With respect to the question I was asked about coming in second place and earning the duchy package with a fighting style, it's a great question but a somewhat complex one because it involves the pre-D&SS fealty system and the potential outcomes that could result from it. So let me first lead in with some important considerations before I offer an overview of my current plans for a duchy.
It is not a foregone conclusion that simply winning a duchy in a contest will win someone a place within a kingdom of their choosing. This is because it is entirely up to monarchs to decide who they'll accept as their vassals and for whom they'll reserve duchies. Outside of the reservation system, there are simply no guarantees that a player who wants a duchy in a specific kingdom will get one in that kingdom. This only gets harder to achieve without approval and support from the monarchy.
People should understand this on both sides of it - candidates vying for position and community members considering who to back.
Given that selection order is predicated on Influence Points (IP), players attempting to make the jump into this tier could be handicapped by a lack of IP with under 2 months to go until D&SS. Not having enough IP could result in not being able to secure a desired biome or even a duchy within a desired kingdom, and this reality presents unique challenges to monarchs who are all trying to secure the territorial integrity of their kingdoms at D&SS.
While there is no requirement to invest any more Exposition Points (EP) into a duchy beyond what a package comes with, the more a player has available to them, the more they can develop their duchies during Exposition, up to and including helping their own vassals (counts) who may be PCs with limited funds or NPCs with no funds to speak of. The quality of the duchy setting at launch therefore is largely going to be dictated by the investments a player makes with EP.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY CANDIDACY?
As a Duke in the kingdom of Ashland, I've already gone through the confirmation process, so while there are still other really important considerations about the viability of having one more duchy in Ashland, being vetted and approved as a vassal isn't a hurdle I have to overcome.
Furthermore, as my forum rank indicates, I'm already at a monarch level in terms of influence. This means I'm not selecting in the lowest possible position once D&SS arrives. It's also a good indicator of what investments I'm capable of making into any duchy I'd acquire but also my willingness to spend toward that purpose, which I think is an important consideration for players in choosing where they want to go and play.
OK WELL THAT'S GREAT, YEAH, BUT WHAT AM I PLANNING?
I'm presently the Duke of the Duchy of Thorne — styled The Dominion of Thorne for reasons I'll explain sometime later — so if I don't win the Sunstone but wind up winning the duchy package, my intention is to use the additional package to grant more biome/tribe/resource diversity to the citizens of Thorne if it's possible to do so or convert the title to EP and make much deeper investments into Thorne as a single duchy. This decision won't be made in a vacuum but in conjunction with the Ashland monarchy and its council of dukes.
In either case, I intend to build upon the ideas that I've already planned for, which I'll briefly describe below in hopefully digestible bits, and that includes erecting a Wonder of Elyria landmark. I'm still very much interested in pursuing the Temple of the Sun concept even without the Sunstone itself, but in that case, just leave it up to players to collectively decide what may have happened to the stone/temple on their own, not unlike the Greek temples from antiquity scattered about our own world. There's rumored to be a ... rumor system. Maybe we could use that. ;)
Now for that quick overview I promised. Finally.
The Dominion of Thorne — "We Reap What You Sow"
The Dominion of Thorne is a duchy in the kingdom of Ashland dedicated to exploring the world of Elyria, to discovering lands beyond our continent and making contact with foreign tribes, to chasing down and unlocking some of the mysteries hidden in Elyrian lore.
We are committed to supporting institutions that accelerate skill development and that allow our citizens to have greater impact on the duchy and world around them. Those who wish to teach or to study, and those who seek to expand our understanding of things — especially about the ancient relics spoken of in our legends — will find kindred spirits here.
We are determined to play a diplomatic role in the world order, insofar as there are others interested in collaboration and finding common ground. It is our hope that by fostering cooperation between kingdoms and people, we can lay the groundwork for greater wealth and prosperity for ourselves.
But above all, what we want is to create a place that promotes fun adventures and good storytelling. And it is in that vein that our EP and our efforts will be spent in CoE. Whether it's cooperation or confrontation that arises from these affairs, we will reap what you sow.
The Fighting Style
No duchy can exist — nor duke hold dominion over lands — without an army. No realm can prosper without security. It's what creates the space necessary for civil society to exist and for people to be able to focus on their own goals. It is with this solemn responsibility in mind that a strong and effective military will be established.
The custom fighting style included in the package gives us the opportunity to introduce a signature style for the soldiers of Thorne and for those who swear fealty to the duchy. While it's possible that the technique could be reserved for an elite branch of our forces, my preference is for it to be as inclusive as possible so that we can become proficient with it, construct tactics around it, and ultimately build a reputation through its effective use.
Now I cannot promise anyone that enlists fame or good fortune, but what I can promise is this: you'll get so good with that flail that you'll learn to love the sound of steel crushing bone.
And if it really is a flail & offensive shield type of style, as the rumors suggest, I think there's a great tie into religion there that's worth pursuing along with the Temple of the Sun concept.
That's all for now. Thanks for reading and for any support you're willing to provide to make any or all of this possible. :)