Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
The Eastern Lords
The symbol of the Teutonic Order, commonly taken by the Eastern Lords as their own. Lord Jürgen maintains a secret sub-order within the ranks of the warrior-monks known as the Order of the Black Cross; they have been used to powerful effect thus far in securing and expanding the demesnes of the faction, and the Eastern Lords take considerable pride in using this symbol to associate the success of the Teutons with their own. For those who are actively involved with the order, this symbol is often used quartered with their own heraldic arms.
A faction of Patrician Ventrue has emerged from those Cainites who would see the borders of the Holy Roman Empire expanded into Eastern Europe. While this alliance is only recently declared, having been formally established in the Year of Our Lord 1193 with the foundation of their headquarters in the city of Magdeburg, the seeds of the Eastern Lords were first sewn in the middle of the 11th century. An emerging ancilla known as Jürgen von Verden, childe and vassal of the prominent Holy Roman elder Hardestadt, began to offer his support to fellow ancillae that were starved of Domain and looking to either displace hoary, recalcitrant and entrenched elders or else forge their own territory in the growing towns and cities of the empire’s north-eastern frontiers. This was a highly unusual, even revolutionary strategy, for Jürgen von Verden did not rule a city himself. He chose instead to establish Domain over several key castles and fortresses in the border marches and then offered the protection and backing of his military might to others. The prestation debts garnered from these early supporters, most of whom went on to establish themselves as princes of towns and cities, allowed Jürgen to establish himself as a Cainite Lord by the turn of the 12th century even though he was without a Princedom himself. The newly establish Lord chose to mimic his sire in this regard, spending what time he possessed between campaigns moving through the territories of his supporters and ensuring their power and compliance with his own goals.
Struggle for Lordship
The domains of Jürgen and his vassal princes were originally centred in Saxony, and by the Year of Our Lord 1150, many of the other princes of the region had also joined the faction. This was established through the energy and drive of the ancillae among Jürgen’s supporters, who moved far quicker than their entrenched elder rivals could follow. However, not a few of these elders saw the writing on the wall and joined the faction of their own accord due to a lack of leadership in the wake of the the disappearance of the methuselah known as Erik Eigermann, who had been the traditional Lord of the region, around the Year of Our Lord 1140.
Jürgen claimed that he had a certain legitimacy to his claim, by virtue of claiming that Eigermann is (or was) his grandsire, though the supporters of Ilse Reinegger,* Erik’s* most recent Embrace and favoured childe, vociferously disagreed. While Lord Jürgen had hoped to join the 2nd Crusade, he was obliged to spend most of the 5th, 6th and 7th decades of the 12th century ensuring that his claim over the Duchy of Saxony (in Hardestadt’s name, of course) was secure. Ilse, more interested in maneuvering for control of the emerging political entity of Brandenburg but unwilling to cede territory in the north, met him at every turn from her own domain near the hamlet of Spandau, and the intrigue between the the two is still the talk of many courts in Western Europe.
Lord Jürgen, founder and master of the Eastern Lords.
In the decades since, Lord Jürgen has also extended his feelers into Bohemia, Prussia and Hungary, probing for weaknesses and opportunity. Heinrich of Volstag, another ancient thought to be the progeny of Eigermann, possessed extensive influence over these lands and had been the recognised Lord of the borderlands of the Northern March (what is now called Brandenburg) for centuries. However, the early 12th century had seen his grasp on power falling increasingly lax and opportunistic rivals and followers of Volstag’s had already begun to flex their political muscles without his firm leadership. Indeed, Heinrich’s own progeny, Bulscu of the Árpáds, had seized Lordship in Hungary without challenge in the late 11th century and had since gone on to style himself as King of Hungary’s Cainites. The Tzimisce of Bohemia and Prussia had resisted Heinrich’s total control for centuries; it was whispered that the constant struggle had taken its toll and the ancient wished to retire to the Sleep of Ages.
Jürgen chose his moment well, and Heinrich ceded his position as Lord of Brandenburg in the Year of Our Lord 1162, slipping into torpor soon after naming Jürgen as his successor. Ilse accepted his claim soon after, and Jürgen was catapulted into power as the most powerful Holy Roman Lord after his own sire. And all without taking a city for his exclusive domain or even being considered a true elder in his own right. Some claim, however, that Heinrich has not taken the Sleep of Ages at all but rather that he looks to a longer, more subtle stratagem against Hardestadt and his other ancient rivals for dominance over the Holy Roman Empire rather than quibble with a young and ambitious ancilla over territory that is essentially small beer. The truth will doubtless be discerned in the decades to come…
A city of his own
Lord Jürgen and his followers identified Magdeburg as a strategic site for expansion into pagan lands quite early in their plans, but it wasn’t until the 1160’s that he felt ready to bring his power to bear there. To his surprise, Jürgen found the resident ruler, Prince Cedrick of Clan Brujah, more than capable of retaining control of the domain through his skill at politics, mastery of the reins of influence, and by dint of his age and martial experience. Unusual for a Brujah, Cedrick was also quite willing to cooperate with the Patrician Ventrue insofar as pushing German influence into the pagan lands. The common lore concerning the unusual alliance concerned a power-play by the brilliant Lasombra neonate Norbert von Xanten, the former mortal bishop of Magdeburg. Both men despised the Lasombra, which in turn united them in their efforts to dispel his intrigues long enough that a mutual respect and camaraderie developed. Indeed Prince Cedrick and Lord Jürgen, who became a de facto advisor, even became allies of a sort. The expected speculation among the courts of the empire of whether Jürgen’s friendship was a ploy, and whether he would attempt to displace the elder prince, were quite premature. Rumours began to circulate in the mid-1180’s of the Third Crusade’s forthcoming announcement, which propelled Lord Jürgen and his chief aide-de-camp, Lucretia von Hartz, into preparations for a campaign in the Holy Land.
