The Sovereignty of Riavan
The Sovereignty of Riavan is an hereditary monarchy stretching across dozens of worlds and divided into a confusing mosaic of Principalities, Duchies, Baronies, and more. The capital world, Spire, is known across the galaxy for the stark beauty of its black stone mountains and harsh winters. It is here that the Sovereign Archon rules from the Obsidian Mount, advised by the mysterious Council of Dallaran. The worlds of the rest of the nation are likewise often cold and bleak and only the hierarchical organization of the Sovereignty allows them to thrive.
The culture of Riavan is largely shaped by the principles of the Code of Dallaran. The Code exalts the six Virtues of Civilization; Law, Honesty, Mercy, Courage, Honor, and Knowledge. While technically only legally binding on the ruling Nobility, the Code is deeply embedded in the general population and Riavan citizens have a reputation for doing the right thing and for being stubborn in issues of perceived morality. They are also often hesitant to accept new ideas or change in general which has led to a fairly common practice of young adults moving to colony worlds or other Nations for a time to experience more of the universe before they come back home and assist in their family trade.
While all religions are permitted, the dominant faith within the Sovereignty is Dai’kos, in which followers do not believe in specific Gods, but rather the general nature of the universe to reward the virtuous and punish the wicked. Dai’kos has little overall structure, with Anchorites tending Monasteries and sharing their insights and meditations in a loose network.
The founding species of Riavan is the Vresh, but all species are present to some degree after centuries of contact with other nations. The overall symbol of the Sovereignty is a white quill set against a black field, said to represent the writing of the Code in ancient times. Black and white are therefore common colors in Riavan dress though only the Royal Household is permitted to wear the nation’s symbol directly. If someone is a member of a noble household or trade guild they may be permitted to wear the colors or symbols of those. Riavans tend to dress in classical fantasy medieval garb; peasant shirts, pants, cloaks, surcoats, and the like.
Traditional colors: Black and White
Symbol: White Quill on a Black Background
Governmental System: Monarchy
Founding Species: Vresh
Capital World: Spire
Primary Religion: Dae’Kos
Archetypes: Avanlei, Evendarr, Medieval France or England
Overview and History
The Sovereignty of Riavan was founded by the Vresh species thousands of years ago. It began on their homeworld, Spire, and then spread out among the stars once the monarchy’s sorcerers discovered the secrets of creating Terminus Arcs. In the present day the Sovereignty has spread to dozens of worlds in a network of complex bonds of fealty that funnel up to the ultimate authority; The Sovereign Archon.
As the Sovereignty spread there were periods of unrest and difficulty, but time after time the Code of Dallaran kept the nation from splintering into civil war. The Code, according to legend, was written by the great philosopher Dallaran Ekos when he served on the first Council that would come to bear his name. The Code outlined the six Virtues of Civilization and it is the odd, or outcast, Sovereignty citizen who does not at least pay it lip service though most are sincere in their attempts.
Riavan is a feudal monarchy with all authority emanating from The Sovereign Archon (Often simply “Archon”). The Archon, in turn, appoints individuals to Nobility to govern areas of the Sovereignty in exchange for those Nobles swearing fealty. Those Nobles, in turn, appoint lesser Nobles, and so on. In theory, this is a relatively simple system of direct lines of authority. In practice, however, millenia of tradition, exceptions, hereditary appointments, and politics have yielded an incredibly confusing series of Principalities, Duchies, Earldoms, Baronies, Counties, and other Fiefs of various sorts.
Within their Fiefs, a Noble’s word is the law, subject to those above them in the hierarchy. Outside of their Fief, however, a Noble is not empowered to act with any legal authority. Though politics, special appointments, and old agreements may muddy these waters in individual circumstances. Regardless of their legal authority at any given moment, a Noble must always be treated with respect and honor. Nobles, as a matter of law, are held to the Code of Dallaran and may potentially be sanctioned for failing to abide by it.
Council of Dallaran
The Council of Dallaran is the primary body of advisors for the Archon. They weigh in on all matters of import to the Sovereignty and are generally considered to be highly influential on the decisions that are made. Membership in the Council is kept secret to avoid undue influence or corruption. A common topic of discussion at any gathering of Riavan aristocrats is speculation as to who might be on the Council. The one direct power held by the Council is to choose the next Archon when the previous one dies or abdicates.
