Over a period of four months, the Ulrican faith has a momentous task ahead of itself; to choose a successor to Emil Valgeir to become the Ar-Ulric. Wolf Lords from all over the empire where there is a major temple of Ulric come to Middenheim to take part in the process. There, should they wish, they can put themselves forward to become the next Ar-Ulric. Once all the candidates have been confirmed, the venerable wolves (who are the senior clergy of the priesthood) vote by standing behind the person they wish to vote for. It is then a simple matter to count which wolf lord has the largest wolf pack.
While it may sound simple in theory, the majority of the process is taken up by evaluating each wolf lord, their strengths, their merits and their weaknesses. Ulricans are not one for long debates, often preferring action over words; as such the wolf lords undergo several trials to test their resolve to become the Ar-Ulric. Even if a wolf lord should fail a trial, it does not mean they fail altogether; merely that they may lose the support of several venerable wolves.
The trials are always done towards the last week of the process, once all the candidates have arrived. This allows them to recover from their long travel to Middenheim, and to regain their strength so that the wolf lords who live closer by do not gain an unfair advantage. Any candidate who does not show up, be it delayed as a result of unforeseen consequences, are usually counted out of the process unless a grace period is granted by the denfather. Grace periods are normally granteed upon favorable candidates.
In total, there are five candidates; three other potential candidates have opted to not stand for the position of Ar-Ulric. These three include a wolf lord from Altdorf, a wolf lord from Kislev (the city) and a wolf lord from Olricstaad, Norsca. All three have decided to not stand for the position, and they are not obliged to give their reasons.
*To further player participation from my group, I allowed my players (and past players) to vote for which candidate they would like to see become the Ar-Ulric. They are, in a sense, embodying the venerable wolves (the senior wolf priests who get to vote) and were provided snippets of information on each candidate. I will be presenting that information below and expanding upon it.*
– Markyn Maddox
One of the first candidates to declare himself, Markyn Maddox hails from the Carroburg temple and had the distinct advantage of being present during the tragedy that had befallen the faith. While the other wolf lords had to journey from afar, Maddox was busy preparing himself for the trials ahead and seeking supporters amongst the faith.
Markyn Maddox has the ambition and tenacity to succeed Emil as the Ar-Ulric. He would need it for it won’t be easy for this grizzled wolf. Maddox famously did not get on with Emil Valgeir, often clashing over many issues. For this reason alone, Maddox often kept himself within the temple at Carroburg, and had only been in Middenheim during the collapse of the temple to attend the festivities. His views often align with that of the deceased traitor Wolf Lord Brunner, but to a much lesser extreme. Maddox feels that now is the time to set things ‘right’ between the two faiths. He senses weakness amongst the Sigmarites, and believes now is the time to make demands, such as ensuring that the Ar-Ulric gets a greater say, greater vote, and equal share of time with the Emperor. Maddox does not detest the Sigmarites as Brunner did, but he is willing to pounce on them all the same.
Yet many are seeking to distance themselves from Brunner’s views. Brunner had many friends in the faith, Maddox included. And now many are seeking to distance themselves from those who were close to Lord Brunner. Maddox will have a tough time trying to convince many of his brothers that he is the right choice; for some, Maddox represents what Brunner wanted to achieve. He will have to convince them otherwise.
– Hannos Hardtmann
Ar-Ulric Emil Valgeir was originally the Wolf Lord at the Ulrican temple in Talabheim. For this reason alone, Lord Hardtmann is a strong contender, but far from a favorite. Often derided as the ‘Pauper Wolf’, usually behind his back, Hardtmann is a man of the wilds who often spends his time away from the temple. He is often a man of few words, preferring to let action be his guiding principle. The greatest concern is how much of an active presence he will be, should he become the Ar-Ulric. Emil Valgeir was always, usually, found at the temple. And often at times preaching as far as his voice will carry. As such, there is concern that Hardtmann may not even conduct regular sermons. Yet despite these concerns, no candidate can say they are as tuned into the wild as Hardtmann. They say he can commune with wolves without any effort on his part, and is able to make a companion out of any animal he encounters, so they say. Although his stance concerning the Sigmarites is unknown.
Yet Hardtmann does have his supporters within the faith. There are some who believe that the Ulrican faith has lost its way. That it has become out of touch with its wild roots. Some are even daring to question whether they should build a new temple, and instead perhaps opt for a much less grandiose temple out in the wilds near Middenheim. And this is what Hannos Hardtmann wants. Rather than waste precious resources on a new temple in the city, Hardtmann believes that a ‘Temple of Nature’ should be constructed, to step away from the urbanization of the cult and step into a new path of enlightenment that revolves around getting back in touch with nature. Hannos also wants to try and bring in the Sons of Ulric; a fanatical sect of wild naked worshipers that Hannos believes he can reach out to.
