|Common Names||Dark Southerners, Civilized Coal, Beelyats|
|Social Classes||Aristocracy, Nobles, Politicians, Commanders, Generals, Fitness Trainers|
|Major Cities||Thessalo, Talon, Iraklis, Vorfandu, Mlyat, Optikios, Hessalios, Gyrakios|
The Vladno Culture is an offshoot of the mysterious people of Mirnoye which landed and further developed into something new on Etosil. Helping the locals to fend off the rising Undead, the future Vladno entered into nation of the Patriarchate of Etosil as its nobility, which they have retained ever since. The Vladno are steeped in religious simplicity, zeal and internalized ruthlessness. The Vladno are most known for the last aspect, as for a part of high society, they have perhaps the highest levels of patricide of all the various noble-aligned Cultures. They are also known for supposedly possessing dull and lacking fashion, but also a strong military alignment and focus on the strength of the mind and the body. The Vladno Culture has made many great strides over the years, but remains unknown to many, their dark shadow only looming in distant lands that most across the Regalian Empire do not think much of to begin with.
Where the Vladno emerged from is a mystery as vexing as any in Aloria. It is stated conclusively that the Vladno were birthed from members of the Mirnoye who left their homeland sometime around November 24th, 120 AC. Any further information is lost to the annals of time, as the Vlano, while not illiterate, have buried their origins in family vaults and records few if any are allowed to see. It does not help that most Vladno themselves consider their history to actually start when they started arriving in Etosil, around 150 AC. These proto-Vladno soon proved their worth, as thanks to their skills in combat and command, the tide was turned against hostile Undead that were surging against the relatively helpless Etosians. As a result of their strength, these outsiders rapidly adapted to Etosian life and became integrated into the upper classes. Within a decade, the contours of their society formed rapidly and soon afterward, the Vladno expanded. When and where the Ohrneti, a clear offshoot of the Vladno, came from is unknown, but their arrival in Ellador around 130 AC coincides with other travels undertaken by Vladno exploring the wider world. It is likely that they gained this ability from the Regalian Empire, thanks to the fact that their military service to said Empire was already paying off back in the Regalian Archipelago, where wars of unification and defense continued to be fought, and where newly minted Vladno officers were serving skillfully. As a result, a larger Vladno effort to “help” Regalia occurred in 176 AC, when a large force of Vladno and their Etosian servants landed in eastern Drixagh, crushing the Velheim found there before rapidly expanding, taking territory that once belonged to the Zvorun Ailor. It was in the Regalian Archipelago that the Vladno further diversified. The Byala would emerge from Vladno shifting south from Volgaria, while further Vladno also moved into the Archipelago shortly afterward, though in very minor numbers into what are now the Hellatian States. The Vladno remained as they had been in decades prior though, and did not change despite those populations that split off from them. That is still the case today, and the Vladno are entrenched in old, foreign ideals that even their Etosian subjects can only barely comprehend. Their service to the Regalian Empire over the decades has been extensive though, and their slaving operations, which utilize the brutal School of Tarint, have also been a boon to the state. As a result, even as a noble society, they are some of the least overseen in the Regalian Empire, which is just the way everyone likes it.
Language and Dialects
The Vladno people speak the Mirnoye Dialect, a deep, rumbling harsh Language that is also spoken by those back in their ancient homeland of Mirnoye. The Language’s written form is also unique, being the Palyeva Script, a form of writing fairly unreadable to most other Cultures.
The Vladno have complex naming customs, often related to where they come from, but also constructed in such a way that they represent their gender and heritage; it is even applicable to their social standing or even whether a conversation is informal or formal. For example, a woman may be called “Anna,” which is her full name. In an informal conversation with just anyone, she may be referred to as simply “Anya” when her surname is omitted. An even greater step of endearment only reserved for lovers or parents is “Anyechka.” Another female example: Ksena, Ksenya, and Ksenyechka. This is also applicable to male names, for example: Aleksei, Alyeksey, or Alyosha. Another male example: Ivan, Ivaney, Ivanosha. Names are very strong to a Vladno, a Vladno will never tell someone their name unless they specifically trust said person, and will become offended if the wrong address is used (for example by using a more endearing name version than is permitted in their relation).
