"Royalty" ideas.


Homebrew and House Rules


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just looking over old threads - in this case about the 'elixir of sex change" - made me imagine royal families that insured their stability and the continuance of their Royal line by stockpiling this potion. You don't have any appropriate match ups to provide an heir? MAKE one. As long as you can find two people at all with the appropriate bloodlines, you could generate a matchup - given it says that the basic identity remains the same. Might make for an interesting kingdom or empire - especially if it were one focused on magic.

What other odd ways you could twist and stretch to concepts of royal families for various games, using either magic or other oddities to provide twists?

(And to paraphrase Mark Twain ... 'Anyone attempting to find political motive in this post will be shot, by order of the author")


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Complicated territory. Gets into gender politics, gender identity, the fact that in places and times when royalty was a thing women were mostly property and a royal daughter was "submitted" to the family which brought the Y chromosome to the particular pairing.

I mean, Pathfinder being a fantasy, you have just as many lady killers and ladykillers despite using or ignoring those tropes and memes as they wish. But the method of DOING so is by mostly ignoring sex in favor of more violence.

Anyway, the other and most obvious oddity that magic applies to royalty is life magic. Kill a king, bring him back, is he still king? What about the king who succumbs to the lure of vampirism to maintain his life. What about shapeshifting magic that may or may not allow a human to become an elf and live and rule for 500 years instead of 50? Heck, just having ready access to reliable healthcare (Cure disease vs. sticking leeches on sick people) changes the dynamic a LOT. Alexander the Great died of malaria (or something like it) just for starters.

Then there's the fact that politics are unavoidable. Someone's going to step in it by saying, "and in a world with real gods and divine magic, unlike the real world where there are no gods and no divine influence on the world." Oh wait, I just stepped in it.

*gets shot*


Not really. Gender politics doesn't have to have anything to do with it. The "editing the family tree" can be an entirely cold blooded pragmatic succession based thing without any consideration whatsoever of preferred gender identity. Heck, it could just as easily be a all female royalty of a kingdom that temporarily makes a member "male" to sire a child then change them back. And then changes male babies female.
You could also see a situation where something like that broke down the gender roles among the royalty: Princess Anne could have grown up as your brother Andy. Prince Paul could have grown up Pauline.


Gender Identity Disorder + a desire to "win" the gender politics battle by having nothing but sons + still poorly-understood psychology regarding gender identity = a touchy subject.

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OP creates thread about royal gender politics, then discourages discussion of politics.

Anyway, I think this discussion:

boring7 wrote:
Anyway, the other and most obvious oddity that magic applies to royalty is life magic. Kill a king, bring him back, is he still king? What about the king who succumbs to the lure of vampirism to maintain his life. What about shapeshifting magic that may or may not allow a human to become an elf and live and rule for 500 years instead of 50? Heck, just having ready access to reliable healthcare (Cure disease vs. sticking leeches on sick people) changes the dynamic a LOT. Alexander the Great died of malaria (or something like it) just for starters.

is far more interesting than imagining a world where all this magic stuff is possible but still relying on a model of male royal inheritance.


Yeah, it doesn't seem all that practical to me. While apparently not given a choice, why would a prince agree to become a princess, or a princess to become a prince. It seems a psychological nightmare to deal with more likely causing an internal royal civil war - not a a good way to handle succession.

It might be better to use tannistry - the ancient Celtic method of inheritance. Instead of father to son, it is current king to the next eldest male in the family, whether it is a brother to the king, cousin, nephew, only going to a son, if that successor is the next eldest and most capable male heir to the family. If an existing king only has daughters, then no problem, you pass the crown to the most capable, eldest member of the immediate family. The Celtic kingdoms used this method to pass inheritance for over 1000 years - it worked just fine.

Passing inheritance from father to son, is almost a new thing (as well as one of the oldest too), a product of medieval culture, and not necessarily the best way to pass the crown to the next king. Obviously many dynasties ended for lack of a male heir.


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Well with the potion, you could change the gender to line up right for procreation then change them back with another dose of the potion.

These are interesting discussions to have. Worries of dynastic concerns and property ownership is at the heart of many traditional ideas of gender roles (among many other things.) Magic would obviously change all of these things.

The potion is certainly one. A unique item like Pathfinder's Thuvian Sun Orchard Elixir which allows for youthful vitality until final death would certain change things. The fact that people get smarter, see and hear better, and get prettier as they age is another factor.

Then there's the elephant in the room: resurrection. Wanna have an assassination plotline? Too bad. The king will never stay dead for long. the easiest way to rectify this is to ban true rez. Regular rez has some easy workarounds like burning the body or quietening needles.

And those are the voluntary things. Another effects or creatures can f+$* up any attempt at royalty. Doppelgangers are huge in intrigue plots. Dominate person and the many spells along that line are also troublesome. How can you be sure the king is really the king and that he's really speaking his mind rather than someone else's? Just because the ugly, oily, unctuous vizier Jaffar is above reproach doesn't mean everyone is.

