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.

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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.

Wyrmspire: The Merchant Quarter

Yeah, so’s your mother.

Anyway.  Onto the merchant quarter.

The keyword for the merchant quarter is diversity.  The merchant quarter, moreso than any of the other quarters, revolves around money.  (the noble quarter revolves around poshness, the temple quarter around piety, the arcane quarter around intelligence, the dwarven quarter around basic street wits, and the old quarter around lack of money).  And money is a pretty damn universal language.  So, you can find basically every race, with the notable exception of the Amen-Kathar, wandering around the merchant quarter selling things, buying things, stealing things, or just people-watching.

The merchant quarter is fucking crazy. If you know where to look, you can find anything in the merchant quarter.  Recently, the city watch was involved in a busting a dragon-smuggling ring.  Not dragon eggs, or wyrmlings, or drakes.  Full grown fucking dragons.  Being smuggled in rough-hewn wooden boxes.  Yeah, we’re not sure what the people that thought that up were smoking.

It was, however, probably Varith (check that transition motherfuckers).  Varith, the powerful hallucinogenic herb alternately said to be harvested on tropical islands far to the east, an innocent-looking herb that just grows in people’s gardens, or something the fucking wizards made up, is arguably even more popular here than in the noble quarter.  That’s because, when it gets down to it, there are not that many people in the noble quarter.   There are a fucking lot of people in the merchant quarter.  And the more people, the more potential Varith addicts.

Of course, all legitimate business in the merchant quarter is controlled by the merchant’s guild.  This guild is basically one giant mountain of red tape, with many, many levels of regulations for what can and cannot be sold by whom, when, where, and while wearing which color dress (fish + red = no, apparently).  Most of these regulations are summarily ignored  by everyone, because the merchant quarter is fucking huge, and there’s no way to honestly control everything.  Health ordinances are usually paid attention to, though, because people appear to actually care about things like that.  Go figure.

The city watch has a very active role in the control of the merchant quarter – moreso than any of the other quarters (the old quarter doesn’t technically count as them ‘controlling’ it).  They enforce laws on controlled substances, and whack the people that don’t listen to them with sticks.  Big sticks.

The merchant quarter is, of course, home to the vast majority of the middle class in Wyrmspire, as most of them are, well… merchants.  They sell shit.  Blacksmiths, tailors, and bakers are all forms of merchants in my opinion, of course.  Long as they sell their own shit.  Which they do.  The people of Wyrmspire are very open to things like that.  So you can wander into a blacksmith’s shop and they’ll be all like ‘o hai wat wuld u liek gud sir’ because obviously they’re uneducated.  I mean… they’re blacksmithing.  Also tits.  It’s 12:55 AM and I think my brain just popped.  I shall attempt to finish this cohesively…

The youth of the merchant quarter have recently figured out a new and exciting way to disappoint their parents: through competition in a game called ‘Tak’.  Originally a minotaur invention, ‘Gartak gí Túl’ was a very complicated game involving several inflated sheep’s bladders, many hoops, complicated rules, incredible technique, and occasionally something being set on fire.  It was taken to the human lands, and their delinquent children simplified it to a point where there’s one ball, one hoop, barely any rules, and more brutality than technique.  Fortunately, there still remains the possibility that something gets incinerated.  Tak is played between rival neighborhood gangs, often in the middle of crowded merchant squares full of other people.   The basic goal is to pass the ball through the hoop to a teammate on the other side – bonus points for catching the other team’s hoop-pass, or for hoop-passing using only elbows or something silly like that.  Also you win if the entire other team is incapacitated.  I may do a whole post on Tak sometime in the future.

The merchant quarter is truly an amazing place, full of diversity and richly-dressed members of all races.  However, it’s a lot less interesting than many of the other quarters, and thus kind of hard to write about.  Which is why it took me two weeks to get off my ass and get it over with.  Fuckers.

Important Residents of the Merchant Quarter:

High Merchant Tadaran Knopwhick is the leader of all commerce-type-objects in the merchant quarter.  He is one of the most serious merchants in the merchant’s guild, leading to the utter hilarity of the fact that he is, in fact, short as all hell.  He’s an underfoot.  A really, really short underfoot.  So, when he dresses in his resplendent robes of sable and black (those of you that get the joke there get a cookie) he looks, to be honest, like a damned fool.

Tadaran is, however, a very dour figure.  He has crazy jowls and close-cropped silver hair.  He also has a bit of a beer-belly.  If you find yourself laughing at him, you will in all likelihood soon find that the joke is on you, as he will enact an ordinance entirely to fuck with you.  He once banned horns from existing on one’s body in public due to the fact that a minotaur pointed at him and cackled.  Of course, there are rumors that he had a crazy youth, full of Varith smoking and hot underfoot babes.  Most discount these rumors, as… seriously.  Just no.

Rumors also abound of him secretly being an incredibly kind person, and keeping up the serious facade as a front for some underground illegal charity thing he’s doing.  Of course, no one can figure out what the hell could be both nice and illegal enough for him to be that much of an ass to cover up for it.  It’s possible that he’s part of the Grey Dawn, but what could his position be such that he needs so much secrecy?

Commander Thestle is the commander of the city watch of the merchant quarter.  Presumably he has a first name, but he doesn’t really share it.  Y’know… ever.  Thestle is a man matching the dourness displayed in Tadaran Knopwhick.  He hates everything, a hate many think springs from a childhood encounter with a dragon.  Or maybe he’s just an ass.  It’s unknown.

‘course, if your line of work involved foiling smugglers every single fucking day for over thirty years, you’d end up being a bit bitter too.  Just last week he took down a dragon-smuggling ring, a slave ring, a small pocket of Varith smugglers, and one crazy man on a turtle that thought he was Black Hundriss.

Thestle is a medium-sized man with gray hair, slightly balding, and with bitter black eyes.  He gives you the impression of being a pig without actually being fat, which is quite an accomplishment.

Duke Narax is the face of the Shatva in Wyrmspire – of course, using the term ‘face’ to describe the head of a secret organization dedicated to selling hallucinogenic herbs is… interesting.  Narax is a minotaur, black-furred, with one horn broken off at the base.  He’s not really a duke, of course.  Nobody with his pedigree could get anywhere near any royalty, ever.  Narax is a mutt – a street urchin who rose to his position through sheer brute force and continues to enforce his power similarly.  He’s been known to cut off the thumbs of those that fail him.  Adding to this mystique is the fact that he’s missing his left thumb – the thought is that, perhaps, he once failed himself?  Who knows.  We certainly aren’t asking him.  He may cut off our thumbs.

Narax, while an important figure, is by no means head of the worldwide Shatva.  They wouldn’t risk their shit like that.  Narax reports to an enigmatic entity known only as The Darkened One, and it’s unknown if even he (she? it?) is the highest rung of the Shatva ladder.  It’s entirely possible that the Shatva is even more evil than most suspect.

Wyrmspire: The Dwarven Quarter

You’re walking along serenely through the Merchant’s Quarter when, all of a sudden, everything changes.  You’ve been stopping and chatting with all the richly-dressed men and women you’ve seen on your way, but those men and women are now significantly shorter.  And they’re wearing chainmail and carrying axes instead of wearing died linen and carrying licenses to sell anything and everything.

