Dark Sun: Warriors of the Wasteland
The Balican merchant dynasties of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador sponsor this fortified town of about two thousand souls astride the trade route that connects Balic with Tyr. Desperate raiders wait in ambush in the Stony Barrens and Rocky Badlands that surround the village, but Altaruk’s well-paid mercenaries drive off any bandits they find lurking with half a day’s travel of the town’s gates.
This protection is not free to travlers. All who want to enter Altaruk must pay a toll of 1 gp per visitor (including each beast of burden). But for those inside the 15-foot-high walls, Altaruk offers stables, room and board, trade opportunities between merchant houses, and gossip from all corners of the Tablelands. Only the largest and fiercest raiding tribes would consider attacking Altaruk, but rumor has it that giants of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue are gathering to strike at the town. It has happened before.
The village is governed by a Balican noble named Arisphistaneles. In his role as master of the town, he deals with traders in a stern but fair manner. Governor Arisphistaneles maintains control though functionaries titled aldermen, and enforces law with a standing town guard led by district captains who wield the power to pass judgement, carry out sentences and answer directly to the governor. Many merchant house members serve in these positions and Arisphistaneles maintains a cordial relationship with the merchant patrons of Altaruk.
Altaruk enjoys a more positive everyday life for it’s inhabinants, due in no small part to the leadership of Governor Arisphistaneles and the town’s prosperity from trade. Although certain inescapable aspects of life in Athas exsist within the walls, they are not practiced with the same fervor as in other settlements. The Governor not only opposes slavery, although the practice is still alive in Altaruk, he also supports education of the masses. With Arisphistaneles ideology and the influx of organized merchants and wandering traders, Altaruk has all the appearences of a rising community.