Charm Cities is set in the fictional nation of Cheloni (loosely based on the history and geography of the United States and Canada), which is divided into eight provinces, each of which has its own provincial government. The player will only interact with one of the eight provincial governments in any given game. The player begins the game working directly for the provincial government as the appointed city manager of a brand new city, but becomes independent of the provincial government once the city is incorporated.
As with the national government, the most critical activity of the provincial government is that it provides subsidies for the capital and operating budgets of various city services. Players must manage their provincial political capital to keep those subsidies coming. The player interacts directly with the provincial governor.
Lavrent is where outside colonists first settled in Cheloni. It has road and rail connections to Calinect and Gwelt, and also has water access to the ocean and to the vast inland Lake Lavrent. It includes significant urban areas along the ocean and lake coasts as well as vast boreal forests in the interior. The economy is mixed, with services, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and mining all well represented.
The region was ethnically very homogeneous into living memory, but internal migration and immigration have recently changed that. The last century’s demographic changes have provoked a substantial backlash. It is a swing province, where just about any politician can win provincial office if they craft the right message, and has a moderate influence on the national government.
Calinect is the most heavily urbanized region of Cheloni. It connected to Lavrent, Gwelt, and Prodit by road and rail and has many bustling sea ports. The capital of Cheloni is located here. The economy is dominated by services and manufacturing.
Climate is humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa). Winters may have extreme snow or ice events, but not every winter. Water is abundant.
The region is among the most diverse in Cheloni, after only Anglyion, and has recently transitioned to majority-minority. It is a reliably left-leaning province, where right-wing politicians are unusual but not unheard of, and has a large influence on national politics.
Calinect is inspired by the mid-Atlantic region of the US.
Prodit was the heartland of the Cheloni's race-based chattel slave economy until slavery was outlawed about 150 years ago. It is connected to Calinect, Gwelt, and Ardclar by road and rail, and also has sea coast. Historically it has been underdeveloped but new major urban centers are growing. The economy used to be dominated by agriculture but there has been a substantial shift towards services and manufacturing.
Climate is humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa). Snow events are rare; ice storms are more common. Water is abundant.
Prodit is still healing from the wounds of slavery and the brutal oppression that followed to keep its racialized minorities suppressed. Legal equality has been the law of the land for some 50 years, but structural racism was baked in deep here even more than elsewhere in Cheloni. It is a reliably right-leaning province, where left-wing politicians are very rare, and has a moderate influence on national politics.
Prodit is inspired by the southeastern United States
Gwelt is the central breadbasket of Cheloni. It is connected to every other province except Barrug by road and rail, and shares Lake Lavrent with the province of Lavrent. The economy is dominated by agriculture, but major urban centers (especially on Lake Lavrent) also have substantial services and manufacturing sectors.
Climate is humid continental, hot summer (Köppen Dfa). Thunderstorms and tornadoes are common in summer. Winters may have extreme snow or ice events, but not every winter. Water is often in underground aquifers and may be strained by agricultural demand.
Demographically, Gwelt has been fairly homogeneous ever since the indigenous nations were violently driven off the high-quality land by settler colonists. However, in recent years increased migration has begun to change that. Most politicians here tend toward the center, but both left-wing and right-wing politicians can gain support here. Gwelt has a moderate (some might say outsized) influence on national politics.
Ardclar is a rugged, mountainous area of Cheloni. It is connected only to Prodit, Gwelt, and Angylion, and has no water connections. The economy is dominated by forestry and mining, but a few major urban centers have significant service sectors.
Climate is cold semi-arid (Köppen BSk). Weather changes rapidly and can be extreme. Severe hailstorms and flooding can occur in summer, and major snow events are common in winter. Water scarcity is a major concern.
This rugged area is one of the newer portions of Cheloni, having been conquered only 150 years ago. Settler colonists didn't arrive here in large numbers until the invention of the automobile and the development of highways. Ardclar's politics lean vaguely right but mostly libertarian, and left-wing politicians who propose that the state bears responsibility for human welfare are unlikely to get far here. Influence on national politics is low.
Ardclar is inspired by the US mountain states.
Angylion, once a minor province, grew explosively throughout the past century to become one of Cheloni’s most populous and urbanized provinces. It is connected to Ardclar, Gwelt, and Easanna by road and rail, and has sea access. The economy is varied and includes services, agriculture, and oil.
Climate is hot-summer Mediterranean (Köppen Csa). Weather is mild, but water scarcity is a major concern.
Angylion is highly diverse, and was the first Cheloni province to become majority-minority in modern times; the tension caused by this transition is at least starting to die down. It is reliably left-leaning, though right-wing politicians can be quite successful at the provincial level, and has a high influence on national politics.
Angylion is inspired by southern California.
Easanna is a spectacularly beautiful province on the western coast. It is connected to Gwelt, Angylion, and (uniquely) Barrug by road and rail, and has sea access. The province has several large urban areas and a varied economy, including services, agriculture, forestry, and mining.
Climate is warm-summer Mediterranean (Köppen Csb). Weather is mild but rainy. Water is generally abundant.
At its founding, Easanna was barred to ethnic minorities, save those indigenous people who managed to survive colonization. Though this policy was ended almost a century ago, it has had long-standing repercussions. Easanna has some of Cheloni's most progressive-minded cities, but even there racism remains a major problem. Overall, Easanna's politics are very polarized, with strongly left-wing voters on the coast and strongly right-wing voters in the interior; either can win provincial office, but centrists are likely to struggle to gain an audience. Influence on national politics is moderate.
Easanna is inspired by Cascadia.
Barrug is the northernmost and least developed province of Cheloni. It has only one road and rail connection, to Easanna; most goods are brought in by sea. Though there are a handful of urban areas, most of the region’s economy is based on resource extraction: oil, mining, and forestry.
Climate is typical subarctic (Köppen Dfc). Weather is generally dry with severe snow events most likely in fall. Daylight is limited. Water is generally abundant. As in Ardclar, the political climate leans libertarian, which generally helps right-wing and centrist candidates more than left-wing candidates. Barrug has very little influence on a national level.