standing guard against an invasion which may or may not actually manifest, but they aren’t going to disobey orders from their superior without a very good reason.

Phidas’ Masks
The Church of Phidas only has one temple in Fumaya which is in the capital. Another temple is under construction in Fumaya’s second largest city. The Masks run an organized circuit so traveling priests visit smaller towns and villages regularly and make sure the various Phidas shrines are well kept and Phidas is well thought of throughout the land.

Hubert is the Royal Mask of Fumaya, meaning he is the primary liason between the royal court and the priesthood of Phidas. Royal Mask a very prestigious position, but not in Fumaya. King Henryk and Hubert make a public show of friendship during Phidas’ major holidays but the other 363 days of the year, Hubert is not welcome in court.

Hubert considered plotting regicide, but he figures if the king dies a mysterious death, Hubert will be the primary suspect, so he’s playing it cool for now.

The priestess Danuta is the highest ranking Mask in Fumaya. She isn’t aiming for Phidas to get a voice in the royal court. She is aiming for Phidas to get a voice in the next generation’s royal court. In Fumaya, most feudal lords who highborn children who are highly unlikely to inherit titles and land get oblated to the priesthood of Khemra or Hallisan. Phidas’ priesthood has zero highborn Masks. Danuta figures if she can enough nobles in the next generation of Masks, the next generation of kings will have to accept Masks in court. She is aiming to ensnare lesser nobles with monetary debts and use that leverage to be able to educate their children.

I might throw in a third Mask that is conspiring with Swynfaredia but I’m not sure yet.

Mera’s Tenders
Mera’s priesthood has more priests and temples than any other priesthood in Fumaya, but most of their priests and priestesses are not spell-casters.

Beslyfle the gnome, is the highest ranking Tender in Fumaya. She believes that the Tenders will be in a position to help more people if they stay apolitical. If the Tenders start to take sides, she fears they will lose their freedom of movement. She is carefully coordinating a network of healers, both spell-casters and mundane healers to help those in need around Fumaya.

Rank in the priesthood of Mera is based more on seniority than power, Vadik is the most powerful spell-caster amongst the Tenders. He is also a sympathizer to the near-heretical Paladins faction. The Paladins believe that Mera’s priests can better protect the people if they seize power and issue tight controls. Vadik personally believes that being apolitical will only lead to more suffering but he’s willing to accept that things need to get worse before they can get better. The more people suffer, the more Tenders he can sway to his cause. Then with most of the priesthood of Mera behind him, they can ride in at Fumaya’s hour of greatest need and be the saviors of the nation.

Khemra’s Keepers
The Keepers do not have a lot of members in Fumaya but their highest ranked priest, Udom, is a primary advisor to the king. Udom is splitting his time between running the main temple and advising the king which is a lot of work for a man of his advanced age. He is fairly cautious and thoughtful, which is usually a good things but the current situation calls for more quick decisions and boldness.

Zarthus’ Lanterns
Zarthus boasts a few fairly modest temple in Fumaya’s capital and larger towns. The Lanterns here are primarily patrons of the arts which is admittedly hard to do in a nation short on gold and beset by many difficulties. They do not begrudge the nobles for withholding patronage of the arts as long as they redirect their gold to help the people in some way.

Rab the half-elf, is the most powerful Lantern in Fumaya. His adventuring party has been traveling Fumaya’s north trying to help the beleaguered people there. He is toying with the idea of the north seceding from Fumaya. If the southerners are not going to support the north, the north shouldn’t be supplying the south taxes and soldiers.

A lot of nobles avoid having children during Zarthus’ zodiac year because sometimes Zarthus’ favored souls pop up in the families of nobles who have zero sympathy for Zarthus’ values. Arial is one of them. She is a daughter of a Swynfaredian noble house. She is watching the situation in Fumaya carefully. She doesn’t wish an invasion about Fumaya, but she views Swynfaredian nobles as horrible oppressors. If and when Swynfaredia invades Fumaya, she plans to sabotage the Swynfaredians from the inside.
Korus’ Stewards

The Stewards of the Dominion care next to nothing about which nation claims which land or what the criminal element is doing. They are unlikely to lift a finger unless one of the political factions in Fumaya despoiling nature on a large scale. They do have a high opinion of Wood Elves. If the Wood Elves choose to back one of the factions, the Stewards of the Dominion may follow. I do not have any specific character ideas for Stewards of the Dominion.

