Anuire is based loosely on Medieval Britain, with French and Roman influences. That's very handy as it is the medieval area most well known in fantasy fiction - regal kings, pompous priests, shining knights, etc.
Rights of the King
Rank hath its privileges milord - to take the crown is not merely to accept the burden of it...
Birthright is a medieval setting. A king is therefore both more and less powerful than many players expect. More because they ARE the law in many respects, a King does not need to ask permission to go to war, change faith or suchlike, they simply do it. Divine right means that by virtue of birth the King is more worthy than others - and woe betide the peasant who cries foul, for the concept of human rights is a modern conceit. That said noblesse oblige - a noble is expected to abide by standards of conduct which include mercy, charity, and the like - the king can grind the peasantry to powder if they truly wish, but if they are challenged by a noble with the ear of the people, the king may come to may regret their actions.
On the other hand, a King is often merely first amongst equals to the nobility. In some realms a King may ascend only when chosen by the nobles from amongst their number, or need to be accepted by the state faith. Anuirean realms are far weaker legally than states in modern times - a king may expect obedience from vassal counts and barons but it will not necessarily be forthcoming, nor will blithely over-turning traditions go unpunished one way or the other - a king more than any other is bound by tradition for it is what placed them on their throne.
Nobles also have rights, and may be expected to demand that these rights are honored. Nobles tend to form the 'command rank' of the army, and indeed run all major feudal systems not run by the local church. The nobles in turn have vassals and much of a realms army is, in fact, the accumulated private armies of the local nobility.
Rights which may seem very odd to modern ears are droit de seignior, or the lord's right which is the (possibly legendary) right of a lord to claim the virginity of maidens within their demesne. While the existence of the right is heavily disputed, it is very fitting for a fantasy setting as it has all sorts of adventure possibilities. It is likely however that any maiden impregnated by such a right has some reciprocal right to recompense with which to secure a marriage in which the babe could be raised.
The right of feud - i.e. to pillage of towns, villages and castles belonging to the 'guilty' party. A noble can feud against their liege - this is not rebellion so long as the feud is justified. Of course 'justified', 'right', and 'rebellion' are highly dependent on the power and security of the liege in question - a weak king will be forced to compromise or suffer losses, a strong liege to whom all other vassals are submissive may be able to deal overtly and harshly with vassals that dare declare feud upon them - it should be noted that only a tyrant would kill or bankrupt a feuding vassal - such an act effectively tells other vassals that they can forget about any thoughts of rights' or 'nobility' and are, in effect, merely peasants that enjoy grace merely at the whim of the liege.
Knighthood. Knighthood varies from a reward for battle prowess, to loyalty to the lord, to a reward for undertaking a foreign pilgrimage. (Particularly relevant for lords of Elinie who are far from their center of worship in Ariya). Knighthood may itself bestow certain rights (typically rights to enter certain places, wear or use a symbol, have legal immunity of some kind, have power of low or middle justice, or simply result in higher social standing). Although most knighthoods would be locally granted, the most prestigious knighthoods may require significant travel or expense (to sort the wheat of real nobility from the chaff of lesser nobles as it were).
- A noble opposes the king, seeking to take the throne by means fair or foul.
- A foolish peasant demands a better life for their compatriots and starts rabble rousing.
- A young noble discovers some ancient Andu prerogative of nobles long forgotten with good reason - and starts to revive it. For example taxation rights, rights over peasants, etc.
- A foreign (i.e. not the PC's realm) noble asks for the PC's aid. Ancient marital ties mean the PC has a key vote in an upcoming noble's council and the foreigner desperately wants their help.
- A knight believes they were denied their rightful booty in a war and declares a feud against their lord. The lord is certain that a valued gem necklace, chosen to appeal to the knight's lady, was sent to the knight and should have fully rewarded him - but the knight is an honorable man and so few lords believe he would have lied about not receiving his reward - indeed being a proud man he would likely have immediately granted it to his lady and the two paraded that the liege's benefice be recognized and the knights honor grow.
- A lord of Medeore wishes to be escorted while undertaking a pilgrimage to the Temple of Rilni in far off Mairada. There he will make an offering to win entrance to the legendary Order of the Swooping Owl, then of course he must be escorted home to win suitable honor. Of course his rivals don't want him to earn his place, the offering itself must be retrieved from a tomb in northern Aduria, and it is said that the Temple of Rilni requires a petitioner - or their champion - to undergo some deadly ritual before claiming their place in the order.
Heirs and spares
The progression of domain turns takes its toll on short lived races like humans. A typical male human in medieval times lived 40-50 years if they were lucky. Nobles are likely to live longer than peasants, but the simple fact is that medieval life is harsh - and while spell-casting priests can make it more comfortable, they are no replacement for supermarkets, hospitals and central heating.
Anuire is a hard land however, children die from a multitude of causes while war claims many young men and women. So in addition to the heir, each ruler must have a spare - preferably many.
