Excerpt from
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!

Blackwall (The Military City)

Large City: Nonconventional (military tribunal); AL LN; 40,000 gp limit; Assets 42,554,000 gp; Population 21,277; Integrated (45% human, 40% dwarf, 7% halfling, 5% gnome; 3% other).

Blackwall stands atop a high mesa, affording it a commanding view of the surrounding terrain. It is one of the greatest military outposts of the kingdom of Kaddas (see Kaddastrei on page 18). The city was built on the site of what was once a simple village, called Blackwell for its dark waters. After Kaddas chose to construct a military fortification here, the name shifted to Blackwall -- a title that confuses outsiders, since the city's imposing defenses are not particularly dark-colored. Blackwall has a small trading bazaar, but its primary purpose is to watch for invading and monstrous forces.

The great city does have a ruling noble -- at this time, a duke with blood ties to the king of Kaddas -- but his role is largely ceremonial. The true power center is a tribunal of officers led by the most senior general of Blackwall's army. The city functions entirely under martial law, with soldiers acting as both police and protectors.

Architecture

Blackwall's construction emphasizes function over form. The buildings in this military city consist mostly of stone, and the few wooden structures are far away from important edifices or tactically significant routes. The roofs of major buildings (and even most homes) are built flat to serve as archery platforms or even, in the case of larger structures, bases for heavy projectile weapons. Most such roofs are crenellated to some degree, providing some cover to citizen-soldiers firing on invaders. Buildings have narrow windows -- the better for shooting through without making oneself vulnerable -- and heavy doors built to withstand battering. Various buildings contain hidden stockpiles of weapons. Citizens know where to go to arm themselves against attack, but invaders will have a devil of a time locating these caches. In certain districts, corner buildings and houses hold large piles of debris on roofs or in alleys, or structures feature extra outer walls that can be easily collapsed. This rubble is ready to be pushed out or toppled over at a moment's notice, forming barriers against attackers moving through the streets.

As might be expected, Blackwall displays less variety in visual styles than other cities of its size. This doesn't mean that its citizens make no attempt at aesthetics, however. The upper classes practice what is best described as "military chic." Private homes are built to resemble fortifications, perhaps far more often than they need to be Wealthy homeowners prefer to decorate primarily in dark hues, with occasional splashes of color depicting various banners and ensigns.

Even in those districts where foreigners are relatively common, the styles of other nations are largely absent. Many noncitizens, feeling the weight of suspicious eyes, prefer to blend in rather than draw attention to themselves.

Layout

Military cities typically have wide avenues as their main thoroughfares, but very narrow side streets. This layout forms the optimal combination of offensive and defensive capabilities. Wide main streets enable the city government to move large numbers of troops or cavalry swiftly, but they also permit invading forces to do the same. Narrow crossing streets and alleys serve as ambush points, from which defenders can launch swift guerrilla attacks and then retreat to bolt-holes the enemy cannot reach or find.

Some military cities, especially those built as staging grounds, use a simple circular grid pattern. This layout lets marching troops reach the city gates quickly and easily. Others, including Blackwall, are more concerned with defense. The city streets form a twisting web of avenues and alleyways: They turn or even dead-end for no apparent reason, and a given street might not have the same name for its entire length. The locals know how to find their way around. For intruders, though, the bewildering layout is as effective a defense as any curtain wall. Someone standing at the gate might be able to see Blackwall Keep, the city's administrative center, but would be unable to easily reach it.

Even before they reach the city gates, though, enemies must battle their way through two concentric rings of defensive fortifications: an outer layered wall and an inner stone wall, with a spiked moat between the two.

Blackwall Map Key

The keyed locations on the Blackwall map indicate various districts of the city. For a general discussion of these features, see City Districts beginning on page 34.

1. Defensive wall
2. Keep
3. Civic district
4. Embassy district
5. Fine shops
6. Magic district
7. Noble estates
8. Wealthy residential district
9. Average residential district
10. Garrison
11. Guildhall district
12. Marketplace
13. Temple district
14. Caravan district
15. Inn/Tavern district
16. Red-light district
17. Shantytown
18. Slum/Tenement district
19. Warehouse district

Interlude: A Research Effort

Sometimes PCs have esoteric questions they can't answer themselves -- "What's the answer to the dragon's riddle?" "How do we open the Mystic Gates of Shurengaul?" "What are the weaknesses of the demon that nearly killed us?" In short, they need to do research. Fortunately, the city has numerous storehouses of information, from the desks of wizened sages to the scrying pools of high priests to the libraries of wizards' colleges.

