Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Venchenzia as it is today was built upon the ancient Ionian island city of Pelanopolis. Pelanopolis was sacked by the early Phthyans centuries before the War of the Standard. So ruined was the ancient city, that for decades it was considered cursed, and outcasts and the cursed were sent to the island as banisment. No ships moored in its waters, and the island stood eerily abandoned by Ionians and Phthyans alike.
When the Realm of the East was founded two centuries before the War of the Standard and the unification of the Free Kingdoms, the East founded a colony on the mainland shore amidst the ruins of the outskirts of where Peanopolis once stood. The city of Venchenzia was born, and soon a thriving shipping industry sprang up. The port town eventually came under scrutiny of the Phthyan Empire, who took the city just three years after it had been reestablished. A decade-long war ensued between the Phthyan Empire and the inhabitants of the city, including Ionian rebels who were funded by the Realm of the East. The Alliance forced the Imperials out of the city, and in the next ten years, six fortresses were erected along the eastern coast, all set in protection of hospitable landing sites by sea. A fleet of warships were purchased to defend the waters of that coast, and it soon became clear to the Phthyans that their expansionist efforts would prove more profitable elsewhere.
Although Venchenzia is now considered to be the biggest and most important city in Realm of the East, it originally grew as an independent city-state, separated from the rest of the Kingdom by the Ghiaccio Montagne. For certain, its power was increased by wealthy Easterners, who seized on the lucrative locale as a trading city. The city grew wealthier and wealthier, and with that wealth came power. The Venchenzian fleet was second to none other on the seas. For so long, it had wielded so much power and influence over the Realm of the East that in 1188 YS it was declared the capital of The East, and its nobility were acknowledged not only by the King of the East, but by the High King of the Free Kingdoms as well. Situated at the start of the incredibly profitable Kings High Way trading route on the Caspian Sea, Venchenzia has securely become the biggest trading station in the region. Despite its being the official capitol of the Realm of the East, the high seat of the Eastern King remained at Ferrera, where it remains to this day.
The Explorer’s Society Lodge was built in Venchenzia sometime before 1199 YS.
With the wealth and might also grew corruption, decadence and internal disorder. As the noble houses grew, most became greedy and corrupt. Those who remained honest soon died to one or more of the professional killers and assassins who had infested the once great city. A decade long bloody civil war swept through the boroughs of the city, turmoil and strife plunged the city into despair. Seeing opportunity in a weakened and isolated Eastern city, the Sharkjaw pirates descend on Venchenzia in 1233 YS and made it their home port until driven out, seventeen months later.
In 1267 YS, a Phthyan army took control of Venchenzia for a brief time, and brought with them Vestigian Wizards, a now-outlawed cabal of summoners and abjurers who created abominations that still lurk in the city to this day. The Phthyans and their wizards were driven out of the city after three decades, but their mark lingers on the streets and canals to this day. People no longer venture out at night due to creatures that stalk the passageways. Some streets are kept lit, but only main thouroughfares in the wealthy parts of town.
Having felt the huge impact of being cut off from the Free Kingdoms, the High King and his council sent reinforcements, in the form of both military and nobility (many non-nobles were raised to nobility for their efforts in pushing out the Phthyans and their foul wizards). This force was led by the Eastern King, Sir Vincent Sciottia the IV, who remained in the city to rule over the Realm until his death in 1301. In the time since his death, the new nobles have remained strong politically.
It is now 1333 YS. The remains of both old and new Eastern nobility huddle at odds in Venchenzia, as the city itself crumbles under the weight of mismanagement, crime, rivalries, and a mysterious plague of creatures that hunt the streets at night.
The offices of the Lord Mayor and those of the patriarchs of the local noble houses form the legitimate government of Venchenzia, though the city is thoroughly militarized and much power lies in the hands of various branches of the soldiery. Behind this facade though, money is the real power in mercantile Venchenzia.
The Lord Mayor’s Office
The Lord Mayor controls both the dottari and the city’s taxation system. The present mayor is Aberian Arvanxi, appointed to his role in 1313 YS. (Unsubstantiated rumor has it that he played a part in the sudden and surprising demise of his predecessor, Arthan Challas.)
Arvanxi has a great love for opera, and has contributed heavily to local opera houses and entertainment halls, auspiciously for “the betterment of public diversions to raise the hearts and minds of all Venchenzia.” On the whole Arvanxi is seen as spiteful and incompetent, but, because he isn’t meddling, he has decent local support for his office.
The Mayor resides in a manor known as Aberian’s Folly, a sprawling, lavish estate made famous by the rumor that an imprisoned devil is used to provide the energy needed to run the manor.
The Old Nobility is the group of nobles who existed prior to the occupation by the Phthyans and their Vestigian Wizards, and the New Nobility that came after they were ousted. The Old Nobility are densest in Venchenzia, an aristocratic preserve, and still maintain large holdings of land and wealth in the city. Many of the Old Nobility were disposed of by the King Sciottia of the East as being the cause of the Phthyan occupation – their titles worthless, family fortune confiscated, and names smeared, left with nothing but wounded pride and desire for revenge. Of the fifty noble families in Venchenzia that existed prior to 1267 YS, a third were destroyed in the decade that followed, and twenty more relocated to other cities in the Free Kingdoms.
