[Author’s Foreword: Daybreak extra chapters are either scenes that don’t fit neatly into the story’s pacing, or are meant to address the interests of specific audiences and aren’t for everyone. This particular chapter is a lore dump into the setting of the story, much like an in-game encyclopedia.]
The Kingdom of Weichsel lies on the southern coast of the North Sea. Known as the Northern March of Trinitian Realm, the country was settled by nomads and tempered by centuries of northern raids and incursions. As a result, Weichsel evolved into a highly-militarized society which sat on the crossroads between four of the major cultural groups in Hyperion.
- Crest: Black Dragon
- Capital: Königsfeld
- Government: Feudal-Absolutist Monarchy
- System: Centralized Military-Aristocratic Unitary State
- Official Language: Imperial
- Official Religion: Trinitian
- Population: 2.7 million
The reborn Kingdom of Amudaria
The origins of the Amudarians, the nomadic ancestors of Weichsel, are not known. Historians today can only trace back their heritage to one of the many nomadic pastoralist groups that once dominated the grasslands and steppes of Central Hyperion.
After the rising Dawn Imperium in Eastern Hyperion defeated the powerful Baigal Confederation during the Third Dawn War, they absorbed many of the nomadic tribes while driving the others west. This set off what historians call a “nomadic displacement chain”, in which one displaced tribe of pastoralist nomads would intrude upon the territory of another, evicting the latter from their lands and forcing them to migrate and come into conflict with yet another group. It is unknown exactly where the Amudarians originated along this chain, only that they first entered the records of Inner Sea historians in Year 337 during the Imperial Age (which began with the signing of the ‘Two Realms Under Heaven’ pact between the eastern Dawn Imperium and the western Inner Sea Imperium).
The Amudarian tribes had been greatly weakened after a series of defeats by other nomadic and semi-nomadic groups. Travelling westward in search of new lands to settle down upon, the Amudarians crossed into the realm of the Arcadian Imperium of the Inner Sea. The Western Imperium, which was approaching the height of its power during this time, offered the Amudarians a strip of newly conquered land along the North Sea’s southern coast. The price they demanded was the fealty of Amudarian leaders and a contribution of cavalry forces to the auxiliary units of the Imperial Legions. The Amudarians agreed, thus becoming a friendly vassal of the Inner Sea Imperium.
The southern coast of the North Sea had become largely depopulated after multiple wars fought between the Imperium and the Hyperborean states. The Amudarians settled into this region, which created a buffer state against Northmen raids and invasions. In addition to receiving rich and fertile lands, the Amudarians also had a guarantee of military support from the Imperium should they face a significant military incursion. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, and it set the foundation for the reborn realm of Amudaria.
Over the course of the coming centuries, the Amudarians gradually forsook their nomadic past to embrace a new lifestyle. Pastoralist culture was largely abandoned as agriculture replaced it as the primary source of food. Imperial techniques in four-stage crop rotation and magical soil replenishment were introduced to improve farming yields. The exchange of technology brought an influx of Imperial language and culture, and by 867:Imperial, the Amudarians formally abandoned its traditional tongue in exchange for the Imperium’s hybridized universal tongue for its northern regions — commonly referred to in present day as ‘Imperial’.
As a result of its complex history, Amudarian culture became a melting pot between their own nomadic past, the lifestyles of the Northmen locals whom they had absorbed, as well as influences from its Imperial, Lotharin, Hyperborean, and Polisian/Samaran neighbors.
The Founding of Weichsel
In the year 992:Imperial, Imperator Augustus Aurelian converted to Trinitian and forced the rest of the Imperium to follow, thus beginning the Faith Age in Western Hyperion. Tensions between worshippers of other religions and the rechristened Holy Imperium of the Inner Sea immediately began to mount. Then, when the Cataliyan Rebellion began in the south and drew the Holy Imperium’s attention away, the Northmen decided it was time for a massive invasion of the continent.
