The Prince is the King’s only legitimate son, and the King has brought him up to be like himself-unpleasant, demanding and cruel, ready to order torture when it suits him, to crush the poor and to make his courtiers fear for their lives. His only close friend at Court is the Sycophant, but he knows the rules of power well and will probably be a good if brutal king when his father dies, unless one of the plots against him succeeds. The Rebel wants his head on a spear, the Court Mage wants to trap him in the body of a scullion with his magic, and the Spider has considered poisoning him to seize the crown for himself.
Every dictatorship, be it open or veiled, needs somebody to be in charge of clamping down on dissent, and the Spider is in charge of the Royal Secret Police. He is not above having his spies act as agent provocateurs, particularly against potentially rebellious nobles. A score of lords and ladies have gone to the executioner's block because of him, and dozens more have disappeared into prison without any trial. He is despised and hated by the great majority of nobles and common people alike, and few would shed a tear if something unpleasant was to happen to him. The only close friend of the Spider is the monarch himself, and even then, the monarch would sacrifice the Spider to lower the wrath of the people and the nobles if he ever really needed to do so to save himself. He is considering poisoning the Prince when the King dies so he can take the Crown and rule in his own right.
Somebody needs to be able to speak the truth to power without being executed or imprisoned for it, and in a royal court that person is normally the Royal Jester. So funny is this particular man, that he can cheer up the monarch even when he is feeling depressed, and up to a point he can mock the nobles and even criticize royal policy when he thinks it is deeply wrong, as long as he does it in a hilarious way and at the right time and place. The Enclosure Man hates him, but at least at the moment is helpless to do anything against him. Even the Spider would have to have very firm evidence of treason before he dared to move against a man with the ability to make the monarch get into regular hilarious giggle-fits.
The Archmage knows many potent spells of great power, but the old graybeard is nowadays more of a friendly figurehead then anything else, with his deputy doing most of the work and administration for him. He should not be underestimated, however, as he retains his knowledge of combat magic, as a mugger in the twisty streets of the capital city once found out the hard way.
5-The Enclosure Man
The Enclosure Man is one of the most hated courtiers by the common people, as he has decided to make extra money by enclosing the common lands, making large numbers of the smallfolk homeless in the process. He hates the Jester for repeatedly mocking him and making fun of him, and fears that because of this and to avoid unrest before it starts, the King might order him to give the stolen land back. But he dares not try to have the Jester killed or imprisoned, as the King would be furious and might confiscate his lands and put his head upon a spike.
6-The Clan Lord
The Clan Lord is as conscious as his nobility as any noble, but where he is from in the mountainous South, the rules of nobility are different. Whilst people are still expected to know their place, there is less bowing and saluting and over politeness in general even between different classes. Here, in this Northern Royal Court, the rules of how to behave are very strict, to the point that all new courtiers have to be generally taught exactly how to behave by Mr. Polite. The Clan Lord finds Mr. Polite infuriatingly annoying, and is very near to losing his temper, drawing his sword and cutting him down. Those who draw swords at the Royal Court for any reason other than to prevent an assassination attempt face the death penalty, but even that will not restrain the Clan Lord for much longer.
7-The Mr. Polite
Every royal court tends to have slightly different standards of politeness, and the aged Mr. Polite is in charge of teaching any new courtiers who don't know what is expected of them how to behave when in front of the King in particular. He is particularly irritated with one courtier in particular, a clan lord from the wild and mountainous South of the country who is finding it hard to learn the basics and is feeling much the same way towards him. What he does not know is that this particular Clan Lord is getting so angry with him that he is on the point of drawing his basket-hilted broadsword and either chopping him down or running him through in front of everybody, despite a certain death sentence for daring to do such a violent act at the Royal Court.
When climbing in the high mountains, this creature encountered a royal courtier, fanged him, ate his brain to gain his memories and took his shape and his place at court. A love feeder, who feeds on emotions, all the love of greed and conniving found at the Royal Court is making him ill, but he counters this with a string of secret affairs that provide him with untainted love to feed upon.
The Gold-Digger is at the Royal Court for what he can get, be it by engaging in blatant corruption by embezzlement of army stores, marrying off his daughters to wealthy but rather old courtiers, or spreading rumours to try to get other courtiers into trouble. He is already very rich, but always has the urge to get richer still by means both fair and foul, and is on the Rebel’s hit list. If the Hostage was able to offer him enough money he would help him escape back to his own country, although if caught it would cost him his head.
To avoid a war breaking out with the nearby kingdom, both sides exchanged a royal prince of equal rank and title. Far from being chained up in a dark dungeon, the hostage is allowed fine food and bedding and relative freedom, although he is always watched whenever he goes outside by at least three royal guards, both to protect him from any attempts to kill, harm or kidnap him and to prevent him escaping and reaching his home country. If he was to die it would be a disaster for peace, as his father might well declare war and kill his royal hostage as well, and if he escaped and reached his home it would be almost as bad, as his father could demand something in exchange for allowing his own hostage to return home. Recently he has been allowed the priviledge of wearing a sword, a clear sign of trust. But he is not allowed to go hunting in case he falls victim to the terrible tusks of a wild boar or a wrongly fired arrow. And he is locked in his bedroom in a tall tower every night. By now the King has got genuinely fond of him.
