Nobles: The Mind of the Land
Jöru the Farmer worked the fields all his life.
Last year some drunken commoner prat with a blade killed the last noble whose family owned Jöru’s lands. The new “prince” invited Jöru and his family over for a self-congratulatory dinner in the former noble’s house. Jöru had enough of the fool’s drunken ramblings, killed the usurper, and now owned (and worked) his own lands.
Jöru toiled his fingers to the bone on that land and yet no one saw him as a noble, least of all himself. He knew better.
When Jöru had a child, everyone took a knee.
Any Mütvian who heard this tale would nod in silent understanding: rulers rise and fall but unless you’re born into it, you’re still just a commoner.
This tale supports the notion that no better appellation exists for the country of Mütvia than “The Land of 1,000 Princes”. After all, many fools can call themselves a prince if they have land.
Becoming a Noble
As a reminder, one is always born into their caste in Mütvia and at the time of birth, there seems to be a physical transformation of the blood into that of the caste’s. This is odd indeed as it happens nowhere in all of the World of Evindale save for the country of Mütvia.
Of course, circumstances may change where one’s child is not of the same caste. For nobles, lineage is everything and from it power is derived. Special care is therefore taken to ensure the child is not only raised in a noble home with the knowledge of their destiny, but also literally born into those circumstances.
More on Noble Lineage in a bit.
Portraying a noble can be exciting but it does not mean you must portray a political or government leader. In fact, the majority of Mütvian nobles aren’t political leaders at all. From scholars to villains, from rogue knights to squires, from exiled house members to an inept fool with noble blood, a noble can be anything you want it to be. The only common element to all nobles is they were born into a circumstance that made that child a noble. While you may create any personality whatsoever, here are the most frequently seen types of nobles.
Born and bred in the blood of Mütvia, the Dragon is a figure to be feared. You understand a strong presence and image is essential to have your subjects follow your word so you may protect them from the evils of the night. What others call excessively harsh punishments for even the slightest of crimes, you call a necessity lest one simpleton’s mistake invite the downfall an entire village.
For your lord and master to be feared or respected, their name must be known and deference had at all times. Your job is to ensure others know it as your lord’s master diplomat and messenger. Indeed, your entire job is to make your lord look good… or really bad.
Power lies in knowledge and the Intelligencer wields it like a poisoned blade. For some, this means instituting spy rings, for others it means gaining access to information not available to mortal minds. For others, it means a lone operator capable of sneaking, listening, and performing any act necessary to ensure the House survives.
The battlefield is your home and those on it or either under you, commanding you, or dying by you. Perhaps you have a regimental lifestyle that follows an orderly way of living, or maybe you prefer the freedom to travel and hold to a code all your own. Either way, you have a crest or are seeking to earn it as you fight under another’s.
The body’s humors are always in delicate balance and understanding them is the key to immortal life. Through a combination of apothecarial and alchemical studies, as well as attention paid to the imbalances and distemperments of the physical form, one may even conquer death itself. Of course, experimentation is required.
As the gods slowly awaken and return to the world, you have realized within you a call to follow a being or tenet greater than all else in the observable world. You know a return to the old ways may heal the Land. Though no deity has yet spoken with you, you set out on that greatest test of human willpower in hopes to bring about the one thing missing in Mütvia: faith.
See Faith & Religion for more information on the upcoming faiths of Mütvia.
Temperament aside, one must understand the finer points of rule and have the skills needed to manage a populace and its economy. As a noble ruler, this includes understanding the whispers of the Land and receive its wisdom so you may do its bidding.
Yes, you born a noble and yes you are sure there is something to be done that’s all noble-like. Is not life for the living, however? Should not the hoary hallways of noble homes be traded in for the merriment of public houses? Poetry and song should fill the air, no? Then a toast (and your wallet) to better days!
Mysteries of the universe surround us and the machinations of things much greater than we should occupy our studies. Let the intelligencers deal in the affairs of the people, for you deal in the mysteries of what else is out there.
