Fifteen years ago, Alfred, the King of Lanverness, died suddenly. His grand vizier Bartleby Sax was declared regent, as Alfred’s infant son Roland was too young to assume the throne. But two weeks after Alfred’s death, Roland was kidnapped, never to be seen again. Sax found eighteen of Alfred’s former counselors guilty of the crime, and had them hanged.
After five centuries of peaceful transfer of power, Lanverness found herself with no clear successor to the throne. Sax seized executive power and declared martial law, using the Iron Guard, a newly-created mercenary unit, to enforce his dictates.
In the ensuing years, Sax initiated armed conflicts with a string of adversaries, large and small. To pay his conscripts, he instituted heavy new taxes, which reduced commercial activity, employment, and living standards. He trampled public liberties, rounding up dissenters and trying them in kangaroo courts. Sax forbade the bearing of arms in public without a license, and gave the Iron Guard control of all combat and magic academies. Sax himself lived in luxury but also in paranoia, employing numerous decoys while moving constantly among the string of new palaces he constructed across Lanverness.