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Peregrine
2005-07-02, 03:49 PM
Lascorem, Bastion of the Faithful

Introduction
"Good morning to you, esteemed traveller! I trust you slept well? Ah, we are not now far from Lascorem, soon you will see it, soon. A little further down the coast, now, and you will see it. It is a beautiful clear day, is it not? Very good weather for autumn, here on the coast of Ducerium. Clear out to the horizon, and we will easily find Lascorem when it comes around these hills you see now.

"Ah, even on a wet day it is hard to miss it. That fortress they have, the Lascorem Citadel, ah it is a marvel. Three walls it has, many towers, banners as big as sails, bigger even than the sails above you there. It will take your breath away, you see if you remember to breathe before we reach the docks!

"There, you can see the end of the sea wall... in a moment... there! Ah, there it is, the Citadel. Is it not everything I said to you? Now, we are within the gaze of Lascorem; now, we are safely to the city, or close enough. Now, there is the small matter of payment..."

Stats
Small City (population ~8,000)
Human 79%
Elf 9%
Halfling 5%
Dwarf 3%
Gnome 2%
Half-elf 1%
Half-orc 1%

Cash reserve: 6,000,000gp (max. item value 15,000 gp)

Background Information
History
It has been twenty-four years since the wars called the Duceriades first carved out a successful foothold in these lands. The old fortifications of Lascorem, Ilah-Sekorrin to the natives, were besieged and captured by the Duceriator armies under Tancred, who took the title of Prince and set about making Lascorem into the centre of the new realm.

These lands are claimed as sacred to the Duceriators' faith, but the great temples and pilgrimage sites have all been lost to time, or deliberate erasure by infidels. Here at Lascorem, the spiritual and temporal lords of the realm are determined to end this loss, and establish their presence in unyielding stone. They have sought to build a great bastion of the Church, a monument to their God, a palace for the ruling dynasty, and a fortress to daunt their enemies. Lascorem Citadel is now one of the most impressive castles in the known world.

Physical Description
Map of Lascorem (http://users.bigpond.com/keretija/images/lascorem.png)
The city of Lascorem is naturally divided into three districts by the Scorem River and its tributary, the Ophus. South of the Scorem, the terrain is dominated by rolling hills, with a particularly prominent and forested ridge close to the river's mouth. The majority of the city's population lives in this area, which is quite fertile, in contrast with the more arid inland.

North of the Scorem, the terrain is rockier, dominated by the hill on which Lascorem Citadel stands. Most of this district is given over to housing and industry.

The third district of the city lies in the angle above the confluence of the Scorem and Ophus. It is a rough and undeveloped upland, but strategically important. Here the city's guards and soldiers train, and a number of support services have sprung up in the region, inns and the like.

At the confluence, the river opens up into The Water. No bridge crosses it below this point, but many ships dock on both sides of the river, and boatmen will ferry passengers across at any given time. The mouth of the river is sheltered by a long spit curving out from the south shore, and off the coast lies the anchorage of Mercantile Island.

Arts and Culture
Lascorem shows a vibrant blend of two cultures. The Duceriators have brought with them their native arts and traditions, among them dancing, music with stringed instruments, rug weaving and tapestry, and sculpture and metalworking. The native culture favours chanting and wind instruments, painting, training animals to perform, and cooking spicy dishes and brewing fortified wine.

The native culture is currently in vogue among the upper classes, and any given noble household is likely to be favoured with large and gaudy paintings, a cellar full of wine and spices, and at least one dancing dog. Several of the old temples are only tolerated because they double as art galleries for the amusement of the gentry.

The arcane arts are somewhat underrepresented in Lascorem. The Church places a great emphasis on the power of the divine, and so mages often find themselves distrusted and ostracised. Though they are certainly not outlawed, many purveyors of magical goods and services find it simply too much bother to compete with the Church, especially when there is more demand (and less taxation) beyond the frontiers of Ducerium.

Economics
Lascorem lies at the mouth of the River Scorem, which is navigable for some sixty miles inland, as far as the Scorem Cataracts. The river was once a busy lifeline of trade in the region, carrying gems, minerals, spices, and other goods from the inland regions to the coast for shipping overseas. The trade is slowly drying up, however, as most of the river's length lies beyond the sphere of influence of Ducerium, and pressure from factions hostile to Duceriator interests is choking off river traffic.

