Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Is The (Emerald) City

This week, we're stepping out of the Palace and hitting the streets of the Emerald City.

The most curious feature of the city, and all of Oz in general is its lack of money. While early stories mention money in passing, it is never a plot point. By Road to Oz, Baum had apparently decided that money didn't exist in Oz.

So why do people work if there's no money, no way to get ahead? Largely out of necessity. In communities as small as those in Oz (the largest population number we are given is 101), every hand is needed to ensure the success of the entire community. Most communities have a leader of some kind, whether they call that person Mayor, Duke, King or Queen. This person is generally well taken care of by their community, but exactly how well depends on how much the community is willing or able to provide. If the community cannot use all that it produces, the excess usually gets sent to a regional potentate (such as Emperor Nick Chopper of the Winkies) or directly to the Emerald City.

Larger communities (such as the massive Emerald City) make this sort of arrangement trickier, but not impossible. Princess Ozma (or more likely, some functionary) takes a direct role in the distribution of needed supplies to and from the Royal Storehouses, combining a degree of socialism with the relatively pure communism of rural Oz.

The Emerald City does have a number of shops lining its streets, but most of these are more accurately described as distribution centers. Emerald Citizens may go into any shop and ask for items that they want or need. Other shops are workshops, where craftsmen receive a share of raw materials from the Royal Stores and turn it into finished products before passing it on to customers.

The tradition of hospitality that exists throughout Oz is still upheld in the Emerald City. A number of inns, hotels, restaurants and pubs serve travelers and locals who need a night out, a place to meet with friends, or simply a quick bite between here and there. So if you feel like doing the whole "You all meet in a tavern" bit, you can definitely do that.

What does this do for crime? Between the lack of material need and the fact that nobody can be killed, there's not a lot of crime in the Emerald City. But the crime that does happen tends to be personal. If someone steals from you, it's because they want that object, not because they can sell it for a lot of money.

One crime that is unique to the Emerald City is that of Mooching. That is, enjoying the benefits of the Emerald City's distribution network without contributing to the welfare of the city. The easiest way to do this is to avoid work. Some gluttons take deliberate pains to accumulate all the goods they can acquire, but these criminals don't last too long. They will either get discovered in short order, or they will burn out on consumption rather soon. If you are caught breaking this law, you will either be given work or asked to leave the city.

Law enforcement is fairly weak. There are no police, but none are really necessary. Because of how the city works, criminals stand out. Thieves steal personal treasures, not costly knickknacks. Unlawful practice of magic leads to more powerful and more obvious spells. The Guardian of the Gates is most often called upon for law enforcement duties, as his previous responsibility of fitting green glasses to everyone entering the city has become irrelevant. He is not terribly clever, but he's friendly enough that he gets the help he needs to ensure the safety of the Emerald City and its people.

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