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The Glyphstone
2005-07-01, 09:00 PM
Boiled down, in its very rough stages. Incenderius is a good-sized town/city, with a massive interest in the smelting/smithing business. This is because a stable, freestanding portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire sits in the center (The monument, obviously). The residents have numerous treaties with the efreeti and salamanders living in the city on the "other side", giving them an edge in trading.
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Introduction:
"Itís a really fine sight to see , I gotta tell you. Before you even see it, youíll notice th' heat. Itís unnaturally warm for the area, but thatís not as obvious as when you get your first glimpse o' th' city. When I saw it poking o'er th' horizon, my first thought was that some god stuck down a torch and forgot 'bout it. That image didnít go away, even when I got closer. One towering black pillar, topped with that roaring flame, sitting on top o' a terraced hill. Th' hillís nothing you can miss either, six flat levels surrounded by a big black wall. You canít see th' slums, theyíre hidden by th' wall, but th' noblesí estates are obvious near the top. When I got to the gates, it was a bit unnatural. Two o' th' guards standing by looked perfectly normal, though their armor was a bit odd-looking with that blue-black color. Th' other two...I almost panicked when I thought they were on fire. Took me a second to notice they werenít on fire, they WERE fire Ė fire elementals. That was surprising. Through th' gates, it didnít get any less surprising, my first view of that gigantic bazaar with stalls selling every kind o' smithed product you can imagine, and quite a bit even youíve probably never heard of. I got used to some o' th' stuff, but Iíll never forget my visit to Incenderius." - Roscoe Itchytoes, halfing wanderer and peddler
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Stats:
Large City
Stable Population: 21,340
GP Limit: 40,000 (100,000 for arms/armor)
Power Center: Standard/Monstrous
Primary Religion:Any
Climate: Any non-arctic region
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Racial Demographic: 77% Human. 8% Dwarf, 5% Azer, 4% Elf, 3% Gnome, 1% Half-elf, 1% Half-orc, 1% other extraplanar races (Fire)
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Background Information:
ďAfter I bought a few trinkets, I got talking with one of the local merchants. He had some neat tales to tell about where this city came from. Took me some work to understand that accent, and he kept popping off phrases in some other language, but I got the drift. According to him, the portal was created during some big mage-duel, and it just sat there for a while until a traveler came along and managed to save an efreeti who was trapped on this side. His reward was a safe place to live on the hill where the portal was, and other people came to live there too.Ē

Incenderiusís history reaches back a great deal of time, far before people of any race ever lived there. There was once a powerful archmage, whose name has since been lost to time, and his equally powerful rival. Their enmity had lasted for years, culminating in a great battle atop a nondescript hill. After a long battle, both were exhausted, but unable to relent. One of them cast a spell intended to end the fight, but the magic broke loose of his control and tore a great hole in the fabric of the plane. As it happened, the other end of this new shunt came out in the Elemental Plane of Fire, and both mages were dragged through. The weakened casters perished together, which left no one to seal the gateway they had created, and it remained. For some time it sat there, a roaring flame one hundred feet above the top of a towering hill, with the occasional salamander or elemental wandering through.

Many years later, there was a noble efreeti named KalashaíKala who ventured through the portal to explore for some reason, and was captured and imprisoned by an evil sorcerer. Trapped within his stone bottle, the efreeti could do nothing but wait. As luck might have it, the bottle was stolen by an amateur thief and the efreeti released. The genie offered his rescuer a wish as repayment, but even more surprising was the manís refusal. All he asked was for a safe place to settle with his family, and the genie happily granted such a simple request. Coram Wurtas was the manís name, and his familyís new home was a small but sturdy dwelling near the portal through which KalashaíKala had come. A bargain was struck between the human and the outsider, each agreeing to guard their side of the portal as best as they could. Coram became a smith, and soon found that the primal fires of the elemental plane were far stronger than any normal forge. The equipment and weapons he crafted sold for fabulous prices, and he grew rich. Over time, other aspiring smiths and settlers moved to the area to partake in the wealth, if they had the means to survive the lethal temperatures near and inside the gate. Those who did not would become the lower class, apprentices and laborers underneath the master smiths. The hill was slowly excavated over time, to make more space for building, till it reached the distinctive terraced appearance it bore today. To facilitate access to the portal, the smiths carved a tall tower out of black basalt that could withstand the heat emanating from the flames.

