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Renia from X11/X13 as a pretender to the Thyatian throne

by LoZompatore

Have you ever thought about the background of Renia pre-generated PC of X11 and X13?

Apparently she is a potential pretender to the Thyatian imperial throne, as she is the illegitimate daughter of some Thyatian emperor of the Xth century.

According to X11 she is looking for clues about her ancestry but she still does not realize her connection to the Thyatian imperial family, something that could be easily discovered if she exchanges information with Kavien the thief (another pre-generated PC of X11).
Canon-wise, Renia and Kavien did not exchange this kind of information during both adventures of X11 module as, in their backgrounds from X13, Renia is still investigating about her origins and Kavien whimsy disposed of the main clue in his possession about Renia's ancestry.
A third character, Rannulf the mage, somehow discovered Renia's quest about her origins in X11 and, by X13, he suspect she may be of royal ancestry, albeit he is very discreet and did not share his thoughts with Renia or anyone else.

In the archives on the Vaults I found only a quote about Renia in this article by Marco Dalmonte but, in my opinion, the timeline of the events should be revised, leading to different implications from her background.

Here is the relevant information about Renia, Kavien and Rannulf from X11 and X13 modules:

X11 Module:

Renia (7th level neutral fighter)

Background: Renia is a loner by nature. Orphaned as a child, she has struggled and made her own way for many years. She despises soldiers in general. She has suffered too many times from arbitrary injustices during her childhood and she is eager to defend her freedom and status as a great warrior.
She wears a golden ring inscribed with the emblem of a kingfisher, a token she takes to be her family insignia. Although she never discloses her secret quest, she is ever vigilant for a sign or clue to the whereabouts of her kin. Renia has some affection for Sergeant Burrows whom she treats as a child, essentially because of his size and the fact she has been lonely herself during her youth.

Kavien (7th level neutral thief)

Background: After a daring but nevertheless failed robbery attempt upon the imperial palace of Thincol the Brave, Emperor of Thyatis, Kavien has been recently pulled out of the Thyatian jails. The imperial bailiff has strongly suggested that Kavien succeed at any mission Lord Gylharen of Wendar may demand of him, until he is officially dismissed. Only at this time will Kavien regain his legal freedom and a pardon for his crime from the Thyatian government. The Bailiff mentioned that if he received a note from Lord Gylharen that the mission failed, or that Kavien did not show up, then a powerful and magical curse would surely consume the thief's heart causing a slow and utterly painful death.
Kavien stole the golden medallion in the palace just before leaving, as a small revenge for his current situation. It bears the symbol of a kingfisher. Kavien will never reveal he has stolen the medallion, for obvious reasons.

Rannulf (7th level lawful magic-user)

Background: Rannulf is a secretive fellow who rarely discusses his vocation. He is highly suspicious of clerics and he has no time for thieves, dwarves and brutish fighters. Despite Renia's status and secrecy, he has unveiled her quest to find her lost kin, and regards it as a deed of honor. He will discreetly oppose he who would mock and insult her goals. Out of respect for Renia's feelings, he will remain quiet about his knowledge of her, and about his opinions. He also harbors a secret admiration for elves, however, and is fascinated by their close relation to magicks. Rannulf is eager for this quest because he has been told by a seer in Thyatis that his quest would unveil a powerful elven artifact and arcane secrets galore. He will often support the elf in decision-making.

X13 Module:

Renia (9th level neutral fighter)

Background: Renia came into her own in her last quest to smash the Shadow Lord. Although she is still a bit of a loner, she now enjoys the company of her companions, especially Sergeant Burrows and Miridor (who she secretly admires more than she would care to admit, even to herself). Renia has a burning desire to raise her status in the world, due largely to her early years as an orphan. She will be very eager to win a barony or even a duchy in this adventure.
Special Note: Renia still carries her Kingfisher ring. Only Kavien the thief knows that this emblem is of the Royal House of Thyatis. The thief is convinced that Renia is a Princess of this lineage.

Kavien (9th level neutral thief)

Background: Kavien has earned his pardon for past crimes by adventuring on behalf of Gylharen, the Wizard King of Wendar. This human thief is, however, as mischievous as ever. His infamous Kingfisher medallion is gone now - he traded it away for another potion of levitation. Kavienís latest interests include unusual magical items. He will be fascinated by the artifacts of Ala the Seawitch. In this scenario the intrepid thief will be amused by the prospect of becoming a baron. He will also be intrigued by the reports of Freiburg, the coastal city of thieves in the Heldann Freeholds. An excursion to this place will most certainly be in order after this quest.

