"Never bring anything you value into Stovikar that you
can't carry on your back at a dead run."
-Arland Burke, Rukemian Freetrader
|Ruler||His Most Magnificent and Majestic Personage, Champion of the Empire and Wielder of the Sacred Blade Black Talon, King Frederick Douni the Pure|
|Demographics||Human 48%, Orc 20%, Ogre 13%, Saurian 8%, Grum 5%, Elven 3%, Dwarven 2%, Baenite 1%|
|Languages||Rukemian 80%, Southern 20%|
|National Colors||Red and black|
|Natural Resources||Clay, sandstone, cattle, barley, cotton, fish, oranges, sugar cane|
|Manufactured Goods and Major Exports||Salted beef, salted fish, whale meat, whale oil, textiles, pottery, rum|
|Government Stability||Very unstable - martial law|
|Allies||Rukemia, War Vale, Mercia|
|Walled||Partial city wall|
|Crime Level||Very High|
|Other Religions||Barrinor, Vorkayne, Semorjon, Sarreth, Kael, Glavyris, Daramis, Drenmoragin|
Ithria is blessed with several shining cities Aridorn, Vogue, Strathon, Arcanum, Orrojek... Stovikar isnt one of them. From the blood stained outer city walls, to the grim faced warriors standing guard at the main gate; from the burning rubbish in the streets to the absolute poverty of the peasants begging for bread in the outer city, it is apparent that this city has problems. Stovikar is a huge city, crowded, dirty, stagnant and filled with the stench of death and desperation.
For centuries, this city has built up, torn down and built up again various facets of itself, building right on top of the rubble and bodies of the past. Many buildings have been damaged, repaired and added to so many times that they are a patchwork of differing architecture. The endless cycle of creation and destruction has resulted in a dense maze of buildings, narrow streets, dark alleys, tight corners and crowded structures leaning precariously close to each other. Everywhere are unfinished walls, jagged shards of masonry, hollow husks of former buildings, rubble and abandoned structures. This creates a dizzying maze of nooks and crannies that inevitable fill with life - the homeless, the criminals, the diseased and the orphans.
The grim daily life of this city is apparent in the day to day events found here. It is not uncommon to see city guards casually run a criminal through right there in the street rather than go to the trouble of dragging him to the city prison to await trial. Nameless bodies are found in darkened alleys with alarming frequency. Rats are everywhere feeding on the daily corpses.
The sheer number of thieves and beggars in the city is enough to give even a hardened adventurer pause. There are several major gangs here that claim sections of the city and gang wars are common. The city guards will often let gangs simply battle it out and then arrest the survivors. Hungry citizens will occasionally storm the palace gates and riot for food, but these social outbursts are quickly quelled by force. The entire city is under martial law and anyone can be arrested for any reason. Fear keeps the local population in line for the most part. In Stovikar, justice belongs only to those who can afford it. For the rest, it is best not to cause trouble. Travelers are warned to watch their step in this city and not to become entangled with the local authorities.
Stovikar is an old city. It has stood for a thousand years and it is built upon the bones of an even older city. Over the long years, this city has outgrown the city walls on more than one occassion and built a new city wall. These old city walls form concentric rings, seven in all, dividing the city into a maze of districts and quarters. For this reason, Stovikar is sometimes called the "City of Seven Walls".
After the Sundering and the Great War, the great Thullian Empire fragmented. The nobles of the southeastern peninsula fell to petty squabbling as each fought to gain control of the region and protect their own interests. While Rukemia began to form to the north, the southeastern corner of the continent settled into several dozen tiny independent baronies. Although there were many conflicts and minor wars, these tiny baronies lived in relative harmony for several hundred years.
The Kingdom of Rukemia formed and grew in strength from until 1456 CY when an ambition noble sized control of the kingdom, executed the king and named himself emperor. With the sudden formation of the Rukemian Empire to the north, the barons of the southeast stood up and took notice.
Fearing that the newly formed Empire would attempt take them over, several of these southeastern baronies banded together. The wealthiest and most influential of the barons, Baron Milius Orbak, intimidated the others into submission and declared himself King Milius. The newly formed kingdom was named Ormek and officially founded in 1471 CY.
For almost 300 years, the kingdom of Ormek grew in strength while the Orbak bloodline held the throne. It reached a pinnacle of success under the guidance of King Talivar the Wise during the years of 1740 to 1757 CY. The kingdom was wealthy and prosperous and fair to look upon. King Talivar was a strong king and commanded a strong army. Under his reign, Ormek resisted the Rukemian Empire's repeated overtures for a political "alliance". King Talivar knew that any such alliance would end up favoring the empire at the expense of his own kingdom.
