Glory And Coin Both Shine
Government: Monarchy overseeing a ruthlessly Competitive Aristocracy
Ruler: Lord Rit at the top, House Lords below
Example Names: Giles Sandeford, Bron Rudd, Edmund Camshron, Swain Morten
The first stirrings of the Victran culture can be traced back nearly a millennia to a group of kingdoms birthed by Selenian outcasts and exiles. These kingdoms were blessed with bountiful agricultural resources and cursed by constant warfare. The rise of the distinctly Victran culture occurred much more recently when the precursor King Balar Victra uncovered the Arsenal Vault where the present day city of Victra is located, gaining possession of the exceedingly rare Canna technology. King Victra used his newfound technological superiority to demand fealty from all others and set about establishing a dominion based on his discoveries and personal philosophy.
Longshot: Specialist soldiers who train in the use of Longarms. Often mounted. Considered prestigious figures within Victra and terminal threats outside.
Victra is an aggressive and increasingly ambitious timocracy where material wealth is considered the highest good. The culture is led by the Lord Rit, Durant Chambers Victra, a ruthless and manipulative figure with grand ambitions. Victran society is heavily class based with the majority of power held by the aristocracy by dint of both wealth and possession of remnant first age firearms called Canna or Thunderers. The Victra were formerly enemies of the Tollam, but the two factions have found common ground against Ossandrian aggression, reducing but not eliminating skirmishes between the two. Victran expansion has traditionally been limited by vicious internal competition between various noble houses and a hyper-competitive social order. The symbol of Victra is the Urvogel, a unique repto-avian creature found across the south of Aeldos
Victran territory extends across much of the southern landmass of Aeldos, spanning a region widely known as the Southern Scythe. The territory is composed of 19 major cities and dozens of smaller settlements and towns. All land and authority is vested in the nine Lords appointed by the Lord Rit. Each Lord is given free reign over their territory at the cost of fealty and tribute to the Lord Rit. Ambition is highly valued, but also carefully moderated by the Lord Rit and acts of rebellion against or disobedience to the Lord Rit are punished severely by the elite Victran Guard. As a result most intrigue and pursuit of power occurs between the Lords.
Victra is broken up into two key regions; North and South.
- Northern Victra is a rich land of open fields and generally tame forest. The cities here house the bulk of the Victran population and compose the heart of Victran industry and agriculture. Port cities across the north move goods between each other and north to Victran trading partners.
- Southern Victra is composed primarily of swampy wetlands, bogs and wet forests. These more recent acquisitions are more sparsely populated and widely considered rural backwaters by the rest of Victra.
Victran Noble Houses
|Victra||Turin Chambers Victra||Victra, Cannich, Golspie, Malig, Etal||Ruthless, cunning, and reclusive|
|Broun||Trefor Broun||Arisaig, Strathyre||Arrogant, rapacious, and very wealthy|
|Agron||Hascal Hern Agron||Aberth, Yarmouth, Ullapool||Aggressive, militaristic, and powerful|
|Gall||Dolan Gall||Bogfeld, Mire Outposts||Independent, rebellious, and odd|
|Ferghal||Cothram Ferghal||Stanraer, Jura, Tayport||Even-handed, valorous, and religious|
|Shaw||Mirian Shaw||Coll||Inquisitive, eccentric, and technical|
|Cromarty||Kalavan Cromarty||Cromarty||Clever, strategic, and secretive|
|Darragh||Tarv Darragh||Drummore, Nairn||Proud, conventional, and agricultural|
|Hywel||Lamoren Hywell||Etal, Maddington||Ambitious, audacious, and nautical|
|Obrais||Gavan Obrais||None||Ruthless, wealthy, aspiring nobility|
The Victran are one of the most technologically advanced civilizations of the fourth age. The Victran were beneficiaries of geographic luck, having inherited technologies of the first age from a cluster of vaults containing luxurious cultural items, generator tech, textile weavers, and most importantly traction engines and firearms, all artefacts of the Urul Imperium. These relics created a distinctive culture and triggered a definitive superiority complex among the Victran. In a few short generations Victra went from an unknown agrarian diaspora to an aristocratic and imperial industrial nation under the control of a powerful King. Victran firepower and ambition likely would have conquered Aeldos were it not for two limitations; the Tollam bordering them in the West, and the limited number of firearms in the Arsenal Vault located beneath Victra.