In game terms, the PCs have to find an NPC sage willing to make a Knowledge check on their behalf. Making such a research effort is a two-step process. First, the PCs must locate someone with the relevant Knowledge skill (often through a Gather Information check, with better results discovering more knowledgeable sages). Then they must pay the price that the sage demands.

Make a Knowledge check for the sage as soon as the PCs pose the question they want answered. If the check doesn't succeed, the sage explains that uncovering the answer will require research (delving into private libraries, consulting with colleagues, and so on) and describes how much time and money such efforts will take. Such research translates into a circumstance bonus: A day spent in research and consultation earns a +2 circumstance bonus, a week increases the bonus to +4, and a month boosts it to +8. Sages charge by the day, so eking out a higher circumstance bonus gets progressively more expensive.

To find an appropriate sage, consult the following table. The higher the Gather Information check result, the more sages PCs can locate with appropriate learning in the necessary Knowledge skill. (Sample sages are described after the table.)

Finding a Sage

Knowledge Gather
Skill Inf. DC Sages
Arcana 10 Olorana the wizard
15 Above plus Antragaus Sorlomoon, Hannadi the Raver, Hiro Saru, Jenishi the Learned, Rasputek Walks-Between-Worlds
20 All above plus Banshastra the Weaver
Architecture and engineering 10 Durnek Stonemaul, Clyranna Jannau
15 Above plus Master Orvidius
20 All above plus Hannadi the Raver
Dungeoneering 10 Gori Kau the Pale
15 Above plus Clyranna Jannau
20 All above plus Hrun Stoutstride
Geography 10 Karkalle the master cartographer, Plauthrus of the Quill, Rhenna Twinbraid
15 Above plus Captain deVorn
20 All above plus Trinna Suspire
History 10 Rhenna Twinbraid
15 Above plus Yarush the Younger, Trinna Suspire, Baron Brannack
20 All above plus Hiro Saru
Local 10 "Twitch" Montague, Master Orvidius, Baron Brannack
15 Above plus Anadra the scribe, Gradaun the herbalist
20 All above plus August Meridichi
Nature 10 Banson Verdrum, Captain deVorn, Disciple Nalla
15 Above plus Laarai, Druid of the Stones
20 All above plus Gradaun the herbalist
Nobility and royalty 10 Castellan Phirripal, Trinna Suspire, August Meridichi
15 Above plus Jenishi the Learned, Yarush the Younger
20 All above plus Baron Brannack
The planes 10 Zaruthek the Mad
15 Above plus Franthus Elgenne, Banshastra the Weaver
20 All above plus Rasputek Walks-Between-Worlds
Religion 10 Disciple Nalla, Anadra the Scribe, Banshastra the Weaver
15 Above plus Plauthrus of the Quill, Hrun Stoutstride
20 All above plus Sagacious Chandra

Sample Sages

Feel free to rename and otherwise alter the following examples to fit the needs of your campaign.

Anadra the Scribe: Knowledge (local) +20, Knowledge (religion) +15. Responsible for recording day-to-day history for one of the city's temples. Charges 150 gp for basic consultation, plus 75 gp for each day spent in research.

Antragaus Sorlomoon: Knowledge (arcana) +20. Head librarian at wizards' college. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

August Meridichi: Knowledge (local) +25, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +15. Organizer of the city's town criers. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 150 gp for each day spent in research.

Banshastra the Weaver: Knowledge (arcana) +25, Knowledge (the planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +15. A powerful loremaster who lives in her own tower. Charges 500 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Banson Verdrum: Knowledge (nature) +15. Farmers often pay for his weather predictions. Charges 4 gp for basic consultation, plus 50 gp for each day spent in research.

Baron Brannack: Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +25, Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (local) +15. As a noble, the baron is obsessed with genealogy. Charges 500 gp for basic consultation, plus 225 gp for each day spent in research.

Captain deVorn: Knowledge (geography) +20, Knowledge (nature) +15. Sea captain renowned for long voyages of exploration. Charges 150 gp for basic consultation, plus 75 gp for each day spent in research.