A ruler is nothing without a following, and a following is nothing without steady leadership. You know how to bring people together under a single cause and perhaps as that great unifier, you may lead them to survive and overcome what ails the Mütvian air. Yet you also know wolves can be vicious when the need arises
Nobles as Draconian Leaders
Mütvia is a brutal land unlike any other in Evindale and with it, so are its leaders. Given what it takes to survive in Mütvia, most commoners would not bat an eyelash at a noble who didn’t spike or take someone’s head routinely for some petty crime.
A practical side to the noble’s needed draconian nature is survival of all. If commoners were not punished for the slightest of offenses, there is a greater risk of mistakes made, dark magics practiced out of curiosity, theft in times of need, and abandonment of one’s duties. Failure to till a field may mean a delay in food, for example, let alone the practice of dark magics that may spoil entire food stores.
To put a finer point on it if someone doesn’t carry their load or endangers others, they become a resource drain. From the clothing they wear to the food they eat, everything is handmade from scratch and takes time. A noble should have no problem stripping someone of their possessions, doing away with the resource drain, and rewarding someone who works twice as hard and isn’t curious with (used) clothing and an increase in food. Lastly, nobles who do not severely punish wrongdoers are seen as weak. A neighboring prince who would draw and quarter his own commoners for stealing a loaf of bread would do much worse to those they plan to invade. Their first target are those nobles who have a reputation for being softer than them.
Nobles and the Land
What truly separates nobles from the other castes is their relationship to that enigmatic entity known as the Land. It is the force that drives life and death, weather and tides, natural disaster and the miracle of birth. It is the uncaring power behind these things, the essence of the world and not the physical property of it. It is because of the noble’s relationship to the Land that nobles are said to the be the “Mind of the Land”.
Communication with the Land
One facet of that relationship is the communication nobles have with the Land. Many call the action of consulting the Land Consulting the Ring. It speaks through hushed whispers, waking visions, dreams and nightmares, telling those nobles capable of communicating with the Ring of large scale events and overall health of the Land within their domain. Even details such as warring invaders, infiltrating neighboring princes, uprisings, and even reminders of the Land’s need for worship in the form of celebratory feasts and festivals marking agricultural holidays are some of the bits of information a noble can receive.
Whereas commoners have oaths to their guilds and drósti have their family bonds, nobles have a lineage that must be maintained to eventually earn a powerful reputation behind the name.
In the Mütvia LARP setting, lineage plays a powerful role when interacting with other nobles. Also, it may give you a sense of pride to have a noble who has a long lineage, or perhaps a noble who is eager to care out their own house name and therefore has no lineage.
As a game mechanic, one’s lineage has a bearing on the spirits that occupy a Noble House Artifact, though you will not have a choice in who occupies it or what powers they manifest should you gain access to one.
In most cases, you will not need to create a lineage for your noble as you may decide to be a member of another’s house which is just as important, if not more, to the stability of a domain.
Creating your Lineage
All noble house lineages must be submitted for approval by the Storytellers. The real trick to having it approved is to make it easily understandable and have it fit well with the long history of this fantastic setting. If approved, it becomes canon and others may join in as part of the intrigue of noble bloodlines and a point of study for those interested. Furthermore, others may join your house once your family’s lineage is posted. Storytellers will work with you to some degree, but most of the effort will be on you. Here are some surefire tips and tricks to getting your noble house’s lineage approved:
- Be of Mütvian origin (Russian, Romanian, and Hungarian names)
- Follow Mütvian rules of hereditary title
- First born child inherits title
- If no heir at time of death, title passes to next in line
- Current year is 1139 IR (2017 CE) and no house predates 850 IR except for Houses Dracovich, Gergoi, Svae, and Maristev without specific permission
- Bonus: Can provide GEDCOM file
- Tip: Average marriage age is 21, average parenthood age is 26, average life span is 83
Forming a House
The general rule of thumb in Mütvia is “if you can hold it, it’s yours” and houses are no exception. In the early stages, they are founded by one person or a small council of like minds and continue to exist either through inheritance and/or continuation of the house’s purpose.
