Grand Duchy of Alkenstar- Magic-dead Scientific Microstate
Alkenstar at a glance:
- Alignment: LN
- Capital: Alkenstar City (53,600)
- Notable Settlements: Dongun Hold (1,900), Martel (10,300)
- Ruler: Grand Duchess Trietta Ricia
- Government: Constitutional monarchy
- Ethnicity: Garundi, Keleshites
- Languages: Osiriani, Kelish
- Religion: Torag, Abadar, Erastil, Irori
Once a haven for refugees fleeing the worst of the wars between Geb and Nex, Alkenstar and its holdings have evolved into a neutral meeting ground for the leaders and merchants of those nations. The Grand Duchy also acts as a sanctuary from the many horrors of the Mana Wastes, including the feared sandkrakens.
Without magic to aid them, the people of Alkenstar turned to alchemy, engineering, and metallurgy to survive. Alkenstar engineers design intricate clockwork machines and breathtaking structures, its alchemists search for the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone, and its metallurgists continue to refine the world’s strongest alloys. All three groups work together in Alkenstar City’s impressive Gunworks, a massive factory that churns out most of Golarion’s gunpowder weapons (from simple bombards to advanced small arms). Thanks to the scarcity of gunpowder in the world, the expense of the weapons, and the relative fragility of firearms, the Grand Duchy keeps most of the guns it produces. Alkenstar gunmarshals wield their firearms in the defense of the nation – making Alkenstar one of the most heavily defended countries in Garund – and in mercenary groups who frequently augment the armies of Nex. Alkenstar also exports its engineers and alchemists across the Inner Sea region, where they either emigrate or work long and lucrative contracts.
Most firearms manufactured in Alkenstar come out of the Gunworks in a process resembling mass production. None of these firearms are masterwork. Throughout the Grand Duchy, however, numerous gunsmiths repair, modify, and build a variety of guns. Weapons made by one of these skilled gunsmiths are always masterwork in quality. In addition, these masters of their craft can alter a normal firearm manufactured in the Gunworks into a masterwork weapon, although this usually costs double the normal masterwork price.
Despite its size and 12 hours of operation per day, Alkenstar’s massive Gunworks (which looks more like a small castle than anything else) produces only one completed small-arms weapon per day and five siege weapons per year. Capacity of the Gunworks far exceeds this amount, but the public representative of the Gunworks explains away its slow output as a desire to keep the prices artificially high to maximize profits. Cynics speculate that the Gunworks fears that a glut of firearms in the wold might jeopardize Alkenstar’s long-term safety, as close to 90% of the weapons manufactured there remain in the hands of Alkenstar and its people. The Gunworks readily admits it can increase its production by an exponential amount – and it has done so in the past whenever Alkenstar faced war.
In a strictly legal sense, the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar belongs to Nex, and in theory the Grand Duchess answers to the leaders of that nation. In practice, though, Alkenstar acts independently of its northern neighbor, and retains a careful balance of neutrality between Nex and Geb. A High Parliament of 73 ministers represents the numerous factions within the three cities and the small rural sections of the duchy.
the magic-dead but resource-rich Grand Duchy of Alkenstar is tucked into a steep, narrow canyon of the Ustradi River within the eastern edges of the Shattered Range, on the edge of the reality-warping Mana Wastes.
The entire Grand Duchy stands on mountain slopes and is heavily terraced and braced. The dwarves of the Sky Citadel of Dongun Hold provide the engineers, alchemists, and metallurgists of Alkenstar with metal and minerals, receiving food and ice wine in exchange. There are no forests and precious few trees (hanks to the destruction that caused the Mana Wastes), and grasses, fig trees, and grape vines struggle to survive here. Terraced vineyards produce rare grapes made into a delectable ice wine particularly enjoyed by the ruling caste of Geb. In return, the moribund aristocrats of the nation provide most of Alkenstar’s food, as the produce of Alkenstar’s twisted plant life cannot hope to sustain its people.
Where the river canyon opens onto the Mana Wastes, Alkenstar erected a massive line of defense composed of two walls, a series of ditches, and various other static defenses. Thanks to these barriers and the hundreds of gunmarshals who guard them, the Grand Duchy manages to keep at bay even the worst of the Mana Wastes’ many threats.
Opposite Dongun Hold, Cloudreaver Keep connects it to Alkenstar City. The keep functions as Alkenstar’s eastern border protection. Since its completions, the keep has been under attack frequently, from ghosts and other haunts tormenting it from within, and yetis besieging it from without.
Inside the Hellfallen Cliffs, the Alkenstar people built a massive bombard – the second-largest ever built. This immense weapon has a 81-inch bore, a maximum range of 19 miles, and a minimum range of 8 miles. Its shells weigh 3 tons and require 14 men 1 hour to load. Since its completion 200 years ago, the Great Maw of Rovagug (as it is appropriately called) has only been fired twice: once as a demonstration and once to imperil a trio of sandkrakens (although the bombard did not score a direct hit, its immense shell created a 60-foot crater that caused the immense creatures to scatter).
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting