"Gytha, Gytha, I got one!"

The crow turned at the sound of her apprentice's voice, searching the dark for any sign of him. Uhtred was a good lad, brave as a jackdaw, and wise as the raven's feathers in his hair. "Show me" she demanded as soon as he came into the circle of light from the camp fire.

Uhtred thrust his hand into the pouch at his belt. He pulled out a fist, face beaming with Pride, and then slowly opened his fingers to reveal a dirty, grubby plant crushed into a tight ball. It was true vervain, but only a tiny amount. Enough to save one of her two patients just, but if they couldn't find more before dawn, the other would still die.

She reached to take the plant from his hand, but at the last minute she stopped. She looked at Uhtred for a moment, weighing the weight of years on his shoulders. The boy was far from fully trained, but he was a good apprentice... if she showed him exactly what to do, he could do this. Reaching up she placed her hand on his shoulder and directed him towards the pallets where the two warriors were lying. Helvi and her brother Jaakko lay on the bed, their wounds red and weeping. She'd cleaned and dressed the wounds, but the cuts from the mandowla's claws were too deep to halt the flow.

"I'll show you what to do, Uhtred, but I want you to apply the herb. Have faith, do exactly what I say, and all will be well. But first you will have to choose who to treat." The boy looked at her with a look of fear and shock. He started to protest, stammering slightly, but she cut him off. "You came to me to learn to be a healer, this is part of your training Uhtred. Sometimes there aren't enough herbs to save them all. Sometimes, someone has to choose."

She felt a lump in her throat as she looked down and saw the boy's pain. Unlooked for memories came flooding back... of standing where Uhtred was standing now, her teacher's hand on her shoulder. She could still remember every word Joona had said that night.

"You can do this Gytha Sharp Eyes. You can do this because you are a hero. Because this is your herb. It belongs to you. And what you do with it is up to you. Can a thane fight with three swords? Well then a warrior doesn't give his sword to his thane does he? He might give her his loyalty, but never his weapon. This herb is in your hands, if you want to be a hero of Wintermark, then now is the time to use what you have. You cannot give this up."

She shook her head and the vision vanished. Uhtred was staring at her like a frightened rabbit. "It's alright Uhtred, there are others out looking for herbs. Someone else may well find some more True Vervain in time" she lied glibly. "But we must act now. You must act. You can do this, I know you can. Because you are a hero..."

Asny of Storm Spire, the head healer of the Mark, does great work supporting our warriors and keeping them alive, but there are not enough herbs to go with all of our warriors. We recognise this good work that she is doing and call on all of the Wintermark, but especially those who live in the lush green marshes of Kallavesa, to gather all the herbs they can, to harvest from the hidden herb groves, to be able to provide more herbs to the head healer so that they can save more lives.

Pahkina, The Wintermark National, Autumn Equinox 383YE, Upheld (with a greater majority 223-0)


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During the Autumn Equinox, the Wintermark Nation Assembly called for more herbs, to support the heroes of the 'Mark. Raised by Pahinka, and upheld with a Greater Majority, the statement of principle was circulated among all the priests and congregations of the nation. It has caused some confusion, since people are unsure who the "head healer of the Mark" is. While they grasp that Asny of Storm Spire is doing some kind of good work, the role they fill is not really known outside Anvil. There is some speculation as to whether the assembly means the master Apothecary or the general of the Bloodcloaks, or whether they are some prominent grimnir, but it's hard for most people to see why they would be giving their herbs to them. Surely the best thing to do with their herbs is to heal people, make potions, or sell them to increase their Prosperity?

Rather than dwell on the confusing part of the statement, however, the virtuous in Wintermark focus on the bit they do understand - that there is a grievous need for healing herbs to support the heroes of the 'Mark. Given that the statement is about the need to use herbs to save the lives of warriors, it comes as no surprise that much of the conversation takes place among the grimnir. Combining the study of herbs and traditional healing methods with practical experience that is invaluable to the heroic Wintermark society, the grimnir are barred from the front lines of any conflict by ancient tradition. Expected to hang back and keep themselves out of harms way - a dead chirurgeon heals no warriors - the grimnir are denied the obvious chances for heroism that warriors can find on the battlefield and instead strive to save the lives of their comrades. Every grimnir, physick, and apothecary having sufficient herbs to save lives is obviously important but folk in Wintermark are interested in how that could be achieved without denying anyone the opportunity to pursue their own skein by simply handing herbs over to someone else to use on their behalf.

