Some preliminary thoughts about Against the Dark

Against the Dark is one of those books which drags itself up from the research.  In some books, you have something you’d like to say, in advance, and that guides the work. So, Covenants is structurally like Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion, but instead of telling you what you could do with onions, it tells you what you could do with the Enemies Hook. Other books you come into and the other authors already have a strong idea of what they’d like to do, like Normandy with Hermetic feudalism. This book didn’t work that way: I was told I could pick any of the authors who were not already maxed out, so I picked some guys I’d worked with before, and we asked another guy, and so we had a team, but not really a format. The obvious format to use was the “each realm a chapter” format which had worked so well in the Thebes Tribunal book. The problem with that was that the dragons didn’t fit a simple category, and the Crown is an angelic, living presence, so it needed to be near the bits of the king and laws. The split into geographic sections occurred late in the development of the book. Initially I thought all of the covenants would be next to the laws pertaining to them. That made for an unweildy chapter, though.

Going in, I knew that I wanted to have:

  • social classes as covenants.
  • each of my covenants to be based on a style of TV show.
  • a horror chapter at the end.
  • A lot of references to American imperialism, particularly in places like the Philipines, and to weird things that the US did during the Cold War.

Each of the other authors similarly had ideas they wanted to pursue. Mostly these were a particular group they thought were interesting and wanted to explore, but I think this is one of the first books in which all of us offered to be the guy who swept up the bits which needed to be done and no-one else was writing.

Social classes as covenants

In Order of Hermes, a book for a previous edition of Ars Magica, it said there were only 5 covenants in Transylvania. I repeated this in Houses of Hermes : True Lineages. This meant that when we got around to Transylvania, I’d put a real obstacle in my way.  The tying of social classes as covenants was a way around that. I liked the idea of multiple social classes, because it’s what the Hungarians themselves do, in period. You are welcome to come and live in their area, and you have rights based on what you are doing. Now, this isn’t the same as having the rights of a Hungarian, but sometimes you have more rights than a Hungarian, because they have the basic set, and you have various privileges guaranteed by the Crown. I thought that was interesting to play with.

TV shows as inspirations

I liked the idea that we could explain the play spaces by saying “It’s like X”. So, Coeris is like The West Wing, and Lycaneon is like Better off Ted or Stargate. I think this is a useful sort of system for letting the reader cut through all of the detail to the core pitch of each location for your limited playing time.

The Horror Chapter

People expect certain things from ap lace called Transylvania, but what they expect is Hammer Horror, and that’s a particularly English sort of thing. We needed to bridge the gap between expectations and local folklore. The chapter is an experiment in that.

The American Things

We wanted to look at a monolithic sort of power, but in a way that players were ambivalent about it. I pushed for the American Empire in the Philipines as a model for a few reasons.

Most American players know very little about the American expansion. They don’t see it as a policy, or the construction of an Empire. They are kind of taught in schools that it was in a sense a series of accidents that led to American global hegemony. That’s a really interesting piece of cognitive dissonance, because on some other level they know perfectly well it wasn’t an accident. I mean, when America takes over a big chunk of Mexico, or buys Louisiana, or sanctions the invasion of Hawaii, somehow a lot of American players don’t see that this is just like the English invading Scotland at the start of Braveheart.  The goal is, in one sense, to give American players the chance to see Americanization from the other side, although the Tremere are a bit less subdued about the whole thing than Admiral Perry was.

Similarly, during the Cold War Americans pulled all kinds of weird and dodgy things that make for good stories. The invasion plans for the rest of the world, for example, really existed. The plan to invade my country was called Plan Ruby. Sure, we were allies. That didn’t matter: American had plans to invade everywhere. It swore it didn’t intend to use them, and thought the British were being rather precious when they asked for the Americans to stop updating Plan Red (all of the Commonwealth countries were designated with a shade of red). I think it’s interesting to play a group where that mindset seems to make sense.

