D&D General House of the Dragon has me thinking about Succession

I have to say that a spouse without a bloodline claim on their own right inheriting seems really jarring to me. It is fantasy so I guess things could in theory work that way, but it is quite ahistorical and would seriously alter how royal marriages are arranged in the first place.

Edit: And yes, I know this happened in GoT and it bugged me a lot.
I remember this being important to some of the plot points in Dimension 20's A Crown of Candy, and I found it odd as well. It's probably intuitive to a lot of people since it's how modern property inheritance generally works, but it's an odd fit for a pseudo-medieval setting where creating shared political interests (primarily through shared descendants) is the main point of the marriage. It also creates very obvious assassination incentives if the spouses don't actually like each other or if there are non-shared children in the picture.
I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.
There are multiple forms of inheritance.

1. Parents own assets jointly. Assets are split roughly evenly between surviving children when they die.
2. Assets are family held. When head of family dies, new head -- their oldest descendant, and failing that their parent's oldest descendant (and recurse) becomes new head.

#1 is what many modern societies use. If you are in an exponentially growing economy where personal productivity is most of your wealth, it works pretty well. But if you are in a situation where assets are your main source of wealth and their utility scales better than linearly, it quickly (in generational time) leads to your assets being split up into smaller and smaller pieces.

This apparently happened in a few spots in Europe, where farms sufficient to support families shrunk to tiny near useless plots over a few generations, and wealthy farmers begat starving great grandchildren.

#2 attempts to avoid this by concentrating the assets. The family gathers assets, like land or whatever, and these assets are not split up. The head of the family passes down to (usually) an adult, and (usually) one that the previous head of the family feels connected to and the feeling is mutual.

2nd children, people who marry into the family, never become the head under this system. They can become regent, caring for the assets while the new head grows up, but they aren't the head.

2nd chlidren are cared for -- often, married off to other families, ideally their head. Or, given important positions managing the family assets (but not head). Or, if become priests or monks (acting as a backup head if the existing head dies without issue), or go off to war (seeking fortune). Their needs are funded out of operating expenses, not family capital.

A functioning inherited kingdom is going to be following some kind of "one inheritor" pattern, or it will divide apart and fall to either civil strife (due to too many rival power sources) or external threats (due to insufficient cohesion).

If merely marrying into a family was enough to Ursurp the assets, then people who are old allies of the family (often relatives) will object quite strongly. They want people who grew up with them, their cousins, whose family legend is part of their family legend, to be the head. And nobody holds a kingdom without that kind of support and legitimacy.

The rules of inheritance also have to be clear if you don't want constant strife all of the time whenever there is turnover.

Now, if you want fun, read up on English succession. There where rules, but regularly the rules where changed. Lots of blood. The king ruled with the consent of the nobles and the commons; the king had to as the commons to get tax revenue. Often the king and commons fought wars against the other!
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.

Largely, it comes down to the in-universe reason that the hereditary monarchy is seen as legitimate. If it's a matter of ancestral divine right or descent from a national hero, the monarch's children share that ancestry, but the monarch's spouse doesn't (though they might make a suitable regent until the children come of age).
 

babi_gog

Explorer
I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.
As stated above the gender of the spouse does not mater in this case, it is who is of the blood and descended in the line.

A key issue is also this is not privet inheritance - which may be separate from the crown. This case is discussing the body corporate know as the crown that is personified in the ruler. The rest of the nobles will want to know that the crown will be stable - as instability equals issues.

Also that the child will have been trained from birth for the role of ruling, while the spouse of the ruler could be anyone - and even if this one is good at the job no saying every one will be.

Also there is the question of if the regent remarries, and dies does their spouse become the new regent - and you could end up moving the crown multiple marriages away from the original line.


I think a question that needs to be answered is what is the foundation myth/story of the royal line, how did they come to hold the crown, and by what right do they still claim it. Is it divine right, mythic ancestor, right of conquest, right of arms, something else. Then what is the convention for inheritance of the crown and how does it work, and why.
 

A key issue is also this is not privet inheritance - which may be separate from the crown. This case is discussing the body corporate know as the crown that is personified in the ruler. The rest of the nobles will want to know that the crown will be stable - as instability equals issues.
instability also equals the game... if it were stable (1 that isn't really historically accurate either) then there would just be a clear answer and no need for teh players to help figure out the 'right' answer.
Also that the child will have been trained from birth for the role of ruling, while the spouse of the ruler could be anyone - and even if this one is good at the job no saying every one will be.
correct, and this is were the issue comes up... way back when the child was raised to be, but as the years went on that happened less and less since they had pretty close to an immortal monarch.
Also there is the question of if the regent remarries, and dies does their spouse become the new regent - and you could end up moving the crown multiple marriages away from the original line.
this line is avoided by the queen never remarrying though.
I think a question that needs to be answered is what is the foundation myth/story of the royal line, how did they come to hold the crown, and by what right do they still claim it. Is it divine right, mythic ancestor, right of conquest, right of arms, something else. Then what is the convention for inheritance of the crown and how does it work, and why.
here comes more pitch:

Alitar was a world at war, until most of it was saved by the 8 sided alliance, and the 8 kingdoms (2 elven, 1 halfling, 2 dwarven and 3 human kingdoms) became 1.

