View Full Version : [City] Alziet, the Necropolis

2005-07-14, 04:43 AM
Alziet, the Necropolis, and Surrounding Areas

Though tradition dictates cremation and a spreading of one’s ashes into the Sea from whence the fallen sprang, there exists a higher form of burial for the great kings and queens of Abrenathy. Having as much to do with preventing grave robbing as it did with providing a lasting memorial, the second generation of nobility made plans to construct a great oceanside mausoleum for their departed loved ones. As the newly crowned princes faded into old kings, their radiant wives aged to grey spirits, plans were made to add another series of chambers to the mausoleum.

As time passed and government grew, all manner of lords, barons, and rulers earned the right to be entombed, and very soon the mausoleum became too large to guard, too wide to patrol despite the efforts of the site's own armed force, the "Grey Guard". Among the statues, carved in likeness of those they stood over, traps were set, walls built, and only those of the highest holy order were granted access. The great resting place of the kings was sealed, and a new series of sites constructed...

Now it stands that the memorial of the kings has become a city unto itself. With greater numbers of honored warriors, leaders and statesmen leading the world into the future, so has the number of laborers and guards required. Master craftsmen and their families live in the graves, cutting and carving stone until the space is needed. There have been many attempts to stop treasure hunters, and as such there are now several sealed walls between the continually displaced village of Alziet and the center of what is now known as the Necropolis, City of the Fallen. The needs of the craftsmen, their families, and tradesmen has turned a once solemn site into an emerging city, constantly spreading away from the center, constantly giving up their temporary homes for the remains of heroes.


Statistics for the Necropolis and Surrounding Areas

Size: Small Town
Population: Approx. 1650 (2200 including Quarry)
GP Limit: 500 gp. (Reduced from norm because of economic stability)
Political Organization: Limited Republic; Argo Nae-Cal
Religion: Azurian
Terrain/Climate: Plains/ Warm (Spec. Mild winters and gentle summers)
Alignment: Lawful Neutral.
Races: Human (DMs can adjust as needed)

Important Locations within the Necropolis
Note: The majority of structures within the Necropolis serve to house the laborers and planners of construction. Locations important to an adventuring party are marked, but the DM should feel free to include any other locations as he or she sees fit.


Administrative Facilities
This cluster of buildings houses three storehouses for food, the barracks of the Grey Guard, and a recorder’s office where the majority of the day-to-day business of running a city is carried out. It is in the recorder’s office that the ruling Argo Nae-Cal meets, and any adventurers seeking ‘official’ work will come here first.

Established for the sale of herbal remedies and medicines. It’s worth noting that the majority of the Apothecary’s business is embalming materials.

Bakery and Common Hall
The majority of the population is not self-sufficient, and so most foodstuffs are purchased here at the Bakery. The Common Hall is a large meeting place where the majority of the workers break to eat, and some public meetings are held.

Central Shrine
At the center of the concentric rings is the central shrine, a tower that was originally served as both a belltower and a watchtower. Now, it houses the first king of Abrenathy, Amarant the Grey, as well as his wife and immediate family. It is said that they were buried with many important relics of the day, and it is assumed that any adventuring party will set their sights on this location.

As there is only one guild in Alziet, this structure also serves as the main public meeting hall of the city as well as a gathering place in general. Most of the building, as it is not used often, stores more food supplies for the city.

Hall of Records
This is an important site for most adventurers because it holds a large collection of architectural drawings and city plans that would be quite handy in navigating the inner circles of the city. It’s worth mentioning that the upper floor of this facility, as well as parts of the basement, are guarded regularly.

The Inn of Alziet is a among the largest structures in the city. It is also the most temporary, and has been moved thrice in the last decade, a consequence of the city’s expansion. This inn mostly houses the tradesmen and quarrymen during their stay between deliveries. Adventurers are welcome, of course.

While this location is well outside the city itself, the Quarry is an important part of the economy of Alziet. In the sheer cliffside above the swiftly-moving Whitefall River, the quarry supplies the marble the city depends on for it’s survival and growth. The workers of the quarry generally rotate in and out of Alziet in monthly shifts. The stats for the quarry are as follows;

Size: Village
Population: Approx. 550

Sealed Area
The area marked in green has been sealed to the outside and only with the highest level of authroity can anyone enter. This are is purposely left unmapped so the DM can improvise and customize the interior as he or she sees fit. A general description of this area is of a large marble graveyard, with gardens, fountains, and mausoleums forming the majority of the terrain. Most of the mausoleums are multiple floors and are built against the surfaces of the inner and outer walls. Adventurers beware: each ring was sealed and laid with an extensive array of booby traps!

