System The Burden of Rule

Discussion in 'Roleplay Discussion' started by Grey, May 19, 2014.

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  1. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

    This is as much a design exercise as an effort to make something for an upcoming game. Commentary welcome. I will be using my own Darkening Skies setting as a base, but hopefully the end result will be robust enough.

    Food & Water

    The Curselands, prior to the Curse, would've been the best farm and grazeland. The Stormcircle would have to produce rice, primarily. Kaerian farms would produce cereals, mainly. Industrial farms around the City-Engine would probably produce corn or potatoes, primarily. Fruit would have to come from the South and the Awakened Wood. City-Engine and the Wood would produce most of the meat.
    Adding magic to the mix - highly pest resistant strains of crops would have been developed by Communers, with enhanced yields. The rice paddies of Stormcircle grow at accelerated rates. Private gardens would produce fruit, vegetables, spices.

    Basic Shelter - easy enough until the times comes for expansion, infrastructure, etc. Stone can come from Shaydensea, mountains. Wood from The Wood, natch. Glass from beach sand. In turn, necessitates small processing businesses - smelters, miners, loggers.

    Other entities will want your food, wealth, supplies, manpower. Standing armies are expensive. Intelligence is vital. Fortifications and propaganda can forestall actual combat.

    Often takes care of itself, but a ruler may have to manage excesses such as drug abuse, trafficking, and bloodsport. Also a good way to distract a populous from mistakes, threats, and failings.

    Tricky thing - people want it, but it can have adverse affects on the other factors; taboos about food or entertainment, illogical objections to vital decisions, a threat to effective authority. However, it can also maintain loyalty to the ruling power against all reason, bolster protective forces, provide financial assistance in lean times. Best treated as a force of nature - inevitable, potentially exploitable, best treated with extreme caution.

    The Infernal Houses require food & water, both for their members and to feed underlings, in order to fuel their other interests. Cheap sources include buying the surplus rice from Stormspires. Shelter becomes an issue beyond their primary holdings, which may not be able to support sufficient populations and may be too distant from certain locations to maximize returns. Similar principles apply to acquiring resources for processing/sale/construction. Entertainment may need to be monitored to prevent harm to production. More production becomes necessary to maintain a standing army, so other solutions must be examined unless there is significant income.

    Wealth is generated through trade or the accumulation of valuable resources. Lots of Wealth is good for morale, for reputation, and allows you to cover emergency situations (buying food during a blight, hiring mercenaries when under threat, paying weregilt when some young fool kills an important person). Wealth can also make you a target, however, and protecting it can be costly.

    Other factors include technological development, the arts, and the matter of finding appropriate parents to carry on House lines.

    Next Post: Some rough mechanics for manpower management
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  2. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

    Your main power derives from subjects, initially.
    Subjects are measured in Population, Morale, Health, Loyalty, and Productivity.
    Subjects require food, which will be better or worse depending on quality and variety. This keeps Morale and Health high.
    Subjects also need their Health maintained. This requires safe homes, adequate infrastructure, hygiene... low Health is bad for Morale.
    Subjects can keep their Morale up with decent Entertainment. Religion can also help. Low Morale leads to falling Loyalty and Productivity.
    Subjects produce Food or Wealth according to their Productivity.
    When Loyalty falls, Morale, Productivity, and Population can go with it. When any of those fall, Loyalty will also begin to fall. Low Loyalty means more chance of rebellion or betrayal.

    Base Loyalty is determined by Bearing or Guile. Maximum Loyalty is either of these, +Leadership or Intimidation, +any other benefits. The value of Loyalty varies with number of subjects.
    Loyalty has some uses, too. You can attempt to use Loyalty to offset what should be Morale loss. You can also expend Morale to boost other areas, with a severe hit to Loyalty if the Morale is not restored with a big reward in time. Loyalty can also be spent to boost other areas, as long as you can prove to your subjects it was worth it.

