Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gods of Dakar for 5th edition

I find it useful to focus on the religions rather than the deities themselves. I consider religion to be the culture that surrounds the worship of a deity or deities. Because it is a culture it is useful for defining the motivations and personalities of NPCs that the players come into contact with as their characters.

And given the various demands on our day it helps to have some worked out examples to use as a starting point.

Gods of Dakar

Daysha, Fate, Destiny, Female
Hydeth, Physical and Mental Mastery, Male
Sho Dae, Twilight, Shadows, and Stealth, Female
Astrel, Lakes, Rivers, and Wells, Female

The Dakarian religion teaches that no man may escape his fate. Many Dakarian are fatalistic about life. Many travelers will attest that most common phrase among Dakarians is, "It is the will of Daysha". This fatalism often causes the Dakar to take more risks and to be more militant than the other cultures in the World of Eastgate.

Daysha, the spider goddess of destiny and fate, personifies fate for the Dakar. The Demon Wars left the Dakarian people struggling some of the world’s most inhospitable deserts. This struggle caused many Dakarians to embrace Daysha.

Many Dakarians do not actively pursue worship or service with Daysha. They view her as a cruel and uncaring goddess. To outsiders this makes the Dakar appear not as religious. However anyone born in Dakarian culture is always concerned with his fate and will work to ensure his fortune. To one born in Dakar, no one escapes the will of Daysha.

The scholarly arts flourish in Dakarian society due to Daysha’s influence. The scholars are in great demand by those who desire to change or evade what fate has set before them.

Daysha does have clerics and 80% of these are female. Society in Dakarian lands is traditionally male dominated. Women are regulated to a lower social class than their male counterparts and are given fewer rights legally and socially. Daysha would accept any into her service and many women joined. Service to Daysha became even more popular among women when it was discovered that Daysha treated all who served her equally. Men feared Daysha for her power over their fates and followed the dictates of her clergy even if they were women.

5th Edition Notes:
The temples of Daysha are dominated by Clerics with the Knowledge Domain.

Daysha is not the only power worshipped in Dakarian society, others arose when people seek to regain control over their fates. Hydeth is a god who teaches that if one controls his body and mind with absolute discipline, and then one will have control over their fate.

The followers of Hydeth are called the Followers of the Way. The Followers of the Way made their appearance about 200 years ago in Dakarian Society. They developed methods and techniques that lead to the development of the unarmed martial arts. The Followers of the Way have established monasteries to study the martial arts and control of the mind and body.

Along with the development of the martial arts, many of the Followers of the Way developed the mind to the point of that they are able to affect the world and others with the power of their mind alone. Many come to study the esoteric science of Psionics.

5th Edition Notes:
The shrine of Hydeth are dominated by Monk following the Way of the Open Hand, along with one or two Clerics with the Knowledge Domain.

Sho Dae
Sho Dae revealed herself over one thousand years ago. The followers of Sho Dae believe that while all men are predestined by fate the only way to deal with the situation is to laugh and take as much of life as one can. Sho Dae is the patron of thieves throughout Dakar. Followers of Sho Dae tend to be the adventurers, and rogues of Dakarian society.

5th Edition Notes:
The shrines to Sho Dae are dominated by Clerics with the Trickery Domain, there is also usually a group of Arcane Trickster associated with the shrine.

Astrel is the most powerful of a group of demi-gods associated with places and elemental forces in Dakar. When the First City fell to the Demons, these demi-gods fled into the wilderness of Dakar and prepared safe havens for the survivors.

Astrel is the patron of Lakes, Rivers, and Wells. Her clerics protect oasis, wells, local lakes, and rivers from those who wish to despoil or pollute them. Astrel continued to be worshiped because much of southern Dakar is desert where there is very little water. Astrel’s priests have established shrines throughout the region to protect oasis and other water sources. Because of this, Dakarian caravan masters and the nomads give thanks to Astrel when they travel.

5th Edition Notes:
The camps devoted to Astrel are dominated by Clerics with the nature domain, along with Paladins who have sworn the Oath of the Ancient to protect water sources. There is a faction, who lives in the deep desert, dominated by Druids of the Circle of the Moon, and Rangers who are Beast Masters.This faction is far more fanatical about protecting water sources viewing any regular use by tribes or caravans as a source of pollution.

The Nomads of Dakar
Among nomads of Dakar, their shamans worship the old demi-gods of the elements and places and have formed pacts with them. The shaman acts as a intermediary between the tribe and the one of the local gods. The shaman will lead the tribe in the ceremonies and sacrifices that maintain the good-will of the demi-god.

5th Edition Notes:
The temples of Dannus are dominated by Warlocks with a pact similar to the Pact of the Archfey. In place of the Archfey, the warlock deals with a demi-god. The referee should modify the spell list to reflect the focus and personality of the demi-god.

Before I secured a license from Judges Guild to publish the Majestic Wilderlands I was working on a version of the setting that used a new map and all the Judges Guild specifics striped out. I took some of what I wrote for the Greyhawk Gods and adapted to this setting.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Some 5th edition NPCs for a Feudal Setting

The NPCs templates found in the back of the 5e Basic Dungeon Master’s Guide and the 5e Monster Manual are a great resource for a campaign. However they don’t cover the range of military types that would be found in a feudal setting.

In the rules there are the Guard and Knight templates with little to choose from in between. The following are a basic set of templates to use in a setting inspired by Medieval Europe during the middle ages.

NPCs for a Feudal Setting

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some belated Swords & Wizardry stuff

Along with my other projects and mapping jobs, I been working on my own retro-clone. I don't want to compete with Swords and Wizardry but I really want a complete book that I can just print and sell when I need it. It hard to sell supplements locally when the core books are hard to get.

My retro-clone is largely going to be a merge of Swords and Wizardry Core plus the Majestic Wilderlands supplement and the rules I developed since 2008. It will function as a 2nd edition Majestic Wilderlands supplement  as well. Think of it as Swords & Wizardry tailored for a specific campaign. When I do get it done (probably still be a while) I will promote as a super-supplement.

The main thing that needs work on are the monster lists and the spell lists. It not sufficient for this project just to copy and paste from the Swords and Wizardry reference document. I want to present how I used or will be using that spell in my campaign. For some spells there are little differences, for example Magic Missile

Magic Missile
Magic-User, 1st Level, Range: 150 feet, Duration: Immediate
With a gesture one or more glowing missiles of magical force erupt from the caster’s hands. The caster is able to hurl one missile starting at 1st level, three missiles at 5th level, and five missiles at 10th level. Each missile may hit the same or different targets at the caster’s choice. 
The caster must pick one of the following two options at the time of casting.
Roll to hit the target(s) at a +1 bonus and have each missile deal 1d6+1 damage.
Automatically hit the target(s) and have each missile deal 1d4+1 damage.