One of the King's top advisors, Reginal Douni, opposed the King publicly thinking that an alliance with Rukemia would make Ormek stronger. When arguments turned to heated and blatant rebellion in the courtroom King Talivar had Lord Douni arrested. He was sent to the city dungeons on Forestblush 22. However, the king had underestimated Douni's popularity and the extent of his network of henchmen and followers. Within three days, Douni's men had stormed the prison and freed him. On Forestblush 25, the assembled men attacked the court and in a fierce battle, slaughtered King Talivar and those loyal to him. Lord Douni immediately declared himself King Reginal. He quickly appointed men loyal to him to key positions in the government and secured his throne. His first act as King was to meet with imperial representatives and forge an alliance. King Reginal proved an able and fierce opponent at the diplomatic table, not giving an inch and demanding much. The imperial representatives acquiesced to his demands and the pact was signed on the second day of Magereign, 1758 CY.
Three weeks later, King Reginal Douni was found dead in his bed. It was widely rumored that the empire had arranged for his death because they did not want to have to deal with such a headstrong man. They allowed his son, Prince Dalian, then only 17 years old, to take the throne. The young king proved much more malleable and the imperial representatives were able to bully the young king and his advisors into amending the pact with concessions very favorable to Rukemia. These disturbing events and political shifts in the southeast spurned the woodsmen and rangers of the north to declare themselves an independent nation and led to the founding of Kitar.
The young King Dalian steered Ormek through those first years under the yoke of imperial control. While technically a distinct and separate nation, the smaller kingdom owed yearly taxes to the empire, was forced to accept imperial law and was expected to pay fealty. King Dalian did his best to make the transition and the years that followed peaceful ones. Ormek, wealthy, clean, powerful and respected, was a shining jewel in the east and proved a profitable addition to the Rukemian Empire. King Dalian ruled and ruled well, under the circumstances, for more than 20 years.
King Dalian was gravely injured during a wild boar hunt in 1783 CY and died from his wounds at the age of 42. His son, Ebrinis, proved a weak and foolish King. Ebrinis' incompetence was overshadowed only by that of his own son. And so began a long line of kings that have ranged from mediocre to weak-minded fools. This royal line, bereft of strength or wisdom, soon gave way to corruption and decadence. Over the centuries, there was a steady decline. The current reigning monarch is King Frederick Douni, "the Pure".
Ormek had once been the favored province of Rukemia. But several centuries of poor leadership, financial squandering, widespread waste, government fraud and prejudice have destroyed this nation. It is now a shadow of its former self.
This nation is ruled by a tyrant, King Frederick Douni, the Pure, whose state of mind is questionable. He is given to bouts of hysteria and explosive anger, randomly directed about him. He is fond of public executions and especially arena combat. He has had a special amphitheatre built (at great expense to the taxpayers) specifically for this purpose. He has even been known to draw his enchanted blade, Black Talon, and descend down into the arena to give out punishment to royal criminals. King Frederick is a tall man, with sharp angular features, curly black hair and a black beard. He dresses in pure white and make wild claims about his purity, wisdom and divine right to rule. The entire nation is and has been under martial law for years. Royal soldiers are able to detain and imprison citizens without cause or warning. Many hundreds are imprisoned under the label "political prisoners".
The royal residence and main governmental building at the center of the city is known as Kragenmyr Castle. This huge keep is built of a particularly dark ash colored limestone local to the region. Brannart Ralin is the King's castellan and responsible for the castle and its many attendants. His family has served the Ormek royal family for generations. His sense of obligation and duty is what keeps him from leaving. His job is to endure frequent abuse and humiliation from a vain, obsessive, and delusional King. Ralin is literally the glue that holds the castle together.
The Imperial Embassy
Stovikar is an imperial protectorate and therefore is host to a major imperial embassy. Many of the city's nobles and aristocrats go to great lengths to ingratiate themselves to the imperial officials stationed here. These imperial officers are invited to all the parties, are wined and dined and given lavish gifts in an attempt to curry favor. The embassy has offices and sleeping quarters for imperial officials who come to Stovikar for a visit.
The imperial embassy is officially imperial land and is protected by imperial soldiers. On those occasions when a senator comes to visit, security is tightened further. King Douni and Ambassador Klyne are trying to woo the Emperor himself to come for a visit, but he has so far declined.