And what about the Divine right of kings? We came up with that in our world and our gods aren't indisputable fact. Surely there must be some gods who care enough about mortals to want governments that reflect their values? Pathfinder has Cheliax and Nidal as examples.

Say your kingdom's royal line was promised to stay on the throne for a thousand years and a day by Abadar himself. But the latest king is an incompetent wastrel who has no connection with the people. Sure he doesn't oppress the people but he's not what the kingdom needs. A group of dissidents led by clerics of Milani and Desna want to get rid of kings and found a democracy. There's a conflict there without even getting into good vs. evil.

Evil gods (particularly the Chaotic ones) would love to topple good kingdoms by any means they can. Asmodeans may use the aforementioned enchantment magic to drive the kingdom towards tyranny. Lamashtans might drive a rampaging horde fog orcs, goblins, bugbears, etc. toward that kingdom to conquer it from the outside. A Norgorberites could murder adn replace the whole royal family or make it seem like the king is really a doppelganger and they support teh real king (who is the actual doppelganger.)

These things might make people question if the idea of one person or even one family controlling so much is a good idea.

In real life, a rebellion is devastating but rebellions are usually pretty small unless there is something hugely wrong. In Pathfinder, one rebellious mage with enough power could take over a whole country. A rebel group with many less experienced mages can still wreak havoc on a country. One fireball could ruin a whole field of crops for example.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In many traditions, the ruler had the option of choosing their successor without limitation. In practice, yes, that usually meant their own eldest child, but they could choose one of their generals, nobles, or even a commoner. I can't think of any instances of commoners being chosen that aren't in fantasy novels though.

As far as dying rulers are concerned, there are a number of restrictions in-game.
1.) If you're high enough level to have Resurrection, your enemies probably have access to methods of making it very difficult.
2.) If you're not high enough level to have Resurrection, there are even more ways to make it difficult, such as burning or eating the body.
3.) Generally speaking, you can't circumvent old age and death caused due to it. Methods of doing so are exceptionally rare or high-level.

That being said, yes, magical healing would make rulers much more willing to take risks and lead their forces in battle.


A part of the problem I see, is that most kings serve at the pleasure of the people (mostly the other aristocrats, not really the peasants who have few rights). If a king is using magic to keep himself young, or altering the sex of his princess to become heir - all these activities are likely to cause distrust, rebellion and perhaps war against them for doing such things. Messing with the will of God, in changing what nature has determined doesn't make a strong monarchy, rather it proves that the existing monarchy is weak, and it might be time for another aristocratic family to begin a new dynasty as the rulers of a kingdom.

Knowingly using magic to strengthen inheritance is more likely to cause instability than stability. I think any king who tries to keep himself forever young, or otherwise alter the line of succession (through magic or any other non-normal means) is asking for war, and possibly asking to have his head removed by the other noble houses of such a nation.

Don't doubt the lesser nobles can and will react negatively to such a king, even in a world without magic, the king doesn't hold absolute power, as he must rely on his earls and barons for support. Look at King John, he wanted to be a control freak, but his earls and barons got together and created Magna Carta to hold his power at bay. King's can't do anything they want to, they are always subject to the concerns of the other noble houses - it's always true.

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You know what's easier than adhering to the notion that only male heirs produced by certain bloodlines count in a world that is not historical, non-magical Earth?

Adoption. Decorated soldiers, well-liked nobles, etc., would become royal heirs through the ruler's adoption with notable frequency. And, as far as I know, this was respected as a legitimate to become part of the royal family (I know the Romans did this, with at least one of their emperors, and I believe this continued into the middle ages--I'm not sure with what frequency, though).

Marry off your children to whomever, they're probably expected to take consorts after they've been married for purely political alliances. It's not like the Catholic church exists in Pathfinder to reinforce any notions of marital "sanctity." They're incapable of producing an heir for biological reasons (infertility, neither has a uterus, etc.)? Bam, adoption. New royalty, and you don't even have to raise the kid if you adopt an adult.


mechaPoet wrote:
You know what's easier than adhering to the notion that only male heirs produced by certain bloodlines count in a world that is not historical, non-magical Earth?

I'm not assuming only male heirs, rather I am simply discussing historical inheritance, and the issues involved would be true no matter the gender of the inheritor. Besides whether its Earth or Golarian or Pluto, the real issues is the psychology of the people involved, which would hold true no matter what planet it existed. Changing one's sex for political reasons would be problematic, no matter where it happened in fiction or reality.

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gamer-printer wrote:
mechaPoet wrote:
You know what's easier than adhering to the notion that only male heirs produced by certain bloodlines count in a world that is not historical, non-magical Earth?
I'm not assuming only male heirs, rather I am simply discussing historical inheritance, and the issues involved would be true no matter the gender of the inheritor. Besides whether its Earth or Golarian or Pluto, the real issues is the psychology of the people involved, which would hold true no matter what planet it existed. Changing one's sex for political reasons would be problematic, no matter where it happened in fiction or reality.

