City of Aleris
The megatropolis of Aleris is a massive environment which provides many things to do for the eager PC. There are dangerous areas and people within the walls here, which means adventure is always close at hand.
Warring factions of houses, guilds, thieves, and assasins, warriors, and mages all claim territory. They work with/for/against anybody as long as it brings the leaders more power and or wealth. In the case of churches, they fight for the souls of many, and occasionally work against other religious institutes or organizations so that the weak may see their true path.
The Aleris is under no authority but its own, and has in place a unique form of demacracy. There are 11 major districts, each is responsible for electing its own Earl who serves for life, until retiring, or removed by 7 other Earls standing against him/her(which is rare indeed).
The Earls have the final say for all votes on a city-wide level. Under the Earl is around 20-30 Dukes(per district), each of whom is elected by the people for a 10 year term. They have more local authority, and inform the Earl of the will of the people. They occasionally act as judges for special cases should the local court be unable to handle a matter appropriatly. The Earls constitue a grand jury should a Duke's ruling be appropriatly appealed.
The Dukes are notorious influence pedlers, and use their authority and sway to influence local and citywide powers and/or business policies. Most Dukes are heads or figureheads of guilds(merchants, mages, or farmer's guilds for example), houses(usually by family name), or other major organizations(trade association-smithys, neighborhoods, or societies of collected interest).
This structure has lead to major power struggles within the city itself, but its defences are quite good. The Earls always make sure that the guard is well kept for and not only adequatly equipped, but able to handle full-scale invasions as well as foreign missions to preserve its own interests.
The guard has no one particular strategy that it is known for, rather it is up to the commanders to requisition the type of soldiers it needs to fufill a mission or defence post. Clerics of some dieties work their way up the ladder through keeping the soldiers healthy, and others by being battle ready. Others maintain equipment and provide the soldier/guards with the piece of mind that they need to keep a watchful eye on the city.
Mages of course are generally a bit harder to find in the rank-and-file membership, but are highly useful for scrying unlawful movements, reconnisance, stripping wrongdoers of their enchantments, or investigating arcane mysteries.
The laws of Aleris are simple, yet widely open to interpretation. Do not steal. Do not kill without authority. Businesses are taxed. Slavery is legal with certain races, and in certain districts - but slaves have some rights and protections. Guards can arrest and detain for only 24 hours without trial by judge for minor grievances.
Other than that, the judges themselves(given authority by the First Five Guard and the Duke of the area) have full authority to penalize according to precident and the severity of the crimes. This is often deferent based on the district where the offense was cited. If the wrongdoer is able to prove a bias, mistrial, unfair sentancing, or new information/evidence becomes available, he/she may be able to request a hearing with a different judge, or the cause may move to a higher court.
The First Five Guard is the highest echelon of the guard/militia for Aleris. It is so named because Alerisherself selected five initial bodyguards who took on the major role of protecting Aleris' early establishment, and Aleris herself. They formed garrisons with unique strengths and duties, but remained united by their mutual respect and love for Aleris herself... the city and the magic-user.
Though each district is supposed to be on equal footing, districts have highly different levels of influence which is based mostly on the wealth or stature of its residents.
Since Aleris is so a widespread, it includes some dwarven communities in the southern Rocksmith mountains, and indiginous elves in the Western Helmswood. There is significant farmland in and around Aleris because of a farming technique which is based on the material "Alaerum" which is part of how the city got its name. The Alerum allows multiple levels of crops to grow in the same space by building "up" using the unique properties of alaerum.
Alaerum is a clear gas which has many magical qualities and applications. It can levitate other materials. When magically charged it can carry more weight for longer periods of time. It was originally discovered by a mage who was traveling through some ruins near the cities first settlements. The mage came around the corner and his light spell disolved at an inopportune time. He carried on dispite the dark, and became lost. When he bumped into some free floating rocks in the dark he panicked and fired off a scorching ray of magical energy. His attack hit a large pocket of the gas which in turn raised enough material for him to see the sun again.
The material is not named for that unfortunate young mage, for he was eventually crushed under half of an island that he had lifted in this manner in a misguided attemt to display his skill, but for the mage who studied, and expanded the use of Alaerum - Aleris.
Aleris is highly touted, but herself was an introvert and modest. She never asked that the city be named after her, and suggested other names for the material which would eventually be known as Alaerum. She seems rather timeless in history, for before the discovery of the material she was unknown, and after the initial rise of Aleris she was gone without any fanfare. Some people are so devout to the ideals that she stood for that a few small places of worship have cropped up that hold her in the core of their beliefs. They have hope that maybe she moved on to work elsewhere, or somehow has survived unto this day.