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Lords of the Cruth Lowlands: Becoming a Lord

by Giampaolo Agosta

In the Cruth Lowlands, the PCs are far from court. Their actions are not under a close scrutiny from the Duke and the Duchess, who will rely primarily on the reports of their envoys to establish whether a PC is trustworthy, and can be eligible for a noble title.
Such reports, however, can easily be contested by one of several power groups that are active in Karameikos -- e.g., if the PCs have angered the Black Eagle Baron, he might well spread lies (or truths, which might be worse) about them to his peers, such as the Barons Kelvin and Vorloi, who in turn would report at least part of the information to the Duke.
However, important people who appreciate the PCs will speak in their favor.
This means the PCs will have to court the support of such groups.

Power Groups
The following power groups are active in the Cruth Lowlands, divided in two categories -- societies and organizations on one hand, and political groups on the other.

The Guilds: the trade guilds of Specularum exert a wide control of large-scale trade in all of Karameikos.
The Church of Karameikos: includes both factions of the Church.
The Church of Traladara: this refers only to the Church of Traladara itself, as the Cult of Halav has no foothold in the Cruth Lowlands, and does not exert any significant control over the government.
The Government: this refers to the Ministers and their bureaucrats, as well as to the Lord Seneschal, Lord Forester and other special agencies of the duchy.
The Local Population: the population of the Lowlands is primarily Traladaran, and reacts accordingly to the PCs' actions.

The Thyatian faction: this includes the Thyatian lords, clergy and merchants, such as the Black Eagle, Patriarch Oderbry, Baron Kelvin, Baron Vorloi, and Lady Penhaligon, as well as the Dwarves.
The New Karameikan faction: this includes the followers of the Duke's philosophy, such as Retameron Antonic and Halia Vorloi, or the Hyraksos family, and the Elves.
The Torenescu faction: for the purpose of this adventure, the Torenescu faction includes also most Traladaran landed nobles, as well as the Marilenev. It also includes the major Hin families of Specularum.
The Radu faction: the Radu and their allies, including the Veiled Society.

Conditions for Ennoblement

As stated in the Gazetteer, PCs aiming at a title of nobility need to perform two major quests in the direct service of the crown. Lords of the Cruth Lowlands provides such quests (The Achelos Outlaws and The Bell of Chardastes), but also a number of other quests which can affect the popularity of the PCs with several power groups.

Moreover, the PCs need at least to enjoy the favor of the Karameikan Government (the Ministers and their bureacrats, who would otherwise hinder their ennoblement with red tape), and two other factions must support them.
They can reach their goal even if some faction is hostile to them, but there will be repercussions.
Hostility from the local population or the Church of Traladara will lead to a loss of loyalty in the new dominion, while hostility from the Guilds will penalize the new dominion's trade.
Hostility from one of the political factions or the Church of Karameikos will reduce the new ruler's influence at court, leading to an unexpected problem in the future -- a Black Eagle invasion (Thyatians), reduced support from the Guilds (Radu or Torenescu), an aggressive proselytizing campaign (Church of Karameikos) or lack of funds for public works (New Karameikan).

Effects of the Quests

The table below provides a quick overview of the repercussions of the various quests. Major quests are marked with an asterisk. Numerical values denote a change in support by a given group. A total of +2 means a given group is actively supporting the PCs, while a negative total means the group is opposing the PCs -- though this opposition may be limited to speaking against the PCs at court.

The Colonization of Achelos Rad +1, Gov +1, Gui +1, CoT +1
The Bell of Chardastes* CoT +1, CoK -1 (or vice versa), Kar +1, Gov +1
The Achelos Outlaws* Thy +1, Gov +1, Kar +1, Loc -1
The Regalia of Achelos Tor +1, Thy -1, Loc +1, Gov -1 (if unrest ensues)
The Undead Menace Gui +1, Gov +1, CoT +1, CoK +1
The Upper Achelos Gui +1, Gov +1, Loc +1, Thy +1
The Turnwood Gui +1, Loc -1 (if botched), Gov -2 (if botched)

The Colonization of Achelos can give the PCs the support of the majority of the Guilds, as well as part of the ducal bureaucracy. It does not involve great acts of heroism, so it does not count as a major success.

The Regalia of Achelos is a tricky quest for would-be lords.
While it gives the characters visibility as adventurers, explorers and warriors, it also brings them into the Ivanovich family's quest to restore their noble status -- a quest which is certain to be opposed by the Thyatian faction.
The Torenescu faction, on the other hand, would be pleased by this development.
The character can gain popularity with the local population as well through this quest.

The Achelos Outlaws are popular with the local Traladaran population, but their defeat is a major success for the Karameikan government.

The recovery of the Bell of Chardastes prevents a major disaster in Karameikos, so it counts as a major success. However, giving the custody of the Bell back to the Church of Traladara is going to make the Oderbry faction an enemy of the PCs, while giving the Bell to the Church of Karameikos will alienate the Church of Traladara, as well as most of the local Traladaran population.

The Undead Menace is a problem mostly for the Guilds, the Karameikan Government, and the other stakeholders of Nova Achelos. However, it is not so great a threat as to count as a major success.

The events in the Turnwood are hard to predict: the PCs could gain great magical knowledge, which would turn them into heroes for the Magicians' Guild, but the risk of causing unrest among the various monsters of the area is high, and would lead the Grand Duke to consider the PCs too reckless for being considered for landed nobility.

The Upper Achelos section of the adventure leads the PCs to open new trade routes and save a small Dwarven clan, as well as to defeat marauding giants and deal with creepy necromancers. All of this can allow them to obtain the favour of the Thyatian faction (via the Dwarves), the Guilds (especially the Merchants' Guild) and the Government. The local population will also be impressed by the defeat of a hill giant chief.