Warring Kingdoms Preview – Themes and Conflicts
The Warring Kingdoms, Nostria and Andergast, and their eternal strife are not at the center of Aventurian politics or the continent. They are their own corner of the continent on the border of the Middenrealm and the more wild cultures of the North like the Orcs and the raiders of Thorwal. Their hate grew in this isolation. Nostria has more contact with the rest of Aventuria, operating trading ports, but Andergast is even more remote inland and covered with deep woods. This shows in their cultural differences – Nostria strives to be recognized by the rest of Aventuria, claiming impressive sounding noble titles and imitating fashion trends years beyond their time in bigger countries, while Andergast clings to druidic worship and their unusual patriarchy, a culture uncommon in the rest of Aventuria and foreign to their human neighbors.
The conflict between Nostria and Andergast defines the setting of The Warring Kingdoms and has lasted for untold generations. The reason why the Kingdoms are at war in the first place has been lost in the fog of history. But now every generation inherits trauma and tales of cruelty about their hostile neighbors. Yet the culture of the Kingdoms mixes. Cities and lands change allegiance in the wars and a peasant subject to one King might bow before a different Queen once the fighting is done. Stone Oak, the most important trading good of the Kingdoms, is cut in Andergast and shipped down the Ingval river to the Nostrian port of Salta, ensuring the humble prosperity of both realms.
Still the hatred carries on. Every peace is uneasy and conflict is always flaring, threatening to break out into all-out war between the Kingdoms – a war that might not be sung about in the rest of Aventuria but means everything to the people fighting it. Yeomen taking up arms for their liege, knights proving the honor of their family and kings, queens and heroes leading troops into all deciding battles in the marshes and woodlands. Towns and castles are besieged and desperate missions undertaken to change the tides of war. Work for real heroes.
Still the war between the kingdoms will never be truly won, even if heroes choose a side and accomplish great feats in battle. It is core to the culture and setting. There is a deeper root to the hatred. In The Warring Kingdoms the war is as much a threat and a force of nature as it is a backdrop for your characters heroics.
Efforts to assure peace between the realms, follow the path of diplomacy, and search for the root of hatred are just as viable and maybe even more heroic undertakings than battle. The scenario New Bonds and Ancient Quarrels features these themes. It is set around a political wedding and the intrigues that follow, encouraging the heroes to ensure the peace between Nostria and Andergast.
(NOTE – The following paragraph will feature some information that might spoil a few surprises about the setting, if you are reading and experiencing The Warring Kingdoms only as a player and want to keep the GM chapter to the GM.)
There is a totemistic aspect to the quarrel between The Warring Kingdoms, a deeper layer of story that allows the heroes to engage with the war itself as the force that threatens the realms, instead of their neighbors. The heroes might not be able to fight the concept of war itself, but there are powerful beings – the Animal Kings of Stag and Aurochs – fighting and standing in for the countries. The characters might be able to appease an even deeper root of hatred that has infected the land since before humans came to live here. A root that heroes can combat…or succumb to.
Not everyone who knows about this prehuman history of the land is aiming to stop it. There are those who see eternal war as necessary. Some are guided by the resentment grown from a history of war, while others see it as a necessary evil to contain bigger threats. This conflict influences the druids in Andergast and the king they helped to ascend to the throne, as well as the mage queen of Nostria and her quest to learn about the hidden histories of her realm.
It might be your heroes who step up to decide and shape the future. For Nostria or Andergast, for war or peace.
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