Tolgatha is a large human kingdom located in relative isolation in the northwest of Norlanin. While other races can be found there, only humans are considered citizens. As such, other races must tread lightly when on Tolgathan soil. Tolgathans themselves are a hardy breed becoming stoic and rigid due to years of not only weathering their stormy coastline but living so close to the Darklands, the supposed homeland of the greenskinned races. Tolgathans have little room for pleasantries; their disposition pragmatic and abrupt. They are governed by a theocracy and live in a rigid caste-driven society that is unquestioned. One can never rise or fall from their station in life. At the top is the religious caste, followed by the warrior caste, the magi caste, the merchant caste, and lastly, the servant caste. Non-humans are regarded to be without caste and are foreigners, regardless of how long they may have lived in Tolgatha. Tolgathan life is viewed with disdain and misunderstanding by many outsiders, but it has been this way of life that has protected the rest of Norlanin from being overrun by the greenskin hordes to the west.
Current Ruler: Patriarch-King Desmond Vectus XVII
Tolgatha is made up of eight nation states, four of which are referred to as the Hegemonic states, who dominate the political and social landscape of the nation, and the remaining four referred to as the lesser states.
In modern times, of the four Hegemonic States, Tolvarad holds the most influence, and is home of the Tolgathan capital city of Carvalen, the current seat of power for the Patriarch-King. Carvalen is also a center of power for the Magi Caste, who gather at the Great College of Wizardry in Carvalen.
Skvarlin holds considerable power as well, having once been the original home of the Tolgathan throne in the times before the Greenskin invasion of the infamous Orc Warlord Dulgarr the Breaker (see Broken Shield Pass for more details). When the throne was relocated further to the east to Carvalen, in order to protect the King from Dulgarr’s armies, the influence of Skvarlin waned to some degree but it remains one of the major powers within Togatha, and the Skvarlin state capital of Calphos is sometimes still referred to as the Old Seat.
Eastmach holds considerable wealth and power as well due to its proximity to the ancient Dwarven Kingdom of Angveldt. Eastmach has long prospered from trade not only with the Dwarves, but in more recent times also with the establishment of Volanthia, the City of Mages, on it’s borders.
Least of the four Hegemonic States, yet still eclipsing the power of the lesser states, is Baerskund. It is said that were it not for the ferocious Berserkers of Baerskund, who stalked the the eastern bank of the River Drakentaer during the invasions of Warlord Dulgarr, all of Tolgatha may have fallen.
Outside of the four Hegemonic states, the four lesser states are left to squabble over the scraps and often are looked down upon by the Hegemonic States. Yet Tolgatha would not be what it is without them.
Wild and war torn Breccaccia has always born the brunt of every land invasion from the Greenskin hordes over the Darkwall Mountains, yet they remain fiercely proud of their heritage and are among the hardiest folk in all of Norlanin.
Likewise, Westreik has long lived in the Shadow of the Darkwall mountains and has served as the first line of defence against the frequent seaborne predations of Greenskins raiders.
Drakenlund is a vast Northern state whose lands are dominated by the East Drakenzi forest, a dark and foreboding place that clings feebly to the light of civilization. But Drakenlund is rich in natural resources, making it an important though often overlooked state whose name bears witness of the Dragons who are said to call it home.
Ocelund serves as the heart of the Tolgathan navy, home to it’s shipyards and training grounds, as well as the largest foreign port in Tolgatha, Ocelia. This also marks it as one of the most influenced by foreign culture, tarnishing it’s good name in the eyes of the Tolgathan elite and preventing it from ever recognizing status as a Hegemonic State.
Volanthia, the City of Mages, is technically a ninth Vassal State of Tolgatha, however in actual practice it governs itself with level of autonomy that the other States envy . Volanthia owes fealty to the Patriarch-King and is required to committed its significant resources to prosperity and defense of Tolgatha from any threat, but is otherwise largely left to its own devices.
Holy Tolgathan Church
The state religion of the Tolgathan people, worshipping the One God, but controlled by the theocracy of the Patriatch-King with priests acting as governing officials for both church and state.
Tolgathan Order of Justice and Inquiry (TOJI)
The secret police of the Tolgathan theocracy, lead by the Grand Inquisitor.
Tolgathan Order of Holy Chaplains (TOHC)
Because religion is such an important part of the Tolgathan way of life all units in the Tolgathan Army and Navy must be accompanied by Chaplains from the Religious caste, lead by the Prime Apostle.
