The World of Dragonsgate
The only true metropolis for thousands of miles, Seaport straddles the mouth of the Truin River where it empties into Shimmersea. Seaport is a powerful city-state that counts a number of outlying townships, islands, and sea routes as part of its territory.
Where the mouth of the Truin breaks into a fractious delta, Seaport has been built up on the islands and riverbanks, reconstructed at least three times on top of its own ruins. Bound by the river, the city has no room to expand sideways, so it has been forced to expand upward, extending towers of white stone that stab into the sky. The most impressive of these is the Mage Tower, Seaport’s pride, a four-fingered spiral structure reinforced with magic taller than any other building in Seaport.
Unlike Dragonsgate, which enjoys the sensibility of dwarven civic engineering, Seaport is a chaotic tangle of winding cobblestone streets, bridges that stretch between islands and between buildings, new buildings grafted onto old ruins with little care for consistency or form. Newcomers are easily lost, and since Seaport is a busy port, there are newcomers all the time. The repeated rebuilding has left Seaport hundreds of purposeless nooks and crannies, lost cellars, hidden passageways, and bolt-holes that its criminal element uses to their best advantage. The Tower Guard, a force of fighters and lesser magicians employed by the Low Council, does its best to keep the peace but Seaport has a rough and tumble nature and no degree of crack-down will force order upon its chaotic soul.
Nearly any product or service available in the mortal world can be found somewhere in Seaport, though price depends on legality and availability. If someone in Seaport can’t get it, they know where you can, and ships come and go to all corners of the civilized world, bearing travelers to far-off destinations. Seaport is also flush with magic, though lesser practitioners are more likely to be entertainers than employed by Public Works, as they are in Dragonsgate. Those who study in the Mage Tower pay dearly for the privilege of learning from some of the greatest masters in the region, and access to the Tower Library is deeply coveted for the depth of secrets waiting to be found within.
As with most vertical cities, the upper class lives on the upper levels, where the air, streets, and the view are cleaner, or on their own islands in the delta which have been carefully sculpted into lavish estates. The lower class lives in the depths and the gutters, poling their way between islands, searching trash heaps for lost bits and bobs, or fishing off unlisted docks built of salvaged materials hoping to catch one more meal. Poverty in Seaport is not a crushing problem, but the lowest classes have a definite presence there as much as the upper classes wish they didn’t.
Seaport is governed by two bodies: the Low Council, made up of nobles, guild leaders, and a handful of civic bureaucrats which does its business in the lower levels of the Councilorium, and the High Council, a group of five enigmatic mages cloaked in rumor and speculation. The Low Council deals with the day-to-day requirements of governing a city, from taxes and tariffs to peacekeeping and sanitation. The High Council, it is whispered, tend to much less banal concerns. Whether they actually serve the city in any appreciable way, or simply enjoy the trappings of authority as a nod to their terrible power, is debatable. The uppermost levels of the Councilorium are off-limits to anyone but the High Council themselves (sometimes simply called ‘the Magi’), their retinues, and their elite force of agents and protectors: the Red Guard. The Red Guard serve as the eyes and hands of the Magi, and the populace’s fear and superstition concerning them is far out of proportion to their actual numbers. Mundane citizens are seldom summoned before any of the Magi, but mages of the Tower often are, and rumor has it some who go before the Magi never emerge from their cloistered dwellings. What eldritch research is performed in those darkened halls, even the Low Council seldom knows.
Locations of note in Seaport include:
- The Mage Tower – These four limestone towers, three outer towers wrapping around a straight central tower, are set in a flat green lawn in the shape of an eight-pointed star, representing the eight traditional schools of magic. The gardens are surrounded by a wall and barred gates where the bridges connect – the Mage Tower sits on its own island, and only those privileged with money and ability are allowed inside. The central tower hosts the library, astronomy and divination classrooms, the best faculty accommodations, and an astronomy viewing platform at the top equipped with expensive telescopes to aid wizards in their divinations and charting of the skies. The southernmost tower is student dorms, the eastern tower is faculty dorms and workshops, and the western tower is classrooms and laboratories. A few support buildings, such as a dining hall and a medical center, surround the base of the tower. No temples exist on campus, as many of the teachers encourage a more pragmatic view of the gods.
