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Author Topic: Recruiting: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused  (Read 33985 times)

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Offline Ebb

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #200 on: June 05, 2013, 10:34:51 PM »
Ebb: You are awesome.  Once approved, can I send you fluff for my character and get that posted?


And in answer to your question: Nope! It's a wiki, so the hope is that everybody can edit in their own stuff as we go. But I would be more than happy to help show you how to do that. Same goes for any player, of course.

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #201 on: June 05, 2013, 11:26:47 PM »
Thank you.  I added one line in the cohort section.  I saw you have a separate page for House Varian.  Are you able to create a page for Larsen Pike?

Offline Ebb

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #202 on: June 05, 2013, 11:30:41 PM »
Thank you.  I added one line in the cohort section.  I saw you have a separate page for House Varian.  Are you able to create a page for Larsen Pike?

Yep. The easiest way is to type "Taldor--Larsen Pike" into the search box. When it comes back and tells you it can't find a page named that, it will offer to let you create one. Then you edit as normal.

To put a link in from the main page, you type [[name of new page]]

Give it a shot, and if it doesn't work I'll set it up.

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #203 on: June 05, 2013, 11:35:52 PM »  I didn't put it in caps, so the name is stuck lowercase.

Offline Ebb

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #204 on: June 05, 2013, 11:40:00 PM »  I didn't put it in caps, so the name is stuck lowercase.

Now linked from main Taldor page. Congrats; you're the first character up.

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #205 on: June 05, 2013, 11:47:00 PM »
Sweet.  Eventually I'll create a page for the two organizations he is associated with. 

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #206 on: June 06, 2013, 12:06:36 AM »
If everyone is okay with this, I was thinking that all free cohorts would start as level 6.  That way, no one's free cohort would be stronger than a PC.  Extra cohorts through feats/class abilities would be unaffected.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #207 on: June 06, 2013, 12:15:24 AM »
If everyone is okay with this, I was thinking that all free cohorts would start as level 6.  That way, no one's free cohort would be stronger than a PC.  Extra cohorts through feats/class abilities would be unaffected.

The one from the free leadership feat? Eh, neh, they start at what they should start at. If your extra cohorts are going to be at standard cohort level, it doesn't really change too much anywho.

This is not to say you can't make them lower level if you want to, though.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 12:16:28 AM by Kolbrandr »

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #208 on: June 06, 2013, 12:30:20 AM »
Ah well.  I *might* lower mine, depending on everyone else's levels and such.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #209 on: June 06, 2013, 01:37:45 AM »
Okay, a plot note. So I'm going to be having Princess Eutropia suffer from a case of the deads before game start (some of you are possibly going "who the eff?"). She's the Grand Prince's daughter, keen on reforming Taldor's inheritance laws, plotting to have the throne come to her on dad kicking it.

The why of my killing her? Well, as I put it to someone I noted that to..

Largely for that she otherwise makes things a bit too easy, decision wise, and also for that if someone wants to spearhead trying to change Taldor's inheritance policies, I want that to be in the hands of a player. By a bit too easy I mean that while she certainly has her uphill struggles to face, she is still the Imperial Princess of Taldor, and declaring for or against her is a clear way to go. I want people to have to struggle a bit more in deciding who and what and how to support, to face that maybe they have to be the champion of their own agenda.

That and if the Grand Prince cacks it in game, I'd find it more fun if there's not even a remote solution to the issue of succession, whether via naming Eutropia or marrying her to someone or etc (as he doesn't seem at all to have done the name or adopt an heir thing that is implied as a thing of previous Grand Princes who have no sons).

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #210 on: June 06, 2013, 03:42:53 AM »
Annd, as related to that, so I noted I was going to by contrast with the Varian put up a much more indepth thing. This is to depict a major noble house of the royal caste, with members spread across Taldor and wide spanning influence through the nation, the top out at 14th level+major organization and everything. I will note: nothing you do has to in any way be this long.

In fact, let me emphasize that

Nothing You Do Has To In Any Way Be This Long

If you want to aim for something on the scale of a major royal house with big nation spanning influence? Basically take the Varian writeup as a baseline, and then take to something developed further beyond that, like somewhere in the middle between Varian and Branas, kinda sorta. If you want to do something as long as the Branas writeup? Well, wow. But not necessary.

I will do a couple of other organization write-ups about Branas length, and a bunch of others much closer to Varian length. Whyfor, ask you? Well, setting flesh out reasons, but more importantly for you the player, I'd like to offer a huge smorgasbord of npcs and groups for you to peer over and be able to go "I want to have some tie to X" "some interaction with X" "be connected to X organization" "have my backstory involve X" "I want to be somehow part of X" and be able to give you a huge pile of options for what X can be.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 04:17:29 AM by Kolbrandr »

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #211 on: June 06, 2013, 03:51:33 AM »
Going to do the spoiler text thing and across several posts, because long.

So, House Branas.

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
House Branas

Overall House Alignment: Lawful Neutral (occasional lawful good or lawful good tendencies)

Favoured Deity: None currently (formerly Aroden. The family has been occasionally courted and preached at by various faiths hoping to win over their patronage in the years since Aroden’s passing, but in the end it could be said their religion is Taldor itself.)

House Blazon: A golden forward facing lion’s head on field of red

House Motto: Honour from Blood

Common Classes: Cavalier (beast rider particularly), Fighter, Rogue (martial leaning archetypes), Ranger, Aristocrat, Expert

Rarer, but not unheard of: Paladin, Cleric, Inquisitor, Bard, Rogue (other archetypes)

Rare, yet generational: Barbarian (Totem Warrior), Oracle (Nature), Druid (Lion Shaman or Pack Lord). The ancient ties of the house to the lions of the Tandak Plains linger in its blood. Every so often a child, or even children of the house feel a call to the tall grasses and ultimately find their way there, to be trained as wardens of the great Branas preserve, to tend and stand guard over the prides of lions, dire or otherwise, from which the sons and daughters of the house find mounts and companions.

Never: Primary arcane casters, monks, alchemists, summoners

House Structure: The Branas chain of command is both fluid, yet crisply defined. The Grand Duke sits at the top, the will of his word be done when he puts it forth, the house estates, forces and treasuries his to manage overall. Beneath him are three or four Lords Paramount, usually the heads of significant branches of the family, who manage them with a strong degree of autonomy, and serve otherwise as counsel to the Grand Duke. Should the Grand Duke pass on without an heir, not historically uncommon in so military a house, the Lords Paramount choose the new Grand Duke themselves. The rest of the family are lords and ladies, knights and dames, and though with lives and doings of their own, should the Grand Duke issue and order, obedience is expected (if a member of the family has grown especially powerful in their own right, the Grand Duke has traditionally known better to instead phrase things more astutely).

Generally speaking, a scion of the house is viewed as coming into their own when they can either form a bond with one of the lions of the preserve lands through one means or another, when they achieve a particular level of mastery of the Rondelero dueling school, a captaincy in army or navy, or graduation from a prestigious educational institution.

« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 04:23:00 AM by Kolbrandr »

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #212 on: June 06, 2013, 03:52:50 AM »
Some more House Branas with bonus relevant general plot points

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
General Overview:

Where various Taldan families have an interest in the arcane, the ancient Branas have always been martial, viewing it as a point of pride to have produced various admirals and generals, to have been key parts of the Armies of Exploration and war with Qadira. In their personal legendry they feel they descend in part from Azlant warriors who guarded the refugee flight to what would become Taldor (and the occasional frequency of purple eyes in Branas scions seems to be a mild support of this), that when they held the throne a few times for being of the royal houses it was as soldier imperators, risen up on the shields of their troops. The tragic fate of the last Branas emperor would cement their shying away from studies arcane.

In the better eras of Taldor, they were a family on the forefront of expansion and exploration, in the fallen eras they shifted focus to being the bulwark of what was yet there. So the family has various estates and castles on Taldor's borders, mines in the World's Edge mountains, shipyards in Cassomir, cadet branches that focus on strife with Galt and Qadira and were amongst the leaders in establishing and then maintaining Stavian’s Hold to watch for approach from the Padishah Empire, along with a recently completed, astonishingly massive fortress called Lionhome that overlooks the Hold itself. They maintain several villas in Oppara in Westpark outside of the ancestral family estate in Seven Towers, having been awarded them over the years by one regime or another. Far less profitable, but more a hallmark are their lion preserves in the Tandak Plains,  linked to the family as a sort of spiritual heritage, as much as they have such things.

