Like a great snake twisting and worming its way across the north, those that belong to Hrothmar’s Bloodline are quite content hissing sweet words and pouring poison into the ears that will grant them the highest honours and favours. The family’s coils are ever tightening their grip around the politics and establishments of nations cross Turoza's north, not that those nations and establishments mind so long as Hrothmar’s ancestors act in the right way, and help keep them sitting on their comfy thrones….Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World. One of the most influential families on the continent of Turoza, it is often said that the family and descendants of the Human Aelbehrt Hrothmar, known to the wider world as Hrothmar’s Bloodline, have so much collective power in the north of Turoza, that should they wish, they could unite the whole entity into a single kingdom under their rule. Members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline can be found operating at high levels in the economic, political, military, academic and religious infrastructure in the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore and the constituent states of the Mountain Principalities. Though the family make great pains to show loyalty and devotion to the rulers of the nations they reside in, all of them maintain their primary allegiance to the familial head of the Bloodline, the First Descendant, who controls and steers the family’s operations from the ancestral seat of Burhwic, ensuring that the Bloodline prospers, is protected, and is ever ready to concentrate yet more power and influence within its own members.
Hrothmar’s Bloodline is coordinated and led by an individual known as the First Descendant, a person that has been appointed to act as the head of the family, and whom draws the respect and loyalty of the rest of the Bloodline, as if they were Hrothmar himself. Indeed the position of First Descendant was instituted by Hrothmar on his deathbed, who, concerned that the legacy and reputation that he had created for his family might be destroyed through internal bickering picked the strongest and wisest of his children to act as the head of the family. Since that time, the First Descendant has been hand-picked by the current incumbent, who writes the name on a sealed piece of parchment, kept under lock and key and only opened once they have passed away. This means that the First Descendant can change their mind as to who they want to appoint as their successor with impunity, as no one is supposed to know who the successor will be until a successor is needed. As for the rest of the Bloodline, given that it is a family line, there are only three ways that one can join Hrothmar’s Bloodline: Through birth- Perhaps the most common and logical way to enter into Hrothmar’s Bloodline, those that are born into the family are referred to as ‘True Bloods’, and they see themselves as holding an unofficially higher status over those that have married into the Bloodline, or those that have been adopted into it. ‘True Bloods’ will automatically have the confidence of the family and that of the First Descendant, and family resources will automatically be directed towards their education and establishment in an appropriate position in society, that is unless they do something that brings shame upon the Bloodline or risks damaging its reputation. It is rare for ‘True Bloods’ to be expelled from the family and an individual would have to something quite serious to be disowned from the Bloodline. It is much more likely that renegade ‘True Blood’s will be forced to retire for an extended period of time from public life, and will often be recalled to the familial seat of Burhwic so that they can be kept out of the public eye, and be closely monitored to ensure that they do not cause more trouble. Through marriage- The second most common way to join the Bloodline is through marriage. Those wishing to marry a member of Hrothmar’s Bloodline have to undergo a rather strenuous screening process to ensure that they are a good enough match for one of the sons or daughters of Hrothmar’s Bloodline. This will often involve the meticulous analysis of the potential spouse’s social standing, and will require concrete evidence that they themselves belong to a truly noble and esteemed house. Marriage into the Bloodline is taken so seriously that the final decision as to whether the marriage will be allowed or not is made by the First Descendant, not the parents of the son or daughter concerned. Additionally, those that marry into the Bloodline will have to prove their worth once they are wed, and will often be treated with caution, rather than suspicion by the other members of the Bloodline. Husbands and Wives of Bloodline members are referred to as ‘Spouse Bloods’ and are always viewed as being below the status of those directly born into the family. Through adoption- It is rare, though possible to enter Hrothmar’s Bloodline through adoption. Those that are adopted are generally the children of people who marry into the family, though every now and again a talented or promising individual will be adopted into the Bloodline, but only if there is a huge benefit to be made for the family to do so. Those adopted into the Bloodline are referred to as ‘False Bloods’ and are treated with great disdain by the other members, ‘True Bloods’ in particular. It is a hard life for those that are adopted into the family, and they must work tirelessly to gain the confidence of the Bloodline, so that they have resources invested into their futures. As Hrothmar’s Bloodline operates as a distinct social unit that is embedded, but separate from the nations and kingdoms that it’s family members live in, the internal politics of the Bloodline can be rather tricky to navigate. As opposed to other long-established noble families, where the general rule is that family members will show deference to older members, age is not an influencing factor when it comes to respecting one another’s kin in the Bloodline. Not only is there the hierarchy that has been established through an individual’s link to the Bloodline (with ‘True Bloods’ seeing themselves above ‘Spouse Bloods’, who in turn see themselves above ‘False Bloods’), there is also a hierarchy that is linked to an individual’s rank outside the family, as well as a hierarchy linked to how favourably the First Descendant views an individual. All in all, this can lead to family gatherings being somewhat tense, and it is common practice for family members to try and outdo and unseat each other, with all of them knowing that whoever is the favourite of the First Descendent is likely to be handed the title themselves on the death of the current incumbent.
