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DeadlyGrim
2005-07-02, 03:05 PM
YOU WILL VOTE FOR:
Gal-Deshret
As you pace along the deck of the rickety reed boat, you can see the city sprawling out in front of you from miles away. It's not very tall, almost none of the buildings are over a story tall, but it very wide, at least a mile or two long. As you get closer, you can see that the city's buildings, with their white marble fašade, extend all the way down to and even a bit into the river. The docks extend rather far out into the river and are a bustle of activity as robed men carrying crates, nets, fishing poles, boxes, and other items rush back and forth and onto ships.

The fisherman you hired to bring you to the city pulls up to a less crowded dock and lets you off. You make your way slowly down it, towards the city, having to move quickly out of the way of rushing people more than once. You finally get to the end of the dock and pass through the large, white marble gate and enter the city proper.

Judging by the stores, tents, and people hocking their wares, you seem to have entered a market, a very large market, that extends almost as far as you can see. The largest group of merchant appears to be fish and food sellers, who yell out their wares with confidence and hyperbole. There looks also to be armorers and blacksmiths, alchemists and booksellers, animal trainers, perfume and spice sellers, and even one woman who seems to be selling bones and shrunken heads and hands

Although the native humans, who wear robes of white, blue, orange, and red, seem to be the primary segment of the population, you can also see throngs of other humanoids (and even some non-humanoids). There are a couple of armed orcs over there, bartering for a stack of mithral bars. You can see what looks like a group of elven warrior-poets, dressed in leather armor and fine silk and moving with unerring grace through the crowds. Standing above everyone, you see what looks like a half-giant. Once, you even think you see a human-like creature with a forked-tail pass by, but he was too far away to make sure. It is quite a scene and something you've never quite seen before.

Welcome to Gal-Deshret.




Stats:
City Size: Metropolis
Population
(Trade Season): 32,000 to 40,000. During trade season (from late March to early October, when the weather is at its most calm), many people live in Gal-Deshret, even if it is only for a few days. During this time, the population is in an almost constant state of flux.
(Off Season): 25,000 to 30,000. Even without the traders and buyers passing through, Gal-Deshret still has a very large population, mostly of ordinary people or merchants who base their headquarters in the city. Even during the off season, some hardier and/or desperate traders still pass through the city.
Gold Limit: 100,000 gp. Gal-Deshret is a very prosperous city and almost anything that isn't judged harmful by the government can easily be found in the city. Certain factions or merchants, with access to additional goods, might have higher gold limits, perhaps even as high as 200,000gp although these people are very, very rare and will probably only sell to people who belong to their faction.
Demographics:
(Trade Season)
Human: 51%. Gal-Deshret is mostly a human city and many merchants are humans on account of the get-rich-quick lure it provides.
Elf:14%. Attracted to luxury, art, and culture, elves are able to find all of this at Gal-Deshret
Halfling: 11%. Quick-witted, curious, and with a love of the finer things in life, halflings make natural merchants.
Dwarf: 7%. Although their gruffness makes them rather horrible merchants, their skills in building, blacksmithery, and other crafts allow to make fine items which are valued very much by merchants and consumers.
Orc/Half-Orc: 5%. To the far west lives a tribe of orc, half-orc, and human barbarians. Every year they travel to Gal-Deshret for supplies and items which are not easily found in the harsh desert. Obviously, the guards are their most alert when the tribes are in the city.
Gnome: 5%. Well known for their technology, alchemy, and intelligence, gnomish goods are much prized by collectors of the exotic and adventurers alike. Many gnomish merchants travel to Gal-Deshret, though they usually do not stay long.
Outsider: 2%. A surprising amount of outsiders (mostly genies) come to Gal-Deshret to find or sell exotic goods.
Other: 4%. Many other races, from far away places, come to Gal-Deshret to trade for goods and services.

(Off Season)
Human: 68%. Most of the permanent, natives of Gal-Deshret are humans, either descedants of the nomads or of the original colonists.
Halfling: 14%. Many of the most prominent merchants who have permanent operations in Gal-Deshret are halflings. Many of them form consortiums, although the government keeps them from monopolizing the market.
Elf: 6%. Some of Gal-Deshret's most famous artists are elves and artists from all over, including elves, come to Gal-Deshret even during the off season to try their hand at creating a masterpiece.
Dwarf: 3%. Most of the dwares go back to their homelands during the off season, although some clanless dwarves (and even some clan dwarves) choose to remain in the city for some time
Gnome: 3%. The gnomes that remain during the off season usually live permanently at Gal-Deshret, usually in guilds of inventors composed of mostly humans and gnomes
Outsider: 1%. Although most outsiders go back to their own homes and planes, some of them (mostly ones which have been banished or some of the merchant genies) remain
Other: 5%. The remaining races are mostly composed of half-orcs, although their is a smattering of other races.

