The Kalistocracy of Druma (pronounced kal-ihs-TOK-rah-see of DROO-muh)1 is a land glutting itself on the wealth of trade that is ruled by the high prophet of a strange, secular philosophy called the Prophecies of Kalistrade that values wealth and trade above any deity. Members who follow this philosophy, known as Kalistocrats, permeate every level of Drumish society and always favor one another in business and personal dealings. While other religions are tolerated in Druma, their faithful rarely achieve great wealth or positions of power, as the majority of the Resplendent Bureaucracy, the civil servants who runs Druma, is made up of followers of the Prophecy.2
The Macridi Blade culture
Much like many other parts of Avistan, Druma was once inhabited by a branch of the Kellid people. While the ancient Kellids of Druma lived as nomadic pastoralists, they developed agriculture following the collapse of the ancient serpentfolk empire and eventually coalesced into a single cultural tradition. It is not known what name this society used for itself, although modern archaeologists refer to it as the Macridi Blade culture after the characteristic stone blades associated with its sites and the modern-day town of Macridi where these were first found. The Macridi Blade people are known to have formed an extensive trading network thanks to their access to Lake Encarthan and its associated waterways: Macridi Blade sites have yielded pots of food from Gastash, soapstone tools from the World's Edge Mountains, wooden carvings from Kyonin, and freshwater shells from the Lake of Mists and Veils. Additionally, the Macridi Blade culture developed its own techniques for working copper and gold, and domesticated variants of millet, plum, sorghum, and vetch that are still cultivated today. A religion tradition known as the Speakers of the Pale arose during this time that followed a belief system focused on mutual relationships between individuals and communities that was extended to humanity's relationship with the natural world and the afterlife. The Speakers served as intermediaries between their people and the fey of Palakar Forest, negotiating for the harvesting of resources in exchange for compensation, and were often ritualistically buried within the local entrances to the Darklands to serve as protectors from the creatures living in the underground and to warn off living people from entering them.3
The Macridi Blade people's trade networks led to a period of prosperity, during which they raised cities of stone and brick and erected large earthwork projects of varied purposes under the Speakers' direction; these mounds are still found throughout modern Druma, as are the ruins of the cities. A still-undeciphered system of petroglyphs was developed and utilized by the Speakers, and the periodic recovery or elaborately braided rawhide strips from Macridi Blade ruins, alongside the presence of similar patterns in artwork from that period, has led to speculation that these knotted patterns had some specific meaning of their own. The Macridi Blade people are not believed to have ever united under a single government, instead living as independent communities united by intermarriage and a shared culture.3
Contemporaneous written accounts of the Macridi Blade culture are limited, and largely restricted to records from Thassilon. One such record details the visit of a delegation from Cyrusian to the Macridi Blade city of Eahprin, which ended when an unknown slight against the Palakar fey led them to attack Eahprin and kill several members of the delegation. The surviving Thassilonians returned to Cyrusian, and used this incident to depict the Kellids as a barbarous people who summon monsters to devour their foes.3
Age of Darkness and dwarven rule
After having endured for about a millennium, the Macridi Blade society was ended by the destruction of Earthfall. Tremors from the meteorite impact caused mountain uplift to the south of the Macridi homelands, while the decades-long impact winter created by the tons of ejected material killed off much of the area's plant life and consequently caused the collapse of the Macridi Blade culture's agricultural system, resulting in devastating famines and the deaths of thousands. As a consequence, the survivors abandoned their now-unsustainable settled civilization, and adopted nomadic lifestyles much like those of their ancestors.3
The Kellids lived in this manner for several centuries, a period which was in turn ended when the orcs emerged onto Golarion's surface after being forced out of their traditional Darklands homelands during the dwarves' Quest for Sky. While the Macridi Blade culture might have been able to fend off the invading orc tribes, the scattered Kellid clans were unable to offer a meaningful resistance and, although the arrival of the dwarves some decades after the orcs', allowed the human clans to drive the orcs out of the lowlands, the clans were left bloodied and dispersed. The dwarves saw the surviving humans as a primitive culture and, while they initially offered them aid, this relationship soon developed a condescending nature; eventually, the dwarves came to see the Kellids' former homeland as an empty territory fit for colonization and named it Druma—believed to be a bastardization of a local word meaning "silver shore"—and incorporated it within their newly formed empire of Tar Taargadth in -4890 AR.3