The Stewards of the Gift are common in Fumaya. They are allies to all responsible farmers and because Fumaya is has an agrarian economy, Stewards are well respected. The problem is they are pretty apolitical and unlikely to use their influence. I’m thinking to make sure the Stewards aren’t a boring monolith of neutrality that if the PCs ask the high ranking priests for help and turn down, some eager wide-eyed acolytes will follow the PCs out and volunteer to help either fight monsters or fight crime.

Hahn is the head of the Korus temple in the capital, a member of Korus’ unofficial faction known as the Urban Stewards. He has no magical powers but he is an intelligent and well-spoken man who is a respected mediator in disputes between the merchant classes. If he could be swayed to intervene in problems he could sway a lot of influential burghers.

Brynn is a Swynfaredian by birth but she spent most of her life in Fumaya and considers herself a Fumayan. She is the most powerful spell-caster affiliated with Korus in the area. She runs a large temple in a small village that acts as a school where most young recruits to the Stewards begin their training.

Maylar’s Testers
Maylar’s priests are rarely well organized and they are hard to pigeonhole. Maylar has a temple in the capital. The rest of the country has to make due with shrines if even that.

Ujarek is the head priest in the capital, sort of. He would much rather sleep under the sky than sleep under a temple roof. He spends as much of his time in the wilderness as possible. He gathers regents for healing potions and scrolls. He mainly visits the capital to make potions and scrolls which one of his acolytes sells. Right now, his best customer is the local mafia.

“That which does not kill you makes you stronger” is an adage Maylar’s faithful love to recite. Maylar’s faithful frequently commit horrible acts in the name of making people strong. Ujarek does not. Ujarek is a member of the Shepherds, the most benign faction in Maylar’s priesthood. They don’t attack people just for fun. Over the years, more mainstream Testers have mistaken Ujarek’s non-malicious attitude for weakness. Ujarek buried them all.

He has much respect for Fumayans in the north. Life is hard there, so the people are strong. When visiting the north he’ll heal people for free. In the south, they got to pay lots of money for his help. If Swynfaredia invades and the southern Fumayans fight off the assault they’ll earn Ujarek’s respect. If not, oh well the strong thrive and the weak die.

He could be a potential ally to the PCs but the last Maylar priest they met tried to murder them (after trying to destroy two villages by hiding the tribute the villagers were supposed to pay off the local orcs with), so they are unlikely to try. Ujarek actually sold that priest scrolls, but he won’t hold a grudge if he finds out. That guy was a fool.

Greymoria’s Children
Greymoria’s clergy are seldom welcome in civilized lands. Fumaya does not have a strong arcane tradition so they would have little to hold the Children’s interest.

In most cases, if a nation is faltering like Fumaya is the Children will just watch and laugh or kick them while they are down. Swynfaredia is home to the largest concentration of a heretical faction within Greymoria’s priesthood. This faction preaches that those born with arcane power are superior to those who gain arcane magic through study or pacts.

If Swynfaredia invades, this might lure some more mainstream Children out of the woodwork to try to prevent Swynfaredia from getting any stronger, but I don’t have any specific character ideas.

Nami’s Rovers
Per their name, most Rovers don’t lay down roots. Nami has only a small number of temples in Fumaya. These temples are waystations for traveling Rovers. Rovers show up to lead Fumayans in celebration of Nami’s holy days then they tend to leave without giving Fumaya much more thought.

I don’t have any specific character ideas for Rovers at this time. I am thinking of keeping the Rovers as an emergency deus ex machina. If the PCs are really struggling I could have a Rover show up and help them out. A lot of Rovers value the common good and many Rovers view Swynfaredia as a force of oppression. If the PCs are doing especially well I can have a Rover show up and sabotage their efforts just because one of my PCs is a high ranking priest of Khemra who happens to be Nami’s greatest rival.

TheYell
2019-05-20, 03:33 PM
This is very well thought out!


I might throw a Swynfaredian spy into the royal court, but I want to keep it at one or two spies in at most, instead of a small army of spies, so I want to be careful with that.


There is at present only an Ambassador from Swynfaredia in the capital. How that came about is a minor scandal.