    Different subjects have different needs, too.
    Humans require regular, nourishing meals, but are quite resilient and hard-working. Population growth varies pretty wildly.
    Rats don't have the endurance of humans, but they can eat damn near anything - in larger amounts. Population growth is pretty fast with enough food.
    Trolls are a weird case we'll deal with if it ever comes up.
    Infernal Scions consider themselves aristocracy, and will therefore expect their needs and desires to take precedence, to be exempt from certain laws, and to have a say in how the House is run. It is normally impossible to please all of them.

    Adjuncts are major NPCs in your employ who have their own Loyalty tracks to be aware of, skills or knowledges of great importance, and particular needs. For example, your Communer doctor might want some... test subjects, in order to remain in your employ.

    Next Post: Infernal Affairs.
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  3. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

    Scions shouldn't intermarry. Not for any practical purpose - incest is simply frowned upon. As such, securing a good match can take up a lot of time and energy. Criteria differ between both Houses and indiviuals - Olimak as a whole might prize a partner who acquits themselves well in battle, but one particular Olimak might be more taken by a gentle musician.


    Warriors to a fault, the Lezekim have a strict hierarchy, an appreciation for authority, and honed sense for propriety. They can be the most efficient, organized, unified House as a result - but can also be slow to make major decisions. In order to avoid insults that would lead to duels, Lezek handle most matters in an extremely formal manner which slows them down.
    Generally, Lezekim will submit to anyone that defeats them in an honourable duel (which is rare), and dimiss any other loss as cheating by their opponent.
    House Lezek's greatest weakness is also their greatest strength - when Imperus gives an order, the House works tirelessly to fulfill it without any squabbling, infighting, or debate. When his goals and theirs align, you don't want to be in opposition.

    There are, of course, exceptions - such as the disgraced Lezek Jacquis who shirked his duty during the War of Three Dragons.

    Inheritance, for the Lezekim, is a matter of merit. While eldest children of the current head are often favoured, generally any need to determine inheritance is handled by a series of ritual duels during the month of Foundation. A new hierarchy being settled, the head issues orders and potentially solicits advice from elders - they're probably the most autocratic House in that regard.
    The most prized qualities for the Lezekim are leadership, martial skill, etiquette, and pride (though they think poorly of pride without deeds to warrant it).


    Hulbradim are the spies and scholars, which gives them some distinct flaws and benefits. On the one hand, collectively they probably know everything worth knowing. On the other, they keep secrets from each other and often do not inform each other of plots or fail to share critical knowledge. This can lead to Gambit Pileups and Hulbrad scrambling to hide their involvement. Any Hulbrad taking the reigns of the family, therefore, is probably best served by treating fellow Hulbradim as assets to be activated as necessary. On the other hand, knowing what everyone else is up to, and commanding the very best spies and assassins outside Imperus' own personal guard, is a huge benefit.

    Hulbradim often cipher their communiques in dense, boring academic essays.

    Hulbradim inheritance typically goes to the eldest child, but from time to time the House will gather for a lengthy symposium in which they elect a new head. They base that decision on traits like foresight, patience, intellect, a history of clever deception, and the ability to get things done with the minimum of effort. Hulbradim will often present each other with theses on what the House should do next, but in practice they rarely consult with each other before making a decision.


    Like the Lezek, the Olimakim respect strength and authority. However, while they personally despise underhandedness, they think fair fights are for chumps. They'll fight dirty and call on dishonourable allies. Olimakim tend to roam in warbands for hire, tithing earnings to the House and returning to raise their children. Surpisingly, this can give an Olimak leader considerable intelligence as the bands send information home, and almost anywhere in the known world there's likely to be a warband ready to respond. By the same token, divide and conquer tactics are potent against them... but even a single dead Olimak can unite the entire House in their most passionate pursuit - revenge. The Olimakim are often forced to rely on retainers or allies to handle adminstrative or mercantile tasks, however.

    Olimakim gather during the early part of the year for a boast and brawl. When a new leader must be chosen, the Desolators boast of their achievements and a few will duel. The most lauded will be made the new head of the family. Olimakim respect discipline (because rage without restraint is rarely useful), determination, strength, and leadership. The head of House makes decisions and gives orders, but the Desolators may object (unlike the Lezekim, however, during tense situations Olimakim are content to register their objection, follow orders, and take it up with the one responsible later).


