The Principalities of Verdien
Government Style: Imperial Monarchy
Ruler: Emperor Ludovic II
Population: 5 Million
Capital: Luzerne City
Alchemy: Guild Controlled, common
Ritualism: Illegal outide of Church auspices, uncommon
Inscription: Guild Controlled, uncommon
Forge Magic: Guild Controlled, uncommon
National Symbol: Lions on a green field before a tower
The HistoryThe history of the Principalities stretches back to the third century of the Regnal Era, when the individual Principalities were client kingdoms paying tribute to Tarsikka. Where the Tarsikkans have forgotten much of their past glory, it is still possible to stir the Verdiens into a frenzy against their hated oppressors of a millennium ago. Reinmund von Trayal led a rebellion in 218 RE that quickly drove the Tarsikkans out of Trempa (which was, at the time, undivided).
He repulsed two major offensives, at the Battle of Drenberg and in the Red Forest Campaign, over the next five years. Inspired by his example, Danut Rosser, the provincial governor of Eisenmark, joined him in 220. Later that year, Jules Parve, more widely known as Exeter I, the Patriarch of the rapidly growing Redwood Throne, led a revolt in the streets of Luzerne City. In 230 RE, Reinmund von Trayal walked freely into Luzerne City and accepted the crown of Verdien from the Patriarch, who had been his close companion in the last six years of fighting. Tarsikka continued to claim the Verdien kingdoms for the next century, but they never again received tribute. In addition, the Redwood Throne was now firmly established both as the state church of Verdien, and as a formidable power in its own right.
The past ten centuries have seen frequent infighting between what had once been neighboring kingdoms. Many of these petty wars only came to an end when the Emperor or the Patriarch rode out of Luzerne City at the head of an army and enforced peace at the end of a blade. Though one can justly accuse the Church of some abuses of political power, they restored peace many times over, and the infighting has diminished overall through by their aid. This has unquestionably been good for the Empire’s prosperity.
In 996 RE, Emperor Honoré IV and Matriarch Victorine II conjured common purpose amongst the Principalities: the Empire’s expansion. With the idea of claiming territory from their former masters, they turned their eyes toward the Skattenmark. Tarsikka was still recovering from its own problems, and could not mount a full defense against their invasion. This successful conquest shored up support for both the Crown and the Throne at a time when both were waning, due to a resurgence in petty squabbles between the states. Forty years ago (1170 RE), they faced a similar problem and attempted the same solution. With a trumped-up casus belli, they declared war on Tarsikka and besieged the border citadel of Arad-Targa. In the end, Arad-Targa was sacked and many priceless items of magic and art were stolen. The siege was costly, with some 2,500 attackers, more than half of the Verdien force, losing their lives. Most of them were buried in Tarsikka. It is widely rumored that the Tarsikkans unearthed them and used them to build an army of homunculi.
The past ten years have seen the nation once again plunged into violence, as the Grand Dukes’ War tore Eastern Trempa and Trayal apart for two long years. Less than a full year later, von Berga’s Rebellion brought the fury of the Left Hand down on Western Trempa. As Gaunt no longer sends its raiders to Athral Isle, Eisenmark has become a favored target, and neither the Emperor nor the Margrave have moved decisively to stop the attacks.
Verdiens see themselves as the most advanced and civilized people in the world. Taken as a whole, they are wealthy and powerful. They have a strong, unifying religion, and their guilds dominate internal and international trade. Verdiens are proud of their achievements in every known craft, from agriculture to glassblowing.
Verdien society is in the throes of ongoing and intense class struggle. The Redwood Throne, the nobles (and by extension the Emperor), the guilds, and street gangs strive for dominance. A noble might ally with other nobles to push back against pressure from the Redwood Throne. Shortly thereafter, he finds himself working with a guild and funding a street gang to discredit another noble (All four groups are open for PCs to play, though Redwood Throne and Verdien nobility require Plot permission). Any of the latter three might secretly belong to a cabal or a mystery cult.
