(...) A knight's apprentice
(3 pts) The military backbone of the nobility, knights are by far the most numerous types of noble. Knights are usually in the service of a liege lord of higher rank, though they can also be masterless. Some masterless knights are errant nobles who roam the Known Worlds, while others are content to tend a patch of land that they call their own. Despite the popular conception of the landless knight, many knights actually do own some land- a small castle or farm, perhaps, either on their own or as a feudal duty to their liege. These landed knights are not generally considered to be members of the landed gentry in general, however, unless through great fortune they happen to amass amazing sums of money, in which case they usually seek someone to grant them the rank of baron in any case.
Knights are addressed as “Sir” or “Lady,” or, in some cases, “Dame.” Poor knights can be expected to own either chainmail or half-plate armor (often the plastic variant), and to ride barded horses. Some have the fortune to possess bullet-proofed physical shields, which they wear into battle to ward themselves from any stray shots. They will likely have revolvers or single-action rifles, and own a set of wooden lances, though they might possess one or two thunderhead lances or the odd submachine gun. Since they usually fight commoners or other shieldless knights, they tend to be large and strong and carry weapons which do maximal amounts of damage, from broadswords to two-handed swords to axes, though there are many knights who hope to slay a shielded opponent and thus enter the upper tier of knights, and they use rapiers, sabers, and other dueling weapons.
Non-landed knights tend to have few servants. Some knights errant travel alone, but most knights are attended by at least a single squire. Knights often command a small troop of men-at-arms, usually from five to ten, but may be put in charge of larger forces, or of one or two other knights, in their lord’s guard. Renowned knights or powerful landed knights may draw followers that barons envy, but this is rare.
Richer knights tend to wear standard shields, and do in fact account for the majority of the standard shield-wearing population in the Known Worlds. They may wear heavy clothing, and they ride horses which usually have cavalry shields. They have thunderhead lances, and carry revolvers, autofeeds, shotguns or submachine guns. Knights in service of more powerful lords may have assault rifles, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, or even laser or blaster rifles. They often have grenades for use in open war. Their main weapon is usually a dueling weapon such as a saber or rapier, sometimes with a main-gauche, though broadswords are common as well, especially among Hawkwoods and Justinians. Knights in command of larger units (either of knights or of men-at-arms) often have squawkers.
Knights tend to have an annual income of around 500 firebirds.
(5 pts) Higher-ranked than knights but still not landed, baronets tend to be close relatives of landed gentry. Their actual position and status may vary widely, as families which adhere to strict primogeniture may leave the younger brother of a Duke as a lowly baronet unless he can claim lands for himself. Nonetheless, baronets usually tend to be younger siblings (or female older siblings) of barons or occasionally marquises, and thus have similar status. The other type of baronet is the knight who is promoted for great deeds or loyal service, and these are usually to be found in the entourages of more powerful landed lords. Baronets may be landed in the same manner as knights, though they will usually command more powerful holdings- an important stronghold, a lucrative mine, a small outlying village.
Baronets are often well-attended. Usually, at least two of the household staff wait directly upon them, but more is common. Baronets may command troops of knights or men-at-arms, though many do not. The largest force a baronet would tend to command on his own would be 10 knights and 50 men-at-arms, though this is quite rare. Four knights and/or 20 men-at-arms is a more common number. Of course, baronets who attend powerful lords may be dubbed their liege’s Lord Marshal, and be placed in charge of the huge numbers of troops that their lord commands.
Baronets are addressed as “Lord” or “Lady.” Male baronets usually own shields, as do female warrior baronets. All baronets usually wear heavy clothing. Warrior baronets carry dueling weapons and sidearms, and can own rifles, submachine guns or assault rifles. They have horses with cavalry shields, and a supply of thunderhead lances. They may have an elixir injector and a dose or two, and often have a squawker or whisper pin to communicate with their liege. Baronets in poorer households tend to be equipped like rich knights. It is not uncommon for a baronet who is an exceptionally good fencer to champion the baron when questions of honor arise. Such champions tend to have a few doses of elixir, in addition to high-quality fencing weapons.
Baronets tend to have 1000 firebirds of annual income.
(7 pts) The command backbone of the nobility, barons are the most numerous of the landed gentry and are absolutely integral to any military operation. Barons are usually valiant warriors, as well as the commanders of small units of knights. Most of the knights to be found in every war effort are in direct service to barons, and the sheer number of barons each side can muster often decides the outcome of any war. Barons command areas of land roughly comparable in size to counties in the United States of America. Size varies considerably with the area, of course: a single factory may be a very prosperous barony in a major city on Byzantium Secundus, while miles and miles of untamed land may yield less reward and less status to a baron on a backwater world. In general, however, the most minor barony would consist of a manor, a single farming village and a few dozen square miles of farmland. A bustling port city administered for a marquis might be a more prosperous barony, while an upper-range barony might range over many hundreds of square miles, including numerous small farming or mining villages, a large church or small cathedral, one or two castles and a few small watchtowers.
