Monday, 21 January 2013

Men of Redwald: Cyningas (Kings)

Cyningas (Kings)

Because they are chosen by their peers, to be a king of Redwald requires equal amounts of cunning, bravery, underhand politicking, crass bribery, ruthless brutality, and a facade of nobility, all finessed with certain amount of charismatic charm. Or at least charm with one hand on the sword hilt.

Staying a king is another thing entirely. Not only are the kings of Redwald expected to lead from the front, murdering your way to the throne is practically an excepted Redwald tradition.

Many kingdoms practice dual kingship. Sometimes this is two equal kings, sometimes a senior king and a sub-king. Most times this is not a good arrangement for the kingdom. Even, or more often especially, if the two kings are related. 

Although kingship is not strictly hereditary a successful king has good chance of knowing that when he is eventually struck down one of his Æðelingas will step over his corpse and onto the throne. Of course sometimes an Æðeling is the one who made his kingly father a corpse in the first place. Surprisingly that fact rarely deters the Ealdormen and Gesiths of a Kingdom from deeming that same Æðeling a worthy successor to his father.

A king is never alone and always has members of the royal household and his Hearthweru in attendance, or the court. Forward thinking kings hold court in a great hall within their hillfort. Those of a more traditional mindset take their court with them as they travel their kingdom being guested in their Ealdorman’s great halls.

Cyning: Armour Class: -3[21]; Hit Dice: 12+4; Attacks:2 Named Brádsweord (1d6+4)or Wælseax or(1d3+2); Special: The King’s Will, Beneath the Banner, Heart of the Army, Chosen of the Gods; Move: 9; HDE/XP: 12/1000.

Gear: Beaduscrúd, Wíghelm, Scield, named Brádsweord, Wælseax, several chests full of personal jewellery, a hoard of riches for gifts, bribes, and paying for the murder of rivals, and all the wealth of a kingdom.

Strong willed and ruthlessly ambitious kings are not easily susceptible to intimidation, trickery, flattery, mind magic or fear (+4 to ST).

Even the most murderous of tyrants must be somewhat charismatic to last any length of time so all kings are considered to have a CHR score of 16-18 (Roll 1d3). The fact that they wield a sword with a name that reverberates through the ages adds +2 to their CHR. Named sword’s also give a +2 bonus to hit and dam and +1 morale bonus to any followers.

When an army sees their king take his place beneath the banner they are heartened and ready to fight and die for him. The whole army receives a +2 bonus to morale, movement, to hit, and damage. A king is also the heart of the army and if that heart is cut the whole army (except the king’s Hearthweru) must make a moral check at -4.

If they don’t fall in battle, being murdered is a likely way for a king of Redwald to end his reign. But to kill a king is no easy thing, especially in a world where most people truly believes kings are chosen to rule by the gods.

Any NPC or player character who isn’t of noble birth (Ealdorman or above) must make a ST at -4. If they fail the NPC can’t go through with the murder, if a player character fails they have merely paused and lost the element of surprise. They can still carry out the murder, but now he can call for his Hearthweru and fight back. This is only for direct methods. Poisoners need not summon their courage or fear the wrath of the gods. They need only fear the hate, ridicule, and revenge of every warrior in Redwald. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Men of Redwald: Scinnlæca

Scinnlæca (Shining One)

The necromancy of the Scinnlæca is the most reviled, feared, and taboo sorcery in Rædwald. And yet most kings would pay a mountain of silver to have a Scinnlæca in their service. Not that a Scinnlæca would want a mountain of silver, they’re more likely to want the free range of the kingdom’s burial mounds.

Necromancy is a solitary calling, and they spend most of their time hidden away working their dark magic to who knows what purpose. Some however, have apprentices so that they have an acolyte to send into the world and do their bidding. That or so they always have someone around they can send to the other world if the need arises.

It is through the dead that Scinnlæca gain their power calling undead apparitions known as a phantoms. These they trap it in their body to make use of the ghostly powers. It is the ghostly glow of this possession that gives them their name.

It is whispered that there are only three true Scinnlæca in the whole of Redwald and one of those is in the service of the king of Westlund Seaxe. Of course no one whispers that in his presence. Other’s claim there is only one and he serves no mortal king, but death itself. Others refuse to believe in such evil.

Scinnlæca: Armour Class: 9 [10]; Hit Dice: 5+3; Attacks: 1 Cnife (1d3); Special: Call of Fear, Fighting Phantom,; Move: 10; HIDE/XP: 7/550.

Gear: A knife that has pierced the heart of an adulterous woman, the skull of a strangled murderer, a silver penny stained with the blood of a traitor, a wand of Rowan wood taken from a hanging tree, robes made from the funeral shroud of a king betrayed. Thirteen finger bones taken from living virgins.

A Scinnlæca can call a spirit to put fear in the heart of his foes. He takes on its ghastly form, and appears to his enemies as a half-rotted spectre that shines with a dazzling eldritch light. Everyone who witnesses this must make a ST or run screaming in fear. Those that make the save stand firm, but are shaken fighting at -2 to hit and damage for 1d3+1 rounds.

