You can never know true cold until you have lived through a Lyubov winter. The chill seeps into your joints like a trickle of ice water, freezing their motion and shivering into your very soul. Even when the sun spreads through the deep gray blanket of clouds, it· does not warm you. The rays shine blindingly white from snow-covered trees, and the world seems like a tremendous forest of spun glass. When the winter has reached you, truly covered you in ice, you feel as though you may never know warmth again…
The world of Lyubov lies in the Western Fringe of the Galaxy in the Segmentum Pacificus in the Sabbat Sector. The further one travels from Terra Prime, the fainter the Astronomicon grows and the weaker the Imperium’s grip becomes. Societies conform less and less to the Imperial norm. Lyubov is one such world.
The winters of Lyubov are harsh and cruelly long and for months the land is gripped by snow blizzards and ice. The townships of Lyubov are mainly built of timber for stone is rare and only the most important of the cities have stone buildings and walls. In the ancient capital city of Lyubovhive the massive white buildings are topped by vast gilded domes and decorated with golden statues and gargoyles. It has been said that Lyubov is a poor world filled with rich people. It is certainly true that the people that live in this beleaguered land have an outlook on life that strangers often find surprisingly positive. For Lyubov is under constant threat of invasion. Armies of savage Chaos Reavers often venture to Lyubov, raiding and pillaging, and to make matters worse Lyubov lies right on the border of the Satyressia Wastes so that any Chaos incursion passes through the world (and its people) first.
To aid them in their struggle against these murderous foes, the Tsars of Lyubov forged strong ties with the Imperium. This alliance benefits both Lyubov and the Imperium, as the High Lords have long understood the benefit of a western bulwark against the tides of Chaos.
Despite the constant threat of invading armies, the people of Lyubov sing and dance and play as much as or perhaps more than the people of any other world in the Imperium. Some say that their relative happiness derives from their love of strong drinks. Whether this is true or not, Lyubovites certainly do enjoy their spirits; in fact, many of their people attribute almost magical qualities to that most famous of Lyubovite drinks – moshka.
The Lyubov tend to be quiet in the face of strangers, but they hold much joy in their hearts. In fact, they are loud and boisterous when amongst their own people. The Lyubovites are known to be extremely brave warriors, and they hold a loathing for Chaos that is much stronger than most of the peoples of the Imperium. While many subjects of the Imperium may remain ignorant to the initial signs of a Chaos cult, Lyubovs will immediately seek out any signs of depravity and cleanse the infected individuals with sword and flame. Most citizens of Lyubov have lost homes or loved ones to the warriors of Chaos, and they realize that anything less than constant vigilance could lead to their downfall. They are therefore unrelenting in their resolve against their ancient enemies. Lyubovites give the forces of Chaos no quarter and expect none in return.
The People of Lyubov
The men of Lyubov are tall and broad-shouldered while the women tend to either be tall and whippet-thin or short and stout. Married men are usually scribes, scholars, farmers, or craftsmen, while unmarried men spend their lives as students, workers, and journeymen. The religion is almost universally the local version of the Dark Angels cult characterized by an absolute faith in the Emperor as the Master of Mankind.
Lyubov clothing tends towards the ornate. Even peasant outfits tend to have elaborate embroidery and embellishment – particularly women’s clothing. Men favor long coats and fur hats (called Ushankas) to protect against the frigid climate of Lyubov.
While not warlike by nature, Lyubovs rarely back down in the face of threats. During the 13th Great War against Chaos, Lyubovs rallied in great numbers to fight in defense of their Cadian neighbors. More than any other part of the Imperium, Lyubov has tasted the lash of Chaos and their hatred of the evil ones knows no bounds.
To Lyubovs, family and community ties were more important than ties of faith or nationality. Families on Lyubov do not separate when children came of age; they live together for their entire lives, with succeeding generations often taking over the same house. Children clustered around Babushkas (affectionately called Bubbies literally “dear grandmothers”) for stories and discipline, elder brothers went with their fathers to tend to the horses and hunt and women took care of the harvest and home. The entire family eats, sleeps and worships together in the same small house.