Regardless, Hardtmann will have a tough time to convince many of his brothers that building a new temple out in the wilds is the way forward, and to get back to nature. Some may see this as too close to Taal for comfort.
– Reinhardt Karbold
Situated at a very small and rather poor temple of Ulric in the heart of Hochland, Karbold is the least likely to succeed as the Ar-Ulric. Despite this, tradition calls for his appearance at Middenheim to take part in the process of deciding who shall be the next Ar-Ulric. He is by far the youngest Wolf Lord, and was once considered for the White Wolves until he made his decision to remain part of the
Order of the Howling Wolf. The man is no stranger to battle however, and has fought against greenskins, beastmen and even norscan raiders coming in from Ostland. His calm demenor, even on the battlefield, has earned him the moniker ‘The Calm Wolf’ for he often portrays himself as a level headed reasonable man. He has no animosity towards the Sigmarites either. He believes that both sides should come to peace, and is unwilling to rock the boat even if it means that the faith may suffer as a result. While his experience on the battlefield cannot be put into doubt, he has not been a Wolf Lord for long, and for this reason he is unlikely to succeed as the Ar-Ulric. Yet he is also considered the ‘safe bet’ in a time when tension between the two faiths are high.
Karbold will perhaps have the greatest struggle. The younger venerable wolves may see him as a breath of fresh air, but young venerable wolves are a minority. The only chance Karbold has to gain supporters is to do well in the trials, and to show his strengths and hope to gain supporters that way. He is somewhat reserved in nature and is not as outspoken as the others; Karbold will have to learn the importance of shouting his views across if he is to be heard.
– Erik ‘Giantsbane’ Granholm
A large mound of muscle, Erik Giantsbane as he’s often called, is a name familiar with the majority of Ulricans. Hailing from Salzenmund in Nordland, there are several legends about the man, including how he once defeated a giant by smashing his hammer upon its big toe; when the giant bent over in reaction to this, Granholm uppercut him with his hammer, shattering the jaw of the giant and sending him down for the count. There are many more such legends concerning this old wolf. He has fought against the enemies of the empire since he was a wee lad, and has not known peace since then, often heading out for months in search for foes. Such is his love for battle, that Granholm is rarely seen at the temple in Salzenmund. It is said that he often grows restless if he sits for too long in one place, and while his love for battle cannot be frowned upon, there is a concern that he would not make a great Ar-Ulric. For the Ar-Ulric needs a careful balance, and some believe that Granholm cannot achieve that. Emil Valgeir also understood how the politics of the system worked, something that Granholm may suffer with. Yet, the Empire faces a dark time, and some believe that should a war take place, there would be no better candidate than Erik Giantsbane.
Granholm is an enigma. He is everything that a true Ulrican should aspire to be. Strong, battle-tested, brave, honorable with countless stories told of his heroics. He is expected to pass all the trials with little effort. Yet, even so he is not expected to garner much support; which means that the trials are not the only way to measure a man for the position of the Ar-Ulric. Giantsbane, it is feared, would challenge the Sigmarites that could lead to war. While Brunner hated the Sigmarites and wanted a war against what he saw was his enemies, Giantsbane views is as far away from that as possible. Giantsbane doesn’t see the Sigmarites as his enemies, but as a worthy challenge; he sees this as an opportunity to test the strength of the two faiths and see who comes out top. For those who feel that war is inevitable, they may indeed throw their support in behind Erik Granholm, but whether or not that’s enough, remains to be seen.
– Vasily Nikonov
Hailing from Erengrad in Kislev, Lord Nikonov is an outside favorite, rivaling Lord Maddox. The two Lords have a heated rivalry that goes back decades. Nikonov was a good friend of Emil Valgeir, although the two have not seen one another in years due to the distances between them. Nikonov has little battle experience when compared against the other candidates, which is something they would likely use against him. Yet Nikonov is a proven diplomat, an ambitious one at that and one who knows how to get what he wants. Emil Valgeir once made a comment concerning his friend NIkonov, “Beware if you feast with Vasily, for he will have you believe you’re not the predator but the prey, and before you know it you are at his mercy.”
