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  1. #1
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    Bastards and Dynasties, like a Vos!

    As mentioned elsewhere, I'm running a BR game for the first time in years-- Pathfinder rules, Kingmaker Adventure Path, set in Mistmoor as part of expanding Rovninodensk. Neary all of my players are fans of "Game of Thrones," so I'm hoping to draw influences from there, too. All of the characters are Vos, all but one are scions.

    One of my players has stepped up to be the new baroness of one province in the Mistmoor, a vassal to the Tsar of Rovninodensk. I've come up with that realm having a handful of strong vassal dynasties of its own, as well as some minor ones that have holdings in the nearest settled province. She and I are beginning to discuss some things about founding a dynasty, or extending the family she already has, which brings me to some questions for the group.

    I've come up with nearly a dozen scions of known families (major & minor, mostly minor). One of them is a bastard of (so far) undetermined bloodline, and the player wanted to know if she should even consider him as a match.

    What's the feeling out there? Do Cerilian dynasties care if a bastard (still has a bloodline) marries into the family? Do *Vos* lords care? Will the One True Church object, or play along?

    I'm leaning towards, "Bastard or not, he'd better be strong enough to keep the throne, or he won't be able to keep the throne!" being the Vos default attitude, but I'd like to hear other opinions.

    Side question: the PC has a bossy older half-sister and a father who is close to the throne. How much say should they have in the matter of who the new Baroness marries? The PC is not in direct succession to her father, she's the youngest of 3, and from a second marriage to boot. So far, we've been playing the father as hands-off, with her as "Daddy's little (nearly spoiled) princess," so he might not object much.

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    The Vos default attitude seems the best option to me.

    Dynasties however, as for Vos' beliefs, are IMO not very suitable for a Vos campaign since they don't care about heritage or ancestors but only about strength.
    ...Michael Roele's spirit will cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war...

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    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    The tribal Vos I would think wouldn't have value on lineage. If they did, it would be along the lines of Belinik and Kriesha and the myths of the tribe itself, which I would believe would vary quite a bit from one tribe to the next. However, a title of conqueror of the Gorgon would gain much support throughout Vosgaard I'd think. Like anything it would be all in how it is sold or the story is told. Constructing myths and them being validated and supported by the religious leaders would be essential.

    As for the more "civilized" Vos that are going towards the trend of kingdom like the Brechts and Anuireans, perhaps it would be a matter of derision. I would argue much less so compared to the other cultures as a bastard lord strong enough to establish themselves would garner respect. The act of calling such a lord a bastard could even become a badge of honor and testament to their own strength and may even begin a new type of title if you wanted to go that way.

    I would even argue that in Vosgaard so long as the lord is strong enough he could create what ever he wanted for his own tribe's / kingdom's culture. Say for example after the bastard lord only bastards are viewed to be eligible to lead. It may be weird, but may bring about some different sword in the stone type campaigns for the bastards of the lands. Then again do you want the Vos to even conceive of the term bastard? Perhaps they are sexually open and without names from their fathers with the exceptions of the great names claiming to be as strong as their lineage, which may invite several challenges and lower the survival rate of Vos with lineage.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

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    Let me bend this toward something closer to the player's concern now. Should the new Baroness, or anyone else, *care* if one suitor is a bastard? So far, he's nothing special as a warrior, but he's got some brains-- the scion family that he's living with (and is possibly related to?) has found that he make a good castle-steward.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Given the comments on Sugat Tsorich (P5, DM's Guidebook, Tribes of the Heartless Waste) and general comments of hereditary rule I suspect that the Vos take blood relationships (and feuds, and blood generally) very seriously.

    Whether they are bothered about formal marriage is another question, I suspect that if the bastard fails in life then they'd be less likely to be supported by the tribe than a child of marriage (the illigitimacy being the excuse for the family to disown them), but if they succeed then the tribe would wipe the slate clean and cherish them as they would any other contributor to the tribes well-being.

    I note that the Vos are very very pragmatic, "marriages in arrears" might be common, while in many areas I'd expect that "marriage" and "living together" are identical terms, with big formal ceremonies only held between nobles.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    Let me bend this toward something closer to the player's concern now. Should the new Baroness, or anyone else, *care* if one suitor is a bastard? So far, he's nothing special as a warrior, but he's got some brains-- the scion family that he's living with (and is possibly related to?) has found that he make a good castle-steward.
    I don't see any eyebrows being raised over a suitor's illegitimacy. But a suitor with brains? The priests of Belinek would have a fit. Remember, Belinek does not like peace. They like strife and terror. Only the strong deserve to rule. If the Baroness came into power through strength of arms, the priesthood would have no choice but to support her.. but at the first sign that she is laying groundwork to create a stable, peaceful realm, they'd immediately begin to undermine her rule. Peace is for the lily-livered, sayeth Belinek. A suitor who shows signs of making a good administrator would be a big no-no in their eyes.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus Argent View Post
    I don't see any eyebrows being raised over a suitor's illegitimacy. But a suitor with brains? The priests of Belinek would have a fit. Remember, Belinek does not like peace. They like strife and terror. Only the strong deserve to rule. If the Baroness came into power through strength of arms, the priesthood would have no choice but to support her.. but at the first sign that she is laying groundwork to create a stable, peaceful realm, they'd immediately begin to undermine her rule. Peace is for the lily-livered, sayeth Belinek. A suitor who shows signs of making a good administrator would be a big no-no in their eyes.
    To me it depends on what she's going to do with the realm. A good administrator who ensures that the warriors are well fed and armed, that the peasants are made to work the land hard, etc would have value - a realm that seeks to conquer must after all be strong.

