The Concord of Ashes
(modified from Ashen Knight, p. 101)
You serve a lord of more than usual importance and get more opportunities to mingle with the high and mighty than most knights or landed nobility. You also get more scrutiny from troubadours looking for targets of satire, priests seeking evidence of sin in chivalry and ambitious commoners who’d like to take your prerogatives for themselves. You can substitute Vassalage for Leadership or Intimidation when acting on behalf of your lord or in an assigned official capacity.
In many ways Vassalage, together with Influence and Fame, approximates Status in mortal society. A low-ranking knight or even a merchant born in a hovel can reach the heights of Dark Medieval society with these backgrounds. Although certain societies are markedly less feudal in character when compared with the nations of Western Europe, hierarchies still exist in those societies, and this background may be modified slightly and still taken by a character from the east.
- Level One: You serve a lord with notable power in your area. He may occupy a castle in a contested border zone or, as bishop, organise campaigns against heretic enclaves. As his regular companion, you share in some of whatever glory or blame falls his way. When introduced to gatherings within a few days’ travel, you can expect others to know who you are and what you’ve been doing lately.
- Level Two: You serve a lord with substantial power throughout your region, one of the principal players in several counties or active in several diocese. You feature in local homilies as an example of virtue and vice; if you are particularly good at chivalric activities, your deeds attract local comment.
- Level Three: You serve a lord who plays a role in the affairs of your kingdom or the Church; a well-known Count or Bishop, most likely. You join your lord at important gatherings several times a year, and special assignments may take you far and wide.
- Level Four: You serve on of the most prominent lords in your kingdom, a prominent duke or Cardinal with extensive land holdings. Anyone who regularly deals with your lord knows who you are, as do many of those who serve your lord’s other vassals.
- Level Five: You serve one of the great lords of the Dark Medieval world, a king or one of the most powerful dukes or warlords. Your name appears in poems and tales about the exploits of your lord and his court.