Traditionalists, the family endeavours in the main to maintain a timeless style rather than chase trends when they can get away with it. Their vassals and servants are treated fairly, though with a distant touch (it would not do to be overly familiar, after all). They are not seen as completely unsubtle, but certainly willing to resolve disputes via dueling, taking seriously as they do being amongst the first to follow the Rondelero school. There are exceptions in every generation of course, but the course of the family overall has been one of a shift from daring, gallant aggression to stoic defense and retrenchment, viewing their power base and maintaining Taldor’s strength as twinned.

It is that reserved strength and traditionalism that gave them the ability to loyally support a series of increasingly dissolute Grand Princes, an iron (some might say blind) loyalty to the throne letting them support policies that might have otherwise stuck in the craw.  It is somehow that self same loyalty that lead House Branas into one of Taldor’s more stinging recent controversies. The previous Grand Duke, Maxentian, had uncovered a conspiracy to seize the throne stemming from Princess Eutropia herself, in a bid to circumvent the primogeniture of the throne that would have shaken Taldan society. His manner of foiling it culminated in the death of the Princess herself at his hands. Betrayal or no, Eutropia was Stavian’s daughter and he was furious. More pointedly, she was his chance to ensure a smooth succession that continued the presence of his line on the throne in some way through marriage.

The Grand Duke’s enemies in the Senate leaped at the opportunity to turn a victory into a crime, painting the handling as bungled and impugning the threat having been wildly exaggerated, the proof of it somehow dubious.  The Grand Duke’s supporters were outraged at such vile treatment to a man who had saved Taldor itself. What Maxentian would do next is debated for motivation. For some, it was the noble sacrifice of a throne loyalist to pre empt the very rebellions he had just spilled blood to forestall as is. For others, it was desperate bargain and flight before the hangman’s noose. And for others still, it was simply one more political compromise that preserved a tottering nation, given the place of the Branas family in maintaining it. Maxentian Branas would go into exile, and the strange self imposed exile of his eldest son Aurelian would come to an end. It has been some six months since the return of the prodigal, who has spent the time since seamlessly folding in the business interests he had cultivated abroad to his family’s power and fortune.

Moving on thus with their usual dignity as though nothing had occurred, the family Branas remain well connected amongst the royal houses, legions and navy. Their ancient enmity with the Senate waxes more strongly now, though has always been at the minimum a mild strain, military aristocrats and imperial bureaucrats never having had much common cause. Curious eyes look to what course Aurelian will chart for his house in a changing landscape, and to gain some measure of the fresh face in Taldor’s high political scene besides.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #213 on: June 06, 2013, 03:56:08 AM »
You guessed it, more House Branas

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Notable Members of the House Historically

Branas I, the Lion Emperor (Barbarian? Fighter? Ranger? Druid? Cavalier?)

A half mythical figure (more than half really), the first Branas Grand Prince was a warrior who had abandoned the nascent Taldan civilization and much of his own family in disgust for “repeating the mistakes of our progenitors and aspiring to all their failures” (there are some who whisper the man had witnessed all such things he derided personally in Azlant itself, but that is seen as a detail far too extremely fanciful in a personal legendry already rife with them). He withdrew deep into the Tandak plains, snatches of rumours travelling back that saw traces of him in tall grasses, walking amidst whole prides of lions.
Taldor is a civilization over five thousand years old and Branas lived in a then untamed savage wilderness. Tales of his adventures and great deeds during this time (some purportedly as a companion of a pre ascended Aroden), while many and varyingly outlandish, are simply unverifiable.

And yet when assailed by barbarian tribes, orc hordes, and rising tides of monstrous infestation to the point where it seemed that Taldor would die mere decades into its formal founding, Branas returned, riding a dire lion, leading tribes sworn to his will, leading numerous prides of lions that fought at his bidding. He rallied the Taldan people and their defenders, forging a military force that pacified territory, crushed and scattered would be enemies and ravagers. He claimed for himself the station of Grand Prince without contest (it helped that most other viable claimants were dead or despairing of the recent calamities).
Given what few of his statements are recorded, his arrival as saviour remains confusing to scholars. The most he seems to ever have commented upon it were vague words about his blood being his blood.
Given his place in Taldor’s still somewhat mythic past, directly charting his legacies are difficult. Certainly he much expanded the nation’s territory and began the wide efforts towards its pacification that would for a time see Taldor as one of the most internally peaceful nations in Golarion. But anything else? It is very occasionally popular to claim that a particular military or political tradition one is favouring can be traced to Branas, but such is conjecture at best.

Even his death is occulted, for it is said that one day, after taking a long tour of Taldan domain, he proclaimed his work finished, and walked back out into the wild lands from whence he came, all trace of him vanishing, as if he had never been. His family renamed themselves for him, and to this day maintain a section of the Tandak Plains, held to be the heart of the former wildlands in which he dwelled, as a vast lion preserve in his honour.

Arcadius Branas, the Hammer of Qadira (Fighter//Cavalier)

Arcadius, it was said, ruled his empire from the saddle of his leonine steed. Adopted by the previous Grand Prince as his heir after a series of military triumphs, as was sometimes custom, he came to reign over a then troubled land. Taldor’s power was much on the ascent, and thereby being tested and pressed sorely by those who would not see it grow any further. Invasions from Qadira had become a regular terror, eating away at territory inch by inch, even as internally, the Senate developed an intense rivalry with a military given ever more power and autonomy to hold the Keleshite armies at bay. It was an untenable situation of civil strife and foreign threat, aggravated by a growing movement in the Senate to see the entire military replaced by mercenary forces. The Senate argued that now that Taldor was wealthy beyond imagining, no Taldan sons and daughters ever need bleed again to fight for it, that such should be the reward of prosperity. The idea was, to some, ludicrous, but an angry armed forces responded unfortunately by seeking ever more power for itself, and the nation was approaching the point of internal collapse from the bickering.

Some argue that Arcadius’ solutions were more brutal than the situation truly warranted. Others maintain they were Taldor’s salvation.

For a time the Grand Prince simply played all factions against each other, drawing affairs out even as he directed the Lion Blades to foment a series of vast slave rebellions across Qadira. Some felt that this was one more delaying tactic, until Arcadius shocked both nations by leading his personal warbands into Qadira to protect the slaves from the inevitable consequences of their defiance. It was a combination of raid and exodus on an impossible scale as he guided them into Taldor, settling them there. He further took battle hardened ex slave rebels now half worshipping him as a saviour and forged them into an army loyal only to him. At first, there was simply awe at his sheer heroism.

In retrospect, what ensued was almost predictable. The rest of the Taldan military was now brought to heel, by force wherever needed, commanders executed sometimes en masse, with mercenary units loyal only to Senate paymasters besides put entirely to death. There was little time for celebration in the Senate at the fate of their rivals as Arcadius marched his followers within it and proclaimed “your stupidity and corruption is destroying Taldor, therefore Taldor must destroy you first.” Whereupon he had the entire senate chamber cut down, in several cases by his own hand. While he then picked out replacement senators from a now thoroughly terrified social caste, this would be the source of the great enmity between the Senate and House Branas (not that they had ever had much love for each other).

The rest of Arcadius’ long reign was spent at war, crushing a series of revenge invasions from Qadira, then retaking every piece of lost territory, burning out their fortresses to the point where they gave him the nickname he is known for. His great legacies to Taldor were several needed military reforms, the stabilizing of its border with Qadira for centuries afterwards, and a debate between historians as to his place as hero or monster.

Arcadius II, the Lost (Fighter//Cavalier)

Arcadius’ reign began with seeming boundless promise, making its ultimate path all the more sorrowful. The son of Arcadius I, he was his father’s chief general near the end of his life, confirming his right of succession in a stunning victory over a Qadiran host that had been reinforced directly by the Padishah Empire itself.

