Staff & Credits
The Eastern Cities
The Eastern Cities:
The cities are generally arranged in a crescent shape along the very fertile coast; the Wilds make a C shape along their western edge, as if embracing them. A hinterland of forest and scrubland separates the Wilds from humanity. The land is very nearly flat, with some rolling hills as one travels away from the cities. This happy accident of geography has allowed the cities to feed themselves and grow to prodigious size over time.
There are twelve duchies administered by the Nobles of the Twelve, and each of the eighteen cities falls into those duchies.
A Few Words About Power
So about three days' travel in any direction has power, and outside of that, no power operates. This means that about four of the eighteen city-states enjoy the modern benefits; the rest operate like medieval fiefdoms. In game terms, power means electricity and current; the power comes from the city itself, and most people know the Palace is involved somehow. Nobody but the highest nobility, however, know just now. The current has never once failed, though outlets can sometimes go out and need replacing; there are no power lines, as these are buried far beneath the streets.
Property Ownership and You
All land is owned by some Noble somewhere.
Everybody ingame must live somewhere--in other words, must have an actual ingame place where they sleep and store their stuff. Most people will rent a place or get one provided by an employer, which is a standard perk for a lot of different jobs (bodyguard, shop assistant, church servant, most artistic endeavors like acting, singing, etc). Others, who get more money, will buy land.
The Kiassan Empire is a feudal society, which means that no land can be utterly considered to be any commoner's. Ultimately, all the land belongs to the Empress and her immediate family; she lets the Grand Dukes beneath her administer vast swathes of it, and they in turn let Dukes, Counts and Barons administer sub-sections of it. These other nobles allow lords and ladies to do the nitty-gritty work, and these lords and ladies are the ones who "sell" parcels of land to people.
Generally speaking, the person who buys the land is really buying a license to administer it in the name of the lord of the area. As long as he behaves and pays his fees and taxes, he is protected by several laws--his license can't just be revoked for no reason, for example. If the landowner misses his taxes or gets in major trouble (treason would be the main situation here), the noble above him can revoke his license. Such revocations always go through Low Court or High Court depending on the rank of the landowner; the landowner may hire a lawyer at his own cost or represent himself against the noble.
Even a Noble of the Twelve can have his or her land taken away by the Imperial throne. Nobody outright owns land and has total, uncontested control over it; the grant allowing the use of it always follows a chain of command.
The feudal nature of Sciallan land ownership makes it both easier and harder to get land ingame. The easy way is to do such a big favor for someone that you'll get it as a grant. The hard way is to raise the exorbitant amount of funds needed to sweet-talk the Noble into granting the land.
It is a good idea to hire a lawyer for the actual purchase itself, to make sure the negotiations are beneficial. Among other things, purchased land grants aren't always perpetual, but usually must be in leases that are renewed, usually in 30 year increments. A gift usually reverts to the granting lord's control after the recipient's death, and unless a legal contract dictates otherwise, that may happen with a purchased grant as well--hence most purchases are made in a couple's name or in a business' name.
In towns, property is leased, not purchased. Lease terms usually run 30 years, after which the lease may be renewed at a much lesser rate. If the lease purchaser dies, most towns allow the deceased leasee's family or business to maintain the payments on the property with approval from the city's council (the consideration usually involves the family's or business' financial ability, the reputation and standing of the family/business, and whether or not someone else of higher rank has decided to ask for the property).
In ingame practical mechanics terms, there are real estate offices in Valrona with lists of apartments and townhouses for lease. Once a place is purchased, a tax document appears in the living room to be paid every ingame year; the lease document must be paid every 3 ingame months (about every 3 weeks RL). Players may have as many keys as they want, but if they don't keep up with the taxes, the lease owner may just re-key the place on them.
The most northeast of all the Eastern Cities, Cicilium is mainly a fishing and marine processing city-state. Pearls come from here, as well as dried and smoked fish. Cicilium residents are sometimes teased for their backwards ways, but the city still remains one of the larger. There is a vocational-technical school here and all of the standard amenities. Cicilium is fortunate enough to escape the snow and ice that plague more inland cities during the winters, thanks to its proximity to the sea. Their university's Quintzel team, the Cicilium Smokies, is fairly highly rated.
The city of Cicilium is the seat of the Duchy of Cicilium, which was awarded to House Endevarr after the signing of Seruvian Accords of 1620AH. Duke Irrulian Endevarr administered the province until 2212AH, when he was summoned to Priascialla to handle the running of the Ministry of Exchange at the Exchequer. His family replaced him with his cousin Michael Endevarr in 2214AH, and he's been there ever since.
