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Notes for a New Campaign

I’ve been doing some thinking recently about running my next (possibly 4e) campaign set in a homebrew world, rather than using the World of Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms as I’ve done for most of my games in the last 20 years. So far I’ve written a few notes on the city of Parsantium which would be where the campaign would be based and thought it would be fun to post these here and maybe get some feedback from those few reading my LJ.

The idea behind the city is that it’s a cultural crossroads, a melting pot. Elements have been ripped shamelessly from history, fantasy fiction and D&D settings. Some of the names are placeholders until I come up with something better – these are in square brackets; others have been stolen from various sources and might change too.

Metropolis, Conventional, AL LN, 100,000 gp limit, Assets 230,000,000 gp, Population 46,267 (racial mix tbc but includes dwarves, half-orcs, halflings, gnolls; few elves or gnomes)

The Free City of Parsantium stands astride the Dolphin Strait where the Griffin Water joins with the Corsairs’ Sea, and is thus at the crossroads of two continents and more importantly, four trade routes. The city is divided into three parts: one on the north-west side of the river, one in the centre, and the third on the southeast side. The three sections of Parsantium are joined by two vast stone bridges, built many centuries ago in the Sahasran style.

Parsantium is ruled by Basileus (“sovereign”) Corandias XVIII the Lion-Blooded, direct descendent of the famous [Batiaran] conqueror and mighty general, Corandias I the Magnificent. Basilieus is advised by his loyal vizier and wizard Arridaeus, himself a descendent of Corandias the Magnificent’s vizier.

The basileus’ palace and the Holy Basilica of Pelor are located on the north-west side of the city (Imperial Quarter) which is also home to the decadent and wealthy noble class. A large coliseum stages chariot races and gladiatorial contests which are very popular amongst rich and poor alike. This part of the city also houses the Great Library and the dwarven district.

The central island (Mercantile Quarter) is home to one of the world’s largest markets: goods arrive here by sea from [Zakhara] to the south west, from Tingao to the east overland on the Silk Road, from the city-states of the now-fallen [Batiaran Empire] to the northwest and from the kingdom of Sahasra across the Pillars of Heaven mountains to the southeast. As you might imagine, almost anything can be obtained here as long as the buyer can afford it. A bronze colossus, 100 feet high, depicting Corandias the Magnificent stands in the centre of the marketplace.

The southeastern part of the city (Old Quarter) is nearly as cosmopolitan as the market: here there are temples to gods of Sahasra, [Zakhara] and Tiangao, as well as coffee shops and teahouses. Also located here are dojos teaching the fighting traditions of the mountain temples, and the mysterious Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus (an arcanists’ guild with wu jen and sha’irs as well as wizards and sorcerers as members). This is also where most of the poorer districts and slums can be found, including the homes of the Sahasran poor, half-orcs and gnolls.

Some History
Parsantium was founded in the distant past by Sahasran refugees fleeing through the snow-filled passes of the Pillars of Heaven Mountains to escape the dark empire of Kadar and its fell sorcerors and geomancers. About a thousand years ago it was conquered by Corandias the Magnificent and subsequently grew in importance, becoming a powerful city and trading hub for the region. With Corandias’ death in battle with the fearsome striped centaurs of the Great Grass Sea, his empire was divided up by his opportunistic generals since his son and heir was only three years old. In the centuries that followed, repeated invasions by orcs, hobgoblins and gnolls led to the break up of the Empire. Parsantium itself was sacked several times during this period, before being recaptured 100 years ago from a humanoid "king" by Corandias XVI the Stubborn. New, very thick, city walls were built, trade opened up to the east with Tingao along the Silk Road and the city’s prosperity increased again.

The city, like its inhabitants, is a mixture of styles. In the northwest district, [Batiaran] architecture dominates: there is a lot of marble, and buildings have columned entrances, with pediments and friezes along the top decorated with sculptures. Others are topped with domes and decorated inside with beautiful mosaics. To the southeast, there are shining gold-domed mosques and exotic-looking Sahasran temples covered in colourful painted carvings of gods and heroes. Throughout the city, however, inns tend to be built around courtyards with a cool fountain in the centre and filled with shady palm trees.

Adventure Hooks
Still need come up with these! There will be several dungeons under the city itself, including some ghoul tunnels under the cemetery. The Feyshore Forest is a couple of days travel outside of Parsantium near the Griffin Water and contains some ancient Sahasran ruins… In addition, I am hoping to come up with a bunch of urban adventures tied in to the city and its diverse inhabitants.

Any comments or ideas much appreciated!

UPDATE: names changed or added 30/12/07


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
Great start!
As ever, I'd love to contribute, but it would be helpful to know if there's anything (other than the names) you are undecided about or would like feedback on particularly.
Dec. 27th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Great start!
Nothing is set in stone although I'd like to stick with the concept of an exotic city at the crossroads of several cultures.
Ideas for locations, NPCs, encounters or anything else all appreciated!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 28th, 2007 08:42 am (UTC)
Re: Sounds Interesting
Thanks! You're spot on about the Mediterranean climate and influences and Constantinople. There is a desert to the south-west and an arabian-style nation beyond this. A cliche, I know, but there will be pyramids and Hamunaptra-style ruins in the desert, along with some nomads and dervishes. I also like the marruspawn from Sandstorm.

I set the population at 50,000 in an effort to keep the city manageable and to avoid creating something the size of Greyhawk or Waterdeep. The surrounding areas are also going to be more uncivilised than, say, parts of the Forgotten Realms. However, you're probably right and it could be bigger.

Quarters sounds right but can you have just three? Maybe the bigger northwest quarter needs to be in two halves to give me four.
Dec. 28th, 2007 02:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Sounds Interesting
Jerusalem had four quarters (Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim) and this may be where the term comes from (but that's just a guess). In general usage it doesn't matter how many there are, it's just an equivalent but more suggestive term for "district".

Dec. 28th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Quarters
In that case, quarters it is! The northwest district is the Imperial Quarter, the central marketplace district is the Mercantile Quarter and the southeast one can be the Old Quarter.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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