Free City of Rendell
Population: 45,000 (40,000 in the Free City of Rendell) Human 85% (45% Kiror, 45% Turku, 5% Brandai, 5% Ithgar, 10% Krantik Dwarf, 5% Halfling
Government type: Anarcho-Capitalist
Religions: Tempest, Ariel, Law, Guile
Imports: Lumber, Food, Wool, Slaves, Coffee Beans, Olives
Exports: Coffee (refined) Pearls, Clothing, Cloth, Olive Oil, Ambergris, Rope, Ships, Slaves
Heraldry: National Flag: The flag displays a two diagonal red lines crisscrossed on a black background
Flag of National Leader and the Letters of the Marque display these same
lines, but also have a yellow circle in the center. In the circle is a blue lightning bolt.
Free city of Rendell
Rendell was founded in the aftermath of The Cleansing War. The city itself is constructed on the Xelford Isle atoll in the Barranon Bay and prior to the Cleansing War was home to small villages of fishermen. The island is rocky, with a layer of rich soil, built up from bird guano over the centuries. Rendell also claims jurisdiction over the much larger islands of Flotsam, Jetsam as well as the small islands of Ligan and Derelict. These islands are much more rocky than Xelford, and offer small harbors with a limited population.
Life and Society
The name of the city is a misnomer, as nothing is free in Rendell. Everything has a price and anything can be had for a price. It is a city of thieves, traders, pirates, corruption, and extreme wealth and poverty. On a break down of lifestyles, the city would appear as follows: Destitute 20%, Poverty 45%, Common 20%, Wealthy 10%, Opulent 5%.
Most travelers shudder with fear at the thought of having to travel here. Government, as many people would know it, does not exist. In its place are insurance and protective companies also enforce contracts which are deliberated in private courts, often with priests overseeing them. The priests also work for these insurance agencies, however, and one may find the courts either tilted against or towards their favor, depending on the type of insurance they hold. Besides these firms, private enterprise also exists, with merchants paying insurance to one of these firms for protection. Workers pay for their own protection, which may or may not be held by the same company as their employer. Those who cannot afford to pay for protection are not protected by the “law“. These firms offer insurance against harm from another individual, and do not reward the aggressor.
Rendell is divided among many such private security firms, whether they be protective or insurance companies, or conglomerates of multiple companies, whose leaders comprise the governing structure. A new election is held among these heads every two years to determine the national leader, known as the Dux. The Dux is responsible for treaty negotiation and acceptance of ambassadors and for okaying letters of the marque for privateers. If a foreign power were to declare war on Rendell, it is these security companies that would supply their militias for the national defense. The coffers are kept independent of business, with government funds being acquired through payment for the letters of marque and from receiving a portion of the profits from the auction of captive merchandise. Any spoils of war would be divided among the firms that supplied the forces and funding proportionately.
Privateers are functions of these security organizations as well. Though they are okayed by the Dux, their true allegiance is with their particular firm.
Roughly 70% of the population is directly employed by one of these firms, though they might not know it, as they are large conglomerates with many interests. Besides these organizations, there is a large shadow community, living largely hand to mouth. The streets teem with the poor, and begging is commonly seen. The city is home to several thieves guilds as well.
Crime and Punishment
One can be punished formally for acts carried out criminally or civically, as negotiated by the insurance companies. If one does not have insurance, they are automatically found guilty and must face any such consequences. Capital punishment, corporal punishment, fines, slavery (sold to Sebitad), impression on ships, and imprisonment are all used as punishment. Cells for holding prisoners are located in the basements of these security companies. Since this part of the city is low, these cells are often damp and can be prone to flooding.
This type of insurance is unique to the Free City of Rendell. Every individual, from birth to death can have an insurance plan. It can cost anywhere from 2gp a week for the average personal plan, and 30 gp a week for a business. These fees are paid in advance. More expensive insurance plans are also available, with varying degrees of additional protection. The most expensive plans, 40gp a week come with a personal retinue of guards. A person should always have their insurance card clearly displayed on their person. New cards are issued every month. They can be renewed with any insurance salesmen. Approximately 85% of the population have some sort of insurance. Some would rather go without food than insurance.
The average insurance cards list the name of the insurance company, the identification number of the individual who sold them the card, the client’s name, their home city (and if Rendell which district they live in) occupation and the date the card was issued. More upscale cards also have drawings of the individual and signet marks of the insurance companies. These upscale cards can only be purchased in the main offices.