But Arcadius was no mere warlord. He was cultured, well educated and well spoken. He embarked on generous and innovative social policies along with construction projects designed from his own hand, all funded through keen financial management. For love and awe and outreach, it even seemed as if he might repair his family’s breach with the Senate.

Yet it would be one of the very Armies of Exploration he sponsored that would doom him and dash his plans to ruin.

Triumphant armies returned from a then barbarous Cheliax with a variety of trophies and curiosities, amongst them a chieftain’s daughter renowned for her skill as a seer and mystic. Arcadius was deeply impressed with her, including the woman and her kinsmen in his closest counsels.

The moods of the Grand Prince grew strident and dark, but so slowly over time that it was as if the people were being desensitized to them, until his policies culminated in harshness and indulgence all at once. Cruelty and sadism became a hallmark of his reign, tortures inflicted most devastatingly on his own family, when they would not be the enforcing hand of his twisted will.

It was his family besides, pushed to the brink and facing a command to have the lions of the Tandak preserves butchered that lead Taldor in open rebellion, Arcadius’ own cousin and former chief general striking him down, the Grand Prince revealed as a long corrupted by the magics of a barbarian witch seeking brutal revenge for her people.

Having died without issue, the house made no contest of the throne going to another family thereafter. Arcadius II has no legacy but the deep aversion to and suspicion of the arcane arts within the Branas family.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #214 on: June 06, 2013, 03:58:41 AM »
What's that? More House Branas?

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Notable current members of the House

Maxentian Branas, former Grand Duke in exile (Cavalier 4 (beast rider), Fighter 10 (tactician archetype)//Ranger 14 (Freebooter))

Maxentian’s life had been one devoted to the careful maintenance of Taldor’s defenses and his family’s prosperity alike. Noted for (and being honest, somewhat disliked in certain groups) an incorruptible sense of honour and loyalty (some might in fact say, inflexible), the Grand Duke took it upon himself to serve in and familiarize himself with every part of the Taldan military, from cavalry to phalanx to the navy, where he established himself for most of his career. As a captain he was noted for a capacity to lead and inspire men to endure impossible odds and bruising punishment, withstanding whatever could be thrown at them, earning for himself the nickname “the Durant”. Rising eventually to the rank of an admiral, he achieved further fame for a methodical sense of tactics and strategy that though slow building, eventually achieved juggernaut momentum, crushing his enemies. His sterling achievement being the destruction of a fleet of Chelish sponsored raiders that had been bringing ruin to Taldan trading efforts, he was even given a triumphal parade for it.

He retired his commission only on the death of his father and elder brother in putting down a bandit horde grown too large to ignore, moving to take charge of his house and steer it through the treacherous waters of court. Durant again, he was seen as an unassailable figure who managed to keep himself gruffly above the worst of social maneuvering. If he had a frustration, it was at failing to be an example to his fellow royals to better behaviour, though he seemed to keep any sense of that to himself.

As far as recent events, the soon to be ex Grand Duke seemed a strange mixture of relieved and despairing at the failure of it all, accepting exile to avoid any consequence to his house. His personal loyalists crewed the great frigate that had been his old fleet flagship, Maxentian standing on the deck with a still unbroken pride as it put Oppara behind them forever. It is bandied about that it is in this manner that he caught a glimpse of the ship that was taking his son into port at the same time, father and son looking to each other without even being able to say a farewell.

There are only rumours as to where the Durant is now. Some say he seeks an honourable death as a masked warrior on the borders of Lastwall or Mendev. Some say he is in the River Kingdoms, raising an army of vengeance.  Others whisper he has taken control of Taldas in the Shackles,  serving Taldor in some last way yet by leading pirates to harry and plunder the Chelish navy and merchant shipping.

Viscount Halcyon Branas, aged degenerate dueling master (Fighter 14, Rondelero Duelist Archetype//Rogue 14)

Halcyon Branas has been a living legend for two accomplishments, glorious and awful. He is the finest rondelero duelist Taldor has produced in two lifetimes, with families still clamouring to drown him in riches and favours for even a few lessons. He is also a walking Taldan stereotype so extreme as to make even some of his fellow Taldans wince at the pained awkwardness of his company. Racist, misogynist, imperialist, classist, toweringly arrogant and hedonistically self indulgent, the package of him completes with an arsenal of truly horrible jokes and anecdotes flavoured by all his worst behaviours and prejudices.  A youth of travel seems to have left him with nothing but an aggrandized sense of importance and contempt for the world outside Taldor.

He has been the despair of a family who have long hoped he would just hurry up and die already, yet into his eighties now, Halcyon persists, having managed to inherit the Branas endurance, if little else of their qualities. He is capable still of hacking an opponent half his age to gory ribbons, if he can be roused from drugs and sex and liquor to do so, wheezing as he will be afterwards all the same. There is not much to be done about Halcyon, his at this point bizarre loyalty to his kinsmen made for a series of successful duels in his younger days there is a sense of debt to him for. It does not help that amongst various of the royals, he is in fact entirely popular, seen more as larger than life than the horrifically mortifying presence he is to his family proper.

The prevailing wisdom in court circles debates on whether he will finally exhaust even his unbelievable constitution in whoring himself to death, or if he’ll get himself killed in some damn duel. The aged rake seems to welcome either possibility with gleeful enthusiasm.

Lady Theodora Branas, socialite and eminence grise, grand dame of Taldan court (Aristocrat 13)

Aunt of Aurelian, older sister of Maxentian and mother of Photius, Theodora is the closest thing to a matriarch of the house, Aurelian’s mother having died relatively young. She is herself a widower, though those that have been on the receiving end of her witheringly acid tongue jest (well outside of her presence) that her string of former husbands are not dead, they’re just hiding from her. Possessed of a stately dignity and severe handsomeness that has only been accentuated by her twilight years, Theodora views herself as the defender of her house in the social sphere, as much a warrior in her own way as her brothers and cousins.

There is a vicious, scheming elegance in her dedication to that defense that has left social rivals in complete ruin. Though to her credit and the influence of her heritage, it is unleashed not all that often, focused as she is at keeping the presence of her house secure, rather than dominant.  She can even be a kind patron to young scions, artists and other worthies she feels have something to add to her homeland’s character. Her skill as coupled with her restraint has made her a figure other courtiers come to for advice on one maneuver to the next, or for one to gain some sense of another, for her eyes are always watchful. She builds contacts and favours in this way, and for those she truly likes, is willing even to hurl a bit of “terrifying harridan devastation” (again, an out of her presence summary) at their enemies.

She is otherwise known for a dark, sarcastic sense of humour, for a gaggle of daughters she raises in her image, moving them like chess pieces towards useful marriages, and for a pair of hulking, silent bodyguards obtained from a distant branch of the house.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #215 on: June 06, 2013, 04:02:37 AM »
Good Grief! More House Branas!

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Lord Bardanes Branas, crippled veteran (Fighter 4/Druid 6//Cavalier 4/Expert 6)

Younger brother of Maxentian, Lord Bardanes saw a promising military career cut short during one of the cycles of skirmish along the Taldor/Qadira border, his leg crushed by the toppling of his mount. While the family spared no expense on magics to restore him, he has still been wracked by a lingering agony in his leg, the cause indeterminate to this day. He has since looked for other means to occupy himself and channel a frustration into, with gardening peculiarly giving him the most sense of reward. His estate has become famous for being nearly a park, with tree lined gardens of an exquisite natural beauty the envy of the nation. The calm and satisfaction he has found in such pursuits has been outright empowering to a soul that had been as crippled as his body, the druid’s path bringing him peace. Those inclined to mock him for such enlightenment, given his family name, often eye warily the knotted strength in his hands and that his heavy cane could serve easily as a cudgel. For Bardanes keeps fit by personally tending to his gardens and raised them up of himself.

The Greenman, as he is sometimes called, is otherwise best known for his sympathy born championing of the causes and well being of veterans, spending from personal coffers to their aid, hiring them on as groundskeepers even. His nation has called on him from time to time to serve as an envoy to the druids of the Verduran forest pact, and he has contacts and friends in their number from such efforts.

