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Oathsworn [Quest]

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  • Originally posted by semicasual View Post
    Eh, personal retainer.

    ...does that come with a title? Something equivalent to "Baron" maybe?

    No. We are the rough equivalent of unlanded knights or samurai, not yet titled nobility. A baron, count, duke would all fall under the title of "Lord", which is why there is different graduations of the rank. I originally planned on using said titles, but I felt that it would be too confusing. In hindsight, that might have been incorrect.

    Lord Iysen is the equivalent of a King/Queen. She is the monarch of a major domain
    Her 3 Marcher-Lord vassals are the equivalent of Dukes. Powerful lords, ranking right below the monarch.
    Any landed nobles beneath them (or, alternatively, sworn to Lord Iysen), would be the equivalent of Barons/Counts. Kasai's father is one of these, but an absurdly poor and marginalized one.
    At the bottom of the totem pole, landed retainers with a single village, are the equivalent of landed knights or ji-samurai. We, as retainers, are equivalent in social rank, but we don't yet have any land.

    The system is several different levels of mixed-up. It doesn't go: Monarch > Duke > Baron > Retainer. Lord Iysen has three "Dukes" in her service, but she also has "Barons" and "landed retainers".

    Functionally, we would be one of the mooks that make up the bulk of this unit.


    Many, if not most, noble families don't have either enough money or enough land to divide it equally between children, and their children's children, and so on and so forth. In response, many second and third (and later) noble children either:

    1) Go become a monk at a monastery/abbey (which are pretty much the same thing). Noble children, who can almost-always read and write, have plenty of chances to rise far (as far as a mortal can rise, pretty much) in the Immaculate Faith, and many abbots/abbesses are influential, powerful, wealthy, etc.
    2) Suck it up, and learn a trade.
    3) Compete in the tournament circuit
    4) Try and become a retainer to a landed noble.

    After a war is won, a Lord will often repossess the estates and manors held by the vassals of the former lord, and give them out as gifts to their retainers and followers for their (hopefully continued) loyalty, and to put the costs of maintaining a fully-armed heavy cavalryman on the land as opposed to their wallet. Or, alternatively, they will grant these retainers land in the hinterlands of their domains, in order to prompt the settlement/taming of underutilized land, or to defend against the Hill-Tribes and bandits. Marcher-Lords are but the largest and most obvious of this last group.

    This can, and often does, backfire. Most Liege-Lords aren't going to be paying that much attention to what one of their retainers is doing in the backwoods, and a crafty landed retainer can (and they often do) effectively hold more land that what they were officially enfeoffed, by attracting the enterprising young sons and daughters of commoners, who themselves might lack for inheritance opportunities in the hilariously-crowded lowland valleys. The commoners settle in the lands around the retainers estate, giving them more money than what they should "officially" have, in turn giving the retainer more power, who can then attract more commoners, and build more infrastructure, again and again, until the retainer (or, more likely, the retainers children, grandchildren or what-have-you), are effectively Liege-Lords in their own right. Some, if not many, of these not! Lords eventually end up building castles, and attracting retainers and vassals of their own. And, really, there is very little the original Liege-Lord can do about it, asides from either:

    1) Accepting them as a peer, or
    2) Besieging their castle, in hostile terrain

    ..... Most Liege-Lords do the first. If not because the second is expensive as hell, then because by that point they might very well be intermarried to the now-high nobility family, and actually view them as a peer.

    In fact, several of the (smaller) domains in the Hundred Kingdoms are the cultural offspring of these gifted estates waxing in power as the original liege wanes.

    Plus, Lord Iysen can make any retainer any "degree" of vassal she wants. They don't have to start out as a "mere" landed retainer. If she values their service, she could technically bump them all the way up to "Duke" status. Kinda like how Oda Nobunaga promoted Totoyomi Hideyoshi.

    Finally, overwhelmingly most of the land held by Liege-Lords is going to be relatively undersettled, when compared to the lands right by the Red, Black and Blue Rivers. The lands by the rivers are the flattest, and the most agriculturally productive (therefore, the wealthiest), and most of the population is going to be clustered there. The hinterlands Xia are almost empty by comparison, as they abut the territory of the Dumonipocasset Confederation, and therefore the Hill-Tribes de facto own it. There are still villages there, but they are few and far between.


    • 2 has potential. But I think 3 is better, for who were are and for story.

      Thoughts ripple out, birthing others


      • So, based on the votes I have seen so far, things seem pretty slanted towards Kasai accepting a position as one of Lord Iysen's personal retainers. I will wait until tomorrow, to see if several other people decide to chime in.

        A few people brought up the idea of Kasai becoming an envoy/ambassador of sorts. I like it, and if "personal retainer" is chosen, that is probably what Kasai will be doing. Admittedly, that is what Lord Iysen wanted, and arguably the second reason she wanted to keep Kasai around. His relationship with his grandfather, aka the bugaboo for most of the western Hundred Kingdoms, and his potential use as an ambassador to the Hill-Tribes is what originally piqued her interest in him, for lack of a better term.

        Originally, his potential as ambassador was idle musings, but now with war with Yue looming on the horizon, it is all-but necessary. With regards to what I wrote concerning war above, once open warfare starts in earnest, and armsmen leave their farms for the field of battle, the heartlands of Xia will be basically wide-open, something the Hill-Tribes are going to take notice of. Lord Isyen cannot afford, both in manpower and in materiel, to wage a war on two fronts, and if the Hill-Tribes can be appeased, or even potentially allied with, that is one less enemy she has to worry about.

        Of course, the Hill-Tribes aren't just going to back off for just anything, even if Kasai leverages his influence with his grandfather as much as possible. Even the comparatively-friendly Hill-Tribes (Aka the Nemasket, the tribe Kasai and his grandfather are members of, and the lesser affiliated tribes, the Assawompsset and the Nasketucket) are going to want to at least "break even" with regard to lucre/loot/tribute, and the already-mostly-hostile Tribes (the Neponset, the Assonet, and the Mattepoisett) are going to need some heavy bribing and ego-stroking. Concessions will have to be made, and any decision could possibly throw the Lowlander/ Hill-Tribe relationship into an upheaval.

        Plus, serving as an envoy would actually give us a reason to use all that camping equipment Kasai bought a couple days back
        Last edited by Boston123; 03-03-2017, 07:25 PM.


        • Well if we let slip that the fields of Yue are going to be undefended and that Lord Isyen has no problem with them conducting raids there (and might be willing to aid/overlook passage), we might be able to get away with less generous bribes. Maybe.

