The following protocols are in place to detail the mechanics behind some of the more legal and social constructs of the theme.
Trial by Combat
Definition: An option that can be elected by the 'accused' when the crime is weighted enough to warrant a punishment of death or permanent exile.
Once the accused calls for a 'Trial by Combat', it is the duty of the accusing House to select a Champion for the side of the House. The Champion of the House must agree to do so of their own accord, as it is frowned upon for any methods of coercion to be used in this regard. Usually, the role falls to the Sheriff or Captain of the Guard - though others have been known to take on the duty in order to curry more favor from their house. The only requirement is the Champion of the House must be knighted, whether Noble or Commoner blood.
The TbC is usually presided over by the Head of the accusing house of his chosen representative, known as the Arbiter, and must always have at least one witness present. Sometimes, given the nature of the crime, these trials are made into public events (such as with Rafferdy and Gedeon's) while other times they are kept smaller.
At the start of the Trial, the Arbiter will read the charges levied before the accused and ask publicly who stands in the name of the accusing house. At this time, the Champion of the House steps forth and pledges his hand to serve the will of the House in the trial.
The Arbiter will next ask publicly if any stand before the Court in defense of the Accused. At this time, any who wish to Defend the Accused must step forward and make their intention vocalized. It is important to note that as with the House Champion, any potential defenders must choose to offer themselves as Defender of their own accord. From those that offer this service, the Accused may select one. If only one Defender steps forward, the Accused must decide whether to accept the Defender or defend himself. If none step forward, the Accused must rely upon his own skill to take on the Champion. Unlike with the House Champion, the Defender need not be knighted, although many defenders have been in the past.
Once the Champion and Defender have been selected, the Arbiter will ask both to choose their weapon. Weapons are restricted to Blades, Blundgeons, and Spears given the close combative quarters and attack times. Once a weapon is selected, both sides must use that weapon until the end of the TbC. No weapons may be swapped out once the combat begins.
After the Arbiter signals the start of combat, the TbC continues until either someone either is rendered no longer capable of response (via incapacitation or death) or yields. At any time, one or the other, can try and offer 'quarter' throughout to elicit the yielding of their opponent - but the opponent does not need to accept the quarter. However, if any of the fighters 'yields' the opponent must accept or risk being viewed as dishonorable and tempting the wrath of the Seven or Old Gods.
Should a yield be requested and thereby accepted, the yielding party is considered to have lost the challenge. In the case where it is the Champion of the House that has yielded, the Defender (or Accused) is considered to have been tried and absolved of the crime by the Seven and may go free. Should the Defender or Accused yield, they resign themselves to the fate of the Arbiter and are thereby considered to have been guilty in the eyes of the Seven for the crimes levied against them. For this reason, it is far more common to see many accused defending themselves if they are capable of doing so - as it can be dangerous to place their entire fate into the hands of another.
Trial by Combat will only be allowed as an option in cases where the player's fate might permanently remove them from play. It is reserved for the most extreme of charges, usually those of a Treasonous nature, in an effort to keep it rarer as it should be according to the books.
Once the player requests a TbC, his/her character sheet 'freezes' and no further XP spends may be processed until the trial concludes. The same goes for the chosen Champion of the house. This is to ensure that all players are kept upon the same level. Should a Defender be chosen for the accused character, any XP spends relating to the combat that might have been processed in the interim will be temporarily rolled back to previous levels at the time of the 'freeze' so that all characters are kept consistent.
All Champions of the House must be drawn from the pool of PCs. Staff will never select an NPC Champion to represent the house interests. Should the need arise, staff will ask for volunteers amongst those qualified in the house for the role - if none can be found, the offer will be extended to those in houses allied to the one in need of a Champion. All Champions of the House must be knighted and PCs.