An analysis of American imperial power projection gave me the structure for the front end of the book, in the same way that Cook’s Companion gave me the structure for Covenants. You could look at this group and analyse the vectors of its strategy, and then hook stories onto each of these.

There’s another idea active in the book, but David Brin describes it far better than I do, so I’ll just link his essay in. Brin’s point is that most American stories (and here he’s just limiting himself to Americans because that’s what he knows about: you can find similar things in some other cultures) the society is formed of idiots. This is necessary because otherwise the protagonist gets upstaged by the NPCs who are meant to deal with the problem at the core of the plot. Where are the police? Why doesn’t the army just sort it out? In many American stories, it’s because organization of any type is bad, or at least useless. Heroism is performed by a single guy or a small group of guys. Society needs to be full of fools, because otherwise, the story fails. Brin’s point is that there are other ways of telling stories. I agree, and I note that most roleplaying games are really bad at telling those other kinds of stories, because experience and leveling hard-code for shepherd-boy messiahs.

In Against the Dark, society’s not full of idiots.  Society’s full of very, very smart guys, and if you want to call in archmagi to kill off your enemies, you really can do that. You just owe someone a favour afterwards, so you trade one story for another story. We can get away with that because magi are basically broadly competent, particularly when operating in groups, and so we really can say “The reason people don’t call the cops, is that you are the equivalent of the cops. You are the guys that your society has designated as the guys who deal with this problem, and they are not fools for doing this.” Now, this feel’s not universal in the book and so sometimes you’ll see one of my co-authors working the “organization is bad” and “if Tremere fails once at one thing, then they were always pointless” thing, because it’s a shared world and we have differing views, so if you really want bildungsroman, you can do that too, but I think the book pushes the game in an interesting new direction by saying “Highly organized is not the same as evil. Working in a small unit is not the same as heroic.”

My point here is that this tribunal book, unlike any of the others, is about your characters being part of an organisation bigger than themselves, and that being not just OK, but the designed style of use. You want to run House Tremere? You go for it: just slide out the NPCs you don’t need. It’s a book about what happens when you’re not just the guy on the spot, but your civilisation’s Chosen Guy for the problem. In this book, you are not Luke Skywalker, you are James Bond and you are Jed Bartlett and you are Daniel Jackson and you are possibly Judge Dredd as well. This is not the book about coming into power, and finding your own way against the opposition of your elders. This is the book about having authority and welding power, and what that does to you, and what that means to those around you.

Timeline of the Tribunal

I wrote a timeline for the book, but asked for it to be cut, because it was taking up pages and pages which could be used for material directly relevant to 1220.

The history of the Transylvanian Tribunal is intimately tied to the history of the Greek empire to the south. The Empire had, with brief exceptions, been ruled unsoundly for centuries. Apportioning blame for the final series of civil wars, as some magi do, merely masks the fundamental flaws in the Empire as an economy and machine of government. The Crusaders would never have been able to take Constantinople if it had been ruled well.

14: Romans conquer Transdanubia, and name it Pannonia

106: Romans conquer Dacia.

271 Romans withdraw from Dacia and make defensive fortifications along the Danube, to keep out Germanic tribes.

430: Atilla the Hun uses the Carpathian basin as his base for attacks on Constantinople and Italy. His son leaves the Szelkers behind when he retreats to Asia.

567: The Avars invade the Carpathian basin.

626: Carpathian Avars, in alliance with the Sassanids, almost take Constantinople.

800s: The Slavs migrate into the CarpathianBasin.

862: The Hungarians first appear, assailing the Eastern Franks.

894: The Hungarians, under Árpád, conquer and colonise the CarpathianBasin. This was likely at the request of the Empire, which was at that time facing a Bulgar-Moravian (Vlakh) alliance, but may have been in response to the Pecheng invasion of their homelands.

907: Árpad dies and is buried near Buda.

910 Hungarians defeat Louis IV, and for the next forty-five years they terrorise the German lands. They raid as far east as Lerida in Iberia, launching heavy raids against Burgundy and Italy twice and extorting tribune from many surrounding states.

