|Common Names||Dandies, Wimps, Flouncies|
|Social Classes||Nobles, Merchants, Artisans, Naval Officers, Assorted Peasantry|
|Major Cities||Kork, Sufminster, Dareby, Brispool, Norrford, Nottford, Oldcastle|
Obsessive about the Regalian Navy and it’s leadership, Heartland Ceardians are some of the oddest people to make up the Regalian Archipelago. Shamelessly taking literature, folklore, food, and other things from other Cultures and Races to make it “appropriate,” they are fervent supporters of the Regalian Empire. They are often considered fairly weak by the other offshoot Ceardian Cultures, the Caeren and the Dunbrae, which causes no end to tensions and bitter verbal arguments between the nobility of each region. Based right in the heart of the Empire in the Lordship of Dragenthal, the Heartlanders are likely to continue their important role as leaders in the Navy, while also serving as the transporters of new ideas from across Aloria into the City of Regalia thanks to the numerous trade routes which run through their lands.
The Heartland Ceardian Culture possesses a fascinating origin, though some believe it to be nothing more than a tall tale. On Ceardia following the Cataclysm, the system of Warlords violently continued to fight each other and keep the continent in a constant state of repairing the damage caused in the fighting. After one such major fight, a large fishing village had suffered enough. Meeting with several other groups and finding all of them to be far more even-tempered than their neighbors, the large flotilla of civilian vessels promptly left for a distant, fabled land called “Regalia.” Storms and winds pushed the vessels east to Essalonia and then west all the way to Daen before finally, the haggard group of citizens landed in the heartland of the Regalian Archipelago, emphatically agreeing to serve the Regalian Empire. While this narrative is what is traditionally taught to children, with many daring captains and three “admirals” of the ramshackle fleet, most scholars doubt the events spoken of. Rather, the first indications of a population change in what would become the Lordship of Dragenthal occurred between 90 and 100 AC, when an influx of “naval-bound merchants and families” was reported by local officials. It is likely the Heartlander’s emphatic obsession with the Imperial Navy caused them to creatively alter their origins to better fit and suit the naval life. Regardless of this, the Ceardian migrants found themselves greatly enriched as the land they had chosen to settle in soon became crossed by many trade routes, the most major of these being the Schön River. Because of this as well the cultural influences that traveled along these routes from lands which were also developing or already and developed their own Culture, Heartland society was born.
Over the next century it continued to develop and, by 220 AC, it was largely solidified. Some families joined the fledgling Imperial Navy and helped make a name for themselves. Others returned to Ceardia to help distant family, forming several major groups of the Culture as pockets separate from the still feuding Warlords, one of these being House Howlester. Back in the Regalian Archipelago, while there were some internal differences between the baronial families who ruled over eastern and central areas of Dragenthal, they largely remained united in their mutual hatred for House van Sherburne. This unity was most on display when dozens of Heartland-commanded vessels promptly abandoned their tasks in the Imperial Navy and in mercantile activity to go help Ceardia as the region faced its Destruction in 267 AC. In the following years, while most Heartlanders kept out of the affairs of the east and central territories of Dragenthal, they succeeded in avoiding much of the destruction caused by the Drachenwald Crisis. As a result, Heartland Ceardians came to dominate leadership roles in Dragenthal but they also broke down into a number of squabbling parties, fighting with Wirtem nobles and nobles from their own Culture. Recent years have seen these divisions reach horrific levels. In 302 AC, House Black’s leader poisoned his own region with the “Black Plague,” a mix of various lethal and deadly disease caused by a dump of sewage into a major river, all to make the region unappetizing to a nearby politically encroaching foe. His actions got him executed and then replaced by the current patriarch and ever since then, the Empire has kept a very close eye on this region and its people to ensure nothing so horrific happens again. House Black has redeemed themselves though, with contributions to many naval actions in the various wars of the Empire, and Heartlanders continue to serve key roles in the Admiralty and Navy of the Regalian Empire despite their continued political disunity.
Language and Dialects
The Heartland Ceardians use Common almost exclusively; all traces of older Ceardian-based tongue abolished in their society in favor of the primary language of the Regalian Empire.