Due to the nature of the city, the Smithy generally operates all the time, repairing and producing tools for the laborers and, occationally, weapons for the city guard. It should be noted that the Smithy in Alziet does not usually carry a wide variety of arms and armor for sale.
Background Information
Alziet is a city of minimal population, despite it’s size. The majority of the population is composed of stone carvers, sculptors, architects, and masons, all of whom guide a small army of laborers and quarry men. These builders and their families live within their work, making homes out of what will eventually become tombs and temples for the dead. There are very few buildings not intended for this purpose, and those that are not are torn down as the city constantly expands.

As major chapters in history are closed or the architects feel that further expansion will reduce integrity, massive walls are built with very few methods for passage. It is said that no one alive today has the authority to reach even the second or third ring of sites, and this is just as well. The weight of such construction, as well as the instability of the sedimentary soil deposited by the river to the north, has lead to the levels nearest the ocean to begin sinking.

The region surrounding the city is mostly open plains with a pleasant rolling landscape. To the east are the shaded paths of Abren Forests, home to the Stonefall Glade, a field of historical significance. Northward, there’s the cliff side quarry along the Whitefall River. Beyond that lies the Acaedia mountains, marking the southern border of the land which bears the same name. Southward are the Varidian Fields and, beyond that, the Abrenath capitol of Valius. The climate is generally semi-tropical, with short mild winters and long summers cooled by sea breeze and winds off the nearby mountain slopes.

The art and culture of the Necropolis is limited only to the construction of beautiful temples and tombs. It is therefore a bit tragic that the greatest sculpture and wall frescoes of all time are sealed away to collect dust and face decay at the hands of nature, seen only by the beasts who manage to survive within the city’s high walls. The quality of the community is great, however, and almost all students of architecture, masonry, or sculpture serve lengthy apprenticeships there. It has been noted by scholars that access into the necropolis would give one a glimpse at all of Abrenathy’s cultural movements and trends, with each ring serving as a border between periods.

Because the entire city has no industry outside of it’s own growth, there is little economy to deal with. The major imports are foodstuffs, textiles, and building supplies. Somewhat morbidly, another important import of the city are the remains of the dead. Exports hardly exist, and as such all wealth in the city stays within the city. The only notable export is stone from the Alziet Quarry.

Laborers are paid at regular intervals and are given paid leave upon completion of their assigned projects. Most laborers have their families living in the city, and so trade sprung up to serve the needs of this group. The most skilled artisans work on the largest monuments, and thus live within the best ‘residences’ while working. Outside of the craftsmen, there is also the Grey Guard, an average-sized unit of soldiers who patrol what few parts of the city remain open, and help to settle disputes and protect the populace.

Like the rest of Abrenathy, the main religion of Alziet is the Azurian faith, though like the rest of the world there is very little organization to this religion as decreed by the Ocean herself. Despite the spiritual implications of the city, there exists only a small number of holymen, another aspect of the unorganized faith. Generally followers of this spiritual movement practice very personal prayer, social kindness, and respect for nature and, especially, the Sea. Such practices as Loop-bearing, cremation, and stone-casting are common.

As far as Politics are concerned, there exists only the general law and order set by the capitol of Valius. There exists a democratic order within the city by means of the Argo Nae-Cal, or “Circle of Friends and Foes.” At the seats of this cricle are the Foreman of Construction, the Master of the Guard, and the Sayer of the Sea, as well as their subordinates and several major merchants. This group general handles what few disputes arrise swiftly and fairly, but it should be noted that because the entire population is employed by the city and is always busy, there exists little desire for civil unrest.

That being said, there exists a sizable crime element attempting to gain footholds within the city, especially by attempting to infiltrate the construction and establish passages for itself into the city. Treasure hunters, grave robbers, and relic seekers are continually attempting to gain entry into the city. Adventuring Parties are sometimes hired for various tasks, but more often than not, Alziet remains closed to those seeking to enter the inner city of their own accord.
An Abridged History of Abrenathy
(As it applies to Alziet, years approximate)

12 - Earliest documentation of a historical nature, refering to the establishment of a village in honor of the Ocean. Scholars place this village at or near present day Alziet.