This is Wyrmspire’s Dwarven Quarter, undoubtedly the shortest of all quarters.  And also, most likely, the most populous.  Of course, that’s arguable.  The Old Quarter may be the most populous, but they seem to resist census attempts by stealing the census-taker’s shoes and selling them for food.  So it’s really not well known.

The Dwarven Quarter was established shortly after the dwarven city of Irongate made an alliance with the old human empire, around the year 400 or so.  The dwarves moving to Wyrmspire to trade with the humans and blacksmith for them realized that there were enough of them to just set up a little mini-city.  They did just that.  The dwarven minority is without a doubt the most influential in Wyrmspire, as without them the city would be severely lacking in blacksmiths, miners, cheese merchants (dwarves have a thing for cheese), and drunkards.

Which brings us to the next point: the disparity in morals between the dwarves of Wyrmspire and the dwarves of Irongate.  Irongate is a long-standing city which has not been breached or, indeed, changed, in nearly a thousand years.  The Dwarven Quarter is a subsection of a city full of humans.  There’s a difference.  The dwarves of Irongate are very conservative.  Basically, if you break a rule in Irongate, there’s a chance you’ll get banished forever.  Or have your pinky toe cut off (that particular rule stems from a mistranslation of an ancient dwarven equivalent of the Magna Carta, but don’t tell any of the Irongate dwarves that).  In a stark contrast, the Dwarven Quarter is full of what, for a lack of a better word, I will call party dwarves.  They get drunk, they hang out with elves (gasp!) and they go off on adventures with humans.

Note, however, that these are not the scientifically minded Wind Dwarves of Below.  No, these are still Cave Dwarves (as they are called so mockingly by their Wind Dwarf cousins) for the most part.  There is, of course, a small Wind Dwarf minority, but for the most part, the Dwarven Quarter is made up of bearded, helmet-wearing, bear-drinking motherfuckers.  As opposed to the Wind Dwarves, who are often clean shaven, with close-cut hair, leather headguard things (reminiscent of airforce flying caps from WWII) instead of helmets, and who honestly prefer Scrim, an odd drink distilled from a root that hangs down from the underside of the world, whose taste is vaguely reminiscent of beets, and whose alcohol content is enough to drug a rhino.

Of course, the dwarven elders look down on all this froo-fra, this fraternizing with other races (they’re considering declaring the Wind Dwarves another race, just to cheese them off) and all this… adventuring.  Good dwarves sit at home and quietly contemplate the will of Archus before getting married off to a cousin.  But the dwarves of Wyrmspire are having none of this.  While both studious religion and arranged marriages are commonplace in Irongate, the Wyrmspire dwarves are having fun.  Which may or may not include a) gratuitous drinking b) kicking someone’s ass at a local bar or c) marrying whoever they damn well please.  Bam.  Take that, elders.

Said elders make up the entirety of the government of the Dwarven Quarter.  They have a council, and on it are nine incredibly, incredibly old dwarves.  They make all the rules in the Dwarven Quarter, and then get incredibly irate when they realize they have no way to enforce them because the only people that listen to them are old farts.  So they basically just sit in a building and gripe about how these young dwarves don’t show any respect for their elders.  And things like that.

One of the most disturbing events in recent times in the Dwarven Quarter, for both the dwarven elders and all those who enjoy their buildings nice and un-destroyed, is the resurrection of the dwarf mountain clans of old(in old dwarven – duarv dak’tanik kalnt).  According to most histories of dwarven culture (that is, the ones that don’t involve Irongate being created from the corpse of a giant bird named Gâr who fell to earth and then coalesced into a city – there are some weird dwarf cults), before the formation of Irongate and other dwarven cities, dwarf culture consisted of many roaming mountains clans, both in the Dragonmaw Range to the west and the Frostfell Peaks to the north (I named the mountains!  Finally!  Wee!).

These clans were savage and fierce, dressing in animal skins and fighting each other tooth and nail for land, hunting rights, mines, and women.  Most of the uncovered remains of ancient dwarves have been found with gaping holes in their skulls, or missing limbs, or still clutching their axes, or spread over an area of several dozen square feet.  Occasionally the tomb of a clan chieftain has been found, and while they’re usually better treated, buried with jewels, well-crafted battle axes, and yeti skins, they still have been found dead with battle wounds.  According to certain magic dating techniques, the oldest ancient dwarf found was just over eighty years old, an incredibly young age compared to the 200 a dwarf can live to if he eats healthy.  From certain drawings, it has been deduced that the ancient dwarves often wore blue face paint into battle.

Eventually, several thousand years ago, these dwarf clans coalesced into several city-states, including Irongate, in the Dragonmaws, and the Moon Dwarf Empire in the Frostfells.  The Moon Dwarves’ face tattoos are natural progressions from the ancient face paint of the dwarf clans.

All this was for the most part forgotten by all but historians.  Until recently.  A dwarf mage discovered a way to trace one’s ancestry back to the dwarf mountain clans.  Shortly after this, it was discovered that most of the dwarves in the civilized lands, whether Irongate, Wyrmspire, or Below, are descended from one of two clans: Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath.  This is most likely evidence that the two clans made a pact and essentially killed everyone else at some point in dwarven history.  Whatever the historical reason, this has led to a huge surge of clan patriotism among the young dwarves or Wyrmspire, who really needed something to believe in.  Thus, Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath have reemerged, though as little more than street gangs.  This has caused no end of trouble for everyone in the Dwarven Quarter, as random fights break out between the clans.

Of course, troops have been sent in to the Dwarven Quarter to attempt to put down the fighting.  This has been ineffective, as fights always seem to break out on the exact opposite side of the quarter than whatever soldiers are wandering around at the moment, and by the time said soldiers have arrived the dwarves are in such a frenzy that they can’t really be stopped.  After the fight is over, the soldiers usually mop up the exhausted dwarves (there aren’t often actual deaths) and throw them in jail.  Of course, this has led to the jails full of short, hairy men.  You just can’t win.

Clan Axebreaker is the larger of the two clans.  Its name in old dwarven is Kaln Ak’narruk (as you can see, both the common word “clan” and the common word “axe” are derived from dwarvish).  Clan Axebreaker was the first of the old dwarven clans to officially reform, though there’s evidence that Clan Lakedeath was an underground organization for months before the official formation of Clan Axebreaker.  Dwarves of Clan Axebreaker paint their faces in much the same way their ancestors did.  They wear their hair and beards in long, thick plaits.  While they do this to adhere to the look of their ancestors, they usually don’t wear animal skins, opting instead for dwarven chainmail.  As a result of their distinctive style, plaited hair gone essentially completely out of fashion among Wyrmspire dwarves other than those of Clan Axebreaker, as it is regarded as a clan mark.  Clan Axebreaker fight most often with handaxes.  While the most skilled fighters dual-wield them, most simply use one in whichever hand is their dominant one.

