Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Venatia - Part Twelve

Okay - probably the last preview of Venatia's eastern half. Today, I'm covering five city-states located in (or near) the Golden Coast. Now, when I create these sandboxes, the first thing I do is randomly generate the contents of the hexes using a huge excel document I created. Based on the terrain of each hex, the excel document randomly fills it with a monster lair, natural feature, village, stronghold or, very rarely, a city. Well, when I generated Venatia, I got five cities in the northeast quadrant of the map, not including Ibis, which I had pre-placed myself - all part of the fun of random tables.

4223 Bodbertus: Bodbertus is a river port city of 5,000 people. The Bodberters, as they are colloquially called, are related to the chalkeions of the Golden Coast. They have reddish brown skin, broad, round faces with brown, grey or blue eyes and thick, straight hair of pale blond to auburn that they wear braided. They tend to be tall, averaging 6 feet in height.

Bodbertus is constructed in the lush valley of the River Vusk, which eventually flows through the Grete Myre and finally empties into the Tepid Sea. The valley is well cultivated and dotted with manorial villages. The economy is based on mining in the mountains. The city-state’s currency is the wose, minted in gold, silver and copper. The patron deity of Bodbertus is Eris, goddess of strife, contention, rivalry and war.

The city itself has an outer wall consisting of thick earthen ramparts topped with wooden spikes and patrolled by groups of 2d6 militiamen in leather armor and carrying bill hooks, short bows and long knives. There is also an inner wall measuring 60 feet tall composed of granite blocks and strong towers. The inner wall has three gates of thick, laminated pine reinforced with iron. The inner wall is patrolled by men-at-arms wearing chainmail and carrying pole axe, short sword and light crossbow (see below).

The buildings within the city are tall and narrow and constructed of white granite with sharply peaked roofs of green copper or tarred pine. Bodbertus is notable for its lush gardens, graceful architecture, expansive markets (there is a corn market, livestock market, metal market, cloth market and gem market), local fencing schools and dozens of eccentric hedgemages. In fact, there are so many mages in Bodbertus that each city guardsman is equipped with three +1 crossbow bolts, and each sergeant of the guard is equipped with three +1 bolts that cause 1d4 points of lightning damage when they hit.

The city streets follow a radial pattern, and are narrow and twisty. The most celebrated construction within the city-state is its museum of ancient treasures, an octagonal building with thick, granite walls. It contains, behind four permanent walls of force, a collection of royal regalia dating to the ancient and warlike Venatian chieftains of the woods, from whom the Countess traces her descent.

Bodbertus is ruled by a triumvirate of elected prefects, one elected by the guilds, one by the peasantry and one by the nobility. All three prefects are quite corrupt. The prefects are under the control of the Ophelia, Countess of Bodbertus, who rules the city-state’s domain and from whom the triumverate and the city’s guilds gained their charters. Ophelia has a measure of storm giant blood in her veins, making her a sorceress of no mean ability.

Bodbertus’ domain is populated by 45,000 people. The nobility consists of 25 baronets. There are also eight ecclesiastical manors. The country is divided into two shires, each patrolled by a sheriff – Jeovald north of the river and Guennock south of the river. The two men despise each other and vye for the hand of the Countess Ophelia. The city watch consists of 50 men-at-arms and the city-state’s standing army consists of 300 militia, 20 knights and 19 sergeants-at-arms.

• Ophelia, Magic-User Lvl 7; HP 24; AC 9 [10]; Save 9; Special: Spells (4th); Crimson robes, golden coronet, thin, twisty pine wand that can cause one subject to dance.

• Guennock, Aristocrat: HD 3 (19 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (9 in armor); Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Soldiers are +1 to damage; Platemail, battle axe, dagger.

• Jeovald, Aristocrat: HD 3 (9 hp); AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (9 in armor); Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Soldiers are +1 to hit; Platemail, shield, long sword, dagger.

5013 Argis: Argis is a fading city of the chalkeions. The city is constructed on a low rocky plateau with steep sides overlooking the Dinar River, with a system of pulleys and a fortified mule trail linking the city proper to its docks. The city has thick walls of stone, a number of small gates of beaten bronze and tall watch towers manned by expert crossbowmen. Argis is dominated by is ancient citadel and known for the three mighty aqueducts that bring fresh water into the city from the Sturmdrangs. Argis’ patron deity is Kubeleya, the great goddess of the Golden Sea pantheon.

The streets of Argis are narrow and maze-like, and almost impossible for outsiders to navigate what with the propensity of the locals to set up temporary booths and carts to sell their goods. Almost 7,500 chalkeions are packed into Argis’ tall, narrow, tower-like buildings. The buildings of Argis are made of fired red brick with dome-like bronze roofs. The city-state is built around a number of medicinal hot springs, and features a multitude of baths.

Argis is also known for its well-stocked shops (and outrageous prices), medicinal gardens, its brotherhood of druids and rangers that comb the hills for monsters and the fact that almost every surface of every wall and building is covered with mosaics or grotesque terracotta sculpture.

The streets are patrolled by a total of 75 hoplites in archaic armor (treat as chainmail) carrying long spears with black shafts, short swords and crossbows.

Argis has a massive temple dedicated to Kubeleya and her consort, the fertility god Atys. As one of the last cities of the chalkeions, it supports temples to Kotys, goddess of the moon, lust, revelry and the hunt, Sabazios, the cthonic horseman, Zalmoxis, the thunder god worshiped by berserkers, Dionysus (who the Motherlanders call Bacchus), Men, the little god of the moon, and the deities of medicinal springs, Vidasus and Thana.

Argis is surrounded by a domain of 67,500 peasants in 50 manorial villages and mines, mostly goat and sheep herds, but also farmers and miners of gold, copper and silver. The metals trade dominates the economy, and has prompted dozens of foreign merchant companies to construct factories in Argis. Argis has an army of 460 light footmen (mostly spearmen, slingers and archers) and a corps of 30 hoplites in platemail with shield, spear and sword.

Argis is ruled by King Thrasophon and his queen, Hyperne. The royal family also includes princes Phomachus and Hierophius and princesses Thrasoipa, Isaphraste and Lysiela. The king never appears in public without his fire drake-skin cloak (+2 save vs. fire) and his golden scepter and spiky crown.

• Chalkeion Hoplite: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 weapons (1d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: None.

• Chalkeion Sergeant: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 weapons (1d6); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 6/400; Special: None.

• Princes: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 weapons (1d6); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 7/600; Special: None.

• King Thrasophon: HD 11 (59 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 weapons (1d6); Move 12; Save 4; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: None.

6503 Utya: Utya is a city-state of 12,500 men and women that originated as a military fortress of the ancient Nabu Empire. It is constructed on the banks of the Oeagrus River within view of the blasted remains of an ancient chalkeion citadel.

The people of Utya have coarse, fleecy hair of dark brown and eyes of brown, green or hazel that they highlight with kohl (men and women). They are magnificent physical specimens, standing 6 ½ to 7 ½ feet in height with muscular builds, angular faces and light, creamy skin.

Utya is surrounded by a triple wall of wooden palisades and thick earthworks. It has four stone gatehouses (the River Gate, Mountain Gate, Gate of the Blue Men – see [7502] for more information – and Leopard Gate or Gate of Victory) with steel-reinforced doors operated by stone golems. Within the walls are narrow, stinking, muddy streets and rows of squat, flat-topped buildings constructed of grayish-green brick. The city is built on a grid, but the “suburbs” are less ordered than the city center, which is dominated by a Moon Temple dedicated to Khonsu, the Nabu moon god, and the nomarch’s palace, a vast conglomeration of gardens, brick courtyards and square pavilions. The streets are patrolled by men wearing ring mail and carrying shields, throwing axes and curved short swords.

Utya is known for its many religious idols, which seem to glare at visitors from above every arch and around every corner, as well as its wandering gangs of priests who sing psalms (loudly and badly) for alms. Visitors to Utya usually come for its courtesans, men and women wrapped in gauzy robes of pink or midnight blue and carrying blue lanterns, even in the daytime, or the city’s infamous school of wizardry.

Utya’s economy is based on the fruit trade, with the fields around the city producing an especially tasty golden grape that is turned into a sparkling wine, and the many almond and fig orchards. The economy has been weak of late, but the people have remained cheerful through the hard times.

Utya is ruled by a nomarch (the feudal governors of ancient Nabu) named Haspedth. While the nomarch would have been appointed in the days of the empire, they are now elected by the people, with each hopeful nomarch-to-be minting tin coins in his image and people voting by dropping these coins through the front gates of the palace under the watchful eyes of the high priest of Khonsu, Tebet. The night before each election, the candidates are tested in the arena of combat with light, wooden swords, with the winner of the combat usually chosen nomarch the next day.

