Skull & Shackles
The city-state of Alkenstar (pronounced AL-ken-star) has gained an unexpected level of power despite its tiny size, through the invention of firearms, a necessity for survival in the harsh, magic-dead region known as the Mana Wastes. Beyond just firearms and weaponry, the engineers and alchemists of Alkenstar have crafted and perfected technology to a level far surpassing any other region in the Inner Sea, capitalizing on the rich mineral deposits and the need for something to replace the usually omnipresent conveniences of magic.
Alkenstar is one of the only places in the world where firearms are manufactured and their understanding of this situation has allowed the city-state to control the supply of these weapons, keeping the price high and their coffers full. In fact, a full ninety percent of all firearms, both personal weapons and artillery manufactured in the Gunworks are kept within Alkenstar itself, both for protection and to maintain product scarcity throughout the rest of the world. In addition to exporting firearms, Alkenstar profits greatly on the commodity of its citizens’ expertise in the fields of engineering, alchemy, and metallurgy, sending masters on lucrative contract jobs across the Inner Sea region and beyond. The mineral-rich mountains in which the Grand Duchy sits provide raw materials for export as well, such as the quartz crystals shipped through Nex to Vudra far to the east. The nation’s banks, housed in the town of Martel, are known for their shrewd fiscal practices and are little trusted outside of Alkenstar itself.
As wealthy as Alkenstar may be from its manufacturing and engineering exports, the desolation of the Mana Wastes has left arable land quite scarce in the region. As a result, the city-state imports most of its food from its southern neighbor of Geb, often trading one of the few potable goods produced locally, a potent ice wine.