Everyone loves the twice-widowed Queen Icillia IV. The octogenarian is praised for her even-handed ruling, merciful nature, and kindness to people of every class. Her reign has been long and prosperous for Aeranore. Not only do her farmers’ crops bring the nation great economic standing, but Aeranore has the largest and most successful settlements in Verda. Of course, there is the matter of the Twins, which could lead the entire nation to erupt into a civil war.
Queen Icillia has two male successors, Fergal and Mankor. These identical twin brothers are now in their fifties, and have watched their resilient mother hold the throne all their lives. The twins are growing restless. Each desires Aeranore for himself and at this rate their mother could outlive them.
Fergal was born first (“by a minute,” as Mankor is quick to tell anyone) and has become a charismatic general. He is as ruthless and cunning at court as he is on the battlefield. Backstabbing, blackmail, theft, seduction, underhanded dealings, and even murder are all rumored to be part of Fergal’s toolbox when it comes to scheming and gathering power. Who could blame him? Though the throne is his by birthright, Mankor is clearly the queen’s favored son. Some whisper the reason she continues to sit the throne in her eighties is her secret hope Fergal dies in some war and Mankor be next in line. Any favor Queen Icillia gives to Fergal is for accomplishments that cannot be ignored, and nothing less.
Mankor is the seemingly softer soul. More educated and sheltered, the minute-younger twin has a love of music, wine, and bed partners. The queen looks upon Mankor with the greatest affection and has granted him a seat at her right side. For his entire life, Mankor has believed he is more worthy of the throne than his brother. His mother, who reinforced the thought, will not scheme against Fergal, she simply grants him no special favor. Mankor, on the other hand, has no such honor. Often he openly mocks his brother as a ruthless brute. More than once Fergal has thwarted assassins that have come for his life, many believe at the behest of Mankor.
Icillia is seeing her own health degrade, but it does not seem fast enough for either of her sons. So they plot against one another, they plot to strengthen their own claims to the throne, and some whisper, they plot the demise of their own mother. (DM Note: The fact that these two are identical twins allows them extra opportunities to sabotage each other via impersonation.)
The Twins are not simply power mongers. Both have visions for what Aeranore may become. Fergal believes that the smaller folk should have more of a voice at court and believes Aeranore must maintain a strong military. His biggest proposal, which has so far been rejected at court, is that anyone who enlists in the military has an opportunity to be heard once a year by Aeranore’s royalty.
Mankor also has a dream for Aeranore. He sees a land of inventors and researchers building new technologies and uncovering blank spots on the map. He believes Aeranore should be investing in young minds by scouting out potential scholars and mages then offering them scholarships to institutions like the Arcane College. In exchange these students then come and work for Aeranore’s government for a time.
The Twins are not the only forces at play.
When Queen Icillia IV was in her twenties she was married to a nobleman adventurer named Rallaigh DeTremont. Rallaigh went to war against Bragonay shortly after marrying Icillia and lost his life at the end of a dwarves waraxe. Shortly after, the queen gave birth to their daughter, Icillia V.
The queen rained love down on her daughter and told her tales of her father’s bravery. One day the throne would be hers after all, and she had to know what it meant to have courage. Little Icillia V grew proud of the father she had never met and desired nothing more than to go on heroic adventures. Everything the girl did was out of love for Rallaigh. That love was nurtured by her mother to prepare Icillia V to be an effective ruler. The queen constantly sang the praises of the girl’s father and spoke of how deeply she loved him.
Alas, the queen pushed too hard and praised Rallaigh too much. Eventually she remarried to the Twins father, Jerronic Tellibo. Icillia, appalled at the actions of her mother, forsook her birthright. She disappeared amongst the peasants, sought her fortune as an adventurer, or took any and all of the actions told in countless other rumors. Today she would be in her sixties, if she is still alive, and hiding somewhere in the world. Aeranore’s true heir to throne does not wish to be found, but there are those who wish to find her. Certain diplomats and nobles do not think either of the Twins sitting the throne is a good idea. They hope to find the lost princess so she might take the crown and perhaps avoid a civil war… but Icillia V’s return could just make a potential war even worse.
The Power Players
Two other groups further complicate Aeranore’s situation. Free Aeranore is a revolutionist group that spreads their message through acts of terrorism. They wish to bring democracy to Aeranore and put more power in the hands of the peasants by having a democratically elected group of leaders. The message of Free Aeranore is spread through vandalism and acts of violent aggression, such as raiding and raising government buildings, robbing treasury carts, and executing nobles. Their leader, a masked female who calls herself The Voice, claims Free Aeranore does not wish to commit such acts, but the monarchy forces them to do so. They have promised all acts of aggression until now have been warm ups for an imminent event they’re calling The Big Show.
Aeranore’s other issue is its largest Verdan colony, Paqual. Governor Sydal Freedrock has convinced the people of Paqual that they should not be subject to the rule of Icillia IV, who sits on a throne across the sea and does not understand the problems of the Verdan colonies. He wants Paqual and Aeranore’s other colonies to rise against Icillia IV and declare themselves a separate nation. Trying to garner support, Sydal will soon make his own claim for Paqual’s independence, with or without the other colonies. Many of Paqual’s citizens agree with this separatist attitude, though others see Sydal as a power-hungry tyrant who desires a kingdom of his own.
Aeranore’s situation is complicated even more by rumors whispered amongst the peasants and nobles alike. Here’s a few!
- The Twins’ father is not actually Jerronic Tellibo, but actually his deceased, older brother Vant Tellibo. Therefore the Twins are actually bastards and have no claim to the throne.
- Icillia V is actually still the 18-year-old woman she was when she left her mother’s palace to seek a life of adventure. Some say this youth has been achieved through a magic necklace given to her by an old tutor who looked upon her as a daughter. Others believe it is because Icillia has studied dark arts and transformed herself into some sort of undead.
- Queen Icillia IV is not as healthy as she appears. She is suffering from an illness that will strike her down sooner than her sons might.
- Mankor has a love all things lemon – pies, tarts, drinks. This has led many to whisper that Mankor himself is a mystauk host.
How’d I do?
I know I’ve said before I want every country to be a rich enough world that a party could simply complete a level 1-20 campaign without ever leaving its borders, but have enough connections to the outside world that an organically sprawling campaign may also be played. Hopefully, I have enough domestically going on in Aeranore to make things interesting if my players stay there. This is just a small piece of the country’s lore and we haven’t gotten into its connections to the outside world yet.