The City-States of Aetolia
City-states, or just cities as they are commonly called, are player-run autonomous organizations. Each city has a number of guilds within it, as well as markets, governmental headquarters, barracks, housing estates, casinos and parks, and so on. Each city tends towards a particular ethos, often demonstrated by the city's choice of Divine Patron.
Cities are governed democratically, with each qualified citizen having one vote. The structure of city government may be illustrated as such:
In other words, the Populace of a City elects the 5 members of the Ruling Council (known variously as Archons, Viziers, Overlords, etc.) The Ruling Council elects one of its own to be the head of the government, and this city leader appoints the bureaucracy, which wields most of the administrative and executive power. The heads of each of the bureaucratic offices (known as Ministries) can appoint an unlimited number of aides to assist him or her in the duties of office.
Each Ministry has a particular duty. For instance, the Chancellor is in charge of valuing shops in the city, and setting the property tax rate, as well as collecting the taxes, and assisting with shop description changes, while the Minister of Security is responsible for city defences and putting bounties on city enemies.
Success in politics is considered by many to be the highest achievement in Aetolia; the Gods look to these leaders for the spark that might bring them to Ascension.
As you assist in your city-state, perhaps by becoming an aide to one of the bureaucracies, or by helping out generally, the city leaders and elders may grant you city favours. These will help you rise in rank in your city. Each city-state has six unique ranks, with powers associated with some of the ranks.
The City-States of Sapience
Enorian, the Beacon of Light
Enorian, Beacon of Light, can be found at the southernmost tip of the continent, situated between the wide plain of the Pash Valley and the rolling blue waves of the Beryl Sea. The city of Enorian is reputed for its architecture, particularly the gilded domes of the city's palace, university, and museum. Due to these domes, it is said that the city shimmers gold during the setting of the sun and emanates a pearly white radiance by the light of the moon.
The Beacon of Light is home to many guilds, ranging from warrior-priests of the Light to knights of honor and valor. The Templar, holy warriors devoted to the glory of the Light, are built on the bones of one of the oldest and largest organizations of the city. These pious warriors serve alongside the Daru monks and the clerics of the Luminary guild. All of these guilds wield light against the forces of darkness and shadow, corruption and apathy. The citizenry of Enorian is also made up of forest-dwellers and magic-users in part.
Though a diverse group, all of the city's people defend her walls steadfastly and with unity owed to the close-knit nature of its southern society, whether the enemy is within or without.
The citizenry of Enorian put faith in light to guide both their laws and their actions; this may be why the city is also referred to as the Beacon of Light. The city could have also gained such a title based on its kind and loyal citizens, as the Beacon is home to many healers and scholars willing to soothe and teach. Regardless of by what nickname the city is referred, Enorian is a magnificent metropolis of great purpose and great people.
Bloodloch, the City of the Undead
Founded by the now ousted Consanguine Lord, Abhorash Nehekhara, the subterranean city of Bloodloch is said to be located somewhere deep within the boundless depths of the Vashnar Mountains. The vast Mhojave Desert lies at its west gate, while the bleak Shamtota hills descend through a narrow gorge to meet its east.
Ancestral city of the Consanguine, Bloodloch has had a long and perhaps unsurprisingly bloody history, beginning with a lengthy civil war, the connotations of which are still felt today, up to various modern day skirmishes with other cities over land rights. In more recent years however, conflict has slowly subsided allowing the city to concentrate primarily on its own development and advances. A wide range of people find their home within the caverns of the city, as well as many of the Consanguine houses, both new and old alike.
Be warned that all mortals, save the mysterious Indorani, wishing to join the city of Bloodloch and retain their guild class do so at the price of servitude, being seen as second class citizens and servants to the blood.
Spinesreach, the Lion of the North
Spinesreach is an ancient fortress that sits in a pass in the Tarea Mountains between the Dry Plains and the Southern Tundra. Once home to the Ankyrean Order, Spinesreach was sealed first behind the Grand Artifice, and then its Citadel was sealed behind the magics of the Ankyri. Little is known about the secrets that have been left behind by the Order, but with the reopening of the Citadel, Spinesreach has once again become a full city.
