Thinking about Greyhawk for Comic Strip AP

When it comes to big picture Greyhawk, I think of odd bits of science fantasy worming its way into medieval life from wizards’ clones to tech bits from the Barrier Peaks. Arch-mages who have constructed complex philosophies around law, chaos, good and evil. Is that how the cosmos is or are we mapping it in those terms because of our own biased moral codes?

Demi-gods on the verge of ascending to other planes of existence walking around, enforcing their ways of life by sword and spell.
Adventurers eek out a desperate existence through delving and tomb raiding while nobles marshal armies to fight over obscure claims on ancient lands. Clerics worship living breathing but still unknowable deities. Thieves’ Guilds steal the bejeweled crumbs in between by stealth and knife.
archer-and-hawk
I am not sure exactly where I got the idea that in the history of Greyhawk City there was a War of the Arch-Mages. Digging through the archives, I found evidence of a few nasty feuds and an arcane wizard slaughter or two but not what I pictured – the oligarch arch-mages in charge of Greyhawk City slinging spells in the streets, retreating to their other-planar towers and manses to heal and see to their clones – Vancian Dying Earth pettiness meets a Prohibition Era Chicago gang-war.
In the upcoming Burning Wheel game on Comic Srip AP with Rich, his War Wizard is arriving in Greyhawk City with a small mercenary company of archers from the Valley of the Mage. The Council of Eight just retrieved the Hand and Eye of Vecna from a tomb and both artifacts are missing, causing the council to fracture into feuding that the common-folk are calling the Mages’  War. Meanwhile, Iuz the Old is gathering orc, gnolls, giants and trolls to his banners; the world is about to erupt into war.

Art

General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Franc-archer, archer de la garde : 1460.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1910. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-4971-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Buteo Cooperii, California Hawk.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-5741-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Traditions of the Swordlords: The End

The End

We started our Burning Wheel campaign using the Kingmaker Adventure Path more than 2 years ago.The game started with Zora and Hajek traveling south to the bandit fort. Then we saw it all again through Ivo’s eyes as he traveled south and saw the effect Zora and Hajek had been having. Then we saw it all again when Cyril came into the game and we get to experience the Riverlands through fresh eyes, with knights on the map. We’ve been re-contextualizing the journey from Restov to Olegton, southward to Spider Hill and finally to Fort Hajek for two years and it has been fresh and new and exciting every time.

Zora was a idealistic knight, ill-suited to bringing people together peacefully after a life of war and battle. Hajek was a jaded soldier who wanted to see the best in people and gave up his life serving a Swordlord who he believed would be a truly noble leader. Ivo came to the Riverlands having seen the worst of the rulers of Rostland.

He had little faith in the system Zora was trying to salvage and so he helped her build something new.

In the History of the Charterlands it is Swordlord Zora’s ability to find solutions that obviated bloodshed and her deftness at picking up the sword and leading her soldiers when necessary that shaped these provinces as much as Ivo’s love of the common folk and willingness to take harrowing chances on epic level sorcery and summoning.

In the last game, Ivo realized that his apprentices would learn Sorcery within the next month and smiled; he used his powers to help his friend have a child, also an heir that would bring stability to the region for another generation at least.

In the last game, Zora won a Duel of Wits with an angry Swordlord whose bitterness threatened to tear apart what she had built and through her curt, effective words – ended the argument the way she ended her battles.

Meanwhile, back in the real world…

I knew Rachel and I knew Drew before the game started but we weren’t as close as we are now. In the two years during which our game took place I got married and shifted over to a different library. My consistency has been negligible in all areas of my life – physical culture practice, jujitsu and writing. The main consistency in my life has been this game.

Traditions of the Swordlords has had a huge effect on the way I think about world building and basing games on established material.It deepened my understanding and love of Burning Wheel.

More important than any of that, 2 good friends became dear friends. Rachel would start some games by saying, “I missed your faces!” Aw.

Meanwhile, back in the Riverlands

We’re hitting the fast forward button and coming back to the Riverlands as elves. They will see their favorite characters and their work through new eyes, re-contextualizing everything all over again with fresh eyes, coming back to this place we’ve made decades later…

 

What are you playing?