The Imperial Embassy hosts a masquerade ball once a year. It is one of the social highlights of the year. All the who’s who of the city compete for invitations. Imperials dignitaries will arrive in the city prior to the ball. Nobles, guild leaders and so forth attend with their families.
Stovikar has a brutal and draconian legal system. First, no weapons or armor are allowed in the city except for the city guards. Religious ceremonies, demonstrations and the like are forbidden. Punishments are severe. Fines are common, but most crimes will also involve time in a cage or pillory or imprisonment. Public whips and other methods are frequently used. Corrupt judges pass harsh sentences frequently. Imprisonment and execution are quite common. In fact, there is an execution somewhere in the city every day. The wealthy are able to purchase pardons and escape punishment.
The City Guard of Stovikar is little more than government paid thugs who enjoy privileges about the city. These men are often recruited from ships and mercenary companies with the promise of easy wealth and lax discipline. And this much is true. The City Guard runs rampant and keeps the commoners cowering under martial law. This motley collection of ruffians wears a wide variety of armor and weapons, but the typical guardsman wears old, rusty chain, a dirty tunic bearing the heraldry of Ormek, carries a small iron shield and wields a cracked and pitted blade. Equipment is shoddy and training is minimal. Guardsmen roam the city streets in packs looking for troublemakers or just someone to pick on. They can arrest citizens with impunity and in some cases, street justice will involve running the suspect through and robbing the body.
This is Ormek's powerful military headquarters, where most of the power of the police state is concentrated.
Stovikar has a number of grand temples to the darker deities of the realm. Major temples to all the Dark Lords can be found here. There are also churches to Daramis, Kolo, Drenmoragin and the Three Fates. The largest temple is the Church of the Blooded Cestus (temple to Kael, ogre war god). It is named so because all priests at this temple specialize in the use of a particularly nasty form of bladed gauntlet.
Several key industries provide the bulk of wealth for the city of Stovikar. Fishing, whaling, sugar and caviar are the four chief exports. All four are abundant resources here.
Fishing is the dominant industry. The city is home to hundreds of fishing ships and thousands of fishermen. Supporting this immense fishing fleet are workers who build, repair and maintain the boats and fishing gear. Dockhands, laborers and mercantile guilds process, pack and transport the fish. Fish is Stovikar's chief export.
Whaling here is dominated by a single guild. The whaling guild operates a fleet of vessels and brings in huge quantities of whale oil and whale meat every month which generate huge profits. Whale oil is the second most profitable export here.
Sugarcane is a major industry here. Huge plantations scattered about the countryside outside of Stovikar oversee vast fields of sugarcrane. These plantations oversee the harvesting, processing, packaging and transport of the valuable commodity. Well guarded caravans take sugar to neighboring kingdoms. Sugar, and various derivative products such as molasses and rum, constitute a major export for the city.
Caviar, to a lesser degree, is a major export for Stovikar. While conducted on a much smaller scale, the production and export of caviar is notable for two reasons - it is very closely associated with the noble families of Stovikar and it is, by far, the most valuable commodity in the city.
The Sea Guild
The Sea Guild is primarily a fishermen's guild. It licenses fishermen, taxes them, helps establish maritime laws that pertain to fishing and the like. This large guild has connections to many other groups and is woven into Stovikar society. Within its ranks, the guild has many hundreds of fishermen, net menders, boat builders and the like. Fishing is the backbone of the economy here and that makes the Sea Guild a very powerful player in city politics.
The Whaling Guild and Stormwall
The Whaling Guild is one of the largest and most powerful organizations in Ormek. Based in Stovikar, this is the only organization legally allowed to hunt, kill and process whales. The guild maintains a small fleet of whaling ships - stout bodied vessels that venture out into the deep sea for months at a time. The guild's keep is a fortress of stone named Stormwall that sits on an island within sight of Stovikar.
The Sugar Guild
This guild oversees the production of sugarcane which is grown on large plantations outside of Stovikar. These plantations produce sugar, molasses and rum. Other farmsteads specialize in a local sweet citrus fruit called ember berries. Ember berries are small, round, bright orange fruit that are intensely sweet. These are fermented to produce a strongly flavored citrus alchohol called chellari which is very popular in Ormek and exported.
