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Thick as Thieves RP - Setting : The City's Government

This is an overview of the governmental institutions of Melza, a.k.a. The City.

A purpose-built government complex in the heart of the Old Town serves as the headquarters for both municipal and national governance in Melza. This compound is known as The Houses of Rule. It lies on a slightly elevated knoll with a fairly expansive flat top, offering plentiful space for the various buildings and wings. The knoll has mostly steep slopes, some of them covered in rocky cliffs, and to add to this natural defence, the perimeter of the hill top is fortified with stone walls. They aren't particularly high or thick, but are meant to offer some degree of defence in case of a foreign invasion, a large-scale epidemic, or mass street riots and fighting. The compound thus forms something of a small urban castle. Inside the walls stand City Hall, the Assembly Wing, the Ministries Wing, the Watch Wing, the Relief Wing, and several other service buildings.

Executive Power

1.) The Four Lords (a.k.a. “The Four Pillars”)

Lord Mayor - Elected civilian co-ruler of the city state, head of the municipal government (and its law enforcement). Colloquially “the Mayor”. The current Lord Mayor of Melza is Latnan Oktimk, a bigfolk male.

Lord Baron - Reigning, hereditary co-ruler of the city state, head of the Barony (the local monarchy/dynasty). Colloquially “the Baron”. The current Lord Baron of Melza is Dortan Terlo (Dortan IV.) of House Terlo, a bigfolk male. (For a list of past rulers, click here.)

Lord Commander - Elected commander-in-chief of the city state's armed forces. The current Lord Commander of Melza is Unis Harelah, a rarach smallfolk male.

Lord Spiritual - Elected representative and spokesperson of the city's religious and ideological groups/factions. The current Lord Spiritual of Melza is Relan Avakala, a martenfolk male.

(Note: In case of a female holder of the title, the title would be adjusted accordingly to “Lady” or “Dame” (depending on who you ask). In the case of the ruling noble, it would be “Lady Baroness”.)

2.) The Municipal Ministers

The Ministers are the the right-hand men and women of The Four Lords. Each Minister is the head of a Ministry, one of the branches of the executive government. The branches carry responsibility for various basic spheres of governance within Melza's borders, such as justice, economy, transport, culture, schooling, religion, law enforcement, military, sewage and garbage services, emergency response services, and so on…

3.) Country Mayors

In addition to Melza's Lord Mayor, each of the nine inhabited settlements in the rural part of the Barony has its own local mayor. These are referred to as “Country Mayors”. Two of the mayors govern township municipalities (the old mining town of Árast Atrav in the mountains, and the local spa town Enemarp), while the remaining seven mayors administer the seven village municipalities of the Barony.

4.) Civil Servants

These are simply the various bureaucrats and employees that work for the executive part of the Melzan government. Even the most higher-up civil servants working in The Houses of Rule, such as the mayor's personal chancellor Púrst Tarandar, are effectively glorified office staff and assistants to the Four Lords and the Ministers.

Legislative Power

The City Asssembly - The Assembly is both the municipal and national parliament of Melza. It convenes on a regular basis in the chambers and Council Hall of one of the wings/buildings of the government complex, next to the City Hall building. Melzan political representatives serving in the parliament are known as Assembly Members (AMs) and their total number is 65. The lower age limit for an Assembly Member is 22 years of age (or its equivalent, depending on the species). Both males and females are permitted to be AMs, but due to tradition and other factors, the Assembly has had overwhelmingly male membership for most of its history (even though female AMs have been steadily present for many centuries, at least in small numbers).

Council of City Deputies - 50 Assembly Members strong, the City Deputies form the bulk of the parliament. They are responsible for holding debates on current issues of city governance, for discussing bills, and of course, voting for or against bills.

Council of City Elders - 15 Assembly Members strong, The Elders (or also Aldermen) are the smaller part of the Assembly. They serve as a supervisory and watchdog committee/council, commenting on and potentially vetoing bills.

Judicial Power

Melza has a series of hierarchical civil courts. The main judicial institutions and most of the courts are centered in Melza itself or in the two smaller townships belonging to the Barony. Not all of the seven villages in the Barony have their own courts, but each gets a government-appointed judicial advisor that works as an employee for a village's mayor.

Law Enforcement

The City's law enforcement falls under several different agencies, each with its own leader. However, the undispusted chief of all these institutions is the Lord Mayor, and in an advisory role, his security ministers.

