- July 31, 2016
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- Prestige Class - The Wild Guardian
- The Red Knight of Damara (Saga of the Vaasan Knight #1)
- Prologue: City that Never Sleeps
- The Road Home (Saga of the Vaasan Knight #2)
- A First Lesson (Preludes #1)
- The Mistress of the Cross-Trade
- Hunter in the Darkness
- Setting the [Game] Table: Riddleport at a Glance
- Interlude: Moon Rise
Setting the [Game] Table - Nibenay at a Glance
The city of Nibenay is located at the eastern end of the Crescent Forest just north of the Great Ivory Plain. A long road runs out of the city to the north, connecting it with the Ivory Palace of Raam and the rest of the Tyr region. Just south of Nibenay is a region of hot springs called the Plain of Burning Water, which supplies the city's water and irrigates the rice fields that ring the City.
Nibenay is ruled by and named for the sorcerer-king who founded it centuries ago. He is seldom seen by his subjects, and rumors that he has died are frequently rife within the city. On occasion, these rumors have swelled to the point where civil disturbances and revolution seem imminent. At such times, the so-called Shadow King appears just long enough to crush the insurgents and prove to all that he still lives. The power of the noble class in Nibenay lies in the springs of the Plain of Burning Water. Each noble family owns one of these springs and has absolute say over the use to which its waters are put. The nobles are entrusted with the appeasement of the various spirits associated with these springs. If a spring runs dry, the family that owns it is disgraced and loses all status in the city. All of Nibenay's templars are women. It is said that they are all the wives of the sorcerer-king. Regardless of the truth of the rumor, it is important to keep in mind that these women have absolute power in the city. Making an enemy of one of Nibenay's templar-wives can be a fatal mistake.
There is a mysterious force living in the Plane of Burning Waters south of the city. It is believed to be a compilation of the life forces of many ancient preservers. From time to time, preservers are able to contact the Zwuun. Whatever its nature and other powers, the Zwuun is an almost unlimited source of information. On most occasions, the Zwuun will be cooperative. When it is not feeling helpful, however, the Zwuun provides false, deceptive, and even dangerous information.
The artisans of Nibenay are noted for their fine skill at stonework and sculpture. Indeed, every surface of the city is decorated with carvings, etchings, and reliefs. The work of artists and stonemasons from Nibenay command a high price in any market. Another important commodity in this magnificent city is the fine agafari wood of the Crescent Forest. This incredibly hard timber can be used to craft weapons and items that are nearly as durable as those made of bronze. While this industry is vital to the wealth of the city, it has also drawn it into a bitter resource war with Gulg, which is located at the far end of the Crescent Forest.
Visitors to Nibenay cannot help but be awestruck by the city. The architecture makes the entire place a veritable work of art. Strange tastes and unusual building techniques can be seen everywhere. Some structures are decorated with the images of their owners, while others are marked with caricatures of some of Athas' most terrible monsters. An important aspect of life in Nibenay is ritual dance. Because only nobles and templars are permitted to be literate, stories are often handed down through dances that are passed from generation to generation. Anyone with musical or similar talents will find an eager. demanding audience in the streets of Nibenay.
Because of Nibenay's ongoing war with Gulg, there is almost always work for mercenaries in the city. In some cases, they are hired as guards for the seemingly endless caravans that carry the city�s works to markets in other lands. Others who are willing to sell their services will find a place in the ranks of a private army in the service of one of the city�s noble families. The city-state itself maintains a standing army, but foreigners are not permitted to enlist. The army of Nibenay is noted for its core unit, a devastating company of 1,000 half-giants. Furthermore, the Shadow King delights in the use of terrible war machines and has been known to employ large numbers of undead units. The templar-wives who command Nibenay's army prefer to fight in open ground, where their larger units and war machines can crush all but the mightiest of enemies. In recent years, however, they have been forced to deal with skirmishers hampering the logging industry in the Crescent Forest, something that has caused them to rethink their overall military strategy.
