Last night fantasy feudalism reared its ugly head in The Lost Marches. Not long after leaving the Kingdom of Insulia and entering The Lost Marches, four of five player characters swore fealty to the local Baroness. Mainly this choice was based on the in-game mechanic of privileges that she granted her Yeoman (the title that was granted to each person in her fealty), but they did so of their own free will. In effect, they each took the King’s Shilling.
Fast forward a handful of sessions to two sessions ago: where the players found an ancient document bearing wax seals and signatures while looting tombs. It was decided that a Sage should be consulted, as while the document(s) were clearly a deed and titles of nobility, to whom and what was rather ambiguous.
Last night, the PCs returned to the Sage for information (and with some new questions about ‘The Hammer of Clan Anvil Flame’, which they found) about the deeds. With less than 500 gold each, to their names, the cost of a Sage elicited some minor complaints.
Having had over a tenday to research, the Sage proudly explained that the deed was to the “Keirian Stronghold in Feywode” and “Letters Patent for the Marquess of Mercer, and the subsidiary titles of Baron of Riverfords, and the Baronet of Dragonsclaw) issued by the Emperor Justal”.
Most of these names were of only passing familiarity to the characters, but seeing as they had paid the Sage for some answers (a whole 10 Gold I may add), some explanation was given.
- Over a millennia ago, The Great Compact was ruled by the Emperor, and one such Emperor was Justal.
- The Marquess of Mercer is a fairly ‘high’ title of nobility.
- It is also one of the titles used by the King of Insulia to this day.
- Subsidiary titles, are titles that are beneath a parent title, and are sometimes used as a courtesy title for the Noble’s family.
- In anticipation of the Players return, the Sage has already drawn up a map showing the lands of the Marquess of Mercer, and will happily sell it to them for 500 gold. The PCs declined this offer.
- The Dwarvern Kingdom is ruled by a Thegn and extends under the Mountains. Barak Dur is just a fort.
Some things that could be implied or inferred by the players:
- The titles were bestowed by the Emperor, implying that it is subservient to him (the Emperor).
- The King of Insulia’s title of King was also bestowed by the Emperor in the mists of time.
As this is in a ‘West Marches’ style of game, meaning that it’s very open and focused on what the players wish to do, the Sage offered the 5 characters a massive sum of 9000 gold (initially 5000) for the deeds and titles. In essence, the PCs could be bought out of this whole storyline if they wished.
Declining that offer, the PCs elected to research the titles, lands, and ramifications more.
By splitting up the players dug up the following information by tavern crawling, speaking with the temple and library research:
- The Church of Pelor’s highest-ranking member in the town is the Radiant Servant Bartlett. A gentleman of about 30 winters, and who is married to the sister of the Baroness (making him the Brother-In-Law to the Baroness of Limen).
- Bartlett knows of the Dwarven Clan, Anvil Flame. It’s one of the higher ranked Dwarven Clans. Speak to Jarl Baradur, a Dwarf on Moraday (the 13th of High Summer).
- Limen (the town they are in) was once known as Dragonsclaw.
- The Baroness is of the bloodline of the Marquess of Mercer.
- Research in the Library turned up loose references to the size and scope of the March.
- It likely includes part of the Fjallwode, which used to be known as the Feywode.
- Exact measurements or borders are hard to find, but the March would be larger than the two settled Valleys.
- Some of the documents in the library are very old and set aside in a reserved section. A large portion of these documents are written in Draconic, and this seems to be where the old nobility titles are kept.
- The Monk loves ale!
- Little is said in the Taverns about Dwarves, who are rarely seen around town and mostly on Market Day.
- This year has been especially “hard” on Adventurers. In years past, about fifty percent of any adventuring party would return to Limen. This year the odds are closer to one in eight.
Some other General information that the PC’s put together/know:
- Currently, the year is 1436.
- The first and second valley of The Lost Marches were settled less than 20 years ago.
- The first valley was settled ‘first’, the second valley more recently.
- The Town of Limen was settled just over 15 years ago.
- The players estimate that Castle Limen must have taken 10 years to build.
- Characters who swore fealty to the Baroness of Limen as Yeoman, swore to her in name ‘Lady Morgaine’ and title ‘The Baroness and Founder of Limen, First of her Name’. They are also in Feudal service to the Baroness, and as your Liege, she may call upon you at any time for any service.
- Characters who swore service to the Baroness saw that she has a two handed sword that glows, and wore shining armor.
- The Order of the Radiant Sun (the Order of Pelorian Knights) has declared to the King of Insulia that they shall move their headquarters to The Lost Marches in the year 1440
- While not a title granted by the King of Insulia, the Baroness of Limen acts as the Feudal overlord of Limen. The Baroness is unchallenged in her claim, and the church of Pelor recognizes her rights over all citizens of Limen.
Why is this all noteworthy? Mainly because the PC’s chose to pursue this story. They could (and still can) cash out for a substantial sum of coin. Instead, they are placing a higher value upon the title and the story.