Nightsdeep: Daily Life
“Do not stray too far child,
Do not go into the wood.
The darkness here has teeth, child.
The tithe you pay is blood.
Do not forget to lock your door, son.
Never stray too late at night
The shadows here have claws, son
They’ll rip out your heart with delight.”
— Old Rhyme
Nightsdeep is an isolated country in the western peninsula of the continent called Jarn. It is bordered by the Zvell Lands to the north, the Norori sea to the west and the Brymja sea to the south. The east was once occupied by a powerful empire called Dahab Al Mamlakah (the gold kingdom). It is unknown what has become of this kingdom. Nightsdeep has somewhere around 7.8 million people in a territory of around 195,000 square miles. 27% of this is arable land and 72% is made up of wilderness. The country is mostly in a humid continental climate.
Nightsdeep is a type of republic where the nine vampire tribes and the human noble houses along with the house of the commons enact legislation on the national level. They also elect representatives to the more regional and local levels. Beneath that, it becomes far more feudal with a noble house being responsible for their land. Zwei is the official language since it was decreed by Elrik the younger. Nightsdeep is a unitary state divided into 156 districts of which, four are cities. There are twenty major towns scattered about with minor villages and hamlets between them. The kingdom is home to a great many castles, temples and shrines although most of the temples and shrines are ruined.
The Zwei people are the main people of nightsdeep, they are descended from most of the clans before the unification under Elrik the younger. The Villr and tryggr people are the ethnic minorities. Despite the clan wars of the past, the zwei people believe themselves to be a united people. They tend to look at the Villr as good craftsmen but ultimately cowards. Tryggr people are often seen as untrustworthy people who only look to steal what they can. The Tryggr have managed to maintain their language and musical traditions.
While the Villr are mostly considered acculturated there are many who secretly worship the old gods despite the ban. The Zwei people used to worship the god, Saluwan until it’s ban during the rise of Darkholm. Tryggr have managed to convert their religious beliefs into more acceptable philosophies.
The Concord of seven is the constitutional document that unified the clans and established the Zwei kingdom under Elrik the younger. The seven remaining clans agreed to come together as one nation under a system of government where the clans each hold one vote and all of the clanless get one vote. This resulted in a government where there were eight votes that were taken on nationwide matters. Elrik the younger held the position of speaker. This is a position that acts as a sort of tiebreaker and organizer of the government meetings. The position of speaker was held by the head of a clan for exactly ten years at which point it was passed to the next clan.
Currently, the government hasn’t actually changed very much. The inclusion of vampires into modern society and the splintering of the clans into noble houses has grown the congress to 35. This gives all the noble houses as well as the vampire tribes that wish to participate their own vote. The Jotunn have shown no interest in politics. The reality is that though this system works out for the nobles and the vampires, the common people still only have one vote.
The government officially respects that humans have rights and the law and judges provide a means to uphold those rights. The Concord of seven is still respected for the most part, even by the vampire tribes. The problem is that in practice, many judges are corrupt and grievances against vampires and noblemen are almost always dismissed. The saying goes that for the ruling elite it’s “handshakes by day, daggers by night.”
“The people here live and die directly off the fruits of their labor. Everywhere I went, the hard working thrall and bondi sweat and bleed for everything that we in our cities take for granted. It was humbling to see such a thing.”
— Diary of Annette Frihem, Second daughter of House Frihem
The heart of everyday life is the family. Almost everything that a particular citizen does, she does it for her family. Families tend to be very tight knit and sometimes overprotective. Beyond the family, the average citizen tends to split their time between work and leisure as anyone else. When travelling, lodging will be quite difficult to find at the small towns and hamlets. The people have a healthy distrust of anyone who they don’t know personally, this is in response to the vampire scourge as previously it was considered the duty of any citizen to provide basic lodging to those in need for a night. It is also customary to leave seven bronze realms as a token of gratitude.
