Alaran History: Humans

(Note: This history has been disproved up to about 800 E.F. by a discovery of Thulin Thunderboot.  Everything else is still true.)

The Humans of the Civilized Lands have a history which, though not as long as the histories of their neighbors the elves, dwarves, and minotaurs, not as depressing as the history of the njorlghar, and not as heavily involved in hallucinogens as the history of the Satyrs (frickin’ satyrs… gettin’ high all the time), is, to put it lightly, action-packed.

~E.F. ? (Eptan Fael – literally, The Year of Emptiness.. it was named by fanatical Archus worshippers who were also emo poets) – Most of human history is not known. In fact, the origins of humanity are something constantly argued about by many prominent scholars. The religious fanatics say that humans were one of the races created by the young gods to fight their elders before the world exploding, and thus you will find humans on every continent. Homostin of Wyrmspire insists that the humans of the Civilized Lands migrated from the north, though he’s not sure what this means in terms of origins. Some scholars think that humans changed over time from a lower life form that, though human-like, was rather hairier, but they’ve been locked up, and quite frankly, they’re wrong.

~E.F. 3,800 – What is known of human history starts roughly five thousand years ago, with the human invention of bronze weapons. This new metal allowed the various roaming tribes to start killing various other roaming tribes, and the entirety of the Civilized Lands was plunged into violence. This ended with the coming of Ulëndras the Mighty, an incredibly powerful dragon. It is not known from whence Ulëndras came, but it is known that he was not any kind of dragon known upon current Alara – he was what is referred to in what records there are as a Royal Dragon, though no one knows what the hell that means.

Ulëndras took power over a tribe of humans, and the Civilized Lands soon fell to his followers, succumbing entirely to dragon-worship. Before this, human spirituality consisted of a vague druidic tradition… with trees and stuff. Ulëndras was worshiped both as god and king. It is important to note, here, that as we do not know what sort of dragon Ulëndras was, this may in fact have been closer to the truth than we suspect.

Ulëndras coaxed out of hiding the existing dragons. In those days, dragons were more likely to murder each other than not to, and the other dragons feared for their lives. But Ulëndras did not murder them – in fact, he incorporated them into his rule. With Ulëndras as god-king and the dragons as his enforcers, the empire of Drak’an was forged… the most enduring empire in human history. It is not known where the capital city was, but scholars think that it was on Coronation Isle, the small speck of land in the middle of Crown Lake. It is thought that Crown Lake was lower thousands of years ago, and the city dwarfed even current-day Wyrmspire.

~E.F. 1,300 – At this point, Drak’an has persisted for twenty-five hundred years, and is the most consistent power in the Civilized Lands. However, it has been waning for the past several hundred years… and the people think they know why. Ulëndras, great and powerful god-king of dragons, is growing old. Dragons take an immense amount of time to age, but Ulëndras was not young when he founded Drak’an – and he has certainly not gotten any younger. Scholars estimate that Ulëndras may have been ten thousand years old at this point, though it’s all an unknown, as they still don’t know what the Royal Dragon aging process is like.

The younger dragons under Ulëndras’ power wage war against him. Helped with the dwarven advent of iron weapons, the people join. The Brood of Ulëndras is hard-pressed to defeat their rebelling subjects.

At the height of the war, when Ulëndras’ mighty palace was surrounded by raging dragons and mobs of humans, Ulëndras is killed – by his own son, Dräsilith, who puts down the rebellion with a firm stare and takes control of Drak’an. As dragons are wont to do, Dräsilith kills any dragon older than him or near his age, leaving only those far weaker than him and not of any danger to his rule – the rule of the Brood of Dräsilith (dragons are notoriously vain, and name their families after the current patriarch – history is not given much thought when you can live for three thousand years)

~E.F. 600 – The War of the Twin Spears occurs, which is basically humanity bashing the shit out of the elves, who momentarily ally to fend off the humans. It is one of the bloodiest wars in the history of either race, and what’s worse is that no one can really figure out who started it. If you dig deep enough, you can still find the mass graves that resulted from some of the battles…

E.F. 188 – Dräsilith has turned out to be a far inferior ruler to his father, and though he managed to hold his power for a millennium, he can hold it no more. After summarily executing every last member of his Brood out of paranoia, he is set upon by an alliance of lesser dragons and killed. The last of the Royal Dragons, of the line of god-king Ulëndras, is dead. Drak’an follows. The empire of three and a half millenia falls, turning into a series of states, controlled by a variety of powerful dragons – the Brood of Kharr, the Brood of A’ka, the Brood of Alagaaz, etcetera.

