Saturday, December 18, 2021

Maximalist Weird Fiction Nobleman Generator

This generator will allow you to create a Noble House with its own culture and an individual Nobleman of that House for you to pit against other Houses and city-states. It is inspired by Pendragon and Paladin and has an interwar technology level.


You are the law.
Your city-state is your personal property. It is inhabited at your pleasure and those who live there owe you their undivided loyalty.
Your right to rule descends from time immemorial. It is unimpeachable. No one could be more suited to rule than you, by virtue of blood, upbringing, and vitality. You are a different breed than the commoner.
You pay disrespect with death. You assert your right to rule by steel, anytime, anywhere. Tradition alone will not protect you. It is upheld only by force.
You are a warrior, a commander, and a cutter of throats. You are not a soldier, unless you have a liege. He will treat you with respect or reckon with you.
You are the city-state incarnate. You are its body and soul. You will never belong among any people but your House and City.


The City-State
The Nobleman and his House are embedded in a city-state. You will use the tools here to create the city-state or simply determine its important cultural elements.
Noble House Creation
You will characterize the culture of your Noble House and the other Houses of your city by determining the activities they find most valuable and prestigious. Some will be shared and some will be unique to your House.
You will determine how your Nobleman was prepared for adulthood by the House.
You will determine what your Nobleman’s most formative experiences were between reaching the age of majority and the start of play, such as having romances, fighting as a mercenary knight, or serving in one of the many Chivalric Orders before returning to participate in the House’s affairs.
Fief and Manor
You will determine the urban territory that your Nobleman inherited, whose residents will owe him armed service and taxes.
Nobles are generally not raised to be highly reserved and emotionally continent- that is for a later stage of aristocracy. Many nobles in this era are raised to be as assertive and desirous as possible so as to advance their House’s fortunes as adults. As such, your Nobleman will risk losing control of himself under certain circumstances should he fail a self-control check, though he may eventually govern his Preoccupations permanently through repeated successes. You may take more Preoccupations to begin with a larger pool of Assets, the idea being that your additional motivational energy has led you to acquire these things (while simultaneously threatening your life).
Things you own beyond your fief and manor.
Special items distinguished by their singular and perhaps supernatural character.
Unpressed Claims
Fiefs and assets which you have a legal right to claim but do not yet own.
Options: The Nature of the House and City
Additional ways of characterizing power relationships within the city’s aristocracy.
Appendix for GM and Players: Chivalric Orders
This is a list of Chivalric Orders that player characters might have served with before play began, or might be interested in joining in the course of play
Appendix for GM and Players: Fiefs
I aspire to not burden readers when they use my generators and tools. As such, I’ve put information that I don’t feel is strictly necessary in appendices for interested readers. Everyone else can skip it. These things can be perfectly well characterized by you.
This section contains more information about how to characterize and utilize fiefs.
Appendix for GM and Players: What a Noble House Has
This section enumerates what all Noble Houses possess and things that many but not all Houses possess. 
Appendix for GM and Players: Justice
Information for characterizing a (non-Absolute) King’s justice, disinheritance, judicial combat, manslaughter, penance, and exile.
Appendix for GM and Players: Positive Preoccupations Option
Options for developing advantageous habits of virtue ingame, in other words Positive Preoccupations
Appendix for GM: House NPCs
This section has information to characterize the roles of NPCs who may serve PCs, for example Sheriffs, Squires, and Majordomos.
Appendix for GM: Conquest
Preeminence vs map-painting.
Appendix for GM: Crises
Midgame and Lategame crises with which a GM can seriously challenge a party’s empire or hegemony.
Appendix for GM: Thoughts
Nobleman: the most dangerous profession.

The City-State

A Nobleman is embedded within a Noble House which is embedded within a City-State.

Create your city-state with the City-State Generator, but when you reach Government Type, use the Aristocratic Governance Table below instead.

If you want to start creating your House or Nobleman without building out a full city-state, roll or select your city’s Government Type from the Aristocratic Governance Table and then roll or select from the following sections in the City-State Generator:
-Religious Demography and Religion
-Distinctive Cultural Elements (if you like)
-Prevailing Conditions (if you like)

        Aristocratic Governance Table
This table is divided into two sub-tables that you can choose from. The House Table favors player-heavy decision making right off the bat while the King Table favors top-heavy hierarchical decision making in the city, at least at first.

Roll on either the House Table or the King Table depending on where you think you’d like power focused in the city-state, near the top or the bottom.

Descriptions of each government type can be found in the city-state generator. Houses are likely to be the highest authority in a Noble Republic, while in a Feudal Monarchy the players might start under e.g. a Duke, who may or may not be of their House (!).

    House Table: Favoring player-heavy decision making in the city right off the bat
1-50 Noble Republic
51-60 Negotiated Constitutional Monarchy
61-70 Feudal Monarchy: d4 (1) No King (interregnum/Anarchy), (2) Figurehead King, pawn of the Dukes, (3) Primus Inter Pares King, (4) Powerful King
71-80 Headless Feudalism: Players start under a Duke. 2d4+2 Dukes. If there are 10, assign each of them one of the Ducal Pathologies.
81-90 Iconic Constitutional Monarchy
91-92 Feudal Plutocracy: 75% chance of House starting as a bottom-halfer, 25% chance of being in the upper crust
93-94 Sacrificial Monarchy
95-96 Federal Monarchy: There are d4+1 Sources of Wealth, each with its own king. Choose which one the party are under. This can serve as their House, or there can be multiple Houses within it.
97-98 Sun King
99-100 Absolute Monarchy

    King Table: Favoring top-heavy hierarchical decision making in the city, at least at first
1-10 Absolute Monarchy
11-25 Sun King
26-40 Federal Monarchy
41-55 Sacrificial Monarchy
56-70 Feudal Plutocracy
71-80 Iconic Constitutional Monarchy
81-85 Headless Feudalism
86-90 Feudal Monarchy
91-95 Negotiated Constitutional Monarchy
96-100 Noble Republic

Determine how many Noble Houses there are in your city-state. Yours will be one of them. As a shorthand, decide whether there will be 4 or 3d4. 4 means that your House will be prominent in the city-state right from the beginning. 3d4 means control will probably be more distributed.

After this, move to the next section, Noble House Creation.

Noble House Creation

If you’d like to know what kind of assets a Noble House has right from the get-go, see the Appendix for GM and Players: What a Noble House Has.

The culture of your House will be characterized by:
1. The traditions of the city-state
2. The traditions that almost all city-state aristocracies share, enumerated below
3. The activities that all the Noble Houses of your city-state consider prestigious
4. The activities that your House in particular considers prestigious

In steps:

First, consider the implied city culture based on your results when generating your city-state.

Next, know the norms shared by almost all urban aristocracies:
Hospitality, Generosity, Loyalty and Courage are normally seen as the highest virtues. However, morality is more often proscriptive than prescriptive.

The average noble is capable of acts we would consider villainous (such as having a traitor skinned alive and his children mutilated), but this does not put them in the ‘villain’ category in the eyes of most other nobles.

Cowardice, disloyalty and depredations against hosts and guests are the canonical signs of villainy. Stealing from a host is the mark of a true criminal thief. Oathbreaking, kinslaying, raping of noblewomen, robbing religious sites of your nation’s faith (that don’t belong to an enemy) are black acts among the international nobility. Acts that are simply selfish and unjust would have to be sustained, varied, and unrecompensed for you to eventually be considered a villain by nobles of your faith and culture.

Next, roll or select d4 activities from the Valued Activities Table that ALL Noble Houses in YOUR city-state consider prestigious.

After that, roll or select d4+1 activities from the Valued Activities Table that YOUR House in particular considers prestigious.

After you have done this you will create your Nobleman, beginning at the Upbringing section beneath the Valued Activities table.

Noble House Valued Activities

The activities that you roll or select from this table will be considered prestigious and attractive by members of your House and the commoners of your city, imparting an Influence check enhancement among people who value the activity (your House and/or Noble Houses in your city-state, or foreign Houses if you know their values) when you are performing them, have recently performed them, or are known for performing them.

Seemingly incompatible activities mean they apply under varying circumstances. You may get results with an apparent cultural contradiction. Decide ahead of time whether the group or the GM will weave everything together into something novel but within the human spectrum of contradiction and conduct. If you don’t wanna square it cause it seems ridiculous just reroll.

Example resolution A: Your results indicate that you should despise money but also grow rich by successfully administrating your fiefs. The expectation could be that you’re to find competent lowborn stewards to manage your fief but otherwise not handle money except to lavishly spend your discretionary income.

Example resolution B: Your results indicate that it’s prestigious to be wan and willowy, AND to be sort of fat and powerful like a sumo wrestler. This could mean that men are to be sort of fat but powerfully built where women should be willowy (dominance vs elegance), or that women should be sort of fat but powerfully built while men should be willowy (fertility vs refinement).