Within Ducerium, there remain rich farmlands, supplying mostly grain, cotton and cattle. Vineyards within the city itself supply a strong wine industry.

Some alluvial gold is collected, but little of it directly benefits the city's coffers. Mining is extremely limited and most metals have to be imported, or else smuggled downriver from the Herac Mountains above the Cataracts.

Religion
Not surprisingly, the Church is the law throughout Ducerium. (Choose one lawful good deity appropriate to your campaign and to the notion of holy war, such as Heironeous, to be the patron deity of the Church in Lascorem.)

Other faiths closely allied to the central Church have also planted representatives in Lascorem, and indeed their interreligious associations are rather closer than those in the homeland. This is a cause for some concern among the authorities on orthodoxy, but is also highly practical in presenting a united front against the military and spiritual might of the enemies of Ducerium. (Choose one lawful nongood deity appropriate to your campaign, such as Wee Jas or Hextor, to be the patron deity of those opposing Ducerium.)

Of course, a large proportion of the population, native to the land, still supports this 'old faith', as they call it. The Church knows and accepts this, officially -- the war was and is about control of sacred lands, not the dismantling of religions -- but in practice there are still conflicts. This is not helped by the nobility being drawn without exception from the Duceriade leaders; those of the 'old faith' are all of the lower classes.

The major cathedral of the Church is built into the Citadel itself, where only the nobility are permitted to worship within its walls. A lesser cathedral, on the opposite side of the river, exists for the worship of the middle class. A variety of chapels, temples, and fanes exist throughout the city, either associated with the Church or with amenable faiths. Of particular note is the Sacellum of the Silvan Ones, an open-roofed structure set amidst a thicket of old cedars, for the veneration of nature deities. This is a popular cult among the lower classes, though the Church does not mind its influence so long as it continues to draw worshippers away from the old faith.

Only a few temples of the old faith are still in use, practising in a circumspect way, watched by the Church and usually doubling as hostels and art galleries. Attempts to convert the worshippers who use them must be balanced against the desire to win their sympathy and their loyalty.

Not all faiths represented in Lascorem are endorsed or permitted by the ruling Church, of course. Almost any sort of religion, from the merely secretive to the outright depraved, is bound to have a few adherents in a city this size...

Government
The city is ruled by Prince Tancred, his vassals and advisors. Iadrich, Castellan of Lascorem, is the nominal commander of the Citadel and master of the Prince's finances. Drascigo Trebover, a half-elven soldier of fortune whose mother was from the region, is Master-Captain of the Ward, the commander of the Citadel garrison and commissioner of the city watch. Abbess Meriel, Tancred's cousin and personal chaplain, is Prelatess of Ducerium, the leading ecclesiastical authority and also the civil authority in matters of religious administration.

Ducerium as a whole is divided into four counties, their counts answering to Tancred and furnished with their own vassals and followers. The north side of Lascorem is the princely estate, but the south side constitutes the County of Lascorem, ruled by Count Jusuph. North of the city is the County of Dassin, under Count Ewan. West of Dassin, Count Preoliro's County of Urscus juts inland. The County of Tirosy lies south of Lascorem and is ruled by Count Senessis.

The Principality is not strictly speaking a feudal realm, as the counts all reside in Lascorem and do not directly tax their own demesnes. Their responsibilities are primarily military, all four being proven generals, not necessarily skilled administrators.