E.F. 42 – Ships arrive from across the Cloudsea, from the land of Luinthras. These ships land in an area controlled by the Brood of Kaa’th, a group at the time too weak to do anything about them. They bring with them messages of peace, messages of a world without dragonkings… messages of a new god. Archus and his pantheon have arrived in the Civilized Lands. The dragonkings are too busy warring amongst themselves to notice, something dragons have been beating themselves over the head about ever since.

E.F. 35 – A boy by the name of Japhasath is born in the region of Ka’ath. The visiting high priest of Archus, who sailed across the Cloudsea on the whim of a dream, declares him the prophet of Archus, the future of the lands. A gathering of Archanites begins to collect around the boy. At this point the dragons should really start noticing stuff, but they’re kind of stupid mega-large lizard things.

E.F. 23 – On the day of Japhasath’s twelfth birthday, Dragonking Ka’ath takes an interest and decides to incinerate the troublesome boy along with his hometown. On seeing him, Japhasath raises his staff to the sky and Ka’ath is struck down by the will of Archus. This begins a rebellion entered into by all of the rather large following of Archus. The dragonkings finally notice.

E.F. 15 – Dragonking Alagaaz, the most powerful of all the kings, disappears completely. Without his protection, his lands, mostly territory in the Dragonmaw Range, quickly fall to the warring Archanites. The Archanites sweep the land, murdering every living thing they come across – human, dwarf, dragon; man, woman, child – it makes no difference, as they see their still living under Algaaz’s wing as evidence of their refusal of Archus. This massacre is known as the Dance of Dying Embers, and is considered the worst thing the Archanites have done in recorded history.

E.F. 4 – An eleven year stalemate is broken when Japhasath marches upon the palace of Dragonking Kharr. He walks right past his guards, into his thrown room, holds out his staff, and commands the king to die. The massive black dragon promptly obeys. His palace falls in a rain of fire, and the corpse of the last remaining dragonking is incinerated.

0 – The Church of Archus, having sent several representatives from Luinthras, founds the Archan Empire, declaring the worship of any Archan god the only acceptable form of religion. Japhasath is offered the crown, but declines. A puppet king is installed by the church.

A.F. (Archan Fael – literally, The Year of Archus) 52 – Japhasath has wandered the land much over the past decades. It is thought that in this time he brought the worship of Archus to the dwarves, the worship of Rudolphus and Omora Agabai to the elves, and generally went around being a nice guy. Japhasath is last seen going into the far reaches of the Dragonmaw Range. When some dwarven priests go to find him, all they find is his staff… resting between a mountain that has been cloven perfectly in two. This mountain is named the Cleft Spire, and is still the most holy site of Archus in all the Civilized Lands.

A.F. 55 – The Church of Archus and all their lackeys receive a message from across the Cloudsea. Immediately, they pack up and leave, promising to return within the decade. They do not keep the promise.

A.F. 60 – The Archan Empire crumbles without the support of the Luinthrans, dissolving into a series of city-states.

~A.F. 75 – A small city in the northern regions of the Civilized Lands turns to the practice of necromancy, naming themselves Túgel Vas, the City of Bones.

A.F. 202 – It has been a century and a half since the departure of the Luinthrans, and the humans have spent most of that time killing each other. Three city-states have emerged ahead of the rest, named Túgel Vas, Dúnel Vas, and Argan Vas – the City of Bones, the City of Kings, and the City of Swords. Dúnel Vas and Argan Vas enter into an alliance. Their combined armies sweep the lands of those stupid enough to resist. Túgel Vas fades into the background, knowing it cannot stand against the twin cities. The eldest children of the two ruling houses are married, and form the newly born House of Niara. Emperor Ethélgar the Great takes the throne of the newly created Niaran Empire.

~A.F. 290 – The First Crusade occurs. The forces of Niara march upon Túgel Vas, determined to destroy its blasphemous presence, which they’ve only recently remembered. It is thought that around this time Zarathas, the first Asilin, was created in an attempt to counter the empire. Something countered it, for after a few years of war, the armies of the empire beat a hasty retreat and resolve never to mention the situation again. Prominent geomancers have dated the start of the degeneration of the Wastes to around this time, so it is thought that some great, land-corrupting spell fended off Niara.

