The City of Tarsus

City of TarsusAt the center of the Five Duchies is the sprawling metropolis of Tarsus, home to nearly ninety-thousand souls. An ancient city that predates even the Imperium itself, the city-state is now the most powerful on the eastern coast.

Metropolis. Population 93,000. Mixed – human 65%, dwarf 8%, elf 7%, half-orc 7%, halfling 5%, half-elf 4%, gnome 3%. Gold limit 150,000. Assets 675 million gold pieces.
Power Centers: The Five Houses (Conventional – LN), Commerce Faction (Nonstandard – N), Charter Faction (Nonstandard – LN), Commoner’s Faction (Nonstandard – LG)

The City-State is a republic, its offices held by nobles elected by the free human citizens. The ultimate law of the city is its Charter, which is interpreted by the Ministry of Scroll with the advice of the Hierarchy of Cuthbert. Corruption and bloodshed are not unknown in Tarsun politics.

The ruler of the City-State is the Grand Duke, elected every ten years. He shares power with the Grand Council, whose membership is determined by elections in the wards and appointments by the Five Houses and chartered guilds and temples. Policy is executed by the Ministries of Coin, Scroll, and Sword.

The city itself is divided into 21 numbered wards and Civic Center, a ward administered directly by the Grand Council. Overlapping the wards are the boroughs, areas of  socioeconomic or demographic commonality, but boroughs are not official or administrative divisions. Each wards elects its own Magistrate, responsible for administering the local courts, collecting taxes, and maintaining order. Wards often include widely disparate neighborhoods, depending on the number and character of boroughs overlapping their territory.

Beyond the city are the Five Townships and the Rural Wards, whose residents elect representatives to the Grand Council and are largely administered by the city government (rather than being subject to the feudal landlords.)

Civic Center contains the great Council Chambers, the Grand Duke’s Palace, and the Ministry Offices. The largest temples to the Five Gods are here, as are the highest officials of the temple hierarchy. Only the wealthiest nobles and guilds can afford offices or residences in the ward; a few of the finest shops and taverns in the city are here, but commercial and residential buildings are rare.

The Bargeway follows the Great Bann Canal until it merges with Guilderhill and Wheeler’s Run to the south. Serving the riverfolk that come to trade, the borough can be rough and seedy or home to upscale riverside residences, depending on the neighborhood. Grain barges from Voren typically travel straight through to the Grainway, while those carrying commodities from the north and east will unload at the Bargeway warehouses.

Drover’s Reach is to caravans what the Bargeway is to rivercraft. The overland trade from the Silk Road and grain from Selvae and Durestal filters through, feeding the markets of Wheeler’s Run and Guilderhill or continuing to the Grainway and then overseas.

Grainway earned its name storing the produce of the Duchies. Warehouse districts and commodity merchants mix with wealthy, middle-class, and poor residential neighborhoods. Though not a hub for local commerce, the borough is the beating heart of Tarsus’s economic power:  sea-trade in grain and craft.

Guilderhill has become the borough of choice for those wealthy enough to do regular business in Civic Center, but not so fantastically rich that they can live there. Guildhalls, major temples, the fine homes of nobles, and upscale trades and shops define the area — although it has a few middle-class neighborhoods and one or two dark alleys…

Manor Row, as the name implies, is the wealthiest residential area of the city. Sprawling noble estates, private gardens, and the fine shops and inns line every well-cobbled and heavily-guarded street. A few guilds — mostly those related to fine trades or international commerce — build their halls here, if only for the social cachet.

Portside can be a very dangerous borough after dark. Sailors from every land known — and a few lands unknown — wander the streets indulging every vice denied during months at sea. Here, the ships of Kratos trade fleets and Merchant Venturer Guilds are loaded, refitted, or bought and sold. Trades associated with the sea and temples of gods exotic or nautical are everywhere. Most “straight” businesses and shrines are grouped together and guarded by the hirelings of merchant associations and trade guilds. Beyond those legitimate neighborhoods are vast stretches of warehouses, taverns, bordellos, and gambling hells.

The Smithy is the industrial area of the city. Foundries, forges, masons, smiths… any work done by calloused hand or broad back is likely done here. Most residential areas are lower middle class or outright impoverished; the borough has a high population of demi-humans (especially dwarves, gnomes, and elves) and a significant goblinoid/orcish minority. Occasional racial violence is a fact of life, though not as endemic as in Tannerwheel. While local markets exist, they are usually small. Most of the products of the Smithy are sent for export or the markets of Wheeler’s Run.

Tannerwheel, the low trades and laborer borough, is squalid and dangerous. The majority of the city’s monstrous residents live here, and the stink from tanners, dyers, and other industrial or textile-related business drives away most “respectable” types. Vast slums stretch across the wards of the district. Gang violence and racial tensions are endemic in the area. Those who can avoid the area do so regardless of inconvenience. Important individuals who are compelled to visit for matters of trade or governance take along heavily-armed and armored bodyguards.

Wheeler’s Run, arguably the largest borough in the city, includes dozens of open-air markets and shops of every type, description, and trade. Residential areas for every socioeconomic class exist, often separated by a single narrow street. While the area can be a little wild, local guilds both chartered and illicit have a vested interest in maintaining the security of the markets and neighborhoods, hiring armed guards and lobbying magistrates for the protection of commerce and the maintenance of infrastructure. Everything can be had here, and no guild or noble house can long survive without keeping its pulse on the trade and attitude of the Run… As the saying goes in the borough, “Wheeler’s Run is the City.”

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