Tancred Excelsior
Paladin 14
Medium humanoid (human); HD 14d10+14 (91hp); Init +0; Speed 30ft; AC 24 (touch 10, flat-footed 24); Attack longsword +3 +18/+13/+8 melee (1d8+4, 19-20/x2); SA Lay on hands 56 hp/day, smite evil 3/day, turn undead 7/day; SQ Aura of good, aura of courage, detect evil, divine grace, divine health, special mount, remove disease 3/week; Lawful Good; Fort +15 Ref +8 Will +10; Str 13 Dex 10 Con 14 Int 13 Wis 15 Cha 18
Concentration +9, Diplomacy +21, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +8, Knowledge (religion) +11, Ride +10, Sense Motive +9, Speak Language (2), Spot +5; armor check penalty -6; Cleave, Power Attack, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample
Paladin spells per day: 3/2/2/1
Paladin mount: Capus, Large magical beast (heavy warhorse); HD 10d8+40 (85hp); Init +1; Speed 40ft; AC 33 (touch 11, flat-footed 32); Attack 2 hooves +11 melee (1d8+5) and bite +6 melee (1d4+2); SA none; SQ Command horses, empathic link, improved evasion, low-light vision, scent, share spells, share saving throws; Lawful Good; Fort +11 Ref +8 Will +4; Str 21 Dex 13 Con 18 Int 8 Wis 13 Cha 6; Concentration +7, Listen +5, Spot +4; Endurance, Improved Natural Attack (hoof), Power Attack, Run
Notable items: longsword +3, full plate +2, heavy steel shield +2, chainmail barding +2, silver holy symbol. As Prince of Ducerium, Tancred commands formidable additional resources.

Crime
Smuggling and tax dodging are rampant in Ducerium. Worse, even those taxes that are successfully collected outside the city have only a roughly even chance of making it to Lascorem unmolested. Anything stamped with the Prince's mark, Ta.Ex.Pr.Du (Tancred Excelsior Princeps Ducerium), seems to draw bandits and highwaymen like honey draws ants; so much so, that the mark has entered the vernacular (pronounced as one word, "taxperdu"), as a byword for stolen (or imminently stolen) goods.

The laws of the city itself are fairly strict and well enforced by a competent city watch, backed by the Church. Day-to-day crimes (such as thievery and violence) are no more common in Lascorem than in any city. Organised crime is low-key, mostly dealing in black-market sales of items frowned upon (or heavily taxed) by the authorities. Drugs, poisons, cheap wine and liquor, magic items, and the paraphernalia of dark cults are most easily found under counters.

The Monument
Plan of the Citadel (http://users.bigpond.com/keretija/images/citadel.png)
The steep, rocky hill north of the Scorem River has long been fortified, but at the time of the Duceriades, Lascorem was only weakly held. Little now remains of the small castle the Duceriators besieged and captured; the old castle and even the hill itself were broken up and rebuilt into Lascorem Citadel.

The Citadel's construction, taking twenty-one years, was planned and overseen by Arcivel Lorinos, a gifted architect and dedicated follower of the Duceriades.

The hill, always difficult and rocky, now drops away to almost sheer cliffs for most of its circumference, having been extensively quarried for the material to build the Citadel, and then reshaped to afford the best defence. Rumour states that extensive caves and strongrooms exist hidden beneath the castle, but only those involved in their construction (Arcivel Lorinos and his most trusted labourers) or use (Prince Tancred and his inner council) would know for certain.

The outer bailey lies on the north and west sides of the Citadel, giving an extra layer of protection on its landward faces. The main barracks lies at the southern end of this bailey.

The inner bailey is in fact the outer level of the defences, except where it adjoins the outer bailey, on the north and west sides. The main gate of the citadel lies on the east side of this bailey, and a causeway runs down from the gate to the road below. The Castellan's Keep is set in the south wall.

The Ward is the name given to the inner fortification of the Citadel. Most of the Ward is filled with thick-walled stone buildings; even the yard could in fact be considered the roof of a series of cellars set below the level of the Ward, but at least partly above the yard of the inner bailey. The Prince's Keep is situated in the north corner of the Ward, more or less in the centre of the Citadel as a whole. In the east corner is a cathedral, colloquially called 'the Templehold', since its architecture is barely distinguished from the fortifications around it.

Power Struggles
Two or three distinct factions are emerging in the Church and among its allies in Ducerium. Prince Tancred and most of the local Church hierarchy are moderates, seeking to maintain doctrinal discipline while making allowances for circumstances, particularly in appeasing the native population now under their rule. Some few in the Church, and many among its allied faiths, are particularly pragmatic in their approach, favouring radical means to keep the peace and secure the realm, at the expense of orthodoxy and tradition. However, Church hardliners from the motherland have arrived in Ducerium this past summer, concerned for the spiritual purity of this distant flock.

