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Kilvikasa—Discussion

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

  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    This is the thread for discussions about the Free City of Kilvikasa, which lies roughly at the center of the north coast of the Southern Continent between the two large states on either end. It's big, it's cosmopolitan, it's capitalism and corruption at their finest.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Kilvikasa - Just wondering, what's on the island between the Inner and Central Bay? It looks like the sort of place that should be built up and centrally owned, with a common market and plaza and poor-worker homes on the flatlands, two fortifications on the hills, and some sort of specialized harbor in the bay between them. Were there any thoughts or is there room to submit something on it?
     
  3. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    That's Aal Frum–Kaellpae has that, though I also recall that she was interested mostly only in one part of it, and has requested collaborators. (Can't remember which thread those requests appeared in… maybe the "rules" one. Check around.) Most of that island got badly damaged during the Cataclysm, if I remember correctly, so I'm not sure what its ability to support large-scale commerce is (or was), centrally positioned or not. Location isn't everything.… ;)

    Kilvikasa's hardly the only port in the archipelago, of course; it just happened to be the first one anybody put forward specifically as a commercial hub. That, plus it's an open city, under its own jurisdiction–a circumstance which often tempts people to go a bit out of their way to find a better deal.

    By the way, you had asked previously–not sure if it was rhetorical–if there was a place to put a new "race" on Emperor Island. The answer is, essentially, "yes," in terms of areas bordering the Plain, at least, and at least if you didn't plan on having them occupy too much space. (Even that's relative: a quick estimate of the area within ten miles of the semi-desert alone would provide around 26,000 square miles–though of course it's not likely any one culture would live in a narrow ring around an immense geographic feature–and I'm sure we can manage more depth than that.) If you had something specific in mind, let me know.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Do I smell a challenge? Have we not yet considered a tribal society which followed the flight migrations of a fat duck that flew south of the desert for winter and to the north for summer? But I think I'll pass. The question was rhetorical, alongside the red-wearing chef and the Byra village of Birtha and the crime syndicate of Indaeos.

    I might consider other options for adding to the city, but are there any other works in progress I should worry about conflicting with?
     
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Ah, sorry: in rereading what you wrote, I realized you were talking about the Kilvikasa map, not the archipelago one. (Not sure why I thought that.) So ignore the bit about Aal Frum. No, there isn't anything on that island, apart from a couple elevations (which probably account for it being there at all), and the bridges linking it. So, yeah, it's fair game: just keep in mind the scale. It's only a few hundred yards long; and considering the vast amount of anchorage elsewhere, I doubt anyone would bother putting docking facilities there. But they might, so long as they felt doing so justified the construction expenses. Small craft wharfs, if nothing else, as it would be easier to bring most things in by water than lugging them through the city, after they'd been unloaded from the merchantmen; I'd envisioned the place as being mostly a big chunk of rock in between the two bays, convenient to anchor bridges (probably not high enough sailed vessels can pass beneath–so bridging the bay also turned the Inner Bay into an area accessible only by the canals, though there's no reason the center spans can't be draws), but I'm not committed to that. The fortifications, certainly: I'd pretty much figured some ought to go there–keeps or something: not much space for a lot more. Private residences of merchant (or smuggler) lords, perhaps? A marketplace would be good–might even be the dominant feature of the limited area: it would be convenient to foot traffic from the more modern areas of the city.

    Of course, given how much Medieval towns packed into areas "only a few hundred yards" in one direction or another, I could see a good bit fitting in there. Especially if it tended toward the vertical. Look around for some hilltop towns (I keep seeing really nice ones in France whenever I watch the Tour), and see if they inspire anything.

    Sorry about the confusion. By all means, feel free to work on it.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Sure they would. If there's a marketplace, the people in control of the island might build private docking reserved only for their own ships to load and offload goods. Even space for just two ships at a time could help them keep a steady stream of ships, and would also explain why there might be packed poor-worker housing littered along the island. I'm picturing one of those scenes where people stand behind a fence that runs between the two outcroppings and point at people to unload the ships. Some of the houses would be in front of the fence, blocking the view from the marketplace. One of the fortifications would be close to a residence, the other some kind of a warehouse.

