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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Bringing in new blood to a magical aristocracy

    It could be done just by some nobles understanding the dangers of inbreeding and secretly forging "evidence" of the noble dragon ancestry for some people they favour ("I always knew this swordsman guard with an undying loyalty to me was exceptional it is just now I found out he was in fact of noble blood")

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Bringing in new blood to a magical aristocracy

    Due to Covid I have limited ability to play until we can get over the tecnological and learning curve hurdles of video conferencing.

    I only have one player I can meet with regularly. The other player characters are planning to help a ragtag militia stop a bunch of orcs that have been extorting the northern villages.

    He was doing a solo adventure where he was finding and capturing Swynfaredian spies in the southern lands. The solo adventure guy is a warrior cleric of Khemra. The leader of the rest of the PCs is a high ranking priest of Khemra.

    My plan was when the full group is able to "meet" via video conferencing, i was going to have Mr. solo adventure ordered to back up his fellow holy man against the orcs. Then hopefully after the orcs are dealt with, I could get all the PCs on board for stopping the Swynfaredians in the southern lands.

    They already had killed a bunch of monsters and baddies in the northern lands, so with the north secure the adventurers would need to go south to be able to find new adventures.

    Well, today Mr. Solo Adventure deviating from hunting Swynfaredian spies to go after an unrelated evil Maylar cult that was kidnapping and murdering peasants for fun using the fact that a lot of the soldiers were removed from police work to protect the Fumaya-Swynfardia border. And one of cultists got an obscenely lucky critical hit and killed a player character. Oopsy.

    Player is not angry. He's looking forward to making a new character and I'm letting carry most of his experience accumulated to his new character.

    Mr. Solo Adventure's old character specialized in hunting and killing/capturing evil wizards and sorcerers. I don't know what his new character is going to want to be.

    I might have to put the Swynfaredian plot on hold. Death kind of derails things. But I'm sure the Swynfaredians will become plot relevant again eventually, I don't want to waste all this story effort I put into this so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Common-born sorcerers, draconic sorcerers in particular, would walk a fine line between being inducted into nobility and being eliminated (the government and nobility can't allow rogue sorcerers spreading their seed and passing down their powers among the commoners...).
    I thought of half-dragons being quietly killed, but I haven't thought of random commoner sorcerers being killed. This is a good idea worth exploring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    The ruling houses would probably pressure commoner sorcerers into joining the army, civil service or the retinues of established houses, and those who proved their usefulness would get knighthoods, taking the first step into joining lesser nobility (becoming actual nobility would probably require several generations of service, the accumulation of wealth, and marriages with the younger members of the lowest houses of nobility..).
    My thoughts exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    The process would be faster for draconic sorcerers, and even faster for half-dragons... Common-born half-dragons might have the option to join some kind of imperial praetorian guard as bodyguards for royalty, getting into a fast track to true nobility.
    This is a good idea I had not thought of yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Female half-dragons may even be invited to become concubines to high ranking nobles.
    It's a good idea, but it kind of squicks me out. Also I figure most half-dragons would have enough draconic pride that they would not consent to being breeding sows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    There would be nasty tensions between the lowest established sorcerous houses and newcomer upstart sorcerous families. Old minor noble houses would hold their history and prestige dear, and would detest the thought of some nobody climbing to the same social level as theirs...

    These tensions would become particularly fiendish between old non-draconic sorcerous noble houses and new draconic sorcerer families, since the old houses know these draconic newcomers will eventually surpass them and climb above their own station... there would be fights and duels and such...

    That's a very good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    But, at the same time, old non-draconic houses and new draconic families need each other: Non-draconic old houses need that precious draconic blood in order to climb the social pyramid and join draconic nobility, and the draconic sorcerer common-born newcomers need to marry into nobility in order to jump from knighthood to true nobility... that makes for some interesting political marriages and some interesting hate-filled family dynamics...
    I had thoughts along these lines already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    EDIT: Also, I think learning of non-sorcerous arcane magic (and maybe even of divine magic) would be restricted to members of nobility who were unlucky enough to not inherit sorcerous powers... commoners can't be allowed to become powerful enough to rival their sorcerous masters!
    Warlocks exist, but they are very rare in my world. I'm not sure there are enough warlocks that Swynfaredia has an official policy on how to deal with them. The unofficial policy is to kill them if you can get away with it. Ignore the warlock of it's just passing through.

