This is a sneak preview of the kingdom of Vellingrim. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.
There is no mistaking what Vellingrim exemplifies; aggression, arrogance, and wickedness. They seek to conquer and subjugate any and all. Their aggression has been felt by almost every kingdom as Vellingrim has sought new lands to claim as their own. They wage a near constant war with the Commonwealth of Blacktallow and the two kingdoms have bad blood born of centuries of conflict.
Vellingrim appears to be bright, shiny, crisp apple with vibrant red skin. Beneath that skin, it is rotten to the core. For people that have managed to escape, they bear the physical and emotional scars from having lived in such a place. Their experiences have damaged them and many take years to recover if they ever truly do.
Any player characters from Vellingrim are outcasts or escapees. Those who are so steeped in wickedness and hubris as to be a willing participant of such a vile and corrupt kingdom are not viable player characters in a heroic game like Madrigal.
What is said about Vellingrim by its nobles is almost universally disbelieved by outside commoners and nobles alike. The Dukes of Vellingrim speak of a gentle rule, robust economy that favors all, and a concern for the welfare of their people above all else. There are not many outsiders who can dispute this or speak knowledgeably about the kingdom. Not many visitors are allowed to cross the border and very few citizens ever leave even for a short time.
Those who claim to have escaped describe a very different Vellingrim than the nobility. They tell tales of workers of all stripes worked nearly to death to make a living that is still far from comfortable. Those left weak with age, or those injured doing these jobs, live in the gutters begging for kindness from anyone who would offer any. Usually, there are very few. Those who show any martial prowess are conscripted into the army. Any who are perceived to lack the discipline and loyalty to serve in the army are sent to the gladiatorial pits where there is no joy and an eventual death is all-but-guaranteed.
Even more disturbing are the rumors of demon worship and isolated cults all over the kingdom. Some believe these foul dealings and beings have been embraced by and influence the highest nobility of the land. There are even those who whisper that the kingdom and its nobles are devoted to the worship and empowerment of Beleghast.
Knightly fashions, and variants of them, are considered high fashion and embraced by all manner of folk in Vellingrim. Tabards, surcoats, and robes are worn by nobles and commoners alike. For those who prefer them, dresses and gowns of the medieval period are also quite common. The Kingdom’s loyal subjects and soldiers often wear dark red trimmed in gold. Nobles dress in dark but bold colors. Each Ducal House and its nobles wear their own colors. Peasants and low-born citizens dress as their coin allows, mimicking some of the knightly fashions, though they usually only wear dark and drab colors avoiding any bold ones.
Billowing cloaks, long leather belts and baldrics, flowing shirts in crisp white or bold colors, tall leather boots, and loose fitting breeches serve as accoutrements to the knightly fashions adorning the bodies of the Vellingrim.
Completing any outfit is a weapon worn in a way that it can be drawn easily and so that it can be seen by any who set eyes upon them. Swords are the current fashion but clubs, falchions, long knives, and other weapons of menacing appearance are also favored.
~ Always look beneath the surface. You have learned that a beautiful surface can hide great ugliness beneath.
~ Be strong. Strength is the last thing that can be taken from you and with it you are far more likely to hold onto the rest of what you have.
~ There are many things hidden in the world and that ability to hide gives them great power to do harm. Do not suffer those who seek to hide things and be sure secrets come to see the light of day.
~ Everyone needs help from time to time. Without someone helping you, you never would have escaped the misery that was your life in Vellingrim. When someone needs help, be there for them.
Worship of any other-worldly force is discouraged in Vellingrim. The people are encouraged to have faith in the land, its people, and its rulers. Small churches and temples spring up from time to time but they never seem to have any longevity, losing any active congregations within, at most, a few years.
Rumors of demon worship and a devotion to Beleghast are difficult to confirm as there is no official stance about such things by the nobility.
Destruction and pain is all the magic of Vellingrim is capable of. It is not enough to rend one’s enemies, you must ensure that their death is as painful as possible to show them and anyone else who dares to stand against Vellingrim, its nobles, and its sorcerers the folly of such an undertaking.
Elemental in nature, Vellingrim’s spells largely calls forth both natural fire and fire from fel places beyond the world.
Much of life in Vellingrim is a reflection of what people see at the top. The kingdom is ruled by the Council of Dukes. The example they set is one that the people of the kingdom follow. Training, study, knowledge, expertise, and hard work are value greatly but so is the ability that, when one’s duty is done, to enjoy the fruits of those labors. Because of this, work being done after night has truly fallen is deeply frowned upon and work will usually only recommence at dawn.
Governance is also a reflection of the council. The Duke’s Council makes all decisions with a majority, despite the even number of them, and nearly all decisions are made unanimously. In fact, the council claims that there has not been a decision made by simple majority in over a century. Merchanting houses, conventions of gentry, village councils, and the like adopt this form of decision making regarding matters of import.
Vellingrim is a meritocracy. There are no hereditary titles. Everyone is equal with an equal chance to rise to the heights of power. Any son or daughter of even a Duke must earn their place and demonstrate they are worthy of it. Although there are bloodlines and families, they can easily lose power if they are seen as weak. There are many stories of the lowest of the low rising to be gentry or knights, though any citizen would be hard pressed to actually come up with a name of someone who did such a thing if pressed for it.