Sister Lucretia serves as Jürgen’s second in most regards with respect to running his empire.
Having long expected and prepared for another Crusade, Lord Jürgen found it surprisingly easy to ensure that his power base remained secure at home. A number of his progeny, as well as many of his supporters, had sworn the Blood Oath, and his ability to detect the breaking of an oath no matter the distance was well known. Unfortunately, in the spring of the Year of Our Lord 1188, a terrible conflagration devastated Magdeburg, claiming the unlives of Prince Cedrick and nearly all of the other Cainites of the city, including Jürgen’s beloved childe and representative Erik von Baruth. In the wake of the fire, an enormous rebuilding programme was begun and Jürgen moved quickly to assume control of the city, claiming the coup of organising the granting of full city rights for Magdeburg as justification for claiming Domain. Norbert von Xanten was quickly driven out and Lord Jürgen finally claimed the title of Prince. He called upon the support of several vassals that owed him enormous prestation rights to help him hold and secure the city while Lucretia well and truly proved her worth in taking over the intense preparations for the Crusade. Through a massive expenditure of effort, and much of his political prestation capital, Jürgen accompanied Frederick Barbarossa on the pilgrimage. He was accompanied by nearly thirty of his Cainite vassals and nearly one hundred and fifty mortals, many of them also knights or capable sergeants-at-arms. A small drop in the pond of one hundred thousand men, one fifth of whom were knights, but Lord Jürgen was determined to conquer all of Outremer given the chance.
The Third Crusade
The Third Crusade turned out to be a material disappointment for him, however, and he failed to gain any substantial Domain in the Holy Land. While he made valuable contacts among the Árpáds of Hungary, the early part of the campaign was fraught with folly and disaster: first with the bickering among the Cainites (many of whom were his rivals for Hardestadt’s favour) for control over the Emperor, then by mistakes leading to the sacking of Iconium and resulting war with the Sultunate of Rum, and finally the accidental death of Barbarossa himself. Jürgen and his retinue continued with the five thousand men under Frederick of Swabia to the Holy Land, where he missed an opportunity to take the precocious lad under his wing when he too, perished at the Siege of Acre. Much glory was had working with the forces of Conrad of Montferrat and Richard the Lionheart, and Jürgen and his people acquitted themselves with much valour and distinction during night attacks leading up to the battles of Arsuf and Jaffa. Unfortunately the truce between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin left Jürgen with no Domain in the Holy Land, and he was forced to withdraw in the summer of the Year of Our Lord 1192. He did, however, gain the respect of several prominent Crusader Cainite factions and the Lords that command them, including Andrew of Normandy, Geoffroi du Temple, Lucius Trebius Rufus and (the late) Guy of Provence. Lord Jürgen also set an example for individual valour, daring and tactical skill that earned him the respect of dozens of Crusading Cainites, which has only increased his legend as a paragon of what it means to be a Ventrue, a warlord, and a knight.
Upon returning to Magdeburg in the winter of the Year of Our Lord 1193, Lord Jürgen called upon his advisors and vassals to set his house in order. Other Holy Roman Ventrue, as well as not a few Lasombra and several Toreador, had been steadily chipping away at his power base in his absence and the Tzimisce and their supporters amongst the Gangrel and Nosferatu were growing bold as well. Upon surveying his demesnes, he swiftly set matters to rights. He declared that he and his fellow Princes and Lords would not just look for Crusades to Outremer but that they would push ever further into the barbaric Slavic east, for Christ and the Holy Roman Empire. Knights had already begun to follow him home from the Holy Land, looking for a worthy master to follow, and he would grant them Domain over the lands that they would civilise and Christianise with fire and faith. The Eastern Lords were born…
In the years since, the influence of this new faction has pushed strongly into the borderlands of Bohemia but more often Hungary, where the Árpád Ventrue appear to be failing at repulsing attacks from the Tzimisce Voivodate. His agents curry favour in the Cainite courts of Vencel Rikard in Buda-Pest, Geza Arpad in Esztergom and Gregor in Pressburg, as well as the mortal courts of first King Emeric and then Andras II, offering military support in return for land concessions. The influence of Lord Jürgen and his vassal, Baron Heinrich began to bear fruit with the increasingly destructive Cuman raids into Transylvania throughout after 1209; whispers in the ears of the once-mighty Árpáds that their seven failing fortress cities could use the help of the Eastern Lords found purchase, and in 1211 a formal invitation from Bulscu, Geza and arrived at Magdeburg.
Baron Heinrich serves the cause of the Eastern Lords at the court of King Andras II of Hungary.