    I'm trying to decide between merchants, smugglers and mafia, and it's occurring to me that I don't recall reading anything about the level of shipping technology and the use of gunpowder. Is there a post on that? Also, are there slaves yet on the Archipelago? - I had just a thought or two if there are.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  7. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Hmm. I don't necessarily agree–again, I'd point to the vast amounts of already-existing docking area, with warehouse and other facilities readily available: it just seems to me that any large-scale shipping would find it more efficient to use this, and redistribute goods to local markets from there–but I have no strong feelings on the issue. It might also depend on what they're bringing in: considering the amount of food the city needs to import, and that the island is located at one of the two points where the two largest residential areas link up (the other being the bottom of the Inner Bay), I could probably see that, at least, might be just as efficient to deliver there as elsewhere. Even with a thriving market, they'd have to be able to move all the product they were bringing in, whatever it is; otherwise, they're just going to need to load it up again and send it to the transshipping warehouses elsewhere in the city… at which point it becomes just as efficient to send it there in the first place, and haul what they can sell to their market. Apart from that, I would think the only reason for someone to use the island as an offloading point would be if they held a monopoly in whatever was being brought in there–which is possible, though perhaps difficult to maintain in a city like this one.

    Again, however, I have no strong feelings on any of this: just thinking along the lines of how the overall economy would most plausibly function. If you have a good reason for them to be offloading product in an area otherwise inconvenient for large-scale shipping (or at any rate for transshipping), I'm okay with that.

    Allowing for a reason for this to be a preferred offloading point at all, the rest is fine.

    Gunpowder: I don't see a reference, though I'm fairly certain we'd rule against it–no one has tried to include it yet, and the general sense I get from discussing tech levels is that no one is interested in including it. (On the other hand, desertrunner wants to be mining a unique substance that "explodes"–which, personally, I don't care for–but which has not been presented as having specific methods of use. I think the verdict on that one is still largely out… on the other hand, no one's said anything about it in ages.) My personal opinion is that I don't like to include it, at least not in a practical weaponized form, as it changes too many things; that, however, is my opinion. Start a thread and ask, if you want a consensus.

    Shipping technology has been left up in the air, so the same applies. I think most people have been assuming a Medieval level–cogs, perhaps–though this is hardly necessary, let alone established. I'd be just as happy with galleys. Or even something less familiar, such as Oriental varieties. I'd say that some form of (relatively) deep-draft, sailed shipping has to exist… or else Kilvikasa wouldn't. :D

    Slaves: I personally avoid using these, but I'm not about to veto an institution as commonplace as that one was. I can't recall if anyone has mentioned using them or not, so at least some places might already; others might outlaw them. Kilvikasa, being largely lacking in strong laws (and the ability to enforce them), would at least permit their existence if people brought their own in–it certainly isn't going to go to the trouble of trying to emancipate them–though it might forbid trading them in the city. Which might mean nothing more than that any such trading is done surreptitiously. Or that the city looks the other way when it does happen.

    Of course, there are any number of other ways to have slaves in fact even if not in name. I could see a "market" in indentures, debtors, prisoner ransoms, and so on–not selling the person, but rather the person's contract (or whatever). In fact, I rather like the notion: a creative capitalist solution circumventing the issue in this most capitalist of cities. I'll see what I can punch up, and we can compare notes, if you find that appealing. (And, of course, not all the "contracts" being sold are necessarily valid ones–but who's checking the paperwork, eh?)

    By the way: you don't actually have to decide between merchants, smugglers and mafia.… ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  8. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    I believe we have an opportunity for interaction between Oberyth and Kilvikasa: You mentioned in this thread and in Kilvikasa's main thread that the people of Kilvikasa have to import their food, crops, etc. from lack of space for arable land. Now, naturally I don't mean agriculture to be Oberyth's only export (would be rather pointless right? hehe) but I feel the number of people leaving off what was traditionally subsidence would translate over the generations into quite a trade in crops (at the very least).

    Not much to discuss though I guess, aside from the method of transporting such goods to Kilvikasa, and beyond of course as indicated in my ramblings so far.

    Trading between Stornacott and Kilvikasa would be rather impractical... perhaps there's a less sizeable settlement closer to your borders through which most goods pass before being sent on? I'm currently working on the assumption that merchants would mainly use a caravan-type idea, depending entirely of course on distance between Oberythan market towns and Kilvikasa.

