Excerpts 11/10/2006

Cityscape Excerpt
By Ari Marmell and C. A. Suleiman

Even as urban areas can have a much different set of challenges than frigid plains or arid deserts, each city (and even area of a city) can have its own special qualities and atmosphere. Find out a bit of what you have in store in these excerpts from Cityscape, which includes information about Blackwall, various districts, new spells, the villain called the Symbol, and the siege golem. If you're curious about the topics covered in this book, please take a look at the Table of Contents we provided earlier!



"I was just walking past the tower when it turned into green slime and poured down into the sewers. Try explaining that to the watch captain."

-- Cholak, city watch rookie

Social Class: Upper.

Power Center: Often -- magical (spellcasters guild).

Buildings: Exotic trades (18%; 3% magic item dealers), fine trades (29%; 9% spellcasters for hire), temple (Boccob or Wee Jas), fine food (8%), fine services (15%), fine residences (28%).

Description: Magic districts are as varied as the arcane casters who dwell there. Some buildings are luxurious but mundane, barely distinguishable from noble estates. Others flaunt impossibly tall and slender towers, float above the earth, consist of impossible or malleable shapes, or feature even stranger sights. Pedestrians appear ordinary in the more subdued magic districts, while the streets in overtly arcane districts might be traveled by outsiders, elementals, undead, and fey. Visitors experience unique sounds and scents -- even if no individual stimulus is alien, the bizarre combination can be disorienting.

Special: The presence of a magic district increases a city's gp limit by 25%, though it does not affect available assets. This adjustment reflects the higher-than-normal availability of expensive magic items. Multiple magic districts in a city do not increase its gp limit further.

Plot Hook: A cabal of powerful wizards has declared the magic district an independent city-within-a-city, and refuses to acknowledge any rule of law other than its own. The city's ruler cannot afford to let this situation stand. Not only is it an affront to the city as a whole, but the loss of income from the magic district would be a major economic blow. In addition, many of the district's inhabitants do not support the cabal. The city cannot muster sufficient forces to confront the rogue wizards. The lord needs a group of stalwarts capable of navigating the district to deal with the problem -- without destroying the area, or the city around it.


"Promise me this: Don't bury me with jewelry when I die. Grave robbers are an awfully creepy lot."

-- Syretare, guild thief

Social Class: Lower.

Power Center: Never.

Buildings: Mortuaries (12%), crypts/mausoleums (80%), poor services (3%), poor residences (2%), temple (Vecna, Wee Jas).

Description: Some cities have graveyards scattered throughout their districts, but most restrict such grim sites to a specific location called the necropolis, which is often walled or fenced off. The district might be a literal city of the dead, with ranks of graves or crypts laid out in "streets." Sometimes it consists of underground catacombs or rolling fields of graves with simple stone markers. Often plain dirt plots entomb the poor, while the rich and powerful rest in mausoleums or catacombs, often within private family plots. Such graves might be located on private property or be set aside in restricted portions of the necropolis. The sounds of the city seem muted within the district, and the air smells earthy with a faint hint of decay. Carriages and wagons carry corpses and the bereaved to gravesites.

Plot Hook: Someone has been digging up graves and desecrating bodies, and seemingly random murders are being committed nearby. The obvious conclusion is that a necromancer is animating the corpses, but in fact criminals have been hiding the bodies of their rivals inside other, already occupied coffins. They dig up other graves to explain away the disturbed earth, and kill at random to lead investigators to the wrong conclusion.


Social Class: Lower.

Power Center: Never.

Buildings: Warehouses (30%), poor trades (5%), poor services (10%), poor residences (53%).

Description: Large, bulky buildings dominate the neighborhood, filled with goods not yet ready for sale or shipment. While a few are well maintained, most warehouses are old and dirty -- so long as they are sturdy enough to protect the merchandise, their appearance is unimportant. Many of the people who live nearby work in these warehouses, hauling and stacking crates. Occasionally merchants and nobles -- or more likely their servants -- escort their goods into storage or come down to check on their possessions. Hired guards protect many warehouses, since the city watch does not reliably patrol poor neighborhoods.

Plot Hook: An unscrupulous merchant has been transporting exotic creatures for sale to the rich and jaded. He keeps the beasts drugged for shipment, but one of them awoke and broke free of its crate, and it is now terrorizing the surrounding neighborhoods. Even if the PCs manage to track down the creature, the merchant uses his political connections to hamper their investigation into where it came from. The distractions caused by this affair are slowing down the rest of his trade, increasing the risk that more creatures will awaken and escape.

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