The Player whose PC stands as the Accused is encouraged to look to the PC population for a Defender should they wish one. However, in the event that none may be found, the accused player may request of staff an NPC Defender. The player cannot select the NPC defender they are given, but staff will make preparations to have one available for the TbC should no player step forward at that time. The NPC defender will always come from among the list of NPCs formerly in play which make thematic sense to rise in defense of the character in question and the last known +sheet of that NPC will be used. Should no PC step forward at the TbC to defend the Accused and only if the Accused has approached staff prior, the NPC will step forward. At that time, the Accused still holds the IC right to refuse the NPC choice made by staff and defend themself if they so choose.
NPC Defenders will fight with their own agenda. Given the high probability of death in a TbC - most NPCs will have a limit to which they will fight. It varies depending upon the NPC and personality of the NPC in the past, but it is rare that any NPC would risk fighting to death should enough damage be levied upon him. Players that choose the NPC Defender option do so with the understanding that if the NPC fighting on their behalf yields, they will be found guilty of the charges levied against them and have to accept whatever fate the Arbiter decides.
While Luck points may be spent by PC Accused if fighting themselves and PC Champions, NPC Defenders may not spend any Luck points - nor may the PC Accused spend Luck points on behalf of their NPC Defender.
The purpose of allowing an NPC Defender option for the Accused is mostly to afford those characters, who are not capable of fighting, to have a final chance at a defense when permanent character retirement is an option. Though other characters who stand accused may exercise this options, it is very risky. Nine times out of ten a combat-capable character will likely fair better to fight on their own behalf.
Fighting Styles in TbC
Players must only choose from one of the three core combat styles (Bludgeons, Blades, Spears) when engaged in a a TbC. Once chosen, the players may not switch weapons and are forced to use only that style throughout the duration of the 'Trial'. The only other style they may switch to is Unarmed, and only then until they can regain control of their primary weapon.
Marksmanship is an invalid option as it is not amongst the core and not acceptable for close quarters. As it has an attack rate of once every two rounds and that a player must stick to one weapon only - it is not conducive for the logistics of a TbC. There is too much chaos within the close confines to allow for permissible time of reloading and parrying with Unarmed.
Unarmed is an invalid primary option as it is considered dishonorable to engage an unarmed person in combat. Losing one's weapon during the combat is entirely different than starting with no weapon at all. However, Unarmed combat is the /only/ valid secondary option in a TbC as sometimes it becomes essential should weapons become disarmed and the like.
Only legitimate children can inherit. Male primacy is the rule (sons inherit before daughters), but daughters inherit before uncles. Bastards never inherit. The only way a natural child can inherit is if they are legitimized by Royal Mandate. This practice is very rare, but has been pursued when no other heirs were available, or if the absence of a clear child would have disastrous results.
Absent children, a spouse will inherit before brothers or sisters.
The order of succession follows as such:
Legitimate Male children of the late Lord in order of birth
Legitimate Female children of the late Lord in order of birth
Spouse of the late Lord
Brothers of the late Lord in order of birth
Eldest brother of the late Lord's children in order of birth
Sisters of the late Lord in order of birth
Eldest sister of the late Lord's children in order of birth
Etiquette of Arms and Armor:
Those with the means (nobles, or house retainers) may wear swords day-to-day as a status symbol, and everyone is allowed knives as necessary tools. Carrying larger weapons is not only considered rude, but hostile. Heavier weapons should only be carried (or strung, in the case of bows) when a soldier or hunter is working.
Likewise, armor is only worn by warriors expecting an immediate fight such as bodyguards on duty, knights at tournament, and so forth. Wearing armor in a social situation is impolite at best and insulting at worst. At the risk of seeming unrefined, one might wear a leather jerkin as casual attire (as Eddard Stark does in the show), but anything heavier is socially unacceptable.
Titles & Honorifics
Title vs Honorific
There is a difference between titles and honorifics. Honorifics are the respectful words attached to people of significance. 'Ser' to a knight, 'Lord' or 'Lady' to a noble, 'Master' or 'Mistress' to a worthy commoner. Titles are very specific. For example, Bolland Terrick is a nobleman and a knight, so he could be addressed by the honorifics 'Lord Bolland', 'Ser Bolland', or even 'Lord Ser Bolland'. However, he is also the head of a landed house, and that grants him the title 'Lord of Terrick's Roost'. In like manner, Walder Frey holds the granted title 'Lord of the Crossing', but his proper honorific would be 'Lord Walder', not 'Lord Crossing'.