Barons command large retinues. Even the weakest barons usually have a household staff of at least ten. Staffs of twenty and personal entourages of five are more common. The staff includes grooms, cooks, nurses, and general domestic servants. A baron might have a few freemen advisors, librarians and heralds, and perhaps a priest in residence. Furthermore, the baron has the house guard of at least ten, and usually more like sixty to eighty men-at-arms, plus every able-bodied serf the land can provide in times of war. His men-at-arms will be armored in anything from studded leather to chainmail, armed with halberds, axes, maces or possibly broadswords, with perhaps a few bows. Up to fifteen men-at-arms may be mounted. The captain of the guard might have a flintlock pistol or perhaps a revolver as a symbol of his authority, but is more likely simply to have a broadsword. His serf levies will be untrained and unarmored, using spears or crude polearms made by lashing farm implements to sticks.
A baron will also have the allegiance of other nobles. Barons can command anything from 4 to 40 knights (though these are the extremes; 10-15 is more likely), and will usually be attended by 1 to 5 baronets, who may supervise portions of the baron’s staff for him. A baron will often have an older relative as a counselor, a baronet as a lord chamberlain/chancellor, and a knight or another baronet as a lord marshal/steward. More powerful barons have these roles split between more people. Barons command a good deal of loyalty from their vassal nobles, as they all eat at the same table and share a kind of kinship that more power tends to ruin. A baron at war, then, will on average be able to muster 4.5 baron’s guard, 10 knights, 40 men-at-arms, and about 1,000 serf levies.
A barony will have at least one keep of some sort. Except in the most peaceful areas, it will be fortified by at least a fence, and will often have a full gate with portcullis, boiling oil, and other traps. A light machinegun or chaingun set up for defensive purposes is not at all uncommon. The keep may have a long range radiophone in order to keep in contact with remote patrols or communicate with neighboring lands. The barony is likely to have some siege engines, from mortars to ballistae to armored siege towers to howitzers. The barony will also have some vehicles. Carriages or small boats are not uncommon, but the keep will likely have at least one landcar, and possibly several. A skimmer, flitter or tank is the mark of a powerful baron, and is usually rather cheap if it is owned at all. One or two barons might even own a fighter or other non jump-capable starship, but this is quite rare.
Personally, the baron will be well equipped. Shields are essential for all but the most minor barons, who will themselves have extensive armor and probably a bulletproof physical shield. Synthsilk is common. The baron’s sword will be ancestral and impressive, usually a rapier or broadsword with a vibrating blade with a shocker. He will also almost certainly have an inherited sidearm, perhaps a machine pistol, splinter pistol, laser pistol, or blaster pistol. He will often have access to a longarm like a rifle, shotgun, submachine gun, assault or laser rifle, but will rarely use it himself. The baron will have a huge store of elixir and may have combat drugs or cybernetics. He will usually have a squawker (perhaps in an old inherited tactical headset) or whisper pin to coordinate the movements of his underlings. An average baron will also have enough wargear to outfit three or four of his best knights as well, or almost as well, as the baron himself.
Barons tend to have an annual income of 5000 Firebirds.
The proper term of address for a baron is “My Lord/Lady” or “Your Lordship/Ladyship,” though more creative phrases like “gentle liege” are used all the time. The baron’s crown sometimes houses a shield. The baron wears his colors, which are a variant on the House’s preferred colors, and bears his family crest, at least on his signet ring, and usually on his clothing. All of his vassals wear colors that are variants of the baron’s, and either wear his crest or, in the case of more powerful vassals, incorporate it into their own crest.
(9 pts) Marquises and marquessas are members of the middle nobility, significantly more powerful than barons but still relatively low in the grand scale of noble politics. Marquises rule marquistaes, areas roughly the size of four to six baronies. Of the marquistae, the marquis usually rules about two baronies’ worth of the land directly, enfiefing the rest to vassal barons. Thus, a marquessa will tend to have two to four barons bound to her by oaths of fealty. Marquistaes often contain strategic places such as port cities, mountain passes, huge mines and quarries, smithies, airports and even starports. Such strategic sites are equally often ruled by the marquessa directly or entrusted to a highly-loyal baron (often a sibling or child).
Marquises will have large household staffs in their keeps, ranging from 20 to 50, and even more extensive house guards. The marquis’ guard will likely number from 100 to 200, wearing chainmail and armed with broadswords and polearms. Of this number, at least 20 are likely to be mounted. The marquis may also have an honor guard of 5 to 10 men-at-arms in chainmail or half-plate, armed with broadswords or scimitars and perhaps crossbows, muskets or even rifles, shotguns or submachine guns. A marquis’ land will yield him a good 2,250 serf levies in wartime.
The Marquis’ personal army will include the marquis and three to four duelists similarly equipped, 6 to 7 baronets equipped as barons’ guards, and 20 to 30 fencers. With his vassal barons, a marquis can therefore furnish 4 to 5 marquis’ guard, 20 barons’ guard, 55 fencers, 150+120= 270 men-at-arms, plus 2,250+4000= 6,250 serf levies. Many of these knights will double at other functions, however, and thus not all will be available to fight.
