Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tobacco Consumption

Tobacco is an exotic import from the New World. It is smoked through a variety of pipes, cigarettes having not yet been invented. Its first attested use in the Old World was in the Empire of the Crescent Moon in the late 16th century. It is still extremely popular there and in the lands under its influence (including large areas of the Fair Kingdom).

In other areas of the Old World, tobacco is mostly popular in those countries that conduct a brisk Atlantic trade with the New World, with the exception of Albion, whose king has famously forbidden its consumption:

[Smoking is a] custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.

At the time of the Lamentations of the Blood Countess, tobacco consumption is fashionable in much of Continental Europe. Pipe smokers can be seen carrying hand-carved tobacco rammers, used to press the shredded leaf into the pipe bowl, and ember tongs, used to hold the burning embers of juniper wood used to light their pipes.

In 1610 Sir Francis Bacon noted that trying to quit the 'bad habit' was really hard, so the GM may want to introduce some addiction rules for PCs who indulge in this habit.

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Fortress Within

A large swath of the Fair Kingdom is either occupied by the Empire of the Crescent Moon, or under the suzerainty of native nobles sympathetic to the Empire of the Crescent Moon— which can be quite generous in terms of the autonomy it leaves to the local aristocrats as long as they support the Empire.

As a result, those nobles who are either sympathetic to the Empire of the One Faith or try to stay neutral between the two opposing and powerful empires have to strengthen the borders of their holdings and demesnes lest the Crescent Moon takes advantage of their weakness. As a result, a whole chain of small border fortresses has sprung up within the Fair Kingdom rather than at its borders as used to be the case in the past.

A typical fortress within the kingdom


Schemnitz is an industrious mountain city in the north of the Fair Kingdom. It is situated in the middle of an immense caldera created by the collapse of an ancient volcano.

Who knows what lies in the depths of the caldera, below the tranquil city of Schemnitz...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Kaschau, in the north east of the Fair Kingdom, is the ever rival city to its southern neighbour Clausenburg. Kaschau is just as busy and independently-minded as Clausenburg, and its burghers spend huge sums of money to build more beautiful and larger buildings than those of Clausenburg. The cathedral of Kaschau is the largest church in the Fair Kingdom.

One big difference, however, between the two rival cities is that the population of Kaschau is almost evenly split between Old Wayers and New Wayers. As a result, sectarian violence is a big problem in Kaschau and constantly hinders its catching up with arch-rival Clausenburg.


Clausenburg is the largest city in the mountainous eastern half of the Fair Kingdom. It is a hotbed of the New Way, and a busy trading city known for the entrepreneurial spirit of its burghers.


The Clausenburg nobles are known for being independently-minded, and for supporting neither of the two competing empires.


View of Gran

Gran is a large city in the north of the Fair Kingdom, situated between Pressburg, the current capital city, and Plintenburg, the residence of the Palatine. It is the seat of the Primate of the Church of True Faith in the Fair Kingdom, and is hence dubbed 'the capital city of the Old Wayers'.
The diocese of Gran is the largest and richest in the whole kingdom. Paradoxically enough, Gran marks the unofficial limit between the Old Way and the New Way of True Faith within the kingdom: to the west of Gran, most people follow the Old Way; to the east, the New Way.

Gran has been unsuccessfully besieged by the Empire of the Crescent Moon.

Siege of Gran

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Social Classes in the Early Modern Period

Social classes are called Estates in the Fair Kingdom.

Estates are closed social groups that have originated in the mediaeval period. Members of each estate enjoy certain rights or privileges and fulfil various duties towards the sovereign and other members of their estate. The estates differ in social function and economic status; they are basically legally defined entities. Each estate is an autonomous group, with its own courts and administration and its own representation at the level of state government. Membership in a given estate is hereditary, and mobility from one estate to another is difficult, although not impossible. Even the admission to the clerical estate somehow reflects one's previous estate, with nobles becoming prelates and priests of lower extraction staying in their parish. The principal estates are the aristocracy (nobility), the petty gentry, the burghers, and the free peasantry. Beyond the estate system there are various categories of semifree peasants and slaves. This is reflected in the composition of the Diet, which convenes the representatives of 4 classes: 1. the prelates of the Old Way; 2. the magnates or superior nobles; 3. the representatives of the inferior nobles; and 4. the representatives of the royal free towns.

Despite the great upheavals borne upon the land by the war between the mighty neighbouring empires, by religious strife, and by the emergence of a wealthy urban middle-class, the sytem of the estates is still firmly in place: the different classes in the nation enjoy different privileges. The noble as citizen of the state may possess land in any part of the Fair Kingdom, but the burgher, as citizen of a town, can only acquire real property within its jurisdiction. The nobles cannot be arrested without the warrant of a judge, and then only for capital crimes. They are exempt from every ordinary contribution, and are the only class in the kingdom eligible to every office in the state.

The petty gentry are those members of the nobility who have the legal rights of that estate but who do not own serfs, and who work their relatively small landholdings by themselves. They tend to live in compact groups, in whole villages or parts of villages. The petty gentry became a distinct social class in the 14th century; it consists mainly of impoverished nobles, of retainers, and of elevated free peasants. The families of petty gentry often adopted the name of the village they resided in as their own.

Burghers are, in the broad sense of the term, urban dwellers employed in various skilled trades, industries, and commerce, as well as town and suburban residents employed in farming, gardening, fruit growing, etc. In the narrow sense, burghers are the inhabitants of royal free cities. As a result, the residents of small towns, particularly towns owned by nobles, enjoy significantly fewer rights than the residents of large towns that have full self-government.

Free peasants cultivate the ground for hire, and retain their freedom; they may quit the land of one lord ans settle on the domain of another. Many, however, have entered into contracts by which they agree to to till the ground for a stipulated sum, and it is unlawful for them to leave the land until the advances made by their proprietors have been paid, nor can they be turned out of their farms until they are indemnified for their labour.

Now to figure out how adventurers fit in all this :)

Justice in the Fair Kingdom

The administration of justice is entirely in the hands of the nobles, each of whom has his prison and his local magistrates. In petty cases, the magistrate administers summary punishment, and is provided with a machine for inflicting stripes. In the case of a robber being caught in the fact, he may be punished even severely without much delay: in doubtful cases, it is necessary to proceed with more caution; but the code of the Fair Kingdom is extremely imperfect, and the proceedings are all directed towards extorting a confession. In cases of importance, it is necessary to call a Herrenstuhl, a sort of jury, in which the provincial magistrate always takes a part. Here a fiscal or lawyer must plead the case sometimes both for and against the party accused. Appeals may be made to the courts of the county and of the circle, and lastly to the royal court of Pressburg. This complicated system of appeals, necessary perhaps in a country where the influence of the nobles is everything, and where a single person is sometimes proprietary of a whole county, renders the execution of a sentence so dilatory, that it is sometimes put off for months, and even for years: capital punishments are very rare in this country.

—from the diary of a traveller from far Caledonia

Saturday, 2 June 2012


This is a typical big city of the lowlands. "A" is the original fortified urban centre, "E" the suburbs of the city.

Temeschwar is currently occupied by the Empire of the Crescent Moon.


This is a typical frontier fortress of the Mountains People.

The fortress has been cut in the rock itself. The area marked "9" around the fortress is the royal free city of Munkatz, mostly inhabited by the free Mountains People.


The fortified castle of the Palatine.

Actually not everybody considers him as the 'true' Palatine since he's only been elected by those nobles sympathetic to the Empire of the One Faith. Neutral nobles, and those leaning towards the Empire of the Crescent Moon, did not take part in the election.


This is a typical fortified city of the Fair Kingdom.



This is Ofen, the former capital city of the Fair Kingdom. It is currently under occupation by the Empire of the Crescent Moon.

As a result, the capital city has been moved to Pressburg. However, the Palatine (regent) of the Fair Kingdom spends most of his time in his fortress at Plintenburg.