The Caviar Guild
The production of caviar is closely associated with the nobility of Ormek. Various types of roe are harvested from different types of fish, but the most exquisite caviar comes from the dangerous eel shark, which swims the waters of the Sapphire Main. The roe of the eel shark is prized for its brilliant golden color, perfectly round large eggs and smooth buttery flavor. The caviar guild has perfected its techniques of hunting eel sharks and harvesting the eggs over many centuries and jealously guards its secrets and lore. Caviar sells for anywhere from 1 to 10 gold pieces per jar depending on the type and quality. Eel shark caviar sells for 50 golds per jar. As such, of course, it is a food enjoyed only by the nobles. Caviar is a luxury item and a lucrative export. it's high value density requires that caravans transporting it are heavily guarded. The Caviar Guild has a royal charter from King Douni to harvest roe and produce caviar exclusively and without competition. The Caviar Guild is ruled by the Sellark noble family and employes 200 and operates a half dozen ships. Despite its small size, the caviar guild is still the fourth wealthiest guild in the nation. The guild master, Sir Drav Sellark, is a close and personal friend of the king.
The Berthing is the name of the city's ship building guild and the associated ship yards. This enormous set of buildings and docks is home to more than a thousand shipwrights, carpenters, craftsmen and laborers who build and repair ships. The Berthing includes its own tavern, the where many of the shipwrights Includes a built in tavern where all of the shipwrights hang out. The name is a pun on "birthing ships".
The Harbor Tower
Known more simply as Grestin's Tower. This building houses the dock master and a large nautical equipment store. It also sells and rents small boats. Grestin Beyor, the owner/operator, has some connections in smuggling circles. He can hide illegal cargo, even criminals in his warehouses. For a price...
The Slave Lords
The Slave Lords are an independent guild of slavers who maintain a network of guild houses throughout the eastern kingdoms and also have a few waystations along the southern coast. They capture "primitives" from the west and transport them to the eastern empire (usually by ship). The Slave Lords have a rigid hierarchical rank structure and are easily identified by the black outfits and colored sashes (each color signifies a different rank). The Slave Lords have a major presence in Stovikar and maintain a large guild house here.
The Well of Blood
Stovikar's sprawling arena was recently built by special order of King Frederick the Pure. It's in use every day. Political prisoners are tortured and executed here, sometimes with King Frederick doing the honors himself. And not only do violent contests and sponsored bloodsports take place on a regular basis, but even the lowliest citizen can challenge another to a duel and have it happen in the public arena for free. The city will even furnish the combatants with all manner of bladed weaponry to increase the entertainment value. Admission is cheap...only one copper piece for an entire day. The beer sold here is equally cheap and watered down. Many citizens will drop a guard a few silvers and simply never leave. In such a filthy and crime-ridden hole of a city, this is as good as life gets for the easily entertained. This large arena is run by Edrica Tikhon.
Hegnyr's House of Tomes
This large stone house is the home of the wizard Hegnyr and from his home he operated a small wizard's guild. The members of this guild are a tight knit group who protect and look out for each other because Stovikar is a dangerous city and magic is not widely respected here. This organization has only nine members and a handful of apprentices. They meet weekly here. Hegnyr is the most skilled wizard in the group (and the city, for that matter). He is also the former magical advisor to King Douni. King Douni dismissed Hegnyr from his position amidst a temper tantrum years ago. The King believes he needs no advisor on magical matters. Hegnyr now devotes himself to running the guild and magical research. The group makes a profit selling potions, healing salves, minor magical charms and the like. The guild members maintain a low profile and try not to draw too much attention to the guild. Wizards pass through Stovikar from time to time. If any wizard settles in Stovikar for an extended period of time, this small guild will approach the wizard with overtures of friendship and possible membership. Hegnyr is the proud owner of a large library containing several hundred books, scrolls and maps. It is this magnificent library that gives the group it's name.
King Frederick Douni, King of Ormek
Frederick Douni is a painfully thin man with pale skin, black greasy hair, a carefully trimmed goatee and steel grey eyes. King Douni is a cruel and petty man who cares nothing for the commoners beneath him nor the nation that grants him his position. He is arrogant, wasteful, prejudiced against non-humans and generally cares only for himself. He is far too engrossed in pursuing his own pleasures to be bothered with running his kingdom. He leaves that to his castellan and advisor, Brannart Ralin. King Douni has a tendency of referring to himself as "we".
Ambassador Klyne, Imperial Representative of Rukemia
A tall man with a wild frock of greying hair, watery grey eyes and a thick goatee. Ambassador Klyne has an air of self-importance about him. He is as corrupt as the kingdom to whom he plays Ambassador. Douni ensures that Klyne enjoys every conceivable luxury. In fact, the two are almost inseparable in their debauchery. Meanwhile, Klyne makes sure that his reports back to the Empire paint a glowing picture of Ormek in which Imperial law is respected and upheld. (Far from the truth).