In the year 30:Faith, a combined invasion force formed between the Hyperborean Kingdoms of Västergötland, Östergötland, and the Grand Jarldom of Skagen descended upon the North Sea’s southern coast, aptly named by Trinitian historians as the ‘Great Heathen Army’. The Holy Imperium, with their legions spread thin pacifying the south while suppressing religious unrest across the realm, sent only token forces to Amudari’s aid. Unable to resist the onslaught, King Bazyli died during the Siege of Odra as his citadel was breached, sacked, and burned to the ground.
All hope seemed lost to the Amudarians as the Northmen plundered and ransacked the land. However, it was during this moment of crisis that House Drachenlanzen stood up to rally the defenders of the collapsing kingdom. The famous military house claimed to have roots dating back to the Grand Coalition Offensive of the Dragon-Demon Wars, where they served as some of the first human drake-riders whom the dragonlords recruited. The elite Drachenlanzen household cavalry were the only notable military force to break out and survive the Siege of Odra, and it formed the backbone of a new army being assembled to oppose the Northmen.
With the royals dead and the kingdom disintegrating, Duke Ferdinand von Drachenlanzen enacted a state of emergency and created the ‘Writ of Universal Conscription’. The declaration was the first of its kind in Western Hyperion. It was an article which bound nobles and commoners alike into an equal agreement — that all citizens, regardless of social class, gender, ethnicity, or wealth, were applicable to the same conscription laws. Every citizen of the realm would equally share the burden of military defense.
After rebuilding his army, Duke Ferdinand crushed the ‘Great Heathen Army’ at the Battle of Königsfeld in 31:Faith. It was there, during the victory celebration, when Ferdinand proclaimed the birth of a new nation. The Kingdom of Weichsel was born, with the new capital city of Königsfeld to be built upon the site of glory that renewed their people.
A converted Trinitian, Ferdinand requested Pope Alexander I to bless the new realm. The Pope responded to his piety by traveling north and personally crowning the new king. Ferdinand then took advantage of the situation by maneuvering the Pope into making a denunciation of the Imperator Augustus for failing to uphold past promises. This in turn voided the Amudarians’ previously agreed obligations to the Imperium.
The new Kingdom of Weichsel would no longer be a protectorate and tributary of the Holy Imperium of the Inner Sea.
King Ferdinand I’s tremendous popularity and his ability to call upon Trinitian crusaders (not to mention the Pope’s Templars) against northern incursions allowed him to convert Weichsel into a predominantly Trinitian state. By establishing Trinitian as the official religion of the realm and appeasing the Pope, he discouraged any military expeditions from the Imperium through papal influence. After the religious unrest that initially plagued the Holy Imperium began to fade and the threat of Imperial hegemony renewed itself, the elderly Ferdinand I requested the martial Pope Saint Peter VI to launch the 1st Crusade against Cataliyan Caliphate in 99:Faith.
Ferdinand I was declared a martyr after Cataliyan forces ambushed and destroyed his army during the Battle of Atlas Pass. But the bloody conflict he began would draw Imperial attention south for centuries to come. Furthermore, after the failure of the 1st and 2nd Crusades, the Holy Imperium was forced to turn their attention towards the northwest as the 5th Lotharin Rebellion began in 198:Faith.
With the Imperium distracted, Weichsel busied fortifying itself against both the north and south. The small country soon became known for its disciplined and militaristic society, which famously made Imperial historians remark that Weichsel was essentially ‘an army and its support state’. A short border conflict with the Grand Republic of Samara however showed that while Weichsel could hold its ground, it lacked the resources to mount a direct challenge against its larger neighbors. As such, the Kingdom settled into a role which focused its geostrategic position to develop industry and trade, all while being armed to the teeth as the ‘Northern March of the Trinitian Realm’.
Geopolitically, Weichsel’s slow pivot away from the Imperium would continue. As the Lotharin Rebellion grew into the Rhin-Lotharingie Independence War, Weichsel realigned itself by smuggling arm supplies to the rebel coalition. This established the one-time protectorate as a strategic foe of the Holy Imperium. It was further exemplified during the War of Imperial Succession, when Weichsel joined the Holy Imperium’s other neighbors in seizing border territories. A conflict of interests initially brought Weichsel into de-facto war with the Empire of Rhin-Lotharingie. However negotiations between accomplished statesmen of the two powers yielded a defensive military alliance which would become a focal point of Hyperion politics.