I wasn't explicitly referring to you, but rather to others' assumptions that male heirs are required for royal inheritance. And maybe they are for some people's games, and canonically in certain places on Golarion (Brevoy and Taldor, for instance).

I agree that changing your own, or especially someone else's body for political reasons is problematic (to put it lightly).


There's also the matter of legal identity. Why accept the crown prince as the rightful heir, when he's now the crown princess?


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In our KM game, this whole problem was avoided by setting the line of succession to "eldest child".

Also, being a reigning Queen avoids any possible bastard issue.

Does the OP automatically assume any heirs would be willing to change gender, or are they going to be forced to?


mechaPoet wrote:

OP creates thread about royal gender politics, then discourages discussion of politics.

Anyway, I think this discussion:

boring7 wrote:
Anyway, the other and most obvious oddity that magic applies to royalty is life magic. Kill a king, bring him back, is he still king? What about the king who succumbs to the lure of vampirism to maintain his life. What about shapeshifting magic that may or may not allow a human to become an elf and live and rule for 500 years instead of 50? Heck, just having ready access to reliable healthcare (Cure disease vs. sticking leeches on sick people) changes the dynamic a LOT. Alexander the Great died of malaria (or something like it) just for starters.
is far more interesting than imagining a world where all this magic stuff is possible but still relying on a model of male royal inheritance.

Don't want to talk about modern politics.


We have evil empires, slavery, and all other sorts of vile stuff, and it's hard to imagine or problematic that someone might edit their family tree to assure bloodlines?


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gamer-printer wrote:

A part of the problem I see, is that most kings serve at the pleasure of the people (mostly the other aristocrats, not really the peasants who have few rights). If a king is using magic to keep himself young, or altering the sex of his princess to become heir - all these activities are likely to cause distrust, rebellion and perhaps war against them for doing such things. Messing with the will of God, in changing what nature has determined doesn't make a strong monarchy, rather it proves that the existing monarchy is weak, and it might be time for another aristocratic family to begin a new dynasty as the rulers of a kingdom.

Knowingly using magic to strengthen inheritance is more likely to cause instability than stability. I think any king who tries to keep himself forever young, or otherwise alter the line of succession (through magic or any other non-normal means) is asking for war, and possibly asking to have his head removed by the other noble houses of such a nation.

Don't doubt the lesser nobles can and will react negatively to such a king, even in a world without magic, the king doesn't hold absolute power, as he must rely on his earls and barons for support. Look at King John, he wanted to be a control freak, but his earls and barons got together and created Magna Carta to hold his power at bay. King's can't do anything they want to, they are always subject to the concerns of the other noble houses - it's always true.

I don't how people can be that distrustful of magic in a high magic setting like the one that Pathfinder assumes. The forever young part I'll give you. I depends if the King is a powerful enough person to keep his nobles in line or perhaps he can share his secrets with those nobles to bribe them. This could lead to instability and therefore plot hooks.

Changing gender with a magic potion made by the official court wizard doesn't seem that problematic to me. It really depends on how much magic there is. A world with Court Mages and easily available potions of gender change seems like it would have nobility that doesn't fear magic of that kind.

@mechapoet

Yes you can have system that doesn't rely on male heirs to inherit the throne. It's just used so often because it's in tons of fantasy stories and was used in many places in real life for centuries. Sometimes it's fun to switch things up; sometimes people want to be in a traditional fantasy world.

The new system could develop because male or even eldest child inheritance was tried in the past and didn't work out.

Other people might like to explore these problems. One of my current campaigns deals with just one of these problems (unkillable tyrannical king due to true rez) and it's been fun.


Queen Moragan wrote:

In our KM game, this whole problem was avoided by setting the line of succession to "eldest child".

Also, being a reigning Queen avoids any possible bastard issue.

Does the OP automatically assume any heirs would be willing to change gender, or are they going to be forced to?

I'm just positing the ability via items of this sort might come into play. Willingness? Maybe. Forced? Maybe?

It's just what I was afraid of that people would jump in and presume some sort of political statement. Just exploring the effects of various things on royalty in a hypothetical fantasy realm. So the answer to any of the possibilities is ... Maayyyyyyybe?


But as another bit ..l say you wanted to generate a fusion of two Royal lines through an heir sharing the two bloodlines(gender of heir irrelevant). And the only individuals of child generating age you have are not of an appropriate pairing to produce children: if one or the other changed, the "problem" goes away.

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NOte that Trap the Soul and Soul Bind exist for the purpose of making True Res impossible.
Also note that turning the king to stone, shaping that stone to a round ball, covering it in lead, and dumping it in the middle of the ocean will also foil true res.
so can imprisoning him on another plane.
So can turning him undead. Kill him, animate the body...no true rez! (works for Arazni, after all)

==Aelryinth

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