Firearms are all relics and the Victrans, despite years of trying, have been unable to replicate them. This rarity has made these powerful weapons iconic features of the culture. Owning a Victran firearm is what permits a Lord to participate in the aristocracy and each house owns only a handful. For this reason, despite their potency, firearms are used cautiously in warfare and Victran gunners are almost always high-born owners of the Canna, or their trusted and elite guards. Lower class Victra use axe, sword, and shield, acting as skirmishing forces to occupy enemies.
Traction engines are another major sources of Victran power, enabling the movement of enormous loads of trade goods across the continent with relative ease. For a century now the enormous caravan engines used by the Victrans have been the envy of other nations merchants and traders and the past two decades have even seen the establishment of a railway system between Victran cities and settlements facilitating the fast movement of people and goods. The technology has also been adapted to power cargo ships, though only a handful of these exist. At the heart of this is the Obrais Trading Company who hold a near monopoly on the technology, aggressively pursuing the needed components and mercilessly sabotaging competitors. Obrais caravans crisscross the continent, traveling as far north as Svertheim, protected by companies of well-armed mercenaries. Were it not for the significant amount of Helion required for each engine the trade power of Victra would eclipse most other cultures.
The past century of Victran history is a blur of technological advancement and expansion, all enabled by discoveries of Urul vaults and aggressive attempts at exterminating dangerous southern wildlife. While these attempts have had notable success, making the heart of Victra nearly as safe as that of Ossandria, there are still vast territories of wildland and a diverse population of animal and aberrant threats. And while Brogs, Skulks, Skalrot, Babaecal, Whiptraps, and Glutor all pose significant threats to travelers and settlements, the biggest danger has always been with the Tollam living in the western mountains. For as long as Victran ambition has pushed beyond the Scythe, it has been met by the Tollam love of war. Indeed, until recently the two cultures had been in a state of constant conflict, with the Victra considering the Tollam aggressive savages and the Tollam considering the Victran sharpshooters an intriguing challenge. The recent shift in both cultures attention towards the looming threat of Ossandrian imperialism has yet to prove enduring.
Victran culture is highly stratified with a singular emphasis on wealth and property. While the myth of Victra is that anyone can become a factorum owner, trader, or aristocrat with hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, only those with property are granted privilege and only those descended from privilege are granted property. Philosophical and political writings from outside Victra are suppressed by Victran aristocracy. As a result Victran society is essentially split into three permanent classes; nobles, vassals, and the indentured. Nobles own the land, vassals manage it, and the indentured work it. This can mean strips of fertile farm tended to by peasant farmers or sophisticated factorum filled with assembly line drudges producing the latest goods or clockwork trinkets. And holding it all together is a lattice work of fealty contracts and indentures defining the precise value of any individual beneath the nobility. From the moment of birth onward every indentured knows exactly what they are worth in the eyes of their superiors, a cost/value equation that governs their days.
The structure of Victran society is such that the Lord Rit gives each of the noble houses of Victra fief over both a geographic portion of Victra and ‘primacy’ over a certain industry/sector of the economy which translates to monopoly, or more frequently, duopoly power. Each noble houses can in turn demand fealty, rent, and subservience from those serving on their land or in their industry.
Some Noble houses choose to imbue those below them with ‘lesser’ noble titles; vassals of vassals and the lesser nobility is largely composed of merchants, traders, and inventors.
The resulting structure means that while the lands of Victra are all owned, new industries represent a method of ascending to title, as the Obrais family, a trade company turned railway barony is attempting to do.
The Lord Rit’s ancestor, King Balar Victra, established control over the region through discovery of the Arsenal Vault and use of its contents to dominate the regions lesser powers and then established the above structure while consolidating that power. As a result of the efforts of the Victra family towards consolidation of power there are less than half the ‘High Noble’ families now than there were at the formation of Victra due to intermarriage, intrigue, and competitive conquest.
Today the position of Lord Rit is held through a combination of military, economic, and clandestine power including the institutions including a well-equipped personal military (The Lord Rit’s Elite Guard), a private inquisitorial and clandestine service (The Order of the Lancet) and a bureaucratic apparatus that oversees proper handling of taxation (Silverhall).
