Monday, August 13, 2018

A City of Authorities

A shared love of getting absolutely tossed to the rats on hard drink is one of the great harmonizers of Umberwell’s disparate peoples. Dwarves and catfolk couldn’t be more different in temperament, but put ‘em in front of a pitcher of grog and soon enough they’re laughing together, crying together, thick as thieves.   
 – Padma Gulch, curry house proprietor

Franziska Corvinus, a powerful tiefling sorceress, is the democratically elected Lord Mayor. She receives council from the city’s Ministries, who exercise authority over their areas of legislative expertise. Corvinus’s governance has been controversial due to her infernal connections, yet she has proved canny enough to keep the city from descending into utter discord. The assassin responsible for the previous Lord Mayor’s death was never apprehended.

Due to a culture the prizes parish sovereignty above metropolitan cohesion, Umberwell has no official city-wide police force. A number of independent thief-takers, borough watchmen, river wardens, parish beadles, and phrenological detectives (those who detect crime by studying features and head-shapes) operate as law-for-hire. The truly desperate turn to the members of Blind Justice—though they do not see, they sense crime and purge it with great violence. The most dangerous criminals in Umberwell are incarcerated in the supposedly inescapable Bleakbone Gaol in Rendchurch.

Traditions handed down from Umberwell’s fractious past have resulted in a population legally permitted to arm and armor itself. Because of the legal enshrinement of these traditions it is not uncommon to see fully armed people walking Umberwell’s streets. It is for this reason that Umberwell is sometimes colloquially referred to as the City of Shanks instead of its usual appellation—the City of Rust.

Although Umberwell is governed by a Lord Mayor, her power is limited by ancient legal traditions, the anarchic composition of the city, and the strength of the ten Ministries that possess legislative authority over important facets of life in the metropolis. Each Ministry has its own goals; the fact that the city’s Ministries often work at cross-purposes is one of the major reasons why Umberwell holds a reputation as a barely governed city-state held together by will rather than law.
    • The Ministry of Altars. Oversees matters of faith, the licensing of places of worship, and the removal of forbidden religions from the city.
    • The Ministry of Arrowheads. Oversees the city’s parks, preserves, and refuges. 
    • The Ministry of Coins. Oversees the city’s economy, regulates the banking industry and craft guilds.
    • The Ministry of Gavels. Oversees Umberwell’s courts and judicial system. The Ministry of Gavels attempts to steer the city toward codified, encompassing laws has met with stiff resistance. 
    • The Ministry of Horns. Oversees “vice” in the city, but is a very weak Ministry that rarely regulates anything.
    • The Ministry of Scythes. Oversees food production and agriculture within the city.
    • The Ministry of Shields. Oversees the Umberwell Militia and Navy. The Ministry of Shields wishes to create a city-wide police force, but are hampered by the long-standing tradition of each borough maintaining its own independent watch.
    • The Ministry of Stilettos. Oversees the city-state’s intelligence agencies and coordinates Umberwell’s spies.
    • The Ministry of Wands. Oversees the use of arcane magic and artificer technology, as well as civic engineering and major construction within Umberwell.