This article reflects recent canon updates.
The government of Absalom consists of the Grand Council, which is chaired by the Primarch, a position held by Wynsal Starborn since the disappearance of Lord Gyr of House Gixx several years prior to 4719 AR. Management of the individual city districts is handled by the 10 district councils, which meet within their respective quarters. Absalom's great wealth is driven by trade, so the city's rulers strive to craft policies favorable to commerce (and their own interests), but otherwise take a relatively laissez-faire approach to regulation. Taxes in the city are very light, although Siege Taxes during wartime may be significantly higher. There are no property taxes, although the city charges for access to roads, sanitation, and other public infrastructure. Modest taxes on foreign merchants are generally sufficient to supply the city's needs.
Absalom’s Founding Laws are etched upon grand stone tablets that rest in the Grand Vault of Azlanti Keep. Etched by Aroden himself, they are a symbol of Absalom's long history and of the core values that have provided a reliable foundation for nearly five thousand years of government.
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Grand Council of Absalom
The Council has twelve high seats (including the Primarch's) and a variable number of low seats. Attaining a high seat requires nothing more than showing one of twelve magical cornucopias which act as seals of office at an annual meeting. These positions are generally held by powerful merchants, important religious figures, and members of the aristocracy. Seats of the Low Council are decided by High Council vote annually and members of the Low Council typically hold minor or unglamorous bureaucratic positions. Member of the Low Council generally come from prominent families, or are prominent office holders. More notable titles such as Trade Minister and Sea Lord are reserved for High Council members.
Matters of state are settled by a vote of the Grand Council, which meets in the Grand Council Hall. Normally, the Grand Council decides on a small number citywide matters and anything related to foreign affairs, leaving local matters to the district councils, but that arrangement is a preference, not a legal necessity, and the Grand Council can override any district council decision. Issues denoted as "Matters of Note" (such as electing a new primarch) are debated and decided on solely by members of the High Council. Any issue can become a Matter of Note if the High Council votes to make it so, allowing them to take control of any matter a majority of them wish to rule on.
Each district is represented in the Low Council by at least one seat and each of Absalom's vassal-cities also receive two seats, appointed by their governments. A number of low seats are also handed out to fill whatever duties the High Council feels need representation.
Currently the Absalom High Council has 12 seats and the Low Council has 49 members, making the entire Grand Council a total of 61 seats.
- See also: Cornucopia
Members of the High Council control major departments of the civic bureaucracy and possess enormous political power and influence in the city, as well as elect the primarch and decide the members of the Low Council. The High Council has no formal meeting space, but members occasionally attend full Council sessions in the Grand Council Hall.
High Council members are generally wealthy merchants, important religious figures, powerful politicians and nobles. Their ranks include the following:
- Primarch: Lord Gyr of House Gixx (missing)
- Acting Primarch: Wynsal Starborn
- Captain of the Starwatch: Asilia of Gyr
- Chancellor of the Exchequer: Scion Lord Kerkis of House Damaq
- Chief Sanitation Commissioner: Larrett
- Commander Militant: Chun Hye-Seung
- Diplomatic Minister: Ferridan Severus
- First Lady of Laws: Scion Lady Neferpatra of House Ahnkamen
- First Lord of Spells: Lord Gyr of House Gixx (missing)
- Acting First Lord of Spells: Garethal Brighteyes
- Harbormaster: Scion Lady Adrielle Nephrathep of House Fyrlenn
- Kortos Viceroy: Jaress Molinarro
- Sea Lord: Lerefys of House Kethlin
- Trade Minister: Grenduul Fleng
Previous members of the High Council are:
- Jeremia Plumendod, arborist and savvy businesswoman.
- Blune Bandersworth, one of the city’s most prolific architects.
The Low Council is the active ruling body of the city of Absalom. Its members conduct regular votes to establish and enact policy, receive addresses from visiting foreign monarchs, and assign the title of trademaster to prominent merchants, and appoint each district's nomarchs.
The Low Council's members are Absalom's most prominent citizens, including guild masters, nobles, retired celebrities, and other famous politicians, mostly chosen by the High Council. The Low Council consists of 49 seats. All district nomarchs are granted a seat on the Low Council, and seats are reserved for an additional representative of each district, who are selected by their nomarch, for a total of 20 district seats. Four seats are reserved for two representatives each from Escadar and Diobel (appointed by their governments), a three seats are dedicated to select grand ambassadors from Osirion, Taldor and Qadira, and a number of seats are assigned to representatives of influential guilds and prominent local religions. Remaining at-large members are elected annually by the city's residents.