A.F. 307 – The Niaran Empire has become the foremost power of the land, allying with both the elves of the west and the dwarves of Ironforge. In what is considered one of the most hilariously ironic incidents in history, Emperor Edhert the Paranoid is killed by assassins. With his heirs killed in the same night, the House of Riverwish takes control of the empire, though they keep the name Niaran Empire, if only because “Riverwishian Empire” sounds rather lame. Emperor Ashbald the Ruthless takes the throne.

A.F. 352 – Emperor Ashfar the Oblivious is slain by invading minotaurs, beginning a rather embarrassing period in the history of Niara: its period under foreign rule. Emperor Gathak dún Gadh of the House of Karkan takes the throne.

A.F. 370 – After a short and useless rule, Emperor Nuthel dún Gathak is dethroned, stabbed, hung, poisoned, drawn and quartered, burnt, and thrown in pig doings by an irate populace. The House of Atralang comes into rule, beginning the most prosperous period of the Empire of Niara. Emperor Jakben the Red takes the throne.

~A.F. 380 – The Second Crusade occurs. The House of Atralang decides that those damn minotaurs need to be taught a damn lesson in damn manners. So they invade, kill the sitting emperor, and spread the word of Archus. The minotaurs are just fine with Archus, but especially take to the worship of his son, Jurgan, and his friend, Zaran. Ironically, the minotaurs become staunch allies of the empire after this.

A.F. 454 – The Third Crusade, also known as the Forgotten Crusade or A Bad Idea, occurs. Emperor Jakthorn the Blue decides that it’s high time to check up on those damn necromancers again. The armies of Atralang invade, find a scarred land full of about seventeen different factions of warring undead fiends and one faction of beleaguered humans, decide that Túgel Vas has enough problems without them, turn around, and march right back to the Civilized Lands. Jakthorn dies a year later of dysentery.

A.F. 517- Emperor Jakhart the Yellow dies of plague. With no heirs ready to take the throne (his only daughter doesn’t count as an heir, ’cause she’s a chick) the War of Ascension breaks out.

A.F. 522 – The War of Ascension is won. Emperor Larazan the Conqueror takes the throne, marrying Jakhart’s daughter to lend legitimacy to a claim originally enforced with sharp objects. The House of Dargonne now has the throne.

~A.F. 560 – The Fourth Crusade occurs. Emperor Ethélgar Moonbane, upon hearing of the heathen, moon-worshiping, moon-addicted, Moon Dwarves to the north, decides to invade. This goes rather well, and they completely decimate an entirely stable society that has been running fine for thousands of years. Unfortunately, Ethélgar’s two eldest sons, Arug the Princely and Zagan Deathwish, both die in combat, leaving Darius the Mad as the only heir.

A.F. 598 – The people of Argan Vas rebel, assassinating the potentate installed by Emperor Darius and declaring war on their sister city, Dúnel Vas, beginning the First Imperial War. Darius goes completely batshit, declaring war on both the elves and the dwarves for “not helping enough”.

A.F. 602 – Darius is killed by his eldest son, Benedict. Benedict quickly asks for peace with Argan Vas, renames Dúnel Vas Wyrmspire, and declares himself King Benedict I. This is the end of the Niaran Empire, and the beginning of the current period of history.

A.F. 652 – The Alliance is formed, an agreement between the elves, the dwarves, the minotaurs, and the humans of Wyrmspire to not kill each other and maybe occasionally help each other out. Benedict I, the Wise, promptly dies after seeing this through, as he is at this point really friggin’ old.

~A.F. 660 – The Second Imperial War occurs, taking the life of Benedict II, the Avenger. His brother, Carith I, takes the throne.

~A.F. 685 – The Third Imperial War. Through a series of stupidities, Carith II, the Fool, is slain in battle. His brother, Gandin I, the Brave, takes the throne.

A.F. 722 – Gandin II dies with no heirs. The War of Succession, basically a bitch-fight between various second and third cousins, begins.

A.F. 725 – Carith III, the Eye, grandson of Carith II, takes the throne decisively. During this time, he forms an alliance with the Order of the Red Magi. Carith III is often thought to be the most dubiously mage-like of all the kings. Most noble people don’t really truck with mages.

~A.F. 770 – The Fourth Imperial War occurs. Benedict III, the Hammer, is slain in the final battle, leaving his son, Carith V, to take over.

A.F. 798 – Carith V and his son, soon to be Gandin III, are both assassinated in the same night. The young adventurer Benedict IV takes the throne.

