The Nobles of Vartanadel play a yearly game of politics that climaxes at the yearly Naming ceremony that changes everything. It is then that the King names his favorite and they all find out if they are still labeled as a King's favorite or if their lives will be forfiet.
Entering a new city there are street urchins, hustlers, con men, kidnappers, thieves and burglars looking to make their day’s prophet. The victim, in many cases the PC, is known as the mark and is the target of whatever kind of hustle they have planned. These hustlers are always on the lookout for easy pickings.
Because of this the culture believes in a death walk for those that are getting near natural death, whether it be from oldness or some kind of terminal sickness. They are to leave the home and go through the Death Gate into the Sullen woods where they spend the last days of their life. Once they pass through Death Gate they are never allowed to return. But having a death gate in your own backyard may create more problems then it solves.
In the Middle Ages, and even up to the early twentieth century, most of Europe's executioners were related: the Sansons and Deiblers in France, the Pierrepoints in England, etc. The reason for this was that, it generally not being socially acceptable to, well, kill people, executioners and their children could, generally, only marry other executioners or their children.
The parallels with massively inbred, Hapsburg-style dynasties are obvious- imagine a rather clever but politically inept satirist noting this, and being sentenced by the latter to a meeting with the former; even worse, imagine a dynasty of deranged and deformed executioners- think Texas Chaisaw Massacre with government funding.