November 25, 2014

Der: Fasthold of the Lizard King

DER - Population 6000 (mostly human, 150 or less of every other humanoid species)  Nearly 1/3 of the residents are slaves who work for and live among the families of their masters.  The populace is currently hostile to ratlings due to recent raids on crop fields by wild ratlings.  Groups of young thugs will occasionally enter the sewers to harass the local ratling colony and their mutant sympathizers.

Small City: +2 Wealth +2 Social
Origin (Defensible Site): +2 Military

Local Customs
Slavery: +4 Wealth -2 Social (free upkeep or any 1 asset)
Missionary Zeal: +2 Social (the faithful of Ningishzidda spread the good word relentlessly)
United Efforts: (Social can be converted 2:1 into Wealth or Military for a time)

Stone Walls (High): +4 Military -1 Wealth
Barracks: +2 Military (free upkeep for 1 military unit)
Regional Bazaar: -1 Military +4 Wealth
Ziggurat: +4 Wealth +4 Social
Gladiator Arena (local): +1 Military -1 Wealth +2 Social *free*

Military Forces
100 Lizard Riders (F2 - giant lizard, scale armor, sickle sword, bow, net) -2M -2W
100 Jedite Zealots (J2 - studded leather, dual sickle swords, throwing blades)  -3M -2S *free*

Domain Rating Totals
Military Surplus = 6
Wealth Generation = 11
Social Stability = 8

Treasure/Goods/Materials = 9
Ensi's Petty Cash = 15,000gp

Top left corner of this picture points North, top right corner points East.

City Info
Located in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, Der was built atop a tall semicircular rock formation whose curved side looks out to the west over the edge of a cliff and onto the Old Dwarf Road stretching across the plains below.  The rock formation itself sits on a vast ledge with the hills and mountains rising up behind it to the east.  The ledge is rocky and not suitable for large scale farming.  Crops are grown in fields on the plains below, near a lake south of the city.

Der was originally founded as a remote military outpost.  It guards the civilized lands from the wild natives that the Anunnaki drove into the mountains long ago; the elves, dwarves, orcs, and also the Hill People who turned away from their Anunnaki masters ages ago and chose instead to live in the wilds.  In addition to these dangers are the monsters of the mountains who sometimes feed on the livestock and the occasional villager, the huge raptor birds and well known giant lizards of the hills.

Beastmasters in Der have worked to "tame" these giant lizards over the years, and now some of them are used as mounts and beasts of burden.  These great lizards are generally not as loyal and obedient as the donkeys and aurochs available throughout the civilized lands (which honestly aren't very loyal or obedient to begin with).  It is rather important to keep these giant omnivorous lizards well fed if you intend to handle them.

A hundred years ago the soldiers of Der roamed far and wide eliminating any threat that presented itself, but the times have changed.  Without support from the Anunnaki, Der has been hard pressed by the wildlings surrounding them.  The humanoid clans have been slipping into the civilized lands for years now, establishing camps all along the Tigris river. The forces of Der now mainly focus on keeping the Old Dwarf Road clear of bandits and humanoid raiders.  Without the supplies and trade coming in from the road (the twice yearly caravans that run through Niru) Der might wither and die.  When possible, the human bandits and Hill People are usually captured rather than killed.  Selling these outlaws to the local slavers is rather profitable.  Elves, dwarves, and orcs are worth far less than human wildlings because of lower demand and the higher risk involved in training them, but the local gladiator arena always needs fresh meat.  Most of the cities of Ki-en-gir have hundreds of indentured servants and slaves, but nowhere near the percentage found in Der.  Many of the slaves found throughout the civilized lands originated here.

Der once traded with Godin Tepe; a city further in the mountains to the north that produced stone, metals, beer, and wine.  Since the fall of Kutha and the ascension of the gods, Godin Tepe has been abandoned.  The residents there soon recognized that they were no longer safe from the humanoid hordes and most fled that city to come live in Der.  Unfortunately there was not enough room for everyone on top of the rock formation that the city is built upon, so homes were built on the area below out of necessity.  The people have since built a high stone wall that encloses the area around the eastern base of the rock formation (the straight edge of the semicircle).  Now the children of those refugees wonder if Der should also be abandoned.  The wildling savages have been raiding the fields and occasionally the homes just outside the walls of the city.  The common people of Der who aren't wholly committed to Ningishzidda are beginning to see the city as a lost cause, but the leadership here and the faithful zealots are committed to holding on for as long as they can.

The wall makes the city nearly circular now with the older buildings on the stone formation above (uptown) and the newer half of the city protected by the wall below (downtown).  The wall is 20' high at it's lowest point above the central eastern gate, and then it slopes steeply upward on both sides until the walkway along the top of the wall becomes two grand stairs that reach up to the northern and southern edge at the top of the rock formation, thus connecting the two halves of the city.  Most people use the stairs to reach uptown Der, but there is also the Anunnaki Elevator.  A 3' tall metal post stands near the northern stairway at the top of the rock formation.  It has a button on top that glows when pressed and calls the elevator to move between it's two locations.  The elevator is a 20' diameter disk of black glass with no railings or visible supports, it floats up at a comfortable pace and arches over to it's landing spot, a circular indention in the stone at the top.  A similar landing spot can be found at the base of the rock formation complete with metal post and glowing button, but also standing here is an Anunnaki Enforcement Droid (ED-209) a 9' tall robot with plasma cannon arms. 

