Rainy Night in Ptolus
As part of the Empire of Tarsis, Ptolus has a Commissar who acts as a regional governor: an administrator who manages the city “in the Emperor’s stead.” Of course, the fact of the Empire’s slow disintegration continues to threaten the position of the Commissar, particularly out on the very edge of the Empire. Many think Ptolus should be an independent city-state. The current Commissar is Igor Urnst, a native of Tarsis who has lived in Ptolus and acted as its administrator for eighteen years. Urnst remains quite popular among Ptolusites; if the city did ever secede from the Empire, many would want him to stay in his current position.
Commissar Urnst maintains popularity for two reasons. First and foremost, he has a well-earned reputation as the general who won the Gnoll War in 696 IA. He maintains a military mindset in his role as Commissar, which makes the people believe him a strong leader who fights to keep them safe. “You think things are bad?” people say. “Imagine what it would be like here without the Commissar and his men!”
The Commissar maintains a regiment of elite troops called the Commissar’s Men based in Dalenguard. He keeps the battery of two dozen huge cannons, which he used in Rhoth during the Gnoll War, in perfect condition in case of emergency. Called the “Commissar’s Guns,” they are very mobile and could be positioned to bombard a foe from the north, the south, or along the cliffs to fire at approaching enemy vessels.
Further showing that he has the city’s safety as his foremost concern, almost fifteen years ago the Commissar also assembled the Twelve Commanders to serve as his advisors and lieutenants in times of emergency. This group, comprising some of the most powerful and martially focused individuals in the city, has served him well against threats from the undead and Forsaken in the Necropolis and monsters coming up from the realms below.
The second reason the Commissar remains popular is his willingness to accommodate the needs and desires of the people. As his first act as Commissar, he elevated the authority and responsibility of the City Council, a group of nobles, guildmasters, and other influential individuals.
Under Commissar Urnst, the Council became a decision-making body with two chambers: the Tribunal and the Assembly. The Tribunal has only three positions. One is occupied by the Commissar, one by Kirian Ylestos, the Prince of the Church, and one by the Mother Superior of the Sisterhood of Silence. Although the Commissar technically remains the ultimate authority, the influence of the Tribunal members makes them voices he can’t afford to ignore. The Commissar currently feels pressure from a number of sides to add at least one more chair to the Tribunal. If that happened, he most likely would ask Guildmaster Delver Sorum Dandubal to fill it.
The Assembly has twenty-five members, including a representative from each of the ten noble houses. While not as powerful as the Tribunal, the Assembly can still enact policy, particularly when the members speak with a unified voice. A cynical Ptolus resident might call the City Council the “Council of Coin,” referring to the fact that the members deal mainly with economic issues, and that every chair in the Council chambers is filled by a wealthy individual. The Council makes no apologies for this fact and sees nothing wrong with a governing body from the upper class. And while most of the Council’s issues do deal with economics, that’s because the Commissar makes decisions on other matters himself or with the help of the Twelve Commanders. This is particularly true for issues that relate to the safety and well-being of the city and its people.
As an individual, the Commissar is a fearless, determined, but ultimately arrogant man. His strength comes from his adaptability and his willingness to try original solutions to problems. His weakness comes from his inability to recognize and admit his own mistakes. The Commissar has a reputation for being outspoken, denouncing the actions even of those more politically powerful than himself if he happens to disagree with them.
For example, on numerous occasions he has spoken against the decisions of the Emperor of the Church. Of course, this has strained he relationship between the Church and his government, but that has only served to make Ptolus more welcoming to diverse religions ultimately making the Commissar even more popular. The Commissar is married and has four daughters, ages twenty-four, twenty-two, nineteen, and sixteen.