Rushtide is the common name of Gard’s eastern coast, and for the Rushtide Union, a group of five city-states along that coast: Archons, Carlston, Electrum, Highrock, and Juniper Dale. A sixth city-state located in the Rushtide region is not part of the Rushtide Union, and is considered its own realm – see Maxow for more details.
The Rushtide Union is a political organization meant to bring five of the eastern city-states closer together. The states are still independent. Each has its own army, its own laws, its own republican government. Each city-state is led by a chief magistrate called a Doge, ostensibly chosen for life from by the city elders. When these leaders revealed in 451 OC that they were brass dragons masquerading as humans, the people of Rushtide took it in stride, deciding that the Doges could continue to serve out their terms of office so long as they retained the approval of a human republican council. No council has ever held a vote to oust any of the dragons.
The Rushtide Union itself is led by a Secretary. The current Secretary is the brass dragon Aphalmakoria, Doge of Archons, but in the year 500, the title will pass to Doge Borergundaxix of Carlston. Aphalmakoria is well-loved by the people of Archons, and she also happens to be Emperor Rommestilanis’ granddaughter.
While each of the Rushtide cities has its own code of laws, they are very similar in structure. Compared with Gideon City, that other great city-state of Gard, the Rushtide city-states have more efficient governments, but also more tariffs and regulations on commerce and trade. Trade guilds are very powerful, and are commonly able to enshrine their regulations in law.
The Rushtide region is a narrow strip of land on Gard’s east coast. To the east lies the ocean, and Orient. The cities of the Rushtide Union do a great deal of trade with the Oriental nations of Cipok and Shraa in particular. However, they have strict quotas on Oriental immigration.
From north to south, the cities of Rushtide are Juniper Dale, Highrock, Maxow, Electrum, Archons, and Carlston. There is an ancient road called the Blue Highway that runs along the coast, connecting all six cities, and intersecting with the Emperor’s Highway in Archons. But most people who need to travel do so by boat. Merchant ships travel from city to city daily, and generally take passengers for quite reasonable fare. Of course, the shipboard accommodations leave much to be desired, and most ships do not stop at Maxow. But the Rushtide Union’s navy is famous for keeping the east coast (almost) pirate-free.
All five of the Rushtide Union city-states control some territory beyond their city walls, but these are mostly just small villages of little interest to anyone. The territories of Juniper Dale and Highrock border Wick to the west, while Archons and Carlston border the kingdom of Chester to the west. Electrum’s western border is land claimed by Maxow, which has a larger suburban territory than all five Union city-states combined.
The Rushtide Union cities have somewhat different cultures, but they have more commonalities than differences. In all of them, prestige and public life center around trade guilds, not a hereditary nobility. It can be argued that the ultimate goal of the Rushtidean merchant class is to convert itself into an urban aristocracy like Chester’s or Gideon City’s. The cities of Rushtide are much newer than Gideon City, though. They all rose to prominence in the last 200 years with the founding of the Rushtide Union. None of them except Archons even existed during the Age of Conflict, and Archons was hardly more than a fishing village back then.
Ambition is a cornerstone of Rushtidean life. While in some places it is considered unseemly, every Rushtidean is encouraged by society to be the best at something. Not all people seek power or money, however, Art of all conceivable forms is a major industry in Rushtide. Rushtideans have a reputation for producing “low art”, which is to say that the plays, stories, and music coming out of Rushtide are very popular among most people, but hated by critics and places like Chester and Eustace where old-fashioned sensibilities rule.
Many Rushtideans even go out of their way to reject traditional culture, to shock traditional minds. They tell deeply irreverent stories about the gods, dragons, and human nobility, of the sort that would get them in serious trouble anywhere else. They openly welcome members of races that are despised everywhere else in Gard – goblins, in particular. They revile the traditional class structures of realms like Chester and Eustace.
Rushtidean cities also have a reputation for shunning magic, in favor of non-magical crafts. This is not quite true – magic is useful anywhere – but it can definitely be said that Rushtideans have remarkably little patience for the painstaking and tedious study of wizardry. Sorcerers and bards, people who “just get” magic, are held in much higher esteem. And it is true that some cities have a reputation for being centers of technological innovation. Electrum and Juniper Dale in particular pride themselves on their machinists and producers of fine instrumentation, like printing presses, mechanical clocks, clockwork contraptions, and guns. Highrock also has a world-renowned gun industry.
The Rushtide Union is in the awkward position of having long-time economic relationships with both Wick and Chester, two realms that have been rivals for ages. But in recent years, Rushtide seems to prefer Wick. The Wickish still depend on Rushtide for trade with Orient, but Chester has been focusing more and more on its colonies in the Bocan Islands, decreasing its reliance on the east coast. And despite cultural differences, Wick and Rushtide share republican political outlooks. Both realms have also been generally supportive of the dragons since their emergence in 451. For this reason, Rushtide also considers itself close to Gideon City, a city-state like those of the Rushtide Union.
Rushtide has no holdings in the Bocan Islands. Unfortunately, economies of Rushtide’s cities are starting to suffer somewhat from this oversight. The people of Rushtide have begun to protest. Many of them have started demanding a new colonization effort. Unfortunately, neither the Doges nor the trade guilds are willing to take the risk that such a venture would entail, when there are already perfectly good trading posts in the New World set up by Gideon City.
Dilentu, Avillion, and Ielda — the neutral good gods, in other words — are definitely the most widely-worshiped in Rushtide. But every city has its own tastes. Jackiv is as popular as Avillion in Electrum, while Kyon is especially liked in Highrock. There is a popular legend in Archons that Sidarch originally founded the city and was its first (and only) king. Carlston contains a site holy to Uar. And to the inhabitants of Juniper Dale, Dilentu has a special place of honor.
Rushtidean city-states are a bit less diverse than metropolises like Gideon City and Amafratia, but they do have large dwarf, halfling, and gnome populations. In Juniper Dale and Highrock, the shorter races are so common that laws have been passed requiring facilities open to the public to be “halfling-accessible”.
Rushtide also welcomes some “less savory” races in a way other cities, even Gideon City, do not. Goblins, full-blooded orcs, and kobolds are not exactly common, but they are less prejudiced against than they might be elsewhere.