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Informational thread

Discussion in 'Machiavel: Ambition' started by Ravana, Jun 3, 2011.

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  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    This thread will come to replace the information given in the "Setting/Background" thread over time, as things become more detailed. The first post will be a list of all the terms I've been able to think of that may require definitions—and which aren't common knowledge or are pretty transparent. I'm sure there will be some additions… which is unfortunate, as the current Definitions list is just inside of the board's maximum character limit, so I won't be able to insert new ones alphabetically; I'm going to put a "blank" post immediately after the first, so that at least I'll be able to put new definitions next to the old ones and have them all together. (You don't need to memorize these: there's no test. They're here for your convenience.) Other items of interest will follow.

    This is also the thread where I will be posting game-functional information, as opposed to information that is derived from the setting itself… I think. I may split that out, if it seems important to separate the two. The "how-to" material—what's seen from your character's viewpoint—will remain in the "Care and Feeding of your Barony" thread.

    CONTENTS by Post:
    #2: Definitions, part 1
    #3: Definitions, part 2
    #4: Titles and Offices [list, very brief descriptions]
    #5: Religions [brief descriptions]
    #6: Coin of the Realm
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    Here are a few terms that will be used “technically” in Machiavel, which may not be familiar, which I am using in specific ways, or which I plain made up. Note that I have not marked which are which; don’t use these outside the game without verifying them first.…