Rannulf (9th level lawful magic-user)

Background (excerpt): Rannulf has not altered much since the last quest, at least in terms of his dispositions. However he has gained tremendous power and is now the most powerful individual in the group. Rannulf has developed a dislike for the thief, Kavien, and more than once he has threatened to turn the fellow into a toad! He is uncertain about Renia nowadays. He suspected that she might be a royal personage but now he is not so sure. Notwithstanding this, however, he is certain that he admires her greatly.

X11 and X13 placement in the general timeline

Stephen Bourne, the author of both X11 and X13, connected both modules to form a three-parts saga (two adventures in X11 and a final quest in X13) in which the same adventurers remove the external threat from the kingdom of Wendar, free the lands of Denagoth/Essuria from the Shadow Lord and stabilize the Kingdom of Vestland. They have the opportunity to become barons of Wendar or Vestland at the end of both modules. Adventures' pace is pretty fast, I assume not more than 1 year elapses between every part of the saga; by comparing PCs' stats between X11 and X13 it is also clear that the successful completion of one of the three parts of the saga should provide 1 level of experience to the adventurers, thus leading them from 7th level at the beginning of X11 to 10th level by the end of X13.

Unfortunately, more pressing needs in development of Mystara's setting - albeit assigning a precise temporal location to both modules - have widely separated the timeframe of X11 and X13.

Canon-wise, events of X11 module are set between AC 930 and AC 932 (from PWAI Gylharen is crowned king of Wendar in AC 901 and, according to X11, the first part the module happens less than 30 years after his crowning. The second part of X11 should follow about a year later).
On the opposite, events of X13 module are set in AC 979 (from PWAI prince Tenitar is identified with the current king of Vestland - Harald Gudmundson - who was born in AC 954. X13 is explicitly set 25 years after the birth of prince Tenitar).
This makes for approx. 47 years between the end of X11 and the beginning of X13, a temporal difference so large to disrupt the backgrounds and the assumptions of most of the pre-generated PCs (including the increase in two experience levels between X11 and X13).
While this discrepancy can be easily waved off by using two different groups of characters, I think it could be interesting to assume X11 and X13 are still completed by the same group of adventurers.
In my opinion, the only possibility to save the backgrounds of the pre-generated PCs without altering them too much is to assume the pre-generated PCs actually experienced a time travel some 45-47 years to the future shortly after the end of X11 events. This would also explain why the fiefdoms the PCs earned in Wendar at the end of the first part of X11 are never mentioned again in X13 (to the point that some of the PCs are still looking for the opportunity to earn a dominion for themselves). Time travel could have happened close to the northwestern border of Wendar where the new dominions would be located, and it could have something to do with Renia's fate and Immortal intervention.

Renia Imperial ancestry theory: the last of the Gabrionus

Now, let's go back to Renia. Her age is never specified in X11 but, given her difficult upbringing as an orphan, I guess she was forced to mature very quickly and so she is likely very young; let's say she is in her late teens or early twenties. This would account for a birth date somewhere around AC 905 and AC 915. Her ancestry then should be traced back to the Gabrionus dynasty; specifically, she most likely is an illegitimate daughter of Emperor Gabrionus IV, who ruled between AC 900 and AC 913.
I find this emperor particularly fitting as, according to DotE, he was a militaristic ruler who operated in the Northern Reaches and Norwold (where he established the settlement of Oceansed) during his reign. It could also be inferred that the armies of Gabrionus IV helped the kingdom of Wendar against the first invasion of the Shadow Lord of AC 900-901 described in X11, laying the foundations for friendly relations between Thyatis and Wendar lasting at least to the time of X11 events.
His death in AC 913 - after only 13 years of rule - was likely in battle; as Renia's parents died when she was a very young child, to the point that she did not even remember them, both events can be connected to form the following theory:

Around AC 911 Gabrionus IV tried to establish a Thyatian colony in the Heldann Freeholds, to pin another nail in Thyatian control of Norwold and with an eye also to the depopulated Essuria. During this campaign in AC 912 the Emperor secretly had a daughter from a woman of the northlands who he kept in his retinue; after her birth the baby was called Renia and the true identity of her father was kept secret.
In AC 913 both the emperor and Renia's mother died in an ambush in the northlands and suddenly the baby became an orphan. She was adopted by a soldier in one of the mercenary companies hired by Gabrionus IV and adapted to a difficult life of injustices and military life. During her youth Renia came to despise soldiers (especially mercenaries) and finally escaped to become a self-determined, independent warrior.

Renia's lineage would make her as the half-sister of Emperor Gabrionus V and the half-aunt of the current (AC 1000) Thyatian Empress Gabriela Torion, meaning that she could display a rather solid claim to the Imperial Throne. The only clue of her true past is a golden ring inscribed with the emblem of a kingfisher she always brings with her. The kingfisher is thus the emblem of the Gabrionus family. For many years Renia believed the kingfisher to be the symbol of her family, but did not have any clue about her true lineage, as she grew up mostly in the wilderness of Wendar, southern Norwold and the Heldann Freeholds, where the Gabrionus dynasty was not well known.

