Phoenix

The original concept for this city was created by one of the players in my group. His internet pseudonym is Middle_Snu, so he should get some of the credit for making Phoenix what it is. I expanded on his ideas to write what you see below.

Phoenix

At the merging of the Curving Stream and Delain Tribute lies Phoenix, a city of some 120,000 inhabitants. Phoenix has always revolved around guilds. Every Phoenixian worth their salt belongs to one of the influential guilds of the city. Guilds are legally allowed to kill unlicensed professionals who fall under their jurisdiction if those individuals refuse a position within the guild. As a result, being blacklisted from a guild generally means a move to a new city or a change in profession. Strangely, even the thieves of Phoenix have an official guild. In actuality, “thieves” keep the streets clean acting as a police force, assuming that a sum of protection money is paid to them. Unlicensed thieves, in the meantime, are tortured for days upon being captured.

Phoenix is a major trade center between Western and Eastern Cimmeria. Many things can be bought in Phoenix, including people. The Slaver’s Guild is a major force, though there isn’t much traffic in newly captured slaves. Phoenix imports a lot of metal from Jord, and grain barges moving upriver for the Dwarves are not an uncommon sight.

Spellcasters have a special place in the guild system. Sorcerers and wizards must register for the Mage’s Guild in order to be able to cast spells legally (costs 50 gp), but clerics, even those of the Titans, may cast freely. Because full members of the Mage’s Guild are required to create a certain number of magical items for sale every year, Phoenix has a booming trade in magical items. Arcane scrolls, potions, and magical items can generally be bought here for as much as 10% below market price. On the other hand, selling magical items without being a member of the Mage’s Guild or a member of the local clergy is a capital crime.

The Mage’s Guild and the rights of clergy were recently upset by the Xorian takeover of Phoenix. All resident clerics of the Olympian pantheon were given a choice, convert to Dragoviniysm or face execution. Most of the clerics chose to die rather than betray their gods. The members of the Mage’s Guild were given a similar choice, but they accepted. The majority of the mage journeymen were turned into Dragovinians to become the new elite of Phoenix.

There was an Adventurer’s Guild in Phoenix prior to the Xorian invasion. The members were simple individuals for the most part who hired themselves out to the highest bidder. Groups of six or more adventurers could be hired for contracts, although prices were steep. There was a ill-defined barrier between the Mercenary’s Guild and the Adventurer’s Guild as to the proper jurisdictions of each. This disagreement had sparked street-fighting in the past, but the difference between the two guilds were set aside when the Xorians approached the city. During the Battle of Phoenix, the Adventurer’s Guild was wiped out. Many of the mercenaries fought on to the last while the guild leaders of Phoenix escaped. Those who surrendered were given the choice of turning to Dragovinians. Many accepted this offer. The two headmasters of the Mercenary’s Guild, Gradorian and Junai, escaped and are rebuilding a military force in Jipangu to combat the Xorians.

Prior to the Xorian invasion the Thief’s Guild oversaw the day to day business of the city and, with the assistance of the clerics, arbitrated any disputes between the guilds. The laws of the city fluctuated based on what guild a person belonged to. Nonmember visitors to the city fell under the Thief’s Guild jurisdiction leading to a high pickpocket rate in Phoenix for people without guild membership. Since the invasion, the militocracy of Phoenix has taken over. King Jevaninada II has made Phoenix into a base to quarter his troops for the coming winter. Blendegad has also moved his throne to the main temple of Phoenix. Blendegad and Jevaninada II personally oversee the activities of the city.

The city’s supplies were already stretched thin during the protracted siege, but now they are forced to provide for thousands of additional Xorian soldiers who were once the city’s enemies. The Xorian supply chains alleviate some of this problem, but those same supply chains are also under attack by the Rebels in Gazeara. Not wanting his own troops to suffer, King Jevaninada II has taken food, clothing, and homes from the people of Xoria and given them to his own soldiers. Thousands of Phoenix citizens are left on the streets with food or shelter. The execution of most of the clerics in Phoenix has only exacerbated this issue. Winter will come soon and many malnourished people will die once the temperature drops.