Lord Paramount Andronicus Branas, Scourge of the Dawn (cavalier 14 (beast rider)//Fighter 14)

Head of what is called the Zimar branch of the family, Andronicus has seemed born to saddle, lance and blade, carrying on the centuries old, almost personal war with Qadira his line wages from atop one of the great dire lions of the preserve grounds. He commands several house cavalry companies along the borders and takes part in the tit for tat raids and skirmishes that characterizes the current low level of simmering conflict between both nations. Few has struck as far and deep into Qadiran territory and with such punishing success that his enemies are the ones who awarded him his sobriquet, a touch of fear mingled in the grudging respect of doing so. Every few years one of the many princes of Qadira gets into his head to be the one to end the Scourge, and every few years Andronicus sends a coffin back to the palace in Katheer. His demeanor as a commander is rough edged, yet for asking nothing of his men he does not subject himself to, he has earned their fierce loyalty. Some even speaking in quiet awe of battlefield rescues of whole companies performed with an impossibly daring courage. He has across his years of war assembled an entrancingly diverse and curious personal retinue, held together by his sheer force of personality. His face bears the scars of endless battles and several assassination attempts, though several romantic admirers would say it only makes him look the more dashing.

A squire taken to active conflict at 12, Andronicus is as hard hearted and driven by grim conviction as might be expected of a man who has gone from one fight to the next through fields of dead and dying for 15 years since.  There are few who know Qadira, its people and the Padishah Empire beyond as well as he, the man able to speak fluent Keleshite as if a native, an expert on their art and poetry besides. He has even hosted captured Qadiran noblemen in his own tents, seeing their wounds tended by personal physicians. And while for some that might put a question mark on his conduct, Andronicus is by the same token infamous for having personally executed the commanders, retainers and footmen that survived a conquered company who the Qadiran Satrap refused to ransom. Some, aghast at the display (it must be said of course that others were pleased by it) demanded to know where was Andronicus’ sense of mercy. Laconically, he simply replied that that /was/ mercy.

He is sometimes thereby called Steelhand in Taldor proper, by wags noting that his hand is always on his sword, and his sword is always killing.  His response to such wit is unknown, as Andronicus has never been to Oppara, never even close enough to see it. The Taldor he bleeds to defend is a Taldor he can only know as a dream at best. He generally makes some excuse or another when reason arises to summon him forth, or sends a relative in his place. It stands in contrast with the often exhaustive calls for increased support and funding for the border sent with them that are viewed with a certain comical light in some circles. Surely the man exaggerates! Or else is so wedded to war he understands no other priority.

To that at least he has been known to comment. “Would that all of Taldor’s fools had but one neck.”

It should be noted that there was some thought to naming Andronicus to the leadership of the family with Maxentian’s exile. The Senate particularly were quietly relieved by his pre-emptive refusal of the idea, for if ever there has been a Branas scion that most physically resembled Arcadius I, it is the Scourge of the Dawn.

Dame Captain Alexia Branas, Privateer  (Cavalier 4/Fighter 8 (rondelero duelist)//Ranger 12 (Freebooter))

Daughter of Bardanes, and younger cousin of Aurelian, Alexia dreaded the life that loomed before her. Times in gardens and lessons at Theodora’s knee on etiquette suited her poorly. She had in full measure the warlike spirit of her family, but very little outlet for it. But she had also her family’s reserve and kept as much of her frustration to herself as she could, becoming introverted, sullen, the bright light in her eyes beginning to snuff out.

It was Maxentian of all people who recognized the malaise in her spirit, and perhaps still stung by Alexios’ death and Aurelian’s departure, took her under his wing, taking her out on his still sometimes trips on his former flagship. He smiled to see her invigorated by the salt air, open waves and endless horizons and resolved not to let another Branas child go astray. He arranged for friends still enlisted to teach and train her, providing his own lessons at times.

Knowing that a naval commission for her would be difficult at best, he instead attached her to an old friend in the Taldan allied Corsairs of Zimar. A gnarled bear of a captain who had responded to enforced by age naval retirement by going privateer took her up. Her own father lived vicariously enough through the idea of a military career of sorts for her to have no great objection.

In this way Alexia came brilliantly into her own, and when her former captain earned himself the death in battle he so assiduously sought, her crew unanimously acclaimed her to his place.  Beautiful and daring, charming enough for even the dour Andronicus to sometimes crack what could almost be called a smile around her, Alexia has been disdained and celebrated at court in equal measure. She has earned grudging acclaim from even the hidebound of her homeland, and a modest fortune from her raids on Qadiran shipping. That her favoured targets tend to be slave galleys leads to the occasional whisper of Andoran sympathies she tends to shrug off.

A small fleet of corsairs sail under her command, bolstered by the cultivation of a hippocampus herd that Alexia will often herself lead as advance riders and raiders.  “I can hardly take a lion out into the water” she’ll remark with a grin, and her own flag, a golden hippocampus head on field of red, reflects the alteration.

Her time at sail had given her a more frequent contact with a pre return Aurelian than any of her family save for Photius, and she looked to think highly of him. There is a certain awkwardness now all the same between them, some speculating the source from that Maxentian may have been a closer father emotionally to her than to his own son, and that there will never now be time to correct that.

Alexios Branas, deceased house disgrace

What little is remembered these days of Aurelian’s younger brother was a life of outrages and dissolution so extreme that even Halycon was known to remark “ahh.. perhaps tone it down a few shades there, eh lad?” His death in a duel with his brother was seen as Aurelian cleansing the family of shame, and most within it and in other royal caste families credit him for the act.

Lord Paramount Demetrius Branas, ranger in shadow (Ranger 13//Rogue 13)

Lord Demetrius heads up what are increasingly referred to as the Galtan Branas, the family line born out of a marriage to Galtan refugee nobility. Demetrius’ grandmother raised him on stories of her old estates and the atrocities done to her family, instilling in the child a sense of revenge and restitution as his very birthright. He is as a result a leading voice in those calling for some measure to secure the Qadiran border that Taldor might be better free to invade Galt. There is some strain thus between him and Andronicus, when they have occasion to meet. By contrast he is one of the only members of his house in living memory to have a relationship with the Taldan Senate that could be called approaching positive, tied into as he is with voices there calling for action against Galt.

In the interim he is amongst those that hold the border with the anarchic nation, efforts to counter infiltration and aggression alike having honed him as a hunter of men and despoiler of their intrigues, flitting across the border at times to gather intelligence. Oftentimes his lone accompaniment a house atypical pet shrike. The air about Demetrius could not quite be called sinister, but he has seen men at the worst of rabid zealotry and mob mentality, and he has no small belief in the need for iron control and a wary eye to clamp down upon it.

Rumours swirl around him at times all the same. It is said that he plots with Galtan refugees in the River Kingdoms, that he launches a new scheme every week through a personal network of spies simply to keep the Galtans disorganized and at each other’s throats enough to forestall any en masse spilling across the border. That there is something in his gaze that speaks to having looked into the rotten heart of man, and found it wanting.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #216 on: June 06, 2013, 04:05:55 AM »
House Branas Harder

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Sir Nicephorus Branas, knight without a cause (cavalier 9//fighter 9)

Sent away from the Zimar branch to Maxentian by an Andronicus grousing over his younger brother as “too damn diabolically cursed cheerful”, Nicephorus seemed to flourish under the aegis of the Durant. Some have otherwise whispered that Andronicus instead noted that if Nicephorus remained with him, the boy’s soul would be broken, and he loved him too much for that. But then, men such as Andronicus are perhaps sometimes over romanticized by their admirers.

Yet though Nicephorus had seen the battlefields of his brother and now the decadence of Taldan society directly, he managed yet to be a walking archetype of chivalry itself, earning distinction at tourney, at equestrian competitions generally. He drew note for anti banditry efforts besides. There was something unassailable in his soul no matter what was sent his way, and even when some began to hold it up as a game to play to stain him, the young Branas emerged ever himself.  The most mild controversy he ever managed was internal, in favouring glory at tournament, something the Branas usually leave to the Eiredor and Germande.

