States of Light
Salerno is a bustling coastal city of about 12,000 souls. Over a third of the population is human, but members of virtually any civilized race can be found there.
Salerno officially has no army of its own, but it is protected by members of The League drawn from the citizenry of the other cities. As a mark of respect for their martial prowess, Krandor maintains a garrison of infantry, Ulan Bator supplies a unit of cavalry, and ships from Madrieira patrol the harbour. Spellcasters from Shibi Mal Tan and Goliaths from Mergut form the elite guards for city officials.
Though The All Church frowns upon all things arcane, Salernites are far too pragmatic to ignore the potential offered by magic.
Like most of the city states, Salerno is built on the site of a much older city, which was probably built on the site of an even older village. The natural harbour makes it an excellent place for seafaring peoples to gather and its separation from the mainland made it slightly more secure in the ongoing conflicts that decimated most population centres after the collapse of the last empire.
Salerno’s prominence is primarily due to the actions of a man named Marino Morosini. Morosini was a political and military genius who managed to seek out and forge bonds between the far-flung points of civilization. He recognized the value of establishing mutual defence and trade pacts and managed to convince the disparate groups controlling each of the city states to participate. Initially, Morosini wielded his army – then the most powerful single force in the known world – as a bludgeon poised to destroy any who spoke against him. As the city states fell into place, however, he brilliantly transitioned from motivating with the “stick” to motivating with the “carrot”. He cemented the bonds and earned the loyalty of many by officially disbanding his army and placing his best officers at the disposal of the city states. This removed Salerno as a threat to the sovereignty of any specific city state while simultaneously providing Morosini with substantial influence over all of them. Any city that hoped to attack Salerno would have to do so under the threat of retribution from most or all of the others.
After creating the pacts that lead to the current States of Light, Morosini returned to Salerno and began his next peacekeeping project: The All Church. Though it took him more than a decade, Morosini was able to bring together and unite the leaders of all Unaligned, Good and Lawful churches under a single banner. Temples of The All Church feature shrines to every god and goddess acknowledged by the city states.
While traveling to unite the churches, Morosini also established infrastructure to encourage trade. He built multiple fortresses to act as waypoints where trade caravans could rest safely and replenish supplies (for a small fee). At the strongest of these waypoints (including the cities themselves) he set up vaults where merchants could safely store their valuables in exchange for letters of credit that could be cashed at any other waypoint with a vault (for a small fee). The security of both the vaults and waypoints was guaranteed by former members of Morosini’s army (The League). These measures vastly improved the safety and convenience of inter-city trade.
The consolidation of both temporal and spiritual power brought the first notions of stability to a region that had been little more than lawless chaos for hundreds of years. While no one is completely happy with the situation, everyone acknowledges that the pacts of mutual defence and trade have made life far better for most citizens. Furthermore, they hold out hope that the Inner Sea may someday become a civilized region again.
The above-mentioned details are well documented and accepted as historical fact by the majority of citizens who care enough to think about such things. Historical facts, of course, are recorded by the victors…
The reality of Morosini’s conquest is considerably more brutal and antagonistic. While his army was officially disbanded, leaving Salerno dependent on the other cities for defence, in reality he simply culled the rank and file soldiers and retained only the elite members who pledged complete loyalty to him personally. He renamed this elite force The League, and carefully disguised its true power and scope. Anyone who attempted to resist was crushed either through trade sanctions, excommunication, or assassination (or combinations thereof).