In the game, you need do nothing more than state to others you have founded a house. If more people follow you, congratulations! Be forewarned, however. Surrounding nobles frown upon upstarts that disrupt the status quo and will eliminate any potential threats or those with individualistic tendencies.
Note: If your house comes into possession of an artifact, you will need to register your house with Logistics so proper accounting of the artifact’s power can be had.
More on House Artifacts in a bit.
If your house is to grow, you will need alliances.
Alliances are other houses who have sworn fealty to you or your house (or you to them). Even the largest of noble houses in Mütvia are comprised of many smaller ones (usually because the ruling house took over the lands of the smaller). Some of these allies who swear fealty may be an academic house, mercenaries, smaller ruling houses of neighboring lands, or anything else.
In the game, there is one village in which we play (Moldev) but there can be several houses competing for favor of the ströikas. Conversely, they may also work together to strengthen the village as a whole. How you decide to run your house or with whom you choose to align is entirely up to you.
Swearing fealty is always a serious practice. It is never done lightly and usually takes the form of a simple, but solemn ritual. Some houses brand their followers, others share drink as a show of trust. In all, however, there is a sworn oath. You may come up with your own oath of fealty or use one based in history such as
“I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to the lord, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit.”
Note: Fealty does become a game mechanic once House Artifacts are introduced into the mix.
See below for more information.
Every now and then, whispers of powerful objects tied to the noble house will drift through the air. What they are, where they are, and what they can do are always seemingly clouded in mystery and with good reason: they can be stolen and with them the power of the house. House Artifacts are items that belonged to one or more members of the house, usually an ancestor. Many house artifacts are pieces of armor or other relics once belonging to the founder of the house. In some cases, it’s a piece of the founder’s body. The artifact can empower designated members of the house by the things that live within it. House Svae has determined that House Artifacts can also be married to the Land itself through the application of a substance known as “Black Bile”, thereby allowing the Artifact to act as a conduit to the Land and therefore greater power, but his rituals remain a secret. Artifacts follow the general rule of Host Items alongside commoner Shrine Stones and drósti Family Heirlooms.
- Host Items are possessed or inhabited by beings in the control of the Storytellers. In the case of Noble House Artifacts, these beings are tied to the Land directly. Some claim they are ancestors of the house, others state they are the same spirits as those mysterious entities contacted via Consult the Ring and Call the Nether Spirit.
- The entities within can perform functions that benefit the Host Item, certain people who have sworn fealty to the house, or both. These functions may be immediate or lasting, such as healing, warding effects, self-defense of the host item, threshold regain of its members, endeavor tutelage, and more.
- Each Host Item has a caretaker through which the entities within may operate for some functions. These caretakers, or in Old Mütvian zhidoro, act as the interpreters to their communications. See “zhidoro” below for more information.
- The zhidoro communicates to the artifact who benefits from its functions, but the power of the artifact determines how many benefit from those functions.
- A House Artifact has two measures of power: Potential Tier and Actual Tier
- Potential Tier is the highest level of power an Artifact that has been achieved via mod or ritual success.
- Actual Tier is the current level of power based on the number of house members in that event who signed in at Logistics and are present at game as of game start. When determining what functions the Artifact has for an event, it is the Actual Tier that is used.
- Unlike guilds and families which may only benefit from populations of commoners and drósti respectively, the power of noble artifacts is determined by the amount of nobles, commoners, and drósti within the noble house. With very rare exceptions, drósti presence in a noble house actually works against this tally.
Gaining a Host Item
Due to the powerful nature of host items, they may only be discovered in-game, i.e. you cannot create a phys rep for it out-of-game and bring it in-game without first having found it in the world via in-game means.
Host items can be had a number of ways and anything may be a host item. Many believe host items are as common as ordinary tools but the farmer-princes of Mütvia would have anyone believe their grandmother’s rake is imbued with the Land’s energy if it meant fear keeps thieves and usurpers away.
