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Offline Ancient Gamer

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« on: April 11, 2005, 05:58:44 PM »
This is an idea that I have told the Captain about per Private Message.
Ageratos is a sword and sorcery setting, so there won't be any Dark Fantasy elements. I am thoroughly tired of dark fantasy in any case so this is a welcome change.

These notes are in a brainstorm format and needs to be fleshed out. I do not have much time nowadays and think it would stink if the idea died. Feel free to use the ideas Cap, if not I will flesh them out in a good while.

Quote from: "Early notes on the city'"
have posted this idea for an Ageratos setting in my brainstorm thread. Do you think it has that "Ageratos feel"? I haven't decided which bordering nation of Mysia's I will use. So far it is called "hostile nation".

Can I work on this idea or is it not of the correct substance? Please forgive the fact that it is just fragments of sentences, it is a brainstorm after all and not the finished product  

It is a city state on the Mysian and a hostile nation's border. The Patriarchs of the City (Priests of the major Temples) need great political acumen to keep the great powers from annexing the city state. It is built on terraces on the western slope of a hill, overlooking an inland sea.

Features:
-The ziggurat of an arch-Priest of great power and influence (perhaps slightly cliche, but I like them soooooo much)
-a great number of mysians and "other nation's citizens" bickering in the street, often ending in swordplay and duels.
-a famous garden built on several levels of terraces, leaf filled branches often hanging into the streets on the lower terrace.
-the "drowned legion" where hundreds of stone statues are partially submerged in a pool within the terrace gardens. They are bowing down, seemingly worshipping, their heads barely above the waterline.
-"Harlot street" where the smoky wisps of narcotic substances linger, merging with the intense perfume of the Harlots and the smell of sweating men. A place of rowdy tavernas, colourful merchandise and exotic looking harlots and belly dancers in veils and jewelry. (Oooh no! Cleavage again! How dare I!?)


Quote from: "Captains reply"
Anyway... if it is overlooking an inland sea, I would suggest that it lies on the border of Mysia and Carmania (who are definitely enemies), probably in the north (because Carmania narrows in the north between Mysia and the Sea of Esh-Eir, which is an inland sea {a very large one} lying between Ageratos and the Virtek Principalities to the east. In addition, the west of Mysia is fairly dry (even arid in places) all the way to the Western Wilderness and the Great Swamp.

Again- I like it a lot. You have the thumbs up from me!


Quote from: "My next pm to the Cap"
Okay I am working on the idea. I do have an awful lot of work to do, schoolwise, so the build could be slow.

This place could be a cool starting area for PCs! It is between two important nations, near the awesome Sea of Esh-Eir, a political hotbed -full of intrigue, possibly an important trade centre, a major port of Esh-Eir, etc...

Concerning the Atmosphere:
Between the Terrace Garden, the statue pool, the ziggurats and temples and exotic locations like "Harlot Street", this should be a fairly cool city with a vibrant atmosphere. It could easily be expanded. Here are some suggestions:

-The spirit shrine (or even several shrines): This is an open walled shrine (only a roof and four marble pillars) where an altar has been erected. On this altar are hundreds of candles, small bronze and terracotta idols, sacred glyphs written on holy scrolls, small bowls filled with coins, and other offerings to the spirits. The locals might believe that offerings at this altar keeps the evil spirits at bay or offer prayers to their protective spirits. (There might even be angry spirits that are sated by the offerings... Good for those moments when a PC is too sticky fingered for his own good  

-The crematorium: A mortuary close to the temple of <death god>(if you have one). Here the (rogue?) Priests of the Death God may perform messy surgery on select corpses, perhaps to seal the internal organ wounds, so that the soul won't return to possess the corpse of an individual who died in great distress. Maybe they are searching for potion ingredients or even the location of the soul, to interrogate or ask questions?  

Possibly there are mystical glyphs on the roof floor of the crematorium. This might be where the priests send the souls of the dead to the afterlife in an incense filled ritual complete with temple dancers and chanting acolytes (then the body is carted away, ready to be cast into the ovens).

