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Government pf Ptolus


Commissar Igor Urnst

Commissar Igor Urnst

As part of the Empire of Tarsis, Ptolus has a Commissar who acts as a regional governor: an administrator who manages the city “in the Emperor’s stead.” Of course, the fact of the Empire’s slow disintegration continues to threaten the position of the Commissar, particularly out on the very edge of the Empire. Many think Ptolus should be an independent city-state.

The current Commissar is Igor Urnst, a native of Tarsis who has lived in Ptolus and acted as its administratorfor eighteen years. Urnst remains quite popular among Ptolusites; if the city did ever secede from the Empire, many would want him to stay in his current position.

Commissar Urnst maintains popularity for two reasons. First and foremost, he has a well-earned reputation as the general who won the Gnoll War in 696 IA. He maintains a military mindset in his role as Commissar, which makes the peoplebelieve him a strong leader who fights to keep them safe. “You think things are bad?” people say. “Imagine what it would be like here without the Commissar and his men!”

The Commissar maintains a regiment of elite troops called the Commissar’s Men based in Dalenguard. He keeps the battery of two dozen huge cannons,which he used in Rhoth during the Gnoll War, in perfect condition in case of emergency. Called the “Commissar’s Guns,” they are very mobile and could be positioned to bombard a foe from the north, the south, or along the cliffs to fire at approaching enemy vessels.

Further showing that he has the city’s safety as his foremost concern, almost fifteen years ago the Commissar also assembled the Twelve Commanders to serve as his advisors and lieutenants in times of emergency. This group, comprising some of the most powerful and martially focused individuals in the city, has served him well against threats from the undead and Forsaken in the Necropolis and monsters coming up from the realms below.

Commissar of Ptolus SealThe second reason the Commissar remains popular is his willingness to accommodate the needs and desires of the people. As his first act as Commissar, he elevated the authority and responsibility of the City Council, a group of nobles, guildmasters, and other influential individuals. Under Commissar Urnst, the Council became a decision-making body with two chambers: the Tribunal and the Assembly.

The Tribunal has only three positions. One is occupied by the Commissar, one by Kirian Ylestos, the Prince of the Church, and one by the Mother Superior of the Sisterhood of Silence. Although the Commissar technically remains the ultimate authority, the influence of the Tribunal members makes them voices he can’t afford to ignore. The Commissar currently feels pressure from a number of sides to add at least one more chair to the Tribunal. If that happened, he most likely would ask Guildmaster Delver Sorum Dandubal to fill it.

The Assembly has twenty-five members, including a representative from each of the ten noble houses. While not as powerful as the Tribunal, the Assembly can still enact policy, particularly when the members speak with a unified voice. A cynical Ptolus resident might call the City Council the “Council of Coin,” referring to the fact that the members deal mainly with economic issues, and that every chair in the Council chambers is filled by a wealthy individual. The Council makes no apologies for this fact and sees nothing wrong with a governing body from the upper class.And while most of the Council’s issues do deal with economics, that’s because the Commissar makes decisions on other matters himself or with the help of the Twelve Commanders. This is particularly true for issues that relate to the safety and well-being of the city and its people.

As an individual, the Commissar is a fearless, determined, but ultimately arrogant man. His strength comes from his adaptability and his willingness to try original solutions to problems. His weakness comes from his inability to recognize and admit his own mistakes. The Commissar has a reputation for being outspoken, denouncing the actions even of those more politically powerful than himself if he happens to disagree with them. For example, on numerous occasions he has spoken against the decisions of the Emperor of the Church. Of course, this has strained the relationship between the Church and his government, but that has only served to make Ptolus more welcoming to diverse religions—ultimately making the Commissar even more popular.

The Commissar is married and has four daughters, ages twenty-four, twenty-two, nineteen, and sixteen.

The Church and the Ptolus Government
Priests of the Church of Lothian are also considered at least minor government officials within the Empire. In Ptolus, so far from the Lion-Guarded Throne
and so steeped in non-Lothian religions, one might think this would be the first Imperial concept to fall by the wayside. Such is not the case, however. The Church retains a strong hold in Ptolus and has ever since 657 IA, when the Emperor of the Church Cheroboth Ylestos built the Holy Palace in the Nobles’ Quarter and bade Vedisham, his son and heir to the Holy Throne, live there until he assumed the mantle of Emperor of the Church. The tradition of the Holy Empire’s heir apparent residing in Ptolus has continued ever since. Emperor Cheroboth did this to help stabilize the religious upheaval Ptolus faced at the time due to the influx of adherents of minor religions. It proved extremely effective.

Today, the Prince of the Church, Kirian Ylestos, maintains a high profile in the city. What’s more, his father, Holy Emperor Rehoboth, has lived with hisson for the last eleven years.Rehoboth has not taken his son’s seat on the Tribunal of the City Council, however—he seems relatively unconcerned with the everyday affairsof Ptolus. Instead, he concentrates on furthering his claim to the Lion-Guarded Throne in addition to the Holy Throne.

Thus, Church officials are still accorded a great deal of power in local government. They can command the guards of the City Watch, and they gain certain rights under the law not granted to typical citizens.

The Commissar's Men
The Commissar’s Men (who are not, in fact, all men) are an elite company of well-trained troops. These soldiers, stationed in Dalenguard in Oldtown, number about three hundred. Extremely disciplined and loyal to the Commissar, the company has not had much to do since coming to Ptolus in 703
IA. In times of crisis, such as during a major fire, the Commissar’s Men move in to help. The Commissar also dispatches them in small teams to deal with specific threats as they arise, including the emergence of a monster from under the city or a troublesome group of adventurers who get out of line anything that lies beyond the City Watch’s ability to handle effectively.

The CityWatch

The City Watch has one primary goal: to keep the peace. To this end, the Watch patrols each district (except the Warrens, although they deny that fact)and maintains guards on duty to answer whencalled by shouts or warning bells. The Watch has absolute authority in the city, and the right to arrest and detain anyone for any reason. The Commissar empowers them to use force—evendeadly force—on anyone who resists. Guards do not need proof to apprehend a wrongdoer, but they’re usually careful not to arrest the wrong person—after all, their mistaken quarry might be someone of influence or might have ties to someone of influence. (If the person is poor with no important connections, the guards make no bones about treating that person as they like.) The City Watch spends much of its time breaking up fights, although often they arrive after the fight is over.

Residents can summon the guards to deal with threats like a dire rat or other monster that comes up from the Dungeon. They attempt to apprehend criminals, trying to catch them in the act whenever possible. Otherwise, the Watch serves as more of a deterrent than anything else. Investigating crimes
rarely makes it to the City Watch’s list of duties; once a crime is over and the perpetrator gone, the guards generally file a report and forget about it.  Only when a criminal begins repeating his offense does the Watch take investigative action to prevent future crime.

Guards in the Watch know the city streets and layout very well. A patrol checks the locks of sewer grates, doors on the city wall towers, and businesses known to be closed for the night. They poke around areas where trouble might brew, such as abandoned warehouses or back alleyways. They know most of the good hiding places in Ptolus. The City Watch is familiar with the ins and outs of criminal groups and activities. Theyknow where the offenders hide, where they like tostrike, and even what most of them look like on sight. They are perfectly within their rights to haul in a known criminal, even if the individual isn’t doing anything wrong at the moment. Keeping order and peace sometimes involves fighting fires. Each Watch garrison has equipment to help the Fire Brigade to fight fires.

The uniforms of the City Watch consist of blue tunics worn over chainmail armor, with thick blue wrappings tied around their helmets. The guards carry shields bearing the device of Ptolus: a golden hawk on a blue field. They carry either masterwork battleaxes or spears, as well as longswords and
light crossbows. Usually one or two guards on duty at a Watchhouse (see next page) carry dragon rifles rather than crossbows. Constables wear similar uniforms, but with the addition of a yellow sash. They also wear breastplates rather than chain armor and carry dragon pistols rather than crossbows. A captain of the guard wears full plate armor and a special shield insignia as well as the yellow sash of a constable.