As he returned from a tour of duty in Lastwall, he expected to claim a cavalry command in the legions, but with the recent scandals, he found that even further increasing the number of Branas or Branas connected officers already in the military was not exactly a welcome concept these days. And it was hardly as though his fellow royals could offer him much to stand out by in service. A soul that cannot break can it seems be set adrift instead. There is not even Maxentian’s guidance to steel himself by, with Aurelian functionally a total stranger with problems of his own besides (Nicephorus was too young to have meaningfully interacted with Aurelian when he was yet in Taldor). He does not lack for money or station, for skill at arms, respect or good looks, only, direly, for purpose.

Nicephorus is a hero without a crusade, a knight without a quest.  He finds himself brooding in the gardens of Lord Bardanes these days, pondering how a world he has barely lived in could have so utterly passed him by.

Lord Laskaris Branas, envoy at large (??//??- people who are not necessarily real don’t necessarily have class levels)

A confirmed bachelor into his late thirties, Laskaris has managed that particular accomplishment more for a seeming constant wanderlust than any dedication to hedonism. Hale, trim and genial, he has seen much of Avistan, Garund and some whisper well beyond, in service as something of a sometimes self proclaimed envoy of the imperial court (though at other times a franchised Taldan ambassador in full).

Every so often members of the line are more inclined to arts seemingly less martial, and the house is not so brutish as to force them into pursuits they would ill fit. It is something of a secondary aphorism of the house that Taldor’s graveyards are full of middling warriors, and a Branas death should have more meaning and impact than that. Laskaris found his way into the Kithrodian Academy thereby, and flourished.

Continuing a theme of turning what might be deficiencies otherwise into benefits, Laskaris channeled an otherwise rising wanderlust to work for the empire, serving as attaché and then ultimately full envoy of his own on a variety of diplomatic errands. The easy going charmer and performer has dined with rajahs of Jalmeray and sung for his life before orc warlords. He has been the delight of the youth of the house, always returning from his travels with gifts and stories to share.

For all of Laskaris’ pleasant demeanor, there are darker stories that swirl about him in more rarefied circles. That indeed he serves the empire, but not simply as envoy, instead as spy and assassin amongst the Lion Blades of Taldor. And yet, for this to be fodder for gossip at all would surely mean those the smiling socialite could move against would be well aware of such things. That despite this Laskaris is neither dead, nor seeming to be compromised or out of favour is a matter of debate in those circles besides. On the one hand, perhaps he may have once been put to such uses, but has found far more value as a diplomat. On the other, given the Lion Blade propensity for disguise, “Laskaris Branas” could be a smiling, accepted guise for any of them, anywhere, trucking in an identity and reputation carefully built. Or perhaps everything is true at once, and Laskaris is simply that good. It is said on such rare occasion as those knowledgeable few have dared put such questions to him directly, he has simply laughed disarmingly and joked that of course it’s all true, every bit of it. Especially the lies.

Lord Photius Branas, Faith and Conscience (Cleric 12 of Abadar//Paladin 12)

The family Branas have never truly been overly devout across the line with any uniformity (the migration of Aroden's patronage to Cheliax and subsequent death did not help matters).  The exceptions thereby often make up for the relative lack with a faith that blazes white hot as a star. Which is not itself without its uses or respect within the house, such religious verve have inspired various Branas scions to great deeds over the centuries. But it is often the case that it is more comfortable to read about them in historical hindsight than to live alongside the workers of miracles.

Which is a kinder way of saying that Photius' relatives found him desperately annoying, particularly his mother, Theodora. It seemed such a waste of a keen mind and insightful spirit to lose him to Abadar's church, but Photius viewed the great civilizer as being in perfect tune with the goals and practices of his house, of the great worth they could be turned to. There was a regret at the library having had copies of the Abadarian church's holy texts, for a child that otherwise devoured every tome within in restless energy would come back to them again and again and again. There was meaning there, purpose. Meaning he could make his own and give to others to better them. Taldor was the greatest civilization on earth. Who better to worship than the great civilizer himself?

It was not to say Photius was not without his uses. A trained cleric of Abadar was a boon to any family's financial management. But the preaching, the exhortations to grand gestures, they wore thin. It did not help that Photius worked a pronounced altruism streak into his religious views, opining often that a just society would be a society people would feel compelled to join and bolster right of themselves, simply to take part in its virtues.

Still, when word reached the family that Aurelian seemed to be settling to some sort of degree in Absalom, his immediate kin were only to thrilled to volunteer Photius to be the one to go and check up on him. A dutiful son if nothing else, he complied.

Aurelian for his part seemed to find no small exasperation in a visit from kin he could tell was clearly being foisted onto him, but somehow he found patience with his cousin where his kin had not.

In truth as time passed he found that Photius, while still a sometimes irritant, made for an excellent adjutant and more importantly, a useful moral check to his darker moods and impulses. He brought his cousin into the higher scale of his accomplishments, and Photius seemed much rewarded by a tangible sense of making good works out from his contributions, and thereby much grateful and loyal to Aurelian for it. Helping his cousins’ more vigorous workings also helped Photius blossom as a warrior, coming into his own as an Abadarian paladin. They made a good pair, when he wasn’t giving Aurelian an ever so slight eye tic at an enthusiastically chipper sense of Taldan manifest destiny as filtered through the teachings of Abadar. It helped that ultimately and blatantly to any who meet him, Photius does want to improve the lot of everything and everyone around him, and will fight, bleed and die to do so. He simply views Abadar and Taldor as the means for that improvement, in that order, and that the path walked by his cousin will provide the greatest means for doing so. At current he continues his work at Aurelian’s side, while extending the occasional very tentative feeler to others in his house to aid as counsellor or confessor. It is said he left a meeting to that tune with Andronicus several shades paler. Andronicus’ only comment on that meeting is the slightest of smirks.

Aurelian Branas, Grand Duke of troubled brow (Rogue 14//Fighter 14 (Rondelero Duelist Archetype))

Aurelian has recently begun a somewhat troubled reign over House Branas. His arrival to take up the title of Grand Duke and run herd over his sprawling family and their resources is a surprising thing, as for the last 8 years, he hasn't been in Taldor. There was an assumption growing that he would never return from what seemed to be self imposed exile. He had left the empire at 17 after an act of kinslaying, killing his younger brother in a duel that was deemed rightful, and even acceptable, given a level of wretchedness around his brother shameful even amongst Taldan aristocracy.

Years passed and the polite story put forth by his relations that he was on a tour of Avistan seemed increasingly thin, sightings of him occurring in Lastwall, the River Kingdoms and Mendev, putting talents to bear as a sellsword and sometimes commander. He seemed to have ended up in Absalom after a few years, where if he was not going to return, it became at least easier for his family to speak of him without having to mitigate social distress. He had covered himself in a certain reckless, at times whispered as outright nihilistic glory there, emerging as one of the youngest Golden Swords of Absalom's arena floor in its history, standing out for a peculiar sense of crowd mocking mercy in the middle of a bloodsport.

There were scattered stories of more salutary deeds besides on behalf of the suffering, mixed with others of darker character, of moody drunken benders. With a fortune won from nothing out of wild gambling with his own life, the use of it to form a trade consortium seemed jarring at best, yet the Crown and Lion Company (none could tell if the name reflected homesickness, or some ironic joke) rose to enough success that the young man was able to recently add Trademaster to his titles within the city. The consortium was born of Branas organizing Kortos farmers, clearing and expanding their lands on the isle, cajoling investment from Houses of Absalom with a remarkable persuasiveness and charisma for pitching ideas, branching then into mining, banking and several trade routes into the Mwangi Expanse. Branas was noted for maintaining it all with what seemed to be a complete disregard for his own life, putting his person at risk to establish the Expanse routes, still fighting in the arena. It was a popular image about him all the same.

He had even made some inroads into his homeland, issuing favourable loans to ancient family lines about to fall into destitution, buying up land of the old ruined canals for no especially discernible reason.