Brannart Ralin, the King’s Castellan and Personal Advisor
Ralin is an assuming blonde man of slight build with curious, intelligent eyes. Publicly, Ralin is the personal advisor to the King. In reality, he is so much more. Ralin is a scheming devil with a clever mind and a penchant for control. It is Ralin who is the real power behind the throne, although Douni is unaware of this. This situation is not known to the general public and Douni still struts about the kingdom as a celebrity. While Douni occupies himself with women, wine and spectacles at the Well of Blood, Ralin quietly conducts the real work of running the kingdom from behind the scenes. Ralin is not evil, but has no need to see the kingdom change. His carefully layered plans depend upon a certain amount of conflict and strife within the kingdom.
Tyldon Gimol, Supreme Military Commander of Ormek
The commander of Ormek’s armies is a towering man of muscle and scars with shaggy dark hair and a full beard. His name is Tyldon Gimol and he is the master of thousands. Ormek’s armies are composed mainly of slaves, prisoners and indentured servants pressed into service to pay off debts. They are given no training, primitive weapons and crude armor. They overcome their enemies on the battlefield by sheer numbers. Being a soldier in the Ormekian military is a harsh existence with a very short life expectancy. Some are assigned to patrol the realm and beat back the occasional orcish raid that comes from the Mercian forest while others serve aboard ship. Currently, no serious threats stand against Ormek or the Rukemian Empire. However, if ever the day comes when all out war is declared against the Coalition, General Gimol will send thousands to their death.
Edrica Tikhon, Operator of the Well of Blood arena
This tall, raven haired beauty is known as the "Queen of the Pit" and the "Princess of Blood". She is the owner and operator of the Well of Blood, a government funded combat arena where spectacles of blood play out before cheering crowds. The Lady Tikhon oversees the most important events personally, drawing the audience in with her charisma and seductive voice. She wears black always and often sports jewelry made from the bones of those who have fallen in combat in her arena. In the arena, she carries a tall staff tipped with a human skull. The staff is rumored to be enchanted and she herself is said to have some form of witchcraft. Edrica and Tyldon will sometimes trade prisoners back and forth depending on the relative talents and fighting skill of the individual.
Aegilf, the Rat - Fence and Bandit
There are many brotherhoods of thieves and assassins in the city of Stovikar and most of them deal with Aegulf who is called "the Rat". He is a small man with a large nose, beady eyes, short hair and pointed ears. It is said that he was once changed into a rat by a wizard's spell and that, after the spell wore off, the transformation had some lingering effects. Of course, this is just a rumor. Aegilf is well known in the underworld circles of Stovikar. He has a reputation of being able to find anything or anyone for a price. He knows just about every thief in the city and has a knack for sensing trouble before he gets in too deep (and for saving his own neck). Aegilf works frequently with the Heralds.
An Ormekian nobleman that lives on an estate on the edge of Stovikar. He is fascinated by death, the body and undead. He is a practicing necromancer. He frequently robs graveyards, and has a collection of over 70,000 bones, body parts and full skeletons in the dungeons beneath his estate. He lives with a small staff and no family. He is careful to keep his hobby a secret lest the serfs rebel. Over the years his appetite for the macabre has increased and he has recently taking to murdering his own serfs at night and taking their bodies back to his laboratory. On occasion he will purchase a slave for experimentation.
The Lords of the Hunt
A small hunting club of six wealthy Ormekian nobles who frequently come to Stovikar looking for new exotic animals or healthy slaves from distant lands.
The Imperial Embassy hosts a masquerade ball once a year. It is one of the social highlights of the year. All the who’s who of the city compete for invitations. Imperials dignitaries will arrive in the city prior to the ball. Nobles, guild leaders and so forth attend with their families.
The King's District
The king's district dominates the southwestern section of the city. It is home to Kragenmyre Castle as well as dozens of estates belonging to minor nobles, wealthy merchants, magistrates and other officials. This district is also home to the Imperial Embassy and several major guilds. Finally, it is known for several parks and statues.
The Merchant's District
The merchant's district houses numerous market squares, plazas, guild houses, taverns and shops.
The River District
The river district is a long rectangular district comprising those neighborhoods that flank the White Stone river as makes its way through the city and empties into the harbor. A sizeable portion of the population calls this district home. Most of the buildings here are private homes and apartment buildings. The river district also contains numerous riverside parks.
