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Formerly a part of the Empire of Civen, the Theocracy of Vlean (pronounced VLENN, like then or glen) broke away one hundred years ago because of religious differences and longstanding cultural resentment. Intolerant of other religions, the Sept-centered Theocracy rules its citizens and serfs with a strictness not seen elsewhere. This intolerance is also reflected in the common people, and xenophobes and racists are commonplace as the citizenry grows less trustful of non-humans. The fledgling country claims a large portion of the land formerly part of the Empire of Civen, including the large port city of Vleanoa, but many of these claims are still actively contested. The Empire only recently recognized the Theocracy as a sovereign state, ending a protracted civil war. Border skirmishes are skill frequent and bloody.
The Theocracy of Vlean has its roots within the former land of Adecia. Originally, this land was a vast part of the Civen Empire. A small cabal of priests began to whisper anti-Civen propaganda around the year 1250NL. These priests eventually became well-known revolutionaries, establishing an armed resistance that would ultimately secede from what they believed was Civenite oppression.
The cabal of priests was the natural successor to the overthrown government, and took the reigns of power eagerly. Thus the Divine Conclave was established – a divine-right government that ruled with the presumptive authority of the Sept itself. The Conclave quickly established the Order of the Divine Aegis – an elite military group that would serve as the Conclave’s terrible swift sword of justice. Wasting no time, the Divine Conclave began to choose the nobility of their land – granting title and land to those who financially supported the Conclave to the greatest degree during the revolution.
Even as it solidified power and separated itself from Civen, the Theocracy trembled with unrest. The Order of the Divine Aegis was unleashed upon dissenters, killing these presumed heretics openly. While it was understood that these actions were justified by the Sept, the Conclave felt that the Order of the Divine Aegis was more useful when it had the trust of the common people. The Order was thus repurposed for other, less overt tasks, and a much more visible group called the Sodality of the Inquisition was formed. The Inquisition was tasked with weeding out heretics, unruly foreigners, and other undesirables.
The Theocracy has all but closed its borders to visitors. Those that do visit leave with tales of the radical oppression and the vast disparity of wealth that exists between the Septons and Nobles and the commoners. Very few have kind words to say about it, unless they are official representatives of Vlean itself.
Vleanoans pride themselves first and foremost on being the chosen people of the Sept. They believe fully that they are the most pious and righteous of all nations, and indeed, nowhere is Sept worship practiced as commonly, frequently, and with as much zeal.
Becoming a Septon is far more often a matter of birthright than piety. The vast majority recognized Septons in Vlean are those of noble blood. The few uncomfortable exceptions – those of common blood who demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have been gifted extraordinary powers by the Sept – spend most of their time being paraded about as token examples of equal opportunity. Septons of common birth are never included in the church’s decision-making process, and are expected to serve dutifully and quietly.
Common life in Vlean is fraught with hardship and uncertainty. Feudal nobility share what they can to keep commoners productive and quiet, but little else. Death by starvation and exhaustion are lauded as a sacrifice for the greater good. There is precious little unrest in Vlean in spite of severe hardship, as most have internalized the idea that the Sept has chosen its rulers and permitted what goes on. Rumors swirl of loosely organized bands of freedom fighters that play at revolution, but most acknowledge the rule of those in power as legitimate.
Within this rather rigid hierarchy, social mobility is still possible. The truly devout may aspire to become part of their Lord's military or even an Inquisitor – serving the Theocracy to drive out heretics and dissenters wherever they hide. Such ascension is relatively unlikely given all that an individual must overcome, and those who do are often people of exceptional ambition and fortitude. Those who rise from the common ranks to become an Inquisitor are notorious for being the most demanding, and the least empathetic.
Unique to the Theocracy of Vlean are its papers of identification. One’s papers will define one as a slave, serf, tradesman, septon, and noble. Each set of papers has a variety of rights granted to that class. If a right is not specifically stamped, then that Vleanoan does not have access to that right. If a Vleanoan is caught going beyond the strictures of their papers, the consequences are often dire. Papers are issued by the regional Septon in one’s area, and only a noble Septon can modify one’s papers.
An Inquisitor can ask for papers of anyone of any station. If an Inquisitor asks to see one’s papers, not being able to produce them could lead to terrible consequences.
The only recognized worship in Vlean is that of the Sept. Draconus is scorned as a coward or a fable, and even an off-hand remark that does not directly condemn the Dark Three could be punishable by death. Daily prayer is required to each of the Seven and missing even a single prayer is cause for gossip, and worse if this laziness becomes habitual.
