Baisaltir, capitol city of Nekehmrii, the Kingdom of the Eastlands.
I am creating this submission to group all submissions about the capitol city of my world together.
More information about the capitol will be added here in time. It will not be highly detailed, although, I will add a timeline, showing the most important events, and some other relevant information.
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CodexThe House of the King By: EmilioV ( Locations ) Establishment - Any
Each town has a House of the King. This is the main one, and by far the largest, set in the heart of the capitol's temple district.
There is one House of the King in every major town and city in each of the Kingdoms provinces.
The House of the King is the administrative headquarters of the City Watch of Baisaltir. It deals with all aspects of law enforcement, including the issuing of bounties on criminals and monsters, as well as arresting criminals. Persistent rumours indicate that the Kingdoms spies also operate from this building, and while no one officially confirms this rumour, it is true.
There are other, smaller centres as well, but the Houses of the King are the most important ones.
The building itself is large and made of stone. There is little decoration beyond the royal coat of arms over the main entrance, and most of the windows are small and suitable for use as arrow and gun ports. The walls are thick, and there are storerooms and a well inside the building. It could hold off a determined siege for quite some time and has held off urban rioters on numerous occasions.
Inside the House of the King
The main doors are open from dawn til dusk, and anyone may enter the front lobby. Here, the sweaty odour of crowds is overlaid strongly on that of the street, and fouler smells occasionally drift up from the lower floors. The hall is large, with a high ceiling, and the room is divided in two by a long wooden counter. The counter is the boundary between the public and the private parts of the House of the King, and is staffed over by a dozen men of the City Watch while the doors are open. Even at night there are six on duty.
The walls of the public area are covered with announcements of bounties, wanted posters, and other such official documents. The half-dozen watchmen mingle with the crowd at all times, keeping an eye out for trouble; there are likely to be more bounty hunters in this room than any other of comparable size in the Kingdom.
People carrying severed heads are not uncommon here; the bounty hunters bring the heads in to confirm the kills. Those who have killed monsters generally bring smaller body parts as proof.
The watchmen on the desk quickly become immune to surprise; a group of adventurers putting a dragon head on the table and asking for the bounty would provoke some response, but only because the staff wouldn't know the appropriate bounty offhand. They are always ready for trouble to break out and aren't worried about deaths that might occur when they deal with such events.
The private areas of the building are very different. There are few differences between offices; all have a small window, need to be lit by candles or lanterns, and are much the same size. Thus, people who are assigned here are assigned an office that they keep for their entire career, no matter how far up the hierarchy they make it.
The House of the King has a standard policy of not interfering with what people do in their offices, as long as the work gets done and no laws are broken. As a result, every office is different, and those that have been occupied for some time strongly reflect the personality of the occupant. Particularly prominent law enforcers attract rumours about their offices; someone renowned for his implacable hunts for murderers might be said to have the heads of those he catches preserved and mounted on the wall, or he might have an office filled with a collection of stuffed birds.
Getting into the private areas is difficult. In theory a visitor must have particular business with someone in the building, and that person must escort a visitor at all times while they are within the private areas. This is enforced in practice the first few times someone visits. However, people who are known to have worked with officials on numerous occasions, and to have done a good job, are allowed in by themselves, and they may even be allowed to take their own guests.
There is a second entrance at the back of the building, guarded by two watchmen and primarily used as an emergency exit. However, officials that don't want to push their way through the mob at the front entrance occasionally use it to come and go.
Movement in the House of the King
Combat in the House
Fights break out with some frequency in the main lobby, particularly among bounty hunters arguing over rewards. The City Watch are supposed to just beat the miscreants up and throw them out of the building, but deaths do occur.
Any fight within the House of the King quickly draws the attention of dozens of watchmen, and a fight with the guards sees the protagonists massively outnumbered and almost certainly defeated.
Kingdom officials may well ask to meet the characters in the House of the King. Some may even invite them there for more social events, being more comfortable in their offices than at home. However, characters are most likely to visit this place to collect bounties, find out who or what currently have bounties, and to talk to law enforcement officials about things they have found.
The best way to sneak around the House of the King is to look like you belong there. Characters convincingly disguised as members of the Watch will not be stopped, unless they act suspiciously. Getting into the building in the first place requires an invitation or successful initiation of a particular person who either works in the building or is a frequent visitor.
While the front desk does keep track of who goes in and out, the existence of a back door means that the list will be a bit off.
Note: This is one of the first or (hopefully) many submissions that detail my world and set the scene. As the number of submissions grow I will consider making a codex to bundle them together.
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The Streets of Baisaltir By: EmilioV ( Locations ) Neighborhoods - Any
A description of Baisaltir's public areas can be found here.
Public areas include the streets, markts, and bridges of Baisaltir. People from all levels of society can be found here, crammed together in a noisy, heaving, stinking mass.