The Laws of Victra are set by the Lord Rit, but are typically prompted, informed, or written by the Nobility. Such laws are made during a regular ceremony known as the Baillyle
(Bay-lyle, aka Gathering of Nobility)
This assembly of the heads of the Victran nobility occurs at least once every five years but can also be called during an emergency or at the desire of the Lord Rit. All titled Lords are expected to be present and any who are not are sanctioned with additional taxes and duties.
The opening of a formal Baillyle is ceremonial and scripted, intended to be a reminder of where power of Victra lies; with the Rit. This is done by first having the Lesser Lord’s parade their personal forces, usually a single batallion, on the Rits Road followed by the Rits forces; Elite, Lancets, and the Rits Regulars. This is called the Noble Procession.
At the conclusion of the Procession each of the Lords present themselves before the Lord Rit where they must kneel and recite the oath of fealty, present their instrument of office for inspection, and be reaffirmed by the Lord Rit. The failure to reaffirm a Lord at this time is tantamount to declaring of war and has only been done once in Victras history.
After the Procession the Lords retire to the Arsenal Fortress to meet in Balar’s Hall, the term for largest chamber in Victra and over the ensuing weeks the following occurs:
- One Day is spent on Declaration, where each family reports on profit, loss, and must speak to the achievements and deeds of their house since the last Baillyle.
- One Day is spent on Grievances, where each Lord has a set time to speak to any grievances they may have against other Lords or the Lord Rit. These issues are not resolved immediately but the Lord Rit does decide whether the full details of the issue are to be heard by himself, by the Council of Lords, or by an appointed Justice or Arbitrator.
- Each Lord then receives a day of the Lord Rit’s time, from sun-up to sun-down, known as a Munificence. Each Lord is free to use this time differently and considerable time and effort is put into pleasing and entertaining the Rit, skillfully expanding on declarations or grievances, and otherwise gaining his favour during this period. The order in which Noble families present Declarations and Grievances, and the order of Munificence is a topic of contention and some families will trade considerable sums or favours for certain positions to ensure they present before or after certain rivals or on certain days.
- The final portion of the Baillyle is the Council of Lords, often just referred to as the Council or Assembly. This council lasts for at least 3 days but often extends considerably longer. During this ceremony the council addresses the following:
- any topic identified by the Lord Rit
- any issues identified during the Grievances
- any topic identified by at least 3 of the Lords
In all issues the Lord Rit’s word is final. Lords who disagree with the Rit’s decisions are advised to be both cautious and respectful in doing so as more than one family has found their circumstances considerably worse for failing to show proper deference to the Lord Rit’s judgement.
One of the most well known markers of Victran background is the unique sense of fashion found amongst the nobility. Utilizing technologies and techniques from the Urul imperium, Victran high fashion is ornate; silken coats, tall hats, patterned scarves, fine breeches, waist coats, tail coats, and long coats all crafted in darkest black or garish colours and patterns and all driven by constant competition between the nobility. Another well known fashion trend among the nobility is the wearing of powdered wigs or periwigs. These wigs started as a compensation for balding men and as a defense against the lice (more common in the region of the Southern Mire) but it has become a fashion and considerable effort is made by lords to outdo one another. Many of the house lords maintain their own wig-makers and court gossip rarely misses the topic. Only a few lords eschew the fashion. Wigs made from the hair of certain foreign cultures are highly valued; Selenian and Mujinese in particular.
Knights and the Indentured Army
Each Lord is expected to contribute to the defense of Victra, maintaining a force of combatants ready to be called upon to serve the will of the Lord Rit. Similar to their culture the Victran military is stratified into the noble knights and longshots who represent the nobility, the sturdy and armoured vassals who serve them, and a vast horde of indentured soldiers. All serve beneath the Victran Guard, the elite standing military force of the Lord Rit himself.
Outsiders and Quasi-humans
The trade focused nature of the Victran economy has driven them across the continent, exposing their caravans to almost every other culture. Stories of the lands beyond the Scythe are common, and the culture is generally friendly to visitors, seeing them as curious but not generally threatening. Many nobles consider quasi-humans such as the [[Tamaa]] and [[Kaeki]] to be welcome, recruiting them into roles in the social games played between houses and using them as status symbols. [[Tollam]] are less welcome, owing to a long history of conflict between the two cultures that has only recently begun to change. Few Victra have any notion of the existence of the [[Oneiri]] or [[Bellatori]] while [[Heliar]] are considered no different from other Artilects; animate property.
