Wyrmspire: The Arcane Quarter

Streets lined with oddly shaped houses. Chimneys pouring out turquoise smoke into the air. Towers jutting up at impossible angles. Shops larger on the inside than on the out. Multicolored, winged dolphins swimming through the air. All this and more in the Arcane Quarter, decidedly the weirdest of Wyrmspire’s quarters.

(side note: sorry for the two-weeks between posts thing. I never meant to let it happen, things have just been… busy. There’s gonna be another post shortly after this one, though. Maybe even tomorrow. I already wrote it all out while I was supposed to be paying attention in English class.)

The Arcane Quarter is one of the newest of Wyrmspire’s Quarters. The Old Quarter has been around since forever, the Noble Quarter has been around since nobles figured out they could take advantage of the poor, the Temple Quarter has been around since said nobles discovered religion, and the Merchant Quarter has been around since people started selling things to the nobles. The Arcane Quarter was only founded in the waning days of the Empire, when some wizards got sick of their neighbors (the nobles) yelling at them for performing genetic experiments at all hours of the night.

It is said the Arcane Quarter never sleeps. At any time of day, there’s something going on, whether it’s a portal suddenly opening to another plane, a rampaging monster, everybody suddenly growing tentacles, or even something as mundane a house getting up and walking away. Indeed, at least half of its residents are on sleep schedules that have absolutely nothing to do with the daily passing of the sun, and a sizable minority have discovered ways to alter themselves so as to go without sleep altogether.

At the center of the Arcane Quarter is the massive Arcane Academy, the most prestigious school of magical learnings in the entirety of the Civilized Lands. All kinds of magic are taught here, from the popular schools such as evocation and conjuration, to the more obscure and nigh-useless schools, such as binding and truenaming. Even traditionally evil arts are taught, such as the regular necromancy classes taught within the crypts (conveniently, classes only occur at night, to cater to the large population of vampires wishing to learn necromancy). The palace looks down on this, but they can’t do shit, as the Arcane Quarter is run by the mages themselves, and they sure as hell aren’t going to be doing any outlawing.

The Arcane Academy is large, sprawling, and almost castle-like, with any number of rooms depending on such varying factors as the day of the week, the phase of the moon, and the mood/height/current marital status of the seeker. As such, some classes can only occur on certain days (The Advanced Binding of Extraplanar Vestiges, for example, only occurs every few weeks, as both the classroom and the professor involved spend the rest of the time in other planes of existence) while other classes have the entry requirement of being able to actually find the classroom.

The one group that has anything to do with the restriction of arcane arts in the Arcane Quarter is a group known as Invictus. Invictus restricts the nastier magics, and makes sure that those that use them are using them only for either educational or research purposes. Thus, you can do pretty much whatever you want with conjuration but if you’re practicing demonology it’d better just be for exploratory purposes. Invictus also “deals” with those that choose to flout their regulations (they’re usually not heard from again.)

Even though there are rather strict penalties for ignoring Invictus, it happens all the time anyway. Thus, the Arcane Quarter is full of oddballs doing all sorts of illegal things in the name of power. On any given day, there’s about a twenty percent chance of the streets being flooded with either undead, demons, or dragon-chihuahua hybrids. Invictus can’t control everybody in the Arcane Quarter, after all.

Of course, not all the research going on in the Arcane Quarter is fun and games. There’s also a large amount of dusty old wizards pouring over old tomes, searching for forgotten knowledge, all that stuff. Some of these researchers haven’t done actual magic in decades, and have confined themselves merely to the theoretical. Of course, when one of these guys succeeds in finding whatever he was trying to find, all hell breaks loose, as you can be damn sure he’s gonna use it to do whatever he pleases.

All this magical experimentation going on leads to a large need for arcane components: bat guano, rose petals, etcetera. Of course, some of the more “interesting” experiments have led to a need for less legal spell components. If you know where to look and who to contact, you can buy pretty much anything: the ashes of a dead king, a barrel full of baby hands, or a jurig egg (a jurig is an odd kind of many-armed demon that goes around eating people’s eyes). Of course, such spell components are heavily regulated by Invictus. But that doesn’t particularly matter.

