- True Neutral Large City
- Corruption +3 • Crime +3 • Economy +6 • Law +2 • Lore +6 • Society +2
- Qualities: Academic, Defensible, Prosperous, Resettled Ruins, Romantic.
- Danger: +10
- Government: Autocracy (Lord-Mayor)
- Population: 16,428 (12,307 humans' ; 2,122 half-elves; 821 dwarves; 526 gnomes; 398 kobolds; 129 elves; 78 halflings; 47 other)
- Base Value: 10,400 gp; Purchase Limit: 75,000 gp; Spellcasting: 8th
- Minor Items: 8d4 + 2d3; Medium Items: 3d4 + 1d3; Major Items: 2d4 + 1d3
During the Age of Constant War, the Scapolite Empire continued to expand. After conquering the Citrine Kingdom by guile, the Emperor of Scapolite turned his gaze to the strange land of Onyx. A land invasion was out of the question. The terrain between Scapolite and Onyx was either steep with mountains or treacherous with bogs and moors. A navy was formed and sailed out of both the Scapolite homeland and the Citrine Wastes. The naval pincer strategy took the Onyxish forces by surprise and, in short order, the capital city of Acertijo was conquered.
During the invasion, several wealthy families realized that they could not hope to prevail against Scapolite's overwhelming forces. Instead, they abandoned the capital and fled to the north and east. Following vague maps and journals from old explorers, they came to an ancient monument - the remains of a giant bridge that seemed to extend to nowhere. The area around the bridge was surrounded by inhospitable terrain to prevent the passing of armies and the seas along the border were filled with dangerous monsters and devious shoals. It was the perfect place to build a new city for a new Onyx, free from Scapolite control.
Overcoming the insects, disease, terrain and monsters took determination and willpower. Overcoming the native population took martial force. The Onyxish found a large tribe of primitive elves already living near the ancient bridge. Known as the Mhzyt, the elven tribe were exiled long ago from the Sapphire Forest due to heresy.
The first interactions between the Mhzyt and the Onyxish were peaceful. However, as the city grew and refugees from the invasion flooded in the Mhzyt found themselves being pushed to the edges of their own land. There were skirmishes and battles but the Mhzyt lost all too often to superior Onyx technology. Unwilling to give up their homes, the Mhzyt accepted the dominance of the Onyx. In time, they became refugees in their own city.
When the Scapolite Empire crumbled, Acertijo was in no condition to rebuild the Onyx Cryptocracy. The Seven, the secret rulers of Onyx, proclaimed that Vesicule would become the new capital. It remains so to this day.
Elven Lore says the Mhzyt were exiled for cutting down trees in the Sapphire Forest and selling the lumber to outsiders. The Mhzyt say they were exiled from the Sapphire Forest because of their religious beliefs. The Mhzyt believe the Totems are all extensions of a single being that exists in a great beyond. In their belief system, each Totem is but a single finger of the divine, thrust out from another plane into this world. It is their belief that this supreme being, whom they refer to simply as the Great One, rejects those foolish enough to mistake mere appendages as entire Totems. Instead, the Mhzyt see themselves as the true inheritors of the power and favor of the divine.
Today, there are few pure blooded Mhzyt left. Despite their unique beliefs, the Mhzyt are a gregarious people. Over time many have interbred with the Onyxish humans of Vesicule. Most Mhzyt are half-elves (or close enough to it that it make no difference) while a rare few are either pure elven or human.
Home to Vesicule's richest and most affluent citizens. Aristocrats, nobles, guild masters and anyone rich enough to afford such a lifestyle dwell in the villas and mansions that line the district's streets. Shops and taverns are rare here but salons and private clubs thrive. The Alabaster District is also home to the Serpent's Run, a sprawling hippodrome. It is the city's most popular public venue.
1. Alabaster Park: This beautiful and well-maintained park is open to the public and a short distance from Serpent's Run, making it a popular spot for picnics.
2. Serpent's Run: A massive complex centered on a colosseum capable of seating 5,000 spectators in seats ranging from expensive private balconies to "copper benches" for the masses. Serpent's Run hosts sporting events, circus performances, mock-gladiatorial battles and, on rare occasion, small-scale naval battles.
3. House of Lords: Build entirely out of stone, the House of Lords serves as offices for the noble families who live in the area. Most members of the House of Usher keep offices here.
Beacon's Point is a raucous home to traders, sailors and hardworking families of all sorts. There are numerous warehouses, shipping concerns, brothels and taverns in the district. The further from the district's borders one travels, however, the more closely packed and poorly maintained the buildings get. The core of Beacon's Point is a slum known as Rag's End, a mazelike knot of alleys where the poorest make their home.
1. The Wyvernwatch: The tallest structure in Beacon's Point. The towering lighthouse, 82 feet tall, stands on a 20-foot bluff. The tower is stone and the light immense an crafted from bronze and glass. The top of the lighthouse in carved into the shape of a wyvern's head and the light shines out from the mouth.
2. Jaijarko Castle: A massive collection of seemingly shabby shanties and tenements, all owned by a slumlord named Rassimeri Jaijarko. Rumors suggest all the buildings are well-fortified, interconnected and plushly appointed inside.
3. Battle of the Charda: A large statue that depicts Vesicule's first naval battle against a group of pirates who attacked with tamed monsters known as Charda. The statue shows four of the Charda, each 30-feet tall, surrounding a much smaller ship.
