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7Hex Dragons: The Duchy of Mt. Bronar
The Duchy of Mt. Bronar - The Duchy is a recent coalition of smaller feudal estates and high plains barbarian Temple communities that have bonded into a mutual protection society in the face of the expanding Sorcerers Empire. It occupies the North West corner of the map, bounded to the West by the Backbone mountains, to the North by the Gargoyle Mountains, to the East by the Wildlands and to the south by the Borderlands. The farther east, the weaker and more patchwork the alliances become.
The Arch-Duke of Mt. Bronar was the instigator and main influence in creating the Duchy. The Duchy is a patchwork alliance with the Arch-Duke being similar to a Charlemagne type character. He is a shewd and mostly honest statesman who does prize honor, but also uses it to keep loyalty. ST17 IQ17 DX15. Horsemanship, Sword, Shield, Literacy, Courtly Graces, Diplomacy, Tactics, Strategist, Charisma, New Followers, Theologian. (If using 7HexDragon House Rules he is a Holy Knight). He has a Fine and Enchanted Bastard Sword that is +2DX and +2Damage, Unbreakable and houses a Dragonish Spirit (ST 11 IQ11: Control Animal, Sleep, Far Vision, Detect Enemies, Speed Movement, Aid, Detect Life, Dark Vision, Fire). It has slowed his aging process (he is 51 but is biologically closer to 36) and he keeps it on him at all times using the Detect Enemies quite a bit, in and out of Court. The pommel is a dragon head with ruby eyes and silver teeth. The sword is one of the symbols of power in the Duchy and is used on various heraldic devices. He has an Enchanted set of Fine Plate (stops 7 hits) and his Fine Shield (+1) allows him to cast Avert. He is way too smart to fight directly and has house guards who will do everything they can to put themselves between him and danger. He has a permanent pentagram around his bed and around-the-clock wizards and body guards watching over him.
He has a secret alliance with a pod of Dragons that live in the mountains to the north of Mt. Bronar and with one of the largest tribes of Gargoyles who live north of the High Plains in the Gargoyle Mountains. The Gargoyles are fairly advanced for their kind, the tribe allied with the Arch-Duke have several Mages and a decently structured society for their limited numbers (about 4000). They are distantly friendly with the Duchy, and will help the Arch-Duke if he calls in dire need, though they may only send a small contingent to help scout and ambush (roughly 100 gargoyles depending on need and a mage or two). The High Plains are mostly rural, fading to more nomadic/herder barbarian tribes in the forests to the extreme north. He has alliances with many rural/temple based Barbarian tribes. A few nomad clans due south of Bronar have joined. The Arch-Duke is pressuring the rest of them to pledge mutual protection. Some of the old Nomad tribes to the Southwest have pledged alliance, giving the duke a better, though less disciplined, cavalry than the IS. All the barons in the northwest of the Borderlands are in near vassal relations with the Arch-Duke. The Arch-Duke is a gifted politician and is expanding his alliances and leveraging his assets well in the face of the well run, larger and wealthier IS. Militarily they are outmatched by the IS, but the Duke can field a big and unpredictable enough army to make the IS wait until the perfect opportunity and public sentiment is for a protracted series of castle sieges after the initial army is defeated in the field.
Militarily the Duchy is not well coordinated. The Arch-Duke can field a fairly well coordinated core army with a mix of archers, mages, cavalry and infantry. He follows the traditional setup of having his mages separate and behind the lines (unlike the IS who integrates mages at the platoon level). He then has strategists who work on scenarios to plug in the other elements of the alliance (where to put the nomadic cavalry, the irregular units of some of the smaller barbaric tribes, the egotistical petty lords of the southern and eastern baronies and manors, etc). Bronar also has some very covert contacts with the Order of the Fox and the Order of the Chameleon in Thur, working on an unlikely alliance between Thur and Bronar to overthrow, or at least, beat back and contain the IS using various schemes. He is doubtful it will come to fruition, but if it causes some of the Thurian cavalry to sit out a fight, that is enough reason to negotiate.