952: The Gyula of Transylvania is baptised, seeking closer ties to the Empire, to aid against the Bulgars. The Patriarch sends a bishop to “Turkia”

955: Hungarians suffer catastrophic loss at Ausburg, and cease relentless raiding westward.

972: King Geza of Hungary has himself and hundreds of “nobler” Hungarians baptised.  The pope sends a bishop to the Hungarians.

996: King Geza of the Hungarians reaches out to the West, coming to peace with his last enemy (Henry II of Bavaria) through a mixture of marriages and treaties. This sets the border of Hungary, to the west, at the rivers Morava and Lietha.

998: King Stephen of Hungary defeats a revolt against his rule by Koppány. He has Koppant’s corpse quartered, and hung on the battlements of Veszprém, Györ and Esztergorm. The last quarter was sent to the Gyula of Transylvania as a warning.

1000: Stephen of Hungary, later Saint, is granted the crown of Hungary by the Pope.

1003: Stephen invades Transylvania, and appoints a new ruler, but pardons the old one, who retains his place in the Hungarian elite.

1046: Massacre of Christians in Hungary by pagans, during succession unrest.

1061: Bela of Hungary is approached by a mob, who identify themselves as pagans and ask for his permission to stone and impale all the priests in the land. He asks for three days to consider it, and during that time gathers an army, which he uses to put down the pagans, effectively ending paganism in Hungary.

1063: After a brief war, King Solomon takes control of Hungary. (Solomonari link?)

1074: King Geza deposes King Solomon, who flees to Poland with the treasury.

1077: King Gexa is succeeded by his brother Ladislaus I, later Saint.

1095: Invading Cumans are aided against the Empire by a Vlakh rebellion, but this is defeated by the Empire’s greater forces.

1018: Basileois II Boulgaroktonos subdues the Bulgars and incorporates their territory into the Empire.

1018: St Stephen open his land to pilgrims, and opens a hostelry in Jerusalem. A covenant based on this tourist income could date from this time.

1041: The final defeat of the Pechengs by the Byzantines. Pechengs settle down in Transylvania.

1046: Vata instigated pagan uprising in Hungary. “Shaved his hair leaving only three braids, and his followers began to eat horsemeat.”

1075: King Demetrius Zvonimir of Croatia is granted a crown by the Pope, and his land is declared a Papal fief.

1090: Ladislaus found bishopric at Zagreb, consolodating his control of Slovonia.

1091: King Demetrius of Croatia dies, and his brother in law, Ladislaus of Hungary, claims his lands. He grants them to his nephew Álmos, which causes trouble with the Pope.

1091: Last serious raid from the east against Hungary, from here on, Hungary is raiding its neighbors, not being raided by them.

1095: Ladislaus dies and his nephew Coloman the Learned, comes to power. He was “half blind, hunchbacked, lame and stammering” and meant for the priesthood. His brother, Álmos of Croatia, rebelled against him five times, and eventually wore him down. Coloman had him and his son (future Béla II) blinded. Álmos was the first Hungarian to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem (c1107).

1096 – First waves of crusaders march through Hungary. Those well behaved are allowed to go on, while some pillaging groups are defeated by King Coloman. He keeps Baldwin, future king of Jerusalem, hostage for a time, to the good behaviour of his brother’s forces.

1100 – By this time the urbanisation of the western countries has eroded Byzantium’s economic advantages, and with this its military advantages.

The policy of the Komnenoi emperors was to retake the western Empire, and this was an expensive endeavour. This required high taxation, which caused civil unrest and fuelled bureaucratic corruption. The use of mercenaries degrades the professionalism of the army. Naval power, and commercial naval strength, are neglected and gradually eclipsed by the Venetians. Society feudalises, so central control becomes limited.

1100s: Cuman raids in the area between Brasov and Forgaras devastate the area.

1102: King Coloman has himself crowned King of Croatia, but Croatia is retained as a separate domain to Hungary, with varying laws and customs.

