Usurpers of Vollenholm
VollenHolm, A city of Princes, Merchants and Thieves
Vollenholm was a smaller city and principality, serving as a minor trade route within the lowlands. Then the 20 year war between the Empires of Mitteland and Ensoleiller began and changed everything, once the war had ended and the dust had settled, the fate of the city was changed. With the shifting of borders and closing of certain formerly vital trade routes forced merchants to move north, shifting most trade right through Vollenholm, creating a boom town. with the boom came the creation of new trade companies who seek to solidify their wealth. But with growth comes decay, causing the creation of a criminal element within the city, one that, along with the trade companies competes with the prince for control. That’s where our heroes come into play.
A boom town upon the Dieze river, Vollenholm is a now a major fixture of the lowlands, a small kingdom stuck between the Mitteland Reich to the east, and the Empire of Ensoleiller to the west. There are four primary districts to the city.
Oudestad (Lowlander for old town)
Taking up about two fifths of the city, it is from this seed that Vollenholm has grown. As time passed the rich and poor left to the Upper and Lower quarters respectively, leaving the majority of Oudestad’s population as artisans and craftsmen. Oudestad is still the heart of the city, containing the cathedral for the True Lord, and the original Abramachi temple, and what government buildings that weren’t relocated to the upper quarter.
Though it is Oudestad that was the seed from which Vollenholm grew, it was Vollenholm Keep that planted it. The imposing fortress dominates the Upper quarters, while also housing the prince’s manor house. Vollenholm Keep is also the home to Vollenholm’s rich and elite populace, containing the finest homes, shops and establishments. To have acquired property in Vollenholm Keep is a sure sign that you have succeeded within the city.
If Oudestad is the Heart of the city, and the Upper quarter is the head, then the Lower quarter is the bowels of the city. Primarily a slum, it is the lower quarter where Vollenholm’s poor and destitute live, and where the cities criminal element breeds and grows. Only those without the luxury of choice live in the shadow of the Upper quarter; a sign of what is possible, but always out of reach.
Versstad (New Town in lowlander)
The youngest part of Vollenholm, Versstad is a testament to the cities fantastic new economic growth as it has become the largest part of the city thus far, and houses the emergent middle class within the city. This is the new face of the city, almost a city unto itself. Versstad represents the true potential of the city, and what it can achieve, but also shows what would be lost should Vollenholm collapse in upon itself.
The informal fifth district, it is here that the lifeblood of the city flows in, bringing wealth. Though not technically a district, many theorize that whoever can establish a lasting hold upon the Dockyards will in turn run Vollenholm itself, and as such, the Prince posts much of his guardsmen within the small district.
Places of note by district
Note: As districts are explored by the party, more information will be added.
The original watchtower built for the city to watch for invaders. Now, it’s nothing more than a bell tower used primarily to keep track of time.
the Black Raven
h4. Upper Quarter
h4. Lower Quarter
the cracked stein- inn and pub
h4. The Dockyards
God created the heavens and Earth from nothing. First he created Earth and he saw that it was good, then he created his servants, the guardians, great beings that he left to safeguard the world. after giving them dominion over the earth, he turned to attend to the rest of the universe and his own projects, namely the creation of the five races, whom he released upon the world, giving them dominion over the earth, appointing the guardians to protect them. One servant however did not like that he was to now guard these new races, he turned from the true Lord and rallied many of the other guardians to do so as well. they enslaved the five races and turned from being stewards of the earth, to it’s cruel rulers.seeing what they had done, the True Lord came to earth in the shape of a mortal being. He hoped to give his beloved first creations, the Guardians, a chance at redemption, many times hinting, or even openly telling them who he was, when they refused, he led the Five races in rebellion. the guardians captured him, not knowing his true nature, hung him from a tree for six days, but on the seventh he rose again, ascendant in his true Godly form. He defeated the guardians, handed the five races their homes and ascended into the heavens once more. It is this story that all races believe in some manner, it is from here that they vary though, each holding to a different part of the story to be important, or a different prophet to have taught the proper way to worship.
