Last week we finished delving into the families that comprise the Fresian Merchant League, that behemoth that seems to consume everything it touches. However it is not the only power in the city of Middelburg.
In the streets they call them the Six Princes of Middelburg. They aren’t actually Princes and there aren’t just Six of them, but symbolism is often more important than accuracy. The Six Princes are the six institutions which, together, control every aspect of life, not only in Middelburg, but in the entire nation of Alfresia. From the legislative to the judicial, the economical to the military, and even the two dominant religions, these Six Princes rule over the nominally free nation with an iron fist.
The Fresian Merchant League is one of the Princes, with the three Patriarchs and the Matriarch of the Four Governing Families acting as its liaisons. Not all businesses and stores in Alfresia are owned by the League, not for lack of trying mind you, but none can argue against the fact that League sets the economical policies of that nation. As the saying goes: whether you like them or not, eventually everyone ends up working for the League.
Next week we’ll look into the Prince that holds the executioners blade in Alfresia.
This week on Magic Mondays we show you an array that almost every character in the Runed Age, playable and non-playable, will use some time in their life, even if they don’t know it. It’s one of those arrays that is everywhere, but you won’t notice unless you look for them.
This week we have the unimaginatively named Cartridge Ignition arrays.
Notation: Top array: Create Fire if Copper is present and Send the Fire. Contain the Sending.
Bottom array: Receive the Fire and Push it at a speed of 1 m/s
Description: If the arrays didn’t give it away, the name most definitely did. These arrays can be found on firearm cartridges and are responsible for igniting the black powder in the cartridges, thereby propelling the pistol or musket balls out of the barrel at a, hopefully, terminal velocity. You will find these arrays on nearly every cartridge in Middelburg, it’s cheap and reliable and will therefore be staying around for quite a long time.
Because of the runes and arrays, the people in the Runed Age never developed percussion or priming caps. Because of this, they had to get creative with how they ignited black powder. The earliest runic primers were simple arrays of Create-Fire, but merely the act of carrying these around would impart enough energy into the arrays to activate them. Fire was a constant risk.
It was never that big of a concern until a century ago when cartridge bullet were invented. No longer would you have to load the musket/pistol ball, black powder and runic primer separately. Now you can carry “preloaded shots” in your pocket for quick and easy reloading. Now that the primers were always attached to the black powder, they had to come up with a safety mechanism so the bullets don’t ignite in your back pocket.
The Send & Receive arrays were the answer. By putting the Send array on the back of the cartridge and activating it only when copper (the firing pin) was in contact with it, there was no longer any risk of accidental ignition. The Send array would then send the fire through time and space to the Receive array on the inside of the cartridge where it would be pushed through the black powder, ensuring an even ignition.
If you want to know how to create your own arrays, check out our YouTube channel where we tell you exactly how to make some magic.
Our second video about the Magic System of the Runed Age. It’s a step by step explanation about how to get the most out of the Runes and Arrays work.
This week is our fourth and final look at the Fresian Merchant League, where we explore the third tier of the Merchant League and look at the workhorses of the League.
This week we look at the Jonkheer Families.
Jonkheer is an old Fresian title for the lowest rank of nobility and it quite describes this tier in the League. There are many, many more families below the Jonkheer Families, but they are in most cases actual literal families of a mere handful members that have become wealthy enough to buy their way into the League. Those families are called the Hearth Families and when a powerful trading family boasts of controlling a few dozen families it is of the Hearth Families they speak.
The Jonkheer Families are a different story. Not only do they have the money and power to sit where they are on the League totem pole, but in most cases they have history. It takes a lot for a family to even get to this tier, so even the newly inducted Jonkheer Families have a long history behind them. Some were wealthy farming families that have grown large and gained vast territories, others were old merchant guild members, having gained control of their guilds and lined their pockets in that manner.
That is not to say there aren’t some proper bastards in this tier. Quite a few families have risen from the Hearth Families through banking, investments and moneylending. They sit and do nothing while other men work hard to pay off their exorbitant interest rates. Investors, however, are much needed in the Merchant League. A favourite League saying is ‘the money must flow’ and flow is does. More money pass through League hands in a day than some nations see in a month, all thanks to their investors and bankers.