1116: Coloman dies, his son Stephen is basically ineffective, although he does get Dalmatia back from the Venetians, who invaded when his father died. He raids his neighbours every year, but makes few other territorial gains.

1128: When it becomes obvious he cannot have an heir of his body, and that his blinded cousin is still alive, kept secretly in a Hungarian monastery, King Stephen II of Hungary restores him and names him heir. He marries him to Helene, the daughter of the Grand Zupan of Serbia.

1131: Stephen of Hungary dies and Helene of Serbia, the wife of his heir, convenes a royal council and massacres those she holds responsible for her husband’s childhood blinding, or Coloman faction loyalists.  They seek the aid of Boris, the son of Colomon’s second wife, who had been sent back to Kiev when Colomon discovered she was having an affair.  He invades, but fails to take the kingdom, although he hangs around in local politics for decades. Bela dies young, likely of alcoholism, and his son is crowned under the regency of a Serbian unlce, who spedns a lot of time fighting off Boris.

1140s: The Hungarians  form alliances with the enemies of the Holy Roman Emperor and the Byzantine Emperor, and intervene in Russia, but over time this wear out their economy and divides the ruling class.

1150: Saxons begin to settle in Transylvania and Spis.

1159: The Hungarians chose the Papal side in the dispute between the pope and the Emperor. Archbishop Luke of Esztergorm likely responsible for this.

1162: The king of Hungary dies and his son, Stephen III, is forced into exile by his uncles (who are Byzantine proxies) who crown first Ladislus II and then Stephen IV as king. Luke of Esz refuses and so is imprisoned, and the other archbishop does the job.

1163: The Byzantine puppet government is so unpopular that Stephen II is able to return and defeat Stephen IV, reclaiming the throne. Stephen allows the Byzantine emporer, Manuel, to take his brother Béla as hostage, in exchange for recognising his claims in Croatia and Dalmatia.  Manuel who has no son, renames Bela Alexius, betrothes him to his own daughter and proclaims him his heir. He then asks for Bela’s duchy, Dalmatia, and is not given it, which leads to war that lasts until 1167.

1169: Manuel has a son, and withdrawls all of the priveledges offered Bela, including betrothal to his daughter, marrying him instead to the daughter of the Prince of Antioch.

1172: Stephen dies, Bela returns home, and Luke refuses to crown him, because he thinks he’s Orthodox. The other archbishop does it, and the pope sends Luke a letter of rebuke.

1180: Kulin appointed Ban of Bosnia by Manuel of Byzantium

Manuel of Byzantium dies, and the Empire ceases to press its neighbors.

1182: Bela of Hungary takes back Dalmatia and Srem and raids the Balkans.

1185: A year of grave crisis for the Greek Empire. The Hungarians raid the Balkans, and capture the town of Sredec, pillaging it. The Serbs revolt, seeking independence. The Normans take Thessalonica, the second largest city in the Empire, and march on the capital. The people of Constantinople revolt and depose the Emperor. The new Emperor, Isaakos II, sends his general Alexious Branas, against the Normans, and they retake most of the lost territory. Isaakos II then  marries the ten year old daughter of the King of Hungary, accepting back some of the territory taken by the Hungarians as her dowry. He levies special taxes to pay for his marriage, which are deeply unpopular.

1185 (or 1186)  Two brothers, Peter and Asen, approach the Emperor while he is in Kipsella (Ipsala) and ask him to register them in his army, and grant an imperial edict granting them a small piece of land. He refuses. Asen expresses his annoyance, and a courtier mocks him and slaps him in the face.

1186: The brothers are unable to get their people to rise against the Empire. They build a chapel to Saint Demetrios and fill it with possession sufferers, who are then gripped by an ecstatic spirit and say that St Demetrios has abandoned the Empire and chosen the brothers’ cause. God has granted freedom to the Bulgars and Vlakhs. Peter is crowned king, but his forces are defeated and the brothers flee over the Danube to the Cumans. The Emperor raids the country, but does not fortify it.

1186: Stephen Nemanja invades Doclea, and destroys the Greek aristocracy of the area.