    Swynfaredian dragon nobles have a love/hate relationship with wizards. Wizards are a threat to their power and legitimacy because it kind of democratizes arcane magic, so they would like to ban all wizards, but on the other hand wizards are generally much better at making scrolls, potions, and permanent magical items than most sorcerers. They want the things wizards can make.

    So a wizard that is willing to let nobles spit in his face in public is able to make a lot of gold in under the table transactions later. Wizards may enter Swynfaredia if they register themselves, but they cannot take on apprentices without permission from the monarch or a duke or duchess. Very few wizards get permission to take on apprentices (unless they are gnomes, Swynfaredians tend to view gnomes as harmless), but there is nothing to stop them from crossing the border and training their apprentice outside of Swynfaredia then returning and registering their apprentice as a full wizard which is a lot easier to do.

    And of course some wizards train their apprentices illegally.

    Favored souls are more common than warlocks, but they are still pretty rare. Swynfaredians believe favored souls are almost as blessed as sorcerers. They are pretty allowed to do as they please unless they happen to be blessed by one of the Chaotic gods.

    Khemra, Lawful Neutral goddess of the sun, law, history, tradition, literacy, and other stuff is considered very state friendly. Khemra's Keepers provide some Swynfaredian nobles legitimacy they would not get otherwise.

    Phidas, Lawful Evil god of commerce, protection, "protection", oaths, contracts, ad other stuff is also considered very state friendly. Phidas' Masks like to be the power behind the throne and many Swynfaredian nobles are okay with this.

    Greymoria, Neutral Evil goddess of magic, curses, monsters, and other stuff is fairly well respected by the nobility. Technically Greymoria's Children teaches that wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers but the local Greymoria priests know what side of the bread their butter is on, so the Swynfaredian Children preach about sorcerer supremacy, so they can fit in better (though they are indifferent to whether sorcerers are draconic or not.

    All three of these priesthoods get along well with the local Swynfaredians. A disproportionately high number of their most promising squib children train to be divine casters for one of these three deities. They almost never induct commoners into their ranks.

    Hallisan, Lawful Good god of chivalry, just war, metalworking, and minerals is a weird case. Hallisan's Guardians are usually very pro-government, but they are usually somewhat distrustful of arcane magic. Some of the Swynfaredian nobles believe Hallisans priests are a powerful ally and others view them as a dangerous threat. This means the Swynfaredian Hallisan worshipers tend to be well versed in Byzantine politics, compared to Guardians in other nations.

    Korus True Neutral god of nature, agriculture and balance is True Neutral. Korus' Stewards are almost always politically neutral unless someone starts despoiling nature. Swynfaredians don't want to piss off the god that makes their crops grow, so they tend to give the Stewards a free rein.

    Mera Neutral Good goddess of the family, hearth, water, and healing is viewed by most Swynfaredians as a mildly helpful peasant goddess. Mera's Tenders have a few adventurers sponsored by them and they can show teeth if they feel the local government is being too oppressive, but it takes a lot to make the Tenders rebel against the local government.

    The Swynfaredians don't view them as threats, so they don't pay much attention. They sometimes dump their least favorite squibs here for holy training, but the priesthoods mostly recruit commoners.

    Nami, Chaotic Neutral goddess of revelries, free will, the weather, and other stuff is not particularly repsected by the nobles. Swynfaredian nobles really like to party on Nami's holidays but find Nami's Rovers annoying the rest of the year.

    Zarthus, Chaotic Good god of the moon, revelry, half-breeds and bastards is viewed as a threat because Zarthus' Lanterns have a tendency to complain about the government a lot and rabble rouses around the peasants. The Swynfaredian nobles try to quietly suppress the Lanterns without looking like they are suppressing the Lanterns because this can backfire and give the Lanterns more support from the peasants. Zarthus has a very tiny and toothless public temple, but most his core followers meet in secret.

    Maylar, Chaotic Evil god of hunting, herding, disease, and low war is disliked by the nobility and the commoners alike. When the dragon blooded nobles violently put down Maylar's Testers, the common people cheer. Like most places, Maylar's core worshipers are mostly underground cults.

