SummaryFollowing the mysterious disappearance of and the subsequent downfall of her hated Imperium, dragonkind was left forever changed. The resulting World Gate explosion and Great Darkness all but spelled the end of the world, and the psychological damage left on dragonkind remains difficult to overstate. When the skies finally cleared and Veltrona looked like it would live on, the surviving dragons were extremely polarized. Fearing that others may learn from Imperious' evil and attempt another Imperium, nearly all draconic lineages came together in a rare display of unity. They were compelled by one simple fact: to preserve their ways of life, and to ensure no horrific evil of the Imperium's a scale would ever exist again. It became clear then that they couldn't live independently of each other as they had in the past. The arrogance that any one lineage could handle such problems had been thoroughly beaten out of them by Imperious. Still, accepting that fact and doing something about it were two separate matters. As they remained undecided, they saw the other civilizations on Veltrona turn against them. Though dragonkind remained aloof and on its own, it'd never seen such broad hatred and unceasing contempt from its neighbors before. Fearing the situation would become even worse, the normally careful-acting dragons rushed to find a solution. After much much violent and scale-breaking debate, the formulations of the Draconic Forum, Votyoger, took shape. They looked toward the ideas of representative democracy for their new 'government'. The will of any dragon, no matter their station, would be reflected in the governing authority. To that end, two broad methods were devised, succinctly named the Primary and Secondary Forums. The Primary Forum would act via lineage representation, where each lineage sent a representative who spoke for them all. The Secondary Forums functioned on direct democracy, with any dragon able to raise issues, and any dragon may vote upon them. By doing so, matters of varying severities could be raised at Votyoger and addressed by the draconic world without resorting to imperial tyranny. With the foundations laid, Votyoger went about solidifying its existence through means of diplomacy and, when needed, strong-arming. Part of its mission was to break down the barriers that the prideful lineages kept up, and ensure smooth avenues of communication and exchange. Something that was greatly helped by aid and assistance, as many lineages were devastated by the World Gate explosion. The enforcement of its many policies would be far more contentious. When push came to shove, even the most supportive lineages resisted Votyoger's overtures. These moments tested the integrity of the Forum the most, and laid the legal bedrock by which it would live later on. Some of its more controversial stances, such as overseeing inter-lineage warfare but not intra-lineage conflict, were constant hot button issues. One of Votyoger's first tests came about during the rise of the baarham and their Dominion. The baarham, led by King Ghown, were xenocidal maniacs who aggressively expanded. To the dragons, they were a quaint problem, but the Baarham Dominion reminded them terribly of the Imperium and its evils. Although initially reluctant, they soon began earnestly helping the likes of humanity in their efforts to resist and overthrow the baarham. Votyoger soon recognized King Ghown's ambitions were far more dangerous, and capable, than they first believed. The Forum in its entirety began to war with the Dominion, clashing with the baarham mage armies enmasse. It did much to improve many species' opinion of dragonkind, who saw their efforts (and loudly proclaimed intentions) as valiant. When the baarham vanished suddenly, the power vacuum left behind made an altogether different set of problems. It spurred on all kinds of world-spanning conflicts from greedy empires, crazed cults, would-be warladies, and many more. It seemed the insanity of Imperious' Imperium had left far reaching scar, and Votyoger felt compelled to answer for those damages. For better or worse, they tried to mend the harm even as their presence aggravated it in many instances. Ultimately, Votyoger was created to safeguard dragons against evils like the Imperium. It has, however, evolved over the many centuries toward becoming a common platform for all dragonkind. It is a balancing act between exercising its own authority, versus respecting the independence of the many lineages that participate in the Forum. This back-and-forth affair has defined its political landscape since its inception, and it is not a terribly easy one to study for outsiders.
Votyoger is defined by the elegant, and sometimes overly benal, simplicity to which it functions. Fearing that draconic grandeur would paralyze the Forum from doing anything, the soon-to-be Head Administrator Bloodwing ordained 'function over form' to the utmost degree. In doing so, there would be no confusion as the roles by which Votyoger functions, and no one arguing about titles, embellishments, or other inanities.