The Harbor District
The harbor district is the largest district in the city. The district encompasses the entire harbor including the shipyards, the dry docks, warehouses and countless piers for fishing boats. This bustling and lively district is home to an army of shipwrights, carpenters, fishermen, dock workers, laborers and prostitutes. The harbor district constantly stinks of fish and rancid whale oil.
Deep in the heart of Stovikar is a winding maze of muddy streets, ancient crumbling stone buildings, twisting dark alleys and buried tunnels. This dizzying maze of architectural growth is known simply as the Labyrinth. It's a destitute and dangerous section of town home to many thieves, street gangs and homeless.
Clustered outside the city walls are thousands of tents, shanties and hovels arranged in a haphazard maze. Many of the poorest wretches live permanently in this destitution which the city does not even recognize as a proper district.
The Sewers of Stovikar
Beneath the streets of the bustling city is a labyrinth of lightless tunnels and chambers through which churns a river of filth and muck. The sewer system of Stovikar is a vast network of stench filled waterways that span kilometers and connect every section of the city.
The sewers are infested with huge rats, slimy centipedes, blood roaches, bore worms, dung flies and many other vermin. But there is far worse than vermin here. There are those who tell tales of monstrous creatures that hunt the shadowy realm beneath our feet. Perhaps this is why the city guard does not bother to patrol the sewers. It may also explain why the city engineers who are forced to go down there to clear a blockage from time to time do so in well-armed groups. While thieves and bandits will often take advantage of the absence of guards and use the sewer systems as a quick escape route, there are others who refuse to venture into the dark below. Many young thieves with too much bravado have vanished in these sewers.
There is a rumor that a sorcerer in town is creating the monsters that now prowl the tunnels. There are some that say he is breeding them intentionally although none can guess to what ends. If you choose to venture below, for whatever reason, keep your torch held high and your blade at the ready. You will very likely need it.
Stovikar is infested with crime. Dozens of small gangs of thieves operate within the city. Gangs clash in violent confrontations day and night. Gang warfare is becoming a significant problem, especially in certain sections of the city. Below are some of the most significant groups.
The Order is the largest, wealthiest and most powerful criminal enterprise in the city of Stovikar. The exact size of the group is unknown, but rumored to exceed a thousand members and none argue that its influence is felt throughout the city. Everyone in Stovikar has heard of this group and most are afraid of them. This extensive criminal network operates a number of money making operations in the city - exhortation, protection rackets, thugs for hire, blackmail, loan sharking, drug trafficking, prostitution and slavery. It operates three brothels in the city and has a significant number of important people on their payroll: business owners, government officials, city guards, militia officers and nobles. They even own churches. The Order has business and social connections to groups and individuals in every corner of the city. It is often said that the Order does business with everyone, whether they know it or not. You’re either bribed, blackmailed, owned or robbed. The Order is known for brutal tactics and harsh punishments. The only thing worse than being “taxed” by them is to owe them. Sooner or later, the Order will come to collect. Although many smaller hideouts are rumored to exist, the location of their main headquarters is known to very few. This group is run by Torgam, a large and powerfully built man with a mane of thick grey curly hair. He has a soft raspy voice. Wounded in a fight long ago, he now walks with a pronounced limp and with the aid of a cane. He is known to be intolerant of fools and does not hesitate to punish those who fail him. Despite his stern nature, the members and officers of the Order are fiercely loyal to him.
The Blades is a traditional thieves’ guild. Its members are very focused on infiltration, burglary and fencing stolen goods. The Blades guild stresses hard work, extensive training, research and patience. New recruits go through three years of testing and training before they are able to call themselves a blade. All this training pays off because its members are known for being excellent thieves and expert swordsmen. Many of them pride themselves on their ability to evade guards, thwart defenses, overcome traps and escape without leaving a trace. Unlike the Order which seems to have connections to almost everyone, the Blades are secretive, avoid attention and do not interact with any other group. An air of mystery surrounds them and it is notoriously difficult to find out information about them.
An unusual group that straddles the line between criminal organization and legitimate guild. The Heralds are a network of detectives, spies, informants and covert agents that specialize in information gathering and selling. With methods that include blackmail, bribery, spying and divination, the Heralds always seem to know what's happening throughout the city of Stovikar. They sell useful information to others. They also hire themselves out to solve crimes, find missing persons and uncover the truth.
