Port of Isles
Port of Isles
The bustling, cosmopolitan center of trade in Osil. The largest city in Henal, its only close rival being Sandwatch, whose political and economic turmoil makes for a pale comparison. Seaglaur, the Duke’s castle, overlooks the bay proudly from its clifftop. In the distance, a series of small islands dot the approach, crowded with fishing boats and the fishermen’s shacks. Residences cling to the sloping approaches to the water, with elaborate and chaotic docks that are always filled to capacity. Ships anchor off the coast for days during the seasonal peak, waiting for an open slip. Academic cloisters and libraries elbow some of the most iconic cathedrals and temples in Osil. Yiguel the Stargazer oversees the Planar Conservatory, a tightly-guarded, isolationist academy for the study of the arcane beyond their topiary gardens and hedgerows.
The Royal War College stands opposite castle Seaglaur, training noble sons and daughters in the art of leadership and strategy. Clearing houses arrange for the highest society auctions, and hundreds of smaller shops fence goods for a persistent, though embattled, black market. The richest families in Henal walk the same streets as some of the most desperate people Osil coming here for a new beginning, or hoping to earn money to send home. The Sapphire Guard hold themselves as the best guard-militia in the kingdom, and they are certainly the largest if nothing else. Embassies from Beninite families, kard Horselords, and Dwarven Clanlords are well traveled by diplomats, merchants, and bards. The Mielig-Alsind River feeds aqueducts and clears the sewers out into the oceans, making Port of Isles one of the most comfortable cities in the world.
Five distinct boroughs exist within Port of Isles: Johvane, Foamhead, Dorrick, Gahlindee, and Trabner. Each borough has its own counselors, usually consisting of four wardsmen. This group is responsible for the day-to-day civil functions of tax, property, civil disputes, and maintaining the roads. They pay a portion of their tax revenues to the Duke’s treasury, which in turn pays the Portswatch (responsible for policing the city’s boroughs, bay, and river territory), the Corps of Engineers (maintaining sewers, bridges, civil structures, walls, and aqueducts), the County Courts, and the tax owed to the crown.
This vast, hierarchical city government creates a nightmare for those unconnected with the city nobility, and a huge challenge to ensure the functions of government are being carried out effectively. Unsurprisingly, the avenues for organized crime guilds to florish are exploited. Violent crime is limited, the Sapphire Guard has Yards in every borough, but racketeering and black-market trade is rampant in certain neighborhoods. It’s very rare for these syndicate’s to reach beyond their wards, let alone the borough edges, but there are rare exceptions. Overall, a relatively low percentage of the population are directly victimized, and the city is enjoying a period of robust economic activity.
Johvane is the western-most borough, astride the river as it enters the city and the Johvane Arch that greets those arriving by the Tradeway through the massive Western Gate. The aqueducts are fed by a dam built across the river just inside the city walls. A channel branches off from the river before the damn, allowing barge traffic through the city all the way to the docks. A few ancillary channels branch off the main cut, and the largest civil project is an expansion of the channel network into all five boroughs, except Ghalindee due to its elevation. Johvane prides itself as the Gateway Borough, and invests a great deal in beautification projects, at the expense of residents through higher property taxation. The Cathedral of the Fallen Knight, one of the largest Hieronite churches in the world, towers above the Cavalry Gardens neighborhood. The only significant criminal enterprise is the Polemen’s Guild, originally a union for rivermen and channel tenders. The River Patrol is also based in Johvane, roving upstream to protect the valuable trade corridor at its most laden stretch.
Characters of Note: Wardsmen Ferty Boline, Tabert Yale, Eunis Canary, and Marius Wood. Guard Inspector General Vaultor. Paragon Mitus Rex (Hieronious).
The northern beach borough, dominated by the docks and Bay Patrol Shipyard. The gravely beaches are home to fishing neighborhoods and a vibrant social scene drawing residents from across the city and a popular destination for visitors. Oddly, the sea-side borough is home to the largest population of beninite immigrants in eastern Osil, which has installed itself in Callilly Jetty. With these immigrants came the influence of the Wisemen syndicate from Sandwatch, and they’ve installed a branch of activity in the neighborhood. Near the border with Dorrick, the previously nondescript Boccobian Archive has been expanded by the Beninites, who are descended from Boccob’s ancient people. The commercial shipyards are also part of Foamhead, and the low-earning, often temporary laborers that work there tend to live nearby flophouses. The result of all this is significant divide in resources…on one hand taking in decent income from the shipyards and shipping boom (which in turn requires significant reinvestment), Foamhead must also serve a relatively-poor resident population prone to criminal activity and distrustful of authority.
