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Card Lore Compilation: Faction Leaders

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Greetings!
For the curious travellers, and seekers of knowledge, I've here gathered a bit of lore behind various notable leaders. These are not the entries found in the Reward Book, but rather those which were posted on our Forums in the past. As such, this compilation covers only a selection of famed characters. For the time being, this is the scope of the collection; however, if there is interest, I may extend it later.

~Riven.

Click a leader's name to view the entry.

I. Ardal aep Dahy

II. Arnjolf the Patricide

III. Brouver Hoog

IV. Demavend

V. Eldain

VI. Meve
 
Ardal aep Dahy


Nordlings say the Nilfgaardian court is like a viper’s nest. Nilfgaardians think it’s cute. Just to survive there is a success. To move up the ladder, to exert your influence on the empire’s policies, and emperor himself – you have to be the master of backstage deals and treacherous plots.

Ardal aep Dahy is just such a man. He rose to the very top – and then helped Emhyr var Emreis to depose the Usurper and became new Emperor’s right-hand man. Now, on the cusp of a new war of the North, he has been entrusted with the leadership of the East Army Group. It can be interpreted in two ways – either as a great honour, or as a trap. Ardal aep Dahy knows that Emhyr expects nothing less than an immediate and complete success – and anything less than that could be used as an excuse to send him to the gallows. Of course, they’re still close allies, but Ardal understands perfectly well that this can change overnight. He cannot give Emhyr any reasons to doubt his loyalties – or talents. But his main goal is not to win the war, but to ensure that once the peace treaties are signed, his head is still firmly attached to his neck.

Ardal aep Dahy doesn’t wear plate armour and his sword is purely ceremonial, too blunt to cut a bar of butter. But don’t let this fool you, he is a ruthless general. There’s no oath he will hesitate to break, no holy site he’ll refuse to sack, no amount of civilian lives he will not sacrifice in exchange for a tactical advantage. He fights with carefully phrased letters, not blades.

Concept art by Bogna Gawrońska

Source.

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Arnjolf the Patricide

As his nickname suggests, Arnjolf committed a terrible crime: he killed his own father. In Skellige, there is but one way to redeem such a terrible sin. You have to die in battle, and not in a petty border skirmish, but fighting against a powerful enemy – wearing no armour, showing no fear. And so, Arnjolf yearns for death with a passion – and impatience. He runs into the fray, oblivious of any danger, the tattoo on his forehead displaying a short message for the enemy archers: “aim here”.

Concept art by Bogna Gawrońska

Source.

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Brouver Hoog
Brouver port.png

Brouver Hoog is approaching his 400th birthday, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that over all these centuries, he’s acquired a few quirks. For example, he’s absolutely obsessed with traditions — everything needs to be done in accordance with the old dwarven customs, no matter how outdated or just plain weird they seem. He’s also very suspicious — and even verging on paranoid. He really doesn’t like outsiders and has nothing but disdain for dwarves who adopt foreign fashions.

All this would be just quaint — if not for the fact that Brouver is Mahakam’s Elder and his quirks have a nasty habit of being turned into laws. Brouver changes his mind about as often as he shaves and many give up trying to persuade him to go with the times — leave the safety of Mahakam’s underground cities and settle among humans. The life in Mahakam is thus increasingly frustrating, especially for the young, ambitious dwarves.

Despite that, Brouver isn’t a bad ruler nor a bad man. He may have his obsessions, but he’s still a seasoned, experienced politician, who over the past two centuries has helped Mahakam survive — and thrive! — in very difficult times. His conservative, careful politics prevented the Mahakam dwarves from waging doomed wars against humans and turned their underground realm into an economic powerhouse.

So, don’t dismiss Brouver as senile — or he will prove you wrong with his trusty battle axe.

Concept art from Thronebreaker

Source.

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Demavend
Demavend port.jpg

Demavend should be satisfied with what he has. After all, he’s a king! And not of some insignificant, backwater little realm either — like Rivia or Caingorn — but of Aedirn! A land of rich black soils, mountains full of precious metals, thousands of cutting edge smelters and forges billowing smoke into the faces of envious neighbouring rulers. Instead, he is restless. Always yearning for more, with eyes fixed somewhere far away on the horizon. Demavend feels he’s destined for more.