-Sewer Canal (hmmm... this nearly got deleted. Dunno if I like it much): Perhaps the sewer runs in a narrow, deep canal, instead of below ground, at the lowermost terrace? This could be where the sewer from the upper terraces (which are built in the terrace underground stonework) finally cascades into the canal which runs through the lowermost terrace (divided into the poor and the dock district. The canal runs through the poor district, of course  The canal was built before the lowest terrace was used for more than the then small dock and the canal was far away from that place. The city grew and the poor got cheap land around the sewer canal. Since they are poor, no one cares enough to put it below ground. A place of crime, disease and poverty.

Concerning politics:
-The Council of Priests is the perfect environment for political intrigue. I guess Mysia and Carmania would definitely have their agents within the council. There could even be three factions; the Mysianists, the Carmanian Faction and the independents. Possibilities for alot of cloak and dagger stuff. The ruling lord should probably come from the independents (As they are able to play the other two factions against each other). Could result in political manouevers to replace the ruling lord with another of the X faction (Enter the PCs).

-Envoys would probably be commonplace, haughtily approaching the ruling lord with the latest demands of Carmania or Mysia. Would be perfect opportunities for employment for the PCs (Ruling lord: "I have this problem, and your kind of answers is just the answer I am looking for. Now you just have to...")

-Noble Terrace: A neighbourhood just below the uppermost terrace (where the City Council and the Arch-Priest's Ziggurat resides). This is where most council members and priests resides. "Babylonian" homes filled with extravagant carpets, expensive urns, terracotta idols and bronze utilities would serve as the perfect backdrop for some illegit missions to "Poison the Mysian agent's food" and the like.


Quote from: "Cap's reply"
Don't forget the Night Market, which is the daytime Mercantile Sector taken to incredible black market extremes. Also, a hidden (subterranean) Temple to the Thief God.


This is the dialogue thus far. I have additional ideas. Here they are:

All cool ideas Cap!

Do you think I should post the brainstorm in an Ageratos thread and then we could both develop it? I am kind of short on time you see... (My days of laziness are at an end it seems)

Now I need the following:
An idea for a city name. Names are difficult and relevant to the setting. I have some suggestions, but I am most certainly open to yours too! (Hey! You are the boss)
The City State of...
-Thrakia?
-Melathia?
-Xelandhros?
-Kelios?
-L'haron?
-Inasriya

-I need a religion for the caretakers of the dead... Or they could be ordinary mages!?

Ideas:
-The morning mists are particularly dense in this region of the sea of Esh-Eir. Many mornings the mists come descending on the hill and "rolls" down the city, terrace by terrace. Thus it nearly seems like the mist is cascading down from each level, wrapping the trees and billowing forth, blanketing the city in its embrace. When the mist has reached the poor and dock district near the sea, it has long since cleared from the uppermost tiers of the city, where the spires and the rooftops of the lowest districts of the city can be seen rising above the mist.

-Temples are walled compounds, gardens lush with flowery trees and small ornamental streams, instead of traditional western style churches of Islam, Christianity and Judaism (and ancient roman temples for that matter). The temples often consist of two small and one larger building with roof tilings in glossy black and slightly curved upwards sides of the roof. (Oriental style temple compound)

-Intimate market squares on the third terrace. These are small rectangular markets with perhaps four to six merchant stands, the ground is covered with patterned stones and there are perhaps ten to twenty such markets. Also the shops are nested within narrow alleys, their signs discretely positioned on the wall above stairwells leading up or down into the shop. (Good location for your nightmarket / daytime mercantile sector?)

-The city consists primarily of small dwellings, rectangular and covered with white plaster. There is alot of foliage within the city and there are quote some amount of circular fountains. Often these fountains' walls are made of rounded stones and concrete.

The city theme should be "Mysterious" (morning mists, gardens, drowned legion, walled temple compounds, thief god's temple, spirit shrines), "Impressive" (Terraces, Ziggurats, Marching legionaries, city walls, lots of ships in the docks, etc...), "Deadly" (Quarreling Mysians and Carmanians, Crematorium/Mortuary, Priests seeking new slaves among the poor, Politics, Priest rivalries), and "Idyllic" (upper parts: Pools, gardens, benches, etc...)