7215 Lithr: Lithr is an ancient city of 1,000 stone giants built at the mouth of the Oeagrus River. The city has mammoth walls of granite 150 ft tall and four mighty stone towers, each equipped with a ballista that the stone giant use as a heavy crossbow and dozens of throwing stones. The stone giants of Lithr are tall and angular in body, with pale gray skin and not a sign of body hair. They generally dress in greens and grays, usually in light tunics with sandals and, when the weather turns chilly, cloaks.

The buildings of Lithr are pyramidal stone structures, with wide streets and patrols of 1d3 stone giants (always female) each leading a black bear on a chain. Lithr is known for its lush vines of figs, its orchards of apples and the copious quantities of cider it presses each autumn. The stone giants are peaceful by nature, and welcome traders of the small folk so long as they behave. All small folk are kept at a large inn called the Pudding Pot that is run by Porogan, a swarthy Ibisian with a flair for cookery. The inn’s second story is ringed by a gallery where traders can meet with potential giant trading partners, the arrangement being easier for both small and tall. The stone giants mostly trade via barter, but will accept bars of precious metals and large gems.

Besides their apples and cider, the Lithr are known for their massive ziggurat dedicated to Ymir, the progenitor of all giants, and its corps of rangers, stone giants armed with colossal longbows (1d12 damage) and trained giant hunting owls. The temple is overseen by Wall, who has the abilities of a 6th level druid, and the rangers lead by Peorn, who has the abilities of a 3rd level ranger. Lithr’s queen is the stoic and often cruel Sikn.

7502 Palah: Palah is a city of blue-skinned men and women with golden hair and eyes of the lightest gray and blue-green. The palahi are believed to be colonists from another dimension or world – they aren’t telling – by those sages who have managed to visit them. All palahi have the ability to control people’s minds (per the charm person spell, usable at will).

Palah has a population of 17,500, making it the second largest city in the region after Ibis. The hills and valleys around the city have sewn with salt by the palahi to support their soul source of nourishment, a creeping lavender vine that produces bunches of small, purple crystalline berries that taste of salt and lime. Humans can live on the berries for a few weeks before the very high salt intake begins to take a toll on their health. The many acres of lavender vines are cultivated by over 150,000 peasants, who trill strange songs with their throats while they work, using tame giant snails to pull their plows and fertilize the fields with their trails of slime. Palahiland, as it has been termed by sages, is composed of three districts, each ruled by a zim (roughly equivalent to a count). At the extreme western end of the domain there is a small trading town called Zibbul, where outsiders trade exotic goods for mineral salts and smelted metals.

The city boasts an army of over 1,000 footmen armed with repeating crossbows (3 shots per round) and large cleavers with hooks jutting out from the back of their heads. The army also has 74 knights wearing chainmail and carrying shields, lances and cleavers mounted on what appear to mechanical armadillos.

The city-state itself is constructed on a large, flat island in the midst of a shallow acid lake. A long bridge of spun glass spans the lake, but those crossing the bridge at less than a trot must pass a saving throw or be overcome by the acrid fumes and become nauseous for a few rounds and then die choking on blood. The palahi make a living dredging weird salts and metals from the shores of the lake, the workers wearing respirators and using thick, long-handled glass scoops.

The palahi are cheerful, friendly folk. Their city has smoothly cobbled twisty streets (paved in brilliant azure stones) and spacious, multi-storied buildings built in a rococo style. The streets are patrolled by watchmen in chainmail and shield wielding cleaver, man-catcher (one per team) and longbow, and often assisted by thick, white eyeless worms that they have trained like guard animals. The city has 175 watchmen, each deadly in the extreme with their longbows – in fact, it is the fortunate thief indeed who is placed in the city stocks rather than spitted by a barbed arrow.

Palah is home to numerous little museums in the ground floor of noble homes, each a showcase of the odd collections of its owner. It is governed by King Jespers, a monarch elected by the noble families of Palah. The king, in turn, appoints dozens of nobles to his privy council and to oversee the plantations.

The palahi worship an alien god they call Vinin. Vinin’s idols, which are numerous and placed throughout the city, depict a short palahi man with a graceful build and wearing a pointed, onion-shaped red helm. He carries a thick cutlass in one hand and a skull in the other and is apparently a god of killing placated by the sacrifice of young men, who throw themselves from the glass bridge under the fourth full moon of each year in frenzied adulation.


So, the five city-states of eastern Venatia. Over the next week, I'm going to work on the Gods of the Golden Sea, maybe preview a couple other articles I've written, and then get to work on the city-state of Ibis.

[Edit - Wow - many spelling errors. Can you tell I posted this at 11 at night?]

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