Sun's Beacon is a city on the High Cape, a promontory along the Sword Coast. Sun's Beacon was an important stop along the road to the Alliance's capitol city of Arindell. Stradling the High Cape, Sun's Beacon provides access to towns along both sides of the Stormreaver Range, including a direct rail line to Border Watch.
Sun's Beacon is one of the oldest cities in the Alliance, dating all the way back to sometime in the Dynastic Period of the Mage Wars. It was also among the few cities to survive the fall of the Alliance, if only after a fashion.
Exactly how or who first founded the city, or when, remains in debate. The presence of a tel or mound identified during the Golden Age indicates long-term habitation, but excavations to determine exactly how long-term would require the demolition of most of the city.
By 500 B.G.A., the city had a firmly established population of over two million. It was around this time that refugees from the lacanados rift valley began flooding to the city, escaping the Marcon Alliance.
In 498 B.G.A., Arch Magus Julius Phinius Juto mobilized the now extensive labor force and to rebuild the overcrowded city in what may have been one of the earliest examples of large-scale urban planning.
Eieber conquered the city in B.G.A. 5, with an army of roughly 80,000. The city's population at the time was perhaps two and a half million. It was considered an autonomous region and lacked major defenses. A fortified Mage Tower on the slopes of the Stormreaver Range lacked line-of-sight for most of the city, and the few ground forces they had were quick to defect.
Once captured, much of the city's industy was converted to manufacturing goods and equipment for the army. Eieber would use the city as his base of operations well into the Golden Age, though Arindell had already been named the capitol within the first few years of the Age. For some time, Sun's Beacon was considered the capitol, and in many ways was much more important than Arindell.
However, the extremely poor defensibility of the location made it, in Eieber's opinion, an unwise choice of capitols. It was ideal for launching military campaings all over the continent and across the sea, but generally not a good place to be on the wrong-end of an invasion.
The city flourished during the Ages of the Alliance, growing to a population of over fifteen million including surrounding suburbs and incorporated areas. Developments ranged mostly north along the Sword Coast where high annual rainfall and open land produced good crops, while those along the coast enjoyed mostly good weather year-round.
Sun's Beacon became an important tourist destination, as well as a sea-side retreat for the well-to-do of the Alliance government.
After the fall of the Alliance in A.Y. 751, Sun's Beacon suffered the hands of Samuel Fate. The population of the main city dropped from 5-6,000,000 to less than 100,000, and most of the surrounding urban centers were abandoned. The resorts along the coast were destroyed, and mostly reclaimed by the sea during the Long Night.
As the New Day began, the city became an important stop along the coastal shipping routes that served the new Alliance.
Sun's Beacon claims many "firsts" in recorded history. Probably the most important is their early mastery of defense-in-depth, which was practiced even in the early First Chaotic Period. A typical attacking army saw Sun's Beacon as a massive, defenseless behemoth half asleep in the sun and ripe for the taking. Such armies were very, very wrong.
The Total Defense Mentality
Sun's Beacon made little distinction between civilians and soldiers. When the city was attacked, it was time to "fish or cut bait". Everyone was involved in the defense effort with the possible exception of very young children and the physically infirm (both of whom were still expected to cheer and provide moral support to the defenders). Everyone over the age of 13 was expected to have a weapon and some basic armor, and be ready to fight if called upon. Even those not directly involved in the fighting were conscripted to carry supplies, repair defenses, and generally assist with the war effort in any way deemed necessary. While Sun's Beacon had few professional soldiers, the near constant attacks ensured a very sizable percentage of the population was experienced and ready to fight.
Sun's Beacon's location at the terminus where the High Mountains reach the sea made the city impossible to besiege. Anny attacker wishing to do so would have to control significant territory on both the Agras Plain and the Lowland Plains, a feat never managed by any enemy power. More still even if the land could be controlled, the sea could not. Sun's Beacon had an enormously powerful navy that could be brought through the Biswon River delta and put to sea anywhere over a hundred miles of coast. A besieging navy simply could not command a large enough area to stop the fleet from breaking out.
The key to Sun's Beacon's success was its large size and the use of defense-in-depth strategies. For the area covered, the Beacon had a surprisingly low population-density. This made falling back a fairly simple strategy, and is theorized to be where the original tactic was invented. Early defenders of the city realized that by delaying their attackers and forcing them to fight over land the defenders planned to abandon anyway, they could draw the enemy into a battle of attrition. An attacking army, usually reliant lengthy supply lines, was not well-suited to fight such a battle. The locals, however, relied on very simple logistics and a short supply line. They could hold a prepared, advantageous position, fight until overwhelmed, then fall back to the next position. All the while inflicting casualties on an increasingly exhausted attacker.
On the Biswon River side of the city sit numerous hilltop settlements. The delta contains rich, highly productive farmland; but is subject to flooding every spring and harsh ice flows by winter. For protection, the actual homes of the farmers are built atop a series of raised mounds. These are mostly made from natural hills, built up and protected from erosion by a variety of means. Because the farms are passed from generation to generation, the farmers invest in long-lived building materials such as stone. To share heat in winter and other resources, the farmers form small, close-knit communities.
These "islands" double as ideal fortresses during an invasion. Each hillock is a maze of defensive trenches, ankle-breakers, and deceptive ledges. The farmers who work the land also build and maintain these defenses and know them intimately. Whats more, these men and women are fighting to protect their own homes and food stores, making them very well-motivated to hold the line.
The law of the land of Sun's Beacon states that every able-bodied person past the age of 13 (or having lived 13 summers) must be in possession of and maintain in good working order: a leather hauberk of one-inch thickness, a pike tipped with steel no less than six feet in length, and a sharpened steel knife of at least five inches. Provisions were made for the poor and the indigent to receive these items at low or no cost provided they maintain them, so that they may act in the common defense of the city. The same law also provided for the creation of large stockpiles of wooden shields. Curiously, these laws were never actually stricken from the record. While no citizen has been fined since the early Golden Age, people as late as the Sixth Age found that by completing the appropriate forms they could still get a free pike courtesy of the Sun's Beacon City Council.