The Heroes of Travia
The Imperial Dwarven Empire
Ral Ilrom, referred to as the Imperial Dwarven Empire or the Silver Empire in common, has existed on Travia for over a thousand years. Two major cities fall within the borders of the Empire, the capital city of Stâkudlashëd (common name Stakland) and the fortress of Libashziril (common name Axefire). The city of Steel Forges, formerly known as Zuntîrthalal, revolted and formed it’s own nation. The Imperial lands are encompassed by a massive stone wall and highway Oraminod Sarámadil Thur (common name Worldgate).
Most of the Imperial lands fall within the boundaries of Travia’s lower mountain range. The climate is temperate, with cold winters and warm summers.
Stakland is the center of the Empire, the home of the emperor, and the economic hub of the nation. It is a prosperous city of roughly 840,000. The actual population varies throughout the day according to the influx of merchants, travelers, and tourists.
Approaching from the south, one first notices the terraced fruit orchards and fields of grain, interrupted only by the occasional farming village. Off in the distance the great stone towers guarding the four gates of the city can be seen, their silver and aluminum plated peaks shimmering in the afternoon sun. As you crest the last hill a deep ravine appears before you, a large causeway stretching across to the southern gate of the town. You catch glimpses of the bustling city center through the open city gate as you cross the causeway. Snipers on the first and second tiers of the city walls watch you warily as you cross the threshold into Stakland proper.
Stakland is composed of four districts. The Imperial District lies in western part of the town, and includes the homes of the nobility, the impressive Imperial Palace, and the Imperial Military Academy. Twice a week, the Emperor’s Brigade, an elite legion of crossbow wielding snipers, can be seen during drill practice in the plaza directly across the Palace.
Directly east of the Imperial district, stretching from the southern gate all the way to the northern gate is the Craftsdwarfs’ Ward, home to the middle class of Stakland and many of its skilled artisans. In the center of the Craftsdwarfs’ ward lies the Grand Plaza, the main marketplace in the city, where caravans from all over the world can be found trading their wares. All permanent businesses here are required to be licensed by the Emperor. Their prices may be high, but their goods are of unsurpassed quality.
The southeast corner of the city is called the Guild Quarter and is home to the city’s many professional guilds and storage warehouses used by visiting merchants. The northeast corner is referred to as Peak’s End and is home to many of the city’s miners, who live in comfortable, if sparse, homes.
Libashziril (Axefire) is a large Dwarven fortress roughly halfway between Stakland and Steelforges. Construction began upon a section of Worldgate damaged by the Orcs sometime between 6400-6500 by decree of the First Dwarven Emperor Tekkudlikot and was finished on the first day of the year 6500. Axefire’s architecture is significantly different compared to the capital. While Stakland consists mainly of ornate two to four story buildings, Axefire is composed of high snow-capped stone towers, seemingly carved out of a mountain peak themselves. In reality, they were constructed of extremely tight-fitting stones placed by skilled masons. On a clear day, one can see all the way across the Red Basin.
In the shadow of the towers lie Axefire’s military barracks and supply warehouses. Axefire is also home to a hospital, skilled armorers and smiths, and a prison, all centered around the parade grounds where military drills are held daily.
The fort itself is generally not open to the public. Travel along the highway atop Worldgate is free and open to all. There is a small trading post and tavern maintained by the fort nearby, which makes available a small amount of common supplies and rooms at a high price. For those willing to travel off the road, several nearby villages offer lodging and hospitality at far more competitive prices.
The Dwarven Absolute Calendar
The Dwarven absolute calendar, references the creation of Enoras as the year zero. Dwarves themselves did not appear on Enoras until the year 6100. The current year is 7116. It may appear strange at first glance that the Dwarves knew both the age of the world and the year in which they were created, but it was fairly trivial for the Dwarves to figure out when their gods told them the age. The original calendar only counted days and years, with 360 days to a year. All other subdivisions were invented by the Dwarves.
Scholars believe the current calendar was based on the observation of the seasons (of which they counted four) in Stakland, each approximately 90 days. Each season was further subdivided into three months of 30 days.
The Silver Empire rests on vast mineral wealth, with many mines dotting the lower elevations. The primary exports of the mines are silver, salt, and gemstones. The Silver Empire also exports small amounts of coal, tin, iron, copper, and lead, although these are primarily used domestically.
The Empire is thought to have vast reserves at high altitudes, although these deposits have so far proven difficult to extract. The ancient gold mines of the Silver Empire have long ago run dry. The mines that didn’t begin producing other metals were abandoned. Many of the abandoned mines are now occupied by bandits running illegal mining operations, occasionally discovering previously untapped gold deposits. The gold produced in the empire today is largely produced in large-scale placer mining.
The Silver Empire is one of the larger nations on Travia and has a substantial agricultural base. Farming in the Silver Empire poses it’s own unique challenges, due to the geography and climate of the area. Most of the farms in the Silver Empire are terraced. In the past the Silver Empire was barely self sufficient with just enough food produced to feed it’s population. The modern Silver Empire imports substantial wheat to its markets from the fields of the Camelam.
The Silver Empire’s currency is based on the gold coin. However, gold extracted today is too valuable to waste in coinage. Many gold coins in circulation in the Silver Empire, and in fact, in Travia, were cast from gold mined from the ancient mines of Silver Empire, and some have been in circulation for a thousand years. The Silver Empire has been estimated to have minted roughly half the gold coins in circulation around the entire world.
Over the years, many of gold coins have been cut with silver and other metals, and the actual gold content of gold coins has been steadily dropping over the years. Roughly a hundred years ago, the Silver Empire briefly experimented with using electrum coins as a stand-in for gold coins. More recently, the Silver Empire has been minting large-denomination silver pieces equivalent to gold pieces. These coins are accepted almost universally, and gold-equivalent coins manufactured in other nations are almost all accepted within the Empire.
Gold and Platinum Certificates
Within the past 10 years, the empire has taken significant quantities of these silver pieces out of circulation and storing them in vaults in the Stakland. In place of these, the Silver Empire issues gold-certificates that are redeemable at the Imperial Bank in Stakland for an equivalent share of silver or gold. These certificates are recognized as equivalent to a gold pieces throughout the Empire, as well as some neighboring countries. They enjoy popularity in the Empire due to their low weight. Travelers leaving the Empire are advised to redeem their certificates before departing.
Platinum coins are rarely used within the Silver Empire. Most of it is held in vaults in Stakland, and platinum certificates are issued instead. These are note recognized outside the empire. Each certificate has strands of thread woven into it, produced only at the emperor’s palace. Duplication of this thread has proven nearly impossible, thwarting the counterfeiting of platinum certificates.
Unsurprisingly, silver has enjoyed prominent use within the empire. Copper and pewter coins are both minted within the empire, and are equivalent. Many small denomination coins minted in other nations are accepted as well.
Officially licensed merchants within the Empire are required to accept trade-quality gemstones as equivalent to currency and must have an appraiser on staff trained at the Imperial Merchants’ College in order to maintain their license. Licensure within the Empire is not required to operate a business, but is required to open within the business district.
Gemstones in jewelry and other products are considered finished goods and do not have to be traded at value. Similarly, raw, uncut, and unpolished gemstones are considered raw materials and do not have to be traded at value.