This used to be a thing back in the day. The hope is that it will allow folks to think about what is happening at their table, what they would like to happen in the future and inspire conversations.

Past 3 games played, Best 3 games ever played, 3 games you want to play:

Played: Stars Without Number, Burning Wheel, Sorcerer

Best: Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World, PTA

Want: The Warren, D&D, Dogs in the Vineyard

If you have any questions, please ask.

Feel free to post your own answers in the comments or links to wherever you choose to answer if you’d like.

Situation Mining over at Take on Rules

Jeremy over at Take On Rules has a few Situation Mining posts that are amazing. It makes me imagine a forest of gaming blogs with tons of ready-made BW campaigns ready to roll with folks playing each other’s games and talking about ’em and sharpening each other’s situations and beliefs.

A fella can dream, can’t he?

11294749513_f104231dbb_o

Black Plague

Bursting from the fabled city of Kyzantham, the Black Plague – a horde of orcs, goblins, and wolves – has spread like wildfire. Death and famine have taken root as the Black Plague banner now flies over half of the continent. There are no signs of the Black Plague slowing.

delve

Dwimmermount

The ancient wards of Dwimmermount have fallen; At least that is what you heard from a wandering ascetic. There must be treasure and forgotten knowledge buried within that legendary mountain.

I love how simple and evocative the Dwimmermount situation is.

 

 

 

 

Images taken from the British Library’s Flickr account:

Image taken from page 42 of ‘The Grange of St. Giles, the Bass: and the other baronial homes of the Dick-Lauder family. Written and illustrated … by Mrs. J. S. Smith’
Image taken from:
Title: “The Grange of St. Giles, the Bass: and the other baronial homes of the Dick-Lauder family. Written and illustrated … by Mrs. J. S. Smith”
Author: SMITH, Jane Stewart.
Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 10370.ee.38.”
Page: 42
Place of Publishing: Edinburgh
Date of Publishing: 1898
Publisher: Printed for the Author, by T. & A. Constable
Issuance: monographic
Identifier: 003419501
 Explore:
Find this item in the British Library catalogue, ‘Explore’.
Download the PDF for this book (volume: 0) Image found on book scan 42 (NB not necessarily a page number)
Download the OCR-derived text for this volume: (plain text) or (json)
Click here to see all the illustrations in this book and click here to browse other illustrations published in books in the same year.

 

Image taken from page 143 of ‘Miners and their works underground. Stories of the mining of coal, etc’
Image taken from:
Title: “Miners and their works underground. Stories of the mining of coal, etc”
Author: HOLMES, Frederic Morell.
Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 07108.e.1.”
Page: 143
Place of Publishing: London
Date of Publishing: 1896
Publisher: Partridge & Co.
Issuance: monographic
Identifier: 001716783
Explore:
Find this item in the British Library catalogue, ‘Explore’.
Open the page in the British Library’s itemViewer (page image 143)
Download the PDF for this book Image found on book scan 143 (NB not a pagenumber)Download the OCR-derived text for this volume:(plain text) or (json)
Click here to see all the illustrations in this book and click here to browse other illustrations published in books in the same year.

 

Situation Mining: Until the blood on your hand is the blood of a king.

5 dead kings

Tiamat crowned 5 Her five chosen kings. Each king may ride one of her draconic consorts into battle once in their lifetime.

It is said that each of these kings will birth a daughter and those daughters will reign for a thousand years until the Messiah Empress, Tiamat’s truest daughter, will come to unite all 5 thrones until the end of time.

You can’t let that happen.

Insurrectionist Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about the people (fellow player characters) you are inspiring to rebel.
  • Write a belief about the crowns and thugs who will be destroyed in the coming glorious revolution.
  • Write a belief about the government that will replace the kings and how you will put it in place.

axe

Desperate Killer Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about what you are making with your knife-work.
  • Write a belief about something beautiful that allows you to momentarily forget about the death you deal.
  • Write a belief about an ambition beyond murder and revolution.

axe

Advisor to the Court Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about when you realized that the nobles were without morals.
  • Write a belief about someone in the noble court you want to save from the coming carnage.
  • Write a belief about someone you will need to see dead in order to begin the revolution in earnest.

axe

Merchant Character Sheet

  • Write a belief about how you could make money off rebellion and revolution.
  • Write a belief about you earnestly believe the government needs to change.
  • Write a belief about the moment you decided that you’d risk everything your family has to fund a rebellion against the five kings.