Of course, not all who live in the Arcane Quarter are über-powerful wizards. Merchants live there, specializing in selling things to said wizards. Chefs run restaurants, tailors sew robes, and blacksmiths sit about wondering when these damn wizards are gonna start using real weapons. Basically, the Arcane Quarter is just like any of the other quarters. Only with copious amounts of wizardage.

Recently, there has been a growing trend of young nobles hanging around in the Arcane Quarter, doing silly things like poking demons with sticks. Despite the obvious danger of this, people continue to do it, mostly because it’s far more interesting than whatever the hell else young nobles are expected to do. This has led to the recent opening of several stores that could only be described as magical junk shops. These shops buy the refuse from wizardly experiments and sell them as gag objects to said nobles. Some truly ludicrous objects are available in these shops: ropes that untie themselves as soon as you let go of the knot, magic staffs whose sole magical ability is to balance perfectly whenever stood up, bottles that transform any substance placed within into goat cheese, and hats that slowly devour the wearer’s head and transport the debris to a pocket dimension. Serious wizards have taken to frequenting these shops, too, as there’s nothing more satisfying than finding an incredibly powerful artifact for practically free that a rival wizard accidentally threw out.

Many of the serious wizards in the Arcane Quarter join one of the wizardly orders. These orders have many benefits: funding for experiments, ways to buy rare spell components, access to rare spells. Oh, and there’s someone to bail you out when you accidentally summon Lord Kalthigzar the Bloodletter, King of the Ninth Hell. There are far too many wizardly orders to count, but the important ones are the Five Orders of the Magi: the Order of the Red Magi, the Order of the Blue Magi, the Order of the White Magi, the Order of the Black Magi, and the Order of the Grey Magi. Note that despite these orders being named after colors, this does not mean that members of these orders only wear these colors. Except for the uselessly patriotic members. They’re silly.

The Order of the Red Magi is the most powerful of the five orders. Its headquarters is in the palace, in Magus Spire. The goals of the Red Magi are simply to gather as much power as possible through the use of magic without particularly pissing anyone off. I’m sure there’s a way to explain that that sounds less silly, but whatever. In the interest of this goal, they made an alliance with Carith III, the great-great-great grandfather of the current king, in the year 724. Ever since, they have been loyal allies of the royal house of Wyrmspire. Thus, the current role of the Red Magi is simply to help the city of Wyrmspire and the Alliance as much as they can. The Order of the Red Magi is very large, as basically anyone wishing to join can wander up to the palace, show off whatever shitty amount of magic they are capable of, and get a pretty red membership card.

The Order of the Blue Magi is a bit odd. Their goal is to advance magic in any way possible. This goal commonly involves an absolutely silly amount of experimentation. Blue Magi are commonly found doing things that totally and completely mess with any normal person’s definition of common sense. Somehow this has led to an absolutely bloody massive compendium of arcane knowledge, despite the uselessness of the Blue Magi’s usual experiments. This arcane knowledge is kept in a grand library in the Blue Magi’s headquarters, the Tower of Haestephus in the western mountains. (in other news, it occurs to me that I should totally get around to naming the mountain ranges in Alara. I have, like… three of them, after all.)

The Order of the White Magi is unique in that its motives are totally altruistic. The White Magi concentrate on helping people, solving world hunger, curing diseases, and all that boring stuff. They also commonly lend a hand when the Alliance is battling against forces that are very clearly evil. Which isn’t very often, as the White Magi have a very clear definition of evil that fails to include the armies of the Twelve (those soldiers are just following orders!), minotaur pirates (they’re just misguided!), or the Phoenix Guard (red’s such a pretty color!). They will kill Amen-Kather, but as the Alliance isn’t engaged in any large-scale battles with them anyway it’s kind of useless. The White Magi are among the smallest of the orders, as no one cares about their altruistic asses anyway. Their headquarters is located in the enchanted forests to the east of Wyrmspire.

The Order of the Black Magi is like the Red Magi on crack: they’re devoted to gaining power at the cost of anything, including their souls, and barring that they just enjoy wanton destruction. The Order of the Black Magi regularly practice such dark arts as necromancy, demonology, and the more nasty areas of binding. The Black Magi are the only one of the five orders to be formally illegal in the Arcane Quarter. This doesn’t prevent them from doing things in it, though, as Invictus is just plain scared of them. The Order of the Black Magi has its headquarters far away from the Civilized Lands, in the undead-covered Wastes. It’s easier to practice completely illegal things if you’re miles away from anyone who cares.