          Thoughts ripple out, birthing others


          • It appears that the majority of you chose “personal retainer”, and several brought up the idea of playing politics or serving as an envoy to the Hill-Tribes.


            You stare in blank shock; not even in your wildest dreams have you ever thought this would occur. One of the most powerful rulers in the Hundred Kingdoms, asking you what you wanted out of life! Preposterous! Yet…. Here you were.

            A subdued cough startles you from your reverie. “If you do not want to decide now, and want some time to think, I could always come back later.”

            Shaking your head, “No…. my decision was made long ago. My whole reason for traveling to Teriake was to compete in your tournament, with the hope that I would win a position in your entourage. In doing so, I could both serve you and fulfill the intent of my Oaths at the same time, and there is nothing I would want more.”

            An eyebrow shoots up, “Nothing? Be careful, I might yet hold you to that remark.” She then relaxes, smiling softly, “Kasai, it would be my honor, and my privilege, to accept you into my household. To be honest, I was considering doing so even before you saved my life; to have such a well-regarded retainer attached to my family could only increase my personal and familial honor and reputation. In light of recent events, it would be amiss if I didn’t offer you such a reward.”

            She pauses, taking a deep breath,“And, now that you are a servant of mine, I can use that reputation of yours more than ever. I was planning on asking you to serve as an envoy to the Hill-Tribes, to put the relationship between you and your grandfather to good use… “, she holds up a hand, to stymie your interruption, “ Yes, I am aware of how your culture works, but listen to me first.”
            “Xia cannot afford to fight a war on two fronts, and with war with Yue coming, and the accompanying muster of my forces, that is exactly what will end up happening. The Hill-Tribes will see the heartland of Xia undefended, and there will be nothing I can do to prevent them from raiding and burning the center of my domain. Who better could I send to broker a deal to prevent that; one of my other retainers, full of pomp and sneering contempt, or you, one of their blood, one who respects their culture, who speaks their language, and, most of all, is known as a man of integrity and righteousness?”

            “Serve me in this fashion, secure at least a temporary peace with the Hill-Tribes, and you will have a place of honor by my side. With war looming on the horizon, and your Oaths in mind, you could very well rise far in my service.” She shrugs, “For all I know, if things go off as planned, I might need some new vassals to govern territory, or seek to adopt a worthy and valiant retainer worthy of recognition.”

            Stirring, “ I… understand the implications, My Lord. What is it you desire of me in the present?

            She stands, laughing, “ Kasai, you can’t even walk, on top of almost-literally just waking up from a coma. For right now, you need to heal. Eat, sleep, and regain your strength. My chirugeon will almost-certainly be waiting outside to look you over. When you are capable of functioning again, come talk to me. These will be your quarters; when you are ready, talk to a servant and they will bring in your gear and more suitable furnishings.”

            “Yes, my Lord. Thank you for the help, and the opportunity to serve you.”

            Lord Iysen nods her head in acceptance, “No, Kasai Harutane, thank you. You are crucial to my future plans, so take the time you need to recover.”

            As she leaves, in sweeps Saiko, Blue Pines, and a thin, bespectacled man stinking of unguents and medications. The second he sees you sitting up, he clucks his tongue in disapproval.
            “ 10 minutes after waking up from an infection-induced coma, you are up and about?! No, none of that! I didn’t put 21 hours straight worth of work into keeping you alive, only for you to try and tough it out! Lie back down and throw the blanket back, let me take a look at you…”

            With only your underlinens left to preserve your modesty, the doctor peels back the wrapped bandages in order to expose the wound on your leg. In spite of knowing it is “there”, you suck in a gasp when the edges of the cut get exposed. The wound stings upon contact with air, and it appears at first glance that your outer thigh is a mass of fine-stitches and foul-smelling pine tar. To your surprise, the man grunts in approval.

            “Good! At least you didn’t tear any stitches out when you decided to go crawling across the floor. And no lingering traces of blood infection, excellent.”

            “You consider that good?”

            “Compared to what it could be, yes. You will walk again…. Eventually. If you were any older, or the wound any more severe, I probably would have had to take the leg off. Even still, there will be quite a lot of recuperating in your future! I will prescribe you a regimen of tonics, a specialized diet, and eventually a series of exercises to stretch out the muscles, and I do not want to hear of any shirking, no matter how mundane it gets. Firstly, we will start with the…”

            As the doctor drones on and on about powders and poultices, Saiko kneels down next to you, grasping at the futon with white knuckles. Leaning close,

            “Kasai…. I’m glad you are alive, but you are an idiot! ”

            You groan good-humoredly, “Yes, thank you for reminding me. Remind me to never turn my back on an opponent in live combat again.”

            She seethes, “Do you know how long I waited for you at the gate?! I didn’t know if you two were alive or dead, just that you headed to the tournament without me! No idea what is going on, no idea what time you planned on being back, just that you were in the area that looked like Hell on earth! And, on top of that, what do I see of you the first chance I get? You passed out and covered in blood, thrown in the back of a milita wagon like the town drunk sleeping it off!”

            Bemused, you shift your attention to your armswoman, who shrugs, “I had to get you out of there somehow, and I certainly wasn’t going to carry you out. Once the fire burned out, the militia swept in to evacuate us, and I got you in the first ride. Oh, and I knocked some of the bastard’s teeth out, if that makes you feel any better.”

            You laugh, “At least I got out of there in one piece. That is all that matters.” A pause, then, “ I suppose you might as well start bringing our equipment and such up into this room, we are going to be here for a while.”

            “….. How long, Kasai? We heard you talking to the Lord, what happened?”

            “Permanently. I have been accepted into her service.”

            Such a revelation is enough to make Saiko sit back, and for the notably stone-faced Blue Pines to react with a smile.

            “Really? What does that involve?”, all anger forgotten.

            “… I will largely do what you are already doing, Saiko, just on a larger scale. Support her in battle, serve her in peace, maintain her holdings, that sort of thing. Although, the Lord is almost certainly going to ask me, and therefore you, to go to the Hill-Tribes as an envoy. Just as a forewarning.”

            “Uh… when?”

            “Probably not for many months. Our friend the doctor here has final say on that.”

            “Damn straight I do! You, young man, are not going to be getting up from that mattress for at least a month. No riding, no climbing, and especially no fighting, not until the winter at least. You have to let the muscle heal.”