 

gallow ravens

NOTE: Maybe the characters will survive and succeed, founding a republic on the bodies of dead and surrendered kings. Maybe many will end up with their heads on chopping blocks or hanged for their seditious crimes. I can’t help but think it will likely be the latter or perhaps a blend of the two.

Have fun, see what happens and e-mail me or leave a comment about the bloody details if you give it a go.

Characters all burned up with the online character burner.

Images:

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Rubric; full-page miniature of kings strung up.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1445. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e6dc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. “Full-page miniature.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1445. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-e730-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The British Library Flickr Account. “Image taken from page 81 of Rambles Round London Town.” The British Library Digital Collections. 1884.  https://flic.kr/p/hUc23o

 

 

Rachel E.S. Walton and Playing Thieves at the Gaming Table

Rachel E.S. Walton is one of my favorite people I’ve met through role-playing games. When I ask some friends if they had a good gaming convention, some have said, “Well, I got to game at the same table as Rachel 3 times, so yeah, it was a good con.”

You can find her on G+ or see an example of her work here, where she made our campaign an amazing movie poster.

We got talking about 2nd edition D&D and playing thieves and then this interview happened.

Tell me about playing a thief in Quest for Glory, please!

Okay, so I’m going back 20-some years here, but Quest for Glory was my first memorable experience playing a thief in a game and one that forever cemented my love for the character type. At the time, playing a computer game was still pretty new and exciting, so it’s hard to separate the game itself from that world-opening experience. But the graphics were really good for the time, and the MIDI atmospheric sound was excellent. I can still feel my gut clench up a bit at the foreboding music of the “pick your hero type” screen and hear the tap-tap-tap sound of distant villagers going about their business in the background. The sound is so cheesy now, but they really knew how to work it.

What I remember the most was practicing abilities over and over to improve them and getting to see them actually improve. Like climbing. At first the hero is slow, but after practicing a bunch, he’d be zipping up and down the rope or gate with comical speed. After dragging myself away from a frustrating encounter, it felt pretty great to practice a bunch and then go out again and overcome that thing. And while that had moments of tedium, overall the game was just fun. Different sorts of puzzles and quests. Talking to people, helping them, and getting clues. Sneaking around. The scary thrill of going through the world at night. Dorky puns and a built-in sense of humor. (Pro tip: do not drink the Dragon’s Breath ale.)

I don’t think playing a thief was spectacularly different from playing a fighter or magic user in the game, but this was a game and character that stood out from any of the other games and characters I had played on my brother’s Nintendo. It was a character type that rewarded preparation, planning, puzzling things out, caution, and a bold move at just the right moment – a manifestation of my personality type like I hadn’t experienced in a game before.

Dungeons and Dragons was still a taboo gateway-to-darkness in my mind, not even really on my horizon yet. But this game! This game was all fun and adventure.

Clearly, we will have to play this for the rest of the interview.

When you describe the way skills go up and planning and puzzling things out, it almost sounds like Burning Wheel! That said, I feel like when we talk, Burning Wheel is always looming in the background when we geek out together.

Did you play every game in the Quest for Glory series?

Were there more steps on the transitional road between Quest for Glory and D&D?

I am listening to it right now. I am mildly horrified that I can enjoy a MIDI soundtrack, but this still has power.

And yes – what you just mentioned is part of why I found Burning Wheel so appealing. With D&D I never liked that advancements did not correspond with what happened fictionally. It broke continuity to go up a level and improve a skill never used or to suddenly have access to complex spells. It always felt like we were leaving out an interesting and important piece of fiction – and this was years before I ever heard of story games.

