The political structure of the city-state is straightforward, but the players tend to change position regularly. The greatest change, which has yet to reverse itself is the fall from grace of the royal family.
“Prince Alexander is the ruler of Qadir. He is considered aloof, uninterested and uncaring about the common man.”
Prince Alexander IV is the ruler of Qadir by right of inheritance. While his father, Prince Dimitri II ruled the city with a firm hand, he fell ill for 2 years before dying and passing the throne to his son. In that time, the advisory council took on more and more responsibility, and now, four years into Alexander’s rule, they have cemented their hold on the reigns of power. Alexander seems disinterested in the fate of his realm, but infrequently he disappears from the palace for hours at a time. Perhaps he can be found among the commoners on some of those occasions?
Alexander isn’t an idiot, but nor is he the canny administrator his father was. He’s never had to fight for anything in his life, and now that his very role is being co-opted daily he doesn’t know how to shore up his position and take control back. To that effect he has taken to meeting with Saladin the Moneylender, a man who earned the Prince’s trust years ago. He intends to employ Saladin, a man who can get things done, to bring him power the Council of Houses cannot steal, with which he can demand change.
Until then he spends every day looking bored at council meetings, and waiting for the right opportunity to fall into his grasp, or for an errand he asked of Saladin to come to fruition.
The Great Houses
The Great Houses are nobles or merchants who have attained/retained incredible wealth and status within the city. There are minor houses as well, but the Seven are the ones who run the city. They were depended upon by the former Prince to handle day to day affairs as the Council of the City. Upon his descent into ill health, the members of the Council took on more and more responsibility, until now it has become power. The Council of Houses, as it is now known, is a body of the 7 heads of the Great Houses, and exercises all military, and political power in Qadir.
Some of the Houses are detailed below:
Adrianas – seafarer family. Has its hands in many pies but has no controlling interests in any of them. They are fairly non-desrcript and seem to be the least of the Seven.
Orsini – seafarer family. Controls a large portion of the activity of the Apothecarists by patronage, and outright ownership.
Septimus – seafarer family. Political powerhouse.
Shah – native family. Controls a large portion of the wine trade as well as owns or patronizes families that own curiosity shops and general stores.
The Alchemist’s Guild is the organization that governs the creation and sale of substances through artifice and scholarship, rather than physical labor. Historically they were famous for being distillers as well, but a rift occurred with the introduction of gunpowder and the brewers joined the vintners in the Apothecarists. Now the Guild has only a few specializations, gunpowder and its use as a tool or weapon, fireworks and other uses of gunpowder for entertainment, the production of acids and other esoteric substances, and the study of mystical alchemy. With a monopoly on gunpowder the solvency of the Guild is assured, but the relationship with the Craftsmen has weakened.
The Apothecarists are a guild specializing in medicine procurement or creation. They differ from the Alchemist’s Guild in that they focus on liquids and powders for consumption by or use on people or animals, whether for good or ill. Medicines, health tonics, sleep aids, recreational drugs, poisons, etc. are all readily available through any apothecary shop in Qadir. The guild provides negotiations with the Golden Brotherhood to keep tariffs low, as well as insurance. Beyond that, they get together a few times a year in order to exchange knowledge about their industry. There formerly was a divide between the Alchemists and Apothecarists on the issue of vintners and brewers, with the vintners being members of the Apothecarists for protection and market power, and the brewers being members of the Alchemists due to their distilling process being primary to their trade. A decade ago, the brewers all joined the Apothecarists citing unfair treatment by the gunpowder obsessed Alchemists.
Brothers of the Coin
The Brothers of the Coin, or the Golden Brotherhood, are two facets of the same guild, they are the bankers and moneylenders, and the merchants who travel between cities. They regulate fair lending practice, set loan rates, and collect debts. They also provide insurance and guards for caravans, and tax goods entering the city, paying a portion to the city itself. They do not directly regulate retail life within the city, but as the sole body governing who can lend to whom, some indirect control exists.
Brothers of the Lathe and Forge
The Brothers of the Lathe and Forge, also known as the Artisan’s Brotherhood, is the guild that governs the creation and sale of goods via skilled labor in Qadir. They argue with the Golden Brotherhood to set low tariffs on raw materials imported from other territories, and stop the Great Houses from ruining artisans out of spite. If you are not a member of the guild, you are at the whims of these other bodies when it comes to acquiring a loan, acquiring raw materials or refusing patronage. Despite it’s formal name, the guild governs all skilled labor craftsmen including: carpenters, sculptors, armorers, gunsmiths and weaponsmiths, (as opposed to simple blacksmiths only), tailors, cobblers, jewelers etc.
The Chirurgeons Society is a loose organization of healers specializing in anatomy, diagnosis, and surgery. They leave the prescription of drugs to the Apothecarists, and do a brisk business in pain killers with them. Providing education via apprenticeship and licensing doctors who move to the city, the Society is an up and coming organization with a decades old history, rather than a century old one within Qadir. House Doctors are a new fad among the Great Houses as they become more powerful and more self-sufficient, (and more prone to intrigue and vendettas).
[There are several more unsavory members of the Society who are more interested in xenoanatomy, anatomy and magical interactions, necromancy, etc. These individuals are usually not interested in getting a willingly donated corpse from a different race and pay for “big game” corpses as well as urchins off the street.]
The Mason’s Circle might as well be the Builder’s Guild, as they do have a fair number of members specializing in wood, but with the overwhelming majority of the city being built of stone, they built their power base on that institution. The Masons have a hold on the quarrying industry as well as the building industry, to maintain self-sufficiency. They do not hold a lock on the laborers, but with the docks in Qadir being small, laborers who don’t want to become farm hands will avoid angering the Masons. Architects and Engineers often join the Circle rather than seeking patronage alone, as the protection afforded allows them to haggle with the nobility for job requirements and compensation. After all, if the nobles brought in their own masons and laborers to build something without employing the Circle, they would be just as badly ostracized as the laborers who snubbed them would be.
There are numerous secret groups, societies, underground religions and even some conspiratorial plots in evidence in the city at any time. As these groups become known more information will be unveiled here.
The Rookery is a group run by Alvaro Adrianas. The stated goal is to acquire mystical might for the purpose of attaining political power. To this aim they capture wizards and convince them to work for them as enforcers. The group is just beginning so they have captured two apprentice wizards and one journeyman. They have yet to pull in a full-fledged wizard.
The Sirocco are a group of holy assassins, each member a master of stealth and moving unobserved better than the best thieves, as well as a believer as fervent as any priest. They serve the Master of the Wilds, and oppose the blatant disregard the Qadiri often have for the wilderness they have rended and hewn into an unnatural state for their own ego. While this is not necessarily the belief of every citizen of Qadir, it is however the view the Sirocco believes and encourages amongst their agents. They see any event except ones that bring the natives back into control of the city and a return to the Old Ways as a waste or a target. However, they avoid blood running in the streets by cherry picking targets whose removal will do the most to convince the common folk to eschew the path the city leadership has placed them on.