Forum AdministratorsThe bureaucrats, legalization staff, judges, and politicians of Votyoger, they are the ones directly charged with the responsibility of overseeing the Draconic Forum. Their exact roles vary, but each administrator is a living archive of Votyoger's laws, cultural and political goals, and the means by which they can be realized. As such, their positions are intensely scrutinized by the lineages, and each one is carefully vetted to fulfill their role with minimal bias or subterfuge. They're subdivided into three tiers, respectively: Head Administrator, Senior Administrators, and then the regular Administrators. The Head Administrator is the dragon responsible for Votyoger's decision making, the final voice and vote on matters of worldly importance. To date, only one Head Administrator has existed, Bloodwing, who has served in her role with massive approval by the lineages for many centuries. It's unclear of what potential successor, if any, she may ever actually have. Senior Administrators are near equivalents to the Head Administrator, entrusted with the most serious matters and secrets. They undergo special rites and promises, forbidding them from ever using their gained knowledge for any purpose that is not in direct service to Votyoger itself. As such, they're guardians of highly forbidden knowledge, and are trusted by the lineages to be the mediators they need in the most sensitive of matters. The regular Administrators form the bulk of the workers who handle the matters of Votyoger and its draconic constituents. They manage lineage trials and legal cases, handle communication to and from the central Forum, and largely exist to serve the interests of dragons who bring important matters to their attention.
Forum ModeratorsModerators exist to mediate the interactions between the lineages, acting as legal oversight and figure of authority during matters of conflict. For the most part, moderators are the claw-and-scale muscle of Votyoger's legal handling, and are what most dragons start-and-finish their business with. They are, for the most part, trusted authorities on a variety of issues any dragon would need a third party to intervene on. Generally speaking, being a moderator is the first step on the administrator track a dragon must take in order to prove themselves. It has a relatively high turn over as a result, as the impartiality demanded of such a position is extraordinarily difficult for dragons to achieve. Unlike administrators, they're also the ones who leave the city of Votyoger to travel Veltrona when the lineages summon a moderator for some reason.
Forum GuardsThe physical enforcement arm of Votyoger, responsible for protecting those who do business with the Forum, and enforcing its will. Each of them is chosen for their loyalty to the Forum's ideals first and foremost, then trained and equipped to carry out their formidable burdens. One of the few perks to the job is the access to their uniquely made Grand Armor and Power Staffs. Designed and engineered by the lineages who participate in Votyoger, they possess a combination of technology and magical arts not seen anywhere else on Veltrona. Anonymity is important for the Forum Guards, as dragons are immortal, and grudges can last a very long time. Special consideration is given toward covering their notable characteristics, resulting in the distinctive modulated voices and particular mannerisms they're trained to use. While it's not a perfect means of protecting their identities, it ensures it is rather difficult to single out any of them for retaliation. While the seriousness of their position is self-evident, many who become Forum Guards tend to also function as socialites amongst Votyoger. Their business takes them basically everywhere, and so many see the station as a means of justified interaction with other lineages. Given they must also accompany moderators on their journeys across Veltrona, it's also considered a form of paid vacation. It's a constant struggle by the administrators to remind the guard they aren't there to just have fun or argue with someone, and so the position has a rather high turnover rate. That said, some of the most martially powerful dragons on Veltrona can be found in the Forum Guards, each of them capable of destroying small nations on their own. If there is nobody else, they alone can enforce the Draconic Forum's will as it demands.
InvestigatorsArguably the smallest of the offices of Votyoger, the Investigators are charged with the duty of finding out whatever the Draconic Forum wants to know. They're principally called upon in matters of grave importance, such as imperial crimes, where absolute evidence is required. Because their investigations mean they will often ram heads against other dragons, they're given additional authority to use Votyoger's military power as they see fit. There can be no mistaking that when an Investigator comes, the Forum demands to know are paramount, and they will smash anything in their way in order to find out. In the times they're not pursuing extremely serious issues, they tend to spend more of their effort managing taxation and scouring for financial fraud. While Votyoger doesn't do 'large scale' business, it does oversee a fair number of them, and it will not tolerate being disrespected in any of its dealings. The Investigation Office is overseen by the Head Investigator, Jahulmt-Zahm.
