Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Town of Rathor

The tharch of Gauros, updated to show created settlements


Alignment: CN
Races: Rashemi, significant half elf population, half elves are commons slaves
Classes: Druids predominate, rangers common, rogues and experts common
Temples: Beshaba, Malar, Shar, Talona
Shrines: Auril, Geb (open secret), Shaundakul
Age: Recent
Reputation: Discounted
Virtue: Industry
Vice: Vanity
Recent Event: Attacked
Desires: Recognition
Security: Top Notch
Access: Often Visited
Repair: Basic
Impression: Fuming
Sanitation: Comfortable
Lighting: Decent
Streets: Dirt

Rathor is a small town of woodsmen and miners nestled at the base of the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains. What maps do not tend to show are the forests which cover the foothills and provide much of the town's livelihood. There are two reasons for this: first, maps are not made with intimate knowledge of Thay (and are often seeded with false information), and second, because Rathor and its environs are largely forgotten on the country's stage. On one hand, the inhabitants are glad to be away from political nonsense, but on the other hand, they secretly crave recognition for all they contribute. For better or worse, they may soon get it.

Normally, Rathor receives many visitors for trade, so it is set up with more inns than one might expect. They also welcome the druids and rangers who frequent the region, however, so they are mindful of the land when they build anything. Streets have not been paved and the town has carefully developed away from the treeline. The wooden walls are treated with fire-resistant alchemical pastes. Waste is carried by slaves to central vats and then disposed of in batch lots, by magic or creatures. Food animals are used down to their smallest components and composting is mandated. Magical lights are set close to the forest rather than fires, and only trees marked by druids are logged (and are swiftly replaced). This makes Rathor a more pleasant place than it might be otherwise.

The presence (and protection) of druids and rangers is relatively rare in Thay; this is one of the few places they are powerful, well away from the city streets of sprawling metropolises like Eltabbar. The town also has a higher population of elves than elsewhere, particularly wood elves; they have been sent for specifically to benefit the forests. Elves who think they will have an easier time escaping soon meet defeat in the woods, where the druids are not kind, and in the steep, unforgiving mountains. Slaves in Rathor are worked hard and given the more unpleasant tasks, but the townsfolk all work hard, so they do not tend to outright abuse slaves who perform well. Justice in Rathor is swift and harsh for all, with duels to the death, being hunted by beasts of Malar, and being fed to wicker men being common sentences.

Once each year, the temple of Malar hosts a High Hunt. Slaves who wish to participate are hunted in the forests and hunted for the next night and day. They are not forced to do so, generally, because it is a challenge of their will. Those who survive win their freedom. Needless to say, few have ever succeeded. One who did was Vesdan, an elven woodsman who hid his druidic magic. Upon winning the hunt, he left Thay - but to everyone's surprise, he returned to Rathos and married a local Rashemi woman, taking her surname of Szollos. His daughter Lucindiya was born free and developed skill as a wizard. Although he was often scorned, Vesdan worked in the town's defense and won some begrudging respect.

Recently, the tharchioness Azhir Kren fell in battle, trying one last time to strike at Rashemen. There was no clear successor and a number of contenders arose to take her place, throwing Gauros into civil unrest. Attacks from strange Underdark creatures were on the rise, but all anyone seemed to care about was the power vacuum. It was then that Vesdan Szollos threw his hat into the race and petitioned the temple of Malar in Denzar to end the stalemate. He knew this would outrage the populace and wagered that it would get them to work toward a conclusion, and he was right. A Battle of the Tharchions was arranged and overseen by the temple on the plains near Rathor. The various contenders gathered and moved their forces, not against each other, but against hordes from the Underdark that were driven upward.