Cicilium is pretty far from anything civilized, but it retains a stiff dignity not seen in the warmer southern climes. It is also the closest to a democracy of just about all of the Eastern Cities, with even Baron Michael just called "Lord Michael" by most of the residents. Nobility can expect little more than "lord" or "ladyship," which are applied to all landed nobility, or "lady/dame" or "sir" in the case of knights or unlanded nobility. Though exceedingly polite, people in Cicilium have important work to do surviving, and the rest of the Empire needs to get out of their way.
It's a little hard for someone from up there to adjust to life in Valrona, thanks to their lack of education in what to call who. They also tend to know their own heraldry but little else. Don't mistake this attitude for belligerence; though certainly there are boorish jerks from Cicilium, it's more a mindset of feeling it's more than a bit foolish to get hung up over whether to call a Duke "Your Grace" or "Your Excellency." They'll do it if they must and most of them know that if they travel, they'll have to do it or end up in jail, but they'd rather just show respect by working hard and being polite. Baron Michael has made it perfectly clear that he won't tolerate them being rude if they're visiting elsewhere.
One of the Eastern Cities. Abdera is the next in line past Cicilium. Abdera is more inland, and thus closer to the mountains in the north of Tergaea. It makes its main income mining and smelting. Fine metals and ores come from here, and several varieties of beryl gemstones like sapphires.
The Duchy of Abdera is controlled by House Tarikaden, with a solid base of military control over the austere area. Abdera boasts some fine training grounds, with a huge swathe of its mined-out caverns hosting some remarkable training exercises for the Tarikaden-controlled Outside Army.
Up in the mountains, the duchy's master smelters and smiths create all sorts of treasures, including rosesteel, a very expensive rose-tinted steel alloy favored by the nobility of the Empire. The smiths do not like visitors, and even the Duke himself hesitates to bother them overmuch.
The Twin Gorges Military Academy, based outside Abdera, hosts a Quintzel team, the Twin Gorges Outsiders. One probably does not need to say that they are terrifying.
One of the Eastern Cities. Hevalta is inland, some distance southwest of Abdera, located near the forests that blanket Scialla. Due to its good location, it has a strong logging interest. Fine woods are gotten from here, processed and shipped throughout the Kiassan Empire. Though there are other cities famed for their fine lumber, such as Behistun, Hevalta aims for the finest woods rather than bulk woods as Behistun does.
Hevalta is technically part of the Duchy of Abdera and therefore under the control of House Tarikaden.
One of the Eastern Cities, a distance west of Hevalta. It is a large city that focuses on military supply, with mass production facilities that import metals and woods from all over and then exports goods to Priascialla. Gatera is a smaller city, but has all the standard amenities. Its vocational school concentrates mainly on logging.
Gatera is the seat of the Duchy of Gatera, and thus administered by House Moondancer. Its area extends for some distance out to the north and west.
One of the Eastern Cities. Located southeast of Priascialla, Apec Juste has the good luck to be located along the coast. It is a fishing town, but also cultivates in artificial stone tanks a kind of shellfish that is grown for one of its glands, which when squeezed produces an intense range of dyes depending on the type of shellfish--deep blues, purples, and reds. Its chemists create some amazing dyes. Definitely one of the older cities on the eastern seaboard.
Apec Juste is one of the larger cities in the Duchy of Hurst Fen, administered by House Montedevris.
One of the Eastern Cities. Hurst Fen is not far northeast of Priascialla. Hurst Fen is on the coast, its people tending to be jacks of all trades. Its main emphasis is on farming, though its people pride themselves on their self-sufficiency. Just about anybody from Hurst Fen can sew, fish, can and smoke food, work leather, and of course farm. Hurst Fen exports a great deal of foodstuffs to Priascialla.
One of the Eastern Cities. Closest to Priascialla, this industrial city lies about halfway in and halfway out of the Perimeter. It is meant almost entirely for production, but does boast a small college and other support for a city. Its residents are known for being rather stringent and conservative, as well as fairly religious. It is located a few days' travel north of Priascialla, but more importantly just a few days east of Sarnow, and battles between it and Sarnow for contracts for luxury goods are frequent as it jockeys for increased influence. There have been minor skirmishes along the two duchies' shared border in the last few years.
Eretea is one of the production centers for Macadam cheese, owing to its extensive pasturelands that are good for cattle. Its meatpacking plants are near-legendary in general. This is supremely useful farm country, and since it's half inside the Perimeter, the most modern methods possible of extracting food from the land are used wherever humanly possible. Not a single inch of land is ignored or unused. Wastefulness is considered the worst sin a person can commit around Eretea.
