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  • Tales from the Throne Room - Chapter Three

    Welcome back to Tales from the Throne Room!

    In Chapter Three we will focus on Role Playing Games (RPGs), provide some news regarding Hotseat games and dig out another favourite story From the Vault.

    What is a Role Playing Game?

    Current Role Playing Games:

    We have two RPGs currently in play in the Throne Room. We support our RPGs by providing dedicated sub-fora for the multiple threads that each game requires. These are linked in the game titles below. Both RPGs are open to new players subject to the availability of avatars. If you are interested in joining a game click on the link and post in the relevant sign-up thread. We’d love to see you there!

    Kings of the Nile (KotN) is a roleplaying game where players control the Ptolemaioi faction from the Europa Barbarorum mod for RTW. Currently there are 12 players.

    The Gamesmaster (Ibn-Khaldun) has played the first 3 years in the game to provide a more challenging and interesting starting point. When the game started the Ptolemaioi faction had lost 2 settlements. However, now the players have started hitting back by reconquering their lost lands.

    The game has a different civil war system than the previous EB game "Will of the Basileus" or other Throne Room games like LotR, KotR etc. The intention is to encourage Player vs Player (PvP) online battles. The game rules also allow players to create their own kingdoms...if they can survive the wrath of the Basileus of course!

    Other new features are Private Units and Private Funds. Players can use their own finances to recruit their own private army. Whether it is used to against the enemies of the faction or against other players is up to them.

    Vassals and Valour (V&V) is an RPG set in Medieval Europe, using Lands to Conquer Gold, a mod for M2TW.

    In V&V players take control of a noble in the Holy Roman Empire. After an initial Civil War period the Gamemaster (Cecil_XIX) played through 10 turns to provide a more challenging setting for the now nominally unified Holy Roman Empire to rebuild in after the devastating internal war it survived. Nobles of the Empire squabble and jockey for position politically to improve the position of their House. They can't afford to alienate their fellows too much, however, for beyond their borders enemies wait at all sides to redress past wrongs. Even if their immediate neighbors are taken care of, Austrian expansion to the east has drawn the attention of a massively powerful Turkish Empire...

    Arguably V&V's most distinctive feature over past RPGs is a completely revamped system for province control and recruitment. Players have complete control over their lands deciding where every florin earned in them goes and who else (if anyone) can recruit from them, giving them much more autonomy than ever before. External threats and the power of the Emperor have thus far held the Empire's nobles together, but at any moment one or more of them could attempt to better their position by warring with their fellows.

    Current Hotseat Games:

    Dogs of War is now completed, with the Kievan Rus (controlled by Nightbringer) as the winner. Congratulations Nightbringer on your victory!

    Since our last update two new hotseat campaigns have begun, both using Stainless Steel 6.4:

    Clash of Gods is a match between two teams, one of Catholic and one of Islamic factions. The object of the game is for the winning team to secure certain target territories from deep within enemy territory. The game is only on the second turn but already there has been a battle between the Spanish and the Moors, resulting in first blood for the Catholic team.

    Wrath of the Khan 2 is a game in which everyone teams up against the Mongol invasion. The game has been rolled forward to the time of the Mongol invasion and non-Mongol factions allocated randomly amongst the players. The object of the game is to defeat the Mongols (played by yours truly) and to gain a certain number of territories from one or more of the other non-Mongol players. For the Mongols it is relatively simple: invade and destroy all who stand in their way! The Great Khan will arrive after a grace period of one turn and the battle for the Middle East and Europe will begin…

    There are no hotseats currently recruiting for players but if you are interested in joining or hosting a game post in the Hotseat General Recruitment thread and we’ll see what we can organise. It’d be great to see you in the Throne Room!

    From the Vaults

    In the theme of RPGs, this time we bring you a story from the grandfather of Throne Room RPGs, King of the Romans (KotR). KotR ran for 16 months and at its peak had over 20 players involved in the game.

