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[White Elephant for Keichiokami]

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  • [White Elephant for Keichiokami]

    Hello! Keichiokami requested a location. I have some canon stuff in reserve (Grieve in the North, Goldenseal in the SW) but I thought I'd use this city in the South, a port on the Sea of Sand.

    A History of Paradip and its Bight


    “The IRE OF HESIESH emerged in a JUST and HOLY response to the worship of VILE ANATHEMA and their followers in the unshriven South. The monster Jochim’s end began with that eruption of fire and smoke, and the war against him would be prosecuted according to the SUTRAS OF HESIESH and the HOLY WAYS OF MELA, as is proper. His defeat was inevitable, for he rose up against the will of the Dragons, and of Heaven.”
    Vardapet Cathak Registrophe, writing in the Blood Phoenix Sutras, RY 598

    “The birth of the dragon Aodh, while praised by the Realm as Gaia’s vengeance against the Anathema Jochim, was in fact nowhere near Jochim’s empire and had little effect on its rise or fall. The Delzahn were uninvolved in the war and removed from Jochim’s empire, and Aodh’s emergence from the badlands of the high plateau destroyed their subjects, not the Forsaken’s. Leave it to the Realm and the Immaculates to conflate two otherwise unrelated events simply because it serves their fanatical interests, and because they happened in the same direction.”
    Saoshyant the Heretic, in his Diaries of the South
    Proscribed by the Immaculate Faith following their author’s crucifixion in The Lap , RY 639


    Paradip is the Delzahn Horde’s southernmost port, a last refuge of the Tri-Khan’s order, on the edge of the Sea of Sand. A city of the Second Age, the landscapes that define Paradip formed less than 200 years ago when a Greater Elemental Dragon was born on the high plateau south of Chiaroscuro. This cataclysmic event took several days, and was marked by a series of volcanic eruptions that covered the land in lava flows and ash. The dragon emerged at the site of modern-day Paradip, fusing miles of dunes into the sprawling reefs and islands of obsidian that now dot the bight that bears the city’s name.

    The first settlers in the area were prospectors and scavenger lords from throughout the south, drawn by the geomantic chaos caused by Aodh, and the demesnes that sprang up in the badlands as a result. In RY 600, a trio of scavenger lords-one Delzahn, one Varangian, and one a native of the dune sea-came together to found a city they called Blackstone, taking advantage of the location's water demesne and proximity to the dune sea. For almost two decades they prospered as a supply station for the scavenger lords who came to comb the badlands for essence and treasure, and the bureaucracy they established to organize the claims are still used today. But Blackstone is no more, buried by a huge sandstorm that flooded the bight with the golden sands of the dune sea.

    The location was too valuable to go unexploited for long, and in RY 630 the Delzahn arrived with geomancers, architects, and slaves. By RY 633 the city was finished-a series of platforms erected on the buried ruins of the old city. Work crews tunneled deep into the surrounding clifs, and sorcerers used elemental servants to join a series of cooled lava tubes into a road leading out of the city, through the badlands toward Ouarzazate. A system of qanats and windtraps supplied the city with water, and on the First of Ascending Air RY 634, a massive statue of The Maiden of Paradip was consecrated and the city had its name.

    The Realm took issue with the city’s iconodulism, and warned the Tri-Khan that his city’s heresy wouldn’t be permitted. Having prosecuted a crusade in the south less than a century prior, this was no idle threat. Faced with his city’s invasion, in RY 651 the Grand Vizier of Paradip closed the Tri-Khan’s low-way and settled in for a siege that never materialized. In RY 653, the Sultan of Paradip declared the city’s independence, and its status as a free port has shaped it ever since.

