Patronage as a Concept

In ages past, Heroes were a rare breed. One would pop up here or there to slay a dragon or prevent a calamity. However, since the Trials, such events were increasing in nature, and at an alarming rate. It was decided something must be done. People couldn’t just wait for Heroes to come along. They must be educated, mentored and given a start. And so, Patronage was born.

Patrons themselves are powerful Lords (or Ladies), the nobility of the realm. They are wealthy and posses much, the great ruling houses. Patrons employ Heralds, the actual Heroes. The more resources a Patron has, the more Heralds he can have in his employ. While this sounds like a foundation for a private army, Heralds are held to a much loftier standard. They are expected to always serve the greater good, to defend those who can not defend themselves, and take on tasks too big or important for the average person. Doing so benefits the Patron, as it brings them and their house great Prestige, while the Heralds serve the actual community.

Though they have no legal powers or official title, Heralds are held in deep reverence by the general populace. The are almost universally liked and worshiped, and always well respected. Heralds simply walking down the street can, and often are, stopped to resolve disputes. If a Herald makes a judgement call on a disagreement, no one disputes his ruling.

What makes the system so unique is that is does not discriminate. The standing Army, for example, still harbors old prejudices against the Wizadry from the War, even though it is long over. Patronage has no bias, no prejudice. Patrons employ Wizards, Warriors, and Clerics equally. All receive the same rights, and are expected to act accordingly. While a normal Conclave Wizard might be treated with scorn in an establishment, a Conclave Wizard who is a Herald would receive an entirely different, and more positive, reception.

Everyone knows who the Heralds are, often by name. They are the celebrities of their age. If one is spotted down the street, everyone from the eldest man to the youngest child could tell you of their recent deeds. Heralds stand out in a crowd, you will always know if you are in their presence.

Heralds are a very proud group, and rightfully so. The are always expected to Honor their Patron. When introducing or announcing themselves, Heralds are expected to use common ritual like “Fear me Dragon! I am Selthar, Herald of Anthellion, Lord of the Horselands of Endmarch!’

While the Patrons use and maneuver the Heralds in their employ to bring them great fame and prestige, they are also a political tool. A Herald may never be asked to move against a political enemy of their Patron, but their Patron can use them strategically. For example, when a Patron is invited to a social event, it is customary to either bring a Herald with you or send one to represent you. If a Patron shows up to an event with many Heralds, it is a sign of great respect. No greater show of respect can be had than being in attendance with all of your Heralds. Sending one or two of your best Heralds is a sign of moderate respect. However, showing up with no Heralds is a sign of great disrespect. As such, these types of games are played between the great houses with great frequency.

Patronage as a Concept

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