From the Perimeter south to Priascialla, the land is choked with factories and production centers. The people live in tall rabbit warren-like apartment complexes, with few living anywhere near the poverty line, much less above it. They are little more than serfs, unable to move due to lack of funds, but unable to thrive due to wages and an economy built around consumption. The lords and ladies who govern the area live on the top floors of the skyscrapers, throwing lavish parties and doing the tough administrative work required to keep the machines running. Those few lucky serfs who get out move east of the city to the ever-expanding suburbs, where housing is more expansive but less expensive and where the kids can run around in the grass to play.
Eretea's land covers a large swathe of the Eastern Seaboard, but only a little of it is within the Perimeter. The rest of its land is rolling farmlands that supply the factories to its south. A range of hills forms its natural border with Gatera and the wide Yellow River with Apec Juste.
The Duchy of Sarnow
One of the Eastern Cities, Sarnow
is densely populated and definitely a production city. It actually
exports finished goods west, outside the realm of the Eastern Cities,
into the many villages that make up Without.
Sarnow has an urbane industrial attitude that other cities look down on
to some extent, but it prides itself on having a strong economy. There
are two colleges here, the College of the Arts of Sarnow, and Eastern
Technical. The Arts school has a heated rivalry with the University of Valrona.
Because the city of Sarnow is powered, it itself is imminently safe from invasion. The duchies around it tend to keep their borders very well defended, and do not encroach beyond the Perimeter. Sarnow is famous for its pollution and its excellent military. Ironically, the duchy is divided: the city of Valrona is also part of its lands, but the Duchy of Duremont, owned by Val Taquar's House Grenville, divides it clean in the middle. Through a painful series of treaties, this situation has become entrenched over time, but not even the treaties prevent skirmishes. Sarnow is well aware of its very delicate situation and is always on the lookout for ways to recover its lost territory, but it has to be done subtly and no opportunity has come up yet.
The Patriarch of House Barrister, Hector Barrister, is the ruler of the Sarnow Duchy. His wife, Lady Kathryn, is younger than he is and thus likely to assume the mantle of Matriarch when her husband dies. Most of the main Barrister holdings are concentrated here, but there are, obviously, notable others, such as the Welleslan holdings in Valrona.
The capital of both the planet Scialla and of the entire Kiassan Empire, Priascialla is the hub of all activity and a sort of Shangri-La to those who live far away. If you're very very good when you die, you go to Priascialla. See here for an extensive writeup about this glorious city.
The Duchy of Priascialla extends for quite a ways outside the main city in an oval that extends up the coastline a short distance to encompass Eretea and smaller towns. The duchy is administered by House Stardancer.
One of the Eastern Cities. It's a
little southwest of Priascialla, inland.
It concentrates on agriculture and food export, primarily the grains
that grow so well in the temperate zone there. It's one of the older
cities, founded not long after
Priascialla, and it shows in the city's
unusual architecture. It does offer all the standard amenities,
including a vocational school, Machegai Agricultural and Technical.
Machegai is right on the edge of the duchy's borders with the Duchy of Sarnow, and as one might guess, it occasionally changes hands every so often when a decisive battle is fought. The residents there consider are sharply divided between those who consider themselves loyal to the Moondancer family, and those who consider themselves loyal to Grenville. It's a pretty tense place, and visitors are advised to stay out of the tension by not wearing any emblems of either family or duchy. Even having a particular accent can get someone into trouble there.
Every few months or so, a bunch of drunks from Machegai go over the border into Sarnow to the border town there of Illira to cause a ruckus. Illira, which is in the same kind of situation, does the same thing to Machegai. It gives both towns a certain reputation for recklessness. It's not a good idea to mention that both towns have exactly the same architecture and last names.
One of the Eastern Cities. Razec Abinion has some intriguing architecture. Located well inland along the eastern coast of Tergaea, it's theorized that this was one of the earlier cities to be founded. Definitely the decidedly archaic buildings, some little more than functional ruins, have intrigued archaeologists for some time. Razec Abinion is a scholarly city devoted to stoneworking, with quarries nearby providing marble of various colors and granite. It was once a rich source of triamandine, the metal-strong mineral that makes up such stunning Imperial treasures as the White Palace of Priascialla. The people here tend to be rather insular and conservative, preferring to stay among their cathedrals and fine houses than to mix and mingle with the rest of the Empire.
