Vertiloch remains definitely unique in Alphatia at least from the standpoint of its economy. Nearly half of the Vertilians are urban dwellers. Naturally, this implies food is being imported to support urban centers, especially the capital with its half-million civilian residents, and the military. The price of bread is, as one should expect, very high, perhaps the highest in the empire, setting off inflation in the region. This drives much of the merchant traffic from Aasla and Archport. It does help, however, that Vertilians do not pay taxes.
The quasi-totality of the realm's revenues come from tribute paid by all vassal states of the empire, nearly two million gold pieces per month. This crucial detail explains why Vertiloch places such importance on controlling who enters the realm and, more specifically, who might want to stay. Non-natives generally do not emigrate to Vertiloch. This land is reserved for natives and aristocracy able to purchase a city block in Sundsvall or a large piece of land outside the capital (see DotE on this subject.) Others are undesirables who are eventually deported after outlasting their welcome. Visitors are strictly controlled and monitored, either by the realm's blooming bureaucracy, its spies, or by magic. Naturally, it matters very much for natives to maintain proper documentation proving their Vertilian pedigree for at least seven generations. Woe be a Vertilian commoner who marries an outsider, for the happy bride or groom would be forever stripped of any Vertilian lineage. Petty criminal offenses also result in exile. This state of affairs explains why neighboring realms remain so eager to satisfy imperial obligations to control who might want to leave their lands and enter Vertiloch. Neither Haven nor Theranderol are eager to see their farmers pack up in mass and move into the Imperial District.
Open plains are used for farming. Small farms and hamlets dot the countryside in settled/suburban areas. Much of the population is concentrated around Ashar/Coronation, its bridges, roads, and canals, and likewise around Saddor/Consecration/Tiara/Crown Castle, as well as the Sasdil/Armiger area. The region surrounding Sundsvall, about a twelve-mile radius, remains entirely devoid of population, save for army patrols and encampments. On the other hand, the stretch including Ampulia and Magnanimity harbors a fairly dense population. This does create a problem: a savvy guest at the the phantasmal palace in Ampulia (see my earlier post on this topic) might notice farms and hamlets outside surrounding walls. After unwittingly teleporting to Sundsvall, the lack of any such signs of life beyond city limits should strike one as strange. Sundsvall is a city of 500,000 people. Ampulia is not. The phony capital actually counts less than 5,000 inhabitants. The remaining 495,000 residents are. . . programmed illusions! As can be expected, in the vast majority of cases non-aristocrats inhabiting Sundsvall aren't permitted to ever leave this hidden city.
Outside the well-settled parts lay large stretches of borderland. These feature very large farms owned by land-owning aristocrats. There, unlike in the settled areas, farmers are exclusively serfs. Hills and forested areas are otherwise wilderness, with little or no population. Marshes occupy a huge stretch of land in the south which is completely wasted from an economical point of view. It provides nothing (but trouble for bordering communities) aside from a physical barrier.
This of course brings up the topic of Vertiloch's armed forces. A significant part of the population is either under arms or providing some service linked to the mililtary. Life in Vertiloch notoriously revolves around political and bureaucratic aspects of running the empire, the catering of the imperials and aristocracy in general, and military business. In total, 15-20% of Vertilians have something to do with the army or navy. Vertiloch enforces a policy of recruiting many of its troops from the best units across Alphatia. Money is no concern. Two thirds of Imperial Cohorts are foreigners who earned their permanent Vertilian pedigrees at the point of their swords or wands in some far-flung part of the empire, including the Isle of Dawn and Bellissaria. As a result, imperial troops are generally of a higher experience level than vassal counterparts. This recruitment strategy achieves two objectives. The first is to take the best warriors and officers from vassals, reinforcing imperial influence and prestige, and thus diminishing that of the vassals. The other is a counter-balance to the inherent loyalties of native Vertilian military. A host of highly skilled foreign troops could easily prevent a palace coup fomented by a native commander or some influential Vertilian aristocrat.
Sundsvall itself harbors few troops, precisely to limit the temptation to use them for a political coup. The same number of troops are posted in Ampulia, to help maintain the illusion. They are dressed and behave as if they were the Imperial Guard, but the real stuff guards the capital. Nearly half of Vertiloch's land forces are stationed in and around Ashar. Ashar is notorious for being a major military garrison whose objective is to protect Sundsvall, should some sort of invasion take place. They are theoretically trained to address incursions from outer planes or magical gates. Anti-Glantrian or -Thyatian indoctrination is common.
The Imperial Fleet is another issue altogether. Although not huge, it is very much an elite force. It boasts the empire's best marines and best-built ships. Nearly all of its small galleys are used to patrol Vertilian rivers. They occasionally extend patrols into Haven and Imperial Lands to the North, if not into the Shiye-Lawr. Larger ships rarely remain within the Imperial District. If not dispatched to support a vassal, they are likely anchored in Aasla, at Haven's financial expense. The Imperial Fleet is meant to complement a vassal's force. If present among other Alphatian vessels, an imperial officer is likely in command. Several of these ships are either airships or submersibles. Some airships are used to survey the Haunted Marshes or the Imperial Lands to the north. Submersibles are likely watching Vertiloch Bay, but in general, they are the chosen transportation for Vertilian spies or aristocrats on a special mission for the imperials.
Rather than showing Sundsvall's garrison, Ashar is listed in the stats below, since the forces posted there far outnumber those in the capital city.