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What follows is not even remotely for every campaign. It is based off the events that happened in my campaign when I ran the Red Hand of Doom adventure in Karameikos. That particular game group didn't last much past the end of that adventure, so the below is more of a "thought experiment" than based on any actual game play. It is a massive change in the Karameikan nation, originally meant to make holes in the power structure for the PCs to fill. I have no idea how the Karameikan people would actually deal with such events and political upheaval. This is just one idea. Use what you want and enjoy!
The Karameikan Civil Warsby Steven B. Wilson
The religious wars began with overt hostilities in AC 1021 and lasted until the Edict of Karameikos in AC 1024. Although each of the eight “wars” did not last long in terms of time spent fighting, it was warfare that devastated a generation, conducted in rather desultory, inconclusive way. Although religion was certainly the basis for the conflict, it was much more than a spiritual dispute.
"One faith, one law, one king.” This saying gives some indication of how the state, society, and religion were all bound up together in the Thyatian mind and experience. "One faith" was viewed as essential to civil order -- how else would society hold together? And without the right faith, there was sure to be disaster.
When Stephan Karameikos III was killed at the Battle of Kelvin (during the Second Beastman War, mentioned in other works as the Red Hand of Doom, it became popularly known as the Second Beastman War due to some similarities celebrated by the Cult of Halav trying to prove that Stephan Karameikos was, indeed, Halav reborn.) in AC 1020, there was an enormous power vacuum at the heart of social authority in Karameikos. The monarchy had never been truly absolute (although Stephan made long strides in that direction), and had always ruled in an often-uneasy relationship with the old Traladaran families. The Traladaran nobles’ sense of their own rights as a class, and the ambitions of some of the more talented, was always there to threaten the authority of the crown.
Upon the death of King Stephan, his wife, Queen Olivia, temporarily took up the regency with the intent to smooth the transition of power to their daughter Adriana, Stephan’s named heir to the throne. However, the death of the Queen’s husband had left her badly shaken and morose (It is interesting to note that Queen Olivia’s actions after her husband’s death (nearly deifying the man) did nothing but encourage and strengthen the Cult of Halav, whom she greatly despised).
Elements of the Church of Karameikos, led by Alfric Oderby began to become more vocal about their opposition to the Church of Traladara. This opposition received a huge boost in support after the Second Beastman War by Baron Desmond Kelvin II, whose barony was devastated by that war. He had discovered the role the Cult of Halav had played in initiating the hostilities and equated the Cult with the greater Church of Traladara – and the Traladarans as a whole. As a result, he outlawed the church within the borders of his barony and seized the properties of several wealthy Traladaran families to help pay for the rebuilding efforts. Unfortunately, this attitude started to spread to other Thyatian nobles who were not directly affected by the war. This opened the old wounds of fifty years ago when the Thyatians first arrived in Traladara and confiscated large tracts of property during the establishment of the Karameikan nation.
Queen Olivia tried to promote peace by issuing the "Edict of Toleration" (also called the Edict of Nuwmont) in Nuwmont of AC 1021, which made the attendance to the Church of Traladara not a crime in any part of the land, although it allowed individual barons to restrict it to preaching in open fields outside the towns and to the private estates of Traladaran families. This was not well received by many of either church.
The First War
The first religious war was provoked by the Massacre at Kelvin just a week after the Edict of Toleration was issued. Alfric Oderby, travelling to the barony of Kelvin on church business, came upon some Traladarans engaged in services outside the walls, in conformity with the Queen’s edict. A few of his servants insulted the worshippers, and from insults they proceeded to blows, and Oderby himself was accidentally hit in the nose, which began to bleed profusely. The sight of his blood enraged his followers, and a general massacre of the worshippers (who were unarmed) ensued. Baron Kelvin refused to hold Oderby or his entourage for trial and, indeed, continued to remain silent on the whole issue.