Heartland Ceardian naming customs are well known across Aloria due to their ties to Imperial Culture, all three Commonizing a number of Ceardian, Wirtem, and Ithanian names to create their own. Heartlanders also routinely have middle names, before a surname often indicative of their family’s past finishes the arrangement. Some examples of first names can be seen below:
Lifestyle and Customs
Heartland Ceardians seemingly have fairly basic family structures, but complexities to the system developed over time weave quite a tangled web in their society. Each family as a base has a mother and father, with the expectation of, at the very least, a single child. Children grow up firmly divided by gender lines; mothers teach daughters and fathers teach sons. When they are of an age to marry, marriage is often a business of politics, convenience, and power with men courting women suitable to their station, being set up by their parents with a suitable match, or finding one themselves which fits the criteria of their society. Parents often exercise their control over children strongest around this period of time and, while some do break out of the strict search for a partner via travel or military service, it is still a large aspect to their society whenever they come home. Families also have the added feature of “Blessed Parents,” often a male and female relative who lives nearby, who serve almost like a second set of parents to the child whose Sacrament of Birth Blessing they bore witness to. These Blessed Parents are also considered the child’s legal guardian should both of their living parents die, which can sometimes be awkward if existing family members are passed over for say, close family friends, trapping a child in a difficult choice. Such sad situations are rare though.
Heartland Ceardian society also has au unique system of official gatherings, known as fraternities. These fraternities present them as more refined and complex social institutions than in other areas of the Regalian Empire, and have also seen wide adoption as a result, particularly among the New Regalians. For starters, many fraternities are firmly divided along family lines, with fathers and sons highly likely to have joined the same fraternity, which are primarily focused on male social activities. In the upper class, fraternities are largely political organizations where those considered adult males can join and socialize, discussing important political issues while engaging in upper-class sports, games, and meals. It’s far more formal and tight-collared than the fraternities of the middle and lower classes. However, rather than vastly different styles of fashion or common activities to tie them together, small pins of metal and fabric similar in design to military honors are supposed to be placed on those attending to mark them clearly as a member of the fraternity. The upper class very strictly keep to such a rule while there is a bit more leeway in lower classes. Heartland fraternities are also very hierarchical, with a Grandmaster, followed by three Submasters, who lead the organization.
The final rule is women are not allowed to participate. Upper-class frats usually have a gathering of women in some other wing of the meeting’s host’s home where they have their own gathering, though these are never named as “sororities.” Lower class frats though are a bit looser as based on location or region, as women may be in fairly close proximity or coming to and fro in the surrounding area. Heartland Ceardian fraternities largely reject the “bro” culture born in more low-class fellowships of men, following a more formal system of mutual respect for the order of age and seniority in the organization. The older one gets, the less they generally participate in the fraternity (save the four leadership positions which are for life unless everyone votes you out) though they heavily encourage their sons or nephews to join. Despite this seeming rejection of the unseemly uncivilized aspects of Dearths, many young members find disturbing or troubling initiation rituals awaiting them as a way to officially become accepted as a member. These vary in severity and number, but the average is two tests of someone’s dedication to their brothers. This is the only part of the fraternity which links firmly to the practices of the Dearth.
Heartland Ceardian Culture is as strict an adherent to gender roles as any other conservative Culture, with men and women alike kept apart into separate worlds. The only thing which unites them is a knowledge of the navy. A deep passion among all Heartlanders, despite most never entering into the profession themselves, little girls and boys alike will be equally told the brave and daring tales of the Imperial Navy, along with more practical knowledge of battles. At the age of ten, these tales cease entirely for girls who must focus on more practical things to their lives, though boys often still revel in far-flung ideas of the navy and commanding their own ship for a year or two. The only time a woman can gain any power and prestige is through her husband and his role in the world. This situation has given the Heartland Ceardian upper class the dubious honor of inventing the “puppet officer,” a male military officer who is only in his position because he is married to a far more capable woman who is forced to keep behind the scenes, out of direct sight at the strategy table.
Heartland Ceardians have few holidays all members follow across Dragenthal as individual baronies often set their own style of holidays based on what has been locally assimilated from the Cultures of others. One of the most commonly shared are the Navy Days, different to each town and city, but an occasion where even those miles inland gloriously celebrate the victories of the Imperial Navy and, more importantly, Heartland Ceardian naval leaders from the past century. The hometowns of famous captains, such as James Cobbs, William Davidson, and Harry Nelson, especially celebrate these heroes and those towns lucky enough to have a source of water nearby almost always have some sort of aquatic activity going on. Aside from their obsession with the navy, many Heartland Ceardians are devoted to Unionism and follow the celebrations of the Unionist Calendar to the best of their ability. The last holiday all Heartlanders share are fairs or market days where the local communities come together to socialize and pursue commerce.
