Galt setting guide
This page supplements the section on Galt (and a few other things) in the Inner Sea World Guide and other canon sources. It shouldn't contradict canon much, but where it does, this takes precedence.
A brief history of Galt
From the introduction to The Galtan People's History, by the People's Committee on Civics:
Galt is a fair land of plains and rolling hills, of fields and forests. It might have been a rich land, but for its rulers. A caste of hereditary nobility held a monopoly on power. The government was authoritarian and the taxes were onerous. The nobility had little regard for the lower classes, viewing them largely as a source of money and soldiers. Major wars, either domestic or foreign, would erupt once every generation or so, and would invariably result in the people being taxed white and thousands being conscripted to fight; those who returned were often scarred in body or mind. Armies from both sides raped and pillaged their way through the countryside, and the press-gangs were almost as bad. Peace was rare; there was usually a minor war or rebellion going on somewhere. When they weren't at war, the nobility squandered the wealth of the land on their lavish lifestyles. The secret police watched everything and mercilessly crushed anything resembling dissent. A charge of sedition usually meant disappearance into one of the notorious black prisons, from which few ever returned.
The Revolution was 47 years ago. The governor and nobles were executed, the black prisons torn down, and social classes abolished. Galt is now ruled by the Great Council of the People. The people are free. But that freedom is ever in danger. Counter-revolutionaries and foreign agents stir up trouble throughout the land, and the Revenant Princes menace the northern borders from their bases in the River Kingdoms. But you need not worry, citizen. The People's Army and the Gray Guardians work tirelessly to protect Galt so that the people may live free and without fear.
From the seditious ravings of Emil Mettset, enemy of the people:
All the Red Revolution brought us was hatred. We're just as poor, just as oppressed, as ever before. Taxes are just as high as ever. They speak of freedom, but few dare to speak openly and any deviation from the mob earns you a kiss from a Final Blade. They speak of self-determination, but there hasn't been an election in 35 years and the Gray Gardeners answer to no one. They speak of peace, but we've been in a state of war ever since the revolution started and we still pick fights with our neighbours. They speak of brotherhood, but my brothers are dead.
Let's talk about the revolutionary council for a minute. Citizen Goss likes to make a big deal about being a level 6 commoner. What he doesn't say is that he also has four levels of rogue. Or at least he did last spring; he might have five now. Tell me, what sort of honest politician needs +35 to Bluff? That man hasn't said a true word in ten years; the only reason why he is where he is now, and why he's still alive, is that he can always deflect the mob's anger about his incompetence, corruption, and brutality onto someone else. The others aren't any better; Citizen Lavenza turns the bodies of the revolution's victims into unholy abominations, Citizen Mirford is a slaver is all but name, Citizen Passeut is obsessed with eugenics, and Citizen Tozeky is so deviant that I don't know where to begin. There have been at least thirteen different revolutionary councils in the past 47 years, each sent to the Final Blades by the next. Few of them were any better than this lot. Hosetter and Junbannich may have meant well, but they couldn't control the mobs that they unleashed so they commissioned San Trayne to create the Final Blades. We still don't know what the Galtcreed Pact did with their prisoners; upwards of a thousand people were hauled up into the Fog Peaks and no one ever returned — even Citizen Bremovir himself. The Cailean Council changed everything from the alphabet to weights and measures, and we're still sorting that mess out. General Rane declared martial law and introduced Galt to the joys of military dictatorship. The Common Council was little more than a gang of teenagers who invented whole new fields of incompetence. Traxyla and the Eye of Law were hags, and I mean that literally. And if you couldn't guess from the name, The Cabinet of Skulls were a cabal of necromancers.
In the past 47 years, more Galtan lives have been taken by the Final Blades than by all the wars and excesses of the nobility in the previous 300. Think about that.
Galt sits on the north side of the Fog Peaks in east-central Avistan. To the south lies Taldor. The Fog Peaks themselves are controlled by neither; the high peaks in the east are the domain of a frost giant tribe, the foothills and lesser peaks are inhabited by ettins and hill giants, and white dragons make their lairs throughout the range. In the far southwest, Galt controls the northern-most reaches of the Verduran Forest. Galt's western border is the Sellen River, with Andorran, the Five Kings Mountains, and Kyonin on the far bank. The elves and the dwarves mostly ignore Galt, but relations with Andorran are more tense: while Andorran used to welcome Galtan refugees, Korran Goss and other Galtan leaders have been blaming Andorran for Galt's troubles and the Andorrans responded by closing and fortifying the border. In the northwest, the border is the East Sellen River, though the border becomes poorly defined in the northwest when it cuts away from the river some 80 miles north of Isarn, skirts north along the southeastern edge of the Creeperwood, then swings east near Nystra to the Hills of Nomen. Galt's neighbours to the north include the River Kingdoms of Riverton, Cordelon, Hymbria, Liberthane, Nystra, Mivon, and Jovvox. The eastern border is even less distinct, roughly following the western edge of the Hills of Nomen, the domain of centaurs and giants on the western edge of Iobaria.