If that doesn’t work they draw on the Phantom’s powers and fight their foes with the necromantic powers of the spirit. Fighting with Skeletal Skin that gives an AC of 5[14] as well as 5HD of HPs (on top of the  Scinnlæca’s own).

Attacking with bone claws that do 2d6 (keep highest) and +1 to hit and dam, or eldritch lightning that has a range of 25’ requires no to hit roll, and hits three targets doing 1d3 damage to each. With a successful to hit roll (+1) they can also drain 1 point of CON (or HD) from their foe and add 1 HP to the Phantom’s total. 

When the Phantom’s HPs are reduced to 0 the possession is ended and the Scinnlæca is left to his own devices.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Men of Redwald: Hearthweru

Hearthweru (Household Guard)

The Hearthweru are the elite fighting men and the bodyguards of a king. More than that these hearth-warriors are a symbol of all that is best in Redwald’s warrior culture. Thegns, Ealdormen, and even Kings may make and break oaths as often as the wind changes, or as often as is politic and to their gain. There isn’t much difference. A Hearthweru on the other hand is a man who will hold his oath to the last, perhaps even beyond that if the legends are true. 

They’ll even keep their oath for a king whose own oaths are worth less than a pig farmer’s or a gang of murderous outlaw scum. This is because Hearthweru serve the oath as much as the man, the station and status of all warriors as much the kingdom. In a world of political compromise, petty revenge, and bloody power grabs they are the one shining beacon of true warrior nobility.

They care nothing for gold, any that they wear is due to the vanity of the king they serve not their own. They never marry, engage in trade, art, craft, farming, gambling, hunting, or carousing. They live only to fight, serve, and uphold their oaths. The only reward they seek for this sacrifice is glory. Glory in life and in death. To be remembered through the ages as a true and great warrior is the dream of every Hearthweru.
In peace time they act as bodyguards to their king, and enforcers of his royal will. In war they form the heart of his army. Even the weakest of kings (or even would be kings) will have at least twelve Hearthweru in service.

Heavily armed and armoured they are required as Hearthweru to own and maintain a war helm, chain armour, a spear, hand axe, great axe, sword, shield, and dagger. Like the lords they serve they ride to war on ponies, but fight on foot.

Hearthweru: Armour Class: -3[21]; Hit Dice: 10; Attacks:2 Brádsweord (1d6+2)or Wælseax or(1d3+2), or Gebyrdæx (1d6-1 crit) , Brádæx (2d6 drop lowest +3, 2H, LR, or Framea (2d6 drop lowest can be thrown or used in melee); Special: Lords of War, Word, Oathsworn; Move: 9; HDE/XP: 11/850.
Gear: Beaduscrúd, Wíghelm, Scield, Brádsweord, Wælseax, Gebyrdæx, Brádæx, Framea. 1-6d6 gold rings.

Warfare is the main business of order for Hearthweru, when they majority of a warband is made up of Hearthweru all troops gain +3 Morale, initiative, to hit, and damage, as well as any other bonus from formation, leadership, tactics, circumstance, etc. Unless their enemies are also Hearthweru they suffer a -3 to their own morale. Any friendly or allied troops in front, behind, or next to a formation of Hearthweru gain +1 to morale, initiative, to hit, and damage.

The word of a Hearthweru is worth more than gold. If a Hearthweru says something it is true, and no one would ever doubt it. Luckily for the kings they serve a Hearthweru can’t be made to speak against his own king.

Hearthweru are oathsworn to serve their king unto the death. Once he takes the field of battle the Hearthweru will not quit the field unless directly ordered to do so by their king. They have no morale score and will never break. If their king flees the field they will stay and die, selling their lives dearly to cleanse the shame of their kings cowardice. If their king dies they will stand over his body and defend it with their lives, every single one of them will have to be slain outright or mortally wounded before they’ll let the enemy lay hands on their fallen lord.

Men of Redwald: Cempa

Cempa (Champion)

To be king’s champion takes a certain kind of man. A brave man? Obviously. A skilled warrior? Of course. A cold clinical killer? Definitely. A dead eyed, soulless, shell of a man who whispers promises of blood to his blade? Yes. Mostly it’s this kind of man.

A duel between champions is a common way to resolve a matter of honour, or blood feud, between royal houses without plunging entire kingdom’s into war. When kingdoms are at war their champions will often face each other before battle is joined. Sometimes this duel of champions can decide the issue so battle isn't joined, but more often than not it’s just a morale boost and a bloody prologue to the slaughter that follows.

Of course there are less honourable ways for a king to use their champion, goading enemies in to fighting a duel is one, outright assassination is another.

There are rules to duels including forbidding the wearing of helms, and the use of shields. As such most Cempa learn to fight with two weapons, usually a Brádsweord and a Wælseax in the off-hand, but sometimes a Gebyrdæx or even a Framea might be used in the off hand.

Cempa: Armour Class: 0[19]; Hit Dice: 8+4; Attacks:3 Brádsweord (1d6+2)and Wælseax (1d3+2); Special: Bloody Name, Cold Dead Eyes, Dead to Fear, Frighteningly Fast, Blade Whisperer; Move: 11; HDE/XP: 10/750.