House Andillion controls this duchy, with their usually-studious Nobles surprising everybody with their sudden flair for strategy and logistics. Though there are every so often faddish and frenetic searches for some new rumored run of triamandine among the people there, House Andillion remains above it all, carefully researching new claims and either pursuing them with careful reserve or else debunking them after minimal expenditure of time and resources.
The Duchy of Razec Abinion extends for a ways into the western part of Tergaea. Most of the towns in it are rather small, with the exception of Razec Abinion itself.
Treasure hunters abound in the area, not all of them from Razec Abinion. Mining is huge money out there, and all the miners hope desperately that they will be the next one to find a motherlode of gold or better yet triamandine. Some parts of the duchy are in bad shape thanks to the digging.
One of the Eastern Cities. Famous for silk farms that supply the couterier houses, and the flower gardens that provide distilled essences to the most exclusive perfumers of the Empire. The damask roses found in Val Taqar are known to be the best in the entire Empire. Val Taqar is a decidedly luxury-oriented city, but more production-oriented than is Valrona. It has quite a rivalry with Valrona, but it's a more friendly rivalry than that pursued by Eretea.
The perfumeries here are very busy, with most residents involved in the industry in one way or another. The most famous perfume here is the famous rose perfume Aria in Damask, selling for 400-600d a quarter-ounce bottle and favored by Empress Kira Stardancer I herself. Another perfume is the infamous and notorious Ylessia, in its scarlet-red glass bottle shaped like a poppy flower. The formulae for these perfumes are worth killing over, and corporate espionage is a thriving cottage industry around this area as companies vie for the rights and recipes for this or that new scent sensation.
Glassblowers also enjoy quite a bit of regard here, since their creations house the perfumes that enrich the city so well. The family that has the monopoly on creating the beautiful gold-glass bottles used by the producers of Aria in Damask is originally from Pontecala but settled here a few centuries ago. The family, House Turindil, was ennobled for their contribution to the world, and have lived the life of prestige and luxury since as petty Nobles.
One other social aspect to Val Taqar must be mentioned: it, along with Valrona and Pontecala, is famous for its beautiful courtesans, those professional mistresses who enliven parties and form the hub of culture and the arts. These women are far from mere prostitutes; they are the grease on the axles of society, bringing art and great leaders together. Though huge dramas can erupt through jealousies involving them, for the most part they are just part of the cultural landscape. Val Taqar famously taxes its courtesans specifically and uses the proceeds to pave streets and build churches. In return, the courtesans get the right to march in parade during the city's annual Feast of Saint Denis, the city's patron saint. The festival around that feast day lasts a week and is considered by proper Haranites to be rather licentious and salacious.
Val Taqar's main university, Atramis University, is a close rival with Valrona for both academic and sports-related honors. Atramis is famous not only for its engineering and mathematics departments, but also for its literature and poetry programs. Its music school is slanted specifically toward courtesans, who need to know how to play at least a few instruments.
The Duchy of Duremont was created out of whole cloth after a series of battles with its neighbors, particularly Sarnow. Consequently, it enjoys its place as the dead center of trade. There's absolutely no way to get to Priascialla without going through Duremont unless someone wants to go way out of the way around, which causes its own problems. So the duchy taxes tariffs, and a lot of its income comes from trade going through the province. Valrona can get around it for the most part by employing boats to sail north along the coast, but everybody who can't gets it in the shorts. Worse, the tariffs are supported by the Empress, who gets a cut of them, so as long as she supports the tariffs, nobody can say much about it unless they can come up with an army big enough to fight Flameholdans in battlesuits. If she were to withdraw that support, likely things would change dramatically.
Valrona is one of the most urbane of the Eastern Cities. It's the summer home of the Empress Kira, and also to the University of Valrona, one of the most renowned Sciallan places of learning. Though possessing a reputation for being urbane, sophisticated, and dissolute, this decadent city is about as luxurious as you can get without power.
Valrona is also part of the Duchy of Sarnow, administered by House Barrister. Ironically, its longtime rival, Val Taqar, cuts the duchy clean in half, separating Valrona entirely from its duchy seat. Only a series of extensive treaties, along with stern admonition from the Imperial Throne, has kept those borders stable.
Valrona is not powered and is far from the Perimeter, but it enjoys a large level of maritime trade with the rest of the coast. Society in the city is a mixture of the cultured and the profane, with courtesans mixing with the upper echelons of society in sparkling parties. College students hailing from all over the Kiassan Empire can be found here in this urbane, sophisticated melting pot.
One of the Eastern Cities. Well south of Valrona, along the coast of the continent Tergaea, Saethbridge is located in pleasant rolling countryside of hills and forests. It is known for its amazing herds of long-haired goats, making a cashmere wool that is much in demand throughout the Empire.