ED-209 would only fire at the native humanoids like elves, dwarves, and orcs, until about 15 years ago when one of the magi in Der spent a few months trying to befriend the droid and gain access to it's voice commands.  After some initial success those experiments ended rather abruptly and tragically.  The droid has been a bit twitchy ever since, demanding that livestock show their identification papers and blasting away butterflies with extreme prejudice.  Now most people choose to go the long way around and take the stairs.

Like most cities, Der is governed by the magi who live within.  These magi are currently led by Uuzdine, who won the title over 20 years ago after a duel to the death with the former Ensi; a devout follower of Anu named Pidoothin.  Uuzdine was proselytizing for Ningishzidda, claiming to be in communication with this previously unknown Lizard God of the Underworld.  Uuzdine said that Ningishzidda had agreed to protect Der and it's people in exchange for worship and tribute.  Pidoothin didn't believe any of it.  He ridiculed both Uuzdine and his new god.  However, it soon became apparent that Uuzdine had gained access to new spells, and strange events in the area also seemed to support his claims.  Uuzdine began gaining believers and support, and Pidoothin sought to undermine this new religion at every turn.  The ideological struggle went on for about a year until it ended in a duel and the death of Ensi Pidoothin.  Since then, most of the magi and populous have fallen in line and accepted Ningishzidda as the patron deity of Der.  Many of the magi and some of the more devout citizens have become physically changed over the years; growing scales, forked tongues, reptilian eyes, ect.  None have been so "blessed" as Uuzdine, who now barely qualifies as human.  The main religious ceremony in honor of Ningishzidda is on the night of the new moon when tribute and sacrifices are given for the glory of their god.  Near the end of the ceremonies the slaves of the city are allowed to participate in a lottery.  A pair of winners are given the honor of being taken to stand before Ningishzidda who will free them from their bondage and grant them access to his special area of the Underworld where there is no longing, drudgery, or hardship.  These winners are never seen again.

Only a few of the magi here have Elfulan bodyguards.  Most Elfulans refused to accept Ningishzidda and left the city years ago.  The city streets are patrolled at all times by Jedite zealots of the Ophidian Clan.  The Ophidians were originally invited in by the magi of Der after the ascension of the gods and the influx of refugees from Godin Tepe, back when it was feared that a slave rebellion might destroy the city from within.  The Ophidians quickly quelled the unrest, and any dissent now is nearly unthinkable.  The Jedites work closely with those faithful to Ningishzidda; the eyes and ears of the law are everywhere.  Ostensibly the Ophidians still work for the magi, but as the clan's influence continues to grow the people are beginning to wonder if it is Clan Master Obabelalial who actually controls the city.  Rumors have always persisted that the Clan Master was seen sweating blood just after Uuzdine's duel with the former Ensi, raising suspicions that Jedite shenanigans were used to sway the outcome.

Outside the walls, Der is also protected by a hundred or so battle hardened soldiers who ride upon giant lizards that stand 5-6' tall at the shoulder.  These beasts are faster than men while sprinting, and can climb the hills and cliffs at a decent pace.  The lizard stables are kept outside the walls of the city under the western base of the rock formation.  The Lizard Riders patrol the nearby hills and fields, as well as far up and down the old dwarf road.  If you follow the old dwarf road far enough north it eventually leads to the gates of a dwarven city carved deep into the mountain.  Ages ago, the Anunnaki blasted those gates open and sent many horrors down into the depths to exterminate the dwarves.  The treasure of the dwarves might still lie within, but the twisted horrors of the gods also lurk in the depths below.  Only the most foolish or desperate adventurers would dare to enter such a place.

In addition to the lake and crop fields south of Der, there is also a forest and lake at the base of the foothills a few miles northwest of the city.  Legend says that this forest is cursed, and there are many tales of people who've ventured out into the woods only to go missing without a trace.  Most people avoid the area.  Recently, a few of the Ophidian Clan jedites have been seen coming and going from these cursed woods.  The Clan has declared the forest is off limits to any others under pain of death.  Their motives for doing this are now the talk of town. The rumors run rampant.

The Magi of Der
Ensi Uuzdine (level 10+) - He's more lizard now than man, bloated and feeble.  Many of Ningishzidda's faithful servants are rewarded with reptilian features, but none so much as Uuzdine.  His human nose and ears fell away last year, which was seen as a powerful blessing and a good omen for the city.  He is covered head to tail in a mottled pattern of blue and black scales.  His arms and legs have shrunk a bit while his torso has grown longer.  Walking upright is a bit uncomfortable and awkward now, so when he does venture out into town it is usually in an elaborate sedan chair carried along on poles by a team of slaves.  Each day Uuzdine spends hours in the nude sunning himself at the top of the ziggurat, but he always takes time to go out and spread the faith amongst the common folk and to train his apprentices in the secrets of magic.

