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Pyritefoolsgold
2005-07-21, 12:23 AM
Just when it seems like we'll continue crossing these gods-forsaken sands and rocks for eternity, I get the first sight of it from behind the dune. The ancient sandstone walls seem much closer than they should be, though as I approach I realize how large they really are. And soon the six watchtowers are in view, massive sandstone cylinders topped with balconies and battlements fit to hold a score of archers. I can see why so many sieges of this city have failed before ever reaching the gates. *The walls are covered with engraved carvings, depicting ancient battles, lost tales and forgotten gods.

And towering over the walls in the background, reaching up to scrape the clouds from the sky, is the black spire. A massive stone tower, little more than a spiral staircase ascending into the heavens. It is an imposing, oppressive sight. I've heard of the dark history behind that terrifying edifice, of deals with devils and the dead walking the streets, of children dying of thirst in the streets. I hope that it is nothing but tavern tales woven by inventive bards, but I am certain I will find out soon enough. To the left of the spire, behind the gatehouse, are the dual domes of the palace.

We pass through the gates and the cloth my father is bringing from the east are quickly looked over and taxed. We continue through the city, headed first for the marketplace, and then for the docks. People rush from place to place, through the roads and across the rooftops. The city is always brimming with people, most of which are traders. On all but the widest roads, walkways from the tops of buildings cross overhead. The buildings are worn and tagged with graffiti of all sorts. Many of them are two and three stories tall, and some of these seem only accessible via the rooftops.

We make it to the marketplace, amid such a racket that I have never before heard in my life. There is a constant hum of talk, conversation, negotiation and intimidation, the caws of exotic birds from the islands and the growls and roars from a pair of tigers, the constant clinking of pottery and metal and coins switching hands. The piles of fruits and meats and breads, the tables of jewels and rings and necklaces. We drive our cart to one stall, a man dealing in exotic clothing, and my father leaves the cart to make a deal with him.

After our business in the marketplace, we make for the docks. On the way there, the road opens up, and my eyes are greeted with the most magnificent sight they have yet to see. A wide fountain, marble and embellished with tiny rivers and streams of gold. At the center of the pool of the fountain are three marble statues, with gold highlights. An armored man with sword and shield, emblazoned with the symbol of a god of good, water trickling down the golden blade; a woman dressed in simple robes, an amulet marked with the symbol of a goddess of healing, holding a golden jug which water poured from, and the third man, dressed like a noble, with striking black hair, holding one hand to the heavens enveloped in fire-REAL fire, while the other was held before him, a constant stream flowing from his golden palm. All around it there are people kneeling to drink from the fountain, as robed men and women stand by and watch. *I get closer, to read the inscription on the plaque at the feet of the three figures.

In remembrance of those who died under the clawing grip of tyranny, and of those who gave their lives fighting it, we consecrate this fountain, in hopes that the thirsty will finally be allowed to drink, and in hopes that one day its waters may serve to wash this city of the crimes committed within it.

Drink and be thirst no more.

The Fountain of Forever.



Rhaziel
Metropolis
Population:10,655 permanent, (6% halflings, 62% humans, 9% elves, 4% dwarves, 6% half elves, 2% gnomes, 11% half orcs) 22,540 temporary
Government: aristocracy.
Alignment: True Neutral (split between Neutral Good and Lawful Evil)
Religion: 3 good gods, one of protection, one of healing, and one of magic, one evil god of tyranny and death, one evil god of chaos and darkness, one neutral god of trade and wealth, one god of the sea.
Gold Piece Limit: 500,000 gold


http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b262/Pyritefoolsgold/Rhaziel.jpg

History: Rhaziel is a booming port city, built on the ruins and behind the walls of an ancient civilization. It was originally built thousands of years ago, the capital of an empire that is today lost beneath the sands. A couple thousand years ago a group of people settled once more behind these carved walls. With the added protection against desert raiders that the walls provided, the city was able to erect a system of docks and a coast guard rather quickly. The security of the walled city drew trade to it's port, and slowly it grew, first laterally, and then once the buildings were nearly brushing up against the walls, it grew vertically.