Now, Incenderius is a thriving city and a center of trade for miles around. It is most notable for its forges and smiths, which produce countless rare and valuable items, but a great deal else can be bought and sold in its markets (not everything legal). On the flip side of the fiery portal, there sits an efreeti outpost that serves to guard the gateway to the Prime Material. This outpost is also home to an emir, one of the six that serve the Grand Sultan of the Efreeti, and he amuses himself by playing a role in the mortal city's politics though his two advisors.
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Physical Description:
"Now, your first glance o' Incenderius is gonna be a long one, it's a lot to take in. It kinda looks like a giant cake, complete with a candle, if ya take off th' frosting and put on a bustlin', noisy city. The city walls hide th' poor section o' town, but it ain't much to look at anyways. Next few levels are th' market an' the shops, then th' working people's homes. Up higher you can see th' rich mansions, each with big fancy houses and gardens. Then, at th' very top, there's a big fort built around the black tower, with that roaring flame at th' tip."

Incenderius began as a simple hut atop a hill. As it grew, the residents expanded by digging out the steep slopes into flat terraces. Each of the city's six levels (seven, including the ground level of slums that surrounds the city) is packed with people, the whole mess encircled by a thick wall of the same black stone used to build the monument.

The Slums - Level 1
The very lowest level is not even part of the hill proper, but urban sprawl that grew up around the edges until it was contained by the city wall. These are the slums, where the poorest and worst-off of the city's residents reside. Most of the houses here are shabby and crude, providing only marginal shelter. The people who live in them are no better, those that even have a home. A majority are beggars, subsisting in squalor and surviving on cast-offs from those more affluent. Even the lucky few that have jobs bear wretched loads, performing the most menial tasks and labor thought to be beneath others. Here is where crime breeds, but it is kept brutally in check by the watch squads of the Burning Legion. The Legion patrols periodically, rounding up sweeps of malcontents and suspicious individuals. Most of them return with bruises or worse marks of the guards' attention. Some don't return at all. Occasionally, teams of mercenaries will wade into the slums to round up laborers for a patron. Slavery is illegal in Incenderius, but a number of the less "ethically challenged" smiths make use of indentured servants - the government turns a blind eye to whether said indenturing was accepted willingly.

The Market - Levels 1 and 2
Right inside the gates, and stretching up to the second level, is what drives Incenderius - its market. Here, in this maelstrom of shouting, haggling, and general orderly mayhem, almost anything can be bought, sold, or bartered. First and foremost are metalworked products, much of which is produced right there in the city. Weapons and armor are in endless supply alongside more mundane things like tools, jewelry, and toys. Scrolls, wands, and other magical devices are also available from the powerful Ruby Order mage's guild. Outside merchants can also rent of purchase stalls, leaving very little that cannot be found somewhere in the chaos. Even then, specialty orders can be arranged by visiting a smith or the guild headquarters directly. Where the market borders the slum territory, less reputable items can also be obtained. Drugs, stolen items, and smuggled goods are all for purchase by those interested and careful enough.

The Crafting District - Level 2
Bordering the market, on the second tier of the city, is the crafting and smith's district. This portion of the city is filled with the various enterprises that drive Incenderiusís economy, the forges and artisansí shops. A majority of the buildings are smithies, echoing with the hiss of bellows and the shouts of the smiths. A number of the larger smithies are built and run factory-style, owned by one of the nobles and overseen by a supervisor. Laborers smelt raw ore, and then hammer it into rough shapes, which are completed by more skilled workers. Finished products are packaged up for storage in a warehouse until they can be sold or exported. As previously mentioned, often the lowest rung of workers is not there of their own free will. Rounded up by mercenary gangs, they are kept in cheap housing and forced to perform the dirtiest and most demeaning tasks. The work is hard and dangerous, resulting in a high turnover rate of dead or crippled people. Those that survive may be learning a trade, as required by their indentured servant contracts, *but the fine print ensures that they will remain for years before being allowed to leave. For many, this is the first guaranteed place to sleep and supply of meals that they have ever had, and attempted escapes are rare, but those that do are usually caught and made an example of by the brutal overseers. The forges themselves are unusual, in that many are fueled by elemental fires. With Incenderiusís ties to the Elemental Plane of Fire, even the less wealthy smiths can afford to pay for calling a fire elemental to inhabit their forge. This arrangement is often eagerly accepted by the elementals in question, who are paid with a constant flow of scrap ore and other materials to melt with their blazing flames.

The forges dominate the area of the crafting district by far, but they are not the only businesses there. The eastern third of the second terrace is filled with other shops, those that produce wooden carvings, trinkets, glassware, and most primarily, magic. All mages residing in the city are required to have a membership in the Ruby Order, the dominant mageís guild of Incenderius. In these buildings, skilled wizards bind powerful enchantments to items, for sale or trade, and also create minor or major works of their own. The Order takes a significant portion of all magical profits for its coffers, but mages are still some of the most wealthy middle-class citizens.
The Residential District - Level 3
Further up the slopes, one comes to the residential areas. Here is where the bulk of the population resides, those that do not huddle in the slums or relax in noble estates. Many of the middle class citizens are mid-level laborers or apprentices in the multitude of smithies and forges, or workers in some other type of business. A majority of the mages in the city also live here, though they possess greater wealth and live in houses rivaling those of the weakest nobles. Still, for the most part, the houses are modest yet comfortable. The streets are kept clean, lit at night by tiny elementals cavorting in glass lamps. This districts does contain more than houses, though, being the home to the cityís entertainment and nightlife. Several notable taverns and inns can be found here, two of the most famous are the Golden Diamond and the Fist and Cudgel. The Golden Diamond is a sophisticated, upscale establishment, with the finest of amenities and appropriate prices. High-ranking members of both the League of Hammers and the Ruby Order (see below) frequent the establishment, one of the few places in the city where they can gather without triggering a shouting match. Less affluent, but certainly far more interesting, would be the clientele found at the Fist and Cudgel on the western edge of the terrace. This is much more the classic adventurerís tavern, drawing its name from the massive hands of its owner, Horus Pann, and the enchanted club he owns. The club is a relic from some long-ago adventure, with a rudimentary intelligence of its own, and commonly hovers around the main barroom watching for troublemakers. The patrons are many are varied, from retired adventurers to practicing craftsmen and even the occasional mage. Other establishments of varying size and reputation dot the residential level, but these are the two most well-known.

The Noble Estates Ė Level 4
Stretching even higher, the air begins to grow oppressively hot. Both sides of the street are lined with towering mansions and estates, where the nobles live. They are the descendants of the original colonists, who have since set themselves up as the rulers of the city, along with the rare few people who have managed to struggle up and claim themselves a spot amongst the rich and powerful. As a rule, the houses here are ostentatious and extravagant, with grand archways and decorations along the walls. Bizarrely, it is considered great fashion for nobles with any opinion of themselves to have a garden within their boundaries, the fancier the better. These green areas are incredibly difficult to care for with the heat of the portal bearing down on them, so much money is spent to maintain magical sprinklers and such devices to ensure the happiness of the plants and flowers. This is also where the headquarters of the two major (legitimate) civilian organizations stand: The League of Hammers and the Ruby Order. Respectively, they are the largest smithís grouping and the primary mageís guild, and their leadership is frequently at odds.
The Fort - Level 5
The second-highest layer of the towering city is surrounded by yet another black wall, a smaller version of the one that guards the ground level. As opposed to the numerous stairways and ramps between the other terraces, only two sloping ramps allow entry to this area. The fifth level is the home of the Burning Legion, Incenderiusís combination army/police force. Those who are allowed past the gates, guarded by glowering soldiers and quietly roaring elementals, will find a orderly and regimented fort arranged similar to that of an army camp. The entire layout is planned for maximum defensibility, drawing inward to the keep that surrounds the final level. The atmosphere in the fort is one of incessant watchfulness, directed both inward and out. At the very center, surrounded by a number of barracks and other essential structures, is the keep. Also constructed of black basalt, it is where the ranking officers hold their posts and the last line of defense before reaching the portal (or the first, if vice versa). Constantly weighing down on any visitors are both the suspicious stares of the many sentries and the terrible heat that borders on intolerable. All members of the Burning Legion carry magical amulets to protect them from the condition, but it remains quite uncomfortable for anyone else.

