1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

City of Kilvikasa—Main

Discussion in 'Archipelago Archive' started by Ravana, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Three hundred and some years ago, Kilvikasa was a minor trading town upriver from the central northern coast of Emperor Island, notable mainly as being conveniently located near where the people of the central desert could be traded with… and little-enough noted even for that. Then one day Emperor Island lost a few thousand square miles of prime coastal real estate, and once the waves subsided the town found itself situated on a sheltered bay that provided one of the best harbors in the entire archipelago.

    Which may have been the reason for its rise to fortune; the rise itself took somewhat longer. For starters, it was a couple generations before anybody in the archipelago became seriously interested in (or even capable of) large-scale or long-distance trading; when they did, they naturally headed out for the places their grandparents used to go. Unfortunately, many of those were simply no longer there; others were still rebuilding; quite often, goods that were trade staples in earlier days weren't being made available for sale—assuming they were available at all—and generally weren't available in the same quantities in any event.

    Naturally, this led would-be merchants to seek new ports and new sources of supply. Kilvikasa wasn't much to crow about in terms of supply… but it was one hell of a port. Better still, it was centrally located. And best of all, it was a free city: nobody controlled it. (The denizens of the city prefer this to be stated as "we control ourselves," but visitors maintain that the first description is the more accurate.) This combination made it the ideal site for a central trading hub, which is exactly what it turned into. And it grew by leaps and bounds, as more and more people from all over the archipelago flocked to it, drawn by the lure of opportunity, of freedom (however the individual may have interpreted this: political, social, religious, etc.), of easy profit. Or of low taxes, of lax laws, of the largest black market in the known world… of easy profit.

    Needless to say, not everybody found what he was looking for: profit is never "easy" in a place where the competition is as rich, varied and determined as in Kilvikasa.

    But that too draws in its share of immigrants and visitors.…
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    City of Kilvikasa—Map

    This is the beginning of a map of the city of Kilvikasa. Since there's a (partial) key already on it, I'll skip most of what it covers, and cover the rest below.

    Kilvikasa map 4a.jpg

    What you're looking at: those nice blue lines it took me forever to trace over my pencil sketch are water boundaries. If they're straight, they're artificial: the city has developed an extensive canal network—not all of which is shown: only the ones navigable by ship are presented—as well as docking facilities and suchlike. If the lines aren't straight, they're coastline (at the top, and anything connecting to it) or rivers (coming in from right and bottom). Note that all of the water features represent boundaries, so two parallel lines are the sides of one canal, not two parallel canals. (Note also that the canals, and to a lesser extent the river coming in from the bottom, aren't strictly to scale: they're shown a bit wider, for clarity.) The two things projecting out into the bay and ending with small circles are moles, designed to protect arriving ships from the interference of river currents, as well as to divert the sediments those currents bear away from the anchorages. When in doubt, follow a line back to something you can identify as a land feature.

    Bridges are only shown where they cross natural water features. There are dozens more which cross the canals at various places, and hundreds that cross the smaller canals that aren't shown. Apart from fortifications, no buildings are represented on the map, nor are any streets—and I don't plan on doing much about this myself: instead, I'll fill in features as others suggest them. The only area I'm "reserving" is the "Palace District," for which I've already done some architectural drawings—and which may or may not still be the seat of whatever government the city has, about which there has been no discussion yet. (I'm thinking oligarchy, given its nature. The actual level of control it has may be little more than nominal.) Obviously, areas near docks should be dominated by warehouses, shipbuilding (or at least maintenance) facilities, and other commercially-oriented structures, with residential areas coming to dominate as distance increases. Even the "castles" don't have to look like the ones on the map—I just worked with the spaces I'd given myself—nor do the ones on the map have to be the only ones.

    The brownish caterpillar thingies are elevation markers, and only represent "up": actual elevations vary. For the most part, these are rocky, largely barren slopes, and particularly along the coast, they're fairly sharp rises. The smoother (actually dotted, though you probably can't tell) brown things off the coast are sandbars, which make getting into and out of the harbor something that requires some measure of skill, or at least knowing what landmarks to point your bow toward.

    "The Dragons" are a series of rocks that make it impossible to go directly upriver from the Central Bay, which was the primary motivation for the earliest canals.

