Minoc (City of Inventions, Streets of the Gadgeteers) “Necessity is the mother of invention… except in Minoc, where it’s all in a day’s work.” Location: North Central Britannia, northwest of Vesper, north of Cove, east of Lost Hope Bay. Virtue: Sacrifice Government: Democratic Republic, with Syndicratic elements Imports: Basic Necessities Exports: Crafted Goods, Raw Materials Heraldry A golden hammer on a background of checkered forest green and brown Geography Minoc is located in northeastern Britannia, on a rising set of hills that lie next to the Glittering River and Mt. Kendall. South the land slowly flattens into temperate forests until reaching the Barrier Mountains. On the west side is Lost Hope Bay, named for the numerous ships lost in the area, usually attributed to the large numbers of sea serpents. On the eastern side Mt. Kendall looms over the town, a large cinder cone volcano. On the north side the land continues to rise, forming a large plateau ringed by mountains, where the Glittering River’s source lies. This area is known as the High Wastes, the mountains about it the Skull Peaks, named for the numerous deaths there over the years to brigands and monsters. The area is curious in that the land is evenly flat and lacks anything except a low cover of grass, the area is reputed for it’s thick fogs and numerous hostile creatures. History Although not commonly known, the city of Minoc was not the first civilization in the region where it would lie. The city of Fawn had survived the destruction caused by the Cataclysm, barely, and had ended up in the High Wastes. The region was isolated enough, and the people insular, that they managed to rebuild without interruption, and even thrive in their new homeland. The people of Fawn were distrustful of strangers, though, and feared the dangers of the outside world. Any hapless explorer who found them was given a choice, virtual life imprisonment or death. As a result, little or no word of their survival reached anywhere, Only Vesper was in the region, and the high concentrations of monsters in the northeastern regions discouraged land exploration in the early years. What happened to the city is anyone’s speculation, but around 17 A.C., a great glow was seen on the horizon from Vesper. It was taken as a sign of ill omen by many, and none sought to investigate. A season later thereabouts a great number of people, refugees, arrived. None had any explanation for their arrival, but that their city had lay far to the west, and had been destroyed by a horde of orcs. They stayed in Vesper for a short period, before the entire number purchased a ship capable of long-distance travel, and sailed to the south. (See the entry on Magincia for further details.) Brialla noted in her journals when visiting the High Wastes that “This region is brown and dead, the soil itself carries no life within it, and the mountainsides and rocks are smooth like glass… it is as if some great force blasted everything here into oblivion…” (A possible truth to the story is that Fawn discovered the Skull of Mondain in the ancient crypt in the Barrier mountains, which utterly destroyed them in their attempts to harness its power.) To the rest of Britannia, the region was known as the Darklands during the first century after the Cataclysm, due to the large numbers of monsters that inhabited the region. Numerous deaths of explorers, scouts, and travelers convinced almost everyone that the area had no worth. At least until Brialla arrived at the border’s of Malphane’s Dominion in 106 A.C. Brialla was a member of the Order of Seven Tears, a monastic order from ancient Sosaria. (See the entry on Yew for more information.) She sought, as her personal quest, to explore the northlands of Britannia and map it, she had already completed her writings on all the lasts west of Malphane’s territory, and wished his permission to explore his fief and beyond. Brialla spent two years in the Darklands, mapping the region. She would spend the late months of spring, all of summer, and the first month of autumn in exploration, and wintered in Vesper, recovering from her ordeal. Her writings are renowned for her impeccable accuracy, it was said she would count her footsteps as she walked to approximate distances. While in the caverns of Kendall she discovered the vast amounts of mineral wealth, metals unheard of by any smith or artisan. She even dared to enter the caverns and crypts of Covetous, her notes are still valued by the adventurers of today. Brialla eventually finished her task, and traveled to Vesper, where she took a ship back to Britain and points west. Unfortunately, while most of Brialla’s writings were immediately published, her notes on the mineral wealth in the Darklands were not, due to an orc raid at which point some of her notes were lost for many years. (See the entry on Yew for further information.) The region remained uninhabited for a century, only monsters wandered it’s wastes, hurrying quickly beneath the shadow of Kendall, and spending most of their time raiding caravans between Vesper and Cove. In 203 A.C. the Brou Nath Ka horde formed, a united front of orcs, trolls, and ogres, which threatened the entire northeast. For seven years the Kendall War lasted, until 210 A.C. when the combined forces of Vesper and Britain drove the Brou north and fought the Battle of Lost Hope. At the end of the battle, before the Britannian forces could charge, Mt. Kendall started to smoke and the earth shook, driving both forces from the region and the remnants of the Brou into the High Wastes, thus ending the war. (See the entry on Vesper for more information.) Following the war, a soldier and former artisan from Britain named Jasper met and fell in love with a woman in Cove on his journey home. Both sought a place to practice their trades in peace and Jasper himself feared what may happen one day if the hordes ever came south again. Retiring from active duty, Jasper spent a few years gathering like-minded followers, many of whom were artisans who sought a less rigid and structured work environment than Britain or Trinsic , and built a village under the shadow of Kendall in 212 A.C. The small settlement grew slowly, as word of the peaceful nature of the region spread, and the devotion to crafts, and the abundant natural resources of the region became apparent. The township eventually became known as ‘Minoc’, an obscure reference to the numerous mines in the region. Jasper originally intended to construct a fort by which to keep the High Wastes watched, but most of the colonists took to their own personal projects, and in the end he had to give up the idea. In 237 A.C the miners of the region formed the Mining Cooperative. This was done as to keep the order among them, brawls over choice spots had become frequent. The other crafts soon mirrored this action, establishing a loose federation of artisans and craftsmen. The Kendall region proved to have plenty