    One issue we might come across here is tranportation across arid terrain. I'll happily admit that I'm no expert on "food haulage" haha Anyway, I'm mainly just rambling here, as a way of trying to come up with a solid reason for there to be any kind of minor Oberythan presence.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Aren't we kind of splitting hairs here?

    I mean, in a city full of docks, what's one more? And as I said, if there's a marketplace on the island - with all that foot traffic between the bridges, how could here not be? - somebody might want to supply it directly, especially to keep from clogging traffic on the bridges. And while there is a lot of anchorage, most of it would be public so there would definitely be room for somebody to want a private dock space if just to avoid the docking fees, and where better than an easily defensible spot between two rock-top fortifications? And especially if they are smuggling something, which I suggested in the end, they would want to avoid publicly accessible spots, wouldn't they? And it's not like ships can only carry homogeneous cargo; I mean, certainly a ship - or a string of ships - can provide varied enough supplies for a marketplace? And would it really cost all that much to build and maintain a small harbor if we're only talking about medieval cogs and not fully rigged ships from the Age of Sail?

    And if that's still a problem, wouldn't it be easy enough for ships to pull in, offload the more valuable supplies, and then anchor elsewhere?

    It just doesn't seem like the sort of point that should really need to be justified so elaborately so early into a concept, and I think someone who hadn't done much research on the subject would kind of feel a little put off.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  10. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Like I said, I have no strong feelings on the issue.

    A lot of merchantmen would be carrying single-item cargoes, and did, throughout history–especially high-bulk ones such as grain, though hardly limited to that. (Alternately, consider trade "triangles": a single cargo on each leg. And the smaller the ship, the more likely it's variety is going to be limited. Though as I said, we haven't discussed ship types yet: could just as easily be galleons, barques, caravels, junks, or deep-draft catamarans, for all I know. Or none of the above. Given the importance to the archipelago of the answer, think I'll raise the question when I'm done with this.…) It's economy of scale: they bring in a whole mess of one thing from one point where they can buy cheaply in bulk, sell what they can to whatever other merchants want it, sell the balance to warehousers or transshippers, load up with a variety cargo to take back home. That's one of the points of a commercial hub. Certainly, not every merchant ship will arrive that way, and not every product is germane to the practice, but someone who can find a good source of, say, brass lamps, and can bring in a quarter ton of them (along with whatever else) where his competitor is bringing in a lone crate (along with whatever else), is going to end up putting a serious squeeze on that other guy… at least as far as the lamps are concerned.

    But there's no reason the people running this one market have to work that way… though they may occasionally find their prices undercut by people who do, even if it means their regular customers have to walk an extra mile to buy the goods. Perhaps their competitive advantage rests in carrying exactly what their customers need, so that there's no reason to shop around. Or perhaps there's some other reason they shop there: say, the dockworkers get paid in the local equivalent of company scrip… in which case, the merchants can gouge them as much as they like. (Though neither of these reasons would apply to outside traffic.) And, yes, if they are engaged in any form of illicit traffic, they'd want control over (and privacy in) their unloading. I don't actually know what the operating costs on a private pier would be like: I was more thinking of whether or not someone would build one in the first place, if he was surrounded by acceptable alternatives. Given a reason for the alternatives to not be "acceptable," the construction could be justified… and "unacceptable" could be merely in the eye of the beholder: maybe the person who first built it was a complete control freak. So, no, it isn't a problem.

    Two other things, in response to what you bring up: a ship unloading part of its cargo in one spot, and the rest elsewhere, might cause people to wonder why… at least if this weren't common practice elsewhere in the city, which it may be: a ship with mixed cargo is just as likely to offload part of it at one warehouse specializing in that product, and part at another; at which point the only "question" natives might raise would be what was getting offloaded at that point. Which can be answered easily enough with "what's being sold at that market." (Along with a few crates of "whatever we didn't want anybody to know we were bringing in.") And avoiding docking charges might itself be criminal in a city which probably derives a large portion of its income from just that. But that hasn't been established yet one way or another: there may not even be docking charges, if the city makes its money exclusively off tariffs… or the docks might all be private, and determine their own charges; neither of those cases would present a hindrance to what you're proposing.

