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Thyatis Cityby James Ruhland
Overview of the City
Thyatis the City is located on the south east corner of the continent of Brun, at the mouth of the Mesonian River. It sits roughly at the midpoint of "Vanya's Girdle," the great sound that separates the peninsula of Hattias from the rest of Thyatis. The city's administrative district includes the surrounding lands (everything within approximately 8 miles of the city falls under the authority of the Eparch). The walled area of the city consists of a rough circle approximately four miles in diameter, plus a small quarter (known as Syclae) just across the river.
Thyatis the City stands not only at the geographic heart of Thyatis, but it is its cultural and governmental heart as well. The City is the greatest megalopolis not only in Thyatis, but in all of Mystara. With a population greater than all of Karameikos, and all indeed even of the continent of Bellissaria, the City by itself is an unmatched wonder. Some Alphatian cities rivalled once Thyatis the City in size, but none were its equal as a cosmopolitan metropolis. Where the cities of that Empire existed as centres of consumption for Alphatia's exclusive spellcasting aristocracy, Thyatis the City is a centre of industry and trade, the greatest market for all the peoples of the Known World. A large cove or bay (the Golden Harbour of Thyatis) sits at the centre of the city, and the Girdle is the most convenient passage for ships transiting between the southern coastline and the eastern coastlines of Brun, and beyond to the Isle of Dawn and elsewhere. Even the modest tariff levied on ships using this passage does not detract its use, and no merchant with an eye on profit can afford to pass the City without stopping to buy and sell its great emporiums. It was once said that two thirds of the Known World's wealth resides in Thyatis the City, with the rest being scattered outside it. While surely an exaggeration, one is sometimes tempted to believe it as true when you first see the City as you approach it from the sea, the gilded domes of its temples rising above the horizon, the many large marble palaces doting its hillsides, and its great colonnaded avenues teaming with a bustling, polyglot populace.
But trade is far from the only reason for the City's greatness, for it is also said that just as Thyatis surpasses all in wealth, it surpasses all in vice as well. It is the centre of the Imperial Government, the base for the Tagmatic Guard units, and the preferred home of most of Thyatis' dynastic houses. This insures that the city boils with intrigues of all sorts at all times. The schemes of organisations such as the Veiled Society, or even the machinations of Darokin's mercantile houses all seem petty and amateurish compared to the cabals that are hatched within the City. Only the plots of the Glantrian Princes can be said to truly rival those of Thyatis. And, as you approach the city from a distance, your eye catching on its numerous wonders, it is easy for the tenements of the poor to pass unnoticed in the haze that covers them. This haze lends the city a dream-like quality from a distance, but is formed of the smoke fires that cloud the slums, and the reeking odours of the city's industries (tanning, dye works, slaughterhouses, and the like).
But Thyatis the City is not a place where beauty hides only vices, for it is a place of virtue as well. In addition to being a centre of trade and government, it is the foremost centre of theology in all Mystara. Temples of all the virtuous Immortals can be found here, and the monastic communities of Thyatis are dedicated to the people's welfare. The Thyatian government is one of the few enlightened enough to support public charitable foundations, including orphanages, hospices, and a free dole of bread that insures a minimal diet to all, at public expense. While Thyatis still retains slavery, the current Emperor, the son of a slave himself, has taken steps to eliminate abuses, and sentiment for outlawing the practice is growing. In addition, unlike in places like Alphatia, where slaves have no legal protections, a set of laws codify the status of slaves, insuring they are not maltreated. In fact, most Thyatian slaves are arguably better off than the peasants and serfs of other nations. In fact, almost all Thyatian slaves serve household functions. The only exceptions are those consigned to the mines as a punishment for crimes. The institution of plantation slavery, common in Alphatia, is unknown in Thyatis, where free farmholds are the rule. The life of a slave remains a harsh and degraded existence, however, which should not be romanticised. But neither should one romanticise the social conditions that members of the Darokinian copper class, or the Alphatian servile class, live under.
Thyatis the City is divided into 14 districts (alternatively called regions or wards. The city-state mentality has great force in Thyatis, and citizenship within the Empire is deliberately confused with citizenship in the city itself. The Thyatian Imperial Senate is one of the governing bodies of the City, and its primary assembly. The Emperor reigns over the City, as he reigns over the Empire. The most important civic official, the Eparch, has authority not only within the City itself, but throughout the Empire as a whole, especially in regard to trade regulation. Despite the dominance of these Imperial institutions, the city itself has a thriving political culture. The Districts are combined into four Demes, which elect Demarchs responsible for various aspects of civic administration, including maintaining the city's militia defences. Each of the Districts has its own distinct character, which should not be surprising as they would be considered modest cities by themselves.
If at times it seems that Thyatis the City is a place of contradictions, then this is true: it is a city where great wealth exists beside poverty, and where vices of the most debauched kind exist behind the same walls that guard institutions of unmatched virtue. It is a city of public amenities and civic spirit, but also a city of individuals who pursue their own disparate goals. In other words, as diverse a place as can be found in all Mystara. And, if this seems incongruous to you, it should be remembered that within the great walls of the City more people live than reside in many nations