The great importance of the Crescent Forest to the economy of Nibenay makes rangers a valuable commodity in the lands controlled by the Shadow King. In particular, the families who control the logging trade will often employ rangers to protect their laborers from the headhunters of Gulg, who constantly patrol the Crescent Forest in hopes of striking a blow against their ancient rivals. The templars of Nibenay also employ rangers to act as scouts for their armies. While the laws prohibit them from hiring foreigners, the importance of the task is such that exceptions are occasionally made.
Nibenay is one of the few places in the Tyr region that employs free gladiators. Indeed, there is quite a following for the most popular of the gladiatorial warriors. A free gladiator can earn fame and wealth in the games, so long as his skills do not fail him at a crucial moment. In order to enter the arena as a free gladiator, one must be sponsored by a merchant house, noble family, or similar group. Because of the public admiration that comes with sponsorship of a successful team of gladiators, and the high turnover rate associated with the job, it is generally not too difficult to find a backer.
In general, the public takes a dim view of wizards in Nibenay. They are typically perceived as twisted, power-hungry people who have abilities they cannot control. Because of this, any use of spells is likely to get one stoned or lynched by an angry mob. To the general populace of Nibenay, there is no difference between a defiler and preserver. For their part, the templar-wives of Nibenay generally kill any wizards they come across�instantly. However, in rare cases they have been known to work out deals in which a wizard is spared in exchange for some service. As often as not, though, these agreements end with the wizard being killed.
The sorcerer-king himself keeps a cadre of defilers who have sworn fealty to him. In return for their service, the wizards are treated as if they were nobles and are even assigned one or more templar bodyguards. Entering the service of the Shadow King is not easy, however, since many of those who present themselves to Nibenay are found wanting for some reason and are usually executed in a public ceremony. Once in the service of the sorcerer-king, the duties of defilers are many and varied. They must serve as entertainers during the various festivals held in the city, a task they generally find demeaning. They also act as the secret weapons of the army, creating undead troops and providing support on the battlefield.
Unlike defilers, there is no place at all for preservers in the city of Nibenay. They are neither liked by the people nor tolerated by the sorcerer-king. The only friends that a preserver is likely to find in Nibenay are among the ranks of the Veiled Alliance. However, the environment of hatred and distrust that surrounds It makes this secret society a reclusive and suspicious lot. Because of this, attempting to contact the Alliance can be as dangerous for preservers as seeking an audience with the sorcerer-king for a defiler.
The people of Nibenay privately respect clerics as much as they openly despise wizards. While they are neither revered nor placed on pedestals, as they are in many other parts of the world, they are almost always treated with discreet courtesy and deference. The use of magical abilities must be handled carefully, however. On more than one occasion, a cleric has been mistaken for a wizard, often with regrettable, and permanent, results. Any displays of magical power are persecuted as hashly by the templar-wives, whether displyed by cleric or wizard.
Each of the elemental devotions is well represented in Nibenay. Within the city, clerics of earth and fire are the most respected-though the dangerous fire clerics are feared and hunted by the templar-wives. In the fields that surround Nibenay, those who serve air and water are considered somewhat more important than their peers. Visiting clerics can generally find comfortable lodgings within the city by seeking out their local counterparts, so long as they do not draw unnecessary attention to themselves.
The importance of the Crescent Forest to the city of Nibenay makes for interesting relationships with the druids of Athas. On the one hand, druids oppose the unrestricted logging of agafari trees in the forest, a fact that has caused great friction with the merchants of the city. In contrast, those who must work and travel in the forests recognize the druids as an important source of information and aid. Within the city, druids are secretly respected like other clerics. Indeed, those who protect the springs on the Plain of Burning Water are treated as well as anyone in Nibenay by those who know of their presence. Nobles and templars, of course, have quite a different view, but as long as the druids maintain a low profile, the authorities of Nibenay will tolerate them for beef periods of time, as is the case for elemental clerics. Athasian cities are always dangerous for druids, and Nibenay is no exception.