Officially, the family members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline have no specific public agenda, though if you were to ask any of them what their aims and ambitions were, you would doubtless get a rather glib and well-rehearsed response that they are constantly striving to work for the good of the communities that they are resident in, and for the benefit of whichever monarch or noble house that rules over where they have settled. There is some credence to this rather automatic response, as members of the Hrothmar family hold many important positions in the nations across the north of Turoza which they have executed for the most part with honesty and integrity, and through this service have benefitted the rulers and nations that they serve.
ReputationWhen assessed as individuals, members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline are always judged to be incredibly intelligent and capable individuals in their chosen field, and Bloodline goes to great lengths to ensure that it’s members are given access to the finest education that can be secured, and that each individual is highly trained and steered towards a high-flying career in whichever area they show the most aptitude towards. Members of the Bloodline are always highly literate, have been schooled in all manner of social etiquette and debate and they are incredibly politically savvy. On the one hand, the constant flow of well-schooled, talented individuals into the influential and ruling institutions of Turoza’s north makes them popular choices and strong candidates to take positions of authority and influence in the governments of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore and the Mountain Principalities. On the other hand, this is also what makes the frequent objects of concerns amongst individuals who believe that Hrothmar’s Bloodline is, in essence an enormous exercise in nepotism. When asked about any member of the Hrothmar family, most people are likely to voice suspicions that the individual concerned is really working for their own benefit, and that of the Hrothmar family, as opposed to the benefit of the nation or concern they serve. It is a well-known fact that as soon as one of Hrothmar’s Bloodline reaches a certain standing within a community or nation, others will follow at a much faster rate, promoted and fast-tracked by their kin higher up at the expense of other more conscientious and long-serving souls. Despite these accusations, and the obvious fact that so many of the Hrothmar family are able to secure influential positions in a wide variety of areas, ranging from mercantile concerns to politics, there has never been any concrete proof that they are deliberately promoting one another at the expense of those that do not belong to the Bloodline. Having said that, the sheer breadth of the family’s influence and the massive resource base and support that they are able to draw upon, means that it would be ill advised to make a concerted effort to try to uncover and potentially expose the nefarious dealings that are rumoured to be going on behind the scenes within Hrothmar’s Bloodline. The few that have over the centuries attempted to shine a light onto the family’s nepotism, and exploitation of political, social and economic systems across Turoza’s north, have found themselves being the target of unfortunate, deeply personal and well evidenced accusations, forcing them to step back from public life and in a handful of cases have disappeared altogether…. Nevertheless, members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline are always careful to avoid surrounding themselves with too much controversy, especially when it is warranted. Family members are taught to be masterful demagogues, to keep themselves mostly above suspicion, and to retain the support of the populace at large wherever they are living. There have been many occasions where a carefully calculated public work here, and public feast fund there has swiftly turned a crowd’s baleful hissing into rapturous adulation.