Other spells I rewrote to reflect how I handle things in the Majestic Wilderlands. For example I have no Astral Plane. The various homes of the Gods are connected to the Wilderlands and to each other through a system of wolds.

Astral Spell
Magic-User, 9th Level, Range: 100 miles, 100 yards (underground), Duration: 2 hours.
The caster projects his astral form outside of the mortal realm of existence. While in astral form he can see or hear anything that occurs in the mortal realm. Various colors appear to be washed out. Other astral forms can be see within line of sight as version of their mortal body except colored all white and luminous. Elves also appear the same way even if they are in mortal form.
The flow of mana can be seen and appears as thin brightly colored strands intertwined with creatures and objects. Likewise wolds are visible if they are within normal line of sight. They appear as globe anchored by a thick stalk to the ground with strands of brightly color mana surrounding it like a net. 
He cannot be seen except by those who are also in astral form. He can travel at speeds up to 100 miles per hour per character level above 18th. If the caster's mortal body is moved more than 100 miles from the location from where the Astral spell was cast the link to the astral form is broken and the caster dies.
If underground the top speed is limited to 120 feet per 10 minutes. Also if underground and the caster mortal body is moved more than 100 feet, the link to the astral form is severed and the caster dies.
Caster can cast spells and perform rituals in the immediate vicinity of his astral form. Any spell or ritual components on the physical body of the caster is carried along in astral form and is consumed when used as part of a spell or ritual. The caster must roll a 1d20 and subtracts the level of the spell. If the caster does not roll a 1 or higher than the spell fails and is lost.
After every casting attempt, successful or not, another d20 is rolled, subtract -1 for every two spell levels starting at -1 for a first level spell. If the caster doesn't roll a 1 or higher than the caster astral form is immediately pulled back into his mortal body and the Astral spell ends.
Still a long way to go. I am in the B's on the monster list and in the A's on the spell list. I was hung up on the Astral spell for a while until the inspiration for the above came. One thing is that I am adding Harvest notes to all the monsters. Tim gets a kick out of harvesting monster parts and I figure it will make for a cool addition to the game to have formal notes.
Ant, Giant (Queen), AC 3[16], HD 10; HP 31; ATK 1; HTB +10; DMG 1d6 (bite); MV 30’; Save 5; Special: None; Harvest: Small Mandibles [2] 10d, Chitin Pieces [10d], Ant Queen Fluid [100d/10 gallons]; CL/XP 8/800; 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Harn, Google Map style.

Still working on the Feudalism PDF. Here is a useful Harn aide, a google maps style view of the island of Harn. Also useful for folks who don't know much about the setting and want to get a sense of it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 15

Continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

The Royal Guard
The head of the Royal Guard is the MARSHAL OF THE ROYAL GUARDS. The Marshal is responsible for the personal protection of the Overlord.

The personal bodyguards of the Overlord. The spiritual descendants of the original Tharian housecarls who were men personally loyal to the chief of the clan.

The Royal Guards also organize the Overlord's Hunts, and his personal herd of horses.

The most important division of the Royal Guard are the Regulators. They are in essence a group of high level adventurers personally loyal to the Overlord and his family. They were established by Lucius the Great in his war against the Tyrant mage Salm-Lorin. Since then the Regulators have hand-picked their successor to maintain their tradition of personal loyalty.

They are headquartered in the dungeon levels underneath the Cryptic Citadel. There they maintain the true magical treasures of the Overlord and undertake missions that no other group can deal with.

This of course leads the question, why if the Overlord has such a powerful group they don't just literally blow up all the enemies of the Overlord. They do deal with some threats in that way, the reality is that other sovereigns have similar groups of their own. These disparate high level groups of adventurer types are basically the nuclear option of the Majestic Wilderlands except that because of the personal nature of most magic they can't wipe out whole realms. Groups of individuals and small area, sure thing.

For all their power, these groups are not particularly effective against the divine powers and are vulnerable to corruption by demons. It is known that extensive use of magic and supernatural powers seems to give the deities more leeway for intervention including liberal use of miraculous resurrection from the dead.

One Regulator after she was initiated remarked, "You mean we have all this and we can't use it to win?! Sometimes I feel I did more when I was just starting out and smashing up skeletons just inside the entrance of the dungeon."

One useful tool to handle this as a referee is to look at how things are handled in the world of comic book superheroes. Writers of Superhero stories have come up with a number of clever ways of integrating super powered being into otherwise normal world.

Under the Marshal of the Royal Guard are:
Captain of the High Guard
5 Companies
Captain of the Low Guard
20 Companies
Master of the Squires
Master of the Hunt
Falconer Royal
Master of the Hounds
Royal Weaponcrafter
Royal Ostler
Captain of the Regulators

With this post we conclude this series of posts. I am working on integrating all of this into a PDF that I will release. There will be two releases, the first a 'as is' compilation of all the posts. The second a Bat in the Attic Product that will have a similar setup but in a more polished form with some extras.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 14

Continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

The Chamber of the Overlord
The Head of the Chamber of the Overlord is the LORD HIGH CHAMBERLAIN. The Lord High Chamberlain's responsibilities are to ensure the personal health and well-being of the Overlord and maintain the Overlord's quarters and dwellings.

Under the Chamberlain is the Lord Master Herald known as the Moonlight King of Arms due the fact their main offices are housed in the Silverlight Palace in City-State. The heralds act as diplomats and official messengers especially to foreign realms. They also keep track of social hierarchy of Overlord's territories by recording Coats of Arms and other insignia in their record books. The wearing of a Coat of Arm isn't as rigorously regulated as in our own history. In-game, I justify this by using the fact that has to deal with three separate traditions, Tharian, Elessarian, and Ghinorians. Out of game it is because of the legacy of starting with 1st Edition ADnD. So I came up with something that supported the tendency of PCs to come up with group names and insignias.

The Astrology Royal is the official diviner of the Overlord. In all of the RPGs I used to run the Majestic Wilderlands there are divination spells. Nobles would hire as part of their household a mage capable of casting these spell.

The Master of the Esoteric Arts is the position granted to the court wizard. Who advises the Overlord on all things magical and maintains the magic items owned by the Overlord and his family.

At the time of the MW Supplement, the Master of the Esoteric Arts held by Lewellyn the Blue who is an independent wizard and not a member of the dominant Order of Thoth. As of 4436, Lewellyn has been in the position for nearly five decades and is granted the Wizards Keep in the Southeast corner of City-State as his personal residence.

