Shard is the largest city and capital of the The Brandywine Plains; it is also the name of the city-state that claims the territory that surrounds it. The city is a fairly bustling city of nearly 40,000 residents, making it easily the largest city in the entire region. Its central geographic position in the region solidifies the city as the military and merchant hub of the plains.
Shard is governed by a Lord (the title no matter the Lord’s gender), currently Conrad Tyrrell, styled as Conrad II. The Lordship of Shard is a hereditary title, passed from the current ruler to the child he or she has designated as their heir. This method was chosen many generations ago to promote industry, cleverness and diplomacy among the ruler’s potential heirs, to ensure that the next ruler of Shard has competed for the crown and might therefore be considered worthy of the throne. Assisting the Lord of Shard is the Council of Eight. These eight individuals serve to advise the Lord of Shard and are traditionally divided with one representative from the University, one to represent the religious orders, two from the guilds, two from the military and two drawn from the merchants. Positions on the Council are lifetime appointments, and new council members are nominated and elected by current Council members. If the Lord of Shard dies without naming an heir, the Council decides which heir is worthiest. If the Lord of Shard dies without heirs, the next ruler of Shard is selected from the Council of Eight.
The city serves as the transportation hub for the entire region. Roads in the plains essentially radiate outward from Shard, looking like concentric wagon wheels complete with spokes. Shard also is connected to the nearby Lake Drokar by canal, and as such also serves as a river-shipping hub, with barges and other ships leaving from the Port of Shard and using the waterways to ship across the plains and beyond. Because of this, Shard tends to be the city where those looking for items exotic to the plains will have the most luck finding such an item.
The defense and policing of the city is provided by the Lord’s Guards, nicknamed the “LG” by many denizens of Shard. It is from that nickname that the city’s criminal class has adopted the nickname “Algae”, and derived from that, “Pond Scum”, for the Lord’s Guards. The Guards provide security at the walls and entrances of Shard, and patrol internally to deter crime and maintain order. There are also patrols sent along the main roads leading to and from Shard. The villages in the surrounding area can also request a squad be sent to their village in case of bandit raids, agressive wild animal attacks or other dangers. The Lord’s Guards are also responsible for defense of Shard against invading forces; however, this function of the Guard has not been exercised for over 50 years. Instead the Lord’s Guards are highly focused on internal, not external, threats.
There are several competing theories on the origin of the town’s name. The most common explanations say that the town’s name is derived from how the city appears as a vast shard of grey stone when viewed from the rolling green plains that surround it. Others state that the city has had its name from its founding, before it grew into the city that it now is, before the walls of the city gave Shard its current appearance. Those who disagree offer several competing stories. Some say that a diviner stated that omens read when the party who first founded the city came upon a shard of jagged rock erupting from the plains, that they should found their city there and that it would thrive. Others suggest that the name of the town is derived from a goblin name, citing the ancient history of the Brandywine Plains as part of an ancient goblin kingdom. Still others suggest that Shard was the name of one of the members of the party who founded the town and lost to time, or a family member of one of the founders or even the name of a horse ridden by one of the party. Debating the name has become the subject of havering conversations at many an alehouse and travellers who make the mistake of asking about the origin of the city’s name are “treated” to fellow imbibers’ passionate defenses of their theory of choice.
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