In larger towns and other dwellings, the best place to stay is the local Inn. The inn also tends to act as the center of gossip, a meeting place and often the only entertainment in town. An inn can range from a home with several extra rooms attached all the way to rather lavish three story buildings with a common area and private rooms. The common price for a night’s stay at an inn is about 15 bronze realms. This doesn’t include meals.
Travel isn’t entirely uncommon but the average citizen will live their whole lives in the same place that they were born. When travelling, within the cities one either walks or rides a carriage. Carriage rides tend to be shared unless the traveler specifically asks for a carriage of their own and pays extra. When leaving the cities, the best way to travel is by ferry. It tends to be cheaper and despite the occasional storm, safer. If haste is important, a carriage is a good way to go. Carriage rides to and from the major cities are fairly common if the fare is shared by several travelers, the price can be affordable.
|Class||Wages/Day||Good or Service||Price|
|Thrall||.25 – 4 Bronze realms||Carriage ride in town||2 Bronze realms|
|Bondi||2 – 7 Bronze realms||Good meal||3 Bronze realms|
|Vardr||5 – 12 Bronze realms||Stay at an inn||15 Bronze realms|
|Scrifadr||10 – 30 Bronze realms||Decent weapon||8 silver realms|
|DrengSkapr||12 – 60 Bronze realms||Travel between cities||25 silver realms|
|Decent Horse||1 gold realm|
Nightsdeep has been a class based kingdom for quite some time and such classes have long been integrated into the culture as a whole. The concept of “knowing one’s place” is important in Nightsdeep and can mean the difference between completing a contract or being beaten. Though the class system is officially abolished in favor of the current political system, in reality the class system has merely been integrated into the politics of the realm. Modern days have seen a strange upheaval in the class system, many believe that the old system is weakening and will one day be completely abolished.
These are the lowest strata of modern society. They have little to know rights, are often in a form of debt-slavery and until recently had little hope of upward advancement. Thrall often hold positions as servants and farm laborers. It is said that a good thrall does it’s duty without being seen. This is not to say that Thrall are treated as outright subhuman, there is still a bloodprice to be paid for killing one. That said, Thrall do not vote and can hold no position of power including power over other thrall. A thrall who can pay their debts and buy their freedom are considered Bondi or freeman.
A bondi is a freeman or woman who need hold no allegiance to any master. A bondi is essentially a farmer or worker who isn’t a thrall. Their bloodprice is higher, they can advance in society, they can vote and can even own thrall. It is considered the duty of all bondi to fight for their realm. As such, many bondi join the guard as a form easy of upward mobility.
Vardr are the sworn guardians of Nightsdeep. They make up the military force protecting the wall and the police force behind the wall. The soldiers on the wall are called Veggr, they tend to spend most of their time patching the wall and thinning out the hollow ones that they can. Being Veggr is considered an entry into the military with many Vardr attempting to get transferred out of their post and sent to be the police force. The Seggr are the police force of Nightsdeep. The sight of a Guard house of Seggr is considered a reassuring thing by most zwei people.
Originally, the Scrifadr used to refer to the priest class. These days, it refers to politicians. Though a politician may be a Bondi or Drengskapr, when they are involved in office they are specifically referred to as Scrifadr. Full time Scrifadr hold many of the powers of the nobility but the station of Scrifadr is not hereditary. As such, many Scrifadr aim to one day become Drengskapr. As of late, a great many rich merchant families have begun to be referred to as Scrifadr. This new development concerns the nobility.
The noble houses of Nightsdeep are able to own as many thrall as they can afford. They can hold positions of power and are often hold those positions unopposed. The nobility of Nightsdeep is expected to hold themselves up as the paragons of society. They tend to occupy themselves with balls, scheming for greater holds and running the holds that they do own. A hold is a space of land owned by the Drengskapr. The people within the hold are considered to be under the protection of the Drengskapr and some revolts over lack of protection have found a noble house decimated.