Characters of Note: Wardsmen Saul Bighorn, Veleah Tipsway, Hart DeWinter, Leopold Waites, Inspector General Reginault, Daji Mahel (Wisemen), Captain Daniel Rein, Admiral Galehoff (Bay patrol, most eligible man in the City).
The north-central borough has expanded to encompass the graveyards of the old city, and many churches, shrines and temples still stand here from the near the city’s founding. The Hall of Justice Coleman is the small headquarters of St. Cuthbert’s devotees, who have taken it upon themselves to patrol the graveyards and mausoleums across the city, not just in Dorrick. The Peloran Temple of Mercy’s Embrace is also located here, oddly nearby to their ideological rival. At the other end of the borough is the Planar Observatory and its high-walled secrecy. The residents of Dorrick are, as a rule, more superstitious than any other borough. Much stock is placed in the value of faith and the practice of rituals. Once again a center of ideological convergence, Dorrick is home to the University of Tryna, a massive library and center of research in alchemy, history, and engineering. This draws academics from the world over, and again they tend to live near their work.
These more established neighborhoods are dense with bookshops, curio dealers, and traders of all manner of rare materials. By far the most peaceful borough, violent crime is almost unheard of. The capers that do create a great deal of conversation tend to be related to open graves or the disappearance and/or arrival of strange objects and creatures. More than once, an out-of-control experiment has escaped the university or observatory and run amok through the streets, terrifying locals and tourists alike until it shudders violently and collapses, melts, or is hacked apart by the Sapphire guard or brave shopkeepers.
Characters of Note: Wardsmen Goylon Feathernape, Gruffna Knucklecork, Isillion Miarena, Eddison Polk, Inspector General Madox, University President Tuissborn, Yiguel the Stargazer.
Located on the largest sandbar island nearly two miles out to sea, Trabner was once an independent village that was annexed some time ago by Port of Isles and folded into the city government. Still retaining much of its fishing hertiage, the sandy beaches have been left largely alone, studded by expensive mansions built by merchants and nobles and often left empty for months when their owners travel to summer homes or distant locals. Fishing is still the dominant local economy, but the relative seclusion of Trabner has invited a great deal of interest from the black-market organizations that smuggle goods into the city before ships even arrive at the well-patrolled docks.
Many hostels and retreats are also built here, drawing wealthier clientele from Lake Besmus, King’s Cliffs, and even as far as Sandwatch and Kardam. Alcohol-fueled debauchery by noble sons is common, and the taverns stock some of the best liquors and meats, further distinguishing this as a rowdier version of Foam Head’s social scene. With such activity, by often connected people, policing the island borough has historically been regarded as a punishing assignment given to disgraced inspectors or politically-problematic recruits.The Eastern tip of the island is owned by the Royal Navy and used as a naval base, but they do not concern themselves over policing the bay and are largely isolated from the population. That doesn’t prevent sailors on liberty from adding to the challenges of the Sapphire Guard.
Characters of Note: Wardsmen Attida Joyner, Esmerelda Quinn, Inspector General Tidwell, Rear Admiral Bessel, Lady Sinead Fahllon, Perry “Anchorhead” Nimorte
The most powerful borough, wrapping from the docks up around the one hundred foot cliff on which stands Castle Seaglaur. Along the steep streets walk ambassadors and emissaries from across Osil, their embassies surrounded by topiary or stonewalls. The Royal War College sprawls below the castle, and a rich market plaza sells luxuries and houses top-notch clothiers, restaurants, and jewelers. Couriers jostle past uniformed officers and diplomats on their hurried tasks.