Paladins of Riavan are direct vassals of the Archon with the power to invoke their authority when on assignment. They are most commonly used to investigate possible violations of the Code by other Nobles. If such violations are found then they may convene a Paladin’s Court to place the accused on trial.
The culture of Riavan is tied very closely to the Code of Dallaran and the Virtues within it. While Nobles are the only ones legally bound to the Code, all of the people of Riavan are raised to abide by it. A Sovereignty citizen who violates the Code can expect various degrees of shunning, loss of credibility, and a difficult road back to acceptance depending on the exact circumstances.
As a result, the people of Riavan are known for their honesty, fairness, and desire to do the right thing. However, they can also tend towards being stubborn, judgmental, and slow to adapt to new views and perspective.
This bias against the new creates a situation where younger generations often get bored and rebel which eventually gave rise to a tradition of pilgrimage where youths in their late teens would travel to colony worlds (or other Nations once they were discovered) and spend a few years in some combination of good works, service, and revelry before coming back home to assist in the family trade.
Code of Dallaran
There are six Virtues enshrined in the Code; Law, Honesty, Mercy, Courage, Knowledge, and Honor. They are usually straightforward in application to daily life, but there is a body of written interpretations from the Council of Dallaran that covers unusual situations and moments when the Virtues are in conflict. Commoners of Riavan are unlikely to study those writings, but most Nobles will keep an advisor specifically to assist them through these sorts of quandaries.
A major part of the identity of any Riavanite is the village, or other community, they live in. The Vresh, original founders of the Sovereignty, rarely give birth to a single child; twins, triplets, or even quadruplets are more common. Over the millenia, this created a sense of community responsibility for the raising of children since there are always so many of them to care for, teach, and also have as help in daily life. A typical Riavan citizen will be proud of their own family, but also the families of the town they grew up in or live in now.
The Guardian Families are an outgrowth of this viewpoint. While they are more focused on their own, personal, family, they have risen to their prominence in large part because they are viewed as seeing the entire Sovereignty as one large “village” and acting accordingly.
The Guardian Families
Forming the basis of the aristocracy of Riavan are the Guardian Families. While not all Nobility come from these families and not every member is a Noble, they are all respected as being part of a long tradition of service, power, and wealth within the Sovereignty. Each family is said to be the guardian of one of the Virtues of Civilization, hence the term.
While Black and White are the base heraldic colors for all of the Families, each has its own symbol and often a third color used as trim or accent.
The Kyver are the Royal Family of Riavan. They are the guardians of Law and their bloodline has ruled the Sovereignty as Archons for time immemorial. Members of the Kyver family often serve as members of the Royal Household, Principality Nobles, and special Envoys. Aside from Noble positions, the family also has an extensive presence in the general bureaucracy of the Nation, has large estate holdings, and is known as a dedicated patron of the arts and skilled craftspeople.
The Kyver family symbol is an Owl. Only actual members of the Royal Household may use the Quill heraldry of the Nation. They use Purple as an accent color.
The Alithian family are the guardians of Honesty and make up a disproportionate number of Paladins in the Nation. In addition, they are engaged in banking, often chosen to be Magistrates and clerks, and are known for their vast array of vineyards and other delicacies.
The Alithian family symbol is a Scepter. They use Blue as an accent color.
The Elomeres are guardians of Mercy and are renowned negotiators, diplomats, and mediators. If an Envoy of the Archon is not a Kyvar, it is mostly likely an Elomere. The Elomere family is also the primary patron of the Languis Sanitarium, a place for Blood Witches to learn their craft while tending to the lepers gathered there.
The Elomere family symbol is a Bear. They use Red as an accent color.
The Windel family are guardians of Courage and have a long tradition of military service and prowess. Windels are often military advisors to Noble courts throughout the Sovereignty as well as generals in the Royal Army. Their leadership is generally well respected thanks largely to the family tradition of first serving in the enlisted ranks before seeking advancement. The current Lady of War, Marshal of the Sovereign Royal Army, is Countess Helena Windel IV.
The Windel family symbol is a Lion Rampant. They use Green as an accent color.
The Treliopolos family are guardians of Knowledge and often serve as teachers, scribes, and Court Magicians throughout the Sovereignty. In addition, they are heavily involved in golem crafting, staple crop farming, and building mundane roads and bridges.
The Treliopolos family symbol is a Tome. They use Gold as an accent color.
The Redbrook family are guardians of Honor. They are known for their extensive studies of the Code and often serve as Paladins and court advisors on it. The Redbrooks also have extensive mining holdings throughout the Sovereignty worlds.