        Valued Activities Table
1 Raising children to be absolute hellions
2 Anonymously assassinating foreign nobles just to practice and shave down potential rivals
3 Dangerous hunts from horseback, including lancing, shooting (pistol, carbine mad elephant gun) and saber work. This includes falconry the breeding and working of packs of hunting dogs
4 Shooting literally everything from deer to doves to clay pigeons to outlaws to grizzly bears to bandit tribesmen to platypi to supernatural shit
5 Courtly love: women in general are your superiors, and one in particular is your object of worship 
6 Consulting an oracle in a moving shrine beneath the earth; you travel there to be initiated as a high noble (like a count) and you can return there for insight in times of great need, kind of like a non-tribal heroquest 
7 Destroying the Occult 
8 Conquering or despoiling infidels and heretics
9 Mountain climbing (incl belaying and skiing) and exploration
10 Being thin, wan and willowy
11 Organizing and leading high-risk high-reward merchant expeditions 
12 Naval command 
13 Traveling to foreign courts and cities to carouse, make friends and have drunken adventures
14 Having extensive networks of “men abroad” who report to you through clandestine lines of communication and can be relied upon to commit acts of sabotage, theft, deception and murder on your behalf.
15 Enrich and benefit the commoners of your city-state to whatever degree you can while maintaining the noble enterprise for the next generation 
16 Being eloquent and charismatic 
17 Keeping “on progress”, meaning always being moving in terms of where you stay, traveling about the family’s properties and throughout rival and neutral city-states. Great for getting info firsthand but makes you a target 
18 Wearing plate armor all day. Semi-deflecting of rifle rounds; troops who wear this have to be motorized or mechanized cause it’s so cumbersome, though you’ve done this your whole life and are way more used to it than any soldier 
19 Super-customizing cars and airplanes 
20 Elaborate ritual scarification of self and others
21 Battle command
22 Loan-sharking, from domestic merchants to weaker city-states.
23 Arms manufacturing and international arms trafficking
24 Taking and fulfilling oaths
25 Declaring, enforcing and utilizing House Forests. House Forests are not necessarily actual forests; they are areas demarcated for the exclusive use of House members and those they grant permission for particular uses. Everyone else who enters is a criminal. House Forests piss off commoners and rivals but are highly prestigious as hunting grounds. Oftentimes they are beautiful preserves of pristine wilderness but may also be RGO areas blocked off for future use. They can be part of a city as well, so there’s a part of the city that used to be settled but is now just yours to wander. This will impress certain foreign nobles but tends to REALLY piss off the commoners and other Houses.
26 Lavish, all-night feasts where people eat and drink as much as possible to the point of having eating contests
27 Extreme emotional continence 
28 Getting rich through the administration of prospering properties 
29 Periodic service in the Chivalric Orders. Sons who are unlikely to inherit usually stay with the Orders, making valuable allies
30 Executing commando raids, whether or not you really need to
31 Never negotiating
32 Being extremely emotive
33 Serving as a champion in foreign judicial duels for training or just for the murder
34 Not giving a fuck about money, at all
35 Refusing to accept domestic fiefs, instead conquering them from infidels and other enemies 
36 Personally converting infidels and heretics to the religion through force or companionship
37 Artistic/creative achievement
38 Having a fearsome and ferocious appearance and reputation
39 Devouring raw meat (perhaps in a state of slight pungency) as a way of connecting with the carnivorous/cannibalistic aspect of your life as a noble
40 Agricultural expertise, to include grains but in particular orchards and vinyards
41 Cultivating loyal groups of courtiers to act as your eyes, ears and memory when engaged at court
42 Having a strange sense of noblesse oblige and carrying out the associated activities; this doesn’t mean you have to enrich your commoners, just that you conspicuously tend to them
43 Being refined and polite, even to those you’re about to kill for impoliteness
44 Despising life and choosing death when the choice is death or the slightest dishonor
45 Piloting the steed of the sky
46 Being an entrepreneur and then defending and enforcing your enterprises with unlimited physical force
47 Reciting boastful poems and improvising fearsome verse; competitions may be held (though feuds sometimes begin or are consummated there when wine is flowing)
48 The taking of POWs for the purposes of convict leasing 
49 Purchasing and advancing outrageous fashions / warrior ostentation
50 Herding cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses et al in the dangerous wilderness. This is both a source of wealth and a way of training courage, independence, animal husbandry, wilderness survival, hunting, tracking and combat skills
51 Suppressing Republicanism internationally
52 Suppressing Anarcho-Syndicalism internationally
53 Opposing the Cynthian Empire internationally / Taking advantage of Cynthian aid
54 Getting really advantageous marriages
55 Chivalric quests and dueling
56 Periodically unhinging yourself with bizarre swamp drugs so that you don’t get too refined, sedate and ceremonious.
57 Theologianism and serving as a religious leader in addition to executing your normal Noble prerogatives
58 Athletic achievement (either generally or with specific possible manifestations, e.g. combat sports). Getting a gold at the Games of Fire is the most prestigious thing besides winning wars and adding new fiefdoms to the House’s patrimony.
59 Racing: Motorcars, motorbikes, planes, horses, boats (motor and sail), hell even chariots
60 Having as many children out of wedlock as possible to sow the royal oats to include enforcing prima nocta on the commons. Attempt to do this with prominent or impressive women; it’s much less prestigious to just keep lowborn concubines from poor backgrounds and machine farm bastards. One bastard from a famous poetess, merchant heiress or Anarcho-Syndicalist firebrand is much more prestigious than 100 bastards from one’s own subjects due to considerations about heredity. Promising candidates can be legitimized 
61 The taking of squires from the world’s most powerful noble families (they often make for impressive and impetuous squires, but be careful with their lives…)
62 Commissioning art/patronizing artists
63 Sourcing, importing and cultivating experts in various fields from throughout the world, no matter their creed or culture. This can cause jealousy and friction at court but does tend to advance knowledge at the court and provide unexpected solutions. Just be cautious about importing experts from foreign cultures undergoing friction with each other or you may find these “educated and urbane” men to be just as capable of dueling and murder as your rank-and-file subjects.
64 Extreme generosity to members of your house and allies, like “throwing open your vaults” generosity. Tends to inspire faith in your leadership
65 Taking foreign scions as hostages to coerce their families, even if you don’t currently have something you want
66 Knowing and learning new animistic/shamanic lore 
67 Tournaments, both domestic affairs with less-lethal weapons and participation in foreign bloodsport tourneys 
68 Skill in fighting from horseback: pistol, cutlass, lance, carbine, rifle, wingdart grenades
69 The skillful manipulation of every kind of personal weapon from pikes and broadswords to coach guns, antitank rifles and machine guns
70 The commissioning and employment of incredibly decorous shaped charge lanceheads 
71 Decorating everything as sumptuously as possible from cloaks to saddles to servants 
72 Breeding bulls, racehorses and destriers
73 Haggling with extreme miserliness
74 Taking foreign nobles for ransom (specifically to sell them, not necessarily as bargaining chips for contingencies); this can be as a result of battles, sieges or even straight up kidnapping. Generally the only form that’s frowned upon is taking guests prisoner but your House might not give a shit
75 The taking of wives and concubines from bandit tribes. This is thought to provide virility, vitality and the right worldview to children, and if the taking of the wife was consensual then you may develop an alliance with a bandit tribe instead of another noble house. Houses that do this are possibly the only societies where the women can be more violent than the men, often poisoning and stabbing women from other tribes and their children. Mothers do shit like sew animal skins onto their children’s bodies and rip them off to make them prove their courage; children grow up tough and wild (or are taught to be grave and sober by their fathers as a contrast) but tend to have psychological complexes of one form or another. Your House has sacral men’s and women’s spaces that are death for the opposite gender to enter if they have reached full adolescence.
76 The taking of boys from bandit tribes to be raised as adopted sons of high nobles; they are automatically behind all legitimate children in line of succession if they are allowed succession at all (oftentimes they’re not so they don’t murder legitimate children). This gives noble houses a clutch of elite, half-savage warriors and fresh blood, though the customs and cultures of the bandit boys often seep into the House in unpredictable ways
77 Harem-keeping; lords compete to stock their harems with beauties from distant lands, particularly those of clannish and warlike cultures that do not intermarry with outsiders, and PARTICULARLY noble maidens
78 Having as many wives as you can support; polygamy is rare in city-states but this society practices it
79 The destruction of pirates and bandits by land, sea and air. Brigands often have some life in the villages and hamlets, coming and going. One may walk into his kitchen to find a brilliantly-dressed aristocrat waiting for him with a fowling piece.
80 Developing and patronizing inventors and inventions, particularly thermal weapons and flying machines 
81 Developing and patronizing alchemical, materials and physics research EXCLUDING the occult
82 Maintaining widowed noblewomen on your property as advisors and/or lovers
83 Mafia-style filmmaking; acting in, directing, and controlling film production in your state and others
84 Bestarii-style beast fighting like bullfighting but for all kinds of animals
85 Super high stakes gambling
86 Taxing the fuck out of the merchants and peons (this is a bad long term strategy but fills the coffers right out of the gate)
87 Stocking your residences with treasures taken from exotic sites and civilizations, ideally ones that you recovered from ruins, seized from enemies, or otherwise ‘tactically acquired’
89 Constantly using tobacco; cigars, chaw, dip, the more pungent the better, and expectorating wherever you damn well feel like it
90 Being powerful and fat like a sumo wrestler
91 Holding resplendent holiday banquets and balls with extensive and astonishing decorations.
92 Forging, naming and wielding mighty and famous weapons, from swords to pistols to tanks to warplanes
93 Displaying ladies’ favors on dangerous missions, in their name (if not necessarily on their behalf). These favors take the form of locks of hair, a bow, a locket etc worn openly somewhere about one’s panoply of arms and armor.


Did you:
1 Serve in one of the city’s elite military units (for example, (1) Air Grenadiers, (2) Heavy Guards of Tank, (3) Glider Pararachnids, (4) Littoral Sapper-Saboteurs; you could also choose from the military unit list at the end of the Assets table), acquiring their training, or as a naval commander or air commodore.

2 Serve as a squire to a picked knight or lord (combat and fieldcraft for the former, or administration and command for the latter)

3 Serve a friendly Shipping House as a ship’s captain, merchant shipguard, contract negotiator and supply coordinator

4 Go on a Grand Tour throughout your adolescence, becoming educated in the courts of many great cities: you have mastered many cultural, language, social and wilderness skills. You start with friends in many city-states and even some tribes

5 Become educated through pure and extensive tutorship: You have advanced engineering, administrative/financial, and other pure knowledge skills

6 Infiltrate and do good service in a criminal organization in a foreign city-state or as a brigand in a region that’s very distant from your own city-state, acquiring the competencies of a cat burglar, smuggler, gunman, and capo.

7 With the consent of the GM and the other players, you may instead have gone through a House Agōgē; you require the consent of the other players because some of these options will contribute to the characterization of the nature of the House by their very permission.
    House Agōgē
1 Living among an allied (but pitiless) bandit tribe; participating in their raids and rituals, to include human sacrifice and the concurrent fucking of hierodules. You may have eaten a slaughtered enemy’s liver and returned to the family manor with pine-resined heads on your belt.
2 Being put anonymously into a horrific prison; you will be assessed by undercover guards. 
3 Going into an occult ruin complex of unknown dimensions and origins and retrieving something novel for the House.
4 Serving as a thief taker and prison tamer abroad.
5 Serving as a junior officer in the military of any given city-state that’s at war. If that one makes peace, you switch to another state that’s at war. It’s in the contract.
6 Serving as warrior-stud for tribe of amazons in a region that lacks most human habitation but is full of ambush predators. Their men go to the House as a corps of janissary-eunuchs
7 Infiltrating a hostile city-state, feeding intelligence to your home city and periodically eliminating threatening up-and-comers.

After you have determined your Upbringing, go to the next section, Experiences, to determine what your most formative experiences were before the beginning of the game.

What characteristic experiences have shaped your life today? Choose or roll, then go to the relevant section below the information on Marriage.
1 Romance
2 Feuding and plotting
3 Errantry: Going around seeking adventures or quests where you can win glory, especially trying to find commoners and/or ladies whose problems can be solved by adventure/violence and then doing that (as opposed to people with simple financial hardships)
4 Service abroad as a mercenary knight
5 Squirehood if you served as a squire during your upbringing. You may choose a different option even if you were a squire, with that having left a greater legacy for you.
6 Serving the city-state in war
7 Service in a Chivalric Order

Are you married?

If you are married, you get an extra roll (though not a choice) on the Asset table as a dowry.
Then roll a d4: (1) you are best friends with her adventurous brother, a Champion of the Companions, a Chivalric Order described in the Chivalric Orders Appendix, (2) you have great relations with her wealthy father (whose son died), (3) she’s pregnant with twin boys as heralded by a prophecy in her city-state (which might be yours); they’re predicted to be great men who will bring redemption and prosperity to your people if supported, (4) she gave you a personal gift in addition to her dowry (roll on the Treasure table below).

If you want to be guaranteed a really sweet dowry, you’ll have to go find it in play.
A dowry can be a fief if she’s a widow, but this means she’ll be older possibly less fertile. A widow will have some armsmen and possibly even some knights to protect her. If she already has children, they will be the legitimate heirs of the fief. You can use d20+20 for a landholding widow’s age. Beware that other guys will court her; competition for a fiefholding widow can be as bloody as competition for any fief.

        Characteristic Experiences
Roll a d4 within your section.

Romance: (1) You have a lowborn gun moll who will risk her life to get you out of trouble, (2) you are embroiled in a torrid secret romance with the princess of a powerful kingdom or imperial state, (3) you are famed among noblewomen far and wide for your beauty and courage (whatever the truth may be…) to the point that many will risk their fathers’ wrath to aid you), (4) you made love to a beautiful dryad who turned you into a wood creature, meaning that you no longer have internal organs and cannot be killed short of being broken into pieces, but physical damage will fill in with living wood as it heals.