Professions of natives:
Merchant: 28%. Being a trade town, most people who live in Gal-Deshret are merchants.
Fisherman: 23%. Due to its closeness to the Al-Dun river and the river's enormous amount of fish, many of the more common people choose to make their living by fishing
Craftsman: 20%
Luxury goods: 8%. Some of the residents of Gal-Deshret decide to not just sell expensive goods, but actually make them
Builder/Engineer: 5%. Due to its emphasis of monuments and beautiful buildings, some of the bests engineers and builders can be found at Gal-Deshret.
Blacksmith: 3%. The blacksmiths of Gal-Deshret do not only sell their goods to merchants, but supply the guards and the militia army.
Medicine/Alchemy: 2%. Because of the diseases inherent in not only a trade city but a port city, a good percentage of the people feel a calling to help out the sick.
Other: 2%. There are many specialist craftsmen that cater to the exotic tastes of some of the people who come to the city
Farmer: 13%. Although the desert is not exactly fertile, the area around the Al-Dun river is. Common people who are not fishermen, are probably farmers.
Unskilled Laborer: 6%. Due to the large number of oddjobs which pop up in the city, many of the poor work as unskilled laborers.
Unemployed: 3%. Although the church of Ipwi-Ka tries to make sure everyone is employed, there is still a good amount of people who are unemployed. Of course, this percentage also includes people who are "unemployed in an official sense", i.e. criminals.
Law Enforcement: 3%. The police of Gal-Deshret are among the finest, having to deal with problems ranging from racial brawls in the street to rampaging demons.
Priest/Government: 2%. The church of Ipwi-Ka is not only a religion, but a government and thus a good percentage of the people are involved with it.
Other: 2%. With such diverse interests in the city, there is a percentage of jobs which are not easily classified.[/list]
History:
The city of Gal-Deshret started out very humbly as a group of nomadic desert dwellers camping out among the ancient ruins of some long forgotten civilization. The nomads came to this place because of its close proximity to not only the Al-Dun river but to the traditional spawning grounds of the desert runners, quick-footed lizards that, when cooked correctly, are quite delicious.
Gal-Deshret, meaning "the resting place" in the language of those nomads, existed this way for many centuries before attracting a certain group of powerful merchants. Recognizing the possibility of creating a successful port-town, due to Gal-Deshret's place near the mouth of an important trade river, they "persuaded", with gifts of perfume, gold, food, water, and weapons, the nomads to leave Gal-Deshret. Then, the merchants brought in wave upon wave of settlers to create a city.

It took almost twenty years before the city was finally finished. Within a few years of its existence, the city won back almost all of the debt incurred by the merchants. Gal-Deshret was very profitable, to say the least, and thus continued to attract even more people. As is so often the case, however, the people it attracted were not exactly the most lawful and industrious citizens. Crime flourished and the merchants, who had instituted themselves as rulers of the city, were worried. In response to the increasing criminal activities (which were cutting into their profit), they created a large police force to institute law into Gal-Deshret. The police were brutally efficient and were able to reduce the crime rate to a more acceptable level.

However, at about this same time, something happened that the merchant-rulers did not expect. A cult, calling itself the Church of Starry Wisdom, started to spread among the populace, led by a strange man who was known only as the Reborn King. The merchant-rulers and the police tried to stamp it out, but the Church of Starry Wisdom seemed to have a whole lot of magical power behind, something which the standard police force was not prepared to stop. The merchant-rulers hired expensive mercenary wizards and sorcerers, but they met with very little success. What had began as a shadowy cult had started to come out into the open and was reeking havoc on the "nonbelievers". Most traders no longer came to Gal-Deshret. The city was in a downward spiral. But it was saved by a most unlikely intervention.

