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Weston: Frontier Village


Introduction

The Letter

A Map of Weston

Noteworthy Families/Organizations

Profession Ideas

Guilds

Noteworthy People

Local Laws

Nearby Sites of Interest


Introduction


Population: 1200, plus or minus

Ruler: Mayor Lucion Tollin

Location: Just east of the intersection of the Aruvor River and the White Road, western Tergaea.

The population of Weston is primarily Sciallans, with a significant number of those being mixed-breed but identifying as Sciallan. The 1200-strong population is mostly permanent residents and long-term visitors, with an extra 300-400 at any given time as short-term visitors from other nearby villages or from the forests around Weston.

Weston's visitors tend to be the local migrant workers, mostly miners who return to the city over the winter to work for the indoors production facilities like weavers; they also come to the city for brief forays to sell their goods. Traders from the smaller villages around Weston also come here to buy and sell. Scientists are the last group to be seen here with any regularity; they hail from Scialla and Lirwhin both, but don't tend to stay that long.

Weston is regarded as a pleasant frontier town. Certainly there are few instances of violent crime or egregious, obvious problems. Its Council makes very sure things stay that way.

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A letter found near the Senshen River, barely legible..

20 Ardesse 2228
Dear Madalin,

I received word from you yesterday that you were being re-assigned to Weston. Poor girl! I never imagined you'd be sent so far. But I promised you I'd send you what advice I could. I only pray it reaches you in time before you leave, because once you've left, communication will be difficult at best.

Your superiors must think very highly of you to send you to such a place. With such a dangerous trip, and such a long one (over two months from here, traveling by carriage, a bit less by horseback, but you won't be asked to do that, my dear protege), you won't be seeing many of your school friends very often.

You'll probably be housed in our local rented house. Once you get situated with your job and studies, please write me as soon as you can. We'll want to make sure all is well. Don't stand out too much though; Weston isn't kind to those who are different.

What is Weston like? It's small, filled with provincial boors, and annoyingly religious. When I was there, it had a population of around 1000, maybe 1200, plus lots of miners and trappers. Mining is very big in that part of the world, as are furs. Priascialla's always had a taste for the luxurious. Back to Weston, it smells bad most of the time, and the weather's awful--damp, chilly, and windy even in summer, that is when it isn't muggy, humid, and hot. You'll be grateful to feel the coastal breezes again when you return, I promise that.

Most people there are Haranites, which means they follow the Church of Haran. I know you probably haven't seen much of this, so I'll tell you now that Haran isn't their god, just their prophet. Their actual god's name is Logos, though the rustic folk sometimes just call him Helios, which is of course the name of the sun. The church's colors are red, white, and silver, and their main symbol is an equal-armed cross inside a circle, which they just call a Haranite cross. It's not a very violent faith, but its followers, especially those in the boondocks, can be quite fervent. Probably 99% of Weston is Haranite to some degree or another. If any nonbelievers exist, they're being fairly quiet about it. There's a large temple in Weston, probably larger than they need really, but it's big to accommodate the crowds of drifters that come and go from the village. The temple houses their main priest, plus whatever acolytes are on hand, and they do some charity work.

As for charity work, there isn't all that much there, because every soul living in Weston is expected to earn his keep as soon as he's able. Except for the very handicapped and the very young, you won't run into beggars in Weston. It's really very refreshing, compared to Val Taqar. Begging is barely legal, but if you do it often enough, you'll be asked to leave. If you can't think of anything to do, the Council will give you something to do.

And now we come to the real crux of it: The Council. I don't know who's running it now, but when I visited, it was the end-all, be-all of the village. They don't have nobles like we do, not even Petit Nobles, but they do have Councilmen. Treat them with the utmost respect. Whatever they say goes in Weston. Anybody who wants to have a trade has to talk to them, and anybody who gets in trouble goes through them, for the most part. The funny thing is, they're all commoners, not a single title in the lot.

They're pretty strict in Weston, so watch your step. They don't have much in the way of a jail, and if you commit a crime there, unless it's terrible (and Madalin, it'd better not be!), you won't be looking at jail time. The Council would never waste your energy that way. No, you'll be assigned to a work crew, or you'll pay a hefty fine, or you'll be banished. If it was a terrible crime, of course, you will probably be put to death, or maimed. I know that may shock you, but the Empress has approved this frontier justice.

