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       Today, the Avoirdupois are best known for the Strength of their devotion to s’Allumer. Indeed, the church permeates every level of Avoirdupois society. The church not only runs schools and hospitals, but it also directly controls wide regions of territory, complete with peasants and tax collectors. Yet despite the church’s appearance of monolithic strength, it is divided within by the growing popularity of various heterodox theologies. Outside the church, the Heliodromes of Porteur-du-Soleil are thought to be increasing in strength, and the Éteignoirs are rumored to be active again after years of silence.

       In political matters, the Archdukes of the Avoirdupois are now virtually independent. Their nominal sovereigns, the Rinaldi, have declined to the point that they scarcely control their own capital, the prosperous city of Triskellian. Independence, however, has come at a price: the steady peace that had been maintained by the Rinaldi has degenerated into a precarious three-way standoff between the Great Houses, and the Archduke is forced to devote much of his attention to countering the maneuvers of the Bisclavret and the Doloreaux.

       The Avoirdupois army is perhaps the strongest in all Calabria. The knights of the Avoirdupois are superbly trained and outfitted with the traditional trappings of plate armor, swords, and shields. However, while the other Great Houses increasingly rely upon guns and cannon, the Avoirdupois have been slow to modernize. In the event of an all-out war, the inflexibility of the Avoirdupois commanders may prove to be their undoing.

       Avoirdupois society has been slow to change in other ways as well. Individuals are generally either very rich or very poor, and a “middle class” of professional tradesmen and small landowners is still virtually nonexistent. In some cities and towns, tradesmen have been able to rise to positions of influence, but many nobles still consider such professionals little more than dolledup peasants.

       All in all, the Avoirdupois retain the traditional strengths that have enabled them to survive and prosper for over a thousand years. If anything, their greatest weakness may be a failure to understand the gravity of the changes that are to come. Only time will tell if they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead.

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