The Gift of Health

  • There are four sinecures and a great work in Hahnmark that provide herbs
  • A senate motion could be used to amend the sinecure titles to make it clearer what their purpose is

There are four existing sinecures that provide healing herbs to the people of Wintermark. The Gatekeeper of Falling Snow receives a bounty of a dozen Cerulean Mazzarine each season from the hot-spring warmed Garden of Falling Snow in Kalpamark; the Herbalist of the Hearth receives a bounty of herbs from the Valley of Pride, near Hendle Hearth; and the Guardian of Dunfrith likewise gains a harvest of herbs from the Forest of Dunfirth near Dunhearth Hall.

There is also the Master Apothecary, who receives herbs each season from the Master Apothecary's Garden in southern Kalpamark. Unlike the previous three sinecures, the Master Apothecary is expected to use the herbs provided by the sinecure to create potions of use by Imperial troops. Assuming the current Master Apothecary, Kesa Algarsdottir, takes those responsibilities seriously, then that approach represents something that could be adopted for other sinecures and similar Imperial titles?

Currently the other three sinecures have no such responsibility. They don't suggest for one second that Pendraed the Maker, Brienne-Walda Stormborn, or Kai - who hold the titles at the moment - are somehow selfish with their herbs. But there is no suggestion that they have any formal responsibility to use their bounty to help the people of Wintermark. Perhaps before seeking new sources of herbs, the leaders of Wintermark should look to these existing resources.

Using What Exists

  • The Garden of Falling Snow, the Valley of Pride, and the Forest of Dunfirth could be dedicated to the service of the Wintermark people.
  • Any amended titles would need to be appointed annually starting at the Spring Equinox, the next event

The Garden of Falling Snow, the Valley of Pride, and the Forest of Dunfirth between them provide more than fifty doses of herbs each season. Yet the titles that oversee them have no responsibility to use that bounty for the benefit of Wintermark. The Imperial Senate could use a senate motion to amend these titles, making it clear that the position brings with it a responsibility to use the benefits it provides to support the heroes of Wintermark, much as the Master Apothecary currently does.

Total Money SpentProduction
7 Crowns6 doses of True Vervain, 4 doses each of Bladeroot and Marrowort, 2 doses of Imperial Roseweald
17 Crowns13 doses of True Vervain, 8 doses each of Bladeroot and Marrowort, 4 doses of Imperial Roseweald
30 Crowns20 doses of True Vervain, 12 doses each of Bladeroot and Marrowort, 6 doses of Imperial Roseweald

If one or more of the titles were changed in this way before the end of the Winter Solstice, then the grimnir and other healers of Wintermark pledge to support the position by making any spare herbs they have available for purchase by the title holder for a sensible price. People would be happy to sell excess herbs to the title holder, if they knew that part of that person's responsibilities was to support Wintermark heroes. Secure in the knowledge they would be supporting the Three People, they would also be content that their Prosperity was being recognised as they received a fair price for their wares.

As a result, each sinecure amended in this way would immediately gain the benefits of a ministry, allowing the title holder to purchase valuable healing herbs. There would be no requirement to spend additional resources and no need to use a valuable Senate commission to receive this benefit; the current constructions that support these titles would be sufficient to support the trade in herbs.

The only thing that would be required is a Senate motion to change the legal responsibilities of the title. To be constitutional however, the title would have to be changed from a life-time appointment to an annual appointment - since the creation of the resulting ministry would make the title more significant and important than a simple sinecure. To pass scrutiny the Senate motion would have to include words to the effect of "to change the title to an annual appointment with responsibilities to provide herbs for the warriors of Wintermark". A single Senate motion could be to used to amend either one named sinecure, or to affect all Wintermark herb sinecures with a clearly worded motion (you could not use one motion to name multiple sinecures to be affected).

The appointment method would not automatically change under this arrangement, but the Senate motion could change that to if the senators felt it was appropriate. Appointment by Tally of the Votes in the Imperial Bourse would mean these Wintermark positions would be elected by vote of the leaders of military units - which might mean that the warriors of the Mark had a say in who held these important titles. Alternatively they could be appointed by the Wintermark national assembly allowing the Stormcrows and other priests to use a judgement to appoint appropriate candidates. They could even be appointed by the Conclave in theory. If the appointment method is not changed, then all three titles will continue to be selected by unanimous decision of the Wintermark senators.