The Portal - Level 6
The very heart of the city is the source of its fame and the fuel that drives its economy - the permanent portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire. The only access from the ground is through the central keep of the Burning Legion fort. The keep is built around the foundation of the monument, a towering pillar carved from a single colossal piece of black stone. A single winding staircase leads around the tower to the very top, where a roaring ball of primal fire sits in a shallow bowl. Should one progress all the way up to the top, in the face of the lethal heat, and step into the flames, they will find themselves on the Plane of Fire, in the midst of the efreeti outpost there. Every fifteen feet or so, there is a small niche where a Ruby Order spellcaster could conceal themselves to defend the staircase, and where such sentries are often posted.
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"When I first came to Incenderius, it looked like th' most boring place in th' world. Everybody was working or sleeping, not even a full tavern t' socialize in. 'Course, that night I learned what a fool I am - can't see now anyone manages to sleep in that racket."

Arts and Culture:
Most of the time, Incenderius appears to have little interest in unproductive diversions. Nevertheless, beneath the cold, laborious exterior is a vibrant nightlife that echoes the fires they all depend on.

For the common folk, the entertainment they enjoy is dependent on what shifts they work, and which times they have as their own. The stifling temperatures during the day, even on the lower levels, mean that most relaxation is done indoors. Plays are popular, typically grand tales of adventure and romance. Only rarely are tragedies and similar unhappy tales recanted, the audience's otherwise dreary lives mean that most prefer happy stories.
Once the sun goes down, everything changes, and people take to the streets. The evenly spaced streetlamps provide excellent lighting even at night, and dancing and singing abound. Dancing in particular follows a wide variety of styles, some of the most popular performers being interpretative dancers that mimic the swirling flames. On some of the rowdier streets, even the elementals living in the streetlamps get in the mood, creating a swirling sort of light that only adds to the surrealism. These are the legal, respected ways that the people wind down from the day - some of the less reputable inns and taverns can supply other forms of relaxation.

For the noble population, entertainment is much more subdued. Readings by famous poets are often held, with the greatest prestige going to the particular noble who managed to gain their services. The other way that the rich and snobbish express their refinement is through their gardens. Heedless of the additional effort it takes to even keep plants growing in such conditions, which is the servants' problem, they constantly grow and tend to their plants in an attempt to outdo everybody else for beauty and balance.
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"Where's the money in that place? Smithing and trading, o' course. That whole place thrives on tradin' stuff, coming in and coming out. It's one gigantic market,what's more to say?"

Economics:
Unsurprisingly, Incenderius's economy is completely focused around the production and trade of smithed products. Cartloads of raw ores and minerals arrive from mines near and far every day. Those same carts are dispatched to neighboring cities, loaded with finished goods for export. Some of the city's food is grown locally, depending on the surroundings, but the vast majority is imported, another vital lifeline for the people.

Internally, the trades run more in the veins of exchanging services and lesser goods The large, factory-style smithies employ a number of workers and apprentices to churn out weapons, armor, and other items. Smaller shops may have only one or two assistants, the master smith himself actually performing much of the work, which results in a longer work time but invariably a more "personal" finished result. The magical quarter is run much the same, individual mages making deals with the smiths to enchant their products. Relationships and bargains are often strained, depending on the current state of affairs between the guilds, but they manage. The rare craftsman who can (pardon the pun) forge a friendship with a wizard or sorcerer will easily outsell his competitors due to lower overhead, possibly beginning a journey that ends in riches and fame.