"Decadent" could also be a smaller theme (Harlot street, opulent homes of the rich)

So what do you guys say about this?
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Offline Cheka Man

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2005, 06:30:49 PM »
Very good idea. What happens to the bodies of criminals? Are they made into zombie slaves? Or are the souls trapped in the bodies by magic and then burnt with the bodies? I like this world.

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2005, 07:00:37 PM »
I leave that question to the Captain, if he wants to involve himself in the creation. If not, I will take what I have and compile an overview from it. Then the Cap can decide whether he wants it to be a part of Ageratos.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2005, 07:25:26 PM »
I might toss in an idea now or then...
Or, if nobody takes to the idea, I'll work from AG's (much more than adequate) base.

First thing's first- no zombified criminals. Magic is definitely not that common, and the people of Ageratos fear and are horrified by it, especially necromancy!
Also, while it is a religions city, I wouldn't see the soul-trapping thing, either, for the same reason.

As for names, I like Thrakia and Xelandhros, but I'll accept suggestions. Try to stay away from things that sound really, really weird, like Ch'thoszhi'kabalaka or something like that.

Also, I think that AG has already presented it, but I think we might go with a sort of Mediterranean/Babylonian/Muslim-ish feel for this. Perhaps their culture has more elements of the Ancients than most Ageran communities... We'll see.

Let's mobilize!
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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2005, 08:25:42 PM »
Some rough ideas about possible City Orders. They are to be fleshed out if okayed (will detail their primary bases within the city, their culture, their clothing, their attitude and so on):

The Esheirian Guard - Priestly Legionaries patrolling the temple district. They wear chainmail with a polished steel breast plate. Their helmets are round with a T-shaped opening for eyes and breathing. In addition they wear black coloured full cloaks and wield morningstars as well as full body shields.

The Brotherhood of Jyzhael: Temple-Warriors practicing  the art of fighting with poleaxes wearing minimal armour. They often use enhancing drugs and chant in a drone when fighting. Zealots.

Zharthos Mercenaries: Mariners operating out of the docks district. They are primarily light infantrymen that hire their services to the highest bidder. They are not adverse to turning on their employer should the risk of getting caught be low. Sometimes they can be met in the Sea of Esh-Eir... as pirates. (Out of uniform, of course).

Beggar-Priests that frequently can be found praying at the Spirit Shrines. They wear sand coloured loose fitting robes and braid their hair and beards. At some of the more prominent Spirit Shrines, the chant of these priests is an ever present humming.
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Offline Maggot

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2005, 12:14:03 AM »
Taking up AG's ideas of city orders,here's one: The Snake Cult of Hurash. These worshippers of the multi-hooded snake god Hurash,make a hefty income from the sale of potent potions and reagents that are obtained from the venom of their tame snakes. These serpents are revered in the ''snake-temples of the worshippers of Hurash and come in all varieties. Though scorned as heretics by the priests,the Cult is extremely influential,having bought over many members of the clergy and nobility with their immense financial resources.

 This is just a rough sketch. I'll flesh it out if the Captain decides he likes it.
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Online EchoMirage

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2005, 02:55:37 AM »
As for name, I'd settle for Xeranthos...

As for the priests... The place could be a node of otherwordly power as well as a node of trade routes.
Each of the priests could gather his acolytes around what he believes to be a messenger from his god, and thus be guided/empowered/used by the entity.
This could lead to young priests strolling through misty flower gardens, listening to voices only they can hear - actually, it could be postulated that only one to hear the Voices can be priest.

For a touch of the exotic (and perhaps more cleavage): streetsare deemed to be unhallowed by the midnight hour,and are 'made safe' from malevolent spirits again by the passing of a Sun Dancer, a (scantly clad - optional) feather-wearing jewel-adorned youth, who is blessed by a temple. They dance through the darkest hour of the night, calling the sun back. From midnight to one hour later when the Sun Dancers are done with their ritual, it is considered bad luck to enter the street.

