Cultural Cues: Bech is inspired by Germanic culture during the High Medieval period and Eastern European folklore.
Costuming: Bechan fighters favor heavy armor (chain or plate) and large weapons. They prefer simple clothing in dark, earthy colors and sturdy shoes. A wealthy Bechan will prefer his or her arms and armor to reflect social status rather than clothes.
Bech’s southern border and parts of its western lands abut the Illumin Empire. The north and northwest share a border with the Outlands, and to the northeast is a small border with the distant, frigid country of Ruvasta. To the east, past Bech’s ringing mountains, lie the steppes and plains that are home to the roaming Tugha hordes.
Bech itself is divided into several duchies, collectively called the Iron Duchies.
Though the Illumin Empire often conquered neighboring territories and brought its well-trained armies to bear against barbarian nations, in time those same barbarians at the gate overcame the defenses of the crumbling and overtaxed empire. Only a few generations ago, the Iron Duchies would have been little more than an outpost of the Illumin Empire beset by raiding barbarians. Over the course of the last few decades, those same barbarians sacked many of the cities, then took those cities and their treasures as new homes. Now, the Bechan people are a blend of that barbarian stock with Illumin blood, and they have become a power unto themselves. Skilled in metalwork and the crafts of war, the Bechan chiefs turned against one another, and now their duchies constantly vie for position.
Among the Bechans, warfare is a high art and the best path to social advancement. In spite of this, the Bechans adopted many Illumin customs, mingled with their own histories, and so they have a strong culture which favors sharp words, dance, and meaty meals. The Iron Duchies gain their name and their money from the fact that their mines produce the most (and best) iron in all the known lands. Combined with their mace-wielding shock troops and excellent crossbowmen, this makes the Bechans natural contenders for expansion into a new empire—if the various dukes do not murder one another first.
Currently, the Iron Duchies are led by the Imperatrix Katerina von Sokol, widely admired for her ability to unite Bech as a nation and deal wisely with her neighbors.