In reality, truly awakened house artifacts are exceedingly rare. Never mind something like House Maristev’s Crown which is supposedly so powerful its functions can effect hundreds in its vast realm. Most artifacts are items passed down from generation to generation and then awakened by someone down the line via a discovered ritual or an encounter with an eldritch being of might. It’s that initial investment of the house members’ own energy that awakens the host item, channeled through a special process known only to few. Once awakened, however, the artifact begins to pulse with energy; at first, it is almost undetectable. As it gains power, however, the effects of its functions rapidly become known.
As described above, tiers and the amount of benefactors an artifact may have is determined by the number of sworn house members whose players have signed in at Logistics and were present at 10 PM at game start on Friday.
When tallying the number of sworn members to determine the current tier, count any nobles and commoners but subtract any drósti who have sworn fealty. Hence a house comprised of two nobles, one commoner house servant, and one drósti is said to have two members for these purposes (2+1-1).
The reason for this is the connection one has to the Land; the drósti are connected to the Veil, not the Land like nobles and commoners.
Awakening a Host Item
Each Artifact starts as a non-awakened and otherwise ordinary object (albeit, one of value to the house). At this stage, it is merely an item capable of being awoken.
Through successful ritual or other means with at least three sworn members to the house, the object is transformed mystically into an eventual home for Land Spirits. As they have yet to move in, it is considered a Tier 0.
Both the ritual and the mod must be sought out in-game. What exactly is required — ritual, mod, or both — is dependent on the house, the artifact, the back story, and more. It is highly personalized for the house and Storytellers will work to provide something unique for the house members.
Potential Tier vs Actual Tier
Here’s an example of the difference between the two tiers.
Event 1: Twenty-five members of House Nezhrov attend an event and are in possession of a new Artifact. It is not yet awoken, but they successfully cast the ritual/completed the mod. It is now eligible for Tier 1. The have enough sworn members to achieve a Tier 3, however, providing they conduct successful rituals and/or successful mods for Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. (This would be over the course of several events.)
Event 2: Only four members of the House show up this event. Despite previous successes, the Artifact goes back down to an Actual Tier 0, even though its Potential Tier remains at 3.
Event 3: 12 members show and the Artifact operates at Actual Tier 2. They needed do nothing but show up at 10 PM on Friday.
Event 4: House Nezhrov has been recruiting and increased their numbers to 33, all of whom show. Though they qualify to unlock Tier 4, the Artifact operates at Tier 3 until they’ve succeeded in a ritual or mod to achieve Tier 4.
Functions are unlocked through rituals and/or mods, and are initially powered by the semi-permanent loan of Threshold by the members of the House.
With each potential tier successfully gained, the artifact receives one more function. The exact function gained is dependent on the spirits within the artifact. The spirits may be petitioned by a zhidoro, if one exists, to lean toward a particular function. This is handled during the ritual or mod that would awaken it to the next tier.
There are three known types of functions all host items may have: Ward, Teach, and Restoration. Rumors have it other function types exist and these would have to be discovered in-game.
Tier 1 Artifact, Ward Item: One typical effect is anyone or anything that tries to touch or otherwise disrupt the artifact directly or indirectly and is not permitted to do so is mystically forced to their knees, their arms become painfully rigid at their side, and they must scream in howling agony as a thousand house spirits attack the interloper’s soul.
The ward will hold each interloper for one minute and then renew each minute thereafter, spending one Threshold per living and present interloper.
There are no benefactors for Ward Item.
Variations: Threshold Drain, Wither Limb, Break Limb, Maim Torso, Banish, Death
Tier 2 Artifact, Ward Building: This ward prevents certain named creatures from entering the building. At the doors to the warded building, the zhidoro (or other assignee) must write on a Host Item card what is being warded (minor spirits, minor shadows, etc.) and how many times they are warded from that building for five minutes a piece.