Deep in the marshes of Kallavesa

  • A healing house could be built near Wittal which would grant a bounty of herbs to herb gardens in Kallavesa.

The statement of principle proposed by Pahkina calls especially upon "those who live in the lush green marshes of Kallavesa, to gather all the herbs they can, to harvest from the hidden herb groves." This likewise causes some comment - not least because only a year ago, in Winter 382YE, a bearer of an Imperial Wayleave created Freya's Garden in Hahnmark, a great work that improves the bounty of herbs harvested by gardens across the territory. Why call on the citizens of Kallavesa specifically, when it is the people of chilly, mountainous Hahnmark that have received this beneficence?

Once the initial confusion passes, constructive discussion begins. If Wintermark wishes the herbalists and the healers of Kallavesa to have more healing herbs, then one way to achieve that is to recognise the bounty of the marshes and offer substantive aid to the people of the territory. Either the Imperial Senate, or the bearer of an Imperial Wayleave, could commission a great work in Kallavesa to improve the production of every herb garden. Some of the grimnir in Kallavesa have even come forward to suggest an appropriate location for such a great work.

Total Money SpentProduction
7 crowns18 random herbs
17 crowns33 random herbs
30 crowns50 random herbs
46 crowns67 random herbs

Healing House of Wittal Grove

  • The Healing House of Wittal Grove is a great work that would require 56 wains of weirwood and 112 crowns to commission. It would take six months to complete.
  • Every herb garden in Kallavesa owned by a Wintermark character would share in a bounty of 90 random herbs each season.
  • The title of Grimnir of Witalhall could be created to oversee the Healing House, with access to a personal ministry, and the power to guide the production of the great work
  • If the Healing House is built to the specifications of the grimnir of Kallavesa, it would not count towards the Senate's limited number of commissions.

The Healing House of Wittal Grove was originally founded by Sigrid the Redleaf after she spent two years serving as general of the Bloodcloaks during the reign of Emperor Guntherm. Sigrid, along with her wife and grimnir Wynflaed Sigring, gathered support from the local halls and bourse seat holders to construct the healing house, further cementing Wittal's long history as a place of learning about herbs and the potent plants of the marshes. Grimnir came from across Wintermark to trade herbs, recipes, and advice with other adepts of the healing arts. Now Elina of Redleaf's Hall, a Wittal Grove grimnir, has presented plans for the reconstruction of the Healing House. In an echo of their ancestors' actions they have already reached out to other Kallavesa thanes, calling in several favours to help with construction.

The plans presented for the Healing House of Wittal Grove are very ambitious. They would see it completely rebuilt, along with similar healing halls in each region of Kallavesa. It would require 56 wains of weirwood, 112 crowns in labour costs, and take six months to complete.

The result would be similar to a great work that enhanced every herb garden in Kallavesa, but with some key differences. Each season the commission would provide a total of 90 doses of random herbs shared between every Wintermark herb garden in Kallavesa. However, Elina's proposal goes further. They propose that an Imperial title be created to oversee the Healing House of Wittal Grove, not only to purchase surplus herbs from the grimnir who visited (as a ministry), but also to allow the herbalists of Kallavesa to respond to the needs of the heroes of Wintermark.

The Grimnir of Wittal Grove, could have the power of announcement in the Imperial Senate, allowing them to declare one healing herb that should be prioritised by the herb masters of Kallavesa. If they selected True Vervain, Bladeroot, Marrowort, or Imperial Roseweald the entire 90 herb bounty would be of this type. If they picked Cerulean Mazzarine - a herb that struggles to prosper in Wintermark, even in the relatively temperate climate of Kallavesa - then the bounty would be reduced to 45 herbs but again, every herb garden would benefit from added production of the rare healing herb. The Grimnir of Wittal Grove would only need to make an announcement to change the herb, either to a specific type or to return to no particular herbal focus. Once the announcement was made it would continue until another change was made.