The Sycophant has very few friends amongst his fellow courtiers. The reason why, is that he insists on talking politics and goes on and on about how good the King is and how well he is ruling. Not all the other courtiers think this way, but they dare not contradict him in case the Spider finds out and has them thrown into prison or even executed for High Treason. The Clan Lord does not think much of him, whilst the Rebel hates him and wants to have him buried alive with the body of the dead King if he ever successfully seizes power, so that he can serve the King in the afterlife. Most of the other courtiers think of him as an agent provocateur who is working for the Spider, and they are probebly right.
12-The New Rich
The New Rich was a minor knight and barely noble at all, but he made a fortune in the slave trade after the kingdom's last war and purchased the rank of count and then that of baron from the King. The other nobles, apart from the Lower Class, see him as a brown-nosing social climber but admire his business abilities, whilst the Lower Class is his firm friend. The Spider has a mild distrust of those who earn their wealth rather than being born with it, seeing them as possible rebels, but the New Rich has given the King a lot of money and has a partial mmunity from arrest because of that.
On the surface, the Dark is exemplary and behaves perfectly, and has never been known to utter a word even in private against the monarch. However, he has a very foul secret vice. When a young child dies, he offers to pay the funeral costs and erect a tomb worthy of nobility to them. What the grieving family does not know, is that he keeps a key to the tomb. Within a few weeks or even days, he illegally enters the tomb, steals the dead body, preserves it and makes it into a doll, often with a music box embedded within the ribcage. He knows dark magic that noone is meant to know and can animate these corpses if he chooses to do so, but he would only do that as a last resort to give himself time to escape being arrested or killed. Even the Spider, who makes it his business to know as many court secrets as he can, has no idea what the Dark is up to.
Most nobles dislike and often despise the lower classes of society, seeing them as either scum, a threat, or both. But the Slummer often disguises himself and mixes with them in their inns, laughing and joking with them. He is a good fighter both with his sword and with his fists-he has to be in case things go bad. He is a close friend of the Duelist and has fought him with wooden swords several times for fun, and the Duelist will overlook things from him that he would not do from almost anyone else. If he became a military officer, he would be popular with his men as he would be likely to turn a blind eye to minor breaches of discipline, but his men would become slack. He is one of the very few nobles apart from the Spider to have some idea of what the common people are thinking. He has a secret lover but knows that as she is not a noble lady, he could never openly have her on his arm at Court or he and his whole noble line would be publically disgraced. The Spider knows all about his activities but for now at least turns a blind eye to them.
15-The Court Mage
The Court Mage is in charge of the day to day casting of magic to heal people, spy on foes, make roast turkeys walk on feast days and other such things, since the Archmage is too old and proud and high in rank for such things. He mildly dislikes the King, and is considering using his magic when the King dies to swap the Prince with a scullion, but the Spider has his beady eye on him, suspecting him of planning to take power for himself.
16-The Mr. Holy
Some courtiers find the Mr. Holy to be as dull as ditchwater, but he is at least sincere in his religious beliefs and knows all the intricacies of royal christenings, weddings, coronations and funerals. He is also one of the few nobles who speaks up for the poor and organizes foodbanks and homeless shelters and tries without much success to get the more unpleasant punishments lowered to less nasty ones. The King is mildly annoyed with him, but he values his knowledge and if he wants important occasions to be done in the right way, which is important for the public relations of the monarchy, he needs Mr. Holy to be alive, well, and free.
17-The Drunk One
The Drunk One was once a brave and dashing soldier, who was in several victorious battles in the last war twenty years ago and at his own request transferred to the dragons. As it turned out, this was a major mistake. Although used to the myriad horrors of warfare on land, the sight of large numbers of soldiers and civilians being burnt alive as their towns were incinerated was too much for him and he had horrifying nightmares which he blocked out with alcohol. Now he is a fat, ugly, slurring shadow of the fine officer that he once was, and his daughter greatly fears that in his alcoholic haze he will sooner or later blurt out something that will cause him to vanish into one of the Spider's torture chambers, to be followed by the painful ignomy of the executioner's block.
18-The Gambling Man
The Gambling Man is deeply in debt due to incessant betting on horse and chariot racing, and only his status as a royal courtier prevents the bailiffs from taking his possessions or throwing him into gaol for debt. The Rebel is thinking of trying to incite him to join his planned rebellion, by offering to cancel all his debts if the rebellion is a success.
It is common for royal courtiers to get into duels, but the Duelist absolutely delights in them and wishes that they were outright legal. Apart from members of the royal family or the Spider or Jester, who he knows are firmly off limits, he will duel almost anyone capable of fighting back, even non-nobles. He has provoked illegal duels on flimsy pretexts that even most nobles don't care about, and killed several men, and has appeared as the Champion in several legally held judicial duels and killed several more in public. Once he was ambushed by a dozen men hired by a rival noble whilst with his friend the Slummer, and the two killed seven of them and put the rest to flight, suffering only minor wounds themselves. He has a large collection of different types of swords and knows how to fight well with them all. The Spider knows all about his illegal duels but for now at least the King turns a blind eye to them, seeing dueling as a de facto privilege of the nobility.
