|Races||Religions||Realms||Geography||Organizations||Languages||Time & Calendars|
- 1 History/Timeline
- 2 Government
- 3 Culture & Society
- 4 Economics & Trade
- 5 Regions
- 5.1 Domaine Est
- 5.2 Domaine Sud
- 5.3 Domaine Oest
- 5.4 Domaine Centre
Athervon is a Kingdom. The King wields absolute power within the realm, subject only to maintaining the loyalty of his vassals and nobles, who provide him with the military forces and financing required to keep the kingdom functioning. The Kingdom is divided into five Ducal Estates – Est, Oest, Centre, Sud, and the Northern Protectorate. The King’s five Ducs are his primary military vassals, who oversee the operations within their areas of responsibility, collecting the King’s taxes, enforcing the King’s justice, and mustering the military forces that are required by the King.
Each Ducal Estates are further subdivided into Provinces, each of which is supervised by a comte, and in some cases also a Viscompte if the province is large, wealthy, or is otherwise challenging to manage. The Comptes, supported by their Viscomptes, are responsible for military musters and tax collection within their provinces, as well as administering the King’s justice for such matters as are within their delegated authority by the Duc.
Finally, Provinces that form the border of the Kingdom with neighboring realms or wilderness areas that pose a particular threat also will be placed within a Marche; the Marches are strictly military in nature, and are overseen by Marquis. The Marquis are, collectively, charged by the King himself with the defense of the realm from external forces, and have no role in taxation or the enforcement of laws, with the exception of crimes committed by the soldiers under their command, where their authority is second only to that of the King himself. Their forces are an additional levy from across the Provinces within their Marche beyond what is required by the Duc. This construct provides for additional forces with direct loyalty to the crown within provinces that are most likely to be subject to attack and/or subversion by hostile forces.
Larger Provinces may further be divided into Baronies, with the Barons fulfilling the obligations to the Comptes as the Comptes to the Ducs.
The lowest unit of nobility within the Kingdom that are permitted to hold land are the Chevalieres, who provide military service in return for their estates rather than taxes. The estates of Chevalieres are generally small for this reason, but still valuable due to the fact that the resources need only support the local lord. A Province or Barony will generally have a number of Chevaliere estates within it, who serve as the military leaders for the local forces mustered within the regions as needed. Chevaliere can also be called into other forms of military service – for example, to serve as a member of the King’s guard in Avis Inia, or to serve as diplomatic agents.
Below Chevalieres are the Ecuyer – members of the noble class who do not posses land. Ecuyer will typically be found living within the seats of the landed gentry (Ducs, Comptes, Vicomptes, and Chevalieres), in some cases as blood relations, othertimes to augment the military power of the lords forces. Ecuyer are also common in metropolitan areas, where the title and status are sometimes conferred on wealthy merchants, traders, or craftsmen who support the King’s objectives with gold, but do not necessarily need an estate as a source of wealth.
Comptes, Viscomptes, Barons, and even sometimes even Chevalieres will employ one or more Shérif as their law enforcement agents, depending on the size of their estates. The Shérifs travel throughout the lands of their lord, collecting the taxes, administering justice for matters within their authority on behalf of the lord, and bringing crimes beyond their authority before the lord for dispensation. Shérif will generally travel with a small band of militia – generally Armati (see Military, below) – who provide intimidation or force when such measures are needed, and who protect the lord’s taxes and guard criminals in transit.
Athervon’s land forces are organized as noted in the Government section above.
Individual units will be of a uniform social stratum with the possible exception of their leader. For example, there are elite units of heavily armed and armored Chevalieres cavalry, led by a prominent Chevalieres or a land-lord (Baron, comte, etc.). Another unit might be similarly equipped mounted Ecuyer, who will be led by one of their own, or possibly a Chevaliere. But the bulk of Athervonian forces will be drawn from the Serf classes, on foot with very few exceptions, including archers, pavasiers, pikemen, swordsmen, crossbowmen, and the like. These units are described by the general term Armati. Armati units may be led by one of their own, or an Ecuyer. Only rarely will a Chevaliere lead a unit of Armati.
The Athervonian army includes specialized units such as miners and sappers, as well as logistics units, provisioning and supply elements, and numbers of weaponsmiths, fletchers, and armorers, all of whom will generally be drawn from the Guildhomme. But the numbers of skilled craftsmen in the military ranks is low, and they are generally integrated into the fighting units that they support when on the march, or housed in forts and castles during peacetime.
During peacetime, Athervon’s military is generally able to maintain its numbers through volunteer forces; during wartime, the nobility are called to service via the levy, and conscription is used to swell the ranks of the Armati via Royal decree.
