Sunday, September 8, 2013

Campaign Design - Locations: Enselm


Ruled by: The Collegium

Other organizations: The Sang-Nuit

Description: Enselm is one of the largest cities in all of the three worlds, and is a place where fortunes may be won by the crafty, and a dangerous mass of teeming scum to the unwary. The city contains both fabulously wealthy merchant princes and poverty stricken beggars and thieves. It is also the one place that exists as a crossroads between all of the three worlds, existing simultaneously in Ilkeas, Midrun, and Cærulus. While there are many gateways between Cærulus and Midrun, and Ilkeas and Midrun, and even some between Cærulus and Ilkeas, there is only one place where all three worlds converge, and that place is the city of Enselm, which exists in all three of the known realms of existence. Enselm's unique position as a crossroads between all three worlds has made it a hub of trade and commerce, and it has also made the city the target of covetous empires throughout history who have sought to seize it to gain control of both its wealth and its commanding position. Persistent rumors hold that not only is Enselm a gateway between all of the three worlds, but that it also holds gateways to other, more exotic worlds, which those who pass these stories on maintain contributes to the wealth and power of the shadowy mages guild that rules over the city from the huge forbidden fortress of Cælantha.

Enselm is fiercely independent, and for all of recorded history has been ruled over by a secretive guild of mages named the Collegium who jealously guard their position and the freedom of the city. Popularly called the Blue Mages due to their distinctive silver-trimmed midnight blue robes, the members of the Collegium rule over the city by virtue of their arcane might, and because of the Interdiction de Magique, a field that interferes the use of magic by anyone other than the members of their order, causing those who use magic within its borders intense pain and injury as well as alerting the Guild to the location of the user. Violations of the Interdiction inevitably result in a force of mages and their famously loyal metal guardsmen showing up in short order to detain the offender. Those who are lucky are merely expelled from the Blue Mage's domains with an instruction not to return. Those who are not lucky vanish without ever being seen again. The Interdiction covers the protected portions of the city with a dark midnight blue dome that reveals where the Interdiction does and does not cover and holds those portions of the city that it covers in a perpetual twilight. Outside the mystical dome, magic use is unregulated by the Collegium, inside the dome, the Collegium prohibits its use by anyone other than its own members. Unfortunately for would-be conquerors, the Interdiction covers all of the portions of the city that serve as a crossroads between worlds, leaving only the sprawling outlying areas not under its protection.

The fortress of Cælantha itself is heavily guarded by strong and fanatical warriors and powerful incorruptible mages. The Collegium appears to be a meritocracy and all who show promise in the magical arts and are considered trustworthy may join their ranks, and conceivably rise to be counted among the rulers of the city. All races and sexes are permitted in the guild, the only requirement being magical ability. A rise to power in this way is a common dream of the poor of the city’s slums, and mothers are constantly bringing their children to offer them for acceptance into the Guild, even though they know that success will mean that their children are taken from them forever to be raised by the Blue Mages. Unfortunately, many more come to the gates of Caelantha than are accepted and the ranks of the utterly destitute continue to grow.

Enselm is a cosmopolitan place, with inhabitants of almost every race interacting with one another. Humans, changelings, alvari, halfings, dwarves, and gnomes all make their homes in the vast and labyrinthine districts of the city. Some khülen also reside in the city, although they are not common, as the urban environment is one that many members of that race find unsettling. It is so diverse that in its seedier areas, Enselm even has enclaves of goblins, orcs, and other humanoids. The city is heavily populated by gnomes, who make up a substantial portion of the population, and the city is more or less the "heart" of gnomish culture. Gnomes are so associated with Enselm that Enslaic, the language spoken by natives of the city and its surrounding regions, is often referred to as "Gnomish", and most gnomes in the three worlds speak at least some Enslaic, no matter where they are from or where they live. Such is the influence of the Collegium that Enslaic is widely used as the language of trade and diplomacy between nations.

Enselm is also the home to the largest known concentration of changelings in the three worlds, although they are still a tiny minority of the population. Changelings do, however, dominate the other powerful group associated with Enselm: The vast and elusive criminal organization known as the Sang-Nuit, also known as the Night Siblings. Because the Collegium rules with a light touch, they leave most of the actual governing of Enselm to others, and the Sang-Nuit controls substantial swaths of the city. Other power groups control some neighborhoods, and a handful control entire districts, but none have the pervasive and wide-ranging influence of the Night Siblings. Surrounding the ‘civilized’ portion of the city, is Helltown, miles upon miles of horrendous slums, and the web of influence and power spun by the Night Siblings pervades all of them.

Although the Enselm Guard is a renowned fighting force, comprised primarily of highly skilled ironborn warriors, it is not able to keep up with the job of maintaining internal order in Enselm other than stopping fights that have gotten a little out of hand and half-heartedly trying to solve homicides, leaving the job of keeping the peace to a well-developed network of private organizations. Craftsmen and merchants band together in protective guilds, the wealthy hire private mercenary guards, and the poor don’t have anything to steal and defend themselves from other dangers as best they can. A visitor to the city will be immediately besieged by scores of “agents” each selling some sort of protection, usually membership in some sort of protective association, or a waiver from one of the many criminal organizations, although some are simply scams sold by con artists. Because of the lack of higher authority, the city has many large and powerful criminal organizations that are constantly vying for dominance and occasionally break into full scale gang wars. It is hard to call anything criminal in Helltown, however, since little is enforced and the credo of the residents seems to be along the lines of “anything goes”. As might be expected in a city where dwarves and halflings can rub shoulders with goblins and orcs, street fights are a common occurrence, and passers by are best advised to leave quickly when one breaks out, or risk getting caught up in a bloody brawl.

All of the ironborn in the world were born in Enselm, specifically within the confines of the fortress of Cælantha under the watchful eye of the Magarchs. At least, this is what outsiders presume, since no one is allowed into the creation forges where the Collegium crafts its metal servitors. The ironborn form the core of the guard for the Collegium, who trust the loyalty of their manufactured soldiers over other warriors. Even after they have been released from their required service, many ironborn remain in the city, either voluntarily remaining in the employ of their creators, or joining one of the many other, less savory organizations for pay. Some few remain and act as freelancers. Those ironborn who may be found elsewhere in the three worlds who are not still working for the Guild are comprised of the handful who rejected such options and struck out on their own.

The city has a huge harbor, with thousands of docks, shipyards, and warehouses due to it’s strategic location. A bustling mercantile district housing wealthy traders and excellent craftsmen sits next to huge temples to every faith in the known world, although the large gnomish population of the city means that it is the spiritual heart of the faiths of both Caire and Füllar. Because Enselm is such a critical trading hub, most of the large halfling mercantile families also have enclaves in the city, as the ports of the city are full of ships full of all kinds of cargo. In keeping with their indifference to the legal and social mores of outsiders, the Collegium generally does not care what kind of cargo is unloaded upon their docks or sent out from their shores, so long as the merchants pay the required duties. The only cargo the Collegium bans from their harbor is troops: Rival nations may not use Enselm as a means of transporting warriors from one place to another. While one could conceivable hire and arm an entire army of mercenaries in the back streets of Enselm, any ruler trying to move an army through the harbor would draw the ire of the Magarchs, and probably the destruction of the offending flotilla.

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