When all was said and done, Vesdan Szollos had the most - and most impressive -  victories and was declared tharchion. He is the first and only non-Mulan tharchion, and although he moved to Denzar shortly after to take up office, he has brought outside attention to Rathor for the first time in many years. What this will mean for the town has yet to be seen, but if it is going to make a name for itself, the time is now.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Fortress of Dhalinax

The tharch of Gauros, updated to show created settlements

Alignment: LN
Races: Rashemi, significant dwarves and gnomes are commons slaves
Classes: Fighters, clerics, rangers, rogues and experts common
Temples: Helm, Oghma, Shar, Tempus
Shrines: Auril, Beshaba, Grumbar
Age: Historical
Reputation: Tolerated
Virtue: Hope
Vice: Sloth
Recent Event: Imbued With Evil
Desires: Necessities
Security: Nearly Impenetrable
Access: Major Hub
Repair: Luxury
Impression: Too Quiet
Sanitation: Tolerable
Lighting: Poor
Streets: Tile

Once an abandoned, historic dwarven fortress, Dhalinax is now the northernmost town in Gauros. It bridges the gap between the Sunrise Mountains and the nearby hills, serving as security between Gauros and Rasheman. It is also a gate of trade between Gauros and Surthay, as well as the drow outpost below the shores of Lake Mulsantir. It serves as a launching point for expeditions into the mountains and the Gorge of Gauros. There are several great main gates on either side which require heavy-duty mechanisms to open; they are made of layers of stone and metal and benefit from magical wards. The machinery was based on old dwarven designs but has been updated with gnomish ingenuity, and it is no surprise that there are more dwarven and gnomish slaves than are typically found elsewhere in Thay.

The fortress is locked in a vicious cycle of feast and famine. At times, it is overcrowded with adventurers and merchants flush with currency and goods. At other times, the vaults are mostly empty and those who live there ration necessities. It survives because it is strictly organized by the temple of Helm, which has the greatest influence on the populace. Everyone who shelters within its walls must donate time and services to the upkeep of the fortress. All visitors are apprised of this before they are allowed inside. If they refuse to serve, they are turned away, but if they wish, they can trade their service for room and board. The central garrison has a system of task boards and tokens to keep track of chores, and an interview matches a person’s skills with a set of duties.

Given its location, the fortress does not enjoy the full protection of the Thayan weather net. It’s believed that the Red Wizards see little use in protecting the mountain range, especially when bad weather will help hamper escaping slaves. While the worst conditions remain in the peaks (hail, blizzards, avalanches, and anything else Talos can send through the porous net), the fortress is known to be colder than most places in Thay. The great vaults are not temperature controlled, but the rooms which line the vaults are warmed through magic or mundane means. Locals tend to wear layers as they venture from one side of the fortress to another and then shed them once they’ve reached their destination.

A stream from the Sunrise Mountains has been routed to serve as the fortress's main water source, emptying into a magical pit that stores the excess. Altogether, the fortress is impressive, with marble tile floors, high arched vaults lined with terraces, as well as a series of elevators that are operated via a blend of magical and mundane means. The lowest levels are forbidden to most (requiring permission from the mayor and/or the temple of Helm), and while justice is swift for offenses, it is not as inhumane as elsewhere in Thay. 

This is because there is more of a focus on order and efficiency than kindness and cruelty, and this attitude even extends to slaves. They work hard but they are allowed more freedoms in their spare time. They can craft, cook, brew, and so on, so long as they do not work against Thayans or Thayan interests. As a result, although the slave district is in the dankest part of the fortress, it has an engaging blend of styles, scents, and sounds. Visitors and inhabitants alike venture there for experimental gnomish cuisine and dwarven specialties. Slaves who follow the gods represented in local temples and shrines are allowed to worship at these official spaces. (In most of the country, slaves worship on their own and must construct their own shrines out of detritus.)

All in all, a visit to Dhalinax is a memorable experience, if one has occasion to go there.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Denzar, capital of Gauros

The tharch of Gauros, updated to show created settlements

Denzar, capital of Gauros

Alignment: NE
Population: Sufficient
Races: Rashemi, significant half orc population, gnomes are commons slaves
Classes: Rangers predominate, fighters common, clerics and adepts common
Temples: Malar, Tempus, Shaundakul
Shrines: Shar, Garagos, Beshaba, Bane, Auril
Age: Well Established  
Reputation: Accepted 
Virtue: Confidence 
Vice: Wrath
Recent Event: New Attack 
Desires: More Time 
Security: Basic 
Access: Often Visited  
Repair: Poor 
Impression: Belligerent
Sanitation: Tolerable
Lighting: Poor
Streets: Gravel

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thayan Noble Houses: House Ashmeddai