1187: The Cumans, Vlakhs and Bulgars raid Byzantine territory. A Byzantine army is sent, but its leadership changes twice in quick succession, leaving Alexious Branas in charge. He rebels, aided by Cuman warriors, but is defeated by the Emperor.

Emporer Isaakos marches twice against the Cumans, and claims victory each time in the sense that he holds the field after the battle, but his secretary records that the horse-archers kept slipping through his fingers at these battles, and harassing the countryside regardless of their losses.

1187: Stephen Nemanja besieges Ragusa. He fails to take it by force, but wins it, with many conditions, by a negotiated settlement after the siege.

1188: Isaakos captures the wife of Asen and his younger brother, Kaloyan. He takes them to Constantinople as hostages. Kaloyan decides he likes Constantinople so much he wants to own it.

1188: Bela of Hungary invades Gallica and has his son. Andrew, proclaimed Duke. His destruction of Orthodox churches enrages his subjects, who cast him out after less than two years. Once he becomes king, he spends a lot of time intervening here.

1189: The royal palace at Eztergorm is rebuilt in the Gothic style by French masons, and is considered rather flash.

1189-90 The crusading forces of Frederick I march through the war zone. Peter offers him 40 000 Cuman auxiliaries if he wishes to attack the Byzantines, but Fredrick declines. He stops for hospitality at Stephan Nemanja’s capital, at Nis, who offers him 20 000 troops if he decides to attack the Byzantines. The Byzantines offer him aid if he’d like to attack the Bulgars, but he declines. They then block his passage and begin raiding his army, so he decides to invade Constantinople. A peace settlement is, however, hastily concluded. The Serbs take the opportunity to capture all of the towns around Giges, a covenant in the Theban Tribunal.

1190: Byzantine punitive raids increasingly ineffective. Serbs rebel. Grand Zupan Stefan Nemanja destroys Skoplje. Emperor Isaakos defeats the Serbs, then campaigns to the River Save, where he personally meets King Bella II of Hungary, his ally. 

1191-1195: The war grinds on, generally badly for the Byzantines. The Bulgars hold the land between the Danube and Balkans, and raid Macedonia and Thrace almost at will. They begin taking and pillaging fortified towns.

The war in Serbia initially goes well for the Byzantines , with a victory over the Serbs. They take to the mountains and use guerrilla tactics to wear the Byzantines down. The Greeks and Serbs negotiate a settlement with Nis and Rasno goes to the Empire, Serbia recognising the suzerainty of Constantinople, and Stephen being confirmed as Grand Prince. Stephen’s son marries a Byzantine princess.

Emperor Isaakos’ brother, Alexios, stages a coup and blinds his brother.

1192: King Ladislaus of Hungary canonised. Very popular.

1195: The new emperor sues for peace with Peter and Asen, but cannot get acceptable terms. He sends an army against them, but it is surrounded and its leader, the Emperor’s son-in-law, is captured by Cumans.

1196: A Byzantine-sponsored nobleman assassinates Asen.

1196: Stephan, grand zupan of Serbia, abdicates in favor of his son, also a Stephan, and retreats to a monatery on Athos in Grece.

1196 Emeric of Hungary is the first king of that realm to seriously consider annexing the Balkans. The pope is in favor, because he’s Catholic. He tries to get a puppet up in Serbia, fails, and makes an intergenerational enemy.

1197: Peter dies, and is succeeded by his younger brother Kaloyan.

? Kaloyan is eventually given a crown by the Pope. Emeric of Hungary tries ot prevent this by detaining the papal representative, but fails.

1199: Cumans raid into Thrace. They win a victory but on their way home meet a Byzantine army near Bizye. The Cumans fight, but then drop their plunder and retreat.  The Byzantine army breaks formation to loot the Cuman plunder, when the Cumans return and defeat them. They then take their plunder home.