Clan Lakedeath is slightly smaller than Clan Axebreaker, but perhaps more dangerous.  Everyone agrees that “Lakedeath” sounds kind of silly, but the literal translation of their old dwarven name, Kaln Uth’fâthen, is “Clan of Those Who Bring Death and Live On The Lake”, and everyone agrees it’s just better to call it Lakedeath.  Most also avoid mentioning Lakedeath’s perceived silliness near any Lakedeath dwarf, because they will kill you.  Lakedeath dwarves wear blue facepaint like their Axebreaker counterparts, but that’s wear the similarity ends.  In stark contrast to the plaited hair of Axebreaker dwarves, Lakedeath dwarves wear their hair unbound, unwashed, and unkempt.  This, along with the fact that they more often wear animal skins than the Axebreaker dwarves, gives them an incredibly scraggly look.  Lakedeath dwarves traditionally use massive poleaxes in battle.  They are very, very deadly with these, often spinning around like tops before stabbing any enemies that remain in reach with the point of the weapon.

Important Residents of the Dwarven Quarter:

Elder Kharat Karandul is the highest elder of the elder’s council.  By which we mean that he’s the oldest, and thus the others defer to him in all manners of judgment and stuff.  He’s incredibly, incredibly old.  His hair is pure white, and his skin is pale and incredibly wrinkled.  This, combined with the fact that he most often wears pure white robes, make him look like a shining beacon of light.  Then you notice the squint in his eye, the scowl on his face, and the fact that he’s using his cane to beat aside the cat that was sleeping in front of him.

Kharat Karandul is, without a doubt, the most conservative and miserly dwarf in the entirety of Wyrmspire.  He is the last scion of an ancient dwarf family, one that will be dead after his death.  So he spends his time attempting to control every other dwarf’s life, and enacting absurd rules like a sunset curfew and a limit on the amount of alcohol an establishment can serve on any given night.  None of these are paid attention to in the least.  It’s assumed that Karandul will just keel over and die any day now, so nobody really bothers with giving him any notice.  Of course, the next-oldest dwarf on the council is prepared to take over the moment that that happens.  However, the tradition is for the nine oldest dwarves in Wyrmspire to be on the council.  As it turns out, the current tenth oldest dwarf is a Wind Dwarf.  So the entire council would really appreciate it if Karandul would at least stick around until they can pass that legislation declaring Wind Dwarves not dwarves.

Jaris Underbreak is, arguably, the most influential Wind Dwarf in the city of Wyrmspire.  He heads up a research facility in the middle of the Dwarven Quarter – it’s actually a kind of funny sight.  In the middle of a bunch of squat, dirty buildings is a large, almost tower-like structure with a domed roof and all sorts of gadgetry emerging from various windows.  The facility is, in fact, the tallest building in the Dwarven Quarter.   It is devoted to discovering a way to utilize the Wind Dwarve’s wind-powered inventions in non-windy areas.  So far, they aren’t getting very far.

The dwarven elders hate this facility with a passion, as it employs Wind Dwarves, several underfoot, and a few humans.  Which is just unacceptable.  Also, the chief researcher at the facility is Karag Narath, the tenth-oldest dwarf in Wyrmspire, and heavily resented by the soon-to-be-eight-member council.

Ran Axebreaker is the head of the Axebreaker clan.  It’s unknown what his name was before he took his clan’s name as his surname.  During official functions, he is often referred to by his old dwarven name, Rân Ak’narruk.  Ran is a fierce warrior, but at heart a politician.  He has headed up many appeals to the elder’s council in his time, most of which deal with the immediate and permanent banning of Clan Lakedeath.

Ran wears a suit of half-mithril armor combined with leather that has been died black.  This contrast, along with his plaited hair and blue face, makes him look really kind of scary.  His hair is died in streaks of black and white, with his natural brown showing through in places.  His eyes are black.  In battle he uses two adamantine handaxes.

Hardin Lakedeath is the leader of the Lakedeath clan.  His old dwarven name, most often shouted at enemies during battle, is Khard Uth’fâthen.  Hardin is fucking crazy.  He fights with an absolutely gigantic weapon that appear to be a battleaxe mounted on a longspear.  No, we’re not sure how the logistics of that work.  In battle, he is fond of decapitating people from a range of ten feet.  Occasionally, he even throws his weapon, with deadly accuracy.  We’ve no idea how that works either.  There’s a chance there’s some kind of magic at the root of his seemingly godlike strength.

Hardin wears nothing but a tunic made purely of dragon hide, a tapestry of blue, green, black, red and white that easily sets him apart from the rest of his clan.  His hair is more unkempt than even most of his followers, with what appears to be small dead things wrapped in it.  His eyes are a soul-piercing blue, and oftentimes are the last thing an Axebreaker dwarf sees before death via gut-spewing.

Writer’s Note:  I wrote a lot of this during class today.  In this paper, written randomly, were two things: “I’m on another planet with you” (lyric of a song I was listening to at the time) and “yooglepoop”.  No, I don’t know either.

On Alara (Philosophies on the Continuation of Alara)

Okay. Upon reading that title, many of you probably thought “oh noes, oh noes, he’s ending alara, burn his house and rape his women”. This impression is wrong on two counts: one, Alara is my baby and ending it would be akin to feeding a spawn of my blood to a ravening howler. Two, I have no ‘women’ as such. More sadness for me.

NOTE: that introductory paragraph was written before I retitled this post from just “On Alara” to its current title, so as to prevent reader heart attacks.  I’m keeping the first paragraph because quite frankly, I think it’s fucking hilarious.  The end.  Bitches.  /NOTE

No, the purpose of this post is not the ending of Alara. Rather, ’tis the revitalization of Alara. Put shortly, I’m starting up with the updatefulness again. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. I loves my Alara, and while I may have spent the last month or so attempting to update in ways that interest people who don’t have time to read several dozen posts on world creation, quite frankly it occurs to me that that’s just a shitty way of doing things. Alara is back, bitches. With a vengeance, and several new philosophies.

The introduction to these new philosophies is thus: D&D 4E is coming out soon. If that didn’t give you a fangasm, you shouldn’t be reading this blog. Now, D&D 4E has had a lot of shit thrown its way. This is mostly by people who haven’t read the introduction books. Read them. Now. They’re worth your time. Here‘s a link to one, (technically illegal, but so is half the shit I do) and here’s a link to some excerpts from the other, which hasn’t been internet-loaded yet. That second one might require you to sign up for D&D Insider, but if you still have problems with signing up for random shit on a whim late at night on the internet, just get a damn gmail account already. Fuck.

Anyway, D&D 4E is supposed to do a lot of things. Among them is making things easier for DMs, something I wholeheartedly support, as the only role I would really be playing in any D&D session is that of a DM, as I am a mad creationist. By which I mean I enjoy creating things, not I believe God created the world in six days. Funny how those things get confused.

Damn, I keep tangenting. Oh well, it probably makes for a more amusing read. I hope. The real point of this entire post is thus: D&D 4E uses a world-building concept that they refer to as ‘points of light’. The basic concept is thus: the cities, civilization, etcetera in a D&D world are ‘points of light’ in a blackness of uncivilized savagery. Like the night sky, only instead of the void, the darkness is you being raped by monsters. This may seem to be a fairly obvious concept, but it’s really brilliant in its simplicity, if you think about it. As someone who basically spends all of his free brain-space on world-building, I know exactly how tempting it is to lay down borders for all the various factions in one’s world. The problem with that is it essentially removes every little bit of mystique from a created world. If we know exactly where someone’s lands end and someone else’s begin, the assumption is that that area is civilized enough for that border to be consistent. This sucks the life out of the base D&D ‘wander five feet from a town, get raped by goblins’ concept. Because if there was a unified country, you’d better be damn sure they’d get rid of those damn goblins before anything else.

