In Age of Rivals, you play as one of 12 characters, or Rival Leaders. Each leader lets you guarantee up to 3 cards to bring with you according to various rules.
Ziana the Orphan Queen
Ziana grew up a street urchin, alone until she fought and won a position as the leader of a band of young thieves. Her increasingly daring raids targeting the oppressively wealthy ruling class became a source of pride for all in the poorer quarters, and her name became a rallying cry.Seemingly overnight she found herself the leader of an underground rebellion, a role she had never sought but did not fear. What her army lacked in military experience she filled with her stubborn unwillingness to accept that losing was even possible. Victory after desperate victory fueled their faith until even her enemies believed. And on her 20th birthday Ziana negotiated the secession of what was now her half of the country from its former oppressors, with her as its undefeated queen.
High Priestress Nairi the Unknowable
Nairi was meant for great things, and this she had always known. Among all others, she was the one chosen at birth to be the next High Priestess. There was much to learn, and never mind that it meant she could not play with the other children in the sanctuary. She had more important things to do. Never mind that they were too intimidated to ever speak to her. What had they to say that was worth her time anyway? Never mind that she could not hear the things they whispered as she passed by. She would one day be the one with all the secrets. For years she immersed herself in study, and as her isolation grew so did the legend of her knowledge and mystery. Powerful people came from far and wide to seek her counsel, and over time her once forgotten sect became the preeminent faith of the land. None dared try to stop her on the day she walked into the palace, demanded the throne and established theocratic rule. Nairi was meant for great things, and this everyone would know.
King Kubra the Industrious
It was truly the worst of times. Drought in the east, floods in the west, with poverty and plague running rampant throughout the populace. The king cowered in his rundown castle waiting for the inevitable end, and everyone else followed his lead. Everyone except Kubra the engineer. For the sake of scientific exploration he designed a new way to redirect the flood waters to the grain fields, thus singlehandedly inventing irrigation. For his next trick he directed the construction of new sanitation systems and cleaner wells, thereby eliminating the plague. Under no authority but his own he put the people to work on massive industrial projects designed to generate immense resources and wealth for all. Though the old king tried to take credit for this amazing reversal of fortune, the people would not have it. They tore Kubra from his workshop, carried him to the castle, and insisted he be their new ruler. This, Kubra realized, was to be his next and most significant project, for the time of technocracy had arrived.
Don Lorenzo the Virtuous
For twenty years the knight Lorenzo had served his king proudly, for this was a just and caring king. Wherever the ruthless preyed upon the weak, there would he send his knights, and as protectors they were beloved throughout the realm. But all good kings must come to an end, and when this one succumbed to sudden illness his crown passed to his son. But the new king cared not for his people and saw knighthood as a currency to trade for power and wealth. For another twenty years Lorenzo watched as his fellow knights were replaced by men as wicked as those he used to fight. On the eve of his own retirement, Lorenzo made a choice. Gathering the still-living among his old brotherhood and the people they once protected, he led a valiant attack on the castle. What the older generation lacked in agility they overcame with experience and heart, and by morning they had established Lorenzo as their new king. Although he had suffered serious wounds that would leave him forever mildly disoriented, he was once again their beloved protector of the realm.
Arsenia the One True Queen
Princess Arsenia had always ignored the world beyond her ball rooms and banquet halls, and her family had been content to let her. On the day news came of an invading army, they sent her dress shopping. While her brothers were preparing for war, she was planning her sixteenth birthday party. So when she was suddenly whisked away by her guard in the middle of that party, she was understandably outraged. Until she learned that her father and brothers had all perished in battle. Until she learned that the outside world would not be ignored. Living in hiding under a false name, Arsenia dedicated her life to one day taking back her throne and avenging her family. With the help of their old allies she studied and mastered the military arts, becoming especially drawn to the cold and calculated ballistic logic of siege engines and long distance warfare. Finally proclaiming her true name, she rallied a new army and laid siege to her old ancestral home and the invaders within. As her machines rained destruction down on her once beloved ball rooms and banquet halls, Arsenia shed not a single tear. She already had plans for a new home, and what it would lack in opulence it would make up for in its unparalleled capacity to keep the rest of the world out.