The leadership of the Church of Traladara met in Mirros and appealed to Aleksyev Nikelnevich to become the literal "Protector of the Church." He, his friends, and their respective networks of friends and allies took on the task; they proclaimed they were liberating the royal family from “evil” councillors, mobilised their forces quickly and moved decisively to capture strategic towns along the waterways, highways, and crossroads of Karameikos. Nikelnevich took a string of homesteads and villages along the Volaga and made his headquarters at Verge. He also contacts the leaders of the Callarii elves in hopes they would provide troops and money.
The royal forces were slower to respond, as most of the military units in the area were severely undermanned due to the recent Second Beastman War. Queen Olivia was forced to turn to Oderby and the Order of the Griffon to deal with this alarming development. Oderby in turn sought help from Kelvin and a branch of the von Hendriks family still living in the Empire of Thyatis (who just happened to have a small military force at the ready). The Traladarans were well dug-in in their garrisons, and the siege efforts to recapture the towns were long and costly. Only one open pitched battle was fought: that at Rifllian, which was an Order of the Griffon victory. At it, the Traladarans captured General Zandra Sulanov, the Order of the Griffon captured Nikelnevich. The beautiful Aleena Halaran (who, although never renouncing her membership in the Church of Karameikos or the Order of the Griffon, fought alongside the Church of Traladara against the “madness that had taken hold of her brethren”) managed to safely withdraw most of the Traladaran forces to Verge, which was then besieged throughout the next month.
At Verge, Oderby was shot and killed by an arrow; the Order of the Griffon considered this an assassination as it was outside of direct combat. The unrest caused by the “assassination”, coupled with the fact that Verge was holding out in the siege and the royal treasury was haemorrhaging, the crown's position was weak. Queen Olivia bent her efforts towards a settlement. The prisoners were exchanged, and the Peace of Verge was issued. However, royal law still restricted the Church of Traladara’s freedoms somewhat, allowing worship outside the walls, although the nobility still had the freedom to do as they would on their fiefs. This increased the resentment and tension in the towns and was generally unsatisfying to most.
The Second War
Even though the Alfric Oderby had died, Raise the Dead was cast on him and the Order of the Griffon remained powerful. Oderby argued for more vigorous suppression of the Church of Traladara in response to being particularly opposed to what he saw as dangerous concessions to heretics.
Nonetheless Queen Olivia looked to re-unite the two churches in its efforts to re-capture Sielo’s Fort, which had been occupied by goblinoids since the early part of the Second Beastman War. The goblinoids were successfully expelled and in Thaumont AC 1021 Adriana Karameikos-Hyraksos claimed her legal right and was crowned Queen of Karameikos, ending Olivia’s regency. In a display of unity that neither really felt towards each other, Olivia and Adriana made a Grand Tour of the kingdom between Thaumont and Yarthmont, designed to reinstate crown authority.
During this time, they passed through Rugalov Village and met with distant family members: the von Hendriks still living within the Empire of Thyatis. This spread a ripple of alarm through the Traladaran community. When the von Hendriks marched troops along the Eastron Road from Thyatis to Rugalov, their presence on the eastern borders of the kingdom added to the panic. The rumour that Olivia was plotting with the von Hendriks to exterminate the Traladaran caused an independent group of adventurers to attempt a coup, to kidnap Adriana (perhaps as a copycat crime that the hin had successfully accomplished with her father) and get her away from the bad influence of that side of the family. This plan failed, and provoked the second war. This was much a repeat of the first. At the end of it, General Sulanov was dead, the crown was more in debt, and resulted in pretty much the same situation as previously existed with the addition of Queen Adriana’s anger (not to mention her husband’s) at the attempted kidnapping by “those Traladaran peasants”.
The Third War
During the cessation of hostilities, new branches of the Order of the Griffon sprang up across the country. Traladaran leaders such as Nikelnevich and Aleena fled the cities in fear of their lives, many of their followers were murdered. Baron Kelvin hatched a plot to overturn the peace and capture Nikelnevich and Aleena. They escaped to Luln and raised another army to begin the third war. The Order of the Griffon became ever more closely involved with the von Hendriks clan. The third war therefore involved an even larger number of foreign interests, and lasted from Felmont to Ambyrmont AC 1021.
