The people of the League consider themselves to be the most cultured of the Empire – they appreciate fine things, subtle machinations, skill at arms, opera, theatre and court dance. Almost everything is for sale in the cities; and everything is on show. They appreciate flair and wit. Those who wait on the table of a Merchant Princess are as likely prized for their subtle humour as their knowledge of etiquette. Witty banter and verbal quips are considered a quintessential trait of League citizens; even the poorest of the League feel free to remark upon the fashions and actions of those around them. Those particularly skilled in verbal interplay can find lucrative employment as professional party guests and agents, given the freedom to say things that might otherwise cause a scene - or a duel.

Famed for a devotion to the arts and architecture the League claims to have invented theatre and literature and take constant joy in the novel and the clever. Further, League explorers have expanded the Empire’s knowledge of foreign lands and even gone so far as to establish embassies and trade delegations outside the borders of the Empire. The Synod has expressed concerns about these embassies on more than one occasion, but the benefits they bring to the Empire have so far outweighed any danger peaceful relations with foreigners might represent.

League society greatly prizes loyalty, but scorns servility. Everyone is expected to give as good as they receive. More than anything, the League is committed to the Empire; they don’t speak of it much, but the opportunities and the civilization that the Empire brings is something that many are prepared to die – or preferably kill – to preserve. Imperial rule has brought peace and prosperity but because the citizens of the League see themselves as the pre-eminent people of the Empire, they tend to view the Empire very possessively - as if the whole thing were arranged for their benefit.

This is not a society of effete libertines. Clever gewgaws and beautiful artworks are prized, but they are nothing compared to the pride these people take in the exercise of their will, their ambition and their success. A clever quip is no substitute for wealth, power, influence and the will to employ them to meet ones goals. The Merchant Prince may continue to make ironic comments when a situation turns deadly serious, but never make the mistake of thinking that he is not prepared to do what it takes to ensure the outcome he favours. More than one guest has made an inappropriate "joke" and discovered themselves ejected from someone's home - often through a first story window.

The emphasis on rules, on culture and on politeness serves two simple purposes. First, it allows the League to celebrate the fact that they are better than less civilised neighbours who grub about in the dirt or live in wooden huts. More importantly however, it prevents their society turning on itself. The real virtues of the League are ambition, ruthlessness, commitment to the achievement of one's goals and absolute loyalty to ones companions in the pursuit of those goals. Without the politeness and grudging respect they display toward each other, these people would find it all too easy to tear one another apart, just as they did in the days before the Empire.

This feeling is all the stronger amongst Holbergers, especially since so many of them were forced to flee their city. If Catazarri value punctuality as the eighth virtue, Holbergers extend this to precision in all things. It's a good thing, too - without that obsessive attention to detail, their walls would have crumbled years ago under the weight of orcish siege weapons. Everything is planned out well in advance, like their grid-plan city, and every detail is accounted for, like the vineyard-facades adorning their fine churches. They are just as creative, ambitious, loyal and ruthless as their Catazarri counterparts, but they tend to restrict themselves, separating business and pleasure to a greater extent. When a League citizen says that "now is not the time for business", he may mean that your proposal is unwelcome or that your manner is unsuitable; when a Holberger says it, on the other hand, he means it.

Any gutter urchin might be a merchant prince one day, so you must be careful, cousin. Kick a puppy today, and tomorrow it might have grown up to be the great big dog that has your hand in its jaws ...

Two Gentlemen of Tassato, Act I, scene ii

Names in the League

The League is nothing if not cosmopolitan. People from all over the Empire move to the cities to seek their fortune, and some of them even find it. There is a great deal of loyalty to the city of ones' birth, but over the centuries the movement of humanity has meant that families that started in Temeshwar have ended up living in Sarvos, and considering themselves Sarvosian citizens. In addition, there are plenty of examples of people whose names are reminiscent of other Nations, usually indicating they are, or are descendants of, immigrants.

Many individuals do not bother with a family name, although they may take some element of their name from their Carta.

Everyone in the League uses their city as part of their name. They may use one of a number of connecting words - "di", "de", "van" and "of" are all popular and are used interchangably across the League - but they firmly indicate the city they are loyal to.

There are exceptions to this.Those who follow the example of Aldones di Catazarri call themselves "di Catazarri" as a way to announce that they consider their loyalty as being to the whole of the Nation, rather than to a single city, but doing is generally seen as an unconvincing display of hubris. The two cities of the Scorrero river were once their own Kingdom, ruled once from Holberg and then from Verrario. The river-barge-living "Barger Cartas" of the Scorrero, who now operate out of Temeshwar, often take their river's name rather than their city's to show their allegiance.

Sample names

  • Elsbet van Temeshwar, of the Black Raven
  • Bertolli Giacomi di Sarvos, of the Giacomi Carta

Given names tend to fall into one of three basic groups: Catazarri names sound a little Italian, Temeshwari names sound a little Polish, and Holberger names sound somewhat Dutch or German.