Furthermore, the Vladno also use their middle name more than other cultures do. This is often derived from their place of birth. When one is male, the place of birth would be name + shniydom, while a female’s place of birth would be + skiydom. An example would be, if Anna was born in Talokon, which is a major city in Etosil, her name would be Anna Talokonskiydom. Middle names are always used in official capacity and when introducing one’s self as a Vladno. Similar to the importance of names, Vladno carry a lot of weight and pride from where they were born.
Surnames in the Vladno culture often delineate in what social rank they were born. Generally speaking most Vladno are of the aristocracy, though there are some lesser terms used for those born outside of aristocratic status. A poor person would have a surname + ra. If Anna Vana was a poor person born from Talokon, she would be Anna Talokonskiydom Vanara. Should one belongs to the common aristocracy and wealthy Etosian land owners, the surname would have a -nid added to it. In the instance of Anna Vana born in Talokon was of aristocracy, she would be called Anna Talokonshiydom Vananid. Finally, the highest position one can have as Vladno nobility would be having alyusha added at the end of their surname. If the example again was applied, it would be Anna Talokonshiydom Vanalyusha.
Finally, to complete a full name, Vladno people have a suffix to their full name to indicate their father’s first name. For example, if the noble Anna Vana from Talokon was the daughter of Ivan, her full name would be Anna Talokonskiydom Vanalyusha Ivanovich. Such suffixes at the end of names are always supplemented with an “ovich” behind the name of the father. The mother’s name is never used in such a suffix.
All of these naming customs become entirely irrelevant padding in Regalia however, and many government institutions often have problems properly translating these long names into names they can actually use. As such, on documented papers, the Vladno prefer to stick to their simple first name and surname, but it is estimated that over half the Vladno people in Regalia are registered as Ivanoviches and Pyotroviches. Here are some examples of names for Vladno people:
Despite the fact that Imperial State Law applies to much they do, the Vladno pay little heed to the central Regalian Government, and instead engage directly with the Etosian Patriarch who is officially the semi-autonomous head of state in Etosil. This relationship is one of complete respect and deference, which has often been seen strangely by outsiders. The words of the Patriarch are almost on the same level with those of any Regalian Empire to the Vladno, and generous donations are often sent to the Etosian Celates to both sustain it, but also to bribe the Patriarch to assign particular families a private priest for their spiritual needs. Additionally, not many Vladno pay taxes to the central state, preferring to share their wealth through the faith, but in many ways the state also doesn’t chase after these profits because the Vladno bring an important aspect to governance: high military manpower. While in average numbers the Kingdom of Nordskag contributes the largest number of troops, on average the Vladno people are the most numerous among the officer corps of the Regalian Military, and they have a tendency to be rather good at it. As such, the central state often overlooks tax deficiencies from Vladno regions in exchange for high drafts into the military during pressing times.
Lifestyle and Customs
The Vladno people outwardly express ideals of strict monogamy, though this is often not entirely accurate when it applies to the men. Male Vladno have an extreme, internalized macho culture where adultery and intercourse outside of marriage is glorified. This often presents an internal struggle as Etosian Unionists are always strictly against these practices, and heavy fines and imprisonment are issued against adulterers. This often gives the Vladno men a form of sinner’s guilt, causing them to frequently seek the personal aid of an Etosian priest to secure their spiritual needs. This in itself has led to Etosian Priests often being hired and sustained by a family purely for their personal spiritual needs. Such a priest receives a special title in Vladno society, being called a Zlotskiya Prichasta. Aside from this tendency for debauchery, the Vladno people can be very endearing during courting rituals. In their Culture, men must always be the ones courting females, and attempt to conquer them with showcases of strength, resilience, and ironically enough, Etosian virtue.
Children are strongly raised in a harsh household where fathers tend to be cruel. The Vladno people are the world's foremost users of corporal punishment for misbehaving children, including but not limited to imprisonment and starvation. This is done to try and make a child more resilient to the harsh environment of Etosil and the internal struggles of the Vladno people. As such, fratricide and sometimes even infanticide can be quite common among the Vladno, though this aspect of their culture never really changes. It could also be said that the Vladno are the most resilient of all to cross cultural pollination.
