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    Default Pax Respublica



    Introduction

    Howdy!

    Err, as first posts go, I hope this one is worthwhile. A little out of the blue, yes, but I'm really aiming for 'worthwhile'. Anyway, without further ado, I'm here to introduce a world building project I've been working on over the past week or so. Now, while I may be a newbie to GITP, I labor under this delusion that I'm an 'okay' world builder, and have a few under my belt already, so bear with me, if you will. It's been a while since the last effort, granted, but I want to use this one for a Savage Worlds campaign in the next month or so, and I hope to keep the updates coming at a pretty brisk pace.

    So, what is Pax Respublica about, I hear you [not] ask? Well, let's get the low-down out of the way in a sort of Q&A.

    The Q&A

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    What type of setting is 'Pax Respublica'?

    It's a world in which Man and the 'Lesser Races' (orcs/elves) butted heads in glorious combat... and Man lost. But, like the mythical phoenix, the discovery of long-hidden, mysterious technological contraptions has enabled mankind's lone surviving outpost to rise up and become a mighty city state in its own right - an oligarchic republic bent on making mankind the rulers of the world once again through steam, black powder and fire.

    'Pax Respublica' is low-magic, steampunk-lite (see below) and brutally gritty.

    Steampunk?! *groan*

    Hold your horses, cowboy. The City is a place of many wonders, but most are quite mundane. 'Steampunk' in this case means quasi-plausible airships, golems, a few 'horseless carriages' before their time and, uhh, that's it. Any other manifestation of the 'punk' is exceedingly rare. The muskets used by the Black Cloaks are much like ours were in the 18th century. As are the cannons. A certain level of plausibility was always the name of the game.

    But I have to say that, in any case, this aspect of the world building process is not a big deal for me. After all, the most popular fantasy work of our time is (in my opinion) ASOIAF, by George R. R. Martin. This is, essentially, a stock standard fantasy world brought to life by intricate characterization. It's certainly not the conceptual idea that makes it interesting... What I'm trying to say, I suppose, is that the setting will live and die depending on the way it is used by myself (and, perhaps, others?) as a GM/DM, not on whether it has magical technologies or not.

    Okay, so what are the themes of the setting, then, compadre?

    I'm so glad you asked, faceless questioner. As a world builder, I'm far more fascinated with social and cultural ideas than conceptual ones. Magic, for example, doesn't interest me as much as human interaction. So, to build 'Pax Respublica', I started with some questions of my own. Like, for example, 'What would a technologically superior, bigoted and vengeful human society built around unfettered capitalism look like, if it was plonked down in a sea of civilized, but backward orcish and elven kingdoms?'

    'What if magic was something humans had forgotten about, but elven slaves bring with them on the slave ships? How would this impact a technological society convinced that magic doesn't exist?'

    'What if education was really, really important in this setting, and institutions of higher learning very prominent centers of power?'

    'How would I model competition between oligarchic Families that hold the reigns of power in the Republic?'

    'What would class conflict look like in this world?'

    Basically, this entire setting is an exercise in answering some of those questions, and making some extrapolations to flesh it out.

    ... And your influences, old boy?

    - Arcanum (world in transition; social conflict and unrest; moral relativism)
    - A Song of Ice and Fire (moral relativism; intricate politics; familial emphasis)
    - The Enlightenment Period (rational actors; changing battlefields)
    - Industrialization (rapidly changing social dynamics; urban landscapes)
    - The Age of Colonization (the new slavery and labor exploitation)

    Why 'Savage Worlds'?

    It's a simple system. And it doesn't rely on the forum's dice rollers for character creation (which, to be honest, is something I despise about many of the games run here). I find both of the aforementioned attractive, because they let you envision your character before you've determined their stats. Crazy, I know!


    Now, I'll post what I have so far, but expect updates to flesh out this section heavily in coming weeks (and, perhaps, months). Comments, queries, criticisms and hate speeches are all welcome absolutely, and without reservation.

    The Birth of the Republic - by Prof. Willem Goote

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    Long ago, the world was Man’s.

    [Truly, Willem? What evidence do you have of this? Your authority for this statement is flimsy, at best. The government cannot dictate the truth! We should not be romanticising the past.]

    The lesser races toiled, and Man wrought great works of stone and steel, and imposed order upon chaos. Gleaming cities and untold wealth were testament to the ingenuity and power of our forebears. Then, a fell and terrible betrayal took place. Hordes of the lesser peoples rose against their masters, seemingly as one. The Years of Blood saw entire generations of Man gutted by hideous war. One by one, the bejeweled cities became ruins, and the wealth disappeared, seeping away like grains of sand through fingers.

    [Hyperbole, speculation, falsity and lies! We know so little of that period, and yet you are willing to ascribe total credibility to a fragment of a fragment of an anecdotal and possibly fabricated record. I am amazed by your perfidy.]

    Though our forebears fought long and gallantly, they were ultimately defeated by their treacherous foe. The collapse was neither sudden, nor unforseen, but, in the end, it was inevitable. With our armies broken, the lesser peoples took their vengeance in an orgy of slaughter that spanned continents and decades. Menfolk, women, children and the elderly alike were brought low. Pitiful remnants of our once-proud race fled total extermination like mice. Only a sliver would survive the Harrowing of Man. Much priceless knowledge was lost during this terrible time; secrets that elude us to this day.

    [We must have lost a great trove of knowledge, indeed. One that you have seemingly rediscovered on your own, and not shared with the academic community.]

    With the enemy in close pursuit, however, the ragged survivors of our people faced annihilation. Their desperation drove them deeper and deeper into lands unknown even to the ancients. It was only when all seemed lost that the Founding Families of our City made a wondrous discovery. An ancient fortress built atop a remote caldera, and guarded only by the dust of history. The walls of the Red Fortress, as it became known, were more than twenty meters thick, forty high and impervious to the machinations of beast or Man. This was to be our new home; the salvation of our race.

    [… You as well as I know that our ancestors may very well have laid the first stones atop each other. Yet again, you fall back on myth and legend in putting the City above all else.]

    Underground rivers kept this final hold of Men supplied with fresh water, while fish and fungi and ingenuity kept them fed. And though the enemy laid furious siege to the Red Fortress, it would not fall while its defenders still drew breath. This horrid assault would continue for over five years, but to no avail for the wicked ones. Miraculously, as moral and physical exhaustion finally began to eat away at even the sturdiest of Men’s souls, the tide abated. The numberless enemy lifted the siege and retreated – perhaps realising that this bastion would never fall to their evil. Our ancestors sighed in relief.

    The victorious heroes, however, did not rest on their laurels.

    Decades passed, but our vigil continued. The enemy still lurked in the hinterlands, and occasionally raided the Red Fortress, but the diligence of its people was not found wanting. Those decades rolled into centuries, and slowly the Fortress became the City. The vast courtyards were turned to towns, through the sweat of our brows, as Man slowly recovered from the deluge. The indelible clang of industry was once again heard on the wind, as artisans used the Red City’s ancient foundries and smithies to churn out tools and weapons made from the gifts of the earth under our feet. Commerce flowered. Great kings and pretenders and deviants arose, and then fell, inevitably. Some tried to tame the wilderness beyond the Walls, but were always eventually driven back by the old enemy.

    [I would congratulate you, but I do not know how to characterize what you have done here. The people’s history: compressed and mutilated beyond recognition.]

    Our books are not clear on the timeline involved, but it is said that tens of generations were spent under the red walls of the City. It was then that miners working in the caldera discovered the Vaults deep beneath the Keep. Enclosed by metal and rock, these treasure troves guarded a secret that would set Man free. However, it was to be a long time before we realized as much. The Vaults refused to yield to our greatest minds and devices. They remained shut in the face of the most ingenious methods devised by the learned men of the time. Hope turned to despair. It was then that Moloteo the Elder entered this troubling scene. Knowledgeable as no one before or since, wise beyond any years, the First Polymath proved to be the key to these impenetrable storehouses. How he did it, we do not know. What is important is that he did – for in the Vaults, we found our destiny.