The nomads, which most people had forgotten about, came back to the city led by two brothers, Kysen and Ahmes. The brothers and a force of about 10 white-robed men and women wielding strangely curved scimitars marched into the central market of Gal-Deshret. A couple of the guards made a move to stop them, but suddenly seemed to think better of it and moved away. "By prophecy and the command of great god Ipwi-Ka, we have come back to this place," said Kysen in a commanding voice. He was more muscular than his brother and had long, black hair that was tied in a ponytail behind him. "The previous leader was ignorant and corrupt," said Ahmes. He was leaner than his brother and he too had black hair, although it was cut much shorter than Kysen's hair. "He had forgotten the way of the gods and the ancestors and, in his foolishness, he has allowed fools to bring back the forsaken ones." It was obvious from Ahmes' manner and way of speaking that he was the smarter of the two brothers. "We," said Kysen, "are here to rectify that."

With those words, the 10 men and women who were with the brothers moved out into the crowd and started to attack and subdue a number of people who were openly displaying their faith to the Church of Starry Wisdom. Panic gripped the crowd and the guards moved to stop them, but the brothers raised their hands to the sky, looked up, and spoke some words in unison. There was a great flash of light and everyone, except the brothers and their nomads, were still. They took the followers of Starry Wisdom, unconscious, and left the city. As soon as they passed out of the white, marble gate, everyone in the market regained the ability to move.

From then on, it was open warfare between the white-robed nomads and the black-robed, gold-necklace wearing followers of the Church of Starry Wisdom. The nomads would swoop in and abduct "believers", and the believers would attack the massed nomads outside the gates of Gal-Deshret. There was far more nomads then had come into the city on that first day, almost 800 from at least 12 tribes, and there were very many believers, almost 1,000 although, due to the Church's shadowy nature, it was almost impossible to tell. Since the city of Gal-Deshret only had a population of 9,000 people, since was a very significant number. The merchant-ruler's guards and police tried their best to keep order, but it was impossible. They were outnumbered and outmatched, even with the addition of even more mercenary forces. Trade plummeted and many people fled for their lives. Finally, the merchant-rulers decided that they had had enough and fled with all their possessions that they and their forces could carry.

It was almost a year before the war ended. Gal-Deshret was a wreck from not only the physical but the magical battles which had been fought there. Horrors from beyond this dimension had been summoned by the Church of Starry Wisdom, but each one in turn was defeated by the nomadic followers of Ipwi-Ka. In the end, Ahmes and Kysen had triumphed and had expunged the Church of Starry Wisdom from Gal-Deshret. They and their forces then began an almost greater task: rebuilding Gal-Deshret.

Ahmes and Kysen became the first priest-kings of Gal-Deshret. They established a theocracy founded on laws of not only church but state as well. Despite what was implied by their first pronouncement when they re-entered the city, they happily allowed foreigners to come to the city on the one condition that they obeyed the laws and customs of Gal-Deshret and Ipwi-Ka. Surprisingly, these former nomads were very excellent in governing a permanent city and their reign is remembered as the golden days of Gal-Deshret. The brothers built great monuments to Ipwi-Ka, honored individuals, and to the story of Gal-Deshret. They instituted social programs for the poor and unemployed (because Ipwi-Ka cares for all of his children) and restricted, and eventually banned, the slave trade in Gal-Deshret, much to the chagrin of many of the merchants who had returned to do business in the city. When the brothers died (both on the same day), the entire city entered a period of mourning.

Gal-Deshret has survived and flourished for more than 400 years since the brothers died, expanding until it became one of the largest trade centers on the continent. It's rulers have been surprisingly fair and just despite the near-absolute power they possess. There has been no major conflicts, although minor conflicts pop up almost daily on account of the diverse interests inherent in a trade city. The Church of Starry Wisdom has tried to reassert itself many a time but each time it was put down harshly. The priests of Ipwi-Ka have essentially resigned themselves to the fact that they will not be able to completely eradicate the Church of Starry Wisdom, but they and the police do their best to keep it from growing large. All in all, Gal-Deshret has had a very successful history and it seems that that will not change in the foreseeable future.

Of course, things are not always what they seem for there are rumors that once again the Church of Starry Wisdom has began to grow, once again led by a man who is known only as the Reborn King.

Physical Description
Gal-Deshret is a city of white marble winding like a snake along the banks of the Al-Dun river. To outsiders, the city might seem monolithic but to the astute native each section of Gal-Deshret has it's own character and nature. In the center of the city, nearest to the ports, is the Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is relatively devoid of permanent buildings, although there is a tavern, inn, or particularly wealthy store every so often. Most of the space is taken up by street vendors who set up shop wherever they can.