The Astrologer Royal as of 4436 BCCC, is Parnswarn the Red who also the Guildmaster of the Guild of Arcane Lore the local conclave of the Order of Thoth. As part of his office he was granted the use of the Southern Keep as his residence.

Parnswarn and the Guild of Arcane Lore are not very happy with Lewellyn as Master of the Esoteric Arts. However the Overlord's family consider Lewellyn to be a personal friend so his position unassailable. This is helped by Lewellyn's disinterest in politics.

In my campaign present of 4460 BCCC, Lewellyn is still the Master of Esoteric Arts leading some to speculate that he is a Half-Elf. Lewellyn doesn't talk about his upbringing much and seems to enjoy the mystery he creates. It is rumored that he had a chat with Duke Divolic making it clear that the new Overlord and his family are under his personal protection.

The 4460 BCCC Astrologer Royal is Master Crassius of the Guild of Arcane Lore. He is not the guildmaster but an experienced mage in the arts of divination.

The Overlord's Fool and the Chief Harper are collectively in charge of the entertainment of the Overlord's court.

The Overlord has three palaces he resides in. Castle Bulwark which is the traditional home of his clan, the Silverlight Palace in City-State, and the Summer Palace in the foothills of the Majestic Mountains near the dwarves of Thunderhold. Each has a Chamberlain in charge of a large staff.

Under the Lord High Chamberlain are:
Chief Clerk of the Chambers
Chamber Clerks
Lord Master Herald "Moonlight King of Arms"
Royal Heralds
Enclave of the Silver Orb
Clerks of the Heralds
Astrologer Royal
Master of the Esoteric Arts
Alchemist Royal
The Overlord's Fool
Chief Harper of the Chamber
Chamber Harpers
Chamberlain of the Palaces
Seneschal of the Silverlight Palace
Royal Chef
The Overlord's Food Taster
Master of the Palace's Cellar
Ostler of the Palace's Stables
Chief Metalcrafter
Chamber Servants
Seneschal of the Summer Palace
Royal Chef
The Overlord's Food Taster
Master of the Palace's Cellar
Ostler of the Palace's Stables
Chief Metalcrafter
Chamber Servants
Seneschal of Castle Bulwark
Royal Chef
The Overlord's Food Taster
Master of the Palace's Cellar
Ostler of the Palace's Stables
Chief Metalcrafter
Chamber Servants

Clan Bulwark
The Head of Clan Bulwark is the OVERLORD. Since the Overlord has many other responsibilities, he grants the HIGH BAILIFF OF CLAN BERNOST the authority to oversee Clan Bernost's affairs and lands. Clan Bernost is the Overlord's family and it's holdings.

Large Tharian clans are divided into septs each governed by a chief. Septs roughly correspond to a manorial estate with a focus on livestock, and horse raising. Each Sept is governed by a Chief with the entire clans ruled by a High Chief.

The old titles of High Chief and Chief are now only used in certain ceremonies. Most of the Bulwark Chief have granted titles of knighthood or baronies to use as well.

The clan has grown so wealthy and powerful is there is little opposition to the Overlord immediate family. This is one of the main factor behind the accession of Overlord's underage grandson. In 4460 BCCC, the ongoing civil war may change this.

Under the High Bailiff of Clan Bernost are:
Treasurer of Bernost
Chiefs of Bernost Septs.
Marshal of Bernost
Captains of Bernost

Next up is the last post in the series and concluding thoughts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 13

Continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

Ministry of War
The GRAND MARSHAL OF THE CITY-STATE heads the Ministry of War. The Grand Marshal is responsible for the high level command and maintenance of the Overlord's Troops. Usually the Grand Marshal position is unfilled except in war time due to the powerful nature of the office.

The Legion is main standing army of the Overlord. It is comprised of 5000 men divided into 8 VastThrongs (infantry) and 2 EquiThrongs (cavalry).  The individual VastThrongs and EquiThrongs are distributed across the various provinces and marches ruled by the Overlords and only brought together in times of war. The Legion is augmented by the noble levies who owe service to the Overlord as part of their obligations as members of the Confederation. In all out out war the Overlord can muster anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 troops depending on how much of the peasant militia he wishes to call out.

The core Legion is a standing army and serves year around. The remaining forces can serve only one or two season before they have to be dismissed in order attend to planting or the harvest. Typically the Overlord staggers the levies over the years so to have additional troops ready all year long. Fifty percent of the levies serve during the summer season, twenty percent during the spring and fall, and remaining ten percent during the winter season. In times of invasion or all-out war everybody is called up. When this happens the Overlord has at best a season or maybe two to win the campaign before famine is certain.

Wars and conflicts are normally fought with hired troops, either a standing army or mercenaries. Exhaustion in these wars results usually from being unable to borrow any more money to pay troops. In our own history, the expense of fighting wars is what led to the centralization of power by the European Kings and their government. This same process is at work in the City-State and is one of the main source of political tension between the clans/noble houses and the Overlord.

Under the Grand Marshal are:
Lord Marshal of the Legion
(in peacetime only 1 is active)
(see Military)
Lord Marshal of the Troops
Marshal of the Provincial/Marcher Troops
Chief Ostler
Royal Ostlers
Chief Weaponcrafter
Royal Weaponcrafters
Chief Provisioners
Royal Provisioners.
Marshal of the Overlord's Stores
Lord Marshal of the Castles
Marshal of the Province/March Castles
Royal Masons
Inspector General of the Overlord
Inspector General of the Province/March
Royal Inspectors
Lord Marshals commanding the VastThrongs(8)
Lord Marshals commanding the EquiThrongs(2)

The Exchequer
The head of the Exchequer is EXCHEQUER ROYAL OF THE CITY-STATE. The Exchequer Royal is responsible for collecting and accounting for all the revenues of the Overlord. The Overlord has two main sources of revenue. Income from the Shield Dues, and income from his personal holdings.

The Shield Dues are a fee levied against each noble house and clan that are members of the Confederation. It is a result of an agreement between the Senate and the Overlord every five years. The levy is traditionally called a Shield Due and it is apportioned on the basis of the census. This is why there is a separate Ministry of the Census and why reports both to the Overlord and the Senate.

The personal income of the Overlord consists of revenue generated by the estates he personally owns, the feudal dues owned by the subordinated barons and knights for the fiefs they have been granted, and the traditional incomes granted to a Tharian Clan Chief as the Overlord is also the High Chief of Clan Bulwark.

