Borders Drawn in Blood
Nations, Countries, and Politics
The campaign will take place primarily in the northern portions of the peninsula around the areas controlled by the Holy Roman Empire and the Republic of Venezia. Travel to other locations is possible, and the politics of those areas directly contribute to events of the game. For that reason those other territories of the Italian Peninsula are outlined below.
Also in the North is the Independent Republic of Venice waging an ongoing war with Verona over the land of the Veneto.
The Papal States of Rome have been made independent and ruled by the Church. The City of Rome is contested as Henry IV has Besieged Castel San Angelo in response to a conflict over Church Governance. In the In the South, the Byzantine Empire rules along with the independent Principalities of Salerno, Capua, and Benevento. A focal point of neutrality is the Independent City-State of Napoli.
The Island of Sicily has been conquered and turned into an Islamic Emirate. It is currently contested as several of its cities have fallen under Norman Invasion.
Player Characters may be of any nationality listed below.
The common language is still Latin, however it is only spoken in times where no other option is available. Many upper-class individuals refuse to speak if they would be forced to “denigrate” themselves by speaking in a commoner’s language. As a result it is only used widely in the Christian churches and in mercantile exchanges. Many people don’t even bother to learn it and choose to rely on their native tongue plus any other they are able to pick up along the way.
Other than Latin, every region may be considered to have at least their own dialect and usually their own regional language. In Northern Italy and Rome the languages are vastly different dialects of Italian (a Roman would have a very difficult time communicating with a Venetian). Southern Italy is a very diverse mix of French, German, Arabic, and Greek with Italian actually being a minority language.
The diversity of powers struggling for control of the peninsula is a reflection of the diversity of its people. Italians form the bulk of the populace, but even amongst them there are strikingly different cultural traditions, and even languages spoken. Also contributing to the make-up of the peninsula,Germanic Peoples, Normans, and Arabs compose a complex cultural fabric.
Player Characters may be of any religion listed below with the understanding that most are NOT tolerant of any other. Decisions of a player to be of one religious order or another should be carefully considered based upon the overall make-up of the party.
The Dominant Religion is Christianity of the Papacy, but it has not been able to eliminate other persistent faiths. There are still followers of Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and small persecuted pockets of polytheistic cults. In addition, there are several smaller Christian Sects deemed to be heretical by the Papacy in Rome. They are not actively persecuted, but if found would face harsh punishment. In addition, Islam has found a strong foothold on the European continent since the Moors and Saracens from North Africa entered Spain. Spain is still primarily Muslim and the island of Sicily is an Emirate.
Geography and Economy
The Italian Peninsula is composed of many geographical regions. The Alps form its northern border separating it from the Germanic kingdoms. The mountains give way to rolling plains that dominate most of the land mass. The Western Coast is defined by small mountains (relative to the Alps) and steep cliffs falling into the sea. The northern plains are fertile with a short growing season. They are cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Small forests dot the landscape. From Tuscany south, the plains are also fertile but more arid. The summers are hot and winters range from warm to cool.
The economy is primarily based upon a monetary system of gold, silver, and copper pieces. They are usually square coins etched with the seal whichever nation or noble that had them minted. This can sometimes cause trouble. The seal of one noble might mark a person as a foreigner, or worse, an enemy. Additionally, depending on local economies, a noble or region might decide to make each piece slightly smaller in order to manufacture more. This causes the coins from one location to be worth different amounts than those of another place. Merchants often weigh coins to determine their value.
As a pseudo-historic campaign, magic is limited. Player-classes are more warrior or rogue-like than magic users. Divine magic exists in the form of special advantage in battle provided to a player after prayer, piety, and the blessings of a representative of that faith. Arcane magic users exist, but the church has branded them disciples of Satan, and if they are discovered they will be burnt at the stake.
Adventuring clerics use the Paladin class build. Druids or other wilderness spiritualists use the Ranger class build.
Arcane magic is limited and tends to be more subtle than the Wizards and Sorcerers of Fairy-tales. Wizards or Sorcerers use either the Hexblade or Bard class build.
Magic users of all types are careful to be inconspicuous with spells. A flash of destructive force from one’s fingertips might win the battle today, but it will arouse the suspicion and revulsion of the populace. Arrogant wizards rarely last long after their first magic missile.
The chaotic nature of the time has bred a population of extreme personalities. Many are forged by their ambitions, even more by the will to survive in a climate entirely out of their control. There are many heroes and villains, often the difference is very slight and determined by one’s location on a map. Good and evil are concepts invented, and independently defined, by each religious and political organization. A person’s moral code is not universal and is more often dictated by their allegiances.
Alignment is flexible and determined more by adhering to codes established by certain organizations or religious doctrines. Character classes should be used as guides for balanced character builds rather than a determinant of personality. The Paladin is just a build that keeps a “character of faith” balanced in the game and is not necessarily a “knight in shining armor”. That paladin might be in service to the papacy or Christian Copts or even be a follower of Jupiter. The code of conduct is determined by the religious order not a game-rule alignment.
This is Italy. They are human. A small sector of society is composed of little people – dwarfs – that are typically employed as traveling minstrels, court jesters, or other entertainers. They are widely regarded as second class citizens by those “big” enough to push them around.
Races are limited to Human or Halfling (as a balanced build for a real life dwarf – not a fantasy dwarf). They do not have big fuzzy feet or anything like that – they are just small people.