Here I present a city which was created for a 4e campaign, inspired by Venice. It sits within my homebrew world, known as Arras, at the northern edge of an inland sea. The city was built in such a way that it should be possible to transpose it into any game world without a terrible amount of work. As-is it fits with the generic 4e history WOTC has outlined.
Primary Activity: Trade port
Imports: Food, Luxury Items
Exports: Art, Fine Wine
The Republic of Veneline sits along the northern coast of the Dragons Maw ocean. While The Republic technically contains a number of cities and communities, almost all references to it pertain to the city of bridges which is it's crowing jewel, and shares it's name. Veneline is famous for it's high culture, with wines grown in it's mainland vineyards selling for hundred to thousands of gold pieces.
Veneline lies on a group of islands within a large lagoon, which protects it's inhabitants from the larger predators of the Dragons Maw. The city proper lies upon four large groups of close islands which are connected by a number of bridges. A variety of other atolls and islands within the lagoon boast villages, huts, and other permanent dwellings. The Republic's mainland city is known as Veneterra, and services the large number of farms and vineyards which populate the slopes of the mainland.
Originally an Arkosian city, the fortresses which defend Veneline to the north and south were constructed to form a path for ships from the southern lands onto the northern section of Arras. During the ancient war, the fortresses and the populated islands were captured by Shea'Dath (a divinely-inspired nation). Shortly before Bael'Turath made it's pact, the remaining inhabitants declared independence, and gathered together a number of small coastal villages and local dwellers. Even during the hardest times, with folk abandoning cities for fear of bandits and monsters, Veneline was never truly barren. Over time the city developed as a primary point of trade for those ships which braved the Dragons Maw, or those which followed the in-land coast north. This opened trade with The Western Plains and The Midden-Realms (a grouping of small European kingdoms) to the Southern Lands.
Veneline and the surrounding lands became part of Erchanon, or 'The Kingdom of Light' as it often referred to itself, in the early 1100's, and the region know known as Itania was made into a province. This lasted until 1329PT when the declining state of Erchanon's holdings allowed Veneline and several other cities to peacefully separate into the League of Itania. Though there were many in Erchanon who were angered, they could not hope to force Itania back into the fold militarily.
The League of Itania's dissolution as an imperial power in 1386 created the formal Republic of Veneline.
The political sphere of Veneline is rife with deals and intrigue. The city is run by it's noble families, who each have some amount of say in the goings-on in the city. The true political power resides within the Council of Ten, who are made up of elected members of the hundred+ noble houses. The Council elects it's own leader (Droge) but this position holds no more power than the other ten. The Heads of each noble house also act as a senate which advises the Ten.
There have been many accusations from the common folk and merchants that the Nobles do nothing for their plights, and indeed there have been rumblings of uprising in the past. Each time a prominent speaker attempts to go against the ruling class though, they have been the victim of strange accidents.
Having such a long history has led Veneline to sport a variety of architecture second to none. The ancient Draconian spires and foundations remain in places, often abutted with the gothic walls and buttresses from the Shea'Dathi period. More modern buildings tend to be two or three stories, made from brick and stone harvested from the mainland. Most materials are made from a yellowish clay, though nicer homes may sport white-washing or even expensive foreign facad's. Due to the age of the city, and the need to re-use older structures, it is not uncommon to see a repair crew on any number of buildings along a street.
Next - Places of Interest within Veneline, and Tensions within the City of Bridges.