1200 The pope calls on Emeric of Hungary to deal with the Paterene Heresy in Bosnia. This takes 3 years to sort out.

1200 The retired grand zupan of Serbia, Stephen, dies. His second son, Vukan, who had kept the peace while his father lived, begins to plot against his brother (also a Stephan)/

1200-1 The Cumans and Vlahks raid Byzantine territory at will, and are believed to be preparing to assail the capital. This is prevented by raids on the Black Sea wintering camps of some Cuman tribes by Roman of Galicia. Roman does this in part because his prelate asked him to stand by his fellow Christians, but also because the Cumans formed an essential part of the army of his rival, Rurik of Kiev.

1202 The Empire falls into anarchy.

1202 Vukan ousts his brother as grand zupan of Serbia, with Hungarian assistance. Stephen flees to the Bulgars, and with their aid returns in 1203, ousting his brother in 1204. Their brother, Sava, who was archbishop, arranged a peace between them, with Vukan becoming Stephen’s vassal.

1203, Ban Kulin of Bosnia, Emeric’s vassal, purges the Bogomils.

1204 Constantinople falls. The Latin Empire is formed. Its first ruler is Baldwin, who prepares to invade Asia Minor to destroy the Greek resistance there. The Thracian Greeks rebel against the Latins and ask Kaloyan for aid. He sends an army. Baldwin responds with the army he was preparing for Asia Minor.

Emeric of Hungary complains to the Pope about the sack of Zara, which was in his land, and the Pope excommunicated the Venetians and made them pay damages. The city was, however, all but destroyed.

Emeric dies. He leaves his son under the regency of his rebellious brother Andrew, and Ermeric’s wife, Constance of Aragon, fearing for her son’s safety, flees to Austria.

1203: A prince of Serbia charges Kulin of Bosnia with heresy, which is investiagted to no effect.

1204: Ban Kulin of Bosnia dies. He is succeeded by his son, Stephen Kulinic. Stephen was a Catholic and supported Hungarian policies. He was hostile to the Bogomils in Bosnia.

1205, After several minor battles, the Latins besiege Andrianople. Kaloyan has around 14 000 Cumans with his Bulgar and Vlakh forces, and he orders the Cumans to use feigned retreats to soften the Crusaders. The Cumans kill Louis of Blois, and capture Emperor Baldwin. The Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandalo, somehow manages to escape, which isn’t bad work for a blind ninety-one year old man. Kaloyan wants to press his advantage, but summer is coming, so his Cumans leave to tend their flocks, and he needs to just wreck the parts of Thrace the Latins haven’t destroyed, and leave. He raids Thessaly. Henry, the brother of Baldwin, besieges Adrianople unsuccessfully, then while on the way to another town, is stopped by a flooding river which inundates his camp. This is seen as a sign from, God, and he retreats to Constantinople.

1205: the infant son of Emeric of Hungary dies in exile. His brother is crowned Andrew II, and the pope makes Emeric’s widow marry Frederick of Sicily (eventually Emperor Frederick II) Andrew has a bee in his bonnet about Galicia, and assaults it 14 times, leading the army himself 4 times, during his lifetime. Andrew introduces his “New Institutions”, which over the next few decades annoy his nobles and destroy his finances.

1206: Kaloyan razes much of eastern Thrace, and his forces reach within 12 miles of Constantinople. The Thracian Greeks switch sides and ask for Latin aid. Kaloyan, then destroyed one of their larger towns, burning it to the ground.

1207: Kaloyan besieges Adrianople, but his Cumans leave him to go to their summer pastures, and so he needs to break the siege. He marches against Thessalonica, but is murdered. His nephew Boril usurps the throne and marries Asen’s wife (a Cuman of powerful family). Asen’s sons flee to Kiev.

1208 Bulgaria begins to fragment under the usurper Boril. Boril’s brother, Strez, rebels and is supported by the Serbs and Latins. The Latins invade, and although they are initially defeated, they eventually take back northern Thrace.

1208 Grand Zupan Stephen of Serbia marries Ana, a grand-daughter of the Doge of Venice.

1210-1 The region of Vidin revolts, and Boril asks Bela IV of Hungary for aid, which he provides, extinguishing the rebellion.

