Revision as of 12:46, 19 July 2023 by Matt (talk | contribs) (→‎Further Reading)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

"More wine, Harlequin?" Fransesca smiled at the egregore and pointed a finger in the direction of her servant who stood poised to leap at any moment should his glass be in any danger of running dry.

"Thank you... but no" he placed his hand over the top of the cut glass to show that he really meant it. "I fear I must keep a calm head. If I let you get me too drunk Fransesca, then I might let this wild scheme of yours go to my head and find myself agreeing to something foolish..."

The merchant prince adopted a look of mock indignation even as her smile never dropped. "Then I fear I must let Aureliana's idea persuade you purely by dint of it's magnificence! The Assembly agreed it was a fine idea - all I've done is modify the terms a little to something we can all actually compete in. We just need your support Harlequin. I have all the adverts ready to go in the press - but with you to carry word of it across the League. A competition endorsed by our egregore! It will fire the imagination of every citizen in the League!"

This time it was the Harlequin's turn to feign an expression. "I don't know Fransesca... I'm very busy with all kinds official matters you know... Being egregore keeps me so busy even my own little business has suffered... and then there's all the expenses of travel..." He sucked air through his teeth as he tried to paint a picture of how hard his life was.

"Of course Harlequin, I didn't for a moment imagine we might call on your services, without providing suitable recompense. Everything has a price after all. We'll be running a book on the competition in every one of my gambling houses, would two percent of the profits be sufficient to cover... your expenses?"

Harlequin broke in a wide smile of satisfaction. He removed his hand from on top of his glass and beckoned to the man waiting their table to fill it. "That sounds very agreeable prince. I think I can feel the wine going to my head even as we speak..."

Money goes round.png
Life is competition, and someone is always keeping score.
Click for audio version


One year ago, the faculty at Holberg university proposed the establishment of the Chair of the Wolf. As part of the challenge presented by the engineers, the Imperial Senate needed to commission four "worthy" construction enterprises one in each of the League cities. The challenge was completed and the title established during the Autumn Equinox and it is due to be appointed by Tally of the Votes at the forthcoming summit.

For many League citizens this is the first time a powerful new League title has been established in living memory. The new League Imperial title has the power to announce a single commission of a great work, ministry, sinecure, or folly, each season provided it construction is entirely within a League territory. Arguably this makes the title as important and impactful as the Regario Dossier and people are excited to see what comes of it. To build on the momentum, Merchant Prince, Fransesca di Matos has drawn attention to the grand competition proposed by the Aureliana di Sarvos at the Spring Equinox.

No city of the League brings in more than 100 Thrones tax per season. Let us not rest on our laurels. Holberg may be the most fortified city, but none is yet known as the richest. Citizens of the League - let our innovators, architects, artists, and preachers use their pride in their city to encourage trade, tourism, and new settlers, and be the first to 100. May the best city win!

Aureliana di Sarvos, League Assembly, 384YE Spring Equinox, (Upheld with a Greater Majority, 304-0)

Aureliana's idea did not catch the imagination at the time, because it is challenging to create any commission that increases taxation. Sometimes a commission may benefit the Imperial treasury as the result of some opportunity or other, but it's not something that anyone can predict or rely on. Nobody wants a competition where the outcome is determined by waiting to see what opportunities good fortune delivers.

But Fransesca, who in her own words "runs some of the least prestigious gambling houses in Tasato Mestra", is not one to give up on an opportunity to gamble as easily as that. The competition in her mind is brilliant - what better way to motivate the Prosperous citizens of the League to dig deep into their pockets than to jab at their Pride and Ambition? It just needs a little tweaking...

Life is a Competition

  • A competition has been announced - running for a year - to establish which of the four great cities of the League is the greatest
  • The winner will be whichever city spends the most wains on commissions and improvements to personal resources
  • Every wain committed to a commission or resource in the League for the next year counts

Fransesca's proposal is brutal in it's simplicity. A challenge to see which of the four great cities of the League, of the Empire is the greatest. Which is the most Ambitious? Whose citizens have the greatest Prosperity? Whose Pride runs deepest?

The competition will run for a single year, starting at the Winter Solstice 384YE and ending in time for the start of the solstice in 385. The winner will be the city that spends the most bourse resources to "improve" their territory. To keep things simple, Fransesca wants everything to count, so wains spent on follies, fortifications and fanes - all of it bar actual Imperial armies "since they have a tendency to get up and walk away once complete" as she puts it. If a cost is discounted or defrayed for any reason... then it will be the actual physical wains invested and used that counts.

Crucially Fransesca wants to include every wain invested in the the League to improve businesses and other resources. That way everyone can take part in the competition, everyone can play their part. She has spoken with the civil service and after checking with the constitutional court, they have confirmed that they can gather and present this information each season. Thus the League will have up-to-date running tallies each season, to see which city is forging ahead! Any new materials put towards existing commissions which are not yet complete, will count, but materials already invested do not.

So that's the competition - and the prize? Well bragging rights for starters. Which League city wouldn't want an opportunity to show once and for all that it's richer, more flamboyant, and more virtuous than the other three? To be the greatest city of the League - doesn't that arguably make you the greatest city in the world? And if you don't want to be the best... why are you even in the League? "Life is competition, and someone is always keeping score." as the common League aphorism goes.

But the Harlequin, believes the competition will yield other, more tangible, rewards. He is certain that that the burst of civic-minded Pride that winning the competition yields will lead to a raft of opportunities in the territory of whichever city triumphs. Indeed, arguably it is already bringing some benefits...