    This story was selected by GeneralHankerchief, who had this to say about it:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    If there was one story that could truly set the stage for KotR's epic final act, this one would be it. For decades, a shadowy conflict had been brewing behind the scenes in the game, even as the Reich burned and were beset on all sides by enemies. The Brotherhood of the Illuminati, a secret society consisting some of the most prominent Imperial nobles, had been vying for more and more power in the name of saving the Reich from itself. However, some would say that this was all a sham and that they only sought power for its own sake, and many would say that their motives for gaining such power were harsh, potentially even too harsh.

    Working against the Illuminati was a small faction of nobles, including the late Kaiser Elberhard, a chivalrous if not very authoritative man who always tried to do the right thing. By the time of this story Elberhard had been dead for some years, having fallen in one of the many battles in Italy against the Byzantine Empire. However, this story depicts the experience of one of Elberhard's aides as he flashes back to his master's dealings with the Illuminati over the years and wrestles with an agonizing choice of what to do with a certain piece of information. This information comes in the form of an escaped prisoner; one who knows a deadly secret regarding the Illuminati and a murdered Emperor, a secret which if revealed could throw the Reich into an utter civil war and spell the end of everything.

    Providing a revealing look at the previous events and foreshadowing KotR's deadly and tragic conclusion, I could not think of a better story that sums up the intrigue and political maneuvering that King of the Romans was all about.

    And here it is, The Sins of the Past, originally posted by econ21
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A village south of Frankfurt, 1364.

    “He was trying to knife me!” the fat farmer pointed indignantly at the vagabond.

    Jacobus Stoyan made no attempt to break free from the Teuton’s steel grip. The knights were all around him. It was hopeless. The brief burst of sunlight he had enjoyed was drawing to a close. As the skies darkened around him, the prospect of further pain and imprisonment loomed. The approaching shadow of death appeared almost inviting. But self preservation prevailed.

    “I have information … important information. I demand to speak to your Komtur. I will not talk to anyone else.”

    The Ritterbruder leading the Teuton initiates looked at his bedraggled captive and laughed: “By God, what makes you think I would waste the Komtur’s time with your jabbering?”

    The Teuton looked at the broken eggs around Jacobus. “It is obvious that you are a common thief.”

    He picked up Jacobus’s cruel dagger and studied it, before gesturing at the fat farmer: “This good man says that you tried to kill him. I should just have you hung as a small contribution to making Franconia safe for decent people.”

    The cataclysm and the invasion of the Catholic Alliance had led to a wave of violence throughout Franconia. However, sponsored by successive Chancellors, the Teutonic Order was expanding out from Frankfurt - slowly pacifying the countryside, even as it sent waves of new recruits to the frontline armies. The Ritterbruder glared at Jacobus - seeing in his feral form everything the Teutonic Order was struggling against. Impatiently, he drew his sword and moved towards the prisoner.

    “Damn it, why waste good rope …”

    Jacobus watched the blade emerge gradually from the Teuton's scabbard as if time itself was slowing. His instincts urged him to fall to his knees, to beg for mercy. But Jacobus had been in battle. A higher part of his brain told him that those who were easiest to execute were the men who prostrated themselves, who threw away their dignity. Killing them was no harder than butchering animals. No, the ones who soldiers spared were the noble and the brave. Jacobus met the Ritterbruder in the eye and took a deep breath:

    “I am a soldier, a Captain of Mercenaries. I would not deign to try to kill one so unworthy as him.” He gestured at the fat farmer. “Yes, I have seen better times. But has not Franconia herself? And indeed the Reich? Yes, I stole the farmer’s eggs. I was starving and he, evidently, is not. Yes, I have committed a crime … but not one that warrants summary execution.”

    The Ritterbruder paused, reassessing his prisoner. “This information you spoke of…?”

    “I have documents … evidence of matters of state that are of the gravest importance. But I will only speak to your Komtur.”

