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    Canonfire :: View topic - The Scarlet Guide To Conquest For Fun And Profit
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    The Scarlet Guide To Conquest For Fun And Profit
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 394
    From: Canada

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    Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:39 pm  
    The Scarlet Guide To Conquest For Fun And Profit

    Something I've tried to determine over the years of writing at Canonfire is how exactly the Scarlet Brotherhood operates. I never liked the implications of the "Office of Purity" that the Brotherhood would enslave anyone and everyone who wasn't Suel, which would consume a huge amount of manpower and economic resources in newly conquered lands. Unfortunately, I've kind of played into it with my earlier articles by mentioning how commonly known the Scarlet Sign was among some realms. That's why I had to rethink exactly how the Brotherhood should work in practice.

    However, I think I've come up with a final idea of how the Brotherhood works, one that plays to its strengths of intrigue and deception while still allowing for relative PC movement even in conquered Brotherhood realms.

    Read on, then, for the true account of how the Scarlet Sign became a cancer, slowly spreading throughout the Flanaess as subtly and insidiously as its namesake...

    Step One: Subversion

    The Brotherhood are masters at winning fellow Suel over with honeyed words, convincing them of the glories of their race, and identifying those in a realm most likely to fall to their charms. First, the Brotherhood identify Suel in a given realm's power structure who might be most likely to work with them. Then, the Brotherhood works to get those people into the appropriate positions of power for the next step of the process...

    Step Two: The Fodder

    The Fodder are those jungle savages (many of whom are themselves Suel), humanoids such as hobgoblins and norkers, and monsters who the Brotherhood uses to invade realms it seeks to conquer. The Fodder are not meant to actually win battles, and the Brotherhood expects them to be slaughtered. The Fodder's role is to create chaos and distraction allowing the Brotherhood's assassins to maneuver those Suel they won over in the first phase into positions of power. The Greyhawk Wars was an ideal time for this, as the Thillonrian Peninsula barbarians were fighting Stonehold, and the Iron League was in a desperate struggle against the Great Kingdom.

    Step Three: Conversion

    Once the Suel leadership are in positions of power, they will begin subtly shifting the realm to align with the Scarlet Brotherhood. The basic governing structure of a realm often stays in place-Nyrond is a fully centralized monarchy, the Lordship of the Isles has a spider web-shaped hierarchy, etc.-but the laws and social mores are shaped to favor the Suel. Demihumans and non-Suel humans are slowly, ever so slowly, stripped of the rights and protections they might otherwise enjoy.

    Step Four: Support

    The realm's Suel leadership will also begin using the realm for the goals that the Scarlet Brotherhood has decided for it. The Lordship of the Isles and the Hold of the Sea Princes were intended to generate coin for the Brotherhood with their rich maritime trade. The Lordship continues to play that role, but the Sea Princes the Brotherhood left in charge of their realm were largely thrown off by the slave revolts that came in the aftermath of the third phase of the plan.

    The Brotherhood is nothing if not flexible, though, and what was once meant to be a maritime trading nation would eventually became a perpetual source of the Fodder. A few of the leaders of the Suel slaves that established their own new state in the wake of the Sea Princes' deposition have pledged themselves to the Brotherhood, selling their own kinfolk in exchange for wealth and prestige from the Brotherhood. (Think like real-life Haiti, except that some of the slave leaders merely threw in with a different imperial master rather than being truly free.)

    The Brotherhood's plans for the Thillonrian barbarians are similar, making them another type of Fodder, albeit one that is much more skilled, and thus useful for many more purposes, than the original Fodder.

    Much like the British Empire, the Brotherhood's internal dominions actually have considerable self-rule and ability to deal independently with other nations. The benefit of this is that it adds to the Brotherhood's secrecy and subtlety. However, the rulers of subordinate realms must always obey the Brotherhood's commands, and direct their resources towards expansion of the empire as directed by the Scarlet Sign.

    And the process continues, nation by nation, as the Brotherhood's poison continues to spread, oh so silently, oh so subtly.

    Such is the Sueloise Imperium reborn in modern times. Such is Korenth Zan, sole survivor of the Rain Of Colorless Fire, the last living inhabitant of the Suel Imperium, and the crown prince of the Royal Imperial House of the Suel, the ultimate puppetmaster, pulling the strings that make his victims dance ultimately for his own benefit, and his own power.