The nearest section to the Grand Bazaar could be described as the visitor's quarters. Due to the large influx of people during the trading season, there is a large demand for hotels, hostels, taverns, and inns. Most of the buildings in this area are exactly that. A great majority of the buildings are pretty cheaply built, using low-grade marble and inferior building materials. Permanent residents and wealthy "visitors" usually prefer to have their place of residence outside the visitor's quarters.

Above the Grand Bazaar is the Grand Temple of Ipwi-Ka. One of the most magnificent buildings in the city, it is larger than almost any castle and rivals the size of small villages. The temple itself is made up of three parts. The first part is made out of the outer wall, a number of gardens, and worship areas for about 500 people. The next part is the temple proper, which is made up out of the temple cleric's residences, some of the offices for powerful government/religious figures, many monuments to Ipwi-Ka, and other such things. The last part, and the smallest, is the inner sanctum. Open up to the air, sort of like an atrium, is a patch of bare, desert ground making up an area of about 20ft by 20ft. All who enter must remove their shoes and tread upon the bare ground. At the center of this area is a stone pedestal on which lays the broken pieces of an ara, a "donut"-shaped stone upon which is written pieces of holy scripture. This ara was said to be created by Ipwi-Ka himself and is one of the most holy artifacts of his clergy. Every day, a group of people, randomly chosen from within the populace, are allowed to worship here regardless of station, wealth, and (sometimes) even criminal status for doesn't Ipwi-Ka's teachings tell us that all are equal before his eyes? The entire temple is made of the finest marble and building materials. The outer wall is about two stories tall and the temple proper is a story to three stories tall.

The rest of the city is composed of permanent residences, the oft-magnificent headquarters of wealthy merchants, offices of the government, and the workplaces of the city's craftsmen. They're of varying quality, but most of the buildings are of good build and some of them are even a couple of stories tall.

A typical middle-upper class house is about a story tall with an atrium at the center. There are no windows on the outside, although there are many facing into the atrium itself. The outside is made up of white marble slabs, which keeps the insides surprisingly cool. Unlike many deserts culture, wood is, while not common, relatively inexpensive and easy to find, mainly due to trade with other nations. Thus, most important furniture is made out of wood, usually alchemically treated to survive in the harsh desert weather.

Arts and Culture:
The art of Gal-Deshret is renowned for it's elegant simplicity and beauty. There is not a lot of paintings, although mural art is very popular. Most works of art are built of stone (usually marble) in the form of statues, vases, columns, decorative wall art, and other such works.

Entertainment is readily available in Gal-Deshret. Being a place of trade, stories, plays, and songs from across the world are performed here. There are a couple of large amphitheaters (covered to protect against the harsh sun) where people can watch dramas for a nominal fee. While the government doesn't censor plays and songs, it does "encourage" works that show the proper respect to Ipwi-Ka's teachings and ideals.


Economics:
The majority of the Gal-Deshret economy is based on trade. The hawking of items on the street corner, the rattle of a cart laden with goods, and the dealings of merchants is the lifeblood of the city.

Aside from the trade, many common citizens make their life through fishing. The Al-Dun river is pretty well-known for it's great fishing, especially of the elusive giathon fish (a real delicacy in the north). Many other citizens work with raw goods to create finished products, either to use internally or sell as trade goods.

While one would think that a trade-based economy would insure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, this is not always true. The clerics of Ipwi-Ka do a pretty good job of making sure that poorer citizens are able to survive through of combination of giving them alms and employing them to do public tasks. Due to this, the extremely poor class, so commonly seen in other cities, is almost non-existent. Some merchants complain about this (especially during tax day), but most merchants realize that a populace with money to spare is a good thing for everybody.


Religion/Government:
Ipwi-Ka, the All-Father, God of Sun and Life, Bringer of Justice, is the official god of Gal-Deshret. Most permanent residents worship him. Ipwi-Ka teaches that everyone is equal in his eyes and that we should thus treat everyone as equally as possible. However, he also teaches that this does not get rid of individual responsibility and that criminal behavior should be punished. But one must also strive to redeem these same criminals who have wandered from the true path. Even the adherents to the Church of Starry Wisdom are not above redemption, although there have been very few. Ipwi-Ka's symbol is an ara and his favored weapon is the scimitar.