The Order of the Grey Magi is without a doubt the weirdest of the five orders. No one knows how many members there are, where their headquarters is, or what, exactly, their goals are. The Grey Magi can often be found doing rituals spoken in languages that no one else knows and that aren’t even connected to any of the other languages spoken in Alara. These rituals often have surprisingly enigmatic results: a massive ritual consisting of fifty archmages chanting arcane things for hours at a time could end up turning a small amount of liquid bright red. Supposedly, this somehow furthers the goals of the Grey Magi. It’s just that no one can figure out how it does.

Important Residents of the Arcane Quarter:

Archchancellor Diagoras the Scholarly is the current Archchancellor of the Arcane Academy. This means that he has complete and total control over the educational facilities in the arcane academy as well as all research projects, of which there are many. In addition to this, he personally teaches the class on Advanced Kupramancy, simply because he’s the only one of the educational staff who bothered to learn that much useless information. Diagoras is an incredibly well-read individual, and knows more things about most schools of magic than most of the experts in those categories know about them.

Diagoras is a tall, stern man. His hair is long and white, and he has no beard to speak of, something most certainly un-wizardly. He most commonly dresses in a long, fancily-embroidered robe of gold and blue. He belongs to the Order of the Blue Magi. Diagoras spends most of his time advancing the cause of magic with his minions (i.e., the teaching staff of the arcane academy). This usually takes the form of hiring adventurers to go out into the world and bring back tomes of forgotten lore and things like that. On rare occasions (such as when the mystic things he wants to see are inscribed on the walls of a ruin, or written in invisible ink on the inside of a dragon’s skin – that actually happened once), Diagoras himself will accompany said adventurers. Diagoras keeps a personal library in the depths of the arcane academy. Students sometimes dare each other to break in and steal mystic tomes, but it’s kind of useless to try, as they’re all enchanted to appear as children’s stories to the eyes of all but Diagoras himself.

Lord Malkat’zagan the Tireless is the leader of Invictus. He is a senseless bureaucrat, given to following all rules without questioning them. He is referred to as the Tireless because of the fact that, for some reason, he’s been the leader of Invictus for about the past century. And he still looks like a short, slightly balding middle-aged man. We’re not sure what’s going on there.

Lord Malkat’zagan commonly wears dull gray robes with no ornamentation whatsoever. He only ever leaves his office when a blatant flouting of his rules has occurred. At these times, he displays a remarkable amount of spellcasting ability and the perpetrators more often than not end up deceased. Most of the residents of the Arcane Quarter are deathly afraid of him. There have been multiple attempts on his life during his century in office, and none of them have been successful. Also, the assassin has never been heard from again. Nor has whoever hired him, whoever hired him’s family, or any of their close acquaintances. Needless to say, messing with Malkat’zagan is a tremendously bad idea. At best he’ll smite you with his superfluously long name.

Archmage Haegus of Arrowswift is the Archmage of the Red Magi. As such, he is the most powerful mage in all of Alara, at least politically. A scion of the noble and ancient family of Arrowswift, it’s rumored that Haegus is descended from Carith III himself, the king who originally allied with the Red Magi. Whenever asked about these things, Haegus just smiles bemusedly and comments about how such rumors will spread, true or not. He has thus far avoided actually answering direct questions on his ancestry.

Haegus goes about clad in rich robes of red and gold, looking more like a king than Benedict himself. Though he has a residence in the Palace, he spends most of his time in the Arcane Quarter, whether perusing the magical boutiques for spell components or in the dark depths of his basement, summoning something with an unpronounceable name and far too many tentacles for its own good. Though he’s a bit of an egotist, he’s intensely loyal to Benedict, and has used his considerable magical power to help the king on many an occasion. Haegus is tall, but powerfully built, with long black hair often tied behind his head in a ponytail.

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Wyrmspire: The Temple Quarter

Sorry for not posting in a while.  I’ve had an incredibly busy couple of weeks, what with both being shanghaied into drama club and (somehow) obtaining a girlfriend.  All in all, not much time for thinking.  But I’m back, bitches.