With the relatively recent annexation of the Northern Protectorate by Athervon, a significant number of the barbaric tribes and clans within that region have now either sworn loyalty to the King, or unknowingly live in areas under his control. Athervon has recently been experimenting with the formation of military units comprised from these tribes, to be used as scouts within the region and bordering lands, or as shock troops when employed in the more civilized regions. Only two such units have been created, and neither has yet been tested in battle under Athervonian command.
Athervon possesses a large and formidable navy (Le Marine).
Hailing back even before the First Line of Kings, the people of what is now Athervon has been a sea-faring nation, with goods that flow across the land bridge between Tras Veniri and Avis Inia being loaded onto ships, from there to make landfall at ports from Anida and the Isles of the Sea Lords to the more civilized city-states of the Forbidden Isles to the ancient and exotic lands of Issyria and Jhon and beyond. This trade is a great source of wealth, and the realm learned early on that they needed to be able to protect it.
Athervon’s naval fleet builds on the ancient Athernian shipbuilding skills. Their military vessels tend to be long and sleek, fit with broad sails, and armed with an array of heavy weaponry including ballistae and catapults on the larger vessels. Athernian naval vessels are known throughout the Black Sea and the oceans beyond for their speed and stout construction, and one-to-one are a match for any of Athervon’s peers, with the possible exception of the Veniri – a contest that there is no record of due to the fact that the fleets ply such distinct waters.
The Athernian Marine is commanded by the Grand Amiral Royal, who reports directly to the King, and who holds station equivalent to that of the Ducs and the Marquis. Below the Grand Amiral Royal are the Seigneur Amirals, each of whom commands a fleet and is assigned with the protection of a particular geographic region.
Each vessel in these fleets will be commanded by a Capitaine and a group of officers.
With very few historical exceptions, the Grand Amiral Royal and the Seigneur Amirals, are drawn from the landed nobility ranks. Naval service is considered a highly honorable and sought-after profession for second sons within these circles, with the potential to expand the family estate through service or even spawn a second landed arm of the family.
Capitaines are more often than not also from the landed nobility, but there are a significant number that hail from the Ecuyer ranks. Indeed, proving oneself via extraordinarily distinguished naval service as a Capitaine in the naval service is considered one of the more reliable ways to move from being an Ecuyer to a Chevaliere.
The bulk of the ship’s crew (Equipage) are either voluntarily enlisted, conscripts, indentured servants, debtors working off their balance sheets through service, or criminals serving their sentence. Given this mix, one might expect that the discipline, experience, and skill of the Athernian navy would be poor. But on the contrary, the naval tradition is held generally in high regard by the Kingdom, the vessels are run strictly but professionally (with a few notable historical exceptions), and there are enough voluntary crew on most vessels who view their service as a proper profession to more than balance out those who might otherwise have negative tendencies. Indeed, it is not uncommon for conscripts, debtors, and criminals who have completed their appointed service terms to re-enlist, having found meaning, purpose, and stability in their lives.
Culture & Society
Athervon’s social hierarchy follows the lines of authority, wealth, and command, all of which ultimately terminate in the power of the monarchy.
The most respected social strata of Athervonian society goes by the collective name Le Haute Noblesse, and is comprised of the titled, landed nobility. This includes the Ducs, Marquis, Comptes, Vicomptes, and Barons of the realm. Below Le Pairs are the Gentry (Les Petite Noblesse), which is further stratified into the landed nobles (Chevalieres) and then the non-landed nobles (Ecuyer).
It is important to note that while wealth is respected in Athervon, it does not superscede station; poor but nonetheless landed nobility (Ducs, Comptes, Marquis, Vicomptes, Barons, and Chevalieres) with a name of historical significance will generally have superior social status; Ecuyer who were formerly landed Chevalieres but who lost their lands to debt, war, or other problems generally follow next in the social hierarchy. Below these formerly landed nobility will come the Ecuyer who never possessed land in the first place – the nouveau rich merchant or craftsman whose familiy has recently been granted a the station from the King in return for generous donations to the treasury or other services.
In this respect, Athervon draws a striking contrast with the neighboring Kingdom of Veniri, where social strata in the same situation would be completely reversed, with wealth deciding the order of things. But both agree that wealth and land is the best combination – one that is at the top of the hierarchy in both Kingdoms.
Members of the clergy and associated orders of the Holy Faith form the next most desired social circles. The subdivisions here follow the hierarchy of the church itself, with the Archprelate at the top, his Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, and so on down the line. The lines between the true nobility and the higher ranks of the clergy of the Holy faith is not necessarily black and white to begin with. For example, the Archprelate of the Holy Faith is generally held as a peer to the most powerful Duc in the Kingdom. These lines can be further blurred when Church leaders have noble titles conferred upon them (e.g., the Archbishop of Avis Armois has traditionally also held the title of comte du Armois Province).
