22 March 2002 - Friday
Character creation is still hard, so I'll leave it on the table and instead make up a city!
Scattered across the region are a number of "ward circles", circular walls of hard charcoal-grey stone, of unknown antiquity. Ward circles come in four1 sizes: a full league in diameter, 1/3 league (1000 yards), 1/9 league, and 1/27 league. The wall is 1/10 the circle's radius in height, 1/10 that thick, and not perfectly vertical, but slightly bowed outward at the midpoint: a slice from the equator of a sphere, rather than a simple cylinder. In the exact center of the circle is a "ward engine", a construction of the same stone in a complex shape like a three-dimensional glyph a yard or two in each direction.
1: One three-league circle is known, but it is broken or incomplete, uninhabited, and probably haunted.
What distinguishes a ward circle from any of the other bits of ancient cyclopean architecture littering Gea is the invisible barrier that blocks passage across the surface of the sphere defined by the outer face of the wall. Only someone with an implanted key can get through or take other people or objects through.
The largest ward circles almost always appear in isolation, and the smaller ones in pairs or trios at most, except for one grouping of three one-league circles and four 1/3-league ones and a few smaller ones, in which some enterprising Geans have built a city.
Living in a city based on ward circles makes keys rather important to the residents. The pertinent facts about keys are:
- Each key is specific to a circle, and no one can have more than two
- Getting a key requires access to the ward engine and a living person already keyed to that circle
- Someone with a key can, given time, let an unlimited number of people into or out of the circle
For obvious reasons, only persons of high standing or good repute are legitimately given keys to even one circle apiece, and stringent precautions are taken to prevent keys being obtained without official approval. This works every bit as well as one would expect.
It may be possible to break through the barrier or forge a key, but no one has admitted to or displayed such knowledge.
The three large circles contain rows of troughs filled with water and alchemical elixirs, in which grow five sorts of plants edible in almost every part and found nowhere else. Since the elixirs are not nearly as healthy for Geans as for plants, the farms are worked by convicts and slaves. Although cultivated at much less than their maximum yield, the three agricultural circles feed their nine thousand farmers and the fifty thousand citizens in the residential circles, and produce plenty of food for export as well.
Of the four 1/3-league residential circles, one contains two 1/9-leage circles, which are the citadels of the nobility and the civil service, and another seven 1/27-league circles, which are the temples of the major faiths/philosophies. Most of the temples are whitewashed or painted domes supported by the sphere of the wards, but the citadels have everything safely inside the wards.
The five 1/27-league circles scattered around the line of three and the clump of four are used as barracks/armories/forts.
The other ward circles, scattered as they are over the tall-grassed prairies, are used as forts, fortified villages, caravansaries, and the like. Most roads go from one ward circle to another, so that travellers can spend as many nights as possible safe from the gruagachs and other hazards of the wild. Because these safe refuges are available, patrols of the countryside are not as vigorous as they could be, which makes the refuges even more important, and so on. Travellers should consider themselves warned.
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