Banecroft Barony

Lore :: An Academic Observation








Many people don't take the time to realize it, or haven't been around long enough to notice it, but the Realms has a history, and studying that history can prove interesting. Like in real history, there is a tide in the affairs of mankind, a tide that we all have seen the effects of, but that few recognize. The pattern that has repeated itself again and again is that a certain group will suddenly become very large and powerful, only to lose its size equally dramatically. I have taken the liberty of labeling this phenomenon as 'the Fad'.

What has happened again and again is that one group will somehow suddenly be considered the 'cool' group to join, and many people will flock to the banner. All too often the fresh followers are not fully committed to their new group, or haven't grasped the seriousness (and thus stability) of swearing fealty. Eventually, they drift away to the next group that begins with great fanfare and high promise. Now the Fad isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as one recognizes what is happening and isn't disappointed or disillusioned when fortunes change suddenly. Even the some of the most stable and largest groups have enjoyed the fad.

At one of my very first events, the Tourney of Fools, I participated in the largest mass-swearing of fealty that I have seen before or since. Chimeron, rising from Valehaven's ashes, was suddenly enormous. That size dropped somewhat (I myself negotiated independence two years later) but has in later years been on the upswing not by a sudden swing of opinion, but by gradual and stable accumulation. The next instance was Tiathan. Through great cunning, a genius at manipulation and PR, and shrewd tactics, he rose in nine short months from a newbie to the most powerful single person in the Realms. But his power went into decline, too. He was smart enough to see this happening, and struck at Chimeron as soon as he saw the trend. Had he made his move while still on the upswing, I think the outcome would have been more in doubt.

While Blackwood experienced a brief up-and-down swing from the Fad at this time, it was Ironhand and the Borderlands who stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by Taithan's passing. The number of Taithan's former followers in the Borderlands was what made me first form this theory, which I observed in action in the years following. Ironhand was less subtle, quietly intimidating small, independent groups to swear to him or be crushed. After one small but visible group defied him, the tide had turned, and he disbanded his group some months later. For a while I thought that it would be the Emerald Empire that would rise next, but I proved to be mistaken. House Phoenix, already of impressive size, grew quickly. Morgil was wise enough to recognize the phenomenon, and adjusted his policies to augment the swing in the form of increased emphasis on recruitment, knighthoods, and holding impressive court. At this last season's Tourney of Creathorne, he was at his height. But the Fad moved on.

Predicting where this trend will occur next could be useful. Some groups, most notably Folkestone, have safeguarded themselves from the Fad by the careful screening of new members. It is neither quick nor easy to become a member, and those that do are naturally very dedicated. Other groups that exercise care in allowing new membership are likewise protected. One wonders who is being effected by the Fad now, but it would be improper for me to speculate in this forum.

This long history impresses me with the importance of taking care in the building of one's group. I urge prospective followers to take longer to decide whom to follow, to get to know the situation better so that once the choice has been made you will be happy there. Swearing fealty should be a serious thing. And I likewise urge the Nobles to take care to shape their groups to their vision. After all, the ties of fealty are two way, and by the law of the land, a Noble is responsible for the actions, for good or ill, of their followers.

Of course, making a big splash can be a lot of fun, and if that's what one is after, this article can help. But remember that this, too, shall pass.