So, I am going to be using the ‘points of light’ concept in the creation of Alara. Wyrmspire is, of course, the greatest point of light, followed in no particular order by Elenaiar, Irongate, Below, Tartaras, and Argan Vas. Traveling between these, however, is a great risk. There’s the occasional village along the way, and there are of course smaller cities that are still pretty big by the standards of whatever region they may be in, but the fact of the matter is that most of it’s untamed wilderness. Of course, you move north to the Wastes or west to New Aldar or Requiem, and the blackness becomes almost absolute. Places of safety become few and far between.

Even places of safety are not that ‘safe’, oftentimes. Wyrmspire is pretty safe, after all, as long as you don’t get mugged in the Old Quarter, captured and forced to sell Varith in the Noble Quarter, sacrificed by cultists in the Temple Quarter, burnt to a crisp by a rampaging demon/wizard/magically-enhanced-rooster in the Arcane Quarter, caught in a crossfire of dwarven mountain clan street battles in the Dwarven Quarter, or… ummm… merchanted at in the Merchant Quarter. Oh, and don’t go into the Undercity. Ever.

Also, I dislike the rigidity of politics in Alara. It’s the Alliance versus the Twelve and that’s that. Boring as fuck. How ’bout we make things more interesting. Of course, the Twelve are all crazy warlords, so they’re perfect for random falling-in-on-each-other-ness. So obviously there’s large-scale wars between them commonly. As Argan Vas is essentially the capital city for the twelve, this would make it a very, very war-torn city. Maybe various parts of it have been under control of various warlords at different times over the years, and thus the city is riddled with various half-torn-down walls from when the landscape of control was different. Since humans are such avid builders, they often build right over these walls, stealing materials from them to build other things, etcetera. Which would make Argan Vas a city of ruins that still has a vibrant community and is filled with people. I like this. Especially since Argan Vas didn’t ever really have a ‘look’ of its own. I always imagined it as a huge black fortress, but that’s sort of silly. I like the walls idea better. Maybe it’ll be near a cliff overlooking a river or something. Something really medieval.

So, that’s the Twelve. But even the Alliance should have some strife every now and then. After all, if they were all always agreeing, wouldn’t they just call it an empire and be done with it? No, the alliance should war every now and then. Maybe the conservative Irongate dwarves decide to teach that new-fangled Wyrmspire to stop moving forward so quickly, or maybe a xenophobe takes temporary control in the elven senate and decides to genocide some motherfuckers. Maybe Below builds an army of wind-powered constructs that get twenty miles from the edge and just stop working in a hilarious mockery of an actual army. The point is, none of the Alliance really trusts each other, though they still send their representatives to do business in the council.

New Aldar is more complicated, as it’s hard to have political strife among a bunch of hive-mind squid-things. But they’ve got the Phoenix Guard fucking with them, and the Hand of the Alliance playing the Phoenix Guard off the Amen-Kathar, and a bunch of bandits running around looting and pillaging too. So it’s still a political buttfuck.

The point is, things can go off at any moment, and anyone can attack anyone. Of course, everyone still gets together in their major factions when big wars happen, so big wars are usually the Alliance versus the Twelve versus New Aldar. But everything is unstable when there aren’t any major wars.

All this sets up a world rife with conflict, and with adventure around every corner. Perfect for, oh, I dunno… a D&D Campaign Setting. Which, I am announcing right now, is exactly what I will be turning this world into once 4E comes out! Now, you may be saying, “but Tusked, o benevolent and wise maker of worlds, what’s the difference between a normal created world and a D&D Campaign Setting”? Well, stereotypically unintelligent stock question asker, the difference is that Alara: Campaign Setting will have actual game stats for many things! Such as races! And classes! And specific characters! And stuff! And that means that, with a minimum of effort on your part, you can make your own campaigns, set against the wonderful backdrop that is Alara! Weeee!

Anyway, I am going to begin the Alara Campaign Setting Transmogrification Process ™ as soon as 4E comes out. Which translates roughly into “as soon as the core rulebooks are available for wide-scale pirating”. There’s a chance I’m a cheap bastard. Until then, I shall continue building the world of Alara. I think I’ll finish up Wyrmspire, and then move on the some of the shit happening in the far west. It’s gonna be fuckin’ crazy.

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.

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.

Wyrmspire: The Noble Quarter

The Noble Quarter is one of the six quarters of Wyrmspire. It is, by quite a degree, the most posh and pompous one. It has all the nobles. It’s filled to the brim with various lord’s manors and assorted uselessness. Quite a lot of the upper middle class live there as well, but as they are comparatively less rich than the nobles and property values in the Noble Quarter are sky-high, most of them live in apartments. Whatever, it’s a prestige thing, living in the Noble Quarter.

Supposedly, the Noble Quarter is the safest quarter in all Wyrmspire. That’s not true; it’s safe for people who live there. If you don’t, you’re likely to get mugged by a gang of bored young delinquents or kidnapped and forced into selling Varith, a popular herb that makes you feel vaguely like you’re flying when smoked, and has seen increasing popularity recently. Of course, the local guards are very vigilant when it comes to countering these things. It’s just that selling Varith to stupid rich kids happens to be an incredibly profitable business.

The population of the Noble Quarter is mostly human, like most of Wyrmspire. Rich elves have a large presence. Dwarves are less common there than in other areas of Wyrmspire, but rich merchant dwarf families often have large houses there. Underfoot are practically unheard of, although there’s one rich winebrewer by the name of Gandris Silksleeve. There are no Rhokari in the Noble Quarter, and if there are any minotaurs, they’re probably just Varith dealers.

The laws of the Noble Quarter are slightly more restrictive than those of the rest of Wyrmspire (due to the size of Wyrmspire, its quarters are governed as individual cities and have their own laws, as well as their own city watches). Theft is punishable by anything from a month’s imprisonment to several years, as opposed to the custom in the Old Quarter of being given a stern talk by one of the guards (if they can catch you). The Noble Quarter is the only quarter aside from the Temple Quarter in which prostitution is illegal. This doesn’t stop it from happening.

Prostitution is, in fact, one of the most burgeoning and profitable trades in the Noble Quarter. It is disguised quite cunningly. A potential customer buys a small item from a *ahem* purveyor of carnal goods for a very large sum of money, and then the real *ahem* transaction takes place. This is quite commonplace, and has led to some very interesting slang. A brothel is referred to as a bazaar, a prostitute a merchantwoman (people who are actually both merchants and females are simply referred to as merchants), a customer an axe (actually, we’ve no idea where that comes from), and the process of searching out a prostitute “bazaaring”. As you can imagine, this leads to some hilarious misunderstandings.

The most prosperous broth- err, “bazaar” in the Noble Quarter is known as Madam Fantasia’s Curiosity Shop. In it, there are quite a lot of merchantwomen harking their wares upon various axes (isn’t slang fun?). Most of the merchantwomen are human, but there’s a few elves, and at least one dwarf for those with… interesting tastes. Quite a lot of funny conversations can be overheard if one frequents the Curiosity Shop (“Kind sir, would you like to buy this old boot for one hundred draketalons?”). Of course, if one frequents the Curiosity Shop, one is probably a sick fuck in the first place. The Curiosity Shop has a foolproof warning system to prevent watch intrusions (a random guy they payed a few coins to stand outside and holler if someone suspicious walks up). Of course, everyone knows what’s going on, but as long as they aren’t too conspicuous about it no one does much about it.