The marquis will also have many nobles bound to fealty. The strength of the marquistae rests in the strength of the marquis and his knights, so his personal retinue will be formidable indeed. He is likely to have a private priest as a confessor, baronets as lord chancellors, lord chamberlains, lord stewards, lord marshals, lord seneschals, and perhaps a lord inquisitor. Marquises have the resources to specialize their armed forces, and those bound in tight fealty to a more powerful lord often do so. A marquis may be renowned for his rangers, his aerial cavalry, his cannoneers, or even, in rare cases, his orbit-to-planet assault troops.
The marquistae will have a main keep and several outlying castles. The main castle is likely to be rather lavishly furnished and much less military and practical than barons’ keeps. However, the grand ballrooms and solemn chapel rooms belie the fact that the palace is a military outpost as well. There is likely a war room with a think machine in it, and an advanced communications room. It is likely that there will be at least one, if not several, machine guns emplaced on the castle walls, and possibly some antiaircraft guns as well. The marquistae will likely have at least two or three landcars, some quite luxurious, and some skimmers and flitters are not uncommon. An armored fighting vehicle of some sort, even a hovertank, is not unheard of, though such vehicles are rather out of vogue with the nobility. An extremely rich or influential marquis may have a small jump-capable starship, though this is a definite status symbol.
The marquis himself is outfitted well indeed. Synthsilk is de rigeur, and dueling shields are worn by all but the poorest marquises, who content themselves with lavish standard shields. Very valorous marquises from powerful families sometimes wear assault shields, which are often built into their crown of rulership. Such marquises also own plastic half-plate, and are a terror in battle. The sword of the marquis, an heirloom whose name is often known for miles around, is usually a flux rapier, and sometimes a light power sword (capable of ignoring shields entirely and doing extra power damage). The marquis’ sidearm is usually an energy weapon (though some marquises prefer strange weapons like rocket pistols), often a blaster pistol. The marquis may well have an assault laser or blaster shotgun for open war, though most marquises that fight in battle do so in hand-to-hand combat. He will likely have a tactical radio headset to command his troops, and may have a whisper pin as well. The marquis has access to a huge supply of elixir and other healing technologies. A lucky marquis will ride a genetically-engineered destrier, a horse capable of running at 60 miles an hour on open ground, into battle.
Marquises tend to have an annual income of about 25,000 firebirds.
The proper term of address for a marquis is “Your Honored Lordship” or “Your Honored Ladyship,” though the various forms of address actually used are limited more by the imagination than by etiquette. The marquis and his honor guard bear his colors and his crest, and is often attended by heralds who bear his pennons as well. All of his vassal lords are supposed to incorporate his crest and colors into theirs.
(10 pts) Earls are also members of the middle nobility. Though they technically outrank marquises, marquises are in practice far closer to being their peers than their vassals. Earls do not normally hold marquises in fealty, and there are some marquistaes that are more powerful than some earldoms, but it is generally true that earls are significantly more powerful than their lower-ranked peers. An earldom is typically the size of six to nine baronies. Earls keep a bit more than two baronies worth of land for themselves, and distribute the rest amongst their three to six barons. There are very few earldoms that do not contain urban areas or other strategic sites, though earls, more secure in their power, are usually more free in entrusting such fiefs to their vassal barons than marquises are. Earldoms are sometimes centered around terraforming engines, which are powerful assets indeed.
The household staff of an earl includes at least 50-80 well-trained servants. The guard of an earl is a force to be reckoned with, numbering from 100-200 soldiers, including a good 40+ mounted men-at-arms, not counting the 3250 or so peasant levies an earl’s land can muster for all-out war. These men-at-arms are usually armed in chainmail or half-plate with swords, but they tend to be better-trained than those in the army of a marquis. There will likely be units of bowmen or crossbowmen. There may be small units of musketeers and grenadiers, armed with muskets and grenades along with their swords. There will rarely be more than 20 of these elite men-at-arms in an Earl’s army, and they will often serve in the Earl’s honor guard.
An earl has many allies at his disposal. He has a number of barons at his command like a marquis, and his personal forces are considerable. Three or four of his knights will be outfitted as armigers like him, while he may also have one or two marquis-level duelists and will have about 5 or 6 baron’s guard and 30 or so fencers. With his vassals, an average earl has a total of 4 to 5 armigers, 2 to 3 marquis’ guard, 21 or so barons’ guard, 65 fencers, 150+200= 350 men-at-arms, and 3250+5000=8250 serf levies.
His own vassal barons are likely to be quite wealthy as barons go. His personal advisors and officers will all be baronets, and one might even be a baron. He will likely have a highly efficient Lord Inquisitor to root out any hint of treason amongst his vassals- with so many lords bound to fealty, dissension becomes a reality in an earldom more than in lesser fiefs. Even more than a marquis, an earl has the resources to train and equip his army in a specialized and expensive manner. It is not altogether rare for an earl to be known for his urban assault force, his tanks or battlesuits, his air force, his navy, or his space marines.