Druma became Tar Taargadth's agricultural breadbasket, and was subject to relatively little mining. The Kellids continued to inhabit the area as subjects of the dwarves, being granted protection in exchange for grain taxes and political submission, but dwarven rule eventually began to clash with traditional Kellid practices. This led to a substantial incident when a dwarven landowner neglected to pay blood-price for having killed a Kellid herder's goat, leading to a violent reprisal that was condoned by the Speakers of the Pale. Dwarven authorities decried this as vigilantism and responded with a crackdown on the Kellid religion, which led to a popular defense of the faith that was, in turn, suppressed by the dwarven governor. Tensions escalated into three years of open warfare, starting in -4866 AR, recorded as the First Drumish Rebellion, which ended with the Speakers having to flee to Isger and across Lake Encarthan. The Kellids came to view the exiled priests as martyrs and symbols of Kellid cultural autonomy. The dwarves also clashed with the Palakar fey, due to the dwarves' increasingly common forays for lumber and charcoal enraging the forest's natives. This spurred local satyrs to demand tolls for access to lumber, which the dwarves saw as brigandry and refused to pay. The satyrs responded by kidnapping several dwarven trespassers, leading to seventeen years of armed conflict starting in -4411 AR, known as the Charcoal Wars, which resulted in the destruction of a quarter of the forest but which ultimately proved too costly for the dwarves to maintain.3
Despite the conflicts with the Kellids and the fey, dwarven rulership over Druma remained functionally uncontested for millennia. The area continued to supply Tar Taargadth with large quantities of food, and numerous dwarven engineering projects, such as the Aqueduct of Gtaldorn, the network of roads, and the draining of the Heibarstol Marsh survive to this day. Several cities were founded during this time, including Detmer in -1113 AR, which prospered as a haven for dwarves unwelcome in the Sky Citadels until rising water levels caused it to sink beneath Lake Encarthan. Three more armed conflicts occurred during this period: the decades-long Whisperfall Offensive against the orcs, and the Second and Third Drumish Rebellions; few records survive about the latter two conflicts, although the first ended in the death of a Kellid war leader and the second came after a three-year-long famine.3
The rise of the empire of Taldor began a period of decline in Tar Taargadth, and the news of a thriving human empire to the south, combined with the increasing weight of tariffs, taxes, and edicts caused Druma's human population to spark the Fourth Drumish Rebellion. Despite aid from allied war bands from Isger and Kestrillon, the Fourth Rebellion ended in failure in 113 AR, like the first three did, and Emperor Hurognar responded by demanding that the Drumish people be "denied beards and beer", thereby prohibiting Druman men from growing facial hair or consuming alcohol. Although the edict was repealed on Hurognar's death, it had by then developed into a formal tradition and a way for local humans to reject dwarven culture. While Druman men continued to remain clean-shaven and abstinent, the women developed a counter-culture centered on symposia where they would drink, debate, and perform music. These habits led to the formation of the roots of what would become modern Drumish culture.3
Rise of the Prophecies of Kalistrade
Roughly a century after the failed Fourth Rebellion, the prophet Kalistrade was born in 187 AR and undertook his journeys, returning with coffers filled with wealth and adhering to a strict lifestyle. A cult quickly formed around him, spurred on by its adherents' financial success, and grew steadily until Kalistrade's disappearance in 251 AR. His followers collected his numerous writings, letters, and journals, forming them into early versions of the Prophecies of Kalistrade, but subsequently underwent a period of religious schisms that left the newborn religion fractured and with little influence. This lasted until Kalistrade's tomb was discovered in 408 AR, allowing religious leaders to commune with his remains and to syncretize their faith into a cohesive whole. One faction remained distinct from the new religious mainstream, however; this sect, known as the Golden Solidarity, relocated to Kestrillon and adopted a life of giving and generosity. This was perceived as wasteful and inadvisable by other followers of Kalistrade, and the island's fall to Tar-Baphon, which led to the massacre of the Golden Disciples alongside its other inhabitants, was perceived by the newly christened Kalistocrats as a cautionary tale.3
Over the following centuries, Kalistrade's faith endured but declined in favor of Aroden's, aided by the Last Azlanti's victory over Tar-Baphon and the efforts of his evangelists to spread his faith. Aroden's status as the God of Humanity originally served as another rallying point against dwarven rule, but the reticence of his followers to support armed uprisings ultimately crippled his faith's hold on Druma and allowed Kalistrade's following to return to prominence.3
In 1551 AR, Tar Taargadth, having grown fractured and weakened, fell to a devastating series of orc attacks and eventually split into the five dwarven kingdoms of Gardadth, Saggorak, Doggadth, Grakodan, and Taggoret, which thereafter fought one another in the devastating Five Kings Wars beginning in 1571 AR. The kingdoms, particularly Saggorak, levied increasingly harsh taxes against the Drumans, sparking the Fifth Drumish Rebellion against Saggorak in 1580 AR. The Fifth Rebellion itself only won the Drumans a reprieve from the wars and a lessened tax burden, but allowed the Prophets of Kalistrade to profit significantly from providing financial and material aid to the dwarven armies. 2133 AR saw the immigration of several Isgeri Kellids fleeing their homeland's fall to Taldor's Seventh Army of Exploration, fueling further independent sentiment in Druma. The relatively minor Sixth Drumish Rebellion saw the formation of the Meritocracy of Jelheg in Druma's south, but the fledgeling nation's refusal to trade with the Taldans and the dwarves left it significantly impoverished, and it was eventually crushed by Taggoreti forces during a lull in the dwarves' internecine wars.34
In 2331 AR, the Kalistocrats had amassed significant debts among the dwarven governments, allowing them to force the Five Kings to negotiate Druma's independence in exchange for forgiving their debts in the Kerse Accord, signed in 2332 AR.3 Druma has remained independent ever since, and along with the Five Kings Mountains, is the only nation in the Shining Kingdoms region to have never been under the heel of the Empire of Taldor.5 The accords granted Druma full autonomy recognized by both the dwarves and by Taldor. The Kalistocrats established themselves as Druma's new ruling class afterwards, although the Burning Glove Riots of 2335 AR eventually forced them to relax taxation and provide greater opportunities for upward mobility. While the newborn country largely flourished after this, a faction driven by lingering resentment against dwarven rule and spurred on by Jelhegi influence and news of Rahadoum's Oath Wars attempted to forcefully seize control of Druma's government, engaging in racially driven retaliation against Druma's dwarven citizens as it did so. Although this attempt failed and the extremist faction eventually lost popular support and dwindled away, Druma's reputation remained damaged for centuries to come.3
Relationships between Druma and the dwarves remained cold; even after the establishment of Tar Khadurrm by Khadon the Mighty, the dwarves rebuffed Drumish overtures due to their refusal to send aid when orcish attacks had caused the Five Kingdoms' collapse. The dwarves established trade routes with Cheliax that circumvented Druma altogether, which Druma responded to by strengthening its trade routes to the Shining Crusade to the north. When the Rending of Droskar's Crag crippled Tar Khadurrm and Ordrik Talhrik seized control of the ailing empire, however, Druma opened its doors to thousands of dwarven refugees, helping to rebuild many of the burnt bridges between the two peoples. In the following centuries, Druma prospered through its investments in Cheliax's Everwar, caravans traveling along the then newly discovered Path of Aganhei, and other ventures.3
As Druma had never been very reliant on gods, it endured Aroden's death and the dawn of the Age of Lost Omens better than many other nations, although it was forced to restructure its mercantile networks as wars ravaged many of its trading partners. The rise of Razmir's cult caused a brief period of instability in Druma's ports, resulting in strict restrictions on the spread of the Living God's cult in Druma. The Goblinblood Wars also impacted Druma, as the threats to its borders and trading networks, and a feeling of kinship towards the Isgeri people, saw Druma involve its Blackjackets in the conflict.3
Druma's centralized location between the bustling waters of Lake Encarthan and the trade routes of Isger leading all the way to the Inner Sea, makes it an ideal place for a nation of traders. Its rich mineral deposits ensure that Druma will never be short on goods to export. Druma is nestled between Lake Encarthan to its north and the Five Kings Range to its east and south. Its border to the west with Molthune is the only border not defined by a natural feature. Druma itself is predominantly hilly and much of its terrain is dominated by the mountains that make up two sides of its border. While the hilly nature of the terrain may not make it ideal for agriculture, it does conceal the mineral wealth that has helped to make Druma so rich.678 The hilly landscape also provides a good environment for the rearing of the baccali alpaca, which has extremely soft wool that is another source of trade for the Drumans.9
The Kalistocrats that make up the Resplendent Bureaucracy are directly responsible for running the nation of Druma. Unfortunately, in a nation that values wealth above all else, few people wish to remain in a job that has steady pay but no opportunity for the accumulation of vast amounts of personal wealth. As such, members of the Bureaucracy only tend to stay there for up to a decade while they look for opportunities elsewhere. In addition, the richest Kalistocrats outside of the Bureaucracy hold more influence and power than the government itself. Above the Bureaucracy is the man it serves, the High Prophet Kelldor. While jobs in the Bureaucracy are not usually taken by richer merchants, the role of High Prophet is no mere job. Ruling a country of wealth-obsessed merchants and the political connections that brings makes the High Prophet one of the most powerful men in the Inner Sea region, in addition to having the power to autocratically countermand any decision made by the Resplendent Bureaucracy.625