    [Hero worship is not seemly! Moloteo never acted alone. You forget yourself.]

    The golems were the first to be brought out. Great machines, shaped like gargantuan men and some beasts, they were thought to be nothing but simple statues at first. Oh, what naivete! Continued exploration delivered a trickle of riches to the surface, before unleashing a veritable flood, for soon thereafter the first engines of steam and smoke were being studied by Moloteo and his cohorts. As with all matters of academia, true understanding would take time. But when the Enlightenment finally came, Man was ready. Though the potential of the devices was not obvious at first, sages of great historical renown strove to fulfill it. Hideo, Lummond, Jenner, Cassio and, yes, Moloteo the Younger built upon each other’s work.

    Manufactories sprouted from the earth. Great and terrible they plumed black smoke and soot and progress. The golems awoke! Again, the sages do not tell us how they mastered a technology so far beyond reckoning, but master it they did. Weapons of saltpeter and powder and fire followed. Airships! Carriages without horses! It must be said that progress seems a lot more rapid on paper than it was in life. In fact, it is well known that the Red City convulsed from great uncertainty, in the century after the opening of the Vaults. The City, ruled by tyrants, despots and kings since the Founding, experienced ruinous strife, as the Families in control of the Guilds fought tooth and nail to end the arbitrary rule that was curtailing the will of a people on a historic mission.

    [Where to begin? The golems ---- --- ------ -- --- ----- -- --- ------. In truth, our best available records show that ‘-----‘ --- ---------- ------- ----- -- ----------- -------. And the airships? We ----- -- --- ---- ------- --- --- ------ -------.]

    The firestones of our home would drink their fill of blood before the deed was done, but when the blue bloods hung limply from the highest towers and walls, we knew we were finally free. The Charter of our Republic is the legacy of a ceaseless struggle for liberty. And with that liberty came a grave responsibility. Man is the ultimate force for good and right and justice in the world; Man is the Arbiter; both Future and Past are Man’s. Though the forces of evil attempted to destroy us, they only delayed the inevitable. It is an utmost pleasure, and a personal honor, to be able to record these words in an Age of Reason and the New Age of Man. A time in which we are finally able to show the lesser races how they have erred in the past.

    [I am shocked – shocked! – that you would take this line. This was not a struggle between tyrannic nobles and the downtrodden masses, but between competing associations of aristocratic Families. The Charter of the Republic was written in blood. It is a system of control! Are you devoid of sense, my esteemed colleague?]

    - ‘A Response to Goote’ by Sage Killian Dyer Federeo. Original document by Professor Willem Goote, lecturer at the Archibald Learning Community.

    {All known copies of document seized by authorized persons from the Directorate of Public Safety for use in criminal prosecution of one Federeo, Killian D. Inquiries regarding censored version may be made to the Office of the High Justiciar.}


    The City and its People

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    As I have said, over five million Men live in the City proper. The vast majority are ‘slummies’ – men who have been dealt a cruel hand by fate, indeed. They work deep beneath the surface, in the mining tunnels, and dig up the coal and ore that keep our industry churning. Many toil in the vast foundries of magnates such as the Quincys, or in the manufactories that dot the exterior walled areas. Others are simple day laborers, servants for those with a modicum of wealth, or stock meat for the Black Coats. The lives of slummies are both brutish and short, riven with violence, disease and inequality – luckily for the City the poor sods seem to reproduce like rabbits! The most ambitious of their number can find success in criminal enterprise, the constabulary or even as pioneers, braving the savage lands. The latter seems to be trading the evil you know for the one you do not, but who am I to judge desperate folk?

    Above them in social station and circumstance is the City’s middle class. Most often, they reside in areas closer to the interior walls – or even in certain sections of the Inner City. Artisans, shopkeepers, tradesmen, lawyers, academics, low level public officials and Guard officers, middle class persons run the professional gamut. Of course, the grandest educational institutions of the land and public offices are closed to them, but it is not impossible for motivated families in this circle to ascend the social ladder, even if it might take generations.

    At the very top, naturally, is the upper class. An aristocracy in fact, if not in name, the Families that rule the Republic do so from a very comfortable collection of abodes inside the Inner City, behind walls that could resist any arms known to Man. Their wealth comes from many sources, and the greatest Families often dabble in a number of commercial enterprises (a finger for every pie!). Mining, manufacture, transport, infrastructure, education, import/export, finance – these are just some examples of where wealth can be found in great quantities by those of sufficient acumen and pedigree. Nothing happens in the Republic without the say-so of its leading mercantile scions. Some might call slummie gutter runners and pit fighters the most vicious denizens of our Republic. I would beg to differ; they have nothing on men with a taste for money and the means to chase more of it.

    Now, I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the veiled face of the City. Though slummies make up the majority of our poor and materially deprived, a rapidly growing source of virtually free labor threatens to push them into outright rebellion. Yes, I speak of the slaves. Though expressly forbidden by law – indeed, I risk arrest by Directorate lapdogs just by saying this – it is known that magnates on the lookout for every extra thaler have been importing orcish and elvish slaves, with the Customs Authority and the Directorate of Public Safety turning a blind eye. The savage peoples require only sustenance (even the meager pay of the slummies can be omitted from the ledgers, now), and have no choice but to work night and day.

    Living in overcrowded and ultraviolent workhouses, these unfortunates are shackled, belittled, attacked and often murdered by Men who would either use them mercilessly or see them as competition for their daily bread. Despicably, it is also known that elven females are seen as exotic pleasures by degenerates with too much wealth, and the opportunity to squander it on the joys of flesh. If the Founders could see our people now, they would collectively turn in their graves!


    The Republic and its Government

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    The Stone Table

    The entire world of Men (this City, its holdings in the surrounding regions, its tributaries in the savage lands and its distant colonies) is governed from the Stone Table. This quorum of the City’s most powerful sons and daughters draws its members from those with enough wealth, influence and political nous to have been elected by their peers to a Seat at the Table. The fifteen Seats decide on most matters of importance to the state and the public, with outcomes decided by a majority vote. The Republic has no single head of state or ruler (indeed, this is anathema to a people who will no longer accept any real measure of arbitrary power being vested in a single office), but the reality is that perfect equality at the Table is impossible to achieve, in any case. After all, some esteemed members are more esteemed than others. Some hold far greater estates in the Inner City than the less fortunate of their ilk. All elected terms at the Table are for three years, though there is no limit to the number of terms in office.

    The Assembly

    The Seats are elected to office in the Assembly. This august body – formally known as the Assembly of Founders – consists of those who can prove that they are direct descendants of the City’s founding patrons (and, of course, those who can buy convincing documents attesting to that fact, and friends in the Assembly to support their claim). The Assembly serves to put matters of import before the most important persons in Republican society, and to elect officials to bodies such as the Stone Table itself, the Directorate of Public Safety, the higher positions of the Republican Guard, the Office of the Tax Assessor, the Office of Human Services, the Chamber of Education and the Chamber of Commerce, amongst others. Membership in the Assembly requires sponsorship by already serving Assemblymen and a vote – though once these onerous (more onerous for some than for others) requirements are hurdled, membership is for life, barring gross misconduct or negligence (or the deeply embarrassing failure to pay the annual dues). Outside of debate and election to various offices, however, the Assembly has few other functions. Its existence in the modern age is owed to its prominent place in the Charter of the City.

    The Charter

    Governance of the realm of Men is bounded by the wording of a document that has taken on an almost divine aspect in the eyes of many. The Charter of the City was originally written soon after the Red Fortress saved Men from the savage folk. But, after the Troubles that followed in the wake of the opening of the Vault, the leaders of the Republican revolt revealed its true character (some would say that they rewrote entire passages, but beware of voicing such rumours in the company of strangers). Essentially, the Charter stipulates that the City is the Republic and that the Republic is the City; that Man is sacred; that all men are equal; that only the rule of the many is natural and right. It decries injustice and tyranny, and is the basis for all Laws of the state. As a document, it is remarkably straightforward, but the exact interpretation of its sections has sparked a thousand running legal and philosophical battles in political and intellectual circles.