Mt. Bronar is an ancient, mostly quiet volcano that houses an ancient magical field. The Arch-Duke has an impressive collection of Mages that feed off of the power of the Mountain, as do the Dragons who live on the other (west) side. The Dragons are ancient and have some soothsayers and prophets amongst their older members. They share some magic with the mages of Mt. Bronar and the mages and Arch-Duke bring tribute and offer protection from any dragon hunters. The Mages specialize in firey magics (there are thousands of salamandars in the Volcano, see the Bronar Brazier). They have had close and long contact with the Dragons and learned some divination/prophecy from them in addition to creating the Dragon Staff. Finally, they are working on Gate spells that are more flexible and dynamic. Similar to Mt. Kira, Mt. Bronar has a field around it that makes most spells cost less to cast and maintain (GM discretion, I make spells 1-2ST easier to cast, and most continuing spells I set to 1ST/turn or even every other turn). Salamanders can be conjured for significantly less than normal (but they must stay within the 2 mile limit or lose their advantages, again GM discretion). The Dragons befriend the Arch-Duke due to prophecy that the Arch-Duke will unintentionally lead them to new breeding grounds. This happens when the Mages of Mt. Bronar open a gate to Mt. Kira by accident and some Winged Shadow Demons slip through. The Dragons fly through the Gate to clear Mt. Kira for their own use and the Arch-Duke immediately sends a strong contingent to support the Dragons. This however soon gains the ire of all the Gargoyles who unite to resist the new influence on both flanks of their mountains.
The city of Mt. Bronar is a sprawling city centered around the old Keep. The wall has been expanded twice in the last 300 years and there is third one going around the expanding city now. It is becoming a bustling center, there are three Necromancer Brotherhoods, several Wizard Guilds, trade with the dwarves (though that is rapidly dwindling), IS, Borderlands, etc. They are decent smiths (from, or trained in, ka'Han) and very good builders, agriculture is advancing rapidly (with help from the inventive ka'Han) from even 30 years ago. Slavery is permitted in small doses (sort of like prostitution is allowed in small doses) for domestic services and other odd and menial jobs. The knightly class still holds most of the power and trade suffers a bit for it. They have knightly jousts and other contests. Bards abound as the winters are a bit harsh and there is a strong Tavern culture in the Winter (with the usual religious backlash from time to time). Taverns are judged by their food, beer and bards. The Duke has arranged for several prominent bards to turn spy for him and perform in Dar Karador itself, mingling with highly places Sorcerers, etc. Conversely, there are spys from the IS, and some of the stronger Borderland Baronies (along the coast) watching the Arch-Duke. The Keep is a bit small for the size of the city, but it is ancient and well cared for. The city has been expanding out and the rural ring around it has also become quite large, the rural areas for the City of Mt. Bronar is about to overlap with the ka'Han (to the northeast). The largest Wizards guild (closely allied with the Arch-Duke) has a fairly impressive library, multiple labs and a school.
Religiously they are a mix of ancestor worship from the barbarians and a primitive monotheism (the other natural "powers" sprang from the thoughts of the creator/order god that was influenced by the Dragons organizing the nomad's pantheon, think Stoic reinterpretation of the Greek pantheon). There is a priestly class, but it is subordinate, and related, to the Knights and serves and legitimates them (often younger sons of nobles or merchants trying to break into the noble classes become priests in addition to those who are truly devout).
They are good horsemen from their nomad days, who were the original kings after conquering the fairly peaceful barbarian tribes that lived around the foothills of the mountains and in the forests. The Dragons helped to protect the tribes. The Nomads brought their pantheon with them and adopted the ancestor worship of the barbarians which helped to legitimate the new nomad royal line. While the distinction between nomad and barbarian ancestry has all but disappeared biologically with centuries of cross breeding, there is still some status associated with having the Nomadic blood (which is really more of a social claim than a biological fact) than having the barbarian blood as the nomads were able to "soft" conquer the tribes.
Some of the Dwarven traffic up and down through what is now the Borderlands reflects the old kings hiring them to help build the Keep and origian wall. The abandonded Dwarf cave in the Crosshaven Adventure is one of these rest stops for the dwarves traveling to the new Duchy.
Characters from here are likely to be traditional Knights/man-at-arms (esp mounted, but not necessarily), Fire Wizards, traveling Bards/Rogues or cavalry in addition to the usual urban sprawl of theives, assassins, town guards, town wizards, mercenaries, Necromancers, merchant adventurers, bar keepers, etc.
Officially the City of Mt. Bronar is the heart of the original Duchy. The city to the northeast, ka'Han, pays tribute to the Duchy and can be considered to be an extension of the Duchy. The Lord of ka' Han has been integrated into the royal house of Bronar and his military is harmoniously integrated with the Arch-Duke's.