The Traladaran strategy this time was to fortify the southwest and stand off the crown. This was reasonably successful for a fairly long time. However, at Sulescu, under the nominal leadership of the queen’s young son, Lucien (now age 14), the Traladarans suffered a great defeat and Patriarch Nikelnevich was killed. Aleena met the royal forces at Vandevicsny and suffered another defeat. However, she collected her forces and made a brilliant "long march" to the north, defeating the royal army at Radlebb Keep and depriving the crown of their chance to break the Traladaran hold on the west.
The cost of keeping the army in the field was telling on the crown again, and yet another peace was negotiated at Luln. This peace was more favourable to the Traladarans than the previous, naming specific towns as secure strongholds, returning confiscated property to old Traladaran families, and guaranteeing some equality before the law. This third war was more protracted, and brought the war to the rural areas in central and western Karameikos, spreading the suffering to the population and raising the cultural tensions between Thyatians and Traladarans.
The Festival of Lucor Massacre
Despite this shaky truce, Anti-Church of Traladara violence against Traladarans at the hands of Thyatian mobs continued, in cities such as Kelvin, Penhaligon and Mirros. Matters at Court were further complicated as Prince Justin Karameikos spoke openly of his admiration of the Traladaran leaders — especially Aleena Halaran. Meanwhile, the Queen Mother became increasingly fearful of the unchecked power wielded by Aleena and her supporters, especially once it became clear that Aleena was pursuing an alliance with foreign powers (ignoring the fact that she had done the same).
After the peace of Luln, Olivia exerted a great deal of diplomatic effort trying to create harmony between the leaders of the Church of Karameikos and the Church of Traladara. She negotiated with Aleksander Torenescu to marry a member of his family to her son Justin Karameikos, in an attempt to forge stronger ties between the royal family and one of the strongest Traladaran families. Aleksander had his own reasons for accepting such an arraignment. For his own part, Justin (now in his late 30s and ever still the bachelor) accepted his mother’s meddling in his own affairs and came to truly love his Traladaran fiancée; that love was returned in full as well.
Traladaran rhetoric had become increasingly revolutionary in the late summer/early fall of AC 1021. Tension between Thyatians and Traladarans had some more mundane economic and social elements. Thyatians were often represented in the newer and more lucrative trades, such as printing, out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. The Thyatian emphasis on literacy as the basis for understanding the world made for a generally better educated group. The Church of Karameikos was more an urban than a rural phenomenon (except in the southwest), one well-suited to capitalists and merchants. For example, the 100 or so Traladaran feast days that they didn't celebrate made for more days to do business. This wasn't viewed as being much of an advantage by the peasants, but was viewed as an unfair advantage by other Traladaran merchants (led by the Radu clan).
The years of persecution had created a cell-like structure of congregations, where people in the group stuck together and helped each other, both in matters of religion and everyday business. This engendered a feeling of suspicion about Traladaran "secret" organisations.
Prices had also risen very sharply between the beginning of the millennium and the 1020s, especially the prices of food, fuel, and shelter. This might seem irrelevant to matters of religion, but the sense of stress about making ends meet, increasing homelessness and poverty in the towns, a sense of anxiety about the future, and all the other things that go with this kind of economic pressure make for a fearful and hostile society looking for scapegoats.
All of this tension is important background to the watershed event of the wars: the evening of 20 Sviftmont AC 1021 -- the Festival of Lucor. Justin Karameikos and Irina Torenescu were married in Mirros earlier that week and the festivities were still going on. The entire Church of Traladara leadership came to Mirros for this wedding.
On 19 Sviftmont AC 1021, as Aleena was returning to her lodgings from a visit with Prince Justin, an assassin fired at her, breaking her arm and wounding her severely, but not killing her outright. The Traladarans were outraged and demanded justice from the Queen. Everyone suspected the Order of the Griffon of the attack. When various Traladaran leaders counselled Aleena to flee the city -- certainly at this time they could have easily made it to the safety of a Church of Traladara stronghold -- she reputedly refused, feeling that it would show a lack of trust in the Queen. However, the Traladarans were threatening riot in the streets if something wasn't done.
