A Burning Wheel PBP game that is about to start.
Esteroth is a new province in the Empire. A generation ago this land was forests inhabited only by the roughest, hardiest and most foolish of men. Still, it is a fertile land and rich in furs, so men lived here. Now, with the coming of the imperial garrison the land is safe for habitation.
Times are troubled now. There is a civil war in the Empire. Duke Alexandros is backing the ruling faction and so far the war has not effected Esteroth. Who knows what the future will bring though. The barbarians across the border are also reporting increased orc raids and more terrors in the woods. Some natives demand increased Imperial presence in their defense, others gather and plot against the invaders from over the mountains. Finally, there are cult religions springing up out of the merging of the Imperial Church of the Holy Spirit and the barbarian faiths. Tensions are high. Something is going to happen.
These are places that might be of interest. Basically jsut a way to establish some common locations and names.
Broadfalls. A small city at the base of the mountain passes that separate Esteroth from the core lands of the Empire. Because of Prince Alexandros's court, Broadfalls has more culture and more nobility than would otherwise be expected in a provintial capital. Still, it is a young city and a bit rough around the edges.
Eastreach The only other sizable imperial settlement in Esteroth, though more of a town than a city. It stands in a large loop of the Blackwater river, at the site of the only large bridge in the region. One day's travel (by a determined man) east of Broadfalls, two by loaded horses, three or even four by an army. There is a military garrison at Eastreach guarding the bridge.
Blackwater river. The practical eastern edge of Esteroth province. Across the river the inhabited lands are held by semi-civilized barbarians.
Melius run. The river running from Broadfalls to the Blackwater. It is fast flowing and rocky, so there is little traffic on the river.
The Spire. A 30-foot tall solid stone tower on the top of a large hill on the east (barbarian) side of the Blackwater. No-one knows who built it or why. It serves as a meeting point for the 'barbarians'. (DM notes, no, I don't know what will turn out to be important about the Spire.)
In the same way, we need some common people to set the big picture. Note that these folk may just be the large background or they may be personally involved. That depends on what and who the PCs are.
Prince Alexandros, Duke of Esteroth. The imperial governor of the region. He resides in Broadfalls. He is a prince of the royal blood and in his day was an accomplished military leader. Imposing in bearing, he keeps court in a grand style. He and those close to him have grown rich on the taxes on commerce both ways over the mountain. He wants to expand the glory of his house and his own fortunes. There are rumors that his tastes in entertainment go beyond just gladiatorial combat, but most folks put them down to the rival factions.
Magus Illius Petrovich. An unknown quantity to most people in the province. Illius is a widely travels sorcerer. The exact nature of his powers is unknown, but his reputation is fearsome. He mostly keeps aloof from the settlers of the region, but does have some interaction with hunters and trackers who travel the less civilized forests. He wants arcane knowledge and is not overly concerned about the price he pays.
Father Thomas Lyon, head of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Esteroth. He was born in the area before it was brought into the Empire and has brought the Church here. Even so, he is young for his position. His primary temple in Eastreach to better facilitate the spread of the Holy Spirit to the uneducated, but there are others. He wants to spread his faith.
Captain Maximus Bithranos. The head of the garrison at Eastreach. An experienced commander of Imperial foot soldiers. Feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. His relationships with those across the river are cordial and formal. He's old imperial stock and he cannot see their ways as correct, but he accepts them as people. He wants to defend the Empire and retire in peace.
King Giaus Leomedes. Leader of the barbarians. A proud man, dedicated to his way of life and the lives of his people. He wants to be a great hero for his people. He does not like the Church of the Holy Spirit thinking that its abstract theology of a divine spark that inhabits all men and animates them towards goodness encourages weakness.
He Who Will Be Named. Orc leader. Not really in the picture yet, but ultimately he and his horde are putting pressure on the barbarians. He wants to be Named and his plan to do so is to crush the borders of the Empire.
If I have themes in mind they are power and civilization. Some points come to mind.
- In general, think the Roman frontier in Germany, or maybe the Chinese frontier with the Mongols. Geography is closer to the German forests. I expect there are wolves, spiders, trolls, orcs and other things in the woods.
- The city setting means outside the province or Broadfalls.
- The village setting means Eastreach. Villagers from outside this province don't travel here.
- The peasant setting could be on either side of the river.
- The gift is very rare. I want at most one Gifted character, and if you are gifted, you need to explain your relationship with Illius.
- Faith is very rare. The standard religion does not go in for miracles much. If you have Faith, you need to explain your relationship with Father Thomas and with the Holy Church.
- Whether Elves and Dwarves are around is mostly up to the players. I want at most one character of each race, and the character has to have a reason for living with and primarily interacting with the humans. I'll start out biased against non-humans, but a good set of beliefs may convince me. (Edit later. No-one raised it, so there are no elves and dwarves.)
- 5 is the skill limit with one skill per character allowed at 6 if you must.
- What happens next probably has to do with who the characters are and what they want. I want the characters to have goals. The typical 'adventurer' who is a collection of skills ready to react to what is thrown at him is less interesting.
- Troops are mostly foot soldiers, chain is the heaviest armor. There are some mounted soldiers, more as scouts and flanking forces than as heavy cavalry.
- Nobility means you are from a noble house in the core of the empire. You were not born here. Other characters can be born outside the area, but noble characters have to be.
- Every character gets a few relationship with one of the VIPs.
- Feel free to suggest more to add to the game world. In game, skill rolls can certainly do so. Even w/o that, if it seems likely to add to the fun, it is probably good. If anyone objects to the idea though, it won't get added. (Mostly to avoid the kitchen sink effect of everyone adding their own favorite bit but none of the bits interacting.)
