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Parsantium: Updated Overview of the City

Here's an update to the city overview. More to follow:

Metropolis, Conventional, AL LN, 100,000 gp limit, Assets 380,000,000 gp, Population 76,267 (racial mix tbc but includes dwarves, half-orcs, halflings, gnolls; few elves or gnomes)

The Free City of Parsantium stands astride the wide and slow-moving Dolphin Strait where the Griffin Water joins with the Corsairs’ Sea, and is thus at the crossroads of two continents and more importantly, four trade routes. Parsantium and its surrounding countryside and farms is ruled by Basileus (“sovereign”) Corandias XVIII the Lion-Blooded, direct descendent of the famous Batiaran conqueror and mighty general, Corandias I the Magnificent. Corandias’ wife, Thecia, is often referred to by disgruntled citizens as “that scheming enchantress”. The Basilieus is advised by his loyal vizier and wizard Arridaeus, himself a descendent of Corandias the Magnificent’s vizier. The day-to-day administration of the city is delegated to a Prefect, the coldly efficient and uncharismatic Bardas.

The city is divided into three quarters, each governed by a tribune and reporting to Bardas the prefect. The Imperial Quarter is on the north-west side of the strait, the Mercantile Quarter is on a central island, and the Old Quarter is on the southeast side. These quarters are further divided into wards: eleven in total. The layout of the city and the fact that the Batiaran rich tend to live on the northwest side of the strait while the poor (many of Sahasran or Akhrani origin) live on the southeast side makes Parsantium a divided city. This is made worse by restrictions on commoners from the Old Quarter visiting the Imperial Quarter – they need a pass which is only issued for those on “special business”. Unsurprisingly, there is a thriving black market dealing in stolen or forged passes, and many would-be burglars disguise themselves as nobility to sneak into the Imperial Quarter. However, since many of the residents of the Old Quarter are Sahasran in ancestry and therefore darker-skinned than the Batiarans of the Imperial Quarter, some of the guards are known to make racist assumptions about who is a commoner and needs to show a pass.

The three sections of Parsantium are joined by two vast stone bridges, built many centuries ago in the Sahasran style. The southeast bridge has apartment blocks lining each side with an arcade and small shops beneath. The northwest bridge is grander and lined with sculptures of past rulers. Made out of copper, these have turned green with age. Both bridges are crowded from dawn to dusk; street food stalls have sprung up along each to take advantage of the passing trade. Parsantians can enjoy kebabs on skewers, squab-on-a-stick, cheese pastries, thick hunks of bread smeared with tomato paste and olive oil and stuffed vine leaves.

Life in the City
- Each city ward is walled with arches and gates (locked at night) separating it from its neighbours and contains a communal well, at least one khanduq (walled marketplace) or market, and a watchtower. The ward’s mark (a symbol) is set high on the walls, facing in.
- The south-east gate is a chaotic jumble of camels, bullock-drawn carts, crippled beggars, snake charmers and eunuch/transvestite hustlers. By contrast, the Victory (north-west) Gate is much more peaceful and organised. What few beggars (mostly kids) are chased away by the guards whenever a noble is carried past on her palanquin.
- Outside the coffee shops, old men sit grumbling about the state of business, smoking sheeshah and playing backgammon.
- Throughout the city are numerous bathhouses where men and women can bathe and exercise. The grandest of these are in the Imperial Quarter and are decorated with beautiful mosaics and sculptures of poets and mythical heroes.
- Currency is the gold piece, known as the bezant.

Any comments or suggestions?


(Deleted comment)
Jan. 5th, 2008 10:11 am (UTC)
Arabic country
I'm going to go with The Caliphate of Akhran - name stolen from an old Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman novel.

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