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[Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:45 am
by Infragris
"The Colovian nobility, all officers of the Imperial Legions or its West Navy, do not allow themselves the great expenditure of courtly life as is seen in the capital city. They prefer immaculate uniforms and stark standards hanging from the ceiling of their austere cliff-fortresses; to this day, they become a little perplexed when they must visit the grandly decorated assault of color that is the Emperor's Palace."
– Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition
The Colo-Nordic Nobility is the ruling faction of the western highlands. They are the generals of Cyrodiil, directing the Imperial Legion in wars of conquest and defense in service to the Emperors. They trace their ancestry to Nordic pioneers who received their mandate from the hands of the holy Empress Alessia herself. The Colo-Nords rule most of northwestern Cyrodiil, from the western Gold Coast to the Jerall Mountains. Their strongholds are the ancient cities of Kvatch, Sarchal, Skingrad, Chorrol, and Bruma, from where the deposed Colo-Nordic kings once governed their estates.

The Colo-Nords consider themselves guardians of Cyrodiil: firm, unwavering, and ever-vigilant against provincial threats. Though they acknowledge the Heartlands as the center of Imperial culture and civilization, they consider them weak and effete, incapable of maintaining the Empire on their own. Historically, the Colo-Nords tend to isolate themselves from the east in times of political turmoil, guarding the national spirit from foreign and domestic corruptions until such a time that a strong warlord from their own ranks can rise to restore order in the lowlands. As a result, the role of the Colo-Nords in the Empire is strongly influenced by the character of the Emperor: when he is a strong ruler, they are his loyal soldiers; when he appears weak, they retreat into their highlands cliff-fortresses.

The Colo-Nords are currently plagued by their weak position in the Empire and internal divisions. A number of authority figures have fallen away: the Emperor is weak, the Duke of Colovia is sick and dying, and the influential Count of Skingrad has isolated himself. In their absence, the isolationist faction has grown stronger, eventually manifesting as the Free Estates Movement. This faction seeks to split from the eastern Empire and return to the romanticized era of the Free Estates, when Colovia governed itself and was free of foreign corruptions. While the faction's leadership are still loyalists, many of the lesser lords in the hinterland are starting to support the isolationists. In more general terms, the Colo-Nords suffer from a lack of money and manpower: they are overshadowed by the wealthy Imperial Curia and the Nibenese Hierophants, who grow fat on taxes and trade. The Colo-Nords' blood politics is also a problem: insistence on purity of Nordic blood has weakened most families, and obligatory service in the Legion takes a toll on each generation. This has necessitated the practice of “adopting” fresh blood into the families.

While most Ayleid power was broken during the Alessian Rebellion, a number of peripheral city-states still stood after the war's conclusion. The western forts, built to repel foreign invasions, proved highly resistant. Alessia was reluctant to send her main force away from the fledgling Empire, and, since the Highlands were not part of the old Niben-Nedic tribelands, decided to grant them as fiefdoms to her Nordic mercenary allies. These Nords conquered the frontier, aided by a cohort of tribeless Nedes. They subjugated the remaining Ayleid states, conquered the free Nedic cities of the Strident Coast, and settled into several small kingdoms.

The Colo-Nords set up a segregated system in which only those of Nordic blood could be rulers, warlords, landowners, or take part in the ruler-cults. The Cyro-Nedic caste served as laborers, farmers, and cannon fodder in the frequent conflicts between the kingdoms or in the annual raids on Breton and Bosmer ports. The lowest caste were the western Nedes, Orc-bloods, and the remaining Ayleid. The social and geographic isolation of the Highlands allowed the Colo-Nords to resist the influence of the eastern Marukhati, though they remained subordinate to the Alessian Empire. The rival kingdoms eventually fell into an uneasy truce, spurred by the threat of the Marukhati and the Redguard invasion in the west.

The Estates would know their finest hour after the devastating Thrassian Plague. Unlike their neighbors, the isolated Colovian cities weathered the plague well and took the initiative in the war against Thras, gaining international respect and a large war bounty. Bendu Olo, the baron (later king) of Anvil and leader of the All Flags Navy, founded the short-lived Oloman Confederacy, formally declaring the independence of the Free Estates from the weakened eastern regime. The following War of Righteousness saw the fall of the Marukhati priesthood and the First Empire.