Vladno gender roles are often snubbed by other Cultures, even among the New Regalians because they are are considered absurd and restrictive. In every way and form, a woman is a man’s property among the Vladno, and if he chooses to deny her the ability to leave the home, the ruling is set in stone. Violence is often used to enforce such sentiments, which some darkly claim is why female clothing covers their bodies so completely, so as to hide physical marks from this abuse. Women have no function, jobs, or roles in the Vladno household beyond simply producing children, though many husbands who do truly love their wives ensure they are entertained with personal hobbies such as weaving, poetry, and art. Vladno women who are married must never be seen in the company of other men without her husband, for if she does, she will be considered despoiled in the eyes of all other Vladno. Vladno husbands commonly make sure that this rule is followed by hiring a thug or two to specifically spy on their wives.
However, this perception is largely exuded by the Vladno nobility as over the decades, the Vladno commoners that have emerged have a far less extreme treatment of women more in line with that of other conservative Cultures. They are not egalitarian by any means, but they are certainly overall better than the Vlando noble patriarchy.
The Vladno have little in ways of personal holidays, but one major tradition they do have is the All Night Vigil, in which large groups of metropolitan Vladno gather at dusk on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. Unionist Celates guide the procession with massive candles that are sometimes as tall as themselves, while the Vladno all carry a portrait of their Unionist Hero of choice suspended by a chain around their neck. During the procession, the Vladno will not wear anything beyond the portrait of the Hero, a woven tunic and pants. This fashion exists even among the women, though they do still tie their hair away with a simple scarf. The Vladno do not sing, but often hum The Vespiya, the most widely known hymn of the Etosian variety of Unionism, all in unison. These processions aim to walk through every street of the settlement until sunrise, traveling miles of both paved and rough roads to complete this task. This whole procession is considered the ultimate sign of reverence to the Heroes, and it has often been described as beautiful and solemn by outsiders.
The Vladno people are entirely and exclusively Etosian Unionists. In fact, Etosian Unionism is ingrained in their Culture so much that even the ones who may convert to other denominations of Unionism or some other religion will continue to observe the Heroes of the Etosian Unionist faith. The Vladno people in general are zealous, believing strongly in the convictions of Unionism as a whole, but pay extreme respect and deference to the Heroes. More information on how this applies to their Culture is provided further below.
Literature and Folklore
Vladno literature is extremely archaic and hard to understand by outsiders, being written in the exotic Palyeva Script which has no equal in Aloria. As such, Vladno literature, when it concerns a global perspective, is unknown, untranslated and generally considered rubbish. They produce fairly little literature themselves, though what little of it exists is often compilations of poetry that tend to focus on drama and household tragedy, but also the Heroes and glory in battle.
The Vladno people are a harsh society, there is no denying that. This harshness and dealing with absolutes has helped to maintain those same aspects mentally, but it has also held the society back from developing beyond fairly archaic and barbaric ideas of power, both gender and societal-related. On the gender spectrum, the idea of women as subservient to the degree they are almost like a pet rather than an equal is incredibly disgusting to outsiders, but for the Vladno it makes perfect sense. Men have done all the fighting and dying as a consequence over the centuries, have great strength of will and belief, and in addition to this, their bodies are more powerful. Women, by contrast and in the mind of the Vladno, are weak of will and body, liable to dishonesty and treachery if not kept in line, and are only suited for the bearing of children as that is their bodily function. But on an even darker note, there is the background and thought that goes into the patride that is so common in their society. In the strictest sense, the Vladno men who engage in it insist it to be a method of transferring power. Past a certain point, a man no longer has the right to run his family due to his (perceived) failures, either physical, mental, economic, and so on. As a result, they must die in order to prevent a power struggle as if, still alive, they will contest being removed from power. More quietly though, reasonings for this form of killing is suspected to be payback to cruel and abusive fathers, who beat and tormented their sons into adult men who can murder their own kin with ease, if not satisfaction.
