"How can they even call this a road!" Tibalt kicked dust, sent a little scatter of stones off the track and into the mud. "This isn't a road! It's not even a path!"

"Getting angry. At the road. Is definately helping. Fix this. Broken wheel," grunted Sampson. The burly young man was sweating despite the chill, bracing the wagon while Gregrory tried to do something about the twisted mess of wood and metal that, until recently, had supported the listing wagon.

Tibalt grumbled something inaudible, and stalked over to stand need his two companions.

"This is the worst thing about the Marches," he whined. "I've seen garden paths that are more like roads than these... these... whatever these are!"

"Yeah, much worse than the constant Jotun invasions," snapped Gregory. "Worse than the random shark-heralds, the people asking if you're from around here, and the fact you can't get a good wine in the entire nation for money or love."

Tibalt ignored him. He checked the wagon again. Twenty wooden boxes cheerily embossed with the logo of the Right Virtuous Company of Provisioners and Victuallers. He wrung his hands. It was starting to get dark and there was no sign of anything except big empty fields in all directions.

"We've got to get to Meade before the end of the week, or we're going to lose our bonus," he reminded the others for the third time in half an hour. "We can't afford to default!"

"I know!", Gregory snapped back. "We all know! it's not as if anyone planned to hit that pothole, or to be going fast enough to buckle the wheel!"

"... oh so now you blame me for..." sputtered Tibalt. "And it wasn't a pothole it was a chasm.. and anyway..."

"Go and see. How. Hector is doing." said Sampson through gritted teeth. "Before. I lamp you."

Tibalt bridled, and looked as if he might complain, but saw the look in Sampson's eye and thought better of it. He went to check the ox, placidly chewing some greenery of some kind along the side of the so-called road.

"What are we going to do?" he asked, rhetorically. Hector ignored him. "We've miles to go, and this mud track isn't getting any better, and it's getting dark and... bandits... and... and what if all this sausage attracts wolves? You get wolves in the Marches right?"

The ox considered as behind him Gregory let out a burst of very harsh language indeed. One of Hector's stomachs burped and grumbled, and he went back to chewing contentedly on what would, in a few hours time, turn out to be something he really should not have been eating.
The Empire is wide, and there is always somewhere new to go.
Click for audio version


At the Autumn Equinox, the Imperial Senate instructed Graciana i Lòpez i Guerra to "appraise the impact and opportunities to link the unconnected citizens of our Southern, Northern, and Eastern territories with new road networks – to join new and existing road network together – or to provide citizens with alternative means of conveyance that would afford them similar benefits." Graciana is renowned for her unusual techniques; a life as a well-travelled corsair and merchant has given her a wealth of experience to fall back on.

She is immediately enthused about the project, opining that it is so open-ended and potentially impactful she couldn't hope to complete it in a single season.


  • The Senate can use a single commission to extend the existing road networks to Mitwold, Mournwold, Skarsind, Sermersuaq, Weirwater, Hercynia
  • Currently, it would cost 300 wains of white granite, 900 crowns and take a year to complete
  • The roads would raise the level of investment in farms and businesses by one in the affected territories, increasing revenue by 36 rings

The Blood Red Roads that link the cities of the Imperial heartlands have proved effective in raising the long term prosperity of the Empire. Since their construction, similar road networks have been established elsewhere; the Iron Roads of Varushka, the White Roads of Highguard, and the Sunset Roads of the Brass Coast. The Pilgrim Trail of Kallavesa is a little different since its purpose is to support virtuous travellers rather than assist with travel and trade directly.

The benefits of the Blood Red Roads are clear; they function as a great work that boosts the income of farm and business owners in the territory. Graciana has looked at the costs and benefits of extending the existing network in all Imperial territories that don't currently have any major road network, but in many cases there are problems. Therunin, Bregasland, and Kallavesa are far too wet and marshy to support a good road network, while Spiral, Zenith, Redoubt, Morrow are too mountainous. The Empire could build roads in the Barrens, but that has problems of its own given the volatile political situation there.