    Interestingly, however, the most common sense reading of the Charter would seem to suggest that the roles of the Stone Table and the Assembly have been ‘warped’ over time. Yet no credible challenge to this process has arisen in recent memory, for a number of reasons it does not bear to discuss at length.

    The High Justiciars and the Justiciary

    Appointed by serving Seats at the Table, the High Justiciars are the final word on the interpretation of the City Law (including all relevant cases, statutes, provisions, regulations and directives). In theory, at least. After all, they are appointed by the Seated and it is often whispered that many High Justiciars feel beholden to their patrons. At any given time, five such officers serve the state – men and women of power and influence in their own right, who preside over the most tumultuous and perplexing legal problems and questions of justice. More often than not, High Justiciars are drawn from persons with a suitable educational background (indeed, many are academics themselves or lesser justiciars who have served long and earnestly). Though not unheard of, it is generally frowned upon to appoint an individual with no formal training or experience to this office.

    Necessarily, the High Justiciars do not work alone. Five people, no matter how capable, would find it impossible to settle legal disputes for a realm of millions. Instead, the Office of the Justiciary (or ‘Justiciary’ for short) provides legal recourse for the common (within reason) man.

    Lesser justiciars hold down sizable City districts and dispense justice as they see fit. Rarely do the public and private disputes put before them exceed their authority to mete out punishment and compensation. As such, their caseloads can be called ‘excessive’ without undue hyperbole, and many are loathe to let matters drag out when it may be simpler to adjudicate swiftly and decisively on less than convincing evidence. Please, do not misunderstand, justiciars are often virtuous souls, but they are not immune to earthly concerns.

    The Directorate of Public Safety



    Ahh, the Directorate. The manifest will of the City, in the form of heavily armed, grey coated law enforcers and maintainers of the public peace. These gruff men are drawn from all walks of life, though their upper echelons are almost invariably gentry of the worst sort; cruel, vindictive and ambitious. In keeping the rabble stooped and subservient, they employ methods that would make most normal men blanch. All ‘grey coats’ wield batons that tear strips off of men’s flesh with practiced gusto, as well as pistols. In times of great public distress, they will don elaborate steel breastplate, intimidating helms and might even replace the baton with a sword or bardiche, and the pistol with a musket.

    Grey cloak patrols are a regular and sometimes foreboding sight right across the city. While individual officers are commonly (and politely) referred to as ‘gendarmes’, specialisations exist at every level of the Directorate. From the lowly constables who perform the most routine patrols and civil order functions, to the inspectors who conduct investigations of complex crimes and mysteries, to the multitudinous administrators who seldom leave the monumental Directorate building on Ringwater Street.

    The DPS is a vast institution formed under the aegis of the Assembly, on its Chartered authority. And though crime is rife in the City – especially so under the Exterior Walls and beyond – it would almost certainly be far worse without the Directorate. That said, the grey coats have a rich tradition of corruption, intermittent incompetence and incredible brutality to call upon in making a swathe of the public hate them with a barely disguised passion. Recent rumors of a tacit acceptance of the burgeoning slave trade in the City do nothing to help the situation.


    Other Institutions

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    The machinery needed to run a City such as ours is as extensive as it is necessary. Below are some of the less prominent, but nevertheless vital institutions that make the City function as it should (… well, within reason).

    Chamber of Education

    Ever since Moloteo the Elder unlocked the Vaults, and his progeny unleashed the potential therein, education has had pride of place at the table of power in the Republic. Virtually all young men from ‘good’ families (those with the thalers to pay their way) receive extensive instruction at one of the City’s prestigious institutes of learning. These institutes are chartered and kept open by license from the Chamber of Education. Headed by the greatest academics of the age (and, one could say, their patrons by proxy), this conclave of sages assures that the Republic maintains a steady flow of qualified lawyers, doctors, public servants, engineers and other professionals. Without this continuously replenished pool of candidates, it is difficult to envisage how the Republic might look like, today.

    It is up to the Chamber of Education to assure that the more insidious elements of learning communities do not flower. Examples of those insidious elements include political extremism, social activism and critique of the state. To this end, the Chamber conducts routine inspections of the colleges, universities and learning communities in the City and its environs. Any irregularities are met with strenuous investigation, possible termination of employment – and sometimes even public prosecution. The Chamber is instituted on authority of the Assembly of Founders and receives public funding.

    Chamber of Commerce

    The Red City is a vast hub of commerce and industry. If any order is to be maintained in this frenzied, chaotic landscape, a regulatory body such as the Chamber of Commerce is an absolute pre-requisite. The severe lawyers who tend to make up the Chamber’s conclave are responsible for assuring that the spirit of free trade and competition is alive and well in the Republic; that commerce is unfettered and profit healthy. For that reason, representatives of the Chamber (sometimes affectionately referred to as CoCs, or ‘cocks’) have the power to arbitrarily shut down offending businesses and associations, or to fine them heavily. Rumours are rife that this power is frequently misused, and that CoC officials invent infringements to ‘tax’ honest businessmen by other means. Worse yet, that competing magnates use their influence on the Chamber to gut each other’s interests.

    None of this is proven, of course. What a scandal that would be! In any case, other duties of the Chamber include the regulation of trade with savage tributary states, banking and the approval of business and construction licenses. Much like the Chamber of Education, the CoC is instituted on the authority of the Assembly.

    Office of Human Services

    Whenever a child is orphaned, or a human being incapacitated and unable to find relief otherwise, or food is scarce, the Office of Human Services is expected to intervene. This beneficent body runs the City’s public hospitals, orphanages and hunger relief programs. They also assure that the unclaimed dead are removed from city streets, that outbreaks of hideous diseases are immediately and decisively dealt with (burning is, apparently, the preferred method), that garbage does not pile up endlessly, and that all civil ceremonies (weddings, funerals) are attended to.

    Though an agency of great import, it is not particularly popular among the educated cadres, and is seen as a refuge for the unambitious or unable. Morale is low and so is funding from the public exchequer. As a result, the services offered by the OHS are sometimes found lacking by the populace it serves.

    Office of the Tax Assessor

    Though the name seems to imply a singular man with a golden ledger, the Office of the Tax Assessor actually hides a veritable legion of money men in its confines. These oft-bespectacled number crunchers live and die by the notion that the thalers must flow, straight into the coffers of the Republic. Without them, their monetary acumen and the collectors that bring in the coin, the Republic would in all likelihood fall to ruin. As state instruments go, few are more hated than the Assessor (or as important). As career choices go, few are as disdained. The ‘real’ talent knows that the money is in private enterprise – most often the familial business. It is the dregs and failures, it is told, that end up hunched over the City business registrars.

    Nonetheless, the Office of the Tax Assessor is a keystone of City governance. Its representatives proliferate throughout the Republic: the Tax Assessor’s reach extends to far-off colonies and tributaries alike. The power and influence that it wields, at times, is considerable, indeed.


    The Great Families

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    One of the saddest and most characteristic facts of life in our fair City is that to get richer, a man must already have riches. While there are those idealists who spurn this notion – who would in fact say that our home is the only place in the world where men can still make their own way with a bit of guile or nous – the familial dynasties that hold virtually every office of note and every major commercial enterprise under their collective thumb would beg to differ. Some of the City’s most prominent families have accumulated their vast fortunes over a great period, indeed; they all lay claim to the status of ‘founders’. This is the legal justification for their stranglehold on the Assembly, the Stone Table and all of their relevant functions. Whether it be through investment, or agriculture, or industry, or textiles, or import, the majestic opulence of the greatest families affords them influence that stretches far and wide. The most reckless of demagogues would go so far as to say that the real power of the City does not lie in the hands of its public officials, but in their patrons. Details on a selection of the most powerful of these families are available below.