Though there are different insurance companies, the five largest have four types of insurance available. The smaller firms typically only have one form available, typically black status. Each of these forms are cumulative.
The first and least expensive type, of insurance is called Black. It is had by approximately 20% of the population. In this type of insurance, a client will receive representation in a court of law for criminal or civil matters.. If they are charged with a crime, their insurance card will be revoked. If found guilty of a criminal matter, they will most likely face corporal punishment or in extreme cases, execution. Similarly, they can face these same penalties if they cannot afford to financially settle a suit.
The next highest, and most common form of insurance is Blue and is held by approximately 50% of the population. This contains all of the benefits included in black status, plus one can file civil suit as a plaintiff in a court of law in either civil or criminal matters. Similar to black status, if someone is the defendant in a criminal or civil matter, their insurance will be revoked after service. If they are found guilty in a criminal matter or cannot afford a fine imposed upon them in a civil matter, they will not be executed.
The next highest insurance type is Red. This type of insurance is held by approximately 10% of the population. If they are convicted of a crime, their insurance will be revoked. The courts of law will be slightly geared in their favor (over someone with a lesser form of insurance), and they will not be sold into slavery or impressed on a Rendellian ship if convicted of a crime or if they cannot afford a penalty against them.
The highest level of insurance available, which is held by approximately 5% of the population is Gold. In this type of insurance, holders have two criminal or civil convictions before it will be revoked. Law is moderately tilted in their favor (over black and blue status; slightly over red). They can only be fined if convicted of a criminal act and they will be assigned two personal guards at all times. A family of four, each with this type of insurance would have 8 personal guards at all times.
Homes and businesses have a unique forms of insurance where they can receive financial compensation from those who have wronged them. They are considered a separate identity from their owners. If they do not have insurance, they are fully liable for any damage done to their business, whether intentional or not. They have levels of insurance as well. Black level only provides them representation in the event they are sued or incur damage. Blue level provides enforcement of contracts and one can use the court apparatus to file a lawsuit against another company or individual that has done the company or home harm. Red level provides a slight skew in the civil courts for their business. A small payout will occur if the company or home incurs damage not caused by a particular individual. Gold status provides 2 armed guards for the business at all times, and the insurance company will pay out for the full amount of assessed damage, in the event of damage occurred not as a result of the actions of an individual or group.
Security firms exist to provide personal security and security for businesses. Unlike the insurance, these security firms will provide protection for their clients outside the City of Rendell. The wealthiest members of Rendellian society often have Gold status insurance as well as additional guards for their property and for themselves. Security firms also provide militia service and personnel for privateers.
Rendell does not practice what many would consider the fine arts. Gambling is very popular here, and blood sports, both organized and unorganized, draw many participants and spectators. The wealthier citizens often go to Quirinus, Sebitad for entertainment, where several of them have private boxes at the arena.
Most houses built prior to the year 400 are constructed of stone. The city features many apartment buildings, with single family residences only available to the wealthiest residents. The destitute live in all sorts of rubbish construction. After the year 400, there has been no organization to the construction, and the buildings are often shoddy and prone to fire.
The majority of Rendellians eat for subsistence. They will eat whatever they can find. Normally, this is fish and other sea life found in the surrounding seas, though also can include animal denizens of the city, such as rats, mice and the like.
Common, Wealthy and Opulent Rendellians eat imported foods, with the most expensive being high quality beef from Magnon and exotic fruits.
Rendellians brew coffee beans from Ithgar and it is also consumed by the wealthier classes. Beer and moonshine is common among the poor.
The economy is dominated by these insurance firms. Income from outside of the country comes by way of merchants selling the manufactured goods of the city, and the seizure of cargo through privateers.
The largest sector of the economy is trade, followed by manufacturing, protective services and insurance. Currently, protective services and insurance is only carried out in lands held by the Free City of Rendell, however some of the firms are considering expanding their enterprises to other lands.
Since laws are largely absent, any business is legal, whether it be gambling, prostitution or slavery.
Notable Areas of Interest
Except for the islands mentioned above, the city of Rendell itself is the only notable area of interest in this city-state.
The city is divided into several different districts.
The largest and most economically valuable district are the Docks. The docks are located on the inner harbor, on Lake Goldsinger. They are located in the lowest area of the and gradually move up the hillside towards the main plateau. The harbor has been molded through years of landfill and construction. Ships large and small dock here, bringing goods from near and far. This is the prime arrival and departure location for cargo and passengers. Passengers primarily travel between here, en route from Ptolus to Quirinus’s main passenger port of Lavinia.
