Traditions of the Swordlords: Letters to the High Swordlord

angry bear

His handwriting is that of a scholar. Somehow it lets you know that, despite the artistry, he wrote this himself.
High Swordlord of the Charterlands
Custodian of True Swords

Congratulations on your recent ascension. We have several statues of the Sword Saints in our city’s libraries and when they all turned to swordsteel, our local scholars were amazed.

My dear niece, Strisha, has written several treatises on the Rostland Swordlords and would love to take the journey north to your Charterlands. If you would like the services of an Absolom-trained scholar, please let me know.

Lord Gyr of House Grixx
Primach of the Absolom Congress


Her handwriting is precise and evenly spaced. You can tell from her letters that she has been both a soldier and a stateswoman.

Zora Kucera
High Swordlord of Olde Rostland
Defender of the Chartered Lands
Knight of House Kucera

As I am sure you know, the 5th Medendevian Crusade has been called and even now holy knights and anointed warriors march towards the Worldwound to do battle with Abyssal forces.

We write to ask that you send soldiers to do battle with evil.

If you wish to send us exiles as a punitive measure, please let us know and we can dispatch sheriffs to march them northward towards their redemption or death.

The Swordlords of Rostland are the subject of many-a-song and tale; I write this hoping that those songs and poems ring with truth.


Queen Gaffrey of Mendev
Warden of Nerosyan
Sword of Iomedae

It is the familiar handwriting of an Olde Rostland knight.

High Swordlord!

I never thought I would write those words. I am honored to do so and pleased to know the True Crown sits in your brow.

The Brevosi Ducal Council wants to negotiate a peace with the army I have gathered from the Kellid horse tribes of Numeria. I write you to request that your brother, Lord Cyril Kucera comes to New Stetven to help us in the negotiations. It is my hope that we can not only secure my children and many captured True Swords but also Brevosi gold to pay for their dishonor and make the Riverlands grand.

Please send word back with my messengers.

Long may House Kucera reign over the Charterlands!

Dame Eliska Nemec


It is the handwriting of a highly skilled church scribe, which has a formal and uniform quality that you can now recognize since their recent arrival.

High Swordlord Zora of the Charterlands
Esteemed Knight of House Kucera
Overseer of the Rivermark
Warden of the Eastmark, Wyrdmark and the Daggermark
True Swords’ Custodian

I never thought I would see a High Swordlord wear the crown in my lifetime. It is an honor to have seen the Sword Saints bestow such an honor and meet a Swordlord worthy of the ascension. May our sword arms be fast and our shield-arms be steady.

There are sword-talkers with me who could allow me to meet you through Bohuslav but I thought an old fashioned letter would be the best way to continue our discussions.

I will be staying in Spearpointe for some time, making sure the changeover goes smoothly. With your permission, I would make this place the home of the Saints’ Church and hold our elections here, appointing bishops and the like. If I am blessed enough to be elected as the Riverlands Bishop, I would make Spearpointe the capital of my diocese. I could oversee the municipal responsibilities also. As a former Swordlord, I have done this kind of work before and the familiar tasks are a comfort to me in my dotage.

Also with your permission, I would leave Sister Seda with you at Ft. Hajek has a tutor and spiritual guide along with half a dozen scribes trained to transcribe Bohuslav’s words with you, as we did in Olde Rostland. If she could serve you on your councils, we would be honored to have a place at your side. Sister Seda has an earnest and open quality that some take for being naive but I am among those who find it refreshing in this cynical world we find ourselves in.

I ask again for permission to dole out permits for martial weapons (swords, spears, war axes, great bows, crossbows and any polearm) so that your vassals pay for the privilege, so the church can take its old responsibilities and so we can keep track of who is armed.

And once again I caution you concerning the education and raising of Eralla. She will soon be in the Myrk and will no doubt be sent to Salt Island for her education. I would prevent that if possible.

On to new business and new requests, I hope that your current heir is publicly and officially declared, not only for the possession of Bohuslav but for the position of High Swordlord. Is that position linked to Bohuslav?

And lastly, how may I best serve you? What do you need from me? I may be old but I am not made of glass and will serve you in whatever way I can.

Your servant in faith and all that is Saintly,

Sword-Matron Reverend Mother Kazamira


Her handwriting is business-like and precise. It looks more like an accountant’s ledger.


With my new knighthood, I thought it would be a good idea to send you a report of the state of the Riverlands Army.

We have soldiers whose enlistment is up in the autumn. They can take their pay and leave unless the Riverlands are in a state of war. This is, of course, assuming that our army is going by the same laws as we did in Rostland. Most as assuming as such. We are not losing any Sergeants, though there are rumors of a core group who want to leave all together and settle in the south, forming steading-fort communities. Most with stripes are looking to myself and Dame Clea, hoping to gain a knighthood.

