- A chieftain's leadership is challenged: He may answer the challenge personally or name a champion to fight in his stead. If the challenger wins, he gains the chieftainship and may have the former chieftain executed or exiled.
- A chieftain dies without an heir or his heirs disagree on succession: The sons challenge each other (they may not name champions to fight in their stead). Last man standing is chief.
- A chieftain dies leaving only daughters: The eldest daughter opens the chieftainship to challengers, who vie among themselves. Alternately, she may defend challenges to the chieftainship herself, or name a champion. She may also marry a warrior, making him chieftain.
The semi-barbaric kingdom of Nordland has been unified under a king for only 85 years. It is an hereditary monarchy, like Anglamar, though the Nordlanders still follow the old Kothic tradition of clan chieftains, landed freemen and thralls (slaves). Chieftains rule their clans and steadings as independent lords with little or no interference from the King - as long as they acknowledge the King as their overlord and pay an annual tribute.
Less than a century ago, Nordland was divided into five independent chieftainships who were constantly raiding and at war with each other. The great warrior, Haagon Dragonslayer made himself chieftain of Vyrgard (now Dragonsgard) and defeated the remaining chieftains, proclaiming himself King of Nordland. The other chieftains were allowed to rule their steadings, build ships and conduct raids against Anglamar and the Storm Isles as they wished as long as they payed an annual tribute to Dragonsgard.
The King of Nordland rules from Dragonsgard. As a traditional chieftain, his power is absolute in his own lands (Dragonsgard and the numerous small steadings surrounding it). The other chieftains are subject to his commands in war. The current king is Haarik Horn-bearer, the surname of the descendants of Haagon who possess the great black warhorn made from a horn of the skull of the dragon Kargarax. Though the monarchy is hereditary, the King must be strong enough to hold it against challenges. Under old Kothic law, any chieftain can challenge the King for the throne.
Thralls, on the other hand, are little more than slaves and many of them come from people who have been conquered or raided (like the Storm Islanders). They can never advance their position, though they can become warriors if granted the right to do so by a chieftain.
According to the laws of Nordland, any freeman may offer challenge to anyone in position of authority, regardless of rank. The captain of a longship, chieftain of a steading, or the King of Nordland - all are subject to challenges. The one challenged may defend himself personally or choose a champion. If victorious, the challenger assumes the position of the challenged. If the challenger loses ... he's dead.
Challenges occur when a chieftain dies without an heir, opening the succession to challenges from outside. In Nordland, daughters may succeed their fathers as rulers of a steading, though they must defend their claims personally or by choosing a champion. Most often, a chieftain leaves several sons who then challenge each other for rulership. Open warfare rarely occurs between those vying for position, since it is considered dishonorable to refuse a personal challenge.
It sounds simple, but it can be complicated. All Nordlander chieftains have champions, and the King maintains an elite force of some 100 Huskarls, veteran heroes who make a sport of taking out challengers when they appear. For someone seeking to improve their station in Nordlander society, it may be far easier to take service with a chieftain and ingratiate himself with a daughter.
You’ll also be expected to handle multiple rolls so that your C’s family, subordinates and advisors can come into play (if they don’t have their own Players). This can be as extensive as you like, from simply posting for them IC or creating handles for them. After all, the King Himself may visit your steading and you wouldn’t want to make a bad impression.