    - appanage: Land given to a younger child who would would otherwise have no inheritance. The practice of dividing realms this way is presently frowned upon within the empire, since it was what caused the Civil Wars, though apart from baronies, this is generally left up to the noble’s will. By law, baronies may not be divided. There are, however, several “perpetual appanages” owned by the empire, which may be granted for the life of the recipient and which revert to the crown upon his death. Generally at least one of these is given to the heir of the emperor.
    - apparent: someone who is expected to succeed to a title, either the heir of a living noble, or one not yet old enough to inherit from a dead one.
    - aristocracy: Nobles and gentry considered together.
    - bachelor: A knight bachelor is someone who has been knighted by the emperor, but who is not a member of any order of chivalry. Knight bachelor is sometimes a heritable title.
    - cadet: A junior member of a noble family, usually one not in direct line of succession (i.e. not the eldest child of a title holder: siblings of the title holder, or descendants of these, and siblings of the heir).
    - Curia: An advisory body to the emperor, normally convened only upon his request (which is rare). It includes all the electors, dukes, marquises, metropolitans, and grand commanders of chivalric orders, apart from any holding offices that seat them on the Privy Council–who are specifically excluded from attending Curia.
    - devolution: The delegation of power from the emperor to and through the nobles of the realm. A baron’s fief, for instance, is said to “devolve” from the emperor: that is, the baron holds power because it is the will of the emperor that he do so. Note that there is some conflict between the concepts of devolution and of holding title in one’s own right.
    - Diet: The newly-instituted parliament of the empire. An experiment in quasi-representative governance.
    - Elector: One of nine nobles entitled to vote on the succession to the imperial throne.
    - ennobled: A few offices, when bestowed upon someone who is not already armigerous, automatically elevate that person to noble status, entitling him to be addressed as “Lord.” This rarely happens, since such offices are normally given to people already part of the nobility.
    - errant: A knight errant is one who has been knighted by a duke, marquis or count rather than the emperor (viscounts and lower may not do this). Largely honorary; never hereditary. [This is very much a non-historical usage.]
    - feudal overlord: A noble who is hierarchically above another noble; usually only used in reference to the direct superior (immediate overlord) of a noble. A baron will usually have a viscount as feudal overlord, for instance.
    - fief: The realm of a baron; more broadly, any land held directly by a noble.
    - gentry: Landowners who are not part of the nobility.
    - Great Office: One of the seven highest offices of the empire. In order of precedence, they are: Lord Chancellor; Lord Treasurer; Lord Marshal; Lord Steward of the Realm; Lord Admiral; Lord High Justicar; Minister of State.
    - heir apparent: A designated successor to a noble title, generally only used to refer to the designated heir of the emperor, though the eldest acknowledged child of a noble may also be referred to as (and legally is) heir apparent, not merely presumptive.
    - heir presumptive: The seniormost member of a noble line after the present title holder. The seniormost heir to the line of a living emperor is considered heir presumptive to the throne (which comes with certain powers, unless there is a designated heir apparent), though there is no guarantee the electors will vote him in when the time comes.
    - heritable: Something that can be inherited. Unless specified otherwise, all noble titles from baronet on up are heritable; knight bachelor and lord might be.
    - Imperium: A person vested with plenipotentiary authority by the emperor, licensed to act in all ways as the emperor’s personal representative and exercise all his powers and prerogatives within a limited sphere–and sometimes without limit. These include Tribunes, Viceroys, Intendants and Legates (see list of titles for descriptions). A legal decision by someone invested with Imperium is called an Act of Imperium, and may not be appealed.
    - “in his own right”: A noble who has direct title to certain lands; all barons rule fiefs in their own right, for example. This contrasts with lands for which a noble is feudal overlord: so a count will hold his title (as count) in his own right, might hold one or more of the viscounties subordinate to him, and will usually hold at least one barony, in addition to being overlord to other viscounts and barons who hold titles in their own right.
    - marquis: The only major noble title likely to cause any confusion, this is the ruler of a March–usually but not always a border area. The feminine is “marchioness.” The adjectival form is “marquisate,” meaning “of the march/marquis,” e.g. “marquisate palace.” [I’m mixing derivations a bit here: technically, the feminine for “marquis” is “marquise,” while “marchioness” is the feminine for the alternate English spelling, “marquess.” Both male titles are pronounced /mar-kwes/.]
    - noble: Anyone with a title from baronet on up. Lords usually are; knights are borderline cases. See description of titles. Contrast with Gentry.
    - ordinary: A title or office that falls within the expected hierarchy. Redundant unless precise description of legal status is required: one would never address someone as “baron ordinary.” Contrast with Peculiar.
    - palatine: A noble who has no feudal overlord other than the emperor; he is not answerable to the Great Officers, and even the jurisdiction of those invested with Imperium is dubious here. Essentially, he may exercise within his realm all powers not specifically reserved to the crown–almost, but not quite, equal to having Imperium. Duke Palatine, Count Palatine; rarely if ever Viscount.
    - peculiar: Not a character judgment: a title or office that does not fall within the normal hierarchy–a county peculiar, for instance, will not be part of any duchy. The difference between this and palatine is that palatine nobles answer only to the emperor, while a noble peculiar is responsible to the imperial bureaucracy as normal. The designation will only appear when precise descriptions of legal status are required; a count of a county peculiar is just called a count, and the distinction makes no difference in determining precedence. Contrast with Ordinary.
    - precedence: The official order in which the various titles fall when it comes to determining place in ceremony; the imperial Order of Precedence (OP) combines all the various independent hierarchies, and does not indicate that someone higher in precedence has any power over someone lower in it. More generally–if non-technically–any hierarchical ordering, such as that of the nobility.
    - Prince Royal: A noble who can draw a line of descent directly to the Last Emperor; by tradition (and the will of the Last Emperor), new candidates for emperor come from their ranks. Many have other titles in their own right as well. A prince who holds lands in his own right as a consequence of being prince (i.e. has a principality) is called a Prince Regnant. See list of titles for additional comments.
    - Privy Council: A select group of advisers, whose advice is sought either by tradition or by law. When capitalized, refers to the imperial privy council, which includes the Great Officers, plus the Pursuivant General, Steward of the Imperial Household, Secretary of the Imperial Privy Council, Lord Privy Seal, the imperial heir (Crown Prince, Heir Apparent or Heir Presumptive), and any Legates who are not assigned to be elsewhere.
    - pursuivant: A member of the branch of imperial bureaucracy responsible for tracking the heraldic achievements of persons armigerous–not to be confused with mere heralds. The College of Pursuivants possesses a subtle but considerable influence, and is by its very nature an independent branch of the imperial bureaucracy, answerable only to the emperor… arguably, not even to him.
    - realm: A land held by a noble, e.g. barony, county, etc. Contrast with Region.
    - region: An administrative division that is not a realm, which may be a part of, include or overlap one or more realms. Contrast with Realm.
    - scutage: The practice of providing military service in lieu of other forms of payment (e.g. taxes). [Actually the opposite of historical usage: "scutage" was a tax you paid to get out of providing troops.]
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  3. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    DEFINITIONS, pt. 2

