Geography and layout
Promise is well-designed and extremely clean. Most buildings are built from white granite and marble, and sport domes and spires that are among the best that modern architecture has to offer. Promise is surrounded by red sandstone walls that rise to 30 feet tall where they face the land and 100 feet tall where they face the coast, to prevent outsiders from viewing the city from the sea.2
Promise is divided into twelve districts, each of which is dedicated to a particular vocation. People are free to live where they want to, but most live in the district corresponding to their job. Over the years, the people have named the districts after the twelve guises of Aroden.3 Promise's districts are connected by sky bridges that magically boost the speed of those walking on them and they are wide enough for Mengkare to walk upon. Stairs connect them to the streets below.2
The large docks are the only way to enter or leave Promise by water. Ships arrive regularly, but all are overseen by the Council of Enlightenment, and privateers are employed to get rid of uninvited guests.4
Promise and Hermea as a whole are governed by the Council of Enlightenment consisting of Mengkare himself and twelve elected members, who make their home in the Golden Citadel, one of the most impressive buildings in the city. Council members serve three-year terms and must step down for at least one term before being eligible for re-election; most council members do not serve more than two terms. Elections are held annually, and candidates are pre-selected by Mengkare from those he deems most appropriate before the citizens vote.56
The Council of Enlightenment handles Promise's everyday affairs as a whole. Most work is delegated to the most suitable individual citizens, including the council members themselves if most appropriate.5
Mengkare makes decisions on behalf of each of Promise's citizens. Minor choices are left to the individual, but major ones, like long-term projects, potential romantic partners and children, are all controlled by Mengkare. He chooses the most favourable qualities (in his view) and pairs couples accordingly, believing that doing so will result in stronger, smarter, and more attractive children. Those who attempt to oppose or circumvent him are exiled, imprisoned for life, or killed.2
In 4708 AR, after Runelord Karzoug nearly managed to return to power, Mengkare recruited the brine dragons Alustriv and Thalminar as Hermea's security viziers. They frequently patrol the island to get rid of threats or unwanted visitors. Many members of the Council of Enlightenment felt betrayed in Mengkare's choice, believing that the council could address security by itself, but continue to work with the brine dragons without grievance (despite their misgivings) and frequently turn to them in matters of defence.5
In 4521 AR, after writing off Breachill as a failure, Mengkare began to travel across Golarion under various guises to recruit workers to build his dream city of Promise. Due to Mengkare's half-truths, Promise's builders only knew that they were building a utopia and nothing more. When the city was founded in 4552 AR, Mengkare spent some time meeting various humans to identify those whom he wished to invite to Promise, then reached out to them separately via letters.78
In his letters, Mengkare wrote that he intended to build a perfectly controlled utopia, and all invited people were chosen for their expertise, representing the best of humanity. He promised all of them unlimited resources and time, and to take care of all their needs and encourage them toward self-fulfilment as long as they let Mengkare decide on any major life decisions. Most chose to remain, inspired by his charisma and wisdom, and agreed to name the city Promise; the few who refused were allowed to go back home, before being assassinated by Red Mantis assassins hired by Mengkare a few years later.7
Over the years, Promise's citizens have worked with Mengkare to improve the city. Mengkare's willingness to cooperate earned him great rapport, and he was pleased by how easily people accepted his rule. Fewer and fewer guests declined his proposal, and the number of dissidents constantly diminishes.7
Promise's citizens shed everything that ties them to their previous life, including nationality, and faith. In return, the city provides all of their basic needs: currency is non-existent, citizens give and take as necessary, and there is very little commerce. A scholar's theorem is as valuable as a fisherman's catch, and all are encouraged to share.2 Most have only known a life of comfort, sheltered from danger, with important decisions already made for them. Dissidents who could not hide their true opinions would quietly disappear, never to be seen again.5
Humans make up the majority of Promise's population. Dwarves are introduced for research projects due to their hardy constitution, and elves are valued for their ability to produce half-elves, whom Mengkare finds more attractive than humans. Gnomes are sometimes recruited to teach magic, but most quickly succumb to the Bleaching. Mengkare views halflings as amusements and novelties, and only invites them as visiting entertainers. Species that he considers to be disruptive, like goblins, are banned from Promise. Many citizens, particularly those in the higher echelons, share Mengkare's prejudices.2
Children born in Promise receive exceptional care and education, and enjoy the richness of life in the city. At the age of 10, they are obligated to apprentice themselves to a local expert; they are allowed to change vocations until they turn 14. At the age of 16, all children undergo a test both academic and physical: those that pass can become a citizen or leave Promise forever, while those that fail must undergo rigorous training, then take the test again after a year. Failing a second time results in exile. People removed from Promise are sent to a port city with enough money for a new life, except those deemed dangerous by Mengkare; these individuals are either executed or imprisoned beneath the Golden Citadel.2
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 180. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Hermea” in Broken Promises, 69. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Hermea” in Broken Promises, 70. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Hermea” in Broken Promises, 71. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Hermea” in Broken Promises, 68. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 181. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Hermea” in Broken Promises, 67. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “High Seas” in World Guide, 62. Paizo Inc., 2019 .