The earl rules from a castle which is usually more like a palace than a military keep. Well-fortified but generally more lavish than a marquis’ castle, the earl’s keep is usually defended by machineguns or even antipersonnel lasers with overlapping fields of fire, antiaircraft guns, and a series of nasty traps around the outer gate. The lesser castles on an earl’s land are usually well-stocked and highly defensible outposts used to maintain control over the surrounding area. They are enfiefed to trusted knights or baronets. The earldom also possesses a number of landcars, usually a skimmer or flitter or two, a number of ships (if it is not landlocked), and possibly some manner of armored fighting vehicle. It is not uncommon for an earl to own a moderately small jump-capable starship.
An earl himself is equipped much like a marquis, but more so. He will often have a light power blade (usually a bastard sword). Blaster pistols are common, as are assault laser pistols. Synthsilk and dueling shields are a minimum, and most earls wear smartsynth. Assault shields are, if not common, not unheard of. The tactical headsets of earls are often built into their crowns, including multi-channel encrypted whisper pin communication and, occasionally, a head-up display projected onto his retina. In liberal houses such as the al-Malik and Decados, cybernetic enhancements such as enhanced senses, lithe wires and adrenaline injectors are common.
An earl usually has an annual income of 30,000 FB.
The proper term of address for an earl is “Your Most Honored Ladyship/Lordship.” A female earl is still called an earl. The earl’s colors and crest are of course adopted by all of his vassals, borne by all of his messengers, and flown from his pennons, which liberally adorn his domain.
(11 pts) The highest tier of the middle nobility, Viscounts are fantastically powerful individuals with sweeping influence most of the population, common and noble alike, can only dream of. A viscounty is a large area of land, comparable in size to a European duchy or a small state in the USA. The actual dimensions, of course, vary with the importance of the land, but it is guaranteed to be impressive. A viscounty proper is about the size of two earldoms. The rest of the land is parceled out to subsidiary lords. The bulk of the land is typically divided between two to four earls or marquises, while around five to seven barons may rule smaller segments of the land. The viscount’s personal territory is often bordered completely by his vassal states, which serve as buffers against aggression or espionage. There are usually a number of strategic areas in a viscounty, and the most valuable or esoteric of them will often be upon the viscount’s land: Pygmallium mines, crystal forests, terraforming engines, major starports and even Ur ruins can sometimes all be found on such land. The throne of a viscount’s power, in itself, is quite a strategic site, usually requiring a small city to support it and boasting a general level of technology well above that in the surrounding land.
The viscount’s palace is filled with a staff of at least 100, and usually more like 150. His guard numbers 500-700 men-at-arms, of which anywhere from 50 to 100 are mounted. Up to 50 may be mechanized, fully trained in deployment from vehicles. The viscount’s honor guard of men-at-arms will number 40-60, and will usually be equipped as musketeers. The viscount may well field another 50 or so musketeers under the command of his lord marshal. Some of the viscount’s best musketeers, whether in his honor guard or in a separate unit, may be gifted with the honor of a standard shield or bolt-action rifle. The viscount’s men-at-arms will be clad in chainmail or half-plate, with elite units (both infantry and cavalry) and sergeants wearing full plate. Weapons will still tend to be broadswords, though elite scout, skirmisher or berserker units may carry light bows, dueling weapons, or heavier swords. There will be sizeable units of archers and crossbowmen, as well as artillerists who wield banks of cannon, and the occasional heavy weapon team (under close noble supervision) with chaingun, gatling laser, rocket launcher, or howitzer.
The viscount’s nobles will represent a huge political and military force, capable of casting influence throughout a continent. The viscount’s officers will generally be baronets or vassal barons, and in their official capacities will have powers that even the vassal marquises and earls envy. The position of Lord Chamberlain becomes exceptionally important as the viscount is simply so busy that he must delegate a large portion of his responsibilities. The viscount’s Lord Marshal is almost always an able strategist, and usually leads the considerable armies from the front. Though lesser lords may have the fortune to have a theurgic or psychic advisor, this becomes an expected sight at the viscount’s level and up. Most viscounts have Orthodox theurges, hopefully relatives, attendant on them at all times to ward off any occult witchery and to bless their exploits. A considerable minority are attended by psychics, either penitents or simply family members, but this is frowned upon by the church.
The viscount will have a personal charge of some 200 knights. Of these, three or four of them will likely be cuirassiers like the viscount, while 6 or 7 will be armigers and another 5 or so may be duelists. About 40 will be baron’s guard, and the other 150 or so will be fencers, many of whom are likely to be vehicular pilots or starship crew. With vassal lords considered, a viscounty has an army of 4 or 5 cuirassiers, 20 armigers, 12 or 13 marquis’ guards, 130 or so baron’s guards, 405 fencers, 1850 men-at-arms, and about 30,750 serf levies. Exceptionally lucky, wealthy, or well-born viscounts can have sufficient power to have a chance of gaining some influence in the throne family of the planet, or perhaps even the royal family of the house. It is also likely that viscounts will have some dealings with those of foreign houses, often having some significant foreign allies and enemies, and possibly having forced members of rival houses into fealty as vassal lords.