Art by artemismorgan

House Ashmeddai

Trade and Interests: Arcane magic (enchantment) 
Historical status: Ennobled -2000 to -999 DR 
Ally: Hunosel [Arcane magic (illusion)] 
Enemy: Savrian [Arcane magic (divination)] 
Virtue: Patience 
Vice: Vanity 
Reputation: Recognized 
Recent Event: New Suppliers 
Desires: Undecided 
Condition: Poor 
Favored Alignments: LE, NE, CE
Favored Deity: Shar 
Colors: Black and blue 
Symbol: Mirror 

House Ashmeddai enchanters were derided for most of their long history in Mulhorand. Their devotion to arcane magic, and enchantment in particular, was seen as foolish. Their services were sought in matchmaking and deal-brokering but kept secret; their use of blackmail bred resentment. They were accused of heresy after meddling in affairs great and small and were on the verge of losing everything when the rebellion gave them a chance for a fresh start. 

The family benefited from the magocracy that arose - with one zulkir for each school of magic, it would inevitably produce a ruler. Still, rising to prominence proved difficult. Enchantment was not seen as terribly useful in the settling of Thay and the first zulkirs were among the most ruthless, without an Ashmeddai among them. The house turned to Shar for patronage and embraced her tactic of waiting for the right time to strike from the shadows. 

Banding together with House Hunosel proved fruitful and both worked behind the scenes to improve each other’s lot. The enclaves provided a surprising boost of prestige as Thayans looked for ways to woo foreigners and move contraband into other kingdoms. The family has suffered in recent days from poor leadership and a lack of vision; simply put, it doesn’t know what to aim for next. This has left too much time for petty squabbles that have weakened the family as a whole. 

Please Note:
  • Events and Desires are brief inspirations for current roleplay; the finer details are up to you, and the house may have been very different in previous eras.
  • Thayan houses typically have more than one ally and enemy among the other houses; what is noted above are just the primary ties.
  • Virtue, Vice, Reputation, and other aspects cover the house as a whole and what it is known for in modern times, but individuals within the house can vary greatly.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Thayan Noble Houses: House Aporos

House Aporos

Trade and Interests: Architecture (homes)
Historical Status: Ennobled -2000 to -999 DR
Ally: Kren [Timber]
Enemy: Malaergost [Poisonmaking]
Virtue: Patience
Vice: Carnality
Reputation: Accepted
Recent Event: New Church Opened
Desires: To Locate the Lost
Condition: Revitalizing
Favored Alignments: CN, CE, NE
Favored Deity: Cyric (select text to see the secret); Waukeen (public)
Colors: Gray and blue
Symbol: Geometric pattern

Once upon a time in Mulhorand, House Aporos was a small but highly esteemed family dedicated to building private homes for the elite.  This was an important distinction from public structures, which belonged to the temples.  Constant meddling by the theocracy was a deciding factor when the rebellion occurred; over half the house left to seek better fortunes in Thay.

House Aporos was bitterly disappointed when it took decades before grand private homes were commissioned.  The family struggled to stay afloat until the other noble houses thrived.  Then, once business boomed, nobles complained that the designs were outdated and too much like the old country.  Commissions dwindled, and it seemed like another house would take its place.  A schism arose in Aporos as members struggled over how to respond (select text to see the secret), and those who followed Cyric won out by orchestrating the deaths of the worst offenders.

The house has since gained a reputation for discretion.  What it is best at, however, is planning homes for intrigue and hiding its own hand.  When House Kren arose, Aporos stepped in to support its growth, and the young house couldn’t afford to refuse such an ancient benefactor.  Kren has been shaped by Aporos ever since, without realizing the extent of Aporos’s influence.  The feud with House Malaergost is private and cut-throat since Aporos has continually stolen from the poison-makers.  The family has never attained the esteem it craves(select text to see the secret), which makes it fertile ground for Cyric’s creed - a dogma of betrayal that always cuts both ways.

Please Note:
  • Thayan houses typically have more than one ally and enemy among the other houses; what is noted above are just the primary ties.
  • Virtue, Vice, Reputation, and other aspects cover the house as a whole and what it is known for in modern times, but individuals within the house can vary greatly.
  • Events and Desires are brief inspirations for current roleplay; the finer details are up to you, and the house may have been very different in previous eras.