But going back to Quest of Glory, no – I never played another. As much as I loved various pieces of geeky media, I wasn’t really part of nerd culture in the way a lot of folks seemed to be. I had moments of obsession and did a few intensely nerdy things (nerdiest thing ever: AOL Nintendo summer camp on the internet), but sometimes my love encircled a thing and found contentment and satiety. Quest for Glory was one of those things. And I didn’t find another roguish game I loved as much until the much more recent Dishonored.

As for what came after Quest for Glory, Betrayal at Krondor was another dearly-loved computer game that prepped me for tabletop gaming. But it was a few years before I ever played D&D.

D&D was not something I had heard anything good about growing up. As part of a conservative Christian family and community, I had heard the urban legends. I was a pretty sensible kid and had little interest in opening a gateway to the occult. But then our family became friends with another Christian family and they were awesome. They also happened to be democrats, which was weird for us, and their son, who was my age, ran D&D. He talked about it and it sounded like the kind of stuff we were already into, but more social. So my parents said okay. Softies! And suddenly there were four of us, exploring the Grand Duchy of Karameikos in my room while our parents met for Bible study downstairs.

I played a thief of course! Disappointingly, I remember exactly zero about that character. I think I only played them for a few sessions and it wasn’t particularly memorable. I remember two things keenly though. One, was lovingly pouring over the AD&D Complete Thief’s Handbook. Especially the equipment lists that evoked that most amazing possibilities for carefully planned adventures…caltrops and poisons and oh no! – encumbrance. I’d have to plan my pack carefully…an annoyance I secretly delighted in. But these sneaky adventures never came.

Just a few sessions in, Christmas came around, and my GM handed me a present. He was practically wiggling with excitement about it. So I opened it and was a bit confused – it was the AD&D Complete Psionic’s Handbook (no, my GM was not John Stavropoulos). “This is for you to play!” he blurted out. He was a friend and super excited, and I still didn’t know my way around the game yet, so I said, “Cool, thanks,” while trying to hide my disappointment. I figured I’d give it a go because maybe it actually would be cool. But the psionic proved ill-suited to the world and fun proved elusive. womp womp

On the plus side, even as a tabletop newb, I understood the faux pas and determined to do better when the opportunity arose to GM D&D in college. I never did get a chance to do a D&D rogue justice except with an NPC – it was hard to pass off the mantle of GM! By the time I finally had the chance to play in someone else’s ongoing game, I was deep into the world of indie games and D&D was history I felt more frustration over than nostalgia for.

If you had mentioned any of this before we started our current (and wonderful) BW campaign, that game would have had a very different pitch!

Well then I’m glad I didn’t mention it, because I love our current game a lot. 😉 But I would LOVE to do a rogue-ish Burning Wheel game with you sometime – or try the same setting from a different angle. And as much as I love them, I often don’t play rogues! They’re something of a genre unto themselves, so some of the really good stuff – the sneaking around, the underdog or outcast status, the fraught back-stories, the clever problem-solving, the undermining of the political system, the fun equipment, the mix of undesirable and charming, etc. – these things don’t fit into every game well, nor should they. Not that all of these pieces have to be present to play a proper rogue, but they do suggest things about what the world is like, what the character’s place is in it, and what kind of challenges might happen, or what the game needs to support.

When coming to the table, unless I’ve been asked to, I try not to come with strong preconceived notions about what I want to play. Because more than a black-leather-clad sneak with some lock picks, I want to play a character that fits with what the game does well, feels like a part of the setting (even if they defy it somehow), and works with what other players are trying to do. If I try to force my preconceived idea into what’s going on, it’s rarely satisfying to me or anyone else.

The image of kids exploring Grand Duchy of Karameikos while their parents were studying the bible is delicious! Do you have any particular nostalgia for the Gazeteers or Mystara?

None at all! My memory of that campaign is a handful of fuzzy moments and little else. The pleasure of hosting my friends in my room, the old briefcase the GM kept the books and papers in, the sound of scribbling pencils, the desserts we scarfed afterward when the adults were done – those memories are much more palpable.

Dishonored is a game I’ve heard many of my friends talk about. Is there a common thread between Dishonored and Quest for Glory?