OperationsThe Bloodline have not restricted themselves to one particular type of activity that their members tend to get involved in, but the vast majority of them are involved in the politics and are embedded into the north’s political institutions. As so many of the family are involved in politics, it has allowed them to become essentially self-perpetuating in this area, with more senior members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline promoting their kin to the right people, in the way that will find most favour, so as to secure them a respectable and influential position as well. It is rare for members of the Bloodline to work their way up through the ranks, and in the realm of politics, most new members will jump straight into the equivalent level of junior minister or advisor, thanks to the Bloodline’s influence. Having said that, they do have members who hold influential positions outside of politics, for example the positions of both the Principal of the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers, and the Grand Lector of the Pantheon of the North are both members of the Bloodline, a fact that adds serious economic and religious weight behind the family. Despite the fact that the family originated in the area of the Joint Kingdom, and the fact that their familial seat, Burhwic is situated in Dazscor, they operate across the three national areas in Turoza's north with impunity, in the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore and the constituent states of the Mountain Principalities, and there are concentrations of the Bloodline throughout the north. Regardless of where they live and operate in the north of Turoza, all of the members of Hrothmar’s Bloodline gather together once a year in the summer at the familial seat of Burhwic for the Family Council, and event that partly acts as an annual celebration of the life and legacy of their founder Aelbehrt Hrothmar, and is also thought to function as a strategy meeting to plan future Bloodline activities. Members of the Bloodline are only excused from attending the Council in extreme circumstances.
Hrothmar’s Bloodline have a significant central resource base which they can draw upon to support their members in their education and their professional activities. In addition to the familial seat of Burhwic and its surrounding countryside, the Bloodline own properties across Turoza’s north, with a particular concentration in the royal capitals of Kjörnsjo and Karpella, along with property in the many of the largest nations of the Mountain Principalities. All of these properties are owned by the family as a whole, as opposed to belonging to specific individuals within the Bloodline, though Bloodline members can expect to be given leave to reside in a property that is in the area they have settled in. The Bloodline have a significant monetary asset base, which was seeded by the fortune that was accrued in the lifetime of Aelbehrt Hrothmar, and that is continuously bolstered through annual contributions by its members, and the fact that the Bloodline make much of their fortune available for others to borrow as a pseudo banking service, at rather high interest rates. Making part of their fortune available for others to borrow is another way that the Bloodline are able to extend their influence and promote their members within national hierarchies. There are a number of nobles and merchants across the north of Turoza who are in the Bloodline’s pocket, with the threat of financial ruin hanging over their heads, lest they do not prove themselves useful. It is also expected that each member of the Bloodline contributes 30% of their annual income to the central family coffer, held under the care of the First Descendant in Burhwic, the funds from which are used to ensure the Bloodline’s financial security, fuel their usury, and to be redistributed amongst the members to pay for the education of the younger members, and provide additional funds as necessary to help promote promising members.
Hrothmar’s Bloodline is founded and named after Aelbehrt Hrothmar who is generally accepted to have been born in 98S.E., a date that the Bloodline use and recognise as the founding date of their family. Aelbehrt was born in the area of Dazscor, in to a world that was rapidly changing in the first century of the so-called settlement era, when tribal groups and peoples were well on their way to abandoning their nomadic lifestyles and settling down to form fixed nations across the continent of Turoza. Aelbehrt’s exact parentage is unknown, including to himself during his lifetime, but regardless of where and to whom he was born, from the age of eight, he had attached himself to the Beadoleoma Tribe, with whom he travelled and lived. Initially, Aelbehrt was viewed as being little more than an urchin, who would sleep underneath wagons and steal whatever food he could to survive, but eventually he was drawn into carrying out odd jobs for the tribe, from which he was able to make his living. Aelbehrt was naturally charismatic, and was adept at talking his way out of situations, a skill that proved handy whilst