|The Grand Duchy of Alkenstar|
|Ruler||Grand Duchess Trietta Ricia|
The city-state of Alkenstar (pronounced AL-ken-star) has gained an unexpected level of power despite its tiny size, through the invention of firearms, a necessity for survival in the harsh, magic-dead region known as the Mana Wastes. Beyond just firearms and weaponry, the engineers and alchemists of Alkenstar have crafted and perfected technology to a level far surpassing any other region in the Inner Sea, capitalizing on the rich mineral deposits and the need for something to replace the usually omnipresent conveniences of magic.
The Grand Duchy of Alkenstar is technically a vassal of the nation of Nex to the north of the Mana Wastes and Grand Duchess Trietta Ricia should, by the letter of the law, report to the rulers of that land. In practice, however, Alkenstar remains a fairly independent city-state and a force of neutrality between the rival nations of Nex and Geb. The small nation is governed by a High Parliament consisting of 73 ministers representing the various factions in the three settlements and small rural sections of the city-state's realm.
The city-state of Alkenstar is located on the banks of the Ustradi River where it plunges over the Hellfallen Cliffs in the Alken Falls. Amid the magic-dead region known as the Mana Wastes, Alkenstar is perfectly suited to act as a neutral intermediary between its neighbors of Nex and Geb to the north and south respectively.
The nation itself occupies a low valley amidst the barren Shattered Range and consists of three settlements which are often considered districts of the same large city. The primary of these is Alkenstar City, located on the edge of the cliffs and containing most of Alkenstar's population. At the foot of the cliffs lies the town of Martel, which connects to the main city via two immense towers which climb over the seven hundred feet to connect with buildings in Alkenstar City through skybridges. Linked via the cyclopean sky-bound Bridge of the Gods, the dwarven Sky Citadel of Dongun Hold produces much of the city's mineral resources, used locally in manufacturing or trading abroad. At the other end of the great bridge, on the other side of the canyon, one finds Cloudreaver Keep, which guards the city's eastern border.
Alkenstar began as a refuge for residents of Nex and Geb, fleeing the centuries-long war that devastated both nations. In the relative safety of the Shattered Range, they developed, primarily out of necessity, incredibly advanced technology. The rate of progress can be seen by examining the two oldest structures in the city-state, Old and New Bridge, separated by only a few centuries but noticeably different in terms of architecture and technological achievement. The city's Gunworks were founded in 1903 AR and since then the city's renown has only increased. To the current day, nations throughout the Inner Sea region contract the engineers and metallurgists of Alkenstar to craft weapons for them, such as the Taldan bombard Worldbreaker of 2009 AR and their own Great Maw of Rovagug of 4450.
The Grand Duchy has a primarily human population, with most inhabitants belonging to the Keleshite or Garundi ethnic groups. The nation's proximity to (and encompassing of) the dwarven settlement of Dongon Hold brings a relatively large dwarf population into the mix, though most of these inhabitants reside exclusively in the Sky Citadel itself. Aside from the dwarven spoken in Dongun Hold, most citizens speak either Osiriani, Kelish or both. Commonly worshiped deities include Torag, Erastil, Abadar, and Irori.
Alkenstar is one of the only places in the world where firearms are manufactured and their understanding of this situation has allowed the city-state to control the supply of these weapons, keeping the price high and their coffers full. In fact, a full ninety percent of all firearms, both personal weapons and artillery manufactured in the Gunworks are kept within Alkenstar itself, both for protection and to maintain product scarcity throughout the rest of the world. In addition to exporting firearms, Alkenstar profits greatly on the commodity of its citizens' expertise in the fields of engineering, alchemy, and metallurgy, sending masters on lucrative contract jobs across the Inner Sea region and beyond. The mineral-rich mountains in which the Grand Duchy sits provide raw materials for export as well, such as the quartz crystals shipped through Nex to Vudra far to the east. The nation's banks, housed in the town of Martel, are known for their shrewd fiscal practices and are little trusted outside of Alkenstar itself.
As wealthy as Alkenstar may be from its manufacturing and engineering exports, the desolation of the Mana Wastes has left arable land quite scarce in the region. As a result, the city-state imports most of its food from its southern neighbor of Geb, often trading one of the few potable goods produced locally, a potent ice wine.
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 246. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 58. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 58-59. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 201, 203. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
|Nations of Garund|