Switching to this soundtrack now. 😉 
The common threads between the two games are just a few basics. They’re both rogue adventure games, although Dishonored is much darker and grittier. And most notably for me: they’re both finite. They have main objectives and side quests and you can decide on approach, but they both head toward an end game. I like sandbox games, but I avoid them because they’re bad for me – I have a hard time stopping! I may blow week on Dishonored, but then it’s done. A sandbox game just keeps going. Of course, it’s different for a sandbox tabletop game – everyone meets for a couple of hours or so and then puts it aside until next time. Much healthier! 🙂

Dishonored though. I have not loved a video game more than this one. It has some problematic content – I won’t deny that, but the setting is rich, and the game play is phenomenal. I have reached such levels of frustration playing games with awkward or highly complex controls. In fact, I used to say I hated first-person shooters for this reason. But I can’t say that anymore because but the controls in Dishonored are intuitive and super-smooth, and if you have a hard time doing a thing, there are other possible approaches – it doesn’t punish you if you can’t master the drop-from-above & stab motion, for example – you can try another way. In fact, you don’t have to stab at all! It’s a violent game no matter what, but you can play the entire thing non-lethally and that influences the game world in subtle but cool ways.

To me, these parts make a huge difference in playing an amazing rogue game! It goes beyond rogue-in-name and takes it to rogue-as-an-experience. Smooth game play means I get to feel like I’m really controlling a badass with physical prowess, not like some other games where there’s a disconnect like, “sorry dude, I know you’re awesome, but I can’t perfect this awkward 6-button forward-up-aim-shoot motion on the controller.” And having options in how I approach a problem or finding another way also feels very rogue-ish to me. I can be straightforward, stealthy, murderous, merciful, resourceful – whatever suits me and the situation and keeps the evil rats away. I’ve played it through twice and I can’t wait to play through it again, but I’m waiting until I finish a big project.

I read somewhere that you started GMing in college. Did you give any special attention to the thieves and rogues in the group you DMed?

I had a big group, so I tried to provide a variety of plot hooks to appeal to different players, but I mostly tried to make interesting situations that didn’t require a single solution. If wanted to see what they would come up with, whether they were a rogue or a barbarian. AD&D gets a lot of flack, but I actually preferred it to 3rd edition because it had suggestions for giving characters XP for doing things that defined them – rogues doing thiefy things, wizards casting spells, etc. Once we converted to 3rd edition, there was really only XP support for killing stuff, if I remember correctly. I worked around it, but I felt much more on my own. It was my first big realization that the system really didn’t support the fun we were trying to have.

Anyway, there were a couple of rogues that cycled through that game – I mostly remember how much trouble they got into because they had poor impulse control. 🙂 And I got a little bit of a rogue fix with an NPC who had a lock racket. He would make and sell master locks and break into homes that didn’t have them. I used him as a bit of a guide in their early days, and he ended up pretty well loved so he was a useful plot device too. When I started a new D&D game some years later, he came with me like a well-worn jacket and he survived our conversion to Burning Wheel. He was mostly a friendly face in the village by that point, but it was nice to have him around.

Any other fond memories of 2E, system AP, whatever comes to mind?

oh! How about I confess my worst GMing sin?

Even early on in my GMing days, I knew it was important to not hold so tightly to my vision that I shut down players, so I was pretty good at working in oddball stuff. BUT I also didn’t have a strong sense of when to say no and what certain imbalances could do to the game. Mostly this was not a problem – my friends were all amiable and interested in having a good time together. But then there was this one guy. He built a Drow or half-Drow and because we used a stat system where you could spend two points from one stat to increase another by one point, he ended up with this monster with 3 Charisma and 21 Strength. We’re like, “that’s ridiculous – you know you have the Charisma of a skeleton and people will run screaming from you, right?” And he was okay with that and the group said okay too. Ugh! But the worst part was, he was also playing Chaotic Neutral and in order to play that up, he made his character start acting increasingly erratic and lashing out. And with 21 Strength, you don’t lash out without huge consequences. He got into a fight with another PC and almost killed them and he threatened the others “because that’s what my character would do.” The other players were pretty upset. They didn’t feel like they could say or do anything to steer his behavior in-character and worried that even if they ganged up to exile, capture, or attack his PC, he would likely kill a couple of their PCs in the process.