Lord Jürgen and a number of his more combative vassals began arriving in the Burzenland that summer. They enjoyed the nominal and grudging support of Lady Nova of Mediasch and Prince Janos of Schassburg, both of whom appreciated having the bulwark of the Teutonic Order and the Eastern Lords at their backs. Many years of campaigning held Jürgen and his followers in good stead. While unable to fully counter the Cuman threat, they managed to stabilise the region. Within 6 months, a series of wooden towers bounded by palisades radiated outwards from Kronstadt, and these are now being expanded into castles. Skirmishes with the Cumans occur several times each month, but thus far followers of the Swordbearer have been unable to bring their enemies to battle. For now though, the people of the Burzenland have hope where before they had only fear, and the Eastern Lords grow strong in the East…
The Black Cross
During their adventures on the Third Crusade, Lord Jürgen and his military aide-de-camp Christof Ritter von Plauen noted the decisive impact that the skill and elan of the Templar and Hospitaller Orders had on several decisive engagements. They conceived of developing their own secret order within a mortal knightly order, but noted that the Andrew of Normandy’s Order of the Sable Rose had already thoroughly infiltrated the latter order and that the agents of Alexander of Paris, Montrovant of Rome and Dominius of Burgundy had significant influence in the former. Moreover, they observed, these military orders had to be carefully misled rather than controlled for they were a magnet for those that possessed the True Faith. Thus, they considered, it was necessary to formulate their own order and sew the seeds of control and obedience from the very start. Both Christof Ritter von Plauen and Lucretia von Hartz have bent their wills and most of their time on the formulation of this new order, which was recently declared in Acre in the Year of Our Lord 1198. The Order of the Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, or the Teutonic Knights, as some are already calling them, are already drawing significant numbers. In the early years, Lucretia and Christof moved carefully, placing only ghouls among the knighthood, but since AD 1205 more than a score of the right breed of knights have been Embraced, and a number of Jürgen’s Cainite followers have also taken holy vows. The military arm of the Eastern Lords of the Holy Roman Empire is ready, and the East will never be the same again.
The Eastern Lords exist for the glory of the Ventrue, Lord Jürgen, the Holy Roman Empire and themselves. Of course, the order and conviction of their actual support regarding these virtues varies from Lord to Lord. Some, such as Count Balthazar and Baron Eckehard, are practically elders and certainly powers in their own right; they only support their liege so long as his position remains strong and he asks little of them. However, others such as the neonate and ancillae rulers of Barby, Salzewedel, Stassfurt, Wernigerode, Haldensleben, Oschersleben, Garderlegen and Wanzleben are loyal unto the Final Death. Most of the rest fall somewhere in between. All aggressively court mortal settlers in hopes of growing larger domains, and nearly all of them have childer hungry to strike out and carve a piece of territory for the glory of Lord Jürgen, their sires, and themselves. Most of the Eastern Lords belong to Clan Ventrue, but they also number members hailing from Clans Toreador, Cappadocian and Lasombra. The Brujah are a minority in the Holy Roman Empire, and in any case they tend to find Lord Jürgen and his minions to be odious at best. However, one or two of them can be found among the Lords. The Tzimisce are, of course, the great enemy standing in the way of expansion. Few Cainites of the Low Clans are considered fit to rule, though they can make able and valued servants. Their numbers among the Lords are thin indeed. It is known that Lord Jürgen himself is advised by a Nosferatu. Lastly, nearly all of the Eastern Lords follow the Road of Kings, with the remainder cleaving to the Road of Heaven or even the Road of Humanity in one or two cases. As far as Lord Jürgen and his supporters are concerned, however, only a Scion is truly fit to rule, and the weakness of the rest is to be tolerated at best and weeded out at worst.
A List of Prominent Eastern Lords
Following is a list of the prominent rulers of the Eastern Lords, including broad stroke details of their demesnes and the heraldry that they have adopted as the practice has grown fashionable among the High Clans.
Throughout Upper and Lower Saxony
This is the heartland of Jürgen’s territory. The princes of these these cities have been with him the longest, and they justifiably see themselves as being the backbone of the Eastern Lords. In truth, his reach into the furthest northern reaches of Lower Saxony has never been strong. However, since the territory is so large and the population has traditionally been quite small, Lord Jürgen has tended to dismiss the importance of forcing the northern princes to bend the knee. The southern princes all enjoy the warm regard of their lord; morale is high and camaraderie is common among these Cainite potentates. Among them are partisan Ventrue from the bloodline of Fabrizio Ulfila, a number of Lord Jürgen’s younger, more ambitious and capable descendants and an inscrutable Malkavian who has thrown his nominal support behind the Eastern Lords for his own reasons.
- Prince Jürgen von Verden of Magdeburg, Overlord of Saxony and Thuringia, Landgraf of Brandenburg, Protector of the Burzenland and Grandmaster of the Order of the Black Cross (6th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Hardestadt the Elder); by virtue of his accomplishments, the creator and master of the Eastern Lord faction is the second most politically powerful of his clan in the Holy Roman Empire, second behind only his sire. Magdeburg is a powerful trading city on the west bank of the Elbe, long recognised as the last bastion of German civilisation before entering the benighted lands contested by the Slavs. [Population 12100]
- Prince Heinrich von Achern of Aken (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Jürgen von Verden); the site of an impressive castle named Gloworp, a service village and a ferry across the Elbe, Aken sits some 28 miles upstream from Magdeburg, not far from Dessau. Baron Heinrich is known to his people as an absentee ruler, having taken the vows of a half-brother of the Teutonic Order many years ago, and rumours drift back that he is active in the royal court of Hungary. He was remembered as a cruel and remote man, so he is not missed. His heir, Hubert, is a kindly warden that the people respect. For his part, Heinrich only returned in the first place to declare himself Cainite prince in order to serve his aims in Hungary. He barely spares a thoughts for Aken, its people, or what is left of his family. [population 680]