The Innkeeper’s Guild continues to maintain only one inn in Phoenix, the King’s Rest. Spanning some three blocks, the King’s Rest has everything from a hard floor and gruel to the most luxurious suites with gourmet foot on demand. Prices range from 1 cp-100 gp a night. Stables are an additional 1 silver per night per horse. The Innkeeper’s guildmaster is Bernarda, a Human. The King’s Rest was used to house hundreds of Alliance soldiers before the invasion and now it holds a complementary amount of Xorian troops. Bernarda has taking a liking to Dragoviniysm. She attends services every week and hopes that her actions as the Innkeeper’s guildmaster will earn her immortality as a Dragovinian.

-GoCorral

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Harbinston

Harbinston isn’t nearly as politically important to Cimmeria as the other cities I’ve detailed. It is a small village on the border of the territories influenced by Bradel Fields and Dalleer. I wrote a description of the out of the way town because a series of adventures I ran for my players was based in the village. Maybe the village will be important in my current campaign and maybe it won’t. Time will tell!

Harbinston

Harbinston is a small town of little more than four hundred people. The town sprung up as a trading stop between Dalleer and Bradel Fields. Merchants and traders traveling on the Black River would stop at the easy banking spot close to Robber’s Canyon. As trade increased along the river it also increased the number of robbers from which Robber’s Canyon gets its name. Many of the townsfolks had two lives, one of theft, and another of reprovisioning their victims. No concrete evidence of the duplicity was ever discovered, but the traveling merchants eventually grew suspicious and switched their method of travel to caravans along the eastern shore, safe from the robbers’ ambush tactic.

Harbinston’s large bandit population was a result of no administrative control in the town. No system of government controlled the town and for a long time both Dalleer and Bradel Fields claimed the small town as their own. The dual claim caused a standoff where neither city sent representatives to the town as doing so might spark a war between the two larger city-states.

About sixty years ago a group of adventurers did take an interest in cleaning up the town and cleaning out the nearby dungeons. The adventurers provided a steady flow of income to the villagers from the dungeons they raided. Highwaymen moved back to town and reopened their old shops to draw the heroes’ attention, greatly reducing bandit activity. The peace did not last forever. Eventually the adventurers retired to various mansions they had built close to the town and the highwaymen came back to prey on what little river traffic remained. One of the adventurers, Burne, even led the bandits for a time.

When the adventurers retired Harbinston lost its temporary protection against the many different monsters and creatures that have chosen to live around it. The town had no real guardians to act as predators for the monsters of the world, so every beast imaginable invaded the area surrounding the little village. Constructs, undead, plant monsters, mutated beasts, trolls, minotaurs, and even a dragon with its kobold servants moved to the fertile and previously unsettled fields around Harbinston. The dragon, called Joker, took a maiden from the town every decade.

To make matters worse two decades ago Harbinston had an outbreak of the plague. Without an experienced enough cleric to cast remove disease, the town sought help from Dalleer. Surprisingly, Dalleer agreed to send some strong clerics and medical supplies downriver and for once it looked like the town would have a lord to protect it. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, the town’s bandits attacked the medical barges. The medicine was not lost because of the strong guards Dalleer had hired, so the sick people in Harbinston were saved. The same could not be said for the dozens of young men who lost their lives in the foolish battle. Diplomacy with Dalleer was broken off after the incident.

The same guards who killed so many of Harbinston’s men to defend the medicine took it upon themselves to remove the other afflictions that plagued the town. They slew Joker and freed the maidens he had taken as his captive wives. The guards cut a bloody swath around the town, removing every monstrous threat for miles, save the kobold servants of Joker who were left to their own devices.

The town began to thrive again after the monsters were slain. With the bandits gone as well, trade resumed. Only the occasional kobold attack interrupted the town’s resurgence. During the recent negotiations between Bradel Fields and Dalleer, Bradel Fields agreed to cede all claims to Harbinston in exchange for Dalleer’s entrance into the Second Alliance War against Xoria. Harbinston now has official protection from a large city-state as well and it seems could never be brighter for this small settlement in the wilderness.

