Within the midst of the fiercely independent eastern territories, the city named Great Forks lies at the confluence of the Yellow River and the Rolling River. The City of Temples (as it is known to savants) is a place of celebration. Gods of all sorts have shrines and followings here and the festivals thrown for them often span the city in their decadence. Indeed the city is ruled by Three powerful Gods with a council of statesmen beneath them. The average citizen is well-educated, many are literate and are mildly condescending towards outsiders but not unkind. The economy is carried by a form of limited slavery, but even most of the slaves feel lucky to live in such a center of learning and culture.
A little over a decade ago the army of Great Forks was wiped out nearly to a man. What passes for an army now has been woefully untested. Very few veterans are left, and the city's rulers know it. They work very hard to maintain good relations with neighboring kingdoms.
- Dedicates of the Ovanda Sutra: Originating in Great Forks, the Dedicates study the scriptures of the sex goddess Ovanda, who teaches that extreme indulgence is just as spiritually demanding as asceticism. All her monks study the Orgiastic Fugitive Style of martial arts. Her worship has proven popular, given the holy lovemaking techniques her Dedicates share with everyone at the holy brothel-temples established in her name in Nexus, Great Forks and along the Grey River.
- The Blood-Lotus Society: Something half-way between a private arena and an orgy club, the Blood-Lotus Society of Great Forks specializes in finding the most attractive and skilled fighters to duke it out in the club's private facilities. Before the fight, all competitors are feted like gods by those who have bet on them, with the rich and powerful of the city abasing themselves for the chance to dally with them before the fights. Those who win the fights become the darlings of the Society, while the losers are unceremoniously dumped out the servants' entrance. Most of those who come through these doors fight in either the First Pulse or Orgiastic Fugitive styles, and the upper echelons of the Society - the Masters of the Blood-Lotus - are themselves masters of the Orgiastic Fugitive techniques.
Laws Regarding Slaves in Great Forks
- All slaves must be marked with a mark of ownership. Typically, this is done through tattooing or branding within the city, though visitors often visit one of the jewelers just inside the city gates to get a mark stamped on earrings for their slaves. Slaves must wear these marks at all times.
- Slaves must have a manumission price, and they must be kept up to date on that price at all times.
- Slaves may own property.
- Slaves may marry.
- Slaves may only be subjected to certain types of punishment.
- Slaves may not be cut off from their families.
- Slaves may not be coerced into worshipping in any cult, temple or faith.
- Slaves must be given one-half day off from work per week in order to meet any faith requirements they may have; most people in Great Forks simply give their slaves a full day off per week.
- Killing a slave is a civil crime, if perpetrated by a non-owner. An owner may only kill a slave if the slave is guilty of certain crimes; other wise, the owner is required to pay a civil fine, paid by releasing other slaves worth three times the full manumission price of that slave.
Great Forks City Lore
Historical & Geographic Details
- Great Forks is a round walled city, divided into five districts, on the Yellow River.
- There is a Shadowlands nearby, called “Walker’s Realm.”
- The five districts are the Palace of the Three other civic buildings and the Temple district in the middle, the North quarter where the civic slave dormitories and other slave services are, the East Quarter where the military and those who serve the military (including healers) are found, the strongly mercantile South Quarter and the West Quarter, which deals mainly with the city’s drug production trade but is also home to the tanneries and other large-scale productions.
- The fields around Great Forks are massive marijuana, qat and tobacco fields.
- Founded 500 years ago when three groups of refugees arrived at that point in the river and the gods leading them came to an accord.
- Athleticism and fitness is very popular in Great Forks, both as a means of keeping fit, but also as a means of keeping attractive. Clothing tends to reflect a greater pride in the body, and it’s not uncommon for styles to be cut to show off skin.
- Most citizens of Great Forks are literate, as each temple that brings in at least a dozen children every year to teach reading and writing to receive tax breaks.
- The city’s citizens enjoy relatively relaxed lifestyles as bureaucrats, marketers, university workers, managing slaves, making drugs or in the priesthoods or leisure industries, thanks to the high population of slaves and gods willing to use their powers on behalf of the populace.
- It is illegal to compare Great Forks favorably to Heaven.
Government & Mercantilism
- The city is ruled by a triumvirate of gods, who are simply called “the Three.”
- The city is well-known for its drugs, wines and magical mixtures, potions and components.
- Their individual names are Spinner of Glorious Tales, Weaver of Dreams of Victory and Shield of a Different Day.
- Slaves have a very strict and specific set of rights within the city, and violating those laws is the quickest route into slavery for citizens and visitors alike.
- Beneath the three are the nine Ministers who form the Council, who tend to the day-to-day affairs of the city. The Ministers are each assisted by a Deputy Minister.
- Those who own slaves but are not capable of keeping them according to a certain set of strict requirements must house them in the city’s slave dormitories.
- The Ministers are grouped into trios, each of which is under one of the Three. Shield of a Different Day oversees the Ministers of Military, Residency and Research. Weaver of Dreams of Victory oversees the Ministers of Trade, Worship and Logistics. Spinner of Glorious Tales oversees the Ministers of Lore, Diplomacy and Other Matters.
Military History & Strength
- During the attack on the Confederation of Rivers by the city of Thorns (backed by the Realm), Great Forks’ army was very nearly utterly destroyed. It still has not recovered its numbers, even more than a decade later.
- City peace is kept by the Enforcers, who tend to be made up of spirits and God-Bloods, and falls under the Ministry of Worship.
- Though their original army consisted of over 3000 highly trained soldiers, it is now barely at 2000, and 75% of them are poorly trained.
- Enforcers are notorious for Charms that allow them to cross the city quickly, turning up when least expected.
Martial Arts World
- Due to the large number of God-Bloods and others with enlightened Essence, there is a very rich and active martial arts world in Great Forks.
- The most notorious temple of martial artists are the Dedicates of the Ovandra Sutra, who worship a goddess of sex named Ovandra. These hierodules (sacred prostitutes) practice the excesses of the Orgiastic Fugitive style.
Spiritual, Religious & Supernatural
- The city does a brisk trade in alchemical mixtures, poisons, drugs and all manner of Thaumaturgical trades, including training in mortal Thaumaturgy.
- Great Forks is ruled by three powerful deities, who have invited other gods to come be worshipped freely in their city, in return for service to the Three.
- City is ruled by Spinner of Glorious Tales, Weaver of Dreams of Victory and Shield of a Different Day.
- There is a Shadowlands nearby.
- People with supernatural origins (such as parents who are gods, or other entities) are quite common in Great Forks. In fact, it’s rather fashionable to be able to claim such heritage, rather than something of fear or shame as in other places.
- These three are the gods who ventured here with the original groups of refugees.
- The Shadowlands is ruled by the Deathlord known as the Walker in Darkness.
- Spinner of Glorious Tales is a god associated with traveling storytellers and those who are fated for great things. It is said that he brings grandeur and appeal to Great Forks.
- Weaver of Dreams of Victory is a goddess of dreams and the meeting of destinies. It is said that she brings a sense of community and connection between its residents and their gods.
- Shield of a Different Day is a goddess of war, defense and diplomacy. It is said that she brings the city hope and order.
- There are even Fair Folk who dwell in Great Forks. They are permitted to remain, as long as they don’t harm anyone without consent.
- Legends say that the Shadowlands was once ruled by another Deathlord, but when she came into conflict with the Three, she was forced to flee.
- Most of the criminal element in the city can be found in the North Quarter, tucked in among the slaves and other menial workers.
- Every decade or so, the Five Shades Association tries to get into the city, but the Three are opposed to their presence.