    House Quincy

    The Quincys consider themselves to be a cut above even the elite. Not only are they widely recognised Founders, but they also own and operate Quincy Metallurgical Industries and the magnificent Ironwrought complex. Additionally, the mines that supply the above with ton upon ton of raw ore are also part of the proprietary empire of this most illustrious family. The dynasty is headed by Quince Frederic Quincy VII, a tall, gaunt, stooped and frighteningly capable man who has shown few scruples in dealing with the competition – both within the family and without. Other important persons include Hero Nesmith Quincy, the heir apparent (and, by many accounts, spoiled brat), and Viveca Jane Quincy, Quince Frederic’s young daughter. The Quincys nurture an age-old feud with the Holmuths; a feud that has exploded into bloodshed on more than one occasion.

    House Holmuth

    Legend has it that the first identifiable Holmuth – Drederic – was a fishmonger during the Great Siege. Well, they are certainly fishmongers no more. The Holmuths represent a bevy of financial and investment interests so diverse that even the Tax Assessor and the Chamber of Commerce might not know their true scale, much to the chagrin of many. They own several of the City’s largest banks, and wield the immense power of the Holdfast Investment Group. Their patron, Charles Antoine Harald Holmuth, is a bear of a man with a nearly insatiable appetite for good food, good women and very good investments. Though their riches are rivaled by few, the Holmuths rose to their present station through aggressive investment that sparked serious tension with the Quincys and the Drexlers, among others. With few tangible industrial enterprises, their continued prosperity depends on the acumen of men such as Charles, and other scions of the Holmuth line.

    House Beauchamp



    The Beauchamps own some of the most extensive estates within the City – and without. Their outlying farms are the source of much of the City population’s daily sustenance. Indeed, without the Beauchamp farms, metropolitan life would arguably collapse within days. Their fresh vegetables are extraordinary, their wines more so, but neither match the grandiosity of their social events or the magnificence of the White Court, their palatial, resplendent city residence. Led by the young and effervescent Geromel Beauchamp, the family is famous (or infamous, as some would see it) for harkening back to the days of nobility with their costumed balls and their flaunted wealth. However, rumours abound regarding open slavery on their estates, as well as some very disturbing associations with the criminal underground. Naturally, such vicious rumours remain unconfirmed and should not be repeated in civilized company.

    House Drexler

    Roderic Drexler has been called many things. ‘Villain’, ‘scoundrel’, ‘wastrel’, he has heard them all. Unfortunately, mostly on the lips of his own kinsmen. The sole inheritor of an airship transport empire, Roderic has had to do a lot of growing up in recent years. A notorious gambler and womanizer, Roderic’s relatives have been at his throat ever since George Drexler the Elder died, and left behind a will written up in Roderic’s childhood years, when all his hopes rested with his only son. Matters have become so frayed that there have reportedly been a number of attempts on Roderic’s life. Fortunately, his golem manservant, Arkadion, has always been in close proximity, ready to intervene. The broken bodies of the would-be assassins told nothing of who gave the orders. Nonetheless, despite their internal disarray, the Drexlers remain a force in City life. They own and operate almost half of the City’s air fleet, and this affords them great power.

    House Nocerino

    The Nocerinos specialize in a range of manufactured goods – from household items to light machinery. Their patriarch, Dominik Vicente Nocerino, is an elderly gentleman of refined tastes and biting wit. His aggressive expansion of the family business has put the Nocerinos in a prime position to usurp the stranglehold the Quincys have over metalworking in the City, but has also apparently left them with a line of credit that is tenuous at best. When other families sense such weakness, they do not wait long, and it is likely that the Nocerinos will be engaged in a struggle for supremacy on a number of fronts, soon enough. It remains to be seen whether the Nocerino leadership is willing to gamble everything on a chance at the proverbial throne. The family is also notable for having relatively few representatives in the Assembly, and in positions of leadership.

    House Manjack

    Ahh, new money. Considering the spirit of free enterprise in the City, it is surprising that the great families have stayed as constant as they have, in recent memory. The membership of the upper echelons changes little, it seems, despite supposed competition and our vaunted social mobility. Yet, we have the Manjacks; the youngest of the great families. Leto Manjack has been called uncouth by many – even the press, if one could believe it – but neither he nor his family cares. Leto built a veritable fortune over the last twenty years by squeezing the slums for every ounce of labour they could provide, and then cut its price further. Uncouth, maybe, but callous, vindictive and extremely ambitious, certainly. Manjack’s Livestock and Labour provides day workers for a variety of other enterprises, as well as importing huge quantities of livestock into the City for slaughter and consumption. Dark whispers also suggest liaisons with criminal elements of the City, and slave smuggling, in particular.

    House De Roiste

    Matron Helga De Roiste is one of the very, very few women of power in the Red City. When her husband Dorian died almost three decades ago, he left everything to her. Though one sometimes struggles with this idea, it is apparent that Dorian De Roiste was very much in love with the woman sitting by his side for over twenty years. Ever since, Helga has fought tooth and nail to earn the respect of her overwhelmingly male peers. She has become exceedingly adept at that sort of fight, and De Roiste Enterprises is not only a notable textiles manufacturer, but also holds controlling interests in a number of banks and lending institutions. A sharp, severe woman, she has placed the education of her children at the forefront of her concerns. By all reports, the future of the De Roistes is bright, indeed. Dario De Roiste, her eldest, is rapidly becoming a celebrated figure in academia, though it is expected that he will take over the family business, once Helga passes.

    House Starkweather

    The Starkweathers have fought many wars to become the pre-eminent suppliers of arms and other equipment to the Republican Guard. Their arsenals are busied year-round with massive orders from a grateful Assembly, which appreciates the muskets, carbines, cannons and explosives provided by Maximilian Starkweather’s manufacturing dominion. Though not the richest family in the land, the Starkweathers can lay claim to the title of the oldest with some confidence – in truth, their pedigree is beyond question, and they are one of the few families referenced by name in the Charter of the City. With a monopoly over arms manufacture their material concerns are secured, but the leadership of the dynasty has been frustrated by the realisation that earnest expansion of their profit margin might require delving into other enterprises, which the Starkweathers have hitherto been proven ill equipped to undertake.

    House Mulloch

    ‘You can’t walk down a red street without seeing a Mulloch’. The saying is almost as old as the City itself, and it stands as true today as it did back then. The Mullochs are not only successful investors, paper suppliers and retailers, they are also extremely successful at spawning a seemingly endless number of scions to propagate the fortunes of the family. Todoreon Mulloch has led by example, with nine sons and seven daughters to his name. The powerbase of the Mullochs is built on an intricate web of family associations, alliances old and new and the placement of dynasty members in many positions of importance to the City. It goes without saying that the other families have been loath to attack them directly, over the last few centuries, preferring to constrain and curtail rather than confront them.


    The Criminal and the Deviant

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    In a city like ours, crime is an everyday part of life. This seems only natural, despite the best efforts of the Directorate of Public Safety, its Greycoats and the tender mercies of the justiciars. Corruption thrives in the hearts of men. Often it is driven by the baser impulses that hound us, such as jealousy, or rage, or envy – or greed, as is so frequently the case. Most crime is bound by its immediate circumstance. A deadly scuffle in the alehouse, a duel in the coffeehouse, a crime of passion in the family home, the criminals tend to know their victims personally. But some crime is… more troubling. It is organized; viciously so. And the organizations of crime have proven extremely difficult to curb, let alone exterminate, over the years. Some of the notable ones are listed below:

    The Slummie Gangs

    Life in the slums of the Red City is fell and terrible, indeed. Small wonder then that its denizens often turn on each other for their daily bread. Or even out of simple malice. But the most cunning ones inevitably look to band together for mutual protection and shared profit. ‘Slummie gangs’ is a term that can mean many things. These bands range from clots of neighbourhood vagrants ‘protecting’ a patch of turf they call their own, to vast, heavily armed criminal families such as the Burkes, the Silvers and the Lerajes. In all cases, though, the blood spilled by such persons is a mighty river. Their feuds can be heard throughout the night, in the form of shootings and wild, running melees, or just witnessed the next day as bodies are left to rot in the street – victims of crimes that went unheard, and are unlikely to be reported.