Melza's law enforcement has decent inventories of equipment, but lacks heavy weaponry or aircraft and only owns a few small auxilliary boats in addition to ground vehicles. Much of the police's equipment includes special tools and less-lethal incapacitating weaponry.

Both the City Watch and the Frontiersmen Corps have their headquarters in the Watch Wing of The Houses of Rule.


The City Watch conducts most of its activities only in the city proper, though they will occassionally venture out into the city state's outer, rural areas and investigate criminal activities over there as well. They are the biggest and main law enforcement agency of the Melzan polity.

The head figure of the City Watch is the “Chief-o'-the-Watch”, also known colloquially as the Chieftain or simply the Chief. He is subordinate to the Lord Mayor and all members of the City Watch are in turn subordinate to him.

Currently, the City Watch operates seven service branches (six of them “bureaus” and one a special branch). Most of these also have their own, further specialised investigation departments.

Municipal Patrol and Security Bureau - This is the most populous and easily recognisable service branch of the Melzan police force. Ah, the good old patrolmen and patrolwomen of the Watch ! The true foot soldiers of The City's police. Whether you like it or not, as a thief, these men and women serving on the force will be the policemen and guards you'll be encountering most frequently (outside of private security guards). The equipment and uniforms of the Patrolmen, while unified, can have slight variations depending on their rank and the location they're serving in. Arms-wise, they tend to wear no armour or only lighter armour (e.g. leather armour, etc.) and generally wield one-handed swords, clubs, short bows, certain types of crossbows and pistols. Some of them occassionally carry a stun bomb, so it's not wise to rely too much on the notion that you can always outfool them and their weaponry while making your escape. Patrolmen can be dangerous and deadly to you due to their sheer numbers, and the fact that they often cooperate with colleagues from other Watch branches or with random citizens-bystanders that call on them for help. In short, don't underestimate the bobbies…

Burglary and Theft Investigation Bureau - One of the two bigger “plainclothes” branches of the Watch. This is the bureau most dreaded by the professional thieves of Melza, for obvious reasons. When you're a thief, it doesn't pay off to leave much evidence behind, as this particular bureau of the The Watch has been becoming increasingly professional and scientific in its examination methods as of late. The “B&T”, as people on the Watch like to call it, is staffed by civilian-clad detectives, crime scene investigators, experts on assessing the burglary methods used, and experts on assessing property damages. The bureau has its own minority of armed officers to accompany the detectives, and they can be every bit as risky to run into as the regular Patrolmen. Armaments of these individual armed officers are highly similar to those of their aforementioned colleagues. Due to the nature of burglary investigation, even the detectives tend to carry small personal defence weaponry from time to time.

Homicide Investigation Bureau - One of the two bigger “plainclothes” branches of the Watch. It's staffed by the aforementioned civilian-clad detectives, coroners, murder scene investigators, medical examiners, and several groups of lab rats focusing on particular areas of (primitive) forensic research. The bureau has its own minority of armed officers to accompany the detectives, and they can be every bit as risky to run into as the regular Patrolmen. Armaments of these individual armed officers are highly similar to those of their aforementioned colleagues. Due to the nature of homicide investigation, even the detectives tend to carry small personal defence weaponry from time to time. In recent years, the bureau has started using increasingly modern methods of murder investigation, including looking for a suspect's finger prints on the victim or the potential murder weapon. This has certainly not made the life of the criminals and serial killers in Melza any easier - getting a matching finger print is enough to condemn them to jail. Unless you've decided to become a killer and you were foolish enough to leave plenty of traces behind, you needn't worry too much about the homicide investigators. Unless you provoke the armed officers or even detectives to chase you or get into a scrap with you, you should be fine.

Commerce Inspection and Smuggling Prevention Bureau - One of the three smaller “plainclothes” branches of the Watch. The “CISP” is the bureau that specialises in dealing with economic criminality, from anything smuggling-related to “white collar” crime. (Not that they're all that successful combating the latter in particular, with corruption and cronyism being what it is.) Outside of investigating, the employees also engage in customs work, though in an amount that is secondary to the customs policemen working for Melza's gendarmerie, the Frontiersmen Corps. Due to the frequent overlap of cases between the CISP bureau and the customs employees of the gendarmerie, of the seven City Watch branches, the CISP bureau cooperates the most with said other law enforcement service. Thieves dabbling in smuggling, fencing loot, the running of front companies, etc., should be on the lookout from the CISP investigators and the watchmen assigned to accompany them. Along with the burglary bureau, this is possibly the branch one can anger the easiest if he or she is not careful.

