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City of Hoddivesby Alex Benson
Whereas other Randel cities are small and not really deserving of a city designation, Hoddives is a sprawling city in central Randel. The city is surrounded by a low wall. All around it are fields in which crops are raised and horses graze. The population of 8,000 has a definitive obsession for horses.
Within the walls, the city appears quite civilised and functional, as compared to other Randel Cities. There is less of a military presence here than elsewhere. The city's small military contingent is centred on the cavalry arm as that aspect is seen as flamboyant. Only one standard infantry regiment is stationed there.
Homes, businesses, and small industries are easily seen. Hoddives is the textile centre for the kingdom. Its weaving facilities being mostly consumed domestically. The other industry is agriculture with a focus on cotton. As such, the two industries are related and co-dependent.
Aside from textiles, Hoddives interests lay with the cavalry and the breeding and maintaining of horses. There are a large number of horse ranches and shops catering to barding, saddles, bridles, harnesses, and other equine related products.
The ruler of Hoddives is Baroness Asraellia (MU 11). Like most of the people of Hoddives, she has distanced herself from the Randel military and focused on living a more Alphatian lifestyle. As with most nobles, she did serve in the RAF. In her short military career she served in staff positions and has no viable combat experience. She did stay in the service for much longer than the minimum. This was mainly due to the insistence of her parents.
Asraellia left the service after her parents decided that both would cede to title to her. Both her father Ghirkstrick (MU 22) and mother Asmerrella (MU18) are still living and reside in the city. They keep a low profile in regards to politics and leave the city's rule to their daughter. Their main input is a constant urging for their daughter to marry and produce heirs. This is one thing the daughter is not ready to do. She is more intent on living in luxury without any immediate priorities.
Aiding the Baroness in rule is her brother Neronius (F22) and his wife Mastrictia (C10 of Koryis). Both were career military before Neronius was called home to aid his sister. The couple are no nonsense and very military in their approach to administration. They have two small children: a boy Jandreal (age 8) and a girl Xyrathania (age 5).
Hoddives is the home to three cavalry regiments and one infantry regiment. At any given time, at least one cavalry regiment is out on patrol, usually several days ride away. The regiment assigned patrol duty breaks down into smaller patrol units and spreads out, going as far west as the Randel Wall, and as far south as the Randel River.
The Commander of 3rd Cavalry Regiment is Commander Draxtrin (F27). An excellent horseman and tactician, he has never been in combat. Because he is a non-spellcaster, he has been made subordinate to his fellow regiment commanders despite having seniority over both of them. However, he gets along with both of them, both professionally and socially.
Commander Leassandra (C17 of Alphatia) commands the next cavalry regiment, 4th Cavalry Regiment. With her good looks, she is a dashing figure on horseback with or without donning her arms and armour. She is a bit embarrassed at being the superior officer of Draxtrin. She knows that she is a mere student compared to him. It also bothers her since she has a romantic crush on him. She tags along behind him constantly asking advice.
Magardrian (MU18) is commander of 6th Cavalry Regiment. He is the eldest son of Magridin, the head of the Vrastridian Clan. Magardrian is the youngest cavalry regimental commander presently serving. His placement had much influence from his father and family name. This means of attaining the position was initially ill received by his fellow commanders. However, given time most see that he is a able leader and deserving the position. It is well known that Magardrian does not like his father's meddling in his military career. The two have even come into conflict over it. This attitude towards his meddling father has not only endeared Magardrian to his fellow officers, but also the cavalrymen.
Commanding the 6th Standard Infantry Regiment is Commander Sangdrister (F27). A non-spellcaster, he was given the post because no spellcaster wanted it. The populace's opinion of the infantry make service there pretty miserable. As a result, Sangdrister is in a depressed state. He constantly requests transfers to lesser positions if need be. Sangdrister is married and has children. His wife Wilhemma (F8) and his two girls Martreece (age 12) and Sanmantha (age 10) live with the family members along the Banks. Sangdrister is a member of the Puntamunda Family. He sent his family there to get them away from the apathetic attitude the people of Hoddives have for the standard military. If a solution doesn't appear soon, then the commander will retire.
The city boasts Randel's Cavalry School. The school's administrator is Headmaster Traestriggotto (C28 of Vanya). Traestriggotto is stern when he has to be. He enjoys taking rides with the cavalry units as well as the students. His wife, Daphne (F10) is from East Portage on the Isle of Dawn and is of Thyatian heritage. This marriage was and still is controversial. Daphne is a good-natured woman and quite personable once someone tries to get to know her. The two have no children.
Hoddives use to host one of the kingdom's infantry schools. However, the local attitude towards units not of the cavalry type made the situation difficult. King Verothrics was enraged at this attitude and decommissioned the school. The old academic facilities were taken over by the textile industries.
As mentioned above, Hoddives does have several local industries. The equine aspect is fairly obvious with all of the horses and horse-related businesses. There is also a sizeable textile industry. The textile industry is not nearly large enough for any measurable exports. As with most of Randel's industries, the bulk of the produced products are consumed domestically.