- Abbess Hedwig of St. Mary the Magdalene in Quedlinburg (7th generation. Cappadocian ancilla, Childe of Hrotwilda); noted as an influential puppetmaster of the most prestigious lay nunnery in perhaps the entire Holy Roman Empire. The spinster daughters and widowed wives of the nobility often retire there to the community, seeking a life of both comfort and godliness. Abbess Hedwig sits in the middle of a vast network of similar convents across the empire, and her politico-ecclesiastic capital is tremendously useful to the Eastern Lords. Her opinion is often sought by Lord Jürgen, and she is true power among the faction. [population 1140]
- Prince Johanna of Bernburg (8th generation Lasombra ancilla, Childe of Dietmar of Bonn); a strong castle and low-walled town over-watching the river Saale, approximately 32 miles south of Magdeburg. It is a favoured retreat of the Dukes of Saxony ever since the House of Billung. Johanna makes the owl her device because of the birds that haunt the castle. Johanna was an early supporter of Lord Jürgen, and while he no longer needs her advice, he takes pains to honour her by seeking it in order to keep her firmly in his camp. Her noted antipathy for the powerful Lasombra prince of Brunswick, Norbert von Xanten, is also shared by Jürgen, and this also serves to cement their alliance. [population 1800]
- Prince August von Everstein of Halle (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Jürgen von Verden); a vassal of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in the land of Saxony. A noted salt harvesting centre, protected by walls and guarded by the formidable Giebichenstein castle, which sits on a hill overlooking the town and the river Saale. Prince August is his sire’s childe; noted for his expansionist ambition and his intolerance for weakness and indecision. Unlike Lord Jürgen, however, August has no disgust for the art of politics, and he anchors his lord’s position in the south quite ably. Despite his taste for intrigue, of all the members of the Eastern Lords, the loyalty of Prince August to his sire is above reproach, and his adherence to the Road of Kings is seen as an example for all to follow. [population 5000]
- Prince Kuritz of Lüneburg (8th gen Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Hredel); formerly the seat of the House of Billung, is a noted salt harvesting site with a monopoly on the trade in the northern empire. Many Christianised Slavs also live here. It lies perhaps 100 miles north-north-west of Magdeburg, and marks Lord Jurgen’s furthest reach into Lower Saxony. Kuritz has the honour of being Lord Jürgen’s longest serving vassal, and while his own reputation for being a miserly poltroon does his master little credit, his sage advice and low political cunning ensures his place as a favoured advisor. His domain anchors the power of the more northerly Lords of the faction. [population 6600]
- Prince Casper of Dessau (8th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of Wilhelm von Walschleben); a well defended and strategic castle and service town, moated by the confluence of the Elbe and the Mulde. It lies 40 miles south-east of Magdeburg. Young Prince Casper shows promise, being both clever and skillful in war. He has been entrusted with warding the wild and dangerous lands across the river from his walls, and while he itches to join the fight against Rustovitch and the other Tzimisce of the Transylvanian heartland, he recognises the honour that has been granted him as a strategic anchor for his lord’s lands. His sire, Wilhelm, serves Lord Jürgen as Chamberlain of Saxony and Brandenburg. [population 380]
- Abbess Waltraud of St. Mary of Merseburg (9th generation Toreador ancilla, Childe of Meregart); situated 60 miles south of Magdeburg and some 9 miles south of Halle, Merseburg is the seat of Prince-Archbishop Eckehard Rabil, who is Waltraud’s retainer. She welcomed a Commanderie of the Teutonic Knights in 1210. Merseburg has a noted imperial residence. The Abbess is far more able than her Ventrue “allies” give her credit, and she has humiliated more than one would-be Warlord pretender that has sought to insinuate themselves into her wealthy and stable domain. She is a fast ally of not just her lord, but also Prince August of Halle. [population 4200]
- Prince Walter von Lippe of Salzwedel (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Erik von Baruth); situated on the Jeetzel, a tributary of the Elbe, some 60 miles north of Magdeburg, the powerful Salzwedel Caslte guards Jurgen’s northern flank against the threat of Polish Tzimisce raids. Sir Walter is the eldest childe and inheritor of Erik, Jurgen’s late, great and favoured childe and heir. Lord Jürgen is thought to have a curious affection for him, and hopes to lure him into a taking a more active role in the empire, but Walter appears to have lost his confidence and has chosen to exile himself over his guilt at having failed to resist the flames and rescue his sire from the Great Fire of Magdeburg in 1188. [population 290]
- Prince Sophie of Halberstadt (7th generation Toreador elder, Childe of Aregund); the seat of Bishop Friedrich II of Halberstadt, this rich trade town holds the Church of Our Lady, one of the earliest example of German cathedral building. It is a noted centre of the arts, sponsored by Prince Sophie and her thrall, the bishop. Halberstadt lies 31 miles south-west of Magdeburg. She keeps her own counsel on most matters these nights, and would not attend court gatherings at Magdeburg at all if not for the foolishness of attempting to offer excuses for such a short journey. It is known that she and her neighbour, Abbess Hedwig of Quedlinburg, dislike each other a great deal. [population 5300]
- Prince Conrad von Wölpe of Wernigerode (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Heinrich von Achern); a walled town and strong castle that serves the nominally independent Count of Wernigerode as his capital. As a test from Lord Jürgen and his own sire, Conrad has been given the fief so long as he can take it from Gunther von der Brocken, a childe of Burchard von Northeim (Jurgen’s brother in blood). For now, Conrad makes claims but actually resides in Sophie’s court at Halberstadt, some 14 miles to the east. He is not thought to be an especially clever fellow, but Conrad tends to make up in obsequiousness and low rat cunning what he lacks in intelligence. Like his sire, he also has a reputation for being a skilled and implacable soldier. [population 1450]
- Prince Adela of Eisleben (8th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of August von Everstein); a vassal of the small County of Mansfield, it lies some 45 south of Magdeburg, and just 16 miles west of her sire’s domain of Halle. Eisleben is a noted market town, but Adela and her domain are little more than an extension of her sire’s ambition at this point. However, while her reputation is that of a dull and insipid courtier, some wonder at why such a canny politician as August von Everstein would Embrace such a creature, let alone put her forward as a proxy prince. For her part, the young Ventrue seems content to exist peacefully and uneventfully in Eisleben, kept company only by her merchant ally and seneschal, Jobst, who is himself a weak-blooded example of the clan. [population 1400]