Little is sacred to dour Lyubov humor and Lyubov folklore often reverses the family image (as does much of Lyubovite humor). One tale tells of a clever farmer who posed a riddle that the tsar could not answer. He told the tsar that of the money he made from crops, one-fourth went to taxes, one-fourth went to pay debts, one-fourth was loaned and one-fourth was thrown away frivolously and yet all his family were well-off. The Tsar understood the taxes but was confused by the rest and asked the farmer to explain. “It is easy.” replied the farmer, “feeding my father is repaying a debt, feeding my son is making a loan, and feeding my daughter is frivolous!” The point of the story is to mock the worth of a daughter – originally to dissuade the Chaos occupiers from taking an interest in the women of Lyubov, as a matter of fact women are considered extremely valuable since one’s religious and cultural identity is inherited from one’s mother. Among many circles of Lyubov nobility, young women are kept locked away in private rooms until adulthood, and were not permitted to circulate publicly!
Lyubov is cold and large; each village could find itself alone for months during the long winter. As a result, Lyubovs developed a strong tradition of hospitality. The Izba (homestead) providing an island of shelter amid the dangers of the wilderness has being likened to the oasis in Tallarn culture. All visitors, without exception, were welcomed with food; Muzhhiks (free peasants) offered bread and salt to visitors, and proffering a place by the stove was the highest expression of a peasant’s good will. The same standard, albeit on a grander and occasionally more pompous level, applied to the wealthy Boyars who were expected to lay out feasts and open their bathhouses to their guests.
The Lyubov are tremendous gift givers and commonly exchange tokens and other small items. Lyubov give presents to guests, to those who wish to conduct business, or as a transfer of small tokens of generosity. This is an ingrained tradition, and visitors to Lyubov ignore it at their peril.
Many times an ambassador has been turned away from a boyar’s home simply because he bore no token of esteem for his host or host’s family. The best gifts have some small rarity or value: sketches of one’s home country, small porcelain or semi-precious statuettes, useful household trinkets such as kitchenware or knives, children’s toys or clothes, picture books, and any truly practical items. Gifts are also used to “grease the wheels”: for instance, to encourage someone to listen to a political proposal. Many Lyubov give gifts as a way of asking someone to be their host for the evening – a sort of reverse invitation and it is very poor form for a guest to come empty handed when invited.
Lyubov villagers live and work as extended families. The men gathered each day at dawn to tend the livestock, prepare furs for shipment, build and rebuild houses, gather honey, harvest crops and perform other such duties as a group working together for the landowner. While not strictly feudal, most Lyubov peasants owe a debt of service to somebody, often by contract.
When not working Lyubovs gather and drink, typically mead or vodka, and sang and danced. The drink available depends on how poor the peasants are: Kvass, a weak beer, usually the cheapest drink that peasants often make themselves: mead (fermented honey) is the “common” beverage; and moshka, when it is available, is adored but tends to be more expensive than mead. Often these gatherings take a religious veneer with the local priest lecturing on religious topics – such gatherings are called Farbrengen and are exceedingly popular.
Visitors are often made drunk as a form of greeting. Drinking also honors great Tzaddikim (saints) on the anniversaries of their passing. Several festivals and feasts are held annually in Lyubov: celebration at the arrival of winter, celebration at the arrival of spring, celebration of the Liberation, weddings and more.
The warm months are a time of back-breaking toil as the people work feverishly to produce sufficient food to see them through the long winter. After work, peasants had barely enough time for food, religious observances and sleep. After the harvest when the rivers are icebound and travel is treacherous, work comes to an abrupt halt and Lyubovs spent much of their time finding amusements until the spring thaw. This summer-winter cycle is common on many worlds of the Imperium but in Lyubov it was extreme. The time for planting and reaping is short and winter brings death to the unprepared.
The Lyubov peasant diet is hearty if somewhat monotonous. Most people eat little meat unless they own sufficient livestock, although due to good pastureland what domestic meat that is available is of good quality. Lyubov cultivates large amounts of grain, a common peasant dish is a wheat porridge called kasha. The krasnyashenitsa (red wheat) of Veneshnyalyubov province, so named because the heads turn a deep crimson when ripe, is used in baking Veneshnyalyubovite “blood bread”. Nearly every family keeps a cow or a goat but they are more prized for their milk than their meat.