1211 The Teutonic Knights are asked into Transylvania.

1213: Gertrud, wife of Andrew of Hungary, is so pro-German, and showers so many favors on her kin, that the Hungarians nobles snap. While Andrew is off invading Galicia again, they massacre her retinue. Andrew kills one ringleader by impaling, but has to let the rest off, because he hasn’t sufficient support to win a civil war.

1214: The daughter of Boril of Bulgaria is wed to the son of Andrew II of Hungary, and Branicevo is given as part of her dowry. Boril marries the niece of Henry, Emperor of the Latins. Henry, in turn, marries Boril’s daughter.

1216: Henry, Emperor of the Latins, is assassinated.

1217 Stefan Prvovencani (Nemanjic) is crowned the first King of Serbia, with a crown sent by Pope Honorius III.

Andrew of Hungary, his cousin the Duke of Austria and the King of Cyprus go on crusade. Andrew leaves Archbishop John of Eztergorm, the most vocal critic of his new institutions, as his regent. Andrew leaves after three months, with no marked success. On the way home he arranges betrothals for his son (to the daughter of the Emperor) and daughter (to Ivan II Asen of Bulgaria). When he gets home, his treasury is empty and his realm is broke and on the verge of civil war.

1211-1218: Ivan II Asen returns to Bulgaria, at the head of an army of Russians and Cumans.  Boril dies. (Length of siege in dispute*)

1219: The Serbian church is granted autonomy by the Patriarch of Constantinople, then living in Nicaea.

1219: Đorđe Nemanjić, the son of the King of Serbia, is granted the crown of Dukjia and Zeta. He is a vassal of his father.

1220# King Andrew of Hungary gives Bela, his son, Croatia and Slavonia to rule. Bela is the centre of a strange sort of “loyal opposition” to his father. Never quite rebelling. Bela comes to direct the foreign policy of the realm.

1221# The Pope, disturbed by the degree of religious tolerance in Hungary, forces the Greek monastery as Veszprem to be given the Benedictines, and Hungarian Jews to begin wearing the distinctive marks laid out in the Fourth Lateran Council.

1222# The Golden Bull is signed in Hungary

1223# Battle of Kalka. Cumans shattered.

1227# 20 000 Cumans Christianize and migrate to Hungary.

1232# Andrew II excommunicated and Hungary placed under interdiction.

1233# The church forces Andrew II to sack all the Muslims and Jews who look after his financial affairs as part of his peace settlement with the church.

1235# Andrew II’s daughter Elizabeth is canonised, 4 years after her death.

1237#: A massive wave of Cuman immigration makes Thrace a “desert”. They ally with various states. Their two princes take Latin wives. 10 000 enter Nicene Imperial service in exchange for land.

1241# Ivan II Asen dies. Prince Jonah, one of the Latin-allied Cumanians, dies in Constnatinople. He is a pagan, so he is buried in a tumulus outside the city walls. Twenty four horses and ten volunteer warriors are sacrificed to his memory.



4 replies on “Against the Dark : The Transylvanian Tribunal

  1. I really like to read the author thoughts on his work, especially in RPG books. I mean, setting up an atmosphere is great but explaining its whys and hows is invaluable when it comes to storyguiding.

    Would it be possible to have these integrated in the book in the future?


    1. No, with the exception of the introductions, the Ars Line Style is a little less author-insertive than that. Also, you’d need to pick which bits of the text to remove to make space for my musings on what I’m hoping to achieve.

      So, I don’t think it will happen, because it detracts from the book as a tool, even though it expands it as an entertainment.


    1. Lycaneon is also Better off Ted.

      I don’t quite recall – it may turn up in my notes, but I believe Istra and Shrouded Bay were originally going to be a diplomatic thriller type of thing, like Babylon 5, but breaking Venice off that chapter has knocked that a bit. Seuthopolis is a police procedural with a lot of gunplay, like NCIS.


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