Lucius the Great always made sure that the Shield Dues were set to be little less than the cost of running his government. He would make it publicly known that he would cover the deficit from his own personal income. In the reign of Lucius' successors this continued. However the revenus generated from the City-State itself and later the Marches proved so lucrative that the Senate never had the leverage to use their power over the Shield Dues to keep the Overlord in check. In this respect the political development of the City-State and the Confederation is more like medieval France than medieval England.

The Exchequer Royal is also in charge of minting of the Overlord coins. The Overlord mints a silver penny at 250 coins to a pound of silver. Nominally a pound of pure silver would yield 240 pure silver pennies however the need to improve wear and to stretch the supply of silver, the Overlord has traditionally added enough impurities to strike 250 coins out of a pound of silver. The Overlord also mints a gold crown at 16 coins to a pound of gold. As silver trades 20 to 1 to gold this makes each gold crown worth 320 silver pennies. Since gold needs very little impurities to use it as a coin, a pound of gold yields 16 coins. It is also used as a unit of accounting for large sums.

The Royal Mason under the Lord Architect are the responsibility of teh Exchequer Royal. Since castles, keeps, and public works are among the most expensive projects undertaken by the Overlord it was felt that direct supervision by the Exchequer was necessary.

Last is the Inspector General of the Tolls. There are several important roads in the Overlord's territory, the Rorystone Road northward to Thunderhold, and the South Road to Zothay and Halkmenan. Both are maintained by tolls paid by the people using the roads.

Under the Exchequer Royal are:
Treasurer of the Exchequer
Governor of the Royal Mint
Royal Engravers
Royal Assayists
Collector General of the Exchequer
Collectors of the Exchequer
Chief Clerk of the Exchequer
Clerks of the Exchequer
Lord Architect
Royal Masons
Inspector General of the Tolls
Tolls Clerks

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 12

The continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

To recap I laid out the purpose and hierarchy of the Archives, Census, along with the Provincial and March hierarchies.

Bureau of Order
The MINISTER OF ORDER heads the Bureau of Order. The purpose of the Bureau is to maintain the Royal Prison, the Debtors Prison, and the Royal Constables. The Royal Constables are charged with appending any outlaws and with transferring of prisoners.

The first thing is that the Prison is only temporary in the City-State and the rest of the Majestic Wilderlands. Either one of two things will happen the prisoner gets his trial and either is acquitted or found guilty and punished. Or the prisoner is too poor or is low of status to get a trial. Within a couple of months he will be taken out of the prison and sold into slavery. A feudal society cannot afford to feed prisoners for years on end.

Historically a debtor's prison dealt with people unable to pay their debt (or fines). They would be taken prisoner and held until the family is able to repay the debt. In the meantime they would be put to work as slaves and paid a nominal wage that would go towards repaying their debt. Needless to say this system was highly corrupt and often drove low status families into abject poverty.

Under the Minister of Order are:
Lord Warden of the Royal Prison
The Gaolers of the Royal Prison
Lord Warden of the Debtor's Prison
   The Gaolers of the Debtor's Prison
Commander of the Royal Constables.
Captains of the Royal Constables.
Royal Constables

The Chancery
The CHANCELLOR OF THE OVERLORD heads the Chancery. The Chancellor is responsible for the general government and judiciary of the City-State. All officials of the Overlord are held accountable to the Chancellor. The Chancellor is also head of the Privy Council, which includes all Ministers of the Overlord. The Chancellor sits with the four Royal Magistrates as the Court of Appeals which hears any appeals from the judgments of the Sheriffs of the Provinces and Marches.

The Lord Advocate is the Overlord's representative to the Senate and is entitled to speak during debates. The Chancery Advocates do the same at the various Shield Courts setup by the Senate.

The Inquisitor of the City-State has the authority to examine the records of any ministry and report to the Chancellor. He has no staff or regular duties and only used by the Chancellor as needed.

The Chief Prosecutor is charged with seeking out any who violate the Overlord's peace or the Overlord's privileges. Any violators are brought to the proper official's attention. Usually the region's High Baliff or Sheriff. The Royal Agent are the overt arm of this office. And the notorious Black Lotus are the secret police acting as spies and informers.

Under the Chancellor are:
Royal Magistrates(4);
Chief Clerk of the City-State;
Clerks of the City-State
Lord Advocate of the City-State;
Chancery Advocates
Inquisitor of the City-State;
Chief prosecutor.
Royal Agents
Captain of the Black Lotus;
Black Lotus Agents

Friday, April 10, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 11

The continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

To recap I laid out the background how the feudal realm ruled by the Invincible Overlord of City-State is two parallel hierarchies. The first is the Confederation of Tharian Clans along with Ghinorian and Elessarian noble houses, the second hierarchy governs the personal territories owned by the Overlord. That as of the present of the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement, 4436 BCCC, the personal power of the Overlord equals the combined might of the clans and noble houses.

Earlier in this series, I explained the various feudal offices, Chamberlain, Chancellor, Exchequer, etc. Why they existed and what function they served. That explanation was a general one, the reality is that each feudal sovereign adapted it to their circumstance and to accommodate their personal quirks. And this is what I did for the goverment of the Invincible Overlord. Some of it was to continue the original elements of Judges Guild's version of the City-State, other were my own creation. Mostly largely derived from Harn, Ars Magica, along with the Life in a Medieval X series of books.

To stress the ultimate goal of laying this out is to generate NPCs for the PCs to interact with and to come up with goals and movitations for the NPC's actions. It is elaborate partly because of personal perferences but also due to the fact that I been running the Majestic Wilderlands for 30 years. The only way to keep a campaign fresh for that long of a time is to come up with details on the various nooks and corners of the setting. This allows me to come up with novel situations for the next campaign.

What are the goals of the Overlord's government?

  • To maintain his personal household
  • To maintain the judicial system to adjudicate between clans and their members. 
  • To maintain an army to defend the Confederation and to protect the Overlord's peace.
  • To collect the dues, men, and supplies owed to the Overlord.
  • To administer the marches which are the personal territories of the Overlord
  • To administer the City-State 

Bureau of the Archives
The MINISTER OF THE ARCHIVES heads the Bureau of the Archives. The purpose of the Archives is to store all of the records complied by the Overlord. Normally this would be a subordinate minister to the Chancellor or sometimes the Chamberlain. However Lucius III understood the need for good record keeper so made it separate office answerable only to him. The Bureau also serves a watchdog function to make sure everybody is dotting their i's and crossing their t's. The Archive is meant to be very visible and noisy in acting as watchdogs. This covers the covert activities of the Black Lotus and the Regulators.