Titles are held at the will of the King, and can be stripped from one person or family who offends the King, and given to another, thus while titles are hereditary, and are passed down between generations, sometimes for thousands of years, they are not quite permanent.
Those who directly stand to inherit land may be addressed presumptively with their parent's title, with the prefix 'young' attached. For instance, as the firstborn son and heir of Lord Bolland, Ozirc Terrick may be use the title 'Young Lord of Terrick's Roost' in addition to his honorifics 'Lord' and 'Ser'. The appellation 'Young Lord/Lady' applies regardless of the heir's actual age. In the case of particularly long lived heads of house such as Walder Frey, his son Ser Stevron can still be addressed as 'Young Lord of the Crossing' despite being well into his fifties.
Only heirs to landed inheritance have this courtesy. The younger children of Bolland Terrick have no title, only the honorifics Lord and Lady. The same goes for Bolland Terrick's siblings, and any children of those siblings.
Here are some examples of existing PC's on their grid and their Honorics and Titles
|Bolland Terrick||Head of House Terrick, Knight||Ser, Lord, Lord Ser||Lord of Terrick's Roost|
|Ozric Terrick||Heir to House Terrick, Knight||Ser, Lord, Young Lord||Young Lord of Terrick's Roost|
|Brennart Erenford||Heir to House Erenford, Knight||Ser, Lord||Young Lord of Heronhurst|
|Rickart Nayland||Head of House Nayland, Knight||Ser, Lord, Lord Ser||Lord of Hag's Mire|
|Tyroan Nayland||Steward of Stonebridge, Knight||Ser, Lord||None|
|Rygar Nayland||Nephew of Rickart, Knight||Ser, Lord||None|
|Isolde Tordane||Head of House Nayland of Stonebridge||Lady||Lady of Stonebridge|
|Valda Tordane||Widowed mother of Isolde||Lady||None|
|Alric Fenster||Heir to House Fenster||Young Lord||Young Lord of Tavin's Rest|
When a noble landholder swears vassalage to a larger noble landowner, they are called a Bannerman, and the larger lord is their Overlord. The bannerman can in turn have bannermen of his own, just as the Overlord can owe allegiance to another lord. In this way, the chain of allegiance runs from the lowest of landholders, unbroken to the Iron Throne.
Lady Isolde Tordane is the bannerman to Lord Ser Rickart Nayland.
Lord Ser Rickart Nayland is the bannerman to Lord Walder Frey.
Lord Walder Frey is the bannerman to Lord Hoster Tully, Lord Paramount of the Riverlands.
Lord Hoster Tully is bannerman to King Robert Baratheon.
There are several key thematic elements and practices within the game which might impact or color a character's views on matters.
Slavery is a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what they work. They are treated as property and are bought and sold, sometimes many times throughout their lives, be it long or short. There is no slavery in Westeros however it is widespread throughout many parts of Essos. (Exert from the GoT Wiki).
What this means is that for the most part, slavery is a very rare thing in Westeros. The punishment for partaking in slavery is an immediate sentence of death. There are no large slavery networks within the portion of the Riverlands where we are based. As a result of this, any Plots/TP's that surround slavery in the slightest, must be run past Phoenix and receive her blessing before they can begin.
It is considered unbecoming at best and scandalous at worst for an unmarried noblewoman to be alone in the company of a man, be he noble or common. This is part of why noblewomen often have handmaidens who follow them around: not only do they carry things and make conversation, they can serve as a chaperone should a gentleman happen along. By extension, if an unmarried noblewoman is to be accompanied by an armed guard, she will require the guard, and a handmaiden besides (otherwise, she would be alone with the male guard).
Those ladies who violate this etiquette will find gossip circulating about themselves, and- if a habit is made of disregarding such social mores- they will find themselves reputed as un-virtuous or promiscuous, even if nothing amiss ever happened. At worst, rumors of illicit affairs can begin based on nothing more than a lady being alone with a gentleman.