Lakkar was born in a Prussel hamlet and raised to be a hunter like his father. He wasn't bad at it, but he never felt that it was meant for him. His disrespect of the elders and cocky attitude earned him the nickname "Loudmouth." When he was old enough to strike out on his own he traveled the land bartering hides and food from animals he hunted and peddling the goods he received in return. Eventually he made his way to Broadfalls and took work with the Kolanos family. He started by brining in hides they would tan and eventually turn into leather garments. Soon he was promoted to a taskmaster within their organization and grew to become a trusted employee. One day he met the Princess when she came to purchase a fine fur cloak. He fell in love at first sight, but she made it clear that she would never even consider a barbarian like him. Still, his hopes would not be dashed. His experiences in Broadfalls have led him to believe that his people must embrace the civilization of the Empire, especially if they wish to survive the marauding orcs on the border. He is prepared to do what it takes to ensure peaceful annexation of the Prussel.
Concept Would-be clan leader maneuvering to take advantage of situation
Born Peasant->Hunter->Peddler->Lead to City->Taskmaster
Per B6 Will B4 Agil B6 Spd B4 Pow B3 Fort B4
Hes 5 Health B4 M Wound B9 Steel B5 Reflexes B5 Circles B2 Resources B0
Ambitious, Blank Stare, Glib, Intimidating, Scheming
- B1 The time has come to abandon the old ways and stubborn old priests like Gerald will have to be marginalized, driven away, or killed. [I will change the priest to an NPC involved with another PC]
- B2 Ingratiating myself to Prince Alexandros will give me the influence to ensure that my friends and family prosper in the new kingdom, despite their reservations. I will learn his heart's desire by getting friendly with those who serve him so I may procure a fine gift.
- B3 Princess Niana captured my heart the moment I saw her, I will do anything to convince her that I am worthy of her love, despite my heritage. She must be willing to look at me before I can win her heart, so I must dress in finery appropriate to her station, which is presently well beyond my means.
- I1 Always bow to upstanding imperial citizens.
- I2 Never heed the words of a priest of the old, dead gods.
- I3 Sing when concentration is not required.
- Clothes, Shoes, Traveling Gear, Hunting Bow, Blunted Arrowheads
- VIP Relationship
- Princess Niana: Significant, Romantic. Lokkar fell in love at first sight, but Niana wouldn't dream of allowing a barbarian to court her.
- 1D reputation as "Loudmouth" Lokkar, Known as a disrespectful braggart in his home hamlet of Furl.
- 1D affiliation with Kolanos Family, Broadfalls merchant family that produces clothing and oversees production from harvesting of wool and furs to spinning cloth and tanning to designing and sewing the final products. Lokkar worked as a taskmaster for them for several years.
Bow B3, Brawling B3, Conspicuous B3, Falsehood B2, Gambling B2, Haggling B2, Hunting B3, Inconspicuous B2, Intimidation B2, Labor-Wise B3, Mending B3, Observation B3, Orienteering B3, Persuasion B4, Seduction B2, Sing B3, Stealthy B2, Tracking B2
Born in a small village near the border, Amalof was inexplicably driven to a life of worship. He studied under the priests, but did not find the wholeness of self he seemed to be searching for. It wasn’t until a priest of Holy Spirit paid visit to the village that he realized this foreigner had the answer, had the piece of the young boy that was missing.
He followed the man, Tiberius, acting as his announcer and studying under him for a time. It was this fervent devotion that impressed the priest enough to nominate Amalof to study in the Church. Broadfalls was a wonder to the boy, proof that God anoints the foreigners with power. He took well to his teaching, but he grew restive as he realized he must deliver the message to his former kin.
Amalof joined the military, knowing his would never rise in its ranks, but wishing to travel back to his old haunts and deliver them the Light he had found. Unfortunately, no one wished to be lectured by a soldier. Worse, his fellow men laughed at his fumbling with the barbarians.
Returning to Broadfalls, he finished his education and left for home again. There, he has begun to gather smallfolk under his tutelage and confront the men and women who resist change, who resist the Light of God.
Concept Revolutionist convert
Born Peasant, Zealous Convert, Temple Acolyte, Foot Soldier, Village Priest
Will B5 Perception B4 Power B4 Forte B4 Agility B4 Speed B3 Health B4 Steel B5 Reflexes B3 Mortal Wound B10 Hesitation B5 Resources B1 Circles B2
Traits Infallible Religious Logic, Tonsured, Vested, Righteous, Demagogue, Booming Voice, Inspirational
Beliefs I will make this place ideal for my return. With my every breath, I will ensure that the world I leave behind this time is one worthy of the Holy Spirit.
Change is birth. And like birth it is painful and must be guided with sure hands. This change needs experienced hands to make a successful birth.
Centers cannot hold if supported by weakness. The old religion is a weakness and must be replaced with the sturdiness of God.
Instincts Always searches for people’s weaknesses
Never walks behind
If questioned, then he blusters on about his religion
Skills- Religious Diatribe B4, Read B2, Soldiering B3, Oratory B3, Doctrine B3, Rhetoric B3, Temple-wise B3, Shield-training B2, Sword B3, Foraging B2, Suasion B3, Symbology B2
Reputation 1D The PREACHER. The man expounds on and on about his religion. It's a bit tiresome.
Affiliations 1D The Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. A group that spreads far and wide to bring the message of truth to the barbarians.
Relationships Tiberius. Cost 10. Official of the Church in Broadfalls and former Missionary.
Wytta. Cost 1. Cousin and occasional lover.
Gear Sword and dirk, some traveling gear, leather armor, a cottage.