This is designed as but the first in a series called Council of Lords which is intended to provide players and GMs alike with a wealth of additional lore and game mechanics to enhance their enjoyment of the Imperiums Campaign Setting. Considerable reference is made to the Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha, and this book will be of limited use (particularly as far as new rules are concerned) if you do not possess it. If you do, however, it adds to the richness of the setting, describing two Bondsworn in quite a lot of detail.
OK, so what is a Bondsworn, anyway? Basically, it is an individual or group that runs an area or provides a function for the Avitian Emperor and all the people that work for or are beholden to him/them. This is described by referring to the Lordship (an individual leader or group of leaders) and the Commonus, who are all those who help support the Lordship's function... in any role whatsover, from functionaries to soldiers, cooks, people who dwell in the area. In a feudal-style ceremony, people swear an oath to the Lordship and the Bondsworn as a whole upon reaching the age of majority (10 years) - just how the choice of which Bondsworn is made is left a bit vague. Most being territorial, it's probably based on where an individual lives at the time. Although this sounds feudal it isn't strictly so, the Lordship does not take on concomitant obligations although many do treat their Bondsworn well, as extended family even, others do not, regarding them as slaves and chattels. As long as the Lordship fulfils their duty to Avitus, they can run their own affairs pretty much as they like.
First up is the Bondsworn Desiderius. They're on the up and up, gaining prosperity and prestige at an amazing rate... although nobody's quite sure how and many feel they are due a catastrophic downturn in their fortunes ere long. The background and organisation is described, with notations throughout as to the suggested Difficulty Class (DC) of finding out each nugget of information, a neat touch to aid the GM when the characters become interested in the Desiderius. Hyperlinking is also used to good effect, to appropriate parts of Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha and even to a webpage on the Mór Games website where there's further information and an attempt to build a community around this Bondsworn... something that at the time of writing is under construction although you can 'swear your oath' to them, presumably if that's the group your character has chosen to join. Several NPCs are provided in enough detail to play them convincingly, whilst there is also a section on playing a Desiderian, useful for characters wishing to throw in their lot with them.
We then meet Bondsworn Keale, an ancient Bondsworn with origins in a union between the human Baronness Ke and an elf called Valerian Aledone (the name being derived from ancient tradition by the combination of their two names upon marriage). Their wealth is based on countless acres of fine woodland as well as excellence in arts and crafts. They also mine silver and mithril. Again, history, NPCs and other information is provided, along with some pithy quotes attributed to Keale Lordships.
Finally, there's a Gamemaster Section which in the main provides some neat scenario ideas for those who wish to bring these two Bondsworn to life within their game. These are quite skeletal, and you'll have to develop them into full-blown adventures for yourself, but as suggestions they are quite imaginative.
Overall, there's good material here if you have decided to use the Imperiums Campaign Setting. Presentation is attractive, although more attention could have been paid to proofreading - the most glaring error is when 'Bondsworn' suddenly changes to 'Bloodsworn' in the Gamemaster Section! - but the mistakes don't detract from the sense too much. It certainly highlights the rich depth of this campaign setting, and leaves you waiting for more!
Return to Bondsworn: Desiderius and Keale page.
Reviewed: 26 October 2015