    exotic: A resource type that includes anything that isn't produced in the empire—or at least is astonishingly rare—as well as products made from these resources. Think "super-superior."
    farming: Here, any concentrated production of an agricultural resource. Some resources require improvements in order to be farmed (berries require orchard, for example). Some resources cannot be farmed under any conditions (fur and game are two of these).
    flesh: A resource type required for the health of your population. “Flesh equivalent” products are: cheese, dairy, fish, livestock, meat.
    improvement: Anything you can build, as well as a few things you can institute. Generally either allow an activity or provide a modifier.
    labor unit: The basic measure of work. One unit of peasants represents 100 unskilled laborers; one unit of craftsmen represents 20 skilled ones.
    local commerce: What you get when what happens in your barony stays in your barony. Reflects how much your people are selling to one another and the ease with which they can do so.
    local usage: A “production” bonus that reflects the fact that the good isn’t being transported as far, that less of it spoils—and that at least some of it is probably being skimmed, but that’s okay: the point is, it’s getting straight to the people who need it, without middlemen.
    produce: A resource type required for the health of your population. “Produce equivalent” resources are: berries, fruit, olives, pickle, preserves, vegetables.
    superior: A subtype of many products made by adding a little something extra in the making. Increases value.
    trade unit: An abstract measure of how much of something is produced by one labor unit, or how much of one product is needed to produce another. Actual amounts are nowhere near the same “size”: one unit of copper is a lot more metal than one unit of gold, and both are tiny compared to one unit of grain.
    transit commerce: Goods entering or passing through your land from elsewhere. Reflects how attractive your market is… or at least how good your roads are.
    unit/month: One labor unit (peasants, unless otherwise specified) performing one month’s work; abbreviated "U/mo". Often used when discussing construction: an improvement that requires 6 unit/months to build can be built in 6 months with 1 unit, or 3 months with 2 units, or 2 months with 3 units (which will usually be the maximum assignable).
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    A list of who does what. Not to be considered exhaustive, if for no other reason than because any noble from emperor on down can create novel titles for subordinates at whim.

    …that is, those of the aristocracy. Bureaucratic, ecclesiastical and military titles (usually called “offices” instead) will be handled elsewhere.