The Heartland Ceardians are firmly Unionist, believing wholeheartedly in the expansion of the Empire and the influence of the Spirit across Aloria. Where their Culture differs slightly is in the customs of mourning. For one, the spouse of the dead man or woman must dress in black instead of the customary white when at the funerary proceedings. They must then wear dark colors virtually for the rest of their lives, forever in memory of the dead and their lost partner. In the upper classes, this has the unusual effect of creating a class of widowers who are static in their wealth and position, unable to be moved by most conventional means as they carry out their days of reflection upon the past, life, and the grim specter: the end of mortal flesh. In lower classes though, such a static position is not possible, and women are ultimately expected to remarry while men often do not face the same pressure. Mourning continues even after a new marriage, sometimes to the embitterment of their new partner, and lasts anywhere from one to ten years, the higher numbers only occurring if someone is extraordinarily pious. This entire spectacle is not extended to children, though many remark that being raised in such dour surroundings by a single parent often has the effect of turning the children unjoyful and repressed in everyday life.
Literature and Folklore
Heartland Ceardians have a rich literature, primarily based around the Navy. The journals of seamen, admirals, and captains are often published in collections alongside breakdowns of some of the military encounters these collections focus on. Accounts from the Chrysant War are particularly widespread, given it was the most recent major and prolonged series of combat operations fought by the Imperial Navy. Other lesser collections deal with fending off pirates or engaging with the Songaskians in the two Songaskian Wars. Heartland Ceardians also have a plethora of other material, though none of it is actually their own. Due to their deep ties with naval life, many Heartland Ceardian captains and admirals travel across Aloria and upon their return, bring material from across the Empire to be “made proper” by local writers. This is also done through the many trade routes running across Heartlander territory. These efforts have resulted in major Velheim, Ithanian, Breizh, Allar and Daendroque tales being heavily edited into works befitting the Heartland philosophy. As a final firm slap in the face, Heartland society has developed a complex rhyme for children to learn which describes every region conquered by the Regalian Empire. This has expanded in recent years, primarily with the capture of L’Elvellen, and non-Ailor might be rendered a bit irritated at the stark words used to describe the Empire’s supposed “total domination” over “multiple” Races.
Heartland Ceardian Culture is often seen as closely tied with the Imperial Culture, as well as the Empire’s Imperial attitudes. However, those who assume this as their only feature miss complexities which have served to complexify the Heartlanders role in Regalian history. The heart of their Culture and part of the etymology of their name is their belief they represent a civilized Ceardia which others ruined. This is somewhat true, as they do represent a civilized Ceardian society, but it’s not very appealing despite the cloak of civility thrown over it. In Heartland Ceardian society, ‘might makes right’ but might is often weighed more based on political acumen and position rather than actual physical strength. As a result, brawny and angry villagers are unlikely to attack the local magistrate, because he could use his power to destroy their lives, even if he is a little Anglian Weasel. Instead, they will try to depose him from his position and then violently deal with him. While this is not always followed, and peasant armies have long been a problem in the region, these usually only grow because leaders rise from the established social order to take advantage of the chaos for political gain. As a result, rather than warbands, warlords, and constant active warfare, Heartlanders instead have constant politically squabbling baronies who are polarized against each other. While many of them are fully devoted to supporting the Regalian Empire and a number do profess to be allied with certain neighbors, they still fight on who should gain privilege and power through this. Since the collapse of House van Sherburne, few to no Dukes have risen in Dragenthal and even then, they rarely ever control central and eastern Dragenthal where the majority of these intensely divided baronies exist.
Heartland Ceardian Culture also has very strict ideas on religion and family. Fully shaped by Unionism, Heartlanders are rarely ever unmarried past the age of 25; those who are usually have extenuating circumstances, like military service or long-term education in other areas of Aloria. Anyone beyond this is often instantly considered homosexual, which can be very bad. Heartlanders once believed in quite aggressive reeducation systems combining religion and physical punishment to “correct” this “disease.” When Emperor Cedromar I came to the throne though, many of these practices immediately ended, and religious figures were forced to reconsider the entire affair. Some were punished, others escaped, but in the end, these reeducation systems ended. Instead, those considered to be or who are romantic toward the same-sex are now forced into doing their duty for the Great Way (i.e., marry and have at least one child). Any pursuit of their true feelings must be extremely discrete, only occurring “behind closed, locked, and chained-shut doors.” Families discussing such people is even more taboo and barely occurs even within the privacy of the home, away from wider society.
