Volbrecht was founded on the strength of its warlords; battle-driven men and women who staked out portions of the craggy landscape and built up armies of knights to defend their home and conquer others. Those not suited to combat were bonded to their warlord, useful primarily for acquiring and using the land’s resources to fund, fuel and outfit the knights.
After coming under control of the empire, Brechtish warlords no longer need armed forces, but most maintain them anyway, sending them to defend against the incursions of monsters from the mountains. They have maintained their feudal society as well, with crop production dependent on the serfs who live on each warlord’s land. Most of the serfs live a wretched life, barely scraping out a living after paying their taxes to the landowners, though there are a few exceptions. Blacksmiths, armorers, fletchers, and healers are among those who are adopted by their local liege and given special treatment.
Brechtish knights begin their training at a young age, and warlords are known to send clandestine scouts into other holdings in order to lure away the most promising young warriors. Though extensive training and loyal service is expected, Brechtish knights are well cared for and respected by their warlords.
The people of Volbrecht believe in strength of body, mind and spirit, and to this end they believe that no corrupted wax should be sent back to the Tallow Man’s pot to be recycled. Death is never used as a punishment in Volbrecht; instead, criminals are required to live with their sin in the hopes that their spirit will be purified by the time they pass from the mortal world. Mutilations and humiliations are the most common punishments in Volbrecht, usually leaving the perpetrator with a permanent reminder of their deed.
The capital city of Ostol is rustic, but heavily fortified, while the Imperial City of Fort Hawksclaw has more of the urban feel of other cities in the empire. The High Church of Istarum was consecrated many decades ago on a former battleground, and today a town has grown up around it, the people revolving their lives around supporting the chapel and its initiatives.
Notable families of Volbrecht include: The Weinarts, a family on a secluded mesa on the western coast who still maintain a healthy distaste for the empire; the Swydiger, who host the magic-wielding Knights of the Rune; the Odo, who have historically produced the greatest polearm fighters; and the Melchior, whose Ebony Knights are reported to wear armor made of shadows and bear blades of black metal.