149- While early leaders were merely voices of the ocean's will, the first established leader of the Azurian world, Amarant the Grey, takes the reigns of power. Known as the Aergla-Vae, or Husband of the Sea, he would rule from Vargus (Present day Valius) for the next 32 years.

181- Death of Amarant the Grey, of supposed natural causes. His wife, Vela Grey, holds his throne until their daughter comes of age in 194. The king is laid to rest in the graveyard at old Alziet, a tradition that would continue to the present day.

201- Vela Grey dies in Vargus, her body set beside her husband in Alziet. City expands outside it’s walls to accept more graves, establishing the central shrine of the Necropolis.

227- Melody Grey dies while crossing into Hepithany, without having children or a spouse to pass her rule onto. Her body is returned and placed within the Necropolis near her parents.

257- Gerald the Grey dies, his body laid to rest outside the walls of the first Necropolis ring. His Son, Gerald II, takes the throne and continues his father’s eastward expansion.

260- Exploration spreads as far north as the Clouded Lake, but harsh winters prevent expeditions further north. Hepithany flourishes, Abrenathy begins construction of second Necropolis ring.

285- After 28 years of expansion, Gerald of the Rising Sun dies in Gable. His son, Gerald III assumes the throne. Gerald II is laid to rest in the newly completed second ring of the Necropolis.

287- Graves of Amarant and Vela Grey are robbed, disrupting Gerald III’s plans to meet with the Greymen. He locks the inner rings and establishes the Grey Guard, a group of soldiers assigned to defend the Necropolis. Later in the year Gerald III decrees that the Necropolis be reserved for the ruling families and heroes of the land.

299- Gerald spends time between Gable and Vargus, overseeing the fortification of the Necropolis and the final contruction of the Temple of the Sage.
The Monument
The city -is- the monument in this case, constantly expanding and sealing itself away as a massive tribute to the fallen nobility of the land.
Power Struggles
The main struggle within the city exists between the city guard and the black market that attempts to plunder the sealed areas of the city. Because it is ruled by a democratically elected circle of rulers, there is very little internal strife between the citizens and the leaders. Most citizens of Alziet feel they are treated fairly and justly, and while their lives are composed of hard work and routine, they are well cared for and live freely. The employment rate alone keeps the peace better than any overbearing law or military power could ever hope to.

One group that will play well in adventures are the city leaders’ dirty little secret; a group of rogues and warriors who specialize in assassination, known only as the Order of Nightshade. They are used in several of the adventure hooks for various purposes, and should be considered a non-entity unless the player interferes with their tasks.
Adventure Hooks
1. Because the Necropolis continues to sink and repairs are impossible to make, there exists only one option. The highest caretaker of the city has sought the players out to make an attempt on the central spire of the city. Behind numerous walls, deadly booby traps, and flooded passages, the party must attempt to salvage what relics and information they can from the tombs of the first kings of Abrenathy. But certain secrets buried within pose a danger to political players, and there are several Agents of Nightshade attempting to put a stop to the group before they stumble on the Necropolis’ secrets.

2. Players who don’t frown on such unlawful activities will find a great deal of work provided by the relic hunters and treasure smugglers of the city. While no one knows where the agents lurk (as they do not live within the city), they are a constant threat within it’s walls. Adventurers can generally find a laundry list of ‘must-have’ items waiting to be found. It should also be noted that players of a lawful nature will enjoy seeking out the black market’s lair and bringing the grave robbers to justice.

3. The Quarry to the north is vital to the survival of the city. So when the workers there discover a labyrinth of monster-filled caverns that go deep into the Acaedia mountains, the livelihood of the city is threatened. More importantly, players will need to discover why these beasts have taken up residence in the remote mountain caverns. Adventuring parties will find this as an excellent place to carve up a reputation, collect treasure, and DMs will consider it an excellent means to introduce the nation of Acaedia on the other side, preferably when the party begins to yearn for new locations to explore.

4. While the population of Alziet is generally friendly and hard-working, attempts at revolt do occur from time to time. The city rulers know well the damage possible, and so they maintain the Order of Nightshade for gathering information on and assassinating anyone who attempts to stir up trouble. Adventuring parties could be hired to protect an increasingly popular leader from danger, or may be hired to succeed where the Agents of Nightshade failed.
Notes on Setting: The campaign setting of Alziet is one of my own design that take several sharp turns away from the traditional D&D Setting. However, players and DMs wishing to use the location of Alziet can adjust the setting in several ways;

1. Dwarves may be substituted as the majority race of the city, as it makes sense that dwarves are finer masons and stonecarvers than men. However, men should still control the city itself. The quarry should be totally dwarven.