Attached to these ideals of social power is the core Vladno ideal of the personality cult. While over history, many hundreds of leaders have formed such groups around them, the Vladno take those ideas to the next level. To the Vladno, for a man to have any worth, he must be attached to another, better individual who can teach, guide, and show him the way to power. This helps enforce Vladno macho culture, with males seeking to appease or please those males above them in terms of strength, who themselves seek ways of maintaining their superiority in the eyes of others in order to maintain the jealous adoration of them. Curiously, the same effect can also be seen with Vladno women. Highly restricted in daily life, they turn to their own “strongest” women, which is to say their oldest. A family’s grandmother therefore has a cult of personality around her as a result, with a high level of respect and deference owed to her by all those around her, and especially for those women of exceptionally old ages, even by their adult-aged sons or grandsons. All of this also adds to the Vladno obsession with the Heroes, who they see as religious guides and figures of importance who they can learn things from. As a Hero is assigned to an individual at birth, most follow that Hero their entire lives, but devotion to more than one is possible, and several Vladno men all in the same group may have a secondary Hero who they all follow, or exist as a group together because they either all share the same Hero or their Heroes are all focused on the same subject.
The Vladno have a very lacking folklore, which strikes many as odd considering their background as having come from generally mysterious and exotic Mirnoye. Still, it seems few if any possible pieces of interest have come with the Vladno from that land. However, the most major piece of Vladno folklore is perhaps some of the most morbid in Aloria, and is specifically targeted at child killers. It is said that children and infants that have perished by the hands of one they known are believed to arise as wretched beasts called Upyrs. Bearing Vampire-like traits, these cursed beings supposedly catch the hapless killers while they travel during the night, and drag their bodies far from the road before opening their chests and leaving them to waste away in utter agony.
Vladno art caters absolutely and entirely to their obsession with the Etosian Heroes, lacking other forms of art like landscape or portrait art because of this singular focus. When a Vladno is born, their parents usually (or father in most cases) chooses a personal Hero for them to act as their life patron and from then on, the Vladno often develop a very personal relationship with these Heroes that borders infatuation. In fact, many Vladno often report having visions or hearing the voice of their Hero, which is seen with great skepticism by most outsiders. Regardless of the validity of the appearance of the presence of Heroes, it sometimes causes intense emotions in the Vladno and gives them a purpose in life and ambitions to strive for. As a result of all of this, the iconographic artwork exclusively produced and commissioned are virtually entirely only of their personal Hero patrons. These icons made to worship the Heroes are often simple, but can be anywhere, ranging from a painting on the wall of the individual to an embroidered drapery, to even a small locket around the neck. The style of these works is often Etosian, given how Etosian artists are most commonly commissioned to do this work, and often feature small Vladno flourishes such as inclusions of the Palyeva Script rather than the Etosian alphabet and of Vladno symbols in places where there might be Etosian ones.
The Vladno produce music mostly based on drums, taking the form of rhythmic drumming that often resembles either a marching army or a galloping herd of horses. The Vladno completely abhor vocals in music and find any singing with words absolutely disgusting. That being said, the Vladno skirt around the cultural rules by simply humming a tune without words, most clearly during the All Night Vigil.
Vladno fashion is often called boring, mundane, and even plain by the simple outsider. Even so, their fashion is quite unique in that both genders wear also exclusively black velvet as a main color. In order to accentuate this, the Vladno make use of a fabric weaving technique that produces a unique weave called Vladniblast Tlakan. This special weave is made from the silk weave of a specific caterpillar that lives only in Etosil, and has a brilliant reflective property to it. Any such weave naturally sparkles almost as if it was made of true Silver thread, meaning it can be used with a much higher quantity without becoming obscenely expensive. As such, despite being largely black, their clothing’s edges are often embroidered with this particular weave to produce an intense contrast between black and white. Often, the sleeves are also made of a solid piece of Vladniblast cloth, thus making the body black, but the arms light. Additionally, pale blues are often paired with the white edges of the clothing, which overall produce beautiful and refined works of clothing. Finally, pearls are also very valuable to the Vladno, and are used to decorate clothing for women, but also as buttons or used as a means to add more depth to the various woven decorations of male clothing.
Men often wear a black fur hat called the Bhorkov. This hat is cylindrical shaped, and usually more narrow at the base than at the top. The size of the Bhorkov usually shows how important the wearer is, as again, this piece of clothing is produced from a very unique Etosian pelt belonging to the Highland Thessaliy, a unique deer with long hair. This hair has the unique property of being completely water resistant, thus making a Bhorkov very multifunctional during bad weather. While head wear is not mandatory among men, it certainly is among women. In fact, among the Vladno, a woman exposing her hair is considered an obscene temptress and a whore. What the Vladno women lack in hairstyle freedom, they certainly make up for in Shilyastis; headdresses set atop white scarves that cover all their hair, but are richly decorated with white crystals and diamonds. These headdresses are often the most expensive piece of a Vladno woman, and any Vladno may have three varieties: a more pious austere one for religious mass, a regular one for everyday use and an extra sparkling one with long ear pieces for official events.