Around the docks will be found many warehouses, and businesses catering to the sailors and passengers, including gambling halls, whorehouses, bars, inns, restaurants and shops.
This is also where sailors and passengers first encounter the insurance salesmen. People are advised to show their insurance badges upon disembarking and keep them displayed at all times. There is also usually an insurance salesman aboard the passenger vessels. Those that do not have insurance and refuse to purchase insurance are often singled out, and followed. They will be “taught” the benefits of having insurance. There is also a temple of Guile here, where the gambling houses are crowded.
South of the Docks district is the Isle of Light, where the city’s main temples are located. There is a pedestrian bridge linking the west side of the docks district with the island. An open air Temple of Ariel is located here, as is a Temple of Tempest, where the front wall is open to the sea. Sailors always make a point of stopping at these temples sometime during their journey to ask the gods for protecting their journeys over the seas. Newly constructed ships are also blessed by priests of these churches. Looming over both temples is a large lighthouse, known as the Eye of Rae, whose beacon can be seen for many miles at night and on foggy days. The huge lens is imported from the Farathine Kingdom.
West of the Docks District is the Business District. Here are located the headquarters of the insurance companies and security firms. A shrine of Law is located here as well, as are private courts. The priests of Law here are employees of the insurance companies, and as such can not be seen as living up to Law’s image. It is only if one is insured that they are represented in court. If the two parties have the same insurance company, it is worked out internally, otherwise each insurance company appoints a priest and they will negotiate the terms. There are five major insurance companies here, and each has an array of subsidiaries, there are also several minor insurance companies, who offer cheaper rates, however their service is not nearly as good. Having some kind of insurance is much better than having none. There are also several marketplaces here, where anything and everything can be purchased for a price. There is a particular market here, closer to the docks, where slaves are sold. The main market square is named Rentrikova Square.
North of the Business District is an area called White Hill. White Hill contains the residences of the city’s wealthiest civilians. Here, the mansions are spacious and heavily guarded. There is a small park in the center of the district, which contains the only trees in the city. Visitors must have a pass to enter the district, acquired at the headquarters of the insurance company, and one may only enter through a single gate connected with the Business District. There is another gate, to the east, where day laborers (nannies, servants, guards) may enter and be escorted to their workplaces. A wide avenue connects some of the private wharves with this district, through the Visitors Gate, on which prosperous carriages pass to private yachts. The rest of the district is walled. Since there is no formal government on the island, a special flag is flown over the home of the current “national” leader. The area closest to the eastern wall has upscale establishments. Most wealthy Rendellians tend to stay at home, and host celebrations there. They frequently visit cities of Sebitad for entertainment and diversion. Shrines are also plentiful here to all the gods. Though the average person does not have access to all of the gods of the pantheon in a public environment, the wealthier residents do. Homes here have white stucco exteriors, giving the hill its name.
East of the Business District and north of the Docks are the Shipyards. It is here, where new ships are constructed and captured ships are deconstructed. Fishing vessels also depart from here. The district is not located on Lake Goldsinger, but is rather on the sheltered north coast. There are some houseboats moored here as well. It is believed that this is how future homes will most likely be constructed., though landfills are being used as well to expand the island. Fish markets are also plentiful here.
East of the Docks, is Rusitkhaven (No Mans Land). This is an area of narrow alleyways, with some apartment buildings, flophouses, markets; and as one moves further east, ramshackle houses. Fires are frequent here, and residents must put out the flames themselves. There used to be a central square here with flowers and trees, but the area has been bricked over, and is now a place to be avoided; where roving gangs hang out and will attack, rob, rape and murder innocent bystanders. There are some guards from insurance companies here, who watch for those who display their insurance cards and will come to their rescue. Those who do not possess insurance are also often victimized by the guards themselves. The small eastern cliffs here are often used for burials of the dead. More prestigious residents are typically placed on a funeral pyre and set adrift when they die. There is little manufacturing or commerce here.
North of No Mans Land and east of the Shipyards is Black Hill. This hill also has many tightly packed streets, however the housing is of higher quality. It is home to many commoners, who live in stone and brick apartment buildings. There are slightly more upscale establishments here than found in the docks, though not as upscale as White Hill. Guards are plentiful here. Apartments here are made of dark stone or brick, lending the hill its name. This is also the city’s main center of manufacturing and processing.
