Three Power Structures
Like many feudal governments, three power structures exist: the aristocratic land owners, the church land owners, and the guilds. All three groups pay soldiers, alchemists, mechanics, and thieves in order to manipulate their opponents in different and subtle ways. All three are ranked in importance by the social system of prestige.
The gods guide this triune structure. The aristocratic land owners align with the Righteousness and Individualism deities. The Community and Justice deities support the guilds. The church represents the full gamut of alignments, obviously. One might say the deities caused the political structure and others might say the political structure caused the deities, but only under their breath.
The aristocrats sit astride the feudal system, a system focused on the creation of an armed militia. Each land owner (Baron) must produce an army to serve their count for up to 3 months each year, if requested. The Baron also must pay tax to the Count, generally 1/3 of their income. The tax is typically paid in a combination of goods and coin. Counts often field a standing core army in addition to the militias.
Aristocrats are also involved with standing armies of knights, typically consisting of individuals rich enough to own weapons and armor, but not privileged to own land. The Pendragon Knights are the current favorite among the nobility in Roustein, a group dedicated to the re-capture of Blackstone. The Knights of the Furrow are another such group, this one dedicated to protecting the outlying villages from ogre raids.
The church often gently or deviously opposes the aristocrats. The agricultural churches dominate the power structure in Roustein. These churches own many villages and the accompanying fields. Aristocrats donate these lands to the church in order to spread knowledge of good farming and husbandry practices. The church also tends to perform humane services and reduce the need for courts and sheriffs. In order to help exert power over the aristocrats, the church supports its own order of knights, the Knights of the Furrow. An attack of the Knights of the Furrow against a town or village is not uncommon, though the church finds alchemistry and thieves can be more effective.
The power structure within the churches are lead by the followers of Phyton and Merikka. Both of these religions control considerable land interests, temples, and money. Another formidable religious structure is Zilchus and Mouqol. These temples serve as the deal brokers, banks, and insurers of Roustein. The clerics control the Knights of the Furrow.
The trade guilds do not have a standing army, but the guilds often have more cash flow than the other two power centers. The cash flow of an aristocrat can be seasonal and often consisting of goods rather than coin. The trade guilds keep the mechanics, thieves, and alchemists well employed, though often against other guilds. The River Guide Guild is the most powerful guild in Roustein.
The Ox Plains hold an abundance of resources and rich farmlands to grow foods. However, the people of the plains are simple pilgrims, refugees, and outcasts content to live life in the backwaters. Fine goods travel upstream through the Yellowtail swamp on river boats or are obtained through trade with elves and gnomes. Spices and tobacco can easily be obtained from the Halfling clans that live in the great swamp. The guilds prefer alchemists (assassins) and tinkers to be on their payrolls.