In Victra there are two stories told of the Bellatori; first amongst the high houses as monstrous creatures lurking in the wild; a species of remorseless hunters with a taste for human blood. Shadows with sharp edges that descend from the trees and carry proud warriors to their doom. The second set of stories, more often found among the working class as a race of guardians set by the Ayr to protect humanity, but fallen to the chaos of the calamity. They say that the Bellatori could best even the Tollam, the great threat of the West. Legends speak of their cunning and stealth in contrast to the brute power of the Tollam, and of their valour and honour in the face of impossible odds.
In Victra the stories of the Oneiri are less clear; mostly childrens tales about ‘dreamsmiths’. Most tales paint them as tricksters who bring enlightenment through vivid dreams. They’re not really portrayed as real people, more like phantasms that visit in the night.
While obviously not universal many Victrans are uniquely gifted in the arts of conversation. The effect of a strict class structure has instilled in many a combination of social agility, keen wits, and emphasis on manners which serves them well. Paired with often lyrical regional accents, Victrans are well liked even beyond the Scythe.
The Victran obsession with trade is well known with many cultures considering them a Merchant Empire. Their goods can be found across Aeldos and the products of other cultures are found throughout Victra. Trade is well diversified with the Lords and their servants having considerable skill obtaining access to the goods and commodities of other cultures. Victran traders peddle everything from spices to crossbows to toys and books and they always seem to know where each item fetches the best price.
Victran have a particular affection for the keeping of tame and wild animals.
- In northern Victra Urvogel or reptile birds are tamed in honour of King Victra who believed them the most noble of pets.
- In southern Victra Foxbats are kept and survive off the innumerable insects that dwell in the mire. In return they are sensitive to the signs of [[Brog]] and other swampland threat and are also good at finding rich fruit groves.
Most Victran nobility prefers the refined sounds of orchestral or ensemble music, formally played by notable artists in high class settings, and often on singular instruments, crafted with such skill and beauty that they bear their own names. Orchestral theaters and grand shows are common and it is a sign of considerable status to host one. But for some of the “Outsider Nobles” from the west and south of the Dominion the preference is for “Construct Music”. This is music derived from cleverly designed instruments rather than human play. Barrel organs, fiddles, harps, pianos, Orchestrions and other devices which use music recorded on metal rolls or paper. The tangible nature of such music has led some of these nobles to amass collections of music, paying handsomely for sole ownership rights and punishing those who infringe upon them.
The Victran lower classes meet somewhere in the middle, listening to a mixture of manually played music on complex instruments or lesser versions of the automated music enjoyed by the southern nobility.
Victran Firearms Etiquette
- One must keep two hands on a longarm at all times. They are durable items but it does not do to roughly handle a priceless artifact and tool of death.
- Pointing the barrel at someone is an overt threat and challenge, even casually, and can result in a duel between individuals of equal class or summary execution when there is a class difference.
- Breathing is key. Victran breathing techniques for accuracy involve firing on the exhale or firing between breaths.
- Theft of a firearm is considered a capital offense, punishable in Victra by drawing and quartering
- Gifting a firearm is seen as a great honour, and indicates that you are asking someone to act as guardian to your family. This is common amongst aristocrats who are disinterested in the rigors and dangers of warfare but who are required to field their canna in the interest of Victra.
Most Victran soldiers are armed with padded, scale or brigandine mail, polearms and shields. Swords and bows are also common amongst general troops, Blades tend to be double edged. Equipment of the upper class is always adorned with house symbols and embellishments intended to demonstrate wealth and power. Canna wielders are always well guarded, and the Canna themselves always have a name and a story behind them; frequently as rewards of the Lord Rit or family heirlooms.
Prestige, industry, and competition – the importance of struggle and aversion to cooperation and collaboration are fundamental to Victran identity. The importance of reputation and perceived ability outweigh all else.
- Zek: An insult used by mid and upper class Victrans to refer to poor, uneducated working class people – peasants, drudges, factory workers, and non-nobles. Zeks or Zeka. Embraced by some counter-cultural groups within Victra as a badge of honour.
