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Thyatis: The Colonization Draft - The Barony of Fiorenza

by Sean Meaney

'The Benefits of colonization have not escaped Emperor Eusebius's Notice. In Thaumont 1013, The Emperor ordered the institution of an emigration draft. Reasons cited for such an extreme measure are many, but boil down to one fact - the poor and homeless of Thyatis are more useful to the empire as colonists than as beggars.' - Joshuan's Almanac circa. AC1013

So the Empire has as of AC1013 Stepped up Colonization with a Draft allowing the poor and criminal to be deported to Colonization Sites.

The Hinterlands
Lets look at the Barony of Fiorenza in the Hinterlands (Colonized in AC1010-12?). With an influx of Criminals (likely members of the Thyatian Thieves Guild) lets say that the Barony and the Baron quickly comes under the control of the Guild. While the young Baron seems healthy and fit and energetic - he is inexperienced in the ways of the guild - so He could just as well be drinking some poison in his morning Tea that has all the symptoms of Malaria and so he is bed ridden until he dies. His Barony Falls to a 'Governor' who will from that point on manage the Barony.

Developing The Barony of Fiorenza
For Fiorenza the option is to build a port on the coast at one corner of the estate and forts at the other corners - and dig a major canal from the Port to the opposing Diagonal Corner (Fort) of the estate and that allows up to 25 x 1 square mile lots of land on the dry (northern) side of the canal - for farming and the coastal side of the estate will dry up allowing cattle over two years. Unless he has a wizard with a move earth spell to dig the canal in a few months it will take a few years to achieve and a lot of labor. Most of the benefits will be lost.
The Superior alternative would be a massive canal works where canals - one mile apart run from the North West to the South East Boundary and meet with a single canal running from the Inland Fort down to the Port. Huge amounts of water would drain through the Port (powering Waterwheels continuously). The cost would be prohibitive yet best for the Barony in the long term -allowing every square mile to become 'canal accessible'; but I don't see an advantage for the Thieves guild unless they evolve into the 'Merchant Guild' and take over export - like some narcotic herb is discovered in the swamp and exported to the Mainland.

Canals, and their Advantage
Canals have a certain advantage over roads. They become permanent routes that can feed resources to important locations along it from resource production sites along the Canal. We see this with the Canal Network servicing Ankor Wat's Construction which bring in Stone from an assortment of Quarry Sites across the region that were otherwise inaccessible.

Source: Canals may have sped up building of wonder of the world Angkor Wat

The problem is you need resources to feed the massive effort of labor and The Barony of Fiorenza doesn't have that. They have a swamp with no immediately accessible resources to function as a source of income for the economy. The First thing constructed will be canals to drain the Swamp - and that will be at the Expense of the Baron's Treasury. Given the time-frame - The Barony must be able to pay a few thousand gold pieces in tax per year within three years, It is entirely possible he will lose his Barony. The Establishment of a Black Port (See below) would require the Swamps as cover for their own activities so its possible a Thieves Guild would actively oppose draining of the Swamps that protect the Black Port's existence. Perhaps even long enough to default on the obligations of the Barony.

The Thieves Guild of Fiorenza
The only economy for a Thieves Guild will be Gambling in the Labor camp involved in the Construction of the Canals, and Smuggling through the only Official Port (or the establishment of a Black Port - a place that sits in the swamps from which pirate fleets can smuggle cargo).