In the southernmost reaches of the Continent, west of the Vast Swamp, there lies a city known as Naerie. Not so long ago, it was ruled by Lord Gonzaga, a despotic pig of a man who allowed himself to become weak and lazy by indulging in every excess he could get his hands on. The monotonous routine of governing the city became less important to him than self-gratification, and close behind that, one-upmanship with the Thanes of the surrounding hamlets.
The cadre of rulers of the region, with Lord Gonzaga as titular head, met in Naerie twice monthly. These meetings were meant to solidify the groups rule of the area by sharing edicts and comparing taxes, exchanging of resources, et cetera. Every time, however, Gonzaga always went out of his way to introduce his compatriots to some new feature of his castle, or a new wizard at his command, anything to brag to the Thanes of his superiority. It wasnt long before the Thanes responded in kind, bringing stories and evidence of great scientific advances from their armories or feats of the heroes in their employ. The meetings thus slowly deteriorated into little more than a congressional pissing contest.
Among the many things Gonzaga did in order to impress his neighbors was the organization of the Femmes Fatale, a gathering of the best female warriors he could gather. These nine warriors were skilled and ruthless with shield and steel, and successfully enforced both his rule and his reputation (the latter being the chief goal). Warriors around the region truly feared the Femmes, for not only were they as skilled in battle as any man, they seemed to harbor a deep hatred for men, as well. The lawbreakers they were set against (always men) were never defeated without violence, whether they resisted or not.
Despite this, the Femmes were highly regarded (after all, those they injured were always the guilty), and lauded as heroes by the community of Naerie. Their most vocal fans were, of course, the female population. Men, for the most part, cheered for them in public, then denounced them in private. It was generally regarded that the Femmes Fatale were indeed an interesting project of Lord Gonzaga, but he better focus his attentions on more serious matters, and soon.
Indeed, the menfolk of Naerie were right to rely on their Lords infamous short attention span, for he soon grew bored with his band of warrior women (and perhaps, a bit fearful of them as well), and so ordered his elite soldiers to defeat and capture the Femmes Fatale. His orders were clear, that they be brought to him and used as women by himself and any soldiers who were successful subduing them. What would happen to them after that was not so clear.
As it turned out, things never got that far. The Femmes Fatale were well forewarned of the Lords plans to betray them by the maids and ladies-in-waiting of the castle (whom Gonzaga habitually ignored, a fatal mistake). The battle raged for three days, with the elite soldiers and Lord Gonzaga himself being the first casualties. The Femmes Fatale held the castle against the forces that were stationed outside of it at the time, and that’s when an odd thing happened.
All around the city, as the stories of what was happening in the castle spread, there was a slow uprising of the female population against those who were trying to oust them. What began with a few rocks and sticks escalated into a full-out armed battle of the sexes, man versus woman. Decades of subjugation of women brought out a suppressed rage, and the battle grew louder and more and more widespread. By the end of the second day, the Femmes Fatale had won the castle, and flowed out into the city to aid their sister allies. That night, only women were left alive in Naerie.
They hadn’t slain all the men, of course. Most of them had simply decided it was unhealthy to remain, and fled. And truthfully, the majority of the women had gone with them. What remained in Naerie were the nine Femmes Fatale (none unscathed, but all survived), and about two hundred women of various ages and various degrees of outrage from male oppression.
The women closed the city to the outside world. They decreed that no man would henceforth grace the borders of Naerie. Women would be free to come and go as they pleased, and if one wished the company of a man, she could do so outside the city walls. Male children were either raised elsewhere, or given up for adoption so that the mother could remain.
In a final move to ensure their safety, the Femmes Fatale formed treaties with the Thanes of the surrounding hamlets, citing no ire towards them and offering mutually beneficial trade agreements so long as their no-man law remained in effect.
The City of Naerie:
Thanks to Gonzagas constant upgrades at the expense of the populace, the city of Naerie is a beautiful example of architecture built with an artistic damn-the-expense methodology. The city walls are eighteen feet high and six inches thick, giving the women within excellent protection from the outside world.
There are four gates, one at each compass point. Two of them have been more or less permanently barricaded, and the other two are heavily guarded. No one enters Naerie without thorough inspection, sometimes going as far as a strip-search to ensure proper gender.
A great many of the homes within have been razed to make room for farmlands. After all, the city was originally designed to hold 3,000 people and its current population is between two and three hundred. The general consensus is that the more self-sufficient Naerie can become, the more comfortably isolationist it can be.
The homes that are left are still more than enough to comfortably house everyone (and the optimistic view that their population will grow). The structures undoubtedly have way more of a feminine touch than most cities do. Flowers abound, and bright colors are favored.