    Documents. The word seemed to deflate the Ritterbruder and he visibly lost interest in his quarry. Documents. Who among the Brotherhood stationed nearby could read, still less want to do so? Although supposedly a monastic order, the Teutons were recruiting men for the strength of their sword arms rather than any monkish learning. Then a thought occurred to the Ritterbruder. Captain Jan! Formerly of Kaiser Elberhard’s retinue, the veteran Teuton was often to be found reading some obscure manuscripts stashed away in the bowels of the castle.

    “I will not trouble my Komtur with your fantasies. But there is one brother who may wish to indulge you.”


    Captain Jan looked from the Ritterbruder to Jacob’s documents and back again with scarcely concealed excitement. It had been so long since he had been asked to do anything, however mundane or trivial. The death of his master, Kaiser Elberhard, at Bologna had led to an immediate collapse in Captain Jan’s fortunes. Without his patron, Captain Jan was merely a figure of mirth and contempt in the Reich - famous for being the hero who had bravely escorted the Reich’s treasury into the hands of the traitor Empress Theodora. The Teutonic Order had provided shelter, but offered him little work except overseeing the efforts of the Diendebruders. These young recruits were assigned with pacification duties and law enforcement as an initiation to the Teutonic Order before they were deemed ready to send into battle. An aging, grey haired veteran such as Captain Jan was seen as a suitable person to help mentor them.

    “So you will do it?” the Ritterbruder asked, as if Jan’s willingness to read the documents and interrogate Jacobus only confirmed everyone’s views that the Captain was the saddest excuse for a Teuton in the castle.

    “Yes, yes. These seals … they are important documents. Leave them to me.”

    “And this one?” The Ritterbruder gestured at Jacobus. “Shall I have him thrown in the dungeon until you are ready?”

    Jacobus tried not to flinch at the suggestion.

    “No, no … sit him down there…” said Captain Jan absentmindedly, before seeing the poverty of his accommodation - he was not accustomed to having a guest in his quarters. “Oh, better bring another stool in here. I will talk to him in a minute, when I have finished reading … my God…”

    “What is it?” asked the Ritterbruder.

    “Leave him here and go.” said Jan, a hard edge entering his voice. And then he looked up at the Ritterbruder. “Believe me, brother, you are better off not knowing.”


    Captain Jan studied the documents for a long while and then finally looked up at Jacobus, aghast - as if the itinerant mercenary were an ancient and terrible shade from Hell.

    It was all coming back to Jan, nightmarish things he had buried and tried to forget. But here was Jacobus, like a ghoul, uncovering the hideous corpses of the past.

    Jan drew out a parchment from his own desk. A note he had long kept safe, one entrusted to him by Elberhard, his now deceased master, who at the time was Prinz. Jan compared the hand writing on the note passed on from Elberhard with that on some of Jacobus’s documents. He had hoped for the handwriting to match, but no - no powerful secret society could be expected to expose itself so carelessly.

    “What’s that?” Jacobus asked, innocently, looking the parchment Captain Jan had drawn out.

    Jan shook his head. “It does not matter.”

    He hurriedly put the parchment back inside his desk, closing it firmly, as if hoping to rebury what was best left undisturbed. But it was too late.

    Jan’s mind drifted back, as if reliving a recurrent nightmare. The parchment he had stored away had been passed on by his master, then Prinz, who in turn had received it on the eve of the last Diet before the cataclysm. It was a strange note, sent by a mysterious Order of the All Seeing Eye, advising the Kaiser to sideline his brother Hans and his ally Jan von Hamburg.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Greetings Prinz Elberhard,

    It has come to our attention that Kaiser Siegfried is currently unavailable for contact due to matters of a private nature. Though we have preferred to deal with him directly in the past, we simply cannot allow this state of affairs to disrupt the relationship we have built with him. As you are known to still be in contact with the Kaiser, we are contacting you in the hope that you will, in turn, convey the following words to him:

    The Order notes that in the upcoming Diet session, the Kaiser will be required to appoint two Electors to office: the traditional appointment of King of Outremer and, as a result of Frederich Scherer's resignation, the next Duke of Swabia. While this has not been part of our previous negotiations, we feel that we have proven our abilities to the Kaiser and stand ready to do what he has asked of us in the near future. Accordingly, we believe it would be only proper for the Kaiser to take our opinions into consideration when choosing the next occupants of these posts.

