Random Campaign Idea: The Crowned Heads of Europe

This is a bit different from my last two random campaign ideas as it could be more accurately called failed campaign ideas. I tried to run this once and failed, mainly because I had this skeleton but no flesh for it. Run with it if you find some flesh but please let me know how it goes.

To be a king is to have power. To be the King of Jerusalem is to have great power.

What? There has been no King of Jerusalem in almost a thousand years? My dear girl, you underestimate the power of blood. Your family has served the true kings of Jerusalem since Baldwin took the throne in 1100, which was the true millenium.

Juan Carlos? You might as well claim that the Lamoral heir is the legitimate king today. Just because Juan Carlos actually sits on a throne does not make his claim real anymore than that Elizabeth’s seat makes her the true Queen of England. We all know that Franz Bonaventura is the true title. That is why you served those three years on his staff.

Why do I prattle on about empty thrones or pretenders to powerless ones? I suppose you believe their money or their land is where the real power of these people lie. In calling their titles powerless you betray a hole in your education. The very hole you were sent to me to have filled.

Thrones, empty or filled, legitimate or userped, have power. They have mastery of their realms both on this world and the others. And just like the servants of the holy their retainers have power in those other realms as real as the power they have here.

Your service has shown us you can properly serve as a retainer. Now you will learn to become a legate.

Magic exists. However, it is not worked through the will of any single person, no matter how great, but in the name of those things that transcend us all. Great religious and secular leaders serve as conduits to the Great Realms for some of their followers. However, the greatest power are in those leaders who form a linage. Washington, Robespierre, and even today Obama are grand conduits to those realms but their power, or more specifically, the powers of their legates passed (or will pass) with them.

The legates of a family that has set atop a throne for a hundred years, however, will last as long as it is championed. The thrones of dozens of kingdoms in Europe still have claimants long after their and thrones settled for centuries still have pretends to preserve and use that power. You are a legate, with the powers and responsibilities of one of the royal families in Europe.

The idea behind The Crowned Heads of Europe stemmed from my interest in Emperor Maximillian of Mexico and the article on Pretenders in Wikipedia. I imaged a world of mystical intrique centered around the magical power inherent in royalty that was wielded by their retainers. Specifically, I saw a kind of shadow war among still enthroned royal lines and pretenders to no longer existing thrones over objects of power, support of pretenders, and perhaps even temporal authority to maintain their mystic powers.

My original campaign attempt was a Unisystem game centered around the death of the Pretender of Jerusalem whose family had, during the post-war period, established themselves as the actual crown in the mystic realms. With his death the other claimant families spied the possibility to supplant them setting off a race to obtain items of power, alliances with other royal families, and perform certain rituals. Had I thought of it at the time I would have drawn on Tim Powers’s novels, specifically Last Call and to a lesser extent Earthquake Weather but I did not.

3 thoughts on “Random Campaign Idea: The Crowned Heads of Europe

  1. I think this is a great idea. I would love to make a character for such a game. Of course, the challenge for the GM is to come up eith a story that lives up to the potential of the characters. Powers is certainly a great start.

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