Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fighter Level Titles for Averoigne Part 1

A little over a year ago, I did a series of posts about utilizing Level Titles in a way that was more integrated into a campaign world. I produced one set for each of the four core classes, mostly reflecting how I would use them in context of my version of Averoigne; however, when it came to fighters, I opted to be more generic than I had been with the other three classes. The results were not very satisfying, but I never went back and wrote any campaign specific level titles — until now.

As I noted in my series of posts on Level Titles,  making them campaign specific can really make them sing. This poses a problem in the case of fighters because they really require more than one set of Level Titles. Though the other three classes are fairly generic, it is easy to justify a single guild structure for each class. Fighters, however, are the most generic of the four classes — they can be anything from a soldier to a barbarian to a gladiator to any number of iterations. Thus, only one set of Level Titles doesn’t do the class justice. This, therefore, is the first post in an attempt to create several options for fighters in Averoigne.

All fighters in Averoigne begin with the same Level Titles for the first three levels (the apprentice stage), after which they may align themselves with one of the various groups which grant Level Titles for higher levels:
    1. Veteran — The term veteran reflects the fact that fighters have already been involved in some kind of fighting or military action.
    2. Man-at-Arms — A man-at-arms is someone who has chosen to live the life of a fighter. In demonstrating this commitment and the amount of skill (and luck) to become a man-at-arms, they are granted the right to publicly bear arms, with the exception of a sword. In most places, however, even man-at-arms are discouraged from wearing armor or carrying more than one weapon in public.
    3. Swordsman* — Swordsmen have earned enough respect that they are allowed to openly carry a sword. They may even wear armor in public without raising too much suspicion.
    *If a character declines to join any of the following groups, they remain a Swordsman regardless of level.


The Chevaliers, also known as The King’s Men, are one of the ways that the King of Salia exerts his influence upon the region. Since there are few Salian nobles in Averoigne and the Averni nobles only give lip service to their loyalty to the crown, the King created a organization that bypasses the authority of the nobility by being answerable directly to him. The Chevaliers are almost exclusively Salian and must swear absolute fealty to the King.
    4. Under-Sheriff — Is given jurisdiction over a village to administer the King’s Law. Has the right to wear a red rose as a sign of office.
    5. Sheriff — Is given jurisdiction over a several villages, a few towns or a small city to administer the King’s Law. Has the right to wear a red rose as a sign of office.
    6. High Sheriff —  Is given jurisdiction over a county to administer the King’s Law. Has the right to wear a white rose as a sign of office.
    7. Marshall — Is given the right to convene a civil court and act as judge. May conscript Under-Sheriffs in order to conduct an investigation. Has the right to wear a fleur-de-lis as a badge of office.
    8. Constable — May conscript Sheriffs on order to conduct an investigation. Has the right to wear two fleur-de-lis as a badge of office.
    9. High Constable — Oversees all legal activity within a region (and attracts/is assigned followers to carry out this duty). Has the right to wear three fleur-de-lis as a badge of office.

