Beltavia Keep
Beltavia is a territory on the borderlands of the Far Anhoi said to have been originally founded by Beltav II, a deposed Khazar of Vaarta, centuries ago. The main settlement is Beltavia Keep, a fortified town on the west of the Anhoi River, and there are numerous smaller wooden forts and farmsteads dotted around the territory. Although the threat of attacks by tlaxu tshoymar raiders is ever-present, it is also a place of trade and the first civilisation beyond the Three Sisters Mountains, roughly equidistant between Nyerdhan and Tibra's Crossing.

Beltavia Keep is ruled by Kizen Denik, his wife Kizina Ivanka and the Council of Boyars. When the deposed Khazar fled Vaarta he brought with him only his most loyal hetmen and boyars, no serfs. These intermarried with the local peasant population, meaning that according to Vaartan tradition all men and women can claim descent from the upper classes, with the result that Beltavian society is much more free than traditional Vaartan society. There are no serfs; all peasants are free to move away from the land of their birth if they wish, and many own a small plot of their own land as well as work for the local boyar on his land. Others without land work for wages or join the army. Retiring soldiers are often gifted a plot of land on the fringes of Beltavia.

The Kizen can create a new boyar from any Beltavian citizen and assign him a land grant sufficient to maintain his position. These land grants are typically on the edge of Beltavian territory and serve the twin purpose of expanding Beltavia and boltering its borders against attack. Currently there are about 65 Boyars who form a council that ratifies the Kizen's laws and is the highest court in Beltavia. Most Boyars hold regular or reserve commissions in the army or other government positions and when they are away from Beltavia their Boyarinas often deputise for them in the council.

Beltavian culture originates from Vaarta but the long exile and intermingling with outside ideals has changed it, some would say liberated it. Women hold a much less repressed position in society than in Vaarta; they still do not tend to join the army but are quite prominent in business and politics. Unmarried women are still under the rule of their parents, but then so are their unmarried brothers. Class differences are much less pronounced as well, many farming Boyars would have no compunction about getting their hands dirty and helping with the harvest. When the exiled Vaartans first arrived they became farmers and labourers in order to survive and so lost a lot of their notions of superiority. Their association with the Empire strengthened these tendencies.

Although large areas of the Far Anhoi valley are given over to agriculture, the Beltavians are renowned as horse-traders. The horse is an almost mythological animal in the Empire, and Beltavian horses are prized by the Merchants League. The bi-annual horse fairs bring travellers from thousands of miles in order to trade for Beltavian stock, and are grand festivals of entertainment.

Although nominally the same as the Vaartan Church, Beltavian religion is conducted on quite different lines. The Established Church supported the usurper, Salov IV, over Beltav, and so no clergy travelled east with the exiles. Thus it fell to the boyars and heads of the family to conduct religious services and rituals. This has developed into a range of family traditions, many variations on the central tenets of the Markamist Church. Lacking an intercessary clergy, the Beltavians have a more personal relationship with their god than typical Vaartans (and most Imperials), which has made them devout and moral without evangelical zealotry. With this diversity they were much more open towards Yavenniks and there is a thriving community living openly in Beltavia. Indeed Kizina Ivanka is herself a Yavennik, although she is bringing up her children in her husband's path.

Using Beltavia Keep
Beltavia Keep can serve many uses in a campaign. As a borderland enclave it can serve as the base for adventures involving tlaxu bandits and monstrous incursions. Its situation makes it less suitable for traditional dungeon crawling but would work well for adventures inspired by Westerns where characters can finally get to use all those mounted combat feats.

It can also serve as a "Vaarta-lite", to give a different cultural flavour without setting adventures in Vaarta itself. More role-playing based adventures can be centred around interactions with the Vaartan culture, different religions or the politicking of the Boyars.

The horse-fairs can serve as a lively backdrop to other adventures (for example, hunting a fugitive). The Mongolian Naadam can be used as inspiration, and festivals are always an excuse for player characters to become involved in contests of a (usually) less fatal nature than they are used to.

The Merchants League, in particular, would like more control over the horse trade of Beltavia (and usually where the League is concerned this means at least two League families trying to outwit each other). Another source of conflict is in the matter of land settlement. Much of the Far Anhoi is empty steppe, but some of the former Imperial nations have continued the Imperial tradition of awarding retired soldiers land grants in dangerous borderland regions. This means that incoming former-Imperials may clash with the Beltavians over land rights and although the plains tlaxu have little concept of land ownership, they may also become frustrated with the encroaching humans into their hunting territory.

The Beltavian Horse
Renowned as a strong breed of animal, the Beltavian horse is not greatly different from any other in terms of game statistics (in fact there are few other breeds of horse on Conclave). Beltavians are usually light warhorses with higher than average hit points. Some heavy warhorses are also bred. Even a horse used purely for riding, such as a Boyarina's palfrey, uses warhorse statistics. The Beltavians never use horses for labour; water buffalo, tembu and noyaki fulfill that role.