He seemed established, if not perhaps content. Yet when Aurelian's father was sentenced to exile, desperate family entreaties brought him home, joining his personal holdings to Branas fortunes to bring stability to their situation. He was the acceptable choice to all parties, the traditional heir as is and thereby acknowledged by the other royal families, and his long absence from Absalom freed him of any suspicion of involvement in plots. A fresh face, it also makes him assiduously courted to pick a side, as it were, and there is an evident strain on him as he attempts to steer himself and his family's influence and resources above such things. There are rumours besides of private rages and stretches of dark moods, broken furniture and repairs to other damages.

He stands out otherwise for a peculiar scruple in a lack of using his house and business' fortunes for personal enrichment, and for the actions of a seeming reformer, beginning various projects that seem designed towards job creation, infrastructure repair and security. He has moved to occupy and build up his family's original, ancestral estates, leaving the family villas in Westpark to his relatives, noting a desire to return the old manor and its grounds to former glory. He mirrors his kinsman Andronicus, in that his travels have formed a fairly eclectic band of retainers around him. He brings with him a set of international contacts the house has not had in some time. Yet he lives and carries himself as if something out of the Taldor of thousands of years past, which makes a question of how well he will settle in to the current one.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #217 on: June 06, 2013, 04:09:14 AM »
House Branas Harder with a Vengeance

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Lord Nicetas Branas, the Castellan (Fighter 10 (Rondelero Duelist)//Expert 10)

Managing to make the likes of Andronicus Branas call anyone else “a grim and doughty fellow” is no small achievement and speaks volumes to the discomfort Nicetas can generate in his fatalistic presence.  Nicetas’ branch of the family took charge of the massive, generational construction efforts around Lionhome, the monumental fortress established by the family to look over Stavian’s Hold, itself a fortress town.  Devotion to that effort consumed the old man’s life past the remote idea of marriage or career, for all that it has made him one of his nation’s greatest engineers. Its completion within his lifetime has left the old man alone with the great working, and his thoughts.

The attitude of a family to build a fortress, to bulwark a fortress, built to hold a gap against the impossibly vast Padishah Empire speaks to a particular conclusion within bleak and dutiful Branas hearts. One that the rest of the family may not yet face or even acknowledge, but as careful a builder, mathematician and planner as Nicetas cannot help but see the pattern of it all. Lionhome is a monument to be sure, in the way that a mausoleum is. Or, given its size, a necropolis.

It is not that Nicetas has given himself over to despair, exactly. With purpose and will he drills his garrison, he oversees patrols, he constantly analyzes plans and maintains defenses for a massive assault he may not live to see. He even corresponds regularly with Andronicus for the Scourge’s expertise on the Keleshites and their dominions. Within the fortress he gathers the lore and mementos of an ancient line, having made himself thereby into the family sage of their history and legends. He even receives guests come to ask him for advice on some bit of construction or another. But none of it diverts him from his understanding. He is the master of a site for final stands, be they of those who hold the gap, of his family entire should political current sour enough, perhaps even of Taldor itself. He knows in his heart thereby he has built the tombstone of his nation. He merely works now to ensure its epitaph is worthy.

Lady Paramount Helena Branas, the Steel Harpy (Rogue 6/Duelist 7/Fighter 13 (Aldori Swordlord)

The folk music of Andoran is usually a fairly cheery thing, celebratory as their triumphant and shining nation. One does not expect to find particularly dark murder ballads, or tales of incarnated boogeymen. Helena Branas has worked with vicious glee to be a one woman inspiration of the exceptions to this rule. Her nickname is a curse from the nation she holds a blood vendetta against, given for the jangling cloak of winged epaulettes that trails from her shoulders, each taken from an Eagle Knight she has slaughtered.

It was not always thus. Helena was once the promising child of a match between a Branas son and one of the old Taldan lines that persisted in the then failing vassals of the then desperately splintering Chelish empire. It was a typical Branas effort to give some bolstering to an old and proud lineage rather than see it fall to dust (and politically justifiable with some words about winning them back to Taldor or some such).

The People’s revolution would grip Andoran but a few short years later, and in the end, came for her family. Her father was a Branas of course, and would not yield to some mob, no matter how well organized or well meaning. And being a Branas, his defense against overwhelming odds held long enough for loyal retainers to take Helena and flee. The parting sight of her heartbroken, blood maddened mother flinging herself in murderous fury into a group of soldiers after her father’s fall remained with her as lingering trauma. Still, the rest of the family took her in, and their reserve and resolve was a curious comfort to her, she managed to build an identity and life for herself, even find happiness in marriage to a distant cousin, bring three shining sons into the world.

But that’s not how a murder ballad goes. Helena’s husband and eldest child would find themselves in distress one day on an ocean voyage, finding aid and rescue in the passing vessel of a rajah of Jalmeray, who was feeling generous to fellow men of breeding and what was left of their crew. A vessel that was, as if in some cruel farce, being tracked by Andoran’s Gray Corsairs for its crew of slave rowers. Bound by honour to fight for their rescuers, father and son fell with them.

It was more than Helena could take, unable to decide whether to sob or laugh madly. A Branas daughter still, she did not break of course, but depending on who you asked, she certainly warped. Grabbing up her two remaining children, she seemed to simply vanish into the world. She would only reappear years later, hardened after years of training herself and children alike into instruments of vengeance and cruelty against the nation that had savaged her heart into a ruin. She walked into the family lands in the Tandak Plains, and the scarred great dire lioness that had recently lost children of her own to poachers found and joined to her, without remote need for druid intermediary.

Forming a band of reavers around her then, she set out to have blood pay for blood. It’s not always easy of course. The border between Andoran and Taldor is relatively stable most of the time, raiding over it too hard and too blatantly would be clamped down on vigorously from on high. But the crusading idealism of the Andorens works to her brutal favour. There are always infiltrators, agents, Eagle Knights coming to poke around where they shouldn’t. And then, there is Helena, watching with cold, careful patience, then bringing to bear techniques in warfare and personal combat collected from across Avistan to bring to bear in gory havoc.

When not venting her spleen more directly, Helena rides herd over the lines of defense her house has established along the Andoran border with an obsessive skill and distinction that earned her a (semi reluctant) acknowledgement as Lady Paramount of the family there in the house’s internal structures. While a mildly terrifying presence within even her own home nation, Helena is much beloved both amongst those who hate Andoran, and the Taldan military. It was Helena and her reavers after all that rode to the rescue of the ill fated ducal expeditionary force that sought to “pacify” Taldor of its own initiative. As eager Andorans chased its tattered remnants back across the border, Helena and her reavers seemed to come out of nowhere, annihilating the harrying scions of liberty with brutal precision that might have been called sadistic. Praised as a saviour by the Taldan survivors, Helena manages the small kindness of not mentioning she was really just happy to kill that many Andoran soldiers at once.

Her enemy nation, knowing her story, views her as tragic and horrifying all at once, her dark legend deepening with every red victory. She has become a mirror of Andronicus and Qadira, in that worthies of Andoran will entirely seek her out in the hopes of ending her threat. Nothing fills her with as much wicked delight as dealing with such would be heroes. The former Branas Grand Duke honestly found the issue of Helena awkward. Twisted obsession might perhaps outweigh however much talent in command, warfare, and personal combat could be demonstrated. Aurelian, despite a morality stronger than his father’s, seems unable to help finding Helena to be sympathetic, for all the problems that causes. In return, she is one of those in the house who has welcomed him with open arms. Both of them know loss after all. Both know what it is to live a life that learns the truth that sometimes, love conquers nothing.

Lord Ignatios Branas “the Old Captain” (Fighter 10 (tactician)//Ranger 10 (Freebooter)

Ignatios oversees the family holdings in Cassomir, and maintains correspondence with the family contacts within the Taldan navy. He has nothing but time in which to do this, having finally been somewhat forcibly retired from a long naval career, as much for a set of truly horrific scars and burns, courtesy of a Qadiran alchemists’ bomb, as anything else.

