|Penitential Regency of Readceras|
St. Waidwen (2807 - 2808)
The Penitential Regency of Readceras (previously referred to as the Divine Kingdom of Readceras) is an ecclesiastic nation north east to the Free Palatinate of Dyrwood that was formerly a colony of the Aedyr Empire and later an independent theocratic dictatorship. They speak the Aedyran language.
The ecclesiastic nation that was formerly an Aedyran colony and later an independent theocratic dictatorship, the Divine Kingdom of Readceras. Not many years ago, a popular religious movement took hold in the countryside, in part sparked by the collapse of the nation’s vorlas market, resultant poverty, and general civil unrest. The leader of the movement was a farmer named Waidwen who claimed that the god of light, Eothas, had appeared to him in the night and told him to punish the colonial governor for leading the people to ruin. Waidwen’s success led to his apparent transformation into a living vessel for Eothas, after which he became the first and only “divine king” of the country. His rule produced a subsequent purge of heretics and followers of other faiths across the nation. Events related to this purge led to the Saint’s War with Dyrwood, which informally ended in 2808 AI when Waidwen was apparently destroyed by a massive bomb north of Halgot Citadel (popularly renamed Godhammer Citadel).
While Dyrwood worked on resolving differences with the Glanfathans, Aedyr experienced its own troubles. An economically depressed population of Eothas worshipers grew increasingly agitated with their state of affairs. The emperor determined that a new colony represented the perfect opportunity to get them out from underfoot. He offered land grants and funds so generous that the Eothasians overlooked their poor treatment and chose to expatriate. Aedyr made a second grab at becoming a colonial power in 2643 AI when they sent a batch of Eothasian colonists to settle the region north of Dyrwood. The colony served a number of functions: relocating the impoverished pilgrims to a land they could call their own, and taking over the cultivation of dye-producing vorlas plants.
Vailia gave up on the latter prospect after their crops failed and colonies revolted. The emperor expected that his second investment in the new world would profit better than his first. As with the Dyrwoodan colony, events unraveled against Aedyr’s intended design. The crop of vorlas failed them as well, pulling the economic rug out from under Readceran feet. Conditions in the farming colony degenerated even further when the Aedyran government held back on their promises to send resupply ships. The minutes of a royal assemblage quoted one especially callous erl as saying, “If they won’t grow vorlas, they can grow wheat.” Tensions escalated to a breaking point. Attempts to expand the colony further into Ixamitl failed due to the interference of Blesca, a barbarian who united southern Ixamitl tribes long enough to dissuade Aedyran colonists and soldiers from trying to claim new territories north.
Rise of Saint Waidwen
During the economic downturn, a local farmer named Waidwen started to deliver speeches in the town square. Such activity would normally have been overlooked by the local government, but people listened to his ravings. No one could decide if he was brilliant or mad, but his words struck a chord in the hearts of the devout and those affected by the failure of the vorlas crop. The farmer himself took no credit for the content of his speeches, claiming that Eothas visited him at night (taking the form of the Dawnstars) and imparted the divine message directly into his soul.
According to Eothas, the people of Readceras were being punished for their lack of piety and the devotion they misplaced in the Aedyran governor. Authorities faced a difficult choice. Imprisoning him could incite a rebellion. If they acted impartial, then antiestablishment notions and religious fervor threatened to infect the minds of the people. As such, they attempted to discredit the man. The town guard seized Waidwen in the middle of his most widely attended speech, erected a pillory, and restrained the emaciated farmer. An enforcer read the list of Waidwen’s crimes, which encompassed a broad range of shaming accusations from cruel statements to a child, through animancy, to public indecency, sexual congress with a cean gŵla, and venereal disease.
A brief hearing followed proclamations of guilt and a sentence of thirty lashes. The crowd protested, but Waidwen placated them with his full consent to carry out the punishment. After the first five lashes, the enforcement officer hesitated and consulted with others on the dais. Waidwen never screamed. Every bite of the whip opened another strip of light from the farmer’s skin. When the anxious colonial secretary called for the punishment to stop prematurely, Waidwen demanded more. According to the Eothasians in attendance, his voice sounded “not his own.” 