For four hundred years the Colo-Nordic kings ruled over the Free Estates in complete isolation. It would take the threat of the Akaviri to re-unite the west under the leadership of Reman I, who used their power to conquer most of Tamriel. Under Reman, the Colo-Nords assumed their modern role as the Empire's officer class. While the Estates continued to exist, the Colo-Nordic kings swore absolute fealty to Reman, renouncing their political autonomy.

After the death of the last Reman, the Colo-Nords considered their oaths void, and began to withdraw from the Empire. The situation degenerated during the late Potentariat and the Second Interregnum, when most Estates again assumed factual independence. This period of independence is not remembered as fondly due to the misrule and degeneration of this era.

This was to continue until the rise of Cuhlecain, king of the small Colovian kingdom of Falkreath. Cuhlecain, intent on restoring order to the warring Cyrodiilic states, appointed an Atmoran general called Talos as head of his armies. Together, they reunited the Colovian Estates and captured the Imperial City. After Cuhlecain's murder, Talos declared himself Emperor Tiber Septim, and went on to conquer the whole of Tamriel.

This was to be the undoing of the royal houses of Colovia. Deemed insufficiently loyal, many royal lines were replaced by Septim's faithful and obedient generals. The reforms of the peerage removed the rank of king, demoting the Estates to counties and baronies.

Since then, the Colo-Nordic nobility has been on a slow decline. Though they remain influential in the Legion's officer corps, the Colo-Nords are overshadowed by their rival factions in Heartlands politics. Their local economies are weak, founded on failing mines and an agricultural sector which is secondary to the Niben's rice plantations and foreign imports. They also suffer from internal division caused by a strong subfaction called the Free Estates Movement, intent on breaking away from the ailing Empire.


The Colo-Nords defer to authority, and largely respect the formal hierarchy of the nobility. All Colovian nobles answer to the Duke of Colovia, though most actual power is held by the Counts, based in major cities. Below them are various Baronies who hold more or less power depending on the strenght of the Count. The lowest rank of the formal nobility are the Knights or Lords, who hold lesser estates or small settlements. Additionally, the Colo-Nords retain a large army of intendents and hirelings to act on their behalf. On occasion, one of these mercenaries can be adopted into the nobility proper, though this is rare.

The current ruler of the faction is Haderus Goldwine, Duke of Colovia, Protector of the Highlands, Honorary Admiral of the West Navy, Exalted Chevalier of the Circle of Saint Periv, Knight of the Imperial Dragon, Principal Elector of the Choir of Swords and Honorable Member of the Elder Council, Hero of the Second Siege of Rihad, Iron Fist of the Emperor, etc, etc. Haderus is old and senile, and hasn't left his palace for over two years. He is expected to die before the end of the year. He has two sons intent on replacing him: Aethelstan, a Septim loyalist, Count of Kvatch and an officer in the Imperial Legion, and Barilus, a ringleader in the Free Estates Movement. Most practical concerns are overseen to by Haderus' nephew, Ormellius Goldwine, who represents him in the Elder Council. In the absence of strong leadership, the rest of the faction has turned to internal strife and competition.

Arriana Valga, Countess of Chorrol, has control over the north and is currently the most powerful Colovian ruler. While she is a loyalist and opposes the Free Estates Movement, Valga is also one of the favorites to claim the throne should the Septim dynasty fall: she has a distant blood claim to the succession, and the military and political might to take the Imperial City should it become necessary. In support of her claim, Valga is making connections with both the Legion and the eastern Hierophants: rumor claims she is negotiating a marriage between her daughter and Count Caro of Lleyawiin.

Count Janus Hassildor of Skingrad was once a close confidant and councilor of the Emperor, but has recently disappeared from the public eye. In his absence, the local lords have become unruly. Prime among them is Baron Trifon Mede, ruler of Sarchal. Like Valga, he also has a claim on the throne, based on his blood ties to Cuhlecain.

Count Remon Naskav of Bruma has mostly ignored the political squabbles of his peers. he is preoccupied with incidents interrupting the Pale Pass trade road, and attempts to replace him by a Hierophant plot led by Narina Carvain, a minor noble of Akaviri descent.

Other lords and barons play minor parts in the faction's main questline.


