Monday, July 29, 2019

The Fortress of Dhalinax

The tharch of Gauros, updated to show created settlements

Dhalinax
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 Alignment: NE 
Favored Deity: Shar NE 
Color: 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 benefitted 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 Alignment: NE
Favored Deity: Cyric (select text to see the secret); Waukeen (public)
Color: Gray and blue
Symbol: Geometric pattern

Once upon a time 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, 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, 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. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thayan Noble Houses: House Ankara


House Ankara


Trade and Interests: Slave acquisition (piracy)
Historical status: Ennobled -1000 to 921 DR
Ally: Besklen [Armor (light)]
Enemy: Koraz [Magecraft (exotic components)]
Virtue: Confidence
Vice: Corruption
Reputation: Praised
Recent Event: Subjugated
Desires: To Stay
Condition: Poor
Favored Alignment: CN
Favored Deity: Umberlee CE
Color: Black and Gold
Symbol: Anchor

In the early days of Thay, the demand for slave labor was so great that House Ankara was called to begin work immediately - and well before it was ready.  The family had valuable ties to pirates in the Sea of Fallen Stars but had lost its best ships, key members, and a great deal of capital in the war to separate from Mulhorand.  It was tied up for years in rebuilding the family’s operations, which meant spending less time in the halls of Thayan power.

But House Ankara has always been stubborn.  It used its ties to other pirates for all they were worth, even marrying pirate captains from abroad to bolster its numbers.  This led to vicious fallout when Thayans betrayed others in the name of their new land but helped the family advance in the long run.  The house played hardball with other families that petitioned for slaves until more resources were provided.  Despite its services, the house’s reputation suffered for over a hundred years because of these moves.

The Ankara family found a surprisingly staunch ally in House Besklen, which provided the armors its members favored.  It also found an unexpected enemy in House Koraz, which regularly tries to command more room in ships for transporting magical components.  The family took a hit as the enclaves prospered and more slaves were sent back to Thay via portals.  After the Alaor islands were lost and reseized in 1369-1370, House Ankara schemed to wrest more power from the major shipping houses - and failed in its plot.  It has been begrudgingly subjugated since then and looking for ways to regain its footing.

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, but individuals within the house can vary greatly.
  • Events and Desires are brief inspirations for roleplay; the finer details are up to you.