    Archduke: A doubly-hopped-up duke. There are presently two of these in the empire.
    Baron: The fourth level of nobility, below viscounts; also, the lowest level of nobility to hold fiefs, and thus the base upon which the rest of the hierarchy is built. Anyone below this (baronet is next) does not hold a title that devolves from the emperor’s authority… though that also means anyone below this actually owns his land, rather than holding it in trust from the empire. Barons always answer to some higher noble—unless the barony happens to be on crown lands, in which case the baron’s immediate feudal overlord is probably the emperor himself.
    Baronet: The fifth level of nobility down, or third up, depending on which end you’re counting from—most will think the latter, as there is a significant difference between this step and the next (see Baron).
    Cavalier: About as low as you can get and still be looked upon as possibly belonging to the upper crust. Not a noble title (and thus technically gentry), this is simply someone who has his own horse and armor—and has the right to have them. By a quirk of tradition, this is generally held to rank above esquire, though by rights it ought to be below it, since an esquire is essentially someone in the military class who also owns land: prejudice against “commercial” land ownership sees cavaliers treated better.
    Crown Prince: A prince designated by the emperor as heir and confirmed as such by the electors. Such confirmation is rare; usually, they wait until an emperor dies before confirming the succession.
    Count: The second highest level of nobility, below duke/marquis and above viscount. Most counties are part of duchies; a few, however, are “peculiar,” meaning there is no duke or marquis over them, and four are counties palatine—meaning they don’t answer even to the imperial bureaucracy, only to the emperor.
    Duke: The highest (basic) level of nobility, dukes are all but sovereign in their territories: they answer only to the highest levels of the imperial bureaucracy and the emperor himself. A duke palatine—of which there is presently only one—cuts out even the bureaucracy: barring direct instructions from the emperor, he is essentially head of an independent country. Grand dukes and archdukes are basically the same, just with an extra syllable added to make them feel more important.
    Elector: One of nine nobles with the right to decide who gets to sit on the imperial throne. Three of these are the senior members of royal lines; five are dukes; one is selected by the Imperial Diet. Normally the electoral dignity is heritable, but there have been exceptions.
    Emperor: You need to ask? The head honcho. The big boss. He who has the gold and makes the rules. He whose throne you want to be the power behind. Unlimited authority… as long as his nobles are willing to allow him to exercise it. A prince royal (at least traditionally) who has been elected to the throne. Hypothetically, the electors could depose him by vote; in practice, any attempt to do so would require civil war.
    Esquire: The “higher” section of the gentry, this is someone who both owns land and provides scutage. By a quirk of tradition, this is generally held to rank below cavalier, rather than above it—due to the prejudice of the nobility against “commercial” gentry. (The difference? Gentry land titles don’t devolve from the emperor: the gentry actually own their land.)
    Gentleman: As low as you can go and still be in the aristocracy at all. Definitely gentry (not nobility), this is simply someone who owns land.
    Grand Duke: A hopped-up duke, usually one of greater power than his fellows. There is presently one of these in the empire.
    Heir Apparent: A prince royal designated by the emperor to succeed him, but who has not been confirmed by the electors.
    Heir Presumptive: A prince royal who is the next most senior member of a royal line behind the current emperor, but who has not been nominated by the emperor to succeed.
    Knight Bachelor: The third level of nobility, above lord and below baronet. A knight bachelor is not a member of any chivalric order. This title may or may not be heritable, depending on how it was bestowed. Knights bachelor are ranked behind knights of the orders and knights banneret.
    Knight Banneret: Technically, a special case of knight bachelor, entitled to lead his men under his own banner, rather than under the banner of some superior. Ranked ahead of other knights bachelor and behind knight of an order.
    Knight Errant: Someone who has been knighted by a duke, marquis or count; largely honorary, never heritable; title does not bestow nobility. Ranks below lord, above cavalier.
    Knight of (Order): Second level of nobility, though ranked higher than knights banneret and bachelor. Membership in an order is never heritable. Each order has its own structure of ranks, normally: Grand Master, Knight Commander, Knight Companion, Knight Officer, and Knight (member); some orders may have fewer. Many members have other titles, possibly higher ones; these will have no effect on their rank within the order, so a duke who is a member would be subordinate to a baronet who is a knight commander, when the business of the order is being conducted.
    Lord: The lowest basic level of nobility, below knight. Any cadet member of a family bearing a higher title is entitled to the address “lord” as well.
    Marquis: A title the empire recently sandwiched in between duke and count; technically below duke, but never subordinate to one.
    Prince: Broadly, any prince royal. More narrowly, used for a senior member of a (sub-)line who holds no lands in virtue of that position (he may hold lands in virtue of some other title); in such instances, the formal address will be [Name] Prince [Line], e.g. “Lothair Prince Maestreven.”
    Prince Cadet: A junior member of any line of princes royal. The formal address will be Prince [Name] of [Line], e.g. “Prince Lothair of Maestreven.” If for some reason precision is required, it would be [Name], Prince Cadet of [Line], though this form would rarely be used save on official documents.
    Prince Regnant: A prince royal who holds lands in virtue of his title as prince, as opposed to any he might hold in virtue of any other titles he bears. He would be styled [Name], Prince of [Realm], e.g. “Lothair, Prince of Carvennig.” If the principality bears the same name as the prince’s family line, this can be changed to “Prince Regnant of”—he would, of course, be both the head of his line as well as his principality, so there’s no chance of mixing up two people with similar titles; this style would only be used if it was necessary to make it clear that he (and his line) held a principality. (If the realm and line have different names, it would become “Lothair Prince Maestreven of Carvennig.”)
    Prince Royal: Any person who can trace an unbroken line to the Last Emperor through one of his six children. This may or may not entitle such a person to anything more than entering a room ahead of a duke (or behind him, depending on what ceremony calls for)—with the very important exception that it also makes him eligible for election to the imperial throne. Princes royal form their own line of precedence entirely separate from that of other nobles; as such they neither rank nor are ranked by anyone else. Most will have other titles as well; in such cases, a noble who is also a prince would be placed higher in precedence than one who is not.
    Viceroy: A noble designated by the emperor to exercise direct control over a geographical area; this is rare, since there are usually other persons available to handle this, but it could be used if the empire settled any overseas areas, and has occasionally been used to grant temporary plenipotentiary powers (Imperium) over areas beset by rebellion or conquered in war. At present, there are no imperial viceroys.
    Viscount: The third rank of nobles, below counts and above barons. Most viscounties are parts of counties, but a small handful are “peculiar”: they have no count or duke over them, and answer only to the imperial bureaucracy and the emperor. Conceivably, a viscounty could be made palatine, but none of these exist, and granting what is essentially autonomy to someone of this rank would be a highly controversial step.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    As mentioned in the early description, religion is de-emphasized at the start of the game, and it will never come to occupy the central position it has played at many points in human history. I wouldn't even be bringing it up now… except that I have to. You see, one of you needs to make a choice. I said that at the outset everyone was going to be part of the same religion. But that was anticipating that everyone would also be part of the Empire.…