- Prince Gerhard of Gardelegen (8th generation Ventrue elder, Childe of Ingomer); The castle and town of Gardelegen, on the east bank of the Milde, some 32 miles north of Magdeburg. It is the seat of the House of Gardelegen, a minor noble line that Gerhard has watched over for centuries. He was an early supporter of Jurgen, although his bloodline is that of his lord’s consanguineous brother, Berengar. Gerhard, or Gero as he prefers in familiar company, has largely retired from active affairs in the Eastern Lords at this point, but out of respect for his crucial support in the early years Jürgen continues to take pains to show a measure of respect and deference to the older Ventrue’s status. Gardelegen is renowned for its beer. [population 850]
- “Prince-Bishop” Thietmar of Merseburg (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Gottfried der Ault); home of one of the earliest example of Gothic cathedral construction, Merseburg also hosts an imperial palace and has long been a favoured residence of German kings and Holy Roman emperors. As a mortal, Thietmar engineered the establishment of the Prince-Bishopric and the construction of the cathedral (under which he still havens), and as a Cainite he was long an enthusiastic participant in Ventrue politics as a proxy of his grandsire, Fabrizio Ulfila. Thietmar’s interest in power appears to have lapsed in recent years, but he still acts as an intermediary between Ulfila and Lord Jürgen. His domain lies only 10 miles south of Halle, and the ambitions of August von Everstein. [population 1400]
- Prince Johan der Weisse of Leipzig (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Thietmar of Merseburg); a market hub on the vital crossroads of the via Imperii, which stretches from Northern Italy to the Baltic, and the via Regia, which stretches from France to Silesia and beyond. It is also the site of the fabled Leipzig Trade Fair, considered by many to be the most prosperous of its kind in the empire. It is held twice a year. A number of important monasteries are also situated close to the town, and Leipzig is slowly gaining a reputation as a centre of learning. Johan has all the enthusiasm that his sire appears to have lost, and apt intriguers watch his moves closely. His domain stands some 18 miles east of Merseburg and some 70 miles south of Magdeburg. [population 3800, including transients]
- Prince Theoderic von Wettin of Dresden (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Jürgen von Verden); a small castle and service village mainly populated by Slavs, Dresden stands on the southern bank of the Elbe, perhaps 30 miles north of the Bohemian border a like distance from the troubled marcher town of Bautzen to the east. The presence of the promising young Theoderic at Dresden is thought to be an attempt by Lord Jürgen to keep an eye on the failing Bohemian and Polish bloodlines of Ventrue, as well as the movements of their Tzimisce enemies. He is a clever and subtle Cainite, taking a line towards strengthening the claims of his mortal kin in the region as a means of advancing his own agenda, that of his sire and that of the faction as a whole. He is very much seen as a fellow to watch. [population 520]
- Prince Otto von Blumenthal of Tangermünde (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Eckhard of Brandenburg); set high on the western hill over-looking the confluence of the Tanger and Elbe rivers, Tangermünde Castle is an imposing presence to those standing across river. The population of the castle and village that services it has traditionally consisted of hard-bitten warriors on watch for aggressive pagan war parties, but these days the settlement is becoming known as more of a market town. Otto is loyal to his sire and to his lord, both of whom are known to consider him cursed with too much kindness. And yet, his mortal line is of growing importance in the Margraviate of Brandenburg and so Prince Otto’s star continues to rise. [population 600]
- Prince Reinhard von Barleben of Haldensleben (9th generation Toreador ancilla, Childe of Father Erasmus); a small castle and service village on the banks of the Ohre, a tributary of the Elbe. Haldensleben lies some 19 miles north of Magdeburg. Reinhard was a seminarian embraced for his talent with song, but he has become martial in his ambitions since the turn of the 13th century. He has been given Haldensleben as a test of his abilities, and to teach him patience. Although he wishes to be given leave to join Lord Jürgen in his “glorious conquests”, for the time being Reinhard has resolved to make Haldensleben a centre of the arts and he has founded a seminary and a musical conservatory in the small town. His sire, Father Erasmus, is the Seneschal of Magdeburg. [population 420]
- Abbot Werner of St. Ludger of Helmstedt (8th generation Cappadocian ancilla, Childe of Hedwig of Quedlinburg); situated 28 miles west of Magdeburg, on the road to Brunswick, which lies only 22 miles further, Helmstedt. Werner, a loyal vassal of Jurgen through his sire, keeps watch on the dangerous Norbert von Xanten for his liege. Like his sire, he keeps up a lively correspondence with monks and clerics throughout the Holy Roman Empire; he is a respected church historian whose works are quoted in both Paris and Rome. Werner is a little more worldly than his sire, and he is also heavily involved in the local politics of Helmstedt. At present he is seeking to have the settlement granted town rights, and he lobbies his fellow Eastern Lords incessantly to that effect. [population 880]
- Abbot Simon of Negenburg (9th generation Malkavian elder, Childe of Dideric of Osnabrück); A very wealthy and beautiful reichskloister Abbey inside an old castle looming above a small town, with several other villages attached to its domain. Negenburg lies 71 miles south-west of Luneburg, 121 north-west of Magdeburg and 40 miles south-east-south of Bremen. The abbot, Simon, has a number of potent enemies and rivals within his own clan, and apparently threw his support behind Jurgen in return for the lord’s protection. He keeps his own counsel, but he is a close ally to Kuritz of Luneburg. [population 140 in the abbey, 1020 in the town]
- Prince Roland von Arnstein of Barby (8th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of Vaclav Ritterbrüder von Tetschen); a castle and service town just 17 miles upriver and south of Magdeburg, Barby serves Lord Jürgen as a waystation and watchtower over the confluence of the Elbe and the Saale. Prince Roland obediently rules the small county through his mortal cousins, although he longs to join his sire in the Order of the Black Cross and take the fight to the Tzimisce in the East. He is ambitious, and hopes to find a way of earning the attention and favour of his grandsire, Lord Jürgen, but despite his natural excellence as a swordsman and jouster, he has little real experience of warcraft. [population 590]
A mixture of ancillae and neonates, most of whom are loyal to Baron Eckhard of Brandenburg. These young princes are deeply concerned with the defence of their holdings against their vengeful great-sire, Ilse Reinegger of Spandau. By and large, the princes of Brandenburg see Lord Jürgen as a means to an end, and they lack the wholesale loyalty and sense of camarederie common to those based in Saxony.