A.F. 823 – Present day. Despite many efforts by people on both sides to start the Fifth Imperial War, Benedict IV has thus far prevented it. This is generally considered a good thing. Benedict has three children, named Adrian, Randolph, and Keara. As the eldest two are gigantic twats, it’s generally hoped that Keara take the throne, despite the fact that she is sixteen and refuses to be seen anywhere near the palace.

Fuck You, WordPress

Yeah, you’d have a new post tonight, but wordpress timed out and lost half my fucking work. I can’t redo it before sunday, so… fuck you, wordpress.

Fucking Finally

Okay, I’m bloody well done with Wyrmspire.  Phew.  That took, what… six months?  Remind me to detail my next city in less… detail.

The next things I’m going to do are available on the Alara page – the ones that aren’t links are articles that haven’t been written yet.  Methinks I’m going to do some history, then the Explorer’s Society and the Thieves’ Guild, then dragons.  Then maybe some more cities – though in less detail.  Far, far less detail.

Peace out.


Wyrmspire: The Undercity

Beneath the entirety of Wyrmspire lies an entirely separate and altogether more sinister entity: the Undercity. It’s called many things, the Tunnels, the Darkness Below, “that place we don’t want to talk about”, and, among its inhabitants, “Dak’ren”, a nickname that originated in the name of a Njorlghar colony that existed below Wyrmspire before the Undercity was formed.

“Before the Undercity was formed” is an interesting qualifier. There have always existed caves beneath Wyrmspire; the city of Dúren Vas was built over limestone, full of caves. For most of its history, these caves have contained Njorlghar colonies. It’s not known whether Dúren Vas was built over an already large Njorlghar colony or whether the colony grew due to the plenty of the city built over it.

The caves remained for centuries. At some point, near the high point of the empire, while under the House of Atralang, sewer systems were built under it. Only some of these are still in use today (the people of Wyrmspire often prefer dumping their waste in the street), while the rest have been abandoned. All of them are part of the Undercity.

The final parts of the Undercity are the tunnels made specifically for inclusion in the Undercity. After the rise of the Thieves’ Guild, soon after the fall of the empire, the tunnels and caverns were expanded to accommodate their less than legal activities. Since then, the Undercity has been expanded time and time again, and now is larger, in terms of population, than many small cities across the Civilized Lands.

The population of the Undercity is incredibly varied, though it is skewed towards to factions: humans of or under the protection of the Thieves’ Guild, and Njorlghar. Other than that, there are scatterings of every other race of the Civilized Lands, including the occasional Satyr or very, very confused Amen-Kathar.

The humans of the Undercity are mostly confined to the area directly below the Old Quarter. There are entire cities in the dark below, most of them spillover from the Old Quarter: the families of thieves whose talents make them targets of the city’s elites, for example. Thus, they hide their loved ones away in the below, and no one ever finds them. It’s why the Old Quarter seems to contain more people than could rationally have houses there: many of them have their homes in the Undercity.

The Undercity is home to three major cities of humans, though “cities” is a bit of an odd term for the piles of ramshackle houses that collect on the banks of the rivers of waste. These cities are Agron’s Hideaway, Krakk’an, and Tooth. Agron’s Hideaway is the largest, and sprung up on the sight of a famous hiding place of a famous thief. Krakk’an is an old Njorlghar colony, abandoned during some long-ago purging of the Undercity, and reinhabited by thieves, who are nothing if not willing to improvise. Tooth is the smallest of the three, only a town, really. No one has any idea why it’s called Tooth. Most people think it probably has something to do with teeth, but it’s all up in the air.

The Njorlghar of the Undercity are many and varied, but they’ve already been gone over in the Njorlghar post, so go look at that, you wastrels you.

Of course, there’s something special under every Wyrmspire quarter. Under the Merchant Quarter is a chain of caves and tunnels often used by smugglers. Under the Dwarven Quarter, there’s just a spillover of the random mountain clan battles. There’s a group of rogue wizards beneath the Arcane Quarter, a colony of vampires beneath the Temple Quarter, an underground gladiatorial arena beneath the Noble Quarter, and a cult trying to summon an insane god beneath the palace. All in all, the area beneath the Old Quarter is, ironically enough, one of the safest places in the Undercity you could be.

