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Skip Navigation LinksInhabitants>Mankind>Volkeralten>Machtig>Castes>Thegn
Castes Thegns Druids
Skalds Fertigkeiten Thralls and Slaves
Those who are allowed to bear arms are called Thegns (THANEZ, singular THANE) and are allowed to vote in gatherings of the people called Volksraading (VOLK-sraah-DEENG), which includes voting to allow challengers for Lairdship.
Thegn 1
The adjoining table lists the costs for the Thegn Perk. Basic Thegn status is appropriate for most PC's.
In return for their social status Thegns are required to defend their steadings and answer their Laird's calls to battle when in steading. Thegns are no lazy lay-a-bouts however; they are expected to fend for themselves and their families as any other man and often have some trade or else make their livings as hunters.
All Machtig have the right to prove themselves worthy of bearing arms by demonstration before at least 3 Thegns and a Skald. The Thegns vote yea or nay and the Skald witnesses.
It takes a majority vote (2 out of 3) for Thegnship to be awarded, but ideally it should be unanimous. If only two Thegns vote yea, this is known as a zweinamer; if all three it is a dreinamer. If asked, a young Thegn must disclose which was the case in their naming, and zweinamers must work extra hard to prove themselves.
Reputation (Disadvantage): Zweinamer, Machtig Thegns; -5 points
The witnessing Thegns that vote yea are said to be Kmpfernamer (comp-FER-nah-MER) to the new Thegn; if particularly well respected or discerning Thegns declare for a prospective Thegn it is held in more regard than if done by less respected Thegns.
It is common for experienced Thegns to ask a young Thegn who their Kmpfernamers were, and a young Thegn with an impressive pedigree is taken more seriously despite their youth.
NOTE: Listing the names and some details about their Thegn character's Kampfernamers is an excellent opportunity for a player to develop their character's background.
Reputation: Notable Kmpfernamer(s): +1/+1d6 (Machtig Thegns) 14-; Real Cost: 1 Point
The witnessing Skald makes note of the names and lineages of the new Thegn and all the judging Thegns, including who declared and who didn't. This record is sent to the Skalding Hall of the relevant Great Clan where it is added to the Honor rolls of that Clan, and a copy is made and eventually delivered to the other eight Skalding Halls of the other Great Clans.
Maintenance of the records of Thegnship are part of the principal duties of the current Ehren Meister Skalding, and the attached lineages also get used by the Werblich Meister Skalding as a handy way to keep their records of Heredity up to date. As a side effect of this families that have traditionally had a lot of Thegns are much better documented in the Clan records than other families.
A person may try to gain Thegn-ship repeatedly if they can get enough people to bear witness to their display of arms. However, it is common law that any Thegn may challenge another if given cause.
It is also common law that a Thegn may kill a person of equal or lesser status without censure if they pay sufficient weregild (blood-price) to the person's family as determined by the Laird of the deceased or a Reeve appointed by that Laird. Since many Thegns take affront to the idea of barely qualified persons gaining Thegn-ship some take it upon themselves to remove such embarrassments to their caste permanently, despite the monetary cost.
It is important to note that a Laird or Reeve may not award Thegnship beyond the fact that as Thegns they may be one of the three Thegns that sit in judgement, outside of their greater status. The Notable Kmpfernamer Perk explained previously is usually appropriate in this circumstance however.
Culturally, if a Laird or Reeve is one of the Kmpfernamers of a new Thegn, other Machtig will assume that the young Thegn is in the Laird or Reeve's camp with all the political ramifications thereof.
Lairds and Reeves may not remove Thegn status frivolously; it may only be done as punishment for a serious crime. Things like treacherous murder, attacking a Druid or Skald, and similar major offensive. It is easier for a Laird to exile a Thegn than it is for them to remove their Thegnship in many cases.
Status (Thegn): Must be able to weild at least 3 weapons with some degree of competence and be judged worthy by a mojority vote of a minimum of three Thegns as witnessed by a Skald; Real Cost: 1 Point
Lairds are Thegns that are voted into the position of rulership over a Great Clan by a process of siding, wherein all Thegn's of the Clan which can make it to a Volksraading in the allotted time vote by literally standing on one side or another of a line and being counted.