    To The Memory Of The Lost Imperium.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: May 31, 2008
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    Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:08 pm  

    Thanks for this, I have used the Scarlet Brotherhood in my campaign, one facet I use of them is to experimentally breed monsters and demihumans to make new beasts for war and better servants.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 01, 2007
    Posts: 698
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    Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:37 pm  
    Re: Operations of the SB

    So, one of the things I often wonder about - is how the world would change with the passing of time.

    And though a lot of people would say that there should be some big conflict where the Scarlet Brotherhood is defeated, I disagree.
    I think operations just like what you've outlined here describes exactly the kind of thing that will keep them around and in business for a long time.

    Now, granted, the "good guys" are always going to keep stopping them, but, I think the SB is going to keep right on trying, and doing just fine in their goals.

    So, even in 608CY, they would still be up to their old tricks!
    Of course, if you ask the Silent Ones, they'd tell you that the SB were kicked out of the Imperium, so, maybe they're not so great after all! Shocked

    Thanks for this good read about how they do the things they do!
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    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
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    Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:05 pm  

    Thanks for linking to this CruelSummerLord!

    I enjoyed reading your articulation of the Brotherhood's steps.

    Regarding the Fodder step, since it sounds like you've retained Sargent's depiction of the SB's invasion of the Sea Princes, have you detailed why the SB came out of the shadows?

    What happened in CY 573 to provoke Shar to announce ambassadors throughout the Flanaess rather than to remain in the shadows? And what happened in the following decade to prompt the Fodder step in widespread places across the Flanaess?

    Finally, did you ever write up the Free Amedian Confederacy? It seems like a great way to detail an example of Korenth Zan's vision.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 394
    From: Canada

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    Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:39 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Thanks for linking to this CruelSummerLord!

    I enjoyed reading your articulation of the Brotherhood's steps.

    Regarding the Fodder step, since it sounds like you've retained Sargent's depiction of the SB's invasion of the Sea Princes, have you detailed why the SB came out of the shadows?

    What happened in CY 573 to provoke Shar to announce ambassadors throughout the Flanaess rather than to remain in the shadows? And what happened in the following decade to prompt the Fodder step in widespread places across the Flanaess?

    Finally, did you ever write up the Free Amedian Confederacy? It seems like a great way to detail an example of Korenth Zan's vision.


    Actually, I broke with Sargent's depiction of the Brotherhood. They did not come out of the shadows. For all anyone knows, they're the same quiet, generally introverted group they were when they began providing ambassadors in 573 CY. Those ambassadors were also a convenient way to start reaching out to potential Suel turncoats who could support them.

    The important thing is that the Fodder are never publicly associated with the Brotherhood. To the world at large, the Fodder were just masses of jungle savages that attacked the lands of the Iron League and the Hold of the Sea Princes seemingly at random. Very few people know that the Fodder's invasion is actually a way to cause upheaval and distract from the Brotherhood's true agents using murder, blackmail and other methods to maneuver local Suel who agree to help them into positions of power.

    The Hold of the Sea Princes, as the Brotherhood originally intended, would stay the same to the world at large after putting down the Fodder's invasion. It would start providing trade and piracy wealth to the Brotherhood, while also ferrying Brotherhood agents further north. The problem was that the Fodder's invasion combined with a vicious slave uprising and things got out of hand, destroying the old Sea Prince regime altogether.

    Korenth Zan did not survive as the Crown Prince of the Imperial House of the Suel for so long without being flexible, so he changed the Brotherhood's plans. The Brotherhood backed some of the ex-slave rebel warlords (Suel, of course) and they won the civil war with the Brotherhood's backing. To the world at large, it just looked as if a nation of slaves took the chance to rebel and overthrow their oppressors, and create a new state in its place. Only a few of those Suel slave leaders know that their efforts were facilitated by the Brotherhood.

    Amedia's public goals are to recreate the same seafaring, trading, agricultural and piratical traditions of the old Sea Princes, only with free men benefiting from them rather than slave masters. Many of the old Sea Prince captains, shipwrights, bureaucrats and other leaders fled during the uprising, but some of them were given citizenship when they threw in with the slave rebels. Now, they are teaching the former Suel slaves things like navigation and shipbuilding.

    The Brotherhood's plans for Amedia are much more cynical. They might benefit from any trading or piracy the Amedians participate in, but they mainly see Amedia as a source of new Fodder, much the way they do the Thillonrian barbarians. For them, Amedia is a puppet state, just like the Scarlet Sign is itself a marionette for Korenth Zan, the Crown Prince of the Suel Imperium and the ultimate puppetmaster.

    To the Memory of the Lost Imperium.
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