The third and final side of the city's economic triangle is the efreeti living on the Elemental Plane of Fire. The richest smiths will pay for magical protection, so that they can travel through the gate and work metal in the true elemental flames. For this privilege, the city pays a hefty tribute of gold and treasures every year, though it is still a small fee for the riches that result. They also exchange military services, so far as the agreement to guard their respective sides of the gate from hostile entry. This is a rather one-sided deal, since anything emerging from the gate to the Prime Material will be far more dangerous than vice versa, the efreeti don't mind.
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"You don't see a whole lot o' open worship there. Seems most people do it privately, in their homes or whatnot. A lot of those temples looked kinda run-down when I peeked in, 'cept for the big ones to th' dwarf gods. That's not surprising neither, considering how many dwarves live there."

Religion:
Worship of the gods in Incenderius is not a significant factor, but neither is it ignored. With the significant dwarf and azer population, Moradin and other dwarven gods are quite popular. Among the general population, most pay tribute to the regional gods of trade, fire, and smithing. Temples are found in the Residental District, ranging in size from tiny shrines for the less widely worshipped gods to the grand Temple of Moradin. Naturally, the priests would have significant influence on city policy if they so chose, but they invariably prefer to remain separate from politics and care for their temples.

The Glyphstone
2005-07-01, 09:00 PM
"Don't even get me started on th' government there, probably the only thing I didn't like. If there was ever a more irritable beauracracy t' deal with, it's been forgotten long ago. Took me a week just to get a stall in th' marketplace, and even then it was a small one near the back streets - hardly worth th' money it was. All the best spot close up are reserved fer their infernal smithin' League members. Then there's those wizards. I didn't think it was possible to find mages even more insufferable and stuckup than that bunch I told you about before, but I did here. The only bright side o' th' situation is that they don't like each other neither, and nobody likes the city guards. Someone said there was a couple fire genies runnin the place too, but I never saw them."

Government:
Political power in Incenderius is rather fragmented, split amongst the various organizations that make up its people. The city is nominally overseen by a council, but they rarely meet except in emergencies. The rest of the time, the guilds manage their own business without interference.

The Council
The ruling council of Incenderius has five physical members. The current head of the League of Hammers attends, as does the Chief Magus of the Ruby Order and the commander-in-chief of the Burning Legion. The last two seats are filled not by humans, but by efreeti emissaries of the emir. They are frequently in disagreement with each other, as are the human members, but they also carry a third "invisible vote", that of the emir himself. Only rarely do they manage to stop squabbling for deciding some important issue, but casting the emir's vote is as good as a unanimous decision.

The League of Hammers
All of the more influential smiths belong to the League, and it is a rare craftsman who does not even if he is less significant. League members enjoy the best support and most prominent places to display their wares in the market, even if they are not the topmost examples of quality. The League is headed by Oskar Baldurheim (Male Dwarf Expert 6/Fighter 10), patriarch of the Baldurhiem clan of dwarves. His primary rival is Varik Vulcanis ( Male Azer Expert 4/Fighter 9), the next most powerful smith and leader of the Azer family Vulcanis. The rest of the League is a rabble of smiths of varying skill levels, who vote on price changes and policy in blocks.

The Ruby Order
Conversely, the Ruby Order is a strictly regimented group that does little to interfere with its memberís business, except to collect dues. Membership is mandatory for any resident possessing arcane talents, but so long as one pays the yearly fees, they are left alone. The Order does, however, have substantial resources to call upon by one capable of it, not limited to esoteric magical knowledge that is often fire-related, as well as magical training. The Ruby Orderís most important purpose in the city, though, is maintaining and reinforcing the natural portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire that is the cityís beating heart. They prevent natural forces from disturbing its workings, such as storms or earthquakes, and hold the planar conduit firmly in place with powerful spells. The Order is responsible for issuing permission to use the gate, which generally requires either great prestige or significant bribes. The Chief Magus of the Ruby Order is Tanalia Olenstyr (Female Human Wizard 15/Archmage 1), a cold-hearted woman with a fiery temper. She and Oskar are often at odds, arguing prominently in council and out of it. This attitude is reflected amongst the general membership of both groups, viewing each other as a necessary evil that cannot be eliminated.

