Bagatelle fits many of the accepted norms for nobility. his clothing is of the best quality and he generally dresses in fine brocade silks. He is rather tall and lanky, and the top of his head has since gone bald. He has a ring of now gray hair that circles the back of his head, and a pointed gray beard that he is frequently seen stroking or pulling on when he is pondering something.
Now in his late 60s, Bagatelle still has a commanding aura and is showing no signs of infirmity. He still rides his destrier on fox hunts through the low country, or riding in short patroling campaigns along the border. The black and green ox banner is a regular presence in the dozen towns that ring Bagatelle’s demense.
His eyes, clear and blue, are narrowed from many years of reading maps and charts as he is a meticulous man given to micromanagement. He is often accompanied by a cadre of scribes and clerks who bear records, documents, and other impliments of legality. Some have taken to calling Bagatelle the Triffling Lord as there is no level of minutae that escapes his notice.
Bagatelle is the sixth in the line of his fathers, and inherited his demense from his father, as he had inherited it from his before him. Yet it remained a largely unimportant backwater, a tertiary locale to the river cities and the coastal cities with their trade routes and waterways. Yet unlike his father and fathers before him, Bagatelle was a progressive minded ruler, fascinated with the concept of free cities, and the mercantile trade that they generated. It was hesitantly that he applied for his forst town charter from the King, and was greatly invigorated when the king granted the charter.
The first chartered city was born of a joint effort. Part of his demense was lowland, with good soil, but no one to work it. Rather than fill another corner of his land with peasants tilling at grain, he raised a vinyard and at his own expense funded a vinter’s guild, as well as a company to harvest lumber from the nearby forest for wine barrels, wagons and the other goods needed for wine production. For the first decade, the growing township, and grow it did, was a money sink. Bagatelle was even the brunt of many jokes, especially from traditionals and conservatives like the Viceroy of the kingdom.
In it’s eleventh year the township, now some 3,000 souls strong, turned its first profit. The wine was being shipped as far as it could before spoiling, and some of it was even making it to the King’s table. This success inspired Bagatelle to apply for more town charters, which the Viceroy granted on the King’s behalf. The Viceroy assumed that the Vinyard community had been a fluke and expected creating multiple new communities would tax Bagatelle to the point that he would be forced to parcel his lands back to the crown for unpaid taxes.
The Big Deal
Within the second decade of his rule, Bagatelle say the chartering of four more townships within his demense. The second township was founded on top of a mine that was discovered to produce decent quality iron ores. With the promise of steady work and freedom from the fields, along with cheap and abundant wine, the second city quickly grew.
The third township was founded closer to his original township and all ther lands within a day’s travel of the town center were marked out to be cultivated. The new townships had many people and they could not subsist on wine alone. While not as quickly growing as the first two, the granary township did well enough that within two years it was paying taxes instead of surviving on them.
A quarry town, more mining towns, and several craftsmen towns were later chartered, each coming to fruitation faster than the original vinyard township. It was not long before peasants were streaming into the demense, seeking to find a ne wlife away from the plows and the fields and the old ways of fief and obligation. These new towns were industrious, churning out finished wood items, and some were filled with the woosh and clack of looms running.
The Perfidious Builder
Bagatelle’s bordering lords were caught quite off guard by the explosive growth of the system of townships. It was not long before they felt the loss of the peasantry, before many of their fields were laying fallow and the remaining peasants demanding better compensation for their work. Several took the basic steps of challenging Bagatelle for his disruption of the basic order, and Bagatelle ended up fighting several duels, and defending his rights in tournament. When this first avenue failed, some resorted to giving license to bandits and brigands to prey on the new townships.
This went poorly as the new townships had stout walls of wood, while the older ones were being supplied with stone to build stronger stone walls. Each township maintained a garrison and even the common populace would turn out to the walls to fire arrows and throw stones at attackers. It seemed that the people were not interested in being liberated from their non-serf homes.
Bagatelle is well equiped, even for a noble. His economic ventures have made him very wealthy, despite the heavy taxes imposed on him by the crown. He has a herd of horses, literally hundreds of clerks and servants, and a small army of men and women who are intensely loyal to him for freeing them from then endless tedium of the farms.
Noble’s Armor - This well made and enchanted armor was made with a generic spell of protection and offers improved levels of protection. It is lacquered and easily picked out from common footman’s plate. (Plate +3)
Ducal Sword - This sword is as much a symbol of the Lord’s domain as it is a weapon. When fighting on home soil, the sword offers signifigant bonuses to combat, but these fall signifigantly when the blade is removed from it’s domain. (Longsword +3/+1 when away)
Guild Ring - A gift from the merchant guilds who now thrive in his demense, this expensive amethyst and gold ring protects Bagatelle from attempts on his life. It can detect the presence of poison by changing colors, and give s atingling sensation when in the presence of a hidden person.
Bagatelle as a Historical NPC - Bagatelle could have lived some time in the past, with his legacy being the Free Cities, what were originally his chartered towns. After his death, the demense could not be maintained by his next of kin and fell to civil dissent that only ended when the region was granted rights by the crown, becoming self governing mini-city states that still paid heed to crown law and paid taxes. Lords oculd refer to the foundation of independat cities as Bagatelle’s Folly and curse his name.
Bagatelle as a rising NPC - The PCs have a unique opportunity to be involved with young townshps that will experience dynamic growth. Bagatelle would make a good benefactor as he has plenty of border problems, needs for magical items, dealing with guilds of all sorts and not quite so good relations with his neighbors.
Bagatelle as an established NPC - his power firmly set and his townships growing yearly, Bagatelle has established himself. He retains good relations with his vassal townships and better relations with crown and neighbors. While founding more philanthropic institutions such as perhaps a university, libraries, hospitals and the like, he would still be a great and potent non-mage benefactor. The beginnings of the township revolts can be seen as the councils of each township can only be calmed and placated by Bagatelle himself.
Hook and Crook - The new townships are burgeoning playgrounds for cells of thieves looking to grow into full fledged Thieves guilds. A criminal in one township can quickly relocate to another township to avoid the law…for a while. Intrigue is rampant as the townships size each other up, and agents from outside areas trickle in to assess the situation.
The Progressivist - Bagatelle has thrown out previous norms and opened all professions to all races and all genders. If an elf is willing to defend the walls he can be a citizen, and if a woman can swing a frying pan, why not a sword? some guilds chafe at this percieved attack on their often race and gender specific laws, some adopt dual status, a male and female seperate set of guilds, other cope better.
Rivals - Bagatelle has found as many rivals as he has townships. This has created a hot situation along some of his borders as raids become more common in reprisal for reducing the surplus population of the other domains. The PCs can be hired to help defend a certain township that is being raided repeatedly, or by an outsider who wants them to support a band of looters and pillagers.
New Blood - a greater organization, such as the church, the wizarding ruling body, a guild, etc, desires the PCs to go about gaining them a foothold in Bagatelle’s demense. The PCs get to have plenty of city encounters, gain a charter from the council to raise a building for their group, and oversee its construction. More about logistics and red tape than hack and slash, but there is plenty of room for accidents, rivals, etc.
Long live the Lord! - Bagatelle has finally passed away and the Townships are moving towards revolt. The PCs have multiple opportunites to work with the rebels to establish the freedom of the cities, or to side with the nobles to fight to maintain the status quo. For midlevel to high characters, they can be granted dominion over a city and then have to fight to keep the populace from revolting again, or joining them in the fight against the nobility.