Obviously this was something to be addressed out of character. Obviously. But we were worried that confronting the player would only lead to a temporary improvement and we were SO over this character. But rather than handle this like adults anyway, and talk to him, laying out some parameters if he wanted to keep playing with us, a few of us gathered in the dimmed florescence of the cafeteria after hours and plotted his PCs assassination.

We sat there discussing resources and pros and cons of different methods. My above-mentioned NPC had on him a vial of powerful acid for dissolving stubborn locks. Someone else had silencing Boots of Elvenkind. I offered to have my NPC carry out the act so the burden of responsibility would be on my shoulders (how noble of me).

So…the terrible day arrived and we started playing as usual. But I didn’t draw it out too long. I narrated it being at night when everyone was resting. Every moment of this felt heavy. The group was unnaturally silent because they knew what was coming. I made a successful roll to stealthily sneak into the ill-fated PC’s tent. And then I described the awful pain of acid being poured onto his face and the fade to black. The absolute worst part of all of this is that the player didn’t yet understand what happened and he picked up his dice and had this really eager look on his face – he thought it was yet another challenge to overcome because he trusted me. “Okay, what do I roll?!” “Nothing. There’s no saving throw here. The assassin didn’t make a sound and he poured powerful acid on your face…you’re dead.” This one of the most uncomfortable moments in my life. None of us were happy – we were all squirming with discomfort.

The player got up and left, swearing up a storm down the hall. One of his closer buds went to check on him. I can’t remember what conversations were had after that. I think we did manage to talk more directly to him. He asked if he could play another character and of course I said yes because I felt terrible. So here’s the best/worst part: he came back with a new PC: a friendly, boisterously cheerful wizard who spoke in the most ridiculous Scottish accent. It was so obnoxious. But we let it slide. Penance, I guess.

That is a great story. I’ve totally been there.

Thank you for taking part in this interview, Rachel.

Traditions of the Swordlords: Letters to the High Swordlord

angry bear

His handwriting is that of a scholar. Somehow it lets you know that, despite the artistry, he wrote this himself.
High Swordlord of the Charterlands
Custodian of True Swords

Congratulations on your recent ascension. We have several statues of the Sword Saints in our city’s libraries and when they all turned to swordsteel, our local scholars were amazed.

My dear niece, Strisha, has written several treatises on the Rostland Swordlords and would love to take the journey north to your Charterlands. If you would like the services of an Absolom-trained scholar, please let me know.

Lord Gyr of House Grixx
Primach of the Absolom Congress

boargriffongoat

Her handwriting is precise and evenly spaced. You can tell from her letters that she has been both a soldier and a stateswoman.

Zora Kucera
High Swordlord of Olde Rostland
Defender of the Chartered Lands
Knight of House Kucera

As I am sure you know, the 5th Medendevian Crusade has been called and even now holy knights and anointed warriors march towards the Worldwound to do battle with Abyssal forces.

We write to ask that you send soldiers to do battle with evil.

If you wish to send us exiles as a punitive measure, please let us know and we can dispatch sheriffs to march them northward towards their redemption or death.

The Swordlords of Rostland are the subject of many-a-song and tale; I write this hoping that those songs and poems ring with truth.

Yours,

Queen Gaffrey of Mendev
Warden of Nerosyan
Sword of Iomedae

boargriffongoat
It is the familiar handwriting of an Olde Rostland knight.

High Swordlord!

I never thought I would write those words. I am honored to do so and pleased to know the True Crown sits in your brow.

The Brevosi Ducal Council wants to negotiate a peace with the army I have gathered from the Kellid horse tribes of Numeria. I write you to request that your brother, Lord Cyril Kucera comes to New Stetven to help us in the negotiations. It is my hope that we can not only secure my children and many captured True Swords but also Brevosi gold to pay for their dishonor and make the Riverlands grand.

Please send word back with my messengers.

Long may House Kucera reign over the Charterlands!

Dame Eliska Nemec

boargriffongoat

It is the handwriting of a highly skilled church scribe, which has a formal and uniform quality that you can now recognize since their recent arrival.