Feuding and Plotting: (1) You learned to make homemade explosives out of stuff that’s for sale in most city-states, (2) you became a highly competent sniper, (3) you learned to pass as a peasant and an urban laborer, (4) you learned to taste poison on food and drink without being poisoned

Errantry: (1) You slew a strange beast and wear a portion of it as a mantle (reptilian, shadowform, living static, made of light, arachnohominid, amoebic); a shaman prophesied that this mantle will save your life, (2) you won massive plunder and/or properties (roll on Asset table), (3) a famous wandering tank-paladin is indebted to you, (4) you are considered a living saint of a particular religion (roll on the Religion table in the City-State post) which may be hard to live up to cause you didn’t ask for it.
Roll on Wartime Outcomes Table below.

Mercenary Knight: (1) You won massive plunder and/or properties (roll on Asset table), (2) you developed rare hobilar experience (equestrianism in super rough terrain incl never taking penalties shooting from horseback and quiet riding), (3) you are best friends with your former employer, a powerful foreign duke, (4) you have contractual priority with a famed Great Company as part of your negotiated severance clause, both for hiring them and for receiving contracts from them. 
Roll on Wartime Outcomes Table below.

Squirehood: (1) Your master knight named you his heir; he later conquered rich fiefs, which you stand to inherit should he be declared legally dead. The problem is he’s disappeared without a trace and you cannot inherit until he’s been proven dead, no matter the timeline, (2) Your master knight provided your with a talisman containing the dust of a white asteroid; this dust glows like moonlight. Should you rub it all over yourself before an entity attempts to consume you, the entity will be destroyed or disrupted to the point that it cannot act on this plane for a timeframe that can be measured on cosmic timelines, (3) You saved your master’s life in a famous battle-deed that has since entered the lexicon by way of the minstrels and troubadours; your name is a byword for fidelity and courage everywhere you go, and great lords would be glad to have you by their side. This may be hard to live up to…, (4) Your master knight rigorously schooled you on a multitude of weapons systems; you are skilled in the command and operation of a battle tank, the piloting of aircraft for the purposes of dogfights and precision bombing, the command of warships and the precision command of their main guns (and other artillery).
Roll on Wartime Outcomes Table below.

War: (1) You led a party of commoners and seized a beautiful, ornate Cynthian submarine with extensive, sumptuous captain’s quarters, a resplendent gallery and full kitchen, and torpedo bays as an afterthought, (2) you seized an experimental fighter-bomber with extensive external bomb racks, forward cannons, a swivel MG, and a small cargo compartment capable of carrying ~500lbs of cargo or people, (3) you won the love and loyalty of a bandit tribe; they live to raid and plunder and will happy direct themselves against enemies of your choice, (4) you were cut off behind enemy lines and learned to live off the land, devouring snakes and strangling water buffaloes, constructing elaborate traps out of logs and foliage both for wildlife and for your pursuers, falling on them with hatchet or machete. Finally you made your escape from their territory carrying a medium machine gun with links wrapped around your body, laying scunion on your pursuers until you staggered into a friendly mortar pit, blood-soaked and wild-eyed, after which you were treated for several unnoticed gunshot wounds. You have retained all the competencies you acquired in this period and even developed a friendship with the general that was hunting you after the war.
Roll on Wartime Outcomes Table below.

Chivalric Order: See Appendix for GM and Players: Chivalric Orders.

Wartime Outcomes Table: Roll a d4 for both positive and negative. If you get a 4 on one or both, roll on that table.
Wartime outcomes table positive: (1) Fearsome but prestigious scars, (2) bastard who looks up to you like crazy, (3) terrifying reputation, (4) you came out of it with an artifact awarded to you/unique plunder (additional treasure on the Treasure table below, reroll if already had)
Wartime outcomes table negative: (1) You suffer from hypervigilance (only surprised on 1 on a d10, also can’t sleep properly and thus physical and psychological recovery suffers), (2) you have shrapnel still in body which hinders you slightly on tasks relying on pure physical prowess, (3) you developed an additional Preoccupation in the unconstrained wartime environment, (4) one of your Preoccupations deepened to a chasmic extent.

After this, move to the Fief and Manor section below to begin your character’s inheritance. 

Fief and Manor

    Firstborns get:
-A Primary Inheritance: Your fief and manor.
-A Secondary Inheritance: Properties, materiel and/or fighting men from the Assets table.
-A Mother’s Gift: A Treasure from your mother, rolled on the Treasure table.

Inheritances apply only if the entire party (or all but one) are Nobles.
Noble PCs in a party that are predominantly non-noble characters are embarrassed or exiled nobles, bastards, or knights-errant with great gear but no holdings or important family to speak of.
Perhaps you were knighted (1) on battlefield, (2) by a great religious leader, (3) by virtue of great services, (4) by discovery of relevant documents.
In any case, you are non-enfeoffed, and start with none of the following: fief and manor, Secondary Inheritance, Mother’s Gift

Non-enfeoffed Nobles can, however, start with Assets gained through their Experiences and Preoccupations.

Second Sons: If your starting character (the firstborn son of your household, though not necessarily the House) dies, you play whoever inherits his land and assets. That person doesn’t get their own Assets and Treasures starting out- UNLESS they acquired some as part of their Experiences or Preoccupations.

If the party consists predominantly of enfeoffed Nobleman, every player has:
-An urban fief made up of 4d4 Hundreds (see below) with a sheriff
-A hardened manor with a bailiff
-A company of armsmen: Footmen who wear your livery and breastplates and can be armed with bolt-action rifles and bayonets, shotguns, submachine guns and hand grenades. They can also go out in civilian clothes carrying pistols. These armsmen are distinct from your Hundredmen, who are militia riflemen you can call up from their normal jobs.
-Servants: Cooks, cleaners, butlers, weavers, handymen, grooms, handmaiden for your wife etc, possibly pages if you’ve got a fief and some allies (pages are noble boys and girls, and may wait on you when you’re at court. Otherwise managed and taught by the lady of the house). Room, board and New Years gifts are generally all that is required to support a servant except when you want a middle class professional specialist
-Stewards: Professional administrators (esquires or educated commoners) who can take basic care of your fiefs and facilities when you’re away.
-An armory in your manor or somewhere on your fief: stocked with infantry weapons for the player and his armsmen. Knights keep their own weapons.
-A small vault
-A stable of horses and/or automobiles
-Hereditary privileges enforceable by violence. Insolence on the part of anyone but the king is always punishable by death; if the king disrespects you you can ask compensation

A player’s fief is a neighborhood of houses and commercial buildings or a city block of towers. He may or may not care about it, but it pays him taxes.

A fief is made up of Hundreds.
Hundred: A population group capable of supplying 100 militia riflemen and a roughly standard ingot of gold per year.
See the Appendix for GM and Players: Fiefs if you’d like more info.

Your personal manor (as distinct from the larger House manor) is deep inside your starting fief.
Your manor might be:
(1) A set of regal apartments at the heart of an owned building
(2) A stately, freestanding stronghouse manse with an outer wall
(3) A narrow but tall and lavish medieval castle
(4) A small star fort with underground storerooms, magazines, and command and control facilities

Once you have learned about your fief and manor, move on to your next inheritance as a Nobleman, your Preoccupations.


Nobles only become highly restrained and controlled under conditions of Absolutism or ascendant Republicanism. When they are the locus of power, they are not raised to contain their emotions and desires the way you are.

As long as a noble is not a coward, disloyal or treacherous to guests, being overcome with emotion at something is not seen as unusual or as a flaw of character. Being possessed by emotion is seen as a normal consequence of a noble’s high blood and circumstances. 

All nobles (including NPCs) start with the “Pride and Vengeance” Preoccupation.

When your Preoccupation is engaged with based on what’s happening in the game (tempted or otherwise triggered), you need to make a Will check. If you fail, the GM will briefly take control of your character and act upon the Preoccupation.

You can take additional Preoccupations to get extra rolls on the Asset table, 1-for-1.
The GM will decide how many additional Preoccupations you can take in this way. I would personally allow people to take as many as they want, at least at first, mostly because I’m curious how it would go.

Your starting Preoccupation, Pride and Vengeance, can be optionally Subverted into another Preoccupation of your choice, removing P&V in favor of the other Preoccupation.

See the Appendix for GM and Players: Positive Preoccupations for options for further development ingame.

Pride and Vengeance: When someone offends your pride (intentionally or otherwise), or when you have a chance to take vengeance on behalf of someone whom you care about or are obligated to, you will take action.

Jealousy: Thinking that your woman is cheating on you and that your underlings and allies are scheming on your fiefs and prerogatives. A common, interpersonal form of paranoia.

Paranoia: Generalized political fear of assassination and secret alliances. Your lack of trust leads to abrasiveness, social distance and micromanaging.

Zealotry: You are a religious fanatic and develop an overwhelming hatred of infidels and a murderous disgust with heretics. You study the tenets of your faith intensely or spend hours meditating to tap into its secrets.

Lust: A common trait of lawless lords and robber barons, who lead raids and start brushfire wars to lay hands on specific women they lust after. Lustful rulers are likely to try and send away or get rid of their men in order to take their wives, and generally exploit their authority to bed anything they like that crosses the transom. Lustful PCs are likely to give into seductresses, attempt to bed the wives and daughters of powerful, vengeful lords, and end up in states of ill health from brothels (VD and violence; knifed or poisoned and robbed by hookers, brawls with pimps and strongarms - these are vignettes that the GM can impose at the start or end of sessions, or when the PCs each go off to do their own things, forcing the PCs to get through it as a roleplay sequence or suffer the consequences)

Glory Hound: Desperate to win fame and acclaim, even without doing what is necessary to win fame in a legitimate way; will claim others’ accomplishments for himself, instructing his men to support him, for example. May act recklessly in battles where there is a chance to win glory, ie they are around other nobles who are likely to survive, or other recorders of events. In the most pathetic cases, a man falsely claiming credit tenuously believes that he really was responsible for the victory in some way 

Cruel: Such a man can control himself in the face of mere insults, but when he gets a chance to punish somebody under his power he pulls out all the stops. The massacre of rebellious towns, the execution of an insubordinate vassal’s sons, the torture of a woman for the whereabouts of her inamorata, the brutal public breaking on the wheel of larcenous tax collectors and so forth.

The Occult: You are desperate to learn about the Occult and to eventually encounter an entity and develop strange powers. If this starts to happen, the GM can use the Occultist Generator to determine what happens to you next. Note that one doesn’t have to use Gold Table entities for nobles, that’s just an example.

Gluttony: You are mad for food of both quality and quantity. You are likely to become corpulent, hindering physical prowess checks.

Fiend: You have a severe addictive streak. You are an alcoholic and will be prone to developing fierce dependencies on any other supernaturally-pleasurable experience you encounter.

Lovesick: You are prone to falling madly in love. You are likely to try and obliterate a rival for your lady’s hand or fall into a deep melancholy fugue, or to go temporarily insane if she does not favor you.

    Optional Format: Preoccupation rolls
Roll based on your age, low skill from 15 to 25, medium skill from 26 to 35, high skill from 36-45, medium skill after that.
Total Failure: GM takes control and does whatever he likes with regard to the Preoccupation
Partial Failure: GM takes over and performs an action eg lashing out, drawing and firing a pistol, chugging a bottle of whiskey, loading up plate with a ridiculous amount of food, saying something lascivious, grabbing someone’s ass, or ordering a sudden cavalry charge
Partial Success: The character keeps it under control but is visibly affected, ie red with rage, fighting self to walk away from the hors d'oeuvres, openly staring at a beautiful taken woman
Total Success: The character is outwardly unaffected. Gain a Mark towards mitigating this preoccupation. You need 3 Total Marks against a Preoccupation to overcome it permanently.

Now that you have at least one Preoccupation, you can determine what your Assets are.