    The League of Body Artists

    More than a few of the patients in OHS-run asylums for the insane were brought out of the slums a gibbering mess. The cause of their ailment, in a few special cases, was witnessing a crime scene so hideous, so macabre that their minds could no longer cope with what man was capable of inflicting upon his fellow men, and promptly snapped. These crime scenes are invariably the work of the League of Body Artists. Believed to be a loose association of horrifyingly depraved murderers with a shared fetish, the Body Artists use the constituent parts of a human being as ‘art supplies’. Most of their victims (which vary in age, size and shape) are homeless slummies, who are dismembered and used to create ‘works of art’ in public and private spaces. The filthy murderers then leave a signature in blood, to claim the deed as their own. The Directorate of Public Safety has expended enormous resources in tracking down these monsters, but have been foiled at every turn by the fear of the citizenry and the sick professionalism of the Body Artists.

    The Gentlemen

    Only whispers persist about the ‘Gentlemen’. When a man wants another man killed, he either carries out the plot himself, or he hires a killer to do so on his behalf. Sellswords and pistoleros are relatively cheap, if one knows where to look, after all. However, if a protected man of a great family wants another such scion killed, it is said that he, too, has recourse. That recourse is a group of professional assassins known as the ‘Gentlemen’. Their very existence remains pure speculation, but there are those who claim that the Gentlemen are killers of such magnificent poise and proficiency that they have turned assassination into an intricate ballet of death. They might stalk a single target for weeks or months. They might even infiltrate their social circle and befriend them, under a false identity, establishing a close rapport. These people have perfect upper class elocution, extensive education, seemingly impeccable breeding and dress, and are able to mimic mannerisms, turns of phrase and habits with a practiced ease. Inevitably, it seems, the result is death for the unfortunate mark. Of course, those who say that they exist, also say that the costs of hiring a Gentleman are exorbitant.

    The Profane Brotherhood

    If the ‘Gentlemen’ are a whisper, than the Profane Brotherhood is a misbegotten, fleeting, barely remembered nightmare. Magicians! If one could believe it. Followers of forbidden, savage religions and keepers of knowledge esoteric and dangerous. Every once in a while, some slummie or patrol gendarme stumbles upon strange symbols scrawled on the walls of a sewer tunnel, or peculiarly exotic objects, and the first explanation persons of low education seem to enjoy throwing out is witchcraft, magic and sorcery. Apparently, the Brotherhood is a group of learned men of the inner city, who have chanced upon, been entrusted with or – some say – stolen knowledge that has afforded them a glimpse into the mechanical workings of the universe. Armed with such profane comprehensions, they are able to bend certain laws of reality itself.


    Education in the Modern Age & The Republican Guard

    The Golems

    The Red Seal Trading Company

    The Savage Peoples

    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-08-23 at 01:58 AM.
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    This is pretty interesting. What time period would you say your basing this on? It sounds like an excellent match for the early Renaissance, which would be pretty neat. The Families could function almost like the Italian city-states did, constantly maneuvering against each other via proxy, via officials or mercenaries. Plus, you've got that undertone of oppression of the poor, which could lend another interesting facet to the conflicts. Id quite like to see more.
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    Spot on, I was angling for a British/French/Italian composite. The British angle for the popular image of industrialization and capitalism out of control; the French for their Enlightenment philosophers and nascent revolutionary spirit; the Italian for the city-state model, with Machiavellian politicking in the background.

    Technologically speaking, mid-18th century, with some anachronisms (horseless carriages/airships on the one hand, some suits of armor and prolific bladed weapons on the other).

    Throw in a sprinkle of steampunk golems (with a bit of a twist) and ritualistic magic, and I think there's a decent recipe for some fun and games to be had in the good old City...

    EDIT: I'll definitely be updating with more stuff, relatively soon. Thanks for reading through what's here so far!
    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-05-31 at 05:17 PM.
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    Update #1 (1/6/2012):

    - Added section: 'The Republic and its Government'

    Next up:

    - 'Other Institutions'

    General note:

    I'm slowly building everything from the top down. If I was to road-map the next four weeks or so, I'll be writing up the major institutions (political, economic, financial, industrial, educational etc) of the city, the major families and a short primer on Republican technologies, the status quo and the 'outside world'. Thereafter, I imagine the next step will be GMing a group of four players or so to a practical 'fleshing out' of the setting through play.
    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-06-01 at 06:46 AM.
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    Update #2 (4/6/2012):

    - Added Section: 'Other Institutions'

    Next Up:

    - 'The Families'

    General Note:

    The machinery of the state is almost done, though I think some more detail might be warranted. Like, for example, major personalities in government. Adding the 'Red Seal Trading Company' to 'Other Institutions' is also an idea I'm toying with, as there is a significant government interest there and lots of overlap... The RSTC being the City's major colonial enterprise, with both private and public money behind it.
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    How are you going to portray the RSTC? Like the East India Company? Because that would probably be spectacular. It'd make an excellent organization to launch adventures from.
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    Yeah, that's exactly what I was using as a basis for the RSTC - the East India Company and the Dutch East India Company.

    The premise of the game based on this setting is two-fold: 1) city politics and familial intrigue; and 2) adventures in the savage lands. The latter (savage lands) won't be heavily described, as information is scarce for all but the best informed, so there should be a sense of discovery as characters make their way in the 'new world'. I'm going to juxtapose the really well known (the City) with the 'untamed wild' to nurture that sense.

    That way the City becomes a sort of hub for the adventurers.

    Also, there will likely be competing, antagonistic organizations to the RSTC, but they're the only ones with the serious money behind them.
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    I would like to congratulate you on having made an incredibly interesting world, seems very detailed and I'm eager to read more. I have one question, however, are you basing naming conventions off of a specific language (Latin, Italian, German, English, etc.) or have you made up your own naming system? Not altogether important, true, but I'm always interested in how people decide to choose names.
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    Many thanks, Synvallius, very kind of you to say!

    Regarding my naming convention, it's something I've thought about quite a bit, because naming people, places and concepts is a total bugbear of mine - hate doing it, and it seems to take forever.

    So, basically, I'm using a few different sources of inspiration for the names. Mainly because the idea of the setting is that the surviving 'Men' of antiquity were some kind of hodge-podge of refugees from all over the place. Normally, this kind of thing would be a bit harder to justify, and would need lots of human cultures, but I think it (the refugee thing) works well enough, in this case.

    The sources in use are as follows:

    British - 17-19th century (Barnabus, Alexander, Maximilian, Henry, Arthur, Clarence, Edwin, Ewart, Horace etc)

    French - 17th-20th century (Etien, Alphonse, Antoine, Arnaud, Bertrand, Didier, Gaston, Henri, Hugues etc)

    Italian - 17th-20th century (Achille, Agostino, Aldo, Alessio, Cirillo, Claudio etc)

    Latin - (Acario, Alban, Aquila, Augustus, Benedict, Cassius, Delmar, Dexter etc)

    Ancient Greek - (Agathos, Andreas, Arsenius, Arkadios etc)

    Permutations (original names based on linguistic ideas drawn from all of the above) - (Moloteo, Talassio, Hideo, Cillen, Alfans, Cade, Horis etc)
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    Update #3 (7/6/2012):

    - Added section: 'The Great Families'
    - Fixed: minor typographical errors

    Next up:

    - 'The Criminal and the Deviant' -> detailing the City's criminal and other unlawful groups

    OR

    - 'The Golems'

    I'm happy to let any of you fine folk to pick the next section to go up.