Templars from other cities are generally welcome in Nibenay as long as they identify themselves to the gate guards upon entering the city. If they execute this required courtesy they are treated with all the respect and privilege due to visiting foreign statesmen. Templars who slip into the city unannounced are considered to be spies. If discovered, they are generally killed outright or tortured for whatever information they might have about their home city. Such treatment is automatic (and particularly vicious) if the templar is from Gulg.
Nibenay has often been called a thief's paradise. After all, the city's stone-carving and woodworking industries have made a large percentage of the populace wealthy. Further, due to the city's unusual architecture and and its myriad hiding places, a rogue can move about safely even on the brightest of days. The city's Hill District, home to the Bard's Quarter and Elven Market, hides a band of talented and resourceful thieves. Outsiders will not be bothered if they keep their malfeasance modest. Those who get carried away will be stopped (often violently) before they can call for help from Nibenay's templar-wives or the powerful merchant houses.
For their part, the templars are unusually tolerant of illegal activities directed at foreigners. There are exceptions, of course, and crimes that might upset trade or involve important persons will be quickly investigated and punished. It is said that many of the most powerful templar-wives maintain a small cadre of rogues who serve them in exchange for protection from arrest. Rogues who direct their attention to the city's nobles or powerful merchant houses will find themselves in even more serious trouble. In addition to drawing the wrath of the templars, many of Nibenay's most important citizens have small private armies that are free to act in the defense of their masters. It is hard to say whether a captured rogue would suffer more at the hands of the templars or these mercenaries. In cases where a thief is brought to trial, the usual result is a conviction, often without regard to evidence. The most common punishments for thieves are the loss of a hand (for the first offense) and death in the arena (for a subsequent conviction).
Bards are the vice merchants of Nibenay. They deal in all manner of illicit goods and activities. For the most part, they do business in and around the Elven Market and Hill District in the city's eastern section. Because the people of Nibenay are so fond of dance, ritual, and stories of the past, bards play an important part in the seasonal celebrations that are so popular in Nibenay. Bards from other areas are often asked to perform songs and stories that tell the tales of their homelands, for new tales are always welcome in Nibenay. As often as not, a bard can secure room and board with nothing more than a promise of entertainment. In addition to their role as black-market dealers and entertainers, the bards of Nibenay sometimes sell their services as spies and assassins. This practice is far less common here than it is in many other parts of the Tyr region, however. The variety of poisons manufactured, distributed, and employed by these shadowy characters is more diverse than in any other city state.
Psions and Psychic Warriors
The powers of the mind are not only recognized but also highly valued in Nibenay. Over the years, both the merchant houses and nobles of the city have taken care to build their psychic power. People who have studied the arts of the mind as a lifelong occupation can generally command a high price for their services from the masters of Nibenay. The Nibenese School of Augurs, an association of psions, uses the mental abilities of its members to generate revenue and to hold a place among the most powerful merchant houses of the city. They are always open to suggestions of new ways in which their powers can be used to create income. Outsiders who come to them with clever plans are paid handsomely for their efforts.
The Order maintains a presence in Nibenay. For the most part, their actions are subdued and secret. Their exact goals and aspirations within the city are impossible for outsiders to discern. It is that they have some influence over the actions of the monastic movement (see below) in the city, but there is no solid proof of that at this time.
Two groups in Nibenay are attempting to revive the city's ancient traditions of monasticism. While these psychic warriors of Nibenay are not truly monks, their study of meditation and the mastery of self make them comparable to the old monastic fraternities. These monastic assemblies are divided along gender lines. The Exalted Path is composed entirely of males, and Serene Bliss admits only women. The followers of the Exalted Path are led by their abbot, Thong Nal, while a woman named Au Treng is the abbot of the Serene Bliss Movement.