Cards The World

Cards: The von Hornbergs

“Battles leave empty thrones, my son. Your grandfather, Karl vor Hornberg, was a commoner, and a sell-sword, with only two men under his command: His brothers. By the Battle of Witges he commanded a platoon, and the Duke awarded him the now-vacant knighthood of the recently deceased traitor family von Kleist. By the time I took over the company, we had three battalions and a barony. For my support in the Battle of Keldbrukke, His Majesty, King Jerger awarded me the recently vacated Duchy of Beidebaum. You now take command of the greatest army west of the Neiße river. See to it that your son is called King.”

– Kristof von Hornberg to his son, Ulrich von Hornberg, on the occasion of his 18th birthday.

Recruiting vassals is one of the keys to winning Lyssan. A vassal is an influence card representing an alliance with a powerful faction within the Empire. The von Hornbergs are one of these: a noble family that built their power a gallon of blood at a time, working their way up through the gentry by fighting in every major battle and having a knack for choosing the winning side.

Vassals give a player an immediate influx of units, and the ability to hire more agents of a type than they would normally be allowed. In a game were the final victory point can come from fielding the most knights or priests or spies, this can make the difference between winning and losing!

Only one can’t depend on vassals. The alliance with the vassal is a ‘holding’, and holdings can be stolen by enemy spies, given the chance. When a vassal card moves from one player to another, the agents from the vassal also swap sides!

3 replies on “Cards: The von Hornbergs”

What a chaos! Depends on where and when. But recruitement usually went as follows: The king determined a place and a time schedule to gather. He sent messengers to his vassals. The vassals informed their own vassals. To every owned land there were numbers of recruitable fighters attached. A knight had to arm himself, and carry with himself attendants. Lords were required to muster a certain amount of armed followers, usually knights. For this or that land this or that number of warriors must be recruited. Specials privileged groups or cities either collected money for the war efforts or recruited their own bands. Mercenaries became widely used from 12-13th century onwards. They were a common place in 14th century.

That’s how it worked within the feudal system. But Lyssan is inspired by the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century, where the nobility had rights to their land without feudal obligations. If the Emperor or a king wanted to muster troops from the lower nobility, he couldn’t simply call them up, because the lower nobles owned no such debt up the chain. Each was a ruler in their own land, without military debts to the ranks above.

This played a large part in the instability that the HRE experienced, relative to its feudal neighbors. In the HRE, only the bishops, whose land was on loan to the Roman Catholic Church, had the usual feudal obligations to the emperor to deliver troops on demand. There were rare, brief cases of true feudalism in the HRE, but never for more than the peak of a given Emperor’s power. All such cases in the 11th century lasted a few years only, and the lower nobles promptly rejected claims of feudal obligations to the emperor as soon as a new emperor was crowned.

Also: Regarding mercenaries in the historical period that inspired Lyssan:

The 11th Century was the twilight years of Viking power, whose various cohorts were more than happy to sell their services. They roamed not only the north sea, but up and down the rivers of the Kievan Rus.

Viking mercenaries roamed as far as Constantinople. There they were prized as the the most loyal and fierce warriors money could buy. The Emperor’s own bodyguards were the Varangian Guard: Viking mercenaries who prized for their prowess in combat, but also because these hired soldiers had no prior investment in the politics of Byzantium. Their loyalty was bought, and that they had no prior loyalties in the political struggles of Byzantium was viewed with favor.

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