Primary Source of Income: Feorion Steel Weapons
The entire social and political structure of the city of Stennar is based around the production and sale of fine weapons created with steel infused with a rare ore known as Feorion. This infusion makes the steel stronger, lighter, and more resistant to corrosion, and has made Stennar blades the most sought after in all the land. Feorion ore can only be found in the base of the island plateau that the city of Stennar sits upon, and the city has complete control over the mining of this ore, making Stennar the sole source of the lands most valuable natural resource.
Thanks to its unique geographical surroundings, the city of Stennar has never been conquered in the thousand year history of Prentil. The city lies atop a massive plateau, the sides of which rise sheer and stark one hundred feet from the surface of the raging sea. The island is only connected to the Prentil mainland by a magnificent bridge designed and constructed by the city’s founder, Bake Stennar. Bake’s Bridge, as it is known, spans a chasm nearly one hundred and fifty meters wide, is itself wide enough for twenty men to ride side by side and sturdy enough to hold a hundred laden carts, and yet it is designed with such architectural precision that it can be withdrawn by a team of a dozen horses should a force bring arms against the city. Not only is the island plateau impenetrable by invading forces, but the lands to the south of the city boast plush fields that provide its people with ample grain, fruit trees, and grasslands for grazing herds. So the people of Stennar are equally equipped to wait out an attempted siege should an attacking force decide on that tactic.
The city is also protected by two formidable allies. A long standing treaty exists between Stennar and Vridhan. Vridhan provides Stennar with protection on the mainland and access to their southern forests for lumber and coal, and in return Stennar keeps the soldiers and Knights of Vridhan well armed and armored. But it is Stennar’s second ally that truly provides them with a stranglehold on the mining of Feorion. The strange and reclusive Geoni that also make the plateau of Stennar their home protect the people of Stennar, and particularly the members of the Stennar Miners Guild. Creatures of liquid rock, the Geoni are extremely dangerous and nearly indestructible in their native home. They travel freely through any rock surface and can take most any form. Those who oppose the Geoni tend to find themselves suddenly enveloped by living rock and then crushed like a bee in a mailed fist. Although rudimentary communication with the Geoni is possible, they are extremely secretive and very little is known about them. And no one truly knows the particulars of the treaty created between Bake Stennar and the Geoni hundreds of years ago, or why the Geoni hold to that agreement still to this day, but all understand that only members of the Stennar Miners Guild are allowed in the mines that honeycomb the plateau. All others foolhardy enough to enter the mines without permission or raise arms against the people of Stennar are quite literally crushed.
The people of Stennar are all, in one way or another, dedicated to the creation of fine weapons and armor. On the day of their fifteenth birthday, each Stennar citizen declares their intention to join one of the great Guilds. There are seven great Guilds: The Blacksmiths, The Miners, The Providers, The Woodsmen, The Hunters, The Porters, and The Healers. Acceptance into a Guild requires sponsorship and apprenticeship. Most children follow in the tradition of their parents, boys joining the same Guild as their father, and girls the same as their mother, and the parent acts as the sponsor and mentor. It is socially frowned upon to reject this tradition and join a Guild outside of the family, but this occurs often enough that citizens are not ostracized. Once a member is accepted into a Guild, the Guild symbol is tattooed on their left cheek. The Guild tattoos consist of a simple symbol inside a black circle – an anvil for the Smiths, the pickaxe and ore for the Miners, three pieces of grain for the Providers, etc. In the rare case that a guild member ever decides to leave their Guild, then the tattoo is filled in with solid black. These people then become known as Black Dots, or just Dots. Black Dots are not looked upon favorable and it is rare to find one inside the city limits. Even rarer is the case where a person switches from one Guild to another. In this case, the original tattoo is filled in and a second tattoo is placed upon the right cheek, and these folks become known as Seconds. There are some legitimate reasons why a Guild change occurs, so those that do switch are not ostracized like Dots, but Seconds are still very uncommon.
Guild members are referred to as Citizens, or Members, and are considered the only true peoples of Stennar. By Stennar law, only Citizens and their immediate family members (and any person in an active apprenticeship with a Guild Member) are permitted to live on the plateau. All other peoples are considered visitors and can be asked – and forced if necessary – to leave at any time if it is decided they have outlived their welcome.
The city is governed by a council consisting of three Members from each Guild. Each year, the Guild Members vote for their leaders and must select a Journeyman, a Master, and a Grand Master to represent them on the Council. Once their service is complete, Council members must wait one year before they can be voted into office again, but there is no limit to the total number of years a person can serve. The Council meets in the center of Stennar continually, and all political and legal matters are decided by a majority vote.
The city itself is shaped in a large circle divided equally by eight roads that lead directly to the center. If seen from above, the city would appear to be a great wagon wheel with the eight spokes. The center hub of the wheel is a large open courtyard providing a common ground for meetings, celebrations, and Council announcements. There are eight pie-slice shaped districts to the city, one for each Guild, and the eight for the Council chambers, common buildings, inns and stables for visitors, and warehouses for storage.