The government/religious hierarchy of Ipwi-Ka is as follows:

~Amahnara-Re (Grand Father): The head of the hierarchy and the favored of Ipwi-Ka. The Amahnara-Re is technically in charge of everything, although he delegates his authority to trusted officials. The Amahnara-Re is similar to a king, but he is much more than that. He is the favored of Ipwi-Ka and is, thus, almost divine himself. The Amahnara-Re is chosen by Ipwi-Ka himself when the old Grand Father dies or falls from favor. To be chosen, a person must present himself before the ara in the inner sanctum. At this point, Ipwi-Ka makes his presence felt and gives a portion of his power to the new Grand Father. Despite the name, there has been a few women Amahnara-Re's in the past. The current Grand Father is Ious-kha, a human male of 62 years (20+ level cleric w/demigod powers, Lawful Good)

~Amahnara (Father): The "ruler" of a section of Gal-Deshret or a personal servant of the Amahnara-Re. Amahnara's wield enormous power, but they are still answerable to each other, the Grand Father, and Ipwi-Ka. They oversee different quarters of the city, lead monasteries, plan building projects, lead large congregations, dictate new laws, and (rarely) command forces sent against the Church of Starry Wisdom. An Amahnara is elected by the others Amahnara's from among the populace. Usually, the new Amahnara was a distinguished Dionage, although sometimes they are Faions/Faias or even laymen

~Dionage (Speaker): The highest official most commoners will ever see is a Dionage. Speakers are the messengers of law and religion, delivering the orders of the Amahnara's from the market square's and the pulpit. They are equivalent to minor nobles in other nations. In addition to the above mentioned duties, Dionage's also oversee any job that is too important or involved for a Faion or Faia but not important enough to warrant the attention of a Father. An example would is being in charge of a group of Faions in training or being in charge of a single office building.

~Faion/Faia (Brother/Sister): The most common of the hierarchy, Faions and Faias lead congregations in worship and are in charge of the daily tasks of running a government. Brothers and Sisters can come from any class or station but all must go through a rigorous training process in one of Ipwi-Ka's monasteries before they can be accepted into the church. When their training is complete, the potential faions and faia gather outside of the city at dawn to recite their vows before an Amahnara and the rising sun.

A single person usually devotes himself either to the government or religious side of authority, although they are trained to do either.

Despite having an "official" religion, the worship of other gods is allowed in Gal-Deshret (except, of course, for the forbidden gods of the Church of Starry Wisdom). Since Gal-Deshret is a trade city, one can find worshippers of almost any god. Of course, there aren't many permanent temples to any other god, although there are a couple.

<continues below>

DeadlyGrim
2005-07-02, 03:06 PM
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Church of Starry Wisdom. Shadowy, cultish, and arrogant, most "congregations" of the Church don't have very much in common except for their worship of forbidden gods. It's up to the GM to determine suitably evil gods that fit into his plot, although there will be suggestions for a couple in the "Plot Hooks" section. If you're out of ideas, I suggest checking here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu_Mythos) and here (http://www.netherreal.de/library/lexicon/).

The head of the Church of Starry Wisdom is the Reborn King (Wizard 3/Cleric 3/Mystic Theurge X, Chaotic Evil). Charismatic, but utterly crazy, he inspires fanatical devotion in his followers. Trained in the ways of magic, he is a formidable opponent one on one which is only heightened by the fact that he has learned of things which are so evil, they have been forbidden by the gods.

The Reborn King of today does not look much like the Reborn King of legend. While the ancient one was short, swarthy, and a native nomad of Gal-Deshret, the new one is tall, fair-skinned, and from the far, frozen north. His followers don't seem to care much, though.

What almost no one knows is that the Reborn King is not himself, if you will. Both the ancient and the new are being possessed by the ancient priest-king Nephren-Ka, the original founder of the Church of Starry Wisdom. Nephren-Ka was the ruler of the ancient city which stood where Gal-Deshret now is but his deeds were so atrocious and evil, that his own people rebelled against him and struck his name and likeness from all records. The original body of Nephren-Ka remains locked away in a tomb deep below Gal-Deshret and, while he is not alive, he is not dead. With his spirit stuck in limbo, he can possess willing (and sometimes unwillingly) people. If the current Reborn King were to be killed, Nephren-Ka would just possess another cultist.

The Monument(s):
Gal-Deshret could be said to be a city of monuments. There are statues of Ipwi-Ka, Ahmes, Kysen, and other heroes and mythic figures. There are grand mural paintings depicting the forces of good (i.e. Ipwi-Ka and his followers) fighting the forces of evil (i.e. the Church of Starry Wisdom). There are magnificent temples besides the Grand Temple. They are all dwarfed in splendor, however, by the Statue of Ipwi-Ka which stands before the Grand Temple.