Truth to be told, he really has the potential to be an outstanding ruler. He is sharp-witted, well educated, farsighted. A good politician and a gifted general.

Sadly, Demavend is also impatient. He wants too much, too soon — fighting all his neighbours at once, constantly changing his advisors, introducing sweeping reforms every few months, before the last round of decrees is even fully implemented. If not successful, he becomes increasingly frustrated and turns to simple pleasures — exquisite food, sweet wines. A great ruler who becomes soft and lazy.

Is Demavend a bad king? Hard to say. But he is definitely too eager to be a great one.

Concept art from Thronebreaker

Source.

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Eldain

Eldain’s story is familiar – painfully so. He tried to live peacefully among humans, and, like so many before him, he quickly realized that it’s ultimately impossible. Even if you keep your head down, swallow your pride, there’ll come a surprise hailstorm, a disease, a miscarriage, and someone has to be responsible. This is just how humans work, they can’t accept that things just happen, they need a scapegoat – more often than not, an elf. And then come the beatings, the rapes, the pogroms. Again and again. What were his choices? To run – or to fight. He chose the latter.

Eldain knows he is doomed – all elves are, ultimately – and decided to go out with a bang. He’ll die, tomorrow, in a month, next spring – soon, anyhow. But he can live in people’s memories, he can become their nightmare, a name they mention only in a lowered voice, a name you utter to scare your children. That’s a monument more lasting than bronze.

Eldain knows how to instill fear in his foes. His warriors paint faces with war colours, they torture and leave their victims’ maimed bodies for others to see, they strike from the deep shadows of the primeval forest, silhouettes barely visible in the morning mist, poisoned arrows flying out of nowhere.

But people who actually got to talk to Eldain – and lived to tell their tale – swear he’s nothing like the bloodthirsty monster he’s said to be. Apparently, he’s calm, soft-spoken and takes great pleasure in music. One captive troubadour even asked, as his dying wish, to be allowed to play the flute, hoping that Eldain, moved by the beauty of the song, will spare him. Indeed, Eldain listened, mesmerized by the melody, and clapped with appreciation after the last note echoed off the trees. Then he skinned the troubadour alive.

Concept art by Nemanja Stankovic

Source.

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Meve
Meve port.jpg

Meve was a young Lyrian princess when she married the king of Rivia — Reginald the Mighty. One day, her husband died, leaving her as the interim successor and thus ruler of both Lyria and Rivia. Meve’s sons were too young to rule at the time and the council deemed her easy to steer. It was the perfect moment to act for the enemies of the two Northern Kingdoms — take advantage of the inexperienced, bewildered widow who was just getting her bearings and hope for easy victories.

They were in for a nasty surprise.

Meve dropped the silks and laces, put on a gilded plate — and rode out of the capital leading an army, eager to confront her enemies. Initially, her generals were skeptical, some even refused to take orders. Beheading a few helped. Then, one after another, came the battles. Meve won all and forced her enemies to surrender before the snows came.

Folks still wonder how it happened — this young woman never received any military training, knew nothing about tactics and couldn’t tell a battering ram from a ballista, yet she knocked over seasoned warriors as if they were pawns on a checkerboard. Some say it was because she’s exceptionally intelligent, others that it was because she spent long winter nights reading generals’ memoirs.

What’s clear is that Meve has one quality which makes a great ruler — she’s absolutely, completely ruthless. She surrounds herself with people she trusts — and gets rid of those she doesn’t — quickly and permanently.

Exceptional at reading people yet difficult to read herself, she’s blunt about what she thinks. She speaks little, preferring to listen to others, showing no emotion, though she could definitely fake them, if occasion demanded it. People say she’s beautiful, with her flowing blond hair and almond-shaped blue eyes, but her beauty is more like that of a statue’s — cold, intimidating.

Very quickly Meve became a feared and respected ruler and she doesn’t feel like parting with the crown. There are some who wish that upon her. They are simply keeping their heads low, waiting for a good time to pounce.

Concept art from Thronebreaker

Source.

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