Druidic conclaves that also worship the one God, but in a manner outlawed by the state religion. They are forced to meet and practice in secret in the wilder parts of Tolgatha to avoid drawing the attention of TOJI. The three most well known are the Living Water Druids (in Northern Tolgatha), Natures Voice Druids (in the Drakenzi Forest), and the Holy Fire Druids (in Eastern Tolgatha). See Systems of Faith (Norlanin) for details.
A remnant of a once vocal minority that existed in Tolgatha and fought for separation of church and state. Petitonist ideologies became unpopular and eventually it was outlawed to openly profess them. Most gave up the ideology after that, but those that did not were forced to form closed societies and live in seclusion if they wished to hold to their beliefs. These people became known as Petitonist Monks.
The Conclave of Suns
A druidic conclave that worships death and the sun, in secret throughout Tolgatha. Part of the larger faith known as the Way of Eternity, a powerful group of necromancers with footholds in almost every nation of Norlanin.
The Order Maledictus
A secret Order of Dark Paladins that believe in the “true” Patriarch-King (deceased). They operate in secret within the high society of the Religious Caste, subtly subverting and undermining the will and authority of the “false” Patriach-King who currently rules Tolgatha.
Places of Interest
Harador Castle is a centuries old, prominent stone fortress located near the village of Akar, in the Tolgathan State of Eastmach. The castle and its surrounding lands belong to a Knightly Order known as the Wardens of Eastmach.
The concept for Harador Castle was created in part by Hannes Thiessen (Calgary, Alberta) as part of his ‘Knight Regular package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.Read more…
The presence of the Wardens’ stronghold kept the town of Akar limping along for many years, up until the end of the infamous Mage Rebellion in distant Leonen. When the defeated rebels arrived in Tolgatha, the Patriarch King annexed a large section of land west of Harador Castle, gifting it to the exiles where they would eventually build Volanthia, the City of Mages. The rapid rise to power of the Volanthian Vassal State further diminished the influence of Akar and when the stubborn old Knightlord succumbed to his age, the first decree of the new Knightlord, his eldest son Kennold Harador, was to relocate their seat of power.
Many suggested that Ostalia was the logical choice for their new seat of power, but the Harador family was far too proud and their rivalry with Ostalia ran too deep, so Kennold Harador decided to instead relocate to Varth’am. This once unassuming village had grown rapidly due to its strategic location at the crossroads between the Highway of Patriarchs and the road north to Volanthia. With the Wardens of Eastmach arriving to buy up land and construct a tower house within the town, Varth’am flourished all the more. The Wardens of Eastmach have maintained their seat in Varth’am ever since. However, with the widowed Knightlord now aging well into his 60s with no sons of his own, the future of the Wardens’ seat in Varth’am is uncertain and political intrigue abounds.
The move to Varth’am did not spell the end for Harador Castle. It remains to this day one of the largest, sturdiest, and well-manned fortifications in all of Eastmach, with a commanding presence upon its high hill on the shores of Spine Lake. The castle and all its land holdings were granted to the Knight Lord’s younger brother and second-in-command, the Knight Marshal of Eastmach. Free from the more intense politics surrounding the Knight Lord’s official seat in Varth’am, the Knight Marshal established ties with Volanthia and under his command Harador Castle grew to take on new responsibilities as the unofficial protectors of the nearby fledgling city state of Volanthia.
The rulers of Volanthia, known as the Council of Archmages, reluctantly accept this protection from the “non-gifted”, acknowledging the Orders strength in martial training and military tactics which Volanthia sorely lacks. This is recognized by most as a relationship of convenience, for Volanthia is quite capable of defending its Sovereignty on its own. However, so long as friendly relationships are maintained, the Knights of Eastmach, particularly those hailing from Harador Castle, are some of the few non-gifted that are permitted entrance to the City of Mages on a regular basis.
The nature of the relationship between Volanthia and Harador Castle has bred some suspicious on both sides over the years. Among the more distrustful there exists a theory that Harador Castle plays a less friendly role in the local politics of the region. Some believe that the Knights true intent for their friendship with Volanthia is to spy on the City of Mages to ensure that nothing akin to Leonen’s Mage Rebellion could occur in Tolgatha, even going as far as to claim that the Knights of Eastmach report directly to the Patriarch King himself.
While most of this is unfounded accusations and conspiracy theories, there is no doubt that the Knights of Eastmach are far more knowledgeable regarding the Spiritual Arts of Magic than any other Knightly Order in Tolgatha, with interests known to extend beyond their own borders. The latest rumors even suggest that Knight Marshal Harador’s eldest Son, Falathrin, was sent by magical means to the Tindermoot where a war is brewing between a powerful Black Dragon Flight and Leonen’s Royal Order of Archons.
