Mists of the Past
Until the Mortal Age, this seaside territory was a modest human province known as Bronslaw. Then came the fateful day when the elves sailed to Aetheron and chose the humble province as their landing site. The occupation was swift and brutally efficient, and the natives of Bronslaw suddenly found themselves forcibly subjected to the whims of their long-lived conquerors. As the elves’ domain expanded, what was once Bronslaw became their central port and base of operations, so they gradually reconstructed the tiny province into a vibrant metropolis modeled after their distant homeland, renaming the site Nova Dominium, or “New Domain” in their tongue.
Today, although slavery has been outlawed and the Faith of the True Light instituted as a major moral force, the infrastructure of Nova Dominium remains largely unchanged. The city’s social and financial elite is undisputedly the elves, who cast long shadows over the resident humans, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings. Although the shorter-lived peoples are legally emancipated, they struggle to find fiscal independence in a city largely dominated by elven political customs and magitechnology. As a result, most non-elves turn to low-paying physical labor jobs sorely reminiscent of their former lives as slaves…that is, when they resist turning to a life of crime.
The political structure of Nova Dominium, and of Romaria proper, is based on that of the elves’ indigenous home. All major decisions for civil, domestic, and foreign policy are made by a council of the three wisest and most powerful elven leaders, known as the Triumvirate Arcanum. The Archgeneral oversees Romaria’s military and law enforcement, the Archregent oversees national and international economics, and the Archmagistrate oversees domestic and civil infrastructure as well as foreign policy. These positions are held for life, with new Arcanum being nominated and elected by the Senate (see below) in the event of one’s passing. Given the elves’ cultural connection to wizardry, these leaders are almost invariably spellcasters: the Archgeneral is almost always a mage-warrior who has notably and repeatedly earned his stripes in the field, while the Archregent is typically a successful wizard/economist from the city’s reputable Collegium Magicum. The Archmagistrate position was traditionally held by a notable elf philanthropist or philosopher, but after the elves’ conversion to the Faith the position has consistently fallen to the Romarian leader of the Church, making the position essentially synonymous with Luminox (some simpler folk have taken to calling the position “Archbishop” for this reason).
As is to be expected, management of a city the size and scope of Nova Dominium, never mind the entire Romarian nation, is profoundly difficult. Therefore, the elves instated a political tier beneath the Triumvirate: the Senate. Comprised of noble houses, economic leaders, potent magicians, reputable thinkers and educators, and other members of the Romarian aristocracy, the Senate is charged with supervising the minutiae of Romarian life, with each Senator overseeing a specific component of civil or national structure. Senators are allotted the power to make basic management decisions pertaining to their particular sphere of influence, with at least two other Senators checking their practices for corruption. Should the need for a significant change arise, Senators can appeal to the Triumvirate to institute the change. These appeals are often disregarded if pursued by lone Senators, however, so often a Senator who desires change must first appeal to his fellow Senators to garner support for his cause, for a change desired by many Senators can rarely be ignored by the Triumvirate.
Carrying weapons in public where they can be immediately accessed and used is illegal in Nova Dominium, with the legal definition of “weapon” being any edged or metal object designed to do harm. Similarly, wearing any kind of metal armor in public is frowned upon. Bows may be carried, but their ammunition must be stored like other weapons. City watchmen check both citizens and visitors for arms and armor at all gates between districts and out of the city. Light or one-handed weapons may be carried if they are stored in a place where they cannot be immediately accessed, such as in a backpack (this means that drawing a weapon requires a full-round action instead of a move action). Two-handed weapons are confiscated and held by the city watch until the owner claims the weapon on his or her way out of the city proper. Those wearing medium or heavy armor will be asked to remove it while staying in the city. City watchmen, registered mercenaries, and other professionals who use arms and armor as part of their trade may receive permits to carry such gear in public, a right indicated by a special government-produced badge. Carrying weapons without authorization may result in a hefty fine or prison time, depending on the weapon and the nature of the offense. Wearing a forged badge, carrying a concealed weapon (such as a dagger or sword cane), or using a weapon in a public space is hardly ever considered appropriate; all these offenses warrant much steeper punishments.
After the emancipation of the slaves following the Third Descent, local non-elf craftsmen found it difficult to stay competitive with elf magitechnology in terms of finding and maintaining employment. The result was many working-class citizens of Nova Dominium organizing into guilds and labor unions, a social force which proved so powerful that it warranted the creation of its own Senate position. The guilds’ first objective was to limit the use of magic in public and financial spheres, in order to both better secure their safety from the elves’ eldritch powers and to keep magic-users from supplanting the jobs of unskilled or otherwise mundane laborers. After several years their efforts finally paid off when the Triumvirate granted their petition on the grounds of improving economic growth via job inflation and maintaining public stability.
The result was a set of laws prohibiting the use of magic in public or work places. To this day, spells may not be cast except in private spheres or specially sanctioned locations, such as the Collegium and most central government buildings. Magic items are similarly prohibited, although the same laws that apply to the carrying of light and one-handed weapons also applies to most magic items. These laws are enforced via the use of monitor crystals (colloquially known as “MCs”), magic devices that scan magic-restricted areas for magical activity and alert city watch and government offices if magic is detected. These crystals are fragile and must be replaced every decade or so, but they are difficult to fool. Tampering with an MC or casting dangerous spells yields similar punishments as carrying false permits for weapons or using them in public, except that law enforcement officials deal with magical threats much more swiftly and severely than with weapons threats. Also similar to the weapons laws is that certain individuals, such as designated public spellcasters or registered adventurers, are allowed to carry magic items by possessing a specially mandated badge, which indicates to MCs that the possessor is permitted to have the item. Using magic items or casting spells in restricted spaces, or possessing exceptionally powerful magic items, is still prohibited. If an exigent circumstance requires the use of magic in a public or financial sphere, the person must pre-register for the spellcasting and have the magical task accomplished within the pre-approved timeframe.
While these laws apply to all of Nova Dominium, the enforcement of those laws changes from district to district. For example, lower-class regions of the city may have outdated or broken MCs that officials have neglected to repair. Furthermore, the constant meddling of the infamous and powerful Thieves’ Guild can cause serious problems for legitimate law enforcement.