Terje has already delivered a lot of nice stuff about Xuh’lan but as this blog was supposed to be a cooperative effort I have finally got myself to finish a short introduction to my own campaign world, the city of Alanu.
As a roleplaying setting Alanu combines elements from two main sources: the late republic of Rome and old school fantasy games like Swords & Wizardry. I envision Alanu as a sandbox setting where adventurers can seek their fortune in many different ways and where their means and goals aren’t predetermined. When the player characters start at level one they are literary a ragtag street gang at the low levels of Alanu society. To survive to rise above that they have to fight hard are in dire need of patrons, allies and employers. There is always new sides to choose between.
All roads lead to Alanu, the city of the exiles and guardian of order. Many generations ago, before the exiles came from the sunken Iron Isles, the city was an elven center of learning. Now it is the center of the exiles continuing expansion of their order and their law throughout the known world. The exiles see their city as the new center of the world and everyday Alanu grows as children is born and as slaves, impoverished farmers, foreign merchants and general luck seekers trickle into the city in a steady stream. Alanu is a city of adventure. It is a place where fortunes are made, lost and stolen. A place where clans, parties, alliances, gangs and patricians are locked in constant struggles for power. A place where secret cults worship forbidden gods while hidden things linger in darkness. A place of markets, temples, catacombs, tunnels, rooftops, alleys, palaces, slums and inns.
In accordance to tradition and common decency, good citizens of Alanu are not adventurers. A good citizen shouldn’t strive to achieve anything else then stoically fulfilling the duties connected to the stature of life they were born into, protecting the republic from all enemies and securing the next generation by the begetting of children. The naked ambition, risk-taking and uncertainty connected with adventuring doesn’t become a citizen in good standing.
But as the social turmoil and strife deepens, traditions tend to fail. The streets of Alanu are filled with people who’s poverty and lack of social standing encourage them to seek adventure in order to make their own fortune. They are landless farmers, former soldiers, runaway slaves, disinherited sons, hardened thugs och nimble pickpockets. They are adventurers.
They start at the lowest levels of society and some of them rise to become new men and women in the higher levels of the republic. Most remain in the gutter and others fall. The road to fame, fortune and power is very lethal and many adventurous lives in the streets are certainly nasty, brutish and short.
Alanu is home to many ironies. It is a republic dominated by a clerical senate allegedly guided by a very outspoken lawful alignment. But said republic is also constantly on the brink of political anarchy because of social struggles and is also embroiled in a seemingly permanent war with most neighbors of its growing empire. The government is built upon a balance between different groups of citizens, mainly the senate, the military and the clan council. But the balance is now constantly shifting back and forth because of the great changes brought by the growing empire.
A key feature to understand the Alanu republic, and the Roman republic it is partially based on, is the total absence of a police force. There exists no governmental force in the city that upholds the law and arrests criminals. It is the responsibility of each citizen to uphold order and to bring criminals to trial. This in turn makes street gangs, political militias and hired bodyguards the closest thing to an Alanu police.
More about the city and its inhabitants later. Please comment if you like. I’m exercising my english so feel free to point out errors.