the republic of haven
The Ancient and Serene Republic of Haven is a city-state on the south-western coast of the Sunset Isles. With a population thought to exceed a hundred thousand souls, the city of Haven is the most populous city in the Sunset Isles and a major center of trade in nearly every commodity imaginable.
Sitting at the mouth of the Kawamesh River, the city was in ancient times the western-most settlement of the Old Kingdom, though few records survive of that era. Today only the southern bank is densely inhabited. There was once a marvelous stone bridge that crossed the river while being high enough to allow ships to easily pass under it, but it has long since collapsed. The city on the northern bank has mostly been abandoned, though outlaws and monsters are said to eke out a wretched existence among the ruins. The city on the southern bank sprawls not only along the riverbank, but out onto artifical islands and up terraced hillsides overlooking the tangle of streets and canals, where most of the nobles have their urban estates. Just south of the hill-crests a towering wall protects the city from landward threats, while its mighty fleet guards both river and sea.
The fleet has always been one of the most powerful institutions in the city, and many noble children who do not stand to inherit try to find fame and fortune there. Tradition holds that the founders of the current city were descended from the captains of a refugee fleet fleeing the destruction of the mainland in the Cataclysm. To this day, the city not only nutures its ancient maritime tradition, but is welcoming towards those fleeing disaster and persecution. While it is not unheard of for elves and delvers to be tolerated in other lands, even demonkin have found refuge in Haven -- though they are closely watched.
While Haven may be a welcoming second home for the dispossessed, it is by no means a place where all thrive. The refugee communities that have sprung up among the seven cantons of the city might be called ghettoes by some, and both immigrant and native Havenites often live in squalor, ekeing out a living however they can. Conversely, the guildmasters and nobles have become tremendously wealthy off the trade that flows through the city, and the gap between the haves and have-nots grows wider and wider with each passing year. In particular, the low-lying areas of the city have become increasingly vulnerable to flooding, as the cunningly-built Old Kingdom sewer system falls into disrepair.
For centuries, Haven has been one of a handful of republics in a land of despots and warlords, a fact which the city prides itself on. While the physical city is divided into seven cantons, its citizens are divided into five tribes, each of which elects one of the five Mayors of the City. Four of these tribes are reserved for the upper and lower nobility, with the last tribe containing all the commoners. Each tribe’s electoral process is different, and most of them are truly byzantine affairs with centuries of accreted custom. Each Mayor is elected for a term of five years, with the most senior Mayor leaving office and being replaced by their tribe. While the Mayors rule together, they rotate through five offices, each focusing on a different aspect of governance. Most junior is the Mayor of the Gates, followed in turn by the Mayor of the Bridges, Mayor of the Wharves, Mayor of the Temples, and finally the Mayor of the Palace, who serves as the closest thing to the city's head of state.
While the markets of Haven teem with goods both mundane and exotic, the slave trade is strictly outlawed in the city. The punishment for trading slaves within the walls is to be bound with chains and submerged suspended from another chain one day for each slave bought or sold. Despite this harsh punishment (which the city is very proud of) almost all upper class families own slaves, for it is only the trade that is banned. About a mile outside the city is the small island city of Slaver's Rock, and it is here that the people of Haven do this business. Legally, Slaver's Rock is an independent city with its own laws and customs, so the people of Haven, with their utmost respect of law and custom, allow it to exist. It is said that sometimes families in grave debt will sail on one of the regular ferries to Slaver's Rock, to pawn off some of their number to the slavers.
Cantons of the City
- Canton of Saint Ashtan
- Canton of Saint Cyrene
- Canton of Saint Eleusis
- Canton of Saint Maldor
- Canton of Saint Shallam
- Canton of Saint Targossas
- Canton of Saint Hashan
Factions of the City
- The Guild of Mercenaries, regulating and procuring work for the many adventurers in the city.
- The Wharf Rats, the most powerful criminal gang in the city, prone to factionalism.
- The Goodfellows, the second most powerful gang, rapidly rising.
- The Companions of the Lotus, a band of courtesans, spies, assassins, and devil-worshippers.
- The Archdiocese of Haven, nearly a parallel government to the secular government.
- The Illuminated Order of Pyriurges, an ancient, secretive order of fire-mages.
- The University of Haven, a community of scholars and mages.
- The House of Aldercratz, a prominent noble family.
- The House of Meyernier, a venerable noble family.
- The House of Sterngrau, an ambitious noble family.