            You roll your eyes, “ Of course. In the meantime, how about some food? What exactly have I been living on for the last 2 weeks, water?

            “No, broth and tea. Both easily digestible.”

            “That must be why I feel like a newly-born puppy. Saiko, can you send a servant to go and get something a little more substantial? Something with actual body? Have them bring some up for you two as well.”

            With that, Saiko sticks her head out the door, in order to buttonhole a servant, Blue Pines heads out in order to supervise the moving of equipment and furniture, leaving the doctor to poke and prod at your wound with a copper rod, until he too takes his leave, parting with a packet of powder and some words of advice.

            There, once again, you are alone with your thoughts, and can actually sit back and think over what has transpired over the last few days (er, weeks). So far, you have made a not-insubtantial amount of money, gained a follower, cemented your reputation through the upholdings of your Oaths, prevented an assassination and coup, and, last but certainly not least, have successfully become a personal retainer to one of the more powerful Lords in the Hundred Kingdoms.

            In return, all you have to do is try and broker peace between two peoples that have largely hated each others guts for the last 500+ years. Should be easy, right?

            … Great

            -end of Chapter 2

            ….ugh. I definitely had some sort of ending-fatigue in this one. Thank God it was only a little end-of-chapter dialogue and exposition, not actual plot.
            However, I must say that I am excited to have reached this part of the story. During my actual gameplay campaign, this is when the story started taking off.


            • The Hill-Tribes of the Hundred Kingdoms

              The Hill-Tribes. Boogeymen of backwoods tales meant to frighten children into good behavior. Blamed whenever a tool or animal goes missing, or a daughter runs off. Faraway watchers on hilltop bluffs, leaders of savage raids and robberies, great craftsmen, in wool and silver and steel. The great noble families of the Red, Black and Blue river-valleys would tell you the Hill-Tribes are barbarians in every sense of the word, lacking true culture, great works of art, with only the desire to pillage and plunder left to keep them alive in their cold and forlorn mountain hovels. Cursed by the gods with animalistic features, to better suit their souls, the Hill-Tribes dwell on the fringes of settled society, looking on their social and cultural betters with hate in their hearts and murder in their eyes. To be captured by them is a fate worse than death.

              The truth is very different.

              While the Hill-Tribes are indeed a warlike and roughshod people, they are also a noble one, if not in the style that the Vaneha-aping Lowlanders would understand or accept. Such differing views, largely based on the circumstances of their mountain homes, is a large part of why the Hill-Tribes and the Lowland peoples do not get along.


              The ancestors of the modern Hill-Tribes were a conglomeration of refugees, cast adrift on the turbulent sea that was the collapsing Shogunate in the face of the Great Contagion, the incroaching Wyld, and the never-ceasing civil wars. Already marginalized due to the high level of mutations brought about by the exposure to Wyld-energies, the nascent Hill-tribes pushed east, into the largely depopulated River Province. Once there (and not to marginalize their travels, that is a saga worth telling in and of itself), they found the valley of the Black River and its two tributaries, the Red and Blue Rivers, good farmland even in the worst of times. So, they settled it, taming the Wyld-contaminated fields and forests, driving out tainted beasts and building new farms, then villages. Life, so far, was pretty good, and continued as such for several generations.

              Until the Vanehani attacked.

              The first Sword-Prince of Vaneha, Kendorei, after crushing the various clans that made up his formerly-fractious empire, looked north with a gimlet eye, hungry for more lands to conquer (and, more pragmatically, give his massive pool of warriors something to do). The peoples of the Black River Valley were weak, and despised by all around, and the lands they held were rich and bountiful. Why not turn to them with fire and sword? And so, Kendorei ordered a fleet be built, so his warriors could be ferried across the Yellow River to glory.
              To their surprise, they got their asses handed to them.

              After years of fighting off Wyld-tainted beasts, and amongst themselves, the proto-Hill-Tribes were very skilled in combat, and after searching so long for a home, were not about to just roll over and give it up. And so, they resisted, using the woods and hills of their home to lead hit and run attacks on the slower Vanehani armies. More than one army, thousands of sword-bearers in the finest Vaneha tradition, vanished into the northern hills, never to be seen again.

              This enraged Kendorei, unused as he was to actually being beaten, and in his fury, he led the next army personally, taking with him even the dregs of the Vanehani countrysides, peasants unfit to look upon a blade, much less hold it. This time, the fleet so covered the Yellow River, it looked like the water had suddenly transformed into land, with trees below and clouds above. Sword-Prince Kendorei led his forces into battle, marching straight into the hills, regardless of how many losses he took, trapping the Hill-Tribesmen where they could no longer run.

              In response, the Tribes united under a charismatic warleader, Tsenamatoric, and marched as a unified army into the field. Under the banner of the Red Boar, the spears gleamed, the carnyxes moaned, and the ground shook.

              Upon meeting Kendorei in open battle, they were crushed utterly. Kendorei stomped all those that resisted, until the only way ragged remnants of the culture could survive was to flee to the northern mountains. The ones left behind were made slaves of the invaders.

              Kendorei, satisfied with finally crushing the barbarians, made to return home, only to be told that while he was away, a civil war broke out in Vaneha, bringing an end to his dynasty. In grief and rage, the Sword-Prince took to the sea with but a handful of chosen warriors, leaving the rest of his army behind to safeguard his newly-conquered land. He was never seen again, not in Vaneha at least.

              The Vanehani left behind basically looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and settled the land they conquered, carving out domains as soon as they could. The officers and clanleaders left behind by Kendorei became, in time, the great Lords of the Hundred Kingdoms.

              Meanwhile, the remnants of the Tribes scattered by Kendorei regrouped in the northern mountains, a bleak and inhospitable land when compared to what they left behind. There, they persevere to this very day, clinging to the mountainside and looking down on the fertile lowlands with envy and bitterness.

              -Mutations and physical characteristics

              Every single Hill-Tribesperson has some sort of animalistic Wyld-mutation, usually in the eyes, face, hair or teeth. They do not usually interfere with day-to-day life, but they also do not generally confer much in the way of an advantage, either. Traits can be passed down and inherited, and many Tribepeople exhibit traits from several different animals as a result of intermarriage.

              The more Hill-Tribe blood one has, the stronger the mutations are. For example, Kasai “just” has wolf-fur-hair and wolf-colored (read: yellow) eyes, and otherwise is indistinguishable from a “normal” human, while a full-blooded Hill-Tribesman (his Grandfather, for example) has the same wolf-fur-hair and wolf-eyes, but also has hawk-feathers interspersed in his hair, elongated canines, and mottling around his eyes and across his cheeks, like that of a deer.