At some point during the night of 20 Sviftmont, the decision was taken to kill Aleena and the Traladaran leaders gathered around her. The story was spread throughout the streets of Mirros (by those under the thumb of the Radu clan) that it may not have been originally intended to be a general massacre, but Olivia and her councillors reputedly badgered Queen Adriana into this decision, and when she finally broke she is alleged to have said, "Well, then kill them all that no one be left to reproach me."
During the early hours of Loshdain morning, a troop of soldiers came to Aleena’s door. They killed the guard that opened the door, and rushed through the house. Aleena was dragged from her bed, stabbed, thrown from the window into the street, and was subsequently mutilated, dragged through the mud, thrown in the river, suspended on a gallows and burned by a Thyatian crowd. Reputedly (again, from the mouths of Radu members) Alfric Oderby was there and mocked the body, kicking her in the face and announcing that this was the Queen’s will.
Rumours ran thick and fast, and somehow the militia and the general population went on a rampage, believing themselves to be fully sanctioned by the Queen and the Church of Karameikos. The neighbourhood militias played a very significant role in the slaughter. The killing went on for 3 days or so, with the city councillors and the Queen unable to bring the whole thing under control. There are numerous tales of atrocities, occasional ones of courage and compassion. Historians have debated what really happened and why in excruciating detail ever since.
The royal family itself was not immune. Justin Karameikos slept in his bridal suite with an entourage of 40 Traladaran gentlemen, all of whom were killed. Justin was dragged before Queen Adriana (who had become more and more irate at her mother’s and brother’s “attempts to usurp her power”) and was threatened with death if he did not annul his marriage and renounce his admiration of the Traladaran leadership. He did, and Justin became a prisoner of the court for the next four months, living in constant fear of his life.
The massacres spread across the nation over the next few months. Some thought they had directives from the crown to kill all the members of the Church of Traladara, others thought there was no such directive. The actions of the town leaders and barons depended very much on the individuals and the circumstances in their areas. Areas with vocal Traladaran minorities often suffered the most.
The Festival of Lucor Massacre, as it came to be known, destroyed an entire generation of Traladaran leadership. Justin Karameikos was a prisoner, not yet a known quality as a leader. Aleena’s body was recovered and taken to the Radlebb Forest where Raise the Dead was cast.
Over the months following, many Traladarans despaired and forsook their faith. The experience radicalised many of the survivors, creating a profound distrust of the Queen, an unwillingness to disarm, and an upsurge in the political rhetoric of resistance.
The Traladaran "state within a state" became solidified, as the Church of Traladara organised itself into an efficient hierarchy for communications and self-protection. They collected their own tithes, maintained their own armies and garrisons, and provided for the governance and social welfare of the Traladaran communities.
The Fourth War
The fourth war was set off when the city of Halag, the de facto capital of the Church of Traladara, refused to pay taxes to the queen because of the massacre and refused admittance to the royal taxmen. Queen Adriana declared war on the town in Eirmont and gathered an army to besiege it. The army was nominally led by the young Lucian Hyraksos, and included Justin Karameikos as a hostage.
Being a port city that was easily re-supplied by sea, with a near-impregnable harbour, Halag was not easily reduced. There were high causalities on both sides, and the royal treasury began to feel the strain. The siege was called off in Kaldmont. The Treaty of Halag was disadvantageous to the Church of Traladara, and left them certain to break it when they were strong enough. Based on the terms of the treaty, all Traladarans were granted amnesty for their past actions and the freedom of belief. However, they were permitted the freedom to worship only within the three towns of Halag, Luln, and Vandevicsny, and even then only within their own residences; certain Traladaran families within Mirros were permitted to celebrate marriages, but only before an assembly limited to ten persons outside of their family.
The Fifth War
In Nuwmont AC 1022, Queen Adriana died, sweating blood and reputedly tormented with guilt for the massacre. Her son, Lucien, was named heir to the throne. The people remembered him as the "young eagle" of Sulescu and Halag, and were looking to him to take a strong hand and settle things down in the kingdom. This was not to be. Lucien’s reign was tormented by the impossibility of peace. However, due to his youth, his grandmother, Olivia, once again took up the regency until Lucien “came of age.”
