The Political Structure of Sundown
by T.A. Saunders ©2009-2010 v1.2
Sundown Before the Civil War
As a city, Sundown has enjoyed a surprisingly stable government, in its first one hundred and ninety eight years as a sovereign freehold given its shaky beginnings. Founded in the ten years after the War of the Eternals, Sundown was settled by mostly Humans and some Moon Elves from the city of Brookshire on the continent of Shalzaar. Many of these individuals were refugees from Elvish cities that were leveled in Shar`Vaire air attacks, that took shelter in Brookshire. With so many fleeing to that city during the war, things became overcrowded and something had to be done.
So with the cessation of hostilities between the Elves, Humans and the new Shar`Vaire government coming to power, a gift of land was granted by Mourne Dur’lane to these people, as a sign of good faith and a chance to rebuild their homes. While many scoffed at the idea of building so far from Shalzaar and further, so close to the Shar`Vaire, many more looked at it as an opportunity to start over and to start fresh.
Originally, Sundown was supposed to be a part of the Windsong Accord. This was an agreement between all the settlers from the Barony of Brookshire that the three major cities of the Republic, Windsong, Vale and Tashran would accept the settlement of Sundown into the Republic. It would allow for a single and unified nation of Humans and Elves, in order to better serve mutual interests and defenses. While the gift of land was certainly appreciated by the settlers, the scars of war were still fresh and the remembrance of betrayal from the giving hand of the Shar`Vaire was not so easily forgotten. Forming a sovereign nation meant they would be taken more seriously as a power and even if they could not match the Shar`Vaire in sorcerous might, they certainly outmatched them in sheer numbers in this scenario.
However, when the time came to ratify the Windsong Accord, Sundown did not wholly comply with the agreement. The city’s representative in the matter, Ko’rashae Rivas did not feel that Sundown was being given a fair shake on matters of trade and influence over the nation. What began as civil disagreement became outright indignation and hostility at the Windsong Parliament building over the course of a few weeks of steady diplomatic talks. The Lady Rivas walked from the table, vowing that Sundown would stand alone, sooner than be the heel of the Accord’s restrictive boot.
Many to this day feel Ko’rashae was excessively aggressive in her demands, perhaps with purpose as well. Not too long after the Sundown delegation left the table in Windsong, a secret treaty with certain Shar`Vaire noble families was cut, to ensure that Sundown would have access to superior Shar`Vaire armor and weapons, in exchange for Shar`Vaire airships to be given free reign over Sundown’s skies and to use her harbor without restriction. Getting into bed, so to speak with this Shar`Vaire house made Sundown suddenly very dangerous to the new Nation of Windsong and would make the unsteady tensions that exist to this day.
There was one attempt by the Nation of Windsong at an all-out invasion of Sundown, not long after the city declared herself a freehold and seceded. This invasion lasted only three days; a pair of Shar`Vaire airships, including one dreadnaught class vessel (what’s commonly referred to as a city destroyer for its size and damage capability) set themselves upon the first wave of the invading force. Causalities were so high, the commanders chose to withdraw and leave Sundown to lay with its mysterious Shar’Vairian supporters.
Sundown of Today
Since the civil war that removed Ko’rashae Ri and the bulk of her vampire regime, Sundown has finally joined the Windsong Republic and is no longer considered a sovereign freehold. This was arranged largely by Kithanis uth Braegon and King Cassiar Greenthorn of Ishaela. Politically, this also establishes the Kingdom of Ishaela as an active influence in Sundown as several Sivanoshei Elves and Ishaelian Dwarves of various clans have settled in Sundown as part of a peacekeeping force.
Generally speaking, the structure of how the city is run remains the same and the goals of the city remains the same. The big difference now is that Sundown gains economic and trade strength from being a part of the Windsong Republic as well as the protections the Republic enjoys. Including Sundown into the Republic was considered controversial by many of the old guard-types who still held a bitter grudge for Sundown’s initial cessation from the original Windsong Accord, but political pressure both internally and externally secured the union.
The biggest drawback to this union becomes that Sundown must answer to the capital government in Windsong. While Sundown’s governor does have a seat as one of the Lords of Windsong, it becomes impossible to act independently of the Republic. Meetings must be attended, gold must be standardized and trade laws must be followed. For as long as anybody can remember, Sundown has enjoyed the ability to accept nearly any coin, barter when coin couldn’t be agreed upon and generally have a lot more freedom wheeling and dealing. While some bartering will likely remain, established Republic trade standards will be the way of things to come.