The Burning Legion
While the Ruby Order maintains the gate's stability, and the League of Hammers runs the forges, it is the Burning Legion that maintains order within the city walls. They serve as both the peacetime police force, and a considerable standing army in case of attack from either side of the gate. The ranks are mostly human and dwarf warriors, with a smattering of other races. There are also a considerable number of extraplanar creatures in the Legion, fire elementals and other such entities. Some places in the fort are protected by charmed salamanders, to whom the efreetis' ban on slavery does not apply. Teams of warriors and elementals patrol the walls and the streets, eyes watchful for potential problems. The Legion is commanded by Arn Paquin (Male Human Fighter 16), a ruthless and sadistic warrior with strong pyromaniac tendencies that he must keep under control with drugs and magic.
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"Weird, it was, one day when I was walking home from th' market to th' inn. Halfway done one dark alley, I got jumped by a couple o' hoodlums. I saw those knives and knew I was done. Then, out o' nowhere, there came another bunch o' thugs who just up and slit the first bunch's throats. They took a handful o' gold outta my discarded pouch for their troubles, but it was definitely worth it."

Crime:
As would be expected for a large and prosperous city, Incenderius has a thriving underworld. Bribes and payoffs to the proper officials ensure the survival of the organized criminal groups. Petty thieves and other low-lifes are frequently from the slums or poor areas, so they are the first places searched by the Burning Legion when an illegal act is committed. If the culprit is caught, or a suitable scapegoat substituted, punishment is swift and brutal. Many beggars bear missing hands, limbs, or facial features, tokens of justice, and many more are simple handfuls of ash disposed of on the wind. Commonly, those who own property and commit a crime have their house or land burned, safe even in a dense city due to the elementals' control over flames.

The foremost criminal gang in the city is known as the Smoke Rats. The Smoke Rats' membership is made up of various thieves/rogues and enforcers, who keep a tight hold on the majority of the illegal elements. They have a monopoly on the illicit trading conducted near the borders of the market, and anyone attempting to conduct criminal business will soon find themselves singled out by members of the Rats - the group does not take kindly to freelancers or poachers. Many of the higher-ranking leaders have developed ties to the Plane of Fire from their long time living here in the city, leading up to Omas Desku (Male Half-Elf Rogue 9/Elemental Infiltrator (http://www.giantitp.com/Func0017.html) 4), the shadowy kingpin of the group.
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Truly amazing, that tower is. It's hard to describe what that feels like, seeing th' thing looming over you from anywhere in th' city. I never got permission for a closer look, but my neighbor in th' market told me all about it - he had a cousin in th' wizard's guild, who had gotten him a tour once." *

The Monument:
The monument itself is a majestic, impressive tower stretching out of the top of the hill Incenderius is built upon. It does resemble a torch, carved from a single colossal piece of black basalt. Such materials are necessary to withstand the terrible heat that emanates from the flame perched atop it. The only access from the ground is through the keep in the center of the Burning Legion fort, on the roof. There, one will find a narrow spiral staircase that is carved into a shallow recess in the side, winding up the pillar. There is no railing, but the heat removes any danger of slipping on water or such dangers. Sweltering at the bottom, the air becomes almost lethal in itself as the elevation increases, like breathing fire distilled into gaseous form. The sides of the tower are not smooth, but blanketed in intricate carvings and displays, flame motifs interspersed amongst inlays that tell the story of the city's founding. This can be read as one climbs, broken only by the indentations occupied by Ruby Order sentry wizards that check passes and permission to approach the portal. Even for the athletic, the climb is long and difficult. Reaching the very top, one comes face to face with the portal itself, a bellowing orb of pure primal fire that seems to scorch the very soul. Passing through the portal simply consists of walking into the flames, and if the traveller in question survives (6d10 Fire damage, Reflex half) they emerge on the Elemental Plane of Fire in the middle of a moderate-sized efreeti outpost.