Most Muzhiks have meat only on the Sabbath day with weekday meals consisting of a stew called Cholent made from cabbage, beans, onions, garlic and occasionally meat or fish scraps, served with a dense rye bread. Most Muzhiks grow turnips, onions, garlic, rhubarb and cucumbers (which are often pickled). The forests provide mushrooms and berries which are gathered and dried: rivers supplied fish. If the peasant had any livestock he would have milk: beekeepers had honey. Fairs bring spices, coffee, tea and other luxuries to the rural areas but only twice a year.
In cities, the fare is more varied owing to the large markets. A wide variety of meats, vegetables, spices and even coffee were available. Pickled fish, flavored with whipped egg whites and large amounts of salt, are eaten eagerly. Pastries made of fish and vegetables are also available. In winter, huge pyramidal mounds of frozen beasts are sold from merchants’ sleds along with eggs and butter. At festivals, vendors sell small, round loaves of fine bread packed with onion for snacking called Bialy.
Fish is a staple along the coasts, river valleys and lakes of Lyubov. Fishermen catch hordes of tiny Seld Fish and Seekh which they grind up together and press into small cakes considered delicacies. Red meat is rare, but prized. There is always plenty of fresh water from snowmelt, and small breweries turn out a whole series of alcoholic beverages: the usual moshka, a series of beers, ales, ciders and brandies, and a particularly disgusting concoction brewed by the Cossacks which is made from goat’s milk, called Kefir.
It’s difficult to overstress the importance of religion in Lyubovite life and any visit to a city could include an encounter with one of the many religious rituals, festivals or observances common on Lyubov. Lyubovs, as a rule, take their religion more seriously than many people of Imperium. To the Lyubov Orthodox, very high standards of ethical behavior are expected and the Emperor will exact justice upon evil-doers in this life or the next.
The weekly Sabbath is at the center of most people’s lives. No work is done on that day and a goodly portion of the week is spent preparing the rich breads, delicious pastries and spiced meats and fish dishes served on the day. Invitations to one’s friends and visitors to the community are typically extended and accepted – the frenetic activity of the sixth day of the week as people rush to complete last minute preparations comes to a screeching halt 18 minutes before nightfall as the bells of the local Kremlin (municipal fortress) ring out to signal the beginning of the Sabbath.
The Lyubov do not follow the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy, they believe the Emperor has made a covenant with their ancestors on Holy Terra itself and He will send a savior for them at the end of days.
The Lyubov do not worship saints but do recognize the virtues of Tzaddikim (sing. Tzaddik) whose behavior one should emulate. They do abide by a code of religious laws that govern everything from disposition of lost articles to diet to married life to the intricacies of worship. The chief religious official of Lyubov is the Patriarch who is also the head of the supreme religious council and is the most powerful man on Lyubov next to the Tsar himself. One of the most telling aspects of Orthodoxy is its unbending hatred of Chaos in all its forms. While part of this is a reaction to the occupation, there is good evidence that the Lyubov have always held these beliefs.
In the Lyubov Orthodoxy, the final Prophet of the Emperor will come in the future. His coming will be a sign that the world as it has been is over. That man, known as the Moshiak, is the Final Prophet. There are many revelatory scriptures of this Prophet – herald of the coming of Emperor, he who brings revenge for the deaths of the faithful over the ages. He is Hand of the God-Emperor, the coming of the end of the age, and the beginning of the fall of man and the establishment of the Eternal Reign of the Emperor.
This Messiah will be opposed by Lilith’s Prophet, says the Lyubov Faith, who will be heralded by a time of Great War. The old ways will fall to the new, and the lands of man will be divided into great nations. The seals of the Emperor will open, and countless mysteries will be revealed. To the Lyubov, Lilith’s Prophet is a figure of fire and devastation; the end of the world and the return of Lilith and her children. How destructive Lilith’s Prophet will be is a function of how faithful the Lyubov are to the faith – the greater their faith, the less powerful Lilith’s Prophet will be. Lyubov have no love for those who encourage the Lilith’s Prophet’s coming, and they will sacrifice their lives to prevent anyone from aiding his power.