There aren't many guards in Weston, and those that exist are paid for by shopkeepers. Ingenious, isn't it? The Council would never waste money on hiring and maintaining its own guard troops. All shopkeepers must outfit and maintain a certain number of guards, based upon their yearly net incomes -- all of which must be reported to the Council, and may be set to verification. Naturally most shopkeepers fudge their numbers, which is easy in a society that entirely lacks any sort of sophisticated watchdog schemes, but I suppose the Council's thought of that already. I think I remember hearing that their income levels went from "not much money at all" to "enough to live on" to "way more than enough", and may have to do with number of employees on the regular payroll, but I'm not a shopkeeper, so don't ask me. As for other guard presences, there is a contingent of Flameholdan soldiers on hand near Weston as well, but they don't get involved much with local affairs, being there to keep the nearby villages in check. And believe me, my dear, they do -- would YOU be stupid enough to try to pick a fight with them? So let's just say crime is nearly nonexistent within the city limits. Don't go too far outside, though, because even an honest merchant may turn into a bandit if the opportunity is just too good to pass up.

You'll notice a lot of shops in Weston, way more than such a small village should have, and more boardinghouses than you'd expect. This is natural; Weston is the biggest village on that side of the continent, except Freehold, which is too far away to matter. It is the hub of dozens of smaller villages and hamlets, and as provincial as it is, just imagine how much more so the others are! And so Weston sees a lot of trade from these other villages, necessitating the greater number of specialized shops.

I imagine you'll be getting there by carriage, but you won't see many carriages in Weston except the traders' vehicles. Most people use mules, or just carry whatever they want to transport. No, my dear, you won't see any aircraft there -- it is way too far from the central grids of the Eastern Cities. Actually, its provincial nature goes well beyond just rustic boorishness -- you won't see a lot there you're used to. Very little fine clothes, very few books, few performances, and no major technology. It's like stepping three hundred years back in time. No aircraft, no guns, not even a coffee-brewer. I'm sure you can see now that I was miserable there. The people there do know, in a vague sort of way, that such things exist, but due to the Perimeter, very few people have actually seen one. They think it brings a greater sense of self-reliance, though, and most of them think any kind of power makes for a very "soft" citizenry. It's wisest not to brag much about all your kitchen gadgets while there. You may incite a fight.

Thankfully, the rusticness does give way to common sense sometimes. You'll be pleased to know that men and women both pursue the same kinds of employment, and while there are not many female soldiers or guards, they are not dismissed out of hand just because of their gender. They are, however, asked to undergo the same brutal testing as their male counterparts, and most women can't do what is required. That said, unless they can prove themselves able to compete with men, women are expected to dress in dresses and other suitable attire, so you might want to pack away your pants this time and leave them behind. You won't be burned at the stake for dressing inappropriately, but Weston is a small town -- getting a reputation for oddness can have grave impact on your prospects.

Weston is walled, but the walls are mostly to keep out the occasional rampaging animal. You'll find a lot of peasant farms around Weston, most of them concentrated around three gates (yes, it's modelled after Priascialla). Not everybody lives right in the village. The main road is called "The White Road" and runs east-west. You'll get on it right outside Priascialla, and stay on it all the way to Weston. It's very long and not terribly interesting, though there's a fascinating story about its creation -- there's a local cult here called the Preservationists who believe that mankind did not originate in the Kiasse, but came here from someplace else. They believe one of the firstcomers set up the road. Odd, no?

The Wilds merit their own warning. Don't go there unattended, and don't kill anything you find there except in defense. Particularly don't fool around with the giant trees called rhells -- they have a symbiotic relationship with some of the other forest animals, and some of them are quite deadly. Yes, I'm speaking of greatcats, dearest Madalin. I know you love them, but pray you don't ever actually see one in the flesh. Neither they nor the other denizens of the Wilds will molest you if you stay on the path, however.

I should also mention the homogenity of the population. Almost everybody you meet there will be Sciallan, though you may run into some Flameholdans. There are very few Lirwhinites there, mostly on temporary visits to study this or that, and almost no Bilashans. I said "almost". Be very careful not to betray yourself here -- suddenly decrying one may put undue attention on yourself. They're all in hiding, last I saw, so you shouldn't have many problems there. Weston's also pretty lax about mixed-breeds, so be prepared to see a lot of them, though the ones I knew all identified themselves as Sciallans.

I suppose that's all for now. I'll try to write you, but there are so few ways to reach the western end of Tergaea from here. Be well, Madalin. Remember, it isn't for forever, and you'll be home soon.