Of course, there are a lot of other things in the Noble Quarter besides fops, drugs, and whores. There are many wonderful (and expensive) inns, many wonderful (and expensive) theaters and other places of entertainment, and many wonderful (and expensive) casinos.

The inns of the Noble Quarter are quite splendiferous. They serve all kinds of fancy food, from odd fish imported from the far north and prepared in exactly the right way so as not to kill the consumer to the incredibly expensive delicacy that is dragon fillet (to be actually palatable, dragon has to have a delicate combination of several dozen spices applied in exactly the right amounts and be cooked at an incredibly massively high temperature for several days – a single pound of prepared dragon meat can cost as much as a house does in the Old Quarter). Of course, this is combined with some of the most amazing drinks ever served ever. Most of them are wines that actually don’t taste very good at all, but are very expensive and made from very rare berries and thus have to be good. Right?

The theaters of the Noble Quarter are among the most famous in all the Civilized Lands. The most famous is undoubtedly the Green Dragon Theater, a massive place that regularly shows various plays by all manner of famous playwrights, quite a lot of which were elven (the issue here is that most old elven plays were written in a form of poetry with an incredibly complicated meter that sounded beautiful in elven but, if translated, sounded like ass. Thus, most elven plays are performed in elven, to an audience that most likely doesn’t speak it but thinks the tickets are worth spending a small fortune on anyway. Gods, I hate rich people). Also shown are plays written by more modern playwrights, which are mostly in common. The theater makes massive amounts of money, something the theater’s proprietor, a half-elf by the name of Larissa Dúnevel, is quite aware of. She’s thinking of purchasing the entire upper portion of the Old Quarters soon. That’s how rich she is.

Gambling is both legal and incredibly popular in the Noble Quarter. Casinos are placed all over the bloody place, and many of them are combined with inns or even theaters for a better experience. The games involved are, of course, highly foppish and complicated. A very popular game currently is Gellért, a complicated game played with several eight-sided dice and the traditional deck of cards used in the Civilized Lands (described here). Karran is also widely played, and in some establishments there are special back rooms for the masters to concentrate on their games of Dra’Karran (both described in the above link). Most everything is gambled upon, from who’s going to win to each individual aspect of said victory.

The least legal method of entertainment in the Noble Quarter is the Arena of Blood. Technically, it’s in the tunnels of the Undercity below the Noble Quarter, but so many residents of the Noble Quarter visit it that it’s a large part of their culture. Basically, you watch people (or animals, or whatever the hell they dragged in this week) pummel each other for hours. It’s actually very cheap to get in, but it costs quite a lot to get into the special, upper-class section of the stands, so you don’t rub elbows with the common scum (of which there is a lot).

The governing council of the Noble Quarter is known as the Circle of Lords, a group of foppish nobles who really don’t do much good ever. They just try to further their own agendas and enforce their own (often dubious) morals. They’re also running a slave ring underground. Literally, underground – most of it is run through the Undercity, where they sell whatever slaves they happen to have to basically whoever wants to buy them. The most prominent buyers are various nobles who want servants, the proprietor of the Arena of Blood, who wants fodder, and various Varith lords who need dealers. Some of the shadier brothels also buy slaves to serve as prostitutes, but the most prestigious have more morals.

Important Noble Quarter Residents:

The Circle of Lords is the governing council of the Noble Quarter. It is made up of Lord Enuoc Vassal, Lord Uriel Vanticláim, Lord Thettin Auris, Lady Kendra Salkes, Lord Hardath Flinteyes, Lord Allatharis Dú Nassin, and Lady Thanassa Dú Laris.

Lord Enuoc Vassal is a man of about sixty. He’s a supreme classist, and believes that the poor should be sold to the rich for whatever purposes the rich desire. He’s helping this along in any way he can. The Circle of Lords was an actual governmental council before he got on it, maneuvered his associates into the other six positions, and began using it as a cover for a slave ring. Of course, they still make laws and things. They just also traffic in human lives.

Lord Uriel Vanticláim has been Lord Enuoc’s friend since early childhood. They grew up as neighbors, and they’ve been dealing in various shady areas since about age fifteen. He’s several years Enuoc’s junior. Uriel is a superb diplomat, and he often does the talking for the Circle of Lords when talking is required. He’s one of the most moralistic of the lords, and is currently trying to get stricter punishments enacted for prostitution. While selling slaves to brothels. Consistent morals are fun?

Lord Thettin Auris is vaguely frightening. He’s the only one of the Circle of Lords that was not actually born into a position of power. Thettin was a low-level administrator in a small drug ring several years ago when he encountered Lord Enuoc and Lord Uriel, who had both managed to get into trouble with the same drug ring. He pulled some strings and got them off the hook. Pulling strings in fact involved a dagger in the back of his immediate superior, but whatever. Enuoc and Uriel befriended him and contributed a small fortune to buy him both a lordship and a new identity to avoid the wrath of the drug ring. Thettin is a tall, wiry man of about forty. He kills people. Sometimes for business reasons, sometimes just because he’s bored.

Lady Kendra Salkes is the only human woman on the Circle of Lords. She was, at one point, the lover of Enuoc Vassal. At another, she was the lover of Uriel Vanticláim. Currently she’s with Thettin, but she’s thinking of going after Allatharis. The most amazing part of all this is that she manages to remain close friends with all her former lovers, thus insuring her continued position on the Circle of Lords and the fact that everyone else is more loyal to her than to each other. She’s a quite attractive woman of about forty, though she looks younger (we think magic might be involved). Also, she’s secretly a worshiper of Black Hundriss. She keeps this even from the other lords, who mostly adhere to Archus, for some reason.

Lord Hardath Flinteyes is the only dwarf on the Circle. He appeared in the Noble Quarter quite suddenly about twenty years ago. It’s impossible to tell how old he is, but he’s pretty damn old, and he seems to have money pouring out of his ass. He was not technically asked by Enuoc to join the Circle, but instead got wind of the slave ring and demanded to be included. He’s proved invaluable, as he has a secret source far to the north that seems to buy as many slaves as can be sold to them. No one’s sure what the source is, as he’s rather secretive. All that’s known about him is that if you look closely, you can see the remains of blue tattoos on his face…

Lord Allatharis Dú Nassin is an elf. He looks quite young, but that doesn’t mean anything, for an elf. It also doesn’t mean anything because he’s a vampire. Damn vampires. He personally buys one slave every week to serve as a blood source for him, as he doesn’t like drinking the blood of his neighbors and all the other quarters are a bit of a walk away. He’s got blond hair and piercing blue eyes, as well as canines that are just a wee bit creepy. He dresses in clothes even finer than all of the other lords, and constantly upstages them with his large vocabulary. Quite frankly, he’s not well liked by the other lords, but they’re all just a bit scared of him

Lady Thanassa Dú Laris is an elven woman.  She looks very young, but in her case it’s because she’s actually pretty young, not because of her being a vampire.  She’s not a vampire, she just has regular sex with one.  She’s the lover of Allatharis, and it was only due to his influence that she got on the Circle at all.  Of course, she’s well liked by all the other lords, as she’s very charming and has an absolutely beautiful smile.  Kendra objects a bit to what she sees as a usurping of her territory, but she’s not willing to say anything.  It’s not well known that she’s with Allatharis, or the other lords would almost certainly stop hitting on her out of fright.