The faction maintains good relations with the Imperial Legion: people of Colo-Nordic descent dominate the Legion's officer class. They are negative towards their political enemies: the Imperial Curia and the Hierophants. The Colo-Nords consider both to be avaricious and dishonorable, though they have a special loathing for the Curia, whose titles of nobility they consider illegitimate. The Colo-Nords worship in the Imperial Cult, the Emperor Zero Cult, or their own internal Shor Cult. They are indifferent to other religions, save for the informal circles dedicated to the founder saints. The Colo-Nords approve of the Fighters and Mages Guild, considering them both trustworthy servants of their interests. They are naturally opposed to the Thieves Guild. Most Colo-Nords have a distaste for mercantile interests, though they tolerate the merchant factions in return for high tolls on the trade roads.

The Colo-Nordic questline focuses on the conflict between the conservative, loyalist group favored by the faction's rulers, and the radicalized isolationist faction bankrolling the Free Estates Movement, mostly consisting of minor barons and lords. This conflict centers around the quarrel between the sons of the Duke of Colovia, Aethelstan and Barilus, who both seek to succeed their father.

The player initially starts out as a low-ranked hireling to one of the lesser Colovian lords, and can later distinguish themselves in combat/service to this lord: fighting bandits, opposing interference of the Curia, gaining support among local Saintly Circles, etc. They are promoted to higher ranks and sent out to serve under different lords, eventually coming to the attention of powerful faction ringleaders like Countess Valga and Ormellius Goldwine, who have their own goals: Valga needs them to make surreptitious contacts with potential supporters among the legion, while Ormellius is playing his own angle on the conflict between his relatives, the Goldwine brothers.

As the player becomes more essential to the faction, they are “adopted” by one of the families in a blood-ritual of the Shor Cult. The player eventually gains an estate of their own, which they can build up similar to the House strongholds of Morrowind. In later phases of the questline, the player most choose sides in the loyalist-isolationist schism, and go to war against the enemy subfaction. In the end, both Goldwine brothers are dead and succeeded by Ormellius Goldwine, who names the player a Scion of Colovia and makes them his representative in the Elder Council.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:14 am
by R-Zero
Amazing write-up, Infragris! I love how this all eventually ties into Ormellius Goldwine who then drops ded in Oblivion, taking care of all the loose ends.
Do you have a location for Player's estate in mind?

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:35 am
by Infragris
Anywhere in the Colovian Highlands proper, north of Anvil or west of Chorrol. It could either be a ruined fortress that the player is tasked to rebuild, or an estate belonging to a rival that you can claim as your own.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:03 pm
by TerrifyingDaedricFoe
I imagine some of the Saintly Circles you posted about earlier would be very popular amongst the Free Estaters. People like Olo and Rislav, or perhaps other more obscure saints remembered for their independence-minded approach or even outright rebellion. Perhaps a folk hero who held off the Emperor's armies for an astonishing length of time before being eventually defeated and executed, becoming a patron saint of noble yet futile endeavours.

Is the Free Estates movement and its supporters common knowledge, both in Colovia and the Imperial City/Nibenay? Do loyalist counts turn a blind eye to the activities of their subordinates, are they ignorant, or do they actively root it out? I guess it depends on the count. Surely the Blades have infiltrated the movement, but to what extent and are they passively monitoring events or acting as agents provocateur?

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:35 pm
by Infragris
That sums up the behavior of many Circles, yes. Some are allied with the loyalists, while other tend towards the separatist cause. In general, the Circles mirror the opinion of the local elites.

The Free Estates Movement is pretty well-known: it's not exactly a new development. Nostalgia for the "good old days" has existed since the Second Empire, and tends to flare up every time the Colovians feel underappreciated. It's not so much a united party as a populist sentiment: "the South will rise again", sort of. The fact that it is starting to appeal to the ruling nobility is a more pressing concern. People in the Heartlands know of this, but most dismiss it as a a rural matter.

Despite their posturing about independence and frontier spirit, the Colo-Nords are very submissive to authority. In areas with strong leaders, like Chorrol, the movement is almost nonexistent, while in Skingrad and Kvatch is tends to be more widespread. The movement is also stronger in the countryside and in isolated communities, like the villages north of Kvatch. The big cities thrive on trade with the east, so they have more loyalist tendencies.