    Even more prone to gambit pileups than the Hulbradim, a Dellebron head of House must constantly work to direct the energies of the House outward. One must, therefore, carefully foment grudges, feuds, and disagreements to ensure that Dellebronim believe they stand to gain more from targeting someone outside the House. Perhaps unusually, they'll turn on each other when seeking maximum personal gain over harm caused, while they'll utterly destroy someone outside the House for the sake of a favourite hat. It's advised to tithe heavily for the good of the House, and ensure it's always more profitable for the Scions to strike out.
    That said, succession is a matter of clever assassination and it's important not to let underlings feel powerful enough to challenge you.
    The main advantage of the Dellebronim is that their mercantile interests are always valuable - people will always buy beer - and Castle Dour is incredibly hard to assault.

    Dellebronim practice advancement by assassination - but occasionally a suitably impressive plan will lead a head to step down, applauding as they go. Cunning, duplicity, ruthlessness, and a finely honed sense for weakness are prized traits. Decision making is a matter of deception and target selection - the rest of the House is going to turn their cruel eye on someone; might as well make sure it's the right someone.


    Yrvanim are easily motivated by profit. They're patient schemers, excellent craftspeople, and know well the value of money. Given that they are very self-interested, it's a good idea to encourage them to treat the House as an investment - as long as maintaining the House is profitable, they'll do so. In this way, an Yrvanim head is much like a CEO.
    Yrvanim benefit from being extremely well connected and wealthy, but as noted, members are self-interested. And prone to obsessive behaviour. And hoarding. This does mean valuable discoveries, inventions, and stockpiles can crop up, but it also means Scions will drop out of contact with a sackful of components they want to experiment on. It's a matter of convincing or coercing Collectives into handing over their products.
    And finally, Yrvanim always want more. If a head wants to hold onto their position, they've got to convincingly promise increased profits.

    Succession is and always has been birth-order. Decisions are made through board-meetings during Foundation and quarterly reviews. Yrvanim look for sound financial acumen, an eye for the bigger picture, and good planning. Also, trap making. Yrvanim just like a good trap.


    Another House with far-reaching contacts and diverse business interests, Lybarim are hard to manage because most of them focus on personal pleasure, often attract hordes of admirers, and tend to fall afoul of the law. The Lybarim are drawn most of all to fun, charismatic rulers and will often forgive oversights, failures, and insults as long as they like you enough and they're kept amused. Perfect stability is a danger for Lybar, as some young idiot is bound to get bored and incite a conflict for the excitement of it. Lybarim pleasure houses can provide information, blackmail material, and money. Lybarim medical practices also make money, but gratitude, info, and breakthroughs are sometimes more valuable.

    Lybarim also use birth-order succession, but their numbers (the only House with almost a hundred Scions) makes them difficult to rule, and in practice it's a popularity contest between the various clique speakers. One must be creative, ambitious, generous, good company, and of excellent taste.


    Imperus is first among equals. The Djunkanim will bow to no other, and style themselves as tyrants, captains, kings. There are only 12 Djukanim at any given time (it is rumoured Imperus himself has any others killed in their cradles), and the pursue their own interests unless Imperus demands a service from them. For this reason, it's difficult to detail the House as a whole - so we'll focus on the infamous Dragon-Emperor himself.

    Prior to the War, the Djukanim fought over the continent, enlisting the other Houses as their troops and crushing mortals in the crossfire. As Imperus rose to power, he was able to bring more of the Houses to heel and usher in stability for those lands he ruled. In particular, Imperus would demand a symbol of fealty from neighbouring states before providing them with aid - he had roads built, funded hospitals, provided protection, and made no demands that these protectorates change their traditions, faiths, or rulers. Recognizing their father's growing power, his daughters allied to try and defeat him.

    After the War, Imperus gained the fealty of the Houses and established the Inquisition to police them. He then went quiet, allowing the various mortal peoples to rebuild while he put the spoils of war to use. Meanwhile, the other Djukanim carved out their own kingdoms here and there, taking advantage of how slowly the Inquisition could travel to establish a power base before they arrived. They would claim a divine right to rule, as the blood of Imperus, and In such uncertain times many mortals were willing to accept that.

