Once the northern heartland of the Crimson Empire, Vacij is a kingdom in name only, its High King a monarch only in the sense that he or she is first among equals and casts the second vote in the election of the Sepulcher’s holy head.

In practice, Vacij is hundreds of smaller and practically independent principalities. These tend to take a few basic forms:

Petty Kingdoms
Many of the small states are ruled by nominal kings, and usually consist of only a few small cities or valleys. There are a large number of Dwarven-dominated kingdoms in the north of Vacij, as well as elven Dominates where elf retainers and functionaries have supplanted earlier rulers and attracted their kinfolk in numbers. The states of Goblin March are unique among the mainland kingdoms in being populated by and ruled by goblins, though nearly all are in thrall to or owe fealty to other states and are crippled by ruinous taxes and troop levies.

Sepulcherates
Many parts of Vacij are controlled by the Sepulcher directly, though the priests typically delegate the actual ruling to local functionaries who are, for all intents and purposes, nobles themselves. Sepulcherates vote earlier in the elections for High King, and exercise undue weight in the selection of the favored Vaciji candidate to head the Sepulcher. Sepulcherates are also exempt from the High King’s troop levies and taxes, which are controlled by the Sepulcher itself, though the prince-bishops are usually more than willing to place their troops at the High King’s disposal in emergencies.

Free States
During the great Vacij Rebellions, serf throughout the principalities rose up in revolt and demanded meaningful change. After defeating the High King’s troops at Bloody River, they were granted a number of concessions–serfdom was abolished throughout Vacij, and the largest areas in rebellion were allowed to organize themselves as the Free States provided they took a nominal oath of loyalty to the High King. In practice, though, serfdom was replaced with peonage and the Free States soon came under the domination of merchants and corrupt “elected” officials. Once seen as a beacon of freedom and hope, the Free States are often seen as anarchic and unpleasant.

Royal Cities
The largest and most cosmopolitan cities in Vacij have attained self-government, usually under a local prince or king but sometimes an elected city council. They tend to be highly influential commercially, but are very vulnerable to sieges, boycotts, and blockades due to their lack of any agricultural or pasture land.

The Isle of Vacij
Usually simply called “The Isle” or “The Island,” this is the small (and non-contiguous) amount of land controlled by the High King directly. As Vacij has no capital, the royal court instead traveling between fortified cities regularly, the Isle is only loosely connected with the High King, though the best troops and fortifications are usually found there, to give the High King a base of power in the event of a not-infrequent civil war or dynastic struggle.

In the words of the most recent High King of Vacij, Saksa VII the Scholar, “If not for the tendency for the Vaciji to unite in the face of an external threat, they would have been conquered long ago. If not for their tendency to turn on one another immediately afterwards, they would have been the conquerors long ago as well.”

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