Set between the end of the First Rose War, and the Thorne Rebellion, is the story of Princess Reisha, the Nechteran Revolt, and the Widerdonum.
The Nechteran Revolt
A smaller kingdom bordering the Middle Kingdom, Nechtera is considered to be a snd rate power and not generally a threat to the great power of the Middle Kingdom. Yet events in Nechtera will threaten to plunge most of the continent into a bloody struggle that could take decades to be fought out. The Revolt begins as a basic peasant uprising caused by a combination of taxation and several years of moderate drought. As the peasants muster and throw out the tax collectors, there is a build up of levies and militia soldiers on the side of the Nechteran nobility. In most cases, such a revolt would be easily put down and end as a minor footnote in the ledgers of history, but such would not be the case.
A traitor in the Royal Court does the unthinkable, he assassinates most of the entire royal family. The King of Nechtera, Thetavra the Wise suffers the most painful death as he is horrificly and slowly mutilated with a ceremonial sword of his King’s Elite Guard. The rest of the royal family and most of those in line for the throne of Nechtera die from poison. The Poinson Tasters never knew that their vessels were treated with the antidote to the poison, thus protecting them while the unadulterated poison went on to slay those of noble blood.
This Revolt then took on a new aspect as the death of most of the Royal family shook the morale of the Royalists, and gave new fire to the rebels. It seemed that the commoners would rise up to eclipse the divine mandate of the nobility to rule. Many of the nations and Kingdoms that bordered Nechtera made plans to invade the small kingdom and put down the peasant revolt with their own troops, but faltered. Such an act of war would be nothing more than an act of war and might galvanize their own peasantage to rise up as the Nechterans had. Instead, the various nobles and the Blue faction of the Middle Kingdom’s court produced an heir and avatar of their faction; Princess Reisha.
Now only 2nd in line to the throne, and with the first person missing and presumed slain, she had a right of succession to return to Nechtera and assume control of the nobility that remained. As a symbol of her right to rule, she carried an heirloom of the Nechteran Kings, a Dwarven Bow of sublime craftsmanship and unequalled power. This bow had been passed down from generation to generation, tracing it’s way back to the first King of Nechtera and their ancient alliance with the dwarves of the mountains.
The Staging Point
Most of the events above will take place before the PCs become involved and will be backstory elements. Much of it may be well known, such as the peasant revolt, and the assassination of at least the King of Nechtera. Those with better connections might know the full extent of the assassin’s attack. Those with political connections and noble influence might know that several other Kingdoms have begun to muster loyal forces to put down the Nechteran revolt if it threatens to spill out of the small kingdom, though at the moment their hands are tied by a grudging respect for the law and fear of causing the revolt to spread even faster than it already has.
Princess Reisha has arrived in the border city of Menethor, less than half a day from Nechtera. The mood in the city is tense, and the main tavern of the city is a simmering pot of apprehension and anxiety. In addition to reports of rebels siezing and burning Noble carvans and wagons, their are also reports of looting, pillage, and murder pouring out of Nechtera, along with a good stream of refugees who only wish to escape the fighting with their lives and a bit of their prosperity. On the other side, a full division of footmen have gathered under the tenative command of the Princess, as well as several dozen knights of the Blue and Green noble factions.
The Princess doesnt wish to agitate the matter any further and feels that if her intelligence is correct, the remaining Royalist forces can put down the revolt with a minimum of bloodshed or outside assistance. She doesnt wish to she her homeland ravaged by any more conflict than it has already faced. To this end, she is taking a small group of highly skilled professionals (IE the PCs) with her to assist in the operation and will send for the bulk of her forces only if dire need presents itself. As a symbol of her desire to rejoin the estranged peasantage and the nobility, she has since requisitioned and donned the armor of the folk hero and knight Errant, Huran.
A Bitter Homecoming
Crossing into Nechtera with the PC party and perhaps a dozen other mounted warriors, mostly green and blue knights, but a single yellow garbed advisor as well, they encounter signs of battles. There are refugess on the road, bandits are operating more openly and brazenly then ever, and there might even be a combat heavy encounter with an outrider band of Peasant Marauders. The scene in the capital is bittersweet. The locals cheer for the return of their loved princess, but there are signs that the city itself has seen heavy fighting, and the Royalist forces remain demoralized and lack any sort of strong leadership.
