Kalistocracy of Druma – Merchant’s Religious Paradise
Druma at a glance:
- Alignment: LN
- Capital: Kerse (18,300)
- Notable Settlements: Detmer (8,200), Highhelm (5,600 dwarves), Macridi (3,200)
- Ruler: High Prophet Kelldor
- Government: Mercantile Oligarchy
- Languages: Common, Dwarf
- Religion: Prophecies of Kalistrade, Torag
The isolated hill country of Druma hosts the most productive gem and precious metal mines in Avistan, granting its doctrinaire leaders — adherants to the Prophecies of Kalistrade — overwhelming influence over the politics and affairs of the entire Inner Sea region. The Prophecies — dream records of an eccentric mystic from the early days of the Age of Enthronement — dictate a personal routine involving sexual and dietary prohibitions, exclusive adornment in the color white, and the wearing of full-length gloves to prohibit physical contact with those outside the cult.
Traveling “prophets” of Druma make constant targets for overzealous thieves and confidence men. Knowledgeable denizens of the underworld give them wide clearance, knowing that their untold wealth all too often buys a host of magical contingencies, powerful divinations, and vengeful assassins. The jewel-bedecked traders thus comport themselves with an assiduous arrogance and casual fearlessness that frequently grants them the upper hand in negotiations.
Such negotiations played a critical role in the rise of the prophets more than 2,000 years ago, when their calm mediation at long last united the squabbling dwarf nations of the Five Kings Mountains. The Kerse Accord of 2332 — facilitated by white-gloved adherents of the Prophesied Path — also granted the humans autonomy and significant control over the vast mineral resources of the upcountry south of Lake Encarthan.
As the region’s historical dwarven lieges turn increasingly inward to their ancient mountain vaults, the prophets of Druma consolidate their domestic power by ensuring widespread dedication to the Prophecies of Kalistrade. Other religions and non-believers meet with grudging tolerance in Druma. Nonbelievers almost never achieve positions of rank and influence in the official bureaucracy, and adherents always favor each other in financial dealings.
Those who swear by Kalistrade’s writings do not flinch at the disruption to prophecy triggered by the death of Aroden and the advent of the Age of Lost Omens. The most potent prediction of the Prophecies concerns an imminent hour of victory, in which adherents leverage their financial power to, in effect, “own” the world, becoming its masters and achieving a sort of metaphysical immortality. That other prophecies have proven false in recent years gives little pause to believers, who cannily contend that theirs is a secular prophecy immune to the dictates of magic and is wholly up to the faithful to see through to completion. Aroden does not control whether or not the Prophecies come true, they contend. Adherents to the Prophecies do. Their constant expansion and ever-growing financial holdings inch them toward the ultimate goal of their philosophy.
Although many Drumish dwarves support the self-denying rhetoric of Kalistrade’s prophets, official doctrine recognizes only humans as worthy of the universe’s ultimate reward. Social status and cultural upbringing do not matter to a Drumish merchant, so long as the adherent is capable of generating wealth, and thus proving his value to the world. Even former slaves are welcome to live by the dictates of the Prophecies, meaning many refugees from Cheliax, Isger, and Taldor seek the fields and mines of Druma as the first step to greater success. While some few escape poverty to become members of the ruling elite, most find their meager accumulations cement them into lowly positions as menials or indentured servants. Many join Druma’s justly infamous Mercenary League, while others abandon the dour nation for the “freer” freedom of the River Kingdoms.
The Mercenary League is ruthless, highly trained, and lavishly well equipped in its protection of the Kallistocrats and their most valued possessions. The league’s black uniforms mark its members in stark contrast to the white-clad merchants, but they are loyal as golems — and some say more deadly. Although not wantonly violent, Mercenary League members are remorselessly amoral in executing orders. In addition to domestic guard duty, the “Blackjackets” escort Drumish caravans and barges, and traverse the Inner Sea on missions for their masters. Wherever these squads go, the prospect of wealth hovers nearby.
The Drumish think little of their neighbors. The Governors of Molthune display charmingly naïve economic prowess and their military might is easily bought off. High Prophet Kelldor and his contemporaries secretly own large tracts of Isger as investment, and in fulfillment of prophecy, the merchant lords plan to buy more. Although a valuable trade partner, Andoran’s egalitarian hooligans vex the Macridi merchant houses. Meanwhile, Kyonin represents the greatest untapped market in Avistan. Merchant lords sail boatloads of goods to Greengold every week, offering the elves anything that might entice them into steady trade.
The highest merchant-lords in Druma control the Resplendent Bureaucracy of Druma, but they do not dream of cutting their incomes by doing it full time. That job falls to aggressive middle-earners who use the bureaucracy as a path to greater wealth. Most bureaucrats cycle through every 8 to 10 years, as they find more (or less) lucrative ventures elsewhere. A few career bureaucrats begrudgingly settle for plateaued earning, and the occasional apostate enjoys public service more than commerce. High Prophet Kelldor falls into neither camp, atop his unique pyramid of merchants and politicians. Kelldor’s wealth and connections make him one of the most powerful men in the Inner Sea region.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting