Capital: Libernen (pop. 3,400)
Standing Army: 1,250
Tax Multiplier: 0.75
Tithe Multiplier: 0.9
Ruler: Countess Kyaren Rhavelle
Of all the provinces in Furyondy, the Gold County represents the greatest contradiction: it is home to both the richest, and the poorest, citizens in all of Furyondy, both a stronghold of noble power and a pool of simple peasantry. The Gold County is the least populous of all Furyondy’s provinces. Its name partly derives from the many rich minor nobles who are attracted here by relatively low taxes, as well as dresadoes, the sunflower-like plants, growing on the plains, which are harvested for their seed oil. The land itself is gently rolling grassland, much of it either converted to farmland. Small villages dot the landscape, and the port city of Stalmaer boasts a sizable population, but the only real populous center in the County is the city of Libernen.
Settlements and locations within the Gold County:
- Gleaming Glades
- Rhavelle Holdings
- Velunese Lights
For newcomers, the nobles may seem to have a society all their own, separate from both the peasants they lord over and the Kingdom as a whole. This is not entirely untrue. Life amongst the nobles of the Gold County is layered and elaborate. Every letter is purposefully written, every invitation cautiously accepted, every stitch of clothing carefully chosen for maximum impact amongst one’s peers. The nobles put much stock in rank and title, and even more in proper etiquette, sociable faux pas, and the subtle manipulations of petty power. It is, in short, like a shallow pool full of hungry piranha hunting one another, and those caught unawares are likely to be devoured.
Countess Rhavelle is a cunning woman, posing as an almost ingenuous socialite while actually possessing very sharp wit and insight. She admires the craftiness of King Belvor, but she does not believe that Furyondy will face war again for many years. For this reason, she stands steadfast against supplying extra revenues to the crown, and she has a good justification.
Since the war, the Gold County’s population has actually risen by 2,000 or so, including some Shield Land nobility, who managed to escape with some of their treasures, and some effete Nyrondese nobles fleeing their troubled homeland. Income from such sources as Noble Tax have risen, so that without raising tax levels Rhavelle has actually been able to pay slightly more to the King than before. She deems that sufficient.
Rhavelle considers Duke Tyneman an effete ninny and Viscount Luther Derwent a wet blanket. She is wary of ambitious Baron Butrain of Willip, and dislikes the northern provincial rulers. She most admires Baron Jemian, but in truth the Countess is highly self confident and very reluctant ever to admit that she might be wrong.
Social mores play a dominating role in the Gold County. For example, merchants are only permitted to wear simple, dark cloaks and attire so as not to compete with the vivid styles of their noble superiors!
For the peasantry of the Gold County, life does not offer much. The nobles go about their manipulative and self-serving routines and pay little attention to the commoners who toil for them; in fact, the nobles are often so self-serving they neglect the populace altogether. Add to that the average Gold County commoner’s relative poverty, and it comes as no surprise that the people of the Gold County have turned to faith to fill their lives. In the post-War years, worship of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel gained popularity throughout Furyondy. In the Gold County, not only was that growth unusually large, but faith in the God of zeal and forthrightness has become deep and long lasting, even when the temporary surge in the rest of the Kingdom has died down. Faith in St. Cuthbert has become so ingrained in the common populace here that the nobles have begun referring to the peasants as “Cuthbert’s Lot.”
Defenses: Rhavelle maintains only a small standing army who are almost all militia involved in law enforcement in various towns and on the Countess’s own land holdings. Local militias, those raised by such minor nobility, are likewise few in number. Rhavelle argues that a sparsely populated province cannot be expected to maintain larger forces. The only truly elite troops are the Greenjerkins, a force of 40 rangers who patrol the uppermost reaches of the Gnarley Forest from their base at Stalmaer. They are all expert archers. No defensive fortifications have been strengthened here.
Notable Religions: The temple to Rao sits in the center of Libernen. The influential Canon Schyendorf (N female human Cleric of Rao L8) resides in Libernen, where she promotes worship of Rao and attempts to moderate the actions of the nobles. Her work is much appreciated by King Belvor, as Schyendorf is unusually persuasive with Countess Rhavelle, and can get her to see reason where others fail.
Of perhaps more significance are a number of small shrines scattered throughout the farming villages, erected for and dedicated to St. Cuthbert. The people take good care of the shrines, and Whillom Stronbillet (LN male human Cleric of St. Cuthbert L5) visits each one regularly. With the wild popularity of the Church of St. Cuthbert amongst the peasantry, it was only a matter of time before the people found a religious leader to represent their cause. Whillom Stronbillet is that leader—a symbol of the downtrodden faithful in the face of noble luxury, a strong-willed and vocal fighter for the rights of his flock. Whillom heads a newly erected church in Libernen, though most often he can be found either ministering to his faithful in the fields and small towns, or knocking at the doors of the ruling class.