Owing to its location in the interior of Avistan, Galt has a continental climate with cold winters and short warm summers. In the winter, cold winds sweep down from the north, dumping large amounts of snow as they climb over the Fog Peaks. Summer weather is more varied; winds from the north bring rain, winds from the south bring thunderstorms, and winds from the west bring clear weather. Most settlements in Galt, from the largest towns to the smallest farmsteads, are located behind windbreaks of some sort, either steep valley walls, forests, or shelter belts. Azurestone is an exception, being protected from the worst of the weather by the Vernal Key. The growing season in Galt lasts from May to September.
Galt's major population centres lie along the north edge of the Boarwood, in the Horun Plain south of the Southern Hymbrian Forest, and in the valleys of the Stormflood and Sellen rivers. Apart from Azurestone, the vast plains of the northeast are sparsely inhabited.
The forests of Galt are mostly oak and beech, giving way to fir at higher elevations.
The population of Galt is about 65% human, 15% halfling, 10% half-elf, 8% dwarf (mostly in the Fog Peaks and their foothills, or at Azurestone), and 2% gnome (mostly in and near the Southern Hymbrian Forest). There are a handful of elves around Woodsedge and a few half-orcs in remote areas along the northern border. Galtan culture is deeply paranoid and xenophobic. Foreigners are generally not welcome. Anything that looks like a monster is likely to be at best driven away or at worst sent to a Final Blade. Consequently, tieflings, asimars, and other mixed-bloods are almost unheard of and half-orcs live in fear of their neighbours.
Like most human-dominated societies, Galtan society tends to be patriarchal and somewhat misogynistic; women are expected to marry young. Apart from farmers (where women work the fields with their families), only about 10% of human women (and about 50% of non-human women) seek careers outside of the home. When not tending the home or children, house-wives often engage in cottage industries such as spinning, weaving, and raising chickens.
Humans who survive to their 5th birthday can expect an average lifespan of about 50 years. Those who live to old age usually cap out at four or five class levels; only about 1 in 100,000 ever reach level 20. Other races with longer lifespans reach correspondingly higher levels. To take a level in a PC class, one must earn the majority of the required XP doing something particularly difficult, dangerous, or impressive; about 80% of people never meet this bar and live out their lives with nothing but NPC levels. Another 18% earn a few (rarely more than three) PC class levels along with other NPC levels as they go about their lives. The most common PC classes are Fighter and Ranger, typically earned up by soldiers, followed by Cleric, as most religions encourage their clergy to seek Cleric levels and the religious orders are not exempt from conscription. It common for the middle class to dabble in magic or alchemy; some of these dilettantes manage to gain levels in Wizard or Alchemist. Farmers and foresters who survive encounters with the beasts and monsters of the wilderness may gain levels in Druid. Criminals (and politicians) often earn levels of Rogue. People who manifest blood powers and learn to control them become sorcerers; those who *don't* learn to control them are often treated as monsters. The Gray Gardeners cultivate Inquisitors and Magi. Cavaliers are rare and Barbarians rarer still, as the Galtan army favours other combat styles. Bards, Paladins, Oracles, and Summoners are uncommon. Antipaladins are executed on sight. Galt's monastic traditions do not include combat training. Gunslingers, Ninjas, and Samurai are unheard of, and Witches' affinity for the creepy and weird (not to mention their perceived affiliation with Traxyla's coven) leads to them frequently being treated as monsters when they become known. Only about 2% of the population ever actively seeks PC class levels by becoming adventurers.
Galt is "ruled", if you can call it that, by the Revolutionary Council. The current revolutionary council, styling itself "The Great Council of the People", obtained power at the head of a howling mob after executing its predecessor. Past councils gained power in much the same way. The chairperson of the current revolutionary council is Citizen Korran Goss; other members are Erszebet Lavenza, Tisare Passeut, Eustam Mirford, and Vules Tozeky. The council is chiefly concerned with keeping the mob under control; blaming foreigners, monsters, or other political factions for the hunger and poverty of the Galtan masses is a favourite tactic.
In principle, laws are created by the Senate, a body of some 300 representatives elected by Galt's citizens. However, there hasn't been an election in 35 years and while the few senators still alive continue to meet monthly, they expend their energy on demagoguery and posturing with the desperate goal of ensuring that someone else is the next scapegoat to be sent to the Final Blades. In practice, the Revolutionary Council rules with absolute authority.
The Galtan Army, since being reorganized by Citizen Durgan Rane some 25 years ago, has remained surprisingly stable. It rarely interferes in politics and mostly enforces its own discipline. It has a reputation of loyally taking orders from whoever currently controls the capital. When the capital is disputed, it stands by in its garrisons until some faction consolidates power. Senior officers are occasionally purged for favouring the wrong side, but the rank and file are fairly safe. Conscription is universal; any man in Galt of appropriate age may be called up to serve in the army for terms of six years. Even religious orders are not exempt. Those served with conscription notices are allowed to get someone else to replace them, though they are held liable if the replacement does not appear for duty; this policy has allowed a fair number of women (particularly non-humans) and a few foreign mercenaries into the army.
