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December 31, 2011, 12:07 am

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Hacienda Solfatara


A hidden gem in the hinterlands of Calcobrina


Hacienda Solfatara is a resort sitting in the least likely of places, the hard pan, rock strewn and sun blasted Turanu Highlands. The city is enclosed by a low wall made of sun baked bricks and white washed, and set with decorative crenellations. There are also towers along the wall, but both of these features are largely cosmetic. There is very little chance of an army actually reaching Hacienda Solfatara and even less chance that they would be in any condition to fight once they got there. Inside the red and white brick wall, instead of streets there are tree lined and paved boulevards, with fountains interspaced down their length. The buildings are all built in the same general style, with high ceilings and many have removable or decorative walls. Miniature towers are common on even the most lowly of homes, and as a city sitting in the middle of the rock splintered desert, there are no slums or hovels to be seen. The most common sort of building is the two to three story palazio, or palace. The bottom floor invariably houses a store, shop, or place of business of some sort. The middle and upper floors house servants and the owners and residents of the palazio. Doorways come to arched points, pillars and large verandas and porches are also common, complete with brightly colored awnings to provide some cooling shade.

Surrounded by sun bleached sand and red stone yardangs, Hacienda Solfatara is a riot of color. Each palazio is painted in some bright garish color, with bright yellows, greens, and blues being the most popular, and dark sombre colors being almost completely unknown. Every open porch has a plant of some sort, and if there is a rug or a curtain it has beads and tassels. There are also a good number of exotic animals, and associated enclosures, within the wall. The center of the city is the Solfatara Oasis, a broad lake of placid crystal water in the middle of the desert. The edges of the oasis are built up with boardwalks, paved commons, and other open spaces. It is a place of communion and socializing. Shade is provided by hundreds of trees that form a tiny forest ring around the water, and are connected to the trees that provide shade across much of the city.


The Turanu Highlands have long been a placed abandoned and avoided by even the indigenous Sietch and Cyclopean peoples. There was nothing of value in the crumbling red rocks, not water, not gold, just rare animals ready to kill and plants hardy enough to defend themselves with poison or spines or both. The Oasis did not exist then, and was only later discovered and brought to its full potential. Summers are long and hot, winter is non-existent, and the only storms that rumble across the highlands are made of scouring sand and lightning. All in all, it is a place only known by small creatures, and elementals and the ghosts of the dead who are blown around by the desert winds.

Places of Interest:

The Palace of the First - this palace, four stories tall with a grand tower overlooking the oasis and the walls is the permanent home of Jara Barand. It is equal parts city hall, library and sanctum, and the personal home of the arch mage. It is a treasure trove of the magical lore and collections that only an arch mage can gather.

The Garden of the Moon - A large bath house, the Garden of the Moon mixes wading pools, baths and steam saunas with pleasing plant decour, sweet music, and a good deal of silver filigree and mirrors. Aside from the basic task of hygiene, the Garden of the Moon is also likely to be the finest brothel this side of Xanadu, staffed by Spirits of Lust, Temptress Demons (properly bound) and female elementals.

The Spice Market - A large market, this area is one of the most magically valuable places in the continent. The reagents and material components for almost any spell can be found here, from exotic tears of the deep, thrar stones, and even very rare shards of the storm. If the material isn't on hand, someone knows someone who can find it, or can point you in the right direction. It is also quite simply one of the best spice markets in the world, seventeen varieties of pepper, six types of saffron, and a dozen herbs that even the most storied and educated of apothecaries would be stumped to identify.

Author's Notes:

Hacienda Solfatara comes from my old campaign setting, which has largely been defunct since around 2003, about a year before I started here at the Citadel. The city was a resort community sit smack in the middle of the desert, for the sheer reason that a wizard wanted it there. The visual style is very much Moroccan Moorish, but the flavor of the fantasy is decidedly standard fair. Using the whole Arabian Nights schitck seemed played out, so it ended up being a playground for wizards and dragons and other equally powerful beings who werent really interested in killing each other, but instead rather enjoyed things like footrubs from nubile young girls, exquisite spicy food, and the irony of living basically in a resort water park in what most people considered Hell. The Hacienda played a sort of Casablanca role, where various powers sent secret agents to work out deals, while their public leaders dickered about and made noise but no progress. Solfatara also served as a place where the powerful dragons of the continent would come to broker deals with each other and hold their own elite councils.

Hacienda Solfatara had a sister city, out on the coast which was named Hacienda Flamingo. Flamingo was named rather obviously after the flamingos that frequented the waterways around that younger sprawling city, and it was simply a coastal city and was absorbed by Kavu. The main difference there was that the color pink and birds were more prevalent in the architecture, and that it had more of a Daytona/Myrtle Beach feel than being a magical resort community.

Please, I ask you to enjoy your stay. I do rather miss these places.

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Comments ( 7 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Dragonlordmax
January 1, 2012, 1:46

I rather like this one. Wizards in fantasy always seem to be partaking in assorted drugs, pretty girls, and other worldly pleasures, and given the expansion of magic in most fantasy games, I think that this is a good expansion of that. I think it would be an easy place to insert into the average campaign, and I can imagine using it in a 'School of Magic' sort of game in addition to more traditional fantasy.

My only gripe is the organization. I think it would have been nice to have some sort of description of the resort aspects near the beginning, because that seems like the most important part.

Also, 2003 was a year before you showed up? I apparently showed up in '05, and it seemed like you already had a bajillion posts when I got here.

January 1, 2012, 8:15
Yup, I arrived here in May of 2004 and I used to be much more prolific in my writing.
Voted Chaosmark
January 1, 2012, 2:38

Oasis ahoy! It's always interesting to read submissions that have seen playtesting; they always seem to read just a bit differently compared to submissions that haven't benefited from live interaction, and seem filled with much more usable elements.

Voted Cheka Man
January 1, 2012, 9:07

A beautiful city, maybe I should make a city of my own?

Voted EchoMirage
January 2, 2012, 7:59

I find the idea of a wizard getaway where they can't be disturbed quite nice. Alas, I wonder how order is kept? Is it an invitation-only secret society?

Voted olontur
June 11, 2012, 3:08
Scras, to things that make me love this post and show how brilliant a writer you are:

"... ghosts of the dead who are blown around by the desert winds." Can be as much literal as lyrical and certainly can seed tons of encounters.

"The Casablanca Feel" is just incredibly thought out!

Thanks for sharing!
Voted valadaar
May 14, 2013, 12:28
All worlds should have a place like this. So much potential.


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