Campaign of the Month: May 2016
Of all the cities of the world, are those of Nuria Natal among its people most proud. And outside the relative safety of the cities lie places of mystery and dread.
The major cities of Nuria Natal can be divided into two groups – those along the fertile River Nuria – e.g. Laksor, Nuria Natal, Corremel, Per-Bastet, Per-Xor and Per-Kush; and the three main desert cities, built on oases and consisting of Siwal to the East in the Sarklan Desert, Saph-Saph to the West in the Crescent Desert and Makuria to South at the intersection of the two great river tributaries, Black Nuria and Green Nuria.
Most of the Nuria Campaign will use Siwal as its main base for adventures. The desert city states of Siwal, Makuria and Saph-Saph were all formed by independent-minded Nurians to expand upon the kingdom’s existing strongholds in the deep deserts and to nurture the rich blooms of honorable trade. As the City of Gardens, Siwal is the largest settlement between the Sands of Sorrows and the Vulture’s Quarter. It is a centre of culture and commerce, and its basalt minarets tower over granite fountains and marble statuary. The city’s gardens are built around a natural oasis watered by elemental magic, and the Grand Necropolis of Siwal is famous for its size and its population of Undead, kept under control by the city’s GRAVEBINDERS.
The city is governed by Sultan Tayeb Al-Mamun and his second in command, Vizier Akil ibn Khaldun. ATEN is held in higher esteem than HORUS but ANU-AKMA obviously has quite a strong influence, in accordance with the size and importance of the Grand Necropolis. Inhabitants are mainly human, although there are some gnolls, dwarves and Heru (Ravenfolk) that live in the city. It is an important trading link, dealing in such consumables as dates, barley, herbs, salt, mummy dust and opals. It is also a central base for many of the great Sandships used as transport in and across the Sarklan Desert.
For further information, see The Garden City of Siwal.
The Shining Jewel of the Sun is governed by Sultan Benerib The Most Generous Patron of The First Temple. The city is a great trading station for salt, papyrus, dates, glass and herbs, and it is also near to the Golden Valley of Ulthar, home of Seprenet, the last sphinx priestess of a civilization more ancient than Nuria itself.
HORUS is the Patron of the Citadel of Winged Truth governed by Queen Baktweret sint Taweretsa. It is famous for its quills and feathers, taken from the flocks of migratory birds that continually stop over on their flights to and fro, but also for its hardy guardsmen and mercenaries, used to escourt caravans across the desert. The city has a proud warrior tradition with a large gnoll population and the Cavalry and Heru warriors of Makuria are legendary.
This is the capital city and seat of the reigning God-King of the Palm Palace, King Thutmoses the 23rd, High Priest of Aten. This ancient city contains the great arched roof of the Hall of Stars that perpetually displays the swirling night sky. The Palm Palace also includes the Embassy of the Sultan of the Oasis of Figs and the Emissary of the Spider Prophet, The Well of Ascension, with its pool of magic-infused water, and the Screaming Court, a pit-like enclosure occupied by the royal baboon troop used to tear apart traitors and spies that are thrown to their hungry feral justice.
The Everlasting City of The Cat is governed by the reborn Queen-Goddess Meskhemit, a powerful wizard and Lich-Queen Cleric of Bastet. The city is encircled by many large tors and tall monoliths within which stand its ancient red stone walls some 30’ high and 60’ wide. From the Sands of Sorrow to the east, a moving river of sand flows through the Sarklan Desert, through the heart of the city and disappears into a vast funnel-shaped crater in the ground called “The Pit”. Some objects carried into the pit are found years, decades or even centuries later in seemingly random spots in the Sarklan Desert of the Sands of Sorrow.
Fairly near to the mouth of the Great River Nuria, the city of Laksor’s patron deity is ISIS and the city is famous for its School of Healing. All of ISIS’s priestesses must make a pilgrammage to this school once every twelve years.
Governed by the King Stephenoy Hashedim, cleric of MBANU (a presumed mask of KHORS), the City of Corremel is most famous as the start of two great trade routes – the Tamasheq Trail over the Crescent Desert to Saph-Saph, and the Lion Road, travelling south through Per-Xor and Per-Kush and extending south through the desert, past the cursed PYRAMID OF KHENSU toward Tes Luria and the Narumbeki Gap in the Mbazha Mountains south of the desert.
The jealous god, ATEN, holds sway in Per-Xor and high priest, Zuberi the Wise Keeper leads his clerics at ATEN’s most holy shrine, The Tomb of the Prophet. It was a mere forty years ago that the Prophet of ATEN was burned alive by dragon fire in a Mharoti assault on the great city. The dragons were defeated but the people remember well the valiant defiance of their hero and the current priesthood demand the highest degree of respect and loyalty. But Per-Xor is not just a holy city of ATEN. It is an important trade link, both to the South via the Lotus Trail and to the South West on the Lion Road. Kushite influences are strongly felt, as are the influences of darker forces, epitomized by the Demon Cult of NAKRESH, strongly supported in the dark underbelly of the city.
One of the more southerly cities along the river, the City of Per-Kush has a mixed population of Nurians, Kushites and Annites, with Per-Kush being an important trade link on the Lotus Trail that links the far southern lands of Kush with the rich lands of true Nuria. The city is set in an area notorious for its high serrated cliffs and snaking valleys rich with gemstones and precious metals. The markets of Per-Kush are also some of the best places in all of Nuria to acquire rare herbs and spices, with many deadly poisons also on sale. The city is governed by King Tamer Hasan, a notable wizard and High Priest of HORUS.
Perilous Sites of the River Kingdom
As a treacherous land with history that goes back millennia, Nuria Natal is peppered with places that are haunted by the past and with dangers easily kept out of the public eye.
Khephani Salt Flats
This forlorn outpost in the Crescent Desert is ruled by the Tamasheq whose nomad lords force captives, criminals and slaves to remove large bricks of translucent salt that is shipped to Nuria Natal, Per-Xor and Saph-Saph. Outsiders are only permitted to camp on the far shore where salt-encrusted chuul hunt the shallows.
Lost Army’s Field
This eerie location in the Sarklan Desert is the haunted resting place of a foolish Mharoti Army. Occasionally, the shadowy spectre of this army emerges from the sands near the Pillars of Iram and hungry shades roam until the long-dead soldiers’ skeletons disappear. The shades feed off their dead general’s magical arsenal and follow their last commands, appearing sentient, and keeping grudges for decades, but forever bound to the field of bones.
Gnoll Pirate’s Lair
The ravenous gnoll warllord, Dunehowler, resides here and with his flotilla of captured sandskiffs, he raids the caravan trails from Siwal to Mhalmet and even as far as the Black Lotus Mesa to the south.
Corrupted Pyramid of Khensu
Once vizier to the god-kings during the 9th Dynasty, Khensu made pacts with three scheming devils of passion, hubris, and ambition in an attempt to ascend as a godling. With scrolls of copper and blood, the traitorous advisor took one-third of the labourers meant for the Heir’s Tomb and fashioned an infernal crucible, seeking to ignite a flicker of divinity within his human form. The structure is the engine of that failed attempt and to this day remains haunted by dry wights, mummies and howling ghosts.
More to follow…