Baisaltir's streets are narrow, crowded, and filthy, especially in the poorer areas of the city. While most are cobbled, in many places the cobbles have long since lost the battle with mud, manure, and less pleasant substances, becoming little more than an additional hazard. The drains and sewers are almost always on the surface, and people pour their waste straight out of their house into the street. The more polite give a warning first.
While you are on the streets, people are constantly jostling against you. This provides pickpockets with perfect cover for their activities. The crowds also make it hard to keep an eye on a single person, making it tricky to follow someone, but equally hard to spot wether or not you are being followed.
The crowds are also loud. Peddlers call out to advertise their wares, and people shout conversations to make themselves heard over the people shouting next to them. Overhearing a conversation in these streets is all but impossible.
The most overwhelming feature of Baisaltir's streets, however, is the smell. Sewage, rotting meat and vegetation, corpses of both people and animals - all of these add flavour to the overall odour. On the streets, characters become accustomed to the smell, but you should be sure to mention it whenever they return to the streets from somewhere like a townhouse, or a noble estate, where it is less noticeable.
-Combat in the Streets
- The crowded streets mean a large risk of innocent bystanders being hurt. Fire from blackpowder weapons is especially dangerous.
- Characters can easily slip in the mud of the streets and fall against market stalls, sending goods flying. Stalls can also be good for cover.
- No one would choose to meet in the streets of Baisaltir; it is all bu impossible to have a conversation. However, the characters might have no choice, if someone refuses to see them elsewhere, they might be forced to talk on the street as they move. Pushing through a crowd, dealing with bodyguards trying to push back, and trying to get a meeting to talk about a conspiracy without yelling about it are all good challenges .
- Hiding on the streets is, in one sense, impossible. There are too many people; someone will see you. However, a good disguise can make characters effectively invisible; no one will notice another courier or servant going about his or her business.
-Personalising the Streets
- The streets of Baisaltir vary in quality of pavement, width and the height and quality of the surrounding houses. Some streets near the House of the King or a large temple might be paved with flagstone and even have underground drains.
- Streets in the poorer areas might be simple dirt tracks that turn into a stinking mire when it rains.
The Capitol city of Baisaltir is built along the banks of the great river Muz'al'ir, which means that bridges form a very important part of the city's road network. Just mentioning to the characters that they have to cross bridges on their way to somewhere will serve as a reminder. However, sometimes things can happen on bridges.
There are a range of bridges. The largest are made of stone and span wider channels, having houses and shops built on one side. Underneath are nets and wires to catch the fish that manage to live in the river, and the restricted flow of water makes a mighty roar. On a couple of bridges this noise is the only hint that you are over water. While on others there are spaces between the houses.
The smallest bridges, over tiny channels between some of the islands dotted along the river, might be nothing more than a plank of wood, removed when the neighbors fall out. In between are wooden bridges, decorated bridges, draw bridges, and private bridges linking two parts of a house built on opposite sides of a channel. Bridges are just as congested as streets but tend to be less muddy, as there is a layer of stone or wood to not far from the top.
Also, the smell is somewhat less noticeable, bridges drain through holes dropping straight into the river, preventing sewage and rotting carcasses from accumulating.
-Combat on Bridges
- Many of the same things can happen in a bridge fight as in a street fight. The obvious addition is that characters can fall off.
- Less obviously, a violent fight on a small bridge might break the bridge; ominous creaking noises should hint at this before it actually happens.
- The houses on bridges tend to be middle class; they can't be large enough for the upper classes, but the slightly better air makes them somewhat desirable. Thus, this is a good place to meet a middle class contact.
- Bridges have an underneath, which may be extremely useful to rogues and the like. A boat can get you to the underside, and while climbing the bottom of a bridge is usually challenging, if a character falls they will land in the river. It cushions the drop and as an added bonus the noise of the water will make hiding the noise a character makes when climbing unnoticeable.
- The characters may also hide things under bridges or find things that other characters have hidden there.
- Bridges should be easy enough to personalise. There is such a wide range of possibilities. They can be anywhere in the range between the two extremes outlined previously; an ornate stone bridge is unlikely to link slums, while nobles and merchants will probably pay for something better than a plank.
- Exceptions should have stories, ideally relevant to the adventure at hand, to reward players who think to investigate the oddity.
Markets are the heart of Baisaltir's commercial life and thus vitally important to most of the richest people in the city, as well as the poorest. While there are a substantial number of shops in permanent buildings, temporary stalls in markets are more common. Some traders might work from the same stall for years, making it much like a shop, while others might only set up for a week or so when they are in the capitol. The two types of stalls can be found next to each other. So if the characters make a contact of the settled trader, the person who has the next stall is a good way to introduce hints and hooks to further (possibly distant) adventures.