Gear: Beaduscrúd, Brádsweord, Wælseax, a gold plated drinking horn, a silver ring for every fool that unlucky enough to cross swords with him (5d6+6).

Of all the warriors in a king’s warband the name of his champion is the most likely to be known, and it’s a name that instils fear in all but the brave and the foolhardy. In his own kingdom there’s a 1-4 chance on a roll of 1d6 that his name is known by any NPC or that the Player Characters have heard of him, in other kingdoms it’s a 1-2 chance. Any NPC who has heard his bloody name will refuse to attack unless directly ordered to do so a lord, even so they’ll be at -3 morale.

Even if people don’t know a Cempa’s name and reputation it’s obvious by his presence, bearing, and one look from his cold dead eyes, that this is not a person to mess with. Anyone he turns his dead-eyed gaze on must make a ST. Failure means that person is more likely to sit down, shut up, and try not to make eye contact again rather than stand up to, face down,  or challenge the Cempa.

Fighting in the heat of the moment, in defence of your king, your land, life, and loved ones,  in a shield wall side by side with your brother warriors is one thing. Fighting and killing on command in cold blood is another. It not only leaves most Cempa hovering on the wrong side of sanity, it make them dead to fear itself. As such they are immune to fear inducing magic, and don’t need to make a ST against any other cause of fear.

Single combat is the stock in trade of a Cempa and being frighteningly fast is one of the ways they survive such a life. A Cempa gets +3 to initiative in single combat. In any combat situation their speed is a boon and Cempa’s get 3 attacks per round, one with their sword, and two with their off-hand weapon. Their speed combined with and off hand weapon all the shield they’ll ever need and is -3[+3] to their AC.

It’s rumoured some Cempa sleep with their unsheathed sword, held in an bloody embrace, as if it were a lover. Others are said to talk to their swords more than they talk to their fellow men. What is true is they live and die by the sword, and spend most of their time training and drilling with their swords and +3 to hit and to Damage when fighting with a sword.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Men of Redwald: Æðelingas

Æðelingas (Princes)

Although heredity kingship is rare in Redwald the men of the leading noble families are marked out, raised, and trained as if destined to be kings. These young men are the Æðelingas.

They are the shinning future of the people. The current king may be ignoble, cruel, cowardly, a warmongering, lustful tryant, or worse a bean counting, tax-mad, ruinous bastard, but there is always a golden youth, an Æðeling, a shinning paragon of all that is truly good and noble waiting to take the throne and sure to make a better king. That or a fool of a pawn in someone else’s grab for a dynasty. 

Either way most Æðelingas start attracting followers from the day they are born, and by the time they come of age most have a courtly retinue and small warband of their own. They also usually have a number of powerful relatives that take a very close interest, for good or ill, in their exploits.

Convinced from childhood they are destined to be great kings and noble war leaders most young Æðelingas rather than be stuck inside a stuffy mead hall with an even stuffier steward learning how the actual day to day running of kingdom is conducted, prefer to roam the kingdom engaging in acts of daring, foolhardy exploits of extreme bravery, and high adventures. Which normally translates as drunken brawls with the retinues of rival princes, starting wars with their father’s allies, and spawning enough bastard offspring to fill a thousand warbands.

Æðeling: Armour Class: 0[19]; Hit Dice: 6+1; Attacks:2 Broadsword (1d6+2)or Seax (1d3+1); Special: Vainglorious, Single Minded, Shinning Future, Retinue; Move: 10; HIDE/XP: 6/120.

Gear:, Beaduscrúd, Scield, Broadsword, Seax, 4 silver armbands, 3 gold armbands 3d6 silver rings, gold brooch, a fine cloak and an gold and garnet cloak pin, golden belt buckle, 3d6 gold rings.

Always seeking to make a name for themselves no one is as vainglorious as an Æðeling with an audience. They refuse to wear a helm as all must see their noble visage when they take the field, insist on fighting in the front rank of any battle or skirmish, and are constantly seeking glory in single combat. As such, many fail to live long enough to become kings, but theirs is an infectious folly and one that is loved by the fighting men who serve them (+2 to morale).

They are also single minded and possessed of a strong will as you would expect of anyone destined to be a king (+2 to all STs against mind magic).

The fact that one day they will be a king can have a powerful effect on the people they meet. Despite oaths of loyalty most people prefer the dream of a golden future to the hard earned brass of their current situation, and once exposed to the youthful charms of an Æðeling not to mention the future promise of lands, power, and riches, many will throw their lot in with an up and coming Prince. 

On a roll of 1-4 on 1d6 any NPC below the rank of Thegn will take up the Prince’s cause. Thegn’s will join on a roll of 1-3, Ealdormen on a roll of 1-2, and Gesith’s on a Roll of 1 on a 1d6. No household warrior, king’s champion, or rival prince would ever break their oath or serve another prince.

The greatest protection any Æðeling has is his retinue. Whether they are noble and true, thrill seekers, money grabbing hangers-on, or malign manipulators every single one of them wants to see their prince on a throne.