The Blades have a number of spies watching the trade roads and observing the Colo-Nordic courts, but they don't really interfere - for now. Part of the problem is that these sentiments by their nature occur mostly in small, isolationist towns far from the main roads: difficult to infiltrate, especially for foreign races or Nibenese people.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:14 pm
by TerrifyingDaedricFoe
So it's not at any sort of high-level planning phase where anyone would actually try to pull it off? And any attempt by the authorities to put it down would be ineffective and hugely counter-productive.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:57 pm
by Infragris
Basically, yes. Except if Barilus could usurp his brother and claim the title of Duke (pulling a Rislav Larich, as it were). With the power of that station, Barilus could pressure most of Colovia to defect, either immediately or when the next Emperor dies. Since most Legion officers are Colovian nobility, he could order large parts of the Legion to stand down or even join his side.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:50 am
by TerrifyingDaedricFoe
Doesn't that have the potential of causing a Colovian civil war? How many of the Legion commanders would join the rebellion and how many of their soldiers would mutiny?

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 8:12 am
by Infragris
It could get complicated. It should be noted that most Estatists have at least the basic comprehension to wait until the current Emperor dies before declaring their independence (though there are a couple of hotheads who would like to go for it right now). The Legions are restricted from interfering in Cyrodiil's local politics unless the Emperor himself commands it. If the Legion high command immediately accepts Crown Prince Geldall (or anyone else, really) as the new Emperor, they would probably remain united and reclaim the rebellious areas in a couple of weeks. But the chances of this are very small: a number of prominent Legion generals are themselves plotting to claim the throne should the dynasty fall. If they refuse to accept the new Emperor or are divided as to which candidate they support, the Estates would have the time to reinforce their position and exert pressure on native Colovian soldiers and officers to defect.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:31 am
by Saint_Jiub
Are there faction ranks for the Colo-Nords yet? If not, I have suggestions!

Auxiliary - Hired mercenary
Centurion - Soldier in the private army of a noble
Equite - Noble warrior/knight; lesser nobility
Patrician* - Landed gentry/noble
Decurion** - Commander of a knightly order
Consul** - Local ruler, interchangeable with "Count"
Imperator**- Upper nobility, interchangeable with "Duke"

Contur - "Bully" - Hired mercenary, often foreign
Garda - "Guard" - Soldier/warrior in the house of a noble
Pelinik - "Knight" - Noble warrior
Szalashta* - "Noble" - Traditional name for the landed gentry
Audaman*** - "Bold Chieftain" - Traditional name for a Colovian warlord
Csar*** - "Lord" - Traditional name for a local ruler; equivalent to a Count
Busczar*** - "High Lord" - Traditional name for the upper nobility like the Duke and Elder Council

* This would be the highest rank attainable by the player within the faction

** Not player ranks - these titles would refer to leading NPCs within the Colo-Nord faction

*** Not player ranks - they would mainly appear in books and dialogue to refer to historical Colovian heroes, as well as leaders within the Free Estates movement to differentiate them from their more mainstream/loyalist cousins.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:32 am
by Infragris
This was discussed on the discord some time ago, we came up with this scheme:
1. Hireling
2. Auxiliary
3. Partisan
4. Intendant
5. Defender of the Gates
6. Lord of the Crossroads
7. Baron-Marshal
8. Count-Seneschal
9. Scion of Colovia
10. Duke of Colovia

I like most of these names though - they could be used for ranks in the Hierophant or Curia branches (in fact, I hink Consul was proposed as a Curia branch before). I like the first three Free Estates ranks, but the other ones sound a bit off - maybe they can be used as a basis and further colovified.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:55 pm
by Saint_Jiub
I'll tweak them for the Curia - for the Hierophants/Old Nibenese dialect, I'm thinking it'll likely draw more from Spanish/Portuguese roots with splashes of Japanese so that it still sounds Romantic but is a little distant from the straight-up Latin that the modern Empire uses.

Can you clarify what you mean when you say "Colovified" re: the titles above? I started with Polish/Russian noble titles, obviously, but leaned pretty heavily on Hrafnir to try and integrate them more into Tamriel - I agree they roll off the tongue kinda weird though so I'll jeep tweaking them. Can we keep csar, however? Old Colovian already has those Eastern European influences, and Csar of Skingrad or Kvatch sounds right to my ear.

