Volgen is a nation west of the Drangleic continent, characterized as a hyper-competitive merchant town. While Chloanne’s English dialogue suggests that the country has several bustling cities, the Japanese script makes clear that the country is actually just the one big city that never sleeps in keeping with the vast majority of Dark Souls countries being city states. This dense activity also alludes to its fame in the current era. Whether for business or pleasure, there is a constant influx of peoples from outside the country coming through and supporting the local economy. Such popularity can be attributed to the hotspot’s economic success as much as contributing to it. By Maughlin’s own account, competition is so intense that you need to not only be talented at barter and trade but networking too. This is because of the need for preexisting capital from some investor to just start up a business. In other words, the demands of the market have created a barrier for entry for startups hoping to compete with existing companies that sunk the capital over time to keep up with trends until then.

I was born in a country to the west. The trade city called Volgen is a famous place. It is a big city, always bustling.

I came from Volgen of the west. Have you been there? It’s a bustling place, trade prospering. To that extent, competition’s intense. You not only need talent, but also various connections.

The result is Volgen becoming an economic powerhouse compared to the other nations in the region, since maybe before Drangleic’s collapse even. Fiorenza, originally Forroiza, (フォルロイザ) is supposedly Volgen’s wealthiest merchant in its entire history. He then spent all that wealth acquiring whatever odd ends and curios caught his fancy, which eventually bankrupted him. One of these knickknacks were the Engraved Gauntlets, the description of which affirms that he never found despite a lifetime searching for them. This is apparently because they had been already acquired by a citizen of Tseldora where we can acquire the item. Tseldora’s mining operations brought similar wealth and prosperity to the town, so it is no surprise that it had its own wealthy collectors who could pay to find and obtain these gauntlets. This also potentially dates Fiorenza’s lifetime to the same period as Tseldora, meaning that Volgen had been generating wealth for a very long time.

The benefits of that wealth are also made apparent. Thanks to his hobby, Fiorenza successfully reproduced Avelyn based on solely literary references to it. While it was not an exact recreation of the crossbow’s design from the original Dark Souls, the fact that such a complex work of art was remade at all is a testament to the money spent to rediscover the process. And once that method was rediscovered, copies began circulating en masse based on the multiple Avelyns we can find. Fiorenza had in effect recovered a lost relic. The same is true for the binoculars also made in Volgen. This unusual tool was originally a notably advanced product of Astora, but it too has been recreated by the country of competition. In their drive to meet the needs of their customers, the merchants have advanced technology that surpasses the standards of the era to create the preferred product. While these kinds of advancements might seem minor, they are proof of the contributions competitive markets make to culture.

Extraordinarily unusual rapid-fire crossbow. Can fire three consecutive bolts and can expect high damage if they continually hit.

Forroiza, said to have been the wealthiest merchant of Volgen, reproduced that whose existence was only confirmed in books.

That being said, Volgen’s economic well-being has come at a price. The Volgen Falconers are more accurately its “Falconry Division”, (大鷹師団) although they are a mercenary company the rich hire as a private army due to the incompetency of Volgen’s regular soldiers. Although mercenaries are typically regarded as unscrupulous bloodsuckers, they nonetheless have “pride” in producing results proportional to what they are paid — the implicit double meaning of their golden falcon shield. Their possession of Sunlight Medals also suggests that they did take pride in their battles as worshipers of a war god. Put another way, Volgen was safe so long as the upper class were satisfied with these peculiar fighters protecting their assets. That anyone even resorts to mercenaries says much about the state of Volgen’s central government, though it is likely a side effect of free enterprise. The rich presumably lobby to keep the government weak and ineffective so as to not interfere with their business. It is thus not a King who keeps order but the competing and sometimes shared interests of big business.

Helmet of the Falconry Division of Volgen.

Volgen regulars are known to be weak soldiers, and the Falconry Division are a mercenary group hired with money.

They who exist to be the private army of the wealthy class have undeniable ability, regardless of that origin.

Unsurprisingly, when cash is king, even the most upstanding institutions are swayed by its pull. According to the Japanese description for the Rings of Knowledge and Prayer, priests of Volgen bless both items that increase intelligence and faith respectively. This reflects the reality that clergymen in Volgen are often steeped in political corruption due to power struggles and thus substitute faith for reason. While there are still noble individuals who keep true to their beliefs, the rest are entrenched in the aforementioned struggle between Volgen’s central government and its wealthy merchant class. This is to be expected for a medieval fantasy setting where the church is likely very much entwined with the state. If the businessman are lobbying to keep the state out of their affairs, the same is likely true for the church. The Blue faith has taken power in Volgen and require any business to acquire their approval to operate. This is done in the name of good will and charity, but Maughlin implies it to actually be a cover for kickbacks, proving just how compromised the religious institutions really are.

Ring that received the blessing of a Volgen priest. Boosts the equipper’s intelligence.

The clergymen of the great capital of Volgen are smeared with constant depravity in power struggles. But, among them are those who didn’t forget their noble wills.

In Volgen, a lot called the Blue adherents have exercised authority. If you don’t show you’re effective to them, you can’t do business. Ostensibly, they say it’s philanthropy or some such. But it’s a big lie, it is…

Finally, this system of bribes has only compounded the aforementioned barriers of entry in Volgen’s cutthroat competition. While the rich with long-thriving businesses can pay off the local authorities to stay out, the same cannot be said for those hoping to join the fray so late. Without the coin from the start, many hopeful merchants like Maughlin have no means to even begin competing with businessmen that preceded them. The result is new businesses only being established by friends and family of previous successful enterprises while the poor are left perpetually poor. This creates great disparity between rich and poor, which naturally leads to a rise in crime.

Gilligan is well known in Volgen for all the wrong reasons. At his best, the man is a conman, and at his worst he is a swindler and downright thief. His current trade is selling ladders for our convenience — though where he manages to pull them out from, who knows. Ignoring how his services can be beyond pricey, they are almost always of questionable utility versus standard platforming, though this might be unintentional on the developers’ part. Regardless, Gilligan’s concern is not making a good product but squeezing out the most from his customers at the least cost to himself; even his bejeweled blade seems to be kept for monetary value more than practicality. To that end, the miser has apparently traveled around Drangleic in search of riches to loot.

This country called Drangleig’s depressing as I heard… Ah? I wasn’t born here. Well, I’m from the west… I’ve gone through a lot; come here for the meantime.

Hey, don’t approach the fellow who’s near the hole over there. That good-for-nothing’s called Gilligan. A man whose name was fairly well known in our homeland. Of course, in the bad sense. Get involved with him, you won’t have a good time.

One might think Drangleic too dangerous for an ordinary man to be treasure hunting, but Gilligan implies that he came to this remote northern land to keep low from his “acquaintances” in an implicitly shady trade he was involved in back home. Lenigrast makes clear that the laddersmith, or more accurately “ferry seller”, (渡し屋) has been marked for death, implying there to be an organized criminal underworld of which Gilligan was part of — until his greed got him on their bad side. The markets will go where they can however they can, legal or otherwise. For trade is what defines Volgen.

I do a sort of trade. There’s all kinds, all kinds, I say… I thought, if it’s a remote place like this, I won’t meet my acquaintances. All kinds is all kinds, have some sympathy. No common sense, yeah…?

That man called Gilligan’s useful in his own way, but in any case, he’s too much of a pinchpenny. It’s because he’s like that that he ends up with his life being targeted. Honestly, have some common sense…