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

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

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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.

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5 Responses

  1. Whether it’s a gamble or not would seem to depend on whether they leverage their incredible wealth.

    Let’s face it, this place will be overflowing with goods. They could work half as long and still have over triple the amount of merchandise – and without any expensive food imports which usually were so necessary to a city’s survival. No imports means less need for exports, ergo more for the people at home. This city can support a ridiculous number of specialists, and won’t need all that many of them in any one category.

    Estimating the impact of a reroll each day is tough, but on average I assume it works out to about a +5 on the day’s labor. Everything is *easy* here, and commoner residents won’t want to leave. That doesn’t count the fact that every resident can easily muster the skill points to master at least one craft or professional skill without even trying.

    So, we can expect a lot of really fancy show buildings, craftsmans guilds small because there simply aren’t as many traditional enterprises, and a focus on importing iron ingots and wood, and luxuries. And given that it’s nestled among the wild mountains, it may not even need to import iron and wood from very far away. We’ll see a larger managerial class to raise productivity even higher, most of them probably working as merchants. There will be a lot of priests, simply because there are extra middle-class people about.

    All in all, I’d expect a place like this could start a minor industrial revolution, too. While starting one of those is usually reliant on expensive labor, not cheap, the locals may idealize efficient production given they built this ward in the first place. So they may use their productivity to export even more. They could pretty much corner the market in tableware, metalwork, textiles, and ceramics for a large nation. If they exerted control over the surrounding area they could also easily support the huge road- and canal-building effort it would take to distribute those goods.

    However, this makes the city potentially much more powerful in military might. D20 may not have a lot of “normal” armies, but a city like this could have many more adventurers than normal. It will have a huge amount of spare labor, and it can afford to equip them extremely well. Back of the hand, I’d calculate a starting character’s increased money could easily buy plate armor, several weapons, and dozen minor items like Cure Light WOunds wands, flasks of oil and acid, and a at least a pony.

    Depending on how you run starting experience, you could also go the quality over quantity route, and hand out minor magical weapons. Or the city could invest its awesome wealth (equivalent to middle industrial success) into education – in game terms, Cyrweld characters tend to start at level 3 and so are less likely to die before getting into serious power and magic.

    As the adventurers go up in level, they’ll probably find their money goes further. They’ll get more for any magical items they sell: the ridiculous mundane productivity causes immense deflation and creates a lot of spare wealth for buying magical toys. Cyrweldian spellcasters can afford to experiment more and blow through more goods for magic item creation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they upgraded the Ward along the way.

    The only downside is that magic items could cost more as well, for the same reasons your saleable magic goes farther.

    So I wouldn’t say it’s a gamble: with the right leadership, this is an incredibly effective combination. Obviously, getting good leaders is chancy, but that’s true whether you have elite military orders or a powerful economy. It may make the city slightly less resiliant, but they can still sponsor multiple orders.

    Were I in charge, I’d begin by equipping my forces well and exerting control over the surrounding lands more effectively. Offer bounties on bandits and start creating maps of every bolt-hole and refuge for miles around, and then nail every last open door of them shut. Preferably with the bandits between the hammer and the door. Anything nice we turn over to an order or adventuring group as a base, or sell to rich nobles for mountain retreats. Once all the dangerous monster are exterminated, let the lowbie groups level up by killing the rest. Begin a policy of slowly expanding by equipping adventurers and sending them out bit by bit. Finally, offer citizenship to their descendants and so forth in exchange for a little XP for the Ward.

    Eventually, you’ll have a large and powerful domain, not entirely under your control, but with huge numbers of small, but dangerous groups. They may argue, but they’ll also protect the city. Anyone attacking would face a huge task, while no group could possibly unite all those crazy adventurers. The Ward grows even more powerful, and the city will be loaded with goods and treasures.

    • Personally I don’t think it’s quite that advantageous in the setting; Cyrweld is somewhat optimized for producing goods and trading – but pretty much every native of Ciarkian possesses supernatural powers, and every native of Maytheria can work a selection of spells of up to second level as a birthright.