The one kingdom didn't really control the whole world, but maybe 60-70% of it, and when it started it had nobles of all 8 kingdoms, elves, humans, dwarves and halfings... quickly though the humans out numbered the others.

For a few hundred years a line of kings and queens reigned. The question had come up a few times of 'if another noble would make a better ruler" but quickly dispelled. ... until the elf.

Never marry an elf.



400 years ago King Randor the 3rd's 1st wife died in child birth with twins. The king was young though and remarried for a new love by the time the twins were 7... to Elenas the Elven sage. When 20 years later the king died in battle with orcs, he left 6 children. His first born son and the twins from his first wife and 3 half elven children with the Queen Consort Elanas.

Elanas as was the custom took over as regent... but normally before this that would be a human life time. for 400 years Elanas has ruled as Regent as her children and her step children gave her grandchildren and grew old and died. Then her grandchildren gave her great grandchildren and grew old and died. The fully human line was lost (are there really living human descendants?) Some great grand children of Elanas and Randor III are alive, but they are in the end of there lives by old age. There are great great grand children, and great great great grand children who are old or at least adult, and great great great great grandchildren who are adult and in there prime... and great great great great great grandchildren who are young adult but old enough to rule... and as such right now there are at least 100 possible heirs. (22 generations of human line, and 9 generations of half elf not counting preteen children)

Now Elanas who is just over 600 years old is sick, both mentally and physically. Her Seneschal Valor Demaran is not even her direct descendent, but a half elf with draconic heritage who is descendent of her uncle.

The whole kingdom knows what is coming. Every noble family, ones that had ties to kings before the unifications, those related to the queen regent, and just ones with influence are starting to make moves.

This is a new Catastrophe that has been coming for at least the last 100 years if not the last 400. It could tear the world apart. If something is not done soon, war is coming.
 

Well, the regent would only rule until the heir came of age and took over. Now, maybe something changed and she chose to retain power.

Reading a summary of the Wars of the Roses would be informative, I think. Two families with credible claims, a couple more families with the smarts to stay out of it, and lots of stabbing.
 

Here is my map... everything inside the black is the Daystrom Empire each hex is about 50 miles (no the cities are and trees are not to scale that is why the scale is about)
AA Daystrom boarder.jpg
 

Well, the regent would only rule until the heir came of age and took over. Now, maybe something changed and she chose to retain power.
yeah I have been considering the moment when the oldest son (who was raised to be king) realized he would never be... and I am of 2 minds... did he except and join her as a step son advisor, or did he make a play and miss?
Reading a summary of the Wars of the Roses would be informative, I think. Two families with credible claims, a couple more families with the smarts to stay out of it, and lots of stabbing.
I have studied it broadly but mostly as a critique of fantasy not as a full history.
 

someone else I am bouncing this off of gave me an idea (one that I wish I could claim was mine)

way back when the queen died birthing twins, and in the real world twins run in families.

that first son had twin sons (so at most one was born moments before the other and it is lost to time) both sons had families and children and the first daughter of 1 had twins first and the other had 1 very young child pass, but also had at least 3 bastards. Now to make this worse the next generation had no twins, but the twins that daughter had (a boy and a girl) both had only 1 child... and both of those children had twins.

At some point someone SHOULD have been tracking who was born first and who second, but some how conflicting reports are abound showing just that direct line to have forked multi times in to 'maybe' territory.


edit: remember we have 22 human generations, this was 6 generations and 4 split lines... to make it more fun 1 of those lines is kind of hazy lost to time (but multi families claim it) and 1 of them married a half elf cousin so they intermixed with the human dependents and half elf dependents.
 

babi_gog

Explorer
yeah I have been considering the moment when the oldest son (who was raised to be king) realized he would never be... and I am of 2 minds... did he except and join her as a step son advisor, or did he make a play and miss?
I think this is a core question, what allowed for the regent to remain in power.

However I'd also ask the question that's come up a few times - why have a widower/widow regent, when the heir is of age? This as said a few times seems to be an issue that invites complication opens up complications and seem to cause issues.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I've run a homebrew for nearly 40 years now. This topic has come up a lot - and it came up in the way I suggest others approach it - naturally. You're dealing with powerful people and the rulership being the source of their power. If you give it enough time, this topic arises naturally - and it shines best when it does. When it organically arises in a campaign the situation feels more real to the players and they tend to feel like they're part of something bigger - as opposed to feeling like they're part of a scripted event when you plan it out.