And it was a storied career. The navy is one of the few paths left to real glory within Taldor, and Ignatios embraced that fully, his outright reckless daring and aggression a sharp contrast to the more careful command of his second cousin Maxentian. Which was perhaps also why Ignatios never saw promotion past captain, but then again, he never wanted such a thing. That he was never demoted besides that spoke to success forgiving most sins, as his battle lust saw him triumph again and again. In many ways it was for the best. Born with an almost pathological aversion to boredom, Ignatios might have otherwise ended up an excessively violent thug ever on the verge of some new outrage had his family not found him opportunity in the navy. He was forever grateful to both groupings for that. Indeed, he would have been happy to die on the deck of his ship in some glorious battle as a franchised Taldan Naval Captain, but he only managed to come so close.

The nausea of an especially vain admiral at his mangled visage, and unfortunate comments that ensued saw him at last being cashiered out in the tail end of middle age, left to despair that he is not truly a shark after all, for he has stopped moving, yet has not died. Too much of a Branas to wish to shame the family through drunken disgrace (one Halcyon is enough after all), or suicide, Ignatios struggles onwards, riding herd on younger relations that don’t really need that much help keeping the bookkeeping in order, keeping in touch via letters with friends and officers that might otherwise not be able to look him in the face, and writing an increasingly lengthy history of the Taldan Navy. He’s actually built a fairly salutary information network of sorts that way, though he doesn’t use it for such purposes, and to his credit, he is an excellent judge of ship construction, as far as use to the family holdings.

He can be found at the docks most evenings all the same, gazing out wistfully at a sea he’ll never now make his grave.

Lord Captain Julian Branas, “The Young Captain” (Fighter 11 (tactician archetype)/Ranger (Freebooter) 11

Do you know the stereotype of the pirate tales? The implacable, stern, stentorian, prim, proper, stick up his ass Naval Captain forever the antagonist of freewheeling dashing swashbucklers? Julian was born far too late to be its source, but he certainly does his unwitting level best to perpetuate it.  He views himself as another Maxentian, but even the Durant himself was never so rigid. While perhaps a reaction to being the son of Ignatios, Julian truthfully loves his father quite deeply, which frustrates him all the more thoroughly. For he views it as on his shoulders to keep the old man inspired and happy with dreams of naval glory, and it is his own family constantly in the way of that, in his own view.

It shouldn’t be that way, perhaps. Certainly Julian is one of the youngest captains in the fleet, with any number of victories to his name, bringing many a pirate to the hangman’s noose, taking runs at sea creatures, the usual things. But /Alexia/ is some ridiculous living legend with her own small fleet of jumped up “privateers” (yes, the sneer in his tone when he says the word can be heard. Even when he writes it). His by the book aloof and thorough habits make for a crew that respects, but does not love him. /Alexia’s/ crew adore her (and if the rumours are true, she loves them pretty vigorously right back, for a certain definition of love). Julian chases pirates. /Alexia/ burns out Qadiran warships. Julian receives commendations. /Alexia/ has ballads written about her (some of them certainly very inappropriate for a proper gathering).

So Julian seethes under the smile he forces as he accepts his lesser accolades. But his methods are all he knows, and all he feels he can do is double down on them, becoming more domineering than ever.  It helped not at all when it was idly and innocuously observed at a salon that Alexia seems so much more like Ignatios in his prime than Julian does (even if that is true). A duel ensued, that the Young Captain coldly won (a duel to blood sir, Lord Captain Julian Branas is not some /savage/, thank you very much).

It is said that Julian recently sent a letter to Aurelian himself lodging complaint with the Dame Captain’s conduct. It is also said that a liquor cabinet had to be replaced at the Villa Branas that day, in contents and furnishing both.

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #218 on: June 06, 2013, 04:15:51 AM »
Live Free or House Branas

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Ariadne, Anastasia, and Athenais, Wardens of the Plains (respectively: Druid 12 (Pack Lord)//Oracle 12, Ranger 11/Cavalier 11 (beast rider), Barbarian (totem warrior) 11//Druid 11 (lion shaman)

Shining golden triplets born to once proud, now entirely haunted parents of a distaff branch of the family, the fate of the Feral Sisters was sealed on their father’s visit to the lion preserves, in an attempt to increase his standing in the house by taming or bonding with a lion. He had given in to demands to bring the family along out of a demanding curiosity to meet the half mythical and now quite aged Branas druid that stood guard over them. The parents were aggressive and abusive to such animals as they came across. It was as if the land itself could sense the grasping insecurity behind the visit, and it turned against them in their trip, inflicting storms and animal attacks, sometimes together, in the last of which Ariadne was lost. Distraught, they found the old druid, who promised he would marshal the force allotted to him for game wardens to comb the area for her and bring his own magics to bear, but they could do nothing by remaining.

Years passed, and the family would try to move on, but the constant claims by the remaining sisters of seeing their lost kin in their dreams each night made that impossible. Finally, one night, their father was woken by terrified servants, who brought him hesitantly to the courtyard where his daughters were padding out wordlessly towards a presence in bound rough hides, features obscured by a matted mane of golden hair, the figure surrounded by an entire pride of the creatures he had sought in vain, dire and otherwise. Their father cried out in protest, his voice then dying in his throat as Ariadne parted hair away to look to him directly and smile a white toothy smile that he would swear was fanged. “You wanted to be known for a tie to the lions. Now you will be.”

With that she left with her sisters, and in the years to come, with the last of the teachings of the old druid, and the experience of life with the lions themselves, the sisters were simply acknowledged as the new masters of the preserve lands, as is the way of the house.

They are admittedly a stranger set of masters than the house usually produces, far more tied to the land and its creatures than any have been for generations. On the other hand, such as come to reinforce their ties find the experience far more spiritual, and if their heart is true, less dangerous. Companions need not be subdued and tamed so much as they find their way to those of a worthy match.

Anastasia generally serves as liaison to the rest of the house, riding out to keep them up to date on the state of the lands, and to check up on the care being given to “what Branas has them hold in trust”, as she refers to the lions of the house. She remembers enough of her courtly lessons to even not come off as feral at court or parties. Otherwise she also marshals and leads the human game wardens of the area.

Ariadne spends most of her own time in communion with the land and its creatures, surrounded at all times by an entire pride she is spiritually linked to, rousing herself only for issues of caretaking, to respond to threats, or to receive guests.

Athenais is of the sisters, almost completely feral, spending her time at hunt, near or entirely naked, directed by her siblings as a force of destruction at poachers or interlopers.

They remain notable to Taldan society at large for that said distaff branch of the house was quite wealthy, and shell shocked parents have not managed any other issue. The man that could marry one of them would become rich indeed. Invariably some son of the upper crust sets out to “tame these feral beauties” and inevitably they come back to the civilized world with a fairly extensive collection of new and exciting scars, and a deep aversion to speaking of their experiences (yet the occasional disturbingly wistful look towards those lands).

Knight Captain Valens Branas and Lord Stylian “Mad Jack” Branas (Bard 11//Cavalier 11 (beast rider archtype), Ranger 11 (trapper archetype)/Rogue 11 respectively)

Helena’s sons are as shocking as their mother, but each in his own special way. Stylian has for his part embraced her path of vengeance and brutality, but has taken it several steps beyond. At first he simply snuck across the border into the portion of the Verduran that rests in Andoran to engage in guerilla mayhem. As he would do so, he found himself in common cause with the local fey being killed and driven from their homes by Andoren woodsmen. Common cause became joined battles. Battles became friendship, as is the Branas way with those they fight beside. But then, friendship became love. Said to have nymphs for paramours and spriggans for soldiers, Stylian is much loved by the fey, and he has felt their touch in return. It has made him wild, and, well, fey, in a certain sense of the word. The laughing warrior puck is the scourge of the lumber camps of Andoran, and those who pursue him into green depths returned maimed, if at all.

He splits his time between Taldor proper and the woodlands, largely to keep in touch with his mother, recruit the occasional follower, and replenish resources (and sometimes lie low), finding a peace in the gardens of Bardanes that sometimes stills his laughter. Officially, he denies all his doings, with the return of that laugh to his voice.

Valens is shocking by contrast, for seeming to be an entirely well adjusted, kind, dutiful and caring young man. A warrior of valor and musician of aching skill. A morale officer in high demand across the Taldan military for his ability to take a despairing unit and restore it to courage and purpose. Even more shocking is that he is entirely who he seems to be. It is as though he simply decided he would be a different man than the rest of his immediate family, and somehow that was enough, despite a hellish youth, and relentless training. He looks to love the legions as the family he never had, and soldiers find themselves naturally reciprocating with him. It is perhaps that as a young man he held to the example of a dead father and brother too dearly, and could not allow himself to live any other way, vengeance or no.