The presence of spares however causes a problem when they are grown - since only one will inherit the bloodline they are likely to also inherit the land (particularly to avoid the constant splitting of realms). What are the other children to do? In addition to the old staples of a career in the military, or the church, should be added marriage to another family, pursuit of the arcane, and (perhaps shamefully) guild life.
Typically a settled human family will produce one child every other year for 10-20 years. In wilder areas the birthrate will drop, although even fully nomadic people generally manage one child every 4 years and vanishingly few Anuireans pursue a nomadic life.
- A child could wander off, 'go hunting goblins like father' etc and need to be retrieved
- A child could be kidnapped
- A betrothal could be offered for the child
- A child could break some law or custom requiring severe punishment
- A child could find some lost treasure hidden deep in the bowels of the palace an age ago
- A child could take up a hobby - like magic...
- A child could be offered to the regent for fostering
Seeking the spouse
Any ruler without an heir faces concern from the court - initially this will manifest with subtle hints, then progress to strong hints, 'accidental meetings' with potential spouses, talk of marital alliances by the court, to obdurance and even civil unrest if the regent continues to shirk their duty. It should be noted that the court tends to be unconcerned with good looks, pleasant demeanor, etc and more interested in wealth, alliances, and the power of various families in the realm.
In Anuire another factor complicates the search for a spouse - bloodline. To maintain bloodline strength the spouse should be of similar bloodline to the regent, preferably stronger. (This is less of an issue in BRCS than AD&D due to the change in inheritance rules). Accordingly the greater houses both have fewer potential spouses, and very valuable 'spares' that can be married off to improve the bloodline of other houses.
- Adventures could be used to prove worthiness to a high-ranking woman.
- Completely unsuitable spouses can be alternatively comic relief, or interesting conundrum - "milord, the goblin king offers his daughter's hand, it could stop the raids that have been so ruinous this past season"...
- Other candidates could compete with the regent for a desired spouse
- Enemies of the regent could attack the spouse.
- Failure to take a spouse could encourage powerful nobles to seek the throne
- The state faith could refuse to recognize an 'unsuitable ' spouse.
- A rare poison might make the spouse barren, unless the equally rare cure is found the regent will be forced to set the spouse aside and find a replacement...
Men and women
In much of medieval society law and custom often treated men and women very differently - at least in the upper classes (peasants needed both genders to work, etc so both were generally treated equally regardless of the actual letter of the law). To blindly copy this bigotry however is likely to lead to friction, players of female PC's are unlikely to accept that their PC should meekly follow orders from another PC or be otherwise disadvantaged simply due to gender, while it also gives a bad impression of both game and players to outside observers.
This does not mean that you have to drop social differences or suchlike. An age-old female hero could justify 'modern' female PC heroes, equal land and inheritance rights do not need to impact on the composition of armies, but in general, gender differences should relate to physical matters only.
If you must change character generation to reflect gender differences, consider the following:
If you do have legal distinctions (i.e. only men can inherit, or only women can inherit) in your campaign, which can lead to some interesting adventure ideas (evil uncle conspires to steal the inheritance of noble's daughter, etc) PC adventurers in particular should be kept as a special case - partly to avoid the 'role-players are sad little boys' tag and partly to maintain role-playing opportunities.
Chastity and Celibacy
- chastity: avoidance of sex
- celibacy: avoidance of marriage
One common thread in medieval campaigns that seems very foreign to some is the rigid restrictions placed on sex and the strength of marriage - at least overtly. This is however very obvious when you put together a lack of prophylactics and the typical difficulty of a woman, particularly a single mother, in caring for herself and a child in medieval society. Although a woman should be far more able to care for herself in a RPG than in a real medieval world (i.e. allowed to get a job, etc), in many cultures the importance of marriage and avoidance of other carnal relationships should still be important
This has two main reasons:
1. Given the rules on bloodline inheritance the casual by-blows of a young noble exercising droit de seignior may be a real threat to the realm, similarly the children of an awnshegh or other monstrous being should be cause for concern.
2. Inheritance depends on knowing the parent of a child - mother tends to be easy enough to identify but father can be a different matter. By restricting sex to marriage paternity is more likely to be known and therefore inheritance secure. Further a family remains strong by keeping control of land, etc - multiple heirs can dilute the family holdings and risk poverty - and therefore noble standing.
- a young noble must be escorted to their intended - without falling prey to threats of ignoble sort.
- a young noble has been indulging with the peasants, unfortunately their bloodline is of Azrai and many of their family have had an unfortunately tendency to embrace their baser nature.
- a priestess is lost in some nearby woods, and must be found before she is ravished by elves or others without care for modesty.
- the inheritance of a noble is challenged by a sibling who offers proof of marital infidelity.
- an ally / the regent is blackmailed by someone who has proof that they have strayed / are the child of adultery / etc.
- See Also: To be an Anuirean Noble