    EDIT:

    The default road-map, barring any voiced preferences:

    - 'The Criminal and the Deviant'
    - 'The Golems'
    - 'The Republican Guard'
    - 'The Colonies and Tributaries'
    - 'Education in the Modern Age'
    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-06-08 at 01:05 AM.
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    Update #4 (9/6/2012):

    - Added section: 'The Criminal and the Deviant'
    - Added images to sections: 'The City and its People', 'The Republic and its Government', 'The Great Families'
    - Fixed minor errors in one section

    Next up:

    - 'The Golems'

    OR

    - 'The Republican Guard'

    EDIT:

    Please note: All images added to opening post are copyrighted by their respective authors. No infringement is meant by their use here as 'visualization aides'.
    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-06-09 at 06:54 AM.
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    Id very much like to see either.

    Oh, and might I hazard a suggestion?

    Revolutionary groups. Wherever the poor and disposed have been oppressed for any length of time in human history, resistance movements have arisen. Their not always successful and sometimes completely hopeless, but they do exist. It might introduce a number of interesting story elements, like having hero's fight for the common man, or government men hunt down seditious elements that put the public in danger. You could even run a double con, and have the noble houses manipulate the naive revolutionaries and aim them at their rivals.
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    Goddamn, I'm a little mad it took me this long to check this out! I love what I'm seeing here. Well done, sir! I plan to read along and contribute whatever I can.
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    Very kind words, Wyntonian, my warmest thanks to you!

    Ponderthought, get out of my mind, maaaan. Seriously, though, I had the thought of putting revolutionary groups in the 'Criminal and the Deviant' section, but I'm waiting for 'Education in the Modern Age'. Historically, poor people in our own world riot and run amok, but for a revolution you need leadership from the middle class (and, usually, well above the middle class). The intelligentsia are almost inevitably the demagogues, sloganeers and the public faces of the revolutionary movement.

    In the Red City, that sort of sentiment is most likely to develop in higher education institutes, such as the Archibald Learning Community. There was a little bit of foreshadowing in the Chamber of Education sub-section.
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    The big thing that struck me as I was reading was that if you have powerful families with competing interests that have devolved into complete conflict, and multiple higher learning establishments that are important to the city, the families are going to fight over the establishments and vice versa. If anything can indeed be bought, advancement will be the first, and the families will seek to control a university so that they can train their sons and daughters as well as those of favored allies and supporters. Education can be bartered for as well, and such is the main way for a new family to truely break into the Assembly or even the Stone Circle. Each family's university specializes in the patron families area of business, although the best have multiple areas of expertise aside from the common education that is useful to all, such as government-approved history, basic accounting, the legal code, and which family deserves your help. Those families that have tried to take control of education have found themselves opposed by temporary alliances of many families, and so each family only maintains control over one or two, lest they scare the other families into united action.
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    Education in the Modern Age

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    The City’s centres of higher learning constitute some of the most venerable and celebrated public and private institutions in our Republic. The University of the Polymath, for example, can trace its lineage all the way back to Moloteo the Elder – its natural namesake - and the cohort of sages who honoured his memory by building the university itself and preserving (indeed, propagating) the best traditions of Molotean academia in the centuries since. When the golems were liberated from their earthly tombs the first experts in their operation and maintenance were the highly skilled engineer sages of the Omnitechnica. You see, of course, that our need for places of powerful learning was as immense then, as it is now. Today, the major colleges and universities of our land educate more than a hundred thousand pupils, between them.

    Most of the mercantile ‘nobility’ assures that promising scions receive the best education that wealth and influence can buy. The City’s university campuses are breeding grounds for nascent professional conspiracies against the public, as well as places where these erstwhile heirs to vast fortunes can network, make friends (and enemies) and learn the ways of the world. However, it almost goes without saying that not all centres of higher learning are of the same pedigree. The University of the Polymath, for one, is both elite and holistic. The latter term denotes that it educates young men from the age of seven until they achieve their professional qualification (whenever that may be). The Charter University is slightly less prestigious, but offers a very similar service. Other institutes, such as the Polytechnica and the Archibald Learning Community only accept charges that have seen their fourteenth summer, specialising in senior and professional education. Meanwhile, College Firestone has seen fit to not only lower its tuition fees to a level where even middle class families can afford a quality education for their children, but it has also begun accepting young girls and women as students (a scandal of some note).

    The competition between the aforementioned institutes (and their unmentioned ilk) borders on the pathological. The pressure exerted on young men of good breeding to succeed and to, thereby, enhance the reputation of their alma mater is suffocating. This is not a simple matter of public standing and petty bickering, but a very real and sometimes existential struggle for endowments from patrons and funding from the Chamber of Education and the Assembly. Complicating this still further is the intricate web of political and ideological allegiances of the various academics and administrators, who must often finely balance the patronage of a wealthy ‘benefactor’ with their duty to the institution. The great families themselves often duel (in many senses of the word) over educational institutions. It is well known that the University of the Polymath’s Sagemaster, Nikiforus, owes his position to the Quincys. The patronage of the Quincys has afforded the university sufficient funds to make their grounds the envy of the academic world – replete with a modern library, gymnasium and even steambaths. Of course, not all families have as firm a hold over an institution as the aforementioned. Most vie over some level of control, patronising one institutional official or another, embroiling the board in political games and power struggles.

    As a result, tolerated cheating and preferential treatment are part and parcel of life in many centres of higher learning. This unhealthy competition has resulted in numerous murders (and a great deal of property damage, over the centuries) – such are the stakes involved. Many prospective employers choose their employees based solely on their alma mater.

    And yet, despite the cynical pre-occupation with material concerns, there is still room for enterprising spirit and dialogue within the centres of learning themselves. The Archibald Learning Community is well known to be a hotbed of ideological thought – indeed, the Chamber of Education keeps a very close eye on its academic staff, many of whom are suspected of anarchist and anti-capitalist leanings.



    Ultima Ratio Res Publica ('The Final Argument of the Republic')
    a.k.a. The Republican Guard


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    ‘Duty in this life,
    Relief in the next’
    - Official motto of the ‘Stonewall’ 4th Regiment of Foot

    Our great republic was born in fire, and in fire it was tempered. For that reason, the City’s military has always needed to be strong and well prepared for the horrors and deprivations of armed struggle. The actual strength of the Guard has fluctuated with time, as wars and budgets flared, and then once again subsided, but the maxim remains. Today, it musters almost eighty thousand men organised in regiments of between one and two thousand and battalions of between four hundred and eight hundred guardsmen. Recruits are primarily drawn from the slummie throngs, convicted criminals and the lower middle class – resultantly, the quality of the average defender of our Republic is rather lacking, at the beginning. Officers, naturally, are drawn from the upper crust of society, with many well educated men amongst their number.

    Guardsmen are armed with reliable muskets (with bayonet attachments) from the Starkweather arsenals, cannon in the six pounder to twelve pounder range, short thrusting swords and other specialised armament for the various niche needs of the Guard. They are protected by their thick black overcoats and – quite often – leather jerkins, brigandines or even cuirasses underneath. Elite regiments, cavalrymen and officers are far more likely to be wearing the latter armour, in addition to the uniform apparel. Though it has been found ineffective against firearms, it nonetheless offers some protection against the arms most commonly employed by the savage peoples (bladed, blunt and piercing weapons).

    The bulk of the Guard’s regiments march on foot, with long baggage trains in tow – they are the forces of occupation and instruments of decision on the battlefield. Cavalry regiments and dragoons make up the mobile forces of the Guard. Increasingly, airship transported detachments of infantry are also being used to overcome the great distances often confronting the City’s defenders in the field. The natural limit to the effectiveness of the latter transportation method, of course, is a matter of capacity. Even the very largest airship can transport and supply barely more than a company of men (a hundred or so guardsmen and officers). Transporting several regiments for campaign would occupy much of the City’s air fleet.