Firstborn Inheritance: Choose 2 entries or roll d4+2 entries.
If someone in your party has already rolled what you rolled, you can reroll or keep it.

    Assets Table
1 Vast fleet of luxury motorcars
2 Enough racehorses for a cavalry regiment
3 Wardrobe for society balls to suit half the city states on earth 
4 Extensive, distributed fortifications with luxurious interiors
5 A strange beast that inhabits your dungeons, whispering you secrets when you feed it living prisoners. One way to totally disappear someone. It lives beneath the stones and in the shadows, meaning you might never get a good look at it. If you do it’s like a reptilian olm with vestigial wings 
6 A warehouse full of advanced construction equipment 
7 A hydroelectric dam with a top castle mounting flak cannons. You have luxury quarters in the heart of the dam
8 Massive household of highly skilled hereditary noncombat servants such as musicians, architects, jewelers, parsons
9 You are of great interest to your ancestors, who manifest in (1) paintings, (2) the recesses of the manor when no one else is around, (3) seances, (4) private balls that only you can attend
10 Network of privately owned railroads
11 Extensive kennels of dogs of every breed, from show to working to military to lap
12 Extensive drydock and longshore region capable of building everything from freighters to aircraft carriers to submarines to sailboats 
13 Pharmaceutical manufacturing plant with hidden alchemical and traditional medicine labs
14 A potent advisor of mysterious origins who may be an Occultist; occasionally he can solve problems for you or gain you advantages using unknown methods. If asked to explain, he will politely refuse. His lust is overwhelming.
15 A small private hospital run by an obligated order of medical monks
16 For-profit prison with a famous 8-story torture chamber panopticon as a spine
17 Underground breeding program for insects, serpents, anemone etc for biowarfare weaponization and the development of advanced poisons and envenomed alloys. Can be collapsed and sealed with the pull of a lever which requires a key you wear around your neck.
18 Horrific tenements in a foreign city-state, making you into a kind of slumlord unless you tackle the renovation of this place head-on. Counts as d4 hundreds each paying half an ingot per annum. Renovation could increase per annum payment to a full ingot per, but direct intervention and the installment of an effective sheriff would be fiercely resisted by the gang lords who rule in your stead, sending you your half ingots.
19 Shrine that people make pilgrimages to from many city-states. You collect dues from this but processions tend to be chaotic affairs because: (1) it’s a shrine to a libidinous god and the processions are drunken revelry, (2) it’s a heroon to a figure of macho virility and processions end up in hand-to-hand street wars that start fires, damage business and embroil passersby, (3) it’s to a god of unscrupulous prosperity and attracts all manner of pickpockets, conmen and other forms of grifter, (4) visitors come from city-states and bandit tribes that are perennially hostile to each other, causing street wars waged with gunfire, and the city-state and tribal nobles sometimes assault and murder citizens who treat them with insufficient respect.
20 Giant bridge in the city where people live and there are businesses. You charge people to use it.
21 Giant inn complex with its own brewery, a raucous red-light district on the lower stories accessible only by extensive alleyways, “floating world” upper echelons accessible only through guarded staircases and lifts containing theaters, teahouses, bathhouses, auction houses, and fortified suites for important visitors.
22 Hereditary contracts with a variety of mercenaries (elites, great companies, free companies, thieves guilds, bandit tribes)
23 The loyalty of a house of hereditary spies (essentially ninja)
24 A fleet of spiffy airplanes of every variety
25 A fleet of merchant freighters, which your armsmen are trained to defend
26 A small cadet House with its own assets
27 Munitions foundry. Would be SO PROFITABLE if it would stop fucking blowing up
28 Great library: no one from your house has reached its furthest depths
29 A secret library of Occult materials, NEVER opened without the head of house’s permission
30 Advowson over an international order of monks who serve as physicians, brewers and noble court advisors; you have the right to decide their leader and replace him at any time
31 A large, beautiful and well-provisioned almshouse. You have an ear to the streets and the heartfelt loyalty of much of the city’s poor
32 A famed mews that nobles from across the world come to buy hawks from. A stupendous networking tool/opportunity 
33 An international network of blacksites containing arsenals, telegraphy stations, all kind of equipment and supplies, and prison cells 
34 A massive mining complex that regularly finds new seams of ore
35 Thousands upon thousands of cattle
36 Forests of valuable wood 
37 A portrait gallery with many valuable renditions of famous ancestors of foreign houses and movements. There are statues that sometimes walk and talk at night, acting as confidantes. A few have had psychotic breaks throughout history
38 Hidden regalia legitimizing claims to higher/foreign authorities if the house wishes to enforce it
39 A chocolate factory and claims that your grandfather fabricated on several sugar and spice islands controlled by the Red Charter Companies, brutal outlaw raiders who use slaves to exhaust captured RGOs, selling the output on the international black market
40 Extensive gardens incl experimental greenhouses and wise/oracular garden hermits
41 A mint capable of producing currently whose value is partially tied to the fate of the issuing authority, in this case the players’ city state
42 Vast temple with many parishioners; you collect dues and can put out messaging 
43 Corporation (type: (1) shipping/courier, (2) insuring, (3) engineering, (4) construction)
44 A commercial bank. Lending money at interest is considered intensely dishonorable among some noble societies and military orders
45 A fully-equipped, highly-skilled catering company whose only job is to wait on your every desire
46 A vast portfolio of stocks in a number of 2d4 different joint stock companies. As those companies prosper, the owner will grow richer 
47 Private archipelago. Settled/fortified. Inhabitants: (1) house garrison, (2) friendly bandit tribe, (3) fishermen (provide income and population/sailors), (4) plantation or latifundia (something like sugar, coffee, spices, tea, rubber etc), provides these but not manpower since it all goes into that
48 Vast quantities of bullet-semideflecting munition armor. Troops must be motorized, mechanized or seaborne; they can’t march more than a mile or two in this armor before slowing to a crawl.
49 Vast deer park; raised ditches mean deer can get in but not out. Can harvest for profit, supply feasts (a full harvest might be hundreds of deer) or use as an entertainment. Surrounded by walls going outwards that deer can be driven into, causing them to enter the deer park
50 A famed tournament ground that can be reconfigured for naval actions. Tournaments are expected to be held here, a great opportunity for profit, intrigue, glory and hobnobbing. You can also hold human bloodsport here for great profit but this is alienating to many civilizations
51 Vast advanced armory; rifle grenades, flamethrowers, mortars, poison gas
52 A dozen skilled courtesans who serve as your personal retainers.
53 The loyalty of a small fortress of unspeaking xenostygians directly beneath the city. You can make requests of them with the passing of each new earthquake, which happens fairly regularly around these parts. There’s a chance you didn’t feel an earthquake but they did, so check in with them.
54 d4+1 sets of gold trimmed black gothic plate lined with a thin layer of depleted troglodite. Extremely heavy but impenetrable, though explosions, flame weapons, and misericordes applied to gaps may still kill the wearer. Family also possesses several depleted troglodite swords and lances. Each weapon and section of armor is a special project requiring its own materials and process based on the flow of the troglodite to be used. It’s never the same; a master armorer who could work one piece of troglodite might be stumped by another and never be able to work it. Hence its use in ammunition but rarely armor, and never vehicle armor. Bandit tribes generally have the most success forging depleted troglodite weapons (by magicoritual spirit realm missions), but have never been known to forge DT armor
55 Privately owned railroad with connections to foreign state and commercial railroads. House car is armored and has a luxury interior with bedrooms, a dining room and a library, sports dorsal artillery, firing corridors with loophole embrasures, and machine gun nests at each end
56 Apparently-sympathetic (but somewhat dark) creature or entity in the wild
57 Vast reserves of precious wine and high-end contemporary liquor; you have fortified cellars of it all throughout your manor and fief
Troops Table
58 - Ships: d4+1 freighters and d4+1 other ships. Most ships can carry and support seaplanes via small crane. Roll for type: (1) Aircraft carriers (not large in this era), (2) hospital ship, (3) amphibious assault, (4) giant luxury yacht, (5) frigate, (6) submarine, (7) battlecruiser, (8) destroyer, (9) q-ship, (10) armed merchantman, (11) artillery monitor, (12) pocket battleship
59 Fleet of 2d4 airships, roll for each type: (1) Aircraft carrier (underside racks, must reload planes from the ground), (2) low-ceiling heavy-cargo (LCHC - cargo space of light sea freighter), (3) fast Highrise Skinchanger scout (built for rapid substitution of colored canvases- cloud, sky blue, dawn/dusk blue and black), (4) bomber, (5) luxury yacht, (6) experimental troglodite frigate (unlimited range, never need land to resupply fuel), (7) amphibious (submarine carriage with foldout racks for airship). Airships are uncommon and vulnerable.
60 d4 knights already in your service. They are currently equipped as gun cataphracts but are capable of manning tanks and flying planes.
61 Company of Long Shooters: a band of lowborn rifle experts who can hit targets at 500m when unmolested, and even longer if equipped with antitank rifles
62 Obligated temple of gun kata warrior monks
63 Elite bodyguard of gun cataphracts; these are not knights and not skilled leaders, but they are capable armored armsmen whose job it is to accompany you into combat, forming an armored spearhead. They can fight as infantry, from horseback, or can man a tank
64 A substantial green water navy of ironclad riverboats.
65 A platoon of battle tanks 
66 A company of skeleton tanks
67 A squadron of multi-turreted tanks
68 A battery of artillery pieces. You have stockpiles of airburst, bunker buster and napalm rounds
69 A squad of elite personal retainers (rangers, paratroopers w/ plane, naval boarders); you have a persona relationship with every one of them
70 A unit of gendarmes (heavily armored civil-military specialists) specializing in urban development and urban warfare
71 Field Gun Regiment; direct-fire weapons for targeting walls, vehicles and concentrated enemies.
72 A cadre of veteran hunter-killers who are capable of ranging the wilderness ambushing the enemy or surprising them in cities while posing as civilians. 
73 A platoon of stormtroopers skilled at infiltrating enemy positions before employing their submachine guns, gas grenades and knives on terrorized enemies.
74 A warband of tribal fighters whose services were acquired through an internal prophecy; they are equipped with rotary jezzails and throwing hammers.
75 A destruction battalion of combat engineers with charges for breaching walls and flamethrowers for deploying through the holes
76 A company of lancers also capable of fighting as dragoons and of using pistols from horseback.
77 A bodyguard of politically-neutral foreigners (barbarians organized in the manner of grenadiers)
78 A company of zeppelin-borne glider troops with a fast, high-ceiling airship and 4 gliders which can be reacquired from the ground using winches
79 A breeder of attack dogs that carry plague-ridden flea bombs, high explosives or naphtha
80 5d4 cheap aircraft encompassing every role
81 Platoon of guerilla troops that pose as bedraggled civilians before launching ambushes
82 A company of motorized fullplate super heavy infantry
83 A company of sergeants: experienced warriors with good kit, equipped and combat-trained as knights but without the social scaffolding. Can operate tanks and/or planes
84 A battalion of skirmishers: unarmored riflemen equipped to move fast and then return to lines, don’t carry supplies or train like rangers
85 A company of yeomen: a landholder’s personal enforcers. Can operate as dragoons/hobelars or fight from their armored cars
86 Squad of dragonslayers: elite troops armed with antitank rifles and antitank mines
87 Platoon of pararachnids: hang gliders/glider paratroopers capable of landing on ships or boarding them with grappling hooks and foldout ladders.
88 Company of Air Grenadiers: huge assault paratroopers who go into battle draped in grenades over their redirection cuirasses.
89 Company of Marines: armored marksmen/close assaulters; their heavy armor means they can’t travel overland without at least having trucks but they are great at defending and seizing ships and ports. Includes a small complement of combat swimmer-scouts who can place mines on ships, though this is in an era before man-portable rebreathers so this is extremely dangerous.
90 Platoon of Mountaineers: essentially alpine rangers. Can operate in the highest mountains and ski cross country along ridges
91 Company of Foresters: wilderness/hinterland patrol
92 Platoon of Rangers: elite long-range wilderness warriors
93 Squad of Liaisons: a mix of skilled warriors (knights, foresters, yeomen, sergeants) who go to train and lead friendly but less professional troops in battle (tribes, settlers, militias)

Once you know your Assets, Firstborns get a Treasure from their mother. That is the next section.