    The Swynfaredian nobles try to restrict who the three Chaotic priesthoods can recruit but since these groups mostly operate in the shadows everywhere else, the nobles aren't very successful at stopping this.

    Squibs who are good little boys and girls frequently join the priesthoods of one of the first four deities. Rebel squibs who resent their uppity sorcerer family members Squibs that are spineless nobodies might join the Korus or Mera priesthoods but they rarely advance far.

    All Nine priesthoods have to deal with the fact that Swynfaredia's unofficial state religion is worshipping the Founding Dragons and dragons in general. This quasi-religion has no real priests or spell casters but it attracts piety none the less making religious people in other lands refer to Swynfardians, both commoner and noble alike as being practically heathens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    One idea that comes to mind is the slow downward trend being restricted to the first half or third of the empire's history as the original nobility expanded to meet bureaucratic needs for the territory they ultimately claimed, then fluctuating over time rather than having any hard trend. This is to respect more realistic patterns of inheritance, as the underlying function of the degradation is that the bloodlines are thinning in the first place; once the nobility is reproductively insular, it should be approximately static.
    This is a good point

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    Another thing that comes to mind is the idea of an individual with the same draconic bloodline in a number of degrees intersecting with them, being simultaneously a historic Sorcery bloodline, a Half Dragon, and more marginal things like the old Draconic template or 3.5's Bloodline mechanic of the same individual dragon across the centuries of her life (for the sake of a bit of variety), being an inheritor of a truly staggering amount of sheer power... That's genuinely Draconic rather than typical sorcery, and having a pile of issues with instructors as a result.
    That's a good idea, but I'm not using 3.5, I'm using a homebrew system based on White Wolf's d10 system that I call D&D10. This might be difficult to work into my system.

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Bringing in new blood to a magical aristocracy

    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    It could be done just by some nobles understanding the dangers of inbreeding and secretly forging "evidence" of the noble dragon ancestry for some people they favour ("I always knew this swordsman guard with an undying loyalty to me was exceptional it is just now I found out he was in fact of noble blood")
    That's a very good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post

    I think you may have misinterpreted a fair bit of what I was trying to get to...I see I didn't explain things that well. I'll try one more time before dropping it.

    Firstly on dragon types. Each family was basically drawn from the fluff of the 2e or 3e Monster manuals, the Draconomican, with an eye to classic non D&D dragon imagery. Powers of the type are tertiary at best. The reason for this is players will already link these themes to dragons in their head so you are already getting these noble families to dragons themselves which will make them all "feel" more Draconic. The types should mostly be read as personality types than powers. In fact I only included them at all because in some rule sets like 5e a draconic bloodline has a type requirement...oh and their names (either Latin or Scotish translation of words linked to the type-except for Russian with the tiefling one)
    That explanations helps. As for the ethnic names, I like your names. All of my fictional nations are linked to a real world nation. Most of the Swynfaredian names are Welsh or based on mangled Welsh. Most of the Fumaya names are Polish or based on mangled Polish. Most of the Uskalan names are vaguely German. I just started trying to flesh out the Wood Elves and I started using a little bit of mangled Russia, the Wood Elf nation is officially is called Codenya, but most people still call it "The Wood Elf nation."

    There are two somewhat nearby dwarf nations, but for the first time in a very long time, no player has chosen to make a dwarf PC, a rarity in my group. So the dwarf nations have far less to do. I also have a region called the Border Baronies Region that is exactly what it sounds like and therefore is an ethnic hodge podge of Uskalans, Fumayans, Swynfaredians, Kantoca, and others all eking out a living in some very rugged terrain ruled by eclectic petty independent Barons and Baronesses.

    I have other nations in my setting but these are the nations that actually impact my RPG campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Secondly. For a nation that seems to be quite expansionist and militaristic the military seemed not very politically powerful. This would be odd normally. But I figured if the political might of the army is broken up across a fair number of families that would make sense. Sure Fremiss B would be the most powerful but not powerful enough to be a major player, which is what you described. also I figures that having houses that the big powerful houses to basically fight over in their games of alliances would be kinda important.
    That is a good idea, but let me explain why Swynfaredia's military is not very powerful politically.

    The First Swynfaredian Civil War looked a lot like a conventional war.