    I note that fools are rarely considered great leaders, even by thugs; too much imagination may not be considered highly by the warriors but a cunning hunter who can foresee his foes' tactics and arrange deadly ambushes for them would be highly valued.

    While Belinik is often the first image of the Vos that comes to mind I think we overlook Kriesha sometimes - her faith is all about efficiency, drawing the best use from the land and people - and trimming unnecessary frills. Kriesha's faith would see an efficient realm as a strong realm - one perhaps that should extend its guidance to other lands to better guide the people there to gain in strength.

    There is also the question of what the ruler wants in a match - someone with complimentary skills and abilities, or a warrior to challenge her strength? That is partly where family comes in - they want to see the family prosper so they'd want someone who would be a strong match for her, ensure that children were raised well, etc - they'd likely oppose someone they considered unsuitable and deny her familial support to encourage her to ditch the loser and pick a better match.

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    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    I think the large part of the Vos strife comes from survival. The location of Vosgaard suits this well. The five peaks region, the swamps of Osoerde, the jungle of Mieres as some other examples.

    I have interpreted the way of Belinik turning upon civilization as a counter-culture against imperialism and the ways of Haelyn and Anuire. In a Gnostic and Nietzsche-an way the comforts of modernism soften people and ultimately weaken them both physically and spiritually. Hiding behind stone walls provides for a false sense of security, it is an illusion. To believe there is safety in this world will turn a person into nothing more than a cow fenced in by its master. Belinik is about wild freedom, living life to its fullest, using the world to forge strong and fierce spirits, and accepting nature in its fullest by rejecting any false security.

    The terror of Belinik I have interpreted as his blessing upon all living beings. This blessing comes rarely for the more civilized soft skinned peoples that hide behind stone walls. However, for all beings it does come at the moment of impending and recognized death. The perception of the world changes for this being when they experience this terror. All the illusions of security melt away, what I call the lies of the gods. Those very gods that seek to have cattle for followers rather than wolves. It is this gift that Belinik gives to all mortals. It shows the spirit the nature of the world and brings them freedom from what is false and allows them to live in the moment. This I portray for Belinik followers is the good life, or the true path that each one of them strives to achieve every moment on their path in this world.

    Most of what we have in the printed material as them being like ravenous and rabbid dogs I attribute to the Anuirean perspective as reported in the Atlas in the original boxed set. I see the Vos more like wolves. There can be a rivalry for dominance and frequent challenges, but turning upon each other isn't as feasible. I would argue that it is tribal warfare that is described. Their culture is, as I see it, much like the Norse where they are all viewed as free men, at least the warriors, and the priests are likely viewed as warriors with the blessings of the gods. I would also argue they are likely like the Viking bands that settled along the Volga and Muscovy area to explain their style and climate. Also I would argue their lineage is one of a magical race something like the picts, which lingers in the spell tattoos and the very formidable wizards that are forged from their ranks. That is not to say the picts were great wizards, but they are something of a mystery shrouded in myth. The Vos have this mysterious heritage attributed to them.

    Why where they the chosen of Vorynn and then later Azrai? Vorynn the god of magic, Azrai the god of knowledge and pride. I answer this in that Azrai isn't the Shadow. Azrai awoke it in some Cthulhu-ian nightmare, which turns out to be in his seeking of knowledge he opened this Pandora's box. It enveloped him and corrupted him and to all those outside he was a monstrosity. As a side note I like to say this Shadow is a minor power that he awoke, allowing for much bigger things being out there. I also think he wasn't completely corrupted as his virtues were passed down to the Vos people through their myths.

    How does this apply to this discussion? I believe it shapes Belinik's viewpoint. The nature of this world or as we'd describe it, universe, is not nice or good. It has a think like the Shadow in it. In Azrai's pursuit of knowledge Belinik inherited truth. His truth is harsh as it only arises from the experience of terror, but it awakens the spirit, which he believes is strong enough to handle the truth, unlike the civilized gods who shelter their children. So I portray both Belinik and Azrai as the liberators in Vos myth. It is a perspective that doesn't see the gods as being all powerful, rather it sees them as great champions should they choose that path. A side note is that Avani inherited much of Azrai's knowledge according to my myth so she is the sister goddess that is revered in secret ways along with Rournil among the wizards of the Vos who claim Vorynn as their lineage regardless of his stance on the Shadow and however they may embrace it.