1 Regal multilayered silicasilk cloak with a gold brocade depicting some kind of outre map, either something in the celestial spheres or a network of caverns deep beneath the earth (GM’s choice). The sections of cloak can be detached and tied together in an unbreakable, unsulliable 30’ rope. This is a 15 minute process
2 A sword made from an unknown metal that automatically breaks any metal that it strikes with any force. Works faster but more locally than the rusting stiletto below.
3 A single-edged dagger, steel alloyed with mutant assassin bug venom. Its nick is death in 1d4 moments
4 A crossbar stiletto that drastically and immediately rusts whatever metal it is rammed into, with gold as the only exception. Uranium, silver, aluminum, all rusted through and weakened in a few moments.
5 A holy relic that marks you as an important champion of your faith; what you do is right, because you’re the one who’s been entrusted with determining this kind of thing. This has limits among the cynical. (1) Gilded skull, (2) sword that burns when drawn from pearly scabbard, (3) holy writ in golden clasp, (4) shining tattoo on your forehead.
6 A flask of powder from the family necropolis that, when opened, lets out a smoke that causes those in the room to fall into a fugue. You’ve been inured to it by long exposure.
7 Magnificent golden plate armor with a draconic aspect but trimmed in white feathers. Surprisingly light, negates shrapnel (but not shockwave), chance of deflecting rifle rounds off ridges. Highly conspicuous, no helm
8 A hallucigenian advisor from an antediluvian empire. Master of intrigue and administration, roughly the size of a horse, must be kept in a wet, dark grotto and hidden from the servants, must be transported by night in a covered carriage. Will disappear or kill itself if disrespected.
9 Jade green goose with a golden bill and a single onyx eye that lays fabulous faberge eggs; extra wealth assuming you feed it chocolate and heavy cream
10 Ring with some kind of shifting runner inside of it; helps maintain balance when you have that hand free, allows you to land like a cat or make perfect tumbles 
11 A harmonica that makes people wake up and come talk to you when you play it alone at night; generally only one will come at a time and the sound will put them in an introspective, truthful mood
12 A beautiful decanter that surreptitiously increases the alcohol content of any libation put inside without really altering the flavor much. Be warned, leaving liquor in it overnight will turn it into something approximating napalm
13 A mantle of brass-colored fur. When you rub it it becomes blindingly bright for awhile, making you really difficult to target. It’s bright to you too but not THAT bright unless you look down on it. You are immune to electricity while wearing this 
14 Small heater shield with a depleted troglodite film. This shield is unique in that it can allow one person to speed over the water with great rapidity given its great buoyancy and low friction, and the bearer can also lay on it and glide, losing a minimum of about a foot of altitude a second (better have a good landing zone). These are not normal qualities of troglodite
15 Depleted troglodite horse barding, unheard of, makes your horse practically immune to gunfire and shrapnel. Requires a big, strong horse to use
16 A tiny pot of panacea. When eaten, this herbal putty will cause your wounds to instantly close, but they will heal with whatever is around the, binding your body together in ways it was not meant to do. You will live but likely be handicapped, pained and bent by your sudden ingrowing healing
17 Paper-thin, featureless, pitch black serpent that winds its way around one of your limbs and goes dormant; it looks like a strange, shadowy tattoo to others. When you give a signal it will lash out and strike the nearest person, liquefying their flesh where it strikes; it would like to feed on this but it is content with your heat if you must move on.
18 Strange fluted green javelin, warm to the touch. It will worm its way inside of and work its way through any living creature you throw it into. Has a similar effect on tanks, airplanes and automobiles that have their engines running, perhaps confusing them with something living 
19 Eagle feather cloak that allows you to glide in an upwards direction for 30’ or so if moving sufficiently quickly (motorcar or galloping horse), and then make a controlled descent at a 45 degree angle after that
20 Dog with bendable but unbreakable chitinous bones, a network-webbed cardiovascular system that makes it extremely resistant to blood loss and tissue damage, teeth that can cut through almost anything instantly, the nose of a bloodhound and a body like a Belgian malinois. It is tireless, brave and intelligent (for a dog). In addition, it is clean and quiet, doesn’t froth up around the mouth, doesn’t have some nasty floppy tongue and certainly doesn’t try and lick you in the goddamn face

Once you have your Treasures, go to your Unpressed Claims.

Unpressed Claims
Nobles start with one of these whether or not they’re Enfeoffed. That means that even if you’re the only Noble in the party and you’re a bastard or a cavalryman who was knighted on the battlefield, you have at least one Claim by some clause of your position.
The GM will tell you who currently controls the claimed asset if it is unspecified.
1-6 Fiefs in neighboring city-states
7-8 A fief controlled by another House within this city-state
9 The hand of a daughter of a distant empire
10 A whole city-state that is controlled by Anarcho-Syndicalists. The charter states, “ever should be seized by rebellious peasants”, so…
11 An underground castle no one from your civilization has ever seen
12 A yearly gift of a freighter from a shipping house
13 An oil rig
14 A network of lost manors and properties deep in bandit tribe territory 
15 The fealty of an international production guild, which has turned into an Anarcho-Syndicalist labor union
16 A vast battlefield where two great empires once fought their final confrontation; it’s said that their golden-armored and ruby-sworded armies were mutually slaughtered in this place by the working of a great magic
17 Truffle forests near the city that are ridden with rogue mercenary swineherds
18 A yearly gift of manpower from a slaving society, to be made into Hundredsman serfs
19 Control of a Great Company; to assert the claim, you and your staff must duel the company’s command staff in 1v1 melees. That means you have to duel their august commander. The Great Company’s command staff are skilled close combatants. If you kill the commander, you take control of the company, and your staff will consist of the survivors of the duels- whether incumbent or newcomers.
20 The fealty of a cadet house that’s sunk into being a mafia in a foreign city-state

Your Nobleman is now complete and is ready to be hurled into the great game of the city-states.

Options: The Nature of the House and City

    What type of House are you?
Military Aristocracy: You entrust your administrative and financial affairs to your stewards, sheriffs, and your wife, if you have one. Your fiefs exist to support you and had better be well run. You won’t have your hands dirtied by either the earth or the pen; you are a warrior.
Landowning Aristocracy: The default. It’s prestigious to run prosperous fiefs, but not to engage in petty barter. You take an active hand in the affairs of your properties, but you leave the details of shipping and trading the merchants.
Merchant House/Shipping House: You are the ultimate determinant of what is proper noble conduct, given that you are a noble. It’s been proven that capitalism backed by force of arms is the greatest generator of plenty and power, and so you ride the seas and wade the markets to profit, far and wide. You may have home fiefs that provide you a base of operations, but the real source of wealth is your fleet and the shrewdness of your house’s scions. Each player reduces the size of their starting fiefs by d4 hundreds and gains d4+1 freighters.

    Nature of Feudal Hierarchy in the City-State
Military Only / Defensive: A Duke can call up and commands the Barons et al within his Dukedom, but otherwise has no direct influence over them. Everyone can be called up by the King if there is one. Those who don’t show up will need to pay a substantial fine to help finance the mustered forces. This is a defensive arrangement and a lord shouldn’t make war against his liege’s other vassals.
Contractual: A subordinate must pay taxes and send men to his liege per their contracts, and cannot make war against him except to free himself, but has no other obligations. A lord is free to make war on anybody else, with the exception of his liege’s liege (and the king, if that’s not one’s liege’s liege).
Loyalty: A vassal is expected to display unimpeachable loyalty to his liege lord, unless granted independence or transferred to another liege lord (with the vassal’s consent), so long as the mutual feudal obligations are met; should his liege neglect his obligations, the vassal may rebel in protest and not be considered a traitor should he be able to maintain his independence. He is expected to make war on his liege’s rivals, and if he makes war on someone else he must desist if his liege tells him to.

    Important Holidays in the City
Names and traditions vary. Infer from the city-state’s other characteristics. 
All Cities
New Year’s/Breaking of Winter: Occasion for the gathering of the realm’s landowners.
Vernal Equinox
Autumnal Equinox 
Midsummer Solstice

Appendix for GM and Players: Chivalric Orders

It is regarded as completely normal for initiates to leave to go and tend to their family affairs; only fully-sworn Tier 1 brethren are expected to forswear the causes of their Houses and cities. Players begin play having left their Orders as Tier 2 or 3 initiates to tend to their family affairs and get their inherited fiefs in order. As such they cannot wear their Order’s livery, but can return to it in the course of play.

    Knights of the Rose: Hunt down people who have already been marked for death by a legitimate city-state government. A Knight of the Rose lays a rose upon the bodies of those marked for death, a whole bouquet in the case of an outlawed knight, who they relish defeating. They have a somewhat dark reputation, but only because they take contracts from pariah states as well as lauded nations.
Livery: Livid red doublet and breeches, black breastplate and fulhelm. In battle, a black sashimono with a throned rose depicted on it.
Tier 2: Rose Knight
Tier 1: Red Knight, Nightmare Lord

    Knights Hermetic: They seek knowledge of natural science and its application to war engineering. However, constant exposure to quicksilver, lead, arsenic and stranger things tend to distance these knights from reality. Their most potent inventions are siege engines in their own right.
Players can be Knights Pursuant
Livery: Goetic and alchemical symbology graven on plate worn beneath a black hooded cloak.
Tier 4: Knight Theoretical: A researcher-knight attempting to make a contribution
Tier 3: Knight Pursuant: A knight who has made a contribution of knowledge
Tier 2: Knight Goetic (a knight who has been outlawed from civilization for his research but is nonetheless accepted and possibly shielded by the order), Knight Magnum (a master alchemist and engineer)
Tier 1: Knight Thaumaturge: A knight who has crafted a war machine to ride into battle
Example War Machines: Eudaemon, Firedrake, Archangel, Icarid

    Knights of the Lion: Masters of twin pistol shooting and combat acrobatics. Train relentlessly to dive around, engaging one or more targets at once. Neck and neck with Starling & Shrike detectives as the best pistoleers in the world, and S&S agents are trained in pistolwork from childhood while many Lion Knights start as young adults.
Livery: Wearing a lionskin headdress when in battle armor; otherwise none specified, common for knights to go in plainclothes.
Tier 2: Knight of the Pride
Tier 1: Knight Rampant

    Knights of the Skull: Chaplain-paladins who aid foreign knights and cities in their darkest hours. Masters go through a ritual where they play a game of strategy against an otherworldly intelligence, prematurely aging them. They are masters of medicine, defensive battle tactics and the giving of inspiration.
Livery: Varies by Tier. Tier 3 wear a skull symbol on a cord around their neck, tier 2 wear full plate and skull sashimono, tier 1 wear black gothic plate.
Tier 3: Knight of the Spine
Tier 2: Ritegiver (has ‘made his bones’ aiding in the defense of a seemingly-doomed community)
Tier 1: Deathless Master

    Knights of the Ring: Seek the secrets of eternal life, delving into Occult ruin-complexes and going on chevauchees through xenostygian civilizations as part of this process. The mysterious Eternal Knights have theoretically found such a secret and partaken of it; their role is to goad on and cryptically advise the Seekers. In truth there are many paths to biological immortality such as becoming a living cancer or a fungus. The only thing a Knight of the Ring cannot do is make a pact with an entity for this favor.
Livery: A surcoat or tabard with ring-symbology when on a mission to a place or region thought to contain clues or secrets to eternal life. Otherwise nothing specified.
Tier 2: Seeker
Tier 1: Eternal Knight. Eternal Knights who are killed sometimes have their indestructible corpses animated by commoners carrying puppet strings on poles; this is used as a rallying point in combat.