Faith and Religion
The Redwood Throne holds near-total sway over the souls of the people. The Patriarch has political power at least equal to that of the Emperor. The people know the name and face of the Patriarch, but almost no one can name those who sit on his inner council. Cities and towns have priests, though most villages do not; the Church gives relatively little consideration to ministering to the people of the countryside. Many villages have a monastery within a few days’ travel, at least.
The Redwood Throne makes it clear that mystery cults are lies that wicked people feed to the credulous. They direct the Left Hand of the Throne to stop the spread of mystery cults and the practice of any form of unauthorized magic, be it ritualism, forge magic, inscription, or alchemy. The Church has a small number of authorized wizards in its ranks. Nonetheless, it cannot interfere with the guilds’ practice of forge magic, inscription, or alchemy without paying a serious political cost.
The Redwood Throne teaches that one is born into a position and should serve in that position as faithfully as possible. Hard work, piety, and moral standards guarantee that you will be reborn into a more comfortable position in the next life. Joining the direct service of the Church is the only form of social advancement available to all ranks of society, though the lower class should not expect too much.
What makes the Principalities of Verdien great?
The Principalities are the dominant religious and economic power in the known world. Their military might is rivaled only by the Caliphate of Dusk, and their guilds possess the most advanced knowledge of every kind of craft. Their strong infrastructure and tightly-knit society support trade and allow communication and research to take place more quickly than in other nations. They are (mostly) united in the worship of the Redwood Throne, and that unity gives them amazing strength. The Church also has the support of the feared Left Hand of the Throne and the Ivory Sun. They have faced few serious internal or external threats to their stability in their near-millennium of history, and their people have prospered as a result.
What makes the Principalities of Verdien less than desirable?
All of that unity stifles dissident religious views, such as many of the mystery cults, and some areas of learning, such as ritualism. Many Emperors and Patriarchs have dealt with other countries callously or high-handedly, particularly their Tarsikkan neighbors, and the Principalities as a whole are more feared than respected. Long insulated from the threat of trolls, ghuls, werewolves, and the like, some Verdiens have derided these creatures as divine punishments inflicted on the blasphemous idolaters of Oresund, Akathia, and Tarsikka, rather than learning to fight such creatures themselves. Their tightly-knit society is at the same time locked in internal conflict: the nobles, the guilds, and the Church undermine one another to seize the reins of their country's destiny.
Theme & Costuming
This is the Holy Roman Empire, with the Redwood Throne standing in somewhat for Rome and the Church. It is heavily German, and the feel should be predominantly Germanic Gothic (not in the Anne Rice sense).
As far as clothing, ornate patterns that include fierce creatures such as lions or eagles commonly adorn formal jackets or capes. Beautiful and intricate weaves, such as damask, are often found even in every day Verdien clothing. Long, a-line skirts are common for women, and pants that hug the calves are common for both genders. Jewelry tends to be fairly sparse in Verdien fashion, though fine beads are often woven into clothing trims. Ornamental hair clips set with patterns made of rare woods and shells are a common sight in women’s formal wear. Men’s formal wear tends to be highlighted by similar pieces, worn as lapel pins. The most common colors in Verdien formal wear are jewel tones, though usually outfits will be nearly all one color, making the wearer look like some exotic gem.
While the Redwood Throne does not precisely enforce Sumputary Laws in the Principalities, the more modest fashions of the Prince-Bishopric of Brezha have gained a certain foothold. Spurning wasteful expense, they prefer to use a single color of dye, rather than many. A single costly gem, displayed tastefully, is within the rules of Pious Fashion; lots of them, or excesses of gold and silver, not so much.
PCs hailing from the Principalities of Verdien receive a unique Advantage. Humans from the Principalities gain one additional IBGA that may be used only for the purposes of information gathering. This can be the use of a Lore skill, social actions, including political actions, or research of any kind. Additional uses of this ability are up the players, and if the IBGAs do not meet the requirements, Plot will request that another IBGA be submitted.