St. Merridell sits in the valley called Mallowviolet, in the Berremont mountains. The mountain range runs north-south; to the west (within a few days’ travel) are settled lands, kingdoms, roads, cloisters, lumbermills, mines, and the general evidence of civilization. To the east, through the valley and up onto the plateau, is the Frontier, hundreds of square miles of unmapped, untamed wilderness. St. Merridell is a city of perhaps eight thousand souls, mostly humans.
The city walls and towers on the Frontier side are noticeably grander than the walls on the west side of the city.
As a free city, St. Merridell answers to no crown; it is led by its own group of magistrates; chief among these and wearing the gold chain of the office of mayor is a gnomish gentleman named Steiner Pembrook. Rather than hereditary rule or monarchy, positions of leadership are typically held by the wealthiest and most influential merchants. Workshops and service workers have unionized into guilds to set prices of goods and institute standards of business. Caravans bring in food and goods from parts west, and load up with local salt, copper, and stone from the mountains nearby for the journey home. Fields of cabbages and barley and peas are scattered about the prairies west of the city, and goatherds take their flocks onto the mountainsides to feed on the thistle and brush that grow there.
The town is not big enough to support a busy temple district, so the Church of Pelor covers the majority of the population, with the Ecumenical Temple covering as many other religious ceremonies as it can manage and as population demands. Most households have a small shrine to the pantheon of good gods, and monuments and obelisks to specific gods decorate parts of the city. (For example, there’s an monument to Farlanghan, the god of commerce and travel, near the gates of the caravansary.)
The Klest river runs through the valley, and thus through the city itself. Interior plumbing doesn’t exist, but there are a few fountains fed by artesian wells in the city to act as localized water sources and social gathering places.
There are no public schools; young people are generally expected to find an apprenticeship under a guild journeyman to get their education. Those with the studiousness, talent, and wealth to do so can apprentice into the Arcane Library and learn the basics of thaumaturgy. There is no formal bardic college.
But given its location, the primary industry of St. Merridell isn’t quarrying or mining, or moneychanging or commerce, or worked goods. It’s adventuring. There’s a big, wide, monster-filled Frontier out there, beckoning to be tamed. Starry-eyed youths and military veterans alike gather in St. Merridell to form expeditionary parties. Sages gather in the libraries and tea-houses to study and discuss archaeological finds. Occasionally the call will go out for a delivery or a caravan to one of the tiny villages struggling to survive up on the dangerous plateau. There’s always coin to be made in St. Merridell.