Commander Abhaile Durnholt is the commander of the Noble Quarter guard.  He takes care of all those little things that matter so much.  Like law enforcement.  The Noble Quarter has an absolutely massive amount of money set aside for law enforcement, so it would seem logical that their guard would be very good.  This is not the case.  Abhaile is a corrupt bastard who skims quite a lot of money off the top, the bottom, the sides, and wherever else he can.  He’s also a regular customer at Madam Fantasia’s Curiosity Shop.  Basically, he’s everything you don’t want in a watch captain.  He’s roughly five and a half feet tall, overweight, balding, and has a generally sour disposition.

He is slightly balanced out, however, by his second-in-command, Captain Thywart Nottlehelm.  Thywart is noble, courageous, and wishes to uphold the law in any way possible.  This is made challenging by the absolute boob that is his immediate superior.  Thywart is currently campaigning to be installed as the Watch Commander.  This isn’t going well, mostly because the people who have the most say are the Circle of Lords, who have Abhaile right in their pocket and don’t want to lose their control over the quarter law enforcement.  Also, there’s a chance Thywart might disapprove of the whole “underground slave ring” thing.  Just a chance.  Overall, Thywart’s kind of screwed until the Circle of Lords gets overthrown.  He’s trying to do that too, of course.  It’s challenging, though.

Larissa Dúnevel is the proprietor of the Green Dragon theater.  It’s a massive venue, located right in the middle of the Noble Quarter.  You can tell which building it is by the huge frickin’ green dragon painted on the front.  The Green Dragon is the most prestigious theater in all the Civilized Lands, and at any time various mountains of foreign dignitaries can be seen attending it, eager to get a taste of the famous plays they serve.  On any given night, there may be minotaur warlords, Rhokari chieftains, elf lords, human nobles, dwarf merchants, and underfoot that somehow managed to sneak in seen in the stands of the prestigious Green Dragon theater.

Larissa herself is a half-elf.  Her mother was raped by a human (stupid humans) and she happened.  She later moved to Wyrmspire with her brother, Garamis Dúnevel, a full-blooded elf, to join a performing troupe.  This troupe snowballed into the Green Dragon theater.  Garamis is a playwright, and more than two dozen of his plays have seen the light of day on the stage of the Green Dragon.  Other playwrights commonly featured include Dandaril Quicksilver, a famous elven playwright from several centuries ago, Aedan Locke, a human playwright who is famed for his comedies, and Kargath dún Larik, a fanatical minotaur who wrote violent epics that often take at least a day to perform.

Agai Urun is not a nice person.  He’s the leader of the local chapter of the massive Shatva, an organization that deals entirely with the selling of Varith.  Agai is an elf.  No one knows how old he is, only that his hair is almost pure white and he’s probably blind, as he wears a cloth around his eyes.  Agai supervises all Varith sales in the Noble Quarter.  He keeps incredibly detailed tabs on all past, present and future Varith dealers, as well as all customers.  If someone is found to be betraying the Shatva from within, they disappear.

Agai is probably an assumed name.  People have tried to find out things about his past before, but they never find anything, and more often than not he kills them for trying.  He fights with two long, curved swords, and he’s deadly with them.  He’s been known to take an ear for disobedience.  He has a necklace of ears.  Occasionally he dies them different colors.  It’s actually quite a nice effect, once you get past the “holy shit, he wears ears as ornamentation” thing.

Wyrmspire: The Palace

In the northernmost reaches of the glorious city of Wymrspire lies the Palace. The terminology here is a bit confusing: the Palace can refer to either the Palace itself or the general region of the Palace.

The Palace region is the only area of Wyrmspire that lies behind a wall other than that of the city itself. The idea was originally that in the event of successful siege, the citizens would take shelter in the palace region, and the enemy would be all like “shit, we need to besiege them again!?” and then they would leave. This is basically useless at this point, as anybody who even bothers to attack the power that is Wyrmspire is probably gonna stick it out until the end. The inner wall now serves as an easel for the local troubled youth. The graffiti is washed off by the city guards every week so as to keep the wall nice and shiny. The city guards resent this.

At the heart of the palace region lies the Palace itself. It is a glorious monument of architectural precision, made almost entirely from white marble. The main palace building is huge, and three massive towers emerge from it. The western tower is known as the Magus Spire, and is the seat of power for the Red Magi, who preside over all magical law in the civilized lands. The eastern tower is the Council Spire, and is the place where all council meetings take place. The center tower, and the tallest, is known as the Royal Spire. In it is contained the throne of Wyrmspire, as well as the living quarters of the royal family. Atop Royal Spire is a marvelously carved stone depiction of a roaring dragon, giving the city its name of Wyrmspire. Some of the council members are currently arguing that the Royal Spire should be used for council meetings instead of the Council Spire, seeing as it’s bigger and stuff, but it ain’t gonna happen if King Benedict has anything to say. All the council members also have lodgings in the Palace, even if half of them never use them.

Outside the palace, there are first the royal gardens. These sprawling, verdant areas are absolutely the most beautiful thing most people have ever seen. Rare plants from all around the world are grown here, and the result is a panorama of color and beauty. The gardener is an elf. Silly elves.

Past the royal gardens, there are fields that are used for military training, as well as the barracks of the Wyrmspire army, the most powerful army in the Civilized Lands. While entry is not mandatory, among the noble rings in Wyrmspire, it’s considered polite to serve at least a few years. The Wyrmspire army no longer actually fights direct wars with the armies of the Twelve, but merely takes part in a bunch of proxy wars centering around the Valley Kingdoms, a series of independent city-states that are often backed by either the Alliance or the Twelve. These wars are used as small power struggles to avoid actual war.

The Wyrmspire army is controlled by a group of four generals, who control the great Fortress Blacktree, and imposing fortress in the center of the palace region. This is where all the planning and plotting of the Wyrmspire army takes place. It’s been attacked several times by agents of the Twelve with the intention of destroying it, but they failed massively. And then they were thrown in the dungeons forever. Fortress Blacktree has some very nice dungeons – no one has ever escaped from them.

Important Palace Residents:

The Royal Family is arguably the most powerful family in the Civilized Lands. It is made up of King Benedict IV, Queen Katalina, Prince Adrian, Prince Randolph, and Princess Keara. King Benedict IV took power when his father, King Carith V, was slain in a hunting accident (although it was probably the Twelve assassinating him). Benedict was an adventurer and a rogue, as he was the younger son of Carith, and not expected to have any real responsibility. Unfortunately, his older brother Gandin was found dead in his room, shortly before the coronation was to take place. Benedict retired from adventuring and took the crown, a decision he has been regretting ever since, according to him. If it was the Twelve that killed his father and brother, they regret it, as Benedict has been a far better king than his father was or his brother would have been. He has prevented the fifth Imperial War from starting at least twelve times during his twenty-five year reign. He thinks this is a pretty good thing. Some of the more war-thirsty bastards disagree, but fuck them. He considers them shnathgotten, a very creative curse he uses.

