Without a clear order of succession and support from Parliament, Convocation and the Military, England will descend into civil war either before Henry’s death or shortly after.
Hardly any English noble wants a civil war. Based on the Wars of the Roses it will kill most of them and probably wipe out their entire houses. Most characters want to work out the difficult compromises to ensure a stable transfer of power after Henry. But from an OC perspective, we aren’t presenting a civil war as a bad ending to the game. Tragedy and struggle ending in disaster are good stories. The important thing is to roleplay around the succession, care about the relationships and rivalries and make it a big element of the story.
To have a secure transfer of power, the characters need to have the following covered. The game runners will be on hand as court functionaries most of the time. They will advise and assist characters with all of the points below.
A theology that supports the inheritance
This is decided by Convocation. The true purpose of Convocation is to decide the future of the soul of England, but any settlement they come to sets the boundaries for inheritance – for example if they remove the support for polygamy or return to Catholicism, Parliament must obviously declare one Queen legitimate and only their heirs will be acceptable. In fact, if they return to Catholicism, the Pope might have a very strong influence on which Queen that is.
A clear order of succession set with the force of law.
These should include specific heirs and at least the leader of a Regency Council. There are a few options to set this:
Act of Parliament
Parliament can set the order of succession by naming successors and regency council members in order of precedence as an Act. It could also formally adopt, legitimise or delegitimise potential heirs within reason.
Alternatively, they could leave Henry’s Will to be the legal order of inheritance. This would take the matter out of their hands while increasing the importance that the Will is set.
Henry’s Will can declare his successors in order of precedence. It could also leave estates and titles to specific people.
Rumour is that there are various copies of Henry’s Will in existence given his unusual and long monarchy. The last Will signed by Henry that is presented at the end of the event will take priority. It should be possible to get Henry to sign a new one with his agreement. A character with control of a Will can destroy it to let another one (or nothing!) take precedence.
Clear legitimacy for the heir(s)
This is a reasonable legal argument that the named heirs are fit to inherit. In a sense, this is a ‘smell test’ of how convincing an heir is to the ordinary person so that rebellions won’t gather support. For example, it’s simply not possible to just name a blacksmith with no claim to the throne and declare them the next king or queen – any number of people with a better claim would find rebellions forming around them whether they like it or not.
The best heir would probably be a blood-descendent of Henry who is also legally part of the Tudor dynasty, and probably male. Anybody with a line to English royal blood could convincingly inherit, even a Plantagenet heir if one becomes known. Parliament could also legitimise an acknowledged bastard to put them in the order of succession.
If the court discovers serious doubts about a potential heir’s legitimacy and these become public, that heir will struggle to safely inherit. Similarly, somebody whose religious beliefs are clearly heretical to the Church will struggle to inherit.
A Regency Council if the heirs are in their minority.
If the heir is too young to assume the throne, they will need a Regency Council. Customarily this would include some great Statesmen of the age (eg Privy Councillors), and one Queen.
Support from most of England’s military force.
This is a simple public pledge by characters that command large military forces to the designated successor. They make their pledge when appropriate – ideally at a good dramatic moment. They should negotiate and horse-trade in private beforehand and potential factions should be canvassing support and counting their numbers.
Military support only needs to be publicly pledged when the players propose a clear succession near the end of the event. They can be as guarded as they like up to then.
A note on documents.
We mention a few types of documents here. Wills, Acts of Parliament and Declarations of Convocation will all be organiser-supplied document props. These will be big and obvious, you cannot write your own from scratch. This is partly so the organisers have a handle on everything that could shape the story, and partly to avoid the new monarch being declared on the back of an old envelope.
Some characters may be able to request new documents be drafted from the NPCs. This will be clear in your player brief.
Existing documents can be added to before being signed or sealed. You can’t strike out items from them though. It’s hard to trust a great document of state with random crossings-out and many additions to a document will make it look unconvincing.
You cannot hard-skill forge documents, it is possible some documents could be forgeries and it is fine to claim this in-game with whatever evidence you can convince people of.
Documents cannot be stolen using ‘hard’ skills and should remain in a character’s possession unless they give it up for whatever reason.
Documents can be destroyed simply by tearing them up, ideally dramatically. Please let an organiser know if you do this so we can keep track.