The Thirty-Six LineagesWhile Votyoger allows all dragons and lineages to participate in the Forum, there is a particular allowance made for the largest and/or most powerful of lineages. These lineages participate in the Primary Forum itself, serving as the representatives of dragonkind as a whole. It essentially means that the decisions they make will affect their lineages the most, and by proxy, everyone else. After all, when a onpa walks, those smaller than her must react to her presence whether they want to or not. That principle is the reason behind the Primary Forum's creation, and the recognition of the most significant lineages on Veltrona. The Secondary Forums are where all other concerns are handled, and the two will often vote up or down issues to one another. In an alphabetical order, the Thirty-Six Lineages recognized by Votyoger are: Aer, Ahba, Dar, Dot, Fau, Geht, Gon, Hak, Iao, Ion, Kar, Kel, Lin, Loph, Nal, Nox, Nor, Pal, Pom, Oo, Oru, Qer, Ra, Rom, Ron, Saer, Ses, Su, Tala, Ton, Tur, Vahn, Wae, Wan, Yol, Zeg There are notable exceptions since not all of the most populous lineages participate in Votyoger. One example is the Unn, who rule over Unneyria, and operate the older forum Unntyoger. Since the Unn only care about what happens on their polar continent, they don't readily exercise their influence across the oceans. Others, like the Nem lineage, share similar thinking or prefer isolation over cooperation.
Lineage RepresentativesThe Lineage Representatives form the main voices of the Draconic Forum, and are the living embodiments of their respective lineage. Officially, they act on behalf of the lineage's matriarch, and so speak with her authority in the Forum. Practically, most representatives are the 'successor-in-waiting' typical of dragon lineages: the number two who would, in the event of the matriarch's death or abdication, become the new matriarch. Given their political importance, they're treated with the highest regard by the Forum and given special treatment. That said, they do not have individual authority to overrule Votyoger's decisions, as that must be done by consensus. It's a delicate balance as they're usually some of the most prideful dragons on Veltrona, and their demands can be inflexible and unreasonable sometimes.
Demography and Population
It's difficult to measure Votyoger's military prowess in a traditional sense. Individual dragons are fearsome, but modern inventions (e.g, mana-steel) have given a leg up to many other species. Groups of dragons are much more problematic, as they can utilize immense amounts of firepower. A dragon 'army' is unheard of, but a frightening thought that keeps many rulers and strategists awake at night. However, as Votyoger is a forum, it ultimately depends where on Veltrona the conflict is happening and who is involved. In draconic terms, the military power of Votyoger is significant but limited. Assuming complete and unquestioning loyalty of its Forum Guards, Votyoger could conceivably confront one, possibly two, of the Thirty-Six Lineages on its own. However, doing so without permission by the others would mean the Thirty-Six Lineages in their entirety would assault and swiftly dismantle Votyoger from existence. This very specific arrangement ensures the Draconic Forum has bite to its laws and means, but without truly endangering dragonkind at large. It allows for Votyoger to enforce penalties on otherwise unwilling lineages, and to strongarm rebellious ones back into line. Practically, one must consider that Votyoger exists at the permission of the draconic lineages at large. They have a vested interest in its laws–which they support and uphold–being maintained and respected. As such, their resources are Votyoger's in times of need. The on-paper value of the Forum may appear small initially, but its potential access to support is truly astronomical in scope.