True to the name of Jonkheer, these families are like the old barons and knights of Middelburg’s past. They sit in their manors overseeing their workers and take their pound of flesh. While the families in the upper two tiers manage other families, the Jonkheer Families manage the guilds, the workhouses, the farming collectives, and the range of stores to make their money. They are not so low as to merely own one or two stores or farms, that is left to the Hearth Families and below. The Jonkheer Families each can own dozens of stores, handfuls of farms, a merchant guild here and there and perhaps a lucrative investment in the military.
The Jonkheer families are the faces of the League most often seen but rarely recognised. They do most of the work, yet get little of the credit.
In the image from left to right, top to bottom: For the bloody stag: Aalmer, Bauwer, Heeren, Mulder, Rosenwind, Schuttman, Sneijder, van Dal, Wilms, Wouters. For the iron eagle: De Boer, De Schild, Keil, Lauwens, Leitner, Sturm, Tiedeman, van Leeukop. For the shining gold: De Wit, De Wolf, Jonckers, Pender, Reinier, Roggeween, van Aard, Verhoeven, Voss. For the brass ship: Appeltuin, Hoekstra, Koolen, Lamar, Lavoie, Mercier, Rousseau, van Kwaad.
This week for Magic Mondays we will, once again, help you in your criminal exploits in Middelburg. You by now will have all the arrays needed to protect yourself and fight off any assailant, so now is the time to think about how to get away quickly after you have done your criminal deeds.
This week we have the Coach Express.
Notation: Cool (at a rate of 1 degree Celsius every 8 minutes) and increase the speed (by 100%) of Animals.
Description: In the age of electricity, technology in the Runed Age is moving faster than ever before. The ability of electricity to quickly and conveniently transfer energy to runic arrays, which can then store this energy, has revolutionised every technology under the sun. Unfortunately, those left behind in this technological race are quickly forgotten.
In a world with airships and electrically driven trains, carriages and coaches are quickly becoming yesterday’s news. The coaches and carriages have decided to fight back with an ancient array that has had some new life breathed into it.
The Coach Express has been in use for centuries, albeit sparingly as storing energy in an array was a time consuming affair before the advent of electricity. Now, however, you would rarely see a professional coach or carriage without one.
Simply put this array increases the speed of animals (most often horses) by 100%, meaning they move at twice their normal speed. This means that a horse at full gallop can now average 80-100 km/h. This is utterly fantastic if you are delivering goods and passengers between cities, or if you are running away from the constabulary, but it isn’t so good on the horses.
On a good day, a horse at a gallop can overheat within 20 minutes. At double speed that is only exacerbated. It is for this reason that the array also cools down the horses. If your horse dies on you because of heat exhaustion then no amount of speed will save you.
This array is also rife for modification. You can easily change the speed increase of the Animal rune as well as the rate at which the Cool rune cools the animals. This array is meant to be changed what you expect you will be facing.
To learn more about how time runes work, stay tuned this Friday for our second video on YouTube.
We are busy with the next YouTube video recording, but in the mean time, check out our clothing line on PrintMighty.
As time goes by, we will be adding a lot more designs on there, so check back often to see all the new goodies.
While I got this time, let me also draw attention to our Contact Us page. If you have ever wanted to publish your own tabletop TPG, have a quick read on our Contact Us page and drop us a line, we can help.
This week on League Wednesdays we delve deeper into the Fresian Merchant League and look at those trade families that serve the four governing families from last week.
This week we look at the Patrician Families.
There are sixteen Patrician Families in all, although it is not a fixed number or even a fixed title. At this tier and below, families come and go, and the only reason a specific trade family is called a Patrician Family is because the other families have recognised their wealth and power. Some of these families are as old as the Four Governing families and some predate them by centuries. Others are only as old as their Patriarch, having come into being in the last few decades through good fortune and better contacts.
As they are, they are the most powerful families (barring the Four Governing Families) in the Merchant League and it is through them that mountains of money flow into the coffers of the League.