One unusual side effect of the portal's presence is that it seems to disrupt other forms of planar travel nearby, making the gateway the only stable path between the planes for many miles.
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"With th' crazy way they run their city, it's not astonishing that they're always arguing about summat. My market neighbor had been living there a long time, and he filled my ear with information. The Hammerheads, as he called the smithing league, were always buttin' heads with th' wizards and th' police force. And everybody knew that th' police were in the pocket of those thieves, which didn't make it any either."
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Power Struggles:
Conflicts over influence, wealth, and power are easy to find in a city so centered around economic success, ranging from the petty to the terrible. The downtrodden residents of the slums are constantly resentful of the status quo, and occasionally a few will develop the nerve or courage to attempt to do something about it. Such hotheads do not last long; if they are not scryed, caught, and executed by the Burning Legion, they are hunted down and disposed of by agents from the Smoke Rats.

The Rats themselves are involved in a constant dance with the Legion for authority over the city's people. Many officers are corrupt, but neither are the thieves particularly bloodthirsty - the end result being more of a professional rivalry then actual enemies. The Rats understand the need for a solid law enforcement, and the soldiers recognize that criminals are inevitable and the better option is to achieve an entente rather than wage a neverending war.

The League of Hammers and the Ruby Order are constantly disagreeing, both publicly and in private. The League considers the Order to be snobbish elitists, puffed up with grandeur over their control of the gate. The Order, for their part, view the League as lowbrow simpletons incapable of anything more complex than banging on bits of metal. This animosity, though, is tempered by a symbotic relationship between the two groups. The League needs the Order to maintain the gate, as much as they complain about thus, and enchant the products they forge. The Order would not last long without the dues paid by its members, which are funded mostly by the smiths of the League in exchange for magical services. Griping and accusations fly in all directions, but the dust usually settles to reveal the situation exactly the way it was before. There is strife even within the two groups as well. Oskar Baldurheim is the chief smith of the League, but he is forced to constantly thwart attempts by Varik Vulcanis to upset him and take the top spot for himself.Talania Olenstyr is slightly more secure, having defeated all challengers in the annual magical duels for leadership of the order many years running, but it is only a matter of time before someone comes along with more power.

At the very top of Incenderius's power structure is yet more jockeying for position, within the Council itself. Oskar Baldurheim and Tanalia Olenstyr carry permanent grudges against each other, and both of them only tolerate the thoroughly unpleasant Arn Paquin. The two efreeti who sit on the council do not usually trouble themselves to get involved in the mortal disputes, preferring to bicker endlessly on issues concerning themselves. Sometimes they will support one or another for simple amusement, countered by the other one who will jon the opposition out of sheer spite.
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"Even with its flaws, Incenderius is a fantastic place. You can always find something interesting. If you're looking for trouble, you'll find it - and even if you're not, it might find you."

Adventure Hooks:
The Stalker - A mysterious murderer is roaming the streets of Incenderius, striking at random. The Smoke Rats swear he is not one of their agents, but the pressure is heavy on the Burning Legion to catch the killer before he takes too many lives, and a reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest. Both good and evil PCs can be attracted to this quest (the identity of the murderer is up to the DM, it can be anything from a simple rogue to a high-level undead creature).
The Djinni - A Djinni has somehow stumbled into Incenderius and become trapped. With the efreeti's racial hatred of the djinni, he will surely face a horrible fate if captured by the soldiers searching the city for him. Good PCs can try to save the djinni. Evil ones may do so after extorting payment, or turn him in for the substantial reward (or both, depending on their level of evilness).
The Thieves - Recently, a new gang has begun to make appearances in direct competition with the established Smoke Rats. Depending on the PCs' alignments, they may be hired by either the Burning Legion or the Rats themselves to infiltrate and eleminate the upstarts.
The Portal - Some outside force is interfering with the portal's operation, sending prospective travellers to random, much more hostile areas of the Plane of Fire, or even another plane entirely. The PC's must fix this problem before its impact on Incenderius's economy becomes too drastic.
Power Plays - If the PC's have a reputation, they may be contacted by any of the city's leading figures for aid against their respective rivals (such as Varik Vulcanis attempting to publically discredit or humiliate Oskar Baldurheim).
Planehopping - Alternatively, Incenderius is excellent for a DM that wants to send his party on a planar adventure, especially parties that lack the high-level magic to do it themselves. Some protective magic is essential, but such can be purchased from the Ruby Order wizards, or given as rewards for a task.