As for the canal thing - perhaps the poor district could be located by the water/on it, consisting of house-boats tied together, or dwellings on pillars, farther inland the people build on small islands, connect the homes with bridges, then there are just channels criss-crossing the poor district.

As for the guards - I don't know if the morningstar is such an ideal weapon, sure, it's scary, but it could be dangerous to use when your fellow infantrymen stand by your side... there is some reason in legionnaires using spears and swords...
Perhaps they could use fighting formations like the swiss infantry (correct me if I'm wrong): the front row fighters use halberds and swords, while those behind them support them with pikes.
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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2005, 06:29:07 PM »
Maggot: I like the snake cult, but by "extremely influential" do you really mean they are the true rulers of the city? Then I kind of like "a major influence" more, a power to be reckoned with within the priestly council, but thats up to Cap.

EchoMirage: The "Voices heard by priests" and the "Sun dancers" were great, a typical testament of your skill.

As for the boat house thing... why not? Depends on the size of the city and such but it is an alright idea to build upon.

In regards to the spiked mace I have a couple of comments: The morningstar aka holy water sprinkler is a weapon designed to fight opponents wearing plated armour. In norway so called "Guardians" carried long shafted morningstars in their right arm and lanters in their left. The temple guardians would use their morningstars against thieves and Carmanian/Mysian troublemakers. But I see your point... Swords are better, albeit more lethal, against lightly armoured folks, and halberds are effective too, especially against mounted opponents... (Lethal is not always what you want. The morning star was an awe inspiring weapon, inflicting horrible pain and probably death upon those smitten by it)

As an aside: The legionaries used pilum and gladius which are ideal weapons for stabbing (the pilum shortsword is primarily a stabbing weapon despite the early "The Gladiator" fight scenes). Not much room for swinging and slashing with a morningstar when those legionaries stand close together hiding behind their scutum.

(The 2-3 pilum carried by the legionaries were throwing javelins by the way)

That was my two cents anyway
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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History elements
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2005, 07:57:08 PM »
This city was once one of the major metropolitan centers, and the major religious center, of Imperial Styrash, an early Mysian nation whose capitol now lies in ruins in the Rose Hills on the borders of Mysia and Carmania. When Styrash collapsed (devoured from the west by Phadhonian{Mysian} raiders, and from the south by the soldiers of Shamas Carmasamal {warlord who established Carmania}), the city fell upon hard times, and the Imperial Governor of the city was overthrown by the Council of Priests.

The Esheirian Guard- Originally, they were mercenaries from Esheiria, a vanished nation which occupied the eastern region of what is now Arachosia. They were hired by the Council of Priests to shore up the weak army of the city during the period after the collapse of Styrash, and slowly {like the Varangian Guard of Earth history} became a portion of the city's infrastructure and culture, and an order rather than a racial grouping.
[On a side note, I have no problem with morningstars, and they are awesome weapons, but Echo might also be correct... Hmmm, a quandary.]

Brotherhood of Jyzhael and Zharthos Mercenaries are OKed, and beggar-priests of course.

Snake-Cult of Hurash- I like it! Perhaps their temple is also famous for the gigantic golden serpent-idol which curls about the entire building.

I like the Sun Dancers idea- perhaps only virgins are allowed, because only they are "pure". To add a touch of decadence and amorality to the city, perhaps when they near the end of their tenure (21 or so...), the Council of Priests pimps them out as "holy courtesans" to gain extra revenue.

I also like the poor folk canals idea.

Council of Priests- representatives from the 15 "great religions" of the city (still no name), including the Cult of Hurash (who are a powerful voice in it), the Cult of Shin, the Moon God, the Mysian (Aeonic) Cult, and the Carmanian (Amalian) Cult. During the larger meetings of the Council, the secret thief-priests of the Thief God appear to put in their say.

