Life in Clandenstone
The Laws-given of Clandenstone
Placards of all sizes, colors, and materials are prominently displayed all over the city, carrying the Laws-given of Clandenstone. The largest on every level are imbued with magic that make the words comprehensible to anyone who can read, regardless of the language they are able to read in. Most city criers repeat the laws in common after reading the daily bulletins.
Murder shall not be allowed
Rape shall not be allowed
Assault shall not be allowed
Thievery shall not be allowed
Theft of time shall not be allowed
Theft of light shall not be allowed
Bearing false shall not be allowed
Enforcement of the laws falls upon the Silver Shields. Adjucation of the laws and their punishments falls on a rotating council met once a tenday at The Gate Hall on The Lip. Punishments include fines, labors, imprisonment and exile. Local Silver Shield commanders and consuls supervise their separate jurisdictions for minor offences. Punishment for larger or more infamous cases is brought to The Gate Hall itself, with those presiding judging on the severity of the crime as well as the disposition of the parties involved.
The Politics Of Clandenstone
Who rules in Clandenstone?
Power is officially divided between a quartet of balanced representatives from religious organizations, merchants, guilds, and The Silver Shields. Alderman from each level petition, on behalf of their populations, to the appropriate quarter who bring the concerns to council meetings held once a ten-day. Alderman are nominated annually from among the level’s residents, with those Alderman nominating the representatives to the council, voting for them annually as well. The Silver Shields alone chose their representative from their leadership, generally holding a captaincy dedicated to the council.
Who REALLY rules in Clandenstone?
Merchant interests wield a tremendous amount of influence in the making of policy and law in Clandenstone. Most everyone who shares the table of power –clergy, guilds, even The Silver Shields- all agree that Clandenstone makes its meat and milk through commerce between the world above and the world below. Manufactured goods make up a very slim percentage of commerce in Clandenstone, with the bulk of income being generated by services. Importing and exporting drags along all other economic indicators, including the need for mercenary services, storage, defense, and other ancillary requirements.
That is not to say that the merchant houses run roughshod over every other concern. The contentment of Clandenstone’s citizens, they know, is the keystone to keeping the city running with minimal hardship. Guild strikes, wildcat walkouts by The Guild of Carters, and food riots have all made it clear that the city could descend into chaos if leadership is not empathetic, decisive, and generous. The potent Guild of Smiths carries a tremendous amount of power and influence as well. Suggested policies brought by the clergy, The Silver Shields, and even local leaders are usually adopted across the board with minimal arguments.
What that has built, beneath the surface of Clandenstone’s daily existence, is a many-threaded web of shadowy checks and balances, with each faction working behind the scenes to influence citizens, groups, and entire neighborhoods to move in a direction best suited to their own needs. Beneath the unsmiling face of The Silver Shields, the clergy pushes to gain followers and block opponents, merchants bicker through proxies and underlings, and the guilds play to the emotions of their members and their families.
Day and night, hidden deals and backstabbing in the shadows can be found everywhere in Clandenstone.
Movement throughout the city
The City Of Stairs poses a challenge for its visitors as well as it citizens in the energy needed simply to get from one place to another. What amounts to a leisurely stroll in any surface town quickly becomes an endurance trial in Clandenstone, as the many levels make travel up and down strenuous and often avoided.
Stairs and ramps are numerous on every level, ranging from seldom-used and dust-covered flights in the back corners of alleys to wide avenues and well-lit walkways, bridges, stairways and ramps.
Lifts of all sorts are employed in the city. Massive chain-driven elevators cart entire caravans up and down the cliff, baskets bring individual passengers from level to level, and jury-rigged pulleys with buckets and boxes attached bring goods and information up and down.
Because of the arduous task of simply living in the City Of Stairs, the individual levels have become micro communities within Clandenstone. Shops and services are duplicated many times throughout, the demand for items and assistance supplied by industrious people who stock staples and sell them for a generous living. There are even folks who have made carting people around a business, and rates skyrocket at the busiest times for wagon and cart rides pulled along by strapping lads, bulky humanoids, cave lizards, and even massive cave spiders.
Levitation magics are used throughout the city, the habit of this magic having been propagated decades ago even down to the middle classes. Wands, rings, boots, and even weaker ephemera are used by many people to avoid the exhausting journeys between levels. There is no official regulation on the use of levitation magic, and simple rules have evolved with faster travelers keeping further from the edge of the city, and downward travelers yielding the right-of-way to those travelling up. Poles have been placed in several specific areas of the city, used by those levitating to get themselves back to solid ground.
Flying is used far less for travel, as it has become socially insulting to be seen flying around the city. Silver Shield patrols can be seen using flight to move quickly where needed, and the occasional dignitary from far off lands can be forgiven their ignorance of local customs. Locals, however, take great pains to hide their flight.
Debates continue on how to allow for teleportation magic, with a healthy skepticism of the honor system currently keeping it from being allowed. The costs of teleportation and dimension door to travel through the city tend to keep it in the hands of the wealthy, and the social stigma that follows flying currently plagues open teleportation as well. Add to it the fear that such magic will be used to steal, kidnap, or worse, and the population oscillates between considering it a shameful act and calling for outright magical prevention of teleporting and similar movement.
Importing and Exporting
Clandenstone is derisively called the City Of Copper Coffers, a derogatory claim that many have gotten rich off of the sweat and effort of others and that very little wealth remains in the city. It can easily be seen, given the number of money lenders and holding companies, that a great deal of wealth is carried through Clandenstone by others, but the risks taken by the city are no less than that of many others. Being a critical stop on a trading route can have its conveniences, but there is nothing to say that a new route does not get opened or is stumbled upon by others.
Nor do those who denigrate the efforts of the city ever speak of losses both the Silver Shields and private adventurers have taken in keeping the city safe for most every decent creature that decides to make use of her avenues or call her their home.
Ultimately, the commerce of Clandenstone is a river of surface goods traveling to the cities of the underdark, and a returning stream of valuables and knowledge heading up from the depths to the lands of light.
Imports: Food, Timber, Livestock, textiles
Most anything that can be grown in the ground or herded under welcome skies is of high demand and imported constantly into Clandenstone. Staple foods and delicacies from both the surface and from below arrive with regularity. Livestock is rarely adapted for keeping near the city, as space nearby is at a premium. Live animals in large amounts tend to attract predators too much for the risks to be worth the reward. Timber is sought after by many, but only the hardest of woods long survive the cycle of moist and dry in these caverns without becoming warped or ruined. Clothing is another large import, with colorful and eye-catching fashion always seen among the streets and stairways.
Exports: Gems, magic, weapons and armor, finished metal goods.
The abundance of smiths in the City Of Stairs means a steady current of finished metal goods for shipment to the cities on the surface as well as the cities below. If it can be fashioned of iron, bronze, steel, or more valuable metals, it will be made, packed and sold from the many carts that leave the streets and alleys of the Burning Boulevard.
The many money lenders make use of several gem mines nearby to fill their vaults, providing easily carried currency for the largest of transactions.
Lastly, many scribes, alchemists, and thaumaturgists have made Clandenstone their home base for the creation of magic items and the research of spells, providing a thriving supply for the insatiable demand that comes with adventure and danger near the edge of the Underdark’s wilds.
Coins are minted within Clandenstone at the Gate Hall, and this currency is accepted for direct exchange in several underground cities and above-ground towns. Clandenstone coinage is preferred within the city, with exchange rates being reasonable enough not to offend, yet larger quantities or longer periods of time are better suited to facing the official exchange. General rate of exchange is 2 percent for most coinage and five percent for gem exchange at the most reputable of money lenders. Higher rates can be found for less scrutiny if one were to dig deep enough. Merchants and businesses will double and even triple this exchange at point of sale, and there is no law against this.