Standing nearly 12ft tall, the statue is towers over most of the nearby buildings. Constructed of white marble, it stands on a stone platform about 8ft high. The platform itself is inscribed with most, if not all, of the sacred teachings of Ipwi-Ka, there for all to behold. The statue itself is of Ipwi-Ka holding up a huge ara above his head. In the center of the ara is a pure, clear crystal. During certain hours of the day on certain days of the year, the sun will send its rays directly through the crystal to strike the ara in the inner sanctum. Ipwi-Ka is depicted as a male human in a flowing robe, his long hair tied back in a ponytail behind him. His face is kindly and he smiles downward, to the ground, showing that although he might indeed be higher than the people below them, he still cares and loves them. The Statue is the favorite meeting spot for worshippers of Ipwi-Ka especially during the days when the sun sends its rays through the crystal. Worshippers who can't get into the Grand Temple itself (since it's usually very crowded) pay homage to Ipwi-Ka at the statue, laying down gifts and offerings to the All-Father.

Although many might not consider it a monument, there is one statue in Gal-Deshret that, if the clergy knew who it was of, they would surely destroy it. A defaced statue of Nephren-Ka exists in a seedier part of Gal-Deshret. Every so often, during the darkest nights of the year, one might see a group of black-robed figures walking down to the life-size granite statue. Nobody knows what they do there because anyone who has followed them has never come back. Likewise, anyone who seems overly concerned about the missing person soon goes missing themselves. For some strange reason, the clergy have not discovered this yet, perhaps because something sinister protects these cultists from being stopped.

Power Struggles:
The Church of Ipwi-Ka:
~Alignment: Lawful Good, Neutral Good
~Members: 600 officials, 20,000 laymen
~Religion: Ipwi-Ka
~Symbol: An ara
~Important Figures:
Ious-kha (see above)
Deuptah (Half-Orc Cleric 8, Chaotic Good), a young man who some say is Ious-kha's hands and feet. He is the personal speaker of Ious-kha. Young and idealistic, he does everything with a passion.

The Church of Starry Wisdom:
~Alignment: Any evil, mostly Chaotic Evil
~Members: more than 1,000 but less than 5,000
~Religion: Various, although always one of the forbidden gods
~Symbol: Various, depending on the god of the individual cell. A common symbol, however, is three stars arranged in a triangle against a field of black
~Important Figures:
The Reborn King (see above)
Sir Black, The Smiling Knight (Male Human Fighter 13, Lawful Evil), a crazed lunatic who is part chivalry and part cruelty. Chief enforcer of the Cult of the Yellow Sign, one of the larger cells of the Church. His smile is always on his face, even when he disembowels his opponent
Annah, The Betrayer (Female Elf Ex-Paladin 6/Blackguard 3, Chaotic Evil), a defector from the Radiant Order and, some say, former mistress of Sir Johnathan Edwards. The truth is that she is neither, instead having been driven insane by one of the cults she was supposed to have infiltrated for the Radiant Order.

The Radiant Order of Paladins:
~Alignment: Lawful Good
~Members: 300-400
~Religion: Various, though often Heironeus
~Symbol: A stylized red sun
~Important Figures:
Sir Gregory Scott (Male Human Paladin 14, Lawful Good), leader of the Radiant Order. Old, but still in peak fightning condition. A no-nonsense sort of man who never stops in his crusade against evil.
Sir Johnathan Edwards (Male Elf Paladin 11, Lawful Good), head of Sir Scott's Inquistitional Squad. While his methods are sometimes viewed as over-the-top, nobody can fault his intentions. His family was killed by a goblin raiding group in his youth, which turned him cold and almost emotionless



While the conflict between the Church of Ipwi-Ka and the Church of Starry Wisdom is ancient, it has started to rekindle. Galvinized by having the Reborn King back among them, the Church of Starry Wisdom has started to reassert themselves. They are looking, and finding, new members not among the natives of Gal-Deshret but from traders and merchants who pass through. This has alarmed cities in different parts of the world and one of the cities has sent an order of paladins, the Radiant Order, to forcibly put a stop to the Church of Starry Wisdom. While at first effective, the Radiant Order's heavy-handed tactics backfired on them when the Church of Starry Wisdom responded in turn. The Amahnara-Re and the Church of Ipwi-Ka believes that another war is brewing and, while they agree that the Church of Starry Wisdom should be stopped, they take a much more passive approach to the problem. This has resulted in strained tensions between the Radiant Order and the Church of Ipwi-Ka and, while they both have a common enemy, they can't seem to be able to work together. Petty rivalries have started to flare between the lesser members of each group.