    Knights of the Keep: Knights who specialize in the construction of and combat in heavy fortification plate. This vast armor is constructed to rest upon itself when the knight is standing. Knights of the Keep must become very burly to utilize this armor, and even then can’t travel long distances in it. They are, however, extremely deadly in defensive combat. Outside of battle, the quest of a Knight of the Keep is to forge a piece of depleted troglodite armor, or even a whole set; this requires vast wealth and expertise, and every piece of troglodite has a unique structure, necessitating a personal relationship with the single piece of raw material to be worked.
Livery: Plate armor, at minimum partial plate (a pauldroned cuirass, say), and fortification plate in battle. Tower symbology.
Tier 2: Piercer of the Vanguard, Castellan of the Tower (owner of a fortification)
Tier 1: Bearer of the Siege (forged a piece of depleted troglodite armor), Wearer of the Castle (forged a whole suit of it)

    Knights of the Sun: Holy knights of the Sun Griffon. The blessings of the deity manifest in a surefit of charisma and weapons that brook no armor; the tips and edges of lances and blades given to a faithful Sun Knight are made of a strange comet metal and their resonance rapidly melts other metal that it comes in touch with.
Livery: Sun symbolism, yellow and black clothes and armor. This is mandatory and if you’re out of armor or traveling you still have to wear an appropriately-colored tunic or something.
Tier 2: Sun Knight
Tier 1: Sun Bishop

    Knights of the City Wall: The Knights of the City Wall travel to defend cities threatened by Occult or monstrous forces, because they know that should the great cities fall, the world of man would enter a dark age that might never be clambered out of. They will protect even highly iniquitous cities, because to the Knights the flourishing of humanity anywhere is just that, and is better than the alternative. They are contemptuous of their individual importance and will gladly throw away their lives to assault a strange threat to a city.
They often make common cause with the Knights of the Skull and have a great relationship to them, though Knights of the City Wall focus more on finding ways to defeat the undefeatable than lending aid and comfort to beleaguered people. International wars and the depredations of bandits are of no concern to them so long as they do not have an Occult character.
Livery: Gray clothes and red armor with city-state symbology (as in semicircular images of cities). Their sober livery belies their consummate skill and patriotism. If a knight does not have the zeal to cast his life away in a heartbeat to defend a city, let him wear own his colors and roam the countryside helping out where he can, but not as a Knight of the City Wall.
Tier 2: Knight Crenellate
Tier 1: Knight Encompassing

    Knights of the Dark: The Knights of the Dark are trained to fight in the darkness inside the earth. They have ‘watch-fortresses’ beneath cities, guarding natural caverns and fissures that run up against the works of man. Nobles who are born blind or are blinded in the course of their lives may join the order and be taught to blindfight better than any man would dare imagine. Their methods are secret.
In fact, commoners are sometimes taken in by the Knights of the Dark, as well. They do not return to the surface world, spending their lives defending the Knights’ subterranean watch-fortresses and engaging in deadly crusades against the beings below.
Livery: Black fatigues or chainmail, and blue tabards sporting an all-white eye.
Tier 2: Knight of the Dark (knights are discouraged from blinding themselves but the order doesn’t ask many questions)
Tier 1: Lord of the Deep

    Knights of the Arsenal: Weaponsmiths and weaponmasters. Train relentlessly with weapons from every corner of the world. They are skilled at moving while absolutely draped with weapons, and/or when using something like a mortar or medium machine gun as an infantry weapon (sometimes with the aid of a specially designed harness).
Livery: Carrying a bunch of weapons displayed openly, dressing in pale gold and red.
Tier 3: Weaponsquire
Tier 2: Arsenal Knight: Has been entrusted with the order’s Grand Arsenal, a vast arms foundry and storage/practice facility in an unknown place, the whereabouts of which the Knights will murder to protect. Knights can come here to have access to a great variety of parts and materials for forging their own arms, as well as to access the great subterranean shoothouse towers and arms bays.
Tier 1: Weaponmaster. The Order’s high directors who have leave of the Grand Arsenal’s artillery guns and poison gas weapons. Also distinguished by their wielding of the Mercury Halberds, vast melee weapons that they wield at the same time as a fully automatic pistol (notoriously difficult to control). The halberds have seams of mercury inside of them which impart a mighty but irretrievable swing, and the edges of these weapons are such that they can cut open tanks with a swing.

        The Companions: Military order whose members seek to outdo one another in heroism and conquest, cooperating with one another in feats of arms or waging terrible duels amongst themselves when they see no opportunities for subjugation and rapine. Noble families with extremely wild younger sons sometimes send them to the companions hoping that they will (A) blow off some steam, (B) direct the Companions against some other target, or (C) get killed or maimed, which is an all-too-common fate for the Companions. Each entrant accepts this fell bargain.
Livery: White cloaks.
Tier 3: Agonist
Tier 2: Companion
Tier 1: Champion

        Knights of the High Road: These men guard the ways between cities and the trade routes, riding the routes, the ships and the railroads, looking for trouble. They are masters of making the wilderness comfortable and often have whole hidden underground houses in the utter hinterlands which they have richly appointed. They are friends of civilization but spend as little time in cities as possible, that not being their charter.
Livery: Griffin symbology
Tier 3: Peacemaker
Tier 2: Judge of the Ways
Tier 1: Lord of the Vast

    Knights of the Range: Shepherd Knights (of people or stock), these are wilderness knights who dwell near but outside cities, sometimes farming their own freehold stead and sometimes riding with flocks of sheep or herds of cattle, living off sacrifices to the gods of civilization and the spirits of the wild. They ride small, fast ponies that are great at traversing rough hills, and are highly skilled with the dual pistols and the carbine.
Tier 2: Range Cavalier
Tier 1: Cattle Baron (generally have established great ranches that they attempt to defend from strange creatures, bandit tribes, poachers, and raiders from rival city-states)

Appendix for GM and Players: Fiefs

To recap: A fief is composed of hundreds. Each hundred provides 100 militiamen and value roughly equivalent to a standard ingot of gold per year.

A normal fief has 5-15 hundreds. A normal aristocratic city-state will have roughly 110 hundreds per 100,000 people.
A fief has a chance of gaining a hundred every generation or so assuming there hasn’t been a massive plague or grievous losses in war.

How much a hundred pays is subject to alteration by fiat or negotiation. (Perhaps the value is paid at the feast of the new year, a nearly universal holiday though it goes by different names). Much of the income of a fief comes from court fees and other “liberties” (in addition to standard income taxes and taxes on economic activities), meaning that payments from populations which don’t have some kind of special productive facility that they work don’t vary a huge amount in how much they pay. For a nobleman, people are profit. All else being equal you want to amass as many commoners as you can, while also developing your economic and production capacity in other ways.

Rural fiefs normally hug the walls of the city, rarely extending more than a few miles out due to the great danger of the wilderness in this world.

Fiefs will pay more cash, have more hundreds, produce special products or support better warriors if developed. Food and the produce of factories and RGOs can be sold to specialized merchant buyers and Shipping Houses who will transport it to wherever it will fetch a good price.

The only way to create new urban fiefs is to build a new wall extending from the current walls, encircling a plot of farmland or wilderness. Then streets can be paved and buildings erected within it. Generally, only Absolute Monarchs break up existing fiefs.

If players truly don’t want to have anything to do with their fiefs, well, first they can just give them over to stewards to run, but stewards have only so much perceived authority and only so much desire to develop the fief since their position is fixed. If the players want to supercharge development of the fief, they can grant it to another noble (perhaps one of their loyal knights, or even a beloved commoner, who automatically becomes a noble - even a mercenary from a bandit tribe!) who becomes a vassal of the player. He sends a portion of the fief’s taxes makes several of its hundreds available to the king (say 1/3 of each).

You can increase taxes on your hundreds, though this slows economic development, reduces the morale of your militias, and may cause people to try to secretly emigrate. If you decrease taxes, the opposite happens. Increasing taxes on vassals will always be resented unless they really love you or it’s a legitimate punishment and better than the alternative. Increasing taxes on the commoners is expected and won’t have outsized negative effects except those mentioned.

Taxes from markets and ports are their own thing.

    Commoner Classifications:
Hundredsmen: Pay “liberties” and owe labor to their liege. Cannot leave the city-state or its territories without permission.

Dutymen: Pay taxes on their enterprises, which are too profitable to deprive Dutymen of freedom like a Hundredsman.
Slaves: Found in some societies; may be publicly owned and not subject to a House per se, or subject only to the King

Appendix for GM and Players: What a Noble House Has

(Note that this is very similar to the “what each player has” section, but there are a few differences, such as the role of Holy Men in a House)

Every House has:
Armsmen (rifle, pistol, SMG, hand grenades, can bear cuirass)
Stewards: often monks, esquires (noblemen who have not been knighted; females are called handmaidens and act as messengers, spies and confidantes for more established noblewomen) or members of lowborn business families
A walled family manor
A stable of horses and/or automobiles
Hereditary privileges enforceable by violence. Insolence on the part of anyone but the king is always punishable by death; if the king disrespects you you can ask compensation

Many Houses have:
Fiefs of urban land whose residents offer military service and taxes to the House.
Knights/Retainers: Armored weaponmasters capable of commanding tanks, flying in air combat, fighting as gun cataphracts, and leading other troops in combat. Each must be provided with his own stronghouse and a stipend sufficient to maintain a small household staff and a small body of armsmen
Tracts of undeveloped lands
Holy men: sometimes excess noblemen become holy men and share many of the loyalties and education of their military-political counterparts; it is common for noble individuals expecting to join the clergy to be trained in medicine as well as theology. Clergy can be useful but the world has many faiths and not all have significant temporal power. In some societies, nobles are the clergy, in some societies nobles answer to theocratic authorities, but in most societies the clergy act at the pleasure of the nobles and in some societies they are nothing but the terrified puppets of the ruling class. 
Airplanes, if they control an airstrip or seaplanes if they control a coast or river

Appendix for GM and Players: Justice

This section is for non-Absolute Monarchies.

Generally, if there is a king he does not punish murders and chaos. It is on the wronged party to avenge this, if they can and if they please. Might is right and vassals can seize each other’s property by force if they can. The king is generally not significantly more powerful than the mightiest dukes; sometimes he is even less powerful and possesses forces primarily for his defense, serving more of a uniting role than as a giver of directives

Strife between vassals can be profitable if you charge them fines for their conduct; it will be hard for them to deny you unless strife between vassals of the same lord is regarded as normal in your society.

