Toralden is a rolling land of low hills, light forest and plains, and here the horse is king (or so it is said). From time out of mind, there have been no finer horses raised in Accitaine and no finer horsefolk to ride them. With its northerly hills and forests bordering some areas of Amarkacha, its westerly borders having the wild fens and forests of the Blacksalt (to which it lays claim, and most say good luck with that), the Eastern sea on the coast and the Marcher Principalities to the south, Toralden has few opportunities to expand, and so does what such lands often do in a similar situation; it fights. Toralden has a feudal and militaristic culture that whilst more or less keeping up with modern civilization, finds a way to be socially antiquated, with a strict military based feudal model of government. The serfs and peasants toil long and hard for their masters, with the strict moral guidance of Society priests offering some degree of solace, though it is a very hard life with few rights.

The feudal pyramid has the Monarch at the top, currently King Mavvars Kartellyn, who parcels out authority and position to the Margraves and Margravines, the greatest of the Toralden aristocracy. They in turn pass out title and influence to the middle level of the nobility, called the Counts and Countesses of Horsetails, a 5 levelled grade of military leaders and nobles (5 being the most, 1 the least), and they in turn pass down to the Husczaruks, the soldierly caste and the least that can hold land and pass justice. Below them are the merchants, then the peasants, and finally the serfs. Whilst merchants are held in low regard, they also are regarded as sadly necessary, and so despite having high taxes compared to some lands, also are the only people with certain trade rights and indulgences to exploit the lower orders, and this most of them do. Peasants are free folks, often in towns and cities who perform trades and professions. Of these, doctors and physicians are held in a curious regard and get much more latitude than people of their social status would indicate. The lot of the Toralden serf however is one of backbreaking labour, scant regard of their superiors and largely a miserable existence.

The Society functions amongst this structure quite efficiently, aided as they are by the nobles and the aristocrats in their day to day. More obedient than Schwereinn, the rulers of Toralden are keen raiders and supposed crusaders against the barbarians of Amarkacha, but the wild broken lands, forests and mountains of Amarkacha are a poor battlefield for Toralden cavalry might (those annoying honourless barbarians fight dirty), so instead it serves as a good springboard for soldiery of the Hand and other religiously dedicated warriors and pilgrims to seek glory, loot and/or piety against the godless.

The stiff necked, proud and aggressive rulers of Toralden have feuding, infighting and honour protecting customs that would make a Varunnan wince from time to time, ever keen as they are to see insult and grievance where there is none. The military is made up of over 2 thirds being cavalry of varying types, with heavy cavalry using lance, sword and axe (pistols have become popular of late too), and light cavalry having lancer, mounted crossbow and pistoleer units adding to the variety. Uniforms (and the Toraldens love a good uniform) are colourful amongst the light cavalry and intimidatingly sombre amongst the heavy. Infantry formations are pressed from peasants (never from the serfs, that would be foolish) and use whatever equipment their commanders choose to give them, with some being little more than a padded jerkin armoured pikeman all the way up to competent musket and crossbow armed troops in good uniforms; needless to say, there is a great variety between the 2 extremes.

Culturally, the nobility and aristocracy are forbidden to hold mercantile concerns for this lessens them, though taxation fills in some of the shortfall. Also, the renting out of farmland to the mercantile and peasant classes (and the ownership of the serf contracts bound to the land) provides much revenue, as all but the serf make a profit from the land. This way of doing things has led Toralden to be held in poor regard by Heidelgard and especially Schwereinn, with the former regarding it as brutish and unfair and the latter being appalled by such effective slavery. Indeed, if a serf can escape from Toralden and make his or her way across the dangerous and hard lands of the Blacksalt to Schwereinn, they can be given sanctuary and freedom into Schwereinnin life, something many a serf has died in trying to achieve. Few serfs escape to the south and the Marcher Principalities, as these various small states, duchies, Principalities and baronies can ill afford to rouse the ire of Toralden and instead often curry favour with their northern neighbour by returning escaped serfs; not all do this, but most do, out of necessity and a reluctant sense of realpolitik. Fewer try their hand at escape into Amarkacha, as the response from its human inhabitants (let alone the exceptionally aggressive fauna) is likely to make for a brief and fatal taste of freedom.

Toraldish is the harsh language of this harsh people and like much of its culture is regarded as brutish and inelegant to most others in Accitaine. The popular sport of calidball are observed if regarded as plebeian, but polo is often enjoyed, as is jousting and horseracing (at least for the wealthy). The cultural stereotype is a hot headed aggressive tyrant for the nobility, a grasping tyrant for the mercantile classes and a bullying sycophantic tyrant for the peasantry; the serf is best described through a Scwereinnin simile of something or someone being “as low as a Tolralden serf”, indicating something or someone at the lowest ebb of existence, whether materially or socially.


Accitaine AndyGlen