Most of the original band of heroes that protected the town are now long dead. The remaining hero, Sherlock the Warlock, built a tall tower for himself a day’s journey outside of town. He hasn’t left the tower in decades. Adventurers visit him occasionally and tell tales of all manner of strange things in the tower. Sherlock appears very knowledgeable if knowledge is what you seek. The adventurers who have gone to the tower also say that the old wizard has lost his mind.

-GoCorral

Colchis

This is the first of these entries that requires more significant editing. I admit that when a character never showed up in my previous campaigns I saw no reason to change the name or provide a different story. The same can’t be said for Aeëtes. He played a large role in the events over the past forty years in Cimmeria and he also died. I needed to detail the more recent history of Colchis which will become relevant in my campaign soon. I also needed to remove the references to Aeëtes that used the present tense. Additionally, there are a few words and mythical characters that you might not be familiar with in this post. Rather than define them here, I’ve added links to appropriate webpages with additional information if you wish to access it.

Colchis

Colchis is the famed holy city where Jason ventured to find the Golden Fleece. Before the Trojan War the city was ruled by King Aeëtes and the same king continued to rule into the new age. After having his city’s prized possession stolen from him he panicked and immediately sought out a way to extend his natural life. He found his answer in undeath. Aeëtes forced the city magician to transform him into a Curst. With eternity on his side, Aeëtes studied as many magical tomes as he could get his hands on in order to increase his inhumane might. He later had his eternal power increased by having himself spell-stitched.

This unholy process didn’t go without attracting some attention from Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Every mortal who becomes an immortal has effectively escaped Erebos and Hades doesn’t like losing any of his citizens, especially kings. Hades put a bounty on King Aeëtes. Hundreds of Marut inevitables, demons, devils, bounty hunters, and hopeful heroes swarmed to Colchis in the wake of the Trojan War. They all failed and died due to Colchis Castle’s excellent defenses and the intervention of Demeter who stepped in to save Aeëtes due to her old grudge with Hades. Some of the warriors were captured and made to serve King Aeëtes through magical charming, bribing, or in the case of the inevitables, reprogramming. The other creatures have since died out, but the inevitables survived the centuries. Aeëtes even made more inevitables to increase their numbers.

While Aeëtes lived Hades sent another army to attack the city every blood moon. Aeëtes fought off all of these attacks but he could not defend against the Seven Rages of Jevaninada the First. The Seven came to Colchis and subdued Aeëtes. They forced him to undergo a permanent quest spell that bound him to serve King Jevaninada the First. This enchantment was broken by Amalgami and Salzar during the First Alliance War. Aeëtes engaged the Rage, Grave, during the uprising and lost his soul in the conflict. With his soul imprisoned in Grave’s ruby dagger, Aeëtes could not return to life as he once did. Some say that Grave bartered the soul to Hades, but others say that the soul still resides in the ruby dagger, now lost after the death of Grave.

At the conclusion of the First Alliance War, Queen Anajakaze put ruling ladies in control throughout the realm, replacing existing lords or absent lords such as King Aeëtes.  In Colchis she installed Lady Shunawo Ka, the sorceress, as the city’s ruler. Shunawo is one of the few ladies to survive the purge that King Jevaninada II instigated upon taking power. She married the King’s friend, Wulang, adopting his surname, Li. As Wulang often went away on eforcer missions, Lady Li continued to rule in his absence. She keeps control in Colchis Castle to this day, even with Wulang missing and presumed dead in Bigby’s Forest.

Colchis Castle has long been known for its amazing defensive capability. The castle is a built on a solitary hill in the middle of the city. The Don River has been rerouted to flow around both sides of this hill creating a natural moat. A large clutch of about thirty Tojanida were persuaded by Aeëtes to live in the moat. They prevent anybody from swimming across in exchange for food and gold from the ruler of Colchis, now Lady Li.