Worship of the True Lord (Lordism)
Symbols: A hangman’s gallows, a black dove
Followers: Humans and Halflings mainly but open to all
Lordism is the primary religion of humans of the west and is by far the fastest growing as its missionaries evangelize outside of the confines of Iuropa. Lordists follow the teachings of Yeshua the prophet, who proclaimed that one day the True Lord would return once more to shepherd the righteous to their reward, and that he offered redemption to all souls or all races and nations of the earth. He spread the word of the True Lord far and wide, and after establishing the teachings of Lordism and ordaining a priesthood, he ascended into heaven, leaving his priesthood to spread the word of the True Lord to all corners of the earth. Lordism holds to 8 core teachings
1. Proclaim the True Lord to be your God above all others.
2. Love all others, for the True Lord loves you despite your sins.
3. Thou shalt not kill, for life is a gift of the True Lord
4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors property, for possessions are fleeting
5. Be merciful, for thou shall have mercy shown unto you
6. Be pure of heart and body, for thou shall see God
7. Be humble, for thou shall be rewarded tenfold
8. Be faithful to family, spouse and God, for they are your guardians and allies
Symbols: 6 pointed star, 6 pointed star and crescent mood
Followers: Dwarves almost exclusively, but some humans and orcs who live in dwarven lands practice it
Worship of The Fair Quartet
Symbols: A yin/yang with four divisions
Followers: Elves, but eastern humans as well
Symbols: a raven, a spoken wheel
Followers: Orcs and barbarian humans
Pohanism isn’t so much a religion as much as it is a belief system in which ancestors are venerated and asked for assistance, the belief is that those of your line who have died are sent on to the next life, under the watchful eye of a great spirit named Pohan, Pohan himself is a neutral god who does not generally interfere with the affairs of the living, thus when asking for the intersession of higher forces, it is seen as far more wise to ask the spirits of those within your lineage who have passed on. with the power someone has in the second life being based upon how honorable a person they were in the previous one. Pohanism is based upon the teachings of one called “the great prophet” his name has long since been lost to the sands of time
Magic in Society:
Magic is considered very rare and generally unseen by the vast majority of the population. Arcane magic in particular is almost unheard of and only studied by a select few; it generally takes an enormous amount of study and practice in order to perform the arcane arts. The same can be said about divine magic and the way the gods (or other divine sources) grant their magic onto others is unknown and rare, though not quite as much as arcane magic. Due to the rarity of magic in the world, few people rely on it and must use mundane means to solve most issues. The use of magic around others will cause awe/fear in them as magic is held as a very mysterious and dangerous source of power; many believe the magic casts by some clerics and priests to be miracles from the gods. It is the inability to explain magic or understand it that causes virtually all people some form of confusion and many go their entire lives without seeing any magic performed in front of them. The majority of those that do generally see divine magic.
Nations, Empires and Kingdoms
A small kingdom situated between the Mitteland and Ensoleiller empires, it doggedly holds on to independence despite being placed between two strong powers. With its sudden trade boom its security has been stabilized and destabilized at the same time. Though it has the power to protect itself now, it’s control of such important and vital trade routes make it a more desirable target than ever before. With both empires simultaneously attempting to build stronger relations, and undermine the efforts of their rival, The Lowlands is certainly in a precarious position.
The Ensoleiller Empire
One of the three main powers of the west, and one of the two most volitile, the Empire of Ensoleiller, ruled by the Sun King Louis III, who has declared himself the divinely ordained ruler of the empire. beneath him are the numerous lords, counts and barons who wield the power he gives them over the peasant populations they control. despite the highly regimented and segmented society, one thing links them all together, knighthood, technically any soldier who shows proper martial prowess, regardless of birth, may become a knight, which form the backbone of the Ensoleiller army. Ensoleiller is the long time enemy of the Mitteland Reich and they have fought on and off since both were still small kingdoms. with the latest of these wars, the 20 year war, over, and Ensolleiller nominally the loser, it has pulled back to lick its wounds and sharpen its claws. they may be beaten for now, but the light of the sun cannot be done away with, nor can the will of the Sun King.