When Renia emerged from time travel in AC 978-979 her investigation about her past became more difficult, as the Gabrionus lineage was mostly exterminated some 20 years before and the kingfisher symbol may not be used anymore by the current Thyatian Emperor Thincol Torion (this could be inferred by the fact that he gave his own surname to the new dynasty - starting with himself - as to cut ties with the former ruling caste). By AC 979 Renia is an promising adventurer some 20 years old, meaning that by DotE/WotI events she will be an accomplished warrior aged 40-50, likely with children (possible husbands may be Rannulf or the Miridor the elf, in the latter case leading to half-elf children). By that time I believe she surely knows of her ancestry.

Given her strong desire to become a ruler (from her X13 background) I guess Renia will try to claim the imperial throne of Thyatis at the moment of maximum weakness for the empire, in the wake of the current crisis. A crisis that started with the major defeats in the Great War in AC 1007-1009, continued through the death of Emperor Thincol in AC 1012 and possibly is far from over as of AC 1017 due to heavy financing issues caused by the loss of the richest colonies in the Great War (see Bruce Heard timeline).

Renia may be interested in taking the imperial throne for herself or to push for one of her sons to become the new Emperor, opening a power struggle with Emperor Eusebius and a new crisis in the already weakened empire.

If you wish to make a further connection with other canon material you may assume that Renia's firstborn son is secretly serving as an high-ranking officer in the Imperial Legions as the mysterious "Prince Rawald", a 5th level warrior who appears in M2 army list (page 23) as commander of the 2nd Colonial Division that invades Norwold in the War of the Crown of AC 998-999. Notice that, according to DotE, prince Eusebius, the only son of Thincol Torion, is a 18th level fighter so it is unlikely he is the same person. The M2 title of "prince" for Rawald could be referred to his would-be title as son of a would-be Empress.
Rawald may be the youngest commander of the Empire (a 5th level is sutiable for an elite unit seargent or for a regular unit captain in the Thyatian army, according to PWAI) who compensates his lack in martial prowess by being a brilliant tactician and diplomat. His skills could come from the teachings and patronage received by Renia's X11-X13 comrades. Rawald infiltrated the army and rose up the ranks in order to secure a loyal retinue of followers among legionaries when his family will show up his true colors.

When Renia will show up, she will possibly be supported by his son's followers, by a dominion or two she personally carved in Vestland and Wendar and by her X11-X13 allies (notice that both the pre-generated elf and dwarf PCs belongs to the nobility of the Faediel clan and the Rockhome dwarves respectively), so she could offer some fight to the Torion's dynasty.
Being a neutral character, Renia may end up both as a stabilizing element for the Empire, linking back and re-establishing the original Gabrionus dynasty, or as a seed of unrest and disorder in the empire, opening a civil war she is going to lose anyway, to the detriment of the commoners and the Empire in general.

Finally, some thoughts about her sponsor: Renia and her group could have been moved through time by Vanya (an Immortal of Time herself) to act as a "backup" for the rulership of Empire in case the Torion dynasty is proved lacking to her eyes (something which already happened at least once at the end of WotI in AC 1009). Alternatively this time travel character may be sponsored by Vanya's rivals (mostly Odin and the Northmen pantheon, who resent Vanya's interference in the Heldann Territories) to place a thorn in the side of the Thyatian Empire at the moment of its greatest weakness, so to disrupt Vanya's efforts in the recovering of this country.

A couple of final side notes:

1) Kavien background from X11 has to be modified to remove the reference to Thincol the Brave, substituting it with Gabrionus V, who reigned between AC 913 and AC 960.

2) Reference to Freiburg being "a city of thieves" in X13 background of Kavien could lead to some interesting speculations. Let's assume this is true: at least up to X13 events of AC 979 Freiburg was mostly a city of thieves. Now, according to Bruce Heard Heldannic Knights timeline large revolts in Heldann are quelled by the Knights in AC 978-979, with the establishment of a new local government for Freiburg and a change in rulership of the Order in AC 980. The revolts, while sparkled by the Altenwald opposition of the Heldann people, could also have been eased and encouraged by the thieves of Freiburg who wish to get rid of the Heldannic Knights and go back unhindered to their traffics. Unfortunately the thieves lost their bet and most of them were forced to flee the country, seeking refuge in Landfall, which, according to DotE, in AC 980 sees a boost of its population thanks to the immigration of thieves and pirates.