Chronicles of Eorde
Snowmont is the northernmost city-state in the Tarkenian Regions. It is the last remaining free dwarfhold in the Hollow Mountains. The rest have long since been overrun by drow, gray dwarves and worse.
Snowmont originated as a fortified dwarfhold that has since grown to encompass a far larger area. Though other races populate the city-state, the leaders of the city are still dwarves. Thus, the government is a meritocratic democracy. The political leaders are voted in by citizens who have demonstrated their abilities and earned the right to vote. The leaders themselves must demonstrate the ability to lead and make decisions under duress before they are considered for office. This has lead to a fairly consistent Assembly make-up of a mix of military and merchant guild leaders. Rarely, an Assembly member will be from a different background, but such an individual is extraordinary indeed.
Much of the common law in Snowmont is based on the dwarven ideals of merit and contributing one’s talents in full. One effect this has had is on the economy of the city-state. Outsiders, caravans, and dealings with other city-states require a hard currency. However, between residents, most dealings are based on a regulated barter system.
For example, a group of dwarves may agree to build a building for a clothier. The clothier and the builders would agree on an equivalent return, such as the clothier providing food and materials during the build, along with a selection of product once the build is finished. The clothier could then make a similar deal with a mining group for the materials to make his building and agree to provide a certain amount of product to another merchant for the food to provide the workers. For his suppliers, assuming they are local, the clothier might agree to provide a certain percentage of any trades made for his products (such as clothing made from the material).
The clothier example is quite simple compared to the normal bartering that occurs between Snowmont residents. It is something of a hobby and a competition within the populace, with regulation of what is considered an equivalent trade overseen by the Regulators, who’s views are built upon a vast history of such barter within the surviving records of the dwarfholds. New trade equivalencies are being written every day and the most common sight marking interesting activity in the markets are the golden helmets of the Regulators.
Merchant guilds in other city-states actively seek out any merchants who were raised in Snowmont to recruit. Their skills at business are seen as unconventional, yet unparallelled in negotiating a deal.
Snowmont is known far and wide as the most secure city-state, in respect to the dwarf-made fortifications surrounding the city proper and seeded throughout the city-state. No enemy has yet to breach the defenses through force. The walls are perfectly fitted and made of only the strongest block. The defender positions are calculated to provide maximum effect on any invading force. And those who are given the assignment to such positions are carefully chosen from those who’ve proven themselves to be suited for the trade. These factors combined make Snowmont a formidable nut that has yet to be cracked.