Strengths of House Branas

Sheer Military Might: Of Taldor’s royal houses, the Branas stand nearly alone for sheer martial puissance and force (the Durahan equal them in individual skill, and the Eiredor in quality of troops, as far as it goes). Were the family to gather up their personal guards, their border garrisons, and overall house forces, they would likely end up with an elite force of some 40,000 troops. Most houses are at least wary of the family for knowing that if it came to force, they’d get run over roughshod.

On the other hand, were the family to gather forces like that, considering how invested they are in the border defense of Taldor on every front, it would likely cause catastrophic collapses of security in the face of multiple external enemies. “Calling the Branas Banners” or “When the Branas Banners are Called” are called is something of a byword thereby for “never”. Still, the importance the Branas have in guarding Taldan borders is likely part of why Maxentian was simply sent into exile, and the family itself going on without censure.

Military Connections: The Branas, even if increasing their presence within Taldor’s armed forces is not favoured these days, are well regarded as a champion of the military all the same. Championing the rights and concerns of veterans besides sometimes places them at odds with other families intent on gobbling up land, or reducing warriors to penury enough to exploit them. Maxentian’s books on tactics, though heavily edited to have his name removed, are yet in use besides.

Wealth: While nowhere as rich as the Varian (but who is?), the Branas are ancient, and have managed their holdings responsibly. They have money to burn thereby, even for a royal family, usually using it to try and keep tottering ancient lines propped up, issuing loans on favourable terms, and keeping their holdings and fortifications maintained. The incorporation of Aurelian’s trading coster has bolstered that wealth besides.

The Lions: A many members of the house will take from the Tandak Plains a lion or dire lion companion of some sort (ooc: i.e. either by being a beast riding cavalier, or taking them as a cohort, or being a druid). Needless to say, a group of mounted warriors on dire lions have scattered forces many times their size on sheer simple terror.

Fecund: The family is numerous and widespread across Taldor across several branches, with more Branas children spawned yet, and wealth enough to support them for some time. It is joked that if they were all gathered in one place, they would be their own army. Given the lion riders, and the family martial capacity, this is perhaps only a half joke.

Loyalty: There is certainly internal strain in the house. Andronicus and Demetrius advocate for wars in completely different directions. Helena’s monomaniacal hatred of Andoran leads her to eye rumours of Alexia’s sympathies suspiciously. Theodora finds her son so righteous it makes her teethe ache and wary of his influence on the house. Valens probably deep down thinks his mother and brother are psychopathically insane. Julian is on the verge of an apoplectic fit at Alexia simply existing. Yet all would note (if they somehow had to), that these are /internal/ problems, and barring the Grand Prince himself, no one but a Branas get a say in them. This is not simply the usual “I and my brother against..” mentality that can be found commonly enough. The house bolster each other, to the point that while they might otherwise one day fight between themselves, Alexia has personally bodily thrown a man off her ship for disparaging remarks about “the steel harpy’s rusted cunt full of madness”. Julian has had his house scrubbed by crewmen disparaging Alexia’s accomplishments (only /he/ gets to do that).  Demetrius is rumoured to have quietly ruined men that had been plotting the discrediting of Andronicus.

Conservationism: The house has a conservationist streak, owning to their own history. And while this can get them into trouble when they oppose some potential violation of the land, it has made them much appreciated by the Verduran forest pact.

Weaknesses of House Branas

Loyalty: Halcyon is (to the Branas anyway), a walking incarnated embarrassment whose addiction to dueling has landed them in the occasional blood vendetta. Helena has a spectacularly violent grudge against an entire country, and expresses it in ways atypical to the house.  Yet neither will be abandoned to the vagaries of their obsessions or degeneracies, or the wrath of the enemies they basically make for themselves. The Branas stand by their own. Even when that is an absolutely terrible idea.

Enmity with the Senate: Military men and bureaucrats are generally not friends. An entire military house and a caste of bureaucrats get along poorly, at best. And of course the Senate, thousands of years past it may have been, has not forgotten the deeds of Arcadius. The Branas are something of the centerpoint of the rivalries between the senatorial and royal castes, and there are certain senators who will gleefully leap onto opportunities to pursue such when they present themselves.

Arcane Deficiency and Suspicion: Most families will have some arcane advisor and conjuror, even if a half assed one at best. The Branas have no such thing, and give the entire field of the arcane a wary eye. The family goes out of its way to seek ways to bolster will and resistance, the tale of Arcadius II being an almost permanent trauma. The strongest arcane casters the house manages to produce are bards, and even then, they downplay the spellcasting. This is not to say the house doesn’t purchase magic when needed, has spells cast for security (though they then have them quadruple checked), and that careers and campaign have not brought them a share of strange and potent relics. But as far as any kind of regular access to the singular capacities of a sorcerer, wizard, or even alchemist, the family has no such thing. Nor do they want it. They also tend to hold the most arcane obsessed families of Taldor at a bit of arm’s length.

Traditionalism: Do you know what a the especially jaded and degenerate nobles in Taldor don’t like being reminded of? That they could live differently than they are. Oh, the Branas aren’t offensively righteous, as far as it goes (well, Photius), and are a courtly and careful enough family to fit seamlessly into court life. In many real ways, they are much admired. But how often do you see a Branas besides Halcyon at the /really/ good parties (you know the ones I mean). How often do you see a Branas strike an uppity commoner in the street? And how annoying is that quietly disapproving hint you can catch just in the corner of their eyes sometimes?  You know who could use having it just stuck to? Yeah, those fuckers.

National Relations of Note

Lastwall: The Branas do not approve of Lastwall’s independence from Taldor (yes, that was centuries ago. And?) But Lastwall’s mission to watch the tomb of Tar Baphon and hold the line against Belkzen remains of critical importance. And after all, the house was at the forefront of the ancient Shining Crusade that founded that nation in the first place. The country is deeply useful besides to see members of the house properly blooded in war when Taldor is otherwise too much at peace. The family’s contributions to Lastwall remain much appreciated, in the form of materiel, men, and sons and daughters of the house sent to serve a tour of duty there and get a “Lastwall education.” The house has arranged various marriages with the worthies of that land at that. There is even an every so often effort to convince the house to entirely relocate there that is gently and politely refused.

Every Single Nation That Has A Border With Taldor: Soldiers of these lands have learned to curse the Branas name early and often.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 04:24:44 AM by Kolbrandr »

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Offline Meliai

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #220 on: June 06, 2013, 04:33:14 AM »
Man I can't believe you left out House Branis 2: Electric Boogaloo, that was by FAR the best sequel

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #221 on: June 06, 2013, 04:44:06 AM »
Listen, if I couldn't include It's a Good Day To House Branas, and Snakes on House Branas, that wasn't going to get in either  :P

Offline kckolbe

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #222 on: June 06, 2013, 06:36:22 AM »
So, I've noticed that a fair bit of information outside of not only Oppara, but Taldor itself, is given.  How much attention should we be paying to other cities/nations?

Offline KolbrandrTopic starter

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #223 on: June 06, 2013, 11:23:39 AM »
So, I've noticed that a fair bit of information outside of not only Oppara, but Taldor itself, is given.  How much attention should we be paying to other cities/nations?

Short answer? As much as you want to. If it comes up in game, I'll certainly make sure to include a blurb about what is coming up.

Slightly longer answer? The nations on Taldor's borders are worth paying attention to in various ways, and I'll do little capsule summaries of them so people have an idea of them.

Slightly longer answer than that? If you have a like for a particular nation in Golarion beyond those and want to work in some way of being relevant to it/it relevant to campaign doings, pitch an idea unto me for such.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 11:44:41 AM by Kolbrandr »

Offline Ebb

Re: Interest check: high scale Pathfinder, Taldor, aka Byzantium focused
« Reply #224 on: June 06, 2013, 04:02:11 PM »
House Branas in slightly more digestible form: