OHS Dragon Age
Life in Ferelden
Fereldan cities radiate outward in a haphazard fashion from a central keep or fortress. The inner city is the domain of the rich with elegant mansions, manicured parks, and affluent chantries. The streets are paved with cobblestones and boast a proper sewage system. As you move away from the city center, you’ll find only loosely packed dirt for roads and buildings set about with no particular plan in mind. Taverns sit alongside crafthouses next to food markets beside brothels. The streets twist along on bewildering paths, with countless slanting and narrow alleyways between them. In poorer quarters, the roads can quickly become a nightmarish labyrinth for an unsuspecting traveler. The closer one lives to the city center, the higher one’s social status tends to be. Most goods are readily available; other than slaves very little is illegal to sell in Ferelden so there isn’t really much of a “black market” to speak of. The majority of Fereldans believe in the Maker’s Chantry, following the words of the Prophetess Andraste. Those who do not believe generally hold their tongues.
Outside the cities, people typically live on freeholds, farms that may have been worked for generations by one or more families. Freeholds are highly social and communal with everyone pitching in to help their neighbors. Freehold governance varies wildly, but generally involves a council made up of representatives from each family that decide on what to plant, what to build, which bann to support, and so forth.
The law in Ferelden is supplemented with a good sword arm, so don’t expect a lot of help from the authorities unless major property damage or murder is involved. Petty theft is ignored and most guardsmen are expected to protect their posts more than to enforce laws. Laws regulating behavior are almost non-existent in Ferelden. The carrying of arms and armor is unregulated, as are gambling, prostitution, drinking, and so forth. Arbiters appointed by the king’s seneschal hear disputes. Known as “blackhallers” due to the seneschal’s hall in Denerim being constructed of black granite, arbiters often have busy schedules. Out in the countryside, a sheriff appointed by the local bann will maintain the peace and keep track of the cases that the next scheduled arbiter will hear. Since this can take some time, a tradition has arisen where a suspect, in order to get out of prison, will give up something of great value to the sheriff and be released “on his bond.” The property will be returned to the suspect if he shows up to be judged by the arbiter. Otherwise, the sheriff retains the bond and the crime of fleeing justice is added to his original offense. Imprisonment is frowned on in Ferelden as more than a temporary measure. Punishment tends to be quick: whipping, disfigurement, fines, or execution. Public humiliation is often thrown in for good measure.