[Culture] The Anhalder


Lord of Altera

[Pronounced ‘An-hall-der.’]

The Anhalder are a human ethnic group known primarily for their strict religious and cultural beliefs and for their martial prowess, united by a belief in one deity and a sense of bloody honour. The majority of Anhalder are isolated in a single kingdom in the northern pine forests and mountain dales of the continent they refer to as Gottland under their ruler, the Kaiser, and his lords. The people take the name from their country, which has been known since the days of the first Kaiser, Charles the Saintly, as the Kingdom of Anhald.

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The dawn of Anhald began at the twilight of Lavoyard. The dynasty of Lavoyard established an empire that was not rivalled until the conquests of Kaiser Peter the Great in 2260. During the final years of imperial Lavoyard, the vassal state of Marr betrayed the Empress, and her child Charles fled to the loyal Baron Hallon and called up his banners to crown him Kaiser in 2238. The boy king fell to a fever a year into his reign, and denied inheritance to his disloyal cousins by naming the house of Hallon his heirs and beginning the first true Anhalder dynasty in 2240.

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Sheltered in vale and valley beneath the roofs of sprawling stone keeps, the people of Anhald do not suffer the harsh winters of the far north or the scorching heat of the south. Kept warm by lakes and southern winds, the seasons in Anhald lands are best described as mild and uneventful. The Anhald seasons and calendar are the same as in other countries, mostly for political reasons and for ease of communication with foreigners, with the exception that their New Year is celebrated the day that Kaiser Charles the Great was crowned.

The plains and prairies are painted in brushes of green and gold farmland and animal pastures. The wild woods of pine and oak are cut down to fuel the fires of industry when one is within the boundaries of a settlement, but escape them and the forests grow into the deep and dark hunting grounds of the noblemen and wild beasts alike. The wilds are cut up by well worn roads and passages for wagons and carriages carrying goods, as the rivers of Anhald can bear no ships.

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The political hierarchy of Anhald consists of the standard feudal and caste systems of other human kingdoms. Peasants and serfs work the land, while merchants sell the fruits of their labour and the clergy guide the commonfolk to unity in faith. All pay their tax and swear loyalty to the ruler over their land, a landed knight, a count, or a baron. This feudal caste defines how Anhalder treat each other, who they work with and serve, and who they can love.

Families of Anhalder noblemen are called houses. The eldest male of a noble house is the patriarch of the family and the ruler of any family vassals. Noble families value their bloodlines over any material wealth, and to marry into peasantry is taboo. These houses are fiercely proud of their blood ties and can be distinguished through different sigils and colours worn on their person and found through their lands, and through house words and beliefs distinct to their lands that differ from others. The traditional noble family can consist of a lord and his wife and children, but also of his squires and pages, his household knights, sea captains, and armed retainers, and if he is of significant status, his governors and council members.

All Anhalder, from the lowest villein to the wealthiest trade baron, swear fealty to the ‘Kaiser’ and to the Faith. The term Kaiser, a translation of the Old Arcturian word Caesar, refers to the ultimate ruler of Anhald who is considered to be granted his position by the divine ruling of Ignis Synnove, and is as much a religious leader as a king. In the rare event of a female ruler, she is called Kaiserin. Some knights and lesser lords will swear fealty to a more powerful lord that swears fealty to the Kaiser, who is above all other nobles.

In the current setting, it is known that Kaiser Audwine I has retreated behind closed walls and fortresses. The people and culture, however, still continue to live under his faith.

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Lord of Altera
The average Anhalder is built taller and leaner than other humans, with most nobles leaning towards sharper facial features and lithe bodies, and peasants generally bearing lower, stronger forms that sacrifice grace for strength.

Noblemen in Anhald are generally taller than those in neighbouring lands due to good nutrition, and prefer to maintain an athletic form over sheer brawn. Larger, broader forms are found in peasants, soldiers, and to an extent lesser noblemen who lack servants to carry out their physical labour for them. In the lower classes, where it’s harder to find a good hardy meal, being thicker or indeed fat is a sign of wealth among serfs. In the noble caste, young men will pride themselves on the opposite, as the body shape to aspire to is that of the ideal knight. The average height for a man is 5'11”.

Women of all castes tend to be softer and weaker than their male counterparts, as a woman’s standard occupations most often involve mild labour like sewing and cooking, or taking care of children. Those children, however, are often stronger than those of other countries, as the age of adulthood in Anhald is the comparatively young fifteen and sons will work for their fathers as soon as they’re old enough to carry a tool and replace a paid labourer. The average height for a woman is 5’6”.

Most healthy men and women in Anhald live well into their seventies and eighties if they are lucky enough to avoid disease. However, as dense cities are a breeding ground for plagues and maladies of all sorts, Anhald’s youth and elderly mortality rates are quite high, especially for the peasantry, leading to the belief that a boy becomes a man at fifteen, and a girl becomes a woman at sixteen.

The higher your status the whiter your skin is the general rule of Anhald, as serfs will work outside and develop tanned skin from long days in the sun, but the most exhausting labour a nobleman engages in is political discussions and paperwork indoors. Exceptions to this standard come in the forum of landless knights who live their lives on the road between the keeps where they seek employment, and can be hard to distinguish from peasants when out of their armour.

