Midgard Icons: Free City Council
Midgard Icons presents some of the Midgard Campaign Setting’s major NPCs as icons for use in 13th Age, the new fantasy roleplaying game from Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. Bring them into your 13th Age campaign; run 13th Age in the world of Midgard; or port the icon relationship rules into your system of choice.
In our eighth installment we visit the legendary clockwork city at the heart of the Crossroads, to meet an icon born in fire and revolution…
The Free City Council
Drawn from all walks of life, the 12 members of the Free City Council ensure the welfare of Zobeck and its citizens, protect it from all threats to its freedom, and maintain the flow of commerce.
“When you leave the building, turn left and continue until you find the headquarters of the sub-sub-subcommittee in charge of Grievances Involving Medium-Sized Pack Animals. I assure you, my lord, they shall pursue your case with the zeal and diligence that it deserves.”
In the Council Hall in Upper Zobeck.
To visitors and newcomers, Zobeck’s government is a many-layered nightmare of bureaucracy, hidden connections and unspoken rules for getting things done. However, it provides the city with security and safety for trade; justice and fair dealings in the markets; and to the poor, work as conscripts or ditchdiggers. The Free City Council sits atop its hierarchy, where it has served Zobeck since the Great Revolt.
Generally descendants of the Great Revolt’s leaders, the 12 members of the Free City Council serve for life or until they retire. Sitting Consuls fill any vacancies from among the city’s most prominent civic leaders: typically guildmasters, merchants, or powerful members of the priesthood. Once in a while, the Consuls choose a prominent adventurer who seeks a quieter life.
The sitting Consuls select the Lord Mayor from among their peers to serve a 10-year term, though most have held the position for life. The Lord Mayor appoints Zobeck’s judges and knight-commanders of the Citadel, establishes and provisions the army, and commands the Free City’s militant orders—except the paladins of the Order of the Undying Sun, which predates the city’s independence.
A secret council known as the Praetors serves as the Lord Mayor’s eyes, ears, and hands throughout the city. The Praetors are the core of Zobeck’s secret police network, indirectly controlling the city’s internal and external spies, jailers, and tax collectors. The number of Praetors never exceeds five, and Consuls sometimes also serve as Praetors. The identity of the Praetorians typically remains secret.
- Karillian Gluck, Lord Mayor
- Ondli Firedrake, First Consul and High Priest of Rava-Among-the-Dwarves and Volund
- Kuromak, Kobold King of Kings*
- Radovar Streck, City Consul
- Melancha Vendemic, City Consul
- Kekolina of the Derry Mine, City Consul
- Myzi I, Mouse King
- Orlando, Guildmaster of the Arcane Collegium
- Lord Volstaff Greymark, master merchant and Consul
- Lady Wintesla Marack, master merchant of House Marack and Consul
- Halsen Hrovitz IV, master merchant of House Hrovitz and Consul
- Azeleanara Perunisis, retired adventurer originally from the Duchy of Perun’s Daughter
*This seat’s Consul fluctuates with the rise and fall of the Kobold King of Kings in the Kobold Ghetto; Kuromak is the seat’s sixth holder in the last two years.
Adventurers and the Icon
Zobeck’s freedom comes with a price, and that price is trouble. Whether it’s clockwork constructs running amok, an invasion by the Shadow Fey, wars between rival street gangs or riots in the Kobold Ghetto, the Free City Council often turns to outside help in dealing with the latest crisis. But Zobeck is also a city of secrets and shadows, and seemingly straightforward jobs can get complicated fast.
The Free City Council and First Duke-Admiral Cadua of Triolo are commercial rivals; but they are formidable military allies against any foe who threatens their mutual interests. The city’s trade agreements with Bemmea are vitally important to obtaining rare magical and alchemical items, so the Council maintains good relations with Exarch Vermes II.
The Ghoul Emperor is a constant threat to the safety of Zobeck and its citizens. However much the Free City Council enjoys the benefits of trade with the Winter Court, it doesn’t change the fact that the Queen of Night and Magic was the power behind the nobility who ruled Zobeck in the old, bad days.
The Free City Council replaced the House Stross-era Praetorian Council after the Revolt. Once composed of hand picked noble allies of House Stross, the Praetorian Council spent most of their time scheming and plotting against one another. They pilfered money from the city to fund their own projects, ruinously taxed the city’s bourgeoisie, restricted trade with tariffs and exit fees, and used the Watch as their personal enforcers. This flagrant corruption laid the groundwork for the violence that destroyed the old aristocracy.
After the Great Revolt, the rebels imprisoned or executed any Praetorian Council members they caught. The Revolt’s leaders created the Free City Council to administer the city as the Praetorian Council should have done. Its standing Consul members were citizens who helped lead the Revolt and who held strong interests in the city–mostly guildmasters, priests, and even kobolds.
By tradition, the Free City Council always includes the Guildmaster of the Arcane Collegium and the Kobold King of Kings. During the Revolt, the leaders gave the city’s Watch commander a lifetime council seat but secretly decided that, unlike the deal they struck with the kobolds and the Arcane Collegium, this “seat for life” would only extend to that individual. Upon his death, the Council did not give the position to his successor but added a second seat for a cleric of Rava. To this day, this “betrayal” remains a point of contention between the Council and the Watch.
The True Danger
Everything will be all right as long as the Free City’s volatile mix of political factions, humanoid races, cults, criminal gangs, merchant guilds and military orders continues to exist in (relative) peace.