Monument Boon: Practice weaponplay for 10 minutes before the Battle of the Charda and make a successful DC 20 Intimidate check to gain a +1 morale bonus on all attack rolls made with melee weapons for 24 hours. This bonus increases by +1 for each 10 points by which you exceed the initial check.
The Queen's District
The blocks that surround the Irespan ring with the noisy work of sculptures, jewelers, carvers and enchanters. Further away from the Irespan lays the royal palace, official home for the Queen of the Empire should she visit and the seat of her influence in Onyx. The Lord-Governor of the district technically governs Onyx from here but rarely leaves his estate outside the city. The day to day operations of the city are ruled by the Council of Ushers who meet in the House of Usher next to the palace.
1. Irespan: Visible for miles out to sea, this ancient basalt ruin of a bride dominates Vesicule's skyline. Each piling of the Irespan measures 100 feet in diameter. The bridge itself is 300 feet wide and 50 feet thick. Curiously, the bridge seems to have lead to nowhere. There's no sign of what might have lain on the other side of the bridge, though broken pilings in the ocean make it clear it once did extend some distance out to sea. The pilings of the Irespan are known to be hollow and chambers might exist in the deck as well but exploration is forbidden and has been since monsters swarmed out to attack the city years ago. The broken pilings out in the ocean are open to limited mining. The stone from the Irespan is useful for enchanting and alchemy.
2. Encrafters: Vesicule's best-known industry is Encrafters, housed in a series of crow-haunted warehouses near the north edge of the Irespan. Run by the wizard Toth Breacher, Encrafters has become one of the largest producers of magical and alchemical items in the world.
3. Cenotaph: A 10-story tall, cylindrical monument that serves as a memorial to Vesicule's founder, Alcaydian Indros. It has since become a postmortum status symbol for those who can afford burial beneath the stones of the surrounding Mourner's Plaza or in the catacombs beneath the memorial. Clerics of Opal patrol the catacombs to keep the monument free of undead and grave robbers.
Monument Boon: Pray for 10 minutes in the Mourner's Plaza before the Cenotaph and make a successful DC 15 Knowledge (religon) check to gain a +1 morale bonus on all Fortitude saves for 24 hours. This bonus increases by +1 for each 10 points by which you exceed the initial check.
4. Indros cul Vydrarchi: A towering marble sculpture that depicts the legendary battle between Alcaydian Indros and a Scapoltian pirate named Vydarchi.
Monument Boon: Recite the poem "Upon the Serpent's Grave" in the original Onyx while standing before the monument, then attempt a DC 15 Perform (act, oratory, or sing) check. Success grants a +1 morale bonus on all weapon damage rolls against creatures with the aquatic subtype for 24 hours. This bonus increases by +1 for each 5 points by which you exceed the initial check.
5. Pediment Building: An impassive, gray stone building replete with gargoyle and statues of grim judges serve as the home of the Halls of Virtue, the city's courts. The court is formed of thirteen justices. In addition, the Lord-Mayor of Vesicule, Haldmeer Grobaras, holds offices here.
6. Gehenna: Directly beneath the Pediment Building lie the sweltering halls of Vesicule's only prison. The uppermost levels serve as guard barracks and administrative offices. As one travels deeper into Gehenna, the air grows hotter and more foul and the prisoners grow more insane and dangerous.
7. Usher Hall: The Council of Usher is an assembly of the eldest, most experienced and most influential of community leaders. They meet in Usher Hall, a beautiful building that echoes loudly with the constant "discussions" of the council.
As a trade city, Vesicule owes its prosperity to the many foreign merchants who use the port of Hydra's Way. The district has salt-blasted storefronts and cramped businesses which cater to the rough and tumble seafolk while more exotic inns and taverns serve as a welcome to visitors from afar.
The Key serves as the center of the city. It is home to the middle class, ranging from artisans to merchants. the Key is also home to more temples to the Totems than any other district in Vesicule.
Skull's Shadow lays at the base of the Skullcleft, the large cliff that divides Vesicule in twain. It is the city's most vibrant district and home to playhouses, pubs, brothels, hookah bars, dance halls and a wide variety of other entertainments. As a result, Skull's Shadow is home to many of the city's artists, bards and entertainers. Subversive entertainment and anti-establishment rhetoric and wild social experimentation are the norm here.
Membership in the Amethystish Empire has created a new class of citizens in Vesicule: those with money but without traditional social status. These "new money" rich have moved to the Muerte district. Once home to the poor, it has been gentrified over the years. Now Muerte is a district of high-class shops, restaurants, businesses, and offices. The largest neighborhood in Muerte is Black Arch, home to those merchants and shop owners who make enough money to live a comfortable life. Many foreigners also keep homes in the Black Arch for the rare occasions when business brings them to Vesicule.
Separated from the main city by deep waters, Ophelia is a city within a city. Here one can find ex-patriots from other parts of the empire, each gathered in their own little conclaves. Often, they want as little to do with Vesicule and the Onyxish population as possible.
Under the Irespan one finds the worst of the city. Seedy taverns, diseased brothels, rat-infested gambling dens, salt-blasted tenement buildings and cheap flophouses. Criminal organizations use the unmonitored docks under the Irespan for smuggling and those who wish to be lost tumble into Underbridge. Despite the squalor, the people of Underbridge are proud, declaring themselves free - from empire, government and faith.
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