Although most kandar cities have the same basic structure of Government, in practice things vary considerably from place to place. In many cities such as Karmork, one individual or group totally dominates, whereas in others, such as Calbeyn, no one person or group is dominant. In such cities politics revolves around power struggles between the various factions.
The Tharn,always a member of one of the fourteen clans, is the official overall ruler of the city. The Tharn’s only official power is the power of veto over decisions made by anyone else, though a strong Tharn can use this veto to get what they want, and to get the officials they want appointed to the posts of Varakeyr and Lakentyr. Most Tharns don’t attempt to micromanage their cities, but let their officials and the guilds get on with it.
The Tharn rules for life, and when a Tharn dies, his or her clan is responsible for choosing a successor. Very often a previous Tharn will name a preferred successor, who is then very likely to be chosen by the Clan Council. When the previous Tharn doesn’t name a successor, perhaps because the clan is divided and the Tharn had been playing factions off against each other, the process of choosing a new city ruler is often a fractious, drawn-out affair, sometimes even punctuated by the odd assassination.
The Vulan (The ruler of Vohrleyn) grants the Tharnship of a city to a particular clan. In general, the same clan will rule a city for generations, and something has to go spectacularly wrong for city to change hands.
The Varakeyr, or Watcher of the Walls, is commander of the military, responsible for defence of the city. In those cities with large legion garrisons, he (it is always a he) is appointed by the legions themselves. The Tharn may veto their choice if he or she can afford to antagonise the legion. In some other cities the Varakeyr is traditionally a knight from the Tharn’s own clan. Whether a legionnaire or a knight, the Varakeyr is not supposed to be involved in the internal running of the city.
The Lakentyr, or Keeper of The Law, is the chief executive with ultimate responsibility for internal law and order, taxation, public works and the day-to-day running of the city. He or she appoints other officials, and is appointed by the Council of The People, although the Tharn can veto their choice. In many cities the guilds are largely responsible for law and order, and the Lakentyr’s role is merely to co-ordinate them, and preventing inter-guild disputes from getting out of hand and disrupting the normal course of life in the city. Sometimes, especially where the guilds are powerful, the Lakentyr is merely a figurehead with little real power. In others, especially where the Tharn is largely an absentee ruler, he’s the real power in the city.
Commerce and industry is organised into a relatively small number of guilds, with the result that each guild wields a lot of influence. The guildmasters are therefore powerful figures with a lot of leverage, because they effectively control the economy.
The Council of the People
The Council of the People is the kandar attempt at democracy. Not all cities allow such a body to exist. It is an assembly of between twenty and forty people, sometimes elected from city wards, sometimes appointed by the guilds, and sometimes a combination of the two. In most cities, the electorate consists only of nobles and register guild members, but in a few more progressive cities such as Calbeyn, the franchise is extended to all free citizens.
The Varakeyr and Lakentyr also sit as unelected members. In the majority of those cities who elect their councils directly, the electoral process is extremely corrupt, and almost all ballots are rigged, resulting in a council packed with nominees of whoever wields the power in the city. The council’s role is to advise the Tharn, Varakeyr and Lakentyr as to the feelings of The People, and to appoint the Lakentyr. It may pass laws or levy taxes, but both the Tharn and the Lakentyr can and frequently do veto it’s decisions. In some cities the council has a lot of influence, but in many places it’s merely a talking shop whose opinions are largely ignored by those who wield real power.
Calbeyn is unique in allowing humans to vote, in those wards which have a significant human population. Separate elections are held for kandar and non-kandar (human) seats. This practice is naturally resented by more conservative kandar of the city.
Many larger cities have a sizeable bureaucracy. Although they officially carry out the will of the Lakentyr and the Council, they frequently conspire to frustrate their actions. They are adept at playing the Tharn, Lakentyr, the guilds and the Council off against one another. Their main objective appears, like all the best bureaucrats, is to prevent change. More than one Lakentyr has resigned after having been reduced to a shambling wreck by them.
Other officials are appointed by the Lakentyr, with or sometimes without the approval of the council where such a body exists. The Lakentyr can remove them at any time. Most, but not all, are members of the council. These people include the City Treasurer, who is responsible for tax collection and allocation of funds. He or she is also responsible for the city’s mint. The Keeper of Records keeps records of all electors and taxpayers, and all criminal records. Finally, The Official of Public Works is responsible for all public and private building work except for the city walls and other fortifications, which are the responsibility of the Varakeyr.
In some cities, a lot of day-to-day running is delegated to the guilds, and the bureaucracy correspondingly smaller.
There’s a lot of variety in systems of taxation, and their method of collection. In the vast majority of cities, every citizen must pay a tax on all income earned within the city, typically between one-tenth and one-fifth. Most cities collected this monthly, and base it on the taxpayer’s own estimate of his or her income. Those who don’t estimate their income will have It estimated for them at up to double what it really is. In addition to this a ‘poll tax”, almost universally of one glerin per year is paid by all citizens eligible to vote. In many cities members of guilds aren’t taxed individually, but their guild is taxed on their behalf. In some places the guilds pay part of their taxes in services provided rather than in cash; for instance the Guild of Construction, instead of paying taxes for road and wall maintenance, will actually maintain the walls and roads directly.
Most cities charge a property tax, typically one percent of the total value of all property per year, if total property is greater than a thousand Glerin (This is 10 times average wealth).
Finally, those cities that pass a lot of trade charge a trade tax, typically five percent of the value of all goods brought into the city. Adventurer’s treasure counts as trade goods, unless it is in a valid kandar currency.