Poets coming to the wharfs would spy the gleaming towers of the city of Duran’go reflecting the morning light in a thousand glittering windows and compose sonnets on sight. Then they would soon regret it, broken and beaten in some alley.
Windy, often cloudy, cool, and rough, the realm of Durango is gifted with the spirit of its people. Four seasons, a vibrant nightlife, and a hand in nearly all the trade throughout the Seven Seas gives it a lot more recognition that it often deserves. The Train comes to it from the Southwest after crossing through Blight’s Pass, and the rich and fertile fields of the many delightful towns and villages. To the East of the City is the Gantry, the graceful towers rising up to greet the Skyships that arrive from all over, and few can match the redoubtable Syndics in their graciousness and good humor.
It is almost a world to itself, with marvelous carriages and cobbled streets among the stone and glass towers that mark it the wonder it is.
Kingdom of Dur An Go
Battle Axe, Dirk
Hatchet, Hand Axe
Place your palms together in front of you nod your head
Applause is given through stamping of feet.
Only one person speaks for a couple. The other stays silent.
Weak, Gullible, Boring
Criminal, Performative, Dramatic
Duran’go city is famous for its towers, typically 528 feet to a side and as many as six stories high. These buildings house shops on the lower floors, and homes above, with several families living side by side. The very wide streets are often filled with riders, traditional carriages and wagons, and the popular among the wealthy carriages of the Syndic Ford, which are self-propelled wonders of the Clockworkers. Wind them up and off they go. Those same streets are, at night, lit by equally spaced lamps about 9 feet tall that light themselves at dusk and go out at dawn (though, in truth, people do attend to them).
Weather in Durango is usually overcast, foggy, damp, windy, and unreliable. Rain is often, which helps with the forest’s growth, but it also snows in the winter months with drifts as high as fifteen feet being a common feature.
The streets of Durango are not known for being safe – especially when competing syndicates or Houses are engaged in a war. A drive buy crossbow bolt might not seem like much of a threat, but when a half dozen are flying with no warning, one can never be too careful.
Worse are the duels between the various students and masters of swords or magic that can arise – usually over some woman, and never ending well for any of the parties.
Cikago: The Durangan Mint and a place of secret rafts and efforts. Said to be a favorite place of the Baron of Karovia.
Mirlago: A farming town known for being one of the most peaceful and safe places in the Empire.
Gothago: A mining town, heavy on the indentured.
Darthago: Site of the largest prison in all of the Empire, and also the place where people are sent to, so they never have to worry about them again.
Durango is famous for being filled with entertainment, being corrupt and dangerous, and being a wonderful place to live. This, by itself, says much about the nature of Durango, which imports nearly all its textiles and exports pretty much anything else it can.
Durango is a city of butchers, where the sandwich is an art form, and where the cutting and curing of meat is not the only use of butcher involved. The syndicates control immense areas of the realm and are more often the go to places for justice than the nobles – and the two are involved in a cold-hearted war that is only kept in check by the wars between the nobles and the syndicates themselves.
If you can make it in Durango, you can make it anywhere; from bum on the streets to telling your mother you are on top of the world, Durango is said to be a place where what you can do and what you decide to do can make your future more readily than anyone else. So long as you are willing to forego a few things like ethics and morals – not always an issue for adventurers.
Durango’s six story towers, spreading out from the Palace, the museums and double Arenas, the way that the poorest live in single story shacks nearest the thirty foot high walls around the sprawling city – these are things that everyone knows about and remembers, not the way that a Noble might be gunned down in the street or how the peculiar horseless carriages of the wealthy are something that makes everyone pause – just in case they crossed the wrong person the other day.
Durangans are a hardy, tough people, rarely given to jumping at shadows, and tend to be known for being more grounded than most. They must be in a city as famous for its gang wars as it is for its art, wealth, and wonder.
Durangans see themselves as homebodies, but are known to enjoy parties, and graciousness is a major expectation – to refuse a guest is almost a crime, and to be a poor host is a shame and humiliation few will tolerate being accused of.
It is argued there are two kinds of Durangans: The Law Abiding and the Syndic Abiding. There is more than a little truth to it, but also, most folks are a little bit of both. And that streak of independence and strong-willed spirit is part of why there is an ongoing battle between the Syndics and the Crown.
Openly or secretly, the Syndics control every guild, have influence in nearly every trade, manage extortion, provide and ensure there are many delights and fancies, and the only things slowing them down from complete control are the other Syndics, the Circles (because even Syndics do not want an Aztic war group on their doorstep), and the Crown itself.
To understand the politics, it does help to know that they Crown is a syndicate as well, and the King of Durango is a Syndic as well.
All of this, and Durango is known for strange massive buildings filled with precious art called “Musee” and incredible theaters both outdoors and indoors (indoors!) where dance and oratory and more is held. Durango has the best bard colleges in the Empire.
Alcohol is prohibited in Durango, as is prostitution, the use of the various dread plants like fadeleaf or myicor or going about without a head covering. It takes about five minutes to see that what this means is that the law means little here, and Reeves are busy.