Below the Arcane Quarter lies the territory of the Order of the Gold Magi. If you remember, the above region is home to five orders of magi, the Red, Blue, White, Grey, and Black. These are the five largest and most important orders, but there are a bunch of small useless ones. The Gold Magi are the largest and usefulest of these small and useless groups. They are fanatical religious zealots, who use their power to convince people to worship Archus. They aren’t often very nice about it. Unfortunately for them, their blinding worship of Archus means that they have no time to worship Omora Agabai, so they find their spells occasionally randomly fizzling at an inopportune moment.

Beneath the Temple Quarter is the city’s largest coven of vampires. Of course, since they’re vampires, they need a lot of space, so they basically have massive underground mansions full of ritzy things. Occasionally they come together and discuss how much things have gone to pot in Wyrmspire lately, and plot their takeover of the surface world. This doesn’t amount to much, as often they get caught up discussing the Lady Karvata Nogolotta’s darling doilies.

Under the Noble Quarter is the famed Arena of Blood, which is seriously the most creative name the proprietor could think up. It’s probably the most commonly traversed area of the Undercity, and there’s a crapload of people that come to it every day. The attractions range from two gladiators going head-to-head, to one gladiator against some kind of wild beast, to two wild beasts against each other, to just letting a bunch of random shit out in the arena and watching the carnage. The Arena of Blood has cultivated a few “champions” over the years, only one of which is humanoid. The rest are an assortment of vile monsters, including one incredibly pissed swamp dragon.

Of course, the most vile place in the entirety of the Undercity is the area beneath the Palace. There is a large community of cultists – an entire city of them, really. They worship a demon lord known as Khaaz… a demon lord who desires the power of a god. They’ve been researching a ritual capable of elevating him to godship, and plan on performing it soon. This would require the sacrifice of every one of their number, but their leaders conveniently left that part out when they described the ritual to their minions.

Important Residents of the Undercity:

Salkiss is the leader of the Thieves’ Guild, and often referred to as the Undermayor by the people below. The Thieves’ Guild has always had a very active role in the control of the Undercity, as they’re basically all it has as a governing body (though they avoid the territories of the vampires and the cult of Khaaz). Recent Thieves’ Guild leaders have done such things as establishing lines of torches to connect the various towns of the Undercity. Salkiss himself has actually constructed a paved rode between Agron’s Hideaway and Krakk’an, the Undercity’s two largest villages, even building a bridge over a large area of sewage-rapids that previously had to be traveled around at great length.

Salkiss is arguably the only person that can travel the Undercity unmolested. He’s often recognized by the dark green cloak and leather armor he wear, which makes you wonder if half the people you see in green cloaks and armor are actually Salkiss or just impostors taking advantage of the “don’t fuck with the only guy who cares about us” clause. There’s a chance that the entire ruling council of the Thieves’ Guild goes around in green, just to fuck with everyone’s head. The point is, wearing green is good for your health in the Undercity.

Hith the Carver is the proprietor of the Arena of Blood. Hith has been in power even since the Arena’s founding, and many wonder if it’s not an inherited title. Hith is a massive man, fat, smelly, and hairy, with long black hair falling in greasy bunches and a perpetual scruffiness about him. He often smokes a foul-smelling cigar, and indeed he’s generally the foulest person you could hope to run into in the Undercity, and not only because there’s a large chance he’ll take you captive and use you as a gladiator.

Hith spends his time wandering the less-traveled areas of the Undercity with four “associates”, attacking anything that looks like it can be overcome. This may be entire groups of marauding Njorlghar – as such, there’s a lot of Njorlghar gladiators under Kith’s control. The most famous of these is Ripper, a large black Njorlghar originally of the Bloodfang clan. Ripper is the most fearsome gladiator among Hith’s troops, and many a beast has lost its life to Ripper’s twin shortswords. Ripper goes into battle clothed only in a loincloth and cloak.

Jareg the Mutt is the best merchant of the Undercity. Given enough time, he can acquire anything. He’s known as “the Mutt” because of his parentage. To be honest, he’s not sure of it, having grown up an orphan in Agron’s Hideaway, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s got some interesting shit going on there. His slightly pointed ears indicate elven ancestry, but he’s slightly shorter than average for a human, and has both the large nose of a dwarf and the slightly thinner form of an Underfoot. Of course, he’s got a lot of hair all over his body, and slight stubs of horns beneath his mane of brown-blond hair. He commonly hits on any Rhokari or Njorlghar females that come anywhere near him, in an effort to spawn even stranger children.

