City-State of Kazkmal
High up in the northern Dragons' Tears Mountains, the City-State of Kazkmal, despite its remoteness is well-known across Kelbonnar’s, as it the biggest miner and exporter of Blackpowder on the Material Plane. The highly explosive material produced in the city-state is shipped around the world for use in weapons, industry and as a curiosity and the industry has made a small sub-section of Kazkmal incredibly wealthy, but has doomed many others to a life of backbreaking poverty.
The City-State of Kazkmal is governed as a plutocracy, with only those who have amassed a fortune of over 500,000 Imperial Crowns or more being granted one seat per household upon the city-state’s Ruling Council. The Ruling Council has around 20 members, but as new members who meet the wealth criteria can be admitted at any time, and those who fall short for whatever reason can be ejected at any time, its numbers do periodically fluctuate. The Ruling Council debates, takes decisions on and creates all laws within the city-state, and they also oversee the running of the town of Kazkmal itself, along with its precious Blackpowder mines. Because of the predominance of the Blackpowder mines in Kazkmal’s economy, the majority of those that sit on the Ruling Council are linked to the mines, meaning that the town is always steered in the best interests of production rather than quality of life.
There are two rather disparate halves when it comes to assessing the culture of the City-State of Kazkmal, and this difference is very much down to the sharp demographic split of the town of Kazkmal itself. Above ground, where the smallest and wealthiest sub-section of the population live there is very much a culture of lavishness and decadence, driven by the need for each of the wealthy households who hold seats on its plutocratic Ruling Council to compete with one another in terms of extravagance. This extravagance is copied by the other households in the above ground section of the town, who though they do not have the capital to qualify them for a seat on the Ruling Council, nevertheless wish to emulate the lifestyle of those who do. Below ground, however, the story is very different. The poor, often near destitute community of miners who toil in the town’s Blackpowder mines have, by necessity a culture based on frugality, with money being spent as sparingly as possible and all resources preserved and stretched out as much as is physically possible. It is a rare thing for someone from the underground portion of Kazkmal to throw anything away, as almost anything can be repurposed if one puts ones mind to it, therefore saving an outlay of money for a purpose built solution to a problem.
The City-State of Kazkmal has never been a territorial power, so on the surface of Kelbonnar’s Material Plane it only exerts direct control over the footprint of the town of Kazkmal and the rest of the valley it is set in, extending several miles from the town itself. Underground, however is a different story, as Kazkmal claims ownership over tens of miles of tunnels stretching beneath the ground that are their currently operating and retired Blackpowder mines. Fortunately for the City-State, none of these tunnels encroach into the Upper Underdark at present, though several are close to doing so, which would expose Kazkmal to all kinds of complications to be found in the deep places of the world.
There is a substantial military force of over 500 professional soldiers at the disposal of the Ruling Council of the City-State of Kazkmal, but unusually for most geo-political entities, none of these troops are citizens of Kazkmal recruited into military service. As the city-state is a plutocracy, the founding Ruling Council did not deem it wise to raise a military force locally, as the troops would have family connections to the majority of the population, primarily the miners, that the Ruling Council wished to profit from and keep low at heel. Instead, Kazkmal has always maintained a standing agreement with the Bloody Wolves mercenary company, whereby they pay for a mercenary force to be stationed permanently in the city-state, the vast majority in the town of Kazkmal itself, where they do the bidding of the Ruling Council.
Like the culture of the city-state, its religious life is very much split down the middle. The spirit of excess and lavish luxury that pervades the society of the plutocrats above ground means that there is a strong following for the Cult of Raminit in the overground part of Kazkmal town. Beneath the ground, the miners and their families, representing the majority of the city-state’s population worship both Gallena, the goddess of the preservation of life and Athotan, the god of the unfortunate and also orphans in equal measure, though of course some people favour one more than the other.
It’s primary industry means that Kazkmal is well connected to the outside world at least as a name that people in far flung places might recognise, but as so much of their Blackpowder is traded and transported by other people, the number of geopolitical entities with which the city-state has regular relations is far fewer. Historically, the city-state has always maintained close connections with the Empire of Turelion, primarily because the Empire and its Provinces are some of the biggest buyers of Blackpowder in the whole of Kelbonnar and also because the main road way connecting Kazkmal to the outside world, the Dragon Way directly connects to the city of Angtarrion, the second city of Ferio Province. Kazkmal still maintains cordial relations with the Empire, but of late their influence on the city-state has lessened. This is primarily because the nation of Ymeris on the other side of the Dragons' Tears Mountains has undertaken extensive efforts to improve relations with Kazkmal, with the Vampires of the Desolation of Hissh said to have employed lavish amounts of monetary bribes and promises of other powers to get the Ruling Council on side. Such is Ymeris’ influence over the Ruling Council now that it has been said that the City-State of Kazkmal is now little more than a client state of the Midnight Court, who enact instructions received from the north and take accept the gifts they are offered without question. The other geo-political body that looms large in the external politics of the City-State of Kazkmal is Thaleros, the Woodelven kingdom of the Wyld Woods to the south. Kazkmal and Thaleros have always had a cold relationship at best, which has frequently broken out into diplomatic and military spats, with Thaleros fearing that Kazkmal will one day try to exert their influence south, and perhaps try to carve a more direct trade route to the Empire of Turelion directly through their forests and with the Ruling Council of Kazkmal, forever fearful that Thaleros may one day undertake a concerted effort to cut them off from the outside world.
Agriculture & Industry
The industry on which the City-State of Kazkmal depends for its existence, is the excavation and refinement of Blackpowder from the extensive mine network beneath the Dragons' Tears Mountains. It is this industry which employs the vast majority of the city-state’s populace, has made a small proportion of its population extremely wealthy and is the foundation on which the nation’s plutocratic system of government is based. In addition, a small amount of agricultural activity does take place in the surrounding mountains that Kazkmal exerts control over, though this is predominantly linked to the herding of sheep and goats as the local climate and geography are not suited to the large scale growing of crops. Most of the City-State’s foodstuffs are imported.
A number of privately hired masters and mistresses of education live in the above ground portion of Kazkmal town, to tend to the educational needs of the town’s elite. Other than this, there is no widely accessible system of education and the majority of the population is poorly educated beyond the practical knowledge they need to carry out their duties in the Blackpowder mines.
The Powder Mine
The Ruling Council of Kazkmal appoints 5 judges from amongst its number to hold court over the kind of smaller offences such as theft etc., which are the most commonly occurring in the community. More serious crimes are judged by the entire Ruling Council, though it is rare indeed for a Ruling Council Court to be convened.