Yours very sincerely,

Salestin

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Map of Weston




                                                   |
                                         |-Renn----|
                                         |         |  
                                     Renn         Sulyn
                                  |-Square         |
                                  |                |
                                Renn               |
                                  |               Green ------Chantria Ln.
      <-West Gate----West Rd. ----=--------------Square                  |
                                  |              |     |         Church* |-----Chantria Ln--
                                  |           Midlane  |                 |
                                Silver           |   Willow              |
                                  Ln.            |    Rd.              Vesry
                                  |              |     |                Ln.
                                  |              |     |                 |
                                  -Fletcher -----|----Vesry Ln-----------|
                                  |             Guard* |                 |
                               Silver                  |                 |------East Gate-->
                               Square               Willow             Vesry
                                  |                   Rd.              Square
                                 Narl---Festis---------|
                                  Rd                   |
                                  |----Narl Rd.--------| 
                                                       |
                                                    South
                                                     Gate
                                                       |
                                                       v


Not to scale.

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Guilds


There are no guilds as of such in Weston -- the town is too small -- but there is the Council, and that's much more extensive in its way. The Council approves all requests for shops and coordinates the Constables all shopowners have to employ. Through a brilliant series of Machiavellian manuevers, the Council acquired behind-the-scenes control of Weston's affairs several decades ago and has not let go.

Council-approved shopowners are called "Masters" and "Mistresses". They are allowed to take in up to three apprentices, but there are rigid rules about how the apprentice must be maintained and how much the apprentice must learn each year; an apprentice who is not taught enough or is unhappy with his treatment may apply to the Council for redress. Likewise, a master whose apprentice simply isn't motivated to learn, or is too stupid to learn, may take action to sever the relationship. Once an apprentice signs on, only an act of Council may sever the bond; an apprentice who quits or abandons his master may face legal repercussions if the master wishes to pursue the matter.

There is no journeyman period. An apprentice may, after five years with the master, choose to either stay on for wages, or make his way in the world. If he wishes to apply for his own shop, he may do so at that time (though it is rare for the Council to approve a Master under the age of 20).

Families traditionally pay to put their children into a master's service. The sum can be small or even symbolic, or it can be quite large. Average age of apprenticeship ranges from 14-16. Apprentices do not get paid, but masters traditionally put a little something aside for them regularly and give that to them as a bonus at the end of the five-year period. That bonus generally can be enough to purchase a business license, depending on how pleased the Master was with the student's performance.

There are plenty of incentives, all told, for a master to take an apprentice, but many prefer to just hire workers. Workers, assistants, and other laborers do not entail the legal responsibilities that an apprentice does.

All shopowners are required to outfit and pay for Constables, the Weston police force. A small shop may only pay for one, but a very large or prosperous one might have to employ three or four. Needless to say, the private ownership of the Constables means that shopowners pursue contracts with their Constables and will not hesitate to take action if a Constable does something stupid or abuses their equipment.

The Eastern Cities handle commerce and licensing very differently, but have no influence as far west as Weston.

Easterners do visit Weston often enough, mostly on trading visits, though some are just there to see their families before returning east. Because Weston has such a high number of visitors, there's plenty of hotel space.

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People


Mayor Lucion Tollis:
The somewhat-rotund, nominal ruler of Weston, his primary job is to make sure the Council and the populace gets along. Do not mistake this description as meaning he is without his own power or that he is incapable of making leadership decisions, however. Many lesser political opponents have discovered his inner strength too late, to their detriment. Tollis lives on the northeast side of town, in a luxurious townhouse, with his large family. He is well-known for his ability to surround himself with allies and for his ability to throw his weight behind the winner of any political fight. Most people in Weston consider him the best Mayor the town has ever had.

Councilman Domiro Vovode:
The head Councilman. Shrewd, calculating, and more wealthy than anybody can possibly imagine, or so the gossip goes, Vovode is a political genius and very likely the inspiration for the saying "a big fish in a small pond". Vovode was once a jeweler, but now he devotes his time to running the Council. He has no official title other than Councilman, but he is the acknowledged head of the entire Council -- and of the entire town. Even Tollis steps lightly around Vovode. Probably the only person who does not at all care what Vovode thinks is Captain Jerrod. Even Jerrod's lieutenant, Antares, steps a little lightly around Vovode.