- Ascendant Court district seats: Nomarch Sindoi of the Thousand Poems and Vroclaw of Brevoy.
- Coins district seats: Nomarch Lady Myleena of House Arnsen and Lady Nymara of House Damaq.
- Docks district seats: Nomarch Lord Archych of House Dureanz and Darabelle Fairwind.
- Eastgate district seats: Nomarch Lord Ayunga of House Akkesh and Haimon Hueff of House Mercerene.
- Foreign Quarter district seats: Nomarch Torman Iates and Lord Omrys of House Ahnkamen.
- Ivy District district seats: Nomarch Alain Always and Fronsac Shimm.
- Petal District district seats: Nomarch Lord Urkon of House Ormuz and Brythen Blood.
- Puddles district seats: Nomarch Haigen Topkick and Lady Seichya of House Tevineg.
- Westgate district seats: Nomarch Lady Seleenae of House Damaq and Scion Lord Rogren Sphairo of House Menhemes.
- Wise Quarter district seats: Nomarch Dhauken Tor and Brivit Nae of Irrisen.
- Escadar seats: Evessian Deris and Captain Chugmuzz the Surly.
- Diobel seats: Nomarch Grint Basatre and Bothuk Thraske.
- Azlanti Keep seat: Wynsal Starborn (currently empty as Wynsal is an acting primarch).
- Guildmasters seats: Aarnock Xanthiss, Engleton Embrey, Hans the Northman, Jembar Dustyshankle and Parsin Guile.
- At-Large seats: Lady Darchana of House Madinani and Lady Evigail of House Wycomb.
- Ancient seats for Osirion, Taldor and Qadira: Dremdhet Salhar for Osirion, Tolara Alverteen for Taldor and Emir Thalzar Gaatan for Qadira.
- City planner seat: Olansa Terimor.
- Venla Sirola bought and now holds an unknown seat on the council.
- Members sitting in Low Council's 12 remaining seats are unknown.
Primarch of Absalom
- The word primarch redirects here, but it is used as a governmental title in other places as well, such as Galt.
The Primarch is the head of the High Council and the one who appoints its members, granting his considerable power over the Council, and by corollary the City at the Center of the World itself. The position is held for life and a Primarch cannot name a successor - instead, after his death, a new primarch is elected by the High Council. It is within his power to veto any political appointment from a member of the High Council taking a specific position to the creation of a new low seat. He is also the only person capable of convening month-long meetings of the High Council and can thus hold the government of the city hostage unless his demands are met.
Traditionally, the Primarch also holds the position of Sea Lord, though this is the decision of the Primarch, and Lord Gyr, currently missing, holds the title of First Spell Lord instead. The primarch's official residence is located in the Wise Quarter.
- Wynsal Starborn ca. 4716 AR to present, as Acting Primarch
- Gyr of House Gixx 4660–ca. 4716 AR
- Seib of House Slavikes at some point after 4606 AR, ending 4659 AR
- Daynce of House Ryeen ca. 2850 AR
- Willis of House Loranne at some point between 1997–2849 AR
District councils of Absalom
Each district of Absalom is governed by a local council that is headed by a nomarch, except the Petal District council, where the title of "satrap" is used. The nomarch is appointed by the Low Council and must be approved by the Primarch. The nomarch of each council also sits on the Low Council of Absalom, but may not sit on the Grand Council due to the Reborn Rebellion of 1464 AR. Each council has its own rules and traditions, influenced by the cultural heritage of the district's residents, and operates independently, although the Grand Council can overrule any local decision.
While the local residents don't get to choose who will lead their district's council, the primarch makes sure the candidate is at least somewhat popular to avoid unrest. The nomarch gets to appoint one member of the district council of their choosing from the prominent local residents, but the rest of the seats are filled by annual public elections. The council meetings are not public.
Current district councils and their leaders are:
- The Chamber of Ecclestials, the district council of the Ascendant Court, is led by Sindoi of the Thousand Poems.
- The Coin Council is led by Lady Myleena of House Arnsen.
- The Dock Council is led by Lord Archych of House Dureanz.
- The Eastgate Council is led by Lord Ayunga of House Akkesh.
- The Foreign Quarter Council is led by Torman Iates.
- The Ivy District Council is led by Alain Always.
- The Conclave of Flowers, the district council of the Petal District, is led by Urkon of House Ormuz.