Castellan Phirripal: Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +15. Court vizier known for expertise on matters of etiquette. Charges 4 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Clyranna Jannau: Knowledge (dungeoneering) +20, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +15. Designer of the city's storm-sewer system. Charges 250 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Disciple Nalla: Knowledge (religion) +15, Knowledge (nature) +10. Spent years as a missionary before settling down to a life of academic study. Charges 5 gp for basic consultation, plus 50 gp for each day spent in research.

Durnek Stonemaul: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +15. Dwarf miner of great repute. Charges 3 gp for basic consultation, plus 50 gp for each day spent in research.

Franthus Elgenne: Knowledge (the planes) +20. Academic known for his extensive, nigh-unintelligible vocabulary. Charges 400 gp for basic consultation, plus 150 gp for each day spent in research.

Gori Kau the Pale: Knowledge (dungeoneering) +15. Operates from simple shop in middle-class neighborhood. Charges 4 gp for basic consultation, plus 50 gp for each day spent in research.

Gradaun the Herbalist: Knowledge (nature) +25, Knowledge (local) +20. Owns herbal remedies shop frequented by city's rich. Charges 450 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Hannadi the Raver: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +25, Knowledge (arcana) +20. Inventor prone to rude outbursts on random topics. Charges 400 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Hiro Saru: Knowledge (history) +25, Knowledge (arcana) +20. Loremaster from the distant past who spent centuries petrified in a gorgon's lair. Charges 500 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Hrun Stoutstride: Knowledge (dungeoneering) +25, Knowledge (religion) +20. Gnome cleric who was once an adventurer of repute. Charges 450 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Jenishi the Learned: Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +20, Knowledge (arcana) +15. Powerful sorcerer specializing in the effect of bloodlines on aptitude for magic. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 125 gp for each day spent in research.

Karkalle the Master Cartographer: Knowledge (geography) +15. Formerly employed by the city rulers, recently quit to set up shop. Charges 2 gp for basic consultation, plus 30 gp for each day spent in research.

Laarai, Druid of the Stones: Knowledge (nature) +20. Spends about half her time in the city, half in the surrounding wilds. Charges 250 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Master Orvidius: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +20, Knowledge (local) +15. Regularly consults with army on city's defenses. Charges 200 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Olorana the Wizard: Knowledge (arcana) +15. Grumpy denizen of lower-class neighborhood. Charges 5 gp for basic consultation, plus 50 gp for each day spent in research.

Plauthrus of the Quill: Knowledge (religion) +20, Knowledge (geography) +15. Known for his translations and transcriptions of religious texts. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Rasputek Walks-Between-Worlds: Knowledge (the planes) +25, Knowledge (arcana) +20. Archmage who's seen many of the Outer Planes firsthand. Charges 750 gp for basic consultation, plus 300 gp for each day spent in research.

Rhenna Twinbraid: Knowledge (history) +15, Knowledge (geography) +10. Halfling who traveled widely before infirmity of age set in. Charges 4 gp for basic consultation, plus 80 gp for each day spent in research.

Sagacious Chandra: Knowledge (religion) +25. Advisor on interfaith matters to several different religions. Charges 500 gp for basic consultation, plus 200 gp for each day spent in research.

Trinna Suspire: Knowledge (geography) +25, Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +15. Runs a bookstore as a side business and collects rare manuscripts. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 150 gp for each day spent in research.

"Twitch" Montague: Knowledge (local) +15. Dashing rogue with connections to city thieves guild. Charges 2 gp for basic consultation, plus 30 gp for each day spent in research.

Yarush the Younger: Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +15. Official court historian who does independent consultations as a sideline. Charges 300 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Zaruthek the Mad: Knowledge (the planes) +15. Once a powerful wizard, now a paranoid shell of a man with a fraction of his arcane power. Charges 10 gp for basic consultation, plus 100 gp for each day spent in research.

Persona

People often assume that Blackwall's citizens are dour and grim, weighted down by a military life. This is true to an extent. Military service is mandatory for all who come of age in the city, though they are required to serve only a few years. Citizens do take their duties seriously and train hard, ready to defend Blackwall and Kaddas against any invader.

In all other respects, Blackwall's people are a cheerful, fun-loving folk. They welcome travelers who have proven themselves trustworthy. They shop at the bazaar for foreign goods, they laugh with delight at the antics of traveling entertainers, and they enjoy the camaraderie of a night with friends in a tavern.

Crime in Blackwall is common, but it is made up mostly of petty, mild offenses that draw fines or short prison sentences. The infrequent violent criminal receives harsh punishment, almost always involving exile or execution.


1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.