Four hundred years ago the tyrant Mataro took control of Rhaziel, by striking at the dual hearts of the city: It's marketplace, and the reservoir. Mataro managed to take control of trade, and the only source of fresh water in the city. He passed laws against trade of water, and against collecting water for yourself when the rains came. Mataro gained ultimate power in the desert over who lived or died, and he was known for never executing a person. He would just cut off their water supply, and possibly that of their family, and they would die of thirst. The same happened to anyone unable to pay his tribute. Mataro gave birth to his heir, Khallis, and died of old age. Khallis became a powerful mage, and was known to dabble in necromancy and consort with demons. At the height of his power he ordered the construction of "The Spire" A massive spiral staircase of black stone, reaching into the heavens. Khallis hoped to reach godhood by climbing this massive tower, and though disappointed, he was able to tap into a vast source of power while standing atop it. He opened a gate to hell at the top, and using the ill gotten help of devils in exchange for souls, he gained power to raise a massive force of the dead. Skeletons walked the walls and patrolled the streets as often as men did, and the strict enforcement of the water laws founded by Mataro became absolute.
Hope was crushed by the very sight of the tower, and Khallis raised armies to plunder other cities, taking their treasure and their people as slaves. The poor filled the streets and the rich filled the mansions and palaces. And just when it seemed all hope had fled from them, a secret organization, named The Eternal Trinity, erected in one night what was to be their downfall. The Fountain of Forever, and ever flowing fountain, was created overnight by a combination of magic, muscle and gods. The people drank from the fountain, and Khallis' power began to break. He sent his army to smash the fountain, to destroy it and kill all who had drank from it in defiance of his law. The dead were met with the righteous fury of the gods, in mortal form, and there was war in the streets for days. The Eternal Knighthood, an order of Paladins entrusted with the defense of the fountain, was formed. Khallis' rule lasted another five years, before the people laid siege to the palace, and finally, the spire. In the end, Khallis flung himself into hell rather than face the people he had oppressed, and the gate closed forever.

Physical Description:
Today much of the worlds' trade comes through Rhaziel. It is a massive walled city, crowded beyond belief, where the roads are narrow and the buildings are nearly close enough together to jump from roof to roof. A network of wooden bridges connect the rooftops, allowing a person to move from one side of the city to the next without touching the ground. The city has three centers, The Palace, where the Sultan holds council; The Fountain of Forever, the center of The Eternal Knighthood, the Brotherhood of the Flame and The Waterbringers; and The Spire, center point of The Black Hand. The walls are sandstone and covered in massive, epic carvings, and watched over by six massive towers. The buildings are made of sandstone, mud bricks, and adobe, some are embellished with wood. The roads are in a grid of triangles, centered around the front gate, the palace, and the spire. The roads are made of sandstone, with a gutter system in the center that feeds into the ocean. The entire city is on a slight slant towards the ocean, so rainwater is quickly carried away.

http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b262/Pyritefoolsgold/RhazielMap.png

Economics: Rhaziel is the main source for silks, dyes, exotic weaponry, and other commodities from the east, as well as exotic birds, gems, and art from all over the world. Items from all over the mainland can be found here, on their way to be sold at distant ports. Several prominent mages have set up shop, and enchanted rings, weapons, and items are readily available. There is always dock work available, as business moves at a breakneck pace. The economy is mostly powered by services provided to merchants, and by profitable trade deals. Rhaziel produces little itself.
Rhazielís social order is based almost entirely around pure capitalism. If you have money, then it requires very little to become one of Rhazielís elite (a certain amount of style is usually required, but that is often bought easily enough) The vast majority of Rhazielís citizens are just above poverty, though the poor are well taken care of by The Waterbringers.

Religion: The major political and social organizations in the city are each centered around a god. The Black Hand, a cult made for the worship of the deposed tyrant Khallis, who they believe to have become a devil of some power, also worships another lawful evil deity. They see the world as theirs for the taking, and wish to gain control of it. Their spells are not powered by a god, but are actually powered by the regular sacrifices they participate in.

The Eternal Trinity is made of three sects:

The Eternal Knighthood worship a Lawful Good deity of Protection. They see themselves as the defenders of the weak, and obey a strict moral code. They are well respected in the city, though their philosophy seems idealistic, they can be depended on to protect the innocent.

The Brotherhood of the Flame worship a chaotic good deity of magic, and regularly weave minor spells to aid the populace. They are well loved, but feared for their power.

The Waterbringers worship a neutral good goddess of healing, and are a group devoted to doing all they can to help the less fortunate. Every member has taken a vow of poverty, and they are wholly devoted to healing the sick and helping the poor. They will often watch children when both parents must work in order to feed them. The Waterbringers are loved and cherished, and often any harm done to one is repaid by everyone who knows them.

There is also a very large church of the god of trade and wealth, which many flock to In hopes that their fortunes will be better.

Government: The city is governed by a very large aristocracy, the only requirement for admittance into which is money. Each aristocrat has only one vote, but owning a well placed industry places one in a great deal of power, as business deals are freely exchanged for votes. Many would call this corruption, but the rulers of Khallis simply call it prudent business planning.