    Geography

    Paradip lies at the base of a crater that lies open to the south. Around all three other sides, steep obsidian cliffs rise almost a thousand feet to form razor sharp crags and peaks. To the south, the dune sea stretches in a shallow bight that shares the city’s name. Dotted with islands and obsidian reefs, the routes into and out of Paradip are closely guarded secrets. To the north, a steep staircase-the Black Stairs-winds up the sheer face of the cliffs, carrying prospectors and scavenger lord caravans up into the badlands. Almost 500 miles of blasted lava fields jagged, lifeless desert...most of the time. The geomantic chaos unleashed by the birth of a Greater Elemental Dragon has left essence of all sorts flowing over the landscape, pooling and coalescing into demesnes. Those demesnes and their products are the source of Paradip’s wealth, and its status as more than simply a port.

    To the west the low-ways carry caravans from Ouarzazate and other Delzahn holdings in the deep south. These lava tubes are enclosed and protected from the worst of the southern heat, their darkness broken only by the lanterns of travelers and luminescent fungi that grow in the caves. Trails of fungus are cultivated by the city, keeping the routes to the outside world open. To the east, the crystal desert joins the dune sea. The prophet Ikerre used the Eye of Autochthon here centuries ago, trying to destroy all the southern Fair Folk. Instead, every living thing for hundreds of miles was turned to shimmering crystal, and the land cursed.

    The city center rises from the bay on pillars of obsidian and basalt, all quarried out of the cliffs above. Comprised of eight discs of stone-the smallest a thousand feet wide, the largest almost two miles-Paradip’s center is a bustling, cosmopolitan port. Bridges and walkways connect the Coins above the still buried streets of the old city. The city’s quays stretch out into the dunes, and several islands-including the base of the Maiden-dot the bay.

    The cliffs are home to the city’s population, most dwellings having been carved out and expanded over centuries. Long boulevards like balconies stretch along the Black Stairs, entrances elaborately sculpted from the black glass. Higher streets are poorer and newer, with a rough hewn, quarried appearance.


    Places


    The Coins

    The elevated slabs that constitute the heart of the city are each different, in size and provenance, and each has its own particular flavor as a result. Most coins are connected by several official stone bridges and roads, as well as impromptu ziplines and woven bridges. The various Coins are...

    Obol, Siu, Yen, and Palace were all carved from the cliffs at the base of Paradip’s Eastern slopes. The tiers of their quarry are now some of the city’s middle-class neighborhoods. Obol is the largest Coin, and is home to the city’s nobility and wealthy merchant class. Most of the city’s temples are on Obol as well. Siu is middling in size, but is the Coin of the largest markets in the city. Yen is the Realm’s Coin, and access is limited to members of those Realm families with estates in the city (V’Neef, Cynis, Ragara) as well as their servants and guests. The Palace Coin is also well guarded, housing the Sultana and her family, as well as much of the city’s bureaucracy.

    Dinar and Dirham were both funded by the Guild, and are largely controlled by the Factors in the city. Dinar is the larger Coin, and is where most of the elevated stone quays that serve the city’s sandships are located. Shipbuilding and the city’s customs house both operate out of Dinar Coin as well. Dirham is where the Guild (and many other merchants) keep their goods, slaves in particular. The smallest of all the coins, Dirham is nevertheless the thickest, looming several stories over its neighbors, and is carved from a single plug of black basalt.

    Shard is a broken Coin. When it was being positioned on the scores of pillars intended to hold it above the old city, Shard cracked, dropping a third of its rectangular mass into the sand and leaving the remainder tilted and broken. In the years since the calamity, Shard’s been abandoned by its original tenants and is a cursed, angled slum inhabited only by the city’s most desperate residents.

    Malachite Coin is home to the Vertilibrii, occult heart of Paradip and arguably the most important place in the city, above even the Palace or the Factorhouse of the Guild. Housing a vast library, countless labs and workshops, and deep vaults filled with sorcerous ingredients, the Vertilibrii is one of the preeminent places of occult learning in the South, and is what keeps the city economically and practically viable in such unforgiving land.

    The Isles

    Paradip Bay is scattered with small islands, most too jagged or shallow to be useful. The inhabited islands are...