The other major idea of Heartland philosophy is their deep focus on death. Some believe this is a leftover aspect from the original Heartlanders being followers of the Union of Water from the Old Gods faith, but the origin is still being debated. In essence, to die is considered a great act, especially if it is in the line of service to the Navy or the Regalian state. In your death, you join the Great Spirit, but you are also forced to abandon the mortal flesh within which you originated to the fires of cremation or the dark alcoves of graveyards. The Heartland Ceardians believe in fully working through the specter of death whenever it appears within a family, to discuss and confirm all of the facts. In this way, some from the Culture are also considered the most thorough guardsmen, questioning to the point of absurdity the facts in murder cases and other similarly heinous crimes, all in an attempt to ensure the truth of the death is reached. Some Heartlanders even believe death IS the ultimate truth, because it is the place all will go to, but the majority of the population is not quite so nihilistic.
Heartland Ceardian folklore, much like their literature, steals much from other Cultures to convert it into “more appropriate” materials, an example of this being how they have greatly romanticized the dark tales which occur in the forests of Wirtem Culture. Heartland Culture also emphatically takes many maritime creatures, and similar romanticizes them (making the Kelp always beautiful women for example) though Deep Sea Serpents do not get such a treatment, being vilified as horrific sea beasts. However, Heartlanders do possess some minimal folklore all their own. Gnomes are one such creature, appearing similar to Dwarves in that they are shorter than Ailor and live underground, but different in that they do not mine, instead serving the underground world of nature and are so short as to be a mere foot or two tall. They are also always wrinkled and elderly, males supposedly possessing large bushy white beards. Another is the far more terrifying Shadow Hound, a foul wolf-dog creature with deep red eyes and a powerful body who can vanish into any shadow. Some claim it is a servant of the Void, though most believe it to be a demon itself. Its origin might lie in the mythology of the Velheim involving the Dire Wolf, but this creature is far more dangerous because it directly stalks both urban and rural citizens of Dragenthal. A final bit of uniqueness is the Heartland take on witches, in direct confrontation with those of their Anglian neighbors. They see witches as evil, appearing in their folklore as mean old women who reject society for life in the forest while also living naked, conducting vile acts of Magic against Unionism. Any who happen upon them are said to be immediately cursed, and the stories vary the effects of these supposed spells from unspeakable ugliness to eternal pain.
Heartland Ceardian art is one of the areas they are not often well known for. While they do possess skills in the crafting of busts and portraits (often with a naval theme or setting), their real obsession is seascapes. Proper Style works are traditional and realistic seascapes with ships, naval battles, and port scenes depicted with vividly real water while the Mythic Style focuses on more fantastical creatures interacting with the real world or solely imagined worlds of underwater kingdoms, battles, and beings. The final style, only recently developed, is the Atmos Style, which is heavily focused on abstract seascapes but are also some of the most spiritual. Sweeping mists, tossing waves and plenty of foam frame tossing ships or naval figures on dangerous cliffsides as the Spirit shines its light down upon them and the sea.
Heartland Ceardian fashion is various but generally low in complexity. Despite their pension for taking from others as well as their high naval focus, the Heartlanders remain rather traditional, simple dress in comparison to other Cultures. The Ceardian aspect of their Culture runs strong, and it has kept most of the region simple in terms of clothing. Overall, fashion can be said to be in a peasant style with a variety of dark colorations in most clothing. Men often wear full-length trousers with shoes or boots, along with a simple undershirt with another piece of clothing over top varying from a simple vest to a waterproof overcoat. Men’s arms and necklines are often exposed, especially if they do manual labor. Women, on the other hand, are extremely done up, wearing full-length dresses and wimples, bonnets or other similar head coverings when out and about. If not wearing a head covering, women are expected to keep their hair back into a tight fashionable bun or other styles which do not leave any dangling edges deemed unseemly by their society. Even nobles are restrained to this practice, usually wearing capes or having fine, flashier colors woven into the hems and edges of their clothing.