Jareg is the go-to merchant for the entirety of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s got a large stock of poisons, maps of the Undercity, blueprints to most mansions of the Noble Quarter, and fake keys to at least half of the temples in the city. He runs a shop on the outskirts of Agron’s Hideaway, which is almost always bustling with thieves planning their newest excursion and buying accordingly. Jareg should by all means be rich by know, but his money seems to disappear as soon as he gets it. No one knows what or who he spends it on.

Charon is the ferryman. If you want to get around the canals of the Undercity, you simply call for him. Charon has been around longer than anyone can remember. He’s certainly very old at this time, hunched with age, and with long white hair that looks brown due to the layers of dirt that have accumulated over the years. Often, he can be seen propelling his raft around the Undercity, using a long wooden pole to move about. When he passes, he often sings an unknown song under his breath. Its tune has become stuck in many an Undercity pedestrian’s head over the years – though no one knows its origins.

There are bells atop poles stationed every so often along the Undercity’s canals – simply ring one of these bells and Charon will be along shortly. Give him something, anything (a small coin will do, though he also accepts trinkets and any manner of interesting object) and he’ll ferry you to where you want to go. No one messes with Charon, as everyone is in need of his services eventually. No one knows where he sleeps, either, or even if he sleeps. He seems to always be there. No one’s even confident that he’s sighted, as he never looks any customers directly in the eyes. He may well be entirely blind, and find his way around the Undercity by memory.

Meeting people on Charon’s raft is rather… odd, to say the least. Often, he’ll pick up several passengers at a time. At times like these, there’s a code of silence, as people who say things like “so, where you off to, then?” are liable to get shanked. Charon stays out of these conflicts. It’s generally considered intelligent to simply forget any face you see on the ferry, lest the watch come calling. Though the Watch’s presence in the Undercity is… negligible, at best. The only groups that never really takes advantage of Charon’s service are the various Njorlghar clans, who distrust him, and would honestly rather swim through the slime and muck that makes up the Undercity’s canals.

Wyrmspire: The Old Quarter

Your mother’s a walrus.

The Old Quarter is many things. It’s the oldest of the quarters, and thus the most ancient part of Wyrmspire. It’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy. And it’s a major headache to anyone with the opinion that things should be nicer these days.

Put simply, the Old Quarter is a shithole. It’s massively overpopulated, and as such has a standard of living roughly on par with that expected of chimpanzees. Only chimpanzees don’t have to worry about catching the plague every day. To say theft is rampant would be a massive understatement. Theft is expected. If you walk down the street, in the middle of the day, and don’t get pulled into an alley and mugged, pickpocketed, scammed, or just beaten over the head and all your possessions taken, then something really weird is going on.

Of course, there’s a City Watch in the Old Quarter. It’s just… not very effective. Mostly because of the Thieves’ Guild. And the Assassins’ Guild. And the recently founded Arsonists’ Guild, which doesn’t have a permanent guild headquarters yet because it needs something that won’t burn down. Amazingly, however, the City Watch in the Old Quarter has remained relatively uncorrupt. Which means that every day, the prisons of the watch overflow with incumbents. And every night the Arsonists’ Guild blows up the temporary wall that the watch put up to replace last night’s explosion. This could be stopped by posting guards around the wall, but… well, then they bring in the Assassins. It kind of sucks when the three most violent guilds in the quarter are all on friendly terms, and not with you.

The Old Quarter is a hodgepodge. The Merchant Quarter is drawn together by money, which is everpresent, but the Old Quarter is drawn together by lack of money, which, it turns out, is even more everpresent. So, everyone lives in the Old Quarter. The majority of the population are humans, of course, but their are also unscrupulous dwarves, underfoot of any kind, rhokari, who don’t often have money, minotaurs, who just like to hit things, and several small groups of enlightened njorlghar. And elves. Oh, elves.

There’s a crapload of elves in the Old Quarter. When Asernaiar fell, one of three things happened to the elves living in the city: first, an awful lot of them died. Sucks. A large minority of them spread out into the surrounding countryside, where they became the Phoenix Guard. But the largest chunk just ran the hell away, and became refuges. And where did these refugees go, pray? Well, they could go to Elenaiar… but those northern elves have always been a bit snooty (it is the opinion of elves everywhere that any elves who aren’t them are “a bit snooty”). They could go to Ironforge… heh, no. Below has too many dwarves, and too much technology. Tartaras was ruled out because if there’s one thing elves trust less than dwarves, it’s minotaurs. So that left… Wyrmspire.