Brown or black hair is viewed as the ideal noble aesthetic, as it is a trait carried by the majority of the royal family. Never in Anhald, though, has there been any distinct eye colour. The blood of the average Anhalder is diluted with that of outsiders and other races, and traits from other nations blend in and muddle the concept of an ‘perfect Anhalder.’ The one trait that seems to be rare in Anhald families is red hair, with the majority of redheads in Anhald lands being foreigners or the children of foreigners.

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The most important figures in an Anhalder’s life are their family, and they will fight die to bring glory and power to their house. The history of Anhald is marred with wars, conflicts, and times of great hardship, but through unity and their drive for power, they have time and time again come out ahead of their foes. This has hardened the people, and all men will fight for the greater good of their country and their church. The Anhalder are trusting of their brethren and extremely loyal, but look down on foreigners as uncultured at best and barbaric, traitorous savages at worse.

Anhalder rely on others, working together to overcome their enemies, but are not powerless when forced to be independent, capable of demonstrating great feats of bravery. Honesty and the law are held in highest regard in Anhald society, and to lie is a religious taboo. All Anhalder pray to one God, Ignis Synnove, who they believe to be the only God. Belief in their deity is what gives the Anhalder people many of their cultural biases, especially their distrust of foreigners, who in their eyes are heretics who pray to false deities and must be educated about the truths of the Lightbringer or be put down.

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The majority of the world follows a pantheon of fourteen independent deities, but in Anhald, the people pray to but one, Ignis Synnove, the Lightbringer. Although they acknowledge the existence of the other deities as angels and demons, they do not honour them by calling them God. In Anhald, the term God is a title like King or Emperor, and the only God is Ignis Synnove.

The Church
The Church or the Faith is the physical human aspect of Anhald’s religion. The priests and preachers, cathedrals and shrines, and pilgrimages and holy wars are all covered under this one banner.

The head of Anhalder clergy is the Sonnebischof, meaning ‘sun bishop’. Second in authority to the Sonnebischof is the Kriegsbischof, the commander of the Inquisition. In common, the title directly translates to ‘war bishop’, but is referred to as the Inquisitor-Commandant. All members of Anhald’s church answer to one or both of the two figures. The Sonnebischof acts as a figure to turn to for spiritual guidance and an agent of change in Anhald, as many important procedures may not begin without blessing of the church, such as the crowning of a new Kaiser or the declaration of war. The majority of Sonnebischofe are peasants who are elected by other priests, but in times of great need the Kaiser may appoint a replacement.

The Kriegsbischof is a nobleman, and is not elected but appointed by the Sonnebischof. The position is usually taken by an aging knight or lord who abdicates his position to his heir to fully devote himself to the role or an inquisitor who served under the previous Kriegsbischof. The duties of this high ranking inquisitor are to act as God’s hand on the mortal plane, just as the Sonnebischof is God’s voice, to execute heretics and wage holy wars of conversion against nonbelievers.

Angels and Demons
It is the belief of Anhalder that Ignis Synnove is the only God, but they cannot deny the existence of the other pantheon deities. As such their belief system attributes their existence as a doing of Ignis Synnove, who created them as servants. Each angel is associated with particular characteristics and a Command. It is not legal to worship angels as being above Ignis Synnove.

The Commandments of the Angels Are -

  • The Grey Lady commands that thou shalt punish Undeath.
  • Theodra commands that thou shalt protect your house and your bloodline.
  • Vermella commands that thou shalt not spill blood without just cause.
  • Crusade commands that thou shalt die to uphold the word of God.
  • Jax commands that thou shalt respect the Merchant and Nobleman.
  • Silas commands that thou shalt respect the Scholar and Priest.
  • Korog commands that thou shalt respect the Craftsman and the Labourer.
  • Sallana commands that thou shalt respect the Father and the Mother.
  • Shalherana commands that thou shalt put the life of your comrades before your own.
  • Rahas commands that thou shalt do God’s justice.
Pantheon deities not included as angels are Jishrim, Skraag, and Visage. They are demons. As the concept of God making a mistake is unthinkable, it is believed that demons have always existed since before the beginning of time to work against the doings of Ignis Synnove. Jishrim, Skraag, and Visage are associated with Chaos, Undeath, and Dishonesty respectively. To worship any one is highest heresy.

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After the fractured fall of the Lavoyard empire, the Lavoy language was lost to the fate of the dead tongue, remembered only by a few noblemen and scholars. Taking its place was the language of the western imperial commoner, Rede, which developed from Common across a period of hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years. Considered poor and harsh on the ears by noblemen of old Lavoyard, the language was isolated only to the lower classes in some far reaches of the empire.

When the Hallon dynasty came to power, with it they brought the language of their western territories to take the place of the forgotten Lavoy. Official documents and church texts are often written twice, once in Rede and once in old Arcturian, a language considered outdated even during the time of Lavoyard. This custom is purely due to old traditions refusing to die, as the only old Arcturian the common man knows is a prayer or two taught by his priest, and has little use for ancient tongues.

Common names in Rede for males are Ernst, Friedrich, Hans, Heinrich, Johann, Josef, Karl, Otto, Paul, Walter, Wilhelm, Erik, Aleksandar, and Peter. Common names for females are Anna, Astrid, Elisabeth, Emma, Margarethe, Maria, Marie, Adelheid, and Amalie.

The Culture of Anhald is an open culture, so long as the lore is strictly followed.
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