The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
Special Thanks to CeeJay for the core ideas for this.
Previously submerged under the tide of the Imperialist faction, have re-emerged as their own faction. Is Thestro Briarsmith still alive? If he is, is he now staging his own bid for the throne given the chaos surrounding the Stavian line? Or if he isn't still alive, is one of his relatives now carrying the torch? He isn't mentioned as having children in TFE or anywhere else that I know of, but it isn't ruled out, either. At any rate, House Briarsmith's domain here is attenuated, with Porthmos Prefecture now chopped up among four rival factions. So whatever Thestro or his relatives are up to, things haven't gone great. Porthmos Prison, the Grand Duke's “political prison,” appears not be under his control:===perhaps his prisoners have been freed by this point?
(Fun Fact:In TFE, the mention of Porthmos Prison comes with art of an adventurer bribing a gargoyle with a book. This gargoyle is named Grinnd, and such a bribe is actually how adventurers get into Porthmos Prison in a very early Society adventure. The object of that adventure is to rescue a thief named Hadge, who according to TFE canon is still in Porthmos Prison at that point and leading one of the many prison gangs who run the place.)
There have been dramatic events in Cassomir. House Corcina – maybe or maybe not a former Imperialist house depending on how you were inclined to read them – has taken over control of that city, which should be House Tiberan's domain. Is there fighting here? This likely poses problems for Eutropia's faction in accessing the sea, depending on how hostile Corcina are to her.
If these are Stavian cousins, they'd have to be sufficiently remote cousins so that Stavian I's supposed relationship to House Adella doesn't touch them. This isn't impossible given how complex dynastic family trees can get.
Now emerged from “beneath the waves” of earlier maps, the doughty monster hunters of House Darahan have carved out some space for themselves and reassumed their rightful control of Whitemarch Prefecture, as well as taking control of Zimar (which probably means they're currently helming the protection of Taldor's southern border).
They're not aligned with Eutropia; like many others, they may not know what to think about the illegitimacy battle. They also share color-coding with another House that had previously looked likely as Eutropia supporters. Perhaps both factions are awaiting the resolution of that matter and prepared to support whoever comes out on top. Vivexis Darahan is still leading the she's no shrinking violet, but she's no spring chicken either, and Eutropia's experience is showing pretty clearly how complicated being a female claimant to the Lion Throne can get.
This is House Delriddia, mentioned last time out as likely Imperialists Grand Duke Nestor Delriddia is leading the House now, given the whole bizarre series of events around the Stavian claims, thinks they'd make as good an emperor as anyone. He's got problems though, as he was elevated from military service to his current rank by Grand Prince Stavian III, who is now supposed to have been illegitimate.
House Denzarni have been through some dramatic events of their own. They appear here to have been driven by House Lawsus out of their traditional seat of power in Kazuhn and to be roughing it in hilly northwestern Porthmos Prefecture. Given that their taste for hedonistic revelry virtually defines them, this cannot be a fun state of affairs. Is Grand Duchess Mellea Denzarni died at the Gala. Her son, Adrius is running the House in what very reduced circumstances.
The Baroness Ennoi has not only emerged into her own, but appears to have liberated a significant part of Porthmos Prefecture from Briarsmith rule. Is she staging her own claim, or is she simply running her territory as a relatively independent entity until the succession crisis is over? Either is possible. She would be a pretty obvious candidate for Eutropia to elevate in rank at the end of things; her independent-mindedness and willingness to speak truth to power are very Loyalist traits.
The illegitimacy claims have clearly done a number on Eutropia's support base, although she still holds the Palace of Birdsong and controls a lot of Northern Tandak and Avin.
Previously having seemed a likely lock for Loyalist status, House Fahlspar have now withdrawn their support from Eutropia and are even making their own claim. If so, this appears to reflect some internal family struggle (or even skulduggery?). The Grand Duchess Fahlspar's unusual politics are known to be a great source of discomfort for her cousins, who don't share them, and she's no master of intrigue herself.