    Regarding the King of Outremer, Jan von Hamburg has caused much conflict between the Eastern provinces and the Duchies. We believe that a more neutral and less controversial man would better serve the interests of the Reich during the coming term. There are already several of these to choose from in Outremer. Regarding the Duke of Swabia, Frederich Scherer was an exceedingly fair and impartial Duke, but his chosen successor, Hans, is not cut from the same cloth. If he is appointed Duke, the fractures and rivalries between the Houses will likely only intensify. Once again, for the good of the Reich as well as Swabia itself, we believe that a Swabian with a slightly less biased history would be a better choice for Duke.

    Prinz Elberhard, it is regretful that our first formal communication must be in the nature of a simple courier request. Perhaps in the future we will find the opportunity to deal with you personally. If you wish to contact us, either to convey a response from the Kaiser or for your own reasons, you may reach us by leaving a note behind the paupers' grave marker in the cemetery at the Church of St. Maximillian in Rome.

    What had shocked Captain Jan, and the Kaiser, most had been the politeness and matter of fact nature of the note. As if the new Kaiser should have recognised immediately that his job was to bow to the wishes of this secret Order. The Kaiser had not been long in identifying suspected members of this Order - starting with those who had most to gain from Hans and Jan von Hamburg not being appointed to the positions of power that they were due. As the suspects endorsed and supported each other, they spun a dance that drew in new suspects and strengthened the Kaiser’s existing suspicions.

    Of course, the inaugural note had seemed innocent compared to the subsequent assassination of Kaiser Siegfried. Elberhard, Hans and Jan von Hamburg had quickly surmised that the secret Order of the All Seeing Eye were behind his assassination. However, they had no hard evidence for this belief. Hans’s investigation of the death implied it was the work of a prominent Bavarian, but Duke Lothar of Bavaria had quickly launched his own inquiry - fingering the Milanese and the Assassin’s Guild. The trail had gone cold, as cold as the corpses of the Milanese aristocrats Lothar had accused. With no solid evidence for their heinous accusations, Elberhard and Hans had been forced to remain silent for fear of public ridicule. At times even Captain Jan wondered if it were all paranoid delusions.

    Elberhard had attempted to use Peter von Kastilien to infiltrate the Order, to provide the evidence he needed to uncover the secret Order as Siegfried’s murderers. Captain Jan had been present as Elberhard offered Peter a trade while the rebel was imprisoned in Rome - freedom and the future Imperial crown in return for Peter’s services against the Order. But while the new Prinz had proved eager to seek out his brother’s killers, the killers were less keen to seek out the Prinz. The plan failed miserably.

    But the cataclysm had re-opened the wound. Elberhard had duelled Lothar in a proxy war for Swabia. But in the minds of many of the “Swabian loyalist” protagonists - Elberhard, Hans and Jan von Hamburg - it had not been a war for Swabia. Still less was it a war of Catholicism against Lutheranism. Instead, it had been a war against the secret Order. The war had ended with the fratricide at Bern and subsequent death of Hummel at Staufen. But while the conflict had been a victory for the Swabian loyalists, the wider conflict with the Order had merely been a draw. Captain Jan still had a copy of the terms of the ceasefire sent by Lothar to Elberhard.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Quote Originally Posted by Lothar Steffen
    Kaiser Elberhard,

    Welcome back to civilization. I regret to report that it is not in as good as shape as it was when you were last here, but it is certainly doing better than Outremer.