Geography & Climate
“Black as the dragon that protects us. Black as the soil that nourishes us. Black as the coal that warms us. Black is a good color indeed.” — Weichsel saying.
Weichsel is a coastal nation stretched along the southern coast of the North Sea. Its geography is predominantly flat — plains and beaches with scattered hills and woods. Only the Dead Mountains that rise sharply from the coastal plains hold any significant geographical change, but the murderous mists that still curse the mountains to date prevent most locals from journeying in.
Two major rivers cross modern day Weichsel: the Albis, which flowed from southeast to northwest before pouring into the Lotharingie tributary at Cross Lake. And Weichschwartz, named after the rich black soil on its lower banks before flowing into the North Sea at Königsfeld.
Regulated by the North Sea, Weichsel’s climate is temperate on the cold side. The mountainous Scania Isles shields much of the North Sea from the arctic fronts that buffets Northern Rhin-Lotharingie and the Skagen Peninsula. Nevertheless, the waters are rarely above chilly, leading to cool summers and freezing winters. Yearly precipitation is moderate, and the two major rivers rarely flood.
Culture & Religion
Built upon the cultural crossroads of the north, the people of Weichsel embraced one of the most diverse cultures on Hyperion. The nomadic Amudarians, which brought their traditions from Central Hyperion, absorbed many of the Hyperborean values local to the region after settling down. Over the years, knowledge transfers from the Inner Sea Imperium, plus traders from Rhin-Lotharingie, Samara, and Skagen would gradually meld their ideas into the customs of Weichsel today.
The Weichsens believe strongly in the spirit of coordination and collective effort. Centuries of continuous raiding from the North Sea forced the fortified coastal towns to work together, relying upon their neighbors and inland reinforcements to repel incursions. Meanwhile, inland residents learned that only powerful coastal defenses funded by wealthy towns and a strong monarchy could protect them from major raids until the army arrived. This spirit of cooperation has given Weichsens a strong sense of national unity. But through their organization also comes a degree of arrogance, as Weichsel views itself as ‘more civilized’ than their Lotharin and Samaran neighbors, and certainly the pagan Northmen.
Among the feudal nations of Hyperion, Weichsel’s society also exhibits the least class divide between the varying ranks of the nobility, the yeomen, and the commoners. The military’s meritocratic traditions have proven that any man may earn a title of nobility through accomplishments (although those of lowly backgrounds often have to work harder to earn the same recognition). Knighthoods –the lowest rank of nobility– are handed down alongside every Knight’s Cross award, while landed titles up to and including a dukedom have been awarded to commoners over the centuries for exceptional service to the crown. Given the role of Universal Conscription in Weichsen culture and the importance of national defense, most adults, especially those with past military service, see little wrong with nobles mingling among lower ranks. However, the gap between social classes does increase as ages get younger, due to most children being raised among others of their own kind with fewer interactions across class divides.
Although the common people have long abandoned their nomadic traditions, the militant nobility still organize their ancient ‘Grand Hunt’ once per year. This event takes place during mid-autumn before the Harvest Festival. The traditional sacrifices in animals however have been abandoned since the onset of Trinitian worship. Instead, results of the hunt are now handed to organizers of the Harvest Festival, to be cooked and shared among the populace as a symbol of the aristocracy’s contributions toward society.
Unlike other Trinitian nations, priests in Weichsel do not hold weekly mass on Sundays. This is due to past discoveries that the Northmen had a tendency to raid on whichever day it is that the Weichsens held religious services on, as most of the townsfolk would gather in the church and be caught unprepared by the attack. Instead, Weichsen priests hold smaller nighttime services every two days, spreading out church attendance over the course of the week. But without a uniform attendance policy, it is said that the Trinitians of Weichsel hold a lower church attendance rate than that of their neighboring states.
As part of Weichsel’s ‘Papal Appeasement’ policy, the realm holds itself open to the Papal Inquisition. Thus, while Weichsel itself does not outlaw the practice of other religions, practitioners who do not bear the protection of a foreign state (i.e. the Grand Republic of Samara) must hide their faith to prevent a heresy investigation. Non-Trinitian preachers and evangelists are both banned under the penalty of death.