There is one other group of people that have been granted the right to call the Stennar plateau their home. In the southwest corner of the plateau lies a great lake of unfathomable depth and in the center of this lake is a small island in the shape of a crescent moon. In the early 700’s a tale spread across the land about the lake and the mysterious moon shaped island. A Provider and her young daughter were fishing on the lake one night when their boat was attacked by a great beast from the lake’s depths. The fisherwoman beat back the beast with rod and oar, but in the turmoil the daughter was tossed overboard and was lost beneath the water’s black surface. The fisherwoman dove into the water and searched frantically for her daughter, but to no avail. Finally, her body exhausted and her will drained by sorrow and loss, the woman allowed herself to sink so she could join her daughter in the lake’s icy depths. But just as she sunk below the surface of the water she saw a brilliant yellow-white light coming from the shore of the moon shaped lake. Curiosity forced her to raise her head above the water one last time, and she saw a woman with skin like milk and pitch black hair bathed in light walking towards her on the water, and the fisherwoman knew her to be the Goddess Epsca. The goddess walked directly to the Provider, calmed her with a single touch, lifted her from the water and placed her in her boat. Then the stranger reached deep into the water, and stole the young girl from the depths of the lake. The stranger kissed the girl once gently on the lips, and life returned to the fisherwoman’s daughter. Now this fisherwoman was well respected throughout Stennar, and had herself been a Guild Leader on many occasions, so when she told the tale of how the goddess Epsca had saved her and her daughter, it was not received with derision, but instead with awe.
Soon, word spread throughout the land of Prentil of the sighting of the goddess on the shores of the moon shaped island. Followers of the goddess from all across the land traveled to Stennar to visit the mysterious lake and many pilgrims began to set up camp in hope of catching a glimpse of the goddess for themselves. Soon, a small village grew upon the lakeshore. Eventually the Council decreed that, although the pilgrims seemed peaceful, it was their law that no other people be allowed permanent residence upon the plateau of Prentil. So the Council made their way to the lake with the intention of casting out the pilgrims who had begun to call this place their home. But when they arrived, they were confronted by two massive Geoni who would not allow the Council members to pass. Having the utmost respect for the Geoni, the Council immediately changed their ruling and allowed that the followers of Epsca will forever be welcome on the shores of what is now called Goddess Moon Lake.
The people of Stennar enjoy relatively peaceful lives. Their city is well protected from invasion and well provisioned for food and grazing. Each person in the city has a purpose and the population as a whole enjoys striving towards a common goal.
With the exception of Bake’s Bridge, the architecture of Stennar is generally simple. The plateau is vast and provides ample acreage for the relatively small population of people that call it home, so homes are spread out neatly and there is no real need for multiple storied buildings. The buildings throughout the city are stone and wood, and are usually just one story or two stories tall. Some of the meeting halls, warehouse and inns are larger, but in general no building in Stennar is taller than three stories.
Stennar weapons are always in demand and incomes for the city are good. The community cares for itself and none that contribute to the good of the city live in squalor.
The Great Guilds of Stennar:
Tattoo: A smith’s anvil
Description: The Blacksmiths are responsible for creating the weapons, armor and other metal goods that are used and sold throughout Stennar. The Smiths tend to specialize in a particular weapon type or armor piece. Because the weapons of Stennar are the primary export for the city, the Blacksmiths guild is considered the most prestigious of all the guilds. And only the greatest of the Blacksmiths learn the secrets of working with Feorion.
Tattoo: Two hands pressed together
Description: The Healers are responsible for caring for the people of Stennar. Their primary duty is to tend to the sick and injured, but they are also responsible for caring for the elderly, tending to the dead, and educating the children.
Tattoo: A bow and arrow
Description: The Hunters are the only Stennar Citizens that are trained in combat. They were originally responsible for providing game hunted in the forests north of Stennar, but as the cattle and other heard beasts were brought to the island the need for wild game became less and less necessary. The primary responsibility of the modern Huntsman is to provide protection to the Porters and the Woodsmen. The great Coalwood forest has become invested with giant insect-like creatures. It is the responsibility of the Huntsmen to protect the Woodsmen and the Porters from these beasts and from any other foe they may encounter in their work. Each year, there is a contest to see which Hunter had made the greatest kill. The Guild members parade through the streets displaying the shells and carapace of the great Coalwood insects they have killed throughout the year. The Hunter with the greatest kill is given a fine weapon of their choice.
Tattoo: A Pickaxe and a lump of ore
Description: The Miners are primarily responsible for mining steel, silver, iron, and most importantly, Feorion. The common ores are mined from the plateau base, the cliffs along the mainland, and the southern expanse of the Vridhan Mountains. The Miners have a unique symbiotic relationship with the Geoni. The Geoni act as guides for the miners on the Plateau, and their direction is always respected.
Tattoo: A wagon wheel
Description: The Porters are responsible for transporting wood and coal from the Coalwood forest, ore from the southern mountains, and for the general transportation of goods and weapons throughout Stennar and Prentil. The large wagons used by the Porters are of the best Slogati craftsmanship, and their wagons are pulled by the great aurochs and draft horses of Bentl.
Tattoo: Three stalks of wheat
Description: the Providers are the farmers, herdsmen, foragers and weavers. They provide the food, clothing, water, medicine, and all other basic supplies that are required by the Citizens of Stennar. The providers are also responsible for replanting the areas of the Coalwood forest that are harvested by the Woodsmens Guild.
Tattoo: A flame
Description: The numerous forges used by the smiths require massive amounts of coal for their near constant operation. The Woodsmen Guild obtains this coal from the Coalwood Forest that lies to the north of Stennar. This seemingly endless forest spans hundreds of acres and consists of massive, ancient trees of oak and pine. The Woodsmen Guild is probably the most dangerous of all the guilds. Felling the giant sentinel trees and manning the massive bonfires that produce the coals are both perilous jobs in themselves, but most dangerous of all are the giant, ravenous insects that roam the Coalwood in search of the unwary and unprotected.