Chapter 1: Introduction
In Fealty you will be playing denizens of Argost, a proud and noble kingdom with towering institutions, renowned knighthoods, influential guilds, faithful priests, majestic royalty, and so much more. The character you design to walk the world will be from one of many possible backgrounds. Every player however, should be able to answer the following question:
What would my character give their last full measure of devotion to?
An Introduction to the History of Argost
Argost is a land filled with politicking, diplomacy, intrigue, and danger. United by a deep devotion to their kingdom, nearly all within it set the safety and security of Argost and her people above all else. This however is where the shared vision ends. Every faction within the kingdom possesses their own goals and agendas. There are often disagreements about the place of each faction along with what rights, powers, and protections they should be afforded. Argost is a land of ancient pacts, contracts, prophecy, and agreements. Mix in modern boons, favors, and debts and you have many points of debate about what power lies with whom.
It is a united kingdom formed five centuries ago from a myriad of different duchies, grand duchies, kingdoms, freeholds, and nearly all other manner of rulership. Many who joined the kingdom by treaty did so well before the war became truly brutal. However, a few hold outs fought to the bitter end and, in some cases, the ends of their royal lines.
The Keswicks became the royal family of the new kingdom. To help assure peace, many of the old conventions and power structures were discarded in favor of something completely new. The Keswicks had been respected gentry from one of the smaller kingdoms who joined the unification early and were, and still are, believed to be chosen by Dariya the Ardent Ruby.
At the founding of Argost, nine knighthoods were formed in which the knights were responsible for nearly all aspects of life in Argost; from crime and punishments, helming rulership of small towns and villages, security, consul to the gentry and royalty, and most other tasks.
One of the only things the knights did not have authority over was the Royal Army, including the elite Royal Guard. The army has always had leaders chosen from among its ranks and solely answers to the royal family.
The gentry, lords and ladies of the kingdom, would offer guidance to all the realm and give valued counsel to the Royal Family of Argost. They inspire the people via feasts and festivals and support the day to day affairs of the local areas.
Guilds within Argost have a small number of rights, but are subject to all the laws of the common people as administered by the knights with one very notable exception. Though the Black Star Guilds were not established when the kingdom was founded, they were still created early in Argost’s history. A powerful charter was granted to this group of guilds to act with wide latitude and deal with almost all matters internally. If a matter can not, or will not, be dealt with internally it must be brought before the royal court. Though there are Black Star guilds within almost every city in Argost, they are not unified under one leader. Instead, the individual guilds have complex sets of relationships with one another and though they all act under authority of the same charter, many have different ways of approaching their chosen goals and some have better reputations than others.
For much of its history there has been relative peace within Argost. Though there were many dangers, violent conflict between Argost and other organized groups or nations was quite rare. That changed ten years ago when Cardiria, Argost’s neighbor to the East, was able to invade by using a passage created by a melted glacier. The war cost the lives of many knights and senior army officers, but many of the battles were fought as contests between leaders of the armies instead of the armies themselves. For the common folk of both Argost and Cardiria however, the war did not have much of an impact on them.
The Cardirian War ended about a year before the campaign begins. A stalemate was achieved and intense diplomatic efforts were used to get the Cardirians to retreat back to their kingdom where they declared an end to the conflict. Rumors tossed about suggest that similarities between the Knights of Argost and the Cardirian Knights of Power was what made these efforts successful, but there has not been any sort of confirmation about this. Now there is peace between the two kingdoms, but many in Argost look at Cardiria with suspicion.
During the war, an important site was rediscovered in the Crimson Fields. Beneath the earth at the edges of the fields were chambers that held stone daisies and monoliths capable of great teleportation and gating magic. During experimentation with the chambers, a gate was found that led to a far off land which no one knew where, or even how far away, it was. Scouting missions were undertaken, but all that was found beyond the gate were ruins that were ancient and nearly entirely ravaged by age.
A Royal Expedition Force is now being dispatched to expand the outpost beyond the gate. Representatives of all factions are being dispatched to Gerald’s Lance, the outpost named for the King, to explore the region, ensure the security of the outpost, and to learn what there is to learn from this newly discovered land. The scouts thus far have seen nothing but ruins and some monstrous creatures that occasionally wander through. While those dispatched wish to serve Argost and her interests, each faction and individual has their own goals and desires. Surely there is much to be discovered in this far off land and everyone wants to be the first to discover it.