Judicial combat can be used to prove your innocence (maybe have a “levels of legal tradition” table). Forgiveness can be forced by a neutral lord of superior power 
An unconsummated marriage can be annulled. This is a completely separate issue from divorce. Marrying the daughter of a rival is considered very prestigious, though if she was abducted she may give you snail ichor that prevents erection

People can be disinherited, either by fiat of the head of house, by taking religious vows, or by castration, depending on the tradition. It’s not uncommon for those who become monks to exit this state and return to the game. If you capture someone you can force them to take vows, which passes their titles onto the rightful heir. People sometimes sell their noble prisoners to slave traders taking their cargo to faraway lands, but this is more of a way of getting rid of them without murder than for profit
It is a holy, holy act to convert infidel captives instead of killing or ransoming them. It generally sticks, unless they are steeped in an even more established tradition, in which case they may continue their previous tradition underground

Things like manslaughter can be absolved through charity and other traditional forms of penance.

A just man can be loyal to an unjust one; a good man can be loyal to a bad one. This is commonly regarded as a form of tragedy.

It’s common for nobles to go to foreign courts, even very strange ones with totally different ways of life (such as empires or nomads) and perform terms of service there when they have been exiled from their homelands (or feel like they have nothing to do at home).

Appendix for GM and Players: Positive Preoccupations Option

Positive deep traits may be developed through intentioned ingame conduct, like being scrupulously honest or just. Players should annotate which ones they’re trying to develop ingame and mark them when exercised, with the GM’s assent.
Example Virtues that the GM can situationally reward:
Being honest allows a person to act with integrity and defuse suspicion
Being just helps maintain cohesion among his fiefs and serving men
Being chaste gives him a big boost to energy, courage and prowess, and helps stabilize his marriage
Being humble helps him perceive pitfalls and avoid starting new feuds
Being temperate helps physically and avoids the doubling of “Vice” rolls when in a context where there’s alcohol.

Appendix for GM: House NPCs

These are House NPCs the GM can autogenerate based on the players’ assets.

As a player, you can hire literally whatever profession you want to be part of your household or retinue, but these ones are particularly important to nobles. Players can freely reassign these roles to NPCs who they’d like to fill them. These positions (if they exist) will usually be filled by commoners at the start but knights can be assigned to them.

Bailiff: Charge of a manor house, directs the staff and capable of leading the armsmen in combat on or off the property. The warden of a castle is a Castellan.

Majordomo: Arrangement-maker of a manor and the director of its servants and laborers. “We shall have a feast!” “Arrange an guarded carriage caravan for the deputation!” “Have the Equinox decorations put up!” “Start making arrangements for the wedding!” - These are matters for the Majordomo.

Seneschal: Director of a productive enterprise (farms, factory, RGO, shipyard etc); he is suited for his enterprise and not necessarily interchangeable.

Marshal: Veteran sergeant responsible for the callup of the militia associated with a particular holding. Capable of leading warbands in battle, though commoners prefer to be led by their lord and will have much more staying power if you do so. Even if you lead the men, the Marshal will assemble them and then make sure they’re paid, provisioned, and, if you give him leave to, disciplined.

Sheriff: Responsible for enforcing the dictates of their House upon a given population of commoners, including collection of taxes. If he is a knight, then he may enforce his Lord’s dictates on other nobles, as well. Maintains a small jail (it is consider grievously disrespectful and even dishonorable to put a noble of your own culture and/or religion in a jail unless he is a traitor; more common is house arrest, under guard 24/7 if he or she is an escape risk). May lead a small troupe of lightly-armed footmen and foresters to patrol, help conduct searches, make arrests, and guard the jail. Can judge legal cases and will do so ambiently in the background, but rulings are held by the commoners to be much more legitimate when made by the lord himself, so the players can enhance their legitimacy and the functioning of their realm by judging important cases. This can be done outside of game time if you like by sending the player cases to judge. You don’t need to make it a deduction game, but rather a value judgement: if the case is not clear-cut, what do you most value given the two parties in the case and what they represent? A player can always attempt to make a fair and unbiased ruling, which should generally not be punished unless one of the parties is explicitly villainous and in the wrong, but if given the chance to empower one enterprise, one potentate or one social element over another, which is more valuable to the player and what does the benefitted party do with their advantage?
Sheriffs should be periodically looked into as they are highly subject to corruption, embezzlement and exploitative behavior within their hundreds. They are one of your main links to the people and one of the main fail points in the feudal chain; one of the main determinants of its functionality.
They can act as battle commanders for the militia of their Hundreds if you can’t/won’t give them knights as leaders.

Squire: student, manservant, confidante, sidekick, friend. It is expected that you will take him into combat, but also not throw his life away. Their job in combat is to bail you out if you get in the shit, laying down covering fire or leading militiamen to a position that you can escape to. Taking a squire is a commitment til he’s 21. You can request more than one squire but the more you take, the less likely people are to send their kids because they want a focused mentorship for their boys. More than 3 is very rare for anyone but high dukes. You can whoop your squire’s ass if he behaves in a churlish way; normally you’ll only have grounds to dismiss him if he’s caught in some kind of dishonorable plot or is an irrepressible poltroon. It’s common to train a squire in a particular direction; after awhile a squire can become specialized as a marksman, medic, information gatherer etc in addition to their normal combat/aristocratic training

Courtesan: of Noble origin surprisingly often. Ostensibly a lady of culture and conversation, which may be true, she also graces the host’s bedchamber (and sometimes others, he may find to his dismay- or at his behest)

Confessor: Holy man of appropriate religion that the player can confide in and recieve personalized counsel. Can also lead religious services in areas the player controls, in his name and on his behalf or just to maintain the tradition.

Justiciar: A professional judge, jury and executioner. Supplements the Sheriff, freeing him up to more hunt criminals and collect taxes full-time, though a professional Justiciar is an expert requires a good portion of what the court takes in, slightly reducing income while increasing order in the fief (both by taking in outlaws and improving people’s satisfaction with the justice system). When players judge cases on their own, they’re essentially acting as Justiciars and it has the same effect, except more so because people are glad to be having the lord look into their affairs personally (unless the PC is clearly arbitrary, biased or corrupt). If the player appoints a knight to this role as a Justice of the Peace, the judgements might not be superior but you can bet many people will start to get on their best behavior for fear of death

Falconer/Houndkeeper: Trainer and maintainer of hunting animals, including their mews and kennels.

Steward: A man educated in the fundamentals of administration, e.g. reading, writing, mathematics, bookkeeping, financial prudence, communications, staffing, and supply forecasting. Capable of learning and handling matters such as basic architecture and forestry, but a specialist is always better for such affairs.

Almoner: A player who wishes to set up a welfare program can establish an almoner, who will take a percentage of income collected by a sheriff, steward or vassal and distribute it to the poor and those in dire straits in the form of direct payments, investments, products on their behalf or infrastructural development of a type that will improve slums or lead to better access for rural hamlets. He may also give out perishable leftovers and table scraps to beggars and extremely poor hundredsmen.

Roadwarden/Riverwarden: Dedicated patrolman who remains among a city-state’s outlying wilderness communities, unlike the Bailiff or Sheriff. He and his men hunt down highwaymen, fugitives, bandit gangs, poachers, smugglers et al, and serve as an early warning system against raids, invasions, and general conditions in the outlands. Unlike the Bailiff and Sheriff, this is not an implied position and must be established.

Fun shit for a Player to have: Cupbearer, Treasurer, Chamberlain (takes care of your private rooms and wardrobe), Larderer, Herald, Sutler (private merchant who travels with the player to buy and sell his assets, the Sutler’s men periodically bringing in new stock), chauffeur, Emissary (can ghostwrite polite and eloquent letters arguing for the players’ positions, as well as acting as an in-person diplomat), legal advisor (strictly for interpreting foreign laws), Minstrel, valet (makes sure his liege looks sexy as fuck; tend to form ‘close working relationships’ with chamberlains), surgeon (way more expensive than a monk from your own house but a guaranteed quantity), mistress (generally a commoner out to have a noble bastard), jester, constable (cares for horses), tutor in some topic, astrologer (interfaces with the Fates but may tap into the Occult by mistake or temptation)

Example judicial cases:
Battle hero knight beloved of the players found skimming off tax collectors, intimidating them into silence. He begs forgiveness from the player on his knees.

International merchant house undercuts traditional shipping on a river going through the players’ lands. Local transporters petition the player to close the river to international shipping without paying the riverside hamlets. The shipping house offers emoluments directly to the player to open the river for trade, cutting out the player’s subjects.

A foreign detective has been caught inside the grand hall of a locked chapel by night; he says that he was using its belfry to surveil for a dangerous fugitive he’d tracked into your territory, but the temple’s priest is incensed because his rectory has been robbed before and he wants you to deliver the detective into his hands to personally mete out justice (this can be a long talking to or even personally washing and giving gifts to the intruder if you have a relatively-peaceful religion). The priest pays good taxes and will be furious if you decline, as the temple is theoretically his property.

Appendix for GM: Conquest

The fundamental implied mission of noble gameplay is for a party to play the great game of the city-states and rise to international preeminence over all rival states, rapacious empires and marauding tribes.

Preeminence can take many forms. Taking over an enemy city-state is very hazardous, and there’s a good chance of losing your entire besieging force.
It’s much easier to destroy or sack it.
If you take it over, it will be very difficult to hold without extreme brutality.
The most certain way of holding a place is to colonize it with members of your own culture. Even then it may eventually attempt to break free. Holding a place as part of an empire may require generational brutalization if it is not extensively seeded with members of one’s own culture.
You can make enemy city states into puppets whose policies you control, clients whose foreign policy you dictate, tributaries, or enforced allies as other less-demanding options for hegemony.
“Map painting” will eventually bore the players. I can’t improve on Roger Ebert’s observation: War is very much like itself.

That said, this is an age of storms. Might is right among the international nobility. Courtesy and honorable conduct are reserved for the select ingroup and outsiders who are respected on a case-by-case basis. The players can do what they like, or rather they may do what they can.

Appendix for GM: Crises

    Midgame Crises
These are intended to be distinct from the Prevailing Conditions in the city-state generator, which you can also use. These are written with the noble scenario in mind.

Family Curse: The poison of the moon runs in the veins of your House, and with an unexplained shifting in the lunar cycle you find that you are affected by a transformation at least once a month.
1 Living ghosts. You become ethereal, hazy and insubstantial, unable to affect the physical world or speak audibly to the corporeal. You can move at up to 30mph.
2 You become giant (1) spiders, (2) earwigs, (3) assassin bugs, or (4) dragonflies
3 Your flesh and bones become ultradense, allowing you to break through almost anything by beating it with your fists but causing you to move and speak very slowly.
4 You transform into the opposite sex, keeping your neurotype but experiencing the new hormonal environment and desires. You somewhat resemble your old self but as a very averaged (ie attractive) member of the opposite sex. This might not be a massive problem except that the women who turn to men for a night lose their pregnancies.
There may be a way to bring this to an end, possibly with the aid of a sympathetic entity, but entities generally only become sympathetic when you are already engaged in a mission that they believe is worthwhile. It is unwise to simply seek them out.

Memetic Psychomutation: Something about the way people who’ve been in contact with a particular document, observatory, site or set of unknown visitors change in the way they behave so as to no longer fit within what you know as human nature. Bandit Tribes, Social Darwinists, the Cynthian Empire, the Anarcho-Syndicalists, Antinatalists, the Red Charter Companies, Occultists, the Crag of Songs Killers- they are all understandable as people however abhorrent you may (or may not) consider their aims and actions. The people under the sway of the effect your civilization is suffering do not fit into the broad human schema. Example types: becoming mechanistic colony creatures, becoming loner ambush predator cannibals (you could say this is within the human schema, but these guys truly do not need sustained human contact in any psychological way), operating as a kind of largely unspeaking hive mind that provisionally attempts to continue to execute its constituents roles within society but is not guaranteed to do so in the future. 

