Sunday, April 27, 2014

Return to Mar Tesaro: High Stakes

After the players, agents of the Boland Brotherhood, finished dealing with the kraken in Lake Kheldram (because krakens are clearly freshwater creatures), they made a brief detour to Hillstead on their way to Fol Thron. While here, they retrieved the half-letter in the hopes of deciphering the missing agent's clues, as well as to meet up with their fellow traveler, Glabrous Emerald-Eye.

Why were they meeting Glabrous in Hillstead? Aside from Glabrous's player being absent for the first session, Glabrous was in Hillstead convincing the leaders of other churches to support the Brotherhood's cause, for it is in need of allies.

Of course, most revolutions start this way. The Brotherhood needs allies, and the players will spend a great deal of the game recruiting for the cause of unseating the Queen.
Actually, this is one of the things I tried to bring in early to make player agency matter. If the players are plotting a civil war, how will their actions bring it to a favorable conclusion? I wanted them to be thinking about how their actions would direct the outcome of the war, rather than simply having events unfold around them.
To make sense of the sides, we have to travel back to the past.
(Read the rest below the fold.)

When Alessia fought her own civil war, the control of the territories looked something like this:

The northern cities were human, the central cities eladrin, and the southen cities dwarven. The two circled cities, Crossway and Fol Thron, were generally treated as neutral territory, the former because of its nature as a traffic hub, the latter because it was the capital.

After the civil war, Alessia and the elves controlled the entire island. The Boland Brotherhood started as a movement amongst the noble families of humans who used to control the northern territories, including the survivors of the siege of Fort Boland. Incidentally, the Brotherhood's current territory looks more like this:
Black circles back the Brotherhood, politically and militarily. Red circles back the Brotherhood in only one way or the other.
The cities of Mar Tesaro all maintain a standing militia. These are called into service if a national crisis (i.e. invasion, war, etc.) should arise, but otherwise act as city watch and regional peacekeepers. The Queen also controls a standing army separate from these militias, both to exert her will on the island as a whole and to be  ready in the event of an emergency. (Tournament participants are also called to defend the island if the need is dire. If this group were to fall in line with the Queen in large numbers, it could potentially double the size of her standing army.)

All of the northern cities, save Fort Boland, support the Brotherhood both politically and with their militias. The Crossway militia supports the Brotherhood, but the city magistrate is a loyalist to the Queen. The Family generally the politics of Sar Diga, but the militia of Sar Diga is firmly under the Queen's thumb.

Della Natura could be considered a potential asset; there is much tension between the Circle and the Queen, but so far they have not shown much interest in politics. The only positive light is that Glabrous's brother, Deragor Earthsworn, the previous leader of the Church of Moradin, is now the leader of the Circle.
The rest of the island is firmly in the hands of the Queen.  The former dwarven cities are populated by newcomers to the island, as the dwarves made a mass exodus to Della Natura.  Her army rests in Fort Boland and Fol Thron, while her navy rests in Telwin Port, Fort Boland, and Sar Diga.  The Queen commands no airforce, despite the traffic of airships through the island; she does, however, employ many squads of gryphon riders to keep the peace in the skies.

The Brotherhood does not have much support otherwise. Many factions, such as the Blades, the Arcane College, or various guilds from the tournament, are considered potential assets due to disaffection with the Queen in some form or another. However, it would require a "push" to get these groups to actively join the rebellion.

The Council of the Nine is split. Glabrous, leader of the church of Moradin, backs the Brotherhood, and the high priestess of the Raven Queen, Radova Silverskin, backs the Queen. As for the rest, the opinion is currently divided. Glabrous has garnered the support of the churches of Kord, Pelor, and Bahamut. The churches of Ioun and Corellon have remained neutral in this matter. The churches of Avandra and Erathis support the Queen. Unless a majority vote is able to push the issue, the Council as a whole will never support the Brotherhood, and Glabrous is fairly certain that the temple of the Raven Queen will defect to Alessia regardless.
You'd think this would be a trustworthy group.
All of this leaves the Brotherhood outnumbered at the start of the game. The players have a lot of ground to make up if they're going to start and win a war.

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