The Political Landscape of Nevermore
The following is in-world lore for all the campaigns of Experience Point in the shared world of Nevermore. Interested in joining or finding out more? Check out our Events Calendar to read our campaign diaries, drop us an email with any questions that you may have, or simply just give us a call! Don't worry, we're nice... -ish.
A king is the highest form of power within a kingdom. He is often advised by a small team of specialists that collectively form the Royal Council, but within the kingdom, the king's word is law, and none may contradict the royal will.
Kings will often carve up the kingdom into smaller fiefdoms and parcel them out to nobles:
- A duke or duchess rules over a dukedom
- A marquis or marquess rules over a march
- An earl or countess rules over an earldom
- A viscount or viscountess rules over a county
- A baron or baroness rules over a barony
Although the titles of nobility are ranked in a loose sort of hierarchy, a marquis is in no way inferior to a duke: dukedoms are simply richer and/or larger than marches, which are in turn richer and/or larger than earldoms and so on. Within his fief, a noble's word is law and subject only to the royal veto, and even a duke would do well to be careful when visiting a baron.
A noble has three main duties to his king: to obey his king's commands, to pay his tithe (historically a tenth of whatever income he collects), and to raise an army from his population when the king wishes to march to war. Going to war is an extremely expensive business, and it is prudent for a king to consider the economic demands he is putting on his nobility whenever he calls for the banners to be raised.
Regardless of a king or nobleman's birth name, upon attaining a title, the noble will thereafter simply be referred to by the name of his demesne: the King of the kingdom of Wethorp will therefore be simply known as King Wethorp, the Viscount of the region of Northreach will simply be known as Viscount Northreach, and so on and so forth.
Kings are always addressed as "Your Majesty", Dukes as "Your Grace", and Marquises, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons as "My Lord" or "My Lady". Princes and princesses are addressed as "Your Highness" (or, more formally, "Your Royal Highness"), while knights are addressed by their birth name with the honorary prefix of "Sir".
Every fief is marked by the presence of a castle, which serves both as its military heart as well as the ruling noble's residence. Most towns and cities spring up either around or near (i.e. within a day's ride from) the castle, and these settlements tend to be the safest and most prosperous of all the settlements in the fief.
Due to the (more or less regular) presence of the noble, castles also serve as the fief's political centre. Most nobles will choose to hold court daily in the castle's great hall, where his knights may bring any problems or concerns before him and his own council.
Except for marquises, most nobles only maintain a small standing army that is just large enough for them to wait out a siege in the castle until reinforcements can be sent from the king. As such, most castles are positioned in naturally strategic places (eg. fords, hilltops, mountainsides) that allow them a commanding position over the nearby landscape.
A kingdom's marches are defined as land that border those of other kingdoms. Unlike other nobles who only raise banners in times of war, marquises are expected to maintain a sizeable standing army that is ready at all times to repel would-be raiders and skirmishers. In return, marquises are often exempted from paying the tithe, thus allowing them to dedicate most of their income to maintaining their army.
In especially large or tumultuous fiefdoms, the ruling noble may choose to divide his land into smaller portions and give them to his favoured knights to rule over. Sometimes known as baronets to differentiate them from non-landowning knights, these knights lack the power or resources of a nobleman and rule from a manse instead of a castle.
Unlike a noble whose word is law, a baronet cannot define the law but is merely empowered to interpret and enforce the fiefdom's law on behalf of his master. A baronet is expected to carry out the will of the noble, not his own, and is thus only permitted a certain amount of latitude in rulership and authority.
A baronet's tithe varies by the region and ranges from as little as one-tenth to as much as nine-tenths of the land's income. Being knights themselves, they are expected to stand and fight alongside the rest of their people when the nobleman has need of their military services.
- Aewith (neighbours Lacio, Beawold and Wethorp): King Aewith lost his right arm in a border skirmish against Lacio when he was a young Marquis. Famed for their mounted knights in silver-trimmed full plate. The King is proud to the point of arrogance, but he is a just king and, being a military man himself, is beloved by his knight-commanders. Many Aewithian knights, in an attempt to emulate their king, have taken up left-handed swordplay.
- Lacio (neighbours Aewith and Beawold): The King is sickly and new to the throne, and his younger brother the Crown Prince is much more popular with the nobles and the people than the current King. Famed for their heavy infantry.
- Beawold (neighbours Aweith, Lacio, Wethorp and Caburh): The Sun-King, after killing the previous king, has installed himself as a semi-divine presence within the capital. Temples to his name and image have started popping up all over the land. Famed for their archers, with their powerful greatbows and longbows of yew.
- Wethorp (neighbours Aewith, Beawold and Caburh). King Wethorp is dying of a mysterious illness and has chosen his daughter - the Crown Princess Abigail - to be his heir. However, rumour has it that the King has recently recovered thanks to the efforts of a band of adventurers, and has since become well enough to retake the throne. Famed for their navy and rapier-wielding fencers.
- Caburh (neighbours Wethorp and Beawold): King Caburh is young, new to the throne and currently being ill-advised by most of his lesser council, all of whom are trying to take advantage of his youth and ignorance. However, he is more intelligent than he lets on and can see through most of their ploys, but is playing dumb to separate the wheat from the chaff. His apparent stupidity is however concerning his nobles, many of whom have began plotting a coup at the instigation of the councillors. Famed for their light cavalry and skirmishers.
- Qadal (neighbours Yaniel): Qadal is rich, sheltered and decadent, and its king is much the same. Despite being resource poor, thanks to its control of the only pass leading into the eastern kingdoms, it has profited greatly from trade and gained a reputation for being a place where, as long as the price is right, one may purchase anything. Famed for their mercenary sellswords, and for attempting to buy out their enemies instead of going to war whenever possible.
- Yaniel (neighours Qadal, Heweth, Aunoral, and dwarves): King Yaniel is a figurehead ruler, and the true power lies with the seven Oligarchs that make up his lesser council. The Temple of Vuloas holds sway in the city, and oligarchic profit through any means - from deceit to outright murder - is the order of the day. King Yaniel knows this and despairs, but is helpless to do anything about the situation. Famed for their siege weapon and crossbowmen.
- Heweth (neighbours Yaniel, Aunoral and Keorid): King Heweth is a machiavellian schemer who understands that he is a small fish, in a small pond, surrounded by much larger fish; and that, if he wishes to survive, he must play his neighbours off each other. He has cultivated a reputation for being a gracious guest and an excellent host, and his balls are famed throughout the world. Famed for their warmages.
- Aunoral (neighbours Yaniel and Heweth): Queen Aunoral is an authoritarian despot who, despite meaning the best for her people, exercises power with an iron fist; her first taste of battle was squashing a minor rebellion in her marches, and she fears that any gentleness will be mistook for weakness. Those who defy her are imprisoned or exiled, and harsh punishments are dealt out for minor offences. The people fear her justicars (nicknamed Goldcloaks) who are all paladins of the Grand Temple of Lethae. Famed for their heavy greatsword infantry.
- Keorid (neighbours Heweth and the elven forest): King Keorid is quick-tempered and overly bold, and often deeply regrets his outbursts after the fact. Having recently accepted Lethae as his patron, he has taken to meditating for days at a time within the temple, leaving matters of state to the Crown Prince and the lesser council. The elves in the forest, on the edge of Keorid, are a constant threat to the kingdom, and Adelas finds himself constantly arguing with the lesser council about how they should handle their less-than-human neighbours. Famed for their light infantry and swordsmen.