I’m considering the option of starting my game in Harat*, City of the Free, a Class-III Market of 4,000 families and an independent city-state known for its abolition of slavery (which is widely practiced in the rest of Kanahu). Twenty years ago, gladiators headed by Hardun, a Lizardman Gladiator, led a massive slave revolt against Harat’s corrupt sorcerer-king and Chaos-worshipping nobility, overthrowing the old regime and abolishing slavery. The current regime is ad-hoc and quite anarchic (if Lawful), with King Hardun being the titular ruler, and personal fighting ability and cunning being much more respected than which family you were born to (think of a (Lizardman) Spartacus taking over Rome!). Gladiatorial games are common but are entered by free men (and lizards), and are mostly non-lethal but sometimes lethal as well; trial by gladiatorial combat and duelling in public (with the public placing bets on the duellists!) are common ways of resolving disputes.
Outside the city you have a semi-feudal system where Hardun’s trusted lieutenants rule the various sub-domains (and have the right to tax them and to conscript locals into the militia) but do not own the land outright; the old Latifundia of the old noble class were split into smaller, independent farms and distributed to their freed slaves, who are now freemen farmers.
This city has much flavour to it, as well as numerous adventuring opportunities, but I wonder if it is not large enough for a starting location. Would a 4,000-family, Class-III-Market settlement be ideal for a campaign’s start (probably starting at level 3), or would a more provincial settlement suit a game’s start better?
- This is from my Barbarian Conqueror King setting, which you can see in my blog here: