The sorcerer–queen of Raam calls herself the Great Vizier. She lives in a beautiful palace with ivory walls and an alabaster roof built atop a grassy knoll overlooking the city. Unfortunately, the base of this knoll is surrounded by a complicated and ugly series of defensive breastworks, ditches, and walls, for the Great Vizier is the most insecure of all the city rulers.
When I visited there, the people spoke of organising a rebellion and openly praised the last attempt to overthrow their queen (though it apparently occurred previous to most of their lives, for no one could remember how it had ended).
The Great Vizier professes to be the representative of Badna, a godlike greater power, and claims that her powers are gifts from this mysterious being. According to state doctrine, this mysterious being has picked her to watch over the city of Raam and its people. When she is no longer performing his task well, this same mysterious being will strike her dead and assign someone new to the office of Great Vizier.
In stark contrast to the other sorcerer–monarchs of the Tablelands, therefore, the Great Vizier is unique in that she does not claim to be an absolute ruler, but instead speaks for a force greater than herself. The Great Vizier is also known for her fecund nature – it is said that she has given birth to hundreds of offspring, many of which still dwell with their immortal mother in her vast palaces.
Despite this claim of her divine right to rule, however, the Great Vizier finds herself beset by powerful noble houses, wealthy merchants and an unruly slave class. Her people are divided into castes with the result that resentment is rife between the various social strata and the rule of law is hard to enforce at the best of times.
Raam is the most chaotic city I have visited. Templars hardly dare to show themselves alone in the streets for fear of being assassinated by the nobles. The nobles are little better than raiding tribes. Each noble owns at least a small tract of land abutting the roads, and his guards demand a hefty price from anyone who wishes to cross the noble’s land. The merchant houses hire small armies of mercenaries to defend their trading emporiums from armed bands of thieves. The situation is so bad that elves are commonly accepted in the ranks of high society as if they were upstanding citizens!
Of course, it is the slaves who suffer most under these conditions. Because most of Raam’s fields lie untended, food is expensive and difficult to come by in large quantities. Consequently, slaves are fed only what is absolutely necessary to keep them alive – and then only as long as they are needed. As soon as their usefulness is at an end, they are sent to the arena to entertain the crowd with a pitiful exhibition of fighting.
The only thing that prevents Raam from being overrun by another city–state is the sheer numbers of the army it can field. The Great Vizier maintains a huge armoury beneath her palace and, if desperate, can arm every citizen in Raam with a wooden shield, flint–tipped throwing spear, and an obsidian–spiked flail. Of course, she is loathe to place such might in the hands of a populous that clearly despises her, but the option exists nonetheless.