Elina requests that in recognition of the traditional roots of the Healing House, and the history of Wital Grove, the Senate specify that the title of "Grimnir of Wittal Grove" is intended specifically to be held by a grimnir. If they do so then a number of halls are prepared to contribute assistance to completing the commission, and it would not count towards the limit on the number of commissions.

This opportunity is available only until the end of the Winter Solstice 383YE; the urgency of the call for more herbs will have faded after that point along with interest in the Healing House.

Helping Yourself

  • The Wintermark national assembly could enact a mandate to encourage Wintermark warriors to seek out opportunities to provide their own healing herbs
  • If it were enacted then for the next year, a new opportunity would be available to military units that take the paid work action, providing random herbs rather than the usual production

The statement of principle calls out that herbs are needed to help the warriors of Wintermark. Some practical healers suggest that as it is the warriors that need this aid - and their health that is at risk - perhaps they could secure their own herbs? Those heroes not versed in the arts of the physick or apothecary could trade them to those who are - perhaps with the aid of the Master Apothecary who has a responsibility to help Imperial warriors acquire useful potions after all. The National Assembly could lead the way by encouraging warriors to seek out opportunities to gain herbs, and encouraging the people of Wintermark to consider offering payment in herbs wherever possibly.

The heroes of Wintermark will always risk their lives for the good of the many, and those lives are worthy of preservation. Yet heroes do not act in the assumption that others will prioritise their wellbeing; they do what is right because it is right. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge the heroes of Wintermark to seek out opportunities to earn healing herbs for their own protection.

Synod Mandate, Wintermark Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then for the next year (until the start of the Winter Solstice 384YE) a new option would become available to military units that undertake independent action. Those military units will be able to work for herbs - representing both opportunities provided in Wintermark to help the owners of herb gardens, and raids against the Druj in the Mallum, or into the vallorn of Hercynia or Liathaven. Rather than receving their normal production of random resources, these military units would receive random herbs. Other nations' warriors would also be able to take advantage of this opportunity if they wished, but would do so with a two rank penalty to their production - since those hiring heroes for such opportunities would be looking for Wintermark warriors where they could find them.

Helping Asny

  • Wintermark would need to create an Imperial title for Asny, if they want her position to be recognised and acknowledged across Wintermark
  • The healers and herbalists propose a title of Woundbinder of the Mark to benefit from a commission that would require 16 wains of white granite and 32 crowns to commission
  • The sinecure would produce 10 doses of true vervain, 4 doses of bladeroot, 4 doses of Imperial Roseweald, 4 doses of Marrowort and 2 doses of realms root
  • If given the responsibility to lead by example and tend the wounded heroes of Wintermark, the title would also be able to buy herbs

Finally healers and herbalists consider the issue of how they might help Asny. People are keen to support Asny - but many are at pains to point out that if she is inspiring the healers of wintermark and using all her herbs to save Wintermark heroes then her efforts should be properly recognised and supported. They propose that Wintermark commission a vibrant new herb garden to be built just outside Masi in the Kallavesa Marsh. They've examined the ruins of Hufi Villesdottir's old estate and apparently it would be ideal for such a purpose. Years ago, Hufi was a well liked healer and apothecary, who took up the grimnir's life after swearing off the path of the Icewalker. According to the scop's tales, Hufi, was as thick as thieves with a Spring eternal she called Swift Ears, and she would often riddle with this creature for access to more herbs. Her garden fell to ruin after her death, becoming so overgrown that within days it was difficult to enter. A touch of Spring clearly remains to this day - but it could be tamed and set to serve whoever was appointed to benefit from it.

Total Money SpentProduction
7 crowns18 random herbs
17 crowns33 random herbs
30 crowns50 random herbs
46 crowns67 random herbs

The commission would not be simple, the garden is overgrown and would need a lot of work. It would require 16 wains of white granite and 32 crowns and use one of the Empire's limited commissions. However once complete the garden would provide a bounty of 10 doses of true vervain, 4 doses of bladeroot, 4 doses of Imperial Roseweald, 4 doses of Marrowort each season, In addition it would produce 2 doses of rare realms root and who knows when they might come in useful?