Transport and Traffic Bureau - One of the three smaller, mostly “plainclothes” branches of the Watch. Its employees oversee the transport safety and abiding of transport regulations within the state and The City in particular. In one of the few examples of The Watch having jurisdiction outside of Melza, instead of The Frontiersmen Corps, there is Railway Policing Department within the bureau. All trains within the Barony's borders, whether the national train franchise or privately operated companies, are staffed by uniformed coppers of the department, acting as railway policemen. Reflecting some interservice rivalry, the “T&T Bureau” is often mocked by the other branches of The Watch for supposedly being “the place with the easy jobs”. Naturally, Traffic Watchmen get annoyed by the old cliché and will spare no time in trying to set the record straight in front of civilian strangers. The branch of The Watch that the “T&T”-s cooperate the most with (and generally get along the best with) is the CISP Bureau. Though some of the old jokes about “T&T-s having it easy” still abound, there is a sense of camaraderie between their employees. Armaments of individual T&T watchmen are highly similar to those of the average Patrolmen.

Ethnic and Species Relations Bureau - One of the three smaller “plainclothes” branches of the Watch. It is the youngest, newest branch of Melzan police. After a decades and centuries long history of recurring rioting and squabbles among specific groups of a species, racial, ethnic or religious nature (especially in some notorious or troubled parts of Melza), City Hall decided it's high time to form a specially trained branch of The Watch for the sake of mitigating and preventing such occurences. The “ESR Bureau” and its “Essers” were born. Of all the policemen serving in The Watch, the Essers are arguably the most plainclothes of all, given their role as negotiators and semi-psychologists. They are deeply knowledgeable about local issues and how to diffuse them (usually peacefully, if possible). You can count on them to “know the lay of the land” in terms of social and cultural contexts.

The Watch Specials - Not a bureau of the Watch in the classic sense, but they are run quite similarly. In terms of duties, they are the most varied of all eight of the Watch’s services. These policemen and detectives are called upon whenever there is a need for more out-of-the-ordinary missions and procedures. Anything from resolving riots and kidnappings, sniffing out criminals on the run, or even thwarting the abuse of the latest technologies for criminal purposes. The departments (or more precisely, units) of the The Watch Specials are:

a.) The Flying Squad - They're a form of up-gunned policemen, created to deal with crime scenarios requiring rapid crisis response. “The Squaddies” were originally organised as a slightly better armed group of plainclothes detectives, sent out to investigate higher risk warrant services or conduct police raids. Over a number of years, it became increasingly obvious to the municipal government and the leadership of the City Watch that the average death toll of a Flying Squad employee is ridiculously high. Thus, it was decided that the department's employees will be greatly re-equipped and retrained, in order to better handle armed scuffles with particularly dangerous criminals. Unlike their Patrolmen counterparts, the Squaddies are quite armour-clad (usually in medium armour) and truly “bring out the big guns”. They are the most heavily armed policemen in the Watch, toting civilian versions of military-grade firearms, bladed weapons and polearms. They also carry stun bombs and stun mines as standard issue. From a thief's perspective, though there is generally little reason to worry about them being called in, it is nevertheless a possible outcome - especially if you blow a heist attempt in a high-security public institution. Beware, Squaddies have a tendency of following a “shoot to kill” policy. Flying Squad members occassionally include dog handlers, adding to a pilferer's plight if he underestimates the situation.

b.) Unrest Quellers - Popular name for what amounts to the City Watch's riot police squads. Part of “The Watch Specials” branch, where they form their own department. Melzan society tends to be generally quiet all year round, but from time to time, a good old bit of riot or public unrest erupts. The City Watch usually responds in kind. As one would expect, the gear of the average Queller consists of fairly heavy protective armour (the heaviest in the Watch, in fact), riot shields and various melee weaponry (clubs, batons and even maces being the most common, polearms a close second). While the Quellers are no strangers to a ruthless baton charge if one is required and ordered, to their credit, they usually try to focus on merely breaking up a riot or pushing the least reasonable group of rioters aside of the rest of the crowds. Some of Melza's humanitarian-minded personalities have been campaigning as of late to have the old-fashioned batons of the Quellers replaced with ones made of rubber (a recently discovered technological marvel). However, the municipal government and Watch leadership have ignored the proposal for now. Unless you're the type of thief that likes partaking in street unrest or angry public protests, you don't need to worry about these particular policemen.

