Kingmaker - Heroes of the Margreve
Culture of Berovy
Berovy is two nations held together by force of arms: Issia and Rostland. Choral to Conqueror and House Rogarvia had dragons at their command, but the current lord, Noleski Surtova doesn’t. Thus, the nation is teetering on the brink of civil war.
Before Choral, Issia was ruled by a council of Pirate Lords, and House Surtova was the most powerful: the lords of Port Ice and commanders of the largest fleets The people of Issia are generally of Iobarian descent and have a history of banditry, raiding, pillaging, and the like
Rostland, by comparisson, is prominently Imperial, and indeed was part of the Taldor for several centuries, until the Tergish horde broke the Empire. The Rostlandic people are hardworking and dedicated, but rather conservative and stuck in their ways.
The first Taldan Lord of Rostland was Siran Aldori, who established the tradition of the Swordlords. Before Berovy, there were no rules of inheritance in Rostland; if you wanted a position, you would prove your worth by duelling the individual who currently held that position. These traditions remained intact over the centuries, and Rostland was ruled by a council of thirteen of the most powerful Swordlords, as determined by the List of Suitors which ranked the greatest duellists in the realm.
When Choral attacked, many of Rostland’s swordlords resisted their forces were burnt to the last by Choral’s red dragon allies in what became known as the Valley of Fire, to the east of Rostland’s capital of Rostov.
After this, many of the surviving swordlords fled south, into the River Kingdoms, where they established the realm of Mivon. Because of this, the Mivoni swordlords are considered to be cowards by many from Rostland for choosing exile instead of fighting for their nation.
Choral and his successors paid lip service to the tradition of the Swordlords, but generally appoint members of loyal houses to that position. Therefor, the majority of souther swordlords are not true swordlords, but Issian nobles who claim the title based entirely on the support of House Surtova. However, because they haven’t earned their positions honourably, most Rostlanders see these Issian swordlords as honourless squatters and, now that Choral’s dragons are gone, they don’t have to listen to these “Ice Lords” who claim their positions by blood and not valour.
While slavery doesn’t exist, the vast majority of the population of both Issia and Rostland are essentially serfs who work the lands of one of the dozen noble houses.
There is some racism, as the majority of the serfs are Imperial in ethnicity, while most of the noblity are Iobarian. There’s an unspoken view among some nobles that Imperials are somehow “less worthy” than Iobarians, despite the fact the most common deity in Berovy is Iomedae, an Imperial from Cheliax by birth.
One particular trait of the Issian folk, the thanks to their Iobarian ancestry, is their acceptance of beastfolk. They term such beings as “kodlok,” which is a title of respect in ancient druidic faiths of Iobaria which denotes a certain closeness to the primal aspects of the world. Yet, even with this acceptance, kith are still mistrusted like everywhere everywhere else because of the Scarzini, the kith brotherhood of thieves (Also ’cause kith are unremitting capitalists who will squeeze every last copper outta you).
Within Brevoy there is a saying: "the dragon has two heads.” This not only refers to the nation’s official symbol of a two-headed dragon, but also to the divisions in the nation: between Issia and Rostland; between the noble houses and the powerful, grasping and often corrupt priesthood; between the establishment powers and the power-hungry swordlords; all with the common people caught in the middle.
While the nobles are consumed with politics, most of peasantry are involved in primary industries – mining and fishing in Issia and farming and forestry in Rostland. Men may visit the local tavern or brewhouse, and all are invited to the feasts and dances held in such locations several times a year. Most attempt to avoid the attention of the nobles, military, and priesthood, attending to their own houses and praying to the Inheritor for decent weather, a good harvest, a healthy family, and the peace to enjoy the above
In Issia, and thus in all of Berovy’s noble houses, the heads of all the noble houses are men, and inheritance favours males, with one or two notable exceptions. The eldest sons inherit their father’s lands and title, while younger sons usually receive some wealth and inheritance and are expected to join the military or priesthood.
Women are viewed mostly as a means to produce more heirs, though they may rule as regent until a rightful male reaches the age of majority (18 winters). It is important to note this is an extremely conservative view for the world, and Berovy has a reputation of being an archaic backwoods due to their treatment of women. Even the tyrannical diabolists of Cheliax treats women equally to men.
Lords tend to have many children, with the whole “heir and a spare” mentality dominating. This leads to many cadet branches of houses, and the twelve major houses have become both more intermarried and more widespread, with young nobles seeking new lands elsewhere, like in the River Kingdoms, Iobaria, or the Talentia Plains to the far east.
Common sayings in Berovy
- “When the wolf shows you his teeth, he’s not smiling.”
- “Riders at night carry no glad tidings.”
- “Winter always follows spring.”
- “As the stars see me” (a common oath asserting the truth) and “The stars see all.”
- “The dragon has two heads” (referring to both the crest of the Conqueror and the duplicity of the nobility).
- “The temple is close, but the night is cold. The tavern is far, but I have a cloak.”
- “Fire is everyone’s ally, but no one’s friend.”
- “No man dies wishing he had worked more.”