Like the Ankyrean Order, the citizens of Spinesreach pride themselves on ingenuity and intelligence, along with self-reliance. Citizens are particularly patriotic to their home, and will often challenge intruders. The Syssin, sworn defenders of Spinesreach, make their home in Spinesreach, along with a number of the Consanguine who were ousted from Bloodloch. Alongside them, the Cabalists continue their mysterious work, uncovering the lost secrets of arcane and scientific power. The Atabahi, loyal wolves of the Rout, call the Outer Ward home, and the Sciomancer guildhall lies beneath the courtyard of the Citadel.
The city itself is split into two parts. The Outer Ward is mostly farmlands, and the bustling Wintersbreeze Inn acts as a meeting place for travellers and citizens alike. The Citadel stands in the middle of the Outer City, and it is there the shops and governmental offices are housed. Five spires rise up from the Citadel, including the Spire of Artifice.
The Duiran Council
Formed of those individuals dedicated to the protection and preservation of all Nature, the Duiran Council is based within the Heartwood, a verdant and fey realm with deep ties to ancient Dendara. The Great Oak at the core of the commune is home to the Benandanti, the appointed leaders of Duiran, who use it as the focus and seat of their powers. Membership precludes membership in a city, as citizenship in a city inherently implies putting something else before the spirits and the wilderness. Ruled by five Benandanti, the Council is headed by the Feral Will, the first among equals in the eyes of the natural world.
The Benandanti positions are selected by the Divine Patrons of the Council, and each leads one of the five Scions of the Council: Roots, Trunk, Bark, Branches, and Leaves. The Benandanti are generally chosen from a wide variety of walks of life, giving the Council many different views when discussing the best ways of preserving Nature.
Nature is diverse, always changing in a cycle of death and rebirth. From the dead and old comes new life, just as a single seed will sprout in the midst of the ashes of a fire. The Council are the mortal guardians of this cycle of Nature, ensuring it never becomes unbalanced with too much death, or too much growth.
The Duiran Council holds the power to punish those who harm any part of Nature. From reckless harvesting resulting in the mass death of plants, to wanton destruction of nature, the Council reserves the right to set fines or punish enemies of the forest as they see fit. Nature is not tame, it is wild; let those who would think to harm it feel Nature's wrath.
Alongside the four cities of the mainland, a number of other factions have risen or fallen. These cities are home to denizens, rather than players, but remain powerful forces in the Midnight Age.
The Free City of Delve
Nestled on the far north-western coast of Albedos, the Port City of Delve is the last bastion of hope for the populace of those not yet enslaved by the Dreikathi. Its very location provides a sphere of natural protection, and effectively has been cut off from the rest of the continent of Albedos. Bordered on three sides by typhoon-prone waters, the city is guarded by sea as well as protected via land by the expanse Dramedo Crags to the east.
With the Dreikathi having seized up all other free cities, the Port of Delve quickly grew into a melting pot of all the various races of Albedos. The city itself is a sprawling assortment of various districts ranging from the massive Docklands to the expansive Military Yards. Delve is a bustling city that despite the threat of the Dreikathi, is full of life.
Ashtan, the Conquered City
Once a sprawling, lively city within the Misty Isles, Ashtan was conquered and razed by the invading forces of the Dreikathi. The ancient work of the Muse now lies ruined, abandoned by all but the Nazetu pirates of the Nazedha. Along with the three Isles, the grand works of the Mystics and the secrets of the Seams of Balance now lie beneath fathoms of water and tonnes of rubble, lost to Sapience perhaps forever.
Nazedha, the Last Bastion of Darkness
Situated across a landmass roughly the size of the Ithmia forest, the city of Nazedha is the capital of the Nazedha Empire. Veiled by the deepest corruption the Dark Lady could bestow, the city is comprised of two main parts; the shoreline, upon which rests a sprawl of markets, taverns, and warehouses, and the inner city, which surrounds the massive height of the Dark Spire. The entire city is built in honor of Lanu Du and Chakrasul, subsisting its economy upon slaves and an endless supply of mind-altering substances.