The City Government
Sundown’s government is a democratic system of an elected triumvirate that is voted upon every four years. The triumvirate positions are: Lord (or Lady) Governor, Minister of Defense and Minister of Trade. The governor handles the day to day affairs of the city, signs bills into law that the other two ministers discuss with him or her then vote upon. The defense minister is in charge of what both the city guard and Sundown’s military are doing at any given time and the trade minister handles everything from disputes with the merchant guild to the city’s treasury.
Each member of the triumvirate has a deputy officer that, in the case of assassination or death, can immediately step in and take that role. The deputy governor (also called the Lieutenant Governor) is also responsible for diplomatic negotiations with other nations and resolving international disputes along with the city’s Chief Diplomat. The deputy minister of defense (who is also referred to as Lord Magistrate) oversees day to day city disputes, along with magistrate-marshals that also take cases. The trade minister’s deputy, who carries the title of Treasurer, monitors and writes off on day to day expenditures and profit-gaining for the city and also works closely with the local merchant guild to resolve minor issues that the trade minister should not normally be bothered with.
Sundown has had its first unbiased and fair elections a few years ago, albeit with the marring of more violence and bloodshed upon them. The people of the city elected Lord Kithanis uth Braegon III to be their governor. Kithanis had appointed Marisoa Sundancer (a Moon Elvish woman, backed by the Merchant Guild that ran against him) as Minister of Trade and Admiral James Madison, who captains the S.C.N. Dauntless, as Minister of Defense. It was felt that with Sundown striving to become a naval power, a man of the sea and skies would be best afforded the position, much like Miss Sundancer seemed most appropriate for addressing Sundown’s financial issues.
Lieutenant positions were also handed out by Lord uth Braegon in establishing his cabinet. The Lieutenant Governor is a local war hero and military adviser to Kithanis during the civil war, by the name of Bandon Hawkwander. The Lieutenant Minister of Defense is a Northlander and former Shadow Hunter, named Najar Hjorn and the Lieutenant Minister of Trade is Half Quar`Vess tradesmen and former adventurer, by the name of Quinare D’Nyss.
On Tano 22, 1322 AC Lord Governor uth Braegon was murdered, leaving Bandon Hawkwander to fulfill the rest of Lord uth Braegon’s term until elections can be held again. Hawkwander has affirmed publicly that he will maintain Lord uth Braegon’s policies, but only time can tell.
Because of their duties, the triumvirate is rarely available to see people directly. An appointment must be made with the liaison with that office then the request must be processed through the deputy for that office. While such audiences are hard to come by, they are possible. Generally speaking, Lord uth Braegon is moderately more available than previous officials, though even with his chaotic schedule an appointment is almost certainly required to see him.
This all sounds as though it runs very efficiently and for the most part it does. However it is known throughout the eastern lands of Tal’rah and beyond that Sundown’s government was rife with corruption until the civil war quite literally cleared out any signs of corruption. Elections were rumored to have been rigged, the city guard…no matter who has been at the head of the Ministry of Defense has been corrupt since anybody can remember and magistrates were bought as easily as a harlot at the Purple Peach. Yet, to the outsider, it almost seems as though the populous is indifferent to this corruption, or perhaps resigned to it. When asked, most wrote it off to it ‘being the way things were’ and left it at that.
With Lord uth Braegon’s ascent to governorship, one of his first actions was to establish the Shadow Hunters as the city’s law enforcement. Given their extensive military training, connections to the average Sundown citizen and their knowledge of the city’s underbelly, it was a logical choice.
There were two major factions within Sundown that control the sway of events and actively work to counter-measure one another. The first faction was referred to as Ko’s Coven. The name was an affectionate one at first; a sort of a tip of a hat to the fact that Ko was one of the foremost grand illusionists of Ishaela…however it has taken a darker meaning in certain circles. Over time it has come to refer to the reputed coven of vampires in the White Lady’s thrall.
With events leading up to and after Sundown’s civil war, Ko’s Coven has been essentially driven underground. They are still major players in the city’s underworld and while they no longer maintain a stranglehold on the city’s population, they still maintain hold over key individuals within the city to allow their new queen, Nevi to manipulate markets or cause strife. To gain favor with the Coven, will require a great deal of time and effort spent in the Old City, garnering the favor of the slowly aligning criminal element that favors these vampires. With Nevi as cautious as she is and spending almost no time in Sundown herself, this can become a lengthy process indeed.
The second major faction are the Shadow Hunters. These are a group of well-equipped and organized rebels that were key in overthrowing the government during the civil war, claiming that it was under the control of vampires with Ko as its treacherous head. With the vampire regime defeated however, their role in the city has changed significantly.