Great Cathedrals are erected in every Vleanoan city, and lesser ones are erected in every town and hamlet. The star of the Sept can be seen in decorations and furnishings in every home, and nary a conversation will occur without the Sept’s blessing being offered. Septons bless every wedding, oversee every funeral, and serve as chaplains to every branch of the military, hospitals, and school.
In addition to an incredible tax burden, every Vleanoan is expected to tithe to his local place of worship, and those who tithe only a minimum are watched with a careful eye.
The main exports of Theocracy of Vlean are works of art and in a sad irony, food and wine. Nobles take great pride in patronizing artistic works and the system of serfs and vassals leads to large-scale agricultural production. The redistribution of food, however, is another matter. Noble exporters will often cut their margins thin, erring on the side of leaving common people hungry rather than missing out on excess profits.
The fine arts of Vlean are the true gem of Vleanoan society. Vleanoan dance is extremely popular, and wealthy Ladies and Lords from every region come to learn from Vleanoan masters. Vleanoan wine is so delicate and highly regarded that it lines the cellars of royal houses throughout the realm. Vleanoan painters and sculptors are also generally considered the greatest at their craft. In most cases, the Theocracy will purchase the works of art and then sell them on the international market for ten times or more what they paid, or simply patronize talented artists with above average housing and food and reap continual rewards.
Vlean's greatest imports are arms and armor. They are generally self-sufficient in all other manners, but they lack the functional craftsmanship and healthy middle class that leads to high qualities and quantities of crafted goods.
The military in Vlean is always at arms due to its constant skirmishes with Civen. The Vleanoan military is comprised largely of commoners who act as the vanguard with each squad being lead by the Noble of their land. When two squads come together, the most senior of the Nobles acts as commander.
In special cases, the Order of the Divine Aegis is called upon. The Order of the Divine Aegis are specifically trained as both soldiers and magic users, and are one of the most elite military organizations within all of Novitas. They are feared across all kingdoms, though their particular tactics are shrouded in mystery. Rumors swirl in other Kingdoms about less than wholesome tactics that are used, but the Order and the ruling Conclave decry all such claims as preposterous.
There are five ranks within the Order:
5.) Brother or Acolyte: A member at this rank is not yet truly considered to be a member of the Order. Brothers spend all of their time learning and meditating. Each member is required to take an Acolyte Vow, which could be anything from silence to chastity. Vows are taken as constant reminders that one’s personal comfort comes second to the Order. The greater good of Vlean is all that matters.
4.) Sir, Shield or Protector: These members are the soldiers of the Order. They fight and die at the whim of the Praetor and Lord Paladins when in combat, but also spend time settling disputes between commoners, acting as couriers for the Order, and acting as a military police in the unlikely event of civil unrest.
3.) Paladin or Templar: Paladins and Templars do not have as clearly a defined role as the other members of the Order. They are primarily lesser officers, commanding small squadrons of men, and are trained to take over responsibility in the field if a Lord Paladin should fall.
2.) Lord Paladin: The Lord Paladin is the highest ranking field commander within the Order. He commands Brothers and Paladins in battle. Lord Paladins are known for executing devastating strategic maneuvers.
1.) The Praetor of the Order: The unquestioned leader of the Order. This person is hand picked by The Divine Conclave to lead. The Praetor has the authority to move armies at a whim, and arguably the most power person in Vlean that is not a member of the Conclave. Public appearances are rare, as the Praetor will normally expose himself only to his Lord Paladins.
The Sodality of the Inquisition
The Inquisitors of Vlean are the boogey-men to all heretics. They act in complete silence until they find their target. The lucky heretics are disposed of quietly, the unlucky ones are made an example of. Inquisitors come from both humble and noble backgrounds alike, and are seen as the ultimate confluence of honor and duty.
Vlean is a Theocracy ruled by seven Septons known as the Divine Conclave. They reside in the vast Keep of Radiant Truth. The seven Septons are withheld from the view of the common people, and few nobles would claim to have met them personally. Very few in the entire history of Vlean have ever been granted an audience with their supreme holinesses, and those that do see their house raise in stature over night.
The Divine Conclave communicates through the Arch Septimus. The Arch Septimus is a single man appointed at the discretion of the Divine Conclave. The current Arch Septimus is Greggory Vaztani, an elderly Septon from the Greater Vleanoa District. He also resides in the Keep of Radiant Light.