- The Puddles District Council is led by Haigen Topkick, who is the sole member of the council and the captain of local district guard.
- The Western Council is the district council of the Westgate, led by Lady Seleenae of House Damaq.
- The Wise Council is the district council of the Wise Quarter, led by First Speaker Dhauken Tor.
- The Precipice Quarter is destroyed and has no council.
Law lords oversee Absalom's judicial system. Each of the four law lords is a judge in their own right, outranking any other magistrate, and with the ability to make snap judgments on the spot, serving justice without the otherwise-required trial.
Spell lords advise the primarch and the High Council on matters of eldritch import and govern the use of magic in the city, including managing Absalom’s magical defense, regulating magic academies, and placing limits on experimentation.
Military & law enforcement
Absalom is defended by a complicated web of military and law enforcement organizations, each of which has differing mandates. The First Guard serves as Absalom's army. They man the city's walls, gates, and forts and protect it from external threats. The Starwatch is a military, intelligence, and law enforcement organization headquartered at Starwatch Keep outside the city. They enforce the Grand Council's decrees, investigate crimes that cross district lines, and look into misconduct by the city's other military and law enforcement groups. The Absalom navy is the largest of the military branches and protects the city from attacks by sea and also oversees the hippocampus-mounted Wave Riders. Finally, the various district guards or watches investigate crimes committed only within the various districts of the city.
Each district has their own law enforcement, called the District Watch, although individual watches all have their own names and slightly different uniforms. District watches report to their district council, and have no power outside their district, which often results in administrative conflicts when a crime tracks from one district to another (which is often used by the city's canniest criminals).
Current district watches and their leaders are:
- The Graycloaks are the district watch of the Ascendant Court, led by Runewulf the Unbeliever.
- The Token Guard is the district watch of the Coins, led by Lady Kythes Finch.
- The Harbor Guard is the district watch of the Docks, led by Elmoira Taggart.
- The Post Guard is the district watch of the Eastgate, led by Lord Ayunga of House Akkesh.
- The Sleepless Suns are the district watch of the Foreign Quarter, led by Shristi Melipdra.
- The Thistleguard is the district watch of the Ivy District, led by Zharep Apul.
- The Lotus Guard is the district watch of the Petal District, led by Folant ap Morilla.
- The Muckruckers are the district watch of the Puddles, led by Haigen Topkick, who is also the district's nomarch and sole member of the district council.
- The Sally Guard is the district watch of the Westgate, led by Lord Winton of House Nimz.
- The Learned Guard is the district watch of the Wise Quarter, led by Mendhir the Colossus.
- The Precipice Quarter is destroyed and has no watch.
Other government offices
The Grand Council oversees the administration of the city, but enforcement and execution of the policies are often carried out by sprawling government agencies, some of which are as old as Absalom itself. Agency heads are appointed by the Grand Council, although it is often more convenient to leave already assigned officials in place, which often results in stagnation, conservatism, rampaging corruption and frustration of citizens.
|Harbormaster’s Grange||Harbormaster Adrielle Neprathep of House Fyrlenn||Oversees import of goods into the city via the harbor.|
|Office of Prisons||Unknown||Maintains criminal housing.|
|Office of Taxation||Chancellor of the Exchequer Kerkis of House Damaq||Collects, records and deposits taxes.|
|Absalom Mint||Master of Mint Kerkis of House Damaq||Oversees creation, tracking and destruction of city's coinage. A topic of many conspiracy theories.|
|Sanitation Commission||Chief Sanitation Commissioner Larrett||Manages sewers, garbage collection, butchering of any beasts of burden that died within the city walls, and collection corpses of the city's homeless Absalom's Undercity. So corrupt it might as well be a criminal organization.|
|Crier’s Table||First Lady of Laws Neferpatra of House Ahnkamen||Serves as the center for all official communications to the general public, and oversees Absalom's publishing industry.|
Politics in Absalom is a complicated and sometimes dangerous business, as the primarch, Grand Council, Low Council, and district councils constantly vie for power and control against one another. In addition to the actual members of government, various factions and noble houses also manipulate how the city is run from deciding who sits on the Low Council to the price of onions. This perpetual conflict is known as the Shadow War, and those who are well versed in its intricacies are aware that every actor in a civil squabble within the city often has countless political or social agendas.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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- Lyz Liddell. (2019). The Absalom Initiation, p. 3. Paizo Inc. . Gyr disappeared "several years ago" as of 4719 AR, derived from the publication date.
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 55–56. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
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