There are twenty-six noble houses. They are the Villemileu, Vinter, Sorensen, Hovious, Volruthal, Solsted, Blackwater, Halves, Bosval, Lovesel, Lindstrom, Bergstrom, Sandberg, Sjobeg, Eklund, Nystrom, Alholm, Askfalt, Frihem, Isholt, Langmalm, Mollersen, Raspil, Vinsvard, Vantoft, Morklund and Guldkrun. Of those, Villemileu, Vinter, Sorensen, Volruthal, Blackwater and Eklund are considered to be the Great houses. These houses possess the most wealth and power in all of the realm.
|Great House||Holdings and Boons|
|Villemileu||Villemileu Bank, Gaming House, Black market contacts|
|Vinter||Bank of Zweitenholm, Vinter Carriage Lines, Business contacts|
|Sorensen||Bank of Zweitenholm, Soren Iron, Many skilled artificers|
|Volruthal||South Rousel Grain Farms, Vol Legions, Lords of the arena|
|Blackwater||Blackwater Trading Co., Blackwater Print, Many private libraries|
|Eklund||Vaggr Gold Mine, Eklund Theatre and Entertainers, Master performers|
The nobility are often well versed in history, can recite several epic poems and is good enough with a weapon to handle themselves. Sons and sometimes daughters that show themselves to be naturally gifted with a weapon are often singled out for extra training. Though most nobles don’t concern themselves with martial prowess, a capable fighter can bring great honor to a house. If they aren’t showing their skill during the various games and festivals, they may be in charge of the house’s private forces. In a related vein, a keen analytical mind is a prized feature in a child as they may be better suited to running the house’s finances, holdings or other investments.
“A shine of coin makes all the difference”
— Popular saying
The commonly used currency is called the Realm. Realms are available in three denominations. Gold realms hold the highest value followed by the silver realm and finally, the bronze realm. For convenience, the realm is in sets of 10 so that 10 bronze realms are worth about 1 silver realm and so on. The realms are also balanced carefully so that 10 silver realms weighs almost exactly as much as 1 gold realm. Gold realms are fairly uncommon so almost everyone who has need for multiple gold realms will instead use a bank note. Generally accepted bank notes come from one of the two banks in Darkholm.
The Villemileu House has a bank located in Skaldfell across from the Plaza of the Lovers. It’s ostentatious main hall is a testament to the meteoric rise of the Villemileu house and it’s current position in modern society. The Bank is administered by three members of the Villemileu house who make judgements on investments and control bank holdings and property.
The other main bank is a joint venture between House Sorensen and House Vinter. It is officially called the Bank of Zweitenholm but most people call it Darkholm Bank. Established before the unification of the clans, this bank has gone by different names in the past. It is the oldest bank in all of Darkholm. The bank has extensive holdings throughout the kingdom and is the official mint of the land. All coinage is minted in a hidden and heavily guarded location that is said to be somewhere near Vaggr.
The Bronze realm is a round coin made of bronze with a rectangular slit in the center. People often tie a piece of string through all of their coins as a simple way of keeping count. The bronze real has a wolf and a lion on one side and the words “To the most worthy” on the other. around the diameter of the coins in an inscription of complicated knotwork. The inscription was added as a tribute to Elric but with his passing simply remained unchanged. The Edges of all coins are milled to prevent clipping.
The Silver realm is an oval shaped coin made up of an alloy that contains mostly silver. The silver realm has a sword and shield on one side and a list of the seven clans on the back. It shares the complicated knotwork that runs the diameter. The silver real also has a rectangular slot on it to aid in counting.
Finally, the Gold realm is a square shaped coin made up of debased gold. The gold realm has a symbol of a rising sun on one side and a crescent moon on the back. It shares the common complicated knotwork that runs the diameter. It lacks the rectangular slot.
Though Zwei is the official language, it isn’t the only language spoken in all of Nightsdeep. Still, it is considered the right and duty of every citizen of Nightsdeep to know the language. The other languages spoken in Nightsdeep are Volken in the northern part of Nightsdeep, Skjoldr is often spoken by those living in the more agricultural areas of the mainland, finally Tryggr is spoken almost exclusively by those of the clan.