Due to the ever-present threat of raids and invasions, the fortified coastal towns of Weichsel rely mostly on trade, crafts, and shore-based fishing. Trade is particularly important along the Albis River and the Saale Corridor — one links the Imperium to the Lotharingie Rivers, while the other is caught between the Dead Mountains and the North Sea as the only ‘safe’ northern passage into the Grand Republic of Samara. The inland regions however are predominantly agricultural, taking advantage of Weichsel’s flat geography and fertile terrain.
The banks of the Weichschwartz River offer excellent soil as well as rich resource deposits near the bedrock, particularly iron and coal. Combined with an abundance of coastal limestone, which are used to help remove impurities in smelting, Weichsel has become the largest center of steel production in the north.
In addition to this, Weichsel is also known for its alchemicals and glassmaking industries. Weichsel’s glassmakers in particular are highly regarded for their methodical procedures to control impurities. Their artistic stained glass may be found in churches and nobles estates throughout all corners of Western Hyperion.
Weichsel is a feudal monarchy with high, near-absolutist centralization. Its hereditary, landed nobility serve the King more akin to governors than a traditional aristocracy. Local policies must obey the crown laws of the land, which sets acceptable ranges on everything from taxation and road tolls to the maintenance of infrastructure and soldiers. Feudal authority is especially limited in military affairs, as command of the army belongs solely to the officers appointed by the King and his General Staff. Therefore, while the feudal aristocracy is responsible for raising and maintaining forces at each level of the administrative hierarchy as appropriate to their fiefdom’s size and wealth, they have little to no authority in regards to the soldiers’ placement, movement, officer assignment, and et cetera.
Administratively, the kingdom’s government is divided into five ministries:
- Ministry of the Interior (Administration, Taxation, & Budgeting)
- Ministry of Trade & Transit (Commerce, Production, & Infrastructure)
- Ministry of Law (Courts & Enforcement)
- Ministry of War (General Staff: Command, Personnel, & Logistics)
- Ministry of Relations (Public & Foreign Affairs)
Due to the aristocracy’s military traditions, almost all high-ranking ministry staff are veterans who have retired into the reserves. Nobility however is not a requirement for career advancement, as many trusted retainers and staff officers who proved themselves in military organization have also been elevated to high leadership.
Territorially, Weichsel is divided into five Margraviates which fortify the coastline, two Landgraviates that guard the land borders to both flanks, and six inland duchies:
- Greater Margraviate of Königsfeld: Realm of the House of Drachenlanzen, including the King’s crown lands.
- Landgraviate of Nordkreuz: Fief of House Moltewitz.
- Margraviate of Altmark: Fief of the Kostka-Manteuffel family, a branch of House Manteuffel.
- Margraviate of Altsteier
- Margraviate of Saale-Holzland: Fief of the Zimmer-Manteuffel family, a branch of House Manteuffel.
- Margraviate of Saale-Westeroder: Fief of the Krupinski family.
- Landgraviate of Saale-Osteroder: Fief of the Mittermeyer family, descendants of the renowned ‘Commoner Marshal’ of founding King Ferdinand I.
- Duchy of Kostradan
- Duchy of Starigard
- Duchy of Polarstern: Fief of the main family of House Manteuffel.
- Duchy of Mitterfels
- Duchy of Aschafalen
- Duchy of Wischhafen
- Königsfeld (pop: 93,000): The capital of Weichsel was established on the field of glory that gave birth to the nation. Located at the mouth of the Weichschwartz River, the city serves as headquarters to the smithing and craftsmen guilds of Weichsel. Its businesses are mostly industry focused, especially the countless weapon and armor smiths who support the kingdom’s military forces. The city’s powerful fortifications meet the North Sea Coast at the mighty Black Dragon Castle — the throne of Weichsel and a symbol of its unyielding resistance against northern incursion from the sea.
- Neuoder (pop:44,000): Rebuilt from the ruins of the old Amudarian Capital, Neuoder is the largest settlement in the Saale Trading Corridor and home to the Weichsel Merchant Guild.
