Still trying to work out google's details, like a better appearance and font, but nothing seems obvious here... Stay with me until I get it right...
Anyway, was on holiday recently, away from home, and after the books had been read, local sights explored and relaxation commenced, I pulled out my copy of The Ultimate Toolbox and set about seeing if I could use it's cornucopia of tables to make something coherent.
I work best (for RPG ideas) if I can work off a starting idea or two, and create something of my own from those starting points. I'm interested in building a corner of a world, or at least a place that related to other places that provides an adventuring environment.
Anyway, a city seemed the best place to start, as Chapter 3 has always looked good.
And so was born the City of Kunili (pron. Ku-nee-lee). (Part 1)
The name is a corruption of the original name given to the place by the Plains Tribes that originally occupied these lands - ku'Nuilili, meaning 'Sacred Hunter's Grove'.
The founding story of the city involves a group of townsfolk from the Eastern lands fleeing a magical plague, and being welcomed by, and eventually merging with a tribe of the Plains, who were suffering from raids from other, stronger Tribes, and were hiding in a dangerous and sacred place.
The City itself is roughly triangular in shape, with the north wall running due east-west, mirroring the line of the Boarspine Mountain Range that the City abuts. The other two walls meet to the south-west. At the north-eastern and north-western corners, lively streams of cold, clear snowmelt flow into the city, and a slower and slightly dirtier river flows out the south-east corner.
The focal point of the City is The Island, in the centre of a small lake formed where the two streams merge. Barely 50m in diameter, this roughly circular island has a narrow fringe of scrub and rushes, but the clear interior is dominated by a henge of ancient, jet-black and glassy menhirs. Twelve trilithon stand equidistant around a clear area. They are carved with strange runes that none have yet translated or understood, as they resist even magical divination. The Tribe that was originally here was sheltering from other aggressive tribes in an area considered dangerous and fey.
The City's walls are wooden, but high and strong, made of great cross supported timbers, with wooden towers on each corner, and in the middle of each wall, where gates are open all daylight hours. All the wood is carefully maintained and cared for, and is carved with imaginative and majestic engravings showing past heroes and leaders, native and fantastical animals, and scenes from the City's past. Each tower has a four person troop of light infantry, with a seer or diviner occasionally present for unknown purposes. They collect dues for entry, keep the peace and report back on currents and moods to their sergeants.
Inside the City
Kunili has a strong craft industry, and a strong civic pride arises from this. There is also, however, an underlying sense of shame, as land holdings of the City to the West were lost following a disastrous attack on the neighbouring kingdom some 30 years ago. This was the result of proclamations and political manipulations of the Cult of the Portals, the dominant religion of the City at that time. Following the defeat, the Cult was destroyed by vengeful citizens, or at least outlawed and sunk into the shadows.
The nature of the populace is somewhat proud of their city and its works, but guarded and stubborn with outsiders. There are still many aspects of the Plains culture, especially in their crafts, but also in the number of Spirit Mages and Herbalists in the poorer areas.
There are a number of cults seething in the dark reaches of the City, with the Cult of the Portal hanging on, along with worshippers of the Beast God, and various minor pain or lust demons, promising plenty, just not now... The main temples all exist in some form or another, but Moraine, God of Empires, is not allowed a building for a temple (a result of the last war). The Merchant and the Traveller are by far the most popular temples, and the Huntress and the Lady both have sizeable groups of worshippers. Travellers from other Eastern cities will find the temples quite cosmopolitan, with modern ideas.
There are small but efficient riverside docks downstream of the Island, that are vital for the importation of raw materials - timber, gemstones and quarried rock - from the wilder lands upstream, and allow the export of wooden and stone crafts, tools and carvings to the richer lands downstream.
Guilds and Economies
The Guilds are strong, controlling the production of exports, and wielding substantial political and social power. Thankfully, they spend the majority of their energies feuding with each other over seemingly meaningless incidents and points of difference (no doubt encouraged by the current Ruler). There are many guild festivals, which are the main celebrations and holidays of the City. At Midwinter, the most important ceremony takes place. All of the population able to attend a simple Plains ceremony at the Island do so, or at least observe it from the shore. This is now a lot simpler and more traditional that it ever was under the Cult of the Portal.
Only Guild members, guards, and those registered with the City can bear arms larger than a hunting knife - others must lodge theirs with the guards in the gates when entering the City. Prospective dungeon raiders and general swords-for-hire are a special case, and can buy a one-off pass for 10 tali each time they enter the City.
The tali is unique to Kunili, and consists of a uniquely carved wooden disc, inlaid with shell, with a hole through the centre. It is the only legal tender within the City, with all other coins being valued for their value in metal only. The Moneycarvers Guild is in charge of the circulation of tali, and creating new ones while weeding out any copies or counterfeits. Due to the intricate and specialised design of each, though, few fake coins exist and all locals would instantly recognise them. A tali is worth 1/2 a Jade Piece, which is valued at 5 silver florins in the Empire. This gives the tali a rough value of two and half florins, which is useful to know when shopping there.
The Call of The Weeping Skulls
There are few inns in the City, as trade is usually by means of flat bottomed barges on the River and these are fast to load or unload and resume their downstream return. There are a few, however, near the gate in the north wall, where travellers leave for the strange dungeon complex known locally as The Weeping Skulls. This is still a journey from Kunili, as hopeful delvers must pass the fringes of the Talonwoods and cross the narrow mountain pass known as 'Boulder Run', thanks to local Giants.
Extra coin is entering the City due to the numbers of foolish warriors and mages that have started delving the dusty corridors of The Weeping Skulls in the past four years since it's uncovering. Many spend their last coin here on provisions, equipment, and carved wooden luck tokens, and do not return. Those that do stumble back to civilisation clutching baroque jewellery and tarnished metal coins spend them on more supplies and better equipment, and enter yet again, as the Dungeon seems to cast a kind of addictive madness over those that tread it's dusty halls and breath it's foetid air.
Next post - Personalities and more of the Guilds