The Redbrook family symbol is a Mountain Peak. They use Grey as an accent color.
Worlds of Note
Spire is the capital world of the Sovereignty and homeworld of the Vresh. From here, the Archon rules from the Steel Eyrie, a palace of shining metal and glass set on a plateau overlooking the city of Rial. Legend says that Rial is where many Vresh came together to form the Sovereignty under the banner of the First Kyver.
The terrain of Spire is quite rugged, with many mountain ranges, harsh steppes, and frequent thunderstorms. Villages can be found at any elevation, including in cliffside dwellings balanced precariously over long drops to the ground below. Vresh do not experience much fear of heights and so find Spire, and similar worlds, more habitable than most. Visitors to Spire are often surprised at just how many people live there.
The world of Telaron is very similar to Spire, and many other worlds of the Sovereignty, in the mountainous terrain and windswept cliffs bordering pastoral valleys and deep oceans. High in the Carvelekos Mountains lies the Dae’Kos Monastery where the Anchorite known as The Sedate lives and writes. The Monastery is within the direct holdings of the Sovereign Archon, but contact is minimal and conducted through Envoys only.
A more pleasant world than most in the Sovereignty, Miskalopos is known for its abundance of cattle farms and croplands in addition to the extensive iron and copper mines. The world is held entirely as a single Duchy by Duke Thomas Redbrook, Lord of Eskarion. He rules from the Ducal seat of the city of Eskarion. Also nearby is a Monastery of Dae’Kos known for its vast collection of Anchorite writings.
Cold, even for a Sovereignty world, and as rocky and sheer as any other, Verkk is known for the caliber of soldiers that are trained there. Due in part to this reputation, four decades ago the Archon established a Royal Army training academy there. It is nicknamed “The Drop” for the particularly sheer terrain and persistent rumors that recruits must leap from a suspended platform high in the mountains in order to graduate. The Windel family is unsurprisingly well represented on Verkk, but all the Guardian families are present and the world is divided into various holdings as is usual for a Sovereignty fiefdom.
Reliskar is a world in existential peril. It is here that the Teras Akir, the invaders from beyond, are currently making their push to claim another Sovereignty world. Twenty-five years ago this was a world on the rise. The Elomeres had settled it a century previous and the colony was thriving with a bustling population of merchants, farmers, artisans, and more. On the cusp of being granted status as a new Sovereignty fief Reliskar was attacked by the Teras Akir.
Today, the armies of the Sovereignty engage the enemy across the landscape. Slowly, but with seeming inevitability, the invaders are creeping forward. Half of Reliskar is now there’s and it is only a matter of time until a fourth world joins the Lost.
Two hundred years ago on the Sovereignty world of Selkesa, a Baronial military patrol encountered the Teras Akir. Faced with this strange new creature, the sergeant in command attempted to parlay. His overtures of peace were met with savage violence followed by a full scale invasion. Since then, three worlds have been conquered by Teras Akir and are now known simply as the Lost. Riavan mourns and fights on.
People of Note
Alessa Elizabeth Kyvar, Sovereign Archon, Protector of the Realm, Defender of Virtue, Scion of Rial
Archon Kyvar ascended to the throne of Riavan a short three years ago after the death of her ruling uncle after a long illness. Her appointment was a surprise to all of the aristocracy and she has faced the challenge of proving her mettle despite being only nineteen at her ascension. With the continuing encroachment of the invaders from beyond she can ill afford any wavering in the support of her vassals and people.
Lady Sotar Alithian, Princess of Lesoth
Sotar Ailithian rules one of only six principalities in the Sovereignty and is one of the most powerful figures in the realm. She is known for her toughness, loyalty to her vassals and retainers, and strict interpretation of the Code of Dallaran. In her youth she is said to have summarily executed a knight in her household upon discovering that he had taken a bribe. When questioned about whether she had forgotten the virtue of Mercy in that moment she famously replied, “The family was spared.”
Helena Windel IV, Countess of Northmark, Marshal of the Sovereign Royal Army, Lady of War
Helena Windel IV is the highest ranking military officer of the entire Sovereignty. She was appointed by the previous Archon and was quickly confirmed in her post by Archon Alessa after coronation. Her reputation is that of an unparalleled military strategist, but little is known of her private life aside from her status as a Tribute of the Lyceum of the Sword.