In order to clear up the confusion that might arise on the types of Chaperones and who they are loyal to, we've detailed it below:
Septas - These are the nursemaids, governesses, spiritual advisor's, and sometimes mother figures of most noblewomen. As a result they are the most likely to be the least tolerant of dalliances and fraternizing with members of the opposite sex. A Septa NPC frequently holds their loyalties to a higher power and thus is not easily bought or persuaded to look the other way. It is more common to see Septa escorts with younger noblewomen, age 15 and less, than some of the elder ones.
Lady's Maids - Of all the potential NPC escorts, these are the ones most likely to share in the secrets and be persuaded to keep the confidences of their mistresses. Secret rendezvous? Stolen kiss? A lady's maid could possibly be willing to look the other way, but it should be noted that should this be discovered by the family of the noblewoman, the maid can be dismissed from employ.
Guards - Guards are hired by a noblewoman's family and are unable to be swayed to look the other way should a noblewoman seek to engage in a secret tryst or any other such behaviour. It is possible for a noblewoman to slip her guards, but should a noblewoman choose to do so - they need to inform the male members of her house as they will likely be immediately notified. A guard is tasked with protecting a noblewoman at all costs from dangers to body and reputation. Unless a noblewoman is deliberately slipping her guards to engage in behaviour befitting a noblewoman, you can be certain that reports of the activities will be delivered to your respective heads of house.
See Also: Tournaments
Favors are gifts from ladies to a gentleman to inspire them, and vary from the intimate, like a glove or something else that has been against the lady's skin, to more mundane things like ribbons, kerchiefs or other things in the lady's colors or that she has embroidered.
While provocative, it is not uncommon for ladies to give favors to knights other than their husbands, betrotheds or family. Especially to vassal knights. A wife giving her favor to another knight (in the case of the Lady of the House, giving her favor to a vassal knight) would not be seen as shameful, or embarrassing to her husband.
It is typically polite for the gentleman to ask the lady for a favor. A lady volunteering one would be seen as rather forward. A knight carrying more than one favor at the same tournament would be seen as disrespectful, but it is not uncommon for a lady to give a favor to one knight at one tourney and to give her favor to a different knight at a later tourney.
The term Bastard refers to anyone who is born out of wedlock, whether they be commoner or noble. Throughout Westeros, there is considerable social stigma against bastards and they are considered to be lesser in rights then even a true common born man.
The stigma of illegitimacy is so great, that all bastards born to noble Houses in Westeros have to identify themselves through a specific surname marking them as a bastard, which varies by region:
The North: Snow.
The Vale: Stone.
The Riverlands: Rivers.
The Crownlands: Waters.
The Iron Islands: Pyke.
The Westerlands: Hill.
The Reach: Flowers.
The Stormlands: Storm.
However, this system does not apply to the bastards of smallfolk: at least one parent (usually, but not always, the father) has to be a member of a noble House. If both the father and mother are commoners, the child cannot use the special surname.
The low-born commoners of Westeros do not actually use surnames at all. Therefore, possessing a bastard surname is simultaneously a mark of distinction and badge of shame. Anyone who encounters someone with a bastard surname will immediately know that they are not simply a bastard, but the bastard child of a noble.
Bastards only use the special surnames if they have been openly acknowledged by their noble-born parent. In such cases, their noble parent will usually try to make sure that they are well cared for, or send money for their support, but it is extremely unusual for a noble to raise their bastard child in their own household.
There is no official distinction between bastards who have one noble-born parent, and those whose parents are both noble-born. In practice, however, a nobleman would be much more likely to acknowledge a bastard child born to a noble lady, than he would a child born to a commoner.
Bastard children of a noble lord may be referred to politely as "natural children", though the less polite term "baseborn" is more commonly used, and they are often bluntly and rudely referred to as as simply "bastard". In contrast, a noble lord's children with his lawfully married wife are termed "trueborn".