Lore Spotlight: The Palisades & Writing In New Lore

One of the fun aspects of being a GM is the ability to add your own input to a already fleshed out world. It can be a bit of a touchy subject cause not everything a GM ‘adds’ is going to go down well. If the GM decides to add lore that states that Sigmar never vanished and was simply alive somewhere, still kicking ass and the party actually encountered Sigmar, that might not go down well with some players.

That just opens a whole can of worms and illogical nonsense for the GM to try and rationalize his reasons for allowing that to happen.

Thankfully Sigmar in my game is not immortal, and he is long gone. As to the manner of his departure, well… that’s a different ballgame altogether.

In my opinion, the GM is empowered with the creative tools at his disposal to create and change as he see’s fit, but must be cautious in what he changes or creates anew. Giving the Knights Panther’s new heraldry such as fluffy pink dice is not going to go down well with fans of that particular Knightly Order for example.

So as a GM, personally, I find that if the GM wishes to change/create he should ask himself a few questions:

Does it improve the game?

Does it improve the story?

Does it improve the lore?

Does it conflict with established lore?

Is it… silly?

And once you answer those questions yourself, then your free to act how you see fit, but the players will have their opinions and will probably judge!

However I’m not a fan of changing established lore, unless I feel that Games Workshops (who have done many rewrites on the lore) feel that an earlier lore version may be better than the current new one. It’s slightly muddy waters, and if there are two or more versions of a certain lore piece, I will simply choose the one I feel is best.

Now, saying all that above, I do take exception to established timelines. I’m not a fan of simply following a timeline of events because that is simply boring.

My WFRP campaign for example takes place in 2512; a good year cause it means that a lot of the well known established lore hasn’t taken place yet. The storm of chaos hasn’t happened yet. Will it? It might, but it might go very different in my campaign.

Boris Todbringer hasn’t fought Khazrak yet, so he hasn’t lost his eye and has not started his rivalry with Khazrak. That doesn’t happen until at least 2518, so a good few years yet. But Boris’s fateful encounter with Khazrak is a defining period in his life and character. So if I decide to not follow that timeline to the letter, then Boris Todbringer’s character development would change drastically or rather, remain as it is now. But I’m not saying that I wouldn’t follow timelines at all, but rather I’d have to look at the reasons for either changing something or keeping it as it is.

My view in that is to have the players involved. So Boris Todbringer’s fateful encounter with Khazrak could draw the PC party in somehow and they, not I, get to dictate how this goes. It’s often difficult territory when dealing with a well loved franchise that has its lore rooted in, and one must tread carefully lest the GM gets a lore protest on his hands. Thankfully that has not happened to me. Yet.

 

And so we come to the Palisades…

Palisade – A defensive enclosure usually made out of iron railings or wooden stakes.

The Palisades are my own creation and something I have inserted into the lore of my campaign. For one, their very existence does not muddy the lore and two, they fit in nicely and blend in nicely.

As their description states, the Palisades are a secretive defensive imperial order tasked with the protection of the Empire and its establishment. Their main aim however is to act and to remove trouble before it flairs, or at least, be ready for it.

The Palisades are concerned with the protection of the imperial establishment, ensuring that it endures. The Palisades are loyal to the Empire foremost before anything else, even before the Emperor, and are solely concerned with keeping the realm safe and secure. But one might say, “Isn’t the Emperor the Empire itself, for without an Emperor, you have no Empire…” but a Palisade agent would disagree, a retort would be, “Yes, true. But what happens if you have a corrupt Emperor who cares little for stable and fair rule? What then? That’s where we come in.”

The Palisades ensure that visiting Electors are safe and kept away from potential harm, they monitor the security of the Emperor constantly (and monitor the Emperor if need be) along with snuffing out any threats before they become a threat. Chaos cults, anti-imperial leagues and commoners and peasants gearing up for a riot, all come under their jurisdiction. But the Palisades have to prioritize. They are, after all, a fairly small order and despite their seemingly powerful and secretive nature, they lack the resources to go after every threat.

Priority is key; is that Slaanesh cult brewing in that pleasure parlor going to be a threat to the Emperor or a influential noble close to the Emperor? If they establish that the threat is minor to the Empire as a whole, then they won’t touch it. But they simply cannot allow a chaos cult to grow unchallenged, so ‘feelers’ are put out. Be it the Witch Hunters or the Inquisitors, the Palisades makes sure that someone knows about that cult, and that something gets done about it regardless.

For the Palisade’s to be interested in you, you’d have to be a threat to someone very powerful, be it an Elector, a powerful noble or the Emperor himself. And may the gods show mercy upon that soul, for once the Palisades have latched onto you, there’s very little you can do.

But perhaps the greatest weakness of the Palisades is not their limited resources, but their range of influence. The Palisades move with the Emperor. So, with the current capital of the Empire being Altdorf, that is their current base of operations, and they do not have the resources to stretch much more than that. Not to say they don’t have resources in other provinces. They do. But they are not Palisade agents, merely an extended arm; someone in their employ and paid quite handsomely. A Palisade agent is concerned with the capital, nothing else. If they get word that an Elector in another provincial capital may be in danger, they’ll ensure that the word gets sent out and that someone, not them, but someone either aligned to them or to another loyal group is made aware of it.

There’s certainly a lot of bureaucracy involved, which makes them rather ineffective in squashing out threats to electors from far-away provinces. But a Palisade agent’s sole agenda is the capital, and until they get more resources, that will remain their only agenda. And it is safe to say they are kept quite busy. The Emperor gets visits on a daily basis from foreign dignitaries and the odd Elector now and again, which means that the Palisades have to ensure the safety of all those traveling to the capital.

The secretive order is also quite old. At least over a thousand years. Their original founding purpose was much darker however. Founded by Boris Goldgather, infamously known as Boris the ‘Incompetent’, an Emperor from the much hated line of the Drakwald Emperors. Boris founded a secretive group of spies made up of criminals and thieves who spied on the Electors on behalf of the Emperor. They fed him information and often stole for him, although always receiving a cut. Boris was not called ‘Goldgather’ for nothing and he was synonymous with greed and opulence to the extreme.

It was his successor, Mandred Skavenslayer, also known as Mandred the Ratslayer, who found out about Boris’s secretive spies. After the war that no one in the present timeline even remembers, Mandred set his sights on rebuilding the Empire that was torn apart and ravaged by the underworld ratmen. Mandred was a stern but fair ruler, and wanted to ensure that such a tragedy of imperial opulence, greed and self-serving electors are either done away with or kept in line. So he reformed Boris’s secretive order, reforming them into what is now known as the Palisades.

Their duty was to protect the Empire, observe and snuff out threats before they happen. Mandred though was concerned about the future. What would happen if another Boris Goldgather took the crown? So he tasked the Palisades with monitoring the Emperor, and they reported directly to the Emperor’s Chancellor, aka the Spymaster.

Of course, the Palisades would not dare move against any Emperor directly, even if that Emperor would be absolutely corrupt and useless. Instead, they ensure that the Electors are made aware of the Emperor’s incompetence and that the Emperor’s darkest secrets are mysteriously leaked to the courts of the other provinces. Although this might seem to be contrast to the Palisade’s goals of creating a stable realm, as it might lead to civil war, from the viewpoint of a Palisade agent; “Nothing leads to anarchy faster than a oaf on the throne.”

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