For a realm that has alcohol forbidden, it produces the widest variety of hard liquors and is infamous outside of its area for the quality of its brothels. When it comes to trade, Durango is not a place that many think of; save for their having the best wines, best sugar, and their famously potent distilled spirits.
They are a leading contender for the most items preserved – pickling, canning, jellied, jugged, dried, smoked, salted, honeyed, sugared, and possible ore are just some of the ways that the ever-resourceful Durangans have found to preserve food, using tricks that are all but unknown elsewhere. Durangan sausages are almost as ubiquitous as Aztic pocket breads on ships and are served to passengers on both Skyships and the Train.
The streets of Durango have both horse drawn carriages and clockwork carriages that do not need any sort of horse or mule – they move on their own, following the turn of a large Winding Screw and piloted in the manner of ships of Sky, Sand, and Sea. Surprisingly, very few of its special clockwork carriages ever leave, while gold and antiquities from the Ancient lands are often shipped around the bright lands. The secret of making them has not yet been figured out, and it is said that the Syndicate that makes them does not sell them, merely rents them.
The influence of Syndicates on daily life is immense and taken as a given by the people. The city is divided up into territories, often with themed gangs of enforcers, and while an uneasy and always fragile stability exists much of the time, it often and frequently breaks out into bloody battles, assassinations, the carriage passes that may catch innocents, the mage battles that can erupt.
Add to this the development of a series of passages and tunnels beneath the city that are being used to create a way of moving around it quickly by carriage, and it can become a labyrinth of challenges. Some have said that crossing Durango in a night when wanted by many of the gangs is an epic journey of a specific kind.
Entertainment is of paramount importance, and once Dusk hits, the city switches over to a state of near festival time every single night. Be it grand games, some new theater piece, eating at shops that specialize in serving food and who bring it to you from a list, there is always something to see and do every night.
Durangan homes are usually divided into public and private areas, with kitchens and latrines in between. One innovation that has many jealous is a complex system of copper piping that uses hand cranked pumps to provide water to the various homes, called “apartments”, in which everyone lives. Large cisterns usually reside next to the fireplaces in the homes, which are built of wood with stone between the walls. Windows are usually oval and filled with a clear glass or a curtain. Stairs connect the floors, often to the side of the rooms, and there is always a “backroom” in any given storefront where the family enters and exists.
These homes are often owned by Syndicates or Houses, and the cost of them can vary. Those owned by the Lords tend to be nicer, but the Lords are also less likely to be forgiving of people who break rules or offend them.
The father in a Durangan family is the head of household, and has absolute say over all his children until they are 5. From five to 7, mothers have absolute say over children. After 7, it reverts to the father. People in Durango usually only have one spouse – more would be a bother.
Men pursue women, who are expected to be receptive to a point – but only one man can pursue a given woman at any time, and the woman has the power to end it or identify a suitor of her choice. Only women can apply for divorce in Durango. Women in Durango do not work outside the home and are expected to be pleasing to husbands. Other options are possible, but not as recognized relationships, and those involved are still expected to meet these expectations.
The King is the head of the Government, usually advised by the Queen, the Prince, and assorted Advisors, usually from his Syndicate and/or House. The Royal Family is divided among Dukes, Earls, and Counts, who oversee regions. House Guyle seeks to restore the monarchy and destroy the Syndicates and continues to offer Reeves extra rewards and entreat The Agency.
Houses and Syndicates create their own private laws, however, and most people are members of one or both (including the royal family). This creates a situation where there are often three competing legal forces, with their own goals and objectives.
There are three broad groups of police at work, each serving different legal systems. The Marshals are the legal force, working singly or in teams of 3 to 7. Marshals are infamous for being incorruptible. Grand Marshal Ness would stand for nothing less. Houses often have Highwaymen who see to their interests. They are more subtle, and act as judges and executioner. Syndicates use Enforcers. Known for brutality, and not for sharpness, they too are judges and executioner, but overall, less deadly.
Trial is before a Lord of the Realm, with a jury of 7 for each case. Verdicts are simple, swift, and sentences are fines and confinement. The prisons of Durango are all islands.
The military of Durango is composed of every able-bodied person between the ages of 6 and 10. Education in military law and tactics begins in childhood, and those between 10 and 15 are subject to conscription later by Marshals or in need.
This military force is often variable, for both the Houses and the Syndicates will draw from their rolls for similar functions, but in times of threat, will withdraw. The general purpose of the military is to protect not only Durango, but the Bright lands, should a threat ever arise from the Ancient Land. This ongoing preparedness is a caution built into the very fabric of the nation, from its earliest days when the founders realized they were near the Ancient land.
As a result, there are warehouses stocked with supplies throughout the realm – roughly 5% of all militarily useful materials are pulled every year.
