The Young Theocracy of Vilmir
Size: 3’000 square miles Allegiance: Law Government: Theocracy Population: 38’000, 19 persons per square mile, 45% Urban Dwellers, 50% Rural Dwellers, 5% Abroad, 90% Human, 10% Beastfolk, 3% Cardinals Men, 14% Clergy, 13% Nobility, 20% Urban Workers, 50% Rural Commoners, 12% Chaos, 32% Balance, 68% Law Law Rank: 9 Transitions: 100+ years of orderly transitions Legal Code: Recent Legal Code – Garrick’s Inquisition Enforcement: Very Strong Corruption: 2/3rds of officials corrupt. Social Standing: Infrequently Matters
The theocracy of Vilmir fosters a fanatical devotion to law. Cardinal Garrick the Cold believes it’s his mission to drive chaos from the world. Under his rule the Icy grip of the inquisition tightens around the neck of the faithful and chokes the life from the lawless. Under Garrick’s reign the inquisition has spread far beyond the borders of Vilmir. Many believe Garrick will not be satisfied until the inquisition reaches every free man on Trel. The former king was the first to bequeath his power to the church but he will not be the last.
Vilmir is mostly grassy plain with a temperate climate. Three hundred years ago forests grew everywhere, but humans have cleared the land. They used the wood for their fires and grew crops in the clearings. The slash and burn techniques of the Vilmirians have exhausted the soil. Poor crops, erosion and dust storms (during the summer) chastise the country. The runoff from the many iron mines that dot the low Vilmirian hills poison the rivers. Those farmers that remain in the barren countryside struggle on too exhausted to rebel against their overlords. Vilmirs peasants are starved into submission as the Church of Law and the nobility claim most of the harvest.
For the nobility of the country, life is good. Their fleet of privateers, little more then state-licensed pirates, scour the seas in search of goods to return to their homeland. In Vilmir lords divide their their time with celebration of their lot and devout service to the authoritarian and militant Church of Law. Many Vilmirian nobles are inbred weaklings, chinless, spineless and stuttering. Hereditary diseases such as weak blood are common among the Vilmirian nobility.
Most Vilmirians are peasants. They slave to grow produce on their dying farms or they slave in the factories and dark, Lawful mills of the cities.
Because of its worship of Law, Vilmir is the most technically advanced of the Young Kingdoms. Water-driven mills and looms are commonplace in the larger cities, while such marvels as clockwork knights guard the temples.
Uniqueness and individuality are not encouraged in Vilmir. Cities and people alike are gray and drab. Great Triangular walls enclose the overcrowded cities, echoing the temples of law built as pyramids. All Vilmirian buildings except the temples are build of sandstone to a specific size and common height. The people of Vilmir and astoundingly average, save for the majority’s fanatical devotion to Law. They dress in gray tunics, wear their hear short, and are themselves gray-faced and cheerless.
Not all Vilmirians conform to this standard, but the ever-present threat of the inquisition encourages them to do so. In the borderlands to the north and also to the east some respite from the inquisition can be found. The towns and people of the borderlands share a verve for life you will not find in the larger cities. Life in the borderlands is dangerous and isolated however.
Duke Avan Astran, of Old Hrolmar, is one of the few Vilmirians to flout the decrees of the Church of Law. Under his rule Old Hrolmar has become a baroque metropolis patronized by freethinkers, artists, adventurers, and philosophers.
The Laws of Vilmir and the Cardinals Inquisition
A difference between a society with just laws vs. unjust laws is not that one is more orderly then the other… it’s how the law is applied.
Compared to the rest of the lawful kingdoms Vilmir is largely unjust (especially if you aren’t human) ...but within Vilmir the laws treat everyone fairly as long as you know how to work the system. In other words, you can get in serious trouble if you break the law in the wrong place at the wrong time… especially if you target the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So for example a peasant decides to pickpocket a noble. He should only do that in the common districts where he has friends. Doing that in the noble quarter would be largely suicidal because the noble has money and the peasant doesn’t. The noble could kill the commoner in broad daylight and get away with it in those circumstances. It doesn’t matter that it’s murder, the commoner was a fool. No witnesses are likely to put their own reputation on the line to speak against the noble for the sake of a common thief.
Conversely if a noble wanders into a common whore-house in a drunken stupor and throws a fit when he gets robbed no amount of money is going to cover up his embarrassment. People in Vilmir looove to judge each other. It’s the kind of lawful society where you reinforce your own reputation by destroying others. Most people would never openly break the law in Vilmir… but a rumor can easily turn into an accusation if its allowed to circulate long enough. Absence of fact, is the presence of doubt...
Any citizen in Vilmir can find a reason to be compelled to speak against someone else. He would simply mutter a few words to his priest during confession… Holy Father, I have sinned for my conscience tells me to speak against someone and I have not. Then the priest says, You must always keep the tenants of law in your heart, even if it means speaking against others my son. Which is the hint to say tell me more... which is the green light for the citizen to spill his beans and impress doubt on someone they don’t like.
Similarly the priest cannot leave such rumors alone so he is compelled to report it to an inquisitor, and the inquisitor is thus compelled to investigate. If the rumors are in any way true (an inquisitor usually has no problems finding rumors to be true) they arrest the citizen, noble or not.
Once arrested about an unsubstantiated rumor a citizen must take stock of his assets and reputation. Those will be his betting chips gambling against the judge who is typically the prelate of the local church. Odds are the prelate knows something about them already. Keeping tabs on his flock is one of his responsibilities after all.
Most often those arrested have no idea why they were arrested but they should guess anyway and guess well. If they confess about whatever the rumor was about the process is quick. If they do not confess, or guess wrong and confesses about crimes the church was not aware of… the interrogation process can last indefinitely.
If the citizen is in good standing and most likely innocent he can plead with the judge to consider his reputation, blah-blah-blah, btw I would like to make a generous donation , blah-blah-blah, and maybe he’s pardoned and maybe he isn’t. That’s the gamble the accused has to make. How much is my freedom going to cost me?
The church always wins in the end because the accused is expected to compensate the church for the costly investigation guilty or not. If they are found guilty, and have money, the church can usually find grounds to seize their property and estate as redemption for a lawless life. If they are found guilty, and have no money, they can still offer lies and excuses the church uses to investigate more people… so the inquisition continues… ad infinitum
Meanwhile the accuser wins either way because its no skin off their back… literally. False-accusations in Vilmir are usually not punished with a flogging. The church wants people to give them reasons to make more arrests because it seemingly justifies the inquisition.
A guilty verdict can easily be a death sentence with the inquisition. Bribery or a willingness to confess to a crime is sometimes not enough to ensure a pardon. Sometimes the church wants to make an example of someone. It’s always easy to justify killing in the name of the lords of law, you just say you had a vision that they were beyond redemption. Judges often claim to receive divine mandate but few actually do.
This blaspheme does not always go unpunished. Angels of Law are known to appear and smite the corrupt and unjust that use their name in vain. Such occurrences are never fully explained or disclosed by the Cardinal to the public. Instead the details are carefully obscured and covered up. His favorite speech after such an untimely passing is this… the righteous clergymen (insert name here) was possessed by the same demon that possessed the accused. Angels intervened because they would never permit a demon to possess a righteous man. (insert name here) sacrificed himself for the greater good.
Cardinal Garrick is very clever about protecting the infallible reputation of the church, lest the Patriarch find cause to replace him.