    I will get right to the point. You and I seem to have been fighting a proxy war in Swabia. You supported your brother, and I have supported those who wished to overthrow him. The situation is now resolved, and my allies have been defeated. However, your brother and Jan von Hamburg were both killed in the process, depriving you of two very influential supporters.

    You may have emerged the victor from this round, but we are still evenly matched, you and I. If you attempt to move against me, I will defend myself with all my power. I assure you, that power is great and I have many allies. It would benefit neither of us to engage in such a war when the Reich is already so weak. So, I would like to propose a ceasefire in this quiet little war of ours.

    Given your side's victories in Swabia, it is only proper that I give the greater concessions. I am not a fool and I know when I must accept some humbling. Therefore I propose the following terms:

    1) Nuremburg is to be returned to Imperial control and will serve as the capital of the Reich and the home of the Diet until such time as Rome is recaptured. When Rome is regained, Nuremburg will be returned to Bavaria.

    2) Neither Duke Lothar Steffen nor Kaiser Elberhard will speak ill of the other in public or attempt to make the other accountable for previous actions. The past will remain in the past.

    If you agree to these terms, I will pay proper homage to you as Kaiser of the Reich and work with you to regain what we have lost. If you do not, I will rally my allies and prepare for war.

    Please know that this offer of mine is an attempt to do what is best for the Reich; it is not an admission of defeat on my part, nor is it an expression of absolute loyalty to your person. You may believe me to be a criminal, but I think of you in the same way. It was Siegfried and his mad unification plan that brought this all about, not me. You aided him in his crimes and are as guilty as he was. Good and evil, right and wrong, are all a matter of perspective, my dear Elberhard.

    So, shall it be peace, or war?

    Lothar Steffen
    Duke of Bavaria

    So, Elberhard had chosen peace. Better to save the Reich, he had argued, than tear it apart in a continued struggle against the illusive Order. Captain Jan grew pale. Now the choice that Elberhard had faced was confronting him. He looked up at Jacobus. Kill him. Burn the documents. No one need know. The Reich could continue undisturbed. She was weak and sick, but growing stronger. Let her rest, regroup and recover. Forget the past. Honour Elberhard’s wishes.

    And yet, Elberhard was dead. His brother, Hans the fighter, was dead - murdered in cold blood by a man he believed to be an agent of the sinister secret Order. Something hardened inside Captain Jan. He remembered what Jan von Hamburg had said when Elberhard had pleaded for restraint. Elberhard had begged Jan von Hamburg to try to save the Reich by avoiding escalating the Swabian conflict and bringing in more of the Order’s supporters out in the open alongside Duke Lothar. But Jan von Hamburg had hauntily retorted that a Reich built on compromise with the hated Order would not be worth saving.

    Captain Jan looked up, his face set. His master, Elberhard, had been a good man but ultimately a politician. Elberhard's foul language and bluff manners did not conceal the fact that he was as keen on compromise and harmony as his father Henry. But Captain Jan was not a politician. He was a soldier of God. He would do what was right, even if the world burned as a result.

    Jan spoke: “Jacobus, I believe you. And when they read these documents, the Kaiser and Chancellor will believe you too. I will send them on immediately.”

    Jacobus heart leapt: “And what of me?”

    Captain Jan contemplated the figure in front of him. Another soldier like himself, who had seen better times. Whose life had been ruined by being ensnared in crimes not of his design.

    “You hail from Bohemia, do you not? I will send you to Count Becker. I believe he is an honest man and may be seen as impartial in this matter. He will keep you safe from the reaches of Duke Lothar. And one day you will be called to testify. When that day comes, your voice will carry more weight if you are sheltered within neutral Prague and not a vengeful Franconia.”

    Jacobus stood up, eagerly - for the first time in many years, his future seemed bright. Captain Jan ruefully watched the man’s rise in spirits. If Jacobus’s future was bright, would it not merely be from the glare of the flames that were about to consume the Reich?

    (graphics by Quirl, words by phonicsmonkey and Zim)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Tales from the Throne Room started by phonicsmonkey View original post
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