    Kriesha ties in nicely as she is the breath of nature. A reminder that safety in this world is a lie. She is the feminine as well. I would argue that this is an ancient struggle for the Vos as the feminine was revered when they were in their Pict stage and has since been diminished likely due to some of the corruption of the Shadow inherent in their people. So I would argue along the lines that Kriesha attempts to bring back some balance to her people through that essence. I would also say the struggle between masculine and feminine is nothing more than ego and interpersonal relations for dominance and less so some godly war between the two. It is probably a passive aggressive type relationship even between Belinik and Kriesha. She is what brings about the wolve essence to the tribes and holds them together. Belinik being a bear, I believe, could also be affected as I think female bears intermingle in groups, which again goes with the masculine / feminine thing.

    So over all I don't see the Vos so much as being evil as the Anuirean perspective or Orthodox perspective would hold to them. Rather instead I see them as a people that accept the nature of the world itself is evil and what matters is the spirit not the physical in terms of the path or journey through life.

    Interjection Warning: This is where I go into some Gnostic ideas, which I believe are very unpopular, however I think answer many philosophical questions as to how a people can do such as the Vos do and still exist for they need some binding force some drive that keeps them together and moves them forward step by step in their daily lives. For if this is not true, then the Vos are much more formidable than I am attributing to them here, because what they are said to be in the printed material would paralyze just about every earth human into a fugue state of catatonic inaction and PTSD and they would no longer be able to function as a people any longer as they would degenerate rather than thrive as the art of their physique would suggest as well as their strength and prowess as a people is told. Therefore the following is my answer to how they can avoid such a thing as WWII did to an entire generation let alone an entire lifetime of living with it.

    Death, mutilation, and evil acts are permissible because terror can awaken the soul to the truth. Regardless of how corrupted that truth is on a relative perspective, deep down inside when the spirit sees the absurdity of this world it can begin the path to liberation. Hence, torture is so pleasurable from a spiritual point of view rather than a psychotic take on it. It becomes a holy rite that can free the person from the lies of the gods. It engages the spirit and from that point on the myth as I have it makes that person equal to the gods themselves. Engaging in this physical evil does not bind the free spirit even if they take pleasure in it, for it is the other spirit that they are dealing with, not the mortal shell, the husk of physical matter that suffers. Thus to answer the question why torture is permissible, they as I have it would say that nothing in this physical world is of consequence aside from liberating the spirit. So then they become heroes and have hope of a better place just like all the other religions. It gives them the freedom to do as they do and the fortitude to face what dangers they must face.

    Now, this would be the pure theology. Like all such things it can be corrupted and used for other ends. So we have the complications of ambition, greed, lust, and so on that affect all peoples and to add to that the element if the Shadow. Here however, I would argue the Shadow doesn't affect the Vos any more than it does any other people. In fact I'd argue that it affects them even less as they tend to go more along the lines of the natural order and less with ego and doubt. Fear doesn't inspire doubt in them, it is their foundation for truth. Their relationships are pure from survival, but the closer to civilization they get the more it is tainted with things like politics and intrigue, which gives us the perspective of why they would reject such ways. So if it is the spirit that is their priority, then empires have no meaning and act as traps that imprison spirits rather than offer anything that is good.

    Of course this myth I am constructing is a work in progress and probably is more of a reflection of my own understanding of how to answer these questions rather than how the Vos would actually be. However, I keep thinking of the tribal peoples of our world and what we know of them and how they handled things. They had similar myths that bound them and brought them order among one another, even in the face of tribal warfare and personal disputes. Some form of higher calling to me does make sense for a people like the Vos, even if all an Anuirean would see is a fierce savage people that seem to attack one another only for pleasure.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  9. #9
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    I see the Vos making a clear distinction between "people" (Vos) who are treated in one way and "prey races" (everyone else) who are simply animals outside of concepts like honour; the Vos may value an individual of another race who proves themselves but they simply wouldn't understand concepts like "human rights" as applicable to non-Vos.

    I take the view that between themselves the Vos have very detailed honour codes and strong communities, to everyone else they are unpredictable and often savage and wild - killing another Vos randomly is murder, killing a Khinasi is simply hunting and perfectly acceptable, particularly if the clan has need.

    To an empire like the Anuireans that is founded on written laws, individual property rights, etc the Vos were simply seen as barbarians, agreements with one chief didn't bind another, there were no written laws or consistent traditions as each clan was independent, throw in divine mandate, anger over the war, greed for land, etc and you get a serious case of "they're guilty because they're them".

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