DM's Best Friend: Tips for including Incenderius in your campaign:
Incenderius is a unique city, that can stand alone or be fitted into an standing economy with equal ease. As a single city, it appeals to a DM (and the PCs) as both a excellent market to buy and sell, and as a gateway to more exotic planar adventures (see above in the Adventure Hooks section). As part of a detailed economy, it can become the capital of a nation, or merely a powerful economic center. Its alliances with the fiery elements give it formidable military strength as well, but the leaders would be loathe to sacrifice their wealth without a good reason.
Rule alterations useful for Incenderius include the following:
-It is recommended that you treat Incenderius as a Metropolis (Max GP price 100,000) for the purposes of weapons and armor only, to show its famed forges and smithies. Optionally, the DM can apply a discount to any item forged of a special material such as mithril or adamantine.
-The increasing levels of the city grow oppressively hot as one climbs. The temperature is normal for the surrounding area until you reach the 4th circle, where it is treated as Very Hot conditions (Hourly Fortitude save vs. nonlethal damage) . The 5th level is treated as Severe Heat (save every 10 minutes vs. nonlethal damage), and the 6th level is considered to be Extreme Heat (lethal damage for every minute breathing it). See the DMG pg. 303 for details on Heat Dangers.
-At the DM's option, the entire area of Incenderius can be treated as being under a Dimensional Lock effect, preventing planar travel except through the portal. This ruling would be somewhat necessary to include the trapped Djinni adventure (he would otherwise just Planeshift to safety).

("Soon" defined here as "whenever I am bored and get around to filling it in".:))

The Glyphstone
2005-07-01, 09:01 PM
Incenderius - an overhead map
http://www.pbase.com/image/46899972/original.jpg
(Sorry about the bad resolution, that's the best I could do. Squint. :))


The Monument
http://www.pbase.com/image/46899434/original.jpg

viggo
2005-07-01, 09:23 PM
if you win this one I'm throwing you in the portal.

OH THE IRONY KILLED BY YOUR OWN MONUMENTAL CREATION

Frojoe21
2005-07-02, 12:48 AM
Well, at least it isn't a city where people worship a gentle golem and are ruled by six individuals possesed by intelligent items.

The Glyphstone
2005-07-02, 06:56 AM
Nah, That would have been two easy. I decided to give you guys a chance this time. ;D

PokeTheBard
2005-07-02, 07:01 AM
Whats the point Glyph? The award trophies are ordered in, pre-engraved "The_Glyphstone"... jeez ::)


Hehe... good luck anyway, looking forward to seeing what you come up with this time ;D

Peregrine
2005-07-02, 11:54 AM
The annoying part is, his post so far is nothing but a short summary and lots of "Coming Soon" entries... and it's already cool (errm, hot?) >:(
Very nice idea on the monument and I can't wait to see what you do for the rest. (And very funny, viggo. ;D)

Martinus
2005-07-02, 03:07 PM
Nice idea. perhaps something of a wizard's guild to guard the portal would be a nice addition?

The Glyphstone
2005-07-02, 06:52 PM
Hmm.. wizard's guild... there'll definitely be some sort of wizards. As for a thieves' guild, what better to use that Rich's Elemental Infiltrator (http://www.giantitp.com/Func0017.html) prestige class?

Introduction's finished.

Martinus
2005-07-02, 08:19 PM
Indeed, the elemental infiltrators are extremely well-fit for this city. Perhaps even water-elemental infiltrators that want to destroy the gate?

Everyman
2005-07-04, 11:30 PM
I like the idea of a freestanding gateway. Planear travel is usually so hard, but a permanent gate means that even low-level characters can get a taste of travel....
...
Granted that taste might burn them to a crisp, but a taste it still is.

The Glyphstone
2005-07-29, 05:20 PM
DONE

Just in time, too. Vote for me!