Thursday, October 7, 2010

City Generation - Council Heights

Before we get to today's topic, let's address a question. Anonymous asks "If the Leovites are the priest caste, why are they also servants in Sylvennis? Priests are usually at the top of the social ladder." Ah, good question. Traditionally in Earth culture, priests have either been at the top of the social ladder (as per the Hindu caste system) or outside of it completely (as in Medieval European and Chinese culture). However, the priests of the City of Lives have a unique relationship with the Sons of Light -- They see them as the chosen of the Light, so the Leovites' devotion for their deity requires them to serve the sons of Light, either as priests or directly as mundane servants. This is unusual compared to Earth history -- however, I find it exotic but plausible, reflecting an alien world rather than showing inconsistent behavior. However, Anonymous, you made me think of something important: the Leovites probably would find it offensive to work for Prometheans -- who are descended from the first who rebelled against their god -- or the Sky-Carvers -- who are constantly vying with the Sons of Light for control of the City. So having Leovite butlers and chefs would be an exclusive honor for the Sons of Light, while the Prometheans and Sky-Carvers would use Pariahs and Iversdotters -- and all would use the lower classes (Grate-Scratchers, Kipmen, Rurals, and Dead-Bloods) for the lowest positions in their households -- scullery maids, stable boys, etc.).

All right, with that question answered, let's move on into Council Heights. Again, what do we know?

  • A small but vital district, Council Heights is where the City's actual governing is done.
  • Because the mysterious monarchs the Elder Trio run the City with a policy of lassez-faire, the politicos of Council Heights have relatively little actual power.
Okay, let's begin with that second point. How much power do the politicians have? What kinds of things do they actually do?
  • The Elder Trio, an inscrutable triumvirate of supernatural beings far beyond the power and understanding of City citizens, acts as the Executive Branch. However, the Trio is reclusive and prefers a hands-off approach to the City -- (partly) because of this, the City has no standing army or police force.
  • The High Council acts as the Legislative Branch of the City government, passing laws and raising taxes. However, I've established they have little actual authority. Due to the lack of police force, they have no way of enforcing their laws.
  • The Courts are underfunded and undersupported -- and because there is no City police force, they deal with mainly civil cases. They act as the Judiciary Branch, though their ability to change the law is dependent entirely on the noble Houses and Iversdotter gangs accepting their judgment and enforcing these modified laws -- which is by no means guaranteed.
Religion: Faith and law are related in the City, in that its laws and foreign policy are influenced by the values and beliefs of the Light. However, there are many precepts set forth in the Light's religious writings that are not represented in City law, and vice versa. Many of the political elite are true believers, whether in the Light or simply in people -- but they always represent themselves as devout and mainstream church-goers (the minor religions have little presence in Council Heights).

Culture: There is a constant struggle between the idealists who want to change the City for the better, and the manipulators who want nothing but power. Political machinations are not quite as deceptive or morally dubious as is Sylvennis, but it grows close -- and the results affect more of the City. A large minority of Council Heights citizens are Outlanders -- foreign diplomats and their support structure.

And finally, a few interesting Locations:

House Trelius 
Description: Manor of one of the main council clans
Threat: Warring nobility make it unsafe
Aspect: Beautiful Surface Hides Ugly Wars
Face: Arcadipane Trelia – Weaselly Councilor
The Curia 
Description: The High Council’s meeting place
Theme: Politicians making laws and treaties
Aspect: Perceived Importance Outweighs Actual Influence
Faces: Arrulio Tralius Verimadis – Morally Questionable High Councilor
               and Truccio Iovennio -- Idealistic Young Councilor In Over His Head
House Solfidley
Description: The home of the only Rural rich enough to buy his way into politics.
Threat: Solfidley intends to destroy the Council and its "corruption."
Aspect: Secret Vendettas, Hated Wealth
Face: Arbron Solfidley -- Wrongly-Rich Revolutionary Working From Within