Narrative

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Culture
Each House or Warband has its own unique culture and way of ranking those within its service. The majority having existed for centuries, many hold deep set beliefs and traditions, goals and methods of operation. Also, due to the extended periods that the Warbands have operated over there are deep seated hatreds and rivalries between many factions but also an uneasy peace and histories of cooperation between others.

The city is ruled by five Noble Houses who rule from floating islands above the city who are each responsible for governing a section of the city below. The city is so expansive that some areas are effectively unadopted by any of the ruling houses so are lawless and much more run down places than those governed by the ruling houses.

Custodians
To enforce a semblance of order and more often than not the will of the House each of the ruling factions employs their own armed forces, known as Custodians to the general populace they are most commonly used as a measure against the “lower class” Warbands that would run amok if left to their own designs. Custodians most commonly operate singularly or in groups of two to three so as to cover as large an area of the vast city as is possible, highly trained and equipped with the best armour and weapons their House can afford they represent the iron fist of the law and are more than a match for all but the most powerful and ruthless Warbands.

Through the Custodians the ruling houses attempt to mediate some semblance of law throughout the city though the actual effect they are able to maintain is considerably less than they would have the general populace believe. More often than not the crime and violence is a barely concealed undercurrent only just kept out of sight by the Custodians. The result is a very rough and harsh life for the populace, especially in the unadopted slum areas, and over the centuries this has bread a very tough and hardy people.

When it is felt that a particular Warband is threatening the position of the ruling houses or is threatening the overall stability of the city Houses will call together a large number of custodians to form into a strike team to deal with the problem before it disrupts the perceived stability of the city. These teams are horrendously ruthless in their mission and once deployed it will only be a short time before their targets are brought to “justice.” Though the collateral damage of these operations often causes more destruction than the activates being persecuted the Ruling Houses still employ these same methods after centuries as a way to visually reinforce their authority and power over the general populace.

The Custodians are the equivalent of a normal Warband’s foot troops but because they serve one of the great Houses they are far better trained and equipped with the best arms their House can provide. Although the city itself is a unified body the great houses are not, thus certain laws and tenets are in place to ensure the equal governing of the city as a whole. In regards to the Custodians each House has the right to maintain what amounts to a private army of Custodians but also has a duty to the city to provide a law enforcement force to keep the peace between the warring factions when within the city limits. Due to this dual role the Custodians fulfil each House is very selective when it comes to choosing its fighting men as they must be fiercely loyal and dependable without question when fulfilling missions for their House. Some are chosen and trained from a young age, some are picked up from other, more minor Warbands or warring factions and others still are criminals drafted into service for their “unique” skills. Essentially Custodians may come from almost any walk of life so long as they will fulfil the House’s wishes. However there is one exception to this, a Custodian will never change allegiance between Houses as loyalty and trust will be among the most highly regarded assets in the eyes of his master, and if you’ve changed sides once, what is to prevent you from doing so again.

As with the Great Houses themselves there is a strong rivalry as well as a grudging respect between the Custodians of each House, thus direct contact is generally avoided as tempers may flare and such powerful combatants coming to blows is always best avoided. Although open conflict is discouraged and generally avoided it is not unknown for rival custodians to fight when the Houses they serve are in open conflict with one another. However these rare conflicts undermine the Custodians as law enforcers so any such skirmishes are generally downplayed or hidden away from the eyes of the public.

In addition to the practical roles the Custodians fulfil for their House they also act as a visible reminder to the rest of the city of their House’s power and so are always armed and armoured to inspire fear and respect in those they encounter. Whether they’re the macabre, black armoured warriors of the House of Morrigan or the white robed, shining silver plated soldiers of House Avallach, every facet of their appearance is designed to intimidate and command obedience. Due to the psychological effect the presence of Custodians has each House ensures that those that serve them are distinct from all others with their own armour style, colouring and ornamentation so that there can be no question who it is that they serve.

Warbands
Lower down the hierarchical scale are the Warbands themselves. Each Warband is a law unto itself and its goals are not limited by the word of the law as it is laid down by the Houses above. Though all treated as one and the same there are many different origins that a Warband may have emerged from. Some are out and out military ventures comprised of experienced fighters out for money and power many of whom aren’t above hiring themselves to more powerful factions if it furthers their own ends. In contrast to this there are more philosophical or religious Warbands who may fight for the benefit of the people or to cleanse the city of its corruption and decadence. Then there are the mercantile Warbands whose operations centre on the acquisition of money and furthering the commercial side of their operation. Lastly, the many petty political factions of the city are not above employing their own Warbands to further their means, whether they be upstart Houses attempting to rise above their station or commercial guilds and traders who wish to create a more welcoming climate for their business these factions are often ruthless and insidious, worming their way towards their goals and striking openly only when their goals are within reach.

Although some of the citizenry are possessed of highly developed technology the city itself grew up long before this era of technological enlightenment, thus many of the buildings are a melding of old heavy stone architecture and newer metallic and glass additions. For those who reside in the slums and less well maintained areas of the city technology is a much rarer commodity, with many living with technology comparable to that of the steam age or industrial revolution. However, one universally available form of technology is that of weaponry, with a profusion of guns circulating on the black market making life in the city a very unpredictable affair.

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