- Baron Eckhard of Brandenburg, Lord of Premnitz, Werdere and Belzig (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Germanus); the capital and stronghold of the Margraves of Brandenburg, this castle and small service town sits on the banks of the Havel, some 55 miles to the East-North-East of Magdeburg. Eckhard is one of Jürgen’s more powerful vassals, but he is in the unenviable position of having to contend with the formidable Ilse Reinegger for the destiny of the Margraviate. He is always seeking advantage over his more powerful rival, and indeed over his own lord as well. For now, their association keeps Eckhard from having to meet Ilse head on, and it gives Jürgen the pretext for claiming Brandenburg for his own. Eckhard frequently travels to Magdeburg when Jürgen is in residence, the better to plan and curry favour. However, despite appearances of friendship, if either party weakens, the other would likely seek to oust them. [population 1440]
- Prince Berthold von Winzenburg of Premnitz (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Baron Eckhard); A small castle and client village guarding the northern approaches of Brandenburg, Premnitz sits in heavy wooded land on the banks of the river Havel, a large tributary of the Elbe. Berthold is the eldest childe and heir to Eckhard, and frequently makes the 13 mile journey to Brandenburg to act as de facto prince during his sire’s infrequent but lengthy absences. He is cut from similar cloth as his sire, being both opportunistic and politically skilled, but he lacks Eckhard’s sense of vision. [population 480]
- Prince Ludolf von Görz of Werdere (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Baron Eckhard); a strong castle strategically placed on a small, coin shaped island near the left bank of the Havel, Werdere and its sizeable client town guard the eastern approaches to the town of Brandenburg, 17 miles to the west. Ludolf is a formidable warrior, very much in the style of his sire except for his distaste for for politics. Of all the Brandenburg princes, Ludolf must regularly contend with both the physical and diplomatic probes of Ilse and her childer. Unlike Berthold of Premnitz, he never leaves his lands, for fear of having them snatched away by his enemies. [population 780]
- Prince Hartmud von Brandenburg of Belzig (8th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of Baron Eckhard); a castle and service village with a commanding view of the low, rolling hills to the east and south and the thick forest to the west, Belzig stands 16 miles south of Brandenburg. Its prince, Hartmud, is the youngest of Eckhard’s childer with a domain of his own, and he is still finding his feet. Due to his audacity and inexperience, he is watched carefully both by his sire and Berthold of Premnitz, and also by Ilse Reinegger and her allies. In life, Hartmud was the natural son of Otto II, the late Margrave of Brandenburg, and he continues to take an interest in the welfare of his mortal kin. [population pop 420]
- Prince Matthias von der Nuthe of Luckenwalde (7th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of Meinhard); the formidable keep of the Burgward of Luckenwald lies 40 miles south east of Brandenburg. For much of the 12th century, it was responsible for defending not just its client villages, but also the approaches to the prosperous settlements of Dessau, Halle, Bernburg and Magdeburg. Now it is almost quiet by comparison. Its nominal prince, Mattias, guards the city by right of his elder sire, a proud Eastern Lord who is descendant of Heinrich von Volstag. Meinhard entered torpor in 1202, and Matthias is eager for his beloved sire to awaken, so that he might gain an opportunity to take part in Lord Jürgen’s crusades. [population 890]
- Prince Eilika of Jüterbog (6th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Heinrich von Volstag); situated some 52 miles south-east of Brandenburg on the Havel and just 9 miles south of Luckenwalde, this market town sits on the banks of the Nuthe river at the northern slope of the Fläming hill range. Its prince, Eilika, has been a member of the Eastern Lords since her sire, Heinrich von Volstag, ceded his territory to Jürgen in AD 1162. She was the youngest of Heinrich’s progeny, and some say the dearest. Indeed, it is rumoured that the ancient Ventrue went to ground in Jüterbog under the watchful eye of Eilika. [population 730]
A mixture of ancillae and elders of eastern Franconia who formerly owed their allegiance to Heinrich von Volstag. When that great elder entered torpor, many of them transferred their loyalty to either Lord Jürgen or High Lord Hardestadt. Franconia is nominally claimed by the High Lord, but in truth it is a patchwork of demesnes claimed by a number of powerful Ventrue potentates, including Julia Antasia, Dominius, Gaius Fabricius, Mithras, Michaelis and, of cours, Jürgen himself.
