Staff & Credits
Valrona, Jewel of the Empire
Population: About 60,000
Run by: Duke Severan Welleslan of House Barrister
Symbol: a black-outlined white tower centered on a background of midnight-blue and white checkerboard.
Valrona is one of the larger Eastern Cities. Founded in 200, it is one of the older ones, as well. Located right next to the vast Senshen River, it is perfectly suited to a tourism industry, being exceptionally picturesque and blessed with hills, river valleys, and even the Verdantis Forest to its northwest. Its arable land is quite lush and rich, which is what gives it such a large population. The Verdantis Forest is also rich with mining and logging opportunities.
Valrona is also famous for its University. Scholars from all over the Kiassan Empire come here to share their latest research and to stimulate discussions and encourage new scholars. Here, too, archaeologists and anthropologists cluster to discuss new theories about the origins of life in the Kiassan Empire, and launch their digs and excavations through the University's halls. The University also boasts a superior Quintzel team, the Burgundies, whose players enjoy a rare status in the city.
The city also serves as the hub of a vast supply network branching far to the west. Mining and lumberworking camps stretch almost all the way to the Wilds, acquiring the basic supplies for the duchy and sending them back. All in all, Valrona feels justified in considering itself the greatest hub of culture and learning for hundreds of miles around.
There is no guild system as such in Valrona. All merchants belong to the Guild of Commerce, overseen by the Minister of Commerce. Most shops have a living space in their back, or above them, but in Valrona, particularly in the city's downtown, shops are built more vertically, similar to our own malls. Limited area has led to shops being fairly expensive closer to downtown and the University.
Visitors usually first notice that the city of Valrona, like most Eastern Cities, builds vertically rather than horizontally. Because of the lack of available space, most buildings are at least two storeys tall. One-storey buildings are considered a waste of space, so unless they're historical, maybe considered somewhat inconsiderate to the public good. Therefore, heavier goods like furniture are usually sold below lighter ones like jewelry. Think about what you're crafting and selling before renting a retail space!
There are no apprentices or journeymen. To learn a trade, just sign on to learn it with a craftsman. To get a shop, you must get a trade license from the Guild and buy the shop or acquire it. Taxes must be paid each year on any land owned in the city's limits.
About once a year in the spring, the city celebrates a market festival in honor of Saint Julian's Feast, a big occasion in the month of Juilesse. The feast almost always involves the return of the traveling gypsies of Midnight Jack's Dark Carnival. The Dark Carnival features exotic drinks, exotic women, dancing both exotic and otherwise, unusual foods, and handcrafts from all over the Kiassan Empire. The contract the Carnival has with Valrona specifies how long they're allowed to stay, gives them a permanent campground north of the city, and sets rules for behavior. Midnight Jack always sees to the behavior of his people.
Count Roger Lewis of Lewistown, who makes periodic visits to the city on diplomatic errands. Though he publicly eschews the role of ambassador and is loud about saying he hates bureaucracy, the facts remain that he is a ruthless negotiator who has gotten his little scruffy ex-bandit camp a number of interesting perks.
Duke Severan Welleslan of House Barrister is the ruler of the city and region encompassing Valrona, Verdantis Forest, and much of the surrounding countryside. He has been Duke for 18 years, since 2212. His father was executed as a collaborationist with the Bilashans shortly after the Ascension, but Severan wisely distanced himself from his father's crimes and convinced Kira that he was on her side. She restored the Barrister holdings to him and gave him the title his father'd worn. He is as yet unmarried, and part of his duty is very much locating a suitable bride. Severan's a likable sort, most people feel, getting older (born 2192) but still very much a good fighter. Like all Nobles of the Kiassan Empire, he is a trained diplomat and soldier, making him occasionally terse and to-the-point in dealing with disputes. In a pinch, he tends to side with the Noble in an argument, and the higher-level Noble if two Nobles are squabbling. He attends Haranite services regularly at the main temple in the Pearl District. He is a tall, imposing gentleman with military-cut dark hair and piercing grey eyes. When speaking to him, address him as "Your Grace."
Count Victor Nesbith Tybiris is in charge of all mercenary activity in the city. A man who believes that those who work hard should play hard, but who maintains that all things have their place, he's known as a brutally ruthless disciplinarian. Despite his strictness, his top men idolize him. Bad-mouthing the Count is a good way to find Watchmen breathing down your throat. The de facto security chief for the city, he also directs excursions such as those against the city's main enemy, the nearby city of Val Taqar. See here for some Swordsman-specific information about him.
