The Speculation Thread

We need more baseless speculation! (I am very excited for BoB expansion material)

The Gods are a lie. The Chosen are already undead, or vampires or something else. They became inhuman the moment they were “chosen.” Their followers follow their Chosen into their own undeath, wha more proof do you need (Chosen Truthers are absolutely going to be a thing in my run through)! The Cinder King is at least honest in his intentions. He wants to burn the world of the living. The Chosen… The Gods… They just want to keep their “flock” fat and happy.

The Chosen aren’t undead by any means, but they aren’t our friends. The Living God accepts sacrifice. His Chosen are renewed by such sacrifices(Think Wicker Man). Zora appeared after Ettenmark fields. After the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands.

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Zora existed before that, though - unless you’re arguing that it’s the sacrifices that mold themselves to Zora…

Appeared to help against the Cinder King! She was asleep, exhausted from the breaking of Dar. The blood running across the battlefield of Ettenmark refreshed her. Why else wait three years after the breaking of her brother to return to the fight. The Gods grow fat on our sacrifice!

Rampant in universe conspiracy theories aside, I wonder how the tone would be through a campaign where the Chosen isn’t just very morally nebulous, but barely one step removed from the Cinder King. How long before the Legion decided to fulfill its founding intent.

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Conspiracy theories are excellent sources of speculation, and I really like the idea of Legionnaires with low morale actively speculating about whether they’re just following another kind of monster across Aldermark.

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Why did the Empire Fall?
Common wisdom says that the Old Empire fell because the Last Emperor was murdered by multiple Chosen, but this is a childish understanding of government and society. An Empire is a bureaucracy made up of thousands of civil servants, military personnel and loyal citizens working in concert to create large systems of infrastructure, trade and relations. The death, even murder of an Emperor is not enough on its own to end an empire. The truth, is that the Empire collapsed under the weight of its own machines. For centuries, Imperial machinery had kept the roads safe, made communication between distant locations possible and had wielded god-like powers through its machines for the benefit of the citizenry.
Multiple sources from the Late Imperial period speak of this machinery breaking down and spreading a “pollution”: a slow but steady corrupting influence that began to infect the waystones, wards and Imperial temples that could not be stopped. Crops wilted, lambs were born stillborn, children went mad and spoke in tongues. Large parts of the Empire were abandoned. Overwhelmed by the widespread deterioration of the Imperial infrastructure, the Empire shattered into regionalism, as it has remained to this day.
Some texts suggest that the Last Emperor had found a way to protect against corruption, perhaps even use it as a source of power, but he was murdered before these plans were ever made public.

From “Structural Collapse: A History of the Old Empire” by Chevalier Bendrice Latrice III, Senior Researcher in the Panyar Archives*

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Ooooh. Very nice. Blight (headcanon: how could it not be blight) is yet another legacy of the Empire that the Chosen made worse.

I wanted to go from Black Company pastiche to a more direct rip off.

What is the Legion?

The Legion claims to be have been founded by the 7th Emperor, Tantarus. Certainly their own currently reduced records support this, however, our information places their earliest surviving annals to just before the Breaking, placing their own knowledge in question. In addition, there are scattered references to an unnamed mercenary company, whose modus operandi matches the modern Legions, predating the Empire itself. In addition, copies of records smuggled out of the Imperial capital to Barta before the breaking record Tantarus receiving an envoy from a company of mercenaries. This company, much diminished from an unnamed conflict far to the west of the Empire, offered their knowledge and service to the Emperor personally, and were subsequently granted an Imperial Charter. In this telling the storied Crimson Lions weren’t the first squad or company of Legion formed, they were merely the unit detached by Tantarus to learn from these foreign mercenaries, and to watch them for signs of betrayal. Unfortunately for later Emperors, this relationship changed dramatically. Regardless, it is this servant’s opinion that the Legion as an organization predate their official founding date, and possibly the formation of the Empire.

This hypothesis is further supported by the unit’s continued existence. During the collapse of the Empire, the Legion survived the assault of multiple Chosen, survived the murder of the last Emperor, survived the Breaking, and escaped relatively intact if once again diminished. The Legion was in the end loyal to itself, yet betrayed the Empire, the last Emperor, and its own charter. The custom from 422 OEF, was for each successive Emperor to affix their personal seal to the official Legion Charter, from Tantarus to the Last Emperor. Shreya, in her Mercy, has granted this servant the knowledge that the personal banners of the Cinder King match the final seal affixed to the Legions Imperial Charter.

It is this humble servants opinion that the allied Kingdoms of Barta & Panyar, The Republics of Or, and the freeholdings of Zemya should employ the Legion as soon as possible. They should form the vanguard of the assault into Aldermark and in every subsequent engagement. Principally for the attention the Legion will draw from the Cinder King away from allied units. It is our opinion that the presence of the Legion will lead the Cinder King and his Broken into making critical strategic and tactical errors that allied command will be able to exploit.

This opinion has been made with the full consultation and recommendation of Shreya.

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What is Cinderblood?
My Lord,
I have broken two alembics and cracked my new waterbath, but my analysis is concluded. Our initial suspicions were correct, cinderblood is elemental, but not a product of alchemy; it may be a previously undiscovered base element. Despite the heat that emanates from it, I do not believe that cinderblood is a Prime Emanation of elemental fire. It does not react to elemental water and it continues to glow when removed from the presence of elemental air. Furthermore, I do not believe this substance to be biological or otherwise produced by a Broken or Chosen. I now believe that it is a corrupted emanation of elemental earth. The heat and the viscosity have more in common with molten earth from a volcano that they do with True Fire. I believe that somewhere in the southwest this material is being mined and refined. I urge that an expedition is launched immediately to scout possible mining sites in Dar and the western kingdoms.
Nolio Mentrapa, Master of the First Degree, Lecturer at the Orrite Alchemical Academae

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I’ve been thinking a bit about Band of Blades cosmology and religions. When you build a fantasy setting and add religion or gods to it there are a number of questions to answer: are the gods omnipotent or finite? Are they involved in mortal lives or are they aloof? Are the gods racial, ethnic, cultural or universal? Some of the major themes are:

Universal vs. Personal Gods
Universal Gods: Whatever form the gods take they exist independent of their worshipers or cultures; they are the personification of Big Ideas, Elements and Forces. They may call the wind god Tyrg in the North and Xi Han in the South, but it’s the same god.
Personal Gods: Gods are always associated with a particular culture and it’s a chicken/egg problem about whether the culture informs the gods, or the gods inform the culture.

Sovereign vs. Shared Domains
The gods are sovereign in their domains.
Sovereign domains: Each god has its own domain of powers and they do not overlap. There is only one god of the moon. There is only one god of the sun.
Shared domains: The powers of various gods overlap. If the gods are also Personal there may be a wind god for each culture, etc.

In Band of Blades the gods appear to be “personal”, each culture has its own gods. Many of these gods seem to have overlapping domains. The Aldermani god Mattiar has overlapping domains with the Three Orrite Gods of Civilization. On the other hand, some gods seem to have sovereign domains. Nyx may be a Panyar goddess, but when she is Broken the moon itself shatters, suggesting she was the sole goddess of the moon.

Anyhow I think this can lead to some interesting speculation:

  1. Are the gods somehow linked to particular cultures, or have they merely adopted or been adopted by those cultures?
  2. If a new culture develops will it have new gods?
  3. Are some of the gods older than the others?
  4. Were/are there Imperial gods?
  5. What could the possible worldwide consequences of any of the remaining Chosen being Broken?
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This is one I’ve been going back and forth on, and seeing which ideas my players bite on.

I’ve softly assumed a bunch of personal gods being worshiped as universal. Are the Aldermarni and Orite crafting gods the same? People say so, and maybe they evidence they don’t each have a Chosen called simultaneously (“Have you ever seen the Maker and Mattiar in the same place at the same time? J’accuse!”). Maybe they have shared stories and symbols and myths. On the other hand, maybe if you go back in historical religious records, the older versions of gods were far more distinct and regional and transactional.

To this end, I’ve suggested the equivalent to the European Wars of Religion were the Wars of Mercy, where Barta and Aldermark went into an intergenerational series of wars over the dogma and doctrine of Asrika, and over which church should conduct the ritual that creates Asrika’s Chosen.

I’ve assumed that while there may be exceptions, most cultures have built their religious superstructures around the Chosen they summon or encounter, and so discovering how to reliably ritually bring Chosen forth (which can often be part of a new society or culture forming) is the de facto trigger for a new religion. This means some gods seem younger than others (relative dates of discovery, if nothing else). With all of this, I’ve wanted to keep the option open that the very idea of ‘gods’ is a cargo cult built around what are effectively wizards.

For the Empire, I’ve gone with the classics, and assume their primary faith was the worship of the Emperors themselves as divine figure.