The Growth of the Faith
In the early years of the settlement of Lyubov and through the dark days of the Occupation, the Orthodoxy acted as one of the few unifying factors of the people. Pavtlow, Kislev and Somojez were universally Orthodox, and Rurik soon followed. Although the Orthodox faith took longer to spread through the provinces of Veche, Molhyna and Gallenia, the easy conversion from the old ways to the new faith prompted a wave of religious building across Lyubov.
By 600M36, nearly all of the primary cities had at least one major cathedral, and all of the nobility had been brought in to the faith. Oftentimes Lyubov’s political structure wavered; her belief in the True Faith did not. At the head of Lyubov Orthodoxy stands the Patriarch, who serves many of the same functions as the Ecclesiarch. The first Patriarch was Ilya Belafustus Pascov, who left behind his name when he ascended to become Menachem the First (since that day, three other Patriarchs in history have taken the name Menachem, to follow in his path of unification and rebirth). Menachem the First proclaimed that each provincial lord would assist him in appointing two Lectors and an Archlector in each of their respective provinces. Beneath the Lectors stand a variety of lesser priests and scribes, scattered across the country and through the major cities. The Orthodoxy makes quiet efforts to elevate Lyubov’s spiritual leaders over the Lords of the Duma, increasing the power of the Orthodox Patriarch.
In Lyubov’s current political climate, some priests within the Orthodoxy hope to establish a strong clerical rule. There are those in Lyubov who would gladly transfer power from the Tsar to the Patriarch, but the Patriarch has discouraged such talk as he has no desire to provoke the Tsar with whom the clerical establishment enjoys a convivial relationship since the Liberation. The Orthodoxy has funded the construction of majestic houses of worship and academies patterned after Imperial ecclesiarchal architectural advances. Academies play a tremendous role in their greatest service, apart from their purely is providing rudimentary education to peasant and nobleman alike. In addition, academies still record and chronicle all the major historical events in the life of the Lyubov people – both muzhik and boyar. Lyubov scribes have translated famous and influential works of literature into Lyubov, and spread knowledge of various theological, historical and literary works. Even today, records in Lyubov’s academies provide the most concrete information on history of both Lyubov, Orthodoxy and the Imperium, unedited and undamaged by time.
The Old Ways
Although the majority of Lyubov revere the Orthodox Faith, Lyubov faith is often complex and difficult to understand. The same muzhiks that go to services each week and know their prayers by heart can be found whispering of ancient gods – calling them, perhaps, by the names of the Angels. The pure worship of nature, in the form of Matushka, and the land still exists in Lyubov, particularly in the mountains of Veche, Gallenia, and the northern marches of Molhyna, and flourishes beside the Orthodoxy in those provinces. Matushka has become a political symbol – Mother Lyubov – masking her past as a goddess of the indigenous people of Lyubov who were conquered by Terran forces during the Great Crusade.
Matushka herself is a revered figure within the Orthodoxy as the personification of Lyubov and of the Divine Grace that rests upon this blessed world. She is at once the Sabbath Queen, the manifestation of Divine Grace and the Avenging Angel who protects Lyubov. However, some confound her with other figures that are worshiped in secret, often beneath the cover of Orthodox religion, by heretics or worse. Travelers through Lyubov may find remnants of the pagan faith still lingering, particularly in uneducated or uncivilized muzhik towns far from the civilization of Lyubovhive or Siev. Some of these pagan religions are harmless delusions, others are half-remembered versions of the Imperial cult but a few are insidious Chaos cults which are hunted down and extirpated with fire and sword by the Maccabees wherever they can find them.
The mystic nature of Lyubov has no face, yet those who break Mother Lyubov’s rules find themselves devastated as certainly as any who cross an Imperial Inquisitor. On Lyubov, all woodlands are the same ~ Matushka’s Forest. If you enter one and grow lost, you may emerge anywhere on the planet, dozens or hundreds of miles away from where you began. The trees whisper in the night wind, and if you do not walk straight through the forest, you will lose the path. This is not mere peasant superstition – it is fact. The forests grow fast and trails are quickly obscured, her people are the trees and the animals, and they live within the forests and the mountains, awaiting the next naïve visitor.
The Dibbuks still roam the countryside, the lost souls of those who entered the forest, grew lost, and never returned. Gehenna, the land of the unlamented dead, waits in the Mountains of Smoke, hidden from prying mortal eyes. Sometimes spirits escape the underworld and search the mountains for a wanderer that they can condemn to take their place in the rolls of Gehenna. If they succeed, the spirit is freed, and the poor mortal never returns to the land of the living.
