he reputation of the Theocracy of the Pale far exceeds its moderate size. Forests form two of the main borders of the nation—the Phostwood to the west and the Gamboge to the south, with Nyrond beyond—while the steep Rakers form an almost impassable barrier eastward to Ratik and Bone March on the Solnor Coast. Founded by pilgrims fleeing the Great Kingdom three centuries ago, the Pale is governed from the city of Wintershiven by a religious bureaucracy with direct command over the military, law enforcement, trade, and nearly every other aspect of life.
The clerical hierarchy rules in the name of the god Pholtus. At the head of the Church sits the Theocrat himself, selected from the ruling body known as the Council of the Nine and said to be chosen by Pholtus to hold the Throne of the Sun for his lifetime. The intolerance of the Church is legendary, and most foreigners believe the Pale to have territorial ambitions on all its neighbors; indeed, the Pale recently annexed part of the chaos-ridden Duchy of Tenh as a tenth prelacy. But the Light of Pholtus blinds many to the divisions in the populace and casts deep shadows where the Pale's enemies lurk.