The Castle itself is an extradimensional space much bigger than it would normally be. There is space enough for the 65,000 people of Colchis to fit along with the food and water necessary to sustain them for four months. Every single one of the statues in the Castle animates upon intrusion and seeks out the trespasser. A guards and wards spell is also in effect for when the castle is under attack with the added effect of a suggestion over every significant entrance to join forces with the good and just Lady Li and receive great rewards. There are numerous other traps within Colchis Castle to prevent an army from ever reaching the basement where the population of the city waits during an attack. There are even rumors that the ancient sleepless dragon that Medea defeated is still somewhere within the citadel with an army of its Spartoi waiting at Lady Li’s command.

Colchis is practically a Greek city and thus the typical Colchian diet is also practically Greek. The farms in Colchis are especially plentiful because of Demeter’s help. They provide onions, wheat, olives, grapes, and goats for the people to eat and plenty left to export and earn money for the city’s defense against Hades. Some of the best wine in The Magical Lands comes from Colchis. The Colchians also consume fish and urchins that are taken from the Black Sea. Colchis has a small navy that can contend with any of the other tiny fleets on the Black Sea. They need fear no invasion from the Mediterranean due to the Symplegades.

A huge temple to Demeter was built after Aeëtes received her help in the first invasion of Hades. The temple walls are made of magically hardened glass that helps the indoor jungle plants grow. A special breed of faeries was made by Prometheus in exchange for a favor from Aeëtes at a later time. These faeries, dubbed Washernias, fly around on small water jets that keep the plants inside the temple hydrated. At the end of the temple away from the huge glass doors is a thirty foot high statue of Demeter standing with her arms spread out to the sides. In her left hand she holds a shaft of wheat and in her right, an apple. A smaller statue of Persephone rises to her navel. A large basin is carved into the floor at the statues’ feet for sacrifices to be offered into.

A large tomb to Aeëtes’s only son, Absyrtus, exists in the market district of Colchis. The custom of touching one’s hand to the lips and then to the heart as one passes the shrine has continued even after Aeëtes’s death. The interior of the tomb is open to those who wish to see the gold, jewels, treasure, and body contained within. The valuables are cursed and cannot be removed from the tomb. When the tomb was first opened many thieves tried to steal the items only to dissolve into putrid liquid as they exited the tomb. The corpse of Absyrtus was magically put back together after Medea eviscerated it and is now preserved with a magical effect emanating from the tomb itself. On the anniversary of Absyrtus’s death a day of the dead is held which includes a solemn parade that terminates at the tomb’s threshold.

It is not clear to the public why Aeëtes did not bring his favorite child back from the dead. Legend says that he attempted a resurrection that the soul of Absyrtus refused. The citizens of Colchis believe the corpse is animated and is simply under orders to remain in repose at the tomb until some mysterious event has passed. If this is true then Absyrtus would be an extremely powerful being after having nothing to do but gather his power over the centuries.

Colchis is a melting pot for the people of The Magical Lands and those of Greece. It attracts tourists from both sides to enjoy its mixed culture. The city also brings in many religious tourists due to the monuments built to the many heroes who passed through the city on the Argo. A strange effect has been noticed by those who visit Colchis. Whenever Lord Aeëtes or a Dragovinian pass by one of the fifty-two statues to the Argonauts, the statue’s eyes glow an eerie green. No one is sure why this happens, but some believe it to be due to the immortal nature of Aeëtes and the Dragovinians. This has infuriated Hades but his hands are tied by the blood moon restriction on his attacks on Colchis.

The city has many places to stay for tourists, travelers, pilgrims, and merchants. By far the most popular boarding house for adventurers is the Broken Wagon. The first room of the Broken Wagon was built from discarded wagon parts deemed unsalvagable by Colchian wainwrights. That room now serves as the entryway to a far larger structure. The Wagon is owned by the Nima family. The current owner, Dreyus Nima, is the descendant of the original builder, Gestor Nima. Dreyus was an adventurer for a time during his youth, but stopped after losing his hand. He has since regenerated the hand, but the fear of losing it again dampens his thirst for excitement. He loves to hear the tales of other adventurers and vicariously experience their thrills.

The rough and tumble appearance of the Broken Wagon provided the attraction for adventurers initially and now more and more come due to the network effect. Jobs a plenty can be found at the Wagon, bounties are collected at the Wagon, magical items are identified and traded at the Wagon, and everyone has a story to tell at the Wagon.