However that still leaves, Mitwold, Mournwold, Skarsind, Sermersuaq, Weirwater, and Hercynia that could all benefit from a good road network. Graciana's work shows that currently, the Empire could extend the current road network to all six of these territories for 300 wains of white granite, and 900 crowns. It would require a single Senate motion and a single commission slot and take a year to complete. Once the work was finished it would raise the level of investment in all six territories by one for both farms and businesses as the major settlements and especially the trade hubs were connected together by fine quality roads.

The appraisal is straightforward, so this opportunity remains available to the Senate for the foreseeable future. The costs would increase by 25 wains and 75 crowns for each improvement in the level of investment in farms or businesses in any of the territories in the meantime.


  • Graciana proposes an alternative to roads in Kallavesa, Therunin and Bregasland
  • Currently, it would cost 225 wains of weirwood, 675 crowns and take a year to complete
  • The marshways would raise the level of investment in herb gardens and businesses by one in the three territory
  • A new Imperial title would be created in each territory to administer the Marshway and deal with threats

Two thirds of Kallavesa is marsh, and a remaining fifth is relatively wild forest. Bregasland is even worse – four-fifths of all the land there is fenland. Those parts of Therunin that are not sodden are infested with vallorn. The three territories are also similar in that the people there tend to live in relatively isolated communities on the few areas of comparatively solid ground. There are trods aplenty, looping through the marshy territories, but they rarely take the shortest route between two points.

But! The Senate did not only specify roads in their appraisal. All three territories have a strong tradition of boat use – not sea-going ships but various incarnations of flat-bottomed skiffs and punts that pole the shallow waters of the fens. There are also examples of sturdy workboats that dredge the Feverwater or fish the Gullet. Graciana proposes that the Senate could invest in the infrastructure of these territories by establishing a number of ferries, river-side wayhouses, strategically placed bridges, jetties, portage rails, and boatworks that she refers to as Marshways.

Such construction would serve much the same purpose as roads, benefiting businesses by improving the ability of Imperial citizens to move around the territories in question. They wouldn't be much use to farms unfortunately, but they would be useful to those who oversee herb gardens – a common undertaking in all three territories – making it easier to transport the surplus from the sort of isolated locations that are ideal for growing magical herbs.

Marshes are by their nature prone to problems not encountered with roads and bridges. The fens of Bregasland have their underwater spiders; Therunin is inhabited by vallornspawn, giant insects, and spiders; and Kallavesa sees more than its fair share of troublesome ghosts. All three territories have to deal with the potential threat of marshwalkers. As such, Graciana's plans include offices and an Imperial title to oversee the marshways in each territory. In each case the position would need to be appointed by Tally of the Votes to be effective, but would benefit from the opportunity to purchase spare herbs cheaply.

Graciana's proposal is not cheap - it requires 225 wains of weirwood, 675 crowns and take a year to complete. Once complete, it would raise the level of investment for businesses (+36 rings) by one in each of the three territories. It would also raise the level of investment for herb gardens by one, providing two true vervain, and one seasonal herb - Marrowort in Spring, Cerulean Mazzarine in Summer, Imperial Roseweald in Autumn, and Bladeroot in Winter.

Bregas Ferrymaster
70 rings3 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 1 Imperial Roseweald, 1 Marrowort, 1 Bladeroot
120 rings5 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Imperial Roseweald, 2 Marrowort, 1 Bladeroot
190 rings7 true vervain, 3 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Imperial Roseweald, 2 Marrowort, 2 Bladeroot

Bregas Ferries

The Bregas Ferrymaster would have offices based at Ottery, and would have responsibilities to ensure the marshway is maintained. Given their role, it is likely they would also quickly become a go-to figure for local families to help mediate their disputes – a potentially useful lightning rod given the current state of Bregasland.

Shadow of the Marsh
75 rings3 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 1 Imperial Roseweald, 2 liao
130 rings4 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Imperial Roseweald, 4 liao
200 rings5 true vervain, 3 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Imperial Roseweald, 6 liao


The Shadow of the Marsh would have offices and a private jetty at Rundahl. They'd oversee a ministry that allowed them to purchase herbs, but also a little liao from pilgrims along the trails there. They'd be responsible for protecting the fens, but also for ensuring no harm comes to the Sovevann- a matter on many local's minds since the recent battle at Rundahl. They'd also likely be asked to help intercede in disputes between the halls who benefit from the marshways.