    As a result, the Djukanim are scattered, young, and only recently established. Fiercely individualistic, it remains to be seen how they will proceed.
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  4. Teal

    Teal Politics Student

    Right, seeing as commentary is welcome and I have some experience here (I study politics in University), I have a some relevant thoughts. I'll go in order, as much as I can.

    Where food is concerned, I'd like to emphasize this point: It spoils. Rather fortunately, only societies with the lowest level of technological sophistication don't have a method of preserving foods. Even so, fresh food is usually preferable (as I understand it), so prolonged reliance on preserved food is rather bad for morale. Winter is usually a problem for this reason, since the only truly fresh foods available then are meat (without extremely long distance trade). Hunting, however, poses its own special series of problems - questions of conservation or practical dangers like injuries are very real.

    Obviously, as technology - magical* or otherwise - becomes increasingly sophisticated, such as in Darkening Skies, the problem of spoilage becomes less relevant. However, access to the highest level of technology for this purpose is often dependent upon social position, so the experiences of the common-folk will often be quite different than the experience of the upper-class. Since the bulk of your power (initially?) is derived from them, their experience matters more than that of the upper-class - to an extent. Most often, after all, rulers rely on the support of the upper-class to maintain power, and the upper-class is far better at making its displeasure known than the masses.

    *Whether magically preserved food will be as satisfying as fresh or naturally preserved food varies heavily with the setting. Most often, it comes with its own unique set of problems.

    To digress, it should be noted that specialization in food production appears to be the norm in Darkening Skies (from the above summary). I'd note this is most definitely a creature of high-technology setting, since that implies a great deal of reliable trade. Reliable trade is a far more difficult task than is often assumed, since it requires reasonably strong states (to minimize human hazards like bandits), common languages, accepted mediums of exchange and a way of reliably navigating natural hazards (and probably other factors that haven't occurred to me). Lower technology settings generally run afoul of the last (and even high technologies can fail in other areas), which requires food to be produced locally.

    From a policy perspective, it should be noted that local food production is far from undesirable. If nothing else, it is often less expensive than long-distance trade. There are, however, often other benefits to producing your own food - for instance, it means that individual countries or regions are not overly reliant on other areas to survive - which are harder to explain in purely instrumental terms (it's very possible to create a situation where trade is near 100% reliable, for instance). That said, the benefits to food trade, local or international, are also real - it can allow for the possibility of divisions of labor and the increasing specialization and expertise that brings, for instance.

    Some of the above comments apply to the matter of shelter. The only special mention I'd make is that, particularly where trade is more difficult, regional variation in shelter and infrastructure is very likely. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but, like food trade, the alternative poses benefits as well, particularly when it isn't possible to produce a particular substance which is categorically better for a particular task in a given region.

    It is worth noting that this is the only part of the thread where you allude to business. So, I'll take a moment to add another piece of policy advice. Extreme economic specialization is not uncommon in real life - I could point to the heavy reliance of a particular Canadian province on oil, for instance - but is not necessarily wise. It is very true that such specialization can be a source of great wealth when the commodity is very valuable. However, such an orientation renders that economy very fragile - were the need for that commodity to lessen, or were that commodity to run out, the very survival of that region is heavily jeopardized. Diversification is highly valuable where businesses are concerned, consequently.

    You're right to note protection comes in multiple forms. However, it is generally agreed that resources put toward protection do not represent their best application. Spies and soldiers have their place - but they won't live long without farmers. So, where possible, it is best to support your regime based on legitimacy, rather than by the sword (or through propaganda).

    On the subject of entertainment, it might well take care of itself, but you'd be a fool to let it do just that. Arson, violence, murder, rape and larceny all represent less than socially valuable pursuits, but all can qualify as forms of entertainment. Rulers should very much ensure that, whatever their subjects do, those activities uphold and strengthen the society. The field of social policy concerns itself principally with this kind of thing actually - rulers often attempt to shape the kind of people in their society creates by encouraging/enabling certain activities (tournaments, plays, arts, schooling, etc.). Private individuals have a far more difficult time arranging such things on their own, so without state assistance (logistically, at least), they won't happen.