Under the Minister of the Archives are:
    Chief Clerk of the Clans; All records of people and their clans are kept here
        Chief Clerk of Revenue; All records of the Exchequer are here
   Clerks of Revenue
        Chief Clerk of the Record; All records of the Overlord personal library and misc. docs.
   Clerks of the Record
        Chief Clerk of the Edicts; All records of the Overlord's Edicts
   Clerks of the Edicts
        Chief Clerk of the Senate; All records of the proceedings of the Senate
   Clerks of the Senate
        Chief Clerk of Chancery; All records of the Chancery.
   Clerks of the Chancery

Bureau of the Census
The MINISTER OF THE CENSUS heads the Bureau of the Census. The purpose of the Census is to enumerate all the inhabitants of the Overlord's lands, their property, and their clan. Typically the Census is taken every 20 years. Again this would normally be under the one of the major officers (Chancellor, Exchequer, or Chamberlain) if it was done at all. However because the various taxes, aids, and levieis need to apportioned among the clans and nobles. And because those apportions are determined on the basis of the census, Lucius the Great setup a separate bureau. And it is one of the few bureaus of the Overlord's government that reports to the Senate as well as to the Overlord.

Under the Minister of the Census are:
    Chief Clerk of the Provinces
        Clerks of the Provinces
           Royal Census Gatherers
    Chief Clerk of the Marches
        Clerks of the Marches
           Royal Census Gatherers
    Chief Clerk of Administration
        Clerks of Census Administration

Bureau of the Provinces and Marches
The OVERLORD heads the Bureau of the Provinces. This is the hierarchy of officials that execute the law, decrees, and writs that the Overlord and the bureaus enact. It is not a formal bureau like the others it each Province, March, and the City-State has it own their own hierarchy. And the head of each, the Sheriffs, answers directly to the Overlord.

For +Tim Shorts+Chris C.+Joshua Macy+Douglas Cole+Rhandom A+Ken H, and +Daniel McEntee This is the section that explains the importance of the guy you just killed.

The role of the Sheriffs in the Provinces is mostly administrative as the territory of a province is dominated by sovereign clans and nobles houses who are members of the Confederation. The Provincial Sheriffs have strict limits to their authority. In contrast the Sheriffs of the Marches rule as if the Overlord was personally there. The Barons and Knights of the Marches are expected to treat the Sheriff as if he was the Overlord himself They do retain the right to petition the Overlord directly if they are unhappy or unwilling to go along with a Sheriff's decision. Note that Overlord has deliberately not appointed any nobles of higher rank than Baron. Instead reserves that authority to appointed positions like the Sheriff and High Bailiffs.

As the largest urban settlement by far, the City-State has it own administration based on its pre-conquest bureaucracy. Instead of a sheriff the Overlord appoints a Warden. The Lords of the City-State are basically a town council with the merchants, and temples dominating the membership.

As of the time of the MW supplement, 4436 BCCC, there are five provinces, Laknost, Bernost, Gaenost, Halnar, and Dearthmead. There are five Marches, the Northern March, the Eastern March, the Southern March, the Prydon March, and the Dearthmead March. At the time of my campaign present day, 4460 BCCC, two provinces has been added, New Caelam and Halkmenan. New Caelam is dominated by Duke Draco-lindus, and Halkmenan is dominated by Duke Divolic. A new march has been added the Southern Reaches March just south of the Pyrdon March.

In addition Duke Draco-lindus allied with several of the clan and nobles houses of the City-State and they independently conquered Tiethior on the other side of the Trident Gulf around 4450 BCCC. Working together they created the Tiethoir march independent of the Overlord and the Confederation. This group includes Duke Draco-lindus, the Elessarian Duke of Halnar, and the Tharian Duke of Laknost and various minor clans and noble houses. In the civil war currently being fought they form the core of Draco-lindus' faction.

Tiethoir hierarchy is setup similarly to the Overlord's hierarchy for the Provinces and Marches. Except appointments of high offices (the Sheriff, Treasurer, etc) are made by a collective decision of the council of the nobles originally involved in the conquest. The various districts are dominated by a single clan or noble house and it has become custom to let the dominate clan or noble house appoint the High Bailiff and other officials of that district.

Under the Overlord are:
    Sheriffs of the Province or March (Castle)
        High Bailiffs of the District (Keeps)
            Tax Collectors
            Toll Collectors
            District Justice
            Clerk of the Districts
            Bailiffs of the Manors
        Treasurer of the Province
        Inspector of Public Works
        Inspector of Markets
        Constables of the Castle/Keep
            Garrison Troops
        Lord Magistrates (3)
        Steward of the Sheriff
            Clerks of the Sheriff
    Warden of the City-State
        Lords of the City-State
        Captain of the City Guards
            City Guards
        Harbormaster of the City-State
        Treasurer of the City-State
        Inspector of Public Works
        Inspector of Markets
        Lord Magistrates (3)
            City Justices
        High Clerk of the City-State

Next Post will continue the detailing of the hierarchy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor

If you want a copy of the first product I was a solo author on. Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor is only $2 at Paizo. It is for D&D 3.5. I kept just about everything in the original and fleshed out the details so it made a little more sense ... sorta of.

The top serves as a great "evil" town for a setting, and the bottom is a small but deadly dungeon. Even have as Stephen Colbert in one room.

I am pretty proud of the module, although I wound up despising the fussiness of the 3.X stat block. Thank goodness for DM Genie which bailed my ass out in making stat blocks.

Also thanks to Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor for helping with the edits. Make sure you get Manor #8 when it is released.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fantasy Grounds license D&D 5e

Yesterday Smiteworks announced that they have licensed D&D 5e from Wizards of the Coast for the Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop.

Wow, Wizards does something right software wise. Now it is is not without issues and I will get that in a moment

For those of you who don't know what the deal is with Virtual Tabletops, it is a piece of software that combines a whiteboard (drawing, displaying images), chat, voice chat, dice roller, and miscellaneous RPG utilities that works over the internet. Either one person, usually the referee, software acts like a server that everybody connects too. Or there is a central server run by a company that everybody connects too. Fantasy Grounds is an example of the former, and Roll20 is an example of the latter.

Unlike Computer Roleplaying Games like the Ultima Series, Baldur Gates, or Skyrim, unlike MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc, Virtual Tabletops complements the existing industry and hobby rather than tries to supplants it. VTTs do require some specific setup namely in the fact to show anything you need a jpeg or similar image file. However aside from that the prep and rules you use are the same if you were all sitting around a physical table. Many groups switch between gaming using VTTs and gaming together without losing a beat in the campaign. Although in my circumstances with the Monday Night group, face to face is about getting together once or twice a year at a regional convention.