Thema Calabria

This is the remnant of a military unit from the Eastern Christian Empire that is now largely autonomous due to being cut off from their original home. The term Thema refers to a military jurisdiction of the Empire. For a brief period, the Eastern Empire had a foothold in the West, headquartered in Syracuse and the Thema was called Calabria. This foothold was overrun, and part of the retreating force found refuge in Averoigne. Today, it is tolerated by the King of Salia due to past service against barbarian incursion and the unit pays lip service to the King; however, its ranks have recently been bolstered by a growing number of Averni dissatisfied with the Salian King and who yearn for a return to the Rome represented by the Eastern Empire.
    4. Dekarchos — While in Averoigne, a Dekarchos can muster 10 men in times of crisis. In addition, they have access to the unit’s armory.* They have the right to wear the unit’s insignia (a stylized golden cross on a red background).
    5. Kentarchos — While in Averoigne, a Kentarchos can muster 50 men in times of crisis. They may wear the Greek Numberal ‘ν’ as part of their badge of office.
    6. Komes — While in Averoigne, a Komes can muster 100 men in times of crisis. They may wear the Greek Numberal ‘ρ’ as part of their badge of office.
    7. Droungarios — Has two Komes and any men they muster under their command. Will be recognized by the Averni people and Averni nobles as a judge in civil disputes. They may wear the Greek Numberal ‘σ’ as part of their badge of office.
    8. Tourmarches — Has six Drouganarios and any men they muster under their command. They may wear the Greek Numberal ‘ισ’ as part of their badge of office.
    9. Strategos — This is the highest rank within the unit. The Strategos will have a personal retinue (attracted followers) and will have four Tourmaches and any men they muster under their command. They may wear a two-headed eagle as part of their badge of office.
* Items like swords and mailed armor are not readily available in Averoigne. While there are armorers, what swords and mails they produce are normally already paid for by nobles who are far more important to the business survival of the armorer than an adventurer. Having access to the unit’s armorer, therefore, makes getting such equipment increasingly easier as the fighter increases in level.


Anthony said...

I've never been a fan of level titles*, but this is a nice way to work them in. Also, Averoigne as an alternate Earth setting is becoming very interesting. If the Eastern Empire has lost its foothold in the West, then this is about... 900-1000 AD in our world?

*(In fact, I try to suppress even the idea of levels within a setting, since to me it feels like seeing backstage behind a set and spoiling the suspension of disbelief. NPCs will look in bewilderment at PCs who ask "What's your level," thinking they must be part of some secret society. ;-) ))

FrDave said...

Normally, I don't even have to suppress the whole "level" thing because my players do it for me. Whenever anyone slips up, there is a chorus of "what is this level?"

I have always liked the idea of Level Titles precisely for the reason that it allows an in-game way of communicating mechanics without using mechanical language. And even though it isn't very much part of Western fantasy, it is a large part of Asian fantasy — at least in the Hong Kong movie tradition with which I am familiar. It always reminded me of the weird titles from D&D and it seemed to communicate something important to both the movie characters and the audience. I've always wanted the same feel for a D&D campaign.

FrDave said...

If the Eastern Empire has lost its foothold in the West, then this is about... 900-1000 AD in our world?

Approximately, yes.

acahughes said...

I've really enjoyed your level title posts & have been thinking about how to implement something similar in a campaign I'm developing. One thing that I'm stuck on is how closely to link adventuring/levelling up/hierarchy. Does the guild / church directly inform/dictate the PCs' readiness for advancement? Can the PCs level up without rising in rank? What if the bulk of a level's xp came from a mission that must remain secret, or the church would disapprove of?

Any ideas how you'd handle that?

FrDave said...

One of the things that is implied by a hierarchal guild structure is both a boon and a burden to the player who chooses to follow it — a patronage system. In other words, once the character starts down this path, they benefit greatly from having a relationship with a patron from the organization that they belong to (or are trying to become part of). Patrons can be a primary source for adventure hooks, or (as in the case of your secret or antithetical adventure) as a means of justifying behavior that would otherwise be frowned upon. For example, the patron could hear of the possibility of the adventure and ask the character to play the role of spy or undercover agent. That is the boon.

The burden is that the character is expected to stay loyal to the organization that they have joined. If they don't, the organization has no real obligation to stay loyal to the character — they might receive the level of experience, but cease to have the title and the benefits that go with it.

This highlights something that is very important — it isn't really necessary for characters to belong to any of these guild or hierarchal structures. Clerics can simply be wonderworking laymen that operate outside the hierarchy of the Church, for example. This is why I have endeavored to associate some kind of privilege to each Level Title — it forces the player to make a tactical choice: Do I value the freedom that belonging to no guild or hierarchy offers? Or do I value the privileges that the organization offers?

AndreasDavour said...

I really liked the idea of customized level titles when you first posted them, and this implementation is most intriguing. I really wish I could start a D&D game with all the cool ideas people have cooked up. This one would surely be in there!