Queen Katalina is King Benedict’s wife. It was an arranged marriage… well, almost. Katalina was scheduled to be married to Gandin when he took the throne. That fell through, so she married Benedict instead. Katalina is a benevolent queen, and spends most of her time wandering about the city, doing good deeds for poor people and generally attempting to help the populace, who love her very much. She is basically the only person from the Palace region that can wander the Old Quarter without being mugged, raped, or kidnapped and sold for spare parts. If anyone attempts to do those things to her in the Old Quarter, they are set upon by a gang of rabid followers and tossed into the vilest part of the river. It’s kind of disgusting.

Prince Adrian is a flaming asshole. He is King Benedict’s eldest son, at twenty-five years of age. He is as big as a bear and roughly as intelligent. He spends his time either drinking, gambling, or jousting and fencing with the various members of the army, who have mixed feelings about him. On one hand, he’s very skilled with all sorts of weapons, but on the other hand whenever battle is mentioned he hides under his bed. He’s also an incredible douche to people whenever he defeats them. Overall, he’s not very popular. His father considers him a worthless layabout who should get out and do some honest adventuring already. There’s rumors of Adrian messing about with prostitutes from the Noble Quarter, which would be a massive scandal if it was true.

Prince Randolph is the exact opposite of his brother, but almost as annoying. He’s twenty-two years old and spends all his time socializing with nobles and messing about in court, ingratiating himself to council members. He’s quiet and well-spoken, but lacks any actual opinions and is a bit of a fop when it comes down to it. Many of the council members are of the opinion that he should be the heir to the throne of Wyrmspire. Benedict vehemently disagrees. Prince Randolph expects it, however, which may be a bit of an issue when he doesn’t get it.

Princess Keara is King Benedict’s favorite child. She hasn’t been seen in the Palace since two years ago, when she ran away to go adventuring. She’s returned to Wyrmspire every now and then, but refuses to go near the palace and merely carouses in the Old Quarter. She is incredibly tough, and it’s best not to mess with her, or she’ll cut you. She’s at least as good with all manner of weapons as Adrian is, and can be as diplomatic as Randolph when it’s appropriate. She often dresses in leather and her face is covered in scars from various battles. And she’s only sixteen. Benedict is considering naming her heir, which would be a bit of an issue, as the throne of Wyrmspire has always been passed down the male line. But fuck that.

The Four Generals are the highest-ranking officials of the Wyrmspire army. They are General Adamus, General Rea, General Kharat, and General Lynodin. As well as making all overarching strategic decisions, they also each lead one of the four largest legions in the army: Silversword Legion, Warhorse Legion, Archaneye Legion, and Blackdagger Legion. These four legions are often referred to as the Imperial Legions.

General Adamus Caenas is the leader of the Silversword legion. He is exceedingly honorable, to the point of annoyance. In battle, he fights with a massive greatsword, and has a habit of challenging enemy leaders to single combat. The enemy leaders usually accept while subtly motioning to their minions to come around behind Adamus and kill him that way. The only reason no one has yet succeeded is that Adamus has a personal bodyguard, a hardened assassin who doesn’t play by the rules – and also happens to be completely in love with him. Funny how that happens. Of course, he’s got no idea. He’s too busy challenging enemy leaders to single combat.

General Rea Narcissa Ravenlocke is frightening. She leads the Warhorse legion. She’s technically the daughter of the illustrious Lord Hector Ravenlocke, an important noble of Wyrmspire. Unfortunately, she’s not the daughter of his wife. This has led to her growing up with her mother in the Old Quarter, hating the living hell out of all nobility. And then, of course, some asshole drafted her and she ended up in the army – in a unit commanded by Adam Ravenlocke, legitimate son of her father. This pissed the hell out of her. He ended up dead through a combination of buffoonery, an inability to lead, and a dagger in the back. She got his position. Afterward, she rose quickly through the ranks to become a general. She retains massive amounts of cynicism and distrust for nobility, and in fact keeps a secret police force for dealing with traitors. She and Benedict IV are very good friends, which is one of the only reasons she wasn’t drummed out of the army for being slightly unstable. In battle, she fights with a longsword in one hand and a shortsword in the other. She’s rather deadly.

General Kharat Blacktree is the only non-human general of the four generals. He’s the last member of the Blacktree family of dwarves, one of the original groups of Wyrmspire dwarves and the builders of Fortress Blacktree. The Blacktree family is very old, and he’s under considerable pressure to take a wife and continue it. He’s having none of it. He revels in strategy and battle, and is the general least often seen in Wyrmspire. He’s instead out killing whoever he feels like, and being really, really good at it. Kharat commands the Archaneye Legion, the oldest of the four Imperial Legions – indeed, its name is in Middle Common. That’s how old it is. In battle, Kharat fights with whatever weapon he feels like fighting with. Most commonly, he uses a massive warhammer, but he’s also been seen using a battleaxe, a lance, or just throwing rocks and shouting cusswords. Kharat likes to have fun.

General Lynodin is a bit of a mystery. He’s from strange lands to the northeast, far past the lands of the Twelve. He never speaks of his homeland. Indeed, he barely ever speaks at all. When he does, what he has to say is of the utmost importance, and the other generals always listen to it. He’s well liked by the other generals despite his oddness. He has a sense of honor similar to that of Adamus, a willingness to fight dirty like Rea, and revels in battle as Kharat does. Of course, his method of reveling is a bit odd. While the other generals wear armor of pure mithril, Lynodin goes into battle in simple leather armor and a long cloak. Then he fights like a fucking berserker. His favored weapon is a curved sword, and he’s really, really good with it. He leads the Blackdagger Legion. They all love him, for he is basically the perfect warrior. He’s pretty badass.

Lord Denedius Argyle is an important noble who lives in the Palace district. He is the chairman of the council, and an incredible bureaucrat. He regularly argues with King Benedict IV, whom he resents, mostly because that bastard ended up marrying his daughter. Denedius was incredibly excited when he learned that his only daughter Katalina was marrying the heir to the throne. He was considerably less excited when the soon-to-be-crowned Gandin III was slain, and she ended up marrying his scoundrel brother instead. Katalina was thrilled, of course, but Denedius doesn’t see it that way. Gandin was an upstanding member of the court, while Benedict spent his time mucking about in far-off lands chasing after riches, when he could have just sent somebody to go get them. While he thinks little of their father, Denedius loves his two grandsons, Adrian and Randolph. Keara’s just as bad as her father, though.

Denedius is the worst kind of bureaucrat – the smart kind. He’s intelligent, cunning, and revels in red tape. He also owns most of the mines in and around Wyrmspire, meaning he would profit greatly from another massive war. So he’s trying to start it. Benedict is trying to stop this. Katalina has, frustratingly, taken Benedict’s side on this one. Even so, she still invites Denedius to dinner every now and then, which leads to some awkward encounters. Denedius is also trying to get the Circle of Lords (a group of nobles from the Noble District) on the council, so as to get him more votes. He’s a crafty person. He’s just also not very nice.

Alara: Wyrmspire

As promised in the previous post, I shall now overview Wyrmspire. In following posts I shall go over the specific areas of the City of Kings in more detail.