    The Second Swynfaredian Civil War had a few battles here and there but the real turning points all occurred off the battle field in sorcerer on sorcerer duels.

    The third Swynfaredian Civil War had almost zero conventional battles. It was fought almost entirely via sorcerer on sorcerer duels and magical acts of hit-and-run terrorism. The opposition side of the war used illusion and transmutation magic to bypass conventional armies altogether.

    Most Swynfaredians have read the tea leaves and believe that a a fourth Swynfaredian Civil War is inevitable and all the houses are preparing for it. Most of the houses believe that sorcerer on sorcerer duels and clandestine assassinations will be more important than conventional battles, so they are stock piling all the abjuration and divination magic they can while cutting funding to their armies.

    None of this contradicts your ideas, so I can use both ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Rivalries vs monopolies. Now Rivalries breed drama, gives spaces for various groups to compete over or be insulted about. So I tried to avoid monopolies. Plus if one family dominates a trade but doesn't have an outright monopoly a house that needs just some of that controlled trade or item they can possibly pull it off while if it is totally a monopoly they will have trouble doing a lot of the scheming they would want to. and is implied in what you said. SO some of what I wrote was expressly to have overlap.
    That his a helpful clarification.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Lastly you said that you were aiming at a game where the players are dealing with an invasion from these guys. So I'm leaning toward the types that the PC's are more likely to actually meet and deal with.
    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I'll go into what I was aiming at a bit to see if I can explain what I was aiming or give you the foundation for turning it around in a way that works better. Where the idea need a different implementation.
    These were all helpful, thank you. I'm not going to address each one individually but your clarifications and suggestions were very helpful and valuable to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I note there is no reaction to this one. Which is a bit of a pity as this was the first house I came up with and what started this whole thing.
    I wasn't sure what to make of it, so I left it out. I'll revisit it later and see if I get any new brainwaves

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post

    Finally, It provides a stalking horse plotwise of "this could always be worse" and the idea just taking down the leadership could lead to a worse version rising up later. . . A Swynfaredia led by this family would be terrifying, which weirdly makes Numaness seem like something to tolerate.
    This was actually the direction I was going with House Gruffyle. The current patriarch of House Gruffyle had the idea that "I'm going to sire lots and lots of bastards and some of them might be sorcerers I can recruit later." He didn't always get consent but was very good at Enchantment magic.

    It just so happens that Mr. Solo Adventure's background is that he was a bastard child of a young noblewoman and an unknown man that was shipped off to the monastary.

    I liked the idea of a House Gruffyle bastard turning out to be not only a squib, but a squib that hunts down evil mages!

    I was going to set up the Gruffyle patriarch as a recurring villain as both Patriarch and his son gradually learn of their shared connection

    But then the character got murdered by the nameless thug of an unrelated C-list villain of the Week. Oopsy.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post

    Middle bit: I would just say the "many small houses" is very much like how I was thinking about "lines" above...totally agree...but that may be a better way to look at it TBH...perhaps you could use something like Numaness-AAAA, Numaness-BBB, ? hyphenated names imply large family types? so it is easy enough for players and yourself to keep track of? (which leads to the question of the Fremiss daughter houses....perhaps some linguistic drift to separate them? its been centuries right? Frenys/Fraymis/Fremz/etc...have fun with it?
    I am calling them Fremiss A, Fremiss B, and Fremiss C to keep it simple for the players to keep track of, but those probably aren't the in-universe names.

    Fremiss the Vibrant's wives and mistresses are all known, Codella the human, Glenda the human, Treasa the human, Inola the human, Owena the human, and Lynette the human.

    I figured Fremiss daughter houses could be based on these. I'm still working on my family tree, but the human women that had the most grandchildren could posthumously be the basis of the Fremiss daughter houses.

    Fremiss-Codella for Fremiss A for instance.

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Last part: domestically I'd agree but it sounds like the nation is quite militaristic towards outsiders. Why I was looking for ways to politically defang the heavy infantry (put them in the hands of minor families)...but you seem to be setting up a story focusing on the Swynfaredian military. So this needs some depth, balancing the charm/bribe/extortion with the invasion story.

    You are correct, that's why I wanted to create this thread to weave something out of the Snarl of my diverging plot threads.

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