Pathfinder (Dragon Age Setting)
The Free Marches
The Free Marches is a collective name given to the group of city-states situated in eastern Thedas , south of Antiva and the Tevinter Imperium , east of Nevarra , and north ofFerelden . The three real cities with any semblance of power in the Free Marches are Kirkwall , Starkhaven and Tantervale, each having a leader with a title and having the special right to name a Champion of the city.
The “Marchers” are independent descendants from tough barbarians, their cities standing in a loose confederation that rarely unites on any matter unless one of their larger neighbors becomes aggressive. In this event, the Marchers can assemble a united military front that even the greatest powers cannot ignore.
The Free Marches is best known as the breadbasket of Thedas. Its farms along the banks of the Minanter River are the source of much of the continent’s food. Starkhaven, the largest of the cities in the Free Marches, is situated on this waterway. During the Fifth Blight , many refugees from Ferelden fled to the Free Marches.
Culture and Society
The Free Marches were once part of the Tevinter Imperium, evidence of which is found in the architecture of cities – high buildings built almost all in white stone.
Also, the Free Marches seems poor and more disorganized than Ferelden: the interiors of buildings are very rustic and the region has countless gangs and brigands of all sorts. Some gangs have even taken over a neighborhood of major cities such as Kirkwall in the evening and attack anyone venturing into this zone.
Culturally speaking, the proximity of the Marches to so many kingdoms and empires of Thedas means that the population is very diverse. The movement of goods and trade brings people from across the continent to the Free Marches, and many native-born Marchers were born of parents from another land, meaing the region is, generally speaking, quite cosmopolitian. A Marcher would consider himself from his respective city first and Marcher second. For exGrey Warden ample, the Stroud is Marcher-born, yet speaks with a distinct Orlesian accent. That being said, the region is not completely welcoming to newcomers. Many Marcher-born citizens resent the presence of foreigners and see the influence of outside nations and cultures as a threat to their way of life. In the wake of the Fifth Blight , Kirkwall in particular suffered from an outgrowth of nativist sentiment, as the presence of so many Fereldan refugees and a force of marooned Qunari led to a backlash from Marchers angry at what they saw as a takeover of the city by alien powers.
The Grand Tourney
One of the Free Marches’ most celebrated events is the Grand Tourney . Participants from all over Thedas converge on this festival of martial skill and valor in a competition to a crown a champion of the games. The victor is awarded a coronet of sage leaves and a trophy blade known as the Celebrant , which is inscribed with the names of every champion since the first Tourney.
The Free Marches have no central government, no king and no capital, making the whole region difficult to protect and its economy disparate. Each city is self-governing and wary of intrusions by its neighbours, frequently leading to tensions between them as they jocky and vie for power. The government of each state also varies, the sea-port of Kirkwall , for example, is officially governed by a singular ruler in the form of the Viscount, but real political authority rests in the heads of the local chapter of The Templar Order .
During times of crisis, the most powerful merchants, generals and rulers of the Free Marches can convene to deal with the issue, similar to the Landsmeet of Ferelden .
The Free Marches has many titles between the varying cities, though expressly without kings.
・ Viscount ― Viscount is the title given to the rulers of Kirkwall and Kaiten. It is Orlesian in origin and originates from when the Free Marches were under the Empire’s rule.
・ Prince ― Starkhaven had been ruled by a number of overlords during the ages seeking extravagant titles, the last being King Ironfist. After a noble named Vael organised a successful, peaceful protest to Ironfist’s rule, the people begged him to be King. Feeling no one was worthy of the title and believing it would encourage the same level of corruption as previous rulers, Vael refused, declaring the title of Prince to be the only ruling title in Starkhaven. The title has been used ever since, signifying the city as the seat of a Principality.
・ Lord Chancellor ― the ruler of Tantervale.
・ Margrave ― the ruler of Ansburg.
・ Teyrn ― the ruler of Ostwick.
Forms of address
Serah and Messere are common, gender-neutral forms of address within the Free Marches. Serah is used when addressing someone of equal or lesser status while Messere is for a person of greater status.
A unique title bestowed to individuals within the Free Marches that have proven their ability in blood. The title is not a sign of honor, for the Champion can utilize methods that make them loved or feared.
・ Champion of Kirkwall
・ Champion of Tantervale
・ Champion of Starkhaven
・ The Bone Pit
・ Green Dales
・ Minanter River
・ Planasene Forest
・ The Wounded Coast
・ Vimmark Mountains