Friday, January 2, 2009

Knights League of the Bayerischer Wald

Once the minor nobility enjoyed significant privileges and a comfortable income, even if they were unfortunate enough to not have the status of "Imperial Knight" and were instead under a feudal overlord. Those times are long gone, either the estates of the Imperial Knights, historically fixed, are now too small to provide a livable income or the overlord has trampled over custom and privileges and significantly squeezed the manorial holdings. Even aside from the fact that only the eldest (or eldest legitimate) son can inherit, there is now little money or prospect for any to escape into other occupations. Even if they had the means, the minor nobility are fiercely jealous of their status over their richer cousins in the town trades and most will never surrender their heritage.

With so much war and strife and violence alongside the exploitation of new lands and mines in the East, many of lesser noble station has sought to put their skills and good breeding to use offering their services from place to place in the Forest (The Bayerischer Wald in the South West, The Böhmerwald in the North East) a heavily wooded mountain range separating Bohemia from the Empire proper. They grandiosely style themselves a league of knights. At times they group together in a network of small hinterland manors, living off hunting and sharing beer and tales, at other times they join the endeavors of various lords as knights, at other times of course (and this is their most frequent vocation) they provide "protection", levy "tolls" or outright prey upon travelers, merchants and villages. They are both well connected; having a myriad of different relationships to the nobility via their members; and totally at home in their environment. Additionally, they ply their work at the borderland between "Germanic" lands in the Empires heartland and the Czech territory of Bohemia. The opportunity to slip between areas of very different language, culture and overlord-ship is further enhanced by the potential to play off Germanic colonists and the Czech population. More recently the Bohemian rebellion and the Emperor-elects crusade has further opened up ways for the "Knights" of the Bayerischer Wald to make some profit, either fighting in the crusade, raiding further under cover of the chaos or protecting merchants moving through the area.

Skills: Stealth, Melee or Ranged arms, Maneuvering, Fieldcraft, Perception.

Secret Masteries

Forest Knight (Fieldcraft (Tracking) Mastery) Though perhaps not considered respectable company in the great courts of the land, members of the League have good blood and the right background. Procuring the right patents, or even having the knighting done properly is a simple matter given their connections. The character is Knighted as a full brother in the Knights League of the Bayerischer Wald. All the holdings of their brothers will be open to them if a place to lie low is required and there is an impressive network of manors and keeps in Bavaria, Saxony, Austria and even beyond, that will allow a friend of one of their relatives to lie low for a day or two and the family there will mislead a characters pursuers as to their whereabouts.

Lord of the land (Fieldcraft (Tracking) Grand Mastery) A footloose life is alright for the young and adventurous but, with a bit of experience and wealth under their belt, a member of the Knights League of the Bayerischer Wald can finally choose a place to take over or rebuild their own keep to protect the surrounding lands and act as a base for their activities. The local peasants and merchant traffic will provide a good income and a two score of those with some skill at arms and a bit of equipment will join the Knight as his followers.

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