2. Elves can have a hamlet-sized encampment in the Abren Forest, near the site marked “Stonefall Glade”. The elves at this location are oriented towards religious purposes as the Stonefall Glade is an ancient battlefield that still has several angry spirits. Elves, being close to nature, would migrate to this location in an attempt to calm these spirits and restore peace to this section of the woods.

3. Because of the unorganized religious aspects of the setting, it makes it rather difficult for Priests, Paladins, and Clerics to find work, as it were. Players can safely discard the religious aspects of the setting and use the traditional D&D faiths.

4, The city of Alziet lends itself well to Episode-based campaigns as described in Dragon Magazine Issue 293. Because the city is the dungeon, players will find that each new episode may move them closer and closer to the central spire and uncovering the truth of the old kings, while not forcing them to leave behind the city where their pre- and post-game needs are fulfilled. When players reach the center spire, the ‘series’ is over, but a sharp DM can tie the Truth of the Necropolis to several other campaigns, a ‘spin-off’, if you will.

5. Although it contrasts the setting (there exists no degree of necromancy or undead within the world), players adapting Alziet to their campaigns may consider the devistating effects a necromancer might have upon the city. Provided centuries of fallen warriors, a vast army of undead soldiers could very easily raised quickly. As it applies to episodic sessions mentioned above, this could easily be the Season Finale, with the players arriving just in time to uncover a dark ritual taking place and, when season two begins, the outcome of their battle.

Thoughts, advice, consideration, or compliments are welcome. I was unable to find the charts used when constructing cities, so I tired to provide the info others have been providing. If something is missing, let me know.

2005-07-14, 05:17 AM
Not surprisingly, I was expecting something else when I saw 'the Necropolis'. I'm happy to say this was a pleasant surprise. It's a very good idea; kind of like ancient Egypt with less travel time. :)

The maps look outstanding; what did you draw them with?

2005-07-14, 05:40 AM
Thanks for checking out Alziet. The original inspiration for the city was drawn from my own desire to have a 'graveyard city' that continually builds upon itself, sealing the ancients away with their secrets. Adding walls was simply a natural migration to combat graverobbers.

For the maps, I used photoshop exclusively (that is, to say, that I didn't sketch them out on paper first). The 'satellite' style maps are a treat to do, as once you lay the basics out and know what you're doing, you literally get the feeling that you're carving a world out. My favorite little quirks are the River in the north (Turned out very nice-looking) and the area west and south of the 'Greyfall Canyon label (It looks like such a fun place to explore). The topography, in general, is some of the best I've ever done.

The second map is actually a zoomed-in-and-sharpened version of the first, so the coastlines and walls of the city are exact (this can be difficult to do without some tricky photoshop tomfoolery ;D). I decided to go with a parchment style because having a detailed 'photographic' map wouldn't lend itself to labeling details.

Thanks again for the compliments, how it at least earns some recognition ::)

2005-07-14, 05:56 AM
Wow! I checked out your site and saw your artwork, but I'm still most impressed with your cartography here! In particular, your coastline and river, and the mountains, look very realistic.

Also, even though it makes references to Dragon Magazine, I get the gist of the episodic adventure you describe, and I like it. 8)

2005-07-14, 09:35 AM
Wow! I checked out your site and saw your artwork, but I'm still most impressed with your cartography here! In particular, your coastline and river, and the mountains, look very realistic.

Well, thanks :). The stuff on my site is about 3-5 years old, I kinda fell out of the habit of seriously drawing when I left college. Glad to hear that I've still got it though...

2005-07-21, 11:59 AM
It's nice. Too bad there isn't anything for a prize for art, because I would definitely lose ^.~

2005-07-29, 09:07 PM
Yeah, pity there isn't an award for "Support Materials", maybe it would open up part of the contest to webdesigners, artists, and anyone dabbling in Flash (and interactive City Map... that'd be a blast).

Update: changed the images to weblinks to save poor 56k'ers like Wukei from getting hosed. Also, some minor spelling and typographical errors are corrected, but I bet a few are lurking in here still..

erm... vote for me?