    The labels for the city districts represent the stages of its growth. The Old City was the original Kilvikasa, prior to and in the decades following the Cataclysm; it took considerable time for even this area to outgrow its walls. When it did, it expanded into the "New" City—hardly "new" any more, but it's still called that; a couple walls were removed, gates were cut into a couple more (not shown), and new ones went up. About a hundred years ago, things really got rolling, and the city expanded to include the rest of the peninsula sheltering the bay ("Stage 3"); additional walls weren't added, as the bluffs constituted a more than adequate defense. This was rapidly outgrown, so a major planned expansion was undertaken (c. 60-20 years ago) on the far side of the Central Bay and its feeding river: "Stage 4." This time, defenses weren't added because there was no one to defend against: to the south was only the Plain, and the city had long since come into agreement with its inhabitants to be excluded from their raiding. Within the past generation, the city has begun expanding to the left of the bottom river, around the Inner Bay: "Stage 5," where expansion outward is still ongoing.

    The scale at the top of the map might make the city look small—unless you're familiar with pre-industrial cities: it is in fact roughly the same size as Constantinople, which had a population ranging around 300-500k throughout most of the post-Roman period. While I'm inclined to put Kilvikasa's population toward the lower end of this range, I have no strong feelings on the matter… and at any rate it will continue to grow. One dominant fact about life in Kilvikasa: the available cropland is nowhere near enough to support the population, so most of its food is imported.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  3. jhahilt

    jhahilt Dreamer

    Love your city, sounds like my type of town.
    Just out of curiosity, the largest black market in the world did you have a particular commodity in mind or does it refer to a wide ranging array of otherwise illegal,immoral or difficult to source consumables ?

    PS - Kilvikasa, if you lose the L you have a word meaning pile of rocks.

  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    It would hardly be "the largest black market in the known world" if it only traded in a particular commodity, now would it? ;)

    I swiped the name from a map in Blaeu's Grand Atlas, after inverting a couple vowels: the original was "Kilvakisa." It's on the Isle of Skye, which was in a general location I chose because it represented the correct convergence of language influences. (Even then it took me forever to find one I liked.) The modern name is Kilvaxter… which still isn't bad as far as names go, though it wasn't what I was looking for. It's on the west coast of the Trotternish Peninsula, about halfway up from Uig, if you're really interested.

    P.S. This should properly go in the "Discussion" thread—though I can understand why you might not have seen it. Not a problem, just mentioning it.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  5. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Government and Society

    For much of its history, Kilvikasa was a primitive monarchy whose king exercised near-total control over a stagnant society. After the Cataclysm, when Kilvikasa suddenly found itself possessed of a sizable harbor upon the new coastline, the influx of trade led to rapid growth — and rapid change. Soon it was apparent that the real power within the port lay in the hands of the merchants. It was not long before they usurped the power right from underneath their King in a coordinated effort to free themselves from tyranny. They then set about enforcing their own sort of tyranny.

    As Kilvikasa grew and grew, the newly minted merchant princes competed with each other in every conceivable way, and in many ways it was the chaos of their struggles that shaped the character of the city as the world knows it today. While there are a few powerful families that have held their wealth since the initial rise, many others have acquired and lost their wealth in the course of history. Multiple times in the past a single faction or individual has gained enough power to assume near-total control of the city. Such power inevitably crumbles, though, and the more typical state of affairs consists of many powerful merchants in loose control of various 'districts' within the city.

    Alliances between the wealthy families form and break often, and within this must tumultuous of cities there are few constants. There are, however, certain strong customs which prevent a descent into total anarchy, and protect the city from foreign hostilities. Foremost amongst these is the sacrosanct status of the contract. As a city whose entire well-being depends on commerce, the written agreement has attained nearly holy significance. Even the greatest merchants will not dare break any deal that has been placed into writing with due witnesses. The few who have stooped to such dastardly breaches of trust found themselves quickly ostracized and impoverished, or simply assassinated (it is an outgrowth of this that the first clause in any contract between powerful individuals is usually along the lines of “The signatories agree not to murder each other”).

    There are several running contracts that any faction which attains significant power is expected to become a signatory to. Foremost amongst these is the Militia Pact (the true title of which is much, much longer). In response to the hungry eyes with which many foreign powers were viewing the burgeoning wealth of Kilvikasa, the wealthiest powers united in unprecedented fashion and agreed to contribute together to the city's defense. Thus was born the Sovereigns (named in irony, and in the hope that the city would remain such by their hand). Funded by way of taxes levied on all commerce that moves through the city, these men are — despite the name of the Pact that created them — a professional standing army whose every thought in wartime is the defense of the city, and in peace are devoted to maintaining some small semblance of common law within the city.

    (will be expanded later)

Share This Page