Typical Hetman
Human Ftr2: CR 2; Medium Humanoid (human); AL N
Abilities Str 13 (+1), Dex 15 (+2), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 14 (+2)

Initiative +2; Speed 20 ft.
Armour Class 16 (+1 Dex, +5 armour) touch 11, flat-footed 15
Saves Fortitude +4, Reflex +2, Will -1
Hit Dice 2d10+2; hit points 14

Base Attack/Grapple +2/+3
Melee: Scimitar +3 (1d8+1, crit. 18-20) or lance +3 (1d8+1)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities None

Skills Diplomacy +2, Handle Animal +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +1, Ride +10
Feats Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack*, Skill Focus (ride), Trample*
Languages Vaartan
Possessions Breastplate, scimitar, lance, plumed helmet, horse

Combat: The Vaartan Hetmen embody the philosophy of medium cavalry. Although they prefer to charge with lances and scimitars, they lack the punch of a true heavy cavalryman. They like to remain mobile, cutting through enemy lines and then wheeling for a further assault, but lack the skirmish capabilities of light cavalry. Hetmen all come from minor noble families and are usually flamboyant and reckless. Some may possess masterwork equipment.

Alkhai Brevedic
Boyar of The Eastern Shore
Human Rog8: CR 8; Medium Humanoid (human); AL N
Abilities Str 14 (+2), Dex 15 (+2), Con 13 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 12 (+1)

Initiative +2; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 16 (+2 Dex, +4 armour) touch 12, flat-footed 14
Saves Fortitude +3, Reflex +8, Will +2
Hit Dice 8d6+8; hit points 36

Base Attack/Grapple +6/+8
Melee Scimitar +10/+5 (1d8+1, crit. 18-20)
Melee Lance +8 (1d8+1)
Ranged Short bow +9/+4 (1d6)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities Trapfinding, sense traps +2, uncanny dodge (improved)

Skills Bluff +6, Diplomacy +10, Handle Animal +8, Hide +11, Intimidate +3, Jump +7, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +3, Move Silently +11, Ride +15, Search +5, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +3, Spot +6, Survival +11, Swim +6, Tumble +3
Feats Great Fortitude, Leadership, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Mounted Archery*, Mounted Combat*, Ride-By Attack*, Track, Weapon Focus (scimitar)*
Languages Low Imperial, Vaartan
Possessions Masterwork chain short, masterwork scimitar, lance, masterwork short bow, 20 arrows, 10 +1 seeking arrows, plumed helmet, horse

Alkhai Brevedic was appointed Boyar of the Eastern Shore because of his wiles and skill at skirmishing. He is an accomplished scout as well as demonstrating the typical horsemanship of a Vaartan hetman. Alkai uses the wilderness rogue variant, with sneak attack swapped for bonus fighter feats.

Marya Soprevna
Matriarch of the Holy Wounds
Human Adp6: CR 3; Medium Humanoid (human); AL LG
Abilities Str 6 (-2), Dex 9 (-1), Con 8 (-1), Int 15 (+2), Wis 17 (+3), Cha 17 (+3)

Initiative -1; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 9 (-1 Dex) touch 9, flat-footed 9
Saves Fortitude +1, Reflex +1, Will +8
Hit Dice 6d6-6; hit points 15

Base Attack/Grapple +3/+1
Melee Walking stick (club) +1 (1d6-1)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities None

Skills Appraise +5, Concentration +5, Craft (tapestry) +6, Handle Animal +5, Heal +11, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (nature) +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +5, Knowledge (religion) +12, Listen +5**, Perform (singing) +6, Ride +5, Spot +5**
Feats Brew Potion, Seminarian, Skill Focus (ride)*
Languages High Imperial, Low Imperial, Plains Tlaxu, Vaartan
Possessions Walking stick, shawl, holy symbol

Spells per Day 3/3/2
Spells Typically Prepared
2nd level (Save DC 15) - Cure moderate wounds, resist energy.
1st level (Save DC 14) - Bless, cure light wounds, sanctuary.
0th level (Save DC 13) - Guidance, mending, light.

Sister Soprevna is the ranking chaplain of Beltavia Keep, technically a member of the Orthodox Markamist church, although in legal fact the people of Beltavia have long since been excommunicated in absentia. Although an accomplished rider like all Beltavians, she rarely leaves the Keep in her old age.

She has a raven familiar whom she refers to (scandalously) as Kebel, and her adept spell list is augmented with spells from the Protection domain (but not the domain power).

**Skill when Kebel is within arm's reach.

Seminarian is a feat that grants a +2 bonus to Concentration and Knowledge (religion), from long periods spent studying the scriptures.

Kebel, male raven familiar: CR -; Tiny Animal; AL N
Abilities Str 1 (-5), Dex 15 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 8 (-1), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 6 (-2).

Initiative +2; Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Armour Class 17 (+2 size, +2 Dex, +3 natural) touch 12, flat-footed 15
Saves Fortitude +2, Reflex +6, Will +6
Hit Dice 6d8; hit points 6

Base Attack/Grapple +3/-10
Melee Claws +7 (1d2-5)
Special Abilities Deliver touch spells
Special Qualities Empathic link, improved evasion, link, low-light vision, share spells

Skills: Appraise +5, Concentration +5, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (nature) +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +5, Knowledge (religion) +12, Listen +5, Spot +7
Feats: Alertness, Weapon Finesse*
Langauges: Low Imperial, Vaartan

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The Empire of Splendour
Anhoi River States
Khazarate of Vaarta
Merchants League
Tibra's Crossing

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