Stiletti of Vendici
The Wars of Succession
Approximately a century ago, the Vendician Empire spanned most of the continent, from the Mediterranean Sea in the south to the forested wilds of Germania in the north. When the last emperor, Marciano, died unexpectedly at the age of just 23, a series of brutal civil wars broke out as heirs and pretenders attempted to seize power for themselves. Some sought the imperial throne, others control of the provinces. Many of the most powerful senatorial and praetorian families – the patricians – marched on the city of Vendici itself, but each was checked by the other, and most squandered their soldiers, wealth, and even magical power attempting to take the capital.
After nearly 20 years of open war, a rough status quo had emerged. In the provinces, many former governors had set themselves up as absolute rulers, styling themselves King, Duke, or Earl. In the Lowlands, however, the great dynasties of the old Empire had exhausted themselves in competition with one another. Those that survived were often fortunate to control a single nascent city-state.
Vendici itself languished under one brutal dictator after another, its populace press-ganged to fight the current ruler’s wars, their purses drained by unsustainable taxes. Fortunately, few of these dictators were able to establish themselves in the city to the point that their descendants could also claim power, and the death of one ruler usually occasioned at least a minor invasion and a change of ruling dynasty.
As the decades passed, each reign became shorter and more brutal than the one before it. Finally, in the final stages of a civil war between the Finetti and Rossi families, the populace of the city rose up, defeating both House armies, and declared the Republic of Vendici. That dream was short-lived, lasting only four months before it was put down by Pellegrini soldiers. However, the new rulers, aware how precarious their position was, elected not to dissolve the Republic’s Senate. Subsequent rulers – from military dictators to merchant syndicates – followed their example. The Senate never had any real power, serving mostly as a stage for political games, economic competition, and social feuding, and little has changed in present-day Vendici.