D&D 5E Members of a King's Council?

Trit One-Ear

Explorer
Hey all,

My players are likely to meet up with a few if not all of the members of the King's Council in a session or two. Up to now, I've specifically left them vague and undefined, but figure it's time to lock these characters down!
So... what positions should the council have?

Stealing directly from ASoIaF, and adding my own twists to suit my campaign, thus far I have:

  • Military Advisor (possibly also the captain of the royal guard, but perhaps those are two different roles)
  • Political/diplomatic advisor
  • Spymaster
  • Financial advisor
  • Magic/mystic advisor
  • Religious advisor

Are there any positions I'm forgetting? Does this seem to cover the various areas in which a King could ask for advice? Would you as a player be happy with 5-7 advisors being introduced over one or two session?

Trit
 

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Olive

Explorer
I don't think it's necessarily that clearly defined - a king who fancies himself a great military leader might not have a military adviser for example, but I think that you've got it more or less right. The Chancellor/financial role is crucial.
 

Lackhand

First Post
I think you've got all you need, I'm just brainstorming for fun :)

Depending on local conditions, you might also consider "childhood friend" or "diplomatic baggage" or "spouse's family's token". I mean, the person would be the spymaster, but also a political appointee to make the spouse's family happy.
Duke of a large border region. Duchess of the breadbasket region. Most-powerful-baron from the council of barons. Elected representative from the Guild of Guilds.

Personal tutor. The king's children's tutor. Former nursemaid. Current lover. Kings are people too; remember to show the cracks between crown and brow.
 

Olive

Explorer
[MENTION=36160]Lackhand[/MENTION] makes good points. Also remember that because of political considerations or incompetence/emotions on the part of the king, some of the people on the council might be rubbish at their jobs.
 

Azurewraith

Explorer
I think you got it covered but I'll throw some more at you just incase it sparks something.
Agricultural advisor
A envoy from a foreign land
A noble. The king lost a bet with
Kings children
A people's voice type character
Architecture advisor.

Like I say you have everything that seems mandatory in there just spit balling.
 

How is the nation set up? If its pretty feudal, the king's council may be made up of the nobles or representatives of the various fiefdoms.

Others to include might be heirs-in-training attending to gain experience or rulership.

Generally, if there is any large power block that might dominate or be important to the country, they might have a representative. (Such representative might have official power on the council, an advisory role only, or just be allowed to sit in and hear discussions as a courtesy.)

Some members of the council might be part of other councils. For example there may be church, noble, and guild councils that send a single representative to the king's council.

The other way to consider it is that the members of any particular council might depend upon what that particular discussion is about, with relevant people being brought in and consulted as required.
 

Igwilly

First Post
If it's a more "modern" monarchy, elected politicians could be there, too.
I think the only one which I recommend for every monarchy is his/her teacher when he/she was a child. Probably will have no official power, but the king/queen would deeply respect him/her.
 

TallIan

Explorer
Seems like you've covered the essentials. Though adding the heir apparent would definitely be good, it's a way for the king to ensure everyone knows who will succeed him. Alternately the king could be deliberately not appointing an heir apparent to discourage assassination attempts - though that is straying into story telling.

Powerful nobles (dukes), representatives of powerful groups (collaboration of Barrons, guild representatives), religious groups would all make good counsellors. There could be a lot of overlap with more specific roles, the leader of the council of barrens is also the financial advisor; the Duke with the biggest army is also the military advisor.

I would think that the official group would be quite large, but the actual day to day advisors would be very fluid depending on who is currently Inn favour, who is away attending thier own affairs, etc.

So I wouldn't worry too much about firming the group up, next time the PCs interact with them it could all be different.

Sent from my Nexus 9 using Tapatalk
 

Trit One-Ear

Explorer
Thanks for the responses all!
Glad to hear I have the basics covered, and now have some fun ideas to introduce some other potential political players.

For those who asked, a little background and detail on how the kingdom is set up:

The kingdom was formed ~150 years ago by unifying the local feudal lords against a common invading enemy. Since that time, there has been one king - King Breward, who mysteriously appears to be immortal. The feudal lords became dukes, retaining power over their old "kingdoms," but are ultimately loyal to the crown. (However, a major point in the campaign is a rising rebellion led by one such duke).
So while the dukes are powerful and influential nobles in their own rights, the King's Council is more specifically a body of advisors hand-picked by the king, to help him delegate in specific areas.
None of this is to say that some of those characters might not be related to dukes or other powerful nobles. But ideally, I think the Chancellor would deal directly with the Guildmasters, the Religious Advisor with the churches etc, then bring any relevant concerns or complaints to the King's attention.