The palace of a viscount is exceedingly lavish and extravagant, dripping with ornamentation, craftsmanship, and high-technology security. The viscount’s palace will likely have a number of antipersonnel lasers, chainguns, antiaircraft rockets, and antitank weapons of some sort. There will also be numerous other keeps dotting the viscount’s land. The viscount will have a large convoy’s worth of landcars and fleet of aircraft large enough to maintain at least one skimmer or flitter in the air at any given time. It is likely that some of the viscount’s air force will be outfitted for combat- gunships, fighter-bombers, and hovertanks are all to be found in a viscount’s hangars, piloted by his own knights or his best freemen pilots. The viscount may own a small squadron of tanks or battlesuits, and will certainly equip some of his knights and heavy-weapons teams with antitank weaponry. A viscount will likely own at least a frigate. More likely is a small squadron of two or three such ships, possibly with a destroyer. A rich viscount may have a squadron or two of non jump-capable fighters in addition to this.
A viscount in person is a most impressive sight. At the level of a viscount and up, nobles are usually given specially-designed diets and physical therapy programs from birth, stimulating physical and mental growth and development. The result is that they are stronger, faster, and brighter than most nobles, and stand head and shoulders over non-nobles. Viscounts traditionally wear powered armor and dueling shields, and carry full power swords or plasma blades. A significant minority of viscounts only carry light power swords and content themselves with fighting opponents not in powered armor. Assault shields are common among viscounts. Viscounts usually carry blaster pistols, eruptor blast pistols, or plasma pistols, though those who wear powered ceramsteel often have a blaster shotgun or assault laser. Viscounts almost always have concealable holographic tactical headsets.
A Viscount tends to have an annual income of 150,000 FB. An average viscounty consists of one viscounty proper, 3 earldoms proper, and 16 to 17 baronies.
The proper form of address for a viscount is “Your Excellency,” though variations are of course common. A viscount’s signet ring usually is a high-tech image burner which is almost impossible to counterfeit. A simpler, low-tech version of his signet is given to the viscount’s lesser officers to notarize less important documents.
(13 pts) Members of the upper nobility, counts wield legendary power but are still in the shadow of greater powers yet. A county is approximately the size of a moderately-sized nation such as Poland, or a broad region of the United States such as the Northeast, though the size may vary to a considerable degree depending on the importance of the land. A county may be as small as a giant metropolitan area and outlying territories, if the city in question is on Byzantium Secundus. The count keeps about one-third to one-fifth of the land himself, and doles the rest out to viscounts, earls, marquises and the odd baron here and there. A typical count will hold two to four viscounts in fealty, as well as five to seven earls or marquises and around ten to fourteen barons. Though the land he claims is as extensive as a medieval kingdom, a count is in fact far more powerful, possessing technological wonders no king could ever have dreamed of. Most counties have a few major airports and seaports, more than a few have starports or terraforming engines (usually gifted to extremely loyal vassal viscounts, who may in turn enfief them to their own vassals), and all have numerous defensible palaces, air-to-space defense laser batteries, and a bustling capital that is wondrous to behold. Conversely, the county is likely to have many areas where the count’s rule is far from secure. At this level of size, vassal lords are less likely to be utterly devoted to their count, and regional loyalties can often sway huge blocks of the populace against their overlord. Furthermore, hard-to-reach areas such as deep forests or jungles, high mountain passes, and subterranean cave networks are likely to be inhabited by bandits, tribes, bands of Changed, or rogue lords who do not swear fealty to any count. Their decentralized power notwithstanding, counts are still major players in the political arena of their continent, and often have influence on other continents or even planets. A count’s palace, like something out of a fairytale, is usually staffed by a few hundred servants, all of whom come from families that have a generations-old tradition of serving the count. Training from birth and constant policing keeps the staff extremely loyal and difficult to infiltrate. The count’s guard will number from 2000-3000 highly-trained men-at-arms. Up to 500 of these may be mounted, and about an equal number may be musketeers. Up to 150 musketeers may be trained in vehicular deployment, often from helicopters or other aircraft. The count’s honor guard will include about 50-100 riflemen, a number of whom will be shielded, and some of whom may carry submachineguns, shotguns, or even assault rifles. The rest of the men-at-arms will wear plastic half-plate or chainmail, with officers and heavy units in full plate. Squawkers will be used to coordinate the movements of troops, and the men-at-arms will be highly-trained and highly loyal veterans. There will be huge units of cannoneers, archers, and crossbowmen, and sizeable numbers of artillery and heavy-weapons teams. The count’s forces themselves, though highly elite, are unlikely to be overly specialized, as the count will instead rely on his vassal lords for specific types of troops.