    The religions of this world are largely abstract. So much so, in fact, that I haven't given the gods real "names"–nor will I. As with most of the other important beings in your lives, they have titles. The overwhelming majority of the people in the Second Empire follow Earth Mother, and her worship is quite common throughout the world. However, for reasons as much political as anything else, the official, and dominant, religions in the Kingdoms are different. In Vaesthegnar and Lorthegnar, the primary religion is that of Sky Father. In Kereszney, the primary religion is that of Sun. There isn't any other particular attachment between the kingdoms and their deities; all three are worshipped, to greater or lesser extent, the world over. In many lands, one of these three will be most prominent; in a few others, there may be greater affection for Sea Mother or Mountain Father. You've heard tell of still more foreign faiths, but have no details regarding them.

    What's important to the here-and-now is that it can be a very poor idea to differ in religion from your subjects. It can be an even poorer idea to differ in religion from those whose subject you are. And while it's all well and good to say that you'll do one thing publicly and another privately, for all you know–and certainly for all you've been raised to believe–religion in this world actually affects your reality. Whether or not your overlord or your peasants know what you hold in your heart, your god will.

    And if that's the case, it's always possible this will lead to results that make your belief, or lack thereof, apparent to those around you.…
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  6. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    [moved from "Care and Feeding" thread—no changes]

    There are several sources of minted currency, though for game purposes it won’t matter much where your coin comes from… most of the time. These are:
    • the empire
    • other nobles granted licenses to mint imperial coins;
    • other nobles minting “unofficial” coins;
    • some guilds and other trade organizations;
    • the kingdoms that used to be part of the empire;
    • foreign sources;
    • counterfeiters.

    The empire mints coins in gold and silver, and maintains standard of required weight and purity (usually). It doesn’t bother minting in brass, copper or bronze: it leaves that to lesser beings. Any mint licensed by the empire to mint coins (usually the license only covers silver) must maintain the same standards of weight and purity. The official imperial coinage, from low to high, is:

    thaler: a silver coin about the same diameter as and slightly heavier than a U.S. dime;
    kreisthaler: a silver coin slightly larger than a U.S. quarter, four times a thaler’s weight and value;
    mark: a gold coin the same size as a thaler, worth 20 thalers;
    kreisenkranz: a gold coin the same size as a kreisthaler, worth four marks.

    The kreisthaler and kreisenkranz are specifically designed to be split into up to four pieces at need. Any other form of mutilation of imperial coinage is… “frowned upon,” shall we say? This is one instance where the empire is quite enthusiastic about the punishment fitting the crime.

    For the needs of the rarely-washed masses, there are the following low-value coins, minted by any noble who wishes—though if they are licensed to mint other coins, they are expected to maintain standards for these as well. All are based on the pfennig, which is recognized as having a par value of 1/20 of a thaler:

    halbpfennig: a really small copper coin, or sometimes a split pfennig, worth half a pfennig;
    pfennig: basic copper or bronze coin;
    zveipfennig: twice as large, worth twice as much;
    funfpfennig: a brass coin, about twice the size of a thaler, worth five pfennig (1/4 thaler).

    Which is more than you need to know right away: all transactions you’ll be dealing with in the short term will be given mainly in thalers, with occasional reference to marks and pfennigs as appropriate. For now, just keep in mind:

    • 1 mark = 20 thalers = 400 pfennig. (These will get abbreviated mk., th. and pf. most of the time.)
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