Brand of the Fens
90 rings3 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 1 Bladeroot, 3 Ambergelt, 1 Iridescent Gloaming
160 rings4 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Bladeroot, 3 Ambergelt, 1 Beggars lye, 3 Iridescent Gloaming
240 rings5 true vervain, 2 cerulean mazzarine, 2 Bladeroot, 5 Ambergelt, 3 Beggars lye, 3 Iridescent Gloaming
360 rings6 true vervain, 3 cerulean mazzarine, 3 Bladeroot, 5 Ambergelt, 3 Beggars lye, 5 Iridescent Gloaming


The title of Brand of the Fens would ensure the marshes remained safe, which is no mean feat in Therunin. They'd also be responsible for keeping the more isolated steadings connected to the nation, addressing issues with bandits, wild beasts, and vallornspawn, and would likely be called into any issues involving the Great Forest Orcs. They'd oversee a ministry that let them buy herbs, but also small amounts of forest resources.

Southern Skyways

  • Graciana is intrigued by the possibility of building roads in the skies above Urizen and Spiral

Graciana spends a month in Urizen, visiting various spires, discussing their needs, and listening to ideas. She is soon busy with the architects, many of whom are keen to present their own schemes once news of the Senate's appraisal begins to spread. There's particular interest in establishing a trade road connection Cargo with the Crucible of Fate. Unfortunately the nature of the Urizeni territories – mountains, hills, vertiginous drops, and barely civilised valleys – would make such a thing a major undertaking assuming it were even possible. As a frustrated Graciana is about to give the whole thing up as a bad job, inspiration comes from an unexpected source.

The Arch of the Sky was once a collection of spires on the Starstair, the tallest mountain in Zenith. Stargazers and astronomancers from across the Empire gathered there to observe the night skies, and debate the Net of the Heavens. As well as being a prestigious school of astronomancy, it was also one of the finest observatories in Urizen, if not the Empire, but it was destroyed when the Druj invaded Zenith in 381YE. Despite the best efforts of a handful of battle-mages and sentinels, the orcs captured and looted the Arch of the Sky, and what they could not steal was reduced to ashes and broken ruins.

The recent completion of the Crucible of Fate, however, has encouraged some Urizen to return to their former home and try to salvage the ruins. Using ushabti to clear the rubble and begin laying new foundations, they have discovered something unexpected. White granite. Lots of it. On top of what may well be one of the tallest mountains in the Empire.

When Graciana hears of the discovery, she immediately takes a trip to visit the site personally. If the Empire is to expand its roads, it will need white granite. Early assessments suggest there is a lot of white granite to be found atop the mountain, but getting at it, mining it, and transporting it down the mountain and to an appropriate trade hub is going to be extremely difficult.

Touching the Sky

  • Constructing the Skyway would require 150 wains of mithril, 450 crowns and take nine months to complete
  • Once complete, it would create a new Bourse seat, producing 18 wains of white granite each season

It looks as if the white granite is going to remain unexploitable – and there are some historical notes that suggest that is why it has never been quarried in the past. Following a throw-away comment from one of the Urizen about it being a shame that white granite cannot be sent through the air the way the Heliopticon sends words, Graciana has a brainwave. Inspired in part by the washing lines that stretch between houses in Tassato, and in part by the great cranes of the city of Cargo, she proposes the construction of a unique “bridge” connecting the Starstair to the lower peaks of Caeli.

By stretching mithril cables across the valley between the two peaks, and using ushabti to provide motile force, shipments of stone could be wheeled through the air from one mountain top to the next. Pick the right peaks and use the occasional lift where needed and the skyway could be extended all the way through Operus, past Canterspire Circle, until it reached Cargo whereupon it could be transported across the river to Bastion.

It's going to require significant investment. In addition to the tools, materials, and specialist ushabti created at the Crucible of Fate, The Bridge of the Air would need to be extremely strong to transport the white granite. The engineers calculate it needs 150 wains of mithril and 450 crowns of investment to complete.

Once opened and connected the Arch of the Sky would represent a new Bourse resource. The Imperial Senate could declare it Imperial or National (meaning it would be appointed by Auction or Tally of the Votes). By estimation of the geomancers and stone-watchers who have visited the location it would produce 18 wains of white granite each season and have an upkeep of 10 thrones each season (the problem of its isolated location would be offset by the use of ushabti rather than labourers to remove the valuable stone).