Not all elves went to Wyrmspire. Sizable chunks established entirely elven cities, just kind of sitting in the middle of human lands. A lot went to Elenaiar, despite the aformentioned snootiness. A few even went to Below, and got jobs working the wind-machines. There’s always work to go around in Below. But a large amount went to Wyrmspire… where there wasn’t really room for them. So they settled in in the Old Quarter. They are among the most scrupled of the Old Quarter’s residents, they often go to the temple quarter to pray and most of them have legitimate jobs. But it’s only a matter of time before the whole atmosphere gets to them.

The Old Quarter is the best place ever if you want not to be noticed. There are innumerable bars in which you can mingle and disappear, with names like the Drunken Cat, the Burning Noose, and the Helena’s Tits (that one’s a bit less reputable than even the non-reputable ones). All of these bars serve alcohol that can totally and completely pickle you in one gulp. Basically, if you’re a heavy drinker who does not want to be looked directly at ever, it’s the place for you. No wonder it’s so overpopulated.

And there are some bars that you don’t want to be near if you’re the wrong kind of person. These bars are the Nagle’s Fortune, the Black Adder, and the Flammable Tavern. In order, these bars house the secret doors that lead to the entrance of the Thieves’ Guild, the Assassins’ Guild, and the Arsonists’ Guild. They all coincide very nicely with the atmosphere of their respective guilds.

The Nagle’s Fortune (a Nagle is considered to be a small, furry creature that grants good luck if it sees you take a piss… the Old Quarter has some weird superstitions) is a very roudy, rambunctious place, full of gambling and people good-naturedly trying to rob one another (it’s considered kind of a game among thieves. if someone can rob you without you noticing, they get to keep whatever they got at the end of the night. they’re very sporting about it.) If you want to get into the actual guild area, you just ask Gorlunk, the large barman who looks perfectly human except for one fang sprouting out of his lower lip and quite a hairy body. He takes you into the back, through a door that looks amazingly like a wall at first glance, and then, if you don’t produce some guild ID, proceeds to beat the everliving crap out of you. It’s amazing how much of a beating a half-werewolf can give out.

The Black Adder, on the other hand, is a dour place. Grim-faced men sit around, playing cards and smoking. Gambling is often partaken in, but anyone caught cheating is… dealt with. The menu on the wall isn’t a menu of food, as such: it’s a menu of lives. It gives standard guild rates depending on any complications the mark might have, such as bodyguards, a background in martial arts, or the blessing of one or more god. At the top are some of the more commonly demanded targets: Salkiss, 100,000 Draketalons. Duke Narax, 80,000. Lady Dawneye, 75,000. There are a lot of them, but the fact that they’re even on the list means that it’s probably a bad idea to try to kill them, as the assassins have failed before. Those wishing to get into the guild hall need only walk toward the fireplace in the back of the room, making sure to press an innocuous stone on the wall as they walk. A loud creaking noise later, and you’re in the guild hall. Which is an even scarier place than the rest of the Black Adder. Good luck.

The Flammable Tavern is generally considered a joke. It’s supposed to be the location of the Arsonists’ Guild’s headquarters, but they haven’t gotten enough money to build an underground headquarters comprised entirely of stone yet. So they just use it as a meeting place for their highest command, an assortment of pyromaniacs who are, together, about one sane man. However, they somehow get kept in control except when someone is paying them to burn something down. No one really knows how. Other than that, the Flammable Tavern is a really nice place, full of joking and laughing. They also serve the most exquisite roast boar. Though it’s not advisable to order it rare. They get offended.

Of course, other than this, there’s a lot of normal citizens in the Old Quarter too. But most of them are in some way loyal to the Thieves’ Guild. Most commerce centers around the docks in the Old Quarter, as the River Alagaaz is one of the widest in the world, and also happens to lead directly to Below. So shipping is a rather prominent industry. At some places, almost half of the river is covered in docks and warehouses. Which has led to people taxing boats coming through these areas. Sigh. Humans.

Important Residents of the Old Quarter:

Salkiss is the leader of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s a very enigmatic figure, though he’s generally considered human. Or maybe elven. Half-elven? Who knows. What everyone does know is that he’s the most skilled thief in the city, and without a doubt the most powerful man in the Old Quarter. Also, everyone knows he’s male. For some reason. He’s referred to as a he, at least.