trying to survive amongst a group of people to which he had no familial or tribal attachment. It was during these early years with the Beadoleoma Tribe that he forged a firm, though not approved of friendship with a boy named Wigstan, the son of the tribe’s chief, Deorlaf. This friendship would turn out to be a pivotal point in Aelbehrt’s life, as it allowed him to slowly begin to integrate himself within the Chief’s court, which not only brought him protection, but also allowed him to experience a much more political way of life, that had hitherto been inaccessible to him. It was in his twentieth year, in 118S.E., that Aelbehrt was able to fully win the confidence and acceptance of Chief Deorlaf, and be fully welcomed into the Chief’s court as an honorary member of the Beadoleoma Tribe. That summer, the Beadoleoma Tribe had entered into a tense standoff with another tribe, the Frifhengest Tribe, who they came into dispute with over access to good grazing ground near the Wash. By 118S.E. the nomadic lands in the north of Turoza were coming under immense strain, as the amount of land that was still useable by nomadic peoples was being ever reduced by the establishment of the Kingdom of Reinhart in the north, the Kingdom of Castar and the Union of Mishtoon in the south, which was leading to more and more conflicts between tribal groups. As negotiations between the two tribes had begun to break down, and battle lines were forming, Aelbehrt, acting quite on impulse, was able to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, and not only broker a mutual agreement to share the pasture land, but also an agreement that the two tribes should become allies. The success of this venture, which was just as startling to Aelbehrt as it was to anyone else bought him the respect and appreciation of the Beadoleoma Tribe, who formally adopted him as one of their own. With Aelbehrt now a respected member of Deorlaf’s court, he was able to dedicate his life to working the political scene there, and became an even closer friend, and confident of Wigstan. When Deorlaf died in 130S.E. and Wigstan took over as Chief of the tribe, Aelbehrt began to lobby for the establishment of a permanent power-base for the tribe, akin to the nation states that were emerging around them. For the next 19 years, Aelbehrt worked tirelessly for Wigstan to establish relationships with other tribes in the area of Dazscor, engineering the destruction of some and subsuming of others, and subtly steering all negotiations towards being heavily in Beadoleoma Tribe’s favour. This diplomatic and political activity, coupled with the military campaign that Wigstan was leading, which was itself heavily advised on by Aelbehrt, led to the formation of the Kingdom of Dazscor in 149S.E., under the rule of King Wigstan I. With the establishment of the Kingdom, and the permanent resource base that went with it, Aelbehrt was lavishly rewarded for his services by Wigstan and he decided, now that he was in his fifties, to retire to a country estate, which he founded at Burhwic in the east of the country where he settled down with his new wife, Eanswyth to start a family. As Aelbehrt’s family grew, he began to think long and hard about how to keep the prominent position in society for his family and ancestors to come, and he began to invest heavily in his children’ education, as well as dedicating a lot of time to rekindling old contacts, and establishing new ones in the courts and institutions not only of the Kingdom of Dazscor, but also the Kingdom of Reinhart. As his children grew old enough, Aelbehrt would pull his strings and have them placed in prominent positions in both kingdoms, whilst ingraining the idea in them that the Hrothmar family came first above the petty squabbling of these new nation states. By the time that Aelbehrt was on his deathbed in 171S.E., his children and grandchildren were well on their way to creating the web of familial influence that has allowed Hrothmar’s Bloodline to thrive to this day. From his deathbed, Aelbehrt reiterated the need for the family to give their main allegiance to one another, and to use the geopolitical bodies that were emerging across Turoza, to benefit and improve their own standing, and that of his bloodline. His final act was to institute his son, Berwyn Hrothmar as the inaugural First Descendant of the family, to lead them and ensure that they all thrived together as Hrothmars. Since his death, Hrothmar’s Bloodline has gone from strength to strength, and the precedent set by Aelbehrt of not putting all of the family’s eggs in the basket of a single kingdom has borne abundant fruit, and has allowed them to weather, and to be intrinsically involved in significant political storms, including the emergence of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, the violent formation of the Kingdom of Dazscor and Aramore and the collapse of the Kingdom of Reinhart, to mention just a few. Aelbehrt Hrothmar is still revered by his Bloodline to this day, and he remains the guiding light of the family, whose legacy is celebrated every year by Hrothmar’s Bloodline at the Family Council.