Plot Hooks

[Good plot hook when the PCs are already in the city]~Tensions between the Radiant Order and the Church of Ipwi-Ka start to flare up.

The PCs are hired by the Church of Ipwi-Ka to prevent the heavy-handed tactics of the Radiant Order. The PCs will have to convince the Radiant Order that the Churches' way is better, and that some, if not all, of the Church of Starry Wisdom can be redeemed. The PCs might have to do something for the Radiant Order to convince them that the Church of Ipwi-Ka's way is the best way.


OR

The PCs are hired by the Radiant Order to convince the Church of Ipwi-Ka to join in the crusade as there is strength in numbers. Failing that, they will have to convince the clergy that the Radiant Order does have the best intentions and that something must be done about the Church of Starry Wisdom right now


OR

The PCs think that they are hired by either the Radiant Order or the Church of Ipwi-Ka, but they are actually "hired" by the Church of Starry Wisdom. The cultists use them to create even more tensions between the clergy and the paladins, perhaps even to the point where the clergy attempts to banish the paladins. Perhaps this would incite the paladins to believe the clergy has become the enemy. The PCs should eventually find out that they are being deceived and then have to undo the damage they have caused.


[Good plot hook to get the PCs into the city or when they are there already]~The PCs are met in a tavern by a cloaked figure. The figure says that he wants an item found in the ancient ruins below Gal-Deshret and that he will pay handsomely for it. He brings out a leather purse and spills it, showing seemingly rare and expensive gems.

The cloaked figure is the servant of a collector of rare and exotic items (who wishes to remain anonymous). He has no use for the item itself, but other groups, such as the Radiant Order (use the item for a good purpose instead of its intended evil purpose), the clergy (make sure that the item is never used and instead returned to the ancient ruins), or the Church of Starry Wisdom (use if for nefarious purposes), might.


OR

The cloaked figure is just a kid playing a trick on big, famous adventures. The gems are fake. They look expensive, but are really worthless. When the PCs get to the ancient ruin, they unleash an ancient monster from a sealed-off crypt, which they have to stop. They might even have to save the kid and his buddies who followed along behind them to see their joke fully played out. The PCs shouldn't find out that they are being tricked until it is too late (perhap a stone door closes behind them or a tunnel they're in collapses behind them)


OR

The cloaked figure is just a kid playing a trick, or so he thinks. In reality, the a cultist of the Church of Starry Wisdom has modified his memory so that he thinks it was his idea to play a trick on the adventures. The item the PCs are asked to retrieve is real. In fact, all it needs to be fully activated is a blood sacrifice. Guess who that is? The PCs shouldn't find out about the kid until the very end, unless they take extraordinary measures (like following the figure when he leave). If they do something like this, make it obvious that something isn't right, perhaps the kid says he was only playing a trick and then some cultists attack him or when the PCs find him he is drooling and staring blankly out into space (an aftereffect of the modification to his memory).


[Good plot hook to get the PCs into the city or when they are there already]~After a day full of adventuring, the PCs settle down in an inn for a restful night's sleep. Some time later, one (or all/some, at GM's choice) of the PCs wake up inside a coffin! Give them some time to panic, then...

The coffin lid opens up. The PC is surrounded by black-robed cultists, who think that the PC [is a son of a forbidden god/ is the Reborn King / would make a good sacrifice]. The other PCs (and the coffin PC) will have to save the coffin PC. If the PCs aren't in Gal-Deshret already, evidence on the cultists lead the PCs to the Gal-Deshret and then onto the Church of Starry Wisdom.