of raw resources for them all and for all the trades and they were easy to come by and cost no coin, as they would have in the larger cities such as Trinsic and Britain. The only fly in the ointment was Vesper. For the first few decades, Vesper gave Minoc generous concessions on trade and tariffs, due to the aid received from Britain during the Kendall War. After things had settled down, though, the tariffs began to climb, as Vesper sought to seize as much of the wealth as they could from the fledgling city. Minoc resented this, but could do little to stop it, being so far and away from friendlier city-states. The tariffs were lowered, however, in 252 A.C. when Minoc was declared a royal territory. In 285 A.C., Dylan, the grandson of Jasper traveled to Yew, where he took part in an auction, and bid on a chest, locked and contents unknown. Upon opening it, he discovered the lost journals of Brialla, which detailed the incredible wealth of the region, buried far below the shallow mines that had been dug. News soon spread, and the Minoc Rush had begun. Over the next five years, the town literally doubled in size, as miners, blacksmiths, and other tradesmen left to settle in the booming city. In addition to a nearly infinite supply of iron, stores of copper, gold, silver, and more rare and valuable minerals are continuously being found in the mines of Kendall. Many of the best and brightest of all trades relocated to Minoc, quickly elevating it to the premiere craft city. Minoc applied for city status and received it in 293 A.C. The government was designed loosely on Britain’s, with a mayor and council, all elected. However, the strong guild presence in the city led to the council being composed of the elected guildmasters of each crafts and trade. So far, this has not proven unbalancing. In 296 A.C., a new attraction came to Minoc. The gypsies, which had wandered Britannia for centuries, made a permanent home to the south of Minoc, setting up several tents and providing the Minocians with a new form of unique entertainment. Currently, while Minoc is still booming, many new problems have arisen. High tariffs in Vesper have nearly eliminated the riverboat trade, by which they were floated down the river to Vesper for shipping. As a result, overland caravans have become a regular practice. This has brought bandits and brigands in droves to the region, many of which settled in the High Wastes. Several mercenary companies have also been hired to police the streets, in order to keep order. These keep the government busy enough to not consider what to do when the resources run dry… Culture The People The people of Minoc are descended from multiple stocks, notably Britain, and thus hair and skin color tends to vary widely. They are more united in their cultural drives than anything physical. The origin of the gypsies is unknown, some attribute them to being from NuJel’m, but most agree their history is far older than that. Most have darker complexions and hair, and wear colorful gaudy clothing, which has lead to the mistaken assumption that they are originally from NuJel’m. The Clothing Clothing in Minoc tends to the duller colors, most Minocians believe in a hard day’s work, and use somber colors that hide the grime and soot from daily living. Natural hues of tan, green, and brown are favored. In more formal settings the styles and colors are brightened, but remain muted in contrast to other cities. Arts and Entertainment Minocians are a frontier people, and as a result the entertainments of Minoc tend towards the simple pleasures. The taverns are loud with song and flow with drink every night, and folk dances are common. Art tends to lag behind most other trades, most stone and pigments are exported to Vesper or points beyond. In addition, Minocian ethics run aground of traditional art, form without function is considered worthless. Crafts and Trades Minoc is the craftsman capital of the world. Because of the incredible abundance of natural resources, they are very cheap, and a tradesman with even the most competent of abilities can improve his trade, perhaps only devoting half his time to menial labor to pay for his supper. The Engineers of Minoc differ from those of Trinsic in that they specialize in mechanics and smaller work. Clockwork and machinery to perform common household tasks are very popular. Arms and weapons are also made, the steel made in Minoc is renowned for it’s high carbon content, making it stronger than other blades. Magic Minocians have done little to advance the field of magic, but they make great strides in replacements for it. In addition, their attention to detail and research methods can sometimes discover things that the mages of the Lycaeum never considered. Most magic is imported, the more powerful mages tend to be mercenaries from out of town. Ethics The Minocians are best typified in their work ethic. They believe that a hard day’s work, no matter the profession, is demanded. Nothing is worse to a Minocian than laziness or slackers. At the end of a work day, however, Minocians are renowned for their carousing and excesses, one of the largest imports is British ale to fuel these festivities. Minoc is unusual among the city-states in that it has least approached its Ultima Prime counterpart. Sacrifice is viewed on a more personal level, and does not reach the same level of devotion and dedication. Government and Politics Minoc’s government began as a loose league of individual craftsmen, who sought to make their own way and not have interference. This changed little, becoming groups instead of individuals half a century later, under some influence from Vesper. After the boom and their admittance to the kingdom, a more official system was setup. The mayor, elected by the populace every three years, has complete municipal power, tempered by the guilds, which act as an advisory council. (Some in Britain have drawn disturbing connections to Vesper in this regard.) As a result, Minoc is still very much run as it was, although without the blackmail, backstabbing, and treachery that marks Vesper’s back alley politics. The only other major power in the government is the Town Constabulary, which appoint the Sheriff’s that police the streets and regions, as well as handle the City Guard. In recent years, however, the crime rates have grown to the point that mercenaries have been hired to fill the ranks, and much of the Guard was retrained and schooled in Serpent’s Hold to keep the peace. Holidays Brialla’s Journey: Occurring in the mid month of autumn, this simple holiday consists of everyone donning brown robes and walking barefoot, as Brialla did, through the streets of Minoc, where everyone shares tales of her exploits, often exaggerating them to be all the more entertaining. The holiday was widely popular in the Kingdom following the Rush, but in recent years attendance has dropped, presumably, as Minoc’s prosperity has become less news.