- Count Balthazar of Bamberg and Lord of Forchheim and Baierrute (7th generation Lasombra ancilla, Childe of Childeric); the largest and most politically prominent city in the east of Franconia, Bamberg has long been a favourite of the Holy Roman Emperors. Ruled by a powerful prince-bishop, whose influence extends for scores of miles in every direction, it is the perfect base of operations for Count Balthazar of the Lasombra, who has made place his home since the early years of the 12th century. Balthazar originally joined the Eastern Lords for fear of the ambitions of his Toreador rivals in Würzburg after they joined the faction. Now, he uses Jürgen to expand his own power base to the surrounding cities. Like Eckhard in Brandenburg, he is powerful enough to declare himself a lord in his own right, and he would likely abandon his master at this point, if he felt that he could get away with it. Bamberg stands a full 180 miles south of Magdeburg, 63 miles east of Würzburg and 40 miles north of Nuremburg. [population 7100]
- Prince Wolfram der Mutige of Forchheim (8th generation Lasombra ancilla, Childe of Count Balthazar of Bamberg); granted town rights in 1210, the settlement and castle of Forchheim is a vassal of the Bishop of Bamberg. Forchheim has been notable for centuries, having long hosted a Carolingian royal palace and existed as a strong-point against the Slavs. Balthazar’s sire was its first prince, the count himself was its second, and Wolfram has been an able third. He s heavily involved with the Cainite politics of the city of Nuremburg in addition to his own. Also, Prince Wolfram is one of the most skilled warriors among all of the Eastern Lords, and he has been challenged by a number of his Ventrue rivals to take a more active part in the faction’s conquests. So far he has followed the wishes of his sire, but he has said that he would love to test his mettle against the Tzimisce of Transylvania. [population 1480]
- Prince Mechthilde von Wertburg of Baierrute (8th generation Lasombra neonate, Childe of Count Balthazar of Bamberg); a small, prosperous village 15 miles south-south east of Bamburg and 20 miles north of Nuremburg, this settlement is notable only in that it marks the southernmost terminus of Lord Jurgen’s power in the Holy Roman Empire. Mechthilde is little more than an extension of Count Balthazar’s will, but she shows talent as a mistress of intrigue given her activities in Nuremburg since the turn of the 13th century. Mechthilde is something of a political prodigy, having been raised in the household of Count Balthazar to be not just a perfect extension of his will, but also a perfect example of their clan. [population 650]
- Prince Lambert of Würzburg (8th generation Toreador ancilla, Childe of Ingomer); approximately halfway (50 miles) between Bamberg and Frankfurt, the city of Würzburg is an ancient settlement first populated by the Celts, then the Alemanni, and finally the Franks. It has been ruled for centuries by a series of mortal prince-bishops who have in turn been the puppets of a bloodline of Toreador. Lambert, who still masquerades as the bishop’s archdeacon, inherited the domain in trust from his sire, Ingomer, who in turn was bequeathed the city by his own sire, Brennus. Lambert has made a niche for himself as something of a sly intermediary between the lands of Julia Antasia and Jurgen von Verden. [population 2100]
A mixture of loyal ancillae, many of them cousins and nephews/nieces to Jürgen. :Like their counterparts in Franconia, a good number of these worthies formerly offered their loyalty to Heinrich von Volstag, while others are merely opportunists who see the Eastern Lords as a fine way to guarantee their continued praxis as the faction began to close in on their demesnes.
- “Merchant-Prince” Andreas of Erfurt (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Walden der Färberwaid); the largest and wealthiest city in Thuringia, Erfurt is the largest of the five cities of the woad road. Andreas, very far from the warlord ideal popular among his clansmen, is nonetheless valued by Jurgen for has demonstrated great loyalty in the past. Not only does the canny merchant help to check Balthazar of Bamberg, but he has funded many of his lord’s wars with his extraordinary wealth. Andreas’ domain is 92 miles south of Magdeburg. [population 11100]
- Prince Albrecht of Gotha (9th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Andreas of Erfurt); sitting at a junction between the cities of Mainz-Frankfurt-Leipzig-Breslau on one axis and the Mühlhausen-Erfurt-Eisenach-Kassel-Dortmund on the other, this wealthy and rapidly growing town is of immense trade value. It is ruled by a Ventrue who manages to straddle the line between the old guard and the new, sponsoring trade while simultaneously presenting the bearing of an aristocrat. In life, he was a member of the Ludovingian House of Hesse, and he retains familial connections. Gotha lies some 16 miles west of Erfurt, and 100 miles south-west-south of Magdeburg. [population 3800]
- Prince Poppo of Weimar (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Ludwig von Ansbach); situated on a hill overlooking the Ilm River, a tributary of the Saale, the quickly growing town of Weimar (pop 1700) is the seat of the powerful counts of Weimar-Orlamünde. Poppo is both a member of the mortal dynasty, and the nephew-in-blood of Jürgen von Verden. His sire, Ludwig, is a vassal of Hardestadt the elder, but Poppo’s allegiance is to Jurgen. Poppo’s castle is but 14 miles east of Erfurt and 88 miles south of Magdeburg.
- Prince Siegfried von Orlamünde of Nordhausen (8th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Poppo von Weimar); one of the largest towns in Thuringia, Nordhausen (pop 3400) is a prominent unwalled market settlement lying on the banks of the Zorge, a tributary of the Helme river. Once an imperial estate, it returns to the fold as a Free Imperial City in 1220. The town is situated 37 miles north of Erfurt, 50 miles west of Haale, and 62 miles south-west of Magdeburg. Siegfried is an ambitious prince, every but the equal of his sire in Weimar. Together they control the fortunes of the House of Weimar-Orlamünde.
