The nations of Geb and Nex wage eternal battle. Now, imagine you’re a citizen of the magical nation of Nex, but eventually grow bored of magic and turn to technology. You are eventually accused of crimes against the country and have to flee society into the deadly Mana Wastes, where magic does not work. Unable to be pursued and devoid of allies, you discover abandoned dwarven ruins, where you find the pinnacle of offensive technology: The Firearm, a necessary device to protect the land you call home from mutant wasteland zombies and sandkrakens.
That is the story of Ancil Alkenstar, founder of the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar, who gathered like-minded individuals to develop the technology he risked everything to find. Located in the heart of the Mana Wastes, sandwiched between Geb and Nex, Alkenstar is a bustling metropolis, built on the framework of technology, not magic. Allied with the now populated Sky Citadel of Dongun Hold, the legendary Alkenstar Gunworks produces 90% of all firearms on Golarion. Their small production timeline is deliberate, as it allows them to improve the science of firearms as well as control the supply to the rest of Golarion. The Gunworks is defended by one of the pinnacles of their efforts – The Great Maw of Rovagug, a siege weapon so massive its ammunition is 81 inches in diameter (approximately 2 meters), weighing 3 tons (2,721 kg) and requiring 14 adult workers a full hour to reload it. With a range of 19 miles, it is the second most dangerous bombard ever created (after Taldor’s magical siege engine Worldbreaker) and has been used only twice in its lifetime: Once as demonstration, and the other to fend off rampaging sandkrakens. It’s pure overwhelming power is one of the few things standing between Alkenstar’s walls and an invasion of the Gorilla King, though his death has severely diminished that threat.
But Alkenstar is not home only to weapon manufacturing. It is the religious capital for worshippers of the goddess of technology, Brigh, and her followers. The greatest irony of this, however, is that worshippers of Brigh rarely pay her traditional homage, as they would rather focus their efforts on the evolution of clockwork technology or their own independent projects. This even extends to their church leader – High Clockmother Athenth Llanalir – who would rather spend her time optimizing manufacturing than leading prayer service, infuriating her political, religious, and corporate enemies alike.
But the Gunworks and the Church of Brigh are not the only major factions in Alkenstar. Others of note include the sole magic academy in the nation, Blythir College, which exists solely to study the primal magic of the Mana Wastes (often to disastrous results, as the largest graduating class in its history was eight surviving students), the Brass Guild, responsible for maintaining the city’s clockwork sentries that now guard Alkenstar, to the chagrin of the High Parliament. Lastly, we have the Shieldmarshals, the elite police of Alkenstar, famed for maintaining law and order even in the lawless wastelands of eastern Garund.
However, law is not all that persists in Alkenstar, and there are groups in opposition to the status quo. The mysterious Lithos Clan is a metallurgist collective that exists almost seemingly to spite the open nature of the Gunworks, refusing to share any discoveries they make, despite their high quality products. Their secrecy is so intense that the only publicly known member is a single one-eyed woman named Burnisher Pendlyn, and even then she is only seen for public announcements. Even more criminal is the most notorious gang: Espara’s Paladins, who use that title to mock the knight order as they seek to overturn what they view as a corrupt society, though they accomplish very little due to the presence of the aforementioned Shieldmarshals and clockwork sentries.
Despite its size compared to its neighbors, Alkenstar is home to 53,600 citizens, mostly humans and dwarves, but with a distinguished gnome population, as their insatiable curiosity leads them to be impeccable craftsmen. The nation itself is split by multiple districts that best exemplify the divide in the city: From the rich and powerful Auburn District to the industrial district of Steamhaven, to the slums of Old Ironside, Alkenstar boasts a robust society that desires peace in Garund and trade with its bordering nations, despite them being at each other’s throats since time immemorial.
What does the future hold for Alkenstar? That remains to be seen. With new gunsmithing technology, clockwork inventions, even a hydroelectric plant powered by magic for filtration, the city is eons ahead of the rest of Golarion (barring the nation of Numeria, gifted with technology from beyond the Dark Tapestry), the gunslingers and inventors of Alkenstar are ever progressing towards the unreachable summit of science within the world of magic.
Sam has been playing Pathfinder since 2015. His insatiable desire for knowledge led him to deep dive into the lore of Golarion and the incredible creations of Paizo.