The Mitteland Reich
In the center of Iuropa lies the Mitteland Reich, founded by the first Emperor, Kaiser Frederick the Unifier. The king of Swabia at the time, Kaiser Frederick unified the five Mittelandic kingdoms of Swabia, Saarland, Württemberg, Rhineland, and Bremen. The Reich has weathered much and has grown steadily, establishing itself as one of the three great powers of the Iuropa along with Moscuvia and Ensoleiller. As such, relations between the three have always been tenuous, but relations between Ensoleiller and Mitteland have always been the weakest as they have fought off-and-on for centuries. The most recent of these wars has been the 20 Years’ War, during which Mitteland defeated Ensoleiller and Moscuvia, all-the-while allowing Vistula to gain independence from Moscuvia. The current emperor, Kaiser Otto the Wise, is young and eager to continue Mitteland’s forward momentum against Ensoleiller. Though Otto realizes this must be done off the battlefield, that doesn’t mean that the battles of words and spies will be any less bloody.
other nations and kingdoms of note
The Pritani Isles
The largest of the Pritani Islands, as well as the Easternmost, Bretonia is a study in contrasts. once the home of the Bretons, many centuries ago the island was invaded by a an Mittelandic tribe known as the Angles, who had been driven from their lands by the growing Bremen tribe. After subjugating the Ceilteach Bretons, they proceeded to intermingle with the local population, resulting in a culture that was neither Ceilteach nor Mittelandic. since then the new Bretons have proceeded to establish a kingdom of their own, an a rising power in their own right. Though they tend to stay out of the politics and wars of the mainland, oftentimes switching sides depending upon convenience. the Current king, Richard IV is leading his nation through a new era of peace, the wars with the Éireannach have ended with no new land gained by either side and he has begun greater trade and closer relations with Cymru following his marriage to the Queens daughter, but he always has one goal in mind, the same goal his father and his father before him had, all the way back to the first Angleish king, conquest at any cost.
Of the remaining three Ceilteach peopled Pritani Islands, the western island of Éirinn is by far the strongest. due to frequent Bretonia invasions the Éireannach have devised a way to establish unity while still maintaining vestiges of its old clan system. Nine Éireannach Clans all maintain their own lands and armies, the nobles electing one from amongst their ranks to become High King, who acts as a general over their combined forces, meeting with foreign emissaries and as a mediator in clan disputes. The current High King Eamon O’Connell now rules an Éirinn at peace, having beaten back a Bretonian invasion and the clans currently working in great harmony. It is now time to secure Éirinn’s future by centralizing power, establishing ties with Clan MacKenzie over in Alban and strengthening his army. For the threat of Britanian invasion is always a dark cloud looming over the horizon…but should it come, the Éireannach will be ready for it.
The northernmost of the Pritani Islands, it is also the most mountainous and disunited. the Island is inhabited by numerous clans who compete and combat for power over the island, with alliances and enemies shifting regularly, however, as the Angles found out when they tried to continue their conquest, they are a force to be reckoned with when united. when faced with a common foe the clans will immediately set aside their differences to defend their island to the last. the combination of these tough and stubborn people with a terrain that matches them and they have lived more or less unmolested for centuries, despite their lack of unity. That said however, there are two rising powers. Clan Mackenzie lead by Ian the Shrewd and Clan MacLeod led by Robert the Gray. though they have yet to clash, storm clouds are forming, and soon, the clans will have to pick sides and the future of Alban will be decided.