              Asides from the mutations, Hill-Tribespeople largely look rather similar to other Eastern tribal groups; skin tones in various shades of brown, tan or dark beige, with long, straight hair in black, brown or red. Any “foreign” phenotypes they picked up on their ancestral migration to the Hundred Kingdoms has long since been extinguished.


              The settlements of the Hill-Tribes are far-flung, separated from each other by many miles of cliffs, crags and mountain valleys. This essentially means that each settlement must be as self-sufficient as possible, with smiths and farmers, weavers and doctors skilled enough to not require help. This also means that, instead of leading to bonds of brotherhood, each settlement will largely view other settlements as competition; for farmland, for pastureland, or for hunting grounds.

              Each settlement is comprised of a low stone-and-log palisade surrounding a collection of roundhouses, themselves built from drystone, wattle-and-daub and bark, all in turn built around a central longhouse, where the chief lives and community meetings take place.

              These settlements, in turn, are surrounded by densely-packed farming terraces, pastures for sheep and goats, and the bleak, wind-swept and crag-faced mountains and hills

              -Social Organization.

              The Hill-Tribes, unsurprisingly, are grouped into many dozens of tribes, themselves each made up of clans and connected families.

              Each clan is made up of inter-related tribespeople, and may be spread across several villages through a tribes territory. Men marry into a womans clan, and any children born are considered to be a member of the mother’s clan. Marriage is arranged by clan elders, but is almost always for love, the partners bringing up the idea of marriage first.

              Each clan sends its oldest man and woman to tribal conclaves, where these representatives debate matters pertaining to the tribe as a whole. If the tribe is allied to others, like in the Dumoniapoccasset Confederation, each tribe will send two representatives to that conclave.

              Each clan also has a chief, “elected” in a fashion by the warriors of the clan, to lead them in war and to interact with outsiders. Each chief is “elected” not through voting, but through sheer fiat of warrior support and loyalty. If a warrior is known to be brave in battle, generous with spoils, and an effective warleader, then will attract the service of lesser warriors. Get enough followers, and you can declare yourself chief. Or, the elders of a tribe will appoint a noteworthy warrior. Same thing.

              -Arts and Crafts

              The Hill-Tribes effectively have to “make do” with the poorest, least-productive lands in the Hundred Kingdoms, leading to a very thrifty culture of artisans. “Waste not, want not” is a common saying.

              Due to this frugality, the Hill-Tribes are somewhat paradoxically known as some of the best weavers and metalworkers in the region, and especially in regards to gold and silver-working, eclipse even the Vanehani. Hill-Tribe woolens fetch a hefty price in Lowlander markets, due to their high fine thread-work, sturdy weave and intricate patterns, and Hill-Tribe bronze-casting is of very high-quality as well. Their pendants and brooches, torcs and armrings are in high demand, even among high Lowlander nobility, and Hill-Tribe gold and silver filigree is used to decorate Lowlander sword-hilts, porcelainware, and other luxury goods.

              Despite (or, perhaps, because of) their bleak homelands, the Hill-Tribes are also skilled workers of stone and wood, leading to drystone buildings cunningly fitted together, so no mountain wind can pass through, and wooden beams with no nails supporting steep roofs and the worst of winter snows. In addition to Vanehani-influences, the style of the Hill-Tribes can still be seen in the architectural style of the lowlanders, with the steep roofs and curving stone footings.

              -Food and clothing.

              In their mountain-fastness, there isn’t much flat land to grow crops, so the Hill-Tribes instead laboriously carve terraces into the sides of mountains, fertilizing them with manure and compost. This method of agriculture was stolen, amusingly enough, from the Vanehani.

              On these terraces, the Tribes grow corn and beans, squashes and pumpkins, potatoes and cabbage. Even with heavy terracing, there isn’t enough arable land to support the people by itself, so each village is also heavily dependent on animal husbandry; usually sheep and goats, which are nimble enough to scramble over rock faces, all while providing wool and milk, on top of being small and requiring less fodder than cattle, and on hunting and foraging. Every single Hill-Tribe roundhouse will have at least one spear, brace of javelins or a bow, and someone skilled in its use.

              Clothing is suited for the rough vastness of the local terrain, and is in turn made from local materials. Wool and linen, leather and birchbark. Men and women both wear trousers reaching to the ankle, with leather shoes in the summer, with slip-on wooden clog-sandal-things (like geta or patten) in rain or winter. Undershirts and jackets are both long-sleeved, with high collars to turn aside cutting wind, and vests and coats made of sheepskins or leather/furs are also worn.

              This focus on hunting also heavily influences the Hill-Tribe religion.

              The Tribes do not follow the Immaculate Faith, instead keeping to their own gods: that of hill and stream, pool and grove, animal and plant. The “Three Sisters”, patron deities of corn, beans and pumpkin, are heavily worshipped, as well as the animal totems of deer and sheep, goat and wolf, bear and boar. The wolf, the bear, and the boar are widely revered as symbols and patrons of the hunter/warrior.

              However, the one deity the Hill-Tribes love and worship over all others, is Luna, the goddess of the moon, the wild places and the forsaken. Every hunter asks the Moon for a successful hunt before stalking into the trees, every warrior asks the Moon to watch over them as they pass under her gaze, and every maiden (and quite a few young men, too) ask the Moon to bless them with fertility.

              The Moon is a goddess of fertility, of war and harvest, of nature, red in tooth and claw, beautiful in her wild, unrestrained glory, and many, if not most, Hill-Tribespeople view Her as the patron of their people.

              The largest celebration of the Moon comes in the form of the Feast of the Moon, a tribe-wide ritual/celebration held every year in the middle of autumn (or, alternatively, Resplendent Water), after the harvest is done and the leaves begin to change. There, singing and dancing takes place, and hunters brave the wilds in order to bring back worthy sacrifices. The culmination of the ritual, however, occurs during the full moon, when a chosen warrior dons the skin and antlers of a great white stag, and after quaffing a sacred mixture, charges into the wilds armed with only a flint knife in order to find and kill another white hart. Some say Luna Herself takes the form of this deer, and leads the warrior on a merry chase. If the warrior is worthy, she “embraces” [I am using the classical term, here. I shouldn’t have to spell it out]/sacrifices Herself (maybe both. Luna is weird) to the warrior, who is said to be forever changed by the experience. Regardless, if the hunter is successful, he ritually consumes the heart and liver of the animal, and hauls the carcass back to the ritual site, where the blood is then sprinkled into a sacred well, ensuring the lands are as fertile as they can be for the following year.