Emperor Theophilos Maximos IV
How did a man like Theophilos, a minor senator from a minor province, become the de facto leader of the entire republic? What a curious question. This is a republic; no one has absolute power, and least of all Theophilos. He is a nobody. There are the rumors, of course, as we all well know. A shady deal here, some blackmail there. There may or may not be a vast network of spies involved. I will admit that the man has an unsettling quality about him, and that he is too clever by half. But you seem to be implying that somehow this one man has all the others in his pocket. That he has amassed enough influence to act unilaterally. That he wields absolute power. Surely this cannot be true. Someone would know if that were the case. Wouldn't they?
Grimmer, the Everliving Dread
Grimmer had been forsaken. After serving faithfully for years as a sailor in the royal navy, he had had the misfortune of contracting a most pernicious and virulent strain of the plague. Without hesitation or apology his commanding officer ordered him cast off the ship, abandoned in a foreign port with no hope of survival, even though it was his loyalty to the mission that had put him in the path of this dread disease in the first place. Yes, he had been forsaken, and the sheer injustice of it all drove him quite a bit mad. But miraculously, Grimmer did survive. Vowing revenge on his former countrymen, he turned to piracy and became the scourge of all the seas he once protected. After decimating the royal navy, he eventually conquered and established his own island nation, a place of horror and madness that none dare approach. Grimmer may be content to terrorize his own people for now, but it is only a matter of time before he turns his attention outwards again, so that all may know what it is to be forsaken.
Soraya, Sultana of Story and Song
The story was not a new one, but that was unimportant. Everyone already knew that the Sultan was greedy, and spoiled, and selfish. But seeing the royal family’s many colorful scandals acted out in such a brilliantly written play was the first source of happiness the common folk had had in a long time. To hear his excesses lampooned with such wit brought immense pleasure to all. A short time later, suddenly everyone found themselves singing a new song about the Sultan’s lack of intelligence. And that was followed up with a series of very unflattering portraits that could be seen painted onto walls throughout the city. All works of satirical genius, but where were they coming from? Who was this mysterious new author/composer/artist? The Sultan became enraged when he came to realize what was happening and instituted a ban on all forms of art, but the damage had already been done. Even he could not stop the circulation of the final masterpiece: a three act tragedy that told of the destruction of a mighty ruler by the very subjects he had exploited for years. The lesson was not lost on the people, and only in the aftermath of the resulting revolution did Soraya finally reveal herself as its architect. By now a celebrity, she was unanimously installed as the new Sultana, beginning an entertaining new chapter in her own unique story.
Eternal Defender General Xiong
There is a region of the world where war had been eternally waged between a ring of five countries surrounding a sixth in the center. With every border in dispute, alliances were constantly made and broken, and rarely could any country gain the upper hand. But the citizenry of the central nation knew that they were living on borrowed time, for theirs was the geographic disadvantage. They had five enemies to repel on five fronts, and over the long decades their territory had dwindled to a mere fraction of what it once was. When their general also perished, they prepared themselves for one last hopeless, leaderless defense. But into the void stepped a new figure, a soldier named Xiong of whom little was known. But he seemed to have some innovative ideas for how to structure a defense, and they had nothing to lose. And miraculously they won the next battle, and the next, and the next ten after that. General Xiong seemed to be able to anticipate every plan of attack and plan an appropriate response. No one could break through his carefully layered defensive perimeters, and many perished in the attempt. When they realized they were no longer on the defensive but actually gaining ground, then did General Xiong cry to his neighbors that his homeland would never again tolerate their trespass.
Lady Rosemonde the Savior
Chieftess Chipeta the Wise
Xpuha, Bringer of the Zenith