One flaw is that the Arch of the Sky could never be rebuilt, not while the mountain is being quarried. Graciana has proposed that the new Bourse seat be named after the destroyed spires – and given the way the stone is transported down from the peak it seems apposite. Still, that might turn out to be too steep a price to pay for access to white granite.

A Road in the Sky

  • The Bridge of the Air could be extended across Urizen and Spiral for an additional 75 wains of mithril and 225 crowns
  • The resulting great work would increase the level of investment by one for mana sites and businesses in Morrow, Zenith, Spiral and Redoubt
  • The mana sites of Spiral would only benefit from the great work if the Senate stopped funding mana for the Urizen within the territory

The “Bridge of the Air” would be a true wonder, but it would also be practical to employ the arrangements for lighter uses – such as transporting people or trade goods between spires. It would be possible to extend the network of towers and cables across the territory and into Redoubt, Zenith, and even Spiral. The same principle that establishes the Arch of the Sky in Morrow could be used to join up Morrow, Redoubt, Zenith, and mountainous Spiral by linking smaller skyways to it. Lifts would help transport people and goods from the lowlands to the highlands spires; and conventional roads could be used where they can actually help.

The skyway would dramatically improve the ability to move around the territory. Anything that makes it easier for people to move around is usually an asset to businesses, and the skyway would be no exception, increasing the level of investment by one for businesses in all four territories. There are relatively few farms to speak of in the mountains, and not that many herb gardens, but the skyway could make it much easier to reach some of the more inaccessible parts of the four territories - the kind of locations where mana tends to pool. As a result, it would also increase the level of investment by one for mana sites in all four territories.

Graciana notes that the entire project - the Arch of the Sky, the Bridge of the Air, and the extension of the skyways across Urizen and neighbouring Spiral - could be completed with a single appropriately worded Senate motion and a single resource intensive commission.

The Barrens

  • A road network connecting the Barrens to Semmerholm and Holberg would require 50 wains of white granite, 150 crowns and take 3 months to complete
  • It would raise the level of investment in farms and businesses in the Barrens by one
  • It would enable Dawnish citizens to take a new resource in the Barrens for free for the next year

The situation in the Barrens is fraught, to put it mildly. Graciana has no interest in engaging with the politics, and given the recent mandate she consciously tries to avoid any suggestion of building roads across the wild territory at this time. Instead, she focuses her attention on Dawnguard.

The region is in a bad shape since the long occupation of the Druj. The Towers of the Dawn are in ruins, the defeated orcs of the Mallum did as much damage as they possibly could before they were driven out or killed. People are left to pick up the pieces as best they can.

There's never been what a really decent road leading to Dawnguard. Graciana proposes changing that, and ropes in several Dawnish engineers and her old friends from Holberg to come up with a plan. To avoid a single point of failure, Graciana proposes linking Drycastle – still the largest human settlement in the Barrens despite the Druj's best efforts – to both Lacre in Semmerholm, and the city of Holberg itself. This will include the construction of a highway through the forests of Axmure, and a sturdy road from the southern gates of Holmauer.

These roads would provide a route for building materials to reach Dawnguard reliably which would help dramatically with the rebuilding there, supporting the Dawnish inhabitants of the Barrens. It could also be easily extended if desired, if the Dawnish begin to establish settlements in other parts of the Barrens; or where there is a desire to improve travel between the septs and the Empire. A road from Drycastle through Murderdale to the Eaves of Peytaht for example would give the potential of trade with the Great Forest Orcs, and establish the possibility of a road linking Semmerholm and Therunin.

Graciana's proposal will cost 50 wains of white granite, 150 crowns, and take three months to complete. As well as providing support to Dawnguard, it would increase the level of investment in both the farms and businesses of the territory.

It would also make it easy for engineers and builders to reach the Barrens, meaning that any new settlements established would quickly be linked to Dawnguard by a serviceable road, spreading those advantages across the territory. As a result any Dawnish citizen would be able to take up a new resource in the Barrens for free for the next year after the road was complete. Of course that might not be an advantage anyone is looking for, but you can't lay down roads without making it easier for people to move around.