The Arch Septimus is the direct supervisor to all who hold the highest office in a branch of government. He advises these officers directly, demands they submit written monthly reports, and shares relevant news from these offices with the Divine Conclave.
Prominent Branches of the Vleanoan Government
While there are many branches of Vleanoan government, the most prominent are:
Ruled by the Lord Inquisitor. While many common folk will rise to the rank of Inquisitor, the Lord Inquisitor may only be one of noble birth
The Order of the Divine Aegis
Ruled by the Praetor
Ruled by The Supreme Commander of Arms
The Order of Revenue
Ruled by the Deputy of Finance. This is the order of tax collectors and book keepers for the Conclave and other smaller governmental offices
The Order of Trade
Ruled by the Master Merchant. The Order of Trade handles matters of international trade, establishing and enforcing tariffs, re-distributing food and other necessary resources, and determining what crops and goods must be produced in a given year
Places of Interest:
The capital of Vlean and home to the Keep of Radiant Truth. The Keep towers above the rest of the city as a reminder of the glory of the Sept.
The largest human mine in all of the Kingdoms of Novitas. This vast mine has long been the envy of every Terran who has ever had the pleasure to lay eyes upon it.
The training site of the Order of the Divine Aegis. It is the first defense on the sovereign soil of Vlean.
A well kept border region of Vlean that is commonly used for international trade. This is one of two regions that are easily accessible to international visitation
A sister region to Middle Pastures that is equally well kept and traveled as it's sister region. It is considered safer because of it's distance from the Whispering Plains where Vlean often skirmishes with Civen.
A nearly abandoned mining settlement, except for the soldiers that guard the mine. No one knows for certain why the mine was closed, but rumors range from reptilian resistance to things far darker.
One of the eldest cities in all of Novitas. It is an old Adecian fortress city which fortifications that rival even the great stone fortress found in Civenopolis.
Relationships with other Countries
Vleanoans view Freelanders as Dellins with nicer clothing and slightly more polished manners. The Theocracy will often send missionaries there to recruit strong warriors who are ready to cast aside the temptations of the Freelands to better mold the world to the Sept’s vision. Vlean also sends Inquisitors on crusades to the Freelands with great frequency to hunt out and destroy creatures and worshipers of Darkness.
Empire of Civen
No two nations hate each other more than the Theocracy of Vlean and Civen. Once called Adecia, Vlean broke away years ago and has never looked back. The Theocracy takes every chance it can to undermine or embarrass Civen interests. The Whispering Fields which separate the two states is a constant war zone.
Vleanoans revile those from the Tribelands, refusing them entry into the country for any reason. A barbaric people in custom, character, and belief, Dellins are seen as beyond hope for redemption.
Realm of Evenandra
Evenandra and the Theocracy are not hostile toward one another, but aren’t exactly allies. The two nations trade frequently due to their proximity, but Vleanoan priests are not allowed to evangelize on Evanandran soil. In spite of this rebuff, the average Vleanoan still sees the High Elves as the nation second closest to realizing the Sept’s view of the world.
Kingdom of Gersh
While the average Vleanoan is wary, distrustful, and disgusted by the concept of Snow Goblins, the governments of these nations get along surprisingly well. Gershian dignitaries are treated with all due respect depending on their station, and Vleanoan officials have even been known to engage in Gershen courtly customs on the occasion that an ambassador comes to visit.
The Great Forest and the Theocracy have no real relationship to speak of. Vleanoans seem content to leave the Wood Elves to their cavorting, as while they tend to be rather pathetic worshipers of the Sept, the Great Forest is known to be nearly free of worshipers of the Dark Three.
Kingdom of Terra
The Kingdom of Terra has reasonable relationships with the Theocracy of Vlean. While Vleanoans do not appreciate the fact that Terrans sell weapons to Civenites as easily as they sell them to Vleanoans, Terrans are regarded respectfully for their craftsmanship and their dutiful dedication to order and the Craftsman.
Other Information (Unsourced)
Formerly a part of the Empire of Civen, the Theocracy of Vlean (pronounced VLENN, like then or glen) broke away one hundred years ago because of religious differences and longstanding cultural resentment. They have established themselves as a repressive government, totally intolerant of other religions. There is even a hint of xenophobia and racism evident in the country, as people grow more and more distrustful of non-humans. The fledgling country claims a large portion of the land formerly part of the Empire, including the large port city of Vleanoa, but much of it is still contested by Civen. Only recently the Empire recognized the Theocracy to be a sovereign state, ending a protracted civil war. Border skirmishes are still regular and bloody.