As the officer delivered the final lash, a brilliant, white light exploded from Waidwen’s back and engulfed his head in a flaming crown. He stood up, the chains falling from his arms in molten pieces. With the full attention of the colony, the thing that was Waidwen finished his speech. He called for the people to rise up—not as a mob, but as pilgrims tasked with delivering the bloody will of the divine.
After the Miracle of the Verdant Vorlas, Waidwen quickly gathered followers, drawn to the stories of Eothas's miraculous prophet. His power grew. Within days, Waidwen had gained enough support that he confronted the imperial governor. Assisted by a collection of knights and nobles who had been swayed to his cause, he marched on the capitol city. The governor was allowed to live, but was forced to abdicate power and leave the colony. This was not from any understanding or easy acquiescence from the governor, but because of what happened when Waidwen entered the governor's palace. As Waidwen approached the governor, according to accounts, his body turned into something that was no longer human. His flesh became luminescent and his head transformed into pure, blinding light.
The governor, knowing there was no way he could oppose an avatar of Eothas, relinquished his power. The people then asked Waidwen to lead the colony. He accepted, earning him the name ‘Divine King’ of Readceras. Waidwen's rule was virtually uncontested. Initially this was because everyone was awed that a god had chosen to manifest himself and lead his people. This changed as Waidwen began punishing the allies of the old empire and the ‘poison on the world’ - what he considered corrupt churches or church leaders of Eothas. Scrutiny escalated and soon worshippers of Eothas were also being punished for mere perceptions of heresy. Members of other religions were also added to the list of the persecuted for following different faiths. This caused large segments of the population to flee Readceras for the Dyrwood, begging for sanctuary. This caused strife between the two nations. The people of the Dyrwood knew that they could not sustain explosive population growth if Waidwen's rule were to continue unchecked. They also feared that his eye would turn from Readceras and land on them next if nothing was done. This was exactly what ultimately happened, and open war broke out as Waidwen moved to spread his dominion into the lands of Dyrwood.
Waidwen personally led many of the battles during the war, exhibiting extraordinary supernatural powers. He seemed virtually untouchable on the battlefield, able to burn or even disintegrate his enemies with beams of blinding, white light. With a god on his side and possibly, as some said, inhabiting him, he was thought to be indestructible. A flanking maneuver through The White March mountains, enabled by the abject surrender of Cold Morn in the face of overwhelming odds and the sacking of Mercy Vale left Dyrwood's morale in shambles, setting a grim tone for the rest of the campaign.
The victorious streak lasted until the Battle of Halgot Citadel. The people of the Dyrwood knew they would lose the war if they could not at least slow Waidwen down. Engineers, priests of Magran, and a few others, working in secret (some say with Magran’s direct help), developed a weapon they hoped would be able to stop a god. Twelve feet in diameter and filled with a variety of chemical and magical explosives, the bomb was rolled under Evon Dewr Bridge. Part of the foundation was excavated in order to allow them to embed the bomb in the bridge itself, ensuring its total concealment.
Twelve Dyrwoodan men and women volunteered to stage and ambush at the bridge to keep Waidwen on it until the bomb could be detonated. The battle was short, bloody, and ultimately final. ‘The Dozen’ (as they came to be known) were able to delay Waidwen on the bridge. The bomb detonated, killing Waidwen, the four Dyrwoodan volunteers still alive at that time, and over fifty Readceran soldiers marching on the front line with Waidwen. It was at that moment The Saint's War ended. The remaining Readceran forces were easy to rout. Even though they had more than enough men and equipment to finish the siege, their leader - previously thought invincible - had just vanished in a rain of metal and stone. Panic set in and the Dyrwoodan troops sent them away with ease.
From that point on, the bomb was known by the name ‘Godhammer.’ It even worked its way into everyday conversation. "As sure as Godhammer ended the Saint's War," came to be a standard phrase to express unequivocal certainty. Less certain is the fate of Eothas, who has not spoken to his followers since the explosion of the bomb and is presumed by most to be dead. There has never been another documented explosion of such magnitude, and efforts to locate the engineers and clergy responsible for the bomb have been entirely fruitless (they were wiped out by Magran, except for one, Durance).