The place of a police force in Galt is taken by the Gray Gardeners, a secretive order based in a monastery near Litran. Their main concern is to expose and execute "counter-revolutionaries" "foreign agitators", and "enemies of the people", and to feed them to the Final Blades. They rarely concern themselves with ordinary crimes. Like the army, they are loyal to whoever holds Isarn. But unlike the army, they don't take orders from outside of their own hierarchy. Apart from executing deposed council members and disgraced senators, they are not known to ever interfere in politics. They always wear masks of gray silk and never reveal their identities; even the Revolutionary Council doesn't know the names or faces of the leaders of the Gray Gardeners. Ordinary policing is left up to local citizens' groups, who administer their own punishments or deliver captives to the Gray Gardeners for execution.
The Revolutionary Council's frequent rhetoric against other neighbours notwithstanding, Galt's main enemies are the River Kingdoms of Gralton and Liberthane. Gralton, separated from Galt by Cordelon and Hymbria, is the home of a large number of Galt's remaining noble families and their retainers. The stated goal of the Graltonese leadership is to restore noble rule to Galt at any cost, and they spend their limited resources making weapons, hiring mercenaries, and occasionally resurrecting the odd Galtan noble who escaped the Final Blades to further this cause. However, lack of unity between the various secret societies and other factions of Gralton limits their effectiveness, and so far, they have achieved no more than a few limited raids against villages in northern Galt. Liberthane is much smaller and newer than Gralton, consisting of a single aging Galtan noble turned revolutionary and a few hundred of his followers who hope to bring stability to Galt along the Andorran model. Despite Galt and Liberthane sharing a land border, there has not yet been any open fighting between them. The Galtan leadership collectively refers to the exiled nobles in Gralton, Liberthane, and elsewhere as the "Revenant Princes".
Like most of Avistan, Galt has a pre-industrial economy. Two thirds of the population work in agriculture, mostly living on their farms or in small villages of up to a hundred people. Another sixth work in forestry and mining. Being land-locked, Galt has no substantial fishing industry. Ten percent are are tradesmen or merchants. The remaining seven percent consist of the Galtan army, the Gray Gardeners, and what passes for a ruling class.
Galt is largely self-sufficient. It produces all the food that it needs, though barely; with no effective management of food supplies by the central government, a major crop failure could be a disaster. Most trades and industry are controlled by the guilds. Due to bad relations with its neighbours, Galt does not engage in much international commerce. However, there is a fair bit of smuggling over the Taldan border and merchants in Woodsedge and Dabril participate in commerce on the Sellen River.
The main crops grown in Galt are wheat, barley, cabbages, turnips, and beets. The most common livestock are sheep and goats; cattle and pigs are less popular.
Owing to its history as a province of the Taldan and Chelish empires and the almost complete lack of new people moving into the country, Common is almost universally spoken in Galt. This universality of Common cannot be assumed to hold true in all of Avistan; while most merchants, government officials, and anyone else with any degree of education have some degree of competence in Common, poor or uneducated people will often only speak a local language. Hallit, Elven, Dwarven, and dialects of Giant are also spoken in parts of Galt.
Alignments in Galt are all over the map. As a whole, the place tends towards Chaotic Neutral. However, there are a fair number of Lawful types out there; expounding the virtues of Law smacks of sedition, especially if it involves diabolism, but those who do can still gain adherents from those tired of the perpetual chaos of the Revolution.
The most common religions in Galt are those of Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Shelyn, and Iomedae. Norgorber is the patron of the Gray Gardeners and is worshipped by many involved in politics. Milani loathes the tyranny and violence that followed from Galt's Red Revolution, but is sympathetic to Galt's common people. Erastil is popular in remote some settlements.
Roughly 10% of the population can cast at least one first-level spell, 3% can cast a second-level spell, and 1% can cast at third level or higher. Magic users, especially those of the arcane variety, tend to be members of the middle and upper classes, which in turn concentrate in larger towns and cities. However, only the smallest, most remote villages lack an ecclesiastic who can at least cast Cure Light Wounds.
There are few professional magewrights in the world; most people who create magic items do so only for their own use. However, magic items are not easily destroyed, so a substantial quantity of magic stuff that has been created in the past millennia is still out there. That doesn't mean that it's available for purchase; most of it is hoarded by dragons and the super-rich, jealously guarded as family heirlooms, or buried in lost tombs or forgotten vaults. Small quantities of low-level potions, wands, and scrolls and simple magical trinkets can be found in most major towns and cities, but there are only three permanent markets for more powerful magic items in the whole Inner Sea region: the Portable Hole in Absalom, the Travelling Shop in Katapesh, and Object Desire in Westcrown. Finding buyers or sellers for magic items elsewhere can be difficult and dangerous. Prices for magic items can vary wildly; a collector may pay far above standard price for a particular piece, while attempting to sell off the plunder from a particularly rich tomb can depress the market for months.