OR

A deep voice issues from somewhere inside the coffin. It demands that the PC gives up himself to the Reborn King when the time comes or die. No matter what the PC says, have a cold, dead hand reach straight through the coffin lid and grasp the PCs arm. The character immediately wakes up in a cold sweat. It was only a dream! [Good to use by really evil GMs when the PCs are already in the city and know about the Reborn King]


OR

As above, but it wasn't a dream. Lead him/her to believe it was, and then casually say something to the effect of "oh yeah, except for that huge burn mark in the shape of a hand on your arm". The burn mark is impossible to get rid of. The PC will invariably try to find an NPC who can get rid of the mark. The NPC, will of course, live in Gal-Deshret. He can't get rid of it, but he knows where it came from (Nephren-Ka's spirit). If the PC swore to serve him, have him be possessed by Nephren-Ka's spirit at the right time (GM's discretion). If he did not, have him be attacked by cultists, monsters, etc when the time seems right (GM's discretion). Preferably relatively powerful. An evil GM would have the character's spirit be attacked by Nephren-Ka, resulting in the PCs spirit being put into limbo so that even a wish or miracle can't bring them back and the only way to return it is to steal it back from Nephren-Ka's spirit realm (All the PCs, even the "limboed" one are there in spirit form. Of course, the "limboed" one can't leave and the PCs need to do more than just find the "limboed" PC to free him). Good thing there isn't any GM out there like that, right?

Additional Tidbit:
So, how did Nephren-Ka's spirit get into limbo? The answer is that he used the Shining Trapezohedron. This major artifact is very powerful. It is a black multi-faceted crystal kept in a golden case. When one stares into the crystal, they see images of different places in different times. That is only part of it, however, as when the person looks into the crystal they also summon from beyond the black gulfs of chaos a horrible creature, called the Haunter of the Dark, which can only exist in near-total darkness. This ravenous monster is almost unstoppable, but, through certain magical spells lost to time, can be kept at bay. The Haunter of the Dark was summoned by Nephren-Ka and it taught him evil, forbidden things. When he was killed by his own subjects, the things that he was taught allowed him to put his spirit into limbo and thus escape true death. Now, he rules over a spirit realm of his own devising. In addition to possessing loyal servants, he also takes their spirits sometimes to his realm, sometimes permanently. Slowly, he is gaining power back through the acquisition of more souls.

More info (not including the stuff I just made up):
here (http://www.netherreal.de/library/lex_entry/s1.htm#Shining%20Trapezohedron,%20The)

DeadlyGrim
2005-07-03, 12:34 PM
<Second placeholder, because I type way too much and have a lot to say>

Martinus
2005-07-04, 04:26 AM
this sounds pretty thought out :)

DeadlyGrim
2005-07-04, 01:35 PM
Actually, not all that much. I know the direction of where I want to go witht this, I know the plot hooks, the important people, the monument, and stuff like that, but it's all very general and mostly still in my head. But it's not all that hard, since the story sort of writes itself. For example, I didn't even plan on having the nomads come back, but now it sort of makes sense for them to come back.

Really, I'm mostly just making it up as I go.

Martinus
2005-07-04, 02:21 PM
even then, it could be well thought-out. Many folks think something over and over, only to get something so predictable and logical it's boring as hell.

By the way, what do you think of my city?

DeadlyGrim
2005-07-31, 09:53 PM
First post
Very interesting. I especially like how you explained each of the "stats". I was planning on doing something similar to that as well, but I like how you put it in the stats themselves.

I also like the general idea of the city as well. I do, however, have some suggestions. You might want to make some of the NPCs not LN. Maybe have one councilor who is LG and, although he agrees that they should stop evil arcane spellcasters, feels that the city's fanatic approach to it is wrong and is hurting innocent people. Or have a CE evil madman on the council who hides his evil with divine spells and uses the Shiftcloaks as almost his own personal army against his opponents, whom he plants false evidence on in order to get rid of them. You also might want to give some of the "non-mainstream" factions NPCs as well, such as maybe a commune of sorcerors in the underground lead by a CG sorceror/figther (or that battle-mage variant from Unearthed Arcana). I think you have a very solid foundation but need to flesh it out a bit, give everything a bit more substance.

Double Post
Sorry about the "double post" but I thought that there was enough temporal distance between them to justify this one.

Anyways, I'm back from vacation just in the knick of time (nick?). So, I have 2 and a quarter days to finish off. Easy, especially since I've been working on it during vacation. Easy I say! Look for updates. Look I say!

TRIPLE POST!!!!

Two hours to go!

Will I get it done? Who knows?!?!?!

At least I cleverly turned a triple post into a single post. Hehehehe. Bump-alicious and pretty crafty. Tehe.

QUADRUPLE POST!!! SORT OF!!!!
One hour to go! Good thing I wrote down all the plot hooks ahead of time! Yay!

QUINTIPLE EDIT/POST!!!
DONE! TAKE THAT!