To that end - I'd create the power structures and leave room for them to have conflict - but then let the PCs integrate into the politics and then see what arises naturally.
 

Ixal

Hero
Well, the regent would only rule until the heir came of age and took over. Now, maybe something changed and she chose to retain power.

Reading a summary of the Wars of the Roses would be informative, I think. Two families with credible claims, a couple more families with the smarts to stay out of it, and lots of stabbing.
Makes me wonder what would happen if the ruler was one of those long lived but slow maturing races and expected to be underaged for 50+ years, having to go through several generation of regents...
 

I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.
In the modern world, Queen Elizabeth was married to Prince Philip. He was never named King, and while he died before she did so it was never a question, I suspect British succession would have passed the crown to King Charles over Prince Philip because Charles is actually of the royal bloodline. Officially Philip was a royal consort and not on the same level as the Queen. No one is saying anything about sexism, it's entirely about which blood is flowing in your veins.
 

To that end - I'd create the power structures and leave room for them to have conflict - but then let the PCs integrate into the politics and then see what arises naturally.
Yep and the murkier the succession laws, the more room the PCs have to actually affect change and be part of the intrigue.
 

I think this is a core question, what allowed for the regent to remain in power.

However I'd also ask the question that's come up a few times - why have a widower/widow regent, when the heir is of age? This as said a few times seems to be an issue that invites complication opens up complications and seem to cause issues.
I may not have typed it, but its happened 2 or 3 times but all with older king/queen so the other ruled for a few years and then either died themselves or 'retired' handing off to the child cause they got too old... there was a minor precedence for a regent to rule until they get too old (not an issue with human families)
 


I understand it odd in history, but what reason would they have to dispose a queen who co ruled with her husband for years in favor of a child? Not "that's how it was in history" but my players will want a reason for it to make sense in the game world (were again we don't do sexism so no 'cause she was the queen')

In modern day when my grandfather died everything went to my grandmother, when she passed it was passed to there children and grand children.
Because of “blood”. That is the whole point of royalty, the bloodline. No family would want to pass power to someone who is not their blood. The spouse of the ruler has no blood in the game and thus no right to power.

You can do whatever you want of course.
 

Because of “blood”. That is the whole point of royalty, the bloodline. No family would want to pass power to someone who is not their blood. The spouse of the ruler has no blood in the game and thus no right to power.
blood seems a very antiquated idea. if the king/queen is doing a good job (metaphorically the trains are all running on time) why would anyone want to change... and as for 'family' the 3 kids are still a ??? in my mind, what happened when the 1st born came of age to rule at 26? what happened years later when the twins did... there there children.

I just assume that when you marry you BECOME family (on a legal and spiritual and mental level) if we are not in Birthright or similar with blood line powers, does it matter who's blood you have?
You can do whatever you want of course.
of course but I am at this point looking for ideas to work WITH the idea, not just shoot it down.

this reminds me of the Mummy movies where the priest was punished with immortality and super magic and locked in with bugs to eat him forever... but if he ever got out he would be all powerful. Was it dumb to give him almost god like powers, yes, but if you rewrite it so they didn't make him all powerful and immortal, then the movie never happens.

What I am looking for is ideas to make the game run not ideas why not to run the game if that makes sense. So go ahead and poke holes so I can fill them, but don't just keep saying 'its not what happened in real life'
 

I just assume that when you marry you BECOME family (on a legal and spiritual and mental level) if we are not in Birthright or similar with blood line powers, does it matter who's blood you have?
So how do you see marriages working in your setting if a person could potentially become King or Queen by marriage? Historically speaking, marriages were usually a political tool to strengthen a family. Would that still apply or would the King/Queen/heir focus more on someone they could trust with their life since they could be killed by this person out of ambition to become the ruler? Has that ever happened before in your setting because that could create some intrigue depending on the type of campaign you're running. I'm pretty sure that was basically the plot of Kull the Conqueror now that I think about it.
 

So how do you see marriages working in your setting if a person could potentially become King or Queen by marriage?
I was actually talking mostly real world there, but yeah I assume that no one is marrying someone they don't trust.
Historically speaking, marriages were usually a political tool to strengthen a family.
Yeah combining families... if I marry my daughter to your son our 'houses' combine. It always seemed odd that someone who just 'combined' houses would want to separate them on death (a tragedy enough)
Would that still apply or would the King/Queen/heir focus more on someone they could trust with their life since they could be killed by this person out of ambition to become the ruler?
I mean even arranging a marriage I am not sleeping next to a woman I can't trust. If she would kill me and my son to inherits the power, then it isn't really strengthen my house by bringing someone so untrustworthy in.
Has that ever happened before in your setting because that could create some intrigue depending on the type of campaign you're running. I'm pretty sure that was basically the plot of Kull the Conqueror now that I think about it.
I will look up Kull
 

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