Druma's relationships with its neighboring nations are interesting to say the least. Obsessed with trade, Druma is primarily interested in its neighbors as trading partners and little else.2
Druma cannot understand the strange egalitarian principles of Andoran, its neighbor to the south, and the wealthy merchants of Macridi find interacting with its citizens who (to Drumish sensibilities) do not know their place, particularly annoying.2
Certain individuals in Druma are making efforts to forge alliances with Galt's newly established leadership, anticipating that stability within that nation might offer more lucrative opportunities. Meanwhile, others are content with conducting whatever trade they can manage, primarily in essential supplies and weaponry. Overall, Druma has remained relatively unchanged in response to recent developments. Its citizens frequently reinforce the notion that, irrespective of the rulership in neighboring nations, wealth continues to reign supreme for all.5
To the east, Druma eagerly eyes Kyonin and the untapped potential of the kingdom of the elves.6 Boatloads of goods are sent yearly to the Kyonin city of Greengold (the only city in the elven nation that allows humans entry) in the hopes of encouraging an expansion in trade or even for Druma to become Kyonin's sole trade conduit to the rest of the world.25
While the Kalistocrats in their white robes are widely recognized throughout the Inner Sea region, Druma's military, officially known as the Mercenary League, is equally renowned. The organization and its members are referred to most commonly as "Blackjackets" due to their distinctive all-black uniforms. Being the armed forces of a nation comprised of exceptionally wealthy traders, the Blackjackets are equipped with top-tier armor and weaponry and undergo some of the finest training, which translates to the highest salaries among any military force in the region. Consequently, the Blackjackets' unwavering loyalty to the Resplendent Bureaucracy is legendary, and individual Blackjackets are known for their unflinching amorality when executing their orders.5
High Prophet Kelldor is credited with the current strength of the Blackjackets. Recently he initiated a concerted effort to bolster the Mercenary League through an "Edict of Preparation," which mandated a near doubling of the army's recruitment and training. The outcome has been the creation of a formidable force comprised of highly skilled warriors who have received specialized training for countering orcs and undead. This places Druma in a distinctively strong position to withstand the resurgence of the Whispering Tyrant. Consequently, the nation has experienced less suffering than its neighboring regions due to the rise of Tar-Baphon. However, with the blockage of lucrative trade routes, particularly along Lake Encarthan, some citizens have begun to express concerns that the hordes of undead might pose a problem that even wealth cannot resolve.5
Prophecies of Kalistrade
The most interesting thing about the people of Druma is their almost universal adherence to the Prophecies of Kalistrade. Nowhere else in Avistan are the followers of the prophecy so common. The prophecy states that its followers must adhere to strict rules about diet and sexual activity, and must also wear only white clothing and wear gloves to prevent contact with those outside of the cult. The prophecies' main tenet is that one must attain personal wealth in order to justify one's worth in the celestial order. This belief means displays of wealth are prominent amongst the citizens of Druma, and often gaudy in the extreme. Merchant lords of Druma frequently wear jewelry worth many thousands of gold pieces. Despite this, few would be stupid enough to rob an adherent of the Prophecies, as they are able to afford magical protection, scrying, and assassins, and are often protected by members of the Mercenary League, Druma's highly paid and well-trained military.68
Religions are tolerated but not encouraged by the Drumish government, but those who do not follow the Prophecies are looked down upon and rarely achieve high positions in the official bureaucracy. Nonbelievers also find conducting business here more difficult, as adherents always favor each other in any business dealings.2
Citizens of Druma see kinship with tauhotis, a species of squirrel, and believe that their owners are trustworthy since they never forget slights and reward their companions well. They have also bred an albino variant designed to appeal to Kalistocrats.10
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 63. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Overview” in Druma, Profit and Prophecy, 6–11. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Chapter 3: History” in Guide to Darkmoon Vale, 44ff. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Shining Kingdoms” in World Guide, 124–125. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Chapter 2: The Inner Sea” in Campaign Setting, 72–73. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). "Characters". Campaign Setting, p. Poster Map. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Gazetteer, 30–31. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Nature & Animals” in Travel Guide, 99. Paizo Inc., 2022 .
- “Bestiary” in Druma, Profit and Prophecy, 63. Paizo Inc., 2019 .