So back to Fantasy Grounds, I consider Fantasy Grounds to be the Cadillac of Virtual Tabletops. It is very good at what it does and allows for customization. Some are easy to do like setting a campaign, others require some technical skill similar to building a website or programming like constructing a ruleset. They have a marketplace where companies and creator can sell add-ons to Fantasy Grounds.

Fantasy Grounds has recently gone to a subscription service and $9.99 a month will get you a ultimate license that allow players to use the demo version of fantasy ground to connect to a campaign. Fantasy Grounds is available on Steam as well. And if subscriptions are not your thing then you can still purchase it outright. But it is pricey especially the ultimate version at $149.

The D&D 5e ruleset comes with the base subscription/purchase however it is just the rules. To be precise it is the character sheets, monster/npc sheets, etc. The 5e add-ons are Fantasy Grounds modules that have the actual 5e content. So rather than fill out a NPC form for a Orc, you just drag the Orc in from the module and everything is filled out. Including the ability to modify it from there. The same for classes, backgrounds, feats, etc.

The downside? While the Basic rules (Players and DM are included) are only $2.99, everything else is rather pricy. The complete classes are $50 and the complete monsters are also $50. The Phandelver adventure is $20. They did break everything up so if you are a player all you want is the ranger you can buy that for $5.

My guess is that somebody over at Wizards is still has a pole up their ass about on-line content for their current products and thus Smiteworks has to pass that cost along. But hey at least something available.

Another issue, is that Roll20 is really coming on strong. The Monday Night group used to use Fantasy Grounds but the need for everybody to have a copy of the software and the problem of getting whoever  the referee is router setup right eventually led to us opting for Roll20. It not that Fantasy Grounds is bad, but rather Roll20 is more convenient.

At first the switch to Roll20 was a set back in feature. But in the three years we been using it gotten better and better. Especially with the addition of smart character sheets. There are still some things Fantasy Grounds does better but there are things the Roll20 has that FG doesn't. The most spectacular of which is dynamic lighting and true line of sight. It takes a bit of work to prep, you have to draw out the walls again,  but the results are amazing.

I can't fault Wizards for going with Smiteworks and Fantasy Grounds. Looking over the Basic Rules that I bought, Roll20 could incorporate some but not all of the content. Roll20 is not quite there to handle everything that the 5e module included.

But I have no doubt it will be at some point. In which case I hope Wizards hasn't done an exclusive with Smiteworks and Roll20 is able to offer an official 5e add-on. Right now Roll20 has a very good 5e character sheet but you have to fill every thing out.

Overall will really benefit the hobby and industry. VTTs have been slowly growing as part of tabletop. I feel this will give VTTs a major jumpstart and not just Fantasy Grounds. And that this is a good thing for our hobby because it expands the ways in which people can continue gaming. Along with the fact that I mention that it doesn't supplant but supplements sitting around a table. Hell if you were that dedicated you could probably game D&D, Traveller, or whatever every night of the week through a combination of face-to-face and VTTs. You could game with people in Europe, Asia, or wherever (provided you can make your time zones work out).

A very good thing for the hobby indeed.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 10

 The continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

After the formation of the Confederation, The Overlord Lucius's power relative to the combined might of the clans and Dearthmead was at a low. Even the holdings of his own clan, Bulwark, has split with the newly formed Gaenost clan. Lucius did get the right to build a handful of keeps in the territories of the clans and Dearthmead. The keeps allowed Lucius to house his officials during peacetime and to serve as strongpoints in the time of war. Because of their recent rebellions, the Tharian Clans united against Dearthmead and allowed Lucius to build a castle on the shores of the Estuary of the Rogalaroon. However these new lands, what remained of Clan Bulwark's holdings, and City-State barely  provided Lucius with  enough revenue and men to fulfill his obligations as Overlord.

At first, the Overlord Lucius seemed content with the situation. After the formation of the Confederation, Lucus focused on compiling and writing the Codex Tharia, a code listing all the laws and customs to be used in adjudicating disputes and crimes between the clans along with Dearthmead. There was a section that laid out how the law code was to apply to City-State and the other territories personally controlled by Lucius. An observant scholars wondered at some of the provisions. As they would only make sense if Lucius ruled the confederation as he ruled is own personal territories. However Lucius pointed out they were only needed for the special case of City-State. Because that was the only territory where individuals from different clans, noble houses, and commoners met regularly to do business. For the most part the Codex Tharia was well received. The Tharian nobles saw that tradition was respected in the Overlord's courts. The Ghinorians now understood what to expect and were relieved that Lucius intended to continue the Rule of Law. The Codex provided only the foundation of Lucius grand plan. His next step occurred late in his reign when the dwarves of Thunderhold needed his help.

Thunderhold and City-State had a long history together. It was a dwarf named Atrabilorin who was the first Invincible Overlord. He was popular enough to have City-State help him estabilsh the Kingdom of Thunderhold as a refuge for his people after the fall of the Majestic Fastness caused by the Black Dragon Pan Caulderax. Later during the reign of the Tyrant Salm-Lorin, they allied with Lucius to liberate City-State from the mad mage. And afterward Lucius continued to deal with the dwarves honorably and even convinced the clans to allow an ambassador from Thunderhold to sit as a member of the Senate.

With the Confederation established, Lucius could focus on other projects. One of which is to revive trade between City-State and Thunderhold. To do that the Rorystone Road needed to be rebuilt and the Moonraker Moorlands swept clear of Orcs. Lucius cleverly got the Senate to refuse to help as it would only "benefit" his personal holdings over City-State. The Senate told the Overlord, that if he wanted the Road rebuilt he would have to do it himself.

And that is exactly what Lucius wanted. His personal forces and dwarven allies were more than enough to sweep the Orcs from Moonraker Moorlands. And his understanding of moneylending allow him to raise the money needed to rebuild the Rorystone Road. But most valuable was the fact that since the Senate told him to go at it alone. All the land and territory he won was his to do with as he saw fit.

Lucius divided the territory with Thunderhold and created the Northern March out of his half. He rebuild old castles and keeps and established new settlements. He handpicked men across the Confederation and had them personally swear fealty to him and his immediate family. Lucius was careful not to create any noble with a rank higher than of Baron. Higher positions were made into offices including the Sheriff of the Northern March and various bailiffs.

