Noble houses and Seafaring

Just got on the other side of character burning (woot!) and I’m stoked for our session 1 next Friday. I’ll be playing a very martially focused knight in a game of politics and intrigue. Excited to see where his failures lead him.

Part of my homework is working out the details of his house and how they fit into the rest of the kingdom. All the houses are named after animals using the scientific family name. He’s from house Makaira which are marlins. It’s an island kingdom, so I thought it would be appropriate for them to have the strongest navel presence and control the region that has the most ports.

Where I’m stuck is trying to work out exactly how this control looks. I was trying to burn my character’s grandfather, the current Duke, and noticed that sending your noble to sea essentially cuts them out of the noble setting for 2 or 3 LPs at minimum. For example, Born Noble --> Officer’s Mate then only leads to more seafaring, soldier, or city life paths. If you eventually want to get back to being a Count or a Duke, there is a long road to knighthood before that’s possible.

This makes sense to me. Ships capsize, food runs out, your son becomes a pegboy; all things that you don’t really want happening to a Prince of the Noble Blood. I’m curious how a family that has vested interested in maintaining their navel power and quality of that navel power would train their heirs. Also what would it look like for such a family to support, maintain, exercise that power?

Are there any good historical sources that might add some insight for me? Anyone play a character that interacted with ships a lot without being on them? The other component of this question is that we’re not really looking like we’re going to get on boats, but the fact that my house controls many of the boats in the kingdom will be important to the politics. I’m looking to establish which levers to pull and how.

Thank you!

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Wikipedia says, of the English nobility in the 19th century “Younger sons, who could not expect to inherit the family estate, were instead urged into professions of state service. It became a pattern in many families that while the eldest son would inherit the estate and enter politics, the second son would join the army, the third son go into law, and the fourth son join the church”.

Perhaps the second son/daughter joins the navy? And if they should rise to admiral, the family will have great influence there. Possibly in your family, the last several generations have had powerful naval relatives?

Just tossing some ideas around, no idea if they fit your situation.

That’s a great point. The kingdom in this setting was only unified two generations ago. The noble houses were established from the major powers that were ruling on the island. The current Duke of my house was a royal prince and briefly a king before he pledged his oath to the current monarchy. I hadn’t thought about brothers and cousins who could function as admirals and captains for the family. I think that makes a lot more sense.

A big point of tension that this gives me to play with is that the resources are supposed to be shared throughout the kingdom, but each house is still balancing how much they’re willing to cede to the crown and how much they’re keeping to keep themselves prominent.

Another thing to remember is lifepaths are what you’ve spent time doing, not what your notional rank is. You could have ‘your grace’ from Born Noble, but just not have picked up courtly skills because of your day to day experiences.

Additionally, in my group, we tend to waive some leads and restrictions if our setting makes shifts more likely than others. Does your noble family put untrained children in positions of power? Then perhaps make a “Scion of [your house]” noble court lifepath that grants some seafaring traits and stands in for First Officer.

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Hmm… It seems to me that what the life-paths suggest is that nobles can get into the seafaring life quite easily - Born Noble to Student to Navigator or Engineer; Page to Officer’s Mate; Knight to First Mate or Captain may be popular choices.

My first instinct was to try for a “Power Behind the Throne”-style Trait that opened up the Seafaring setting for your Circles, but I’m wondering now if you couldn’t simply take an Affiliation with a Naval Academy or an Officer’s Club or some other similar order that is all about putting nobles in ships. You wouldn’t be Circling from the Seafaring setting per se, you would be Circling up Knights, Students, and Born Nobles who have now shifted on to Captains, Navigators, and Officer’s Mates.

You usually don’t want to use Affiliations to open up other settings, but I think this usage is in-line with Affiliations. :thinking:

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