Final note - some of the Free Estates titles might be useful as enemy NPC classes for fort ruins as well, approximating the Marauders of Oblivion.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:09 pm
by Infragris
Doesn't czar originate in the title of Emperor/Caesar? It's a bit too on-the-nose, imho. Also, i don't think we've used any straight-up russian influences for the colovians, most of their cultural grounds came from more eastern Mediterranean sources. I sort of stumble over the use of -z, which is a letter otherwise mostly absent from colovian. Szalashta and audaman sound almost dunmerish to me. I could see Kasar working instead of czar, maybe. Frankly, for a non-player organization, three (or none) faction titles might be enough.

Hold on, I have some older WIP documents for Curia ranks, I'll post them in the appropriate topic.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:24 pm
by Saint_Jiub
Skingrad and Kvatch both definitely derive from Eastern European/Germanic roots, etymologically (the "-grad" suffix is a Slavic word meaning "town"), and though of course this isn't canon, I did draw from Germanic and Russian words when coming up with the beverage names ("Kurst" is a corruption of "Kirsch" or "Kirschwasser", for instance, both referring to a cherry brandy). Those same influences can be found in our assets and concept art too - the Colovian noble hats, for instance, were based on portraits of Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible, and several of the portraits that I just uploaded reference old Russian nobility. Same with the architecture concepts - my reference folder is full of pictures of Prague and Plovdiv. It's all a continuation of the same cultural thread - the Byzantine Empire birthed the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Moscow under Ivan the Terrible was considered to be the Third Rome, the spiritual successor to Byzantium.

I definitely don't want to go overboard with it and there's still quite a bit of old Byzantine and Roman influence as well, but otherwise things like the "-grad" suffix are just a weird anomaly in a sea of Latin/Roman terms. Making Old Colovian culture more derivative of Eastern European/Germanic/Russian culture and using that in some of our visual references and naming conventions, in contrast to the Latin/Anglicized terminology of the modern Empire, gives them a reason to be there - instead of being completely out of place in our world, they just reference a different period in the region's history.

The "Z" sound is somewhat tricky, it does show up in Cyrodiilic (Belharza being an example) but we could argue that's a Nibenese root. Csar/Czar isn't any more on the nose for me than "Prefect" or "Auxiliary", tbh, but I do like Kasar as well so I'll keep tweaking things. Just to clarify, though - isn't the Free Estates a player faction? I thought in your write-up you said that we would be joining either the Loyalists or the Free Estates as part of the Colo-Nordic storyline.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:56 pm
by R-Zero
A slav enters the thread! :D
I do advice against using variations of Tsar/Caesar - it's indeed a title reserved for an Emperor figure. Russia becoming a Tsardom was a big deal back in the days.

There are a number of other RL titles we could use as an inspiration. such as: (Prince) (Duke) (Count)

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:27 pm
by Infragris
I like Graf.

I not sure about the Free Estates being joinable - I might have written it, but I write a lot of shit I later forget about. Currently, I think the Free Estates would function best in a similar way to the Camonna Tong-Hlaalu connection. The current idea for the Colo-Nords is that the player would act as kingmaker for the Duke of Colovia. You have the two competing heirs - the pro-empire one and the estatist - and the scheming cousin, Ormillius. Now, 'canonically' I guess Ormillius wins by playing the other two against each other and getting rid of them both. Should the payer be able to choose between the two/three subfactions? It's likely, although a more tight, controlled narrative with less options might be more enjoyable. Either way, I think the player wouldn't need to join the Estatists, just favor their cause (the Twin Lamps quests do the same thing). The Estatists are also a very loosely affiliated, structure-less faction, more a political cause than an organization. It's leaders are colo-noridc nobility, who would use their colo-nordic titles. It would be difficult to employ rank progression in a natural way.

Re: [Faction] The Colo-Nordic Lords

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:23 am
by LordInsane
The closest to indicating the Free Estates being joinable in publicly-available written stuff is the "choose sides in the loyalist-isolationist schism, and go to war against the enemy subfaction" part in the write-up above, but the Nobility Faction writeup also suggests a Hlaalu-Camonna Tong-ish connection ("their modus operandi is comparable to Hlaalu practices (especially their relation to the Free Estates Movement)"), and in vanilla Morrowind's Hlaalu questline you can directly partner up with the Camonna Tong towards the end without that being represented by joining the game-mechanical Camonna Tong faction.