Ideological Upswelling: Latent issues or desires in your civilization are set afire by a new doctrine extolled by a hard corps cabal of warrior-proponents. You are not involved in the great future planned by the movement. Anyone disenchanted, listless, opportunistic or eventually coerced by the movement may take up against your noble prerogatives and reshape the nation in their favor. Examples: A theocratic religious movement, Anarcho-Syndicalism, Social Darwinism (with capitalists or criminal warlords viewed as a more potent likely ruling class than hereditary nobles, but if you can keep your rule than you deserve it), Republicanism, or Occult Millenarianism. 
These could be crushed, or you could metabolize them by defusing their most anti-aristocratic elements and then finding a way to integrate them, (respectively) usurping the religion as its primary proponents, becoming capitalist-aristocrats or offering common people more opportunities to plunder foreign states (even if the former option is ultimately more profitable), instituting a House of Commons and respecting its demands, or, well, probably crushing that last one before coming under the sway of whatever is expected to be ushered in.
Each upswelling will have its own negative effect on the nation:
Theocracy - Warbands comprised of elite armored zealots leading hordes of commoners equipped with hunting rifles and shotguns begin to conquer outlying communities and converting them by the sword. Sympathetic foreigners come to bolster their armies, serving as fighters or camp followers. Their ultimate goal is the seizure of the capital and the overthrow of your government. Their cabal of leaders will not accept your continued rule even if you convert; you are too dangerous as a perpetual source of claimants to rulership and they will at best kill your children, castrate you and force you into a hermitage should you give in to their demands. The common followers are much more flexible, however, and so long as the central idea of the religion is maintained they are less particular about who is in charge of it.
Social Darwinism - Crime goes through the roof as bank wrecking, revenge murders, political violence and shoplifting become highly prestigious activities. Eventually, warlord figures (who may have previously been potent industrialists, underworld kingpins, charismatic religious authorities etc) begin to assemble bands of retainers so as to eventually assert their right to rule by naked force. Players can prove themselves the biggest gorillas in the jungle by crushing these upstarts, or they can find a way to end the movement through superior arguments/appeals, or they can subvert the movement by finding an outlet for these newly awakened piratical energies- they can even integrate the warlords into their endeavors, though each of these men will retain their ultimate goal of becoming a dictator.
Anarcho-Syndicalism - Consummate enemies of governance by a hereditary military rentier class for whom manual labor is dishonorable. They will kill you and your whole family and anyone who aids and abets you. They will not stop until the highest level of government in your state is the labor union. Some nobles may even join them out of romantic idealism, though they would find themselves murdered during the consolidation period after a successful revolution. You will have to defeat the intellectual hard core if you wish your form of government to survive, though you may be able to avoid crushing much of your workforce by subverting the labor unions into pliable guilds.
Republicanism - The cry for representation begins in highly-effective broadsheets that may be supported by underground political meetings and the sermons of political leaders, depending on how integrated the state religion is with the nobility. Gradually, a coterie of Republican leaders and thinkers draft a list of demands for the aristocratic elite; if these go unanswered or rejected, there will be a rebellion. Example list of demands: (1) The formation of a House of Commons with veto power over major governmental decisions (e.g. warfare, new taxes, expensive projects), (2) the annual admittance of a dozen men of achievement and character into the aristocracy (including their families) on fully equal terms, to be elected by the commons, (3) the consent of civil genealogists and political consultants will be required before aristocrats can marry foreigners, (4) The reduction of taxes on commoners by 33%.
Occult Millenarianism - A mysterious speaker or group of speakers captures the attention of a great many members of the civilization, leading them to believe that by ritual and blood a heralded age will be ushered in with the participants holding a special place in it (either as beneficiaries, or simply in an existential sense as the people who took part in something necessary and inevitable). Lay initiates will resist attempts at intervention with hostile force and the party and their government will have to deal with Occultists, their controlling/allied/subordinate entities, and all manner of supernatural subversion of the social hierarchy and the natural order.

Age of Reason: There is a contagious blossoming of intellectual endeavor within the state. This supercharges technological and artistic advancement and may give you an edge in military power, economic leverage and cultural influence over your rivals, but causes doubts about the legitimacy of aristocracy at every level of society. This is more than a flare-up of a particularist philosophical movement; your best people may not be caught up in Social Darwinism or Anarcho-Syndicalism, but their desire at least for a government and society that makes best use of all its members latent talents, and possibly even for the expression of the spiritual equality of all mankind in the form of legal rights, may be awakened. If the party and the other aristocrats in government do not handle this gracefully, valuable experts may attempt to flee to other nations where they can engage in free inquiry. Of course, victory and prosperity tend to placate, while defeat and poverty inflame, no matter , so a sufficiently beloved aristocratic government may be able to get by without reform until a sufficient catastrophe occurs to serve as a rallying cry.

Revolt: Serfs, slaves, subject tribes or anything that resembles a “janissary” class.

Corruption: The vast wealth that has flowed into the city has created a culture of impunity for corruption and suddenly much of what is traded in the city is skimmed by government leaders, inspectors and middlemen. Particularly subject to bribery are the players’ Bailiffs, Sheriffs and Marshals (in the form of “ghost soldier” rosters). Tax officials practice something amounting to banditry and commoners begin hiding their assets, reducing the players’ income and necessitating more and more brutal treatment to extract enough for the taxman and the players. A mafia formed from members of a particular foreign city-state who’ve come to participate in the booming economy has seized control of the underworld from other groups and now controls many of the most corrupt industries (and other people from that city-state might be the foremost anti-corruption activists in your nation). This group has a silver-or-lead policy towards state officials: accept bribes or be assassinated. They will present this offer to the party as well, though the entire economy and all state enterprises will be unreliable as long as the Corruption situation persists.

Feud: War between houses or noble factions inside the nation. Murders, duels and deleterious battles between retainers. Cause: Insults, Desired Marriage, Disputed Claims, Assertion of Kingship/Vassalization.

Narcotics Epidemic: A new narcotic of unprecedented ability to form dependence has begun to explode in the city-state. The players will have to deal with their troops becoming addicted to this drug, even trafficking it, and even with some higher-ups and nobles becoming addicted. Some men of absolutely rotten character may even suggest that this is a good opportunity for profit; rather than tacking the problem head-on, it might be wiser to take over trafficking of this narcotic from the underworld. A few may begin to do so even without the players’ consent.

Reclamation: Unspeaking spriggans which are simply ambulatory bundles of living roots begin to overtake outlying communities, crushing stones, collapsing wells and stabbing into those who attempt to remain settled upon their patrimony. They push inwards, tearing up fields as if to consume civilization. They are wiry and difficult to hit, but do die if sufficiently damaged by gunfire or explosions. They will eventually begin to tear down the walls of the city, but will go no further, trusting the city’s rivals and the inherent dangers of the wilderness to take advantage of this “slighting”.
Pick one from the current events table in the City-State Generator.

    Endgame Crises
Defensive Pact: Many independent states gather in a Grand Alliance to oppose the players should they be on the road to world conquest; suddenly the combined forces of almost the entire world oppose them.

Interstrata War: One or more xenostygian civilizations deep beneath the earth bring their strange ways of war and living to the surface and endeavor to seize the players’ assets and populations for their own inscrutable purposes.

Decadence: If the party’s empire has become mighty, prosperous, and secure from attack except at the borders which are so distant from the capital, they may begin to find that a great proportion of their population and experts just cannot be bothered to shoulder deprivation, discomfort and extreme danger the way they used to when the nation’s borders ended with the walls of a city. People are happy trading, raising small families who they will pass on much wealth to, and enjoying the abundant services of the most prosperous provinces. This crisis is greatly accelerated if it is a slave society as citizens are freed from labor that they might find engaging and meaningful, forcing them to find their own source of meaning, which is far from a guaranteed procedure.

Military Anarchy: Your subordinates and peers (nobles, magnates and charismatic leaders) begin scheming on taking top leadership. They break into hosts of professional fighting men and begin battling one another for supremacy. This generally happens once most serious outside threats have been humbled. You will need to prove your right to rule once more.
This crisis is greatly accelerated if it is a slave society, as the young men of the society are mostly bored senseless, generally held in patronage relationships to rich and influential men, and suffer from a sense of indignity from having no social role and so are in a prime position to be usurped as soldiers in arbitrary civil wars of pure power.

Revolution: Subject city-states and populations rise up and demand independence. Taking advantage of this is an Opposition faction of strange bedfellows, Republicans and Anarcho-Syndicalists, which rises up in a militia army against the aristocracy who may in turn be supported by religious cohorts and ultranationalists. Foreign states send advisors and volunteers to whichever factions they’d like to come out on top; this is the moment of true crisis and the time when the players will be glad they cultivated allies, assuming they did so.

Wrath of God: An Attila the Hun-style barbarian invasion prefaced by a wave of displaced bandit tribes, who are followed by a motorcycle horde from the unknown reaches of the continent. They ride solo on motorcycles, expertly firing rifle grenades from their short carbines, or attach machine gun sidecars. They tow their carts and artillery from motorcycles. They are expert siegers; they possess vast quantities of artillery manned and directed by experts from subjugated city-states. They fire biological munitions like venomous creatures mutated to be aggressive and truly poisonous, spore clusters designed to find and rot foodstuffs and wounds, and a psychedelic dissolver distillate mist. They don’t have experts from conquered states; if they have to conquer you, they raze your city, plunder all valuables, kill all males and enslave all females.

Appendix for GM: Thoughts

If I ever make this part of an RPG I will add stat enhancements to go with choices and outcomes.

People love to discuss the doings of the nobility and your actions will be rapidly famous inside your city-state, provisionally and gradually famous abroad.

The average city-state in this world is two hundred and fifty to five hundred times as violent as the US average in 2021. From the US rate of 7.8 murders per 100,000 people in 2021, in this world there are 1,950 to 3,900 murders per 100,000 people. Some cities are up to one thousand times as violent (Mandrake, Bombaryx), though a few tightly controlled states have murder rates that approach Western modernity (Ascension, Starling & Shrike, the Cynthian Home Fleet). Bandit tribes may have murder as the majority cause of male death, though ~33% is more common.

Curfews are common for this reason; this world is much poorer than modernity and many thieves will simply stab you in the back before they risk a confrontation. 
(The 500-1000x murder rate is also a good justification for Starling & Shrike’s existence)

In city-states, “noble” is the most dangerous profession of all.



  1. Your tables as usual are astounding. Keep it up.

  2. I think every TTRPG blogger will do a table of knightly orders eventually!

    Wonderful stuff. For some reason, I'm imagining this table as spitting out something like The Shadow or one of other pulp heroes: violent, domineering, stylish, wealthy, with a train of followers, a mysterious past.....

    1. ABSOLUTELY! That’s a great way of characterizing the aristocrat here; and there should be some pulp influence, too, given the genre of most of the content associated with this! And thank you, I’m glad you like it.

      I forgot one order, an order of international banker-knights, each an investor, courier, bank guard, and loan shark. I’m considering calling them the Knights Tarragon due to tarragon apparently having draconic associations, but each tier of membership would have to have a set of distinctive title because “Knights Tarragon” rolls off the tongue but “Knight Tarragon” and “Tarragon Knight” do not. So you’d be part of the Knights Tarragon but your title would be “Knight Guarantor” or something. Ideally there are a lot more orders than I listed here, but these are important international ones. It’s certainly true that for a short term conspiracy of nobles (errantry, bounty hunting, a forty-seven ronin type situation, friends at a tournament) every character could be from their own city-state with their own Noble House culture.


Art - First Run