Copper Piece – Officially called “Standards”. Commonly called “Pennies” “cops” or “stans”. Basic round copper coin with a gargoyle’s face stamped, reverse stamped with the Clandenstone sigil.
Silver Piece – Officially called “Swords”. Commonly called “drops” “steps” or “tens”. Stamped silver squares with a river on one side and a stairway on the other. Each silver sword is worth ten copper standards.
Gold Piece – Officially called “Towers”. Commonly called “fathers” “long silvers” and “rooks”. An elliptical gold coin with a brick tower stamped into one side and the signature of the famed goldsmith Longbones Bartleburn beneath his profile on the reverse.
Glitterpearls – Larger gold coins shaped like three coins joined to overlap across a midpoint, with a silver triangle minted in the middle. Each gold face (for a total of six) has a dwarven word stamped into it: Lost, Found, First, Last, Life, and Death. Commonly called “trios”, these coins are worth 5 gold towers.
Clandenstone does not currently mint platinum coins.
The Timekeeping: Clan Year
The citizens of Clandenstone keep to a tenday as is normal for the rest of the surface. There are several clocks kept on the uppermost level of the city, taking advantage of the sunlight coming down from The Fissure to keep the daily time, and the Face of The Sun, a massive bronze water clock dominating the overlook from the Gorgon’s Ledge shows everyone the time as well in the charming features of a leering cherub’s face. During the darkest months without sunlight, the clock is critical to mind the hours as they pass, with dozens of firepots about the city using different colors to mark the time of day.
Years, when kept and monitored by citizens, are called by The Clan Year, the year traditionally held as when Capern The Solemn first entered the history as establishing a relationship with the myconids of The Sunless Valley.
Key celebrations are the days traditionally held as Clandenstone’s founding, the day in winter when the last sunlight reaches the wall, and the first day of spring when the first light reaches the wall.
First’s Day: Celebrating the founding of Clandenstone. Street festivals are usually planned by level, and the Deepshores are notoriously over-run with people, as citizens and travelers cast flowers over the edge at mid-day to make wishes for the new-year. It is a lucky day to open a new business, start a new venture, get married, or have a child. Tinkers make a good return fashioning umbrellas that collect falling flowers with ingenious traps and containers. The most visible of Clandenstone’s citizens consider it an honor to cast their flowers from The Lip, and anyone invited who does not show has been said to ‘Curl the Lip’ and are open to insult from the entire town. Great feasts and parties are populated with fanciful hats that are filled to the brim with flowers from above.
Last Light: Celebrating the day when the last dismal light of the surface reaches the edges of Clandenstone, plunging it into full darkness until the coming of the next spring. It is a day rumored for haunting and fell acts, and it is considered terrible luck to agree to any contracts or work at all. It is a day of rest for just about everyone, where streets are deserted, and personal shrines are busy accepting prayers for the day to pass without incident. Rare is the year that someone does not expect some curse to remove the light forever.
Many have begun prepping for Last Light by delivering gifts anonymously to those they have wronged in the previous year as a totem against bad karma the next year. It has become disconcerting to be one who receives many gifts, and maids who get a gift have been known to use their dowries on divinations to find the gift-giver and set their wrath upon them.
First Light: A grand fete citywide that is marked by the most colorful pinions, banners, flags, bunting, and streamers depending from every surface in Clandenstone, the Festival Of Awakening covers three full days of drinking, feasting, artistic competitions and harmless pranks by children on their parents, their reward for tendays of being cooped up in the darkness with only torches and censers to light the way. Anyone unaware of their actual birthday use this as their celebration, and the entire population carouses through the streets telling one-another ‘happy birthday’ and singing name-day songs to the fairest of the opposite sex. For the past nine years, Colomo the Daring has dove from the Lip into the waters of the Chalkstone Lake just as the sun’s light hits the Lightlance statue.
Other minor holidays and festivals are celebrated throughout the year, and different organizations, religions, and races add their own traditions to the mix. Different levels will have both festive and solemn occasions observed based on the individual traditions that have grown among their citizens.