Monday, September 15, 2014


Site of an Iron Age Ring Fort
Those who have read Sertorius know it is much more like the ancient world than the medieval world. It has anachronisms for sure, with some arms and armor that wouldn't be developed in our world until well into the middle ages. But these were conscious decisions in each case for the purpose of flavor (in the same way that the movie Excalibur projects many 15th century assumptions onto the 6th century). So there are instances where something creeps in that isn't quite ancient. Generally speaking though everything in Gamandria is inspired by real-world history no later than the 5th or 6th century (and most of it is based on much earlier periods). 

Still we wanted a region vaguely reminiscent of a classic fantasy RPG setting, something that dipped its foot into at least the early medieval period if only by a hair. So we created the Vaaran Kingdoms. These are former provinces of a great empire that collapsed which have become subject to Gru incursions from the North and fallen into local conflict. Here there are kings, castle lords and minor lords. However these are not the castles of the 12th century or later. These are much more rudimentary and primitive. This has led to some confusion as it wasn't clearly explained in the book. And of course anyone is free to run Sertorius how they see fit. If you want 12th century or even 15th century castles in your campaign because you think they add something, by all means do so. However I want to explain what I had in mind when I mentioned castle lords in the book in terms of the physical structure. 
Plan of a Roman Castra
Created by Mediatus

First, there are always exceptions, while the structure I am about to describe is typical of the Vaaran Kingdoms, there are going to be cases where design is more innovative or different building materials are more readily available. For instance, someone with more Caelum or Ronian contacts will quite likely be able to erect a more substantial fortification. 

Castles in the Vaaran Kingdoms are usually made of wood, not stone. Occasionally they do have stone walls, but this is rare and the interior structures are almost invariably wooden. They are not the classic European Castles you see in movies. Rather these are more like iron age hill forts built on mounds atop which you will usually find a circular wooden wall (sometimes stone ring walls). Around the wall you might have a series of ditches and ramparts. These do vary in appearance but that is a general description. Inside the wall you may have a tower built of wood and the home of the castle lord (usually also wood and little not terribly elaborate). It will often enclose a small settlement. 
A German Ring Fort

Still they share the function of a medieval castle which is to protect the personal residence of a lord or aristocrat and/or the nearby population. So in form they resemble hill forts, ring forts or even Roman Castra's but in terms of purpose they are in line with castles. 

So a castle lord (called either a castellanus or maorides depending on whether it is a Ronian or Latar kingdom) in the Vaaran Kingdoms would control the land around such a castle but the castle itself might encompass both his residence and a settlement depending on the local circumstances. This land would belong to be granted at the discretion of the King to the Castle Lord and his descendants in exchange for both military service and annual pledges. 

Keep in mind these castles, while they are meant to keep away Gru invaders and local attackers serve another purpose as well. In Gamandria when spell casters misuse magic they can become Grim Beasts, terrible creatures with vast power and fortitude. The Vaaran Kingdoms, perhaps because it rests atop the ruins of ancient Nong Sai, is home to a much bigger population of Grim Beasts than other regions in the world. So the castle walls are meant to keep these out as well. 

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