The wealthiest of the families are the Alaster clan. The owners of Alaster Compound are able to collect rents from the city’s largest market, located inside the walls, as well as operating the easternmost pair of docks on Dortin’s waterfront. The Alaster docks are the busiest of all Dortin’s operating docks, much used by small-boat traffic from downriver. But the source of most Alaster wealth is their control of The Stone Road. Alaster lands include many farms on The Peninsula. Alaster guards accompany shipments of goods traveling along The Peninsula, and Alaster family fighters patrol The Stone Road along its entire length, skirmishing regularly with bandits and other undesirables or monsters. They make use of a network of supply caches and friendly villages, but no longer maintain actual fortresses on the road as they once did. The sole exception is Beck’s Fort, because this was an Imperial place and the Alasters find it strongly built and useful.
The Alaster name arose in the chaotic days after the War of 600 when Imperial administration collapsed and the city was thrown into a state of anarchy. From out of this chaos emerged the two strongest forces of the next century. Peregrin Karel seized power, established a military dictatorship and founded a large and influential family. But he was unable to rule without the cooperation of the Alaster family, which had emerged from the anarchy as the people in control of the Baron’s fort, now restyled Alaster Compound. This strong fortress enabled the early family members to establish control over the surrounding neighborhoods and eventually put a stop to the violence with the help of the Karels.
Later the family turned against the dictatorship and led others in a civil war to topple it and institute a democracy, known to historians as the Alaster republic, which lasted most of a century before it decayed into oligarchy and was overthrown by tyrants.
Though no longer kingmakers, the Alasters have remained active in politics, opposing any radical changes with whatever means are available. Protecting their breadbasket has made the Alaster family generally willing to go along with the schemes of the more interventionist families, though they are conservative in other respects. Alasters do well from the status quo.