Two notes about this city. First, it uses a numbering city in parenthesis to indicate which floor the current description applies to. Second, the concept for the history of this city was created in part by a member of my D&D group. His screen name is Zigfried and he deserves a lot of credit for developing the unique flavor of Sheerzen’s history.
Sheerzen is a town of about 10,000 people built in the middle of Apollo’s Plains. The town was constructed by an early group of heroes, Brelfagar the Dwarven fighter, Shoree the Human paladin, Sunrise the Elven wizard, and Jeffery the Human cleric of the Muses. This adventuring party known as the Bronze Chords served their bronze dragon master, Rilopenaril. There are not many useful resources in the area around Sheerzen besides good soil. The city is not along any large rivers or trade routes. Earthquakes routinely rock the area destroying most buildings and any tunnels that would provide a connection to the Underdark. Sheerzen was constructed in this location precisely because it had little to offer. With no resources, the Bronze Chords hoped it would always be a peaceful city.
Sheerzen has only one building, a gigantic castle built atop an even bigger hill and surrounded by a moat. The keep rises about one thousand feet into the air. At the center of the tower is an empty space about forty feet across. This area is called the levitation elevator and bestows the power of levitation on all those who come into it. There are stairs, but most residents use the elevator. The elevator does not reach the top six levels of the fortress. A magical waterfall goes through the center of this great empty space and provides all the water the citizens need. The waterfall disappears into a magical hole in the ground floor to prevent flooding.
The whole structure is reinforced with adamantine and lead making it impossible to teleport or scry into. The first five (1-5) levels of the castle are entirely defensive except for a park at the base of the elevator. These defensive levels are a show of force to visitors and an actual precaution against those who might attack Sheerzen. Hundreds of arrow slits look out on Apollo’s Hill making sure no army can approach within a mile without being shot at by ballistae, bows, crossbows, slings, catapults, and magical defenses.
The next dozen or so (6-19) levels are mostly commercial, so that tourists and visitors to the city need not go too far to find what they are looking for. The town sells commemorative items with a specialty in complex imitation weapons and armor for children to wear. Many famous painters, sculptors, and architects are also from Sheerzen and copies of their works are sold in numerous shops. The hotels and restaurants of the city are also on the commercial levels.
The next few (20-26) levels are where crafting takes place. These levels although unattractive need to be low in the fortress so that resources would not have to be taken all the way up to the top of the building. Sheerzen has a large available space for making items, but not enough people using that space. It would be a rival to Crafterton if it shared a similar central location in The Magical Lands. The work place and tools are free to use for all, but craftsmen must provide their own materials. A popular recreation for the people of Sheerzen is to see who can make the best of a particular type of item or how fast someone can make such an item.
The next couple dozen (27-93) levels are mostly residential with parks on some levels surrounding the elevator. A few hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses take up shop on these levels as well, but it is against an unenforced law for them to do so. These levels are considered claustrophobic by the people who do not live in Sheerzen because of the low ceiling on the wide boulevards.
The next (94) level of Sheerzen contains the city’s legal facilities, jail, and police headquarters. The police headquarters is on the inner circle with the jail in the middle circle and the courts and lawyer’s offices on the outer circle. The town has no punishments for which the jail is required. The jail is used to house criminals before their trials. Sheerzen’s legal code is regular except that during a siege or war almost every punishment is death. Capital punishment is always carried out by tossing the convict off the roof of the fortress. The landing spot is surrounded by a railing to prevent an innocent person being crushed by any falling felons.
The next three (95-97) levels are for the administrative offices of the town. The treasury of Sheerzen is on the 95th level with an extensive guard contingent to prevent theft. The bureaucrats are on these levels as well as the library and hospital. The elevator does not reach these levels. Permission from Sheriff Dratles or another person of similar importance is required to access the staircase to the 95th floor and above.
The 98th level is entirely empty except for the stairs going up and down directly across from each other. Most people upon entering this room for the first time find it unsettling due to the low ceiling. Some with weaker constitutions have even thrown up when walking across it. The rumor is that it serves some purpose for the defense of the city, but no one really knows.
The 99th and 100th levels make up the palace of the large royal family. The royals are descended from the Bronze Chords. Rilopenaril repeatedly seeded the adventurers’ descendants with his own bloodline ensuring that any member of the Sheerzen royal family would have some draconic features. Additionally all of the royal family members have some command over arcane power due to their draconic descent. Rilopenaril encouraged the development of this arcane power in the royal family and eventually he became obsessed with it. The dragon organized magical duels for his children to determine who was the best sorcerer. This tradition expanded until the successor to the current monarch was chosen by the winner of a series of lethal duels between the bronze dragon’s grandchildren.
Danar the Beastslayer was the most significant king in Sheerzen’s history. Exiled at an early age, Danar returned to the city after training for many years in the swamp that now bears his name. Danar slew his elder brother, Einhart, in a magical duel and claimed the crown. He joined the other heroes of the age in their fight against the tyranny of the dragons. Danar helped defeat his own ancestors, Rilopenaril and the dragon’s twin sister, Langudina. The mortal warrior locked away the dragon monarchs in the Orbs of Dragonkind, becoming the guardian of the Red Orb.
Rilopenaril left Sheerzen after his sister was locked away in the Bronze Orb. He guards the Bronze Orb at a hidden location close to the tower city. The conditions of Rilopenaril’s magical bondage allow him to visit Sheerzen for the coronations, funerals, and weddings of each successive monarch. The current king and queen are Dominiic and Freya. Forty years ago the Xorian army marched upon Sheerzen. The king and queen surrendered the city to Xoria on the condition that their line and traditions be allowed to continue. King Dominiic and Queen Freya elected to keep their mortality, but do not judge the decisions their subjects make. Under these conditions, a mortal and Dragovinian aristocracy have peacefully mixed in Sheerzen.
