Orris

The First 500 Years - From camp to colony to free city

The port of Orris was founded in the year 858 1 when a seasonal encampment became a permanent settlement. In the early years it flourished as a fishing and shipbuilding centre but as the best trees were thinned out the ship building moved further east and the town began to focus more on trade. Its position on the southern tip of the Little Kingdoms makes it a natural trade centre for the surrounding lands and it has a place on the intercontinental trade networks.
(c) Orris Board of Trade
 

Demographics

The population are predominantly Mor, reflecting the town’s origin, though when compared to their cousins it is clear that there is a streak of Taru in their ancestry reflecting interbreeding in the early years of the settlement. Other races from elsewhere in Tarusia and further abroad are represented in the trading and mercantile classes and areas of the town reflecting its long history as centre of trade for the surrounding areas.
You'll find all sorts of folk here, but mostly we all stick to our own. Mixing for business is fine - we're all here for business, but personal gets tricky. Each to their own way and don't force on others - it works for us... mostly.
— Sulivar Ur Ballu, Sutran merchant, Orris resident for 20 years.

Government

In its days as a part of the Empire, Orris had a council comprising the heads (or nominees) of the main guilds, representatives of the “granted” districts, and movers and shakers who could influence their way onto the council through wealth or usefulness. This was nominally chaired by the Emperor’s representative (often absent except for the oath taking period each winter). Following the Empire’s collapse this council is now lead by a triumvirate who serve overlapping 3 year terms with the senior of these taking a first among equals role.

Defences

Initially the settlement was defended by a pallisade but as the town grew, it expanded beyond that and it’s line now forms one of the main roads. With no immediate threat and hopes of expansion the landward side is only defended with bank and ditch. From 1136 there has been a boom across the inner harbour but it has had little use and if called for now many doubt that it would be functional.

Industry and Trade

In its early years boat and ship building predominated, though these trades have now left for areas where the timber supply is closer. Fishing remains a major food source but the wider economy and prosperity of Orris is now delivered by trade with the town acting as a major “wholesale” market for marine merchants of the surrounding lands. This position was secured when the Merchant Mages of Naros set up their first branch outside the Sea of Strange Lands here.

Guilds and Factions

Orris has several craft based guilds as well as a merchant's guild. These guilds each maintain a guild hall and defend their members rights within the bounds of Orris. Several of them attempt to extend their monopoly rights to the areas around Orris with varying degrees of success. The town also has a number of discrete ethnic and national groups which (in general and for most of the time) follow a "live and let live" philosophy.

Architecture

The older buildings are of wooden construction, typically with a steeply pitched roof overhanging the walls by a significant amount. Thus neighbouring buildings, even where the roofs touch will often have an alley way between them. The oldest buildings, or those with aspirations to antiquity, have stone footings perhaps to knee height before the wooden construction. All-stone buildings are rare unless their use involves significant fire risk.
Development of Orris and its surroundings
Orris Region
Change layers to move in time
Flag, Orris
Flag of Orris by Ed Andrew
Flag or the Port of Orris
by Ed Andrew
Inhabitant Demonym
Herring Eaters - from the major part that this fish played in the inhabitants’ diets.

Natural Resources


The once mighty forests were largely felled in the area surrounding Orris in the first few centuries of it's existence. Following the migration of the shipbuilding industry to the east in the town's third century there has been some reforestation but the land is now cultivated. The seas around Orris remain a rich source of fish though this is now less widely eaten than it once was following overfishing of the Taruvian Herring.

History and Development

 
In the rein of Emperor Hulivar the Short, fishermen from the northern provinces of Morrin and Murragh followed the annual migrations of fish and whales further than their forefathers had and discovered the land now known as Tarusia. Those from Murragh explored along the north coast; those from Morrin worked their way south finding thick forests of straight growing trees well suited to shipbuilding. A settlement formed at the southern tip where the trees were especially good, the fish plentiful and the natives friendly. This was the port of Orris.
  Initially it was a seasonal settlement, occupied from early spring to late autumn for the Emperor insisted that all the empire's citizens paid their taxes and took their oaths of allegiance at midwinter, and this limited the growth of the settlement. But within a few years it was clear even to the Emperor that the value to the empire of the ships that could be produced there was such that the town should be a permanent one and the tax collectors and oath takers go to it rather than follow the normal practice. The first Oath Taking at Orris was in the Empire Year 858.

What has the empire ever done for us? █████ all! If they want an oath I'll █████ well give 'em one!
— "Mild" Arrick, keel hauler, Oggin's Yard
The following years saw the currently most out of favour of the emperor's family sent across the seas in early winter to receive the oaths and taxes and return in the spring. The winter sea crossings were not pleasant and the missed festivities at court could not be matched by the uncouth settlement surrounded by enormous trees, so it is no surprise that the colony had a cool relationship with the governing class of the empire.
As the town became established as a permanent settlement and families moved in the local native Taru population began to suffer the effects of some of the childhood diseases endemic in the Empire; most notably the Sweats. This fever spread rapidly through them for they had been on good terms with the ship builders and it is believed that most of the Taru in the areas that later became the Little Kingdoms died as a result of this. By 910 contact between the settlers and the Taru had virtually ceased as they sought to avoid the effects of the disease. At a few centuries remove it is difficult to know what happened but there are few people left with strong Taruvian traits and stories from the settlement of the Little Kingdoms do not speak of significant conflict with the Taru. Whether because they dodged the settlers, had moved elsewhere or simply been exterminated is an unknown.