Yet some are concerned that Nikonov would rather talk to his foes than fight them, and few believe that Lord Nikonov has become too much of a Kislevite, with some rumors suggesting that Nikonov has taken up with a foreign Kislevite god. But such rumors are unfounded as they lack proof of any kind, yet it will not prevent his enemies in using them to harm his efforts to become the Ar-Ulric.
Support for Nikonov is expected to be 50/50 which could drastically change depending on how well he does in the trials, and whether or not the rumors that he has taken up worship of a foreign god reaches fever pitch. Nikonov’s greatest asset was his friendship with Emil Valgeir, the former Ar-Ulric. Valgeir was very popular within the faith, and his friendship with Vasily Nikonov was well known. But detractors would point out that Valgeir was also close friends with Wolf Lord Brunner, who turned out to be a traitor… Such a point has merit and some believe that Valgeir grew blind in the treachery around him and allowed for this to happen under his watch. As such, Vasily Nikonov will have to convince the others of his sincerity and maintain a careful balance between speaking up for his deceased friend and also pointing out where he went wrong. Nikonov cannot afford to alienate his main support base but at the same time, he will need to bring others into the fold if he wants to gain further support.
Let The Trials Begin
The candidates have arrived, with the last one arriving being Hannos Hardtmann as it took several days to reach Hardtmann who had been hunting in the wild. He made quite a stir when he did arrive in the city, being followed by a large pack of feral wolves which made a considerable impression upon the others.
One by one, each candidate begins to undergo several trials that test endurance, strength, honour, courage, intelligence and devotion. The details of these trials will not be listed, as it would require a whole blog post in itself, but I will be detailing how each candidate performs. *Their performance is partly-affected based on the votes they received from the playing group of players. I say partly because other factors that take place outside the trials will have an impact as well.*
- Markyn Maddox: Markyn Maddox did rather poorly in the trials, despite having extensive preparation and time. In particular, the trials concerning endurance, strength and courage, he performed rather poorly, although he moderately did well in the trials concerning intelligence and devotion. It is important to note that he did not fail any one of them; Maddox passed all the trials, but with the amount of preparation he had, he was expected to do much better than he had done. As a result, much of his support wavered and left him after this. He would not recover from this as Maddox had been relying on the trials to convince the others to get behind him.
- Hannos Hardtmann: Hannos excelled in the trials, with his best results coming from the trial of devotion. The so-called ‘Pauper Wolf’ made it clear that he took his faith seriously. His second best performance was in the trial of endurance. Being a wild wolf certainly helped him here as the endurance trial was largely survival based. He did well in the other trials with exception to the strength trial which was his poorest performance, possibly as a result of his advanced age. Regardless, overall he surpassed many expectations others had of his performance. After his trials, many of his opponents retracted their snide remarks concerning him and showed a greater respect for what they once referred to as the pauper wolf. Hardtmann would prove to be a serious challenge for the Ar-Ulric.
- Reinhardt Karbold: Reinhardt was an unknown factor, and some had expected him to do poorly in the trials. His ascension to a wolf lord was largely attributed to the death of his mentor and there lacked any other viable candidates for the position, so his detractors say. Reinhardt is relying on the trials for he has very little support in the temple, and only from fringe venerable wolves who don’t like any of the other candidates. Fortunately for him, Reinhardt excelled in the trials. His best performance was in the trial of honour, testing his resolve to uphold Ulric’s strictures even in the face of adversity and temptation. His second best performance was in the trial of intelligence, where battle awareness and decision making is key. The rest of the trials he passed equally well. His performance certainly earned him a great amount of respect from the veteran priests, and gained him enough support to become a serious contender.
- Erik ‘Giantsbane’ Granholm: Granholm did as was expected him to do. His greatest trial was strength, far surpassing all the other candidates in their efforts. Despite Granholm being 62 and the oldest candidate, his constant search for battle has kept him in prime shape, and he showed it. He excelled in the endurance trial, courage, honour, devotion but ultimately failed in the intelligence trial, of which it was expected he would likely do poorly, but not fail. Unfortunately his failure in the this caused some of his supporters to waver, and they flocked to other candidates as a result.
