Borovia is a nation of contradictions, seemingly opposite ideas that fight against one another to create a nation that somehow maintains constancy. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the head of the church of Kord is located here. There’s a bit of a Sparta feel to this nation, combined with some of the Germanic tribes in Roman times, with Klingon mixed-in, too. The population is about 20% human, 35% dragonborn, 15% goliath, and 30% whatever races comprise the prisoners of war who make up the “recitizenized” populace.
Capital City: Forta. A horseshoe of mountains with keeps built into each surround the Arena, which sits low in the center, surrounded by the homes of the lower classes and prisoners.
Politics: Borovian law is big on honor, responsibility, and honesty. Men who admit to and accept judgment for their crimes are viewed more highly than those who flee, claim excuses, or otherwise don’t “man-up” to their responsibilities. The government is run by a council known as the Five Weapon Generals, and each is a master of a particular weapon (sword, axe, spear, hammer, and staff). They are each also high priests of Kord, though none claims higher authority than any other in that regard.
There is a second tier of government, each with masters of “lesser” weapons (like bows, daggers, bolas, etc.) who handle less pressing matters of the nation. Every 10 years, there is an all-out combat (in the Arena) where the posts of the 5 Weapon Generals can be challenged by other lower weapon ministers. The last time one was successful, Spear beat out Glaive in 970 AC. These events are always well-received, but are not to-the-death, like the normal Arena events. Any losing general may, however, request death upon defeat, as a matter of honor.
Religion: Pretty much all-Kord, all the time. Other faiths are not forbidden, but they’re all sort of seen as beneath Kord. There are many jokes about _____ (other faith) and how it is inferior to Kord, in the same way that Americans make jokes about Canada, for example.
Those who are brought in from other nations (mostly war prisoners) and citizens who lose their honor are allowed to be “re-citizenized” in a ceremony that involves swearing loyalty to Kord and having your face branded with his symbol. The Recitizenry are inducted into the Foreign Legion, where they will be sent to prove their devotion to Kord in battle against Borovia’s foes. However, the Foreign Legion hardly ever gets the quality of weapons and armor afforded to the actual armies of Borovia, and therefore have a fairly high mortality rate.
Military/Flag Colors: Red and Black. The flag is a field of black, with a red fist (Kord’s symbol) in the center. Official Borovian military wear red coats, capes, and/or shirts. The Recitizened soldiers wear black hooded cloaks with a red fist on the back over whatever other clothing they have. The brand on their face is typically a bright red fist on their forehead, though regional variations do exist.
Places of Note
The Arena. Those criminals and war prisoners who do not wish to take the loyalty oath and be branded into the Foreign Legion have one other option: the potential for exoneration in the Arena. This is a hardcore, Roman-style, fight-to-the-death colliseum event. A warrior who can be the last one standing for 10 fights is given the blessings of the Church (which oversees the event) and given his/her freedom. Of course, in the almost 150 years of Borovia’s existence, there has only been one who made it that far, and stories about him are crazy enough that he may never have existed (see the tale of Sun Tsu in the Bard’s Tale section). But that hope is still there, as is the guarantee of a place in Kord’s battlefields of the afterlife should you fall in the arena.
The Forest of Lost Swords. This forest is a place where the legends of great blades go to wander. Many a warrior will come to this forest and plead to the ghosts of smiths and warriors said to live in the trees to make his sword (or other blade) something great. However, when a great blade goes missing, it is said that the spirit of its forger (and/or famous wielders) will become restless and wander these woods. Some say that if you know how to listen, you may hear hints to the location of a famous lost blade in the insane rantings of these unquiet dead… but be warned that these spirits were each great warriors, and they will not abide thieves and other honorless ones without a fight.
The Independent Barony of… There are many “rebel states” that pop up in Borovia every decade or so. The land is fertile and most of the citizens are trained in combat, so it’s not surprising that there are a great many armed uprisings. However, none of them ever last. By Kord’s will, each is allowed a year to form up its ranks, and then they are attacked by a strike force of Kordian Paladins, Warriors, Rangers, etc. In every case, the rebels have lost. Sometimes, the fight has even left them before great combat has occurred, and they have accepted the terms of surrender that are traditionally offered at the one-year mark. Still, if you’re in the area, chances are there might be a tourist spot in whatever short-lived mini-nation happens to be there at the time.
The Mountain of Fallen Foreigners.
Whenever an invading force has assaulted Borovia, or their forces have ended up with the bodies of fallen enemy soldiers, or foreign prisoners have passed on in battle, their remains are brought here. This is a (mostly) inactive volcano that has many empty chambers which house the bodies of dead foreign soldiers. The church of the Raven Queen has a small temple here (“The Temple of Cremation”, overseen by a fire genasi priesthood), and they work hard to make sure that the souls of these individuals can return to whatever gods they served in their homelands. It is also said that the top of this mountain houses a crazy hermit from a land so distant that his race cannot be identified. But honestly, anyone crazy enough to live ON TOP OF a volcano can very well be whatever species he likes, as far as most are concerned. This mountain is located in the far south of Borovia, near the border with the Eternal Wasteland (and about 2 miles north of a much more active volcano, Mt. Demonspit).
Hippocratic Homestead. The human Hippocrates, before his death some 40 years ago, was the founder of the Society of Life, an international and multi-faith group dedicated to the idea of healing. His mansion in northern Borovia is the headquarters for that organization. Originally an Iounic Librarian, Hippocrates saw many wounded as a result of Borovia’s battle-laden history, and decided that it was his job to collect every piece of Knowledge on how to heal injuries. If you are looking for lore on curing any disease or treating any ailment, this will be where you will find it.
Von Zarovich Museum of Borovian History. Located near the center of Forta, this former home of the first king of Borovia now serves as a museum to the long history of the nation. Weapons of favored generals from throughout history are stored here, as are some remnants of the Dragovar Empire, upon whose ashes Borovia and Travailia are built. Many of the artifacts were owned by the famous Count himself before he left for his infamous “business opportunity overseas.”
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