    Ribbon Island-When the city was settled for a second time, a cult of secrets made a pact with the Tri-Khan, trading some powerful secret for one of the islands in Paradip’s bay. When those cultists arrived in the newly settled city, they found that the Tri-Khan had gifted them the narrowest, most inhospitable isle in the bay, a ridge of basalt and obsidian only a few hundred feet wide, but almost a mile long. That isle has since become home to the Maiden of Paradip, a huge statue of a woman carved from obsidian, facing South with one hand outstretched. Held in that hand is the Pearl of Paradip, a cart-sized sphere of tar, resin, wax and oil that burns for a year in the Maiden’s hand, serving as the city’s lighthouse.

    At her feet, the island has been elaborately carved and hollowed, forming the temple of the Maiden and the monastery where the monks of the Maiden’s Cult worship, train, and venture forth as pilots in the Dune sea. Rare is the ship that navigates the Bight of Paradip without one of the Maiden’s Priests in its crew.

    Coal Island and Hoary Island-Both situated at the edge of the bay, Coal to the east, Hoary to the west, these islands are home to a Fire and an Air demesne, respectively, and their effects produce strange weather at the edge of Paradip bay.

    Coal Island is a squad black lump a couple of miles across, where trees, animals, and strange buildings made of coal grow out of the ground. Oil springs and Anthracite forests shelter boars and tortoises made of bitumen and lignite. Crews from Paradip harvest the products of Coal island, but are wary of the vapors from the island that make the winds nearby flammable.

    Hoary Island formed of ice around an uncappable Air demesne, and the combination of freezing air and blistering Southern heat fills the bay around Hoary island with fog and fierce winds. Ice from the island is valuable enough that some merchants brave the danger for a cargo of precious cold.

    False Island-The city’s Fair Folk are restricted to this island, trading slaves with the guild from polished wharfs and holding spectacular parties in their gossamer palace.

    The Fist-The Sultana’s guard control the bay from this fortress bristling with ballistae and firedust cannons.

    The Tiers
    These deeply carved subterranean homes house most of Paradip’s population, from well-heeled aspirational merchants in far-flung heights taking the cable-cars to work, to the old-moneyed aristocracy hiding decades of inbreeding and debauchery behind elaborately frescoed portals into the heart of the mountain, to hardscrabble escaped slaves clearing a cavern mouth at the tops of the old quarries...any sort of person can be found in the Tiers. Most caverns are family homes, with each new generation digging deeper into the mountains. Water and local businesses are accessible at the nexus of each Tier’s level. Long staircases and cable-cars connect the suburbs to the Coins at the center of the city.

    The Vertilibrii
    The heart of the Malachite Coin, this ziggurat’s sides are clad in the same mineral, a lambent green in the heart of the black and white city. Each level of the pyramid is elaborately laid out, with the design becoming more and more complex as you ascend. The first level houses the city’s numerous workshops and labs. The second level is Paradip’s library, second to none in the South. The third level contains classrooms and cells for the devout-past this level, outsiders rarely penetrate.

    Panchanga Orrery
    The Varangian population in Paradip built this astrological observatory on one of the high peaks surrounding the city. In addition to offering excellent lines of sight, the site is a lesser sidereal manse.

    Hanging Gardens
    This water demesne was capped by a manse during the days of Blackstone, and resembles that city’s rougher circumstances. The spring that flows from the rock is ornamented with black jade and carved sutras to Danaa’d. The water flows through a series of channels and pools through some of the oldest Tier neighborhoods, until it collects in a garden of waterfalls at the lowest level of the Tiers, where a bridge carved to resemble a dragon connects the cliffs with the Coins. The gardens are a wonder of the South, and draw pilgrims and tourists even from the Realm, where the iconography is widely considered blasphemous.

    The Undercity
    Where the sand recedes beneath the Coins, one can still see the ruins of Old Blackstone peeking through here and there. Occasionally, a brave scavenger lord goes looking for secrets and treasures there, just a few fathoms below our feet. Those fools never come back-never. The dead of Blackstone are numerous and hungry.