- Toff: Derogatory term for a rich or upper class non-noble
- Calangraf: Victran term for Tyvellan, the harvest festival celebrated for the last week of the month of Ixith.
- Sqwalo: Monstrous whale-cephalapod hybrids between 20-50 meters long hunted aggressively alongside conventional whales for their useful render.
- Trame: Rail-bound traction engines which are able to reach incredible speeds. A rapidly growing network of railways connects several Victran cities and the Obrais family has constructed a half-dozen of these machines, causing their rapid ascendance in wealth and power, much to the concern of the nobles of Victra.
Refined Goods, Dyes, Oil, Kava
Though the conquest of Victra is largely considered history to most, there are several groups who maintain cultures, identities and beliefs which are independent or mostly independent from the dominant Victran one. These are the great grand-children of people who fought bitterly against King Balar Victra’s so-called “unification” of the south. While many can claim ancestry related to this, three groups in particular fight to maintain independence and, as such, have been identified as “criminal threats” by the Lords.
(The Wave People)
Often mistaken for, or considered synonymous with pirates, the Tonn De are a loose alliance of mariners living in coastal and island settlements around the southern Scythe who share a common historical and cultural affinity for ‘The Gale’. The Gale is a semi-religious concept synonymous with the chaos and beauty of the sea, aspects of the Libertine, and anarchic political leanings which all inform a general philosophical adherence to personal freedom in direct contrast to Victran style governance. The Tonn De sustain this lifestyle through fishing, diving, raiding, and piracy. While the Victran nobility, and the Hywel’s in particular have put considerable effort into their eradication, the areas they inhabit, the natural dangers, and their decentralized nature make that a fight unlikely to be won soon. Tonn De Mariners are some of the most feared on the Aeldan seas and it’s not unusual for their prowess to attract diverse crews, including Tollam from the Regn tribe.
(The Taken People)
A brutally oppressed group from the southwestern foothills of Victra, the Togtha De have long been caught in the middle of the war between the Tollam and Victrans. Togtha De are an odd people with a mysterious history who were initially recruited as allies in the fight against the Tollam and promised title and riches by the Lords for their service. Togtha De hunters, skilled at navigating the forests, mires, and caves of the west were used as guides for Victran units while many more were pressed into service as foot-soldiers. Depending on who you ask, this relationship was either the the victim of tragedy or destined for failure. The Victran lords claim that it was revealed that the Togtha De were secretly spying for the Tollam, informing them of movements which led to significant loss of Victran life and robbing the Victrans of victory. The Togtha De however claim that the Lords were using them as an excuse for their own failures, and that once it was obvious they had been worn down by battle the Victran lords decided it would be easier to annex their territory and absorb the group into their own. Unfortunately for the Victran Lords, the Togtha De’s integration into their military units had given them considerable insight. Overnight, a dozen groups of veteran Togtha, trained and equipped by the Victrans themselves, receded into the shadows of the Victran wild and started an insurrection against their oppressors. In turn, the Victran lords have rewritten the true story of the Togtha De to portray them as tribal savages and ravagers. Many Togtha De refer to themselves as ‘Graveborn’, a reference to one of the myths of their origin as the descendants of a lost First Age location known as the Iron Grave.
(The Dead People)
The Neman De are the descendants of one of the first peoples conquered by King Balar Victra. Once a band culture occupying the territory where Malig and Coll now stand, these semi-nomadic people with only a few settlements were a historical enemy of the nascent Victrans who occupied the north shore of Thunder Lake. The two groups had long been in conflict, warring over land, resources, and social status but Balar’s discovery of the Arsenal led to a rapid technological and military leap that the Neman De had no defenses against. Within weeks the Nemen De settlements were destroyed or conquered and only a few hundred survivors escaped, retreating into the Great Southern Mire and forests of Victra, attempting to reestablish new settlements in the wilds. Unfortunately any successful Neman De settlement became a target for Victran aggression and a terrible cycle of persecution continued until only a few hundred of the Neman De remained, most living secret and solitary lives, or hiding themselves among the Victrans. Centuries later, only a few features remain to bind the Neman De as a people; the stories of their fall, an enduring hatred of the Victran nobility, and a religious heritage and traditions focused on service to the Tenebrae. Due to their rarity Neman De artefacts such as Death Masks, Bas Blades, and Litanies are highly valued by wealthy Victran collectors.