For example, an artifact has 10 Threshold. The building being protected has two doors. Two Host Items cards are filled out and tacked on the outside of the building beside the door. Each door is permitted five Threshold. This means five creatures of the specified type are barred from entering for five minutes a piece at each door.
The maximum number of entrances that may be warded is equal to the number of benefactors listed in the above chart. Variations: Minor undead, minor spirits, minor sanji, etc.
Tier 3 Artifact, Ward Individual Near Building: Identical to Ward Building, but instead of entrances, individual benefactors are named and a specified amount of Threshold they can spend on behalf of the artifact is allotted to them. Any unspent Threshold is returned to the artifact automatically after 30 minutes, or if the benefactor returns it themselves. This is perfect for those on watch.
Wards may only be called against those within two paces of the benefactor.
Benefactors must stay within two paces of the building for this ward to benefit them. Standing on the porch of the building but more than two paces from a wall still counts as being within two paces.
The maximum number of benefactors that may be warded is equal to the number of benefactors listed in the above chart.
Variations: Minor undead, minor spirits, minor sanji, etc.
Tier 4 Artifact, Ward Individuals Within Sight of the Building: Exactly as “Tier 3 Artifact, Ward Individual Near Building” above, but the individual benefactors may be any distance away from the building providing they can see the building. Natural obstacles may block the view and therefore the benefits of the ward, but simply not facing the building counts as the benefactor if they could just look over their shoulder and see it.
Only 50% of the building need be seen for the ward to take effect. Wards may only be called against those within two paces of the benefactor.
Tier 5 Artifact, Ward Area: No longer confined to the building, the entire area is now warded against the named creature. If the named creature can be seen, a number of benefactors up to the number specified can be tasked with warding. “Ward: [named creature type].”
Like Ward Individual Near Building, each benefactor is allotted a certain number of Threshold to spend on the artifact’s behalf.
A zhidoro is required for Teaching functions.
If the artifact has the Teaching function, the spirits inhabiting the artifact may temporarily pass to the zhidoro knowledge of one endeavor. Once passed to the zhidoro, the zhidoro may then teach that endeavor to a number of benefactors up to the amount stated on the chart. They only have one hour to teach it but may also use the endeavor during that time themselves as if they’ve always had it.
The endeavor the artifact may teach is randomly determined at the time of gaining the tier that allows for teaching, but it will be a noble endeavor.
These functions operate exactly like their endeavor counterparts. The artifact will automatically heal a named benefactor with the condition if they come within two paces of the artifact, always spending one Threshold per item healed or restored.
Artifacts & Threshold
When an artifact is possessed by a House, any who swear fealty may opt to permanently expend a number of Threshold up to the total amount they possess at that time. This Threshold is permanently added to the House Artifact to fuel its functions and permanently removed from the sworn’s character sheet.
An artifact uses Threshold just like a character to power its function. Also like a character, it regains that Threshold at each surge (8 AM and 8 PM).
During each use of a function, the amount of Threshold spent by the artifact is dependent on a few factors:
- Warding effects will always spend an amount of threshold equal to the number of those being warded against, e.g. three intruders try to steal the item. The ward kicks off, three Threshold is spent, one per intruder, and the intruders are all affected for one minute.
- If the artifact does not detect the presence of a benefactor, it will renew its reward against the interlopers for another minute, one Threshold per interloper still alive and present.
- Warding effects will also spend one Threshold per benefactor being affected, e.g. three named house members are warded vs minor undead. The artifact spends three Threshold to make this possible, one per benefactor.
- If a restoration function such as Heal Limb, a single sworn member with three maimed limbs would cause the artifact to immediately spend three Threshold.
Threshold is marked off of the Artifact’s card at the time of use. This card stays with the Artifact at all times. Part of the zhidoro’s purpose is to maintain the artifact so if one is present it should be they who mark the card. Otherwise intruders do it out of honesty when they set it off, etc.
There may be more than one zhidoro, but there is always one once the artifact gains the ability to teach endeavors. Furthermore, the zhidoro may be anyone of the house, even the ströikas.