Lairds are typically popular, influential, and well established (in fact they were most often Reeves or Huscarls in the former Laird's service), but every once in awhile throughout Machtig history a Thegn has come from out of virtually nowhere, challenged for Thegnship, and won it by gaining the favor of the Volksraading.
Lairds have wide reaching, almost totalitarian powers over their own Clanhold, but at the same time any Thegn of the Clan may call a Volksraading (a Meeting of the People), to sue for permission to challenge their Laird and if it is passed then a greater Volksraading is called to side on the challenging. If the challenger gets more votes in the second Volksraading, they are the new Laird and the old Laird is deposed.
It is common among the more violent clans for the current Laird to counter challenge the would-be Laird to a duel (usually to the death) if they think there is a chance that the vote will pass against them, for if they slay their challenger then the challenge dies with them.
However, if the challenger kills the current Laird they do not become the new Laird by default. Other claimants may come forth, and a Volksraading is called to vote on who will be the new Laird. This process of a dueling and voting may go on for a bit before the dust settles, but rulership is never determined solely by combat; there is always a vote involved in the final selection.
If a Laird is deposed by means other than death they loose their Lairdship and return to being a mere Thegn again. On some occasions the deposing Laird has been known to appoint the deposed Laird as one of their Reeves. This shows great confidence on the part of the new Laird, and is often practical as the deposed Laird likely has respectible personal resources and by naming him a Reeve the new Laird can turn them to his own service.
 It should be noted that on a few occassions a Laird has lost his status and become a Thegn again, only to later become Laird again. Currently in the assumed modern age there are no living former Lairds; all of the existing Lairds have been in power for several years at least, and a few arose after slaying the previous Laird of their Clan and winning the eventual siding.
Basically a Laird rules upon the edge of a knife in many of the more volatile Clans. Too harsh a rule and their fractious people put forth a challenger, too soft and the same occurs. Thus succesful Lairds tend to rule by doling out favors to their allies and considering their decisions very carefully with a firm understanding of what is important to their Clan and therefore is likely to garner popular support.
A Laird has several duties, including the governance and protection of his Clanhold, and the doling out of high justice. The Laird sits in judgement of crimes and determines weregild (WHERE-guild), which is essentially fines, and other forms of punishment. Ultimately the Laird is the font of all adjudication in the Clanhold, although it is typical for this duty to be delegated to Reeves with only the most serious or local crimes appearing before the Laird for judgement, and of course a Laird may overrule a Reeves adjudication.
Any Thegn not liking their sentence can ostensibly challenge for Lairdship, though few such Thegns gain enough support in the ensuing first Volksraading for the challenge to pass as its viewed as an attempt to evade justice in most cases.
A Thegn may also challenge the ruling itself, but not the Laird, in which case a Volksraading is called and a vote is held regarding if the punishment assessed was just or not. This type of Volksraading has no real power as the Laird's decision still holds, but it does make it real clear whether the people support the Laird's judgement or not; historically few Lairds have bucked the ruling of their Thegns in this type of situation.
To carry out their various duties Lairds are given certain undeniable rights. The first and perhaps most important right is that of besterung (BESS-ter-ROONG), the right to assess a yearly payment in either material, money, or services from all non-Slaves within their Clanhold.
 Besterung is theoretically assessed by each Laird for each subject each year, but in reality such a individualistic determination is just not practical, and thus each person's besterung tends to be the same as it was the year before unless the Laird or one of his appointed Reeves sets it higher or lower.
A person can go before a Laird or Reeve and ask for their besterung to be lowered if they can prove a hardship has reduced their ability to pay. Besterung is usually reasonable, as unpopular Lairds have a tendency to get voted against in the case of Volksraading and few things are as unpopular as heavy taxes.
Ideally besterung is assessed against ability to pay, and often is resolved as services rendered instead of hard currency by the bulk of the population. Some are so poor that their besterung is effectively nothing as it is more costly to process the collection of the besterung than it's worth.
The Laird may also call the Thegns of the Clan to battle, and they are honorbound to come unless they are unable due to illness or similar circumstance. A grace period of two weeks is allowed before responding unless the call goes out due for a need to defend the Clanhold from invasion, in which case the summons must be answered in all due haste.