Next step - come up with 5-7 fun characters for the heroes to interact with :) This is the part I truly love.

Trit
 


MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
Dont forget the King's fool!

Bonus points if everything the fool says has a hidden meaning but everyone else dismisses it for petty nonsense.
Bonus bonus points if you make your players think you are doing this but what the fool says is actually petty nonsense.
 


Ganymede81

First Post
So... what positions should the council have?


Trit

You could literally craft a council using each PC class as the theme, whether it is fighter, wizard, or warlock.

Fighter - Grand Marshall
Wizard - Court Magician
Warlock - King Richard III style witch/soothsayer/mystic
Cleric - High Priest
Druid - Ok, you get the point.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Stealing directly from ASoIaF, and adding my own twists to suit my campaign, thus far I have:

  • Military Advisor (possibly also the captain of the royal guard, but perhaps those are two different roles)
  • Political/diplomatic advisor
  • Spymaster
  • Financial advisor
  • Magic/mystic advisor
  • Religious advisor

My only objection is that these positions are likely to have Fancy Schmancy titles that go along with them. Also, it might not necessarily be obvious to outsiders what a particular functionary does. For example, a 'Chamberlain' is in theory just someone responsible for cleaning the King's bedroom, but the position has often traditionally extended to mean in practice 'Chief Diplomat', 'Prime Minister', or 'Royal Secretary' - since the real function of the office is determining who can be introduced privately to the King. Certainly the 'Spymaster' is unlikely to be called 'the Spymaster', unless, for whatever reason your culture favors blunt ostentation, in which it might be something like, "Lord X, His Royal Majesty's Master of Spies'. He might however go under a title such as the Lord Referendary, or the position might be so secret that exactly who is the King's spymaster might be something of a mystery (see below).

Some suggestions:

Military Advisor: Lord Marshall
Diplomatic Advisor: Lord Chamberlain
Financial Advisor: Lord Chancellor

Magic and religion are going to be touchy and difficult. The latter most especially because D&D assumes polytheism, so there won't be just one cult vying for the King's ear, nor is the king himself likely to be monotheistic in his practices. Almost certainly as a duty of the office he is called on to officiate at numerous religious observances. So the advisor might as much be an advisor on proper ritual and etiquette as much as a religious advisor. More on that as well.

Are there any positions I'm forgetting?

King's always need a 'Master of Ceremonies', who instructs the King on fulfilling the duties of his office correctly. A King is almost always engaged in some ceremonial duty or the other, and in a magical world the proper fulfillment of these ceremonies may well be a matter of the security and health of the state as a whole. Indeed, in a magical world the most important thing that a king might do is ritual.

King's will need a legal advisor. Although King's are often the source of new law, they are often bound by existing traditions and laws, and called on to settle disputes. Right after ceremony on the list of duties performed by a King is to be the nation's court of appeal, and chief judicial officer. So they almost always have a Lord Judiciary of some sort, who nominally heads the lower courts on the King's behalf, and advises the King on the wording of laws and the existing laws that are enforced in his name.

Beyond having various Great Offices and office holders that he takes advice from and delegates duties too, King's often have a bevy of personal advisors and councilors - usually individuals that are either friends of the King (and are often his cousins or other relations) and can give him council regarding his emotions and judgment without giving offense (and risking being beheaded). The King may often keep a trusted mentor or tutor from his childhood around as long as the old councilor is living, to ask scholarly advice of - "Where is Mercia, and what is their chief export?" for example. And generally, scholarly sorts that can answer questions like that will be on hand and can sometimes achieve high importance. These informal advisors could potentially be more influential than the ones that hold the official offices. Generally speaking if they don't come with titles of their own, the King will grant them something. So Lord Borax, Baron of Ginthia might be according to the peerage a noble of quite small rank, but if he went to school with the King and they've been bosom drinking buddies since their youth, it's quite possible the Baron of Ginthia influences policy more than some great lords in the Kingdom.

If Spymaster is a secret position, it's likely that the Spymaster 'hides' out among these more informal advisors and pretends to be one.

Would you as a player be happy with 5-7 advisors being introduced over one or two session?

Sure, why not? Just make them colorful enough to distinguish between them. If you haven't read it before, track down the old Dragon article on the 'Seven Sentence NPC'. That's a good place to start.
 