It seems the mafia infiltrated the servants of Swynfaredia's embassy and tried a little blackmail and burglary. The ambassador objected to King Henryk. Henryk forbade any of his subjects from being servants in the embassy without a thorough investigation. The servants all quit. The ambassador complained that his noble aides had no servants, and Henryk foolishly and a little rudely said they could go home since all he required was one ambassador to talk to. The ambassador walked out, and was stopped at the river by a royal courier from the King of Swynfaredia ordering him to apologize to King Henryk and wait for Swynfaredian servants. The other noble aides said that was orders to the ambassador only (it was hastily drafted) so they will come back with the servants like proper nobles. So the ambassador is in the embassy by himself until some servants come. There will probably be some spies with them, but there aren't any now, and the Ambassador is reduced to collecting rumors at parties. You can amend this situation at any time by having the servants and nobles come back.


Their sigil is a red owl. I don’t have a story for this, I just think a red owl sounds cool


A red owl woke the founder when raiders snuck into his camp and slew his sentries silently. He declared the very birds were his allies and made the red owl a symbol of his House.

Scalenex
2019-05-21, 03:25 AM
This is very well thought out!

Thanks, I owe thanks to you and Grek for helping me out of my writer's block with your good ideas.



There is at present only an Ambassador from Swynfaredia in the capital. How that came about is a minor scandal.

It seems the mafia infiltrated the servants of Swynfaredia's embassy and tried a little blackmail and burglary. The ambassador objected to King Henryk. Henryk forbade any of his subjects from being servants in the embassy without a thorough investigation. The servants all quit. The ambassador complained that his noble aides had no servants, and Henryk foolishly and a little rudely said they could go home since all he required was one ambassador to talk to. The ambassador walked out, and was stopped at the river by a royal courier from the King of Swynfaredia ordering him to apologize to King Henryk and wait for Swynfaredian servants. The other noble aides said that was orders to the ambassador only (it was hastily drafted) so they will come back with the servants like proper nobles. So the ambassador is in the embassy by himself until some servants come. There will probably be some spies with them, but there aren't any now, and the Ambassador is reduced to collecting rumors at parties. You can amend this situation at any time by having the servants and nobles come back.

I'll tinker with the fine details but making the main Swynfaredian spy the ambassador is a very good idea that I feel silly for not having thought of myself.

I'm not sure if medieval societies had permanent or long term ambassadors but I guess if they want to scout Fumaya for an invasion they probably would do it.

By law, to hold land and titles in Swynfaredia beyond that of knights, you have to be a sorcerer. Thus the ambassador is probably a sorcerer. Thus the ambassador could use magic to aid in espionage but since Swynfaredia is a byzantine nest of back biting vipers, sorcerers with magic geared towards espionage are in very high demand. They probably aren't going to send their best spy to Fumaya. I'll probably limit him to First Circle and Second Circle level spells (in my mechanics systems, magic exists on a one to five scale).




A red owl woke the founder when raiders snuck into his camp and slew his sentries silently. He declared the very birds were his allies and made the red owl a symbol of his House.

Works for me.

TheYell
2019-05-21, 01:51 PM
I'm not sure if medieval societies had permanent or long term ambassadors but I guess if they want to scout Fumaya for an invasion they probably would do it.

The concept of a permanent envoy sitting in place to handle relations is pretty modern, but they did have long-term envoys who were sent to resolve specific disputes or agreements, carrying back messages from the other monarch with them when they returned. So for instance we have the Spanish ambassador's take on what happened to the Princes in the Tower when Richard III took over in England, which is 1400s. I believe the sticking point was sanctity of communications, once it was established that they could safely sit tight and send messages back they had permanent offices. So if you have that convention in place you could have a permanent embassy, or if not, you could have Lord Sorcerer sent for some errand. Perhaps the South Fumaya farmlands have a fine breed of sheep or hog that they claim to want breeding stock to get it in their own kingdom, and the Fumayans don't want to share (like Spanish merino wool)




A red owl woke the founder when raiders snuck into his camp and slew his sentries silently. He declared the very birds were his allies and made the red owl a symbol of his House.
Works for me.

In this place red owls could shriek at the smell of blood, and "Spilt Blood!" could be the battlecry of House Frymar


in which case call it a Blood Owl

Composer99
2019-05-21, 09:20 PM
Not being super helpful in that I don't have anything to suggest, but I did want to say that I think with all the extra details you've managed to come up with, either on your own or by taking others' suggestions into account, you've got a pretty fine political sandbox for your players to play in.

Scalenex
2019-05-22, 04:22 AM
Not being super helpful in that I don't have anything to suggest, but I did want to say that I think with all the extra details you've managed to come up with, either on your own or by taking others' suggestions into account, you've got a pretty fine political sandbox for your players to play in.

Indeed, I have plenty of material for my players. I will probably keep going though because it's fun and eventually I'd like to write fiction for my setting.