Lairds do not lightly use this option; if they gather the Thegns they typically do something with them, usually conducting a foreign war. The Thegns expect loot to make up for their time and business losses incurred by their absence from their steadings, and if they don't get it the Laird may find himself on the loosing end of a challenge.
Alternately a Laird may put out a call known as a Freiwilliger (FREY-will-uh-GUR), where he calls for any Thegn that wishes to offset their besterung via service to make their way to a location specified, where they will be given a task to accomplish. This is used to get things done when a Laird doesn't want to commit their Huscarl to a task, but don't need the assembled might of the Clan's Thegns either.
The final major right of the Laird is the right of appointment. The Laird may appoint willing Thegns as Reeves to delegate some of his duties to, typically setting a Reeve to govern over a region so that goverment is somewhat decentralized.
The Laird may also accept willing Thegns into his Huscarl, a standing force of Thegn warbands supported from besterung funds and under his command. The Laird also is responsible for appointing Fertigkeiten within his Clanhold; the trade off being that Fertigkeiten have special priveleges but also represent special types of besterung to the Laird.
Status (Laird): Must already be a Thegn and voted for by a majority of Thegns in the Clan; Real Cost: +4 Points
At any given time one of the nine Clan Lairds is also the Oberlaird, with additional authority over inter-Clan relationships, the calling of general War against foreigners, and basically anything that would fall under the auspices of foreign policy.
The Oberlaird is voted into power by a majority vote of all nine Clan Lairds, is consecrated by the Grand Druid, and remains the Oberlaird for as long as they are Laird of their own Clan.
Status (Oberlaird): Must already be a Laird and voted for by a majority of the Clan Lairds; only one at any given time; Real Cost: +1 Points
Reeves (REEV-zz; singular Reev) are also Thegns, but often more experienced, influential, and skillful in other more diplomatic ways who keep order in individual steadings and regions, acting as their Laird's representative and agent in the area, which is called a Reeve-halten (REEV-hohl-ten).
Reeve's are what make it possible for a Laird to rule effectively in a decentralized fashion, but they are also a constant potential threat. Generally as long as people are happy the Reeves are defanged, but when the people are not happy the average Clanfolk can be very prone to listenting to the cause of a Reeve ramping up to challenge for Lairdship. A wise Laird balances his dealings with his Reeves on the edge of a finely honed razor. Give them too much slack and they take control, too little and they rebel.
Reeves are paid a stipend by the Laird from his taxes and are often wealthy men in their own right before becoming a Reeve. Most stipends are typically handled practically by simply holding back a portion of the besterung the Reeve-halten have collected for the Laird, as directed by the Laird. Being the Reeve of a wealthy Reeve-halten can be particularly lucrative, any political aspirations aside.
It is not uncommon for a Reeve to have his own standing guard similar to the Huscarl of the Clan paid for from his own pocket, but such are called Gefolgsmenn (geh-FOALGZ-men; singular geh-FOALGZ-man).
When a Laird dies his replacement usually steps forth from amongst the Clan's Reeves, and it is also not uncommon for a Reeve to challenge their Laird for rulership should the Laird show weakness or take too many unpopular actions.
Ostensibly a new Laird appoints all of his own Reeves, but in practice all incumbent Reeves save those too strongly allied with the deposed Laird or those who have earned the emnity of a new Laird are retained. Most were named Reeve in the first place because they exert major control over the area they were named Reeve of.
Also Reeves tend to have a lot of grass roots support in their own areas and to be influential men in their own right; by spurning an incumbent Reeve a new Laird might see them rally support and challenge for Lairdship. Finally, most Reeves have a great deal of resident knowledge regarding the administration of their Reeve-halten which would be lost upon their dismisal, potentially causing considerable disruption for the administration of the Clanhold and the collection of besterung.
Status (Reeve): Must already be a Thegn and appointed by the Clan's Laird. Usually also either wealthy or influential; Real Cost: +3 Points
Gefolgsmen are essentially the deputies of a Reeve. All are Thegns, and a very few are also Fertigkeiten. Some are paid henchmen while some are relatives or other supporters of the Reeve, but none of them have any real authority of their own. The only have authority as it is delegated from the Reeve. The Reeve's Gefolgsmen are often his staunchest supporters, and form their personal Warband in times of war.
