The Realm of Ciarkian, Part III – Cyrweld and its Ward

American brig in floating dock, Port Chalmers,...

Image by National Library NZ on The Commons via Flickr

Cyrweld is one of the largest port cities of Maytheria. Blessed by proximity to several routes, the superb natural anchorage of the Savin Bay, good geography, and plentiful resources, it’s become a major trading center – with all wealth and corruption, factionalism and scheming, criminals and parasites, and excess population drawn from the surrounding area that that implies.

Twilight comes early in Cyrweld and persists for hours; the mountains of the interior cast a long shadow over the bay and the city as the sun dips behind them – and sends a cascade of rainbows glinting through the headwaters of the Asavrin Falls and over the lake below. It takes hours more, however, for the sky to fade to dusk. Most access to Cyrweld is by sea; while the mountains are indeed lovely, and their foothills cradle the lands around the bay, only a few narrow – and often dangerous – passes thread the mountains to open onto the highlands of the interior. All too often those trails are haunted by bandits as well – whether simple thieves or exiles of the cities factional politics. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on the current political situation and your view thereof – the narrow passes and high valleys of the mountains provide a ready refuge for such exiles.

In millennium past, while Maytheria was still being tamed, Cyrweld (like every other frontier city on Ciarkian) was a fortress against the monsters and perils of the untamed lands. Beginning with simple walls, the fortifications grew to include three major strongholds, four orders of knights and their heartstones, a complex array of concentric defenses, and – eventually – a formidable Ward Major. Those defenses continued to serve Cyrweld well as the era of monsters and exploration gave way to intercity warfare and attempts at conquest – a time during which fortifications, chokepoints, and refuges (now mostly long-forgotten save by bandits) were established in the landward passes. Still, as civilization spread, and the other continents of Arlin, and the disks and lands beyond the gate-mists beckoned, the city-states of Maytheria began to focus more on economic competition, and on expansion and colonization, than on attempts to rule each other. The last major military attack on Cyrweld was repulsed – if at a high cost – nearly three and a half centuries ago. The anniversary is still a major holiday.

Time, a certain amount of neglect after two centuries of peace, and a series reality-distortions and their accompanying earthquakes and wild storms as another minor realm merged fitted itself into Ciarkian’s reality a few hundred thousand miles away, at last accomplished what the conflicts of millennia had not. Many of Cyrweld’s ancient defenses were overthrown along with much of the structure of the city itself – including the ancient Ward Major. Maytheria in general suffered less badly – some unfortunate quirk of the local geomancy had amplified the impact of the disturbance upon Cyrweld – and a fair number of powerful individuals and other city-states sent aid. That aid, formed the basis of an alliance in the face of whatever disturbances and disasters might threaten the massed peoples of Maytheria – the foundation of the modern Grand Council of Maytheria, the current “national government”.

With that aid, Cyrweld rebuilt rapidly, and even indulged in a bit of city planning and renovation, clearing out some of the ghastly mistakes of past millennia. While Cyrweld mourned the loss of it’s ancient guardian, certain “progressive” elements of its council at the time seized the chance to replace the old, militaristic, Ward Major with one better designed for “modern conditions”. Whether or not giving up the protection that had served the city well for so many centuries in favor of economic advantages was truly a good idea has yet to be determined. It has worked well for almost a hundred and fifty years – but it is ultimately a gamble.

Cyrweldan, the City Ward:

  • Rank 8 Ward Major: Int 24, Wis 23, and Cha 10. 99 Skill Points, eight languages.
  • Area Covered: A radius of eight miles from the city.
  • Ward Purpose: Expand the wealth, power, and influence of Cyrweld and its City Council. Note that – despite the original expectations of the Council – this does NOT make Cyrweldan all that protective of individual council members; if you want to take it over, as long as this continues to expand – or at least does not harm – the power of the council and the city, that’s just fine with the Ward.
  • Wards do not normally get Feats – but in Eclipse they can get Unique Training. Cyrweldan has accumulated 24 CP worth so far from watching a century and a half of magical training within its walls, with which it has purchased
    • Shaping (Specialized/only as a prerequisite, 3 CP)
    • Augmented Bonus/adds (Wis Mod) to Theurgy Skills, Specialized/only gets half effect (3 CP)
      • and
    • Pulse of the Dragon and Heart of the Dragon II, both Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (can produce level three effects)/requires appropriate Theurgy skill checks, cannot affect targets beyond Cyrweldan’s boundaries (this includes with ongoing spells), can only produce relatively subtle or city-maintenance effects (18 CP). This allows Cyrweldan to repair walls, extinguish fires, help ships dock, clean the aqueducts, and perform many other helpful tasks.