The Duchy of Saethbridge is owned by House Saethborne. It is rather expansive in terms of area, but aside from its agricultural possibilities, there isn't much there in the way of strategic holdings. The main reason Saethbridge wasn't incorporated long ago into some other duchy is that it makes an excellent buffer between the more ambitious duchies to the northeast, particularly Duremont (Val Taqar), and the more leisurely ones to the south, particularly Pontecala. To this end, the southern duchies ally very closely with Saethbridge; there are all sorts of treaties of mutual protection signed between them all.
The Duchy is just west of Valrona's territory, past some thick forests. A valley forms beautiful country out there, but it's of little strategic significance. It borders Razec Abinion to the north and Behistun to the south. The Wilds borders it to the west as part of the crescent-shaped arc of its edge.
Razec Abinion is not known for its forward-facing fashion sense, but instead for its gracious, unhurried style of living. The people are well-treated for the most part, and the Nobles are tall, willowy, long-haired, and artistic. The men are excellent hunters and hawkers, while the ladies are beautiful even by Noble standards. The ladies are settled in scintillating arranged marriages that help advance the family's fortunes in other duchies, while the men advance the family by accepting high-ranking Church commissions and taking positions administering the Empire's needs in Priascialla and afar.
One of the Eastern Cities. Behistun is located well south of Valrona, south of Saethbridge as well. Behistun is a riverside city, walled and well-defended, with an economy based on timberwrighting and river traffic. Barges ply the wide Kaneel River, fishing and transporting goods. The town has all the general amenities, though it's regarded as somewhat backward by the rest of the cities.
The Duchy of Behistun is administered by House Tybiris, which explains why it's so good with defense. Though small, it is known to be more than capable of keeping itself safe and secure.
Kandar is one of the Eastern Cities of Scialla. It is located southwest of Behistun, inland along some rather harsh rocky scrublands. Kandar has a splendid college, as well as an excellent mining and smelting complex. It exports its goods along the Kaneel River all over the Eastern Cities and beyond, to even the cities Without. The people of Kandar can be somewhat more tan and lean than people elsewhere, and can be insular.
The Duchy of Kandar is one of the larger duchies in the Eastern Cities. It extends for some distance out to the south and west of Tergaea.
Kandar is the seat of the prestigious Noble family, House Serebren. Its Patriarch is Grand Duke Willem Serebren, whose wife is Grand Duchess Melina Serebren. It is also home to the prestigious Warran College of the Humanities, whose Quintzel team is called the Warran Honeybees, after the coat of arms of the Serebren family.
The famous Blue Heron cheese is also made near here, in the famous limestone caves near the city.
One of the Eastern Cities, located well south of Priascialla. Named for the huge square-ish mound near the city, Mount Avenbury is a walled city whose main economy is based around logging, mining, and stoneworking. A granite quarry is located not far away, though environmentalists are starting to get alarmed about the mining techniques that are polluting the river running near the city. The mound itself is grassed over and largely used for pasturing sheep. All too near, the Wilds loom, so residents have to be careful how they gather Scialla's bounty.
The logging industry has given rise to a cottage industry in turn of herbalism and specialty farming. A fledgling perfumery, for example, produces the now-popular scent Everfall, which is supposed to smell "like the Wilds itself."
Mount Avenbury is technically part of the Duchy of Pontecala, though it retains considerable autonomy.
One of the Eastern Cities, a bit southeast of Behistun along the coast. Pontecala is a decadent city famous for its glassware. Both mass production facilities and fine arts galleries exist here. The city is partially marshland, dredged and constantly reinforced for defense. It's well-known that Pontecala is not easily taken; its many seaports and sea-channels are difficult to traverse without experience and maps, and the denizens here are well capable of changing the channels to foil invaders.
The Duchy of Pontecala is the southernmost of the duchies of Scialla, comprising both the main city Pontecala and the smaller one of Mount Avenbury to the northwest.
The people of Pontecala are famous (or infamous, depending on who one talks to) for their mercantile skills. They have a shady reputation for piracy as well, but very seldom are their swift ships ever witnessed doing anything illegal. In a way that's a fortunate thing, because if such a thing were witnessed, lawkeepers might find it difficult to capture one of Pontecala's famous Sea Spears.
For centuries, the glassworkers here were the undisputed kings of the craft. Now that once-secret formulae are out in the world, that's far less often the case, but even so, the glass galleries in Pontecala are a hot tourist attraction. Very few visitors return home without some small vase or jewelry piece made of spun-crystal glass using masterwork techniques.