Joined: 21 Oct 2008
Location: Oakland, CA
|Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:53 pm Post subject: Writing a city for a sidequest arc
|A friend asked me to write up a city for his Pathfinder game.
"Zephyrinth: Sanctuary of the Winds
High in the mountains, the holy town of Zephyrinth is a bastion of peace and plenty amidst the desolate peaks. Beloved of Hemel, the area boasts a large population of kineticists and sorcerers wielding power over air and lightning. Zephyrinth's patron spirit is Favonius, who eradicates poison and pollution with his cleansing breezes. Under the protection of Favonius, the people of Zephyrinth cultivate elaborate flower gardens that fill the town with fragrance.
Zephyrinth imports large amounts of food from other settlements. It lacks enough arable land to support its current population, and much of that is dedicated to flowers and novelty gardens. However, its artisans and mages produce valuable craftwork in metal and wood, and Zephyrinth is a premier destination for quality alchemicals and magic reagents. Civil authority is handled by the Thunderguard, an order of warrior kineticists who protect the town and gardens from rampaging monsters. The limits of their power are ill-defined, but most have little taste for meddling with internal affairs. The Oracle of Air, prophet of Hemel, traditionally makes their home in a flying island resting over Zephyrinth, though past Oracles have been known to travel away for as long as several months when the mood takes them.
Though merchants and travelers climb the peaks to barter in the market for craftswork, Zephyrinth is best known for the right of passage its people need to pass to be considered adults. Aspirants must climb up to the Oracle of Air's floating island, where they will receive the Blessing of Hemel and a prophecy to guide their future decisions. Every year, at the start of the Festival of Winds, those of age who wish to make the pilgrimage race to be the first to enter the Oracle's temple. Getting up to the island can be quite the challenge, even when it sinks so low that it brushes the edges of Zephyrinth's great windmills. Dazzling parkour, fabulous flying machines, and dastardly acts of sabotage are commonplace."
Currently trying to come up with a list of organizations the PCs will be able to interact with when they get there, the plan for now is that they'll swing by the town to visit the oracle before the festival starts and discover the bad guys have been stirring up a big riot over grain prices to cover an assassination attempt on the island.
Here's what I've got so far for that:
"Important Organizations In Zephyrinth
The Ascendant Society
A social club for those who have made the Ascent to the Oracle's floating temple during Zephyrinth's annual festival. If you have achieved the right of passage, you are welcome to pay for however expensive a membership you can afford. The outer rooms are free to any with the Blessing of Hemel, but the lavish inner chambers are prohibitively expensive for all but the very successful. The Ascendant Society is a place where the talented among the young and old mingle with less regard for Zephyrinth's usual class boundaries. A place in the Society is commonly seen as the first real step for any locals with ambitions to better their lot. The Society spends much of the money it takes in on speaking fees to attract famous philosophers and scientists to give lectures.
Association of Bakers and Grain Counters
Food is expensive in Zephyros. Most of it is imported from foreign merchants who haul it all the way up the mountain, which can make life difficult for the people who don't produce high-value trade goods. The Association of Bakers and Grain Counters is a guild focused on controlling prices and maintaining certain food safety regulations. Anybody who deals in bread or grain is expected to give the Association a cut of their profits and access to their stores, though there are some stubbornly independent merchants who offer bargain-rate grain in grey markets.
Formed after the great strike a few years back, the Beggar's Guild strives to protect the spiritual purity of mendicancy and to ensure that there will always be enough beggars. The priests of Hemel teach that just as the god of Air is generous with attention and blessings, laypersons should be free with their own wealth. To cast off material possessions and be free like the wind is to enter a state of grace. Without beggars to offer alms, the wealthy would grow over-attached to the physical world and neglect their spiritual well-being. The Beggar's Guild maintains a code of conduct for those who take on an ascetic life, as well as providing a quiet safety net that reduces the chances of anyone dying of exposure or malnourishment.
Disciples of Favonius
Favonius is an essential part of the cycle of life in Zephyrinth. The god Hemel is mercurial and sometimes capricious, but the guardian spirit he has tasked with looking after Zephyrinth is consistently benevolent. The Disciples make regular offerings to Favonius from small regional shrines, but also have an active role in society as the agents of the Cleansing Breeze. The Disciples work tirelessly to keep poisonous plants out of Zephyrinth's gardens, isolate and treat diseases before they turn into epidemics, and ensure that the role of the town's guardian spirit is remembered with respect.
The sciences of alchemy and engineering are becoming increasingly fundamental parts of Zephyrinth society. The Technocratic League, a guild dedicated to securing funding and influence for the sciences, has a headquarters in Zephyrinth. It counts many wealthy members amid the upper levels of its society, predominantly the artisans who have drawn in so many foreign merchants to supply the town with staples. The League's most well-known project to date is the alchemical airship, a wondrous vehicle they claim will be able to carry large quantities of cargo through the skies without using magic. However, the project has been delayed numerous times, and the League is seeking investors willing to commit more resources to this revolution in the making.
The mountains are filled with dangers outside Zephyrinth. Though Favonius makes for a formidable shield, his focus on protecting the town has driven the development of a parallel military capable of keeping trade routes open and relatively safe to traverse. Those granted a particularly powerful blessing by Hemel after their Ascent are highly encourage to take service with the Thunderguard, where a kineticist or sorcerer who can cast lightning bolts will always find a place of honor. The Thunderguard are granted great authority outside of Zephyrinth, but they have historically been reluctant to take action within the town boundaries. That is the province of Favonius and the Oracle of Air, who wield unquestionable positions of civil and religious authority.
As trade brings growing social inequalities in Zephyrinth, malcontents have rallied behind the symbol of an hourglass filled with flour. They call for a stronger code of laws and major social reforms. Though the movement is commonly seen as a harmless outlet for youthful rebellion, there is concern that they might become a serious problem if they latch onto the wrong kind of foreign ideas."