Thursday, September 13, 2012

City of Rardish -- Iron Crown of Alphatia

Mystara Alphatia Randel Rardish Map
Rendered at 2 Miles per Hex

Not only has Rardish been a royal capital for as long as the realm existed, it also has housed Randel’s primary military garrison.  No warriors’ district exists in Rardish because the entire city qualifies as such.  Despite the mile-wide river behind which lies the hated realm of Eadrin, the capital city huddles within a ring of heavily fortified walls, save for its port area.  Even then, massive bastions (1.) fitted with fiery siege weapons loom above the river’s turbid, gray-green waters to guard the port’s access.

A row of similar fortifications (2.) built atop earthen mounds extends from city walls, like giant sentinels sternly watching the surrounding farmland.  There isn’t a ditch, shrub, or tree within a mile; all is clear, smooth, and accurately marked for range, allowing defenders a perfect line of sight.  Better yet, a layer of cold iron coats walls and towers, ensuring greater resistance to enemy bombardment.  This feature earned the city its “Iron Crown” moniker.  Metal plating, commissioned at great cost by successive monarchies, required tenacious efforts to cover 18 miles of 30 foot-tall city walls, gates, towers, and defensive bastions, and to bind everything together.  Wizards spent decades casting wall of iron spells, shaping the iron, and enchanting animated carvings of illustrious monarchs, heroes, and dragons to enact famous scenes of Randelese history.

To help delay ravages of time and rust, thick paint covers all, giving the fortress the patina of ancient bronze.  Naturally, every now and then, an iron section needs to be replaced, due to the depredations of wandering rust monsters breeding in the hills just north of the city.  In truth, these small monsters never were natives of Randel.  They originally hailed from the murky depths beneath Eadrin.  Shadow Lords captured a good number of specimens, among much worse things, and quietly released them on the other side of the Randel River.  For this reason, teams of hunters armed with clubs and nets, and accompanied with well-trained hunting dogs, patrol the fortifications at night when rust monsters are most likely to come forth.

The poorest district of Rardish surrounds the port.  The large rectangular harbor (3.) handles shipping along the Randel River.  A section remains off limits, which is reserved for the king’s navy.  Despite tense relations between Randel and Eadrin, substantial merchant traffic persists between the capital city and suburban areas on the south bank (4.)  All such traffic originates and terminates at fortified piers on either sides, where passengers and merchandise are carefully identified.  Watchful wizards search for clues that might unmask an agent of the Shadow Lords no doubt up to no good, while comparable scrutiny takes place across the border.  If suspicion is involved, inspections range from intrusive to utterly revolting.  Naturally, Randelese galleys occasionally board visiting ships before they reach the harbor.  If anything seems suspicious, the crew and its ship are taken to the mid-river bastion (1.) to be more thoroughly interrogated and searched.



Click on the map to view

The royal palace (5. lined in red) occupies a fortified complex that includes the king’s residence as well as municipal and government buildings, just near Dragon Square (6.)  A cluster of buildings north of this open square houses Randel’s Academy of War (7.) while the Naval Academy resides in a large structure dominating the harbor’s southeastern edge (8.)  Military barracks and the sieges of various knightly brotherhoods are scattered throughout the city, usually near the main temples.  The wealthiest district housing the majority of aristocracy lies south of the royal palace, near the jousting field (9.)  Granaries, workshops, merchant guilds, and tenements occupy Rardish’s eastern half.  Several small cemeteries are scattered throughout the city, but a much larger one lies several miles away, up Lanceforth Road.  Main temples honor the following immortals: Diamond/Bahamut (10.) Opal (11.) Pearl/Tiamat* (12.) Ka (13.) Alphatia (14.) Palartarkan (15.) and Razud (16.)  Scores of tiny chapels can be found near intersections.

(*) Pearl/Tiamat may be known under different avatars.

Note: each “block” silhouetted on the city map represents a group of tightly packed structures of various sizes--a number keyed on the city map generally refers to a portion of a block.  Alleys and inner courts aren’t visible at the present scale.


Salmain III Verothrics: (M35, St 15, In 17, Wi 11, Dx 12, Co 16, Ch 17, AL N, apparent age 45—King of Randel, Count of Rardishay.)  Salmain III, dubbed “The Ironclad” for ordering the completion of the capital’s fortifications, is the father of future Queen Junna.  Salmain enjoys a long history of leading his troops into combat, usually to repulse raids from Bettellyn or lead punitive expeditions against the same.  Many of these clashes are “reinforced skirmishes” ending with a direct order from Vertiloch to cease fighting.  When not wreaking havoc in Bettellyn or ingratiating himself with some far flung colonial dispute at the side of imperial overseers, Salmain rules his realm expertly, keeping his counts and dukes in line as Vertiloch does with its rambunctious subject realms.  On his free time, he has proven an incorrigible philanderer, recently leading him to entertain a quiet but passionate affair with a famous diva by the name of Wondress Taliddán.

