Friday, July 6, 2012

Dominion Stats -- Vertiloch

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.

6 comments:

  1. "Membership has its privileges", indeed! No doubt there is a healthy market for forged Vertilian identity papers. Likewise, impersonating a Vertilian, or forging, possessing, or even being involved with someone doing either of those things, should be grounds for a one-way ticket to an area of Esterhold reserved especially for traitors (death is too good for them). Possibly for the immediate family, too.

    Here's a thought: Given how coveted Vertilian identities would be, the documentation should be highly magical. I'm thinking of something printed on either a rare form of paper that originated on the Alphatian homeworld - perhaps made from the pulp of the zzonga bush - using special magical ink that can't be defaced in any way. Tampering with the document in any way will unleash a cloud of prismatic dust motes which, while harmless, cannot be removed (except by a wish or remove curse cast by a spellcaster of level 20+). The offender now glows like a rainbow in the dark, and reeks of zzonga, too (smell detectable up to 50' away). Oh yes, and the document disintegrates, too.

    Each document has the bearer’s name, current address (which automatically changes whenever the person moves), and a small portrait (which ages with the bearer in a Dorian Grey fashion). The writing itself shimmers through all the colours of the rainbow, but is still readable. Stamped at the bottom is the seal of the bearer’s current village/town/city of residence. The seal has to be magically removed and replaced at a government office – obtaining a new seal requires filling out around 10 forms of varying lengths, filing them with the right offices in the bearer’s old town and in the new one, and of course paying an “administrative fee”. The ownership and sale of old seals is also punishable by an all expenses paid trip to darkest Esterhold.

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  2. Vertilian government at work:

    “Next!” shouted the red-faced clerk behind the counter.

    Orestinar blinked, and bustled over to the service wicket. “I don’t see why I had to wait so long,” he said in a snippy tone. “There was no one in front of you for the past ten minutes.”

    “Nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds, to be exact,” said the clerk. “Our regulations say no client must wait more than ten minutes. Now what do you want?”

    “I’ve just moved to Ashar, and I-“

    “Let’s see your work permit first.”

    “Oh, it’s, ah, right…here,” said Orestinar as he yanked a crumpled sheet of parchment from his battered leather satchel. “It should be all in or-“

    “It’s crumpled. That’ll be a penalty charge of thirty-two judges. My eyes are bad,” growled the clerk.

    Orestinar bit his lip. “Fine. Anyhow, I’ve moved here and I need to get a new seal for my id-“

    “Give me your papers and requisition form. I trust the latter has been notarised properly?”

    “Yes,” said Orestinar, as he handed over the documents.

    The clerk squinted at the papers for a long moment, then sighed as he leaned back in his chair, rubbing his chin. “I’ll have to make note of this,” he muttered. He pulled a battered black leather notepad from his ink-splattered pocket and scribbled furiously in it.

    Orestinar swallowed. He desperately needed this new job. Caramina was due next month. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and focused on controlling his breathing. “Please let there be no problems. Please please please,” he thought.

    “Well,” said the clerk at last. “Everything seems to be in order – for now.” He stamped Orestinar’s requisition form in seven places, and passed back his identity papers. “Now you need to take this,” he handed Orestinar a sheet of crimson parchment as long as his arm, “over to the Office of Intra-Urban Relocations, Licensed Trades Division, for processing. Remember to only use purple ink on this form, or you’ll invalidate the whole thing. If you hurry, you should be able to catch them before they close for the day.”

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I'm totally with you on your two previous messages. Well done, Geoff!

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    2. Clearly, you've been to the California DMV, Geoff ;)

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  3. The spreadsheet listed rower convicts (due to the galleys, I gather); shouldn't they be replaced by serfs, as is the case with farms?
    Hervé

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    1. Not necessarily. Serfs aren't criminals. They don't bear chains. In Vertiloch, criminals are either executed (usually), sent to the galleys (if there's room), or at the very least marked and exiled. Worse off, others may be heavily geased or mind-controlled, and condemned to an illusory life in Ampulia.

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