Duke Thomas Redbrook, Lord of Eskarion
Thomas Redbrook has ruled the Duchy world of Miskalopos for the better part of five decades. Now a distinguished old man in his eighties, Thomas rarely leaves his castle walls except for an annual visit to Teralon. There, as he has done for sixty years, he walks the Pilgrimage of One Thousand Steps to visit with The Sedate and discuss new insights on Dae’Kos. Each time, it is said, his advisors remind him that the Pilgrimage need only be walked once to be permitted to see The Sedate. Each time he tells them that every day he is a new man and must prove himself worthy once more.
Adherent Lysenthi Ki’Rel
Lysenthi Ki’Rel arrived at the Royal Court fifteen years ago as an emissary of the Children of Dragons seeking to foster good relations between the Basilica and the Sovereignty. Since that time he has impressed the palace courtiers with his wit, charm, compassion, and competence. A Larelti originally from the Hotanga Alliance, Lysenthi has found a new home in Riavan and two years ago was made an official subject of the Sovereignty and palace advisor.
Humans are the most common species in the Sovereignty next to the Vresh. They are a common sight in almost any world, though rarely penetrate to the ranks of the ruling Nobility. This has been a source of ongoing tension for years and has only escalated since the Archon’s coronation.
In addition to Humans, members of any species may be found within Riavan.
Golems who Awaken within the Sovereignty are not immediately freed. However, a Golem may earn their freedom through acts of virtue and heroism as determined by their owner or a Noble with authority in the area.
Khezeratt of the Sun and Stars
Riavan and the Khezeratt have enjoyed a good and productive relationship for many years. Despite their restrictive laws about religion, the Khezeratt has many similarities to the Sovereignty. They understand the role of a monarch in protecting the common people and the stability that faith can bring to a nation.
The Hegemony is a strange and often honorless place. They are devoted to their promises, it is true, but can only be trusted to the letter of them and not their greater meaning. It is a nation of little virtue, but can be traded with in a cautious manner. We have not forgotten their attempts to invade in years past, however.
Republic of Illara
The Republic has an odd, and inefficient, government, but they have been allies and friends since before the Fracture struck. Our officers share drinks with theirs, our soldiers sing songs with theirs, and their people are decent, if conceited.
They attack, they steal, sometimes they kill. There are many reasons to dislike and distrust them, but they also have some honor in their ways. And when a colony was attacked by Hegemony mercenaries, the Calid Circle Raiders halted their own assault to help defend our villages.
They are poorly governed in many ways but they are a good market for our merchants. We have traded with them for many years and it is a beneficial relationship for us both.
The military of Riavan is distributed throughout the vassal structure. Each Noble who rules a fief becomes obligated to provide a certain number of soldiers to their liege when called upon. These many patchwork local forces are stitched together into one large army through the use of instructors commissioned by the Sovereign Royal Army to unify training and equipment standards. In addition, when called upon, local units fall under the command of the officers of superior Noble courts, all the way up to the Archon herself.
The Sovereign Royal Army
In centuries past the Royal Court’s standing military might was a fraction of what it is today. Vassals carried a far greater share of the burden at the more local level. With the advent of the Teras Akir, however, the ranks of the Archon’s army have steadily increased. Known as the Sovereign Royal Army, it has become both a coordinating layer to harness vassal troops, but also a large military power in its own right. The commanding officer of the Sovereign Royal Army is called a Marshal.
The Languis Sanitarium
Established through the charitable work of the Elomere family, the Languis Sanitarium was established on Spire as a facility where Blood Witches and lepers both live. The former to learn and practice their craft, the latter to seek some measure of comfort and hope. Much of the work of the Sanitarium is palliative as no cure has yet to be discovered. But since much of the rest of the Sovereignty shuns lepers and requires them to be kept apart from the citizenry, the Sanitarium is seen as a place where they might be treated as people again.
The Sanitarium has a mixed reputation in the Sovereignty. Some see it as a beacon of Virtue that others should strive to emulate. Others view it as a wretched waste and those who work there as unclean. In either case, few can argue that the Blood Witches who study there are some of the most skilled in the Many Worlds.
The Teras Akir
No subject of the Riavan Crown grows up without seeing the effects of the invasion of the Teras Akir. From stories of their dark and slithering forms to the icy horror at the news of a world becoming Lost, they are harbingers of fear and loathing throughout the Sovereignty. Even now, however, there is precious little known of them. They are shifting alien figures, they are unrelenting, and while the Army can slow them down, their appearance on a world means it is only a matter of time before they claim it as their own.