Crime: There are two major thieves guilds in Khallis, the Ravenís Claw, and the Kingsmen. The Kingsmen were originally all close advisors to Khallis, and they still hold close ties to The Black Hand. The Kingsmen often take part in political assasination and intimidation. The Ravenís Claw are much more business oriented, and ply general extortion, smuggling, and untaxed gambling.
There are numerous street gangs in the city, often little more than unemployed adolescents. The street gangs are often paid by the thieves guilds for specific tasks, and are watched for potential members, but rarely are they exclusive to one guild or the other.
Smuggling is incredibly active in Khallis, and a black market for poisons and illegal items of all sorts exists.

The Monument: There are two monuments in Khallis, The Fountain of Forever, and The Spire.
The Fountain of Forever:
Built by mysterious means overnight three hundred years ago, this marble fountain stands in the middle of the poorer district of town, near the docks. There are always people drinking at the fountain, and the water is always clean. If taken from the fountain, the water dissipates in an hour. The water of the fountain is known to bolster the body against disease, and aid healing. The actual fountain is a pedestal holding three statues, back to back. Each is a statue of one of the three good gods worshipped in the city. The first is the Lawful Good god, in the form of a Paladin armed in plate mail, with a shield at his side and a sword with itís tip just inches from the surface of the water. Water trickles down the blade. The second is a humbly robed woman with golden hair holding a jug that spouts water into the fountain. The third is a well dressed man holding one hand up, which is aflame with the continual flame spell, and the other hand held out, water streaming from the palm.

The Spire: A massive spiral staircase built on the backs of slave labor by the tyrant Khallis, The Spire reaches into the sky, nearly a thousand feet. Once the source of the tyrantís power and a gate to hell itself, this edifice is now dormant. It is greatly revered by The Black Hand, as well as many others who believe that worship of the Tyrant Khallis will bring them power. The Spire is still a center point for dark magics, and all spells involving summoning evil creatures or animating the dead will gain an advantage here. +1 to all rolls involved in such spells (Spellcraft, attack roles, damage, ect,) with another +1 for every 200 feet of the tower climbed. This also applies to save Dcs, and hit dice of creatures summoned or raised. (obviously the +5 gained at the top of the tower would be of limited use, being that you would be a thousand feet in the air.) The Black Hand keeps a careful watch on this structure, and will not allow anyone to use it for such purposes without their permission.

Power Struggles: The foremost power struggle goes on between the Black hand, and the Eternal Trinity. The Trinity is constantly defending against The Black Handís attempts to discredit and destroy them, while also trying to disrupt The Black Handís sacrifices and rituals. Both sides are also constantly trying to influence the aristocracy. The Eternal Trinity is governed by vote between the three leaders of the sects of it. The Eternal Knighthood is led by Laredo Kainsman, (LG Human Paladin 10)
The Waterbringers are led by Auriel Loftheart, (NG half elf Cleric 11) and the Brotherhood of the Flame is led by Sanis Auria, (CG Halfling Sorcerer 10)

The Black Hand is Governed by a secret council, the members of which none in the hand know. The most powerful member of The Black Hand is Caliston Rivkana (LE human Cleric 13/Blackguard 2).

The Kingsmen and the Ravenís Claw are constantly fouling each otherís schemes, sometimes leading to open war on the streets. The Kingsmen are run by Saervo Malnasine (LE Human fighter 5/Rogue 4) And the Ravenís Claw is run by Kreol Brokenblade (NN Half-Orc Rogue 10)


Adventure Hooks:
-A man from The Ravenís Claw approaches the adventurers, asking them to help smuggle a minor magical artifact into the city.
-The Black Hand is planning to assassinate a local aristocrat with loyalties to The Eternal Trinity. The PCís are asked to guard him.
-A mad sorcerer (CE sorc 13) has ascended to the top of The Spire and begun summoning Demons. The Cityís forces are tied up on the ground, can the PCís launch an assault on The Spire, fighting demons the entire way up?
-The PCís are approached by a man who sends them to break up a child labor ring and return the children to a safe place, however the man who approached them is a member of The Black Hand, looking for a stock of sacrifices.
-A wizard who owns a wizard shop hires the PCís to steal a powerful component from another wizard.
-A thief has escaped to the east with a powerful artifact. The party must follow him and bring the artifact back.
-An important artifact has arrived by ship and needs to be escorted through the city, with both The Black Hand and The Trinity trying to commandeer it. The Pcís have to smuggle it through the streets and either avoid notice, or fight their way through.

Pyritefoolsgold
2005-07-21, 12:28 AM
Finally done. Going on vacation for a week, but I'll still be able to pop in now and then.
What do yoou guys think?

Sucros
2005-07-21, 01:10 AM
Haven't finished reading it yet, but you have the drawing of the city (very well done BTW) in two spots. Just thought you might want to know.

Pyritefoolsgold
2005-07-26, 10:57 AM
There, I fixed that. I spent enough time on that dang map to let it go to waste.