- The Wyvern’s Rest – An old, fine inn on the city’s upper-mid-levels, the Wyvern’s Rest has a whitewashed facade, heavy wood beams, and leaded glass windows with flowers spilling from the sills, lending it an old-world charm. The proprietors are Ervin Muncefield, a short, stout human man with a bristle-broom mustache, and his wife Effy Muncefield, a tall and robust human woman with dishwater hair pulled back into a tight bun and hands reddened from washing. The least expensive rooms are considered Comfortable (8sp/day+5sp for meals). Wealthy (2gp+8sp for meals) and Aristocratic (4gp+2gp for meals) accommodations are also available. Many rooms have a good view of the ocean or the river delta.
- The Councilorium / The White Hall – A massive dome capping the largest of Seaport’s islands, the Councilorium is the building where both the High and Low Councils meet to debate and govern the city. While members of the Low Council come and go, the mysterious and seldom-seen members of the High Council have their quarters, workshops, and other accouterments within the White Hall and rarely expose themselves to the public eye, living secretive lives within the walls of the White Hall. Other levels are administrative offices and archives. The White Hall is surrounded by the walls and towers of the old Keep, which are manned by the Tower Guard. The name “White Hall” is also used for the largest, most central of the islands on which the Councilorium stands.
- Farrier’s Rock – One of the larger islands in the delta, Farrier’s Rock is a stacked maze of forges, workshops, and scrap metal that rings day and night with the song of hammers and the roar of bellows-pumped fire. Real artisans work alongside salvage-riggers, cutting deals to share and collaborate on projects that require multiple contributors. At the center and highest point of the island is the square structure that houses the Metalworker’s Guild, of which every laborer on the island is a member… or they don’t stay on the island long. Even support businesses, such as food vendors and scribes, pay dues to the guild for the privilege of setting up shop on Farrier’s Rock. One straight, stout bridge connects Farrier’s Rock to White Hall’s lower levels. Temples to gods of industry and civilization tend to be inside the island, in hidden nooks and crannies in the rock. Warfs and docks extend from the island like spokes in a wheel, receiving shipments of metal ore and salvage at all hours of the day and night.
- Temple of Moon and Tide – Situated on a small island southward in the delta, the Temple of the Moon is surrounded by tiered gardens and clustered groves that cover the entirety of the rocky upthrust on which it sits. The Temple is largely controlled by the cult of Sehanine, but contains large, ornate temples to Avandra, Mellora, and Corellon. The temple itself is a thing of beauty, constructed of golden-brown stone and honey-colored wood, high arches supported by ornate columns. Generations of artisans have contributed their work as offerings to the goddess of beauty, and as such no corner of the temple remains unadorned except for the chapels themselves, where quiet contemplation is encouraged free of distraction. The Temple is most well-known for two things; its extensive charity programs facilitated largely by the Chosen of Avandra, and the priesthood of Sehanine which offers its services to the populace, both as oracles and sacred prostitutes.
- The Sunstone Temple – Located on Whitehall Island, directly across from the Councilorium, the Sunstone Temple is the largest place of worship in Seaport with the exception of the Temple of Moon and Tide, whose grounds are more extensive. Crammed in with other civic buildings as it is, Sunstone supports no grounds, but its white marble structure is huge, multi-level, supporting chapels to Erathis, Pelor, Kord, and Ioun. Strong and simplistic in design, the temple is a testament to the power of civilization. In a rear courtyard wrapped in columns, the Tower Guard trains, and their support buildings crowd the street between the temple and the Councilorium, where their administrative offices lie. Murals showing the history of Seaport and giving biographies of historical figures line the walls, giving the temple a museum-like quality. Sunlight streams into Pelor’s chapels through skylights as priests in gold and white robes sing hymns to the light. Scholars dedicated to Ioun have their cells in the temple complex, where they illuminate manuscripts and copy texts to aid the temple’s cash flow.
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