- Nordkreuz (pop:51,000): Situated on the eastern bank of the Cross Lake river junction, Nordkreuz is the largest trading hub in the continental north. The city is also dubbed the ‘Jewel of the North’ for its mercantile riches, its strategic importance, and its location atop the most powerful ley-line junction in northern Hyperion.
- Falkenstrom (pop:43,000): Once the northern gateway city of the Inner Sea Imperium, Falkenstrom was seized and annexed by Weichsel during the War of Imperium Succession. Although trade has diminished with the decline of relations between Weichsel and the Imperium, the city continues to serve as an important trading hub for goods moving between the two states. The city also overlooks the important Albis-Weichschwartz Canal which connects the two major rivers of Weichsel.
Although the people of Weichsel have long abandoned their nomadic lifestyle, the revival of its militant traditions by House Drachenlanzen gave rebirth to the predominance of cavalry in Weichsel’s army. Since then, all Weichsen nobles are legally bound by the ‘Writ of Universal Conscription’ to be schooled in horsemanship as well as a selection of combat and support spells. Due to the ever-looming threat of Northmen incursions, many noble houses even embraced their duty and began dynastic military families. These militant traditions have allowed Weichsel’s army to field a higher ratio of MCOs (Magic Capable Officers) to soldiers than any of its neighbors. This means for any equivalent sized formation, Weichsel’s forces always have the upper hand in command, coordination, and magical support than its adversaries, which has allowed Weichsel to time and again defeat larger armies on the field of battle.
In addition to the ‘Writ of Universal Conscription’, Weichsel has a unique policy called the ‘Fourfold Mobilization System’. When activated, Weichsel’s standing army will quadruple in size as professional soldiers are augmented by militia reservists from different tiers of readiness. Currently, this system can create an army of around 60,000 in its first stage (partial mobilization) activation, around 200,000 in its second stage (full mobilization) activation, and up to 800,000 in its third stage activation. This gives Weichsel the remarkable ability to mobilize up to 30% of its total population, an impressive feat which no other country could match. However, a fully militarized Weichsel brings significant detriments, and therefore third stage mobilization could only be used after a national emergency is declared.
Weichsel’s army tactics rely on the Mobility Doctrine. It prefers to use the superior speed, maneuverability, organization, and logistics of its smaller armies to engage enemies on advantageous grounds. Due to its emphasis on mounted mages supplemented by missile troops, Weichsel prefers to whittle down and destroy its enemies at range while maneuvering over open fields.
Weichsel’s naval policy however is exactly the opposite of their army’s. Unable to compete against the Northmen’s superior ironwood trimaran-caravels (aptly named ‘Dragon Boats’ for their rimefire siphons), Weichsel relies mostly on coastal fortifications, augmented by armored barges serving as floating batteries.
- Black Eagles (elite): On paper, the Black Eagles are known as the King’s personal guard battalion — a unit that answers not to the General Staff, but only to the monarch himself. In reality however, the Black Eagles serve as an independent, multi-role organization with three functions. First, they are responsible for the King and his family’s security detail. Second, they serve as military police within Weichsel’s armed forces as well as its special operations branch. Third, they act as the eyes and ears of the King, with an extended intelligence network that serves as both the Kingdom’s primary espionage and counter-intelligence network.
- Knights Phantom (elite): The Knights Phantom is a professional military order established since the founding of Weichsel. Its members are recruited from only those who have proven themselves by earning the Knight’s Cross. The order serves as Weichsel’s air cavalry, with all of its members either having a flying mount for a familiar, or is provided one. Because of their prestige and martial prowess, Knights Phantom are organized into independent companies with up to three ranks above usual for their positions.
- Noble Reiters (feudal): Created through the ‘Writ of Universal Conscription’, the Noble Reiters are mounted units of conscripted nobles who are in turn led by professional officers. Although classified as ‘medium cavalry’ by their enemies due to the nobility’s ability to afford high quality armor, these cavalrymen nevertheless avoid direct combat due to a lack of martial training. Instead, their primary role in warfare is to serve as mobile artillery and magical support, able to rapidly bring massed offensive spells to any spot on the battlefield with speed.
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