      On Earth, economic resources underlie everything. You need usable territory to provide food and drinkable water, to produce goods and raw materials to support your population and military, and to build up the technological pyramid of tools to produce other tools. You need people too, but if you have the resources, your population will tend to expand to exploit them. Power is built on the control of resources and large populations.

      The same goes for most scientific settings, at least up to the point where extended lifespans and reduced child mortality start undermining the drive to reproduce. Population might become the dominant limit after that, although – at the moment – that’s more a demographic projection than a direct observation.

      On Ciarkian, the basic resource is personal magic. Any adult can probably work some third level spells within their speciality; all that takes is +2 caster levels specialized in Theurgy (6 CP) and a few points spent on boosting their Theurgy skills. Food and water produced by easy magic may be monotonous and simple, but it’s nourishing. Basic supplies – such as fiber, wood, pottery and bricks – produced by easy magic are of relatively low quality, but they’re still serviceable enough. Simple mending charms can keep furnishings, implements, and what little clothing the assorted anthropomorphic peoples of Maytheria really need, serviceable indefinitely. Still, natural food, fibers, and other materials are better, and goods produced by decent craftsmen are a lot better.

      Now, the unusual local fruit produced by a skilled farmer using carefully-tailored spells of level four and up to enhance and ward his trees and crop… Now THOSE exquisitely delicious rarities are worth trading and bargaining over!

      That sets the pattern of trade on Ciarkian; pretty much everyone has a fair amount of leisure time, life is reasonably comfortable and healthy, and goods aren’t especially important. Only luxuries, amusements, and magical materials or items are worth transporting very far. Cyrweld will indeed have more luxuries, and fancier public buildings, but almost everyone on the local disk – that is, within tens of thousands of miles – is a specialist by default.

      There may well be a fairly large class of people who – whether they call themselves scholars, priests, students, or what-have-you – don’t actually do very much except, occasionally, provide a few supporting spells for other people’s projects. After all, every native of Maytheria is born a spellcaster, with enhanced physical attributes, abilities, and toughness. They were designed to inhabit a universe of adventure, and almost anyone who cares to do so is perfectly capable of going out and adventuring with a fair degree of success. A starting “adventurer” is likely to be well-equipped anywhere on Maytheria though; mundane gear is cheap enough, and minor enchanters can be found in every city.

      Ciarkian really isn’t headed for an industrial or technological revolution though. The trouble with the “magic as technology” comparison is that magic generally doesn’t require other people, or all that much in the way of tools. An old witch stirring a pot in the woods brews potions every bit as well as the alchemist in his shiny lab and – at least with Theurgy – the shaman in his igloo weaves spells and forges enchantments just as well as the academic in his well-furnished tower. Complex machines require a lot of support and upkeep – and are rarely as useful as a few simple spells or minor enchantments. Magic is just quicker, simpler, and easier than technology. It doesn’t call for organization, management, or hordes of especially trained assistants making lesser magical tools to help you build a crystal ball. It’s only fault is that – in reality – it doesn’t work. Where it does work… it tends to dominate.

      In the same way, more money and mundane goods does not necessarily indicate more magic; the amount of magical energy or “experience points” available to invest in creating magical items is quite limited – and forms the basis of the local currency (which also takes care of most inflation and deflation; the money has a universal value and can be turned into many other valuable things directly). Still the universal spellcasting, and the relative ease of learning basic enchanting techniques, means that anyone who cares to work at it for a bit can certainly start with a selection of minor, limited-use, magical devices – or they could just study magic a bit more themselves. A basic magical weapon can certainly be helpful for a starting fighter, but it’s not nearly as helpful as starting out as a jaguar-person with +6 Str, +8 Dex, +4 Con, two bonus hit dice, and decent spellcasting.

      I must agree that building up the Ward would be nice (although Cyrweld is hardly the only city with a powerful ward, or even with some of the productivity-and-support boosters; they’re just one of the few that didn’t put in military resources first), but it will require an epic spellcaster with the right abilities to do that – and they’re vanishingly rare.

      Military forces and such are for part four though, which will be along shortly.

  2. Ah, that wasn’t at all clear.

  3. […] Template“. For making venturesome animal-people. Also Part II with power-signs, Part III with a city and it’s Ward Major, and their Guilds and Knightly […]

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