The count has the loyalty of an entire nation’s worth of nobles, at least in theory. His viscounts are the major political players in his county, and though he has their oaths of fealty, a count is well-advised to keep a close eye on these lords, for they have the power to overthrow him and the independence to consider it. His earls and marquises are a mixed bag. It is likely that one or two of them will be extremely loyal to him, hoping to increase their status. Others, however, may be lukewarm to his authority or ally themselves with one of his viscounts, possibly even against the count. This is possible because they are not important enough to be monitored as closely. His barons are a similarly heterogeneous lot, including some of the Count’s own officers; conquered territories from neighbors; extremely loyal, lucky or valorous knights who have been granted land; neutral foreigners who have been forced into fealty; and simple lords who pay dutiful service to their liege. The count’s officers and better knights are usually relatives of landed lords, such as the count’s own cousins or brothers, and are equipped comparably to earls or viscounts.
A count will likely have 3 to 4 heavy cuirassiers like himself, as well as 6 or 7 viscount’s guard-level cuirassiers. He will have a force of about 50 armigers, 35 marquis-level duelists, 300 baron’s guard, and 700 fencers. With his vassal lords, an average count commands a force of 4 to 5 heavy cuirassiers, 20 viscount-level cuirassiers, 137 armigers, 87 or so marquis’ guards, 874 baron’s guards, 2425 fencers, 8262 men-at-arms, and 239,250 serf levies.
The county has a great deal of war material as well. A count likely has at least one large squadron both of military flitters and of battlesuits. In addition to these, there is likely to be a squadron of tanks, a sizeable civilian fleet of flitters, skimmers, helicopters, and planetary dropships. The count’s palace will be virtually impregnable except by an extremely bloody siege, defended with flamethrowers, antipersonnel lasers, antiaircraft and antiorbital defense lasers, antitank particle beams, rocket launchers, numerous chainguns, and a few helicopter or skimmer gunships always on standby, including a fast, well-armed skimmer should the count need to make a quick escape. Should he be pushed from his throne palace, the count will have numerous other bunkers, hideouts, or full-fledged keeps from which to continue the war. The count will probably have significant star power, including a number of fighters and a squadron of frigates or destroyers, possibly with a cruiser.
Personally, the count is equipped with the finest wargear in the land, and is (theoretically) the greatest warrior in the land. Counts wear powered armor and battle shields, and carry famous heavy power blades. The count’s sidearm is awarded almost as high a place in the populace’s esteem. Eruptor blast pistols, assault blaster pistols, plasma pistols, fusion pistols and others proliferate. A count in battle is a more terrifying and awe-inspiring sight than the awakening of a Great Wyrm. Mere rumors of a count’s appearance on the battlefield inspire waves of desertion among the opposing forces.
A count’s annual income is about 1,000,000 FB. An average county consists of 1 county proper, 3 viscounties proper, 15 earldoms proper, and 82 to 83 baronies.
The proper form of address for a count is “Your Sovereign Excellency,” though any other expression evincing the proper awe will do just fine. The count’s crest and colors pervade his county, and inspire courage in any subject.
(15 pts) The cream of the upper nobility, dukes have few peers and far fewer betters- in the entire Known Worlds. Even counts kneel in awe and fealty before a duke, and even bishops consider a duke’s person holy and his arrival a blessed occasion. A duchy, or dukedom, is a political entity of comparable influence (and, usually, size) to the United States of America or China. A duke will typically personally hold about two counties’ worth of land personally and entrust the bulk of the rest to anywhere from two to five counts. There are likely to be about six viscounties, 12 earldoms, and 24 baronies. A duchy is a greater space of land than most people travel in their lifetimes, and it houses great wonders and great dangers. Due to the inherent decentralization of the feudal system, the strength of the dukes’ rule varies widely from region to region. There are usually at least 10 to 20 odd baronies’ worth of land, somewhere within a duchy, that effectively owe no fealty to the duke. Such lands may be utterly anarchic; ruled by small independents; the domain of hostile petty warlords; or under the sway of bandits, pagans, or other undesireables. Such areas merely slip through the cracks in the grand scheme of things. What with the problems of keeping his vassal counts from killing each other or from banding together against him, keeping the Church satisfied with tithe money, stopping the guilds from entrenching their power on his lands while avoiding getting embargoed by them, negotiating alliances and deals to cement his power within his house and protect his many interests abroad, maintaining his starfleet for the glory of the house, rooting out spies from neighboring powers, keeping a watchful eye on foreign rivals, training his troops for battle, leading a war every once in a while to keep his subjects content, being able to defend himself from his neighbors or foreign raiders, hearing the pleas of his various subjects, finding a suitable spouse, raising his children to succeed him, and practicing fencing to keep himself in fighting trim, a duke rarely has time to worry about a few square miles of unprofitable land where a petty knight has set himself up as Grand Warlord.
A duke’s castle, one of the most lavish on the continent, is waited on by a few hundred servants who are fanatically loyal and have trained for generations to serve. The duke’s guard is over 11,000 strong. From 4,000 to 6,000 are armed with muskets. The massed ranks of musket-bearing men-at-arms are led by knights, and they both inflict and suffer massive casualties when they are brought into combat. About a tenth of the musket-bearing troops are true musketeers. They wear plastic chainmail, carry muskets, swords and grenades, are trained and equipped for vehicular deployment, and undertake dangerous missions led by the duke’s knights. About a thousand men-at-arms are mounted, and the duke’s army also includes massed ranks of cannoneers and artillerists. The duke’s honor guard contains about 200 men-at-arms, usually shielded and equipped with rifles, shotguns, and dueling weapons. These veterans are more than a match for many poor or ill-trained knights, and they are used for much the same missions as knights.