Northern March 4368 BCCC (Lucius the Great)
Eastern March 4386 BCCC (Varius)
Pyrdon March 4390 BCCC (Varius)
Halnar 4392 BCCC (Varius)
Southern March 4423 BCCC (Tomius)
March of Dearthwood 4430 BCCC (Lucius III)

The settlement of the Northern March served as a model for Lucius' son Varius and his successors. Over the next hundred years, the Overlords used their personal resources to conquer the Eastern March, the Southern March, and then the Prydon March. Each additional conquered territory provided more resources to undertake the next conquest. By 4436 BCCC, the present day of the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement, the Overlord's power was far greater than any one clan or noble house. And now slightly exceeds the combined power of the clans and noble houses. The Overlords skillfully used land and titles in the conquered territories to divide the Senate opposition following the blueprint laid out by Lucius the Great.

A notable exception occurred during the wars with the Kingdom of Antil that lead to the conquest of the Pyrdon March. The resources of the Kingdom of Antil rivaled that of the Overlord. However Elessarians of Antil had deep divisions of their own centered around a rivalry between the House of Talsha and the House of Merovech. At the time of the war the House of Merovech suffered several reversed including the loss of the throne of the Kingdom. The Duke of Halnar felt that the Overlord Varius would be a better sovereign than the King of Antil. So in the middle of the war between City-State and Antil, he switch sides and swore fealty.

The Duke of Halnar and his allied noble houses were welcomed into Confederation as full members. The Senate welcomed the duke and his allies as they would bolster their power in respect to the Overlord. The remaining territory conquered from Antil was divided by the Overlord Various among his supporter and he created the Prydon March.

Among other things the original Judges Guild City-State had a lot of factions and there were numerous hooks for intrigue. Along with this the Overlord was not presented as a weak ruler. After reading the original, you left with the impression that the City-State was a wild place but the Overlord was the biggest baddest of all the inhabitants of the city. He was not weak and not one to cross.

As the Wilderlands of High Fantasy morphed into the Majestic Wilderlands, I kept the idea of a strong Overlord. To combine that with the stuff I developed about the Ghinorians, Tharians, Elessarians, and the Confederation, I came up with the idea of the marches being the personal territories of the Overlord. When I tallied up the number of all the settlement I assigned to everybody I found that the territory personally controlled by the Overlord slightly exceeded that of those controlled by the nobles. Which was great because that supported another detail of the original where half of the Overlord's army are his personal forces and the other half consist of his nobles.

I hope by going into this detail, it helps you as an example for when you want this type of detail for your campaign.

Wrapping up this post, remember that even as Lucius grand plan was working masterfully it could not paper over deepening fissures in Tharian culture. But before we get into that, I am going to layout the details of how the Overlord governs City-State and the Confederation in the next post. A lot of this should be stuff you can cut and paste with a few changes into your campaign.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 9

Continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

There was a limit to even what Lucius could do in making a realm. The Tharian clans were fiercely protective of their independence. The belief as the chosen people of Mitra lead the Ghinorians of Dearthmead to attempt a rebellion for their independence and liberation of City-State against Lucius. Finally, the economy was only just beginning to rebuild from the fall of the Dragon Empire hit when the wars with Viridstan broke out. During the wars the economy collapsed and now only land had any value.

The Overlord Lucius hammered out a new agreement with the Tharian clan chiefs, and the Duke of Dearthmead. Together they would form a confederation where each member responsible for it own laws, religion, and military. Lucius would be granted the right to call up and maintain a military force to defend the realm. Lucius also would establish a judiciary where disputes between the clans along with the Duchy of Dearthmead would be resolved. And the clans and the Duchy of Dearthmead (the duchy only reluctantly) agreed to recognize City-State as the personal property of Overlord Lucius.

However the clans and the Duchy of Dearthmead imposed conditions of their own. First Lucius had to split off a new clan from Clan Bulwark and relinquish all the conquered territories (Haghill, Darkfield, Gaehill, etc) of City-State (but not the City-State itself) to the new clan. Second, Lucius had to recognize the right for the clan chiefs and the Duke of Dearthmead to organize a Senate. The Senate being a court in which any dispute between the clans or the Duke of Dearthmead would be resolved.

Before the Virdians wars, Tharian titles revolved around the hierarchy of the clan. You had the Chief, his heir the Tanist, along with his personal men the Housecarls. If the clan had subordinate clans, the chief of the leading clan would be known as the High Chief. The Tharians viewed titles like baron, duke, count, etc as foreign affections and not worthy of a Horse Lord.

But now after the war and the formation of the confederation, the Tharians were dazzled by the wealth of City-State and of the Ghinorians. Halius and then Lucius made sure the loot won during the war was liberally split among all the allied clans. There were a few conservative holdouts that disdain the appearance of foreign luxuries however within a generation most of the elite Tharians developed a taste for the latest from City-State.

A more serious issue was the pre-existing system of Ghinorian nobility found in City-State and the Duchy of Dearthmead. At first it looked simple. The conquered territories outside of City-State were treated as original Tharian conquests. The pre-existing nobles were killed or exiled, the Ghinorians reduced to peasantry and the land distributed among the members of the new clan, the Gaenosts.

However that option was not viable for City-State or the Duchy of Dearthmead. Lucius saw that the Ghinorian nobility had trouble relating to the clan hierarchy of the Tharians. So Lucius started creating titles for the various clans and their members. High Chiefs were given titles of Duke or Counts. Chiefs were given titles as barons. The housecarls were recognized as a knights. By the end of Lucius' reign, there were five dukes. The Duke of Bulwark which was given to Lucius' heir, his son Varius. The Duke of the Laknost and the Duke of the Bernost which were given to the two most powerful Tharian clans. The Duke of Gaenost which was given to Lucius' brother when he was forced to relinquish the territories of the City-State as the price for the creation of the Confederation. Finally the Ghinorian Duke of Dearthmead.

Circa 4370 BCCC

It took a generation for the noble titles to sink in among the Tharian clans, but in the end it was one of Lucius more successful policies. It allowed the elites of the two cultures, Ghinorian and Tharian, to relate to each other. But it was also first crack in Tharian Society that led to the civil war of the present campaign.

The newest major clan, the Gaenost, were the first Tharians to really experience the full sophistication of Ghinorian culture. As the Tharian swept into the Dragon Empire, four hundred years ago, the lands they conquered were totally revamped in favor of the Tharian traditional focus on the raising of horses and livestock. In this they were aided by the fact that the lands were devastated by a generation of civil war.

With the Gaenost, the land was conquered in a brief war. While the conquest was devastating for the old Ghinorian nobility, for the common folk it was the same situation but with new masters. The Gaenost took over manors and estates along with the titles that were associated with them. The Bondbuyers learned the more sophisticated practices of Ghinorian merchants. These changes started to drastically alter the original Tharian culture of the Gaenost. And over the next hundred years the changes would spread westward until even the most conservative Tharian clan was affected.

