A diverse, thriving metropolis at the center of it all. Bright colored banners wave in the breeze, exotic foods cook in street stalls, peoples of every culture and race mingle and trade. Money is the game here. A guild merchant’s due is as guaranteed as the tides.
Every civilized race, as well as many uncivilized races, can be found in Lune. The city is predominantly humans. Dwarves also have a significant foothold in the populace. Gnomes intermingle as well as carve out small districts of their own. Darfellan, drifters, genasi, and lizardfolk tend to be rarer in the city, and there are no specific racial districts for these groups, although darfellan and lizardfolk are normally found in poorer districts. Elves and Halflings are even rarer still – often becoming a spectacle pulling in a curious crowd.
More wild and far-flung races can be found if one looks hard enough… or pays a high enough price.
Regimi (common), the native language of the Regi, is the lingua franca of the Shifting Straits, and, as a result, is most common in Lune. It is used during most negotiations and trade deals and seen as polite to use in mixed company as a shared language.
Mullundi is the native language of the Mullun and another commonly used language in Lune. It’s a flowing language, each syllable moving into the next like a desert wind. The frequency of the use of this language is primarily due to the higher population of Mulluns compared to non-human races.
Dwarven is the third most commonly used language. Its throaty tones are a sharp contrast to Regimi or Mullundi. Many common dwarven phrases carry with them an accepted hand signal since dwarves are used to working in noisy smithies, construction sites, or busy docks.
All other languages can be heard in a market or seen written somewhere in Lune. Shopkeepers who commonly deal with customers whose native language is not Regimi tend to find ways to accommodate.
Clothing and appearance
Wealthy and middle-class residents tend to wear bright, colorful outfits made from thin linen, hemp, and silk. People advertise their wealth in their clothing and accessories, sometimes to the point of looking gaudy. Clothing is made to be light weight to help wearers from overheating on a summer day. Nights and windy days can be chilly, so most residents have coats or robes to add layers.
The poor are more likely to wear more drab colors of thicker linen shirts with leather or hide trousers and coat. Such clothing is worn, often repaired with off-color patches, until the clothing is utterly destroyed.
Crops and food
To supplement their fish-heavy diets, the people of the Straits grow rust reed, red bean lilies, peppers, leeks, onions, and a wide variety of squash and tubers. Most of the farming occurs in the northern and southern archipelagos, but a small amount also comes from brave farmers in the Far Hills.
Rust reed and red bean are used to make staple dishes with noodles and dumplings. Most dishes have some kind of sea food, but root vegetables are also common. Peppers and imported jungle fruits are seen as delicacies.
Mullun dishes are particularly spicy. They tend to use an imported silt pepper that was brought to the region when they migrated generations ago. The pepper is revered in their culture for its healing ability, and knack for making even the worse dish tolerable.
Betel nuts are a common stimulant used by dock workers and fishermen. Frequent users can be easily picked out of a crowd for their red stained teeth. The nut grows on palms which are common in the Forks.
The Assembly is the governing organization of Lune. Members of the Assembly, known as Advisors, are elected annually by Clustermen, who in turn are chosen to represent a district by popular opinion. The Assembly tends to be composed almost entirely of representatives of the great guilds given their power in the city and ability to influence opinion.
The Assembly normally operates with a “hands-off” approach, allowing commerce to flow freely. It does draft and execute laws to punish crime and respond to events, but in general Lune functions with little oversight. There’s a common saying regarding the Assembly – “Anything goes; more so when you’re rich.”
The Assembly does not officially support a standing military or even a guard force, but certain local mercenary companies effectively fill this role. The mercenary companies are paid, generally, via agreements with the great guilds. The Assembly also has the authority to call on citizens to muster, transforming merchant vessels into a naval force and citizens into an army in times of war. Lune’s superbly defensible location combined with its value as a trading partner has kept it free from invasion for over a hundred years.
Clustermen are chosen to represent a district through an informal outpouring of popular approval. Every year, prospective Clustermen, usually influential members of the community, gather in an open area, popular tavern, or dockside to plead their case to the community. Citizens cheer, curse, question, and make a commotion until a clear winner emerges. These contests are rarely settled without some great exposure or dramatic debate, so citizens are encouraged to participate if for no other reason than to watch a powerful man or woman get knocked down a peg.
Representatives in the Assembly are known as Advisors and the leading group is known as the Directorate. Advisors are chosen by the Clustermen much in the same way that they themselves were chosen, but in much more exclusive settings with much more powerful people. The Advisors then elect eight among them to establish the year’s Directorate. The Directorate hold the power of the treasury and, effectively, the heart of the city.
The great guilds of Lune vie for power in the Assembly in every level of politics. They seek the favor of citizens to elect friendly Clustermen, the votes of Clustermen to elect guild Advisors, all in an attempt to control the Directorate for the year. Whichever guild controls the Directorate controls the purse of Lune, paving the way for more favorable conditions to grow its power.
Gallads are large public parties reserved for holidays or special occasions. In theory, anyone can call a Gallad for any reason. However, doing so is expensive since the host is expected to pick up the tab for everyone that shows up, and it’s expected that anyone can show up.
Gallads often have themes. If they are reoccurring events, such as festivals and holidays, the theme usually continues from year to year. One particularly popular gallad is the Saur Gallad during which everyone wears their best Saur outfit and mask.
Docking a ship in Lune is risky, due to the ever changing tides. As a result, the wealthier docks in Lune now use large, powerful nets to suspend ships at the level of high tide. These net systems can have their elevation adjusted to match a rising or lowering tide using a system of gears and levers designed by gnome and dwarven engineers. These docks are lovingly known as The Nets.
For the less wealthy, there is a series of docks on the Southeast edge of Lune Island which are built for low tide. During high tide, one can take a, relatively, cheap ferry out to the ships moored to be able to sail off.
Pets and mounts
Lune residents have domesticated the gorge, a small reptilian herbivore, with a stone-like plate over its nose. They are common in apartment complexes in lower class districts. Gorge breeding, however is a sport for the rich, and the pedigree of a gorge can indicate one’s status in certain social circles. Gorge are especially useful in the city because they subsist off of refuse and fungus (both of which are all too common in the humid nooks of Lune).
Mullun hold tight to their desert companions, jackguars.
Rope is a valuable commodity in the Straits. It is used in ship rigging and construction. It’s produced from various sources including: stickvines, reeds, and various jungle plants. Stickvines, the most common plant used to create rope, grow on the craggy outcrops of the Forks.
Longservants are indentured servants. Poorer citizens of Lune are able to repay their debts by becoming a longservant for a set period of time, based on the magnitude of the debt. Laws created by the Assembly allow a debtor to be taken as a longservant once a certain number of debt payments are missed to landholders or merchants. In Lune, longservant debts can be bought and sold in the market, thereby transferring service to a different holder. Longservant debts can transfer to next of kin when a longservant dies, although certain debts are forgiven under current Assembly Law.