              Very few outsiders have been allowed to attend a Feast of the Moon, and none to date have been asked to participate in the central ritual.


              Contrary to popular Lowlander opinion, the Hill-Tribes are not a bunch of frothing-at-the-mouth barbarian berserker morons, knowing only the mass-charge, nor are they cowardly sneak-thieves, preferring to avoid open confrontation in favor of shooting arrows from the forests and hills.

              Hill-Tribe warfare is based on personal bravery and skill, not on discipline and following orders. This is something they have in similar with the Oathsworn retainers of the Lowlanders, and in fact, the cultural idea of the Oathsworn (aka a heavily-armed follower) is partly-descended from the Hill-Tribe idea of the Chosen warrior (more on that later).

              In spite of this, Hill-Tribe warriors and warchiefs are aware of the value of “proper” formations and strategies….. it is just that they don’t get to, nor have to, use them all that much. It isn’t like the Lowlanders are going to invade en masse, nor can the other tribes send out warparties in enough numbers to warrant massing warriors all that often.

              Hill-Tribe warriors come in two “classes”; young warriors, eager for status and glory, but poor in sense and equipment, and older warriors, skilled and proven. These older, more experienced warriors will usually take charge of a group of younger warriors, and use them to harry and harass the foe, throwing javelins, slinging rocks and loosing arrows either from a position of cover/ambush, or from the flanks of a Chosen warband.

              The warchief of a Hill-Tribe warparty will be composed of, obviously, the chief as well as their chosen (hence the name) warriors, hand-picked for their valor and skill. Such Chosen warriors are often older, married and by Hill-Tribe standards, wealthy. Equipped with shields, spears, short swords and axes, as well as helmets and armor of bronze or iron (including maille, “chainmail” to the uneducated, of which Kasai is equipped), they form the backbone of the warparty, engaging enemy forces in various formations, from rectilinear blocks to the famed “Boar Snout”, a large wedge for breaking open enemy formations.

              The infamous raids for which the Hill-Tribes are so well known and hated for, are usually the work of the younger warriors, eager as they are for wealth and status. A little-known fact among the Lowlanders is that the Hill-Tribes actually raid each other almost infinitely more often than they do the Lowlanders.

              -Relations with outside parties.

              Generally, one would be safe in saying that the Hill-Tribes hate the Lowlanders, the Lowlanders hate the Hill-Tribes, etc etc etc, but the reality is, of course, far more complex.
              Much of the peasantry of the Hundred Kingdoms is of partial (if long diluted, to the point of no longer expressing Wuld-mutations) Hill-Tribe descent, with the proportion of descent increasing as one gets closer to their lands. This is one reason why lowlander nobility tends to look down on the peasantry. In addition, in lands close to Hill-Tribe lands, trade, travel and even intermarriage is comparatively common.

              On the other hand, Hill-Tribespeople do indeed get discriminated against in the lowlands, mainly in the river-bottoms far away from their homelands, though generally not to the point where they will get lynched by a mob. Catcalls, insults and thrown garbage is about the extent of the abuse. They are also not prohibited from traveling in most domains, meaning you can find traders traveling around occasionally. However, since the majority of Hill-Tribespeople don’t speak Riverspeak, they are few and far between.


              • Just as an aside, I recently watched this movie, called War of the Arrows, set in Korea during Qing China. It is a pretty good representation of what I imagine the Hundred Kingdoms looking like, as well as how Oathsworn are equipped. Replace that funky-looking studded-leather thing with proper mail and lamellar, and you will be right on the money.

                I haven't been able to find an "official" English dub or sub, so you are gonna have to search Youtube or your favorite movie-site if you want to watch it. I strongly recommend it.
                Last edited by Boston123; 03-10-2017, 08:27 PM.


                • Chapter 3: The War of Broken Spears

                  2nd Descending Water, RY 769

                  (In hindsight, letting you all know that the first chapter started in RY 768 probably would have helped. Anyhoo, it has been a year.)

                  “Are you sure you want to do this, Kasai?”

                  “Saiko, if I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t have brought it up. Besides,” you smirk, “Why the sudden concern? Worried that, even with this gimpy leg of mine, I’m still going to put you on the floor?”

                  “Not likely. I have been improving, you know. But….. yeah, it is your leg I am worried about. This will be the first time you actually fight on it, and what happens if it gets hurt again?”

                  You shrug, acknowledging her point but dismissing it all the same. “ Saiko, I’ve been walking around under my own power for 5 months now, jogging and riding for 2. Hell, just yesterday I jogged around the entire castle-town wall, then rode through the countryside for a few hours! I think I will be fine, but if I never push it, I will never know, will I?”

                  “He’s got a point, girl.” Chimes in Blue Pines, lagging behind with sparring equipment. She grins, “Besides, you can’t back out now, I’ve got money on this match.”

                  “That doesn’t seem like a fair bet, Blue Pines. Kinda like taking sweets from a child, if you ask me.”, you frown.

                  “Hey, the castle-guards have never seen you fight, and what they don’t know earns me some coppers, right?”

                  Saiko huffs, rolling her eyes, “Nice to know you have such faith in me, Blue. I hope you lose your bet, in the nicest possible way. Anyways…… I just thought it was something worth mentioning, Kasai.”

                  She does have a point. Despite your assertions, 3 of those 5 months you walked on your own were with the aid of either crutches or a cane, and even with the recent addition of a cloth wrapping-brace, you still can’t sit in a saddle (or sit at all, if your leg is bent) for much longer than an hour before the thigh-muscle starts to cramp and spasm. The cloth-brace does help with walking and even running, to the point where you almost have no limp to speak of, more of a swagger (much aided with the addition of a stylish cane to your wardrobe) but after sitting legs-bent for any appreciable period, it is all you can do to stand. There has to be something else you can do, because if you can’t ride effectively, you can’t fight effectively……

                  After a few more moments of banter, your group reaches the sparring field of Teriake Castle, set up against the wall in the upper bailey. There, in a sand-pit, you and Saiko stand opposite each other, the better to tighten ties and straps on padded vests and caps. From racks aside the pit, you select weapons; practice-spears, with shafts and “blades” of bamboo, to prevent injury more serious than bruising.