If you play my campaign, your first impression of the Tharians would be that they are barbarians who ride horses with feudal titles along with a bit of a temper. As you interact with them you will find that they I play Tharian NPCs off of several different stereotypes. The stereotypes centered around the above, that Tharian culture in the midst of a great change, and they are struggling badly with the change.

This conflict is central driver of the events behind City-State civil war. Around 1990, I developed this in part to explain why there was a Temple of Set, the Hellbridge Temple, in the middle of City-State when the majority were Ghinorians worshiping Mitra.

There is a large faction of Tharians who believe that the Lars of their ancestors have failed them, and that only by following Set and his Laws of Maat that the Tharian people can be restored to the glory days of clan and horse.

I have not mentioned the Elessarians aside from those who have been conquered and are peasants of the Tharians. They joined later during the reigns of Lucius' successors. You may have noticed that the final arrangement of Lucius with the clans and the Duchy of Dearthmead meant that Lucius' personal power can not compare to the combined might of the clans and the Duchy of Dearthmead.

Lucius has a plan to deal with this. And that plan is what confirmed his title of 'the Great'. We will cover this along with form of City-State's feudal structure took after the reign of his successors.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Of Overlords, Kings and Barons, Building a Feudal Setting Part 8

Continuing a series of posts detailing how I developed the feudal system of the City-State in my Majestic Wilderlands campaign.

Some background items.

The Overlords of All Tharians and of the City-State to date are

4436 BCCC The present date of the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement.
4460 BCCC The present date of my campaign.

4349-4354   Halius II
4354-4379   Lucius the Great
4379-4397   Varius
4397-4427   Tomius
4427-4458   Lucius III
            Halius  born: 4413 died: 4446 "Duke of Bernost" heir
4458-       Halius III born 4445 Age: 15

Note: The Tharian Overlords derive their regnal numbers from the founder of the clan. So the first Overlord of All Tharians is the second leader of the clan named Halius since the clan's founding, hence he is Halius II not Halius I.

Dragon Empire
Ruled by the Prince of Caelam (present day City-State) as Overlord of the Dragon Empire. It was union of Elessarian and Ghinorian culture united to fight the demonic Viridians to the west and spread the ideals shared by the Church of Mitra and the Trehaen. It collapsed into civil war four hundred ago due to an age old conflict over who was considered an Ghinorian. Did one had to be born a Ghinorian? Or was a profession of faith in Mitra enough? The civil war opened the way for the Tharians to invade take over much of the realms. Caelam, now City-State of the Invincible Overlord, to the west remained independent as well as the southernmost Elessarians.

Circa 4330 BCCC

Three hundred years after their invasion, a hundred years ago, the situation for the Tharians was bad. To the south the surviving independent Elessarians organized the Kingdom of Antil and were poised to expand. Likewise the City-State of the Invincible Overlord was expansionist under the leadership of the Tyrant Mage Salm-Lorin. The most serious threat was from the west, the demon haunted Empire of Viridistan.

Background Continued... 
After the conquest, the Tharians remained divided as numerous clans. Their territories the equivalent of petty kingdoms some large as a duchy with a castle and multiple keeps, and some as small as a single keep barony. By the 4330s, a hundred year ago, the Viridians mastered the art of combating horse nomads and started to absorb bordering clans one by one.

Clan Chief Halius II of Clan Bulwark, was at the height of his fame and was widely considered the quintessential Tharian of his generation. By 4338, even the most stubborn clan chief had to admit it was time to unite under a single leader. And that leader was Halius the Second who was proclaimed as Overlord of All Tharians.

What the clan chiefs didn't know was that Halius' son, Lucius was a true genius. That father and son deeply respected one another abilities. Halius realized how smart his son was early on. While he did not always understand why his son advice worked, he grew to trust it and acted on it. Lucius in turn respected Halius athletic prowess and like many others was taken by his father's natural charisma. While Lucius had his own charisma, he was wise enough to see that it was his father who captured the imagination of the Horse Lords. Father and son proved to be potent team and laid the foundation of an empire.

Halius was able to stalemate the Viridians with what we would call Fabian tactics by using the mobility of the horse. When Salm-Lorin of City-State allied with the Viridians, he sent Lucius to deal with the Tyrant. Lucius genius came into full flower during this campaign. At its conclusion City-State fell, and Salm-Lorin was dead. A grateful city, freed of the tyrant mage, proclaimed Lucius as the new Invincible Overlord of City-State.

In addition to conquering the City-State, Lucius defeated the Ghinorian Duchy of Dearthmead to the south of City-State. Lucius had neither the time or resources to fully conquered the duchy. So he accepted their surrender, installed the old duke's son as ruler, and had the new Duke of Dearthmead swear personal fealty to him.

Now with the resources of City-State behind him, Halius was able push back the Viridians and force the Empire of Viridistan to make a peace treaty respecting the independence of the Tharian Clans.

Halius ruled as Overlord of All Tharians much as he did as when he was just a clan chief. Using his wealth and charisma to either charm or threaten the other clan chiefs into supporting his reign. When he died, Lucius used the threat of the Empire of Viridstan to manipulate the Tharian clans into agreeing to make the position of Overlord of All Tharians a permanent one.

I freely admit this is all background was written because it interests me. It is important only that it serves as the foundation for the details that do come up in play. Has any of this ever come up during campaign? A handful of times. It generally when the players realize that the NPCs they meet are not just a bunch of stereotypes. That there is a reason for the power they hold and why they act as they do. When they start asking questions, answer often involves what I wrote above.

Is any of this absolutely required to run a campaign? Yes and no. In one sense it is required because as a referee you have to have a foundation on which to base your roleplaying of your NPCs. Now this foundation can be explicit as when you write out detailed notes on a setting, or it can be implicit which means you are drawing on what you learned about your genre's tropes and stereotypes.

Relying on implicit tropes and stereotypes works because thanks to the work of Gygax, Arenson, Miller, Heinlien, Asimov, Lucas, Spielberg, Tolkien, Leiber, Howard, and dozens of other authors and gamers they have become widespread. To the point where a referee can rely on people "getting" what they are trying to roleplay. So in that respect all that background detail I laid out is not required.

For me, I rather spell out for myself what I will be relying on. That means making notes and background info, much of which the players will never see. Because I ran the Majestic Wilderlands for so long over so many campaigns the notes started to pile up. Enough to... well.. to write a supplement.

Next time we will get into what Lucius setup to rule over the unruly Tharian Clans and the rebellious Duchy of Dearthmead.