    As a general matter, religion usually falls under the umbrella of social policy as well. Historically, religion was actually the main manifestation of social policy in Canada (and probably Europe too), but is far from the only way only one. Civil laws and social norms both contribute to the regulation of everyday life, and, frankly, are often more within the purview of a ruler to alter than religion is. Unfortunately, all three of them can create potential sources of power which are available to anyone with a mind to wield them. As you've indicated, such things must be treated carefully, but I'm reasonably certain that such things are, in one form or another, unavoidable.

    I note that your first post also places "wealth" as one of the necessities, but you don't appear to have elaborated upon it like the others. Was this intentional, or an oversight?

    Also, it might be worth including "communication" as one of the necessities of rule. It is very difficult to credibly claim to govern a territory/organization when you've no mechanism to make your will known throughout it. The mechanism used - bards, newspapers, bulletin boards, magic, etc. - all come with their own practical issues and influence the sort of society which develop.

    I also wonder if Legitimacy should have some mention in the above write-up as well - I've mentioned it once before, but it's essentially just why people believe you have the authority to make decisions which influence all of their lives. It's an important concept, since someone with a lot of this has very little need of mechanisms of social coercion (propaganda, security forces, etc.) to enforce their will, while someone without much of this is gonna have a lot of trouble credibly governing.

    Onto the second post. I do think its a good idea to have different tracks of stats for the general population and for Adjuncts, but wonder if there would need to be more on top of that. I've already mentioned that the experience of the general population will vary quite a lot from the experience of the upper-class, for instance. A single "general" rating (an average, if you will) would likely be valuable for character sheets at a base, but you'll probably need to add specific regional or socio-economic groups as they become relevant.

    Where dice and stats are concerned, I'd probably note that there's a lot of situational factors which complicate nice, simple, formulas where large-scale collective action is concerned. In theory, a ruler could govern personally and handle all matters themselves, but in-practice, most receive advice and delegate to assistants. That would mean you'd to be able to substitute the stats of the adviser for that of the ruler, or maybe harmonize the two, depending on the degree to which the ruler was double-checking the person's work (and capable of meaningfully doing so).

    In any case, for the most part, this would mainly be an intellectual exercise - the actual execution of policy relies upon the quality of the instruments, which are usually people - civil servants, specifically (but can also involve private citizens or contracted mercenaries). Perhaps they should be treated as equipment? Admittedly, I'm not sure how you'd handle an extended series of delegations, since, at some point, the ruler's own abilities might become next to irrelevant to the results.

    Oh, what does the "initially" in "your main power derives from subjects, initially" mean?

    Finally! The Houses. Considering (I believe) this was designed for the Heavy is the Crown game, I'm surprised that you don't spend time explaining the inheritance mechanism of the Houses or their internal decision-making structures. The standard arrangement for aristocratic lines is birth-order, but that's not the only mechanism for determining who would be the head of the family and it certainly doesn't deal with the question of which qualities are valued when positions of importance are assigned (or who would just be most respected by the family as a whole). Considering each of the houses does have a relationship to a particular vice which is born into the bloodline itself, I would expect at least a bit of variation between them as a result.

    I don't suppose you could elaborate a little more on their individual traditions and the like?

    Where specific houses are concerned, I'd like to ask about Lezekim. I find myself a little confused by your description.They have a strict hierarchy, can be the most efficient house and possess an appreciation for authority, but make decisions very slowly? Generally speaking, strict hierarchies and military efficiency - which I believe their status as warriors to a fault suggests they have - would mean clear divisions of authority and responsibility. Do they make decisions slowly and carefully to avoid hurting the pride of their colleges, not because they couldn't respond swiftly?

    I also wonder a bit about duels in this arrangement. They sound like a mechanism for social change, but I'd wonder how an organization can maintain a strict hierarchy when every decision sounds like it could lead to war, ritualized or not. What exactly are duels supposed to accomplish?

    Oh, and why is Djukanim's write-up is so sparse?

    And that'd be it for me, for now anyway.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2014
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  5. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

    This is great. I'm going to address this point by point.

