Background

LIBERTY

Liberty is the city where the settlement ship will depart from. Here is some information to help you with your background.

- Liberty’s gold pieces are called tails, silver pieces are called scales, and copper pieces are called fins. This is a holdover from the city’s past as a fishing town. If you hear a reference to a “clipped tail”, it refers to shaved coins.

- When greeting people, shaking hands is less common than turning both hands upwards (almost if you were carrying a tray). It symbolizes that you are not carrying the payment of a rival, although many foreigners take it to mean that you have no hidden weapons. Do not offer to shake hands unless they do so first.

- Most laws are straightforward in appearance, but can often be complicated and convoluted, and some people (who are not diplomats) feel that they are optional as long as they do not get caught. That is certainly not an attitude visitors can afford to take. Many offences are punished by slavery, and foreigners are punished as readily as locals. The one exception to slavery is for those who have any current or past relationship with any organizations considered to be a heresy to Sur; for them, this crime is punished by Riverwalking- a person is bound with weight and sunk to the bottom of the river, if they can actually make it across to the other side by walking across the bottom, they are set free (there are bets made on this; only 1 person has made it all the way across).

- Amongst the upper classes, large fancy dress balls are common, especially during festivals. Skill in dancing, and small talk, is considered de rigeur. People claim that more politics are conducted at these than in council meetings. Be prepared for this, in wardrobe and in manner, as you will certainly be thrust into the local social scene due to your position. We do not wish to be seen as poor-mannered louts, as I’m sure you realize.

- Dueling is considered to be a matter of honor and most nobles carry rapiers. However, many manipulate the culture to their own ends.

Geographically:

- Liberty sits on the eastern edge of the great inland Sea of Mist, also called the Sea of Holes, what the elves call Mistrinith. According to legend, Mistrinith is bottomless in several places. Its waters serve as the primary route of trade for many inner sea cities and landlocked countries. There is some pirate activity here as well.

- Liberty is part of the greater empire. The two main threats to its power are the Quinn, an Oriental Kingdom from where the way of the black powder (gun powder) came, and the Hegemony of Thune.

- Liberty sits in the strangulation point for trade between the seacoast and the inner kingdoms, as it blocks the river that leads from the sea to the ocean. Although considered odiferous, fetid and disease-ridden in summer (especially for the poor) the city holds a lock on all river trade coming to and from the sea, and is the trading capital of the inner kingdoms. Its population thus swells in trading season to over 40,000 inhabitants.

- The city straddles the Great River Alaria, which stretches eastward from the Sea of Mist all the way to the ocean, emptying quite near Oursk (on the far side of the continent, part of the Theocracy of Doresh). Liberty and its quarters are built on both sides of the river. Bridges and canals are everywhere, and most bridges have houses built off of their sides.

Politically:

- Social status is determined by money and power, including political power. Belonging to the Upper Class, which has more to do with status and wealth than anything else, requires a net worth of 50,000 golden Tails. Merchant houses often “adopt” citizens who buy their way into the upper ranks.

- Household slaves are quite common. Individuals are most often enslaved for debts, although other crimes are usually punished by less pleasant slave tasks, such as swamp-clearing. In theory, a slave can buy their freedom after they have paid off their debt, but this is not very common. While slaves are illegal in the Empire, I wish to stress that taking it upon yourselves to lead a slave revolt would be a very poor way to conclude your career.

Background

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