- Vasily Nikonov: No one really knew how Vasily would do in the trials. Many had considered him to fail in the trials of endurance and strength, specifically because those two trials test battle fatigue. Vasily would do poorly in both trials, but he would prove them wrong as he did not fail them like they thought he would. His performance was certainly better than Markyn Maddox in all the trials, which certainly meant he had achieved something over his rival. Nikonov also did moderately well in the trial of devotion, but not as well as others. Which only further inflamed the rumors that he may be worshiping another foreign god. However Nikonov made up for poor performance by excelling in the rest of the trials. His best performance was in the trial of intelligence, showing his aptitude for decision making and ability to solve problems. His second best performance was in the trial of honour, which went against what some of his detractors were saying about his honour. Vasily came out of the trials as a serious contender. While he lacked battle experience which showed in the trials, he made up for it by showing that he could potentially, diplomatically, lead the faith out of this mess. That in itself earned him quite a few followers.
The Voting Begins
So now the moment has come where the votes are cast… *These votes represent the votes that the players (and former players) cast for the candidates. So each vote counts as a player. In terms of in-lore, each vote counts as a group of venerable wolves.*
Markyn Maddox – Maddox received no votes of support as a result of how badly he performed in the trials. Maddox was incensed by this, and the fact that his rival Vasily Nikonov had achieved better results in his trials and stolen away some of Maddox’s supporters, incensed the wolf lord enough that he stormed out of the city and went back to Carroburg in a huff.
Erik Granholm – Erik Giantsbane Granholm received a total of one vote, largely from supporters who still believed that war was coming, be it the Sigmarites or someone else, and they needed someone like Granholm. Ultimately it was not enough. Granholm was out of the running. He took the loss well, and it even seemed was somewhat glad, perhaps the realization and burden of leadership was starting to prey on his mind.
Hannos Hardtmann – Hardtmann received two votes in total. Interestingly enough, one of those votes consisted of the Grandmaster of the White Wolves, Rein Volkhard. And he was close to receiving a third, with some of the senior wolf priests unsure as to where to cast their vote, between him or the other two. Ultimately it was decided that Hardtmann’s wild nature and his controversial proposition to not rebuild the temple left some venerable wolves to opt going for a safer bet with one of the other candidates. Some were just afraid of the change that Hardtmann would bring to the faith.
Vasily Nikonov – Nikonov proved to be more successful than many of the other candidates, even when he had done poorly in some of the trials compared to others. Vasily greatest talentwas his ability to turn enemies into friends. Indeed, he had done so at the feast tables after the trials were over where he managed to sway several priests into voting for him just by speaking to them. He was a very charismatic man, and many saw in him the ability to ease tension between the two faiths. But was this enough? In total, Nikonov received three votes. He remained a serious prospect for being the next Ar-Ulric. With thee other candidates ruled out, only one remained in his path. Reinhardt Karbold.
Reinhardt Karbold – Tested in battle, but inexperienced when it came to leading, Karbold was a bit of a wild card. Many saw him as a ‘safe bet’ for which to cast their vote upon. Karbold did very well in the trials, although he was overshadowed by the likes of Giantsbane or Hannos Hardtmann in some areas, he did well considering his unknown factor and what many had already perceived of him. But would it be enough for the young wolf to claim an upset? Three votes had come in for Reinhardt, bringing it into a tie. Vasily Nikonov and Reinhardt Karbold were now neck-for-neck to become the next Ar-Ulric. Yet the votes were not all in. One small group of venerable wolves had yet to cast their vote… They were considering Hannos Hardtmann for a time, but as mentioned previously, his promise of considerable change to the faith caused them to look elsewhere. They felt Nikonov did not bring in the strength that the faith needed now, more than ever when it was down on its knees, so they opted for Reinhardt Karbold, bringing him to a total of four votes.
A New Ar-Ulric
Reinhardt Karbold ascends to become the youngest Ar-Ulric ever in the recorded history of the faith at the age of 34.
Many challenges lay ahead for the new Ar-Ulric. He must meet with the Grand Theogonist, a meeting that will likely take place in Altdorf. For much remains to be discussed as the tension, more than ever, is close to spilling into war. He must calm the rage of the populace who feel that the Sigmarites are to blame for what transpired in the City of the White Wolf.
Yet his greatest challenge remains within the core of the faith. His ascension to the Ar-Ulric was not a sweeping success. Many had voted for Vasily Nikonov, and Hannos Hardtmann claimed a great deal of support as well. Karbold is unproven, and he will need to remain strong and be ready to fight the challengers to his rule, for there will be many. He will need to convince many elders, venerable wolves who have a far greater amount of experience than Karbold, that he intends to rule effectively and by Ulrics creed. Some will seek to control him. Others will seek to influence him. Many will try to advise him, believing that their experience outweighs any opinion that he can put forward.
Indeed, Karbold’s greatest challenge is to hold onto the power that was given to him.
For Reinhardt Karbold, his trials have only just begun.