These industries are owned and administered by families. The most powerful family is the Vrastridian Clan, who seem to own a little bit of everything: textile houses, several mercantile shops, and two horse ranches. The Vrastridians are one of the oldest and most assuredly the wealthiest in the city.
Leading the Clan is Magridin (MU23). He has headed the family for forty years since his mother retired from the business. A cunning and sometimes cruel man when it comes to business, he is quite personable to his friends and family. But even with his family, he has a stern attitude. Magridin served in the Randel Army as an infantryman for two terms before finally being accepted to the cavalry. He often speaks harshly on those years in the infantry.
Living with Magridin is Bylliandra (F5). A young pretty thing, she is the mage's mistress. Whereas Magridin is shrewd and cold, she is pretty open and quite sociable. She is a giving person and bears few prejudices to anyone. Bylliandra has a good relationship with the mage's children and family. The children see her as more of a sister than their father's mistress. The rest of the family see her as Magridin's "play thing". However, they do seem to like her much more than the other women he has had. Bylliandra is also a realist and knows that her relationship with Magridin will last only as long as her looks hold up. She has prepared for this by acquiring several potions of longevity for when that time comes.
Magridin has three children. His oldest, Magardrian (MU18), is commander of 6th Cavalry Regiment and stationed here in Hoddives. He is a good cavalry officer and a good man. He bears little personable resemblance to his father. In fact, the father and son do not get along well at all. And even though he is stationed in Hoddives, Magardrian rarely speaks with his father. He does keep in touch with his siblings and even Bylliandra, who often runs interference for him. However, these meetings usually occur at his quarters or when his father is away.
Dwaelerin (C10 of Asterius) is the middle child. Still in his early twenties, he has taken a keen interest in the family business and even administers several aspects of that business. Dwaelerin is a charming yet cunning man. He lacks the hard edge his father has, but does not mind. He is often used as a go between family employees on business and personal matters. Despite not being like his father or really approving of his father's ways, he is devoutly loyal to him.
Margeritia (F2) is the youngest of the brood. Still in her teens, she displays no skill with magic nor does she show promise with the cavalry. Margeritia cares little for the horses. As a child, she was thrown from horseback and almost perished. Since that day, she has been deathly afraid of horses. She does display a skill with the bow and sword, both skills taught to her by Bylliadra at the behest of her brother, Magardrian. These abilities confound her father who only wants to marry her off to some powerful and wealthy man. Margeritia has recently become involved in the Razud Following but is not a cleric.
All of Magridin's children were conceived with Lady Lyllianna (MU18). Tired of Magadrin's ways, she left him some ten years ago. She currently lives in Eadrin but does keep in contact with her children. She has been trying desperately to get Margeritia to come live with her in Eadrin.
Lyllianna's brothers Coromier (F7) and Agamedrig (C8 of Talitha) both serve Magridin. They serve him best in representing the Vrastridian Clan's interests in Kedy. These interests include investments in existing processing facilities. Each is frightfully loyal to Magridin.
In Hoddives, the cavalry and horsemanship is the only acceptable norm. All other forms of fighting are considered as secondary. The equestrian arts do not totally fall upon fighting. But given that equine animals do play such a central role in society and the economy, the ability to manage and handle these animals is considered a symbol of a person's capability.
In Hoddives, the children are introduced to the saddle soon after they can walk. Most everyone can ride with a certain degree of expertise. Most of the cavalry come from Hoddives and the surrounding villages. A person injured to a point that he or she cannot ride is pitied.
PCs unable to ride or that served in the infantry tend to be regarded as being less than men. Most people of Hoddives will not trust people that cannot ride. Most will be run out of town. In their minds, someone incapable of horsemanship cannot handle his own affairs and therefore cannot be trusted.
King Verothrics was enraged at the attitude expressed by the people of Hoddives upon those not of the cavalry. As punishment, he has removed the infantry school and the other Infantry Regiments as a sign of his disdain. He also hoped that the loss of the facility and troops would have made the people realise just how important the infantry were to the economy. In that regard he was wrong as the revenue from the students was replaced by that generated from the textile industries.
He has kept one Standard Infantry Regiment stationed there to let the people of Hoddives know who is the boss. He is aware of the plight of the regiment's commander and troops. Verothrics is torn between what he should do. The rational part of him wants to move the infantry regiment elsewhere. However, his pride will not allow that.
Magridin is the main instigator for the attitudes against the infantry troops in Hoddives. Using tact and manipulation, Magridin has made it unfashionable and undesirable to be anything but a cavalryman. This ploy originated back when he was in the infantry. Then, being in the cavalry was just the popular thing to do if you were from Hoddives. Magridin took the initial rejections personally. That hurt has continued to his taking over the family business. He used his position to promote his attitude until it is what it is today. His ultimate goal is to have all the infantry removed from Hoddives.