They say the lifts in Shadepoint never stop moving, because the mines never sleep. There is always stone to be had, always money to be dug - and always the spectre of a dark, lonely death, down there in the depths of the onyx mines.
Standing on the edge of a deep canyon, Shadepoint dominates the landscape for miles around. The land here is mostly moorland, able to support a small farming community that produces enough food to sustain the city. The Evermere river flows through the canyon hundreds of feet below the clifftops.
Shadepoint is supported mostly by trade. Its economy revolves around mining the extensive seams of ore inside the cliffs the city stands on. Thought the city has a small keep - a remnant of its origins as an old military outpost - there is no ruling lord or monarch here. The city is now ruled by a council comprised of prominent guilds and representatives of the mining companies that operate in the city. The keep is used as a jail to house those awaiting justice of the High Court, and as a training ground and barracks for the militia.
Most of the buildings in the city are constructed from the ore that is mined here. As a result the city seems particularly dark even on the brightest summer days. It is believed that this is where the name Shadepoint originiates.
Shadepoint is goverened by a council comprised of the heads of the city's trade guilds and representatives of the mining companies. The council has no official name beyond simply "The Ruling Council", but the people who sit on that council are known as "The Board".
Given the makeup of the Board, their interests tend to run more towards protecting their own investments and ensuring that industry and trade in the city continue to thrive. This often leads to businesses, in particular the mining companies and merchant guilds, being treated preferentially to the general populace.
A small but vocal subset of the population believe the government is exploitative and corrupt. Throughout the history of the city there have been attempts to unionize the work force in order to more effectively demand fair represenatation and safer working practices in the mines. These attempts have been consistently thwarted out, often violently. Those who stand in the opposition to the ruling council often refer to them as the Directors.
There a six seats on the council, all of which are currently filled. Retiring council members appoint their successor directly except for the Master Merchant who is elected. The six council seats are the following.
- The Master of Arms: Responsible for garrisoning and training the militia. Also serves as the city guard.
- The Treasurer: Responsible for overseeing the annual budget, raising and collecting taxes, and releasing funds for public works and projects.
- The Chief Justice: Responsible for overseeing matters of law and order, drafting legislation and managing the courts. Will also negotiate treaties and agreements between the neighboring cities.
- The Master Mage: Ensures that magic is used safely and responsibly within the city limits. This position is seen as ceremonial as the city does not house a large populace of magic users.
- The Speaker: Responsible for communications bettwen the council and the population at large.
- The Master Merchant: Representative of the merchant guilds and banks of Shadepoint. The person chosen for this seat is chosen by the heads of various guilds within the city and is expected to advocate for the needs of those businesses.
Guilds and Factions
Onyx Depths Mining Group
Onyx depths is the oldest mining operation in Shadepoint, founded by the first Lord of Shadepoint (a position which no longer exists) when it was discovered that the city sat atop hills made of ore. The huge elevators that give access to the mines are owned and operated by the Onyx Depths. The other companies pay for access to the elevators, as well as pay rent for the use of the original tunnels forming the entrance shafts to the mines. This allows the Onyx Depths to enjoy being the wealthiest mining company and thus the most powerful.
The smallest operation belong to the Tunnelworks Mining Company. The history of Tunnelworks is marked with disastrous cave-ins , and their upper mines have been abandoned for around a decade since their newly hired engineers and artificers warned that the continued expansion might results in bringing down the entire city.
Netherstone Excavations mine the deepest parts of the mines. They have the reputation as the company with the worst working conditions in the mines, and are known to enforce their rule through violence and fear. Working in the Netherstone mines is not something many people choose to do freely; those who do seek jobs here have usually exhausted all of their other options.
Guilds and Organizations
Raw Earth Trading Company
Raw Earth works with the mining companies and treasury, helping to negotiate trade deals with the neighboring cities, handling a large portion of the logistics of transporting ore. They keep premises on the Leather Walk District as well as maintaining a number of warehouses in the Chepstow District.
Guild of Scale Bearers
The Scale Bearers are one of Shadepoint's few regulatory bodies, ensuring that the merchants and traders operating in the city adhere to the same standards. The Scale Bearers are the only guild allowed to work directly with a member of the Council other than the Master Merchant.
All merchants and traders operating within Shadepoint must be licensed by the Scale Bearers, and licenses may be revoked at any time. This power to effectively build and destroy businesses has been wielded as a political hammer at several points in the history of the city.
The most well known area of Shadepoint is the Elevator Docks. The Docks are actually three enormous wooden elevator platforms suspended over the edge of the canyon, built by the Onyx Depths in the first days of their operation. These elevators provide the only access to the mines, lowering workers down the sheer face of the canyon to access the entry shafts in the canyon wall.
The area around the Docks is much like the dockyard in any port city, a constant hive of activity. The elevators are operational day and night, transporting workers, tools, and ore in and out of the mines.
There is usually a visible militia presence in the Docks. Laborers for rival mining companies are known to come to blows regularly, and the city's petty pickpockets often operate here once the commercial districts close for the day.