c.) Dog Handler Troop and d.) Falconry Troop, etc. - Various animal-handling departments of “The Watch Specials”. Simply put, policemen with sniffer dogs, guard dogs and trained pigeon-intercepting or gull-intercepting falcons. They have quite a bit of history in The Watch, surprisingly enough.

e.) Calc Crime Prevention and Policing Team - A novelty that has appeared in The Watch only in the last few years. With the rise of the earliest calc communication networks in Melza also came the rise of the earliest of calc criminals, or “clackers”, as they are called. Though the government thought of this at first as a once in a blue moon threat that needed to be adressed on a case-by-case basis at most, they soon realised that illegal tampering in the new-fangled communication systems was becoming recurring and rampant. Reluctantly, the go-ahead was eventually given for the formation of a new department within “The Watch Specials”. It's now crewed by the best counter-clackers available in Melza and run on a semi-experimental basis. As the longevity of the project grows, there is talk about eventually moving the department under the Transport and Traffic Bureau. Nevertheless, it might take City Hall some time until it comes to a definitive conclusion on this particular decision. Currently, the team has launched something of a public awareness campaign in places equipped with calcs and calc networking. The slogan goes “If you disrupt a line, you're comitting a crime !”

See also: City Watch NPCs and Ranks


The City's gendarmerie, border guard and customs police. They are a paramilitary police force that focuses on patrolling the small country's borders and ensures the prevention of illegal trespassing, cross-border smuggling, investigations in the wilderness, etc. Outside of foot gendarmes themselves, there are also mounted infantry gendarmes, and even diver gendarmes (a.k.a. “frogmen”). “The Corps” is in fact the only law enforcement branch with mounted policemen, as the City Watch has a strict on-foot-only policy (outside of the occassional vehicle). Like The Watch, The Corps has its own dog handlers and falconers.

The Chieftain of the City Watch doesn't have command of the Frontiersmen Corps, as it is a separate law enforcement organisation to The Watch. The Frontiersman-in-Chief and commanders of the Corps are subordinate to the Mayor in the same way as the Chieftain and his subordinate commanders in the Watch. The only Corps-related thing the Chieftain can do is turn to the Mayor in order to request Frontiersmen backup for Watch employees in case of great need and emergencies.

As a professional thief, the only time you really have to worry about the Frontiersmen is when you're visiting the countryside portion of the Barony. The gendarmes leave the law enforcement in Melza proper to the City Watch. You might see them occassionally in the city's streets and especially at the various stations and ports, but they'll rarely attend to criminal investigation or crisis situation management in The City itself.

See also: Frontiersmen Corps NPCs and Ranks

Other security agencies

Firemen - TBA.

Rescue Service - The rescue service is a fairly new organisation. It was spun off from the firemen and some of the municipal medical services only about a decade ago. As its name implies, it tries to offer salvaging and medical aid to people unlucky enough to sustain injuries in various accidents. The rescue service operates primarily in Melza and by extension the two nearby towns, but it occassionally ventures into deeper countryside as well. Though the financing and material base of the service have slowly increased over time, it is still largely a novelty, compared to the likes of established medical services (such as the city-run hospitals and the various private physician clinics). Don't expect the rescuers to get everywhere or to get there on time. Even after implementing swifter and more organised methods of transporting injured patients - such as civilian counterparts of the army's “flying ambulance” carriages - the rescue service still is not all that effective.

Disease Response Unit - One of several newer, more recently founded medical bodies in service of Melza's municipal government. The unit consists of educated, trained and experienced “plague doctors”, their assistents and other small-time auxilliary medical staff. Most of the unit's activities are conducted on the streets and are aimed at countering existing disease hotspots, and preventing the potential ones. Unsurprisingly, while at work, the employees of the unit wear protective clothing, including protective masks, in an effort to avoid catching a disease themselves. As recent as the unit's history is, its parent organisation and the tradition behind it go back several centuries… Originally, epidemics were handled simply by sending volunteers to collect and bury the dead. Gradually, the city's government started to employ more active measures against the spread of diseases. During a major epidemic in Melza some 80 years ago, the then government decided to found the Office for Disease Matters, the first official institution of its kind. Several decades later, the office's operations were already diversified enough to start employing their own full-time medical staff. Hence, the “dee-ar-yoo” (or “dear you”, as the folk nickname goes) was born.

