The Last Watch of Summer
Notes on the Civil War
The PCs are for the most part on the ‘Queens’ side (though you can read ‘their own’ for that) and she used to be the most powerful noble (a Duchess) in the kingdom. She has no direct blood claim to the throne. The old king died over two years ago but was predeceased by his only blood relative, it’s a relatively small and young kingdom formalised in the twilight of a two hundred year orc invasion that concluded about eighty years back so the royal family died in battle a fair bit and haven’t had time to branch much.
The problem is the kingdom has no set rules for this sort of thing apart from the royal will and the old bugger messed it up something fierce. He was a forward thinker and along with his regent (previously his chief minister, a technocrat and long term friend) was rumoured to have had private plans for a republican system similar to merchant cities in the near south. He fell ill and fearing imminent death made his will in favour of his beloved daughter that would inherit everything, as it happened he recovered but his daughter and her husband were killed in an accident on their way to what they thought was his death bed. He survived for another three miserable years in and out of good health and never revised his will for he no longer cared.
When the king died the regent attempted to produce an old draft of a will with republican plans which had never been publicly discussed or ratified. The documents legitimacy was rejected not just by the majority of nobles but subsequently by a cross section of the population as the ‘provisional republic’ proposed would enfranchise rich but low born merchants above all others, the regent happened to be head of such a family of prosperous but ignoble people. Regardless of his actual intent the only change to the status quo was that the royal taxes were no longer paid by the dissenting nobility, crown lands and the feudal lands continued to be managed by their local rulers and a stalemate evolved.
The Duchess of Ecthesis ruled in the west, the Kingslund and Berrylund in the East continued to be administered by the capital city bureaucracy under the regent. Lokston is the city built on a site of pilgrimage and the surrounding land was gifted to the clergy when the kingdom was founded. Numoria is a wild and sparsely inhabited land that collapsed a generation ago when the Duke and his family were slaughtered in mysterious circumstances. The Earl’s divvy is a patchwork of feudal plots that has been divided between the Duchess, the Regent and independents along vassalage, moral and profit based lines.
The Duchess had no claim to the Aravigian throne beyond the priority of her title which was considered thin grounds by a sufficient number of nobles that she could not rely on their support to force the issue, it did not help that while popular she is relatively young. The regent also made a great effort of examining the fine detail of the accords that founded the kingdom when the heads of smaller kingdoms traded in their royalty for duchies in the new unified land. The pragmatically minded warrior kings that wrote the text had decided that should the Aravigian royal line die out (in battle to their imagining) seniority would pass to the Numoiran and then the Ecthesisan royal families. Unfortunately both those royal lines were presumed extinct. The Ecthesian line died out due to a southern war ending in a through campaign of assassinations and the destruction of their city. The current Duchess of Ecthesis is actually descended from a Numorian noble house that was rewarded with the title for being instrumental in the successful conclusion of that war. The Numorian line met a similar end as mentioned above, their ancestral home was burnt. There was a claim the Duchess’ family was actually a cadet branch of the Numorian royalty but this was met with similar scepticism as the republican will.(edited)
So it was all a bit of a cock up going nowhere fast.
Enter the PCs that are poking around in Numoria for their own reasons (to see if there is anything expensive not nailed down unofficially in the name of the empire chip is an officer of) and they end up unearthing the ancient royal crown of Numoria, their quest ends up saving the life of a wandering hero who turns out to be the last survivor of the ruling family of the all but dissolved duchy of Numoria. They return to Ecthesis with the crown and a document transferring all titles, claims and royalty from the hero to the Duchess of Ecthesis (a childhood friend of his) which gives her all the legitimacy she thinks she needs to claim the throne as the only extant member of a royal family from a senior pre-unification kingdom. It helps that they PCs are led by a Marian (A very large and prestigious nearby empire) who has been made a senior officer, to doubt his word is to doubt the integrity of the Empire that had no dog in the civil war and so no reason to lie. They also claim their activities in Numoera were divinely inspired
The regent and his staunch supporters rejected her authority, though it did change the balance of support in her favour. The Duchess has mobilised the forces she and her vassals have ready and marched to war.