Possibilities:
-Ceremony of All Gods, where the Council of Priests holds a general festival
-Perhaps, since it is something of a neutral zone, noble houses and families who have been disgraced use it as a retreat and a sanctuary.
-Metropolitan culture, mixing many cultural influences.
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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2005, 08:23:29 PM »
Hey, the morning stars are irrelevant. If you guys dislike them, I'll drop them.

I loved the part about the Thief God priests appearing during larger council meetings! The scene was vividly played out in my imagination as I read!

As a general lover of cleavage, I liked the "pimp the virgin" idea. Reminds me of the priestesses of Vesta in ancient greece.

Actually, pretty much everything seems alright to me. I like the way this thing turns out!
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2005, 09:42:01 PM »
I have no problem with the morningstars. I'm not really sure why it's a point of contention.  :)

Xelandhros or Xeranthos... We like those X names, don't we?
How about:
Xeria
Xerandhros
Xeran
Xeralia
Xerandhis
Xelindar

The Garden of the Gods-
The top of the mountain, just above the highest terrace, is a rocky knob forested in gnarled pines and cedars. In the midst of this, there is a tiny garden, separated from the forest only by a waist-high wall of rough stone. It is the smallest and most beautiful of the city's walled gardens, and in the center there is a tiny shrine containing an uncarved stone altar and a dais which contains no statue. This is the Garden of the Gods, forbidden to all but the High Priests who make up the Council of Priests. It is connected only to the Council Temple by a tiny winding stairway.
The Garden of the Gods is sacred to the entire city, and flowers and tiny bonzai-trees from the Garden are sold by the Council of Priests as blessings, for they are also sacred.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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The Blue Lampsmen
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2005, 10:03:57 PM »
The famous Blue Lampsmen are the city watch of (insert city name). Originally, the Blue Lampsmen,  like the Esheiran Guard, were mercenaries hired by the Council of Priests to defend the city after the retreat of most of the Styrashine forces. They were led by Tsanshar the Blue, and when they were instated as protectors of the city, they began to adopt the azure clothing of their leader. By the time of Tsanshar's death, the Council of Priests had declared them to be the official protectors of the city, and given them a Holy Charter (which must be renewed every nine years). In memory of Tsanshar the Blue, the leader of the Lampsmen is styled "the Blue".

As their name might suggest, they wear long blue tunics and blue-dyed leather armor, and they wind a blue headband with the symbol of the city in black about their forehead. Some even wash their hair through with blue dye.
Lampsmen always travel in pairs. One member of the pair (officially styled "the main") carries a heavy sword, buckler, and long staff with a lantern of blue glass hanging from the end; the other member ("the backer") carries a long flanged spear and a horn.
Each Lampsman is trained in basic battle-theory and warriorship. They are made to memorize all of the laws, bylaws, codes, commandments, praxion, and axioms which govern the city and must be able to recall all of them at any time. They are paid an monthly stipend of 25 staters (a fairly hefty sum). Therefore, the Lampsmen have no shortage of new recruits.

The Central Office dispatches Lampsmen pairs to patrol the city on overlapping beats for maximum efficiency. Lampsmen respond with extreme prejudice in situations which they deem to be dangerous to property or lives, and are trained to call for aid (with their horns) when they feel that they are overmatched. The Lampsmen have a good record of stopping crime, though they sometimes have a disconcerting "boys-will-be-boys" attitude towards repeat offenders, local cartels and the like.
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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A name for the City
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2005, 02:29:47 AM »
CaptainPenguin had the proper name up his sleeve and last night he revealed it: This city, the last remnant of Imperial Styrash, will be  called Styrash.
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An idea for a city state in Ageratos
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2005, 05:01:41 PM »
Breakdown of ethnicities/cultures:
Styrash is a city of mixed-bloods. A vast majority of the population are born of pairings between every possible race and culture. The "true" Styrashians are effectively a minority in their own homeland, who are gradually dying out.

32% mixed ethnicity/culture
17% Carmanian
12% Mysian (Majority Red Mysians)
3% Izadan
3% Gedrosi (note: Styrash has the largest community of ethnic Gedrosi outside of the Gedrosi desert)
4% "True" Styrashian
29% All others
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