Armed forces

The City's own armed forces consist of four main branches, and within them, several smaller organisational divisions. Unlike with law enforcement agencies, which are controlled by the municipal government, the military is led by the Lord Baron (symbolic head), the Lord Commander (commander-in-chief) and their various advisors and underlings. The bureaucratic headquarters of the Armed Forces are housed in the Ministries Wing of The Houses of Rule.

Citizenry-at-Arms - The equivalent of an army reserve and civil defence branch at the same time. Consists mostly of volunteers and reservists drafted from the city's populace, hence the name. In times of war, the Citizenry-at-Arms provides combat and support reservists, while in peacetime, its main function is to help with disaster relief operations and the like. The Citizenry-at-Arms was created several centuries ago from the original Melzan town militia. By law, each legal guild in the city had to raise and train their own defensive troop for the militia, in order to provide protection for Melza if it became besieged. The current Citizenry-at-Arms uses a more modern form of troop management, and the vast majority of City defence responsibilities have been transferred to the Army.

Baronial and Municipal Army of Melza - The ground forces of the city state. They include infantry, cavalry, siege and artillery regiments, as well as enginner and support regiments and the “Railway Army”. Though most of the traction and hauling power of the army is still based around animal-drawn vehicles, the use of purpose-built military trains and even early motortrucks and motorcycles has been slowly on the rise. Overall, the army's most modern assets are at a roughly Franco-Prussian War level, though with some occassional early 1900s (pre-WWI) elements here and there. Historically, the Baronial and Municipal Army is an evolution of the original baronial (royal) army of Melza from several centuries ago, which gradually developed from a mustered force to a semi-permanent force, and then into a proper standing army. The Army was originally tasked primarily with defending the Barony itself, but these historical developments also saw the gradual takeover of City defence duties by the Army, unburdening the increasingly outdated town militia. The current official name for the Army has been in use for some 120 years, and the official monikers for the River Guard and the Aeroforce also followed this pattern.

Baronial and Municipal River Guard of Melza - The riverine “navy” of the city state. The Melzan river guard has had a fairly long and illustrious history, spanning over a millenium (with the occassional breaks), according to most available written sources. Nowadays, the River Guard still dependably scours and scouts the shores and bends of the great Melza river, just as they have for all those centuries. But times have changed… The sailboats, rowboats, sailships and various forms of oarships that were once common in the force have been almost completely retired by now. During the last century, the River Guard saw the gradual rise of steam-powered boats and ships. These gradually replaced most of the older types of defence vessels and their latest generations continue to serve with distinction. Currently, the River Guard operates over a dozen patrol boats, several small river gunboats, two ironclad monitors, two fast patrol masted sloops, one steam-powered minelayer/minesweeper ship, and two ironclad steam corvettes (with added coastal/seaworthy capabilities). There are also various support boats, launches, barges and tugs. Several years ago, an experimental submarine was built for evaluation testing. Though this prototype proved succesful, there are currently no plans of incorporating it into the RG for active service, making Melza's present day fleet still surface-only.

Baronial and Municipal Aeroforce of Melza - The air force of the city state. As far as heavier-than-air vehicles are concerned, the city owns two to three smaller squadrons of ornithopters, housed at a publicly restricted section of the city's main airhaven. All of these are firmly in government hands, and are used for whatever purpose is momentarily needed - search and rescue, reconaissance, aerial observation, air policing, chartered “taxi flights”, sightseeing flights, etc. Many of the state ornithopters are reasonably up to date models, though some older types still continue to soldier on as workhorses of the air wing. In addition, the Aeroforce also operates several blimps and directly owns The Arcane, one of the city's four aeronavs/aeronefs (The Arcane is effectivelly the VIP aircraft and flagship of the Aeroforce).

(Note: The use of the term “baronial and municipal” for certain Melzan institutions is somewhat analogous to OTL's use of terms like kaiserliche und königliche ("imperial and royal"). In the Melzan case, it reflects not a shared ruler with two titles, but two different rulers of the state - one a civilian and one a member of the traditional aristocracy.)


On police, gendarmes and soldiers...

(Last modified on September 6th, 2014, 02:01 AM.)

See Also

shared_worlds/thick_as_thieves_city_gov.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/09 21:38 by timothyc