Salkiss leads the inner council of thieves, a group about as mysterious as him. It’s known that there’s a female elven illusionist, and a muscled minotaur, and probably a few more humans, but again, it’s unclear. Salkiss has led the Thieves’ Guild for thirteen years, after his takeover from the previous guild leader, Aarot. Apparently the leaders of the Thieves’ Guild all have enigmatic, two-syllable names. And they all take over in violent coups. Since only a leader’s underlings know who he is, this means that every time the Thieves’ Guild has changed leadership since its founding it has been an internal struggle. Which is… kind of scary, when it gets down to it. Damn.

Kargan Reaper is the current leader of the Assassins’ Guild. It’s likely that his name is a pseudonym too. Damn thieves. Always being all mysterious.

The Assassins’ Guild is an offshoot of the Thieves’ Guild that sprung up about fifty years ago. Its original purpose was to usurp the Thieves’ Guild as the power over the Old Quarter, but it eventually was relegated to an underling of the Thieves’ Guild. Of course, the Assassins’ Guild still operates relatively autonomously. Essentially, they’re friendly with the Thieves’ Guild, but not necessarily under its command.

The Assassins’ Guild at least does some things much smarter than the Thieves’ Guild does. For example, its upper echelon always wears pure black, identical costumes at every meeting, and when they return home, they’ll cross paths multiple times to elude stalkers. And they have decoys at the meeting, too. The commanding force of the Assassins’ Guild consists of about seven people, but its meetings consist of roughly forty, with each one voicing its opinion equally to throw off, hehe… assassins. Thus, government of the guild has been kept within a relative few. The last three guild leaders, in reverse order, have been Kargan Reaper, Kargan Deathfist, and Kargan Blackadder. Reaper claims to be the grandson of Blackadder, though no one knows the truth of this, and it’s entirely unconfirmable. The Assassins’ Guild runs an unbelievably tight program.

Rath Flamebreaker is the essential leader of the Arsonists’ Guild. There isn’t one for real, but he’d be it if there was one. He’s the smarts of the upper council. All the other members have names like Druul the Insane, Gathak Innocentburner, and Seville, He Who Sets Fire To Those Who Disagree With Him And Also Have A Bad Fashion Sense. Rath keeps all these crazies in check. He has flame-red hair, which is short and spiky, and green eyes. His ears are scarred and scabbed, with the tops cut off. Thus, it’s not known if he’s an elf or simply a very skinny human. It’s honestly unclear.

Commander Ag Vat is the leader of the city watch in the Old Quarter. He’s about forty and very, very sick of constantly being harassed by thieves, having his headquarters firebombed, and being subject to random assassination attempts. He is attempting to reform the city watch into something of an army, capable of taking on the… everybody. This isn’t going well, as most of the guards in the Old Quarter have lost hope. But still, the prisons are constantly being filled. And then everyone escapes, but… hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Skeleton Key is a very odd elf. He’s very old, and he’s the best lockpicker that ever was, if you believe him. Of course, it’s very easy to believe him. He’s very, very good. Which is odd, because he’s blind. He’s got white hair, pale white skin, and white eyes. He can usually be found sitting alone, sipping a liquor and tinkering with his latest invention, in the back of the Nagle’s Fortune.

Skeleton Key was once a young rogue, just like everyone else in the Old Quarter. Of course, ‘once’ could be a few hundred years ago for him, he is old. He took especially to lockpicking, and decided that, since he wasn’t especially good at sneaking around or liberating objects silently from people’s rooms, he’d just make his living lockpicking. Pay him some money, get him to the lock, and you’ve got yourself an open door. Or chest. Or chastity belt.

Anyway, that was a while ago. Now, he’s able to open any lock in the city, no problem. So he operates on an inverse pay scale. To open easy locks, which are a waste of his time, you have to pay him a lot. The harder the lock, the more it interests him, and the less you have to pay. He’s said that if anyone finds him an unopenable lock, he will pay them for the pleasure, and then commit ritual suicide, as his life has been completed. Until then, he spends his time trying to invent better locks. Ironically enough, he’s probably going to end up making life a lot harder for lockpickers – some of his inventions are bloody brilliant, to say the least. Of course, a lot of them are just weird, such as the sand-powered time-lock, or the demon lock, which operates entirely based on demons. He actually gets very little business these days in terms of people asking him to pick locks, as any lock someone wants picked is far too easy for him, so he charges too much. He makes most of his money by training young rogues or selling his inventions to paranoid noblemen.