Untalpid

Untalpid is a small city of just under 13,000 people on the borders of the Shacklack Desert and the Ousreft Wastes. Of the 13,000, the majority are goblins with a tenth being hobgoblins and a twentieth are various other humanoids. Untalpid serves as the overland connection between the Hobgoblin Lands and India. A well-marked trade route winds through the arid climate to the south and then through a pass between the Dominarie and Himalayan mountain ranges.

The geography of the city is defined by a heptagram of temples that encircle the inner city. Three of the temples pay homage to one of the Goblin deities. These three are the Tree, the Bee, and the Ant. The four remaining temples are devoted to the four elements of air, earth, fire, and water. The seven temples also split the city up into seven pie sections, roughly describing the different industry of that section. Milling and baking in Tree, administration in Bee, warehouses in Ant, textiles in Air, housing in Earth, smithing in Fire, and leatherworking in Water.

Enormous flowers grow around Untalpid creating what some have called the Flower Forest. The pollen from these flowers is refined in Untalpid to make flour for bread, but is also used to sustain the particular animal husbandry of the city. The two main livestock species of the town are giant ants and giant bees. Worker ants are used to plow the fields and warrior ants are ridden by the wealthy like horses. The ants of Untalpid have been bred over the centuries to produce a milky fluid instead of a stinging acid. This milk is called soola and tastes like bread pudding overflavored with cinnamon. The bees of Untalpid produce honey. Many leaders of Untalpid have wished to use the bees as aerial cavalry, but the bees do not take well to riders. The bees still prove useful in combat through the use of pheromones. Ant mounted goblins carry a sealed vial of attack pheromones. They ride into an enemy formation and break the vial upon a foe, triggering a bee attack on whomever the vial hits along with anyone else nearby.

Social status within Untalpid is tied to owning caravans instead of owning wealth, land, or cattle. The arthropod husbandry only serves as a means to support caravans. The aristocracy of Untalpid fight wars of intrigue to secure trade contracts with merchants coming to the city from the Hobgoblin Lands and with the merchants in Delhi at the other end of the trade route. The people of Untalpid are ruthlessly competitive in pursuit of their mercantile goals. They aren’t above assassination if they feel they can get away with it. Their cultural belief is that without an unrestricted contest, the best won’t rise to the top. By encouraging this pressure, they ensure that their leaders are always the best of the best.

Untalpid is ruled by elected magistrates that serve for life. Elections are held every year to select the vice magistrate to succeed the current magistrate in the event of their death. The city is split between two main factions for the voting blocks of goblins. One block typically supports a hobgoblin candidate for office. The other block typically supports a barghest candidate. The competitive nature of the city combined with the length of the term usually ensure that being elected is a death sentence of sorts. The magistrate and vice magistrate must constantly be on guard for assassination attempts and other such clandestine maneuvers for power. Even with the risk, the reward of near absolute power within the city is often worth it for the winner and their family.

The current magistrate of Untalpid is Skortwist the Bandit, a century old mercenary who has ruled the city for fifteen years. Skortwist made a name for himself with a tough group of goblins. They ventured through the Dominarie Mountains to loot ancient dwarven strongholds. On the other side they raided the human settlements of Aractrash. Upon returning to the Hobgoblin Lands he and his companions served in a number of battles between the different hobgoblin warlords fighting for control of the Hobgoblin Empire.

Over time Skortwist became worried that his violent lifestyle would lead to his death. He disobeyed his barghest instincts and settled down in Untalpid. Skortwist’s mercenary band had earned a fat chunk of change that bankrolled his new caravan business. With his commercial interests secured, Skortwist rose to the top of the Untalpid political ladder. His considerable power gathered during his decades of fighting made him resistant to the brutal attempts to remove him from his position. As the years passed the people of Untalpid saw easier paths to fortune in allying with Skortwist than in attacking him. Soon these alliances promoted Skortwist to the vice magistrate position. With a few words to his old mercenary buddies, the current magistrate was “removed from office” and Skortwist became the ruler of Untalpid.

As magistrate Skortwist has pursued an agenda of light but blatant corruption. His primary goal is enriching himself. His secondary goal is enriching his allies. He seems to be gaining wealth as an end unto itself. Those who resist his style of leadership occasionally find themselves without heads in the morning. After all, Skortwist is still a barghest and he still hungers for the souls of lesser beings.

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