The Kingdom of Argost is approximately 100,000 square miles in size and has a population of about 3 million. The kingdom is surrounded by water on three sides while its eastern border is partially rugged, nearly impassable mountains, wild plains filled with bandits and monsters, and lush southern forests. There are also three kingdoms near the eastern borders and another very far to the east at the far end of the Wild Plains.
Most of the kingdom is temperate with hot summers and snowy winters. The northeastern corner of the kingdom is covered in ice and snow nearly all year except for the tail end of summer. It used to be snow covered all year but that has changed when the Ice Shelf began to melt about 15 years ago.
There are several prominent places in Argost noted below:
The Crimson Fields are a huge field of blood red flowers that often drip with thick, red sap. Rumors persist that the fields are haunted and it is not untrue that there are dangers that lurk in the flowers and in the caverns below the fields. At the center, there is an abandoned, crumbling tower that no one is known to have accessed. In the caverns below the fields, there are four caverns with large stones daisies that are powerful with teleportation and gating magic and have been known and used for the last few decades. A fifth recently discovered dais at the northern edge of the Crimson Fields has led to the unknown lands. There are many legends about how the Crimson Fields were created and what can be done there but no one really knows.
Gerald’s Lance while not in Argost is the outpost on the other side of the gate created upon the fifth dais in the Crimson Fields. This small, fledgling outpost is where the forces or Argost have been dispatched and have settled at the mouth of the gate to begin their explorations and scouting. There are some buildings that have been constructed but the outpost is very small. There are some forces that are living there long term and some transient people who come by via the gate.
Hizen’s Keep is located in the western central part of the kingdom within the domain of the Rathberns. Hizen’s Keep is the home of the school of chivalry that trains common folk and those of noble birth alike as squires to possibly become Knights of Argost. In the modern age, almost everyone who goes on to become a knight spends most if not all of their time as a squire at the school. In rare cases, some people attain knighthood through a traditional squire-ship to a single knight errant traveling the kingdom and learning from them directly. The grounds of the keep are perfectly groomed by squires and are filled with various training areas, ceremonial groups, shrines to patron deities, statues of historical heroes of the orders, barracks, and halls. To attend school here is very difficult and requires great discipline. To attend the school is by far no guarantee that one will attain a knighthood.
Argost City is the capital of the kingdom and the second largest city. It is located in nearly the exact center of the kingdom. Major roads lead from each section of the city to the capital along with several small riverways. Great efforts are made and resources devoted to keeping the city clean and well maintained. The city is bustling and there is much commerce and business at almost all hours. There are many luxurious social clubs, lodges, and inns that are filled until nearly dawn every day. The royal family home and the seat of the King is a huge castle of white stone in the city’s center.
Rivard Junction is the largest city in Argost. If Argost City is the perfection of a city, Rivard Junction is its dark reflection. The city is overcrowded and often dirty as there just aren’t enough resources to keep up. Both the noble and knightly presence in the city are weak. The biggest influence in the city is the Black Star Mercenary guild. This is their largest guild in the kingdom and by far the most notorious. When people think about the bad things they have heard about the guild, they are likely thinking about stories about the guild within Rivard Junction. The city is also the kingdom’s largest trade hub with most of the kingdom’s trade going through it and nearly all trade with other kingdoms is done through Rivard Junction’s merchant houses. People who grew up in the city have a tendency to be rough and tumble, streetwise, and hardened by street life. Much of the population lives in poverty while a small group within the city are ultra wealthy.
Shard Port is the seat of the Rathberns. It is a large fishing town on the western coast. The laws here are very strict and work and production are the most important values of the people. Anything that is a vice is found deep underground. There is a significant criminal underground here that roots are so deep that it seems impossible to fully dig them out. Most of the canning industry is located in this town. Large quantities of food are brought in from the Ackerman holdings to can via large trade roads as well as fish brought in locally.
North Port is at the very northern most point of Kingdom at the bottom of the Ice Shelf glacier. While the kingdom has not mastered deep ocean going vessels they do have fast and efficient shallow ocean vessels that can move up and down the coast of Argost. Because of the punishing climate, this town is very sparsely populated and barely has the population to support the shipping that moves through the town. This is the port through which the Harlows move much of their ore and other commodities.
South Port is at the very southern edge coast of Argost. The sprawling trade city bustles with business of all types. The sprawling city is a temperate paradise with warm weather year round and many exotic fruits and vegetables that can be grown there; but only in amounts that make them luxury goods. Nobles and merchant houses have a tight grip on the city and there is very little in the way of crime or the influence of other factions.
The Ice Shelf used to be the impassable glacier at the northeastern corner of the kingdom near the domain of the Harlows. Now it is the nearly impassable glacier that can lead to the kingdom of Cardiria. These paths are dangerous and difficult to navigate. They were used when Cardiria initially invaded at the start of the Knights’ War but are used rarely currently. The Ice Shelf is rife with ore, precious metals, and gems. There are steam caverns and tunnels that are mined by the hardy, dedicated miners of the local mining guild and the banner houses of House Harlow.
Green Watch is a sprawling collection of hamlets and villages in the southeastern part of Argost. It is the only place in the kingdom that has a nearly-exclusive Elven population and it has a close proximity to Glavaleth. The area was settled by Elves who wished to live in Argost when it was formed. The Elves here care greatly about their heritage but also have fully embraced Argost as their home. There is very little contact between the Elves of Argost and their isolationist brethren in Glavaleth. At the center of the sprawling area is the seat of the Elven noble family; House Mallorn. There are a few small banner houses that support House Mallorn.
Cantons of Argost. There are six and they are named after the families that control them. Not all land with Argost is within one of the five cantons. There are areas that are royal holdings or holdings that are overseen by nobles or knights that have been given that honor.
- Canton of Ackerman is located in the northwestern part of the kingdom. The Ackermans and the area they oversee is the agricultural center of Argost.
- Canton of Harlow is located in the northeastern part of the kingdom. The harsh, mountainous terrain is where nearly all ore, metals, and gems come from. The Harlows are also known to be masters of arcane magic with Baron Harlow being seen as one of the most powerful wizards in the kingdom.
- Canton of Brighton is located in the southern part of the kingdom. They are seen as a great martial power. They keep a very tight hold on their territory and at times this causes some strife especially with Black Star in Rivard Junction.
- Canton of Rathbern is located on the western shore of the kingdom. Influential in the courts, the Ratherberns use their great wealth to maintain their status. Their ruthless nature also helps.
- Canton of Wickes is located in the north central part of the kingdom. They are the oldest money in the kingdom and have their hands in almost all the commerce and merchanting in the kingdom. Their holdings contain many of the roadways and waterways as well as their intersections.
- Canton of Pennington is located in the central part of the kingdom. The Penningtons are at the most powerful they have ever been. Their power is diverse in its reach but is all brought together in their holdings near Argost City and they basically control the Commodities Exchange which has its headquarters in their holdings outside of Argost City.
The Kingdom of Cardiria is tucked away surrounded by mountains on all sides in a fertile and rich valley. This small kingdom is densely populated and very wealthy. Know to live lives of luxury, the nobles of this kingdom are rumored to be descended from the Gods though such rumors are viewed with great disdain by the Knights of Argost. A war was recently fought between Argost and Cardiria but as with Argost Cardiria suffered very little in the way of losses amongst their common folk. However, the Knights of Power and the nobility of Cardiria suffered many losses. There is a peace treaty between the two kingdoms but there is very little contact between the two kingdoms. For many, wounds still remain unhealed from the war and for some few on both sides, those wounds fester.
The Kingdom of Glavaleth is to the southeast of Argost and the reclusive home of the Elves. Their borders do not touch but the two kingdoms are separated by as little as ten miles at some points. This area is deeply forested and hard to navigate. Unannounced visitors are never welcome and will be firmly but politely escorted out of the woods by Elven patrols long before they reach any settlements. Announced visitors are almost-never welcome but small diplomatic can be requested When they do come to Argost, there is usually a lot of interest in the rare spectacle.
The Kingdom of Velti is to the east of Glavaleth and is surrounded on three sides by the Wild Plains and on one side by the ocean. The entire kingdom is surrounded by a gleaming bronze wall. No one knew what was behind the wall until just before the Cardirian War. Prior to that, no one had ever been able to scale the wall or see what was on the other side due to strong magical enchantments. What is known about the kingdom is very little however rumors about it flood the taverns and courts. Devoted to complete pacifism, the denizens of Velti are smiths and artisans capable of creating marvels that blend magic as well as engineering that might as well be magic to anyone not from Velti. A few of their wonders, or what people claim to be their wonders, have made their way into Argost and are always a subject of fascination.
The Kingdom of Tardinn sits far to the east across the Wild Plains. Because of the great distance and the hazards of traveling the Wild Plains, visitors from the kingdom are quite rare as are people from Argost visiting Tardinn. Though interactions have been extremely limited, they have been good between the two kingdoms. Argost now has a noble structure similar to Tardinn but Tardinn does not have knightly orders like Argost and instead relies upon their army for martial might and their Parliamentary system for governance.