I really like that idea.

I know this was from a while ago, but I’m going to go with the Cinder King is the Living God (at least in the actual play game of BoB, there may be no real cannon answer). Stras keeps hinting heavily at this being the truth. The Living God was once a man, and the literal father of his 9 chosen. Render and Zora are his actual children, and they all have very similar abilities.

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The only reason I’m not 100% on that theory is I’m not sure how the Empire or the Godswar factor in, if at all. Was the Living God an emperor it did he come later? Zora and the Cinder King have some similar abilities, but they seem to come from objects they control rather than their own personal powers.

I agree Udachnik. As far as “canon” (but really who cares) the hints seem to be that the Last Emperor delved into evil arts, raising the dead, etc. Also that the Last Emperor was killed by Zora. But the Legion… wasn’t? It seems clearish that The Cinder King and the Last Emperor are the same entity. Or maybe not? Really who cares. I think I’m gonna have different secret histories for each run anyway…

This is definitely not true canonically. There’s direct contradictions in the book. I’m sorry if you think I’ve hinted at this but that’s never been my intent.

There are lots of correct assumptions in this thread, but I’ve been asked to not confirm ^_~ I will point out that if you care, the answer is in my original BoB AMA thread.

Sorry to jump in, I’ve largely let speculations run abundant (as requested by the OP), but since you invoked me in support of the claim I felt I should say something.

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I clearly need to read the original thread closer. :laughing:

Another question worth considering: what preceded the Empire? Was the Old Empire really the first time humanity produced the written word? Or is that a story the Empire invented to enforce cohesion between the many ethnic groups it conquered? The idea of an Imperial conspiracy is kind of fun, especially as a monkey wrench you can throw into the lore.

I haven’t finished the play through yet, but I thought you kept pointing out the similarities between broken and chosen because of that fact. But of course there are many other possible connections. Either way it doesn’t matter, I’m not that interested in canon answers because my players will never read the book and all that matters is what happens at the table.

I am really enjoying the actual play though, Zora is creep AF and I just finished the epic siege of Fort Calisco. Thanks for posting the game (and I guess designing it too). It’s getting me really excited to start my campaign.

Perfect :slight_smile: And I agree.

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Hey there all, I’m new to these forums and I have some RAMPANT Speculation!!!

The Legion is being specifically targeted, not because a Chosen is with them, but because of Annals that it carries with it.

If someone had he time to sit down and read through everything, they would find out who the Cinder King is (The Last Emperor of Dar), why they are doing what they doing, how they are doing it and how to stop them.

Third part of the Campaign is the Legion travelling the world find the resources they need to finally stop the Cinder King.

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Okay here we go.

The Living God is just that, a god of the living, that’s their “portfolio”, what they are about, living people. Makes sense for Zora, she’s all about living life but not about life in general (not trees or animals but the life of people). That’s why their chosen don’t die, it’d be in antithesis to what they are all about.

The Cinder King is one of the chosen of an opposite god, a god of dead people, The Living God’s antithesis, its chosen must be dead. All the Broken are also Chosen of The Dead God. Have you noticed the Broken are one threat higher than the Chosen? That’s because even after Chosen die their bodies retain much of their power so this Chosen of The Dead God (the Broken) are Chosen wielding other Chosen’s corpses. But I hear you say “They can’t all be chosen of the same god, no one does that except… oh wait yes, The Living God.” I hypothesize there can only be nine Broken + the Cinder King, just like The Living God can only have 9 chosen. Opposite sides of the same coin. The Dead God must have some connection to Dar, that’s why Zora went and messed it up, maybe she slew the previous Chosen of The Dead God.

I’d further theorize that Zora is the big top dog of The Living God similar to the Cinder King and The Dead God. That’s they they both have fire stuff going on and why Zora can cleanse corruption as a default power. She “has an understanding of it” (Living God’s Kiss).

Where did the Cinder King initially come from? How did a Chosen corpse initially come to be Chosen? Not sure. Super crazy theory I think is wrong but it’s fun to think, the Cinder King is actually not made from the corpse of a Chosen but the corpse of a god. Zora ended the Godswar by “striking the god within a Chosen”. Maybe that dead god got Chosen by The Dead God.

Still no idea what’s up with the Living Fire or Cinderblood, maybe the Chosen who’s corpse the Cinder King is living in had that stuff as part of their “portfolio”. Maybe corruption is part of their “portfolio”.

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