    Good point, will keep it in mind.

    That's a lack of clarity on my part - these locations don't so much specialize in production of specific foods, or food alone. Rather they are environmentally conducive to production of certain foodstuffs. However, that is a good point and reminds me I should have emphasized communiction more.

    All good points. The various nations of the setting do come across as rather one-trick, economically, and that'll be fleshed out. I feel like the Houses can afford to specialize, however, because they can be regarded like a corporate entity. Olimak specialize in security, for example, but might own subsidiaries in metalwork. Is that reasonable?

    Very true, but the early period of the game will be tumultuous, and so force of arms might be the first step to gaining legitimacy (Right of Conquest still being a thing). But you are right, and I fully plan for this to be an issue for players to manage.

    Yeah, that was pretty much how I saw it, too.

    Total oversight. Wealth has a number of uses and drawbacks. Subjects may feel better knowing their House is rich; you can bribe officials and buy goods in an emergency; it can add positively to a reputation.

    Absolutely right. I'll add a section on transportation and other communicative links.

    Scions typically invoke divine right, but that's a very good point I'll be keeping in mind.

    Also a good point. I wanted to see how players chose to manage their Houses before delving into that, but our assumed class divide is Mortals = lower, Scions = Aristocracy.

    Yes, treating them as equipment bonuses is probably the best method. There's also the interpersonal element to consider - how much the ruler-character trusts a given civil servant or commander with certain tasks, whether or not an underling will use a delegated task to their own ends (like, for example, a diplomat jumping at a particular posting to continue her affair with a particular dignitary, or a watch captain planting evidence when assigned to guard a particular group or individual).

    As the House grows, power may be derived more from business interests, industrial output, or raw military might (which, with magical or technological assistance, might not require much in the way of subjects).
    But to begin with, the guy with the most farmers is on top.

    Absolutely. Give me an hour.

    You have the right of it - they make decisions slowly in order to avoid insulting each other. Duels are how they resolve insults, promotions, and arguments where the parties hold incompatible views. They are not always one on one duels, either - sometimes they'll take small contingents of troops and pit them against each other as a means of determining whose command skills are superior.
    Generally, duels take place between Lezekim of equal social standing - lower status Lezekim tend to acknowledge their place and make challenges only when they feel grievously offended or lack confidence in their immediate superior.

    Oh, and why is Djukanim's write-up is so sparse?

    Because it's a long one I've yet to edit in, and largely concerns Djuke Imperus.

    Thanks a lot, Teal - this is very helpful, as always.
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  6. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

  7. Silvertongued

    Silvertongued Yes, this is dog

    I like the newly added content. It works.
  8. Teal

    Teal Politics Student

    I wouldn't say Houses can afford to specialize so much as they don't have a lot of choice in the matter. Where it's relatively easy for countries to diversify while retaining excellence (they have a lot of people, after all), Aristocratic Houses with under a hundred people to their names are going to have a much shallower pool of talent and knowledge to draw from. They're probably best relying on their magic for their wealth, since that's essentially a niche-market for them (barring Magi competition), though I admit to wondering about who they'd be selling their services to. Mortals probably couldn't afford the premiums that would come associated with 'em - unless the Houses wanted to compete with mortal venders, that is. If they were doing that, it would certainly make me wonder how they could have a drastically higher standard of living than mortals around 'em.

    Admittedly, I'd file that under a technical issue. There are more than a few solutions to it.

    Returning to the subject of diversification, depending on the economic system of Darkening Skies, there is another option available to them - investments. While not every economic system uses debt or equity as instruments, they're also not new concepts by any means. If such instruments are available to them, the Houses could effectively partner with other industries - particularly the ones which their own existence provides a boon to - and profit from other's knowledge and ability. Of course, that would mean working together with mortals.

    Anyway, got some more questions/comments.

    First, on the subject of Scion marriage, you said that they "shouldn't intermarry and that incest is simply frowned upon." For clarification, does this mean that Scions prefer to marry within their own House, but preferably from a different line of it?

    Onto new content!