First, a map:

Notice the shittiness of said map. If you could all do me a favor, imagine little buildings drawn inside the city walls (I hope it’s obvious where the city walls are). It should be better after you do that. Anyway, as usual, the purple lines are elevation lines (the palace is built into the side of a mountain). There are three gates into the city, at the north, the southeast, and the southwest. The north gate is most commonly used by visiting dignitaries, as it leads into the Temple Quarter, which is quite pretty. The southeast gate is often used by tradesmen, as it is near the Merchant Quarter. Nobody really uses to southwest gate, as the Old Quarter is not a pleasant place.

The various sections of the city:

The Palace is the seat of government in the city. While it is often simply referred to as the Palace, it’s much more. The area beyond the inner wall of the city contains, apart from the palace, various barracks holding Wyrmspire’s army, as well as training and drilling grounds. The Council building, the ruling area of all the Alliance, is also kept near the palace. On an upward slope to the north lies the palace itself, a glorious, shining edifice whose towers have given the city its name of Wyrmspire. From there, King Benedict IV rules, along with his wife, Queen Katalina, and his three children, the Princes Adrian and Randolph, and the Princess Keara.

The Noble Quarter is the living place of the nobles and aristocrats of Wyrmspire. It is a beautifully-kept, shining place, with large houses everywhere and expensive inns and taverns dotting the landscape. The Noble Quarter is a favorite location of visiting diplomats, and most of them stay there whilst visiting. The burgeoning prostitution trade helps this along. While said prostitution is technically illegal, many practitioners cover it up by selling their customers some small item for an disproportionately large amount of cash, and then proceeding to give them a courtesy screw. Courtesy screws aren’t illegal, after all.

There are many prominent figures in the Noble Quarter. Most of them belong to a group known as the Circle of Lords, a group of aristocratic bastards who love to bathe in red tape. The end goal of the Circle of Lords is to get every one of their number on the Council. This would be a very bad thing, as these guys are not exactly what you would refer to as intelligent. At all. There’s also rumors that they’re running a slave-ring underground. But we’re sure that’s all just balderdash.

The Temple Quarter is the location of all of Wyrmspire’s religious edifices. It includes many major temples, such as the massive temple to Archus (the second largest building in all Wyrmspire, after the palace). Other notable temples include the beautiful temple to Helena, the mysterious temple to Omora Agabai, and the militaristic temple to Jurgan. Smaller shrines have also arisen, such as small temple to White Aretha, and the well-kept secrets that are the temples of Anator, Black Hundriss, and Elleida. Even small cults involving non-Archan pantheons exist.

While most people simply think of temples when they think of the Temple Quarter, many people live there too. Priests need a place to live, and eventually someone’s going to move to where the priests live to sell things to the priests. Soon enough, a little community will spring up. The community of the Temple Quarter is regarded as the safest in all Wyrmspire. There’s not nearly as much shady deals going on as in other Quarters, as most of the inhabitants are, y’know… holy. Prominent residents of the Temple Quarter include the high priests of all the various faiths. The Temple Quarter also includes the massive library of Wyrmspire.

The Arcane Quarter is the home of many wizards, sorcerers, mages, and all that. At its center is the huge Arcane University, the largest magical education center in the Civilized Lands. All schools of magic are represented here, if not equally. Necromancy suffers a bit of prejudice, for instance. Aside from the University, many other people of arcane leanings live here as well. Alchemists, experimenters, cultists, archivists, and basically assorted weirdos. It’s not uncommon to see very odd things in the Arcane Quarter, such as many-colored smokes, things appearing and disappearing at random, water running uphill, flocks of fire-breathing chickens run amok, and the occasional escaped lab-created monster.

As with the Temple Quarter, not all who live in the Arcane Quarter are wizards. Some just sell to the wizards. Of course, living in the Arcane Quarter is a hazardous thing if you don’t have any magic at your disposal. Occasionally, things just explode. No explanation. Boom. The most important resident of the Arcane Quarter is Amaris Horoma, the archmage of the University. He’s got a position on the council, and he’s willing to use it. Mostly to fund new experiments of the arcane nature. He’s like that.

The Merchant Quarter is the most bustling, busy area you’re going to find in all Wyrmspire. Ever. Most of the middle class lives there, and they all sell each other, and anyone who happens to be wandering by, quite a lot of things. Actually, anything. They’re willing to improvise. People have been known to sell houses to nobles that happen to be wandering by, merely because they looked like they had enough money to pay for it. Long story short, the Merchant Quarter is home to a bustling economy, and everyone takes part in it. Tradesmen, craftsmen, entertainers, thieves – everyone has a part to play.

The most prominent merchants belong to the Merchant’s Guild, which oversees all economy-type things that go on in the Merchant Quarter. The guildmaster of this guild is High Merchant Tadaran Knopwhick. Everyone assumes his title is ironic, as he’s an Underfoot, and an extraordinarily short one, at that.

The Dwarven Quarter is home to the large dwarven minority of Wyrmspire. Nearly as busy as the Merchant Quarter, dwarves can be seen bustling about at all hours of day and night (they have darkvision, you know) trading, selling, drinking, smithing, and generally being dwarves. Though the Dwarven Quarter is the smallest of the Quarters, it boasts a surprisingly large population, mostly because dwarves are very compact beings. You’re walking along a row of two-story houses in the Merchant Quarter, and suddenly you’re walking along a row of three-story houses. Only they’re all still the same height. Oh, did we mention that every story has about twelve dwarves in it, too? Dwarves are promiscuous. Especially in the city, out of sight of their elders. The most prominent residents of the Dwarven Quarter are the heads of the various families, as well as the heads of the recently resurrected dwarven mountain tribes, which are now little more than street gangs.

The Old Quarter is the oldest part of Wyrmspire. It’s also the shabbiest. It is a place of thieves, beggars, drunkards, prostitutes, and all the other people that make a fantasy city really, really fun. The Old Quarter is ruled over by the Thieves’ Guild, which is engaged in a constant struggle with the city watch. The watch is losing. Badly. It doesn’t help that most of the inhabitants of the Old Quarter are loyal to the Thieves’ Guild, even if only because they’ll take your children if you aren’t. The Old Quarter is the most diverse of the quarters, with a large minority of Underfoot, the occasional dwarf, Rhokari and minotaur, and a massive amount of elven refugees from the conquered Asernaiar. This large influx of elves has led to a bit of a population problem in the Old Quarter, but it’s being readily solved through a rapid lowering of standards regarding quality of living. The most prominent resident of the Old Quarter is Salkiss, the leader of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s a badass.

The Undercity is called many things. It is referred to as the Tunnels, the Below, the Underworld, or, in the case of many members of the Council, “our little problem”. It is a massive complex that runs under the entirety of Wyrmspire, and is composed of various sewers, tunnels, and ancient caves. This makes it rather mazelike, and indeed, if you don’t know your way around, it’s probably best to hire a guide. Also, make sure the guide stays in front of you at all times, or he will stab you. There’s not even a question. The Undercity is home to many interesting phenomena, such as the burgeoning black market beneath the Old Quarter and the Arena of Blood beneath the Noble Quarter. There’s even a cult of vampires underneath the Temple Quarter, and there’s rumors of something even more nasty under the Palace. The Undercity is a place for the lawless, the broken, and, more often than not, a bunch of rat-people. The most prominent resident of the Undercity is not a resident at all, but rather the leader of the Thieves’ Guild, again. Salkiss is often referred to as the Undermayor by the people of the Tunnels.

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