Markets vary in many ways, and the following three variations are the most important. First, markets can be covered or open air. A covered market is a huge building, containing spaces for stalls. It may even have more than one floor. The buildings around an open air market tend to contain shops or warehouses. While the stalls in the covered market tend to be more permanent, there are exceptions to both counts.
The second distinction is between wholesale markets, which sell to other merchants, and retail markets, which sell to the general population. Most can enter any market, but wholesale markets may be closed to those without the right guild connections. At most wholesale markets it's impossible to buy a single apple, but you can buy a whole case. However, at some wholesale markets, no sale is smaller than a wagon load.
The final distinction is the type of goods. Wholesale markets tend to be more specialised, while retail markets are often more generalised. Grain markets, vegetable and fruit markets livestock markets, and fish markets tend to be the largest, as their wares have a limited sale life. Livestock and fish markets are possibly the worst smelling places in the capitol (or any city/town for that matter), and you should mention the added stench to your characters when they arrive there. The most prestigious markets are those selling goods from distant lands. In these markets Elven and Dwarven merchants are almost as common as Humans among the sellers; although, Humans dominate the purchasers.
Markets are as a general rule of thumb, more crowded and noisy than the streets, but when the market closes, it is much quieter, offering more space to move around. This is especially true of livestock markets where empty pens can stretch over a large distance.
-Combat in the Markets
- A busy market provides many of the same opportunities as a busy street but with more stands of goods to upset. A busy livestock market has the potential for added chaos and confusion if the livestock are spooked and try to escape from their pens.
- Or they could be set loose as a distraction.
- A closed market is another good site. It is large, mostly empty, and eerily quiet. Many of the stalls here are still set up, providing places to hide and set ambushes.
- Markets are an excellent place to meet merchants and travellers from distant parts; although, the noise means that arranging a later meeting is a good idea. Still even the haughtiest Elven merchant will talk to someone who appears to have the money to buy his wares, which could provide the characters with a vital opportunity.
- There are few opportunities for sneaking around markets, as they are either full of people or empty of anything except wooden stalls.
- However, they are good places for clandestine meetings, and an empty market with its stalls still set up is an excellent place for an ambush.
- The type of market and the goods it sells goes a long way towards determining its personality.
- The level of society it caters to and the level of foreign traders found there are also good points to bear in mind.
Baisaltir does have underground sewers. Some of them are even effective, channeling sewage and rainwater into the river, away from the city. Others are now blocked and little more than fetid underground pools, a breeding ground for rats, disease, and fouler things. Other sections were never quite completed and serve as hideouts for criminals and the like.
Many of the sewers are large enough to walk in, as long as the character bends over a little bit. Dwarves and Halflings shouldn't have any problems here. This is deliberate; it is the only way the sewers can be maintained and the rat population kept down. In addition, most are in more prosperous areas, having been constructed in an attempt to keep the smell down. This makes them an ideal way to move around rich neighbourhoods unseen.
Active sewers have flowing water and sewage in the bottom. There may be a walkway or maybe not, and any character wading through sewage risks contracting some disease. Blocked sewers have standing sewage, which is even more unpleasant. If the inflow pipes were never built, unfinished sewers may be dry or as deeply unpleasant as a blocked sewer.
-Fights in the Sewers
- A fight in a sewer brings the constant risk of falling into the filth, and anyone taking any wounds in such an environment is exposed to disease.
- In addition, things could be attracted by the commotion and noise, rising up from the sewers to attack both parties, forcing them into combat together to survive.
- Characters might need to go into the sewers to find someone they need to talk to. But no one sane would hold a meeting in a sewer.
- Sewers can be great for stealth. They can get characters close to where they need to be, with almost no chance of detection.
- The downside is that they then have to get out of the sewers without being seen and somehow avoid the smell.
- The level of filth, wether it is moving, and the depth of the underground sewer are the main distinguishing features.
- Sewers used by some fould group will have features reflecting their function.
- Someone is cleaning the streets of Baisaltir. In the depths of the night, stretches of street are cleaned and paved with proper flagstones. The pattern seems completely random and no one knows what to make of it. Someone with a connection to the PCs (or possibly one of the PCs themselves) notices that the paved streets, when plotted on a map, form part of an ancient religious symbol, almost completely forgotten in the modern kingdom. What happens if the instigator is allowed to complete his work?
- A rising neighborhood decides to construct underground sewers. Initial excavations soon find a much older sewer network, which seems to have never been properly connected. At first, this seems like a stroke of luck, and the workers set to mapping the old tunnels, and figuring out how they can be incorporated. Soon, however, the first worker is found dead, and more murders follow. The characters investigating, find that a gang of thieves have been using the old sewers to expedite their crimes and didn't appreciate the interference or the possibility of being ankle-deep in sewage.
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