Archbishop Treon Farwise of House Serebren is the main Haranite priest of the area. His temple is in the expensive Pearl District, with a membership of thousands attending more or less faithfully each weekend to hear his calming sermons. He is not in the least a firebrand or an evangelical, but he guards his church's privileges jealously. The Bishop is publicly in favor of a revived inquisition to ferret out the various suspected heretics in the Empire's midst, notably those of the Machinist Cult or The Cult of the Lady Sherreen.
Father Aravan Chastain is the priest in charge of the Church of Saint Elisis, an early martyr. He's known to be a conservative man, but he gets along well with the denizens of Azure Square. He has decent discipline, so many think he's had military service somewhere in his past; he doesn't speak of it. He's come down very firmly against the Machinist Cult and very much against the Wine and Cheese Society, and is on the side of the Ladies' Temperance Society out west, having penned numerous tracts extolling the evils of hard liquor; these tracts and small booklets are collectors' items in some areas of the Eastern Cities. He's a rosy-cheeked, squinting-eyed older fellow. Address him as "Father Aravan."
Aparkos Philomenus Arizel is the ranking officer of the Flameholdan Guard in Valrona. Philomenus is about 30 years old and known to be utterly without mercy to those who get in the way of the commission of his assigned duties. Luckily, he maintains a strict separation of interests between Valrona's usual affairs and what the Empire tells him to do. Philomenus is a vigorous, tattooed man. Address him as "Aparkos Philomenus" if you talk to him.
Lady Claire Serebren is the daughter of the Patriarch of House Serebren. She teaches at the University of Valrona, specializing in the history of the Age of Sorrows. She is fairly young, but has already published two books on the subject, both of which are well-regarded and got good reviews (The Lost History of the Age of Sorrows and Everyday Life in the Age of Sorrows, published in 2225 and 2228 respectively). Claire Serebren is a willowy, pale-haired young woman. If you see her, address her as either Lady Professor Serebren if you are a student or Lady Claire if you are not.is the owner of the famous courtesan house, House of Gold. She is barely tolerated by Churchmen, but even highly-ranked ones have occasionally been scandalously connected with her group. She occasionally takes lovers from the highest-ranking men of the city, even Nobles, but is discreet about such things. She was most recently linked with Count Victor Tybiris, but that ended a few years ago. She moves through the circles of upper-class Valrona society quietly but gracefully, assured of politeness even from the wives of those men who frequent the House of Gold-- to snub her is to suddenly and abruptly find oneself lacking contacts and favors. Yazira is a gracious, statuesque auburn-haired woman with deep green eyes and a most curvaceous body. A simple "Madam" or "Ma'am" suffices as she is not Noble.
Captain Rainen Arnos of the Valrona City Watch is a puissant, "what a guy" sort of man who handles the difficulties of administering a city guard organization with a friendly and outgoing approach. His job is to make things run smoothly. He is a fierce-eyed, dusky-haired Sciallan man who is usually seen in uniform. His title is "Captain" or "Sir"; if you are a Swordsman, make absolutely certain you don't omit his title when speaking to him, and he carries enough clout that you also do not ever want to be perceived as disobeying or mouthing off to him!
Prince Jovan Riacold is the son of the patriarch of House Riacold. Hailing from Pontecala far to the south, he attends the University of Valrona. He lives in a rented townhouse in the Pearl district and commutes in every weekday for classes. It's not hard to spot him, with his entourage of bravo swordsmen friends. Unless he's sitting in a classroom, he's swarmed with hangers-on. His neighbors probably absolutely hate him because of his loud parties, but the Riacold fortune smoothes over any ruffled feathers. He's always got an eye out for a pretty girl or a useful aide, though he says both are hard to come by in a primitive place like Valrona. Jovan is a languid, aqua-eyed man. Do not address him at all unless he addresses you first, and when you reply, his title is "Prince Jovan" or "Your Excellency."
Gallant de'Ossian is the leader of the most influential and prestigious fashion house in Valrona. He is aging, but he's held sway over couture there for at least 30 years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Though a genial person, he has no patience for fools; his biting wit is the talk of the city. He is not noble of blood, but he is respected for his vision and his purity of purpose. He does not have a wife or other female encumbrance, and he has been known to speak out strongly against such distractions. He seems to have no sexuality at all, nor any shame in the human body. He never attends Church, nor does he speak well of excessive prudishness. That said, he is very close to several high-ranking noble families. Gallant de'Ossian is a spry, tall elderly man who will always be wearing fine clothing of his own design. "Master Ossian" works fine for a title, or "Master Clothier," though technically he doesn't need one at all.
Master Aldus Beyblade is one of the instructors at the Brotherhood of Swords' chapterhouse. He's a rollicking, free-spirited fellow who gets in trouble fairly frequently, but his sword-arm is one of the best. See here for much more information about him.