This has led the Syndicates to ensure that such things are provided to those who want them – a saloon in Durango is always a hidden place, requiring knowledge and connections to find. These activities in turn, are opposed not only by the government, but by the Houses as well, some of whom are the main suppliers of such. The Syndics are known to enjoy a good strong drink, and whiskey is one of great popularity, though wine and beer are also made in large amounts. Much of this is formally shipped to such places as Eldorado, Sibola, and Qivira, where the booze is not as limited.
When Sibola exiled the Bards, they moved the greatest of the Colleges there, and to this day, the Entertainment stands upon a rise, a sprawling seven towered complex that is considered the greatest Tanjin n all the Empire for those who perform. It even has a school for Vanguards, and is a major sponsor of the Durangan Grand games, which are considered the most festive and the most riotous.
Durango is known for mining Copper, Zinc, and Tin, and for making the durable, strong Bronze and Brass that are used throughout the world. They also have a flourishing lumber trade, and are one of the major reasons that the Train was purchased – they are the meatpackers of the Empire, slaughtering and preparing the cattle shipped by Train to them from Dorado.
Sausage and other forms of meat meant to be preserved are a huge part of their lives, especially the one called Brawurt.
As is common throughout the Empire, children are educated at Tanjins, and here they are all taught to read and write. Critical thinking and obedience to authority are also drilled in young, in the hopes that it will produce more useful citizens. Those who are not as strong on reading and math are often encouraged to enter into other more physical activities, and perhaps even to leave school early so that they might earn a living working for a Syndic as a leg breaker.
Durangans love to be entertained, and find it in all manner of diversions and distractions. Nowhere else has quite the complex, lively sort of night time activity as you find in Durango – Durangans say that everyone else rolls up their sidewalks shortly after dark.
With the skystone lanterns that light up the sidewalks and brighten the shops, the cafes and restaurants of the city, and the endless array of places to go and be entertained, the only thing that keeps a bit of a damper on it all is the crime – but even the syndicates find the value of such entertainments, and enjoy the ability to provide what folks need that may be frowned on otherwise.
Theater and Museums are two of the most important features of Durango as a whole, and the two form the final points of the Triangle of Joy with the Grand Games. Museums are scattered throughout Durango, and theaters are said to have a place of honor in every section, from small intimate affairs to large carefully built ones.
Duric Fashion is often at odds with the rest of the Empire. Duric footwear is considered impractical by many, especially the women’s version that uses thinner heel risers. They typically wear hats, as additional protection from sudden rain and bright sun, and those are frequently pinned to the head or held on by straps against the wind.
Women are often treated as decorations, and the Durangan word for girlfriend – Moll – speaks volumes because her role is to look nice and be available and little else.
Bugs Lansky: Famous for being a Gangster who stopped being one and became one of the most gracious and gentle of nobles after his daughter’s marriage to the Count D’Kristo. His youth was exceedingly violent.
Elias Nest: A Reeve whose ability to clean up a town had become legendary long before he added to it by taking down five Syndicates by himself.
Debora Moll: Her name is now the word used to describe the girlfriend of any powerful figure in Durango, and she herself was a power that held both the nobility and the syndicates in thrall.
Duric arms are a unique thing. For a city that has people drive by in clockwork cars and shoot crossbow bolts at folks on the street, one would expect it to be able to do well.
And to an extent, they have. The weapon that Durangans favor over all others is an axe. Big or small, they have taken to axes the same way that those who first came to this land took down trees with them. There are three general categories of Duric Axe. The axe is often considered a bit of a symbol for them, though it is treated and talked about as if it really means a cleaver, because of the cutting of meat. The axe is a favorite tool and weapon of the syndicates.
Battle Axes, single bladed with a hammer head like opposite end, are space clearing weapons used two handed. More common is the Hatchet. This is a single-handed weapon, a broad blade with a spike on the top and a piercing point opposite the blade, it is sometimes used in pairs by the truly gifted. The final axe is called a Duric Tosser, or a hand axe or a throwing axe. It is a light weapon with a single sharp blade on the head and a flat side behind it that is balanced and weighted to be thrown. A master of this weapon will often have four of them.
As you might gather, Hand Bows are also popular, but as they are outlawed (officially along with swords, which gets enforced surprisingly well) they are kept secret.
One other unique Duric thing is the light armor they have. Called Duric Pocket Armor, it relies on a series of small plates stored in pockets throughout a garment meant to protect the wearer. It generally is designed to look as if the wearer is not wearing any armor and is not as useful as something akin to a decent breastplate or cuirass, but it does do the job, especially if you are worried about rapidly moving clockwork vehicles and crossbow bolts.
As many Syndics are. Durango is also where the Snuffer was invented, and most of those drive by killings happen with the killers using hand crossbows.
This tendency to need to be aware of Axes and arrows in the night led to the development of armor that meets the needs of looking to be in fashion and in style, as well as to provide protection – something later stolen from them as an idea by Akadia.
Duric Pocket Armor uses regular clothing with additional pockets in the lining, into which thin, light plates are inserted to act as protection from such straw elements. They do little to protect the head or limbs, but they are focused on being unseen and hidden, potentially giving them a chance to strike back at their attacker after such failures.