The Free City of Rendell has good relations with all of the nations of Kandoria. Though it is currently involved in The Silent War between Castile-Leon and the Azure Sea Trade Alliance, it does not consider itself at war with either. Rendell now has good relations with Sebitad, and often sells them slaves, either from its own population or transporting them from afar. Rendell and Ptolus also have friendly relationships, with Rendell providing support to Ptolus with protective militias.
After the fall of Asmodraxes, the darkening stopped growing, but did not relent. Both during and after the war, survivors attempted to flee the Kiror Despair; most traveling north into Mangened lands. Some however took to sea, and let Tempest decide their fate. Some of them arrived at Xelford Isle, which is just outside the influence of the Darkening. There, they decided they would build new lives. By the year 50, the island had a population of approximately 150, mostly fishermen, while just previous to the war, had less than a handful of inhabitants.
Besides the fishermen that lived on the island prior to the population influx, there was also a coven of witches that lived there. The coven had approximately 10 members, who lived in a small village on the west coast. The coven there were led by a powerful witch named Walpurga. In the year 38, the disappearance of several young children from the newcomers of the island caused them to grow suspicious of the witches, who were rumored to use young children’s organs in some of their vile potions. When 5 year old Taina Rentrikova went missing in 40, her parents said they had seen a witch around their home earlier that day. The Rentrikovas joined by many other villagers, went to the village of the witches, and captured the witches. They continued to deny any involvement in the disappearance of the children, but the villagers thought otherwise. Walpurga herself was burned in a great pyre, and the other witches were tossed off the northwestern cliffs. The children, nor their remains were ever found, though periodically they still go missing. The people still celebrate this event to this day, though the location was moved slightly to the south, in the main market square, named Rentrikova Square, in the Business District . It is celebrated on Guile’s Waxing 3 with great bonfires and dancing. It is one of the few celebrations experienced by the entire community.
Incorporation of the City
The population continued to grow over the subsequent years, and more of the island came into cultivation. The population that lived on the island was dominantly Kirorian, though lacked some of the traits of Kirorians found on the mainland who were still being directly effected by the Darkening. During the Sebitadi-Sabelli Conflict, beginning approximately 111, a further influx occurred of people of Turku ancestry. By the year 250, the island’s population had grown to 1000 inhabitants. By that time, the entire island was either under cultivation or was covered by buildings. The city continued to grow and prosper. .
In the year 119, a heinous crime occurred when one family, the Vadlingers, became upset that the Goldsinger family refused their daughter Maria’s hand in marriage. They beat and killed the intended groom, Hiram. There was technically no form of government to exact justice, and a bloodbath of revenge occurred, leading to great strife. The population of the island decided it was time to formally incorporate. They were under the jurisdiction of no foreign power, so had to do something to govern themselves. At this point, in 120, the time came that a city was formally established, and was called Rendell, after the city’s first founding family. The mayor, with the title of Dux, would be elected by the heads of household of the families every two years.
Dreams of Grandeur
Rendell also began to engage in trade with cities and states, first on the Barranon Bay and then beyond. The Empire of Sabellia gave them exclusive trade rights to their ports and asked for their support in their war against Sebitad. Rendell knew that it could not wage a conventional war against something like Sebitad, with its massive size and armies, so it commissioned privateer groups to attack Sebitadi vessels and seize cargo they were carrying. These privateer groups did not fly the flag of Rendell, though they were established and supported by Rendell and were given safe harbor there. Small sea skirmishes would continue with Sebitad for the next several hundred years, even after the fall of the Sabellian Empire.
By the year 300, the population of Rendell hit 2000, and nearly the entire island was urbanized. A series of public works had been initiated, including the construction of the city’s harbor, located on a small lagoon, connected to the sea by two inlets. The small island between the inlets is connected by a single bridge over one of the inlets. On this island, a tower was constructed to defend the harbor. During this period, the city also saw the construction of various wharves near the main harbor, where fishing boats were launched. Collection pools were dug out and cemented to hold fresh water, which on an island is a valuable commodity. Also, on this small island sit’s twin temples of Tempest and Ariel, God of the Sea, and God of the Wind, whom Rendellians rely on to safeguard their city and ships
The city now entirely depended on the sea and trade for food. It also began to specialize in select industries, where raw materials would be imported from Sabellia and cities of the Kiror Despair, and would be refined and sold to those locations and elsewhere.
Other islands, including Flotsam, Jetsam, Ligan and Derelict in the Barranon Bay were claimed by Rendell, and small villages were established there, primarily to re-supply their ships and provide them with safe harbor.