Broken Shield Pass
Broken Shield Pass is one of several major routes through the Darkwall Mountains in Northwest Tolgathan State of Breccacia. It is the only route large enough to move a sizable army between Tolgatha to the east and the uncharted home land of the Greenskin races in the west, known as the Darklands. As such it is the primary route used by the Greenskin tribes to invade the realms of men. It is named for the tragic and bloody downfall of a short-lived alliance between Tolgatha and Leonen, called the Concord of Shields, that sought to fortify the pass against the Greenskin hordes to the west.
The concept for Broken Shield Pass was created in part by Chris Lloyd (Little Rock, AR) as part of his ‘Foot Knight package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.
In that time Leonen was a fledgling Kingdom, only recently unified under its first King, Hallard of House Montegen, and fraught with scheming and turmoil as it has ever been. The young King Hallard was keen to prove the might of Leonen and put down the infighting between his Dukes by giving them common cause, and so mobilized a grand army drawn from the best fighting men from each of the seven provinces. Believing that if Warlord Dulgarr’s forces went unchecked it would only be a matter of time before they would be fighting them on Leonen’s own doorstep, the King sent his army and his best military commanders to Tolgatha. With the support of King Hallard’s forces the Patriarch-King turned the tide of battle and the Orc armies were pushed farther and farther west. The occupied Tolgathan lands were liberated, and battle after battle the Orcs lost ground.
Seeking to stem his losses, Warlord Dulgarr gathered his strongest and most savage troops and met the combined might of the two human armies at the Third Battle of Brighthammer. Hoping to break the back of their forces in one monumental victory, the Orc Warlord instead suffered bitter defeat. His forces were crushed, and Dulgarr himself finally fell atop a pile of human corpses, said to have been pierced by a hundred swords. Those Orcs loyal to Warlord Dulgarr died fighting, but the remainder of his shattered army, once said to have number in the hundreds of thousands but now reduced to as little as ten thousand, fled back to the Darklands with their Goblin and Ogre allies in tow.
When word of the victory reached King Hallard, he traveled to Tolgatha personally to sign a pact with King Desmond. Together the two kings forged the Concord of Shields, all alliance tasked with establishing an impenetrable fortress in the strategic mountain pass between Tolgatha and the Darklands. This fortress would shield Tolgatha, and every land beyond, from the incessant depredations of the Greenskin menace, containing them within the Darklands for all time. Construction of the fortress began in earnest, and with the Orcs forces soundly defeated there was little threat to the builders and engineers that sought to raise the mighty fortress. So decimated were the Greenskin hordes that it took an entire generation before they would mount another offensive against the realms of men. It was one of only a few eras of peace in the war torn lands of Northwestern Tolgatha.
However, that peace was cut short by tragedy, and it would be men—not orcs—that would prevent the fortress from ever being completed. In the early years the soldiers from both Kingdoms worked together well enough, dividing up patrol duties between them to ensure that the construction of the fortress could proceed uninterrupted by Greenskin raiders. But as the years stretched on and the soldiers lacked any true enemy to fight they grew complacent and eventually even confrontational with one another. King Hallard’s forces, so far from their homes in distant Leonen felt they were not treated with the respect worthy of the sacrifices they had made to save Tolgatha from the Orc invasion. To the proud Tolgathans this was their land and what foreign army truly had a right to be living off of it. With too much idle time and too much access to strong drink, conflict was inevitable between the soldiers and with increasing frequency the officers were tasked with restoring and maintaining order among the troops.
Despite this, the Concord of Shields survived for several more years and construction continued to slowly progress. The outer curtain walls were planned to be built out from both sides of the pass simultaneously, one side constructed by Leonen and the other by Tolgatha. As a grand symbol of unity the two walls were to meet in the middle, where an imposing gatehouse would finally seal off the pass and allow the builders to carry out the bulk of the work on of the vast fortress in relative safety. It seemed that the mutual dream of both King Desmond and King Hallard to shield the lands of men from the evil of the Darklands would come to fruition. That is until Lord Albrecht of Estwold, the aging Leonen General who had fought tirelessly during the wars with the Orcs and commanded the Concord of Shields since its inception, grew ill and retired from his position to live out his few remaining years in his homeland. He was replaced by another hero of the war, a Tolgathan Chaplain named Emareous Flint. Chaplain Flint was a hard man, a soldier Cleric of the Holy Tolgathan Church and high ranking member of the privileged Religious Caste in Tolgathan society. While he was a great asset during the wars with Warlord Dulgarr, a brilliant strategist and peerless battlefield commander, he proved to be a poor commander in peacetime, being harsh beyond necessity when attempting to maintain order between the quarrelsome forces he inherited from Lord Albrecht.
