The World of Rendil
Gharadh is the most cosmopolitan city in the world. It is said that every good and every service known is available within the city, and that if it is not, then someone is willing to offer heavy coin to rectify that.
Gharadh began as simple fishing village at the mouth of the Caradha River approximately three hundred years ago. Known for little more than a moderately profitable shovelhead fishing port, it might have remained obscure except for a geopolitical event that none could have foreseen. When the Kordil Empire collapsed, a few ambitious merchants realized that none the nations forming from its ruins had any major port access, and no prospects to gain any. The Kordil Empire itself had seen little use for trade and mercantile exchange as it was insular in outlook. But one of the merchants had passed through the village of Gharadh and noticed that the harbor was deep, well protected from storms and tide. Additionally, while not directly connected to the arterial road built by the Empire, it was less than five miles from the road and could be connected with but a little effort. So the merchants spent heavily, expanding the port facilities and connecting the roadway. Buying the loyalty of the few citizens and promising them wealth as founders besides, the merchants became the Council of Trade Princes.
What started as a few investors grew as more merchants saw the opportunities to be had in the town. The Council accepted buy ins from more merchants, and the number of Trade Princes grew. The town grew as well. More wealth brought in more trade, and more trade brought in more wealth. The neighboring nations envied the riches moving through a city they did not control, but none were willing to risk alienating the Trade Princes nor would they allow the other nations to conquer it for fear of having the port under the control of any other nation. The Trade Princes kept their independence, not by military force, but by careful neutrality and open trade with all the nations of the former Empire.
The only major external threat to the city was approximately seventy five years ago when a consortium of pirates blockaded the port and attempted to extort money from the Princes. All of the neighboring nations flocked to the defense of Gharadh and drove off the pirates. The Princes rewarded their saviors with a one-year duty free holiday. No one else has attempted to attack the city since.
Gharadh is located on the Western coast of the continent of Vordil at the mouth of the Caradha River. To the North lies the nation of Mirdul and to the South is the Kingdom of Anteer. Oldtown is located on the North side of the river and encompasses the docks, the shipyards, the Customs House, the warehouse district, and the silage. South of the river lies Newtown which includes the Palace of Trade, the upper-class residences, the banks and moneychangers, and the auction yards. The eastern section of Gharadh, or Gatetown as it’s sometimes known contains the majority of taverns and inns, the temple district, the Tariff House, the Teamster Guildhouse, and the stables. To the West of town, on an island in the harbor itself is the gleaming white tower of Magetown. Within is the Scholam Arcanum, the Great Library, the teleportation port sometimes known as the Ring of Trade, and at the top of the tower itself is the Great Lighthouse of Gharadh.
North of Oldtown lies the manufacturing district, the stockyards, the slaughterhouses, the leatherworks, the sewege outlets, and the collection of graveyards alternatively know as The Necropolis or Deadtown. South of Newtown is the lower-class housing district where gambling and prostitution are rife, and it is rumored the Thieves Guildhouse is located. When it is named at all, this section is called Thievestown. Slums and shantytowns surround the city like a belt.
Due to the nature and function of the city, there is a vast transient population, and the Trade Princes themselves do not differentiate between temporary visitors and permanent residents. In fact, legal residency requires nothing more than a room at an inn. As such, the Princes take no census figures, and do not keep track of exact demographics. However, some curious mages of the Scholam Arcanum have calculated rough estimates using scrying techniques. There are approximately 450,000 souls in the city at any given time. Every civilized race on Rendil (and indeed some of the wilder ones) are represented in the population. There is no true majority within the city, but the largest minority population is Human (a holdover from the days of the Human dominated Kordil Empire) at approximately 25%. The figure varies, obviously, but it tends to remain about a quarter of the population. The next largest population is Dwarvish at about 15%, then Tiefling at approximately 10%. No other race rises much above 5%, but occasionally there is an influx of clannish Goblins that pushes their percentage above 8%. The surge never lasts as Goblins are too transitory to stay in one place very long.
The Council of Trade Princes places a premium on preventing over-regulation from interfering with trade. As such, the law in Gharadh is fairly lax. However, the law is evenhanded. There have been Trade Princes who have been caught violating the law that were punished exactly as anyone else. Crimes are classified as crimes against persons, crimes against property, and crimes against trade.
Crimes against persons are judged as those which causes harm to an individual. Examples include murder, assault, rape, and slavery. These are considered the least severe and are simply punished with fines payed to the victim (or the victim’s next of kin) and expulsion from the city with a ban on return within a certain period of time. The duration of the ban depends on the severity of the incident. Murder could result in a ban of a decade. Assault, perhaps a month. This is enforced via magically applied runes that identify the criminal as being banished upon inspection. These runes are designed to expire at the end of the term of banishment. Their creation is a secret of the Scholam Arcanum and only they have the knowledge to remove them. Of course, it is rumored that the Thieves Guild has members of the Scholam on their payroll…
Crimes against property are those which cause harm to the property of others. Examples include vandalism, theft, and arson. These crimes are considered more severe than crimes against persons and are punished more harshly. Repayment of the property taken or destroyed, an additional fine equaling the amount taken or destroyed with half going to the victim and half to the Council, and expulsion from the city with a lifetime ban.
Crimes against trade are considered the most severe and are defined as those crimes which cause harm to the execution of trade within the city. Examples include fraud, tax evasion, smuggling, crimes against persons or property if the victim is a Trade Prince, counterfeiting, pricefixing or collusion, failure to pay a fine for another crime, and violation of a ban from the city. All are punished identically, immediate seizure of all assets followed by death.