Orris grew and prospered, though fire was a significant problem for a settlement where wood was such a major building material and there have been several major fires that substantially remodelled the city over the years. The fire of 965 resulted in laws around the use of brick or stone to build workshops where fires were used but this was not well enforced and in any case did not address domestic use of fire.

In the mean time the expansion of the Ara'koi resulted in the power of the empire declining and in 993 the Prince Dorimbar, the Emperor’s current representative decided not to return but bought into the town, founding the trading house of Dorim which has since been one of the leading trading houses through their acuity and good deals rather than any reliance on their history. At this point Orris became, in effect, a free city and (had it had a king) the first of the Little Kingdoms.
The ship building industry's demands for timber had cleared large areas of land around Orris which became a prime area for settlement and agriculture with the migrations from Morrin (a further consequence of the expansion of the Ara'koi and the collapse of the Empire). For proximity to the best timber, the shipbuilders started to move eastwards along the coast, with Newick being established in 947 and rapidly increasing its share of this business. For Orris as a whole this was not a significant problem as by this time it was becoming a significant hub for trade in the surrounding regions and the centre of the settlement moved along the coast to the well protected bay that allowed even the largest of vessels to unload at the quayside rather than having to be beached on the foreshore. The last major shipyard closed in 1184 though coastal fishing boats have continued to be built and maintained at Old Orris.
  The year 1237 saw the largest fire yet, and indeed none since have rivalled it, which razed most of the old riverside district and resulted in further regulations around use of brick and stone, extending the requirement to all domestic hearths and chimneys and increasing the penalties for non compliance. Alas, many of the town's people were attached to the traditional wooden construction and even a century later many of the older houses and even some new ones have not adopted the safer standard preferring to use a little bribery as necessary.
Every cloud 'as a silvery lining - all that wood ash makes this a right fertile bit o' land.
— Ortun the Cobbler, South Bank
As the town's half millennium approached there were several discrete communities of merchants from surrounding lands sealing Orris's position (for the time being) a major trading hub and place of exchange.
  1 Orris continues to use dates from the Morivan Empire system.

Empire Years

  • 823


    Tarusia discovered by Morrin Mariners
    Discovery, Exploration

    Additional timelines
  • 853


    Seasonal Camp Established

    A seasonal camp is established on the site that would become Orris

  • 858


    First Oath Taking
    Founding

    Considered to be the foundation date for the town of Orris, the Empire having relented and allowed the settlement to be worked year round to improve timber supplies.

    Additional timelines
  • 947


    Start of the decline of shipbuilding

    Deforestation in the areas around Orris prompts the foundation of Newick, as more convenient to the source of timber.

  • 961


    Ara'koi start expansion into the Marivar Empire
    Population Migration / Travel

    Additional timelines
  • 965


    The Great Fire
    Disaster / Destruction

    Laying waste to fully half of the South Bank

  • 993


    Orris becomes independent of the Empire
    Political event

    The empire's continued weakening prompts Prince Dorimbar to declare Orris independent. He then sets himself up as a merchant founding the Dorim trading house.

  • 1136


    Boom completed to defend the harbour
    Construction beginning/end

  • 1184


    End of shipbuilding in Orris

    Last shipyard closes. Small scale boat building for fishing boats continues.

  • 1237


    The Second Great Fire
    Disaster / Destruction

    Another major fire ravages large parts of the South Bank.

Comments

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27 Apr, 2019 20:15

I really appreciate the formatting. Great use of the full footer.   The article itself is a bit on the dry side and reads a bit like a Wikipedia article.   This sentence:   The following years saw the currently most out of favour of the emperor's family sent across the seas in early winter to receive the oaths and taxes and return in the spring.   makes no sense to me. I'm not sure if it's an unfinished thought or if you changed something in the sentence and missed that two sentences got blended. Either way, I can't figure out what you're trying to say.   I would like to see more "life" to the article. What is the day to day life of a citizen in the city? Are there any particularly popular taverns or merchants?   See if you can break out of the Wikipedia-styled information dump and breathe some life into it.   It's a great start and you have done a lot of great world-building here, just see if you can't make a bit more enticing for an outsider to read.

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
27 Apr, 2019 20:29

Thanks for that. The sentence was meant to show that being sent to take Oaths at Orris was a punishment. I'll make that clearer. I love the idea of an random person's daily impression and I'll give that a bit of thought.

27 Apr, 2019 20:36

Glad to help! Don't take my lukewarm response as meaning the article is bad. It's not. It's just that I'm not personally that keen on fantasy at present, which makes it hard to impress or entice me with fantasy media. But I try to do my best to deliver an honest comment on what I felt while reading the article. Usually that's the best way to tell a writer how the reader felt, rather than offering "This was great!" That doesn't really help anyone improve. ;)

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.