Crucially if the sinecure were commissioned and built this season or next (commissioned before the end of the Spring Equinox 384YE), and the accompanying Imperial title given responsibility to inspire the grimnir and healers of the nation and ensure the wounded heroes of Wintermark are tended to, then they would pledge to support it as they have offered to do with the other Wintermark herb sinecures. The Woundbinder of the Mark, in addition to the herbs provided by the Hufi's Garden would be able to buy additional herbs to supplement their own. Grateful Wintermark heroes could pay the Woundbinder whatever coin they could spare, and Asny (or whoever was appointed to the position) could then use the money to acquire the herbs needed to save lives.

An important title such as this would need to be appointed each year, but it could be done by unanimous decision of the Wintermark senators - or by other commonly worn paths such as a vote of the Wintermark Assembly or by Tally of the Votes. It couldn't be appointed by the Thanes Council - though of course the Council could make clear who they think should be appointed. Ultimately the view of most grimnir is that this position exists to be advise the Thanes Council and is appointed by them - then it is the Council who should bear the burden of finding the herbs needed. But if the title is meant to lead the healers of Wintermark by example, to serve the heroes of the nation, then they would be happy to support it provided it was granted the respect and importance the position warranted by making it an official Imperial title.

Game Design : Titles and Honorifics

The statement of principle mentions the Head Healer of Wintermark, which we believe is one of the positions created by the Thanes' Council to help deal with matters at Anvil. It is important to appreciate that absolutely anyone in Empire can make up a position in this way. Anything created in this way is treated as an honorific - it doesn't have any formal legal powers. Such positions can be very important - but they only have authority and significance with the other player-characters who recognise them.

When players create an honorific like this then knowledge of the position only extends to those characters who find out about it at Anvil. NPCs who don't go to Anvil won't ever meet the person with the position so they won't assume it is particularly important. Since Profound Decisions have no ability to distinguish between a position the Thanes Council of Wintermark have created, and a position that an individual player-character has invented, neither do the NPCs. If a title isn't intended to have any significance beyond Anvil, then that is absolutely fine - these issues only matter if you want people outside Anvil to treat the position as special.

If you want to make a position known and respected across Wintermark then you have to use the mechanisms of the game to create an Imperial title. Every Imperial title goes on the wiki, so everyone has a chance to know it exists, and it becomes an enduring part of the wider setting. We record the title holders and list details about the position, how it is appointed and how it can be revoked. Players can - and will - engage in politics about who holds the title. It becomes part of the political game that Empire encourages.

Every Imperial title needs to have a constitutional appointment method. That means the title can't be appointed by the Thanes Council - the most they could do is use their influence to try and determine who is appointed. While that might seem strange, being part of the Thanes Council is itself an honorific position, so it can't have a legal power to appoint an Imperial title. Structures like the Thanes Council can be really important in Empire - the game is meant to have a complex social fabric much of which is woven by the players. But the Council can only has as much influence as they can exert over other characters in the game, they can't have formal legal powers that enable them to simply do things by fiat.

Creating a position in Empire is thus a decision about whether it should be an Imperial title or an honorific. If it is an Imperial title, then it must follow the rules for Imperial titles, it must have an appointment method, it must be elected in some way, it can have set legal powers that only it can use, it should have responsibilities, and it may gain income or resources between events. And of course you can only ever hold one Imperial title at a time.

If the title is an honorific, like Thanes Council, or Head Healer of Wintermark, then it doesn't need to follow any particular rules. But it can't have any legal powers and it won't have a wider existence in the setting - nobody outside Anvil will know what honorific positions the players have given each other. It matters to the characters at Anvil - but not to the rest of the nation who don't go to Anvil.

Finally, as part of this wind of fortune we've created an opportunity for players to change an honorific position into an Imperial title if they wish to go that route. We've done something similar with the Runesmith as part of the Runegrott opportunity and the Speaker for the Crows with Rund's Hall. As part of that we've suggested what we think is a thematic Wintermark-inspired name for the title. That's because you cannot create an Imperial title called the "Head Healer of Wintermark" because that would strongly imply that whoever was appointed was in charge of the other healers. That is not constitutional in Empire - you can do a lot of things in Empire but you can't put one character directly in charge of other characters. We deliberately rule out names like this to try to ensure that we avoid the risk of players feeling like they need another character's permission to do something before they act.


The Imperial Senate commissioned the Healing House of Wittal Grove during the Winter Solstice, but there were significant problems with the motion. The Constitutional Court is working to resolve these issues.

Further Reading