Briâm (-Elby-Sondôr-Magadagh-Rëbbibo-Uff-) Delgorad: (M25, St 9, In 18, Wi 16, Dx 13, Co 10, Ch 15, AL L, apparent age 60—King’s Advisor, Chancellor of the Wizards’ Council.)  Master Delgorad, also known as Delegoradis in a different dialect, tutors Salmain’s progeny in the arts of war, wizardry, and the wranglings of world politics.  In the absence of the king, Master Delgorad wields the powers of regency which he sees as an opportunity to solve problems the king neglected to address.  In the wake of the king’s steamy liaison, many administrative tasks have dropped through the proverbial cracks.  Salmain resolved others, but in an awkward and uncharacteristic manner, which worried his advisor.  Master Delgorad now suspects the diva of harboring ulterior motives for her relation with Salmain, and relies on discreet scrying and polymorph spells to investigate the delicate matter.

Wondress Taliddán: (M12, St 8, In 17, Wi 14, Dx 17, Co 11, Ch 16, AL C, apparent age 30—King’s lover, lead performer at the Royal Theater, and Shadow Lord alumni.)  There is more to the buxom beauty and her amorous relation with Salmain III.  She was the daughter of a Randelese banker unfairly framed by agents of the king in a scheme to seize his assets, presumably to finance yet another raid against Bettellyn.  While the rest of the family was captured and later executed, a servant escaped with the child to nearby Eadrin.  As she grew up, she became a promising student in shadow magic, and to repay her master, undertook a mission against Salmain.  The king was never aware of the terrible injustice committed in his name some twenty-five years earlier when he’d just inherited the crown.  Since she gained entry to the king’s quarters, Taliddán’s task was to inform her contacts in Rardish of what she learned while at the palace and, if possible, to influence the king’s decisions.  In due time, she discovered the Royal Treasurer had instigated the scheme of his own accord.  As she considered her next course of action, an influential ecclesiastic, His Grace Demrëol, told her he knew of her ties with Eadrin spies and sought an arrangement.

Voltar Demrëol: (C17, St 16, In 14, Wi 17, Dx 10, Co 13, Ch 11, AL C, apparent age 50—Archcleric of Pearl/Tiamat, defrocked chaplain in the Order of the Claw.)  Nearly twenty years earlier, when he was known as Brother Firetongue, Demrëol was drummed out of his Draconic Order for dereliction of duty.  He had had one to many drinks and fallen asleep, as he often did back then, enabling a heartless soul to steal an ancient libram.  The invaluable book contained exceedingly rare knowledge about dragons of chaos and their immortal patron.  In his quest to regain it and his honor, Demrëol became Randel’s Archcleric of Pearl and traced the stolen book to the king himself, who’d acquired it as his share of booty during a raid on Bettellyn.  Rather than returning the precious volume to its former owners, the archcleric thought it would be a better asset for the Temple of Pearl, that is to say, himself.  The attraction of being reinstated in the Order of the Claw as a mere chaplain had lost much of its luster.  Thus he decided that keeping the book quiet was for the best.  It was during his investigation of the king that Demrëol identified Taliddán.  He now blackmails her, keeping quiet about her true activities in exchange for the diva stealing the book and delivering it to him.

Gellan Marmendrill: (large blue dragon, polymorphed, apparent human age 60—Royal Treasurer.)  Lord Gellan, or Sapphreet Cyanbolt of its true draconic name, cleverly passed itself off as a human many decades ago.  As it earned advancement in the king’s service, Sapphreet became the Royal Treasurer, a title it enjoyed immensely while embezzling countless treasures in the name of the king—an exceedingly easy way of earning wealth at little or no risk.  A genius with fraudulent accounting, Sapphreet also became a master at manipulating the truth in order for others to bear the responsibility for its crimes.  To conceal its identity in the vicinity of so many mage-knights, Sapphreet first acquired an amulet of protection vs. crystal balls and ESP, a magical item he’d stolen from Master Delgorad himself when he was barely more than an conjurer.  The advisor had been wondering about this ever since.  Naturally, the amulet also prevents locate dragon spells from including Sapphreet as a potential target.

Special thanks to Alex Benson for his treatment of Randel posted on Pandius, from which King Verothrics and master Delgorad were inspired.

 
Land forces based in the capital city ensure order and the safety of the realm’s governing body—the king, office-holding aristocracy, and the monarchy’s high-ranking retainers.  A third of the heavy infantry and heavy cavalry forms the King’s Household Guard.  Another third is issued from knightly brotherhoods, which give themselves colorful names indicating their usual duties.  For example, one single brotherhood, The Fellowship of Mid-River Bastion, bears the entire responsibility for holding the crucial island-fortress at the harbor’s entrance.  The Brotherhood of Eastgate competes in a friendly manner with its Westgate counterpart for the capture of miscreants attempting to enter or leave the city.  Companions of the Port are ready to die for the defense of the harbor as well as for the collection of port fees.  The Black Hand, the monarchy’s secret police, remains far less conspicuous, yet very active (although their commander, Lord Joddar Solleron, is in the pay of the Royal Treasurer, Gellan Marmendrill.)  A small order known as the Sisterhood of the Plume is devoted to protecting and serving Council Wizards, and thus remain thoroughly loyal to Master Delgorad, the king’s advisor.