Everything Costs

  • News of the competition has fired enthusiasm across the League
  • Business resources in the League will cost one wain less than normal to improve for the duration of the competition

The Harlequin has used their inimitable charm to spread the idea of a grand competition to every corner of the League, hoping to get Loyal citizens fired up with enthusiasm to ensure that their city is the one to triumph. The competition speaks to every virtuous citizen who pursues the path of Ambition, Pride, or Prosperity. A chance to improve your position in life appeals to everyone - even better if you can work with your neighbours to demonstrate your city is the best. As a result there is a burst of industry as business after business begins to examine what it might take to expand their premises and do their bit to contribute to their city being victorious.

This wave of enthusiasm has immediate benefits for every business-owned in the League. Those who have the means can take advantage of the current conditions to upgrade their business more cheaply than normal. These benefits will last for a year - for the duration of the competition. During that time upgrading business personal resource in the League will require one wain of white granite less than normal.

The Rules of the Game

  • The Chair of the Wolf can announce one commission in the League each season
  • The Senate can announce commissions of their own
  • Other titles like the Master of the Koboldi and the wayleaves can announce commissions

The most obvious way to get ahead in the competition is for a city to seize control of the Chair of the Wolf. This newly created Imperial position has the power to announce a single commission in the League each season. A few people have complained that if the title-holder uses the year ahead to announce four commissions in the same city that will provide them with an unstoppable advantage.

Not so argues Fransesca, and she points out that it's not the number of wains that are announced that counts - it's the number of wains invested. Any investment counts, so a single vast commission announced using a wayleave could undo any advantage provided by the Chair of the Wolf in a single bound... assuming the wains are provided of course!

And anyway, if Fransesca's competition means there's even more interest in the Chair of the Wolf than might have otherwise have been the case, she claims that's no bad thing. Every city should want to be the best she says - all she's done is sharpen the focus on how that might be achieved.

The civil service have agreed to manage the competition on behalf of the Empire, publishing a "League table" each season to show exactly how many wains of investment each city has secured.

The Old Made New

  • A number of opportunities to create new commissions many of which had previously lapsed could now be built in the next year

People are not slow to recognise the possibilities that this competition presents, and there is renewed interest in some ideas that surfaced previously but didn't get enough momentum or support at the time. Several citizens are once again pushing pet projects and the general enthusiasm created by the idea of a competition means that a number of opportunities that had lapsed are now available once more. The following opportunities could be commissioned at any point until the end of the Autumn Equinox 385YE.

Sarvos Sea Defences (Link)
Sarvos. The Sarvos Chamber of Commerce have unearthed the plans of Menno van Rishjof for special sea defences With the status of the Grendel peace treaty far from certain, it's easy to see the value of a fortification specifically designed to protect against naval attack

Fortifications in Holmauer (Link)
Holberg. Brechtje Van Holberg, chief architect of the Holmauer Lodge, put forward her proposal to create a unique set of defences to kill the Druj at Holmauer in 380YE. The Walls of Holberg are already a wonder of the world but the addition to the defences would make them even more impressive - and much more lethal in the event the city were attacked.

Diora University Renovation (Link)
Sarvos. While waiting to hear back about an opportunity to build a tomb for Empress Lisabetta, the controversial architect apparently completed his plans for an ambitious renovation of Diora University. The architects whereabouts are not currently known, but he left the plans with the faculty in Sarvos. Centred around the establishment of a College of Autumn Magic, the expansion made special provision to attract foreign professors to take up teaching posts.

Colossus of Tassato (Link)
Tassato A handful of Tassatan citizens and artists, jealous of the Colossus of Sarvos, came up with plans for an even bigger statue, arms spread wide, visible to all approaching the twin-city by river. It was originally intended to attract the attention of the late Lorenzo Macelliao von Temeschwar, but with the wave of enthusiasm sweeping the League the artists have unearthed their plans and are still keen to see this great work of art established on the Red Rock. Il Volpe is gone, but would some wealthy citizen in the League might be persuaded to back a giant statue of themselves?

Capodomus Cathedral (Link)
Sarvos. Capodomus Cathedral in Sarvos is perhaps the most prestigious church in the League. Looted by the Grendel, plans to restore it to its original glory were presented but never enacted. Full refurbished, it would easily rival the Basilica of Seven Doors in Bastion, and serve as the seat of the "archbishop" of the League assembly.

Duelling Field Gardens (Link)
Holberg During the Autumn Equinox the Imperial Senate chose to secure Holmauer Park rather than remove the curse. With the Wunderkind Woods tamed, Abigail Ashill and Theodora Ashill von Holberg's proposal to transform the former Holberg University Duelling Society Field of Honour into a magically infused herb garden have been revisited. Harnessing the Winter magic is certainly feasible, and very much in keeping with the unique atmosphere of the park.

Sarvosan Songs and Spices (Link)
Sarvos While Sarvos' destiny as the City of Masks is secured, there are still opportunities to both refurbish the Glass Palace (the grand theatre), and establish the Greatest Taste (the open air banquet) in the city. Beautiful follies both, they would greatly contribute to Sarvos' position as a centre of culture in the Empire.

Firehouse in Sarvos (Link)
Sarvos Following the recent fires that raged in Caricomare, there's renewed interest in building a firehouse, or a series of wells intended to protect the city from future incendiary incidents.

University of Temeschwar (Link)
Temeschwar Proposals for a grand University at Temeschwar were put forward only last season, and remain available until Summer 385YE. The power of the Master of Rings could prove invaluable in the current competition.

Further Reading