Sheerzen was built to be a haven for artisans and craftsmen to practice their art without worrying about their income. The city’s enchantments allow the monarchy to easily provide patronage for hundreds of artists. To defend the city the army is outfitted with the best weapons available and focuses on learning defensive battle strategies without losing a single man to the opponent’s weapons. Because the fortress creates its own food and water within it is always prepared for a siege. The magical nature of the monarchy extends to the army where mages are trained to dispel and counter enemy battle mages.
Danar has recently returned to life due to the destruction of the Red Orb. The magic that orchestrated his return will only allow him to rest once Invernix is defeated once more. Danar decided to delay his confrontation with Invernix due to the numerous other contemporary threats to the people of Cimmeria. Once he feels the world is safe enough, Danar will confront Invernix once more.
While working on my finals I tried to relax a little bit by working on the Gurutama Wiki.
I’ve been tackling the behemoth that is the Slavery article on Gurutama. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Different types of slavery, how slavery is practiced in different locations, and the morality of slavery in a world with an absolute set of moral rules (for example, is temporary enslavement of convicts in exchange for a reduced sentence acceptable?).
I’ve been trawling the internet for images to post alongside what I write.
I want good images, but I also want to use them legally. I could just pick up any old image and plop it on the Wiki, but there’s a risk if the owner of that image gets mad at me and decides to take legal action.
In most cases that would just be a cease and desist letter. I’d take the image off the site and no one is hurt. But since my friends and I have a passing interest in eventually releasing the Gurutama campaign setting as a Kickstarter, we need to cover our legal butts before something bad happens.
There’s three basic ways the owner of an image can give permission for me to use their property.
1. An established license like the Wikimedia license or the Creative Commons license. The Wikimedia license is awesome. Essentially everything on Wikipedia is free to use in other projects as long as the attribution to the original author stays with the image.
2. Asking the owner of the image if you can use it. I unfortunately haven’t gotten responses from any of the cool images I want to use. And a lack of response counts as a “No.”
3. Implied consent. If an artist allows their image to be used by a bunch of places without taking action against them, then I can assume that I don’t need to ask their permission.
I got access to the following image due to a round-about application of implied consent.
This image is actually owned Games Workshop as part of their Warhammer card game.
Games Workshop allows their images to be used by anyone for any purpose as long as the original artist gives permission.
Andddd… John Wigley has allowed tons of people to use his image with no indication that he requires people to ask him for permission. Therefore, implied consent. I get to use it.
I did still ask him if I could use it, but got no response. Unlike when I asked to use the Gibraltar photo, there’s enough evidence that this one is okay to use, as long as I’m not profiting from the use.
There is a fourth source for images to use on the Gurutama Wiki, things that are out of copyright.
The length of a copyright is a little difficult to determine. You can thank Disney’s lobbyists for that. Everytime Mickey Mouse gets close to being out of copyright Disney throws more money at Congress until the maximum lifetime of a copyright is extended.
Here’s the basics on how copyright lifetimes work:
An artist can renew their copyright whenever they want while they’re alive.
After an artist dies, the copyright can only exist for a set number of years after their death. This is so the artist’s heirs can continue to profit and live off the artist’s work. It makes sense. The motive behind the original law is good.
So what’s a good amount of time for that law? I would think 20 years. By then, even if the artist had infant children they would be adults who completed college if they attended right after high school.
Not so! 50-70 years after death is the current law in most countries. Long enough for the artist’s grandchildren to be dead before the copyright expires in most cases.
It’s a little different for properties owned by corporations (like Mickey Mouse). Since there’s no individual artist that owns the intellectual property the countdown starts right away instead of waiting for the company to “die.” In exchange, the company gets a longer lifetime to exercise their copyright. The current lifetime is 95 years after publication in the United States.
What this essentially means is any art made prior to the 1900s is free for me to use. If I want to put the Mona Lisa on my Gurutama Wiki, I can do that. No problem. Leonardo de Vinci isn’t going to sue me because he’s been dead for centuries.
Which brings me to this image:
I found this image on a website called Look and Learn while searching for a good picture of a slave raid that didn’t involve guns. I got a bandit attack instead, but it worked for the Slavery article.
Look and Learn claims their copyright on this image started in 2010.
Seems okay at first glance, right? Until you remember your art history and realize that the style of this drawing places it in the 1700s.
That got me suspicious of Look and Learn’s supposed copyright. I reverse image searched the drawing and found it in a scanned book (out of copyright) on Google’s book database.
The book was published in 1894 by John Clark Ridpath and is titled History of the World.
It’s likely that Ridpath found this illustration in a museum and used it in his book as it was already out of copyright when he was writing.
Lets assume he didn’t. Let’s assumed that Ridpath was the owner of this image, either by purchasing it from an artist or drawing it himself in an old style to match his subject material. Ridpath passed away in 1900. The copyright on the image would only extend to 1970, making it 45 years out of copyright.
So how exactly does Look and Learn claim to own and sell this image? They even cite the source (erroneously citing a reprint of the original book, but a citation), making it clear to the astute observer that they couldn’t possibly own this image.
Well, Look and Learn is actually selling a high quality scan of this image, which they do own.
I just took a lower quality scan from Google’s database and used that.
This is all part of the Slavery article on Gurutama. It’s shaping into something I’m proud of. Check it out!