In old times, they were the priests of old gods. In particularly powerful houses, they were vyers, or high priests, of a particular faith.
Fealty & Artifacts
As you may have guessed, only members of a house who have sworn fealty and have had their names communicated to the Artifact may benefit from an artifact’s function. Once those names are communicated, they may not be removed unless the sworn or the voivod of the house are dead. Furthermore, you may benefit from only one artifact at a time.
To communicate the names of the benefactors to the Artifact, enter their names permanently in the House Ledger at Logistics during check-in. Once listed, they may not be removed. Choose carefully!
Nobles and the Undead
Most think the Land provides and takes away all life. Our physical bodies are made up of the stuff in and on the ground, in the air, and in the seas and rivers. We truly are what we eat and the Land is no exception: when anything dies—and everything always does—it digests the fallen body to retake into its womb the very things it once produced. When the Land falls ill, however, it rejects the dead like a vomit and hence rise the undead. (This theory is fraught with problems, however, as anyone who has been in Mütvia for any length of time can tell you. Mütvia is replete with undead. Always has been. In fact, nowhere else in the World of Evindale are undead known quite so well.) Whatever the reasons for the undead, the Land has seen fit to give some nobles control over the these walking corpses. Not all nobles can and it does take practice like anything else. By exerting their inborn authority in a powerful manner, a noble can effectively communicate, control, and (when needed) more easily destroy these horrible creatures than others.
Of course, lineage ties directly to one’s house. This section deals with these establishments, how they are founded, and more.
Nobles organize themselves into social “houses” or organizations of kinship and/or political fealty, often named after the founder, area of primary domain, or concept. While each principality has within it at least a ruling noble house, some houses are academic in nature and seek to further understanding of the mysteries of the Land. Nobles from academic houses may sometimes be seen coordinating with like-minded guilds of the commoners to further their goals.
While any house organization may exist, the most enduring and powerful houses typically have such a structure as below. Under no circumstances in one expected to have all of these positions; they are provided merely for reference of how most houses are organized.
Positions within Ruling Houses
- Voivod – absolute ruler of the house. The voivod position is often passed to living heirs upon death. When no heir is had, the other nobles usually resort to violence and assassination to claim the title. When the voivod of a ruling house is also the prince, they are known as the ströikas and always use the latter title instead.
- Böiar – Highest rank under a voivod or ströikas, often a landowner or one in charge of a demesne.
- Count – Hereditary title, a land-owning noble, usually within the principality of a ströikas. Usually has autonomous rule and own militia. Often seen as threats to a ströikas’ rule, but normally are non-expansionist and lead quiet lives in pursuit of some non-political goal.
- Grand Marshal – leader of the military forces under a Voivod, though in most occasions only a ströikas may afford a Grand Marshal.
- Warden – caretaker of the lands of a Voivod.
- Intelligencer – more than just a spy or information gatherer, the most potent intelligencers claim to have the ability to assassinate enemies at great distances.
- Herald – ostensibly the messenger and harbinger of the house; recent times have seen an increasing zeal toward their voivod or böiar by those who hold this position.
- Knight Commander – Head of a military unit, usually serviced by a commoner captain.
Many other support positions may exist within a house, from physics to military commanders. The exact makeup of the house is determined by the voivod/ströikas.
Positions within Academic Houses
- High Master – Absolute ruler or one who heads a ruling council.
- Master – Members who sit on a council, if one exists. Typically each has their own rule over some facet of the house or study.
- Archivists – those that gather information, organize it, and store it.
- Fellows – General members; those who perform the research, conduct experiments, and advance the purpose of the house.
Famous and Infamous Noble Houses
The setting of the game is the Village of Moldev, located in a province of the same name in the Principality of Ranovesti. Ranovesti is located in the northwest of Mütvia. The following noble houses are strewn about Mütvia, but serve as excellent examples of archetypical and unusual houses, both ruling and academic in nature.
In the shadows of Mt. Verich to the southeast of northern Mütvia, House Dracovich’s Dreg’nsoi Manor has stood the test of time. From eruptions of the now dormant volcano to incursions from the ever-encroaching House Maristev, House Dracovich remains standing.