Be careful what you believe. Mother Lyubov is listening.
Orthodoxy and the Cossacks
In 334M41, Sergius of Radonezh left his Academy at Siev in order to follow his own quest to bring the Cossack people into the fold of the Lyubov Orthodoxy. It took over 40 years, but in 381M41, the leader of the northern Molhynan Cossacks rode with his family and tribe to Siev to be formally converted to the Orthodoxy. Though most Cossacks give only lip service to the Patriarch, they can be as fervent as the most fanatic Lyubov when it comes to matters of faith and religion.
Witches and Psykers
Open displays of psychic power are exceedingly rare on Lyubov. Witchcraft is strictly illegal and those laws are vigorously enforced. The people of this world suffered greatly under the 2000 years of Chaos occupation. Many of the people of Lyubov can trace their families back to the rebels that went into the badlands to resist the vile invaders. The authorities take Exodus 22:18 (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live) very seriously.
As a result, any public display by a psyker would be the source of conflict. Heretic practices are strictly illegal and those laws are also vigorously enforced (Deuteronomy 18:10-11: Let no one be found among you who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who speaks with the dead.. ) At the very least, the local priest and his students would arrive to denounce the pagan, and a duel for the burghers’ attentions would result, with invectives flying. The winner of these conflicts was almost invariably the priest who would soon have the backing of local soldiery. The pagan would most likely be tortured to death or simply executed on the spot depending on the political climate.
Law and Punishment
Execution for crimes other than murder, rape, kidnapping, witchcraft or heresy is rare on Lyubov. The Lyubov are famous for the high premium they place on the value of human lives. When an execution is carried out, it tends to be by firing squad or hanging with the condemned buried the same day.
The exception is heresy – Chaos-worship and witchcraft are such serious crimes that the offender is tortured and killed in an exceptionally brutal manner, with methods varied depending on the tastes of authorities and the degree of the crime in question but painless deaths are seen as merciful to the point of unfairness. Unlike common criminals who are considered human, albeit deserving of death, witches and heretics are seen as something other than human and their remains are not buried immediately but are left for several days as a deterrent to those who would follow their dark paths.
In general, law on Lyubov is restitutive rather than retributive. A thief is fined double what he stole, if he cannot pay he is sold into slavery to pay his debt. It seems a waste of honest people’s bread to imprison him. A thug is flogged and required to pay restitution to his victim. A murderer is executed. Crimes against property are penalized financially while crimes against the body are punished corporally (as well as financially). There are no prisons on Lyubov, only jails to hold criminals until trial and execution of their sentences.
Kholop – Slaves
A slave is not necessarily miserable – his lifestyle depended entirely on his master. A slave is a person, not an object, whose work is owned by his master. The master has to feed, clothe and house his slaves in the same manner in which he lives. The slave of a very rich man could live better than a poor freeman. Lyubov law protects slaves against abuse (any injury done to a slave that draws blood, breaks a bone or a tooth or caused permanent injury is cause for the courts to manumit the slave immediately without compensation to his owner)
Only xenos or foreigners can be held in slavery for life, Lyubov citizens may sell themselves into slavery but for no more than a term of 7 years. When the Lyubov economy suffers common workers and gentry alike have sold themselves into slavery. Of course, If these slaves ever changed their minds before their term of service was up, they were stuck (or were forced to “go Cossack”). The law places a minimum on the amount a man could sell himself for to prevent abuses! The majority of Lyubov slaves were house stewards and workers, but slave concubines are not uncommon among the wealthy – though only a foreign woman could serve as a concubine, a Lyubov women could be married by her master or his son but she immediately became free at that point. If a man had children by a female slave, they receive no inheritance but are legally free upon the death of their father.
Muzhik – Free Peasants
The life of a muzhik, or peasant, was a product of his own hard work and ambition; with a little luck, a peasant’s family could live as well as a landowner’s. And as social class , the peasantry is mutable, a muzhik could save money and become a landowner himself.