Broad Skills (All +7 Int): Appraise +15 (2 SP +6 Wis), Decipher Script +15 (1 SP +7 Int), Diplomacy +10 (3 SP +0 Cha), Disable Device +15 (1 SP +7 Int), Knowledge/Psychology +20 (5 SP +7 Int), Listen +23/+33 (for internal uses) (10 SP +6 Wis), Sense Motive +18 (5 SP +6 Wis), Spellcraft +15 (1 SP +7 Int), Spot +20/+30 (for internal uses) (7 SP +6 Wis), and Theurgy (all eighteen skills) +11 (1 SP Each [for a total of 18] +3 Wis)

Narrow Skills (All +7 Int +5 Training):

  • Knowledges: Ciarkian Fortification and Warfare +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Ciarkian Religions +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Ciarkian Architecture +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Ciarkian Nature  +20 (1 SP +7 Int), City Law and Law Enforcement +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Creatures of Ciarkian +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Economics +25 (8 SP +7 Int), Local History +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Maytherian Geography +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Maytherian Politics +20 (1 SP +7 Int), and Theurgy +25 (6 SP +7 Int).
  • Crafts: Fibers +20 (1 SP +7 Int), Metalsmithing +20 (1 SP +7), Shipbuilding +20 (1 SP +7), Stoneworking +20 (1 SP +7), and Woodworking +20 (1 SP +7).
  • Other: Gather Local Information +22 (10 SP +0 Cha), Profession/Builder +24 (6 SP +6 Wis), Profession/Politician +20 (2 SP +6 Wis), and Profession/Trader +20 (2 SP +6 Wis).

Major Powers:

  • Teaching: Residents may gain up to (Int Mod + 4) x 2 bonus skill points through study. Most of the cities children are either privately tutored, sent to schools, or – at the least – tutored by various priests in order to take advantage of this if they’re not sensible enough to attend on their own. This also applies to the Ward itself, which has studied extensively over the last century.
  • Gift of Tongues: Everyone can communicate readily within the city. Sadly, while the Ward still cannot directly talk to its residents, this does allow it to send dreams and vague whispers to them – allowing it to use “Aid Another” on relevant checks. While this ability was more used in the early days, before Cyrweldan learned to cast spells directly, it’s still available.
  • The Distant Gift: All residents and prior residents anywhere within Ciarkian and even in nearby realms of the Manifold are granted the Shield of Cyrweldan (a second level magical effect related to Protection From Evil at caster level twenty-four, can be temporarily dispelled as per dispelling a magic item) that provides a +6 competence bonus to saves against mental intrusions or control, allows them to make a new save against such effects every minute, and may roll spot checks to notice if someone is forcing someone else with a shield to make such saves within 60′. The Ward does not generally extend this benefit to slaves and indenturees, since it recognizes that they are property of proper residents and so subject to them, but has been known to be quite inconsistent – or mistaken – about who is in that category. All of its minor benefits apply to both residents and visitors however.

Minor Powers:

  • Industry: Mundane productivity is multiplied by a factor of seven within the ward.
  • Fortune: Residents get to reroll any one die roll once per day each.
  • Health: Within the ward, diseases are mildly annoying at worst, and victims swiftly recover. Residents regain one point of attribute damage per hour and one lost level and/or point of attribute drain per day.
  • Shielded: The ward can moderate the local weather and keep out pollution, molds, insects, and other ordinary vermin. Secondarily, it can use minor modifications in the clouds and weather to send “omens” to it’s residents, to subtly assist them (it can use “aid another” if a minor weather effect could help), and even to slightly aid in naval combat within range (also via “aid another”). It will, of course, use these to try and let the council know about opportunities and threats to the city – to exploit which the council has skillful weather-readers watching in shifts.
  • Flocks and Fields: The farms, orchards, ocean, and grazing-grounds near the city are remarkably rich and bountiful, and can easily support the city – especially since the weather is always perfect for farming.

Always remember that the mind of a Ward is vast and diffused; it has a hard time focusing on a particular individual or communicating in words. It can send a map to the city council and write omens in the sky – but it will NOT be able to listen in on a particular speech; it only gets general impressions. It will know what the rebels are after, and the approximate locations of their hidden strongholds – but who the leaders are will be pretty vague.

