The capital (and only) city of Acanthia, Caldera City, sits in the centre of an extinct, collapsed volcano which went quiet about 15 years ago. After the final recorded eruption, the crater of the spout collapsed into a ~12km diameter circular basin which now houses the thriving metropolis.
Caldera City is arranged into 3 distinct radial districts. They are called the inner, middle, and outer rings. Generally speaking, wealth and status start highest at the inner ring and go down towards the outer ring slums. It also appears that, at least in the middle ring, the western parts of Acanthia are more residential (for those who can afford the premium, such as Monsieur Laval).
The drop from the upper rim of the caldera to the Acanthian basin generally varies between 75 and 150 metres. Beneath the basin there lies a vast underground river fed from the north by the Delube (dell-yoob). The huge fountain in the centre of Acanthia, as well as the wells dotted around the place, are in turn fed by the Delube as it fills the vast (former) magma chamber under the floor of the caldera.
Sources in the Empire say that the Acanthian volcano had only been highly active for less than a decade before it went quiet about 15 years ago. It is thought that a major earthquake around that time caused part of the north side of the volcano to collapse, allowing the Delube River to flood the large magma chamber for years on end.
During the ensuing months, the whole mountain was envelopped in a mushroom cloud of steam that precipitated regularly. Because the volcanic plains were already fertile and now were getting regular showers, soon farmers, horticulturalists, and exotic herbalists started squatting on the land and getting rich from their high quality produce.
This assortment of agriculturalists pooled together to buy the circular plot of land that is now Acanthia: the volcanic plains (or “outlands”) and the volcano proper. It was necessary to band together to fend off outside interests as well as monster raids, and so the first Merchant Guilds were made to centralise the paid militia.
This mercenary, squatter culture of Acanthians is revered today in the Caldera where money and self-made men are still King.
1. The major fishing town, called Fisherman’s Paradise, that bordered both sides of the river Delube about 35km north was taken over by Orcs from the north about 6 weeks ago. The billboards and spruikers are saying that no ransacking of the nearby Acanthian outlands has been reported, and the Orcs appear to be occupying rather than razing the town.
2. A month ago, Orcs did a sweeping run of the northern valley, razing the outpost town of Nomen that sat in its centre. Spruikers and billboards proclaim no sightings of orcs in any of the valleys surrounding Caldera City since.
3. The presidential elections were wrapped up, and the result announced, less then a week before the party arrived from the Empire. The winning candidate is called Vizier Deling. The billboards and spruikers are advertising an upcoming street fanfare on Long Avenue for Deling.
Acanthia was officially recognised as a sovereign state by the Empire 4 years ago. It is a republic, and hence elections for the presidency are held every 2 years. The party has happened to arrive on the cusp of the inauguration ceremony of the 3rd president of Acanthia.
Defences & Military
The standing army of Caldera City is not known to the party or by many citizens, seeing as there have not even been any minor conflicts beyond a few monster encounters on the mountain side. Nowadays with the Orc threat, people compare it in size to the huge private armies of the Merchant Guilds. The recent influx of mercenaries into Caldera City is undoubtedly a result of massing of forces to deal with the Orcs, though many people believe the government will outsource the dealing with the Orc problem to private contractors, i.e. the Guilds.
A common dissenting opinion the party has heard from Lien and a dwarf in the city guard regarding the government army and the Guild armies goes along the lines of:
“Having the Guilds fund a bigger standing army than the government is fine for problems that concern both the government and the Merchants, but what happens when those interests diverge?”
Zara and Lilith have heard from random mercs and Lien that there are regular patrols of the mountainside, presumably in response to the possibility that orcs are still camped in the northern valley. However, Lien warns that the patrols are supremely boring because there are never any orc sightings or encounters. The noticeboard advertisements for patrol orders are a bit eclectic, which probably means the government is outsourcing them to some 3rd party.
From what the party has encountered, the civil service of Caldera City is composed of the city guard and the spruikers. The city guard patrols the main ‘spoke’ and ‘ring’ roads of the city, and the spruikers can be found on the junctions of those roads. Spruikers serve as daily news anchors for government announcements, but also serve as information points for tourists. Also lining some major intersections in Caldera City are the public billboards which are regularly updated with announcements, help wanted ads, lost pet posters, etc.
It is all surprisingly well-coordinated and run considering the rampant corruption that usually infests fringe colonies of the Empire (which the party members know from direct experience), especially wealthy ones like Acanthia.