Two persons in particular now vie for the Prince's ear in counsel. Sauvan, a gnome cloaked in mystery and rumours, is said to have been trained by a secretive order of spy-priests. He is currently in favour, the information he provides helping to keep the realm two steps ahead of its enemies. Leading the conservative delegation, and its tacit inquisition into the Church in Ducerium, is Aluphon, a formidable man with a great shock of white hair and a commanding voice.


Sauvan
Rogue 3/Cleric 3/Divine Trickster (http://www.giantitp.com/Func0015.html) 5
Small humanoid (gnome); HD 8d6+3d8 (44hp); Init +3; Speed 20ft; AC 18 (touch 14, flat-footed 15); Attack short sword +1 +12/+7 melee (1d4;19-20/2) OR dagger +1 +12/+7 melee or ranged (1d3;19-20/2;10ft); SA Turn undead 4/day, sneak attack +4d6, surprise for the dead; SQ Gnome qualities, aura, trapfinding, evasion, trap sense +1, trap guidance, domain flexibility; Neutral Good; Fort +5 Ref +11 Will +10; Str 8 Dex 16 Con 10 Int 14 Wis 14 Cha 12
Bluff +11, Concentration +2, Craft (alchemy) +4, Diplomacy +3, Disable Device +10, Disguise +8, Escape Artist +6, Gather Information +11, Intimidate +3, Hide +16, Knowledge (religion) +13, Listen +4, Move Silently +13, Open Lock +14, Search +12, Sleight of Hand +5, Spellcraft +6; Investigator, Run, Suppressible Spell (http://www.giantitp.com/Func0016.html), Weapon Finesse
Cleric spells per day: 6/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1
Domains: Trickery, Knowledge
Notable items: 2 ghost touch daggers +1, short sword +1, studded leather +1, vest of escape, masterwork thieves' tools, silver holy symbol.

His Reverence Aluphon the Austere
Cleric 14
Medium humanoid (human); HD 14d8-14 (52hp); Init -1; Speed 30ft; AC 9 (touch 9, flat-footed 9); Attack Club +10/+5 melee (1d6); SA Turn undead 7/day; SQ Aura; Lawful Good; Fort +10 Ref +3 Will +13; Str 10 Dex 9 Con 8 Int 14 Wis 18 Cha 19
Diplomacy +23, Heal +13, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (religion) +19, Knowledge (the planes) +8, Sense Motive +9; Augment Summoning, Craft Staff, Great Fortitude, Improved Counterspell, Negotiator, Spell Focus (conjuration)
Cleric spells per day: 6/6+1/6+1/5+1/5+1/3+1/3+1/2+1
Domains: Good, Law
Notable items: club, staff of abjuration, silver holy symbol. Aluphon could easily obtain much greater resources, but he will refuse to do so except at great need.

The secular authorities of Ducerium maintain their own intrigues and schemes. The counts are petitioning the Prince for greater autonomy, arguing that they will be better able to collect and secure taxes, and protect their borders from bandits and infidels, if they have full control of their own lands. Economically and militarily, Tancred has traditionally preferred to keep them close to the centre of power, strengthening Lascorem at the expense of the frontiers. However, he is now acting on plans to expand to the west, which may signal a change of heart. It also signals the need for the appointment of a fifth Count to rule the Scorem Valley.

A small but stubborn Mage's Guild is established in the city, and petitioning for the right to compete fairly with Church goods and services. They primarily demand reduced taxes on their magical supplies. They also seek greater employment in guard duties for guild members, ostensibly in the hope that a more effective militia will reduce lost taxes and thus lead to a reduced need for taxation. Some think they only seek stronger influence with the populace of Ducerium, and some fear that they may be more loyal to other states, with better views of the arcane.

Beyond Ducerium's borders, the displaced rulers of the region are always watchful for the chance to take back what was theirs. No single authority unites these enemies, except the hierarchs of their faith. The Erassid Dynasty, once the great enemy of the Duceriades, is impotent and all but extinguished. Petty warlords now hold the region; but there is one who has earned respect and renown even in Ducerium: Avcedin.

