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by Bruce Heard

AC: 7
Hit Points: 600 (20 buildings, 30 HP each)
MV: 120' (40')

Snartapolis is the capital of a powerful gnomish empire, an empire of legends whose stories of incredible military feat filtered as far north as the Thyatian Hinterlands. The Empire of Snarta -- also referred to by the rest of Vulcanian gnomes as the Evil Empire -- remains absolutely loyal to its monarch, Emperor Dorfin IV, whose authority encompasses Snartapolis and the vast Snartan territories in Vulcania.

In a very distant past, Snartans were common gnomes, mostly hunters and traders who explored faraway places on Davania. They came into contact with the Milenian Empire from whom they found astonishing inspiration. Less then a century later, Snartans eventually bid their Milenian allies farewell and returned South to Vulcania, there to found a nation of their own. Early on, Snartans became known as the Hoplite Republic, a militocracy among which order, discipline, self-sacrifice, and utter courage were the principal values.

Since then, the very sight of an advancing line of Snartan soldiers had been enough to strike terror into the hearts of their enemies. Everywhere, the gritty, ferocious warriors taught their foes to fear their trademark: scarlet capes, horsehair helmet plumes, close-ordered shields, each emblazoned with a P (for Proboscidaemon, their first earthshaker), and their phalanxes bristling with spears. Snartans are truly unique on Mystara. Their society, one of the most rigid as can imagined, requires that its citizen remain in all possible ways equal and identical, idealising the concept that each and everyone of them together fights as a single being. Snartan warriors call themselves the "hoi gnomoioi" -- the "Similars".

Much has happened during their long and rich history. Like many other Vulcanian gnomes, they did discover the secret of the volcanoes and their fire elemental pupae. Eventually they learned how to build their first earthshaker. With the many slaves they had captured, they transformed it into one truly gigantic machine upon which rests their mighty capital of Snartapolis.

There came a time when there weren't enough Snartans to sustain the empire that they had conquered. So, it was then that they pushed the logic of their Philosophy of Similarity beyond the limits of nature. Their science of machinery was indeed amazing and they used it again in ways that are even more stunning than the mighty earthshakers themselves. With the desire to expand their numbers while respecting the strictest demands of Similarity, the Snartans developed the ability to create perfect clones. Over the centuries, the "ideal" Snartan mould was created both intellectually and physically. With the advent of mass-cloning, the rest of the original Snartan population eventually disappeared, leaving only one single, prefect Snartan to be reproduced to the infinity. As a result of the clones taking over, the "republic" government based upon Ephors (Overseers) and Elders was abolished and the clones proclaimed their empire. It has been so for centuries, and since then all Snartan are absolutely identical in every way. Naturally, all Snartans can recognise each other and go by distinct names, but nobody outside Snarta really can tell them apart.

Snartapolis itself is a sizeable town, weren't it for the fact that it is built entirely to the proportions of gnomes. It normally appears as a steep hill with a small port and many houses surrounding a temple on the top. The temple, like all places of worship in Snarta, remains very simple, including marble columns and a triangular frontispiece of perfect, mathematical proportions. A strong defensive wall skirts the outer edge of the city. In times of war, which is often, Snartapolis can lift itself upon eight gigantic metal legs powered by monstrous steam engines inside the "hill". Several gates on the outside walls open to reveal giant harpoons whose role is to lodge themselves into the body of enemy earthshakers and reel them closer so the Snartan Hoplites can board them and conquer them.

The small port of Snartapolis contains no water. Instead, it is fitted with a retractable bridge made for its three triremes. The vessels are in fact smaller earthshakers in the shape of ancient galleys. Their uniqueness resides in their "oars". The latter resemble long, insect-like legs. Inside the triremes toil hundreds of gnomes toiling frantically to keep the spring-loaded legs functioning. They crank up the springs, grease up the gears, pour water where parts heat up too fast, spin the fans, and turn the wheels directing the legs, creating a hellish atmosphere amidst the din, stench, and steam of the galleys' clockwork engines. Like their mother earthshaker the triremes are fitted with harpoons mounted inside their scorpion-like tail. Their mission is to slow down an enemy earthshaker until Snartapolis can catch up and deliver the final blow.

Snarta controls another three or four earthshakers besides Snartapolis, to guard the far reaches of its empire. Snartans are universally feared and hated throughout Vulcania. More specifically, their Philosophy of Similarity is their most abhorred feature, as it ensures a swift death or the status of slave to all who differ from their Snartan ideals.