City-State of Ristan Organization in Kelbonnar | World Anvil

City-State of Ristan

Located right on the north western tip of the continent of Euristan, the City-State of Ristan is an enormously wealthy nation which dominates the trading scene in the north and west of Kelbonnar’s Material Plane. So wealthy is the state and so elaborate and fine are the buildings of its eponymous city that both the city-state and the city is referred to as the Jewel of the Steppe. It is a solid bet that any goods which arrive from beyond the shores of any nation in north or west Kelbonnar have passed through Ristan and its prosperous harbour.


The city-state of Ristan is a democracy, with an assembly known as the State Council at its core. The State Council is the legislative and governmental power in Ristan, and it sets the city-state’s laws, oversees and manages its activities and dictates the nation’s foreign policy amongst other things.   The State Council is comprised of 100 members, 20 of which are elected from the top 50% of the population based on wealth; 20 from the bottom 50% based on wealth; 10 appointed by each of the four major guilds in the city: the Guild of Merchants, the Guild of Crafters, the Guild of Hauliers and Dockworkers and the Guild of Fishers; ten seats which are given to those termed ‘honoured citizens’, an honour, limited to 10 living beings at any one time given by the nation to its most distinguished citizens; five appointed by the body of mercenaries who are paid to guard the city and; five members, who are not citizens of Ristan, who are appointed directly by the State Council to give the nation’s most notable trading partners a say in what goes on within the state, to protect their investments.   The State Council meets virtually every day to conduct business, though many of its members only attend for important debates and votes, and members are appointed for 5 years at a time. There is no limit to the number of times that an individual can sit on the State Council, and many of them, especially from the richest demographic of Ristan’s citizens have been members for many decades.


Whilst not all of the city-state’s citizens are merchants a mercantile mindset has crept into everything that goes on in Ristan. There is very much a culture of each conversation and interaction being a negotiation and it is commonly expected that people will haggle with one another, even for things whose prices are supposed to be set, or regulated. Not haggling is one of the biggest indicators that someone is not a native of the Jewel of the Steppes and there are many who would look to take advantage of those who just accept prices they are given at face value.   However, the mercantile mindset also means that culturally the people of Ristan are much more open with those of any species or background that they come across, as after all, anyone may be a potential customer. This means that whilst there are fewer deeply rooted preconceptions of peoples and nations from beyond its city walls, the people of Ristan are more likely to be willing to strike deals or negotiate with entities who would prompt fear, disgust or abhorrence in others. For instance, merchants of Ristan have historically been more willing to trade with entities from the Hellish planes, and they openly deal with the Vampires of Ymeris.

Demography and Population

On the whole Ristan is a wealthy nation and the average personal wealth of many of its citizens is above average when viewed across Kelbonnar’s Material Plane as a whole. Many of those who would be regarded as middle-income in Ristan would be considered wealthy in other places and many of those whose wealth is viewed with envious eyes in other lands may scarcely be able to register amongst the top 1,000 wealthiest citizens of the Jewel of the Steppe.   Despite the overall higher percentage of well-off citizens, there is still a large amount of low-income inhabitants of the city-state. Most of these people work in the fishing or docking industries and many live close to destitution due to the higher prices of commodities in the city, grain and fish being the only exception.   Ristan is a mixed species nation and there is no real majority of one species over another represented within its population.


Ristan directly controls the area that represents the footprint on which the city is based. They do not claim any territory beyond their walls, unusually not even any farm land in the city’s hinterland. It’s status as a major trading centre, means that all of the population are employed in mercantile or maritime pursuits, and the city council is content that they get all of the food that they need from trade and fishing to not need to support or encourage any agricultural industry.


Originally, Ristan used to have a civilian defence force which was predicated upon community minded citizens volunteering to undergo limited military training and act as both a city-watch and militia. However, following the initial boom in trade that established Ristan as a trading hub and a subsequent rather protracted piracy problem in the early 900sDP the city council decided to abandon their citizen soldier policy and instead began hiring professional soldiers as mercenaries to protect them instead. The continued prosperity of the city-state has meant that this practice has continued to the present day and Ristan now has a standing mercenary army of around 500 troops on the payroll. To further sweeten the deal and ensure that the city attracts the best mercenaries, as well as paying very favourable wages, the city-state also pays to equip its mercenary force with the finest arms and armour, including Blackpowder Weaponry and has also paid to have 10 cannons installed in bastions around the city’s walls.