Verdantis Forest lies west of Valrona. It is known for being thick with evergreens and valuable hardwoods, which are carefully logged with an eye toward sustainable resources by Duke Severan. Lewistown is located well west of Valrona in the forest, near the largest silver mine in the area.
It's fairly safe, thanks to Rangers who patrol the area, but because it's so large and dense, there are squatters out there as well as dangerous animals such as wolves. Normally the wolves aren't a real danger to people, but in hard times and in winter, they have been known to attack; since they are integral to the ecology of the area, the Rangers spend much time in these situations figuring out which wolves of the packs are leading these attacks, to surgically kill only the ones that are guilty.
Because of the patrols and the occasional dangerous animals, there's not really a way to live out there alone. Hunting is allowed, but only for certain animals and at certain times of the year; licenses are required, and after the number of licenses are exhausted, no other ones for that year are issued. The Rangers handle these licenses, and settle disputes when needed.
The forest extends west through Gatemarch Road out the Azure Gate of the city on the west side. It is a rather rocky and unlivable place for the most part, though there are occasional places where a few folks eke out a living, like the old mine at Hewley's about halfway between Lewistown and Valrona. Most of these areas are too poor for bandits to bother with but there are occasional issues. Past Lewistown, the Wilds lurk, deep, dark, and utterly implacable.
Though it's not terribly safe, archaeologists are of late discovering the treasures to be found in the Verdantis area. Mercenary companies are in good demand to accompany these expeditions.
Lewistown, located about 120 miles west of Valrona, is a mining encampment that got a little entrenched. Now it is run by Count Roger Lewis, who was ennobled after the Succession Wars. Originally just a big camp full of pup tents, it's now a semi-thriving village of some 200 souls.
Take Gatemarch Road west from Valrona. Keep going until you hit the forest. Then keep going till you reach Whyohwhy Ridge. The town's built along the south face of the ridge, and the road more or less ends there. A well is built here, which is good because the miners have taken over the nearby Crystal River and it's hardly fit to drink from.
There are a few shops here--drygoods stores, a blacksmithy-- but if you're here looking for supplies, you're going to be out of luck for the most part. The several bars are about the only place to find any food what you ain't cooked yourself, and it's not exactly going to be haute cuisine. Alarmingly, there is not one single church in Lewistown, but then again, there aren't many families what'd want churching-up anyway living in Lewistown. The few women who live here aren't exactly going to be sweet, modest religious ladies looking for true, faithful husbands! But Count Roger is trying to fix all that. At least, trying as much as he can without getting disappeared one fine night.
Count Roger basically handles affairs of the town, traveling back to Valrona regularly to discuss legal matters. He has a Council of his own, four men who are retired miners who know the area and the needs of the town's residents. The law here is very strict, ironically enough, especially since the dozen or so policemen are empowered to use deadly force and are all well aware that if they don't keep very good care of the town, Lewistown may well cease to exist.
People can visit Lewistown, or at least will be able to once it's built by staff, but it is not open for PCs yet to live in.
The entire Valrona/Verdantis Forest complex belongs to the Duchy of Sarnow, which in turn is administered by Grand Duke Hector Barrister. In true feudal fashion, Grand Duke Hector has bestowed Valrona upon Duke Severan Welleslan. Because this page is about Valrona-proper politics, our political structure begins with Duke Severan. House Welleslan handles Valrona and Verdantis Forest, as well as the Bay of Iscine, which contains a chain of islands popular for holidays among the very wealthy.
Duke Severan in turn has given various Nobles feudal titles. In the aftermath of the Succession Wars, there is a lot of vertical mobility among the nobility at this time. Not having Noble blood doesn't necessarily mean you're never going to get a title! Chief among the new nobility is Count Roger Lewis, who runs specifically the Lewistown area. Count Borreas Windham runs Verdantis Forest itself, but his family's had the title for many years. He lives out in the forest in what many people consider a fairy-tale castle with his young wife and two sons.
The Duchy of Sarnow is divided in half by the Duchy of Duremont, owned by House Grenville and concentrated in Val Taqar. Due to this division, the Barristers are largely not present around Valrona's environs, leaving it largely in Severan's capable hands to deal with.
The border between Valrona and Duremont is a hotly-contested one, obviously; both cities feel a great amount of tension due to their proximity and the uncomfortable feeling that someone's putting something over on someone somehow. A series of iron-clad treaties have kept things fairly stable, but there are still frequent flare-ups of hostilities along the border, principally around the taking and re-taking of border patrol forts, windmills, villas, mines, and other such profitable ventures. Obviously, the governments themselves deny involvement in such schemes, preferring instead to use their condottiere to handle the fighting for that ever-valuable plausible deniability.
