Noble fief - a different approach

As a person who enjoys creating new worlds, I simply love the World Burner. However, sometimes I find that my visions of what could be possible in the Iron Empires (which, I must admit, I’m not really accustomed with). For example - in the “Noble Fief” section we read, that the planet has a Forged Lord who generally rules it. Which kinda collides with the vision I had in my mind:

Let’s imagine a resource-rich planet. Very rich. Rich as hell, in fact. The whole globe - along with the precious minerals - is divided into the territories of some (let’s say about 20) great noble houses. As the planet’s resources are used by many neighbouring industrial and military worlds, it’s both wealthy and strategically important. In ancient (maybe even pre-Hanrilke) times, the noble houses fought each other. After a long period of civil war, they decided to cease fire and ensure that each of them will be able to prosper in peace. So, they established a Noble Council with a representative from each house. The Council, to furhter ensure, that there will be no further war, created two organisations - the Planetary Army (Hammer and Anvil) and the Trade League. PA was a military force, paid for and equipped by all the houses (which would have their private armies reduced to mere security forces and garrisons), in which higher officer ranks were restricted to nobility. The TL was the only faction allowed to trade with other planets, a trade consorcium, in which all the houses had their shares and their people at high posts. This way, the noble houses activity would concentrate on machiavellan schemes around the Council, Army and League and their power would be achieved by controlling the most important offices, not by raiding the neighbouring houses’ fiefs.

My two questions are - is a world like this possible in the Iron Empires and could it be created in WB by choosing Government - Noble Fief, Military - PVF, Moderately/Tightly regulated economy and factions Merchant League and Military Junta [representing the Trade League and the Planetary Army, of course]?

Sorry if I messed something up with the grammar & vocabulary, English is my second language :frowning:

Government - Noble Fief means the kind of Forged Lord-owned world that’s discussed under that entry.

This could be modeled as a Civilian Commune (it’s a sort of democracy, but with citizenship restricted to members of the Great Houses) or as a Military Dictatorship. Merchant League government would also be appropriate except that it places strict limits on military forces.

The trick here is to conceive of the form of government (for instance) and then read the descriptions of the options and pick the most appropriate one. Do not go by the names (i.e. “Oh, it’s ruled by nobles so I’ll pick Noble Fief”) but rather by the descriptions (“Oh, it’s ruled by a council of nobles squabbling for power, so that sounds like either a Commune or a League government only instead of Chairman, Senator, or Magnate they call themselves Counts and Barons.”)

You can model it either way, but each has severe ramifications on lifepaths available.

In theory, one couls say that the squabling nobles really are still a rebel faction from the “rightful” noble Lord…

zabieru - Yeah, it could be a commune, but the communer lifepath wouldn’t really suit such a world. And for the commune to have nobility it would have to contain a royalist faction, which is one of the few things I REALLY don’t get (who are they? The old, outpowered nobility? The people who want to have Stewardship/Fiefdom? The nobles in general? They are supposed to be aimed for the throne or wanting to regain power - but does the BE mechanics allow players to have a non-fiefdom world with nobles who are NOT marginalized? Like a military dictatorship run by nobles or a noble houses’ merchant league [as in this example]?)

Would giving this world a Forged Lord who would be elected from the nobles instead of the title being passed from father to son and who would be less powerful than usually make it a ‘proper’ Noble Fief?

Yes. But bear in mind that any Forged Lord, by definition, has full command of and access to Hammer and Anvil. If your top dog does not have that, he is not a Forged Lord. Do not put anyone with the Forged trait into the game unless you’re meaning that character to be a Forged Lord.

There is no requirement that nobles attain position only by inheritance. The only requirements in the lifepaths are that they be of the proper bloodlines (or work up through a series of prior LPs), but an election from those bloodlines is perfectly valid.

But does this person have to really call all the shots? I mean, does everybody have to obey him? Or can he be the most powerful guy - but still having to consider the will of other nobles? 17th century Poland wold be an extreme example - the king, although nominally the ruler of the country, couldn’t do much without the Parliment of nobles and the most powerful magnates generally did what they pleased. Or the Holy Roman Empire - the Emperor was the ruler, but the German states (especially in the 16th, 17th, 18th century) had their own problems and politics and were mostly independent…

I meant exactly what I said. The Forged Lord cannot be removed from command of the military (though other individuals can also have access to military assets).

Other than that, it’s pretty open. I’d say that the concept of the position requires the Lord to be top dog, but not to have unopposed political or economic power. His military role is the cornerstone of his power. He’s not just a figurehead, but he can certainly share power in other areas, or even be overruled.

An Elected Forged lord is still a Forged Lord - perhaps he could take a Character Trait “Elected to Office” and earn artha whenever this trait is used to bite him in a DoW?
(E.G. “I need not remind the Magister Militaris that his position is an elected one… hmmmm?”)

In our current BE game (yes, we are still playing even if I’ve stopped posting here with quite such clockwork regularity!) we have an Imperial Stewardship, with the planetary warlord being rewarded for his usurpation of the original rulers by being appointed Imperial Steward. The civilian starship construction industries is under the control of the Commune, which earns its charter of rights by administering it for the nobility who tend to be the substantial shareholders in the industries. Slaves, sorry PLUs (Purchased Labour Units) are imported wholesale for neighbouring fiefs to do the tedious and repetitive components of the work and are also administered (an unpleasant chore!) by the Commune’s officers in the ‘Ministry of Labour Retention’ while freeman-citizens of the Commune perform the sophisticated technical tasks involved in manufacturing and tend to run the share markets that the nobility use to manage their fief at-a-remove. Finally, the Steward maintains an interest in the industry and prevents the nobility from militarising it in order to protect the balance-of-power.

Mechanically speaking we have the Dominant Government as the Stewardship, the Military as the Lords-Pilot, the export is Industrial Capital, and we have a Commune faction and a required (by Lords-Pilot) Slave/Serf faction.

There is more stuff going on religiously, but I have skipped over that, however you can create some convoluted and interesting political situations using the basic tools in World Burning. In many ways it is not the mechanical choices, but the colour surrounding it that makes it interesting. In previous games we’ve actually made “wrong” choices in world burning and then had to live with them - working out how and why things were that way was really quite fun and lead us down paths that we never imagined at the start - which is kind of the point I think!

It’s important to remember that the main mechanical impacts of the World Burner choices are

  1. what lifepaths are most easily available and which settings impose a double (two year instead of one) penalty to switch into, and

  2. which side gets the advantage in Disposition in the various phases. (Although the net impact over all three phases usually cancels out).

Make sure that the LP choices you want are available as “native” options and that the disposition totals per phase aren’t too wonky, then color in the rest as you desire.