  • The Navarr wayhouses could be encouraged to take a stronger stance protecting the Empire roads
  • This would require a clear Statement of Principle by the Navarr Assembly that achieved a greater majority but would not require a commission
  • It would create the Roadwardens opportunity for Navarr military units, allowing them to protect the Empire's roads from banditry and worse

One of the problems with all these roads is the increase in banditry. While there's been some hard lines taken in Varushka, the fact remains that the roads make it easier for those who prey on trade to find people to prey on. Inspired by the kamkrag being built in Kahraman, and by the Navarr tradition of establishing wayhouses across the Empire, Graciana has another proposal.

She suggests asking the Navarr to step up their efforts to patrol the Empire's roads. The wayhouse keepers of Navarr could be encouraged to set aside areas for “roadwardens” to rest and resupply. Obviously the Navarr stridings use the trods where they can, but they are frequently seen on the Empire's roads as well but travel is part of their national character.

Graciana was unable to draw up a plan to support Senate investment, but instead proposes during her visit to Therunin that the Navarr National Assembly could take the lead. A suitably worded statement of principle that achieved a greater majority would simply encourage people to formalise what a lot of them are already doing. Navarr travelling by road would help protect the various travel networks across the Empire. Minor difficulties would be dealt with by local roadwardens, and anything they couldn't deal with would be quickly and efficiently brought to the attention of a relevant authority.

At the very least, a well-worded statement would create the Roadwardens adventure available to Navarr characters with military units. When undertaking this adventure Navarr would be involved in escorting individuals and caravans along Imperial roads, hunting out bandits and natural threats, protecting roadbuilding engineers, delivering messages, occasionally popping up to Varushka to fight wolves, and otherwise being active on the Empire's roads. A basic military unit would receive 120 rings and 3 random resources each season, with more for upgraded or enchanted units.

Long Term Economic Investment

  • Completing the existing road network would raise Imperial taxation by 1 throne in every territory with a transport network
  • If the marshways and skyways were both completed, Imperial taxation would increase by 1 throne in every territory with a transport network

Improving the road and transportation networks across the Empire would provide long-term economic benefits. If Graciana's proposal to build roads in Mitwold, Mournwold, Skarsind, Sermersuaq, Weirwater, Hercynia were completed then trade would flourish which would help support the creation of new businesses. As a direct result, the tax revenues of every territory in the Empire with a functional transport network (any great work that is a highway, marshway or skyway) would increase by one throne.

If the marshways and skyways were also completed, they would have a similar effect, boosting tax revenues of every territory with a transport network by one throne. These benefits are cumulative, so if all three proposals were completed, then the total increase in taxation would be two thrones in every affected territory.

Costs and Timing

  • This opportunity is open-ended, it could be undertaken at any time
  • Costs would increase by 25 wains and 75 crowns for each improvement in the level of investment in the meantime

These opportunities remain available to the Senate for the foreseeable future. However the costs are based on the current levels of investment in the territories in question. Those costs would increase by an additional 25 wains and 75 crowns for each improvement in the level of investment in affected resources in the affected territories.

Unruly Elephants in the Room

  • Any large scale construction project would be threatened by the presence of an army in the territory where it was taking place

As with the appraisal prepared by her colleague Ellian Sweetwater, there is an unfortunate fly in the ointment. All of the projects Graciana has laid out rely on the territories where they are being established remaining at least relatively stable. The presence of scions of Cold Sun, or invading barbarian armies, would potentially impede the completion of the grand projects.

Just as with recent events in Kahraman it is risky to try and undertake a grand construction project while part of the land needed to make the project go smoothly is under threat by barbarians. This will need to be taken into account during any implementation of Graciana's proposals. As with the Spider's Dream, however, an Imperial army would be sufficient to protect construction work in a territory from anything but a concerted attack (one that would almost certainly see a conjunction of the Sentinel Gate). If there are no such protections, and work is underway when an enemy invades a territory, they may be able to to steal some of the materials contributed in a given season, and delay all work while they were present.

Graciana does not intend to be a doomsayer - the same is true of any large scale project the Empire undertakes - but feels she would be remiss in her duties if she did not point of the threat of (for example) Cold Sun killing large numbers of road engineers.