    Demographics

    There are several different ethnic groups and classes in Paradip. This is a list of only the most common.

    Delzahn
    Tall, narrow-faced and dark-skinned, the Delzahn people are common here in Paradip, but they are less urbane and cosmopolitan than their Chiaroscuran kin. This is the South of the Delzahn horde, and duels and bloodshed are common among the Omak(clans, tribes) of the southern Delzahn. Each tribe is sworn to a different totem god, whether an animal, a place, an object-each worships a different patron.

    Varangian
    The Varangian City States are a southern empire east of Chiaroscuro that roughly emulates India in its aesthetic and ethnicity. Varangian elephant cavalry and Varangian firewands are common sights in Southern wars, and their culture’s obsession with astrology and horoscopes dictates every Varangian citizen’s place in their society.

    Aren
    The Aren are the Sand People, the fires of the South mingling with the cool essence of Earth to form the people of the Southern Threshold. Paler than most southerners, the Aren share much with the people of the Blessed Isle, including the Immaculate Faith and sympathies for the Realm. This far south, Aren are often treated with bigotry and contempt.

    Esfandi
    The nomadic inhabitants of the dune sea are a blend of several peoples who border the dune sea. Their skin is so dark as to be almost black, but their proximity to the pole of fire manifests itself as flaming red or golden hair and eyes.

    Murian
    Muria is a remote land deep in the dune sea, ruled by a centuries-old mummified nobility. Murian merchants put in at Paradip for slaves and goods, and the Sarikhan of Muria keeps a consulate there. Murians tend to be dark skinned and tall, often gaunt and swaddled in traditional southern robes.

    Fair Folk
    Only the emissaries of the Lapis Court are welcome in Paradip, but a whole island-False Island, fittingly enough-is set aside for their use and is a district of the city all unto itself. Fae found off the island are subject to branding with cold iron.

    Beastmen
    Jackalmen, Goatmen, Serpentmen, and Toadmen are common sights in Paradip, either merchants and pirates, or as slaves from the deeper south. Some Delzahn Omak take in beastmen as shamans.

    Phenomena

    Wither-A dried fungus smoked in certain southern junipers and sages, this looks like what it’s named. Grey, jerky like substance, when chewed, reduces the need for water by up to half, for up to a month. After a couple days use, though, wither-chewers lose a point of willpower. After a week-a point of intelligence. After two weeks, a point of compassion and a point of temperance.

    The Whorls-locals don’t speak of dunes-the sand in Paradip bight is a weird melange of shapes and colors, and can exhibit strange qualities. Some sand flows like water, some vanishes like smoke when disturbed, some hardens into flows like ice. The blond sand of the deep dune sea mixes here with deep black and grey sand made of glass. The stark contrasts of the land have bled into the culture of its inhabitants-where in Chiaroscuro one would see brightly colored robes on Delzahn men, here the only colors used are black and white and beige. Even Paradip’s flag-a black spiral on a white backdrop-reflects the colors of the land.

    Qanats-When a scavenger lord finds a usable demesne, he constructs a qanat-a sort of temporary manse-to direct the essence from the demsne back to the city. Some techniques use mirrors, or canals dug in the earth. The essence from the demesne can be channeled back to a vessel in the city, and then used for any number of purposes.




  • #2
    This is glorious! Now i want to run a game set in The South using this as a central location. Thank you so much! ^_^


    May you live in interesting times...

    Storyteller of Sun Forged Oath

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    • #3
      I like this too, but the Coins confuse me a bit. I really don’t see how anyone in the second age could quarry out a giant stone plate and move it anywhere in a single piece, so I feel like I’m missing something.


      ....

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      • #4
        In my mind, a sorcerer with Summon Elemental or Demon of the First Circle could obtain the labor necessary. I think of the Second Age as being diminished, but not primitive. I run my Exalted pretty over-the-top, tho.

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