Named Avn-Sahdin in his own tongue, Avcedin's fame is such that, in the very streets of Lascorem, songs about him are the most popular fare of minstrels. They say he learnt hatred of foreigners from his youth, when his mother had an affair with a human adventurer. When an obviously half-human son was born to her, her lover managed to spirit the infant away and flee abroad, but Avcedin's mother was caught and executed. Avcedin is impeccably well educated, a cunning general and a chivalrous opponent, but also determined and ruthless. Far more than a bandit from the arid wilds, his raids and chivachies are calculated military expeditions, and they say he will some day come knocking on the gate of the Citadel.


Avcedin
Aristocrat 3/Fighter 10
Medium humanoid (elf); HD 3d8+10d10 (72hp); Init +2; Speed 30ft; AC 19 (touch 12, flat-footed 17); Attack +1 scimitar +15/+15/+10/+5 melee (1d6+2;18-20/2) OR +3 composite (+1) longbow +20/+15/+10 ranged (1d8+6;19-20/3;110ft); SA none; SQ Elf qualities; Lawful Neutral; Fort +8 Ref +8 Will +6; Str 12 Dex 15 Con 10 Int 16 Wis 10 Cha 12
Bluff +6, Diplomacy +14, Hide +17, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (geography) +7, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (nature) +10, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +8, Knowledge (religion) +3, Listen +2, Perform (wind instruments) +3, Ride +19, Search +5, Sense Motive +5, Speak Language (1), Spot +2, Survival +5; armor check penalty -3; Endurance, Improved Critical (longbow), Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Ride-By Attack, Weapon Focus (longbow), Weapon Focus (scimitar), Weapon Specialization (longbow)
Notable items: +1 scimitar of speed, +3 composite (+1) longbow, +3 improved shadow scale mail, greater bracers of archery. Avcedin usually enters combat on a lightly armoured horse.

Adventure Hooks
Prince Tancred has commissioned a series of forts along the Scorem River, to eventually reach as far as the Cataracts and secure the river trade under Ducerium's influence. To have the best defences possible in these exposed locations, he has once again called on the services of Arcivel Lorinos (male elf, Expert 6), the architect who oversaw the construction of the Citadel itself. Obviously, Arcivel is one of the most important men in the principality, since he knows all the secrets of the Citadel, and Tancred is hiring a large escort to protect him during the surveying and construction of the river forts.
Castellan Iadrich (male dwarf, Fighter 6/Aristocrat 2) is always looking to hire more guards to protect the tax collectors and see them safely into Lascorem. He prefers to hire diverse groups, preferably with no prior acquaintance with one another, to minimise the chances of guards conspiring with each other (or with the bandits!) to steal the taxes. Not that it doesn't happen anyway, but you know, he needs to at least make the attempt.
Prince Tancred's bachelorhood is becoming cause for concern. A suitable bride has been found for him, largely through the efforts of the Church in the homeland. The Lady Sionda (female human, Aristocrat 4) is coming by sea, but damage from a freak storm has forced her ship to put in at a cove three days' sail north of the city. Her escort must now decide whether to wait on repairs to the ship, hope for another ship from the city, or strike out overland. Whichever path they take is fraught with danger from bandits, pirates, and the possibility of a kidnap attempt by Avcedin!
Meanwhile in Lascorem, as soon as word reaches Tancred of his bride-to-be's stranding, he will no doubt ride out in force to her rescue. His... enthusiasm for the expedition is likely to strip the Citadel garrison and also lead to the hiring of mercenaries and adventurers. Such a response need not be an overreaction, if Avcedin also moves in force to seize Sionda, but it may leave the city at risk.
Not everyone in the Mage's Guild is content to merely petition the Prince over and over again. They're not above manufacturing the occasional crisis or sudden shortage of Church-made goods to boost demand for, and appreciation of their services. Persons of discretion are always useful to them, and skilled and watchful guards are needed to counter them.

Martinus
2005-07-02, 05:15 PM
Religious fanatics forming the government?

nice :)

Safria
2005-07-13, 12:20 PM
Once again you've put a lot of work into a nice little entry perey

Really like the crime section :D

Retro
2005-07-14, 09:38 AM
I agree, especially liking the idea of the extremist zealots running the show, as Martinus mentioned. Cool stuff.