The remainder of the troops form the backbone of the monarchy’s regular standing forces.  Most of the dragoons patrol the river banks for smugglers, or chase across the County of Rardishay criminals, spies, or families in arrears with taxes.  The majority of siege weapons face the river, their artillerists residing in the towers and bastions below.  Detachments of 15-20 mage-knights from no more than three specific Draconic Orders are posted within fortifications closest to their related temples.  As a result Lawful mage-knights make their stand on the western rampart along the river; Neutrals guard northern strongholds between the two main gates; while Chaotic knights occupy battlements east of the harbor.  This arrangement curiously permeates the cultures of adjoining city districts and the behavior of their residents.  Six wizards form a permanent part of the capital’s military, but if Rardish suffered an attack, many more would certainly step forward from the aristocracy and the educated class to provide a helping wand.  Naturally, a substantial city militia, trained but inexperienced, comes in addition to the above.

The jewel piece of the garrison is the King’s Navy, when all of it happens to be present and accounted for.  Half these ships are usually away on missions spanning several months (see previous post.)  Of the remaining 25 vessels based in Rardish, four small galleys watch the port’s entrance and the mouth of the Randel River.  Larger galleys patrol upstream, in pairs, stopping at the ports of Glaive and Alpira along the way.  Airships and subs patrol the coast and are often at sea for weeks at a time.  Altogether, this flotilla commands more than a thousand marines, HD 1-4.

  • Airships (5): Sky Gold, Sunset Blue, Red Dawn, Boreal Green, and White Blaze
  • Submersibles (5): Star Decanter, Anaphasia, Black Draeger, Lord Frenzel, and Hydroxian
  • Sm. Galleys (4): Cerulean Streak, Crimson Flame, Emerald Cloud, and Night Spray
  • Lg. Galleys (8): Song of Rardish, Glaive Rising, Alpira Star, Cry of Earspoon, Spirit of Kedylebone, Norfold’s Glory, Clarion of Norok, and Felteborn’s Toll
  • War Galleys (3): Rose of Randelforth, Cragsgate’s Thorn, and the Iron Crown.







2 comments:

  1. I am really enjoying reading and absorbing all of this new content about Mystara and Alphatia, Bruce! I've been a fan, player (more precisely, a DM), and owner of Mystara-related materials and products for 30 years now.

    In the vein of staying true to the culture of Alphatia, note that Alphatians typically take on one-name monikers. This is detailed in the "Dawn of the Emperors" Gazetteer, and most published products with Alphatian characters have them typically bearing colorful one-word monikors. "Rardish" might be an exception, and I'm sure there will be pockets of Alphatian inhabitants or individuals that will take on surnames.
    I like the names included here -- well done. And, they could easily commonly use only the first names in everyday parlance and social interaction, too.
    Staying true to the spirit of the original source material for Alphatia helps retain its cultural uniqueness, IMO.

    Also, using very names that could easily have originated from real world cultures is very Mystaran -- such as Dmilikovia. But, I don't think it really reflects that Alphatia is originally a culture from another planet; I think that steps to make it more alien and exotic could make it more interesting and, again, help retain its uniqueness as the exotic empire of the east in the Mystaran mystique. (The name of Dmilikovia -- somewhat eastern European/Boldavian/Traladaran -- COULD probably be explained by some influence from other immigrants from other parts of Mystara, or even from some key Traladaran players/heroes from this region's past, too.)
    The different specializations in magic definitely help to contribute to the idea that mastery of different magics in other worlds is something that sets the Alphatians apart.

    Hope you take this critique in stride. Again, love the work being done and shared!

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    Replies
    1. Regarding names, best thing for you to do is to pick the name you like best and ignore the other if you think it doesn't fit the setting. I never liked the single name idea. In every day usage, the single name works, but there needs to be some additional association, whether a family names, kinship, geographic tie (etc.) to help keep people's origins apart. The latter would only be used in legal paperwork I presume.

      In the case of Randel, the choice of names reflects non-Alphatian or non-Cypric origins for some. Pemskaya, Dmilikovia, Ubeidda, etc, sound foreign enough, and naturally their names would reflect different traditions. This leads to a different issue though -- if non-wizards generally form the lesser class, what of non-Alphatian wizards and aristocrats among them who are obviously citizens, if not land-owning ones? I'd think they'd fit somewhere in between.

      Having non-Alphatians show up on mainland shores during the empire's history is unavoidable, and there are precedents (dwarves, elves, halflings) for people who obviously aren't of Alphatian origins. This is all the more likely to happen as Alphatia extends its power beyond the shores of the mainland realms.

      Outsiders who've had issues with Thyatis would naturally seek an association with Alphatia, if not sanctuary. I think in the end, this is an opportunity to create a source of internal conflict, which drives new plots (purebloods vs. all the others.) In retrospect, I'm not disagreeing with you entirely, I'm just saying there's room for different approaches and variety.

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