    When in the field, the blackcoats (colloquial term for guardsmen) fight in thick lines or squares, anticipating the furious charge of the savage foe, while the supporting artillery shells them from afar. In recent times, the most dangerous opponents of the Guard have been the greenskins of Amin-Qun, whose heavily armoured reavers and nobles are infamous for breaking Guard formations and then slaughtering the poor, disordered Men. Their leader – Borges – is a great enemy of Man, indeed. Whispers from the frontier more than suggest that his orcs have even used looted muskets against their makers, on occasion. If nothing else, the greenskin is a most cunning adversary. The longears of the Black Forest and their cousins of the Higosian Steppe, on the other hand, prefer to execute raids and hit and run attacks on their betters, instead of facing them in open battle. Once their shamans augur opportunity, death for many pioneers and Guardsmen alike inevitably follows. It is only with absolute diligence and necessary brutality that such enemies are kept in check.

    In the direst of emergencies, the Guard also has access to the Red Banner – a force of two thousand men of real worth, excellent training, the best equipment and unquestioned devotion – which otherwise forms the last line of defence for the inner city. The Red Banner is also notable for its crimson overcoats and uniform breastplate. Finally, if worse was to come to worst, the City also disposes of a small selection of fighting golems, each of which is easily worth hundreds of savages, at least.


    The Golems

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    Demos, Xanarch, Arkadion, Vulkan, Hammerlaw, the Lion, Grimeye – these are names mothers often use to scare misbehaving children, names that invoke a primal sort of terror. They are, after all, the names of some of the City’s best known golems. Unearthed during the excavation of the Vaults so very long ago, at first it was thought that these magnificent automatons were in fact nothing more than statues of wood and metal. It is not known how the sages determined otherwise, though some suspect that the Omnitechnica keeps its secrets very well, indeed. All we do know today is that, not long after they were brought up from the depths of the caldera, the golems were awoken. And that they readily responded to their new masters. Their shapes, sizes and functions were bewildering in their variety, but every single one was instantly and rightly considered priceless. Nonetheless, many vagabonds throughout our storied past did, in fact, put a price to them. Petty despots and tyrants bestowed them as gifts on their most trusted supporters.

    Republican officials sold them to the highest bidder during times of financial strife and budgets stained by red ink. Today, most lie in the hands of the wealthiest families of the City, functioning as household guardians, novelties and – always – status symbols. In truth, they are very suitable for the first of those roles, as protectors of the familial estate. After all, once the ceremonial oaths of fealty have been taken, no force in the universe can come between golem and master. Though they are obviously not truly sentient, they can follow simple commands to the letter, and rarely do they misunderstand the master’s intent. They are also capable of solving basic problems of logic quite readily.

    Just as important as their intangible qualities is the fact that most golems are built from steel and other immensely tough materials. Common thieves, lay assassins and their ilk find no joy in crossing paths with a vigilant golem. They can seldom harm it, but it is extraordinarily capable of harming them. Most golems weigh more than twenty five stone and have limbs ending in either hands or claws. These are more than sufficient to deal with unwanted intruders in the dead of night. Some even incorporate projectile weapons into their frame, of advanced design and function.

    Of course, that is not to say that golems are invulnerable. They can be destroyed – and, indeed, have been destroyed on occasion – by firearms of sufficient calibre. Though pistols and muskets tend to be ineffective, arm cannons, some explosive charges and artillery are highly dangerous to the construct. As weaknesses go, however, perhaps this one can be forgiven. Their manifold strengths do more than make up for it. It is important to also note that not a single golem has hitherto failed, mechanically, of simple wear and tear. As mechanisms go, they are remarkably reliable and need little maintenance. However, only the most qualified sages of the Omnitechnica are qualified to provide such maintenance, if it is required for whatever reason.

    The golems of our City are not simply valuable servants, however loyal, and certainly they are more than glorified household defenders and guardians of the scions of wealthy and privileged families. They are a symbol of our heritage and of Man’s progress in an uncertain world. At the Battle of Titan Ridge, some two hundred years ago, Diagon – a monster of a golem, appropriately enough – singlehandedly stopped an orc host in its tracks, and purchased enough time for the City’s regiments to rally from an almost certain defeat to an unlikely victory.

    Without golems, and the other marvels from the Vaults that ushered in a technological renaissance, Men might have been nothing but a faded memory, by this day.


    The Red Seal Trading Company

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    Centuries ago, when the City was only yet a babe in arms, the RSTC was founded by Ramses Monzon, a merchant of some note from Shale St, in Jagiello Quarter. The young Republic was still unsure of its footing, and its first attempts to push its influence beyond the caldera proved ill advised. The Guard was devastated repeatedly by punishing defeats, disease and – sadly – desertion. However, a small trading network was being built in its troubled wake by erstwhile Men of ambition and grand vision. Though the Republic was being politically humiliated, in a mercantile sense it was soon rapidly expanding its interests across the savage lands.

    The greenskins would not brook being ruled by Man, but they were happy enough to trade for the fruits of his budding manufactories. Monzon was one of the most dedicated proponents of the Way of Coin, and his contacts among the greenskin elites of Qun, Yuli and Hendan paved the way for an enterprise unmatched in scale and temerity in Republican history. The Red Seal Trading Company, as the concern became known, would grow almost exponentially for many years, before the Stone Table intervened and made it a properly licensed, quasi-governmental body. If, in its early years, the emphasis of the RSTC was purely on profit for its owners and backers, it soon changed to actively promoting the interests of the Republic.

    It did so with gusto and confidence under the august leadership of Monzon (and, later, master merchants such as Henry Watts, Montgomery Jelling and Phyrrius ‘Furious’ Francito), only occasionally suffering setbacks – as it did at the Three Hills, where longears under the Tiger of Higos slaughtered an entire trading post, killing more than a hundred men and women of the RSTC. Following this incident, the RSTC waged an unheralded but often bloody war against the perpetrators and their allies. During Watts’ directorship, the RSTC established an armed branch: the Free Banners of the City. Initially, the Free Banners drew upon the Guard itself for recruits (with the blessing of the Republic), offering better pay and conditions. However, it was soon open to most men seeking adventure and advancement in civilized society. Though its early strength was only around five hundred men, necessity would eventually expand that strength to more than two thousand well-armed permanent contractors.

    The Frontier Wars spanned decades of ceaseless skirmishing, but it was ultimately a bountiful period for the RSTC. By maintaining the fiction of its independence from the government of the City, the RSTC was welcomed to places where official representatives of the Stone Table would have been drawn and quartered. Honest trade, moneylending, commerce; all were within the purview of the Company. Those whose debts to it grew in arrears beyond salvage found themselves subject to property seizure. Indeed, the first of the tributary states were established in this manner. When the greenskins of the Dannon basin could not make good on their debt to the Company, they found their land ‘appropriated’. Though struggle was always an option for the savages – and one they chose frequently – the Free Banners were never far from RSTC trading stations, shuttled around by airship as required.

    When the RSTC overstretched (at one point, Amin-Qun itself raised its armies against the Company!), it would pull back and regroup, and give favourable trading rights to aggrieved foes, or generous gifts to soothe their anger; at worst, they would retreat for a time. In this manner, it became the instrument of dominion for the Republic. Untold riches poured into the City because of the efforts of the Company. The first colonies were built on Company thalers and populated by Company families. The men of the Free Banners were often granted titles to land, in lieu of monetary payments.

    All the while, the influence of the Families on the RSTC was held firmly in check by the Stone Table. Wary of having its interests hijacked by those of any one Great Family, the Assembly forced the RSTC to put the transfer or sale of any shares therein to an Assembly vote. That said, naturally, many of the Great Families continue to earn an income from early investment in the RSTC (as do a plethora of families that have fallen from note, and whose primary income might very well be a tiny sliver of the Company’s profits). Nonetheless, with the Company Director appointed by the Stone Table, it is clear who holds the reins to the enterprise as a whole. It is a creature of the City – but it may very well hold the future of that City in its hands.