Lesser magics are extremely common within Cyrweld, even outside of the grounds of the (rival) Ramusi, Temorian, and Valendyr magical academies. Water – while supplied by a typical gravity-feed aqueduct system from the Asavrin Falls in the mountains above the city – is fed through a theurgically-sealed and maintained system of piping to public fountains – and most of the private households – throughout the city. Sewage is similarly magically cleansed, given a bit of a lift, and directed to the irrigation of farms. The major streets are usually magically lit and often bear small charms to speed and ease travel and the transport of burdens. Most houses are charmed against fires, and modest conveniences – plate-covers which keep foods fresh, fireproofing spells, ever-burning logs for cooking and heating, and similar contrivances are quite common.

Religion is not, however, a major preoccupation. The High Gods of Ciarkian get vague respect and gratitude – but it’s known that they do not normally intervene with mortal doings. The local gods and elemental spirits who keep the world running where its conventional-physics basis runs into its weird large-scale structure – and who uplifted the people of Maytheria – have some priests and temples but mostly only get simple proprietary offerings from the populace at large. After all, while the local gods occasionally help out (or get upset and cause trouble if neglected too much), that’s pretty uncommon; they gave everyone magic to handle their own problems with and expect them to use if before running to them for favors. Their priesthoods mostly try to keep the children educated, campaign against the full acceptance of foreigners as equals (since that would be an insult to the craftsmanship of THEIR gods) and try to keep society running and expanding as the gods apparently intended. Reincarnation is known to be a fact of life, the world is a pretty good place and has plenty of opportunities, and most people are pretty comfortable. The only major “faiths” in an earthly sense tend to be vague mystic philosophies vaguely resembling Zen or Buddhism – although there are plenty of small (and often very, VERY, weird) cults. There’s generally no such thing as “clerical magic” in Ciarkian; most priests are simply religious scholars – although they may focus their magical studies on fields that they think are appropriate to their gods or are encouraged by their order.

With life reasonably comfortable, most of the people of the cities – despite their immense variety of species – get along pretty well. It’s only the houses and groups that are squabbling for power that have much trouble. Even the underclass of stray children and the very poor may not have much in the way of luxuries, but there’s virtually always enough to eat and drink, the weather – thanks to the Ward – is comfortable year-round, and the priests are always sweeping up children for a class in something and some treats afterwards. There’s plenty of cross-species socializing, and even some dating and carousing – but that’s widely ignored (or slightly scorned), since it’s largely consequence-free. Thanks to the continuous fine weather, and the fact that the the sapient species of Maytheria all have fur, scales, or feathers, clothing is semi-optional in Cyrweld – although a vest with pockets and a belt with a belt knife and pouch is the usual minimum. The upper class tends towards hats, elaborate ruffled shirts for males and dresses for females, and (sometimes) pants. Mages, judges, and politicians who wish to stress their importance sometimes prefer elaborate robes, but the custom is now seen as rather quaint.

The “Law” in Cyrweld is a semi-random mixture of custom (including the customs allowing for duels and feuds), laws, local decrees, and common sense – heavily moderated by the power and social status of the people involved. No, it’s not fair – and it’s certainly annoying to many that the ability to level a few buildings is as important a legal argument as a signed contract – but it’s a fact of life in a setting where people can possess great personal power. That doesn’t mean that you can run wild and massacre folks, or commit blatant murder and get away with it just because you have money and power. Behavior like that is a threat to everyone, and the city guard will get all the backing it needs to deal with you. On the other hand, if someone dies in a bar brawl or you pulverize a mugger, that’s a matter for a small fine and an apology at worst. Now, if the mugger went after a child or someone really important, you may well be able to put them up for sale on the slave market with no protests from anyone.

Sources of status in Cyrweld include control of important services and/or aspects of government, having powerful mages working for you, and commanding slaves, manpower, and military force. While knowledgeable scholars, wise priests, and experts gain some status as well, a great deal of it comes down to “being powerful enough to enforce your desires”. That, once again, may not be particularly principled, but it’s very practical.

Unsurprisingly, the local “government” is mostly made up of a loose council of high-status types, as restrained by custom and fear of provoking an uprising. In practice, it’s mostly made up of the heads of the noble households and military organizations (the old power basis) and the major mercantile interests (the new power basis) making deals – although other high-status individuals will be cut in or consulted whenever appropriate. In theory there is a reigning duke, supported by his or her authority over the knightly orders, responsible for the military defense of the city and its organization. In practice, with the decline (and general independence) of those orders and the lack of current military threats, the duke is something of a figurehead.