The sound of nautical bells, only drowned out by the voices of merchant's selling their wares, fills the air. Large fumes of incense and other burning herbs turn the streets misty. Their scent seems to be competing with freshed baked good hailing from all over Audarun. Vibrant cloths made by tribes in the Southern Desert liven up the neighborhood, dwarven gold shimmers in the sun and imperial contraptions draw the attention of curious children and rich merchants alike. This is Velamare, the city of dreams. - A Traveller's Guide to La Repubblica, A. Petrecci
Velamare is a diverse city, with many different races and cultures present. The majority of the population is human, with large dwarven and tiefling communities. The city is plagued by a huge gap between the common populace and the wealthy merchant class: almost all people work in service of these rich traders, most of them being sailors and dockworkers. Most small vendors do not reside in the city permamently: instead they go there a few times a year, coming from all over the known world. Despite the massive wealth of the city, most of the common folk remain poor, but to outsiders only visiting the harbour this isn't very visible.
The city is run by a doge, who has to be a member of a wealthy and renown merchant family and is voted in by the guilds. The laws of the city and the way the city is run highly depends on the doge and his family, but all of them have one thing in common: low taxation. Instead of collecting taxes for large building projects, a merchant family is appointed to them in exchange for a large tax cut, or even a tax break for several years. When it comes to laws and especially the degree of liberty, it highly depends on what doge is in power. The structure however has always been similar, with two kinds of laws and law enforcement existing. Merchant guilds all have their own part of the city, which they rule over. Every guild has it's own personal guard that helps enforcing this. A general city guard exists to enforce the city wide laws, that are issued by the doge. The doge laws always overwrite the guild laws, but this is rarely enforced because of the power the guilds have. Corruption is omnipresent in the government of the city.
Walls surround every guild's quarter, with some in better state than others. Guilds are responsible for keeping up their own part of the walls. This leads to several closed of sections inside the city. The city center, the doges palace is surrounded by an impressive wall with high towers defending it, paid for by the city. Velamare fields a relatively small military, but can call upon the personal guards of the doges in times of war. A large fleet of galleys is supposed to keep trade routes safe and prevent a naval attack on the cty
Trade is the lifeline of the city, without it, it would most likely starve. The city became rich because of it and despite some food being grown on the outside most of it is imported. The city mostly exports tropical lumber, fish and generally acts as a midway point for trading routes. It imports nearly everything else and trades even with settlements in the Southern desert and in other largely unexplored areas of the world, which it then sells to Meiteikoku, the empire. Some merchants abroad buy ships from the city, which provides a steady source of income. Aside from this, barely any manufacturing is done inside the city.
A maze of canals connects every important building in the city, while a network of small roads and bridges exists for the common folk. The most impressive infrastructure present is in the harbour, with large cranes aiding in the unloading of wares. The city also has impressive shipyards, where the galleys and trading vessels are constructed. In the harbour of the city, large statues of the deceased doges light the entrance, being a sign of wealth and power. The largest of those statues is the one that stands over the entrace, known as The Founder, a statue of Tempor himself.
Guilds and Factions
Guilds run by merchant families are largely in control of the city. They elect the doge and pay for most of the "public" projects. The entire city relies on them. The city is divided in guild quarters, areas that the different guilds rule over. Most of them are largely corrupt, not treating the people in their quarters well and not shying away from murder and other illegal activities to gain more influence. The largest most influential families are the Di Tempor (descendants of the founder of the city, Tempor), Oran (a family that used to champion the rights of the people, but became corrupt after the murder of it's first ever doge) and Di Conquista (a militaristic family).
Several villages communities in the area that is now known as Velamare proclaimed La Repubblica Velamare, the republic Velamare in 20 bA under the leadership of Tempor. Those communities became the first guilds as we know them today, each promised a large part in governing the republic in exchange for supporting Tempor in founding it. The city itself didn't really exist back them, but soon the villages began to grow and eventually merged into the great city that exists today. The most important event in the history of the city is the arrival, when the first traders traveled to the empire. This lead to a rapid growth of the villages, leading to the city coming into existence. This date is the start of the trading calendar, which has been adopted by most of Audarun as it's main way of tracking time. Especially in the early days of the city it was often under attack by Fukuza, a city state on the same island. It never got captured though and both cities continue to exist to date, with the occasional war between them but neither city able of conquering one another.
The melting pot of cultures is reflected in the architecture: homes are very diverse and are made from a multitude of different materials and painted in a variety of different colours. Each merchant family has it's own distinct architectural style, leading to public buildings being vastly different from one and other depending on who build them. Popular building materials include wood from the nearby tropical forest and for the richer people a blueish stone from the sea floor. Ornaments from gold and other precious metals are very common, yet each and every building is vastly different from another.
Velamare is located on an island in the estuary of the Vansae, with the shipyards being located on an island further out. The terrain is flat grassland.
A large tropical forest to the south provides lumber. Meanwhile, villages in the plains to the north provide a supply of grain and diary. The river Vansae is rich with fish, especially it's source lake. Special kinds fruits are also foraged in the forests as well as healing herbs.