Government of Bormar
Despite the impressions of many foreigners, the governance of Bormar is neither terribly unusual nor overly complex. It is a simple yet robust system that has carried the nation over many centuries and through many periods of turmoil. While certainly not perfect, it is safe to say that the dominant status of Bormar and the wealth of its Dwarves are, at least in part, a result of its government.
Political Philosophy[edit | edit source]
Wealth has been a symbol of prosperity among the Dwarves of Bormar since time immemorial, but it is for reasons more than mere materialism. To them, riches are a sign of ability–a measure used to compare one dwarf to another in simple terms. A life well lived is one with riches earned through hard work and determination. Wealth is something that shows not just that a dwarf is successful, but that they have the ability to provide not only for themselves, but for their family, friends, and community. It is no coincidence that these virtues are hoped to be ones shared by every noble of Bormar.
Accordingly, wealth is synonymous with nobility. When a holding is due for noble assignment, the First House initiates a grand assessment of the local population to determine the wealthiest dwarf among them (i.e. the most successful).
For administrative coherence, the wealth of a Dwarf is determined solely by the real and physical amount of currency that they possess, with that currency being the Bormar Belning and its denominations. While non-monetary assets are certainly impressive, it is only the tangible profits made from them that are measured. This mentality is best illustrated by First Lord Ironshell’s famous phrase, “A Dwarf may own as many mines, fields, and enterprises as he wishes, but if from them he gains no profit, he has nothing.”
Perhaps the most important side effect of this measurement is its effect in preventing the accumulation of wealth in the hands of very few. When the First House begins its assessment of a holding’s population, there is often a great flurry of business transactions to achieve maximum liquidity, i.e., to convert immeasurable assets into measurable wealth. It is not uncommon for a Dwarf lobbying for Lordship to sell the bulk of such assets to “cash in” on their labors and ensure their elevation into nobility. This allows Dwarves of lower means to acquire these assets which would otherwise be unavailable for them to purchase.
When the First House determines the wealthiest Dwarf in a holding, their ascension into nobility is granted, and that Dwarf becomes a true Lord or Lady of Bormar.
Citizenship[edit | edit source]
Every Dwarf born in Bormar is born a citizen. While this rule is quite possibly the least controversial law in the nation, it does not address situations that have arisen regarding foreigners that wish to become a part of the nation.
The issue was one the First House addressed many long centuries ago. Bormar’s status as a trading power was solidified by that point in time, and an increasing number of foreigners requested that they be allowed to settle and become a part of the nation. For a matter with so many aspects to consider, the decision was very quick, and it was decided that to become a citizen of Bormar one must inhabit a holding. Over eight centuries later, this has not changed. To become a citizen of Bormar, one must become a citizen of a holding. To become a citizen of a holding, one needs the formal and official acknowledgment of the holding’s ruling noble.
The mere residence of an individual in a holding is not sufficient, but it must be noted that citizenship is not required for residence either. To become a citizen of Bormar is foremost about being a part of a community, the ability to say that one is of a place in a deeper way than simple residence. It should also be noted that all these same standards apply to Dwarves from abroad as well.
Despite the request having procedural accommodation, most people of the world do not seek citizenship in Bormar. To be a citizen is to be expected to work as diligently as a Dwarf of the Mar Mountains, and that is a feat that few non-Bormar folk can manage. Moreover, being as it is at the judgment of the holding’s ruling Lord or Lady, the difficulty of acquiring citizenship can and often does, dramatically vary between holdings. It is no surprise that most “foreign citizens” reside on the outer edges of the nation’s borders, and it is a truly rare sight to see such an individual deeper within the Mar Mountains.
Political Subdivisions[edit | edit source]
Regions[edit | edit source]
While not an official subdivision, it is common to see portions of Bormar referenced as distinct political and cultural realms. These regions–sometimes referred to as “holds” or “provinces”'–are typically vague areas that have some common trait that is used to define them. Regions are something that arose out of practicality, allowing a Dwarf to say where they are from without having to deal with endless frustrations of where their out-of-the-way village is located. For example, a Dwarf from Innsburg may simply say that he hails from the Koreggi Mountains, the region where Innsburg is located.
Holdings[edit | edit source]
The nation of Bormar is divided into a great assembly of versatile administrative divisions known as holdings (e.g. The Holding of Garum’s Hall).
A holding is typically composed of a settlement and its immediate surroundings, but this is not always the case. The rights to define and alter the boundaries of a holding belong exclusively to the First House. While most holdings remain of similar size and scope as they did at their creation, it is not unusual for the First House to expand, retract, or even divide a holding to ensure the proper and efficient administration of the nation.
Whatever their size, each holding is overseen by a noble—be they Lord or Lady—who does so until death, resignation, or dismissal by the First House. What separates Bormar from its neighbors is that these nobles do not inherit their title but instead earn it. For what makes a noble of Bormar is not their heritage nor bloodline, but instead, their ability to acquire and produce wealth.
Leadership[edit | edit source]
The First House[edit | edit source]
Composed of the one-hundred richest Lords and Ladies, the First House is a pedigree as old as Bormar itself. It takes its name from the fact that, in the old days, decisions concerning settlements were made in the home of its governing elder which was more often than not the oldest structure in the settlement – the first house. Accordingly, the First House is to be similarly considered as such but in the representation of and authority over all of Bormar.
The First House is the main governing body of the nation and has the final say on essentially everything. The First House–commonly called just “the House”–alone can make new laws, command the armies, appoint nobles, and conduct diplomacy with other nations.
The First House chooses its members from among the nation’s richest. A Dwarf who is extended an invitation must forfeit their current holding and relocate to the great city of Ereben where the beating heart of Bormar’s government resides.
The most prominent position within the First House is that of the First Speaker. This is the only elected position within the House, and it is intended as an impartial guide for deliberations. First Speakers facilitate debate within the Chamber and are also the Dwarf to officially sign off on laws passed by the First House. To become the First Speaker, a First Lord or Lady must first be nominated by five of their colleagues within the House. It is not uncommon for there to be over a dozen proposed candidates. Afterward, an election is conducted with several elimination rounds until one candidate achieves an absolute majority. This process can be incredibly competitive and often becomes a drama-filled spectacle the public takes a keen interest in. Once a candidate achieves their absolute majority, they are officially announced as the new First Speaker. While there is no official term limit for First Speakers, they tend to last roughly a decade.
Much as for regular nobles, a member of the First House–known as a First Lord or First Lady–must personally finance those things for which they are responsible. For example, a First Lord proposing a grand investment will be expected to finance the venture when it is passed by the First House. Naturally, this has led to almost every proposal being brought by a multitude of First Lords and Ladies working together to split the burden. Perhaps there are no better words to describe the benefits of this system than First Lady Fireheart’s famous quip, “The beauty of Bormar is that our Lords and Ladies must always put their money where their mouth is.”
The Nobility[edit | edit source]
A noble becomes the sole overseer of their holding immediately upon their ascension to the title by order of the First House. The Lords and Ladies may make decrees over it and its people, decide the fates of criminals, command the molir, and direct public services as they see fit. They are obligated to live within the borders of their holding, meaning every noble is within walking distance of their constituents. Ensuring the holding remains a productive part of Bormar’s trade system is perhaps a noble’s chief priority, but ensuring their people’s general welfare by assisting them in making good livelihoods is equally important. Additionally, while it is common for a Lord or Lady to create administrators to serve under them–mayors, councils, bailiffs, etc.–the noble will generally always have the final say over the direction of their holding.
Most important, however, is the fact that a noble has full and exclusive rights to all of the holding’s revenues, including the bulk of its taxes and tariffs. All nobles are wealthy, but those whose holdings lie near the busiest trade routes can become richer than the rulers of foreign kingdoms.
It is no coincidence that Lords and Ladies tend to be ambitious, as it is not only necessary to gain their title, but also to keep it, for much as every profit of their holding is theirs, so is every expense. A noble has to personally pay for the management and upkeep of their holding. Every last public expense and affair is the sole duty of the noble, from the maintenance of roads to the wages of the molir. Ensuring that their holding continues to operate smoothly and productively is the most important duty of any noble of Bormar, for the First House is quick to strip any noble of their title if it is perceived that their rule is harming the nation’s lifeblood of trade. Still, it is not particularly common for a noble to end their noble term in worse financial shape than when they began.
Naturally, the obvious risk to this purportedly meritocratic system would be the effect of nobles passing their fabulous wealth onto their offspring, creating extremely wealthy noble dynasties and creating a hereditary aristocracy in all but name. Thankfully, this risk has been mitigated by the First House through various pieces of legislation designed to combat it. Upon the death of a noble, their children are entitled to inherit only a moderate, predetermined stipend in comparison to children of non-noble parents who inherit the full share. Instead, the wealth of a passed noble becomes the possession of the holding and its next Lord or Lady. This is yet another ingenious mechanism preventing the development of multi-generational wealth that would otherwise tarnish the meritocratic nature of Bormar’s system of governance.
To fill its role in the grand system, a noble has broad privileges, and, so long as they act lawfully, the First House generally allows a noble to ‘get the most out of their people.’ In the controversial but prominent words of First Lord Horkhut, “It is the duty of each dwarf to be a productive part of our nation, and it is the duty of their Lord to compel them to be such.” While a noble’s relationship with their people varies from holding to holding, it is, more often than not, a beneficial arrangement for all parties involved. The Dwarves of a holding live productive, enterprising lives; their Lord or Lady provides safety and security while receiving taxes and tariffs; and Bormar benefits from another hold contributing to the nation’s broader priorities of facilitating industry and trade.
The Offices[edit | edit source]
Throughout Bormar’s history, the First House has passed various pieces of legislation to create sub-organizations to focus on tasks that require dedicated supervision. The first of such organizations was the "Committee for Trade and Transport", which oversaw the standardization of toll roads throughout Bormar in the early decades of the nation. While the Committee was dissolved in the second century, it served as the framework from which the nation’s future offices and organizations would be built.
The Office of Outpost Affairs[edit | edit source]
The Office of Outpost Affairs (“OOA”) is trusted with the lofty duty of administering the hundreds of Outposts scattered throughout the known world. The OOA has a legion of staff, employed in tabulation, legislation, supervision, management, logisticians, tacticians, scouts, and over a hundred other professions.
The OOA is the primary mover for Bormar’s expansion. While it is certainly one of the largest and most important parts of the nation’s government, it is also the most expensive to operate. The OOA gains income through the Tribute System, which has each Outpost sending a set amount of goods every fortnight. These goods are tabulated using a complex point-based system to keep each Outpost focused on its primary duty of fueling Bormar’s hunger for resources.
While Tributes pose a massive logistical challenge for the OOA, there are no circumstances in which an Outpost may be excused from fulfilling its obligations. Repeated failure to make proper Tribute will lead to the OOA dismissing the Outpost’s Charter, thereby stripping it of any connection to Bormar. When this happens, it is not long until the Outpost is abandoned or overwhelmed by outside forces due to a lack of national support.
The Office of National Investigations[edit | edit source]
The Office of National Investigations (“ONI”) effectively serves as the eyes and ears of the First House throughout the nation and the world at large. The ONI is tasked with monitoring delicate and potentially disastrous situations before they occur so that the First House can respond appropriately. Agents of the ONI are incredibly skilled individuals, being both highly trained independent operatives while also having the full backing of the First House.
For most Dwarves, the ONI will have no noticeable influence on their lives whatsoever. But for Bormar’s Outposts, or its more precarious holdings, the arrival of an ONI agent signifies that a local danger has become a national issue that is recognized by the First House as such. In recent years, the ONI has been instrumental in the indictment of Lord Voman Stoutheart as well as the unsolved case of the Ruin of Gemfeld.
The Office of the Treasury and Mint[edit | edit source]
The Office of the Treasury and Mint (“OTM”) is based in the city of Ereben, the OTM has near-universal control over the design of the Bormar belning and its various denominations. Additionally, the office is designated with the critically important task of securing the wealth of the First Lords in their banking fortress in Ereben.
The Office of Noble Registry[edit | edit source]
The Office of Noble Registry (“ONR”) is an unassuming administrative Office tasked with recording and coordinating with Bormar’s countless nobility. It is the ONR that assesses the Dwarves of a holding to determine the wealthiest among them to assure that the First House raises the most deserving Dwarf into nobility. Consequently, even though the Office is little more than a collection of paper-shuffling bureaucrats, it is easily the one that most Dwarves have some first-hand experience with.