    The Savage Peoples

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    Most residents of the City do not achieve a great understanding of the outside world. Sadly, even the educated tend to dogmatically propagate age-old myths about the creatures that live Beyond the Wall. Though many know names such as ‘Amin-Qun’, ‘Yuli’ and ‘Higosia’, they have but the barest inkling of what those terms really connote beyond ‘greenskin’ and ‘longear’; perennial historical and mythological nightmares. The truth, as usual, is far more complex.

    For one, it is important to recognize that the City is not necessarily the centre of the modern world. Though the layman would tend to think of it as such, and the popular narrative of our history does nothing to dispel this notion, it is difficult to see the forest for the trees, otherwise. There are actual States, out there. Some of them are akin to our own, while many are very different, indeed. And despite a longstanding history of mutual antagonism, not all would give everything to see the Red City burn and its citizens dead. After all, the RSTC has established lucrative trading links with a swathe of the lesser peoples.

    These States conduct diplomacy, wage wars and are ruled by legitimate governments, be they monarchical, despotic, popularly elected or otherwise. Other nations of the savage peoples are less organized, and exist as tribes covering stretches of territory that they exploit for subsistence and profit. What follows is a short primer on the most significant and exemplary of the peoples encountered by Men of the Red City since the Founding Charter.

    Amin-Qun

    Amin-Qun, or Qun for short, is a vast, despotic greenskin empire and a historical enemy of the City. Borges, the current Emperor, is a terrifying representative of his kind. Though admittedly never cruel, his hostility towards Men seems implacable, and relations with his people have been terribly strained, indeed, as a result. Nonetheless, we have learned much of Amin-Qun over the past century, ever since the Demorgis Firstcrowned the Unifier brought Amin and Qun (and their constituent clans) together through bloody warfare and cunning statecraft.

    For one, the Empire is expansive and populous. Our traders speak of imposing cities teeming with greenskins and, worryingly enough, extensive industry. Though it seems free enterprise has not taken hold of Amin-Qun, and their technological achievements remain far beneath our own, rest assured that the threat posed by this foe is taken very seriously by the Stone Table. Their armies are formidable enough, as things stand. It bears not thinking about what could happen if they develop cannon, or had golems of their own.

    On the subject of their armies, Amin-Qun maintains a host of tens of thousands, and possibly much more than that. Highly regimented and disciplined, it has been a fearsome opponent for the Guard. Armed with pike and sword and crossbow the infantry of Amin-Qun has proven some of the finest in the Known World. The noble cavalry is almost as famous. Well armoured and fanatically devoted, many a Guardsman has fallen beneath their blades.

    Luckily for Man, Amin-Qun expends more blood and coin on constant feuds with Yuli and Hendan than it does pursuing the downfall of the Red City. Furthermore, quarrelling between the manifold clans of Amin-Qun remains a constant thorn in the side of the Empire, which must remain vigilant against internal dissent and civil conflict. A number of civil wars have shaken the Empire to its core over the last hundred years.

    Yuli

    The City of Yuli, in some ways, interestingly parallels the Republic. It is a contiguous city state ruled by a so-called Magiarch – elected head priest of the Lohinite religion and its chief magister. It is home to more than a million greenskins, though tens of thousands of believers make the pilgrimage to the Lohinite holy site, the Hand of Lohi, every month. The Lohii believe that the thirty foot statue made of amber and shaped into a closed fist hides the first mystery of the universe at its centre. Situated in the middle of the city, Yuli has been built around it stone by stone, over the past six hundred years.

    The Yulii are an enigmatic people, and especially so because they are greenskins. Their clerical poets and philosophers, it must be grudgingly said, are first rate. Their warriors are also total zealots who treat war as a higher calling. As long as they believe they are defending the Hand from the infidel, they are almost impossible to break. However, denuded of that belief, they can also be incredibly fickle, fleeing as soon as their accompanying augurs profess doubt about a battle or campaign. It is known that a Yulii army in Hendan was routed while in full retreat, simply because an augur predicted disaster after falling off his horse.

    Belief is the greatest strength of the Yulii, and their greatest weakness. The Red City does excellent trade with Yuli through the RSTC, exchanging precious metals and metalcraft for Yulii silk, salted fish, honey, sugar and other necessities. Their relations with their neighbours, on the other hand, are less beneficent. Amin-Qun and Yuli, especially, have a long history of mutual slaughter. The Emperor has claimed Yuli as a Qunese birthright, whereas the Magiarch has derided Borges and his predecessors as charlatans and blasphemers.

    Though the city itself may not be strong enough, in the long run, to resist Amin-Qun, the Lohii have forced a number of Emperors to crack down viciously on a growing number of believers in Amin-Qun itself. Not to mention the fact that Yuli can call upon almost a dozen vassal colonies for manpower and materiel, and the fact that Hendan has no interest in seeing Amin-Qun triumph.
    Last edited by Voltaire; 2012-08-23 at 01:54 AM.
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    Update #5 (18/6/2012)

    - Added section: 'Education in the Modern Age'
    - Added section: 'The Republican Guard'

    Next update:

    'The Golems'

    Omeganaut:

    Thanks for your input - your thoughts align very closely with mine! Outright control of a university by a single family is extremely difficult (though, as you can see from the latest update, the Quincys are quite close to achieving as much). Until the Assembly and the Chamber of Education come under the control of the same family, steps would be taken to 'protect' public institutions such as universities from 'undue outside interference'. Poor Nikiforus might be removed from his position, if he's seen (regardless of whether he actually is) to be a Quincy, for all intents and purposes.

    And the investment involved would have to be huge and without any immediate return - as the Tax Assessor would come down like a ton of bricks on any withdrawal of university funds by families looking for a return on their initial investment to gain 'ownership'.
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    Are you going to continue this?
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    Yeah, I finished the Golem section a bit ago, but haven't posted it because I'm a bit caught up in running an Only War game. It will come together, though - promise!
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    Update #6 (12/7/2012):

    - Added Section: 'The Golems'

    Next Update:

    'The Red Seal Trading Company'

    OR

    'Conspiracies, Rumors, Myths'
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    The golems sound fascinating. Ive always enjoyed mechanical golems rather than the simple living statues alot of setting make them out to be (though I have a soft spot for those based on the traditional Golem of Prague) Mind if I try my hand at drawing one or two?

    Also Im interested in hearing about the RSTC. I suspect intrigue and fancy explorer hats.
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    Mind if I try my hand at drawing one or two?
    Feel absolutely free! I'd love to see the result!

    Re: the RSTC - the Company goes hand in hand with intrigue and explorer hats. Hand in hand.
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    Just an aesthetic question, how are the Golems put together? are they steam powered, or clockwork or like da vinci's wooden robots?
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    Pretty much clock-work. Obviously mechanical, but... something's off. The sages can't quite tell how the golems work, which is why they're a very finite commodity.
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    Update #7 (23/8/2012):

    - Added section: 'The Red Seal Trading Company'

    Next Update:

    'Conspiracies, Rumors, Myths'

    OR

    'Tributaries and the Savage Peoples'

    ***

    It's been a while, primarily because I've been very busy with work and, you know, life.

    No promises to pick up the pace, but I'll certainly plod on.
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    Upadte #8 (1/12/2012):

    - Added section 'The Savage Peoples'

    Firstly, it's been a while!

    Secondly, the new section is only partially done. There's a ton more that needs to go into it, and will be edited in at some point soon-ish.

    Next update will be when it is, but I'm thinking either:

    'Conspiracies, Rumors and Myths'

    OR

    'Relics and Ruins, the Past and Present'
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    Good to see this back, even though I totally dropped the ball on drawing the golems, because I'm flaky as all hell.
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