The duke’s nobles constitute one of the most powerful political and military forces on the planet, and though they are often fractious, when they turn their attention towards a foe, it is an epic and sweeping event. Infighting amongst the counts and their vassals is to be expected- it is a natural release of tension, it prevents the counts from allying and challenging the duke’s power, it keeps the lords in fighting shape, and as long as there is a gentleman’s agreement to surrender and be ransomed as opposed to fighting to the death, it does no real harm (except to the serfs, but nobles don’t trouble themselves over them). A duke’s officers will likely be earls, viscounts or the brothers of counts or dukes, though some may be counts themselves. This is rare, however, as it tends to put too much power into the hands of the officer for a duke to be comfortable. A duke will have a personal guard of 3 to 4 aegis knights in addition to himself, plus 6 or 7 count-level knights, 50 viscount-level cuirassiers, 300 armigers, 200 duelists, 1500 baron’s guard, and 3500 fencers. With his vassals, he has 4 or 5 aegis guard, 20 count’s guard, 137 viscount’s guard, 885 armigers, 552 or so marquis’ guard, 5269 or so barons’ guard, 14,225 fencers, 24,423 men-at-arms, and a levy of 1,074,750 serfs.
A duke’s land will be covered with technological wonders. The ducal palace will be one of the most extravagantly furnished buildings on the planet, guarded by banks of antivehicular, antipersonnel, and antiorbital weapons, as well as the duke’s honor guard of men-at-arms, a few battlesuits and skimmer gunships, and a formidable number of the duke’s knights. The duke will own squadron upon squadron of dreadnoughts, fighters, and tanks, hundreds of landcars, scores of aircraft, and a fleet of ocean-going ships. The duke will also own a starfleet to be reckoned with: a squadron of ships of the line, or perhaps a single capital ship, supported by squadron upon squadron of fighters and perhaps a dedicated troop transport.
Personally, the duke will be equipped with only the finest of everything. He would customarily wear aegis armor and an adamant shield and carry a quantum blade. He will usually have an entire gallery full of armor, shields and high-technology weapons. It is relatively common for dukes to carry utterly one-of-a-kind weapons. A duke girded for battle is more than a match for a mob of husks, a company of Grimsons, a dozen Adepts of Mantius, a platoon of war golems, a squadron of battlesuits or hovertanks, or indeed almost anything but another duke. Every time a duke puts on his wargear, the bards sing for years. Every time a duke falls in battle, the bards sing for decades.
A duke’s annual income is about 10,000,000 FB. An average duke’s land is composed of one duchy proper, 3 counties proper, 15 viscounties proper, 75 earldoms proper, and 412 to 413 baronies.
The correct term of address for a duke is “Your Grace,” though more flattering and eloquent constructions abound.
(17 pts) Whether called Grand Duke, Archduke, or Prince, these few nobles are truly the lords of the known worlds. They rule over entire planets, and have more power than any figure in human history has ever enjoyed. Of course, their rule is not absolute. The lords beneath them, though they owe fealty to the King, are in practice powerful enough that they retain a great deal of autonomy. Indeed, despite the tremendous forces and technological wonders a prince routinely wields, his grip on his vassals is more tenuous than any lesser lord. Personally, a planetary prince wears aegis armor and a quantum shield, and carries a quantum blade. Even the personal near-invulnerability this equipment affords, however, does not shake the fact that the prince is far more militarily vulnerable to the combined forces of his vassals than any lesser lord. To get a good look at noble military demographics, we can examine a high- average planet of a militaristic house like House Hazat or House Hawkwood. This sample planet could be Ravenna, Vera Cruz, Sutek, Shaprut (in that case, the lower proportion of soldiers in the house is compensated for by the higher overall population density), or Icon. A planet on the high side of average will have about 190 counties’ worth of effective land. This represents a fairly civilized and prosperous world, but not a major urban planet. Planets like Byzantium Secundus, Holy Terra, Delphi, and Aragon have 250 or more counties’ worth. More rugged worlds like Gwynneth, Aylon, Grail, or Bannockburn would have about 140 or so counties, while poor and inhospitable planets like Pyre, Cadavus, Pandemonium, and Nowhere have less than 100.
The prince has a personal guard of four knights in addition to him, equipped as planetary guards. They have aegis armor, quantum blades, and quantum swords. He also has 10 aegis guards, 60 count’s guards, 350 viscount’s guards, 2500 armigers, 1500 marquis’ guards, 16000 barons’ guards, and 37,000 fencers. He also has about 200,000 men-at-arms. A portion of all of these soldiers go towards operating his starfleet and his squadrons of military vehicles, which will mostly consist of military flitters and dreadnoughts, though there will also be many transports, as well as artillery batteries. The principality proper takes up about 8 counties worth of land.