The Femmes Fatale/The Nine:
All nine of Gonzagas original warrior women remain in control of Naerie, and they function as a democratic council of sorts. They do not refer to themselves as Femmes Fatale, for that was Gonzagas name for them, but some of the populace still use the term. They prefer to be called The Nine. Other than the outlawing of men, their city runs no differently than any other. It should be important to note upon dealing with the Nine, that despite their reputation, none of them hate men, exactly. They just feel that their society functions better without them.
They have passed on their battle training to any woman who wants to learn, so in addition to these nine, there may be any number of other warrior women in residence of Naerie. In turn, many of the women of general populace have taught the others how to cook, change horseshoes, basic magic, and so on.
Cassiopeia- If the Femmes have a leader, she would be it. She is the oldest and wisest of the original Nine, and though she still practices her swordplay, she has leaned towards magical knowledge in recent years. She is adept enough at healing and spiritual communion, but has a hard time controlling any spells of an offensive nature.
Cassiopeia is a tanned human of exceptional build. She stands at nearly six feet tall, and appears taller by wearing high-heeled boots and styling her hair in a dyed-green topknot. She favors belted dresses with midcalf skirts and heavy robelike cloaks with puffy sleeves, but has learned to discard the robe quickly in a fight.
Wendolyn- With her long, flowing brown hair, sensual lips, and deep blue eyes, Wendolyn is no doubt the most beautiful of the Nine. But one look at her piecemeal, battlescarred armor and the dozen or so knife sheaths that she straps to every accessible position on her body will distract one from her beauty somewhat. She is a berserker in battle, preferring close-quarters knife combat.
Averil- A wisp of a girl, Averil will probably still look to be in her teens when she has seen her thirtieth summer. She favors a belted huntsmans shirt over leather breeches, and ties leather straps down the sleeves to keep them in check. She carts around a slender, double-bladed poleaxe a head taller than she is, and it’s almost impossible to get near her once she starts whirling it around in battle.
Cyrine- There’s no nice way to say this, but Cyrine is a downright homely girl. She has sunken eyes, a high, pockmarked forehead, and horribly misshapen teeth. She’s also not terribly bright, but she is quite friendly unless rebuked (and downright hostile if her appearance is insulted). She wears her heavy plate armor most of the time, and keeps it shiny and polished, proud of the bas-relief skulls formed to the shoulder and knee guards. Her broadsword is kept in a scabbard on her back.
Rivalyn- Her flame-red hair knotted in piles on her head is her most striking feature, but Rivalyn is also quite fond of tattoos, and an assortment of colorful designs run up and down both her arms and legs. She wears a leather armor corset with loose metal fishnet coverings on her limbs that function to simultaneously protect them and also show off her inks. She favors fingerless leather gloves and heavily-laced kneehigh boots.
Lazaria- It is difficult to judge Lazarias’ comeliness, for she pays almost no attention to her personal appearance. She sports thick dreadlocks, and peers out at the world from underneath them. She wears a ragged grey-and-purple cloak that entirely covers her from neck to foot. When she was recruited by Gonzaga, she brandished a heavy studded mace in battle, and she still wears this on a belt-sheath. She rarely uses it, however, for these days she has learned how to summon the lightning to do her bidding. The development of this talent, with the hope of learning more, consumes Lazarias’ thoughts and deeds.
Tess- The only one of the Nine to have come from across the ocean, "Tess" is actually a severe shortening of her real name, which she doesn’t share with anyone. She is of exotic appearance, with jet-black hair that almost appears blue, and narrow eyes. Though fluent in the Common tongue, it is obviously not her first language. She wields a slender sword that is covered with nasty serrations, and while it would be a stretch to say that she excels at martial arts, there is no doubt that she is an excellent hand-to-hand combatant and her style of swordplay is… different.
Milla- A dark-haired, rather plain-looking woman, Milla dresses in black leather from neck to foot, leaving her arms bare for free movement. She is amazingly ambidextrous. On each hip is a sword scabbard, and she can fight with both of them simultaneously. If she draws both swords, her foes are seemingly fighting two people at once.
Liljestin- Short, but heavily muscled, Lil’s weapon of choice is obvious by her ever-present, ever-full quiver of arrows. She hones and fletches them herself, and fires them with her rowan longbow. Lil tends to dress in hunting garb and eschews armor, save for a series of metal bands from her left wrist to the shoulder. She typically wears her blonde hair in long braids.
Caught Within the City: this is the one I am using; an ally of the party (a man) has been caught within the city walls. Normally, the law of Naerie would simply call for violent ousting of the intruder, but this is a repeat offender. The Nine are debating putting the man to death to serve as an example of their seriousness.
Must Reach My Beloved: one of the party members is in love with a resident of Naerie, who lives with a relative who is of the more anti-man mindset. She must be freed from captivity in order to live happily ever after, but how to get in?
We Need Help: tough as they are, the city as described is indeed too large for the forces within to properly defend. Should a major assault be mounted, it may well succeed. Would the residents set aside their biases if their lives depended on it?