    I push at ideas in order to get them to make as much sense as possible up front, to reduce the chances of things needing "fixing" at a later date, and to make sure you don't get surprised later by something I might have considered obvious. (I try not to assume anything is… which is why I sometimes provide more detail than the other person is looking for: you may already know everything I bring up–but there's no way for me to know you know until it's been discussed. ;) And I apologize in advance if sometimes I appear to be insulting your, or anyone's, intelligence: such is as far as can be imagined from my intent–indeed, I wouldn't be discussing details at all if I did not begin with the assumption of an intelligent interlocutor in the first place. Just wanted that to be said.) In this case, what I was trying to avoid was "surprising" you later with the notion that your exclusive market could easily see itself undercut, depending on exactly how everything else in the city worked. To which you've produced plausible responses. So we're good.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  11. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    I'd kind of figured that a great deal of the food Kilvikasa eats comes from its neighbors to either side–from the mere fact of shorter transport distances, if no other reason. And of course Oberyth is a major exporter. (Actually, food could be its only export: depends on what's available, what they can manage a competitive advantage in. No reason to ship something that someone else can produce locally at the same price, or in sufficient quantity. Or that Oberyth doesn't produce enough of to meet even its own needs.)

    Given the geography, I'd guess trade from Stornacott itself would probably go downriver–assuming the river is navigable–and then around by sea. Of course, there's no reason for the product to be coming from Stornacott: as a city, it probably brings food in itself, more than it sends out. There's an entire north coast there that could be shipping its goods out. For the most part, sea transport is more efficient than overland transport, so there would have to be at least some reason for this not to be happening, if it isn't… though reasons are easy enough to come by. One might be that Oberyth isn't much of a maritime power and shipping along the coast is constantly in danger from pirates, et al.; another might be that no matter how good Oberyth is at shipping, nearly all its ships are involved in sailing elsewhere in the archipelago, and since there's a land route to Kilvikasa, it gets used to reduce that burden. The most straightforward might be that there's simply no good place anywhere along the northern coast for anything larger than a four-man fishing boat to land, so that anything produced there has to go overland anyway. This last also automatically applies to anywhere away from the coast, where river transport is unavailable.

    Since the geography of the archipelago map is only vaguely defined, I'm sure we could justify any of a number of caravan routes, perhaps even several. The closer to the Plain they pass, the more likely they are to… uhm, be randomly assessed unposted tolls. (Yeah, that's it.…) I'd envisaged at least one land route, whether minor or major, coming through the "mountain" area in the north–which isn't necessarily all mountains, and which would help shield it from overly-enthusiastic itinerant toll collectors. There are two rivers feeding in from what's most likely your side of the continent: I hate automatically assuming the top of the map is "north," but it almost certainly isn't south in any event. I have no strong feelings on where they run beyond the edge of the city map (which is only around four miles wide); I did have in mind that the one closer to the top, at least, wasn't particularly well-suited to large-scale river traffic… and any that did use it would have to get out and portage before the walls were reached, as the river plunges into a cataract or fall right as it hits the city limits. But that doesn't exclude small craft from getting at least that far. The lower river is much larger, and I was figuring it might be navigable for some distance, perhaps quite a bit of one–which helps explain why someone thought it worth building canals to circumvent the rocks at its mouth, and why someone thought it worth building a fortress overlooking it as it came in. (Though given the nature of the terrain, this would also be where most overland routes would likely be arriving, so the fortress might be there for them instead.)

    I'd say that the Oberythan presence in Kilvikasa is far from "minor," at any rate: I'd go so far as to guess that they probably make up the single largest group in its populace. (They had to come from somewhere, after all.) Which doesn't mean they're a majority: in a city as cosmopolitan as that one, the largest single group might only be 15-20% of the whole. Or there may be fewer, if they aren't the type to leave home for the bright lights, gold paving-bricks, and all. I think we can justify "any" presence, at the very least.

    Nor I… apart from knowing that an arid environment will cause it to spoil more slowly; so that, at least, shouldn't be a problem. Shouldn't make it worse, at any rate, unless it's something that's destroyed by drying out. (Grain: good. Fresh lettuce: maybe not so much.)
     
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