With Lord Albrecht gone, the Leonen soldiers under the Chaplain’s command began to bear the brunt of his heavy handedness. He made no pretense of reminding any trouble-making Leonen that, regardless of the battle they had fought together, they were still foreigners on Tolgathan soil, and therefore lower than even the Tolgathan Servant Caste. When it was discovered that a drunken and unruly Tolgathan soldier was receiving only one flogging for every twenty that his Leonen counter part would receive, several high ranking Leonen officers officially lodged a complaint. Chaplain Flint had their leader publicly flogged for dissension. It was a most vicious and merciless assault that left his back bloody and laid bare muscle and bone. While the poor soul perished from his wounds shortly thereafter, no one was there to witness his final breaths for when his fellow Leonen officers could bear his screams no more, they took up arms and cut down the Chaplain and his men. In that moment, long dormant strife between the two sides erupted and the entire work site became a battlefield, Leonen versus Tolgatha. The bloodshed and violence spiraled out of control, sweeping up soldier and civilian alike. Soon fires raged throughout the pass and scaffolding burned, leading to the collapse of many of the walls that were still under construction. By the end of that dark and bloody day it is said that only a handful of wounded men survived to tell the tale.
There the Concord of Shields was broken. Forged between the two kingdoms for the good of all men, but ending in sorrow and shame. While many on both sides cried for retribution, both Kings agreed that war between them would be far too costly and gain both sides nothing, so they agreed to go their separate ways. Since that day the Kingdom of Leonen and the Kingdom of Tolgatha have never again allied, though the Orcs have many times since surged back and forth across the Darkwall mountains. Little now remains of the ruins of that unfinished fortress, for with the comings and goings of war bands large and small, the Orcs long ago pulled the stones down and cast them aside. But the stain of death and tragedy remains, and the pass has been known ever after as Broken Shield Pass.
The Tolgathan Caste System
Human characters from the Kingdom of Tolgatha must also adhere to the rigid caste system of their homeland. Human characters of Tolgathan lineage are grouped into one of five Castes, based on the class that they choose.
Any Faith class must belong to the Religious Caste, however only the following faith classes are permitted in Tolgathan society, listed relative to their rank within the Religious Caste:
The governing body of Tolgatha, less of an order than a political organization, though their hierarchy remains similar. As a group they are referred to as the Theocratic Assembly, with the Patriarch-King as their head. Theire power and influence in Tolgatha is without rival.
The zealots are the secret police of the Tolgathan nation, unlike typical Zealots they are governed by the strict Tolgathan Order of Justice and Inquiry (TOJI).
The Clerics of Tolgatha are also governed by a strict order unlike elsewhere in Norlanin, called the Tolgathan Order of Holy Chaplains (TOHC).
In Tolgatha there is but a single Order of Paladins that may hold any title or position. Known as the Tolgathan Order of Royal Guards (TORG), these Paladins are a small but elite force that guard the palace of the Patriarch-King, who acts as the ceremonial Grand Marshal of their Order. Paladins of the TORG live only to advance to the rank of High Templar, gaining the honor of becoming the personal guard of the Patriarch-King and the royal family.
The Warrior Caste is second only to the Religious Caste in Tolgathan society. To fight for the Kingdom is considered a prestigious honor. However to be a part of the Warrior Caste requires service in the Tolgathan military in some fashion. Most Vigor, Fury, Honor, or Focus classes must belong to the Warrior Caste, however only the following classes are permitted in Tolgathan society, listed relative to their rank within the Warrior Caste:
The elite arm of the Warrior Caste, each of the Hegemonic states has their own Knightly Orders, each with its own unique focus, history, and set of laws.
