Bardum

From World of Charun

City State founded by miners in 68 IV

Assassin on the streets of Bardum - Art by rhia474 - rhia474.deviantart.com
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Assassin on the streets of Bardum - Art by rhia474 - rhia474.deviantart.com

Contents

Description

In the arid and infertile wastes of Kurash lies Bardum, a city famed across the realms for the bronze weapons of great qualtiy manufactured there. It is a lively place, teeming with activity both day and night. The Trail of Gold passing through gives the town a cosmopolitan air, creating a melting pot of races. However, Bardum is not only a centre of craftmanship, it is also crime-ridden, corrupt and one of the most dangerous towns in Charun, where rogues and cutthroats of all sorts gather.

Many from around Kurash arrive there in an attempt to escape poverty, some to work in the copper mines northwest of town, others to pursue more ill-gotten gains. While the town is officially presented as a city of miners, it is more so known for its thieves, kidnappers, extortionists and prostitutes. This has earned it the less-flattering name "City of Thieves". Bardum is a place where thieves barter openly and debaucheries performed in privacy elsewhere are practiced publicly and profited on.

One of the the most infamous rulers of Bardum was the tyrannical Emir Ad-Magash ibn Shalûk, an incorrigible drunk with a foretaste for young boys and sadistical games. He was commonly called Emir Magash, or the "Wicked One" amongst the locals. Emir Magash was a cruel man known to order executions on a whim and to whip his slaves till death with great amusement. His huge palace, located in the Gardens, held his throne room and chambers, where the servants and dancing girls (and boys), along with other playthings of the Emir dressed in naught but jewelled necklaces.

Emir Jusban
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Emir Jusban

Currently the city of Bardum is in a state of interregnum. There is an Emir. But Emir Jusban controls only the Gardens and the Artisan's discrict, and his rule is so tenuous that he seems repeatedly in danger of losing the Alleyways. He is tolerated precisely because he is weak, and so far as political figures goes, is by far the safest man in Bardum -- informally, none of the other factions vying for power would like to see a more capable man sieze power.

Emir Jusban, oddly enough, is by no means weak on a personal basis -- he is a renowned scholar and a skilled swordsman, and rumor has it that copies of his work have even wound up within libraries in the Sun Glade. But in spite of his personal merits, he is an appallingly poor statesman.

Or an incredibly good actor. This is Bardum, where only a fool conflates appearance and reality.

The town consists out of four sections;

The Gardens: The wealthy live here in beautiful palaces surrounded by lush gardens. The quarter lies in the southwest part of town, surrounded by a wall protecting those within from the less fortunate ones on the other side. This is also where Emir Magash, the ruler of Bardum, has his palace. A grandious temple dedicated to Shanrom is found there as well. The Gardens are the only safe area in Bardum, with the majority of city guards not on the town walls patrolling the area.

Artisan Alleys: The section runs from the south to the north gate, along the main street and the adjacent alleys. They are crowded with merchants, smithies, inns and markets. The Slave Bazaar lies right next to the south gate. The Artisan Alleys are considered a somewhat safe area, with guards patrolling the main street.

Miners' Lair: The northwest part of town is where the hundreds of miners live along side the many storages holding copper and imported Umair tin out of which bronze is made. This is also where the furnaces used for bronze production are located. Miners' Lair is a rough and rowdy place, filled with hard-working, hard-living labourers who are too honest or cowardly to make a life through stealing. There are many businesses in Miners' Lair profiting on the labourers' wages. Brothels specialising in all things a human brain can think of are located wall to wall with taverns selling everything from ale to Haze. Miners' Lair is left more or less ungoverned, which has resulted in an organisation resembling a militia known as the "Miners' Own". They patrol the streets at night, attempting to keep crime off their part of town with meagre success, since a bribe is known to buy anyone or anything in Bardum.

The Waste: The entire eastern part of town is a centre for crime, drug addiction, alcoholism and prostitution, with high rates of mental illness, suicide, and despair. It is crowded with abandoned buildings, brothels, shady taverns, rubble and garbage. No guards ever patrol the Waste, and it is said that the infamous thieves' guild of Bardum, the Vultures, are the closest thing to a governing organ there. It is from the Waste that the thieves and cutthroats operate, spreading across town to rob, murder and steal.


Law

Bribery and brutal violence is the law of Bardum, effectively upheld by the Emir's League, commonly called the "League" - a 2000 man strong force of brutes easily recognised by their gilded helmets and black capes. Emir Jusban makes no effort whatsoever to interfere in the League's operation or curb its well-known appetite for corruption.

The fact that the law of Bardum is bound to change on daily basis has resulted in a situation where coin speaks louder than conscience or common sense. It is usually up to each one of the Emir's men to decide how to act upon a possible crime or situation calling governing. Most of them choose to look the other way, unless there is possible profit involved.

The corruption is found everywhere. Tax officials found by the gates take more than half of the coin for themselves, a sum out of which they have to in their turn bribe the League and other officials. Murder and other crimes, as long as the victim isn't a prominent citizen, are gotten away with for the right sum. Judges don't exist, with officers from the League dealing out and executing death sentences at capture. This ungoverned chaos has led to all visiting merchants travelling with a large body of guards at all times.

Given the weakness of the legal structure another one has risen in its place in some areas. Criminals in many areas have risen to be local power structures and ingrained themselves there without any legitimate authority to keep them in check. People in poorer neighbourhoods (for lack of a better word) have even begun turning to these criminals, particularly The Vultures, for security. Even conflict resolutions and grievances are settled through these rings of organized criminals, treating their leadership as judges, for the leadership itself is interested in stability as that is conductive to their trade of smuggling. Whats unusual to most people isn't that a band of thieves, extortionists, and smugglers have taken over - most governments start off that way according to the people of Bardum - it's that they're good at it and people respect them for it. Many places are actually safer for the common man with the presence of these organizations than they have been for decades.