    I'm not completely certain, but I believe that Lezekim's magic provides them with martial excellence inherently. While that will probably mean that there's not a good reason for any member of Lezekim to be an incompetent warrior - indeed, a Lezekim who doesn't know their way around a sword would probably be decidedly unmanly - I would note that this system of inheritance privileges martial skill over any other trait. That's not necessarily something that can't be, but I'd just note that people who are the best swordsman aren't necessarily the best choice to lead the House.

    To that end, I'd suggest including a provision which would allow contestants to nominate a champion to duel in their stead (for this or anything other dueling situation), and/or positions which, by convention, are filled by the appointment of the supreme Lezek. Given the emphasis you've placed on the Lezek's sensitivity to where honors are placed, I suspect any appointment made by whoever was in charge would need to be impeccable, lest he (or the appointee?) be beset by endless challengers.

    As a secondary note, in-spite of potential military efficiency, I can definitely see how governing this group would be difficult. Even after someone assumes Supreme Leadership* they would have very limited ability to act as they wish. For instance, even if no provision exists which would allow the less martially inclined within the house to assume positions of power, were someone at the height of the hierarchy to fail to consult an acknowledged expert - or ignore them, after consulting them - they'd place themselves in a difficult position and need to justify their actions to the rest of the House, presumably.

    In any case, this House's structure has interesting possibilities. I wonder how long a truly authoritarian Lezek could retain power.

    *What title are do the heads of the Scion houses style themselves? First Sword? Prime Representative? Patriach/Matriach?

    Hulbradim, Yrvanim and Lybarim all apparently use birth-order. I'm curious, to what extent does blood quantum enter this consideration? I'd presume bastards are explicitly less worthy of gaining control of the House (and Lybarim probably has a lot of these), but once you start saying the "purity" of blood matters, you usually also create a reasonably strict hierarchy within the lines themselves. So, would there be a "royal" line to any of these three houses?

    Hulbradim also explicitly has elections at times. Do they use one-scion-one-vote, or does it use a more complicated weighted formula? Is there a recall mechanism?

    You've mentioned that if the head of Yrvanim wants to keep their position, they'll need to convincingly promise to increase profits, or something to that effect, but that inheritance is always birth order. Does that mean they kill heads who aren't sufficiently good with money, that a head can be removed by, say, a vote of shareholders on the board, or just that they'll lose any real authority attached to their position?

    Similar question, how is board membership decided? Could a rich enough non-Scion buy their way in? Do all members on the board have a vote?

    Lybarim's organization sounds like it has the potential for a de facto party-system, together with a figurehead ruler (equivalent to a President or Constitutional Monarch, but probably with more discretionary power). I'm a little curious how decisions would be made, though. Obviously, you can't consult with all one hundred of them on any given issue. Would the head of cliques stay in communication with one another? On what basis do cliques usually form? Are their certain members of this house who personally control resources and, by virtue of that, possess greater say?

    Also bastards. How are bastards handled?

    Reminds me of Vikings! Wonderful.

    It doesn't sound like there's really a formal mechanism of voting underlying their gatherings, just, whoever ends up most respected will become leader. There's a good chance that there'll be some obvious front-runners at any given time, so that'd probably be easier in-practice than in theory. I would wonder about deadlocks though - perhaps a competition/trial could be used to determine the ultimate boss?

    Ah, I forgot to ask about retainers. The Olimakim seem like a House where non-Scions (or perhaps even interbred or bastard Scions) could rise to reasonable power and importance (perhaps as slaves, granted) through administrative competence. Would that be an accurate summation? Could mortals who proved themselves in battle be recognized and adopted in some respect?

    I admit, the Dellebronim sound like a House that ought to have collapsed ages ago. I'm not sure what to say about an organization which, left to its own devices, implodes. Perhaps you could try rewriting it a little to shift the emphasis away from self-destructive tendencies? Manipulating people to "direct their energies outward" is a lot easier said than done, and would be a diplomatic nightmare, even if you were successful. This is to say nothing of the damage that outsiders could do, if they had mind to (see: diplomatic nightmare).