                  Turning to your page, the two of you together work through several beginning techniques; slow measured strikes, parries and ripostes, more for warming-up and stretching than for anything else. When you are all limbered up, you drop into a low-guard, spear held pointed down toward her feet. She, in turn, adopts a high-guard, almost certainly because she is more proficient with the glaive and used to slashing attacks.

                  The two of you watch each other for a moment, then with a cry, Saiko tries to take the initiative, leaping across the sand and bringing her spear down in a vertical arc. In response, you pivot to the side, noting with satisfaction that the leg-binding tightens and holds the limb upright. Whipping your spear down, to knock aside her blow, then up, to her throat, you “win” the first point of the match.

                  “Good strike, but too aggressive. Such a move can only work when you have overwhelming initiative in the fight. Take control of me, or of my weapon, preferably both, then go for the kill.”

                  She nods, then sets up in a more defensive posture. This time, you play the aggressor, dropping down into a low stab to the stomach. She parries this, sliding the shafts of the spears along each other, and then shoving with all her might. Thrown off balance, you stumble back (not very far, you still outweigh her by a large magnitude), only to feel the point of her spear pressed to your side.
                  “…..better. Again!”

                  The two of you trade blows back and forth, gradually working up to full battle-tempo, at which point Saiko is at a severe disadvantage. You are bigger, stronger, and even considering your handicap, faster than she is, and far more comfortable with mixing together different strikes and methods of combat. This comes to bite you in the ass, however, when you stiff-arm the girl in the chest and she flails around with her spear, trying to catch her balance, only to catch you upside your wounded thigh.

                  Even through the layers of padding and cloth wrappings, the impact causes the muscle to cramp, dropping you to a knee with a growl and bit-off curse. Saiko yelps, dropping her spear and bringing her hands to her mouth in shock.

                  “Oh gods! Are you alrigh..”

                  Her cry is cut short by the business end of your spear being driven into her stomach, driving the wind from her lungs and doubling her over. A strike to the side of the knee bowls her over into the sand, and a third strike punches into the sand next to her face.

                  “Never, ever turn your attention from an enemy in battle until they are dead! Don’t I serve as a good example for that? Doing that in a real fight will get you killed!”

                  She lays silent on the sand for a moment, then, “I’m sorry, Kasai. I didn’t expect to hit you.”

                  Still kneeling, “…..It’s ok, but next time, don’t try to catch your balance like that. As you can see, it didn’t work. Just step back instead. It is immediately effective, and it takes you out of the range of most weapons.”

                  She nods, painfully climbing to her feet, “Do you want a hand up?”

                  “No…… just give me a minute.”

                  After a few moments of punching at your thigh, the cramp subsides, and you are able to clamber to your feet, leaning heavily on the spearshaft for support. Perturbed, you worry about what this means for future combat. Skilled opponents will almost-certainly take advantage of any obvious advantage, and it seems like any sort of impact will cause the muscle to cramp up. Maybe you should invest in some heavy padding, or some solid plates for the thighs, as opposed to your current quasi-flexible mail. Some considerations for tomorrow, perhaps?

                  Getting back to the sparring, you and Saiko get back to full speed, where you proceed to give far more knocks than you get, although the few you received were well-given. She, like she said, has certainly improved since she joined you a year ago, although you unashamedly attribute that to your expert teaching as opposed to any real talent on her part. After all, she has only been practicing under arms for a short time, while you have been using weapons since you were seven, or 15 years. Still, for a former peasant girl, she gives a good show, and you will have plenty of bruises to find later on.

                  She will have far more, however, especially since you are knocking her around so much. It is after a particularly-nasty takedown, ending with her faceplanted in the sand, that you get interrupted by the Lord Isyen and her daughter, Airi, who peers wide-eyed at Saiko, laid out on the ground

                  “Most impressive, Kasai. I have heard of your skill with the spear in passing, but this is the first time I have seen it.”

                  Standing straight and bowing at the waist, “Thank you, my Lord. I must admit, and please excuse my crudity, but I am pretty damn good, if I may say so myself.”

                  She laughs, “Quite! I never was skilled with the spear; I prefer the bow myself. However, it is good to see you up and about, after so long convalescing.”

                  You nod, “Indeed, my Lord. It is quite nice to be able to walk about, now without even the aid of crutches. Such a pain!”

                  She grins, clearly remembering the sorry sight you made stumping around Teriake Castle, cursing with every jarring step. The smile fades, and her countenance takes a turn to the serious.

                  ‘Are you…… combat-ready?”

                  You wince,”….. mostly, Lord. I still have pain and cramps every so often when in the saddle, but they are not serious. I can ride, if that is what you are asking.”

                  She relaxes, “ Good. If you will, let your page spar with my daughter, and walk with me a while. I have questions to ask of you.”

                  Silently, you make to follow her, up the stairs that lead to the wall-walk around the bailey. For a few minutes, you make your way around the walls, to the section that overlooks the river, where she leans against the parapet.

                  She sighs, then, “Do you understand how lucky we were last summer, never getting attacked by the force of Yue?”

                  You shrug,”I guess. By the time Haichi Matsu probably got home from his failed plot, the campaign season was almost half-over. I’m not really that surprised, to be honest.”

                  “Even still, his father could have ordered some sort of raid or other minor attack. Haichi wasn’t that skilled at warfare, so he wasn’t required on the front. The fact that there wasn’t even a token raid on a caravan or border village makes me concerned.”

                  “Why so?”

                  “It suggests two possibilities. 1: Yue requires a lot of time to organize an offensive, meaning he has more soldiers than I do. Or, 2: he was out making alliances against me. Of the two, I find the second far more likely. Xia and Yue are very similar in size, economy and terrain; he can’t support that many more peasants than I can. “

                  She is quiet for a moment, “I don’t know if you know much about local history, but Xia is ….. not well liked by its neighbors, for admittedly-good reasons. Firstly, the domain of Xia was brought about in a rebellion against Zhou, a state that once controlled the entire Red River valley. Zhou no longer exists, as a result of Xia and other states rebelling, but there are ‘descendants” of Zhou scattered around. The closest are the domain of Ji, a couple miles away from the northern border of Xia. There is a traditional grudge between our ruling families, nothing serious, but that is something Yue could build off of. Then there are several smaller domains scattered around, that could resent Xia’s power and influence. Some of them were ruled over by Xia in the past, as recently as my grandfather’s time. They might join Yue, in order to snatch a piece of the pie for themselves.We will have enough trouble fighting off Yue by itself as it is, much less with other domains joining in.”