Some Reeves have Gefolgsmen from other Clans, although this practice is only employed in cases where the Gefolgsman has something notable to offer, as a Reeve's Gefolgsmen also represent a block of votes which he can reasonably expect to go his way, and Thegns can only vote in theVolksraading of their own Clan.
Public perception of Gefolgsmen varies depending on a lot of variables, such as the popularity of a Reeve and the character of the individual Gefolgsmen. In most regions they are respected, and are actually often locals. However if a particular Reeve is oppressive or otherwise unpleasant then their Gefolgsmen might be seen as enforcers and thugs.
Being a Gefolgsman means little outside of the Reeve-halten of their own Reeve, and practically nothing in other Clanholds. On the other hand some Reeves that are wealthy enough pay better stipends than can be had among the Clans Huscarls in a bid to attract the best warriors to his banner, and some Gefolgsmen are famous warriors in their own right.
Status (Gefolgsman): Must already be a Thegn and hired by a Reeve; Real Cost: +1 Point
Huscarls are Thegns kept on retainer and under arms in the Laird's hall and act as a standing militia to repulse any immediate threat long enough for the Laird to call the Thegns to battle, and perform other duties as directed by the Laird. Essentially the Huscarl is a Laird's own private army.
A Laird appoints his own Huscarl, and is only limited by the size of his treasury in the number of Huscarl he may have. Huscarls live in the Laird's Halls or other postings as directed, which means the Laird must provide living quarters and food for them all. Wealtheir Huscarl with means often live on their own near their posting, but the Laird still owes them a stipend.
In general a Huscarl may ask to retire from service or may be dismissed by the Laird at any time. Further, a Laird can always evict a Thegn from their Huscarl for any reason they like. However some of the Clans have particular traditions relating to the Huscarl that in some cases diverge from these basic practices.
When a new Laird assumes their place it is typical for them to keep all the incumbent Huscarl save those that were particularly loyal to the previous Laird. It never makes sense to put disgruntled professional killers out into the cold afterall. Also, the Huscarl is composed of some of the best and most dedicated warriors in the  entire Clanhold and it only makes sense to retain them lest they end up a Gefolgsman to a rival Reeve, or worse rally support and challenge for Lairdship themselves.
Within a Huscarl there are usually warbands arrayed around popular leaders, although the Hearthgaurd (the Huscarl of the Huarthmunn) are more regimented than the other Clans, while the Jagrling and Faendradi Huscarl are so few in number that the idea of a warband is laughable. When the Huscarl fight as a unit, these warbands are in effect.
When the Laird calls the Clan to war, it is typical for the most influential Huscarls to fracture apart either individually or in small knots and rally non-Huscarl Thegns to their banners. Typically a Huscarl's kinsmen and people from their steading that they knew before moving to the Clan seat to join the Huscarl will rally together into a regionally-themed warband. Reeves do the same thing, and in this way between the two the Laird's extended force has able field commanders. Huscarls with less influence either follow their warband leader or remain under the direct command of their Laird.
Huscarls are considered to be in many ways the preeminant warriors within the Clan, baring a few notable Thegns with equivalent skills that eschew the Huscarl for whatever reasons.
Huscarls are generally respected throughout the Vold regardless of Clan, but most particularly within their own Clans. The best of the Huscarl are effectively celebrities, like champion boxers or gladiators in other lands, with all of the corrolary effects thereof such as favors rendered and special treatment.
Being a Huscarl is a subject of pride for most, and is the sort of thing noted by youngsters as a source of boasting rights; one Machtig lad might say to another, "Oh yeah? Well my Grand-sire was a Huscarl!".
A crusty old Thegn no longer in service but able to support himself without finding a craft would be referred to by others as a Pensionierter (PEN-shun-Ner-tur), meaning they effectively retired by saving their Huscarl stipend and loot gained in service of the Lairds. Since most Machtig work their craft until they die, this is seen as a very respectible and desirable state to pursue.
Status (Huscarl): Must already be a Thegn and appointed by the Clan's Laird; Real Cost: +2 Points