The equine Avoirdupois claim that their noble line is the oldest and the proudest of all time. To back up their claim, the Avoirdupois maintain the oldest known castles and have the longest written records of anyone in Calabria. Steeped in tradition, members of this house are known for their unfailing courage, their unfaltering attention to their chivalric code, and their intolerance for everything not “Avoirdupois”.
The Avoirdupois are proud and strong, fleet of hoof and of mind. They control the vast sweeping northeastern plains of Calabria. Their great vineyards and sweeping manors are responsible for most of the specialized food production on the continent. They pride themselves on having the swiftest army in the land and the most rigorously trained knights. They wish to maintain their open fields and keep their heritage intact. Despite their military stance, they are also quite concerned with the knightly virtues of loyalty and honor. None could be said to be more pious than an Avoirdupois knight on the morning of battle.
The Avoirdupois control a large demesne of plains to the east of the City of Triskellian – but the Avoirdupois claim to have a history that dates back before any of the other cultures on Calabria. They make little secret of what they see as their “manifest destiny” – the domination of all of Calabria. At first glance, such a goal might make people unlikely to do business with them, much less ally with them. However, the Avoirdupois are nothing if not chivalrous – they always keep their word and never stab anyone in the back.
Friends and Foes
The Avoirdupois are outspoken foes of the Bisclavret and the Doloreaux. They do not appreciate the Doloreaux control of the River Lyore and are rankled by having to buy timber from the Bisclavret. They tolerate the presence of the Constabulary of Triskellian – as long as they “remember their place”.
The Avoirdupois control a large estate of hills and plains to the east of Triskellian. They are bordered on the south by the Paludestris, on the east by ocean cliffs, on the west by Triskellian and the Granvert River, on the north-northwest by the Lyore River and the Doloreaux. Their fields and farms are well situated in the heart of their territory, well-protected from attack. The Sauldre river feeds the farms and supplies the Avoirdupois with a small river trade.
Located at the center of their largest city, Chalon su Sauldre, it is also their ruling seat and home to the House of Avoirdupois. This oldest functioning castle in Calabria sprawls out on a wide flat plateau with treacherous sides. The plateau was shaped generations ago by the deliberate designs of clever engineers. The might of the entire Avoirdupois race was necessary to build the great plateau. The castle is in a dumbbell shape with high parapets and meticulously-maintained catapults.
In the center of one of the rocky hills unsuitable for farmaland is a cluster of oddly-shaped hills. If one looks around long enough, they may find the secret entrance to the tunnels below. Within the twisting corridors are interred the bones of uncountable skeletons, of various races and sizes. The people who built these barrows are unknown, and so is the reason they chose such a location. The Avoirdupois histories have yielded no clues. Some say the barrows are haunted, and that the dead walk, searching for the souls of the living. Others say it’s a thief’s hideout, and that villians who lurk there perpetuate the rumors to keep people away.
The wind often howls across the mostly-treeless plains. While the Avoirdupois have an extensive irrigation system, it only works well in the summer. Winters in this land are notoriously harsh.
Flora and Fauna
Much of the land is either farmland or wild grasslands. The few trees are clustered together in small forests that are zealously guarded by Avoirdupois rangers. Only small game and livestock are to be found outside of ranches. The richest Avoirdupois raise their own destriers.
The Avoirdupois are very efficient farmers, but their lack of lumber hampers them immensely. To compensate, many farmers live in sod houses or even earthern homes. Their organization is impressive – precise records are kept, and taxes are collected on time. The skilled serfs are rewarded; the poor performers are punished. The Avoirdupois also maintain their own arms, using techniques handed down for generations. It is illegal for Avoirdupois serfs to accept denarii.
The Avoirdupois lifestyle is austere – as one scholar described it, “first toil, the the grave.” Avoirdupois of all ages have a great sense of pride in their land and holdings be they serf, tradesman, merchant or noble. All of the gentry regularly drill in the arts of combat and heraldry, male and female alike. Manners and etiquette are not only valued, but mandatory. To outsiders, the Avoirdupois look humorless and severe. They use the S’allumer calender to measure their days.
All gentry are schooled in the precise laws of Avoirdupois rule, unchanged in over a hundred years. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and the nobles have no patience with scofflaws. Low justice is meted out on the spot, and is usually a quick beating for light crimes, indentured servitude for greater offenses, and summary execution for murderers or worse.
The “approved” religion of Avoirdupois nobles is Penitence of S’allumer. Serfs and underlings are expected to worship as their lord does, but this is not always the case. Local churches are small and modest, as the Avoirdupois prefer their worship to be as simple and pragmatic as their lifestyles, and not weighted down with grandiose icons, but as the influence of the Church grows, so do their buildings and estates.
Since all gentry, save the infirm or young children, are combat-worthy and highly-disciplined, the Avoirdupois can field land-based forces more formidable than any on Calabria. Conservative by nature, they prefer not to engage a foe unless they can win a quick, decisive victory, which explains why the Avoirdupois have yet to campaign in earnest to fulfill their “manifest destiny” as rulers of all Calabria.
The modern, pragmatic Avoirdupois speak Calabrese. The Avoirdupois have refused to translate their law books into a more common language, so as not to “alduterate” their meaning.
Examples of male given names include Astolpho, Ignace, Somer, and Warrane. For women, Albracca, Calandre, Fanette, and Joanna.
Avoirdupois are most likely to pay homage to their family, and will include that in their name. Some noble surnames include Boulanger, Chausse, Criniere, Enclume, and Sabot – for example, a noble’s full name might be Astolpho du Sabot l’Avoirdupois. Other Avoirdupois fancy themselves as “knights errant” and drop their surname in favor of just their family, such as Anton d’Avoirdupois.