While these families are far too rich to be said to have done an honest day’s labour, it is through these families that the work of the League gets done. In Middelburg when “the Merchant League” has done this-and-that, or the “van Rosedaal family” has procured so-and-so, it is almost always these sixteen Patrician Families that have made this happen. Perhaps more that the Governing Families, these families are the true heart of the League. They see that the League keeps ticking.
In the Runed Age RPG, when any of the Four Governing Families or even the Merchant League as a whole is involved your characters’ lives (by giving them jobs, being antagonists, or just happen to own the shop you want to burgle), more often than not it is actually these Patrician Families that you are actually dealing with. The Four Governing Families are merely taking the credit, which is their due one can argue. This is not to say that you won’t ever be dealing with the Governing Families, they do enjoy a bit of skulduggery as much as the next family.
The Patrician Families may be far richer than your characters will ever hope of being, but there is only one thing people with power want: more power. These Patrician Families dream of one day being the Fifth Governing Family, or better yet, replacing one of the current Families. This is where the true shadow wars occur. Each Patrician Family wants to be at the top, yet none want any of the other be, so they struggle and fight against each other while the Governing Families look on and laugh. Sometimes there is a family with a slim chance and the Governing Families start to take notice.
The Tuefel Family once got support of more than half the Heisenstein’s vassal families and was about to make their move. The van Rosedaal family was even lending secret support. However the Hugenbergs (as is ever their wont) enjoy the status quo and joined forces with the Heisensteins to put the Tuefel family in their rightful place.
In the image: For Hugenberg, left to right, top to bottom: Becke, Bösche, Erkens, Konig, Siegel. For van Windburg: Beullens, Breitbarth, Roijakker, Segher. For van Rosedaal: Arissen, Cuyper, Maier, van der Veen. For Heisenstein: Bisset, Arntz, Teufel.
For Magic Mondays this week we bring you an array that may have saved more lives than any other array in existence.
This week we give you the Saving Grace array.
Notation: Create and Sustain a Containment field in the shape of a Dome’s Edge that excludes Animals, Arsenic, Carbon, Copper, Fire, Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Plants, Silver, Stone, Sulphur, Tin and Wood.
Description: At first glance the Saving Grace may seem like a supercharged Middelburg Standard array and that is because, from a certain standpoint, it is. However, where the Middelburg Standard is all about personal protection, the Saving Grace is about saving lots of people all at once. This was the array that saved Middelburg from the wrath of King Markus VI ‘the Incendiary’ during the Alfresian War of Independence. It was carved across the city so that the dome would encompass nearly everyone inside and once it was up, almost nothing could go in or out. The Alfresians sealed themselves off to protect themselves.
Of interest in this array is the use of the Shell rune (just to right of the central Contain rune). What this rune does is create a wall around the edge of the containment field and restricts the effects of the array to that wall. If this was not the case, the effects would happen inside the entire domed containment field, and seeing as it excludes almost everything, it would disintegrate everything inside it. With the Shell rune, you can stay safely inside the containment field without it harming you.
Of course, it can’t stop everything. By necessity air and water is allowed through, but all those things that the runes and array can’t target can come through, like bronze. As an alloy, the runes and arrays can’t target bronze and for this reason most of the musket and cannon balls fired during the war for Middelburg were made of bronze. However, this had to be done from a distance as the Saving Grace array excludes animals, and humans are animals.
To learn how to create your own array, go to our video about making arrays at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxKcGNjSpM4
Here’s our first proper official video. It’s about the Magic System of the Runed Age. It’s a step by step explanation about how the Runes and Arrays work. This will be a three part series, so you will get to know absolutely everything about the arrays so you can create even better ones than I can.
If you want a streamlined version of the rules, you can find it under the Products and then Runed Age tabs.
Last Wednesday we started a new series by looking at the Fresian Merchant League, but this was just a brief overview of it, much like our prior Culture Friday segments. This week we will start drilling down into this bedrock of wealth, corruption and villainy to show you the sort of people your characters may be working for… or against.
This week on League Wednesdays we have the Four Governing Families.