Meanwhile, Aleena was raising money, troops, and support from the Elvish princes. In Vatermont AC 1022 Justin Karameikos escaped from the court and (angry with the actions of his family) headed into Radlebb territory, raising an army behind him. Justin’s younger brother, Valen, began to also play to the anti-royalist factions. His propagandists put out manifestos portraying him as alternative ruler to his nephew Lucien, one able to speak up for the rights of the people and rule more justly -- cutting taxes all the while, of course.
This was a potent alliance, one for which Olivia had no good counter at the time. When an army of 20,000 troops (made up of Traladran, Thyatian, and elvish soldiers) marched south in Thaumont of 1022 and collected themselves within striking distance of Mirros, the crown was forced to negotiate.
The Peace of Mirros was signed later that month and was very favourable to the Traladarans. It left Olivia hurt and betrayed and Lucien feeling like everyone was treating him like a little child; he convinced his grandmother to step down from the regency and have him crowned as king. Some of the towns ceded to the Traladarans refused to admit their troops. Riverfork Keep, for example, refused to admit Aleena entrance.
The Sixth War
The cost of the wars had driven up the national debt beyond the level of endurance. Late Thaumont AC 1022 saw the formation of additional Order of the Griffon units to oppose the Traladarans if King Lucien would not. To co-opt this threat to his authority, Lucien declared himself the head of the Order of the Griffon (taking the place of an angry and bitter Alfric Oderby). A royal force was put together to take back some of the Traladaran towns along the Achelos River. Riverfork Keep fell later that month, but the bulk of the Traladaran forces were at large to the south of Blight Swamp and there was no hope of a victory over them. The Peace of Luln was signed soon after. It was more restrictive in allowing places of worship to the Traladarans than the previous peace, but was still largely the same. It disallowed the additional formation of any religious militant organisations, trying to fend off the growing movement from the Order of the Griffon.
The Seventh War
This was a brief flurry of activity, the most notable of which was Justin Karameikos’s seizure of the city of Marlinev. Sometimes called "The Lovers War", it seems to have been some kind of manoeuvring between Justin and Lucien in which Irina Torenescu was involved. It later became know that Justin Karameikos had officially joined the Church of Traladara as a full member. The war itself didn't last long, and Justin and Lucien signed the Treaty of Marlinev.
When Valen Karameikos died in Eirmont AC 1022 of an incurable illness, it precipitated a new crisis. Lucien Hyraksos was childless (being only 15 years old). With the death of Valen the heir presumptive became a member of the Church of Traladara: Justin Karameikos.
When it became clear that Justin would not renounce his Traladaran faith, Alfric Oderby signed a treaty on behalf of the Order of the Griffon, with the von Hendriks of Thyatis, who supplied a considerable annual grant to the Order over the following months to maintain the civil war in Karameikos, with the hope of destroying the Church of Traladara. Under pressure from the Church of Karameikos, Lucien reluctantly issued an Edict, suppressing Traladaran worship and annulling Justin’s right to the throne.
King Lucien and the Order of the Griffon
Lucien and Aleena tried to convince Justin to convert back to the Church of Karameikos, as this would remove the cloud over his succession and make for a legitimate transition – in case the issue ever came up. Justin was not ready to do this, as it would have cost him his current base of support.
Meanwhile, the people of Mirros, under the influence of inflammatory Order of the Griffon, were becoming more and more dissatisfied with Lucien and his failure to suppress the Church of Traladara. To be a moderate was almost as bad as being heretic to the Order. In Thaumont of 1023, a popular uprising where barricades went up the streets of Mirros for the first time caused Lucien to flee the city. The Order of the Griffon took complete control of the government under the direction of Alfric Oderby.
