Montporte (known by its inhabitants as “The High City”)is a cliff-top city-state ruled by a king and parliament. While the government certainly holds a large sway in the city, many non-political forces “rule” just as strongly in different areas. The thieves guild, for example, rules the slums and maintains order more than the militia does.
The city parliament is made up of representatives from each of the districts. The representatives are chosen by the governors of each district for a 2 year period, and they are in turn appointed by the king for 10 years. The king is appointed by the Head Council, so named by the fact that it consists of the heads of each of the noble families, for life. The king taxes the districts, and the governors tax the people of their districts. The aristocracy control the money in the city, and can boycott districts (or just sell underground in a district).
The city’s economy is mostly trade via sea and agriculture from the wealth of farms around the city walls. Civilization ends about 1 1/2 miles from the main gate. Some scattered villages enjoy the prosperity and security the city provides in that area, but few venture outside the protected zone. Because of the dangers of the wild, land trade is very difficult with even the nearest city-states, though some daring merchants pay the price of armed guards in exchange for lucrative profits.
The city is divided into ~40 self-governing (more or less) districts. Each district employs its own militia, has its own traditions and fashions, and its own shops. Each district has a different power center (official government) and power center (unofficial). Players who want to find out about a district’s power centers must make a Streetwise (gather information) check. Players who don’t know about the local fashions/fads/traditions receive a -4 penalty to Streetwise checks while in the district.
The poorer districts are on the beach or carved into the cliff. The middle class cliffs are along the path around and up the mountain. The further along the street you go, the wealthier the districts get until you reach the palace at the mountain top. The red-headed stepchild of the city is the goblinoid district. The goblins and other creatures that live here dwell in poverty. The less intelligent brutes make a living by maintaining the city’s sewer systems. Each of the districts should have its own page, though some may not.
Socially, humans dominate the city. It’s not uncommon to see other races in the poorer districts, but in the upper-middle-class and noble areas of town, it’s rare to see anything but a human or some variant of elves. Many humans are prejudiced against other races, and in many parts of town, various inns and shoppes will have “Humans Only!” signs on the doors. Eladrin and elves are sometimes accommodated.
Arcane spell-casters are also discriminated against amongst the poorer areas, though adventurers and nobility recognize their utility. Arcana is considered an “upper-class” thing, and mages are viewed as power-hungry oppressors who overprice their wares so that the poor can’t get them. It doesn’t help that most wizards are from wealthy families who could afford to put their kids into the university/academy for arcane training. Sorcerers/warlocks are the exception to the arcane discrimination. The lower-classes view them as the poor-man’s answer to wizards, symbols of the fact that one doesn’t need expensive tuition to discover power that would make kings melt with envy.
Because of the geography, the ocean is more than a locational feature: it’s a way of life. A great deal of the city only gets to see the sun when it sets at the end of the day, as the cliff faces west. Cliff/beach dwellers (born and raised) get a +2 circumstance bonus to Athletics check when swimming.