Reference: The Four Marches

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Reference: The Four Marches

Post by Gingerbread Guy » Sun January 30 05 ; 5 00 am

Hey gang! Here's some information that you'll need to know about the Kingdom where the game will take place. These are only details that common folk know, so if you have ranks in Knowledge (History) or some such, see me about making rolls to determine what other stuff you know.

The Continent of Heramir, Before Unification
Heramir is an island continent about twice the size of the real-world British Isles. It isn't documented when humans arrived on Heramir, but some say it happened only a few centuries ago. The first humans to land were probably explorers from lands far to the south across the ocean, but Heramir is so isolated that contact with other continents is quite difficult.

Shroder the Invincible and the Unification
It wasn't until this last century that humans truly spread across the face of Heramir. It was by the courage and vision of one man that Heramir was conquered and unified.

Even now, little is known for fact about Shroder the Invincible, also known as the Red Falcon [which was his personal symbol]. It is said that he was, as the name suggests, impossible to kill. There are many tales that mention Shroder striding confidently into battle wearing no armor, and eye witness reports [from dwarves who fought at his side] that he often turned his back on his opponents without care or concern for his own safety. Mundane weapons were said to bounce off his skin or pass through him as though he were immaterial. Other accounts claim that he was simply so potent in battle that he required no defense. At any rate, one thing is for certain: Shroder the Invincible died a toothless old man in bed.

Shroder's army, better known as the Shrodian Army swept across Heramir like a deadly breeze. Again, the details of his conquests are the stuff of legend, and all that remains are wild stories told by bards in taverns, inns and town squares across the continent.

The Unification began 75 years ago, and lasted only some 30 years. Shroder was a brilliant general, but a lousy father. He sired only three sons (each from different wives), and it was his dying wish that they be the heirs to his unified kingdom. The old man's intentions aren't clear, but his three sons took it to mean that they should divide Heramir up between them, which is exactly what they did.

After Shroder: A nation divided
And so, the three sons divided Heramir between them. The eldest son, Richard, chose the largest landmass to the west and named it Falcon's Rest. The second son, James, chose the warm coastal lands to the south east and named them Sterkamund, a Dwarven word that means "Strong Hand." The youngest son, Cyric, was given the smallest portion of the continent, a region called the Four Marches.

The Four Marches
When Shroder lead his army up the eastern coast to conquer the north-eastern corner of Heramir, he encountered more difficulty than he had expected. He found himself crossing through four distinctly different types of terrain.

Firstly, he found an immensely thick and verdant forest where he had expected a frozen wasteland. It was named "The Tangles" because Shroder observed that the plants there seemed to twist and tangle with each other in their journey to the distant canopy in search of sunlight. No doubt, many of his soldiers were lost to assassin vines, shambling mounds and other semi-sentient plants that still give humanoid inhabitants trouble to this day. The explosive vegetation of the Tangles is credited to the blessing of the Gods, usually Frey [the god of agriculture, the sun and male fertility], though the Dwarves have suspiciously concluded that its some kind of elven trick or magic. Indeed, the Tangles are the native home of the High Elves of Heramir.

Where the Tangles abruptly ended, Shroder discovered wide open plains of grass with scarcely a tree in sight. They were named the Plains of Gold Hope, perhaps because compared with the Tangles, the open plains were a welcome change. Today when people think of the Plains of Gold Hope, they usually picture the seemingly endless fields of wheat, corn and other grains that sustain the largest and most dense population in all of the Four Marches.

As Shroder ventured further west the land turned from flat planes to rocky highlands. The Grand Barrows seemed to name themselves. Much later, Shroder's third son Cyric would find rich deposits of minerals and ores in the Grand Barrows, which would help run his Kingdom's economy.

Eventually Shroder came to a mighty stretch of mountains that no human had ever crossed. The mountain line coursed clear across Heramir, but it was especially pronounced here. Shroder's fourth marched proved to be his most difficult, and indeed he never conquered the icy mountains. In them he found the great clans of Frost Giants, the lairs of many dragons and weather so cold that entire battalions of his army froze to death on the mountainside. Three times did Shroder try to claim the mountains as his own, and three times he failed.

During one of the three attempts Shroder is said to have lost one of his prized possessions, a magical bronze gauntlet given to him as a gift from the Dwarves. Such is how the Bronze Gauntlet Mountains earned their name and fearsome reputation. The gauntlet remains lost ot this day [if it even existed to begin with[ though many have tried to find it [and the few that have returned with their lives have been uncessfull].

Map
A particularly enterprising goblin named Gortz the Second [which is just a title he added to his name to sound reputable.. there was no Gortz the First] is credited as being the best Goblin cartographer to ever live. Sadly, that isn't saying much. This map penned by Gortz II himself is a typical depiction of how commoners see the Four Marches. There are no significant landmarks to help orient travelers, and so most people have only a vague idea of what their Kingdom actually looks like:
Last edited by Gingerbread Guy on Sat September 03 05 ; 8 05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Gingerbread Guy » Sun January 30 05 ; 5 31 am

Okay, now that the history lesson is out of the way, a few more details..

The Class System
There are really two classes in the Four Marches: The Peasant or Common Class and the Noble Class. The haves and the have-nots. Generally speaking there is one Noble for every 100 or so peasants.

Which Class you belong to is a matter of luck of the draw. You're either born common folk or you're born into a noble house. There are only two exceptions to this rule:

a) Peasants who perform extraordinary duties and/or who rise in the ranks of the military may be Knighted. They and their immediate family (spouse and children only) are thereafter considered Noble.

b) Occasionally a noble will chose to marry a commoner. While this practice is frowned upon by most other nobles, rare and exceptional commoners can sometimes earn respect among other nobles. If the peasant plays his or her cards right, they just may earn themselves (and their children) Nobility.

Only nobles are allowed to own land. Commoners are really tenants wherever they go, constantly paying taxes for the priviledge of living on their noble's property. Some nobles are cruel, and others are reasonable or even generous. Its not always a horrible existence to be common.

Peerage
Even among nobles there is a clear heirarchy called Peerage. Nobility comes with titles, and here they are in order of highest to lowest:

King
Well duh. The King is the supreme ruler of his Kingdom, second only in theory to the Gods (after all, the King is only mortal). Technically, however, no one owns the Bronze Gauntlet Mountains, not even King Cyric himself. Yet.

Queen
Close behind the King is his Queen. Cyric's Queen is Joanna, a beautiful raven-haired woman neary half Cyric's age.

Prince/Princess
Cyric has many children, almost too many to count. Though no one talks about it, its probably pretty obvious that Queen Joanna couldn't possibly have given birth to them all.

Earl/Countess
There are but three Earls (Countess is the female title) at any given time. Each rules over one of the Four Marches: The Grand Barrows, the Plains of Gold Hope or the Tangles.

Duke/Dutchess
Each Earl or Countess appoints several Dukes (or Dutchesses) to lord over various parts of his or her appointed March. This subdivison of land is called a Dutchy. A Dutchy usually contains at least two major towns and could contain hundreds of tiny villages.

Baron/Baroness
In turn, a Duke or Dutchess appoints Barons (or Baronesses) to look after sections of his or her Dutchy. Usually a Baron is given one major town or city to care for, including the surrounding villages that support it. Often enough a Duke or Dutchess will control affairs within the Dutchy themsevles, but it always helps to have subordinates to blame when things don't go as planned.

Red Knight
The Council of the Red Knights exists in all three Kingdoms of Heramir. The Red Knights were once the personal guard of Shroder the Invincible, and after his death they too were divided three ways between Shroder's three sons. At any time there are only eleven seats in the Council of the Red Knights in the Four Marches. Though officially a Red Knight is of lower station than a Baron or Baroness, some Red Knights weild personal influence that rivals that of a Duke or Dutchess. Red Knights are only chosen from the ranks of Knights. Typically a Red Knight choses his own successor when he retires, but in the event that a Red Knight is unable to chose his successor before he dies, the remaining 10 council members nominate potentials and hold a vote to determine who fills the vacant seat.

Knight
Particularly talented, valuable or seasoned soldiers from the Noble class are Knighted. Rarely a peasant might be Knighted if they perform a great service for the good of the Kingdom, or if they otherwise display great worth. As Nobles, Knights are entitled to own small portions of land called Feifs, but rarely are they outright given money to establish one, and rarely can a Knight afford such an extravagance on his or her own.

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