Below the clergy are Merchants and skilled Craftsmen who have no titles. Collectively this group is Les Guildhomme. The subdivisions within this group are a mixture of rank, responsibility, and reputation within the various craft and merchant Guilds that hold sway in the cities, not to mention raw wealth.
Below the Guildhomme are the unskilled laborers and farmers – collectively, Le Serf – who form the bulk of the population of the countryside. While financially speaking most folk of this class are technically poor, Athervon is a fertile land with generally good weather patterns and seasons, and it is unusual for there to be mass starvation or similar plights. The life of folk in this strata of Athervonian society is hard, but not necessarily brutal, and more often than not, reasonably long if they survive childhood.
The lowest “class” of Athervonian society is, unsurprisingly, formed by criminals and those who make their living outside the law, as well as those who served their time and have been freed, but are visibly marked by the punishment for their crimes (branding, taking of fingers and limbs, and a number of other disfigurements are all tools in the inventory of the King’s law enforcement establishment).
Athervon is dominated by humans in terms of racial composition, and humans are members of all the social strata listed above. Halflings are the next most common race in the Kingdom; Halflings are never found within the Nobility or Clergy of the Holy Faith, and thus generally would top out social advancement within the Guildhomme at best – but of course they can also be found in as laborers, farmers, and criminals.
After Halflings, Gnomes are the next most common demi-human race in the Kingdom. Within human social circles, Gnomes never rise about the Guildhomme. But Gnomes also keep to their own social compacts amongst their own kind, and one that is but a mid-level merchant in the Guildhomme might be considered nobility within Gnomish circles (or, just as often, a criminal). Gnomish social organization is a mystery to most humans, but so long as their practices stay within the lines of the dominant human constructs and they follow the laws of the Kingdom, no one pays much attention to their internal relationships.
Half-Elves are rare in Athervon, and primarily found around the borders of the Thornwood, to include Avis Inia itself. They suffer the same social limitations as Halflings (with a single unique exception of there being exactly one Half-Elven Prelate within the hierarchy of the Holy Faith, a recent and highly controversial decision within the church).
Half-Orcs are to be found sparingly in Athervon, typically in areas that are bordered by wild lands where their forebears reside, such as in the foothills of the Iron Mountains or the borders of the Dire Fens; they are generally shunned by humans in the countryside; but in the major metropolitan cities such as Avis Inia or Avis Armois, they are able to find work as laborers or bouncers or criminals. A few half-orcs have managed to rise into the Guildhomme as either smiths, armorers, butchers, or other craft that their lineage provides them with unique skills in. More often than not, they end up falling into the laborer class, or worse, the criminal caste.
Dwarves are quite rare in Athervon, and generally speaking are passing through more than living permanently among the humans. Exceptions are rare, but an occasional expatriate or exile from the Dwarven realms can be found, particularly if one looks carefully within the major metropolitan cities. Those few Dwarves that choose to live amongst the humans will never rise beyond the Guildhomme, but just as rare would be to find one that has not achieved that rank, given Dwarves generally superior skills at mining, smith work, brewing, and other craft that humans place great value on. Those dwarves that fail or choose not to work in the Guildhomme generally opt for criminal activities rather than simple labor or (worst of all!) farming.
Finally, full-blooded elves are the rarest of all within Athervon. They can certainly be found passing through, similar to dwarves, but permanently settling down is rare indeed. The generally hostile stance of the church to non-Humans devolves into outright persecution in the case of Elves, primarily due to their perceived inherently magical nature, which associates directly to witchcraft and heresy within the church. Those elves that do decide to swim against these cultural currents and reside amongst the humans typically will take some care to disguise their most overtly elvish features when out in public, and they too will not rise above the Guildhomme – although, similarly to Dwarves, this class will find the bulk of them. Elves are not known to settle as farmers or laborers, and while there are no known Elvish criminals practicing in Athervon, that surely does not prove they do not exist.
Members of the Landed nobility will sometimes append the Province that they hail from to their last name (e.g., , Auguste Bourseiller du Fonde), as sometimes the diaspora of a family can spread to far-flung regions, and the realm has seen wars where the appended Province name was the only thing separating the two sides. This tradition is not followed uniformly throughout the kingdom – some families have never grown so large as to make the distinction, and others simply choose not to.
All of the members of both the Haute and Petite Noblesse are addressed as Lords (Sieur) or Ladies (Dame), thus the phrase Mon Sieur (my lord) or Ma Dame (My Lady). Members of the Guildhomme are addressed as Messier (men) or Gentillesse (women) by each other and those of lower social status. The lower classes are not entitled any address, although in most polite society where the actual status of people is not completely clear, the protocol is generally to use the address of the Guildhomme at a minimum, just to be safe. Use of the address for the Noblesse in cases where there is uncertainty is permitted, so long as any who are not entitled to it do not allow the misperception to continue intentionally.