The muzhik wasn’t a serf bound to a specific lord and plot of land. If the landowner for whom he toiled was unfair or required too high a percentage of his crops he simply packed up his family and moved elsewhere. Out of necessity, successful landowners are on good working terms with their muzhiks. The peasant needs to grow crops to feed his family; the landowner has land and rents it to the Muzhik for share of his crop. Greedy landowners could find themselves without peasants!
Chazaks – Free Steppelanders
The Chazaks are hard to place in the social hierarchy, they are freemen but they also live outside the norms of society. They live a nomadic lifestyle, following their herds across the Taiga and raiding each other (and the occasional town) when they can.
The Chazaks are the remnants of the Attilan regiments that invaded Veneshnyalyubov province over a thousand years ago during the Occupation as part of a failed attempt to liberate Lyubov. Although considered Lyubov, they owe little loyalty to the Tsar or his Duma. They rule themselves, keeping their own lands and rarely bothering to pay taxes. The Chazaks are dangerous, self-reliant, and rebellious. They rarely travel outside of Veneshnyalyubov province, and the province’s other inhabitants consider them lower than even the basest Lyubov slaves.
Tell that to a Chazak’s face, however, and you won’t have time to apologize before he cuts your throat. The Chazaks eat a good deal of meat, tending herds of cattle or goats wherever they wander. They also eat the horses that are too old to ride. They are masterful horse breeders, and trade their stock for Veneshnyalyubov grain and liquor (they brew a drink of their own from goats’ milk that, while nauseating, packs a significant punch). The Chazaks live in leather tents, lacking permanent structures. The idea of building things from brick and other materials is fairly new to them, and they have little skill in this regard. They have taken to living in the deserted buildings of the Veneshnyalyubovites they have driven away.
A year ago, a Chazak Khan named Jyrgal Timurbek overthrew the powerful Verkhotov family and proclaimed a Chazak nation, Chazakia, on their lands. Timurbek based his claim on the largely dubious evidence that this area was a former homeland of his people, the Tsar drove off during the liberation 200 years ago. No one knows the exact nature of Timurbek’s “proof”, but it has led him to claim a swath of land in Veneshnyalyubov. Regardless of the legitimacy of the claim, Timurbek appears to have tapped a vein of latent nationalism in the Chazaks. A half-dozen other tribes have united to back his claims, and the non-fighters of the tribes are doing the unprecedented settling down. They have planted crops and raised food, while Timurbek has begun issuing laws for his people. Chazakia gives the distinct impression of a newborn nation.
Unfortunately, while the Chazaks ride the euphoric wave of nationalism, the native Molhyni fare less well. Centuries of hostility are bearing bitter fruit in Chazakia, and the new majority has heavily persecuted the local Veneshnyalyubovites. Refugee trains constantly stream out of the region, swelling the populations of the surrounding provinces. On the positive Side, Timurbek’s attacks have slowed considerably. Now that he has a nation to rule, the wily raider finds the responsibilities of governing quite time consuming. Still, his subordinates continue to raid nearby communities. He hopes that by showing enough force, he can keep Chazakia intact long enough to allow the nation to survive.
Timurbek has petitioned the Tsar for recognition as a house minor and admission to the Duma with the representatives of the other 7 provinces. As a token of good will he has detailed 10 regiments of Chazak roughriders to the Tsar’s army and has offered to pay taxes in return for royal recognition of his claims. Grand Duke Vladimir Drakov of Veneshnyalyubov has opposed Timurbek’s petition, of course, leaving the Tsar with a thorny problem. While House Drakov has been a loyal supporter for generations, the Chazaks are simply too powerful to be dismissed. The Archduchess of Malenkayalyubov has proposed that Timurbek’s eldest child, his daughter Reka, marry Drakov’s son Vladimir II and merge the two houses making Veneshnyalyubov a binational state – Timurbek Khan has expressed interest in the idea if power sharing can be worked out. It has also been proposed that the Gospodar Steppe be given to the Chazaks as their province even though that would require some concessions by the Drakovs.
Kulaks – Middle Class
Lyubov’s economy thrives on trade, Lyubov timber, ores, manufactured goods, weapons and spices fetch good prices on other worlds and since Lyubov’s agricultural sector alone cannot support the population such trade is vital to her well-being.