With a lineage that goes back to the founding of Mütvia, the Dracovich line of nobles have been unwavering in their purpose: keep the worship of Nor’dagha as Mütvian’s patron deity alive and protect the country and culture of Mütvia. As Mt. Verich is a holy site to Nor’dagha, pilgrims often come to Dreg’nsoi which rests on her side to worship, even through the dark godless ages of recent past.
The second purpose is far more difficult given House Maristev’s power which has already annexed the entire southern half of Mütvia for themselves over the course of two centuries. Nonetheless, Ströikas Aleksandr Dracovich VI remains steadfast to his house’s purpose of keeping the Mütvian culture alive. As such, it continues to provide home and support for all Mütvians within the surrounding city from which the manor house takes its name.
Dracovich is also the only house known to allow drósti to hold positions of power. This extends to the two times Dracovich has completely entrusted the control of the name, house, and banner to certain members of the drósti Lupescoi Family until an heir has come to age of power.
While not an academic house per se, House Dracovich is known to send scouts out to foreign principalities in search of lore pertaining to Nor’dagha. How the House of Dracovich hears of such things in the far reaches of Mütvia’s large territories can only be attributed to one thing in the minds of most, their close ties to the travelling Lupescoi. Some, however, have more fanciful theories. Dreg’nsoi is said to have no less than three crypts of ancient Nor’daghan Archvyers within their deep catacombs and they can call upon these legendary spirits to scour Mütvia for any information about their beloved deity or those who would service Her.
Reigning Head of House: Lord Aleksandr Dracovich VI
Motto: Mütvia Regestöi en Interro (We are eternally Mütvia, Mütvia is eternally us)
Coat of Arms: Sable, a dragon displayed argent in full, per chevron gules
When you think of draconian princes, the name Ströikas Rodinev Gergoi should come to mind. Of all the northern ströikas none other can be said to be more ruthless in their execution of law, or with a family known for the same.
The lineage of the mardyakhor — a manticore, the house’s symbol — is a family known for its cruel nature and unwavering support for extreme punishments for even the slightest offenses. Rumored to have in their lineage blood-drinkers and cannibals, the Gergoi remain one of the most feared noble families in northern Mütvia.
Their history is said to have started before the Liratein War which would place them alongside Dracovich in age. The founder of the house, Oleg the Fair, had sailed from the eastern seas along the River Gergi and settled to where the principality is now. The Gergoi founder-stories allege Oleg the Fair had killed a man-eating manticore that was plaguing nearby settlements.
Oleg eventually settled down into the crag that was once the manticore’s home and created House Gergoi so named after the river. The crag is well-known in the area when House Gergoi discovered not one, but two black diamond mines. Early in Ströikas Rodinev’s reign, the second mine is rumored to have opened into a cavern filled with indescribable horrors. Rumor also states the Ströikas Rodinev captured some of these horrors and awaits for the chance to use them as particularly wicked punishments for unregistered drósti found in Gergoi lands. Others say the chained horrors merely await a time when Gergoi invades the neighboring Moldev just across the River Gergi.
Reigning Head of House: Rodinev Gergoi, Prince of the Murmuring Crag
Motto: May Death Come Swiftly
Coat of Arms: Murray, a manticore rampant
The Mad Prince of Raven’s Mouth, as Ströikas Vasile Vodan is known, has not been seen publicly for 23 years. In his childhood soon after he gained the throne of Korvigera upon his father’s death, a failed assassination via poison left him near deaf, near blind, and with a cracked mind that has caused severe bouts of paranoia. As a principality, it is administered primarily by Vodan’s faithful böiar Vasile Vladescu. Though some joke Vladescu gained his position only because his first name is the same as the prince’s (something even he makes light of) there is no denying his allegiance to House Vodan or the effectiveness of his administration. This is not to say Vladescu and the prince do not differ on opinion. Vladescu handles all matters of the state from the execution of thieves to matters of warfare to policies, the prince’s madness may still be felt by the many thousands who dwell on his lands. In this, Korvigeraesti and Vöhjesti — the original name of our game’s setting — are similar. Vöhj was the only prince Vodan would entertain personally, let alone allow to enter his land uncontested. Some say they had a shared interest in learning the secrets of the Land, that mysterious force that the faithful claim rules all creatures and things that live upon it. Evidence, they cite, may be seen in the existence of the pricolici, wandering half-human/half-wolf cursed beings. Fortunately, their presence is rare and yet undeniable. As if commanded by Vodan’s words over the wind, they carry out deeds against their prince’s enemies. In these matters, Vladescu has no power.
