Rastvel is a large, sprawling city nestled by an expansive bay on what is presumed to be the easternmost edge of The Boundless Weald, a dark, thick forest which stretches away in every direction. Legends and popular belief say that the Wood has no end, and, aside from the little-understood barbarians on the other side of the waters, Rastvel is the only bastion of civilization in the known world.
The people of The Tangled City, as it is sometimes called, speak a modified form of Common, archaic words from the original settlers’ tribal language still present in the language, particularly in regards to cultural words such as official names and governmental titles. The city’s name itself is formed of the Rastvellan words for “darkness” and “forest”, Rast and Vel respectively. The word Rast, specifically, is common in the language, as the concept of darkness is both venerated and feared by the Rastvellan people, its meaning covering not just the absence of light, but also connotations of power, hunger, and presence. It is unknown how the Rastvellan people began to speak Common in place of their native language, the shift being lost somewhere in the state’s long history.
Because of the city’s proximity to The Boundless Weald, wood is an extremely plentiful resource, used as the primary building material for everything from common houses and hovels to the walls of Velkogn, a mighty castle built over the waters of the bay that towers over the rest of the city. Rastvellan architecture favors twisting, branching buildings which rise upward in symbolization of the winding forest that surrounds and infiltrates its streets. Wooden walkways cross between the upper floors of many buildings, giving streets a shady, canopied appearance which has led to the metropolis’ title of “The Tangled City”
While metal and stonework are not unknown in Rastvel, both disciplines are shunned for being cold and lifeless, bereft of the dormant life and “Rast” still present in wood even when used as a material. Metal weapons and tools are outlawed among the public, their use constrained to only the most wealthy and powerful of residents. Guards and lawkeepers instead wield wooden armor and sharpened wooden spears, while the majority of the population does not carry weapons at all. The exception to this exclusion is the use of sharpened stone and obsidian woodworking tools, accepted as a necessary evil due to their efficiency in utilizing the city’s primary resource.
Rastvel is ruled by a single Lord Overseer, who dispenses purpose and judgment from within Velkogn on the eastern edge of the city, separated from the populace by a long, fortified drawbridge. The Lord Overseer is aided by five Speakers, intellectuals and advisers who interpret and act upon his wishes. Each Speaker holds sway over one of the city’s five districts, and the individual given control of the city’s central region is known as the Grand Speaker, who is given authority over the others, second in command only to Rastvel’s ruler. Three speakers in accordance can veto any order given by the Lord Overseer, but if the Grand Speaker does not agree, all four other Speakers must oppose him to overturn his verdict.
The population of Rastvel is largely human, although dwarves and elves are also common. Gnomes have been known to come to the city from overseas, but rarely stay for long, finding the city’s dark atmosphere stifling. Due to the large number of hags present in The Boundless Weald, Changelings are not uncommon, and have no particular stigma attached to them Hag kidnappings are treated as unfortunate but unavoidable disasters, like a house fire or flooding. In some cases, superstitious Rastvellans treat Changelings as almost divine beings, a human vessel of the “Rast” of the forest.