Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Lorehammer: Bretonnia, the land, the lie

Bretonnia is renowned as the land of chivalry and shining knights, but is it really? The land was forged together centuries ago by humans fighting back against orcs who inhabited the lands. Eventually the humans united under a king and pushed the greenskins back into the high mountains.

lorehammer_bretonnia_map

Shining Knights 

Bretonnia’s geography keeps it spared from the brunt of most chaos or greenskin attacks. Nestled behind mountains, the lands are relatively free from the paths of Waaaghs or chaos invasions. Bretonnia still suffers from its share of raids from both these threats, but to a lesser extent than Kislev or the Border Princes. Skaven and Chaos Beasts are also active, and the undead are never far beyond the village fences.

Bretonnia’s reputation for martial prowess stems from its readiness to send its troops beyond its borders to fight for others. The Empire is often the beneficiary of this fighting zeal. Bretonnian Knight Errants frequently rally to the cause of fighting against chaos or greenskin invaders.

This zeal is partly explained by the system of knighthood present in the land. For the nobly-born knighthood is not given, but must be won after performing suitable deeds. The most common deed is to drive the greenskins ever further back into the mountains, and take over another sliver of land. Others errands may include fighting against foreign invaders or keeping the mountain passes safe. Once they are deemed to have passed their tests a Knight Errant becomes Knight of the Realm.

aboutwarhammer_pegasusknight

Knights Errant are quick to rally to any banner that may win them their knighthood, and past kings of Bretonnia have shrewdly used this to their advantage.

The Quest

lorehammer_bretonnia_footknightKnights of Bretonnia fight to defend their allotted lands, always from the back of a steed, unless they are feeling empathetic towards their peasants. Some knights are too restless for the realm, and these soon leave their posts on a quest to find the Lady of the Lake. She bestows great powers on those knights who find her. These become Grail Knights, the most powerful of the land.

A dark heart

The provinces of Bretonnia are mostly similar – verdant lands dominated by farms and vineyards, with gleaming castles thrusting their towers to the sky. There is one exception to this – the cursed lands around the dread city of Mousillon.

This city has fallen prey to many calamities over the years, usually revolving around the undead. Vampire Counts have ruled the city of many occasions, and Mousillon was once the site of a counter-Crusade as undead forces of Khemri under Settra ravaged the lands. These days the shadows lie heavy around Mousillon and most Knights Errant would rather hold a craggy mountain pass than win lands here.

The lie

The forest of Loren is the principal feature within Bretonnia,  part of yet apart from the rest of the land. This is the home of the Wood Elves and theirs is another tale. Bretonnia is their unwitting dupe for the Lady of the Lake is nothing more than a Wood Elf cloaked in illusions, sending petty gifts to the humans in response for their protection.

bretonnia_thelie

Through her human agent, the Fay Enchantress, the wood elf keeps the humans in line. The Wood Elves are few in number, their forest is large and their threats are many. Better to have the iron-clad savages spill their blood to defend the forest before their enemies ever reach its borders.

Grimdark

Bretonnia is the land of chivalry and shining knights, but as with everything in the Old World, it’s heart is dark and tainted.

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2 comments on “Lorehammer: Bretonnia, the land, the lie

  1. richardcowen
    February 11, 2017

    The Lie (I think it deserves capitalisation) is an excellent meta-justification for Bretonnia’s incongruous medieval background when compared to its Renaissance-era neighbours.

    Their lack of technological and cultural development, despite reasonably friendly relations with the Empire and the southern kingdoms, costs the nation dearly. They have no middle class to speak of, just aristocracy and peasants, and the former treat the latter as little more than property while expecting them to be grateful for it.

    They might show off as being courteous, chivalric paladins, but when it comes down to it, the class divisions in Bretonnia are even starker than across in the Empire, where there’s at least a burgeoning middle class.

    It’s Arthurian myth by way of Monty Python.

    “Who’s that then?”
    “Dunno, must be a Knight of the Realm.”
    “Why?”
    “He hasn’t got shit all over him.”

    Without the earliest iterations of capitalism, Bretonnia is going to lag behind the rest of the Old World economically, to the point where it simply won’t be able to catch up. (Well, this is a moot point now that the world has exploded, but let’s ignore that…)

    Meanwhile, their codes of honour deliberately handicap their nation on the battlefield, while Estalia, Tilea and the Empire are all developing firearms and cannons, and moving towards pike blocks as a battlefield tactic. (In the case of the Empire, pikes feature heavily in some of the older WFRP stuff, even if they never officially made it into the tabletop game – I’ve always thought that was a shame.) Any nation that relies almost entirely on its heavy cavalry is screwed when it realises that its competitors are fielding well-trained professional pikemen and armour-piercing firearms. The next time Bretonnia ends up at war with one of its human neighbours, it’ll make Crecy look like a picnic.

    And even if the feudal Bretonnians were wealthy enough to hire mercenaries against their Renaissance neighbours, they won’t, for reasons of honour.

    This, of course, all shows how effective Athel Loren have been at crippling the Bretonnians into little more than a protective buffer against external threats. And the Bretonnians think the elves are friendly as well… 🙂

    • davekay
      February 11, 2017

      That’s a good point about technology. The Bretonnians are noticeably out of step with the other human factions, who all use black powder weapons. No doubt the wood elves prefer to face archers over handgunners.

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2017 by in Lorehammer, Writing and tagged , , , .
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