The youngest of the human kingdoms, it does however have a very long history having recently acquired independence from Moscuvia once again. They have always been an independent culture and kingdom, but long ago, the kingdom of King Lech the Founder was conquered by the Czars of Moscuvia, and ever since Vistulan lords have been forced to pay homage to the Moscuvite Czar. But then during the 20 year war in which Moscuvia backed Ensoleiller, Vistula was finally able to achieve independence following a Mitteland backed rebellion and careful negotiations by Lord, now King, Casimir the restorer, Vistula is once again free and staying very close to their Mittelander allies to stay that way, lest they be placed under the Czar’s boot once more.
Cerni Ravnice isn’t a kingdom or an empire, but rather a large swath of land that straddles the divide between Iuropa and the Orient, with Hyymlnd to the south and Moscuvia to the north. it is in these lands that the great horde, led by Great Khan Veľký Vodca once conquered. but the great Khan died in battle against Czar Vladimir the Great and Dwarven King Demitrius the Wise leaving the Orcish horde fragmented and leaderless. Cerni Ravnice is a collection of kingdoms, and dominions held by a multitude of orcish warlords, all fighting to try and lay claim as the next great khan.
H4. The Piccoli kingdoms
On the southern half of the Delre peninsula lies the Piccoli Kingdoms, or the land of the Halflings. However the name is a misnomer, as they have no kings. Instead Halfling society is divided up into 14 clans, more commonly named families, with each family controlling villages and usually with a seat of government in a city, effectively acting as city states. Of the 14 families though, only 5 truly wield any meaningful power, with the remaining 9 falling into step behind whichever of the 5 families best represents their interests. Though Peaceful now, until recently the Piccoli kingdoms were in a state of civil war, brought on by the 20 years war, with half siding with Mitteland, and the other half siding with Ensoleiller, though the fighting is over there are deep scars, and Halflings never forget a debt, let alone a grudge.
H4. Kingdom of Delre
Once the home to the Mighty Dwarven Empire that stretched across the south eastern reaches of Iuropa and into Arabi and northern Efrikana, it is now their last bastion having since fallen into a decline. Now only in control of their ancestral lands of Hyymlnd, the Dwarven King struggles to keep the many corners of his land under control as they suffer attacks from Orcish raiders from the north, Dwarven and human nobles rebelling in the south and east. many Dwarves, their homes now taken from them by new masters have emigrated north to the Mitteland Reich, Moscuvia or to the Lowlands, taking jobs as craftsmen, artisans and alchemists, though they have made comfortable livings in their new homes, they pine for the lands where Abramach walked and raised the Dwarves to greatness.
Far to the north east lies Moscuvia, ruled from the winter palace by Czar Alexander. Despite being the largest of the human kingdoms, Moscuvia unfortunately lacks the infrastructure to compete with Mitteland, Ensoleiller or Vistula. While not quite as rigid in society’s levels as Ensoleiller, it is still a land where the wealthy go from rich to very rich, and the poor stay poor. Sharing a southern border with Cerni Ravnice, Moscuvians often have to contend with Orcish raids along their shared border. Due to this, Moscuvian Orc fighters are highly prized as mercenaries and hired blades. In the end, Moscuvia remains a frozen enigma wrapped in mystery. The cold kingdom to the north often prefers to remain silent unless called upon, revealing few secrets to the outside world.
The Elvish Empire of the east, though not much is known about it to the inhabitants of Vollenholm, what is known is awe inspiring. A massive continent spanning empire ruled by the Dragon Emperor from the heart of the forbidden Jade city. Though the elves seem content with staying out of western affairs, they maintain trade along the Jade Road. The empire is currently undergoing a golden age of peace, prosperity, and technological advancement that quickly outpaces the progress made in the West. Westerners who return from the east bringing small pieces of elven culture as well as tales of peerless elven warriors, beautiful elven courtesans and graceful cities filled with all the wonders and wealth of the east.