- "ALTDORF FOR ALTDORFERS! MIDDENLANDERS OUT!"
- —Pamphlet, Street of a Hundred Taverns, Altdorf[3a]
For the most part, the people of the Empire have little say in politics. The Emperor and the Elector Counts make and enforce the laws, with the support of the various churches (Sigmar and Ulric most conspicuously). Nonetheless, ardent political activists are a common sight in the cities of the Empire. These Agitators organize on behalf of various causes, handing out leaflets, giving rousing speeches, and stirring up the populace. The lunatic fringe is simply ignored, but successful Agitators—those who can tap into the wellspring of Peasant and Burgher resentment—are usually viewed as a threat to the state. They are hounded by local watchman, accused of heresy by church officials, or forced to submit to the tender mercies of the Witch Hunters.[1a] Despite this, the most successful agitators have destabilized feodums, towns, or even entire provinces.[3a] Agitators continue on despite the risks. Some truly believe in their cause, but others are cynical power seekers as corrupt as those they rail against.[1a]
A Day in the Life
The agitator stands on a crowded street corner or market square, calling out controversial slogans in the hopes of generating interest amongst the bystanders. The agitator always keeps an eye out for the authorities – who will likely take a dim view of his activities. If watchmen appear he runs, unless he feels he has crowd on his side.[2a]
Once he gathers a crowd, the agitator launches into a more detailed critique of society, and outlines his vision for the future. He pushes his pamphlets on his audience, promising that they contain further information and points out that they are as cheap as he can possibly make them, that he is just hoping to cover his costs.[2a]
In the evening the agitator heads to a local tavern. His bar-stool philosophical discussions make him popular with those he drinks with. The agitator has a professional incentive for being there, however, and has an ear out for any embittered anecdotes or conspiracy theories he could use to reinforce his political agenda.[2a]
Late at night, the agitator pays a visit to a local printer's workshop. Most printers are too wary of the law to openly help such a notorious individual, but they may have rebellious young apprentices or run an illicit business at night. An agitator has to be careful in finding a willing producer of seditious pamphlets, and works hard to establish and maintain the necessary degree of trust.[2a]
- "Mark my words, if you're looking to root out the agents of the Spinner of Fate, follow the clamouring in the streets. They can't resist it. They'll surface, sooner or later."
An agitator is best advised to get to know the local watchmen and to make contacts in the underworld. In the case of the watch it is simply a case of knowing who to bribe or flee from. An agitator has a more complex relationship with organised crime. On one hand underworld contacts can offer the agitator just the sort of information he needs to better attack his targets, and a place to hide if things get hot. On the other hand, they have a nasty habit of calling in favours. Many agitators wish to be perceived as idealistic and anti-materialistic, and do not like to be seen associating with criminals.[2a] The most successful demagogues are usually supported by some hidden ally, often with ulterior motives.[3a]
In the land of illiteracy, the spoken word is king. Many question how agitators can gain such large followings, or have such a strong influence over local politics and affairs. The role of the spoken word cannot be underestimated in a land where far more people are illiterate than literate. The illiterate are forced to rely on others for news and information, since they cannot read the newssheets themselves – an opportunity the savvy agitator is more than happy to seize.[2a]