The eventual failure of the conflict left Readceras a modest refuge for devout Eothasians. Strictly imposed faith and discipline led to the country’s reputation as a counterpoint to the progress and innovation of Dyrwood. Its people live in close-knit communities with no lack of oversight, their policies determined by societal and religious judgment as opposed to mortal law. Many Eothasians fled to Readceras or the Aedyr Empire following the end of the war, as purges of Eothasians began across the Dyrwood, only intensifying with the advent of Waidwen's Legacy.
Readceran culture reflects its recent history. While not all Readcerans are Eothasian, the widespread adoption of the Eothasian faith affects their collective culture heavily. More than the other prominent cultures, Readcerans have a black-and-white view of how life should be lived and are even more conservative than Aedyrans.
One of the examples of their conservatism is their approach to alcohol: The only permissible alcohol is a weak form of mead, wyrthoneg. Due to Readceras' strict laws about intoxicants, wyrthoneg has relatively low alcohol content. Priests of Eothas regularly visit distilleries to ensure they are following the letter of the law, but it is common for well-traveled Readcerans to spike their supply when they travel to neighboring countries.
- Readcerans are optimistic in their endeavors. No matter how many times you fall, you’re expected to get back up and try again. Each day brings a new opportunity to test and improve yourself. Readcerans celebrate those who embody the spirit of optimism, regardless of the results.
- Sincere belief is a part of life. Readcerans admit that no one can know the unknowable, but belief in the nature of the universe and how it works is important to them. They believe it helps ground your actions and that it prepares your soul for its inevitable release from your mortal body. A faithful soul, they believe, will be well placed by the gods in the next life.
- There are a bundle of behaviors that constitute “proper” behaviors. Men and women should marry at a certain age, have children by a certain age, be employed in a number of specific ways based on class, dress and wear their hair a certain way, etc. Unlike the Vailian preoccupation with the minutiae of social interactions, Readcerans are concerned with larger-scale issues such as your place in society and how you fit into it—how you live, grow up, grow old, and die. People who do what they are supposed to do are good people.
- As a nation, Readceras has undergone a series of traumatic events. Most recently and memorably, their divine leader, Saint Waidwen, was destroyed. Readcerans exhort each other to be vigilant—for themselves, for their families, and for their country. They have a heavy focus on preparedness and can be seen by outsiders as overly cautious.
- Readcerans are expected to undertake tasks earnestly and pursue goals with determination. They prefer structure and uniformity to adaptive, nuanced approaches. It’s better to fall in line and shape yourself to the regimen (even if that requires breaking yourself in a few places) than to find your own way forward.
- A life of grumbling and negativity is wasted. Readcerans have little patience for naysayers and believe they bring misery upon themselves.
- Readcerans believe that if you lack a solid foundation, you will never be able to make any meaningful progress in your life. Doubt is what prevents people from moving forward and should be eliminated from your life and mind. Doubting the business of others (especially when it doesn’t concern you) is even more destructive. Readcerans equate doubt with negativity and believe negativity causes bad things to happen.
- In other cultures, being different carries its own set of stigma, but deviance—in personal appearance, sexuality, life choices— is especially frowned upon in Readceras. The conservatism of the culture is not typically codified in laws, but social shunning can be an extremely powerful form of condemnation.
- It’s bad enough to be deviant in one’s own life, but to inspire rebellion in others is even worse. Responses to rebelliousness go beyond social shunning and may be resolved by mob justice. Despite this general attitude, the irony of Waidwen’s rise to power is lost on most Readcerans.
- In Readceran society, people have roles to fill and things to do in those roles. Aimless individuals break down social order and slow the progress of their communities. They are also a burden to their friends and families.
Government and politics
Readcerans considers itself a temporary ecclesiocracy: being centrally under the rule of a god, but governed by a formal priesthood until such time as Eothas returns to reclaim his throne. Municipal figures are established as placeholders for the deity. Within the church of Eothas, an elite group of five devout is elected to fill the chairs of the Morning Council. Their public voice is known as the Vigilant, though he or she has no additional powers beyond this capacity. While order is maintained on a local level, the church represents all authority in the governing of Readceras.
- The Light of Dawn: A Readceran Morality Play, Part 1: Charity and Generosity
- The Light of Dawn: A Readceran Morality Play, Part 2: Compassion and Judgment
- the timeline of the Saint's War is much closer to "present day" in the game than it was previously mentioned during the kickstarter campaign.