House Heskillar aligned with the Loyalists at some point but has clearly given up on that alliance and is still, apparently, battling to assert control over Krearis Prefecture, of which it seems to directly control relatively little. There's the interesting detail in that its influence extends into World's Edge Province up to the Valley of the Azlanti ( Editor: this was also shown on the map in Book One, although it ceased for a time thereafter). This could reflect a fluctuating alliance with the dwarves of the Sky Citadel of Kravenkus, which is sited there; it would fit with the Grand Duke's unusual affinity for the dwarves.
Shown as controlling western Opparos and part of Oppara, House Kastner have fallen away from Loyalist support – assuming they were in fact really supporters in the first place – and they appear allied with House Darahan. Perhaps this reflects similar stances being taken by the two Houses or even an alliance between them.
They fell under Imperialist control in the past but are now independent again and in control of the Monastery of the Seven Forms and nearby areas. Otherwise, they're as enigmatic as before. The revelation of the Seven Forms of Sin Monastery may have shaken them.
House Lawsus had apparently been overrun by or persuaded to ally with the Imperialists in the past two months. Now, their base of support has reemerged stronger than ever and they have displaced the ruling House from Kazuhn Prefecture. Whatever game they're playing and whatever claim they've cooked up to the throne, it looks like it's one of the stronger ones.
Merkander's claim appeared to have been submerged by the Loyalist cause recently–maybe they just bent with the way the wind seemed to be blowing – but with the Imperialist faction gone, they're clearly persistent and have reemerged as a strong force in northern Krearis once again.
House Merrosett are the last holdouts of the Imperialist cause. They are now basing their own claim on having had the favor of Maxillar Pythareus, using a set of documents that the High Strategos passed his powers to them upon his death This means, the same forces wreaking havoc on Eutropia's base of support would be affecting them, making them a minor threat.
Stavian cousin claimants, Nazezi are one of a few factions who never were subsumed by either Imperialist or Loyalist factions. However, their base of support is far smaller now than in the previously. It seems they have been caught in the crosswinds of the legitimacy affair.
Phaeben was swamped by the Imperialist faction and Phini by the Loyalists in prior months, but they're now pressing their own claims again, from apparently quite restricted bases of support. As Stavian cousins, their claims have been tainted for erstwhile supporters, too.
House Solari, meaning the Grand Duchess Solari, is one of the largest factions to emerge from the break-up of the Imperialist cause and controls both Destelita Solari's traditional domain at Ligos and a bunch of Lingian Prefecture, as well. Solari is pursuing her own claim to the throne with the legitimacy affair in full swing, she has decided to acknowledge the primogeniture vote and suggest herself as an heir as she says Eutropia's claim would no longer automatically outrank hers.
The gnomes of Wispil and their ally, former senator Marquess Starborne, have never thrown their lot in with any particular faction, still have no reason to pursue the Lion Throne and clearly continue to chart their own course. It is unclear what that course is, however, it appears they have adjacency to Eutropia's cause, which would be consistent with Tanasha Starborne's character, and that doesn't seem to have changed.
Previously overrun by the Imperialists, Tarq have now re-emerged and reclaimed much of their previous territory in Porthmos Prefecture. Their response to recent events could really be… just about anything?
The name of a lunar naga from The Dragon's Demand that turned up on the map in Book One now reappears in the Dragonfen. The rumors are that Thaena is some kind of naga, Is this her taking the opportunity of chaos to establish her own independent “monstrous” kingdom in the heart of Verduran Forest, maybe something along the lines of distant Nagajor. This may or may not be an immediate threat for the throne, but could easily be a long term menace.
No longer Loyalist supporters, House Tiberan have been chased out of their rightful seat at Cassomir and are pretty clearly up against it, controlling disconnected enclaves in Tandak and the Verduran Forest. It appears this diminished house is challenged. It seems likely that House Tiberan is just fighting to survive. If the Princess can make inroads, then they may easily come back to support.
That curious enigma on the borders of Verduran Forest, House Vort have been a constant presence in the succession struggle and another faction that has never thrown in with either Eutropia or the Imperialists. They remain constant now. Again, maybe just in too much of a backwater for anyone to care too much.
The corrupt rulers of Lingian Prefecture appear to have been mostly displaced from their traditional home, much like House Denzarni they seem to control a narrow slice of their own territory and an even narrower slice of Opparos. Given their corrupt and unpleasant character, they likely have few friends by this point it would make sense for the Grand Duchess Solari to be outmaneuvering them.