Agriculture & Industry
The city of Votyoger itself has a generally 'minimal' agricultural, manufacturing, and processing capability. What it does possess goes entirely to the maintenance of the city itself, with scarcely any excess available. While this arrangement was deemed suitable initially, the city's constant growth made it a curious problem. Its denizens demanded more for their own uses, rather than strictly for maintenance and civil upkeep. Since the Draconic Forum itself has become a platform for multiple lineages to intermingle, its productive capabilities have grown to mirror that. Much like its districting methods, the city of Votyoger rents out such facilities so the lineages can do their work. Where issues arise is when the Forum itself is demanded to be the intermediary of these businesses; e.g, being given access to lineage proprietary secrets so the Forum can do such work without giving the secrets away. It's a complicating matter that has been handled on a case-by-case basis. As the Forum lives to handle the demands of the lineages, their demands for such services means there must be an answer. While speculation does run rampant on what this means for future growth, it hasn't astronomically changed the playing field. For the most part, the city's increasing capabilities are becoming a source of premium wealth the Forum can extract for itself. This arrangement means that the dragon artisans and the sokral in Votyoger end up with materials handled by the best claws on Veltrona, from the best locations possible. Combined with many of them having a near timeless, and often peerless skill, their creations are marvels of magic and technology unseen anywhere else. From these venerable workshops are they shipped out to order for dragons across the world, spreading these incredible creations far and wide. Great is the envy of those who wish to possess them, for any item of Votyoger can command its own prices. Foolish are those who think to rob them, for dragons have more than enough time on their hands for the most petty of thieves. It should be said that Votyoger possesses a lot of magical technology in all kinds of forms, from mundane needs like food warming to impossibly moving constructs. However, as these creations are often the work of specialized shops rather than 'common scientific grounds', they easily become weird, specific, and overly specialized in a way a bored mistress of arts might fancy. This has put Votyoger's technological capability in a rather weird position–the dragons are insanely ingenious with their crafts, but often refuse to create anything less than the best of the best. As such, dragon craftswomen are highly prized and valuable, but supporting them meaningfully is another matter entirely. Were they to make-up for this fault, they might possess one of the greatest industrial powerhouses on Veltrona. Quite a number of service industries have arisen within and around Votyoger, principally from other peoples trying to work with (or for) the dragons. The most prized of these workers are rachtoh and mussuba, each providing unique and valued talents. The rachtoh with their silk and weaving techniques are often the ones who make the clothing and fancy wears of the dragons themselves. Mussuba, although their venom is useful for stuff like heartfire potions, actually function more like romantic counselors than anything. Their talent for understanding other people is invaluable for dragons who, generally, struggle to cross cultural divides.
Dragons have long since hoarded knowledge, for its value can be worth less than the thing its written on, to something timelessly precious. Often, it can radically change from year to year, rising and falling like tides. Thus, while material goods are great and everything, dragons set value by knowledge far, far more. It would ultimately result in the creation of the torzei, and its venerable capacity to hoard all knowable things dragons would want to record. In time, the perception of this value changed as knowledge spread, and 'common' forms of it started to emerge. Eventually, the emergence of Votyoger brought the issue into a better perspective. Through the Forum, dragons could share torzei that contain all sorts of useful but not necessarily 'valuable' knowledge. The different lineages making available their proprietary knowledge has led to a 'playing field leveling' effect. One such instance is the Kar, a veltron-aspected lineage, making their 'common construction techniques and methods with veltron magic' available. While not inherently revolutionary, the Kar's much more intimate comprehension and ability nonetheless led to improvements for all the other lineages. What lineages already had that knowledge suddenly lost their 'advantage', while others gained it, and hence leveled the playing field. Notably, the shared innovation and thinking has led to new branches of development. This intellectual growth has stomped over every other concern, and even the normally secretive lineages have become intrigued by it. Votyoger, ever beholden to their interests, has tried to respond to their demands. To that end, the creation of new libraries, schools, and academies has sprouted up. A very observable wave rippled through draconic cultures for several centuries as these common foundations formed, an oddity otherwise not seen in their histories. Votyoger became a vehicle for cultural exchange in the form of stories, poems, artwork, music, performances, and many more forms of recreational wonders. Another, more ridiculous schism formed in that the Forum then handled matters of worldly importance as much as the latest in savy cultural trends. That more than anything else drew more and more dragons to participate, as they loved to gossip, share their favorites, and form critique groups over one artform or another. The Forum's active membership exploded, and it became a central, polarizing identity from there on out.
The Draconic Forum