Economy

Bardums economy has a life of its own, and many scholars are amazed at its survival. Finances are largely based upon bribery and the coin brought in with foreign visitors. Coin is said to buy just about anything in Bardum, be it an official, a guard or someone's life - a statement that is fully correct.

The Emir owns all the copper mines northwest of town, and he claims the profit for himself - which has made him an extremely wealthy man. The copper is sold to furnaces that import tin from the Umair and use the metals to produce bronze. The bronze is in its turn sold to smithies that manufacture bronze weapons, tools and armour. Their craft is usually sold to either visiting merchants, or local ones who export the items to foreign lands. The profit made in this chain of trade is spent, invested or stolen in Bardum.

No such thing as a "state treasury" exists. City officials have minimum, or in some cases no wages at all and yet they are rich individuals. This is due to the power they wield that creates an income in bribes larger than any wage could reach up to. The same goes for the Emir's men that guard the city. Their minimum wages would barely feed a person, but the bribes they receive make being a part of the League a prosperous profession.

Bardum is also a marketplace for slaves not considered good enough to pay tax for and transport to the Three Isles. The market place is known as the "Slave Bazaar" and it's located right by the south gate.


Army

Dazak mercenary serving in Emir's League
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Dazak mercenary serving in Emir's League

The Emir's League man the walls, guard the gates and mines, as well as patrol selected areas of the town. They consist out of 300 brutes, known as "Leaguers", who stop at nothing in order to keep the town under their control. Rumours claim that they are on the pay-roll of the local thieves' guild, the Vultures, who are allowed to operate more or less freely.

The Emir's men are recruited among the toughest of mercenaries, adventurers and even captured outlaws, since they receive no training upon taking service. The varied backgrounds result in a mix of weaponry and armour used by the troops. However, they are all recognised by their gilded helmets and black capes.

The League is run by three captains who all govern a division of two hundred men each. The divisions are;

  • Wallers: This group guard the gates and walls of Bardum. They are led by Captain Gebek.
  • Walkers: This group patrol the streets of Bardum. They are the far most influential ones, since they come in contact with the core of the town, with its businesses and bribes. Captain Budak leads them.
  • Striders: This group guards the copper mines northwest of town, as well as all the transports in between the mines and the town. They are also the ones sent on missions outside the town walls, be it escorting wealthy visitors or chasing away raiding Sand Snake barbarians. The Strider division is the least enticing choice, which is why most new recruits end up there. They are led by Captain Shalûk.


Religion

Shanrom is the most common deity in the garden and artisan district. A large temple dedicated to the deity is located in the Gardens, where rich followers make up the assembly. However, its faithful have declined in recent years. Many now fall under the flag of the God-Lich and its following has grown considerably as all walks of men are drawn to the promise of life eternal. There is considerable tension between the two organizations but as yet no open conflict. Beyond these two more monolithic structures others still flourish. The cult of Glurak and Cnaghu are still believed, and quite likely to actually have, small followings. Hirziz worshippers are literally everywhere in the Wastes and Miners Lair districts, in many cases they're in charge of these places as well. The temple of Thilias still maintains a small though shrinking following in the artisan district; it's difficult for skill of trade to compete with the promise of immortality and thus an eternity to ply a trade and get better.


History

The Cataclysm destroyed the Kingdom of Kurash and shattered its people. One group of survivors settled down in the hills in northwest Kurash. Providing for themselves through hunting and gathering, they lived a simple life for half a century, when they by accident encountered a copper ore in 57 IV. The discovery was kept a secret, while they began mining and selling the metal. Eleven years later the miners had gained enough with wealth to found a settlement near the remnants of Kurash City, the ruined capital of the old kingdom. By now they had workers mining the metal for them, mercenaries guarding their wealth and construction workers building their settlement, that was given the name Bardum. The founding miners formed soon thereafter a council with the task of establishing laws through which the settlement could be governed.

As the settlement developed, so did its population. Rumours of a village destined to become a thriving city, not seen in Kurash since the Third Age, along with the opportunity to work in the mines quickly attracted people from around Kurash.

When thirteen years had passed since the founding, a radical change took place. Greed led Damûk, a member of the ruling council, to assassinate his fellow council members. The well-planned stunt earned him rule over the town and the surrounding mines. He titled himself "Emir".

Different Emirs have governed Bardum ever since. Some have been handed the throne through hereditary lines, most have lost their thrones through assassinations to aspiring rulers and the one thing common between them is that they have all been corrupt, dark hearted men.


Statistics

Population: 75000

Army: Emir's League - 2000 soldiers

Government form: Autocracy

Current Ruler: Emir Ad-Jusban ibn Dedûk, commonly called Emir Jusban

Demographics: 80% Kurashi, 20% various

Heraldic Colours: The heraldry of Bardum was created by the founding miners in 68 IV. It consists of; Red, representing the Kurashi blood spilt in defending the region. Yellow, representing the nearly ever-present sun. The heraldic symbol is a dagger infront of an eye, symbolising the watchfulness of the Kurashi people.

Natural Resources: Copper

Manufactured Goods: Bronze weapons, bronze armour, bronze-tools

Wealth: Average

Allies: None

Enemies: None

Religion: Various

Illegal Deities: None

Climate: Mediterranean


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