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icedrake

Explorer
Also, the king's council might cycle periodically to represent the shifts in political climate. If the kingdom is going to war, members of the court might ascend to fill specific needs / obligations.

The ruling council should represent the scope of the court: larger courts with sprawling bureaucracies and red tape may have a larger ruling council that bickers with infighting; small courts might have a lean council that only includes the most important advisers.

Just because the ruling council is small in size doesn't mean your royal court is by any means small. Anyone with the wealth and political connections could be in the presence of the king and advisers. All the titles and roles listed thus far could be functionaries of the court or on the ruling council. You don't need to have an official power position to sway policy.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
The King should have representative of the major elements within their domain:

Military: generals - these are likely the king's own grown children, assuming he has them. One or two other trusted warriors of high renown. If the kingdom has a naval force, than an admiral is likely to be among the military heads as well. The captain of the king's guard is probably welcome -though not necessarily a regular attendee, and/or the castle's seneschal/castellan (who may similarly be the same person as the captain of the guard or one of the king's children or other military commanders) who is directly responsible for the protection of the king's person, home (castle), and household.
The Court Wizard/chief magic-worker, and/or another mage or two who might be directly responsible for the castle or king's person.
A high priest for each major recognized religion -if inclusively pantheistic- or at least the major religion followed/believed by the king [and thus, it can be assumed, his household and the "preferred" religion of vassals, and broader kingdom]. If the kingdom or nearby woods includes a large druidic following, with whom the king has good relations, perhaps a representative from the woods shows up from time to time as well.
A Spymaster.
A "Keeper of the Keys" (in charge of the money)
An Archivist/Loremaster...who may or may not be one of the court's mages.
A Guildmaster -top artisan or merchant group, whomever holds the most public approval or power among the common folk. Someone to keep an ear in the street and help keep them...in their place.
 

Draegn

Explorer
For your players the "little people" may be more important. The halfling mage in our game tends to ignore the big players, her best friend in the city is Fritzroy the Falconer who is in charge of pest control. The two of them have a great time atop the city spires eating rabbit and pigeon pie.
 

Voort

Explorer
King's always need a 'Master of Ceremonies', who instructs the King on fulfilling the duties of his office correctly. A King is almost always engaged in some ceremonial duty or the other, and in a magical world the proper fulfillment of these ceremonies may well be a matter of the security and health of the state as a whole. Indeed, in a magical world the most important thing that a king might do is ritual.

An excellent suggestion. Take a look at the real world post of the Queen's Remembrancer:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/article...ent-to-the-queen-on-a-property-leased-in-1211

Then imagine how that job would look in a kingdom that dealt with wizards and dragons on a regular basis.
 

Gwarok

Explorer
Such a council would include not only advisors but also those directly responsible for day to day administration of the kingdom. People of power and influence, the ones who actually have the authority to enact the decisions of the king. "Hand of the King" types.
 

Celebrim

Legend
An excellent suggestion. Take a look at the real world post of the Queen's Remembrancer...Then imagine how that job would look in a kingdom that dealt with wizards and dragons on a regular basis.

The Queen's Remembrancer is actually the legacy office of the chief Royal Tax Collector. If you are familiar with Robin Hood, and the Sherriff of Nottingham, then the Royal Remembrancer would the Sheriff's direct superior.

The sort of position I'm thinking about is presently filled (in part) by the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps. The job of this person is to instruct the Monarch in all the proper niceties of dealing with visitors - particularly foreign visitors. But the larger job 'Master of Ceremonies', includes reminding the Monarch that during this ceremony they are to wear this particular robe, and bear this particular scepter, which is at all times to be crooked in the bend of the elbow of the right hand, and that they are to hold their left hand up with two fingers raised toward heaven, and that they are to proceed at a sedate pace, turning slowly to the left and right and nodding acknowledgment of their subject.... blah, blah, blah.

And you are right, this gets even more important when you are entertaining wizards, dragons, fairy godmothers, and deities on a routine basis. But even more to the point, these ceremonies may constitute actual magic rituals in a fantasy world, so that if the monarch forgets and holds the scepter in the bend of the elbow of the left hand, the crops of the kingdom fail that year.

If you've seen 'The King's Speech', the speech therapist in the movie ends up taking over this role as the King's defacto master of ceremonies and is then part of that bevy of unofficial advisors I mentioned usually surround the monarch.
 

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