All wealth and resources within a duchy are the duke’s and all those resources belong to the kingdom to be distributed amongst the people. Though much of the wealth is literally handled by the nobles, the dukes and knights assert that nearly all of it flows back down as a reward to the citizens of Vellingrim for their great efforts.
The Deacons of Warmth are an order of esteemed people within the kingdom who have great authority but are not nobles. They answer to the Council of Dukes but to no individual member specifically. Their duty is to be the voice of the people to their nobility. They travel the kingdom, bringing aid and comfort to the people. They also take important missives and requests from the people to the council.
Vellingrim is covered by lush, green, rolling hills. Fields produce ample yields of crops. Orchards and vineyards dot the land, providing fruit for wines and liquors that are sought the world over. To hear it from diplomats, compassionate rulers oversee the efforts of a well-cared for populace. Nobility and stalwart purpose is mixed with an ability to let their hair down and celebrate the successes of their labor.
The kingdom is split into four roughly even sections by the Wine River that runs north-south and the Soldiers’ Road which runs east-west. Each of these sections is its own duchy ruled over by one of the Dukes of Vellingrim and the nobles and knights who serve His or Her Grace.
Duchy of Red Arch: The nobles and gentry of this duchy are a reflection of their duke. They are known to be men and women that are strong, boisterous, and do not shy away from embracing life and relishing in their success and the fruits of it. Red Arch has the most lavish parties and social gatherings in the kingdom. They also have the most robust population of gentry. Lastly, they are the envy of the kingdom for sports and boast the most spectacular gladiatorial pits in Vellingrim. They also boast having all the best gladiators, but that claim is met with enthusiastic dissent from the other duchies. Though the Council of Dukes claims that all lands are created equal, it is not hard to see that Red Arch stands out amongst the other three.
Duchy of Deep Furrows: With some of the most bountiful farmlands in the kingdom, the Deep Furrows boasts huge celebrations around the spring and fall. This duchy is the most populated due to the large numbers of people who work the farms, associated mills, and other industry. A small portion of the volcanic range runs through the corner of the Deep Furrows. There is no significant mining, but the ash that falls there allows them to grow varieties of fruits that can only be grown there and in the Deep Furrows.
Duchy of Gilded Spears: The duchy is known for its spit and polished image, strict rules and customs, and impressive pageantry. Military parades and demonstrations are commonplace in the duchy. Most of the kingdom’s military is drawn from and is ultimately garrisoned there. With such a high percentage of the populace serving or having served in the military the duchy has a very straight laced culture, and even those that do not serve take on that bearing as well as a lot of the slang, customs, and bearing of those in the army. Much of the land is mountainous with significant volcanic activity. Those who are not soldiers work mines dedicated to the excavation of gold, silver, and a wide variety of gems. It is dangerous work. The volcanoes have been known to flow out lava or even erupt. In those cases, great efforts are made to save any and all miners and foremen. The volcanic ash also serves to enrich the soil and there are a few vineyards at the foot of the volcanic range that grow an exotic type of grape.
Duchy of Ash Forge: With a little bit of everything, the duchy has a mix of farming, mining, and industry. It is also one of the only places that an outsider might see Vellingrim, as most of the kingdom’s outside trade originates and terminates here. Rough neighbors, dirty streets, and citizens struggling to get by can be seen in the duchy’s cities, towns, and villages. The nobles lament the corrupting influence of the outside kingdoms as the sole reason for this duchy’s woes, but such words are almost never heard from the duke directly. This duchy often sponsors knightly games and tournaments for entertainment of citizens and visitors alike but also has a vibrant arts community and gladiatorial pits. Despite strict penalties, smugglers frequent this area as the rewards are rich for those lucky or skilled enough to avoid detection.
Duke Lothar Gerste of Red Arch – The Duke is known for his fiery personality and dedication to his passions. He is known for making sure his duchy holds the most lavish spectacles, parties, tournaments, and gatherings in the kingdom. He has great support from all corners of the kingdom and is known to be widely loved by the gentry of Vellingrim.
Duke Elisa Mulvar of the Deep Furrows – A serious and aloof figure, the duchess leaves much of the day to day operations of the duchy and its production of food to her knights who work closely with the most esteemed members of the Deacons of Warmth. The duchess is rarely seen outside her holdings. Rumors suggest she is a woman of great scholarly interest and aptitude and that her rituals and magical research are the focus of her days and nights.
Duke Adler Roth of Gilded Spears – If a bard were to sing a song of a beloved, masterful general, the mind would bring forth the image of Duke Roth. Though his bearing is strict and militaristic, he carries himself in a way that shows his love of his men and country. He can often be seen out with his soldiers drilling and preparing to defend Vellingrim. A master strategist, he is also a renowned warrior in his own right. He has a reputation as no-nonsense and is not often seen at court or at the games or parties around the kingdom, instead preferring to spend his time in his duchy and with the army.
Duke Garrit Sankt of Ash Forge – Charismatic and friendly, Duke Sankt is the face of Vellingrim to almost any outsider. He handles almost all matters of trade and takes a very hands on approach. He makes sure he is aware of the comings and goings within his duchy with special attention paid to visitors. He is an enthusiastic supporter of games and sports. He has great personal interest in gladiatorial contests and his known to sponsor several popular and esteemed gladiators. The complexities of numbers and other matters of trade are a particular specialty of his.