Guardian, Martial Artist, Barbarian, Berserker, Marksman, Ranger, Warrior, Pit-Fighter; these classes form the support or specialist arm of the Warrior caste, and are deployed within state troops to augment their forces, or used in roles specific to their skill sets. Each of the nation states of Tolgatha offers their own regional fighting styles to assist in the defense of Tolgatha. In Tolvarad every youth dreams of one day serving in the elite forces of the Guardian Legion, sworn to protect the Theocratic Assembly for any and all threats. Skvarlin brawlers are known far and wide as some of the best hand-to-hand combatants and Martial Artists Tolgatha has to offer. Among the vast plains and rugged foothills of Eastmach are those who live for the thrill of combat, fighting in a romanticized style of their Barbarian ancestors of old. Clad in bearskins and ever stalking the forest lands the Berserkers of Baerskund are legendary among Tolgathans and are frequently used for hit-and-run attacks. Marksman from the vast forested state of Drakenlund are used as specialized ranged support for the army. Rangers hailing from Breccacia act as scouts and rapid-response units. Citizens of Westreik are born into a life of constant conflict and many become renowned warriors that stand as champions of Tolgatha. The coastal state of Ocelund provides the elite fighting force of the Tolgathan Navy, trained for close quarters combat upon a ship deck in much the same style as a Pit-Fighter.
Soldiers form the bulk of the Warrior caste, and can easily hail from any of the eight Tolgathan states, as each state is required by law to maintain a standing force of rank-and-file troops.
The Magi caste is the smallest in size and not nearly as powerful as the Religious or Warrior Castes, however it still holds significant sway in the royal courts and state governments of Tolgatha where human wizards act as scholars and advisers to some of the most powerful men and women o f Tolgatha. Originally in Tolgathan culture any child found to be gifted in the Spiritual arts was sent to the Great College of Wizardry in Carvalen, where they would learn to use their powers in service of the others. When the exiled mages arrived from Leonen following the Mage Rebellion, the Magi class took pity on them and helped negotiate the terms for the creation of a vassal city-state now known as Volanthia, the City of Mages. Since then, many Human residents of Volanthia have been welcomed in as honorary members of the Magi Caste, increasing their numbers significantly. However, this also simultaneously began diluting the power of the Magi Caste, for many Tolgathan Wizards began to migrate from the Great College in Carvalen, choosing instead to study at the Volanthian Colleges of Wizardry. This allowed them to still serve their country but also join in the collective knowledge of all Mages of Norlanin. Their relative station within the Magi Caste is as follows:
Viewed as the “true” Magi Caste, these are the Wizards that have chosen to remain at the Great College of Wizardry in Carvalen, and includes several Wizard Lords who act as advisers to the Patriarch-King himself.
Still a member of the Magi Caste, these Wizards have chosen to study at the relatively new Volanthian Colleges of Wizardry. They are viewed as inferiors by the Carvalen Wizards, though in many respects they are more powerful through their association with the Mage Colleges of Volanthia.
Mage & Battlemage
Human Mages and Battlemages living in Volanthia are extended an honorary position within the Magi Caste, affording them much the same respect as the rest of the Magi Caste. However, without the strict training and solemn oaths of service of the Tolgathan Wizard Orders, they are ultimately deemed to be self serving individuals that cannot be trusted with positions of power within state governments.
Merchant & Servant Caste
The Merchant class is the back bone of the Tolgathan economy, encompassing a wide array of Tolgathan citizens. From rich textile traders to the lowly thatcher and everything in between, it has its own internal hierarchy based on the relative wealth of the merchant. Ultimately no matter how rich or poor they become, a Merchant will always remain firmly placed between the Magi Caste and the Servant Caste, and are afforded at least some measure of courtesy by virtue of not being the lowest caste within Tolgathan society.
If the Merchant Caste is the backbone, then the servant caste is the muscle surrounding it. For without the Servant Caste little would be accomplished in Tolgatha. The Servant Caste is the largest of all Castes and work tirelessly to appease their masters, with no hope of ever reaching beyond their humble lot in life. However rigid this system may be, Tolgathan’s are not a cruel people and the servant caste is still relatively well cared for. Whether this is out of a sense of charity or simply to prevent an uprising if a subject of much debate in the upper castes.
Thief, Monk & Swashbuckler
While more likely to be found among the casteless, these classes can sometimes be found hiding among the ranks of the merchant and servant castes. None of the other castes would ever need to stoop to the level of common thievery or deception as they generally are without want in Tolgathan society.
The Casteless are typically non humans found living within Tolgathan borders. They are treated as the lowest of the low, and do not even garnering the most rudimentary kindness shown to the Servant Caste. It is perfectly acceptable within Tolgathan society to marginalize and exploit the Casteless.
All Remaining Classes
Vigilante, Shaman, Samurai, Druid, Assassin, Runeweaver, Shaolin, Ninja; these classes are forbidden or ignored within Tolgathan society. However as Humans Tolgathans have access to all classes and therefore could still choose one of these. Doing so however, would render then no longer a citizen, forever losing the status and citizenship, thereby becoming casteless and essentially treated as foreigners in their own lands.