The Sea Wolves
The Sea Wolves is the name of a group of pirates and smugglers that prey on merchant ships and fence stolen goods throughout the underworld of Ormek. They target all ships throughout local seas regardless of nationality. Mercian, Rukemian, Drakkellian and even their own native Ormekian galleys have fallen victim to this group. The Sea Wolves routinely smuggle people and goods into and out of the city of Stovikar - people who want to escape slavery, people who want to transport goods without paying tax and so forth. The group is thought to have close to 500 members and is known to operate at least three ships in the region. The Sea Wolves are run by a handsome rogue of a man named Dagnar who calls himself the “Pirate King”. He is wanted by the authorities and there is a large bounty on his head. The Sea Wolves maintains a hidden lair somewhere on the coast. It is suspected that this lair is a sea cave of some type, perhaps large enough to conceal one or more of their ships. All efforts to locate this lair have failed. City officials believe it is hidden by powerful magic and that the group must have a talented wizard among their ranks. King Douni himself has had personal property stolen by these pirates and wants this group found and punished. Thus far, they have managed to elude the authorities.
The Dragons are a motley assortment of street thugs, pick pockets, beggars, runways and homeless urchins. They are estimated to be about three hundred strong and more than half of them are under 20 years of age. All bear a stylized dragon tattoo on their arm. Members of this gang look out for each other and defend each other. They roam the streets at night in groups of varying size - both for protection and courage. They tend to limit themselves to common street crime - picking pockets, snatch and grab and so forth. But they also sell information on to other criminal groups in exchange for food and coins. The Dragons often work with the Heralds and sell them information about what's happening on the streets.
|Name and Proprietor||Description|
|The Crossed Blades Tavern
|Tavern - An average tavern with a small common room and several smaller, private rooms for meetings. On the second floor above, there are six rooms for rent. This establishment is the cover for the Blades thieves guild and a secret entrance in the cellar leads to the main headquarters of the guild. This establishment is run by Valdorin, a surly old man with a bad limp. Once a cocky young thief, his thieving days were ended by a springblade trap. He now tends bar and keeps a watchful eye over both the business and the guild members.|
|Tavern - The Keg is one of the largest taverns in Stovikar, and brings in a fair amount of money for its owner. Kerynn has the soul of a master brewer, but with only a modest amount of talent. The seven different ales offered here are all crafted by him personally, and range in quality from almost drinkable to torturously bad. Still, his regulars seem to swear by the stuff. He takes a great deal of pride in his work.|
|Grand Golden Inn
|Inn - This is the most expensive inn in Stovikar, where foreign ambassadors and other honored guests of the government stay. During the height of Ormek's glory, this was once a beautiful and ornate building. Sadly, it is now a worn-down shadow of its former self... New leaks spring through the ceiling on a daily basis, and there's several odd smells coming from beneath the floorboards that nobody can seem to figure out. The present owner would have had it fixed up and restored by now if not for his ever-increasing gambling debts. Ariana is seriously thinking of selling the place. He considers running it to be far too much trouble. The inn is still very good by Stovikar's current standards, although compared to some of the nicer places in Aridorn or Freeport, it's like an old dog waiting to be put out of its misery.|
|Shattered Skull Alehouse
|Tavern - The Shattered Skull is a large tavern in the center of town, and is very aptly named. Some of the city militia used to stop in every so often to drink and use their status to bully the patrons. One night, one of the regulars finally stood up and asked the guards to leave, and was answered by a club to the face. A bar brawl of legendary proportions started, which claimed the lives of twelve customers and two members of the city militia. The next day, by order of King Frederick, the remaining tavern patrons and employees were tracked down and arrested as "Enemies of the State". They were not heard from again. It is still unclear how the owner/bartender Elvid managed to escape this fate. It is also unclear why his establishment was not seized by the government and sold by auction. As it happened, he was freed from detainment and back in business six weeks later. Rumor has it that The Velveted Blade may have stepped in and made Elvid an offer he couldn't refuse...|
|The Crab's Claw Inn
|Inn - This very large inn has forty relatively clean rooms, sturdy doors, excellent locks and very low prices. The clientele is mostly foreigners and travelers. The Crab's Claw Inn, however, is not all it seems. The inn is owned and operated by the Order. They use this inn has a training ground where young thieves in training are able to practice on "live targets". Rumors abound about this inn that circulate the city and most natives know better than to stay here. This is why it tends to cater to foreigners, travelers and pilgrims. Although the excellent quarters, good food and low prices entice even those who know better and are willing to risk it. The guild does not run this inn as a source of profit and do not overly tax their guests with robbery. Rather, they are interested in training their recruits. To this end, all doors have locks and are in excellent condition. The locks are changed frequently as well. On occasion, other groups in the city will send their men here for "anti-thief" training. The Crab's Claw Inn has become known among underworld groups as "neutral ground" and is considered a good place for meetings between groups.|
|Great Red Troll Tavern
|Tavern - A small tavern at the water's edge with
a good view of the harbor. According to the weathered sign that hangs above
the door, this establishment has "the best chowder in the Empire". And this
may well be true. Sora makes a rich, thick spicy broth of shrimp and crab
with a tomato base. This thick red stew has helped her tiny tavern become one of the most
popular places in the city. She also bakes and serves bread with the
chowder. Beyond fresh baked bread and chowder, there are various seafood
dishes and decent ale, but little else on the menu.