The Temple Quarter is one of the smallest of the Wyrmspire quarters, but also one of the busiest.  Religion is a major part of life in Wyrmspire (indeed, in all of Alara), and almost every citizen makes forays into the Temple Quarter on at least a weekly basis to pray.

There’s a bit of a controversy about exactly where the border between the Merchant Quarter and the Temple Quarter is.  Some literal-minded people claim that it’s where the shops end, and where the temples start.  This seems pretty logical to us.  However, there is a large area of people who, while past the end of the temples, basically only do things that involve either the temples or the people that work there.  So, in the end, nobody’s really sure.  The border of the Temple Quarter and the Arcane Quarter is much less controversial: when you stop being hounded by priests looking for donations and start being attacked by flame-breathing demon-poultry from the seventeenth layer of the third dimension, you’re in the Arcane Quarter.

The main feature of the Temple Quarter is the Godswalk, a circular, well-paved avenue surrounded by all the main temples in the city.  The Godswalk is a truly massive place, and is constantly packed with all manner of creatures: humans make up the majority, of course, but elves and dwarves have a large presence as well.  Underfoot come to pay tribute to either Helena or Omora Agabai, depending on their attitudes.  Minotaurs come for the weekly contests held in the temple of Jurgan, and even the Enlightened Njorlghar under Lady Dawneye make semi-regular appearances to venerate either Rudolphus or Plaggan.  Seeing other races on the Godswalk is relatively rare, as most Rhokari venerate their own, non-Archan pantheon of gods, and Satyrs are just not the types to be walking around Wyrmspire.

In the center of the Godswalk is the massive Helenél Laran, a hundred-foot tall statue of Helena, the goddess of Love, Kindness, and Trickery.  Helena is often considered the patron goddess of Wyrmspire, and her temple is a massive edifice, constantly full of the sick requiring healing, the poor needing a place to stay, or underfoot that require her blessings for their next *cough* endeavors.

All the Archan gods are represented in some way in the Temple Quarter.  Most of the “good” (i.e., publicly acceptable) gods have large temples on the Godswalk, while others have smaller temples or shrines in various side-streets.  The largest temples of the Temple Quarter are devoted to Archus, Helena, Rudolphus, Jurgan, and White Aretha.  Smaller temples are devoted to Omora Agabai, Zaran, and Plaggan (though they are not small due to any public outcry, just due to lack of worshipers).  Smaller still temples devoted to Anator, Black Hundriss, and Elleida exist, mostly hidden in caverns below the ground to avoid the attention of angry mobs.

Many non-Archan pantheons are represented in the Temple Quarter as well, although they are disparaged by the leaders of the Archan temples, who fear loss of worshipers.  The most common non-Archan pantheon worshiped in Wyrmspire is that of the Rhokari, commonly revered by both the city-dwelling Rhokari and rebellious youths who see reverence of nature as a worthy path (read: hippies).  The gods of the Rhokari are as follows: the Hawk, the Watcher, who oversees every Rhokari in his passage through life; the Heron, the Fisher, who is the god of work, duty, and the common Rhokari; the Gull, the Traveler, who protects Rhokari far away from home and in unfamiliar lands; the Owl, the Listener, who watches over the wise and the knowledgeable; the Crow, the Scavenger, who plucks each Rhokari from his life when it ends and ushers him or her into the afterlife; and the Roc, the Father, who is lord of all.

Each of the Rhokari gods are worshiped by different Rhokari, as well as the occasional disenfranchised youth.  Most Rhokari of the city pay at least a little tribute to the Gull, and almost all of them venerate the Hawk as well.  Working Rhokari are likely to worship the Heron, while studious and scholarly Rhokari venerate the Owl.  Of course, this is all seen as poppycock by the worshipers of the Archan deities.  Indeed, the high priest of Archus has been heard using the word “bullshit” when referring to the Rhokari deities in a speech.

Though less commonly worshiped (and often regarded as a choice only for nutcases) the Church of the Elder Gods has been gaining some prominence recently.  The worshipers venerate the Elder Gods, the three sons of the Father God spoken of in the creation myth.  Ancient texts recently excavated from a collapsed and buried city name the three as Tantalus, Arguras, and Nath, with Tantalus being the only one remaining alive.  Tantalus is the god of the earth, Arguras the god of time, and Nath the god of life.  The Church of the Elder Gods has a rather morbid take on things, as two-thirds of the objects of their worship are technically dead.  This apparently does not stop them from giving out blessings, as the clerics of the Elder Gods are some of the most powerful in Wyrmspire.  The temples of the Archan deities do not regard the Church of the Elder Gods as much of a danger, as who the hell worships dead deities anyway?  Weirdos.