On the surface a much-trusted royal courtier with the royal ear, the Spy has been privately providing all sorts of information to a rival kingdom, ranging from the exact room where their hostage is kept locked in at night, to the exact location of the top-secret airbase where the Kingdom's fifteen royal dragons are kept and fed. Should a war break out, this information could prove very damaging. The Spider suggests him of treachery but so far has no firm proof and knows that if he takes action without it the King will throw him into his own dungeons or worse, and is extremely worried about the situation.
A genuine war hero in the last war, who managed to hang on to his strength and health, his main fault is his constant boasting about it. The Duelist has thought of dueling him if he won't shut up, but fears that the Heroic might win the duel and send him to an early grave if he does this. Although the other courtiers admire his bravery and the medals he has earned, they are considering complaining to the King about how much he goes on about it, but they don't want to nark, seeing it as the Spider's job.
22-The Mr Strange
Odd rumours circulate about him, but the truth is that he loves collecting things, everything from swords and knives to old coins and silver items to books, and is no threat to anyone as he does not seek power for himself. The Spider knows this and leaves him alone.
23-The Old One
Despite being so old that he is nearly blind, the mind of the Old One is still sharp and he is a veteran courtier, able to avoid anything that might make him fall foul of the Spider and expose his wizened neck to the headsman’s axe. The Rebel would not even consider approaching him for help. He has no time for the Sycophant, thinks the Duelist will die a violent death sooner or later, and despises the Gambling Man.
Every ruler has those who are dissatisfied, and the Rebel thinks so many things need to be changed. He has visions in his head of overthrowing the monarch, executing the useless Marshal and the feared and hated Spider, freeing the political prisoners and the Hostage and bringing in an era of prosperity and justice for all. He is far more likely to end his life on the executioner’s block, but even if his rebellion succeeds, he may find it a lot harder to rule then he thinks without becoming just as bad as the King he replaced.
25-The Lower Class
He was once a lowly Royal Guard private, who worked his way up to sergeant over several years, but this changed when he foiled an attempt against the King's life and slew three traitors single handedly. As well as receiving the Golden Star, the highest medal in the Armed Forces, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and made a member of the nobility and a hedge knight. Many of the other nobles who were born noble are snobbish towards him and think his to be inferior to them, but they put up with him because they have to. His chances of marrying a lady of noble rank are slim, however, because of this. Despite this, he is enjoying a better standard of living then he could ever expect as a non-noble and is enjoying himself at court.
Unlike the Admiral, who worked his way up from the rank of midshipman, he was more or less born to his position. He knows little and cares less about what life is like even for the junior officers, let alone the men, and as a result bullying, corruption and quite a bit of laziness has spread from the top to the bottom of the Royal Army, with only the elite units being fit for service and large scale draft dodging leaving the Army under strength.
The Admiral is in charge of the Royal Navy, and whilst he was born as a wealthy gentleman, his father was a relatively lowly knight by the standards of noble rank. But unlike in the Royal Army and the Royal Dragon Force, where high rank has almost always been awarded because of nepotism and the buying of officer commissions, the Royal Navy is not like that. A Navy officer who brought his commission might end up wrecking a ship worth a great deal of money. Not only NCOs, but even officers have often started at or near the bottom and worked their way up through the ranks, and along the way they have learned how to handle a mighty warship. As a result, the admirals are some of the cleverest of the military officers of the Kingdom.
28-The Dragon Master
The Dragon Master is in charge of the fifteen royal dragons owned by the King that serve as the Kingdom's air force. These dragons cost a lot of money to poach the eggs, train them from babyhood to accept human riders, feed and water them and keep them happy, and all the other kingdoms have their own small forces of dragons which in times of war would guard their armies, supply lines and in particular their fleets on the high seas. A single healthy dragon could burn a single unprotected war fleet with ease, but the Kingdom could not risk losing too many of it's mighty beasts in war, as they would be very hard and expensive to replace.The Dragon Master is personally brave and would lead from the front in battle but would prefer not to have to go to war in the first place and risk the lives of his dragons and their noble pilots alike.
29-The Warden of the King's Forests
The Warden has the job of fining or flogging if they either cannot or will not pay their fines, lumberjacks, peasants, squatters and other unwanted people who illegally trespass within the King's extensive royal hunting grounds, and of blinding those who dare to illegally kill the King's deer without the King's express permission to do so. As a result, he is hated by the lower classes of society for denying them the use of so much land. He prefers to do the flogging and blinding personally and has gained a truely terrifying reputation as a result.
The tutor is a kind old man who is in charge of teaching the prince and the nobles how to read, write, and the important laws of power in case one of them ends up ruling one day. He is very knowledgeable at what he does, having been teaching for over thirty years, and is valued by the King. His class are sometimes badly behaved as they know he is only a knight and does not hold the higher rank needed to cane them if they misbehave.
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