The mayor’s position continued to expand during this time, from being one of local jurisdiction to an international profile. Successive mayors continued to expand the power of their office, and in 378, the mayor, Maksim Chelnyavski declared himself Emperor of Rendell, Maksim I. He began to consolidate power more, and in the year 380, he declared that elections were no longer going to be held, and that he was Emperor for life.
The New Era
Rendellians saw the events of Maksim I with great dread. They had seen how powerful Ignatius had become in Sebitad and this was something they wanted to avoid. Protests began in the streets of Rendell in 382 once elections were not going to be held for a second time, initiated by the leading merchant families. Maksim ordered the imperial troops (the city militia) to crackdown on the rebels, and they themselves mutinied. Faced with no chance of success, Maksim killed himself.
No government structures existed at that point, so a meeting was held of the 25 wealthiest people in the city. They decided they did not need a formalized government structure. They themselves could handle the affairs. It was not a vast empire that required ruling, but now only a city and a few scattered islands with roughly 2100 inhabitants. They decided that they would continue with elections held every 2 years for the position of Dux, which would be a ceremonial position. Out of this framework, the modern society was developed. The Free City of Rendell was born – they saw this as being the creation of ultimate personal freedom.
The city enjoyed a period of prosperity with continued economic expansion, and the society structure they established was successful. Certainly there were problems, especially for the poor, but the elite reasoned that they would fare no better elsewhere. Major firms were developed, by the wealthiest members of society, creating personal militias and contracts with each other. Since there is no police force, insurance was developed to protect people willing to pay for it. These firms diversified, and are a conglomerate of merchants, privateers, militia, police, protection details, investigators, justice, fishing enterprises and manufacturers.
In 465, the Free City of Rendell made formal contact with various Ithgari tribes. Rendellian merchants established several coastal trading ports where they would exchange their goods for raw materials of Ithgar. Some of these raw materials included slaves, who were captured from other tribes. When they realized how inferior Ithgar technology was compared to their own, they decided this would be a good place to sell an inferior product at a good price.
The Free City of Rendell continued to grow, as some merchant houses rose while others declined. New immigrants came to the city – both those fleeing the Deadlands for a better, safer life, and those from Sebitad escaping the zealotry and repression.
In the year 500, black smoke be seen off in the distance, and drifting closer. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that a great volcano had erupted in eastern Sebitad. Various privateer groups decided that with the Empire facing a crisis as such, it was their time to strike hard. The main flotilla of Sebitad was located at the city of Novo Nordovi, not far southeast from Rendell. The firms agreed together that this would be a good idea for future prosperity. On the morning of Rae’s Embrace 8, 500, they struck. The flotilla was caught unaware and the with the seas were extremely rough. This gave the smaller privateer vessels a great advantage over the larger ships in the Sebitadi flotilla. By evening, the entire flotilla was either captured or destroyed. Captured sailors were set adrift to the whims of Tempest, and the ships were sailed back to Rendell, disassembled and given to the firms that used their vessels in this venture for reconstitution in new vessels. This victory would ensure Rendell’s dominance over the Bay of Barranon. The conflict from that time simmered down, and there were only a few minor battles as Rendellian privateers struck docks where new Sebitadi ships were being launched. Sebitad began moving their naval production centers to the south and east coasts.
In the year 600, Rendell received word that Sebitad wanted to discuss peace. Ambassadors from Sebitad were invited to Rendell, and were brought on Rendellian ships. The ambassador met with the Dux, who had been given instruction from the leading firms. Rendell agreed to peace if Sebitad would open up all of their coastal cities to Rendellian trading companies. Sebitad agreed to this arrangement.
When The Silent War erupted between Castile-Leon and the Azure Sea Trade Alliance, Rendell saw an a potential for gain. Some of the firms agreed to outfit their privateers with flags of both Castile and the Azurians, and disrupt trade of both countries, framing the other for the attack. Again, sailors were set adrift and the vessels and cargo returned to Rendell or one of its other islands.
When war erupted between Sebitad and the Ithgar, Rendell was assured that its interests would not be harmed in Ithgar. It would continue to be able to trade with Ithgar as long as they themselves stayed out of the conflict directly. They were allowed to sell some weaponry to Ithgari, but only as long as it was inferior to Sebitadi technology. Once the war is over, Sebitad guarantees that Rendell will be able to trade with the island, and that there may be territorial gain or other forms of compensation.