Oderby pressed for a meeting to propose Lucien’s younger sister, Argent, be named the true regent of Karameikos. She was young and naive and would have been a puppet figure for Oderby. There was even a fear that Lucien would be forced to abdicate and that the people might proclaim Oderby king. On 18 Thaumont 1023, Lucien returned to Mirros and invited him to his quarters for some discussion. Perhaps Oderby should have been suspicious of the rows of archers lining the stairs to the king' apartments, and of the 40 gentlemen waiting in the anteroom. When Oderby entered, the doors were bolted and although he struggled heroically, he was cut to pieces, his body burnt, the bones dissolved, and the ashes scattered to the wind.
Lucien’s triumph over the Order of the Griffon was short-lived. The Order’s rumour mill took over spreading revolutionary ideas, exceeding by far in vitriol the earlier anti-royalist works of the Church of Traladara. They proclaimed that is was just and necessary to depose Lucien, and that any private citizen was morally free to commit regicide. And in fact, one of them eventually did.
The Order sent an army against Lucien, and Lucien turned to his uncle, Justin, for an alliance. The two joined forces to reclaim Mirros. In Flaurmont 1023, in the royal camp at Krakatos, a Thyatian monk named Euserius Antonterin begged an audience with the king and put a long knife into his spleen. At first it was thought the king might recover, but the wound festered. On his deathbed, Lucien called for Justin and named him his heir.
The Eighth War
Justin’s position was delicate. Some of the late Lucien’s followers gave their loyalties to the new sovereign, and others melted away into the night. The Order of the Griffon staged coups in many of the principal cities of Karameikos. In a reign of terror, they kept watch on the political correctness of the citizens, hanging moderates, Traladarans, and suspicious persons. Well financed with von Hendrick’s money, Baron Desmond Kelvin took to the field. Justin brought the war out of the west and into the east, which he knew was critical if he wanted to be king of Karameikos and not just king in Halag. In Flaurmont 1023, Justin met Baron Kelvin’s army and gave him a serious defeat. His army swept through Wulfwode Hills, taking town after town that winter, and then he inflicted an even more crushing defeat on the Order in Yarthmont 1023. Baron Kelvin died, severely weakening the Order’s position.
Justin then laid siege to Mirros. Although he reduced it to severe hunger, he made humanitarian gestures like allowing women and children to leave. This is not usually considered militarily wise by a besieger, as it means the only people consuming food in the city are able-bodied combatants. The situation alarmed the von Hendriks clan, who ordered the their most able military commander, to divert himself from suppressing his own people to relieving the siege. He was able to successfully get supplies into the city. The two never met in open combat, but Justin was obliged to withdraw.
In Fyrmont, the Order (now fully under control of the von Hendriks clan) held an emergency meeting in Mirros, to name a candidate for the throne of Karameikos. The von Hendriks proposed that Argent, the late Lucien’s younger sister, should be married to a suitable von Hendriks noble; or failing that, their own Anna von Hendriks (as the next closest living blood relation to Stephan Karameikos) be seated upon the throne.
At this point, Justin made his "perilous leap" to save his niece and abjured his Traladaran faith in, reputedly with the famous witticism that "Mirros is worth a confession." Aleena arranged a coronation for him at Halag, rather than at the Mirros, which was in the hands of the Order of the Griffon. This was a blow to the Order, as it removed the chief objection of many of the more moderate Thyatians to Justin. Many people did not trust the conversion, including many Traladarans who hoped it was not for real. Still, some of Justin’s hardcore supporters withdrew from him. In the end, he won over enough moderate Thyatians (with Aleena’s help) to strengthen his position.
Finally, in the autumn of 1023, Justin entered Mirros without a drop of blood being spilt, and the von Hendriks garrison marched out. It wasn't over yet, but Justin was now in possession of his capital. He began a vigorous program of winning over the support of moderate Thyatians and Traladarans with a combination of charm, force, money, and promises. A great deal of money was spent guaranteeing various nobles pensions and positions in exchange for the support, and a great deal of money was given to the towns in exchange for theirs. In the end, Justin considered it a bargain given the alternative costs of war.
Nuwmont 1024 saw the publication of the Edict of Karameikos, which granted the Church of Traladara freedom of worship and restored their civil rights. It is not the end of the Church of Traladara story in Karameikos, but it closes this chapter of the Karameikan Civil Wars.