From the top, then, the Welleslans defer to the Grand Duke Hector Barrister. From Severan on down, the chain of command runs through a series of Nobles of various minor houses who take positions on a number of councils and ministries. The Councils are these:
The Council of War. Comprising noblemen of military background, this group of 12 tends to be protectionist and expansionist. It also tends not to care about budgets or about infrastructure.
The Council of Commerce. Currently seating about 80 of the most wealthy and influential shop-owners and master craftspeople, this council has both men and women on it. It advises Severan on issues related to working conditions, supply-side issues, import and export law, and business-related taxes/tariffs. It also works with tourism-based industries to increase the attractiveness of Valrona to outsiders. Some of the Council are Nobles who own controlling interests in larger businesses, and these tend to dominate the Council's agenda.
The Ministry of Health. Mostly non-Nobles sit on this council of eight men and women; all of them are physicians or herbalists. They run the city's free clinics as well as distribute information about plagues, health-related issues, and other need-to-know topics. They are also in charge of educating new physicians and herbalists as well as bringing in foreign help when needed. They monitor food safety and report trends to Duke Severan. They tend to favor isolationism as well as heavy investment in public infrastructure like roads, wells, baths, and hospitals.
The Ministry of Education and Charity. Almost all of this council are women, almost all of those in religious orders. The Ministry is responsible for schools all over the Valrona area, but over time they've also assumed control over the various philanthropic efforts happening around the area as well. They conduct surveys and studies showing how education and charity are important for the whole community, but they're getting used to getting the bottom of the pork barrel by now. They ache for a true leader who can really clash with the Council of War, their principal enemy in the battle for the duchy's dollars.
House Barrister hires constantly. It exports raw materials such as gems and fine hardwoods to various Eastern Cities, and imports finished goods from, primarily, Priascialla (and by extension the other planets). It has the largest standing military force in the city, as well, and is almost always hiring soldiers, household help, procurers, and others.
The City of Valrona
The Valrona Wine and Cheese Society
The Verdantis Rangers
The Valrona Sun
(See the professions page for info about how to join this organization as a PC!)
The Brotherhood of Swords
Clan Arizel of Flamehold
The House of Gold
Symonds Printers: Located in Pearl District, this publisher focuses on vanity books and blank journals for the college crowd. They don't have a storefront of their own, but their sales managers are good enough that they haven't focused there.
Non-Valrona-Specific Organizations of Note
The Church of Haran
Azure Quarter: On the west side of the city, facing the westward Azure Gate. Azure Quarter is a middle-class area, full of shops and small parks. It is also home to the main chapterhouse of the Brotherhood of Swords (other smaller chapters are in the Sun Plaza in the south of town and in the Pearl Quarter to the east), the main recruitment office and where Swordsmen can stay between assignments.
Sun Quarter: The vast, mazelike Sun Quarter is where the
lower classes live. There is a sizeable ghetto of Bilashans here, as
well. It'd be a mistake to think that Sun Quarter's some kind of
lawless free-for-all, though; various organizations with a vested
interest in keeping the peace exist here, and rabble-rousers and
random murderers will find themselves running afoul of those who
protect their own. Sun Quarter is a good place to go if you want to
live cheaply and keep out of sight, and as long as you don't trouble
people with protection, you'll be able to stay under the radar for some
time. The docks are here too, and quite a bit of the menial jobs
most Valronans work.
Plume Quarter: The University of Valrona is the largest university in Scialla and the most noted in the entire Kiassan system. Students and educators from all over the Empire come here to share knowledge and learn. Nobles send their young sons and daughters here to learn statecraft and discourse, and here they rub shoulders with the intelligentsia. Coffeehouses and poetry slams, kicky bazaars and art galleries, all can be found here, in the little retail mecca called Plume Village.
Pearl Quarter: The area of town where the most wealthy Nobles live. The Ministry of Commerce has its offices here, and the city administration is based right off the Square of Roses. A small military compound is situated just inside the Pearl Gate, not far from the intersection of Thuris and Verona Streets, and here dwell the elite Flameholdan Guard, ready to defend the city's biggest names. Also here are the offices of the Representatives who speak for the citizenry to the Council, as well as the Halls of Law located on the Quirine Hill.
One of the more notable parts of the Pearl Quarter is the Square of Roses, one of the premier shopping districts in the entire city. Anything purchased here will be classier, better-made, and more expensive than any similar object found elsewhere. The most exclusive designers and artisans live around here. The Tarellian Fountain is located in the middle of the Square of Roses; it is a potent tourist attraction as it's one of sculptor Aeneas Tarellian's most important and masterful creations. Not far away from it, right at the base of the Quirine Hill where the city government buildings reside, is the Stardancer Obelisk, erected during the reign of Aris Stardancer I.