9 Magi, apprenticed to the Ensi (level 3-7) - Seven are reptilian in appearance and wholly devoted to Ningishzidda, but two of Uuzdine's apprentices are wards traded to him by magi of distant cities.  These two apprentices have proven stubborn and still worship more traditional Anunnaki gods.  Uuzdine is unimpressed and suspects that these two are spying on him for their old masters.  One is from Sippar and worships Sherida, the other is from Nippur and is faithful to Enlil.

25 apprentices (level 1-2) - officials, scribes, and teachers tending to the concerns of common folk.

Jedite Clan: Aqueous Ophidian
Master Obabelalial (Oh-babble-all-E-all) - an unimposing old man with kind eyes and a gentle smile.  He is small, thin, and extremely dangerous.  He's quite congenial and respectful to everyone, especially his enemies.  He is said to be secretly infuriated by any perceived slight or disrespectful tone, so be careful what you say to him.  He is also said to be able to hear people's thoughts, so be careful what you think about him too.  He will not show any outward sign of annoyance at the time of the offense and will usually continue smiling throughout the encounter, though he may mention something jokingly about his disappointment.  Wise men strive to rectify these grievances immediately.  Master Obabelalial seems to enjoy letting these private irritations stew over time into a murderous rage until eventually he feels the need to suddenly stab the offender in the face, or arrange some gristly accident, or trick their lover into poisoning them, or have their entire household killed while they sleep, or other such things.  Really nice guy though, always amiable and considerate.

Obabelalial was once one of the original students of Master Po, the alien head of Anunnaki security who brought the knowledge of the Force of Jed to this world.  In addition to occasionally teaching the students together as a class, Master Po would also provide private instruction to each of his students.  They weren't really "getting it".  These private lessons were uniquely tailored to each student based upon their personality and skill set in order help them expand their understanding and to become a more perfect vessel for the Force.  Ironically, when Master Po failed to return from the Underworld it was these private lessons that caused the greatest confusion and misunderstandings between his students.  Each of them believed that Master Po had given them special knowledge, that they were his favored student, and that only they could properly teach the Jedite Way to new students.  Eventually each of the seven who survived these disagreements went off to found their own "true" jedite clan.

As a student Obabelalial was strong willed and brash.  His private lessons usually focused around his need to be "like a snake; supple, flexible, and strike quickly only when the time is right", and also his need to be "more like water which flows and bends in order to reach it's goal".  He took these lessons to heart, but has also obsessed over the lessons for years now searching for hidden meanings.  His theories and conjectures are the foundations that Clan Aqueous Ophidian are based upon.

Master Obabelalial developed his own fighting style called Two-Headed Snake which is a fast and furious assault full of feints and misdirection (reroll one failed attack roll each round).  This fighting style is taught to all of the students in the clan.  Most of the Ophidians prefer to dual wield weapons while using this fighting style, just like Master Obabelalial does (in my game dual wield = single attack roll, if it hits then roll dice for each weapon but only the higher roll does damage; if the roll is tied then both weapons hit).  The ceremonial garb is white robes with green trim.  Clan members will usually wear a green sash while out on the streets, just so the common folk know who they are dealing with.

Clan Master Obabelalial, level 9-20 (gotta keep my players guessing)
He has 5 remaining lieutenants all of whom he continues to train, level 6-8
17 active teachers who spend most of their time training new students, level 4-5
Everyone above this level is called "Master"
18 "Vipers" who lead the clansmen patrolling the streets of Der, level 3
100 "Constrictors" who patrol the city and keep the peace, level 2
??? new and promising students who are not allowed to leave the school, level 0-1

Nearby Locations ---- Der - 08.20
Slozynn Reservoir - 09.20
The crop fields - 09.19
Grave Basin - 06.18
The heart of the cursed woods - 06.19
Blasted watchtower deep in the hills - 09.26
The end of the old dwarf road, the razed dwarven city - 01.25

Recent Events of Der (by Month)
1. VIP Visit - Serpentuar emissary
2. Haunting - Evil spirits cast out of local home by Ensi Uuzdine, reputation increased
3. Death - Ningishzidda denying magi suffered sudden illness and painful death
4. Vengeful Stranger - Master of the recently deceased magi came to town looking for answers
5. Merchant Caravan - led into Der by the merchant Sweeney from Niru
6. Landslide - covering ODR to the north, but lizard riders can climb over so no effort to clear it yet.
7. New Magi - Vengeful stranger is convinced of Ningishzidda's power, converts, swears oath to Ensi
8. Accident - home collapses during rainstorm, 2 killed, 3 survive
9. Major Incursion - Night raids on crop fields, ratlings suspected, poor harvest, tensions high
10. Recruiting - Clan Ophidian is taking new younglings, by force if necessary
11. Merchant Caravan (Sweeney) - recently arrived
12. No Event - upcoming

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