High Swordlord Zora of the Charterlands
Esteemed Knight of House Kucera
Overseer of the Rivermark
Warden of the Eastmark, Wyrdmark and the Daggermark
True Swords’ Custodian

I never thought I would see a High Swordlord wear the crown in my lifetime. It is an honor to have seen the Sword Saints bestow such an honor and meet a Swordlord worthy of the ascension. May our sword arms be fast and our shield-arms be steady.

There are sword-talkers with me who could allow me to meet you through Bohuslav but I thought an old fashioned letter would be the best way to continue our discussions.

I will be staying in Spearpointe for some time, making sure the changeover goes smoothly. With your permission, I would make this place the home of the Saints’ Church and hold our elections here, appointing bishops and the like. If I am blessed enough to be elected as the Riverlands Bishop, I would make Spearpointe the capital of my diocese. I could oversee the municipal responsibilities also. As a former Swordlord, I have done this kind of work before and the familiar tasks are a comfort to me in my dotage.

Also with your permission, I would leave Sister Seda with you at Ft. Hajek has a tutor and spiritual guide along with half a dozen scribes trained to transcribe Bohuslav’s words with you, as we did in Olde Rostland. If she could serve you on your councils, we would be honored to have a place at your side. Sister Seda has an earnest and open quality that some take for being naive but I am among those who find it refreshing in this cynical world we find ourselves in.

I ask again for permission to dole out permits for martial weapons (swords, spears, war axes, great bows, crossbows and any polearm) so that your vassals pay for the privilege, so the church can take its old responsibilities and so we can keep track of who is armed.

And once again I caution you concerning the education and raising of Eralla. She will soon be in the Myrk and will no doubt be sent to Salt Island for her education. I would prevent that if possible.

On to new business and new requests, I hope that your current heir is publicly and officially declared, not only for the possession of Bohuslav but for the position of High Swordlord. Is that position linked to Bohuslav?

And lastly, how may I best serve you? What do you need from me? I may be old but I am not made of glass and will serve you in whatever way I can.

Your servant in faith and all that is Saintly,

Sword-Matron Reverend Mother Kazamira

boargriffongoat

Her handwriting is business-like and precise. It looks more like an accountant’s ledger.

Swordlord,

With my new knighthood, I thought it would be a good idea to send you a report of the state of the Riverlands Army.

We have soldiers whose enlistment is up in the autumn. They can take their pay and leave unless the Riverlands are in a state of war. This is, of course, assuming that our army is going by the same laws as we did in Rostland. Most as assuming as such. We are not losing any Sergeants, though there are rumors of a core group who want to leave all together and settle in the south, forming steading-fort communities. Most with stripes are looking to myself and Dame Clea, hoping to gain a knighthood.

Our organization is a bit of a mess. We only had one lieutenant and no captain. In truth, I was acting as a captain since we’ve arrived.

I would recommend a captain who will report to the knights and lieutenants in Ft. Hajek, the Icarre Mine and Olegton. I can put forth candidates for lieutenants if you’d like. We have plenty of blooded soldiers who would make fine enough sergeants.

Knights have served as captains in the army in the days of Olde Rostland and I would be honored to take up such a position if you’d wish.

We need to recruit more soldiers. We’ve had some who have run but we have also had deaths and normal attrition. The money you’ve paid us allows for this kind of effort. I’d recommend that the new recruits serve at Ft. Hajek. The grounds here are best for drilling and the soldiers here are the best seasoned.

It is worth noting that with just a bit more, say 400 silver (4 resources), we could also accelerate our horse training. This silver does not include the horses, of course.

Will we keep the army? I know the nun said that the army led to the Olde Rostland’s fall but I think that is naive nonsense. Without her soldiers, Rostland would have fallen long before.

I am honored to serve among the Riverlands knights and will do my best to live up to what you see in me.

Sincerely,

Dame Kaari Forte
Riverlands Knight

 

 

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ischys and Coronis, or two Niobids, conducted by two genies of the Netherworld to Apollo and Diana. Below are a boar, sphinx, goat and a griffon.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1844 – 1861. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-19cb-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99