Under the prince are about 5 dukedoms, each of which take up about 5 counties’ worth of land out of the 190. The dukedoms are each huge power players on the planet, but this is less because of their overwhelming military power than because they are the largest unified power players on the planet and each maintain constellations of satellite counties which are allies, though usually not full vassals. Though these 5 duchies, which together have the awesome forces of 22 or so ducal guard, 100 counts’ guard, 685 viscounts’ guard, 4425 earls’ guards, 2762.5 marquis’ guard, 26343 or so barons’ guard, and 71125 fencers, are capable of toppling the archduke if they act in concert, the true power of the planet does not rest in them.
The true backbone of the planet’s strength lies in its counts. There are about 70 counties not bound in vassalage to the duke, and these counts together form the bulk of the military power of the planet. Between them, they have 315 counts’ guard, 1400 viscounts’ guard, 9590 armigers, 6125 marquis’ guard, 61,162 or so barons’ guard, and 169,750 fencers. The principality proper, the dukedoms, and the counties together make up 103 of the 190 counties’ worth of land on the planet. If the counties did not constantly fight amongst themselves and within themselves, the planet would be far more unified, but as it is even in the high-average planet such as the one we are considering the counts are fractious and fight between themselves quite often. Worse, while communications between the counties are quite easy due to high-power comm-links (allowing gossip to spread between counts fairly easily), communication within each county is glacially slow, leading to a profound remoteness and decentralization of authority within each county. Many lords serve their count virtually in name only, in practice tending to their own affairs. Of course, not all of the planet is orderly enough even to accept a count in name. 40 counties’ worth of land are similar to counties except that there is no central authority higher than that of viscount. For simplicity, each of these can be treated as a county where the county proper is replaced by two total viscounties. Therfore, each of these county-equivalent areas is host to 5 viscounties, 6 earldoms, and 12 baronies, equivalent to 5 viscounties proper, 21 earldoms proper, and 115.5 baronies. A significant portion of the planetary military is scattered here, including 900 viscounts’ guard, 5080 earls’ guard, 3100 marquis’s guard, 33,410 barons’ guard, and 101,400 fencers. Although it is lacking in high-end troops and coordination, the forces that are more or less wasted in this fashion are actually more numerous than the forces of the Prince, or even of all five dukes on the planet put together. If they functioned together with perfect organization, they would probably be able to overthrow the prince’s army, and would have an advantage over the forces of all of the planet’s dukes put together. Unfortunately, of course, scattered across the planet without long-range communications or any binding ties to their neighbors, these lords do not do a great deal to aid the prince on the planet. Of course, a number of them are not even members of the ruling house on the planet, further complicating matters.
An additional 25 counties’ worth are even worse, accepting no authority above that of an earl or marquis. These can be treated as a county where the county proper has been replaced by two full viscounties, and each viscounty proper has been replaced by two earldoms. These lands together are composed of 775 complete earldoms and 300 baronies, which is itself composed of 775 earldoms proper and 4230 or so baronies. Together, these lands represent another 3487.5 or so earls’ guard, 1938 or so marquis’ guard, 17819 or so barons’ guard, and 52,075 fencers. Finally, the remaining 22 counties’ worth of the planet are just broken down into baronies. These 7480 or so baronies, effectively answering to nobody, have 33,660 barons’ guard and 74,800 fencers.
In total, the Prince directly holds in vassalage 5 dukes, 70 counts, 200 viscounts, 1015 earldoms, and 12190 barons. If one ignores vassalage, the planet is composed of one principality proper, 5 duchies proper, 85 counties proper, 485 viscounties proper, 3040 earldoms proper, and 26,880 or so baronies. The total number of fighting nobles the planet has, including vehicle crew and other paramilitary personnel (who are taken from various ranks, but usually fencers and baron’s guard, and almost never higher than armigers), is therefore 5 planetary guard, 32 or so ducal guard, 475 count’s guard, 3335 viscount’s guard, 25,080 or so earl’s guard, 15,422 or so marquis’ guard, 188,394 baron’s guard, and 507,050 fencers. Adding this up, the population of warrior nobles on the planet is about 739,793. If we multiply by 4, which is appropriate for House Hawkwood and House Hazat, as well as some branches of House Li Halan, we get an approximate number of nobles on the planet: 2,959,172. If the planet has a good-average population of 300,000,000, then nobles make up 1 percent of the population, which makes them 10 times as common as people with the potential for level 1 psi, which is not inappropriately common.
Of course there is a great deal of imprecision here- most notably, these calculations have ignored marquisates for simplicity, though in many cases a greater quantity of marquisates would make up for a slightly lesser number of earldoms. Of course, only a small fraction of the fighting men would be available at any time, and one would never see this many nobles called up for war. Still, one can get a sense of how tenuous the prince’s grip on power is even on a relatively centralized planet, and of how important count-level politics are.
A monarch or house champion will wear royal armor and a royal shield, and will carry a royal blade. Don’t mess with such a person.