Reigning Head of House: Ströikas Vasile Vodan
Motto: No known motto
Coat of Arms: Sable, a corvid displayed argent in full, per chevron azure
Now the rulers of the lands in which Moldev is found, House Ranov has ruled their lands for centuries.
The current prince, Ströikas Alexi Ranov, is rather typical of northern traditionalists. Commoners work to stay on the prince’s land, pay taxes for the prince to feed troops and maintain the roads, while drósti are actively hunted down and blamed for any weirdness within the principality. In this sense, Ranov is like any other.
Alexi Ranov has spent the 30+ years of his rule building up his principality’s military and has used it in expansionistic bids, sending diplomats into the domains he views as weaker to convince them to fall under his domain. His reasons, however, may be altruistic in purpose. Neighboring principalities such as Ajdev have subscribed to the Maristevian belief that Mütvia should have a single ruler, presumably Maristev himself. Ranov has made no secret of his hatred for the Maristevians, though their front lines are over a thousand miles to the south. As such Ranov has pushed harder on the offers to have other neighboring domains join his, allowing other princes to become Ranov’s voivods, or local leaders on behalf of Ranov himself.
Reigning Head of House: Ströikas Alexi Ranov
Motto: For the Land, By the Sword
Coat of Arms: Vert, an imperial eagle or displayed argent in full
The histories of the far southeastern points of Mütvia are unclear. Border wars between the resident princes of Mütvia and the earls of the neighboring country of Southern Cultrek have made it so cartographers must redraw their maps once every three months.
Then there is the academic House of Svae which sits silently in defiance of any attempt to uproot it. On every map drawn since the current era of time there sits a lone tower that has flown the same banner for centuries. Even House Maristev has been unable to touch, let alone swallow as they do with other principalities, the barren lands of Svae’s territory. Yet no military might seems to exist in Svae and no invading army has had survivors enough to retell what happened when their invasion failed.
The only clues are the most horrible and fantastic: the land itself seems to have attacked the enemy for entire landscapes are said to have changed overnight during the course of battle.
Additional clues of who or what lives in that tower would suggest it/they require food. Neighboring farms often report missing livestock and stores which suggests resource theft. Perhaps this is the way of rule for the ströikas of Svae, for mystery has served this house well. If it were not for their publicly released journals and reports — meticulously written tomes and scrolls that detail every experiment conducted — all would think no one lives there.
Reigning Head of House: Unknown / Ströikas Svae
Motto: None known
Coat of Arms: Not Mütvian in origin; Azure, a skull pierced by sword
House Maristev is less a house and more a country these days. Where Mütvia once stretched south to the northern border of Tunbria (not shown on map), House Maristev over the course of two centuries has absorbed much of what used to be the culturally rich southern Mütvia. Over this time, House Maristev has eradicated all of what it means to be Mütvian: drósti no longer exist in this part of the world thanks to relentless pogroms, traditions and even folk songs have been erased from memory, even government smacks of something far western such as from Iviria. Clothing looks nothing like Mütvian traditional garb and even technology and language are different. Indeed, Maristev is another country. But no Mütvian will ever admit to it and because of the Maristevian encroachment on the princes across from its northern borders, the concept of “Mütvia Regestöi” is more powerful than ever as a rallying battle cry against the usurpers.