Friday, April 1, 2011

[The Realm] A is for Arcanos


Small City

Alignment: Chaotic

Population: 10,800 (2,700 Able-Bodied)

Races: Men (Heartlanders, Highlanders, Northlanders, Westlanders), Orcs, and Goblins, plus a handful of Drow, Duergar, and Black Hobbits

Resources: Market, Potions, Talismans, Rare Minerals, Drugs, Slaves

Rulers: The Thirteen Dread Hierarchs

Temples: Arcanadaemon, Kishar Dragon-Queen, Infernus, Dungeon God, Various Independent Daemon Princes (especially Amon, Kharun, and Orcus). Temples of Law and proselytizing for such is strictly illegal!

Coinage: Arcanax (gp + light spell, 50 gpv, rare), Aurax (gp), Argentax (sp), Kuprax (cp). Obverse has the face of the current King and the mint mark and date, the reverse has a pentagram. Many Lawful merchants will not accept Arcosian coinage, considering it to be cursed (at best, they consider them each worth half normal value). The reddish tinge of the gold and silver coins is considered to be caused by the blood of the sacrifices in the temples of the dread city, though in fact, it is more due to the debasement of the coins with copper.

Arcanos is a city-state 100 miles north by northwest of Haelyx. It is ruled by a council of seven wizards and six clerics of Chaos, known as the Thirteen Dread Hierarchs. The Hierarchs rule with an iron fist; though the peoples of the city are thoroughly Chaotic, only the grossly stupid or stupendously powerful step out of line… at least, where the Hierarchs are concerned. Everyone else pretty much has to fend for themselves. Eleven of the Hierarchs each rule a district of the city, while the two senior Hierarchs, the Grand Master of the Arcane Order of Wizards and the Evil High Priest of the Independent and Most High Arcosian Temple of Arcanadaemon, rule overall as King and Prince of the City, respectively. Usually more blood is shed and spells are unleashed in internecine plots between the Hierarchs and those vying for their power than is spent on fighting the enemies of the city.

The city is laid out like an inverted pentacle, two-thirds of a mile across, with one point of the star pointing straight to the south. The walls of the pentagram are 60 feet tall and 20 feet thick while the walls of the outer circle are 30 feet tall and 15 feet thick. There are gates at the five points where the pentagram meets the outer circle, each going into the arm of the star; there are inner gates in each arm, one to each adjacent district, for 20 total gates. The outer wedge districts are accessible only from the two adjacent arms. The “21st Gate” of Arcanos refers to any entrance to the dungeons of the city, which include the catacombs, and thus is a common euphemism for death. In addition to the five great 80-foot tall gates, five 50-foot half-towers stand between each outer gate. Each inner gate is a tower-less set of doors, with a gatehouse built into the wall. 100-foot tall towers stand at each angle of the inner pentagon; each is the headquarters of a company of soldiers of the city.

The central pentagon is the Temple District, with the Grand Temple of Arcanadaemon at the center, and the others spread out haphazardly; the Temple of the Dungeon God is, of course, found below the Temple District, in the large dungeon complex beneath the city. The southern arm is the Merchant’s District, the southeastern outer wedge is the Slaver’s District, the eastern arm is the Wizard’s District, the northeastern outer wedge is the Gold District, the northeastern arm is the Courtesan’s District, the northern outer wedge is the Silver District, the northwestern arm is the Warrior’s District, the northwestern outer wedge is the Copper District, the western arm is the Craftsmen’s District, and the southwestern outer wedge is the Warren (home to thieves, the destitute, orcs, goblins, and other such ilk). There are no buildings within a thousand feet of the city, by Hierarchal decree; the entirety of that region is a blasted landscape of burnt rock and sand.

The dungeons beneath the city are vast and ancient, remnants of even more ancient cities that lie beneath the feet of modern Arcosians. The three upper levels and their attendant sub-levels each conform to the eleven divisions of the city (though there are, of course, secret passages at most levels between most regions). The countless lower levels, however, are a thoroughly mixed lot; but the (mostly) inhuman factions that rule these levels have little enough to do with the rule of the residents above, anyway. These also are said to connect with the vast underworld of caverns and dungeons that exist throughout the Realm. It is said that the deepest dungeons have passages that connect to the very pits of Infernus itself, as well as to the lesser hells of the various Daemon Princes.

Arcanos is the most thoroughly despicable and unpleasant realm in the Heartlands. The Hierarchs claim dominion over all the other cities of the region, sending annual demands for tribute to other rulers (often ignored), as well as assassins and petty curses on an irregular basis. They have a healthy respect, fear, and envy of Djiabaleur, the Lord of the Eastern Realm, but maintain a fierce independence from him and his state-run temples and guilds. On occasions when the Dark Lord has nearly conquered one or another of the cities of the Heartlands, the Hierarchs act, not out of friendship, but out of fear that if the Dark Lord gets too powerful, they will be next on his list. Of course, any “rescued” city pays for the help one way or another…

Anything and everything is available for sale in Arcanos. The city has the largest slave market in the Heartlands, where slaves are bought and sold from far across the Realm. Rare and dangerous herbs, potions, and drugs, notably lotus powders and essences, are traded openly here, as nothing is illegal save that which crosses the Hierarchs. Merchants, craftsmen, courtesans… in fact, any and all who can afford them bear the amulets, runes, and sigils of one or more Hierarchs, symbols of their paid protection… woe betide the fool who steals from such clients, or worse, forges such protective symbols for themselves! Payment for such protection is as often in the form of favors, services, and loyalty as in gold or silver.

2d6. Arcanos City Encounters

2. Clerics and/or Paladin of Law Incognito

3. City Guards on a Shakedown

4. Harlot Looking for Business

5. Beggar

6. Named NPC from nearest random location

7. Roll on City/Town Encounters Matrix

8. Roll on CSIO Encounter Tables

9. Roll on CSIO Street Vendor Table

10. Apprentice Magician Looking to Make a Name

11. Press Gang

12. Clerics of Chaos Looking for Sacrifices

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