Clergy are entitled to be addressed in accordance with their rank; His Holiness for the Archprelate; His Eminence for the Prelates; His Excellency for the Archbishops; Father Abbott or Mother Abbess for monestary leaders; Reverend or Father for the rank-and-file priests of the Church; and Brother or Sister for the rank-and-file monks and nuns.
Economics & Trade
Athervon's biggest trading partner (and biggest political-economic rival) is Veniri. The land bridge between Tras Veniri and Avis Inia carries a massive amount of trade as sailing around the landmass is very dangerous, particularly some of the far eastern seas.
Athervon tends to trade with Jhon, the city-states and kingdoms of the Wild Coast (Anida, Elb, Duath, etc.), and the Haradi Coast. Jhon is a concentrator for goods from Issyria and the Forbidden Isles, which can make their way to Athervon through Jhonian merchants. The Haradi Coast represents an alternate land-route trade option to Jhon and lands east (but way more dangerous, and thus expensive).
The Fens force trade with the Wild Coast states to be naval rather than overland; there is a road that cuts between the end of the Fens and the mountains to the west of it (the Mirecrawl), but it tends to be used by those too desperate and/or poor to afford sea travel.
Capitol of the Kingdom; sometimes called The White City due to the color of the stones used to build it. The largest and most metropolitan of Athervon's settlements, and home of the King's Court. Avis Inia is a wealthy city due to the traffic along the Trade Road between it and Tras Veniri.
Tuons A large town on the edge of the Thornwood. Tuons is the first place where goods coming from Veniri on the Trade Road can be loaded onto watercraft and sent downriver to Avis Inia, or where goods coming upriver from Avis Inia must be moved onto land transportation to make the journey to Veniri. It is a bustling town with a great deal of trade. The town is also home to Seld Arnoth, the stronghold of Prelate Maximillian Athäd Léun, the only leader of the Church of the Holy Faith of half-elven blood.
Second largest city in the Kingdom, and oldest city in Athervon. Perched on a small spit of land at the delta of the Dautin River at the southern border of the Kingdom, Avis Armois exists on the border of the terrible Dire Fens, and its history is bound with that evil place. Due to this, as well as the geography and the nearly constant fog and mists that can be found there, the city is known by a number of other names, such as: The Mire Queen; The Grey Lady; and The City of Mists. Avis Armois has traditionally been governed by the City's Archbishop, granted the title of Protector of Avis Armois by the King.
Ulie-ar-Fes A small village in southern Athervon, close to the border with the Dire Fens.
Asaquet A medium-sized town. Asaquet is the closest major settlement to Orveaux, and is a popular destination for the garrison troops when they are heading to or coming from their duty.
Orveaux A fortified village on the border of the Dire Fens. Orveaux sits at the edge of one of the few paths through The Fall that allow one easy access down into - or up from - the Fens. As such, it sees regular incursions from the foul inhabitants that reside there. Orveaux is heavily fortified and is always manned with a significant garrison of troops both from the Comte du Maussis as well as cavalry and heavy footsoldiers provided by the Duc du Sud.
Asala A medium-sized town in the shadow of the hills of the Iron Mountains. Asala is the first civilization one will find coming north on the Mirecrawl road, or the last one will see heading south until the city-states of Ivepia are reached. A major Abbey of the Order of St. Gérôme is located on a hill overlooking the town, and the monks are commonly seen in the town are villages nearby helping the poor and sick.
Uxio A medium-sized town in central Athervon, seat of the Duc of Domaine Oeste.
Province Bois du Cef
A good-sized town in central Athervon, located along the Aumine River. Home of Duc Leon Gentis du Bois de Cef, and Seld Ovanti, seat of his local government. Known throughout Athervon for the Abbey of Charbonnier, said to have the largest library in Athervon.
Belis-ar-Weil A major trade settlement, Belis-ar-Weil is located at the mouth of the Aumine River, the origins of which are the Iron Mountains near the Dwarven City of Fyldrmudhurm. The river travels through land rich in minerals and in agriculture and with many towns along it, and these products flow through Belis-ar-Weil to be loaded onto ocean-bound ships - generally small craft bound for Avis Inia, there to take the land route to Tras Veniri and lands east, or south to Avis Armois, there to be loaded onto larger vessels heading for the Wild Coast, the Haradi Coast, Jhon, or Issyria.
Aven Auli A town between Avis Inia and Belis-ar-Weil. Once a fairly large town, it was sacked and burned when the Jhonians invaded, and is now little but ruins. The population moved, most to Belis-ar-Weil, some to Avis Inia. The ruins have been scavenged over the last century, and there is little left now but charred wood, broken stones, and other debris that is being rapidly overgrown by the coastal plains vegetation.