Heartland Ceardian architecture is similar to that of Anglians, being dour and lacking color on the outside, but different in the sense of refinement and complexity, even in the houses of simple farmers or at the outskirts of major cities. Lower class construction style is simple, making use of wattle and daub in their construction. While sounding silly to most who hear it, the wattle and daub method is surprisingly effective despite making use of a simple mixture of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung, and straw. This substance is then daubed within and outside of wattles, which are woven latices of wooden strips. This is then put into a house’s standard wooden framework and hardens, producing beige to yellowish walls while roofs of thatch or tiling are put on top. Upper-class buildings though make use of a variety of influences. Many structures are built using marble or white stone in a symmetrical construct of at least two stories. Some middle-class dwellings make use of brick to build rather than marble and has been noted to be growing in popularity among all classes. As for features of the upper-class styles, some mimic Dressolini architecture, with columns and extensive gardens while others favor Ithanian ideas, with the use of grand open interior spaces and domes. The one feature many of these structures share is the Heartland Arch, also known as the four-centered arch. Using it, they can create wide-open windows, doors, and entryways into their homes. This style is also frequently seen in regional temples as well, as a local modification on styles mostly brought over from the Wirtem. These temples also have another difference; their graveyards make extensive use of mausoleums by the upper and middle classes for burials. Most are made of dark grey stone with some form of underground chamber in addition to the already existing alcoves for the dead in the structure’s ground floor.
The cuisine in Heartlander Culture is, once again, largely taken from other Cultures as living along many major trade routes has given them distinct access to the tastes of foreign lands. They do, however, have some major gastronomic features. They are largely enamored with the consumption of fish, producing a wide variety of dishes focused on them including the odd “fish and chips,” a battered and fried fish served on top of cut and roasted potatoes. There are more sophisticated dishes, such as a variety of meats with sauces and seasonings which create both a sweet and sour taste. By far the most robust area of Heartland cuisine though is in deserts, specifically pastries and pudding. Pastries for the Heartlanders mean small pies filled with fruits or meats, which are baked in large numbers. As they are fairly small, some of the most sophisticated pastries are able to fit into the palm of one’s hand; they have developed into a major fair food. As for Heartlander pudding, several varieties exist, from savory variants, using cheese or meats; to sweet ones, using chocolate or fruits. Heartland Ceardians are also obsessed with one major drink: tea. Jokingly it is said House Kade got the population addicted to the herb drink in order to create a market for the varieties grown in their territory of Trestamere in Anglia. In truth, early Heartlanders expressed interest in the drink and so the Anglians promptly increased shipments, thus resulting in it become one of Dragenthal’s most consumed products.
Heartland Ceardian Culture has access to a wide variety of sports from across many regions of Aloria. Tennis and polo are major ones alongside horse racing, considered the “Noble’s Game” under House van Sherburne when they ruled over much of Dragenthal. Now, a more general crowd is interested in watching the event. Apart from these, the Heartlands also developed their own sport. Known as “Creckett,” the sport is unique in its structure. A ball and bat game, the two teams involved each take turns doing an inning attempting to get the most runs before they call it a day. They then return over the next four days, making this one of the longest forms of sport in Aloria at a total of five days. Lower classes tend to do single-day matches, but these are chaotic, loud, and disliked by most sophisticated players.
Leisure time to Heartlanders take many forms, with the lower classes often spending this time to mentally and physically recharge with a drink in hand and having taken a seat. For the upper classes though, leisure time is more sophisticated. Their lives are consumed with social niceties, from luncheons to fraternity meetings to walks to quiet time spend reading in their homes. Males specifically have fraternity meetings when they are younger, but all ages can also participate in riding. Originally part of traditional hunting, most riding nowadays is considered “dressage,” where men prove their mastery over equines through complex maneuvers in small gated courses, or rides through the general countryside while they occasionally perform tasks on their horses. This is often mocked by visitors and other Ceardians as “fancy-pants riding” but many seasoned (and short) Heartlander men are excellent on horseback. Additionally, if there water nearby, sailing of small pleasure craft by men with their women onboard is also very popular.
Due to their obsession with the Navy, many consider the Common Gull to be a fairly important symbol of the Heartlander people. The anchor and the ship are also major symbols in their Culture, appearing in some form or another on much of the heraldry from their Noble Houses. Their other symbols are tied to Imperial Culture and the Regalian Empire due to their devotion to the Spirit, with the Unionist eye, and Imperial Dragon making appearances in their society.
- Highlander routinely call Heartland Ceardian fraternities “Doodle-Dàils” which, when translated, means “Sissy Meetings”, “Stuck-up-city-dwelling-prat Assemblies”, and other similar terms.
- The first official meeting between Gallovians and Heartlanders went extremely badly. Occuring in 160 AC in the wake of the curing of Galloorian Mist Disease, the exchange ended with something along the lines of the Highlanders telling the Heartlanders to go polish each other’s swords back in their fancy stables and the Heartlanders responding that the Highlanders were bearlovers and should learn how to read.