Sora herself is a short woman with plump curves and a mane of fiery red hair. Her husband died long ago and she now runs the business by herself. She does everything - cooks, cleans, serves. She is fiercely independent and will accept help from no one. She is known for an explosive temper and a loud, raspy voice. The clientele often jokes that the name of the tavern refers to her and this is something she doesn't deny. However, some believe it refers to the chowder and others believe it refers to her dead husband.
|The Filthy Strumpet
|Tavern - The Filthy Strumpet lives up to its name. This dark and dingy tavern is filthy with a dirt floor and crude wooden benches and tables. A palpable scent of grease and ale permeate the air. Roasted rat is on the menu. Five serving women tend to customers and any of these women can be taken into the back for a few extra gold. Gambling is common here and there is almost always at least one or two games of dice or cards. Tanosh has a fighting ring in a large room in the back. He buys a pair of fresh slaves every other month week and has them fight to the death for the entertainment of those who pay an extra charge for the privilege.|
|Name and Proprietor||Description|
|The Gilded Rose
|Social Club - This is an exclusive social club catering to the aristocrats and nobles of the city. It provides private rooms, exquisite food and drinks and prostitutes. This is the place to go to for a pipe of fine tobacco, a plate of caviar and a glass of fine wine. The club is renowned for snobbery. Many members fancy this club the only center of true culture and civility in Stovikar. The building itself is an imposing building of grey stone, balconies and decorative gargoyles. Within the rooms are decorative with dark wood paneling on the walls and velvet curtains. Foppish dilettantes engage in frequent political backstabbing and gossip here. Business deals are made while sipping Gaithian brandy and emerald wine. This Gilded Rose is run a madame named Fiora Daun. She is an ex-prostitute herself. She has ties to the Heralds and sells them information that she acquires from her girls who sleep with important men. She and her girls drug the drinks of certain clientele to make them more pliable and gullible when pillow talk turns to sensitive matters. Known to very few is that Fiora Daun is actually the half-sister of the king... a female bastard denied her birth right by their father. She was the product of one of the former king's amorous misadventures. In fact, she was born into this very brothel. King Douni does not acknowledge any relationship to her and she does not speak of it.|
|Smithy - The tenacious Vasil's Forge, located across the street from The Ivory Duck, was recently burned down by a neighborhood gang. Undaunted, Vasil set up shop right in front of his shop's charred carcass. Mysteriously, the head thugs of his neighborhood turned up dead within a week after his re-opening. No one bothers him anymore. His business in certain circles is greatly improving.|
|Trading Post - This trading post is several hundred years old, passed down from father to son. It has been heavily involved with the city underworld for the same amount of time. Dakro himself is a semi-retired member of the assassin's guild, and is looked to by fellow members for the most recent rumors in this shady business. The most recent city contracts are to be found posted in the back room of his store, behind a bookcase. For his assistance, the guild offers him a small cut from the accepted contracts. Dakro has been known to complete a contract himself from time to time, "just to stay in practice". He has a way of making friends very quickly.|
|Gambling Hall - Jarren Grenier runs this gambling house, but it's owned by the city. This is one of the very few government operations in Ormek that is actually bringing in considerable cash. City officials are slightly confused by this fluke of a success.|
|House of Satin
|Brothel - This popular brothel is located by the docks, and is frequented by a wide variety of clients, from the city militia to common dockhands to thieves. Elmora has become a very wealthy and well known town celebrity. She fancies herself the "Queen of Ormek".|
|Money Lender/Money Changer - Prolo Maygar is an immensely fat man, bald, hairless and sweaty. He runs a small business lending money, exchanging currencies, buying and selling jewelry and storing precious items for wealthy clients. To those he lends money to, he charges outrageous interest.|
This web site last updated Friday, December 31, 2021 . Copyright 1990-2011 David M. Roomes.