Vallenheimers we call them – the people of Vallenheim. Raiders and settlers, they have made the green and pleasant land of eastern Valedonia their own. You will doubtless have heard Vallenheimers called aggressive, but this is merely their warriors’ blood, never far from the surface. It lends them a determination that can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with their ways.
The Vallenheimers are the tallest of the people of Valedonia, fair-skinned, frequently fair-haired, with broad, alert faces, large eyes and long limbs. Eye coloration is often blue or grey, with green and browns less common. Hair is universally long amongst the ruling classes, but the merchant classes have taken to cutting their hair short as a way to distinguish themselves – this fashion is becoming more common amongst regular folk. The clergy of the Nameless keep their hair short at all times. Beards are common. The nobility and royalty typically grow long beards, groomed constantly, but common folk keep theirs short. Clothing includes tunics, smocks, loose trousers, boots, simple dresses, simple headgear, with jewelry of bronze, brass and silver.
Vallenheim is a nation in crisis. For the Vallenheimers, life is a conflict between cosmic forces of good and evil. They view the Apocalypse (which they name The Rain of Embers) as a catastrophe brought about by demonic forces, by dark cults, renegade witches, pagan gods, or even as a series of trials and punishments levied by the Nameless. As a consequence, sorcery is illegal and seen as heretical, pagan, or worse.
Religion (be it faith in one god or in many) is central to Vallenheimer life, accompanied by a strong sense of hierarchy. It is not unusual for a commoner to shrug at life’s obstacles and claim that such matters are for the high and mighty to ponder, while the common man must simply get along as best he can. This idea that the “high folk” by right possess positions of power and responsibility is widespread. While many might wish for a more egalitarian lifestyle, all know social reform is unlikely.
Tied in with this is the understanding that the true purpose of government is the maintenance of power. Vallenheimers know they live in an unfair world, yet they also recognize that such is life, and there is little they can do about it. Hence they accept their lot and make the best of what life has given them.
And yet Vallenheim is not a nation without hope. Its finest knights are shining examples of valor unequalled on Caerus. Its priests aspire to heights of piety undreamed of since centuries before the Rain of Embers. Its settlers are the most adventurous and determined in Valedonia. And its future – if it has one – will shape the face of the continent for all who follow after. Vallenheim calls you to take that future and make it your own. Do you have the mettle to answer?
In ancient days, many gods were worshipped in Vallenheim. In time, the belief grew that the faithful should not even attempt to name their gods. Out of this grew the concept of the Nameless – a creator-deity who has no name because there were none to name him. Over time, worship of the Nameless overshadowed worship of other gods, and monotheism became the state religion of Vallenheim. When the Miracle of the Umber Skies saved Valenost from destruction during the Rain of Embers, the power of the Nameless was secured. Heresies and temples of other deities are now hunted down and destroyed, and the clergy grow in wealth and power daily. Across the rest of Valedonia, Vallenheimers engage in the Onyx Crusade, a vast holy war intended to bring all others beneath the Unwaking Eye of the Nameless god.
According to church doctrine, the Nameless is assisted by seven angelic servants known as the Archons. Together, these seven Archons are called the Hebdomad, also known as the Kings and Queens of Heaven. The Archons also have no names, but are known by their epithets: Creation, Being, Death, Balance, Constance, Destruction and Deceit.
Beyond Valenost, heresy flourishes, and the old faiths of ancient gods persist. The worship of the many gods has not vanished from the land. It has been driven underground in many places, but its fire still burns just as strongly. The Nameless, the pagans say, is merely another name for the ancient Sky Father, while the Hebdomad is merely the ancient gods under new guises. Needless to say, heretics and pagans hide their beliefs from the priests of the Nameless and the much-feared Catedra Inquisitora.
Vallenheim is a feudal kingdom, ruled by a hereditary monarchy. The monarch is advised by a Privy Council, assigned by royal decree, composed of loyal barons and influential clerics. The temples of the Nameless receive preferential treatment from the crown, while orders of knights follow codes both ancient and modern. Conniving councilors, ambitious nobles, wealthy merchants, mighty orders of knighthood, and a powerful church all jockey for position in Vallenheim, and their influence on the king waxes and wanes, depending on the strength and convictions of the monarch. At present, King Halmund's weakness means that a free-for-all is in the offing. The clever, strong or downright lucky might well profit from the situation... or be destroyed in the coming storm.