The Duke’s honor guard drill in the plaza everyday at noon, ending the ritual by hoisting the King’s banner to the top of an obelisk at the plaza’s center which depicts scenes from Osil’s history in honor of all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the Kingdom. The exercise is carried out in dead silence aside from a single marching drum. Once the banner has been raised, a clarion plays three solemn notes and the entire formation stands at rigid attention for five minutes before they march from the plaza, carrying a single, unadorned casket. That casket is placed by the color guard every dawn, and guarded by a single soldier. The duty of guarding the Hero’s Casket is considered one of the most coveted and respected rewards of a soldier, and is always awarded to an enlisted man who has shown considerable valor or performed above and beyond the call of his station. It’s a little-known tradition for the families of those lost in war, whose remains never returned home, to place tributes to the fallen in the casket. The traditions of what is done with the tributes remains a tightly guarded secret amid the honor guard.
The venerable Hall of Yondola is situated at the windy, highest edge of the cliff, above Seaglaur and the plaza, and is surrounded by the famously well-tended Garden of Plenty. Said to be blessed by the goddess herself, the grounds are nurtured by the halfling clergy, largely female; and are gorgeously colored and fragrant. Vegetable stalks and fruit trees are sprinkled throughout, heavy with perfectly formed specimens. Carefully arranged ponds and stones reflect the rich and ancient history of the halfling people, every arrangement holds meaning. Mother Crangie, one of Yondola’s most famous clerics, is said to have been buried beneath the gardens, but whether there is any truth to the legend is known only to the temple’s clergy.
Despite all of the political and military power centralized in the borough, it is not without crime. That Veccna and Hextor have hidden cults that stay close to the halls of power is an unspoken truth, and the families of servants to all of the worthies also live close to their paymasters. While certainly not poor, they’re solidly in the working class, and there are taverns and businesses that fit their more modest means. As with Dorrick, violent crime is rare. The most spectacular crimes usually involve espionage or theft from the wealthy jewelry shoppes and embassy collections, or the Museum of Rare Arts. Where Trabner may be a punishment detail for the Sapphire guard, Ghalindee is the opposite.A great deal of respect accompanies the position of Inspector General for the borough, and when other yards become “stuck” in an investigation, they turn to Ghalindee Yard for assistance. The Commodore of the Portswatch, who oversees all three branches, also has his office within Ghalindee Yard.
Characters of Note: Wardsmen Boris Vetra, Wanda Thede, Yvette Amada, Ambassador Dasofarn Plainhorn (Kardam), Emir Gahamora (Benin), Stonelord Oran Gemnose (Gorge Bend Hold), Inspector General Barret, Commodore Dodge Harris, Marshall Loadine, Duke of the Isles Antoni Lorison, Duchess of the Isles Naoma Tirelle
Corruption +6; Crime +3; Economy +10; Law +7; Lore +10; Society +2
Qualities: Tourist Attraction, Strategic Location, Prosperous. _ Borough Specific_: Holy Site(Ghalindee, Dorrick, Johvane), Academic (Dorrick), Superstitious (Dorrick), Rumor-mongering Citizens (Trabner).
Demographics: Pop. 48,000 (30,000 non-combatant)
10% Transient, 40% Oslander, 25% Halfling, 10% Beninite, 10% Kard, 2% Seafolk, <1%><1%><1%><1%><1% Veltese
Language: Kent (Trade common); but Ehelah (old halfling) is also common, most languages represented in specific neighborhoods.
Religion: Hieronious and Yondola dominate, with strong followings of Pelor, St. Cuthbert, Boccob, and Veccna. Many smaller cloisters of other deities represented.
Government: Feudal Monarchy (Kingdom of Osil)
Currency: 1 kingmark/gp, 1 dukemark/sp, 1 twip/cp…avg. money-changing fee: 3%
Dominant Exports: Crafted Goods, Alchemicals, Services, Grains, Luxuries, Art, Textiles
Dominant Imports: Grains, Produce, Meat, Raw Materials, Goods, Exotics
Class Demographics: 10% Wealthy, 25% Mercantile, 35% Tradesmen, 20% labor, 5% diplomatic/military, 5% Destitute
- Skills modified by Attributes: Corruption(Bluff vs officials, Stealth outside); Crime(Sense Motive vs bluff, Sleight of Hand to pickpocket); Economy(Craft, Perform, Profession); Law(Intimidate, Diplomacy vs officials); Lore(Diplomacy to Gather Info, Knowledge using libraries); Society(Disguise, Diplomacy vs non-official)