Missus Taria Vovode:
The wife of Councilman Vovode, Missus Taria (as she's known) was once the head of the Celebrations Bakery. She still owns the bakery, but hasn't had to lift a finger since the day she wed Domiro Vovode. She's only half his age, but she's gorgeous, feisty, and charitable. Now, as is suitable for an upper-class woman, she devotes herself to pursuits like running the city orphanage (at least they always get good bread and cookies).

Captain Jerrod Ironhands:
The dashing Flameholdan captain stationed in Weston with the Flameholdan Guard. Bold, almost stupidly brave and heroic, and not bad-looking for a Flameholdan, he does not concern himself much with the affairs of the town. His goal is the safety of the Empire and the protection of the Empress' interests in this remote frontier area. When those interests are threatened, however, he takes harsh and brutal action. Consequently, many in Weston fear him. He has never been known to take a mistress, nor to make many close friends. His 20 warriors, all of Clan Ironhands, are completely loyal to him.

Father Lucan:
The head Haranite priest in Weston. He's extremely old, and priests of neighboring villages are already vying for his position. Lucan is a hedonist, but shrewd, and entirely dedicated to his God, as far as anyone can see. He stays on the straight and narrow, and his sermons tend to be of average length and not especially demanding either spiritually or intellectually. He is on close terms with the Ladie's Temperance Society.

Berna Gerard:
The leader of the Ladies' Temperance League in Weston, and close friend of Father Lucan. She is an older woman with a gentle but passionate nature, and she cares mightily about cleaning Weston up. She is in large part responsible for the slightly anti-transient attitude Weston has.

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Local Groups and Families of Note


The Bloodhawks: A privately held guard force that Weston's guilded shopkeepers run. They are stationed just west of town and patrol the roads around Weston. They are also available for caravaning jobs and the like, for extra money. They are run currently by Captain Deroca.

The Weston Constables: Weston's city guards, maintained also by shopkeepers. Each Constable is outfitted and directly maintained by a shopkeeper somewhere in town. They patrol the streets of the city itself and are authorized to do whatever it takes to maintain peace. Their leader is Captain Faran.

The Kiassan Army: Run by the Empire itself, it has a battalion stationed out near Weston. Many of its members are clanned Flameholdans. Lieutenant Antares, the local leader of the Army, runs them with an iron grip. Entrance to this organization is very difficult, and discipline and military bearing are an absolute must. Perhaps because of Antares' high expectations, mortality in this organization is less than that of others of its type.

The Church of Haran: Maintaining a very large profile in Weston, the Church employs a number of people in all fields, from guards to cooks to acolytes to seamstresses to more. Father Lucan is the head of this organization.

The Weston Council: Headed by the ruthless Councilman Vovode, the Council comprises all shopkeepers. They employ clerks, their own guards, cooks, and other such people. The Council is very active in town politics, obviously, maintaining a certain standard of living.

The Ladies' Temperance League: Started just a few years ago by Berna Gerard, the LTL meets once every couple weeks at a member's house to discuss strategies. Their members tend to be older women, and they do not employ anybody specific. It is a purely volunteer movement that affiliates itself with the Church of Haran.

Other Organizations of Note

House Stardancer: The Imperial Family. Mentioned here because it is important; most PCs won't run into this organization. Headed by Empress Kira Stardancer, this family's influence is huge, but rarely felt near Weston. It does employ a number of surveyors, cartographers, archaeologists, sociologists, and other scientists, all of whom regularly visit the western end of Tergaea. See here for more info about the family in general.

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Other Sites of Interest


Ceres:
Ceres is a mining town far to the northwest of Priascialla. Boasting a population of about 300 people, mostly miners and other transients, it is a very important part of the dyecraft industry as most of its production centers around minerals that are used as mordants (color-fixers and altering agents) for dyes. As it's not terribly far from Weston, miners from the Ceres area often go to Weston for their days off and to celebrate new finds.

Eliff:
Eliff is a small town along the White Road. As it is the one-third mark between Priascialla and Weston, travelers often stop here for rest on a real bed and food cooked on an actual stove. Eliff's economy is largely driven by the travelers who go by here, so they take pains to keep the city safe. Population about 600, perhaps 1000 in the winter when their shepherds and woodcutters come back home.

Degnes Abbey:
The two-thirds mark along the White Road is Degnes Abbey, built on the site of an old ruins. It, like Eliff, is built largely upon the backs of travelers. See here for a lot more information.

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