The Free Cities are a collection of independent city-states, situated outside nation borders. Each of these individual city-states operates differently from the rest, and all have their own preferred currency or trade styles, as well as their own linguistic leans. Due to each Free City using a different type of currency, they tend to accept more or less any currency at all, and will also barter-trade, and exchange goods and services for other goods and services.
The difference between a small nation, and a Free City, is the Free Cities all meet these criteria:
- Slavery is illegal within all of them, and when caught, slavers are often dearly punished, if not executed, or sold into slavery themselves. Slavers run a huge risk hunting for new slaves in the Free Cities.
- No Free City has laws against polyamory, polygamy, or homosexual relations and marriages. All marriage is seen as the same thing, albeit due to the presence of different religious orders within each City, one or two sects may refuse to sanctify one kind of marriage-but legally, it is still recognized.
- Finally, no Free City has a gender lean. All genders are equal, and there are enforced legal protections against sexual discrimination. Transgenderism is also a concept the Free Cities understand and are tolerant of, but not all Cities have the resources for sex changes.
As the game progresses and evolves over time, we do expect that more nations and Free Cities will rise and fall throughout. We may not outright condone simply adding a new Free City to the map, but through in-character effort and "playing one's cards right," the game can certainly be influenced into gaining another, or losing one.
The most separate of the Free Cities, Durya is situated on an island to the southwest of Azaleon, called Amharan Island. As expected of a Free City built on an island, Durya is heavily sea-dependent, and have a very lucrative fishing and ship-building industry. Amharan Island itself is hope to several miles of farmland, some of which is owned and operated by Durya's citizens, others owned by nobility in Dalmasca or Jihon. Amharan Island is off the coast on the other side of the mountains surrounding Saqqara, but has easy access to the coast of Dalmasca.
Amharan Island is a subtropical region, with temperatures rarely ever dropping below 60° F, and while temperatures do not generally rise above 95° F, it may feel hotter due to the high humidity. Duryan names tend toward Hindi in sound, currency is called the sleofa, a gold, copper, and bronze coin, vaguely in the shape of a gear, with a hole in the middle that the coins can be strung together. Durya is in theory a democracy, but in effect, more of a technocracy, and has no single organized religion.
Just outside Dalmasca, at the foot of the Ivory Mountains, is Haradi. Due to their close proximity to a slave-holding country, Haradi is both home to several hundred former slaves, either intentionally or not, and one of the more defended Free Cities in the bunch. Haradi tends to get along with Macenians, often trading with them, as well are known to be allies with Saqqara, but relations with Dalmasca and Jihon are long since strained. The Ivory Mountains are, of course, somewhat cold. Much of the warmer air currents come from the southwest, and the mountain range blocks them from reaching Haradi. It remains not a frigid, inhospitable region by virtue of the warm air from Macenia. In winter, temperatures can drop below 10 F, and heavy snowfall is common, and the region often sees thorough freeze. The majority of the snowfall comes in late Morsugur to mid Thorri, and it generally warms by early Goi. In summer, the humidity index rises quite a bit, and temperatures around 80-90 F are normal. Rainfall is typical from Einmanudur to Solmanudur.
Haradian names tend toward Hebrew. Haradi also mints its own coin, though they are not metal, and instead take the form of varying quality levels of gemstone chip. These are the koruna, and come in a spectrum of blues, from a paler and more greenish tint, to a dark and deep blue, least valuable to most. Due to the chips being made of haranite, which most nations and other Cities covet for jewelry and decor, korunas are always accepted elsewhere. Haradi is one of the two Free City monarchies, and was founded and has been ruled ever since by House Assad. The current King of Haradi is Sidonai Assad; his eldest Ryhil currently stands to take the throne after him, but Ryhil does not want it and searches for his missing younger brother, Tihaan, that he may take the throne instead. Haradi has no single organized religion, but it is home to a few that haven't reached the nations.
Far removed from the established nations, and most other Free Cities, Highwind is a Free City often on its own. Some call it a democratic republic, but Highwind is more of just a republic, and smaller in general population size than other Cities, as a direct result of its more recent establishment, only a few hundred years ago. With close proximity to Galace, however, it has a decent ilim population, and the City often trades with Galace. Highwindians' familiarity with Galace and the ilim's magic tends to make them more tolerant of magi than normal for humes, if not sympathetic to their plight. Highwind is nestled in a valley between the forests of Anfail and the northern mountains, and like their Galacese neighbors, Highwind sees cooler temperatures than the southern reaches. Rarely does the temperature rise above 78 F, even at the height of summer, but, trapped between two different air currents, Highwind doesn't see much temperature variation anyway. The lowest recorded temperature, in winter, was 35 F, thus Highwind rarely sees snow, and when they do, it doesn't last long; deep freezes are not typical, either.
The Highwindians mint three coins, a small gold, a slightly larger silver, and a large bronze. The currency is called the birr, but despite this, the Highwindians don't tend to depend heavily on these coins, and generally only use them for travelers that would rather have coin. Among one another, and with the other Cities and Galace, Highwind calls back on the barter-trade systems. Highwind is a republic, as stated; thus they are ruled by elected leaders, and these leaders serve in the role they were elected to for a certain number of years, and then, in groups over the course of a few months, are replaced. Leaders cannot be elected twice in a row, and must wait until at least the second election after the one they won to run again. Highwind, as all Free Cities, has no single organized religion.
The other monarchy amongst the Free Cities, albeit some argue that Saqqara is not a monarchy, more of a democracy with a head of state, Saqqara lies in the cool desert valley of Nashret, between the Ajet Mountains to the northeast, and the Al Hajar Mountains to the southwest. Established and run for the last three thousand years, nearly, by the same person, Saqqara operates on a very different level than most other locales, more akin to a very large house than a city. Saqqara is also the only remaining bastion of the were race; over 80% of its population is were. When one thinks of desert, one thinks hot, and the Kharga desert can reach very high temperatures, but it is in fact a cold desert. Its climate swings wildly between one extreme and another. The two high altitude mountain ranges on either side of the City block humid, warm air currents from Amharan Island, and the cooler currents from Galace. Storm clouds break up once they reach the mountain ranges, and very little rainfall is seen in the valley. Winter storms in the mountains can blow snow into the valley, causing snowfall. About six inches of rain falls each year in the valley, but the snow in winter can push excess moisture down the mountainside, and floods have occurred on occasion due to snow-melt run-off. Overall, the Kharga desert is extremely dry, and the temperature range wide, and wild, seeing a change of as much as 50 F, not only seasonally, but within a day. In summer, highs up to 113 F are not unheard of, and sandstorms common.
Saqqaran name patterns tend toward African and Arabic. Several older Saqqarans are named in ancient Egypt. The City runs primarily on barter-trade, within its own borders, but in other cities and nations, as well as foreign merchants, they do have coin. All of Saqqara's coins, the currency called the abazi, are gold, but how much gold is in each coin determines its worth, and each has a different shape, size, and weight. The differing mint designs, and colored bands around the edge, make them even easier to tell apart. Saqqara was established and has been ruled ever since by House Lucain, even the same were that rules both the city and the house to this day, Sahura Lucain.