Another curious custom is that men abandon the strict, black velvet in favor of a strong red velvet on the eve of battle. They also wear this color when in battle itself, and this is often explained as a means to stave off bad luck. Among the Vladno, it is believed that because the Etosian culture in particular sees black as a mourning color, that wearing black on the eve of, or during, a battle will ensure the death of the warrior. These colors must quickly be abandoned after battle however, for to linger in battle clothing will equally bring about bad luck in the belief that it incites others to violence against the wearer. It should be noted that some particularly daring Vladno stick their nose up to this principle, and specifically wear their red velvet battle garb to try and incite others to fight them.
Vladno architecture is grand and suitable to the nobility so many Vladno are. It is also fairly broad, as most Vladno structures were built well after the other architecture of the Etosian settlements they look out over. Still, despite sometimes being limited in space and scope, they do have common characteristics. They are best known for narrow, slit-like windows, great height, and heavy use of wooden walkways, patios and balconies, in addition to complex curved cubed roofs. All of this dominated by dark colors, mainly being built from dark granite or volcanic rock. As a result of these features,Vladno housing is often considered menacing, dark, and foreboding. They do however cultivate large gardens for their houses, and as with their clothing, contrast is very important, often causing them to bring much needed color in to the surrounding area through extensive flower beds of bright red, yellow and white in patterns.
Vladno cuisine is similar to Anglian cuisine in that it is often considered pauper food. Their staple foods are primarily all grain-based, with Vladno porridge being an example of their hearty diets, though their cuisine is also heavily supplemented with sugar. The only real famous cuisine that the Vladno are known for are their Glastrov Cakes, a specific sweet and strong smelling cake with fine pattern decorations that melts when put in one’s mouth.
It should come as no surprise that it was the Vladno people, or more specifically their men, made weightlifting a personal sport and leisure activity. Before the Vladno capitalized on this practice, weight lifting was something done in classes or in training sessions among soldiers. The Vladno extracted this practice out of the military, and put it in the home. Additionally, though few realize it, all of the major physical training equipment that exists in Aloria today were originally designed by Vladno people like Vladimir Kostnaya and Ivan Dobrivats. The Vladno do however prefer to physically strengthen themselves in the comfort of a private home, though some slightly lower on the social ladder have started public training houses to assist people in getting in shape. This is only done by those able to pay a fee of course. These training houses and their Vladno staff have become extremely popular among the Imperial Culture men of Regalia, due to that Culture’s heavy focus on the physical ideal of a male, and how desperate many Imperials are at fulfilling that standard set by the Imperial Court.
Aside from their focus on physical activities, the Vladno do not have much in terms of leisure. What little leisure time they have is often dedicated to hunting, or sometimes also Undead hunting. Women on the other hand, have plenty of leisure time, and usually have access to some form of artistic expression with which to spend their days, be it weaving or painting or perhaps even carving, should their husbands trust them to wield a sharp implement.
The Vladno people are a people of strength. As such, their most frequently used symbol is the Etosian Bear, though martial arms are also very frequent on their crests and embroidery. That being said, they never combine a Hero and any form of weapon on the same piece, as it is believed that this will spell ill luck for the remainder of one’s life. Surprisingly, the Unionist Eye is always strictly absent from any Vladno symbolism. This often seems to contradict the fact that they are zealous, but the Vladno have always explained it in that they believe in the faith's principle that to flaunt one’s Unionism is false and pretentious. They believe that out of all the Unionist peoples, the Vladno are the most devout.
- It is generally assumed that the only reason why the Vladno people moved to Etosil was because many of them could self-identify with Vladimir Kade because he bore a traditional Mirnoye name, for unknown reasons.
- Though a strictly masculine culture, Vladno men will often engage with their male compatriots in jovial dance. This tradition is especially prominent among military men, who find it a worthy pastime to boost morale and establish a sense of brotherhood.