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Renia from X11/X13 as a pretender to the Thyatian throneby Simone Neri
Thank you Michele for the useful material on Renia!
She is a very interesting - albeit undeveloped - character who has pitiful fallen victim to one of the timeline inconsistencies typical of Mystaran canon...
Years ago, when working together with agathokles on a common timeline for the Norwold articles in Threshold #6-8, we also chose to keep X11 at 930-931 AC and X13 at 979 AC (see respectively pages 38-40 and 43-44 of Threshold #7). It is therefore quite unlikely for the same PC group - apart from characters like the elf Miridor and maybe the wizard Rannulf - to appear in both adventures, despite the fact the two modules feature the same set of pregenerated PCs.
The time travel expedient Michele suggests is clever, but Renia's claim on the throne of the empire in the future is a risky bet at best. In Michele's version, as a claimant she would be an illegitimate female candidate against the line of a legitimate male one (Gabrionius V), in a country where - barring the current ruler's whim - usually the oldest son takes the throne or the husband of the oldest daughter does (as per DotE). Given that, even Thincol has better legal claims on the throne than Renia, even without taking into account the fact that an unknown girl - even the long-lost daughter of an emperor deceased a century ago - catapulted decades in the future has probably worse chances to get the throne than the average dominion ruler, senator or general with ties with the empire's current political standing.
That said, Renia offers quite a lot of story opportunities. Some alternative ideas I came up with:
1) Use Renia in X11 (but not in X13): the girl is the daughter (illegitimate, likely) of Gabrionius IV, as Michele explained. Since no one then would wish the death of a harmless emperor like Gabrionius V (uner him, aristocrats and governors are largely left to rule as they wish), maybe Renia, when her heritage is discovered, could become an ally of the empire in another realm, or be offered the rule of a subject realm or province. It could be Renia, after she gest a dominion in northern Wendar in X11, the cause of the alliance between Wendar and Thyatis. When she becomes older, she might have children, and she (or one of her sons) could be the candidate of a short-lived aristocratic/senatorial conspiracy against the rise of Thincol to the throne. The former gladiator would secure his position on the throne then not only marrying Gabriela, but also disposing of Renia and of her family.
2) Use Renia in X13 (but not in X11): the girl is the daughter (even a legitimate one) of one of princess Gabriela's brothers - a grandchildren of Emperor Gabrionius V. She could be born on the very eve (or even during) the Alphatian Spike Assault on the capital (960 AC), and be secretly carried away by some faithful servant of the dynasty (together with the kingfisher ring, to ensure she is one day recognized as a baby born in the purple) when it becomes apparent the city is doomed. The rise of Thincol persuades Renia's tutor to avoid resurfacing even when the Alphatians are defeated, so he/she leaves the country carrying the girl with him/her, and Renia is raised elsewhere. Thincol and anyone elso would then assume the young baby has died during the Spike Assault together with her parents.
The young Renia could take part in X13 (979 AC) or in other adventures which would lead her to discover her heritage. After that, she would wish to take revenge on those who has slaughtered her family - the Alphatians - as well as against those who usurped her throne - her weakling aunt Gabriela and the Torions. Maybe there is someone else in the empire who secretly knows about her real origin, and he could begin to assemble a network of people supporting Renia to stage a coup against Thincol - unbeknownst to all, the Alphatians could be behind this support! This could lead to a conspiracy-civil war scenario in the last decade of the 10th century AC, maybe as imperial armies are busy in the Hinterlands or in Norwold. Renia, discovering the role of the Alphatians behind her success, would have the choice between fighting for the throne helped by the murderers of her family, and accepting an agreement with the Torion usurpers, relinquishing her claim on the throne and receiving a governorship, ministry, or domain somewhere.
3) Following from option 2 above, another interesting twist to Renia's story could be that, after a failed coup attempt against the Torions, her heritage now publicly known, she takes shelter in the Alphatian Empire (Isle of Dawn, likely). Maybe she grows family and children there. As Thincol, under the advices of (V)Anya, starts to prosecute all the decadent and corrupt elements in the bureaucracy and army (as per the pre-WotI years, 1001-1004 AC), many of those who flee gather around Renia's court in exile. When the Great War starts, Alphatia is not only trying to finish off Thyatis with its own forces before moving on Glantri, but gets the help of many Thyatian exiles and supports Renia's claim on the throne, which could overturn the tide of the war as discontented elements inside Thyatis could support Renia as well (maybe even the rebel archdukes of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands); Ixion-piloted Alphatia would then have the main goal of placing Renia on the throne and have Thyatis make peace in order to proceed against Glantri as soon as possible.
If you wish to make a further connection with other canon material you may assume that Renia's firstborn son is secretly serving as an high-ranking officer in the Imperial Legions as the mysterious "Prince Rawald", a 5th level warrior who appears in M2 army list (page 23) as commander of the 2nd Colonial Division that invades Norwold in the War of the Crown of AC 998-999.
Just throwing in another couple ideas for this Prince Rawald. He could be: (a) one of the (adopted) sons of King Hord of Ostland, given formal command of a Thyatian expedition, advised by Thyatian generals (after all the expeditionary force here seems to me more a mercenary than a regular one); or (b) a son of archduke Donegal Firestorm of Westrourke, and a brother of Thrainkell Firestorm, which would make more sense since the Firestorm are closely related to the Torsons/Torions.
Renia as the last Tatriokanitas may create a variety of adventure hooks for Thyatian and non-Thyatian adventurers.
Surely, even if I don't think the dynasty of Gabrionius IV and V could still be same dynasty of the empire's founder Zendrolion I. In my campaign they are the Prothemians (the family of duchess Olivia in Karameikos), while in Ruhland's version they are the Eusebos, and in Mishler's version - albeit called the Third Tatriokanitas Dynasty - seems to lack any direct connection with the older two dynasties of the same name (0-157 AC and 267-352 AC).
There was one also in the Fan Almanacs Manfred, but I think with no basis in canon.
IIRC, Manfred is an illegitimate son of Thincol, but his character has been created by the Mystaran Almanac team.