A nation built on trade, the city-state of Ristan’s population primarily worship Ipsidies, the Divine linked with wealth, prosperity and commerce. In recognition of this adherence by the population, a large temple to Ipsidies has been constructed on one of the city’s two hills, overlooking the harbour, the source of the city’s wealth. Before the temple, facing the waves of the Icefang Ocean is a monumental gold statue of Ipsidies their arms outstretched in welcome.   In addition, the coastal positioning of the city-state means that there is also a strong body of worship directed towards Polephemon, the Divine linked with the sea and storms. Most of those who worship Polephemon are the many fishermen and women, who rely on calm, kind seas to bring in decent catches and make ends meet.   The higher percentage of wealthier people in Ristan also means that there is a strong subsection of the populace who are adherents of the Divine Raminit, whose domain is excess and extravagance.

Foreign Relations

On the whole, Ristan maintains cordial relations with all of those that it comes into contact with, to grease the wheels of commerce if nothing else. It has an especially close tie to the Burg of Volhof to the south, through which almost all of the land based trade travelling north through the Wyrm Steppes passes and it maintains good relations with, the Five Holds to the north and the Empire of Turelion to the east with whom they do a lot of business. They are also close to the Hastellion Trading Company and its home city of Hastellion, far off to the south east, though the two city-states do regard one another as rivals and have had disputes in the past.     Unlike the Burg of Volhof to the south, however, the city-state of Ristan does maintain cordial relationships with the Vampire nation of Ymeris to its immediate east across the Black Water river. Indeed, they are one of the Midnight Court’s biggest trading partners and most of the ships that pass into and out of Blood Bay and Port Aima are owned by the merchants of Ristan.   Ristan tends to have little to do with the native inhabitants of the Wyrm Steppes, the Taxidi peoples. As the Taxidi only engage in trade for essentials and are not interested on the whole with luxury items the State Council has never seen a particular reason to engage with them.

Agriculture & Industry

As noted above, unusually, the city-state of Ristan does not carry out any large scale agricultural activity, with what little growing of food crops that takes place in the nation being restricted to the gardens of the many mansion houses which grace the city, for the local consumption of their occupants. Since it became a major trading power, Ristan’s city council has been confident enough that it could rely on trade to provide the vast majority of the city’s food, and have been pushing other agendas other than food production ever since. That is not to say that this policy is undertaken recklessly. Since the drop off in local food production, especially arable cereal farming, the city council established a large grain supply depot, which stores and sells grain at a subsidised rate for the consumption of its populace as well as maintaining and extensive emergency store of grain, which is said to be big enough to keep the city fed for over two years of continuous siege.   In addition, there is a large fishing fleet based in Ristan, which provides fresh fish and shellfish for sale in its markets every day. Indeed, the fishing industry is the second biggest employer in the city-state after the hauliers and dockworkers guild.


There is no state provided system of education in Ristan and citizens are required to see to their own or their children’s education themselves. However, as there is a much higher percentage of well-off people in Ristan than other places, those with money have little trouble finding someone to see to their education needs. There are many Masters and Mistresses of Education for hire in Ristan and there is even a privately established school.
Founding Date
Geopolitical, City-state
Alternative Names
Jewel of the Steppe
Government System
Democracy, Parliamentary
Economic System
Mixed economy
Like most places in Kelbonnar’s Material Plane, the Imperial Coinage of the Empire of Turelion is the most widely trusted and frequently used currency in circulation in the City-State of Ristan. As it is a large trading centre, however, it is easier than in more isolated settlements to be able to barter using trade goods or high value stores of wealth such as gemstones or other forms of precious metals. There are numerous money lenders and currency exchanges within the city who can convert Imperial Coinage into more portable forms of wealth and vice versa, for a fee.     In addition, as many of the city-state’s merchants conduct business with Ymeris, the Midnight Court’s currency of Blood Orbs are regularly to be found passing between hands in Ristan, though not in as large a quantity as Imperial Coinage.
Judicial Body
The elected members of the State Council also act as its judicial body, with 20 each year being selected at random to also act on judging panels for the year. Members of the State Council who have sat as judges are taken out of the pool, which means that theoretically all member of the Council should act as a judge within each 5 year election period.
Controlled Territories
Neighboring Nations

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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