The Shadow Hunters are all skilled in the knowledge of tracking, hunting and eliminating supernatural evil. They come from all walks of life, though the bulk of them are either ex-military or former adventurers that were born and raised in Sundown and seek to save the city from what they perceive to be a looming darkness. Some are wizards, some are paladins, some are warriors of some kind, but all have the singular purpose of protecting Sundown as the city’s new sanctioned law enforcement.
Gaining recognition from the Shadow Hunters is a fairly straight-forward task. Finding and revealing any information that can lead to hidden vampire activity, capturing a blood slave or killing off a vampire are all excellent ways of attracting their attention. Helping citizens and taking an active part in the defense of the city is also a good way to garner respect from the Shadow Hunters. One has to be careful when trying to earn such a reputation however; while attracting the respect of the Shadow Hunters one also runs the risk of gaining notice from other, less reputable forces in the city.
There is a third, less recognized faction in the city, that being the Merchant Guild. While a loose affiliation with Ko and her coven once existed, the Merchant Guild of Sundown certainly has its own agenda and has acted in ways at times contrary to what may have been in Ko’s interests. It is also rumored that the Merchant Guild houses a secret guild of thieves and assassins as well for the right price…and the right sort of questions asked.
Gaining the respect of the Merchant Guild will require bringing commerce and gold into Sundown. Investors, wealthy sorts and noblemen are the most likely to gain sway here. Anybody who helps out the budding businesses of Sundown however will at least garner some respect from the Merchant Guild.
Enemies of the State
By far, the biggest thorn in the side of Sundown are the vampires. Many of the roots of their near two hundred year reign in Sundown remain intact, allowing the scattered remains of the coven to still enact chaos within the city. They also have been slowly aligning the various factions of criminality in Sundown under one banner, in some hope to sabotage the city’s growth from within. They are hard to track and have managed to endure as rats do, despite the continual harassment of the Shadow Hunters.
There is a standing Kill on Sight bounty on any vampire not proven to be a sworn ally to the current regime of Sundown. That includes vampires visiting from other realms, the abomination of child vampires and any person willingly submitting themselves to become a Blood Slave or a Blood Doll of a vampire.
Because of events during the civil war, Sundown also now has a re-occurring zombie problem. These zombies were originally unleashed on the Shadow Hunters by the vampires in the Old City, but proved to be so virulent in spreading, that for a while, it seemed like the city might actually be overrun by the rising dead. With the assistance of Necromancers from Anthalas, Lord uth Braegon and a discovery made by a were-rat known as Teshner a sorcerous plague known as the ‘Vulture Plague’ was unleashed on the zombies and vampires alike, dramatically shifting the balance of the war in favor of the city rebels.
However, the plague did not get all the zombies that lurked in the sewers of the Old City and on the outskirts. Occasionally zombie outbreaks happen and often mercenaries and hire-swords are sought to deal with them.
A problem Sundown has almost always had, has been cultists of various sorts. There is a known ring of them that buy kidnapped children and young women for sacrifice; The Disciples of Gurza’s Truth (a fanatic group bent on waking Ghurzaj’atahk the Usurper from the deep) are thought to be in league with the slavers of the city, but this has not been proven.
More recently the Cult of Khavos has been sighted within the city, though to what ends has yet to be established. Considered enemies of the state, for Khavos’ link to Ko and the vampires of Sundown, any information or proof of unlawful activity by such cultists is rewarded generously by the government.
There is also a continual pirate problem off the coasts of Sundown. Most of these pirates are equipped with nothing more than fortified sailing galleons, cutters or corsair ships they’ve come across and can be dealt with by Sundown’s standing navy. However, a few have stolen airships (usually wooden/boromandite reinforced merchant vessels of Quar’Vess or old Moon Elf design) and its these pirates that can become a particularly weighty burden on the Sundown government. In these cases, aid must be requested from the Shar`Vaire in far off Anthalas to deal with this sort of menace.
Lastly there are the brigands that lurk on the outskirts of the city; most are ex-mercenaries hired by the previous regime to fight Windsong but for whatever reason either deserted or were swindled out of their contract and left penniless. Others are simply no-good sorts looking to make easy gold off caravans and the unwise that travel alone outside the city.
Many of them will slip into the city undetected and find all manner of trouble in the Old City or sometimes at the Wharf, which could be anything from simple brawling and carousing, to outright murder and mugging. While the ones that get into the city are handled easily enough, enterprising sorts are encouraged to flush out the camps and a rather handsome standing bounty exists for those that do.