The mercantile middle-class, known as the Kulaks, dominates live in the cities. Like the Muzhiks of the countryside, the Kulaks are a mutable class with particularly successful Kulaks saving enough money to advance themselves to the Boyar ranks and establish themselves as major trading houses with the rest of the galaxy.
Boyars – Nobility
The Boyars are the wealthiest merchants and landowners of Lyubov, they are the social superiors of all but the provincial princes and, of course, the Tsar but they do dominate the local political scene of most settlements. The Boyars are the minor houses of Lyubov and are direct vassals of the Tsar. Within their own territories, the Boyars are sovereign – they range from petty despots to enlightened rulers who try to emulate the Tsar.
The most influential Boyars are invited to sit in the Duma, or Advisory Council of the Tsar, where they can voice their opinions on the issues of the day and lobby the Tsar to enact this or that edict. As the senior political leaders of Lyubov they bring important experience and knowledge to the table and the Tsar is wise to heed them but their counsel is not binding on His Majesty.
In addition to the hereditary nobility, there is a class of Service Boyars who are long-service Civil Servants, military heroes and other people who have rendered extraordinary service to Lyubov and who are elevated to the nobility by decree of the Tsar. (Such Service Boyars also tend to dilute the power of the hereditary Boyars since their positions are entirely dependent upon the pleasure of the crown and their loyalty is directly to the Tsar rather than to a local minor house)
Below the Boyars are their noble retainers – the Bogatyr or Gentry – these are wealthy families with feudal obligations to their noble superiors.
Tsar – Royalty
The Tsar-Tsaddik is the current head of the royal house, whose forebears lead the resistance against the Chaos hordes that occupied Lyubov for over 2000 years. Lyubovhive – the largest city on the planet and the surrounding provinces are the direct domain of the Tsar. The Planetary Defense Forces (known as the Strelets) are directly answerable to the Tsar and are recruited from across Lyubov but most of the officer corps come from the cities of Lyubovhive, Zenic, Zinc Hill, or elsewhere in the Capital Province of Velikayalyubov.
White Clergy are the urban priests who tend to the great Synagogues and lead the great academies. They generally hold the more politically influential positions within the religious hierarchy. Their duties include keeping the standards for weights and measures, overseeing oaths, collecting tithes and housing members of the lay community in times of crisis (the heavily fortified and reinforced synagogues of Lyubov are a legacy of the occupation and make excellent shelters in times of natural disaster or military crisis).
White clergy are respected and very often wealthy; Lyubov nobles tithe vast amounts of money to the religious establishment, particularly to “yes-men” who pander to them. The clergy (and their wives!) are sometimes on a social level equal to that of the petty nobles and wealthy landowners.
Although the clergy (with the exception of sextons) are immune to conscription. White priests were often soldiers as well and many such fighting priests become heroes. The most famous of these military orders are the Maccabees – followers of Matisyahu of Nidom, a hero of the resistance, who lead a guerrilla campaign against the Chaos forces that once held much of Lyubov. Notable for their long black coats and hats and white shirts and gloves and the large power-hammers they carry, these priests stand in the middle between the White and Black clergy. They lead religiously motivated troops in a never-ending war against Chaos and its followers. Any witch or chaos-follower who finds themselves in the hands of a Maccabee has truly been abandoned by the Dark Powers. The hatred of Chaos of these zealots knows no bounds. Ironically, the Maccabean Order also requires its adherents to be able hospitalers and many of the priests of this order are Masters of Physik as well as able warriors. The Maccabees are well-respected for the hospitals, orphanages and other charitable institutions they operate. These institutions are considered part and parcel of their war on Chaos since charity is a requirement of the Law, it is the antithesis of Chaos and as they fight it on a physical level on the battlefield, so to do they fight on a spiritual level with good works and acts of kindness to their fellow man.
Black Clergy tend to be closer to the people, teaching and guiding the common man, accompanying the army to war, collecting and distributing arms and advocating for the ordinary man before the nobility. Some members of the Black clergy are, as a result, wildly popular and wield considerable political power – sometimes greater than that of their White ‘superiors’ in the religious hierarchy. Black clergy are often prolific writers, expounding on esoteric meanings of the scriptures and the deeper hidden meanings behind the stories and moral tales therein.