The Duke has received two visitors from the
Order of the Chameleon in
Thur. The Order is trying to
create a subversive alliance between Thur and Bronar with an idea of
beating back the Imperial
Sorcerers to a largish area around Dar Karador. This is a hard
sell as Bronar does not know if this is a trick of the IS and, even if
not, how on-board the rest of Thur is with such a risky enterprise. It
is intriguing to him though as a tool either way (he can turn over the
Chameleons to the IS for a favor, or just maybe Thur and Bronar can
ambush the IS and force a treaty that will limit IS power). He is
considering ways to throw a wedge between the IS and Thur (including
spies sent down to attack an IS unit and make it look like a
Thurian Order did it, etc).
ka'Han is the oldest addition of the Duchy, having lost a decisive battle and started paying tribute. That relationship has turned into a tight economic and political alliance. The two royal houses are so intertwined that it can be considered one family for practical purposes. They are a little less martial than Mt. Bronar, but have superior craftmen and smiths, most of the duchy's non-dwarven armaments come from the forges of ka'Han. They are considered second only to the dwarves of Grellmore. ka'han, like Bronar, is a mix of the northern barbarians and the nomads of the steppe, but the mix is heavier to the Barbarians (as is reflected in their style of dress, language, etc). As such, they do have a tradition of horsemanship, but it is not as pronounced as in Bronar (and certainly not as much as Thur).
The craft guilds have more sway in ka'Han than in Mt. Bronar and the knightly class, while still dominant, do give considerable consessions to the craft guilds. There are craft shows and contests. Also due to the better implements, the agriculture of ka'Han is more efficient than in most places allowing a higher level of society for their size. Even the Wizard's guild prides itself on it's magic item crafts. Characters from ka'Han will likely be Knights, professional foot soldiers (see the Grey Knights below), armourers or wizards who create magic items. The old Duke of Bronar took the title Arch-Duke after the defeat of ka'Han as a gesture of good will (Arch-Duke as first among equals as opposed to calling himself King or Emporer indicating the subjugation of ka'Han).
There is one notable military/knightly order called the Grey Knights (also the Grey Line). They come from an elite warrior group from the Barbarian days. They have morphed into a full military order centuries ago when one royal family and their retinue single handedly defended the gate to the Keep when a barbarian tribe and gargoyle tribe allied (very rare indeed) and tried to take the castle. Despite being bombed with rocks from the gargoyles and swarmed at the smashed gates by the barbarian horde, the Grey Line formed a three row deep phalanx where the usual line of shieldmen up front were moved to the middle to protect from dropped rocks and the two line of spearmen held the barbarian horde at bay until a charge of scattered horsemen were able to flank the barbarians and a few dozen crossbowmen were able to scrounge together enough bolts to scatter the gargoyles. That day is also celebrated every year, with the Grey Knights in full pomp and procession leading to a general feast. They specialize in spear/pike and crossbow (the inventive ka'Han say they invented the crossbow). They wear grey wool cloaks (see the Grey Cloak) with their crest: crossed boar spears over a castle gate. The current order is no longer tied to the blood family, but joining the order makes you an "honorary" family member and eligible to train in the martial art. They pride themselves in all spear-like pole arms (spear, boar spear, pike, and nagintat/glaive type weapons) and crossbow. The Marshall of the Grey Knights sits on the Council of Elders.
The Duke (formally king) is still the final law in the land, though practically the Duke of ka'Han can be overrulled by Bronar and most decisions are made by the Council of Elders which constitutes the Duke and his Chief Councilor, the Mayor of the city of ka'han, the heads of the notable royal families, the heads of the major trade guilds, the heads of the two largest Wizards Guilds and the Marshall of the Grey Line (almost 20 people in all).
The current Duke of ka'Han is an excellent horseman and spends his leisure time on the practice field. He is youngish (28). ST 15 IQ15 DX18 his father dying young. PoleArms, Horsemanship, Expert Horsemanship, Sword, Shield, Diplomacy, Warrior, Courtly Graces, Literacy. He has a Fine Bastard Sword (+2Damage, +1DX) immune to Drop/Break Weapon, Fine/Enchanted Plate (+3), Fine 2H spear (+2Damage, +1DX) enchanted with Trip upon successful hit. His horse has Fine Barding (+2). And his Crown is enchanted to Detect Lies (a closely guarded secret). He has an Invisibility Ring he always has near, but has never used in public.
Population of the whole Duchy (Bronar, ka'Han and allied barons and
barbarian tribes) is hard to estimate, but probably in the 800,000 -
850,000 range with 150,000+ in the city (and immediate environs) of
Mt. Bronar alone, with ka'Han having some 90,000. I have a vague idea
that the Duchy is like London of 1300 (rising but still just a bit
backwards) compared to the IS being more like the Byzantines under the
Basils at the turn of the millenium.