From left to right in the image we can see the Hugenberg, the van Windburg, the van Rosedaal, and the Heisenstein families. They are put in the order of most to least powerful and the first and last of the governing families are not native to Alfresia. It were these four families that created the League and for the past century have been sitting comfortably on top. While there are many, many lesser families, none has of yet threatened their rule.
These four didn’t gain their money overnight when they created the League, they were wealthy dynasties well before the Alfresian War of Independence, with lots of guilds and merchant alliances bowing to them. The formation of the League was a safeguard against what the future may hold. After all, there may come a time when the winds of capitalism are not blowing their way. By creating their own sovereign nation, they have some protection, some insurance, against this.
The League has often been called the epitome of republicanism, of freedom, of a man’s potential to become whatever he desires, but the truth is far from it. While there are no kings, emperors, or some such at the head of the League (the Hugenberg’s noble status notwithstanding) shouting commands at the peasants, the League is not the laissez faire, free-for-all country that most think. It is far more feudal than even the Patriarchs of the governing families would admit.
This pseudo-feudalism is most evident by the League’s organisational structure. At its head sits the king, the League itself: invisible, unreachable, speaking only through his advisors. Below him sits the four Dukes, the four governing families. Then the league is subdivided further and further down until you reach the individual stores. Each trade family, great and small, is subject and vassal to the family above them, with the greatest families having a half dozen or so vassal families. Through this the four governing families keep control of the League as the lower caste families can’t join forces with those of a rival governing family.
Because of this, the “reach” of the governing families are often overestimated. The van Rosedaal family is quite famous for its luxury weapons, each one a work of art handcrafted start to finish by a single artisan. However, the van Rosedaals never see the weapons, the raw material, or even the artisan; they don’t make the deals or even do the paperwork. It is the Holt family, the van Rosedaal’s vassal, which handles all of this, but they only oversee the broader picture, the shipping, the taxes, that sort of thing. In truth, it is the van Laar family, a vassal of the Holts which are the weapon specialists. They do all the work, they gather the raw materials, the artisans, they get the work orders, and they see it done. At the end of the day, however, the van Rosedaal family takes their share of the profit and gets the recognition.
This week for Magic Mondays we bring you something a little more fluffy, a little more setting oriented. Your characters may not see this array much in the Runed Age but it will definitely be there in the background all around them.
This week we bring you the Water Jet array.
Notation: Push, at speed of 512 m/s, Water, at a size 100 times the size of the array.
Description: Between the name and the notation I am sure you have already worked out what this array is. It is a water jet engine. It may be unfamiliar to today’s engineers but it serves the same purpose as those water jet engines we have in the real world: to push water really quickly in one direction to make a vessel go really quickly in the opposite direction.
512 metres per second is 1843 kilometres per hour. That is one hell of a speed. It is not surprising that dockworkers die every year when they are unlucky enough to walk in front of this array while repairing ships. For large ships, this array is usually set into a special jet cylinder (to channel and direct the water) that is 1 metre across. This means that 100 cubic metres are pushed out every second at speeds greater than the speed of sound. This could be a weapon in its own right, but it serves a more practical purpose: emergency propulsion for warships.
Warships are large and heavy beasts and during combat they need to be able to move at a moment’s notice. With the lethality of the runes, every canon shot coming a ship’s way could be the last so dexterity and swiftness is often more important than armour and shields. The Water Jet arrays (and their housings) are fitted onto ships to aid this, when these are activated the largest and heaviest of ships can prance around the water like small fishing boats. There are precious few ships which operated purely by jet power, most are still sail driven, so these jets are purely for combat or emergency use.
The other type of ship that has an everlasting love for this array are pirate ships. Often smaller, sleeker, and more nimble than great warships, pirate vessels still employ these Water Jets. They don’t use them for combat as such but for that extra boost in speed it can give them to catch up to fleeing merchant vessels. Often times pirate ships will have so many jets on them that when they are activated the ships actually lift off the water with the force of the jets.
For our Friday content this week (and our first official content post on the website), a taste of what is to come: we will finally be using our YouTube channel! In the coming weeks our first series of videos will be all about the teaching you the unique magic system of the Runed Age, so definitely stay tuned.