Other non-Archan deities are also worshiped, though far less.  Various cults dot the landscape, ranging from the strange snake-worshipers to those who have adopted moon-reverence from the Moon Dwarves of the north.  A few even worship the strange, monstrous gods of the lands far to the west.  These assorted oddities pose very little to the larger temples, however.

Also present in the Temple Quarter is the large Library of Wyrmspire, tended to by the exiled elf chronicler, Homostin.  The Library is a massive place, with a large public section and an even larger restricted section, full of forbidden books and various tomes of ancient lore.  An odd assortment of people may be found in the Library, ranging from scholars reading historic or scientific texts to Archan priests poring over the obscure manuscripts of ancient saints.

Important Residents of the Temple Quarter:

The High Priests of the Archan Deities are the most powerful and influential people in the Temple Quarter – indeed, some of the most influential in the entirety of Wyrmspire, considering that most politicians are heavily religious, even if only for show.  Also, many of the High Priests of the most prominent deities have positions on the Council.

Gadran Holkt is a dour-faced, serious man.  He is the High Priest of Archus, god of justice and righteousness.  Gadran is stocky and slightly shorter than average for a human man.  This, combined with his massive beard and everpresent hairiness, has led some to speculate that he has dwarf blood, something he wholeheartedly denies.  This is mostly because he’s a xenophobe.  He hates dwarves, elves, and all other manner of non-human races.  He sees Archus as the patron deity of humanity, and turned to his worship to combat the non-human immigrants.  Of course, he keeps this aspect of himself from everybody else, knowing it would be used against him in the political arena.  A recent surge in Archus-worshiping dwarves has caused him to take up casual alcoholism as a hobby.  Gandran is on the Council.

Phaercia Galantia is the high priestess of Helena.  As the patron deity of Wyrmspire, Helena has as many if not more worshipers as Archus, and Phaercia is very influential.  In her case, this is a good thing, as she’s the most benevolent woman you’re ever going to meet, ever.  She’s roughly forty years old, but still rather attractive, standing slightly shorter than most women and with dark brown hair.  She has made it her personal goal to obliterate both poverty and disease in Wyrmspire, something that’s going rather badly, as the residents of the Old Quarter are very likely to just mug her whenever she enters their territory.  Still, she’s enormously popular, as she has tremendous skill as a healer and has brought more than one impoverished child back from the brink of death.  She’s well loved by all the people of Wyrmspire, as well as her fellow religious figures (although Gandran holds her a small grudge for healing elves and dwarves and that kind of scum).  Some have speculated as to the possibility of her becoming a saint on her death.  Phaercia is on the Council.

Larius Brightmantle is the high priest of Rudolphus.  He is an elf, and venerates knowledge in all forms.  When he is not performing his duties in the temple, he can be seen at the Library of Wyrmspire, buried in some tome of history.  It is said that if neither Larius nor Homostin knows something, it cannot be known.  Larius spends much of his time conversing with the various scholars and wizards that make up the worshipers of Rudoplhus.  Recently, he has been hearing much about a strange, far-off land to the west, past the treacherous forest of Requiem, where strange monstrous men live and do constant battle with one another.  Larius sees it as his duty to reveal this land to the world, as he is, after all, the high priest of the god of knowledge.  He has been collaborating with the Explorer’s Society to bring this land to light.  Larius is on the Council.

Tarak dún Galvar is the high priest of Jurgan.  He is a minotaur.  He’s really, really big, and pretty scary, too.  His fur is dark brown, and he stands head and shoulders over every human he meets, and just head over all the minotaurs.  He’s a retired commander of the Imperial Minotaur Legions.  The only reason he’s retired is because his sword arm got chopped off in a battle against the Rebel Colonies.  He then became a full-time priest of the war god, and after a while got transfered to Wyrmspire to incite more worshiping.  He’s incredibly charismatic, although he has a disdain for black-furred minotaurs stemming from his long years fighting the Rebel Colonies.  Tarak is on the Council.