                  “What are you suggesting, my Lord?”

                  She looks out over the river, “Tell me, Kasai, when is a tiger most dangerous; when it is in front of you, snarling and full of fury, or when it is concealed in the forest, stalking you,?”
                  “….when it is the forest, obviously.”

                  “ How about if you can’t tell if there is one tiger or ten? What then do you do?”

                  “Bring friends, and stand back-to-back”.

                  That is what I mean to do. Be the attacking tiger, and bring friends.”

                  “I see. I take it that you want me to go to the Hill-Tribes, then.”

                  “Yes, but…..” She sighs again, “ I have to admit that I have no idea what or how to communicate with the Hill-Tribes. I don’t know much of anything about their culture, their social customs, or how they would even view a diplomatic effort. As you know, we tend to treat them….. well, pretty gods-dammed awfully. Hell, I don’t even know what they want. Do they even use money? Would they accept it, or view it as a bribe, or just throw it out in disgust?

                  “What they want is largely irrelevant, because I am willing to pay whatever cost it takes to secure their neutrality, at the very least. I need them to leave Xia along when we go to war, or we won’t have a domain to return to!”

                  “Tell me, Kasai, and be honest, what will it take to stay the wrath of the Hill-Tribes?”

                  “…. You say you will give anything?”

                  “Yes, whatever it takes. Is that a problem?”

                  “..No, you just might not like the cost. If something costs the full price of the thing you want to save, will you really have that thing at the end of the day?”

                  She frowns, “what do you mean?”

                  “……. You say you know your history? Well, how much do you know of theirs?”

                  “Not much. Only that the Vanehani drove them from these lands in righteous conquest several hundred years ago.”

                  “That is a …… extremely sanitized and biased version of events, as far as my grandfather told me. They wouldn’t describe the conquest as very “righteous”, what with the enslaving of entire villages, every man, woman and child. The desecration of their religious sites, the places where they buried their dead. So on and so forth, until the only way they could survive as a culture was to flee to the hills. And, even then, the oldest of storytellers told me that the current Hill-Tribe society is but a pale reflection of what it once was.”

                  She blinks, “Okay, what does that have to do with what I could give them?”

                  “Point being, they want their land back. All of it. From the Red River to the Blue, from the Black to the Yellow. Every rock, field and stream.”

                  “Well, I can’t very well give that to them, can I?” she starts, flustered.

                  You nod, “Exactly. So, all that remains is what it would take for them to be…… well, satisfied, enough to refrain from raiding your lands. That, in and of itself, would be incredibly expensive. They don’t do that for fun, not entirely. They often appropriate needed supplies: food, metal, cloth, animals, new blood, etc.”

                  Lord Iysen groans, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands.

                  “Okay, what will that take?”

                  You hesitate; thinking for a moment, then reply with:
                  1. Money, specifically silver and gold. Money is the great social lubricator, and giving enough raw “cash” to the Hill-Tribes would allow them to essentially buy what they needed, in addition to being a welcome gift. The young warriors, eager for wealth and status, who often raid specifically for such, might be upset, but some silver might soothe their pride. On the other hand……. This is pretty much going to clear out your treasury.
                  2. Land. They want their ancestral lands back, after all, and while you can’t exactly give it all back to them, there is a substantial portion of the domain of Xia that is largely underutilized, being rough and hilly terrain on the northern border, right up against the mountains where the Hill-Tribes live. It is already largely “theirs” de facto, since it isn’t largely settled by Lowlanders, but they tend to use it as hunting grounds as opposed to sites for new villages, since any new settlements get raided by your vassals, often specifically to prevent settlement. Ceding them the land, as well as preventing your vassals from bothering them, would be worth a lot. On the other hand, maybe 30-40% of Xia could be ceded to the Hill-Tribes in this fashion
                  3. Give them a hostage, one of your children. While this wouldn’t serve as an exchange in and of itself, giving one of your children as a hostage would essentially prove that you are taking them seriously, and could very well mean you have to give them less money or land. On the other hand….. you only have three children, Lord Iysen, and none of them will be happy serving as a hostage.
                  4. Something else?


                  I love me an Exalted meta joke

                  Poor Saiko, girl just doesn’t have the bulk to be a front-line combatant. Kasai throws her around like a ragdoll, just through sheer weight alone.


                  • A mix of 2and 3 strikes me as a good starting point. Silver will probably also needed to be given, but the mixture should limit the cost of each individual section. Money is the least likely to be cost effective but offering some as a token or a percentage of the spoils of any counter strike would help.

                    Ceding some of the land should not be too much of an issue, but the amount given makes a huge impact and the local lords are a major issue in regards to the relative value of the land. Still our best thing to offer.

                    Offering one of Iysen's children as a hostage temporarily, for say the duration of the conflict or until the Tribes/Confederation is paid in full is probably the best way to prove to the tribes that we are taking them seriously, that we intend to honour the bargain. Added bonus, said child will learn about the Hill Tribes and that is valuable as a learning experience. That said...from what we know of the Hil Folk, they might take offence to the idea of harming a non-combatant. Need more info.

                    Any money offered would need to be divided between the Tribes...which makes it really expensive. A non-trivial sum becomes a lot smaller that way but offering something along those lines might not be awful...heck a full blown trade treaty might be better for both sides but I'm not sure how that works with limited interactions. I don't really have a handle on how common it is for the Kingdoms and the Tribal Confederacies to interact at high levels, let alone peacefully. I think trade between the occurs through intermediaries normally, travelling merchants and the like.

                    Thoughts ripple out, birthing others


                    • Originally posted by FallenEco View Post

                      Please note that we are only really dealing with the Dumoniapoccasset Confederacy, which is made up of 12 tribes, or about 20,000 people.

                      Oh, and..... uh, no, if Xia was to renege on the deal, whoever the hostage was would almost certainly be killed. Brutally. Like, "send home bits and pieces of their tanned skin periodically" brutally.

                      That is why giving a hostage would be so effective. Money, land, Lord Iysen can get more of both, but she can't really get another child. It is a curb on her behavior, something to ensure she keeps her side of the bargain, not really anything for the Hill-Tribes.

                      Of course, the executing of a hostage in the case of a broken treaty isn't unique to the Hill-Tribes, not by a long shot. The Lowland families do it "all the time", relatively speaking, and the exchange of hostages is a pretty common part of peace negotiations. Usually, the hostage (it doesn't always have to be a child) is treated gently, and in some cases, ends up marrying into the family, but in cases when the hostage's family acts up and breaks the treaty, well...... things get nasty. That is, well, the point of taking/giving a hostage; an assurance of good behavior, or the hostage gets killed.