The Campaign that follows consists of gathering the Royalist Troops and rallying them under Princess Reisha and her cadre of professionals and knights. The first orders of conflict are clearing the roads of bandits, a task that she might send for her Middle Kingdom troops to take care of under the auspice of the bandits raiding across the border. The next order of action involves the PCs leading elements of the Royalist forces against rebel strongholds, and doing search and destroy missions against the more mobile forces of the Rebels. Eventually the campaign should end with a siege of the Rebel’s last stronghold with the final goal being the capture of the rebel leaders and the end of the revolt.
The Revolt is more than a simple peasant uprising against what is percieved to be noble excess in a time of near famine. The conditions were right, and various members of the Yellow Faction, growing weary of Reisha and her Green’s interference and outrage over her turning the rule of the Middle Kingdom over to the Viceroy after the First Rose war, inflamed the conflict. Using their merchant contacts, the Yellow faction funneled cheap weapons and armor into Nechtera, along with discrete mercenary advisors to train the peasantage into a half-way functional force that might overthrow the hide-bound aristocracy of Nechtera. The end goal was for a radical change in Nechtera’s political alignment, bringing them away from the traditional viewpoint of the blues with strong Green tendancies firmly into the progressive clutches of the Yellow faction.
It is also the Yellow faction that has done much work to keep other kingdoms at bay while their experiment boils furiously. Discovering that Princess Reisha herself is going to attempt to quell the affair has them almost giddy. with the Princess away and heading into a danger zone, the Yellows are freed from higher level of scrutiny. To take advantage of this, they secretly have an assassin or two hired to attempt to kill the Princess in the field, but it has to look like she was killed in combat.
Expanding the scenario
The quelling of the Nechteran Revolt is a look into the dichotomy of Noble right to rule versus the radical idea of rule by the people. While Reisha will wish to support and protect the common people, she does so out of Noblesse Oblige, not out of a democratic spirit. It is the duty of the noblity to protect the common people, and to be worthy of their fealty, just as the common people have the duty of serving the nobility and being worthy of their protection. The entire campaign has a heavy military and combat theme, with the two factions squaring off across the kingdom.
Once Reisha is in charge, and the Royalists rallied under her and the PCs (now military advisors and leaders) the battles will quickly turn against the revolting peasants. The Royalists are better trained, better armed, and more experienced. The Peasants have larger numbers, but almost non-existant discipline and lack morale in large scale battles. The end of the campaign should have the peasants surrendering in large numbers, a few fighting a slowly failing guerilla war against the Royalists and an increasingly pressed strongpoint for the remaining rebels.
If the PCs are very successfull in routing the peasants, and preventing the last stronghold from becoming a siege situation, they should be able to secure agents of the Yellow Faction before their escape. If a siege results in taking the last rebel city/fortress, the Yellow agents will escape and aside from the standard espianoge and court back-stebbery no one will be the wiser to their machinations. Unless the siege turns into an absolute abattoir or lasts more than a year, they will find a prisoner being held since the begining of the conflict.
The young man, barely 15, is the only person in line for the throne of Nechtera ahead of Princess Reisha. Scarred by several years of imprisonment, he will not be able to rule in any fashion for several years. Princess Reisha will remain as his Regent in Nechtera until he turns 20 when she will surrender the throne of the Kingdom, having benefitted from her progressive rule for 5 years.
The PCs can be seen as liberators and heroes, or as bloodthirsty mercenaries dependant on their actions. As a general rule of thumb, if they show mercy, take prisoners, and avoid collateral damage as best as possible, they will recieve accolades and rewards from the people and the crown. If they are heavy handed, execute prisoners of war, follow a scorched earth policy or the like, the people will fear them and will celebrate when they leave. If their actions are especially brutal and evil, they may find themselves on trial for war crimes, with their former employer, Princess Reisha as the prosecutor and possibly judge.