    Anyway, that aside, where succession by assassination is concerned, does the assassin have to be caught red-handed or something to claim right of legal succession? Does it apply to any position within the House, or just the leader? Either way, I'd suggest that you should include a, ahem, more orderly method of inheritance as well (in addition to the practice of stepping down) to deal with instances where a Dellebron dies of natural causes, their own hand, a killer who cannot be identified or a non-scion. Birth-order would be normal, but it might be stylistically appropriate for the current head to gain control of whatever resources the Dellebron had.

    By way of ending comment, Djukanim sound like designated non-player characters and bosses, as described. Don't really know what to say about 'em.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2014
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  9. Grey

    Grey Minor God of Wine, Poetry, and Ultraviolence Fellow

    Most good. I can see places I failed to elaborate more clearly now.

    Investment wouldn't be available at the start, but the typical time-period in which I set games (round YD180 and later) does often involve the Houses investing in industry and property.

    Actually, I should clarify - and this ties into bastardry.
    Scions who conceive with mortals will always produce a Scion of their House. The blood is impossible to fake, and that is sufficient for legitimacy - marriage, for Scions, is more often a matter of genuine romance or politics than legitimacy.
    Scions of the same House and Line are close enough kin that most find the idea of a liaison distasteful - though it does happen. Any child of such a union is legitimate, too, but may find themselves suffering for the particulars of their conception. This goes for different Lines within the House, too.
    Scions of two different Houses will produce a bastard - a mortal with a suite of mutations blended from the contributing Houses. They are never legitimized, and if not actually outcast will often abandon their House. Olimak actually tends to treat their bastards best, because whatever else one is, it's still your blood and they might still swing a sword.

    Good proviso. And yes, their innate powers do make every Lezekim capable of fighting a decent mortal swordsman to standstill even before you consider their very expensive panoply.

    I really should have written this up sooner.

    Lezekim - The Dawnstar
    Olimakim - The Hearthlord
    Lybarim - Madame/Messere
    Dellebronim - Grandmother/Grandfather
    Hulbradim - The Convener
    Yrvanim - Chairman

    Blood 'purity' is never an issue.

    Hulbradim do practice one-scion-one-vote, but sometimes an elder will strongly suggest that her children cast their votes a certain way.

    A Chairman can be removed by a vote of no confidence, often after losing their real authority.

    Yrvanim only on the board of directors, while shareholders might be rich mortals whose desires will rarely influence the decisions of the actual Yrvanim.

    The queen or king bees of cliques would keep in touch, generally. They form around mutual interest and raw charisma (Salons are cliques of Lybarim who concern themselves with artistic, sensual, and social pursuits. Practices are Lybarim concerned with medicine and study, and tend to be the minority). Which does sound like two parties, now I think of it. I expect the Practices would be invaluable for planning, finance, and oversight, but they don't have the reach of the Salons when it comes to pursuing a decision, while the Salons have excellent contacts and influence while spending frivolously and failing to account for the bigger picture, much of the time. Obviously both sides will have exceptions and overlap.

    Feats would be a common way to handle deadlocks. 'Survive the wasteland for a week', 'climb to the top of Grudgeonghast', 'steal an egg from a manticore nest'.

    Honestly, yes, the more I wrote them the less stable they got. I intend to keep their penchant for assassination, petty revenge, and backstabbing, but... Hm.
    Within their own Lines, Dellebronim are loyal - I against my brother; my brothers and I against our cousins; our House against strangers. They'll band together against an external threat and, while their preferred tool is often poison, Dellebronim are typically immune to most poisons. Assassinations within the House are often symbolic, therefore - the target knows they have been poisoned, will make an accusation, the poisoner claims credit, everyone applauds as if they've just watched some relatives end a fraught game of Go. Drinking contests are also a favoured competition because, ironically, alcohol poisoning is one of the sure fire ways to kill a Dellebron without stabbing him.
    Having the head assume those resources also motivates a Dellebron to pass things on, and have an ironclad will - though an inheritance tithe is also to be expected.

    Fair point. But they're entirely playable, just low in number. Imperus is always an NPC, obviously, but Djukanim are left vague so players can create their own. If I wanted them to be bosses, I'd've given all twelve a lengthy write-up like Deathlords in Exalted.
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