Our organization is a bit of a mess. We only had one lieutenant and no captain. In truth, I was acting as a captain since we’ve arrived.

I would recommend a captain who will report to the knights and lieutenants in Ft. Hajek, the Icarre Mine and Olegton. I can put forth candidates for lieutenants if you’d like. We have plenty of blooded soldiers who would make fine enough sergeants.

Knights have served as captains in the army in the days of Olde Rostland and I would be honored to take up such a position if you’d wish.

We need to recruit more soldiers. We’ve had some who have run but we have also had deaths and normal attrition. The money you’ve paid us allows for this kind of effort. I’d recommend that the new recruits serve at Ft. Hajek. The grounds here are best for drilling and the soldiers here are the best seasoned.

It is worth noting that with just a bit more, say 400 silver (4 resources), we could also accelerate our horse training. This silver does not include the horses, of course.

Will we keep the army? I know the nun said that the army led to the Olde Rostland’s fall but I think that is naive nonsense. Without her soldiers, Rostland would have fallen long before.

I am honored to serve among the Riverlands knights and will do my best to live up to what you see in me.


Dame Kaari Forte
Riverlands Knight



Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ischys and Coronis, or two Niobids, conducted by two genies of the Netherworld to Apollo and Diana. Below are a boar, sphinx, goat and a griffon.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1844 – 1861.

Situation Mining: Skull and Shackles

I’ve been using Paizo Adventure Paths as the inspirational starting points for Burning Wheel campaigns.


There’s adventure to be had on the high seas when a group of press-ganged strangers seizes a ship and becomes embroiled in the plots and politics of the Shackles—an infamous island chain dominated by pirate warlords. But as these new swashbucklers make names for themselves, rival scalawags, enemy navies, legendary sea monsters, and the infamous Hurricane King himself seek to see them walk the plank. Who will survive when there’s glory to plunder?


The Situation

You’ve been press ganged into the Chelaxite navy!

Is it true the old ways of Cheliax have been subverted since the Thrune Ascendancy? Is it true that the state religion is now worship of Asmodeous, the God Tyrant of Hell? Is it true that human sacrifices to said Devil-God take place in the city of Westcrown?

All true! Welcome to the Chelaxite Unholy Navy. We’ll be hunting pirates to bring back and sacrifice to our Infernal Dread Lord upon his fell, basalt altars.

Desperation has driven you to the capital city and you had drinks in the wrong tavern. You awaken in a state of impressment – press ganged into naval service.

You might need this map of Golarion’s pirate-y area or the Player’s PDF Preview of the Adventure Path or the Adventure Paths themselves or the Story Names Names for some fast access to pirate names.

The Characters

These are 3 lifepath characters. They are rank beginners. Can you survive your new life at sea?

Life as a 3 LP character is a hard one and the sea doesn’t make it easy. Look to your beliefs and look to the world around you for future beliefs you’d like to write. The beliefs are your way of letting the GM know what interests you. You  might go from 0 to hero or you might be fish-bait. You might be admirals or pirate-kings or you might just use your cunning to get home to your old landlocked lives.

The Shepherd BW

Kid from the Village BW

Carpenter BW


Belief Guidelines

Write a belief about accepting your new life at sea or something about your land-life that you will hold onto.

Write a belief about something you will learn so that you might better survive.

Write a belief about those who have been press-ganged with you. If you stick together you just might survive this mess.

Olde Salt

What’s that, you want one character to be a mentor, to ease the land-lubbers into their sea-legs? Sure, Old Salt will do it. If you are playing Old Salt, just make sure the press-ganged don’t drown in bilge on their first day.

Olde Salt BW


Olde Jacob Salt if played by Tom Noonan

Olde Salt’s player, you have a special roll in all this and you get different belief guidelines. If possible, the person playing Jonah should have experience playing Burning Wheel, especially if the others are green at the gills and don’t know the spokes from the hub.


Olde Janet Salt if played by Melissa Jaffey

Write a belief about what you love about the sea life.

Write a belief about something you will teach the press-ganged so they might survive.

Write a belief about getting these sandcrabs up to speed so they might be of use to the captain.
 Oh sure, Olde Salt was a captain once but not anymore. His best days are in his wake. To the player who takes up Olde Salt – help the characters and help the players. You’ve got helping dice to lend in almost every situation but at the same time, you have to let the go out on their own and fail and make mistakes too. It is a fine line to toe and no easy task but the Captain is watching and ye don’t want to disappoint him.

captain is watching

Ian McShane as The Captain Who Be Watching

If you play, please let me know how it goes.

Next Week

I’ll look at the Shattered Star Adventure Path as inspired by Omar Little.