                      For example, let us presume that Yue gets defeated, and to ensure peace from the surviving members of the Matsu family (as well as vassals of the same, if she decides to let them retain their territory, which is possible depending on how they behave), Lord Iysen could very well decide to take hostages. The hostages would then be moved to Teriake Castle, where they would live from there on out. If the Matsu family/vassals rebel, Lord Iysen would kill the hostages in retaliation.

                      Now, Lord Iysen wouldn't like to do so, not one bit (not many mothers are comfortable killing children), but politics is politics, and if you aren't willing to -ahem- "do what is necessary", what is the point of taking a hostage?

                      In some cases, marriagable hostages might be married to eligible vassals or retainers, both to ensure the loyalty of the vassal/retainer and to make sure any future progeny are loyal to the liege-lord, not the family of the defeated party. In many cases, this might be preferable to them living as a hostage. Sure, if the potential hostage was a member of a royal family, their status will be decreased...... but their status would disappear upon attainment anyways, and living as someone of lesser status is preferable in many ways to existing as a prisoner with the spectre of death looming over them. In fact, many noble families eyeing defeat on the horizon will offer marriageable children as part of the defeat-terms.

                      Both parties have to have marriageable partners for that to work, though. It doesn't always happen, for many reasons.

                      As for trade...... the Hundred Kingdoms and the Hill-Tribes don't really interact all that much on a high level. Most interactions occur in the hinterlands of both societies; lowlander villages in the hills, Tribe hunting parties buying supplies from said villages or travelling traders, so on and so forth. There are travelling Hill-Tribe merchants throughout the Hundred Kingdoms, but they tend to be few and far between, of partial descent from both cultures, and don't go to the Castle-Towns very much, working through intermediaries more often than not.

                      This is mainly due to the language barrier, thought inter-cultural discrimination also plays a part. Very few lowlanders can speak Forest-tongue, and very few Hill-Tribespeople speak Riverspeak. You also aren't going to want to go to a place to sell goods if people mock you and treat you like shit.

                      For example, most of the clothing and jewelry Kasai bought in the market is of Hill-Tribe manufacture, but he didn't buy it off a Hill-Tribesperson.

                      If trade was actually opened up between Xia and the Dumoniapoccasset, both "economies" would grow as a result, since the Hill-Tribes are sitting on comparatively-large deposits of gold, silver and copper, not to mention animal byproducts (wool, leather, furs, meat, cheese, etc), while the Lowlanders have fine farming land, as well as more iron for tools and weapons. Most of the trade would pass through individual merchants, however, since there isn't any roads leading between the two areas, so if Xia wants to benefit, they would either have to build a road, or take advantage of rivers.

                      If the Hill-Tribes move into the lower hills as a result of a treaty, then trade would become almost infinitely-easier by comparison. Of course, there are already Lowlanders living there, but they are few and far between. Partially due to the rough terrain making farming difficult in comparison to the river-bottoms, but also because the area is positively lousy with bandits, even by Hundred Kingdoms-standards.
                      Last edited by Boston123; 03-11-2017, 05:31 PM.


                      • Land. Yue land, if possible. Plant the seed for a long term alliance, if possible.

                        Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                        An Exalt is never unarmed.


                        • Could we offer a share of Yule land if we grab us some?


                          • Originally posted by Jairain View Post
                            Could we offer a share of Yule land if we grab us some?

                            Technically, any land ceded to the Hill-Tribes is going to have to come from land owned by Lord Iysen herself. She can't exactly give away land belonging to her vassals.

                            If Yue falls, all lands by right in Yue belong to her automatically, up until she doles it out. She is probably going to hold on to the more productive coastal parts, while much of the retaining land is going to be awarded to her vassals and faithful retainers. While most of Yue's vassals are going to be stripped of title when they die, any that bend the knee will likely stay in power, albeit diminished (and hostages taken, as above). That..... doesn't leave much leftover land.

                            However, Yue, much like Xia, and every other domain in the Hundred Kingdoms, has marginal land that isn't used for very much. Most of it, as above, is going to be the hilly country right next to the mountains, while other parts is the forest-land well away from river valleys, comparatively unsettled by the Lowlanders.

                            This marginal land is going to be what is ceded as part of any treaty. And, while it is rougher and less productive than river-bottom, it is infinitely more valuable than the current cliffs, crags and gullies the Hill-Tribes currently occupy. For example, the Jianghu Gap, a hilly lake valley where Yagura Castle (Lord Iysen's second castle) is located, is about 1/5 the size of the current territory of the Nemasket, Assawompsset, and Nasketucket tribes combined. It it also fertile enough to support 5 x their number, in terrain that, while still rough, is much less harsh.

                            She isn't likely to give up her castle, however. It will either be destroyed, or more likely, given to a vassal to look over, especially if the land is ceded over. While the Lord Iysen is willing to cut a deal with the Hill-Tribes, she doesn't trust them, not long-term.

                            The only reason she is willing to deal with them at all is because Kasai is available. If not, she would basically be forced to fight a defensive war with Yue, so her forces could remain at home.
                            Last edited by Boston123; 03-11-2017, 10:53 PM.


                            • Just as a word of , well, not forewarning, but: you all who are proposing to give the Hill-Tribes conquered Yue territory..... what happens if Xia loses? The Hill-Tribes get nothing in that case. It is eminently possible, as Xia and Yue are extremely similar in power; the war, as is, will be a fair-fight. And fair battles equal losing wars.

                              We are trying, first and foremost, to keep them off Xia's back. We can't pay them with stuff we don't yet have: put the cart before the horse, count the eggs before they hatch, so on and so forth.

                              Now, ceding them conquered land if they help conquer it is indeed a worthwhile proposition, and will make them sit back from the diplomacy-table, but we have to actually get them to said table first.....


                              • That's kinda what I was thinking but if I was them I would demand much more than small bits of shitty land for the blood of my warriors. Perhaps offering the hill lands of both Xia and Yue in exchange for active help in the war plus maybe some other spoils IFF we win. We should be willing to settle for a mutual non-aggression pact in exchange for a small combo of money and lands. I would prefer the hostage angle as that can occasionally lead to unforeseen long term benefits if we are willing to risk the royal blood but it seems unlikely that would be voted on.