- Prince Erlech von Reuss of Gera (9th generation Ventrue neonate, Childe of Erkenbert von Reuss); a small, wealthy textile centre on the banks of the Weisse Elster river, a tributary of the Saale, Gera lies 99 miles south of Magdeburg, 37 miles south of Leipzig, 47 miles east of Erfurt, 48 miles south of Haale and 75 miles west of Dresden. Erlech’s sire is preoccupied with the growth of a larger mortal and Cainite bloodline, leaving the neonate as something of a proxy prince with considerable autonomy. [population 1100]
- Prince Lothair von Schauenburg of Eisenach (8th generation Brujah ancilla, Childe of Helika von Mossburg); situated at a bottleneck between the Thuringian Forest in the south and the Hainich mountains in the north, Eisenach benefits from the rich west-east trade along Via Regia from Frankfurt (110 miles SW) to Erfurt (34 miles east) and Leipzig (102 miles ENE). It is protected by the noted castle of Wartburg, where Lothair makes his haven. Practically an elder in his own right, the Brujah also has allies in the court of Julia Antasia. As Erfurt lies as close to Frankfurt as it does to Magdeburg (110 miles), Prince Lothair is watched carefully by Jurgen’s people. [population 2600]
- Prince Wecelo von Bibra of Altenburg (7th generation Gangrel ancilla, Childe of Albína Jezevec); a fortified town, royal palace and castle, on the imperial road between Halle and Cheb (in Bohemia), with considerable economic prosperity due to the salt trade. It’s prince is a Gangrel, quite rare in the Holy Roman Empire, who transferred his loyalty to Jürgen once it was clear the Bohemian Ventrue could no longer contain the Tzimisce. Wecelo has a powerful hatred for the Fiends, who destroyed his sire centuries ago. Altenburg lies some 97 miles south of Magdeburg. [population 1360]
- Prince Lorenz die Schwarze of Mühlhausen (7th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Jürgen von Verden); a strong, fortified city on the banks of Unstrut river, at the eastern edge of the Hainich hills, some 90 miles south-west of Magdeburg. Mühlhausen is one of the busiest, safest and wealthiest trading towns in the empire. It houses a royal palace, and is administrated directly by an agent of the emperor. This gives the wily Lorenz, a favoured childe of Jürgen with considerable talents in the arena of politics, valuable inroads into the imperial court. The city will host a commandery of the Teutons from 1227. [population 7200]
In the Burzenland
Sitting more than 900 miles and several nations away from Magdeburg, Kronstadt and the Burzenland represent the most ambitious attempt at expansion yet for Jürgen and the Eastern Lords. With their Árpád neighbours failing to contain the threat of Vladimir Rustovitch and his supporters, the critical purpose of the Saxon Siebenburgen in destabilising the Tzimisce Voivodate is now at risk. The Eastern Lords offered their aid, and if Jürgen’s mad gamble pays off, the campaign might sound the death knell of what little clan unity remains to the Fiends. The city and domain of Kronstadt, capital of the Burzenland, is loosely allied with the Cainite princes of Mediasch, Schassburg and Sankt Georgen.
- Prince Karsten von Hornburg of Kronstadt (9th generation Brujah ancilla, Childe of Ladislav of Krainburg [d]); fair minded and generally altruistic example of his clan, Karsten established himself quietly in the wake of his predecessor’s apparent demise in 1203. Seeing the writing on the wall, and fearing for the security of his adopted home, he willingly journeyed to Magdeburg and bent the knee to Lord Jürgen in AD 1211. Thus far, the Brujah and his Ventrue master have worked hand in hand for the glory of the Swordbearer’s demesnes and the welfare of Kronstadt (depending upon which one of them you ask), but Karsten’s loyalty may be tested if the good burgers wind up being exploited by the large Cainite population in the area. [population 5400]
Roving Agents of Lord Jürgen
- Lucretia von Hartz, sister of the Teutonic Order and Deputy Grandmaster of the Order of the Black Cross (9th generation Childe of Kuritz of Lüneburg); this ancilla has served her lord since the 1130’s, having offered her services shortly after Prince Kuritz of Lüneburg swore allegiance to Jürgen. While Wilhelm is his pet politician, Lucretia serves her lord by organising and leading the Order of the Black Cross when his attention is elsewhere. She masquerades as a simple infirmarian nun of the Teutonic Order, and rarely arms herself these nights, but many remember that Lucretia was once dangerous with a sword, and quite ready to use it on those who insult her lord, her sire or her clan. In recent years, she has spent much of her time in the Burzenland, or else travelling between her lord’s court there and Magdeburg.
- Christoff von Plauen, brother-knight of the Teutonic Order and bailiwick commander for Thuringia and the Burzenland (8th generation Ventrue, Childe of Erik von Baruth [d]); the elusive brother Christoff is nominally in charge of the Order of the Black Cross in the Landgraviate of Thuringia from the order’s castle at Zwätzen, outside the city of Jena, which he also watches over in Lord Jürgen’s name. However, he usually leaves his childe, Father Hugo, to watch over his domain while he ranges back and forth on the secret business of the Order and his lord. He was the first of the Order to arrive in Kronstadt, and is responsble for much of the day-to-day affairs. Christoff is thought to be the best swordsman in the Order of the Black Cross, if not the entire Teutonic Order. Together with Sister Lucretia and Baron Heinrich, he is also one of the architects behind the creation of both orders. In recent years, he has become his lord’s second in managing the Order in the Burzenland, but he occasionally undertakes secret missions abroad.
- Sir Guy d’Arles, diplomat-at-large (9th generation Ventrue ancilla, Childe of Kuritz of Lüneburg); a smooth talker, well-versed in the court politics of the Holy Roman Empire and possessed of the kind of killer instinct that his fellow Eastern Lords admire. Sir Guy has made the rounds of the German courts for the best part of a century, and he has recently made some noise about settling down and claiming a city for his own. His service to Jürgen von Verden has been worthy of note, as that of his consanguineous sister Lucretia, so he might just get his wish.