Excerpts Archive | 12/1/2008
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Excerpts: City of Brass
Manual of the Planes

In today’s Manual of the Planes preview, we introduce the City of Brass: where dark dreams gather, and the ghosts of mortals linger for a time.


The turbulent nature of the Elemental Chaos means that few locations within the plane have any real permanence. Strong-willed individuals and communities can shape the Elemental Chaos to their desires, but these realms last only as long as their inhabitants continue to exert their will to maintain them. The City of Brass is the longest-lived exception to that rule, but even it might someday dissolve back into the Elemental Chaos, swallowed up by the inexorable forces of entropy that are the true rulers of the plane.


The City of Brass

Amid the swirling chaos stands an indomitable oasis—the sweltering yet grand abode of the efreets.

City of Brass Traits

Type: Elemental realm.
Size and Shape: Walled metropolis surrounded by a sea of fire; bounded.
Gravity: Elemental buoyancy.
Mutability: Normal.
Fire Affinity: Attacks with the fire keyword gain a +1 bonus to the attack roll, and attacks with the cold keyword deal half damage (ongoing cold damage is not affected).

The oldest city in all creation, the City of Brass is a nexus for planar travelers. Those willing to look long and hard enough can find anything they have ever imagined somewhere in its labyrinthine avenues. With numerous grand bazaars and ornate shops, the City of Brass is the mercantile center of the universe.

Built on a vast basalt plate in an immense volcanic field on the edge of a fiery sea, the City of Brass is a still point in the churning tempest of the plane, and a relatively hospitable destination for mortal travelers. It is the home of the fiery efreets, and the temperature is invariably hot—comparable to a sweltering summer day in most places; more like the inside of a smelting forge or the slopes of an active volcano in others.

The City of Brass

The capital city of the efreets, the City of Brass is the marketplace of the universe, where virtually anything can be bought or sold.

Population: Approximately 500,000. Efreets form the upper class of the city, with only a handful of disgraced members standing outside the noble caste. Other residents include salamanders, archons, azers, genasi, fire giants and titans, demons, and other intelligent elemental creatures, as well as a smaller number of visitors and immigrants from the natural world. Roughly two-thirds of the city’s residents are slaves.

Government: Bashamgurda is the Lord of the Efreets, ruling the city from his Charcoal Palace.

Defense: An entire caste of slaves are born and raised as soldiers to defend the City of Brass against incursion from the wider Elemental Chaos and the Abyss. These include archons, azers, and salamanders. A corps of fanatical efreet warriors called the Unquenchable patrol the Charcoal Palace. The city guard, housed in the Ashlarks district, consists primarily of archon and salamander soldiers.

Inns and Taverns: The best place for visitors to find food or lodging is the district of Iskalat, near the city’s harbor. The inns and taverns ringing the harbor cater to travelers from across the Elemental Chaos and other planes beyond. Guests are advised to keep a close eye on their valuables and be wary of con artists, but little risk of death or enslavement exists.

Supplies: Commoner’s Market; Street of Steel in the Keffinspires; Marlgate warehouses; Pyraculum bazaar. Anything can be bought in the City of Brass. The Commoner’s Market in the district of Avencina is an ideal place to secure both ordinary and exotic goods of a nonmagical nature. The Keffinspires district is home to most of the city’s smiths, who make and sell magical and mundane item, including weapons and armor. The warehouses of the Marlgate district hold goods brought from across the planes for trade in the city, and the bazaars of Pyraculum offer the greatest diversity of high-quality goods.

Temples: The City of Brass is hostile to worshipers of the deities, and holds no public temples to any gods. The primordial known as the Fire Lord, Imix, has an opulent temple in the Furnace called the Eternal Flame Pavilion. Residents of the city are strongly encouraged to offer praise and gratitude to the lord of the Charcoal Palace in large shrines located in each district.

Approaching the City of Brass

Though not as well connected as Sigil, the City of Brass contains many permanent planar portals linking it to other locations, as well as a large number of teleportation circles that allow ritual casters access to the city. The vast majority of both portals and circles are controlled by efreet nobles who maintain tight security to prevent enemies from using them. One teleportation circle is carved in a huge brass plate just outside the Diamond Gate, right alongside the major thoroughfare leading into the Keffinspires district of the city. The sigil sequence for this portal is widely known, making it the most common means of reaching the City of Brass. A large contingent of archon guards stand to repel any incursion from this access point.

Travelers within the Elemental Chaos commonly make use of planar dromonds to reach the City of Brass, and less often find their way to the city on spelljammers, lightning skiffs, or chaos gliders. Experienced dromond captains claim that all magma flows and seas of liquid fire lead eventually to the Sea of Fire and the harbor of the City of Brass, particularly if one is traveling from another efreet settlement. The powerful will of the efreets creates stable, navigable channels of fiery liquid connecting their settlements to the capital city.

Travelers who don’t come by way of the Sea of Fire cross the basalt plain and enter the city though one of seven gates: the Gate of the Eternal Sun into the Rookery, the Diamond Gate or the Shimmering Gate into Keffinspires, the Gate of Ashes into Avencina, the Golden Gate into the Plume, or the Prism Gate or the Gate of the Desert Wind into Cindersweeps. Each of these gates (along with the harbor’s Magma Gate) is a fortress with a permanent garrison, numerous obstacles and towers, and a dedicated military commander.

Laws and Society

The City of Brass has a highly developed dual set of laws—one code for efreets, and another for everyone else. Few restrictions are placed on the efreets’ behavior or trade. Members of other races labor under numerous regulations pertaining to how they conduct themselves, how they do business, and the taxes they must pay on their transactions. These laws are well publicized (posted at the gates and in each inn and public house) and are relatively simple to follow for those who wish to obey them. Some of the more obvious laws prohibit theft, murder, kidnapping, and misrepresentation of goods.

Lawbreakers are sentenced to a period of slavery under the control of the offended party—often the city itself, though such slaves are usually sold in the markets in the Arches. The original length of servitude can be extended for additional infractions, ranging from speaking impolitely to one’s master (seven days for a first infraction, or if a year has passed since the last infraction) to attempting to escape (one year plus one year for each day the slave was missing). Aside from breaking laws, the most common way that visitors to the City of Brass become slaves is by borrowing money and not being able to repay it (and the accrued interest) in time.

Slaves must wear and display bracelets indicating their servitude and their master. They are commonly bought and sold during the period of their slavery. Once the sentence is served, a slave again becomes a free person.