Bremma Bonedust is the high priestess of White Aretha.  She is a dwarf, and even shorter than normal by their standards.  Her hair is pure white, and kept in a severe bun at the back of her head.  She comes from a long line of dwarves worshiping White Aretha, although the Bonedust family is a relatively small one by Irongate standards.  Many people find conversations with her at least vaguely disturbing, as she has an odd fascination with death that seems to go a bit further than her station would require.  Other than this odd tendency, she’s really rather kind.  Except when she hears about people narrowly avoiding death – when that happens, she gets very, very angry about the supposed “thwarting of her goddess’s will” that just occurred.  She’s kind of creepy.

Zallus Tamrenot is the high priest of Omora Agabai.  He’s a bit of a weirdo, and could either be an elf of surprisingly short stature or an underfoot of surprisingly tall stature – it’s not clear.  He has blond hair and stunning blue eyes, constantly shining with a mischievous light.  He has a particular love for birds of all sorts, and as such the small temple of Omora Agabai is a bit of an aviary, flocking with birds of all sorts.  The effect is quite pleasant, if rather irksome to some of the wizards who come to pay tribute to the goddess of magic.  Often, such wizards are gifted the choice of one of said birds as a familiar.  The birds often turn out to be more intelligent than familiars would be otherwise, as they have the blessings of Omora.

Tangas Rathellis is the high priest of Zaran.  He was once an adventurer and a sailor, meandering around the Cloudsea enjoying himself and plundering whoever he felt like.  This came to an end when he captained a ship landing on an island far to the south that turned out to be the fortress of a powerful demonic lord.  The demon lord cursed him to vomit painfully whenever he was within sight of the Cloudsea.  This basically ruined his sailing career, so he retired and became a priest of Zaran.  He gets very little in the way of worshipers in Wyrmspire, something that he’s absolutely fine with, as it means they’re off exploring the Cloudsea – as they should be doing.

Jarg Njari Foulfang is the high priest of Plaggan.  He is a njorlghar, and as such it’s rather weird to have him as a priest.  The worshipers of Plaggan seem to accept it, however.  He has gray fur, turning to white in places with his advancing age.  He cuts an almost comical figure, in his well-tailored clothes with his reading glasses perched on the end of his snout.  He speaks of his god with greatest reverence, and is looking forward to meeting him when his life comes to an end.  It would seem this is going to be soon – Jarg has been targeted by several assassination attempts in the last several months, though no one knows quiet why.  Even so, he refuses to have any protection granted to him beyond his faithful pet bear.  Yes, he has a faithful pet bear.  Its name is Whiskers.

Urkl Etherlnas is the high priest of the Cult of Anator.  He’s also the high priest of the Cult of Black Hundriss and the Cult of Elleida, though he goes by the names Thas Dragaran and Garl Larkheim for those cults.  He is a singularly evil man, and no one knows what he looks like, as he’s constantly dressed in a form-obscuring black robe.  His end goal is to merge the three cults (known by him as the Unholy Triumvirate) into one super-cult, and with it actually merge his three gods into one.  He’s basically completely batshit insane.  Most of the upper management sections of all three cults know of this plan, and he’s currently the subject of three different attempts at overthrowing.  It’s going to happen soon.  He’s too unstable to stay in power.

Ahrta Guruness ith K’aran is the high shaman of the Roc, the chief god of the Rhokari pantheon.  As such, he oversees all Rhokari religion in Wymspire.  He’s a very quiet person, and has recently had several of his followers campaign for a position on the Council for him.  Of course, he hasn’t done any actual campaigning.  He spends his time in solemn meditation on the will of the Roc.  He has yet to receive any instructions, but that doesn’t phase him.  He knows that if he is not told to do anything, nothing is exactly what he should do, and he accepts this.

Higitan Kaht is the Bishop of Tantalus – the highest religious figure of the Church of the Elder Gods.  He is incredibly power-hungry, and currently campaigning for a Council seat.  He’s considered vaguely insane by everybody that doesn’t worship the elder gods and at least half the people that do.  He wears a hat made of catskin and his Fancy Bishop Staff is just a chunk of architecture that fell on his head one day.