The New Nobility gained power in the East by riding the coattails of King Sciottia. The most powerful New Nobility are the ones who directly aided the King Sciottia during his march on Venchenzia. Others have since joined them, gaining power through politicking, espionage, and assassination. It is rumored that some of these noble houses have holdings not just in the East, but Hell itself, with titles in both realms. The lesser noble houses hold positions in the government bureaucracy and church.
Venchenzia has twelve major noble families and over twenty four minor ones.
|Drovenge||An extremely wealthy family, who made its fortune by lending money and owning property.
The Drovenges have managed to survive the Phthyan invasion and the rise of new noble houses
without significant loss of power, wealth, and respect. Patriarch is Vassindio Drovenge.
|Imvius, Lorialn, Torregrossa, Xerysis|
|Oberigo||Patriarch is Eirtein Oberigo.||Aulamaxa, Ghival|
|Grulios||Patriarch is Asad Grulios.||Mironeth, Ici|
|Arvanxi||Patriarch is Aberian Arvanxi.||Mhartis, Ciucci, Rasdovain|
|Julistarc||Patriarch is Ocatav Julistarc.||Seidraith, Cemaine|
|Tilernos||Patriarch is Kajen Tilernos.||Starnon, Estrovain|
|Phandros||Patriarch is Marcus Phandros.||Chard, Nolmon|
|Mezinas||Patriarch is Bartolo Mezinas.||Vitaron, Missepe|
The Dottari and the Condottieri Regale
What passes as law enforcement in the city of Venchenzia is carried out officially by the city wardens known locally as the dottari. The dottari is split into four subdivisions:
- Dottari (city wardens) – Durotas Saria Roccin, controls the common dottari who patrol the streets
- Condottari (canal wardens) – Durotas Scasi Bolvona, controls the condottari who patrol the canals and waterways
- Rundottari (ruin wardens) – Durotas Arik Tuornos, man the walls of Rego Cader and keep the threats out of the city
- Regidottari (palace wardens) – Durotas Lhiana Strikis, patrol the Regicondan walls.
All of the dottari wear the mark of the city of Venchenzia: Darmon’s Coin. This mark is stenciled in black over red, and commonly placed on either a shield or tabard. Officers in the dottari wear the Coin on their sleeves, and the higher the mark moves up the sleeve, the more senior the officer.
Regardless of posting, all dottari patrol the city in squads of seven: six soldiers and one lieutenant. Five squads report into one captain, and there are three captains to each warden major. Each captain reports to a warden-major, of which there are two per city district. The warden majors, or duxotars, each report to one of the four durotasi, or “rank wardens”. The four durotasi report directly to the “high warden”, at present the nephew of the Mayor Aberian Arvanxi, a drunken lout named Ilthus Mhartis of House Mhartis. The high warden has a decidedly “hands off” approach to management, and as a result his durotasi handle his shirked responsibilities.
Condottieri Regale are noblemen who are the representatives of the nobility and are an office higher than the dottari. They hold much more power in the city, and thus are feared. Their chief officer is an Inquisitor known as The Black Cloak.
- High Warden of the Dottari – Iltus Mhartis, the mayor’s nephew
- Rank Warden (for each dottari subdivision) – Durotasi
- Warden Majors (2 per city district) – Duxotar, controls 3 captains (108 total men)
- Captain – controls 5 lieutenants (35 total men)
- Lieutenant – controls a squad of 6 soldiers
Citizens of the mostly human city are known as Venchenzians. Aside from humans, halflings are commonly residents of the city. Many half-elves live in Venchenzia due to its reputation as a place where society’s leftovers live, and half-orcs take the brunt of society’s scorn at mixed-race inhabitants.
Venchenzia’s sewers are known to harbor gelatinous “ooze bugs” known as torbles, which local wizards sometimes take as familiars.
Notable citizens of Venchenzia include:
- Aberian Arvanxi, mayor and patriarch of House Arvanxi.
- Duxotar Iltus Mhartis, commander of Venchenzia’s Dottari.
- General Vourne, commander of the Realm of the East’s fleets.
Adel: A small, personal barge
Haloran: A lantern-bearing staff
Pyrahje: Man-sized torches that light major areas of Venchenzia by night
Parego: “Great region,” one of the three major districts of Westcrown
Rego: A region or neighborhood of Venchenzia
Vaneo: A manor house
Vira: A estate
Darmon (God of Travel, Wealth and Joy) is the patron of Venchenzia, and there are many shrines dedicated to the Silver Tongue, including the Laughing House, a sizable church located in the Priest Sector. Shrines to other gods are scattered around the city, some come and go as easily as their transient worshippers. There are two established chapels of The Great Church. Shrines to foreign gods may also be found here, for there are many displaced foreigners who call Venchenzia their home. The Ionian and Phthyan influences are present here. There are remnants of the Olympian Pantheon that remain from the city’s founding as Pelanopolis.
Trade is the most important aspect of life in Venchenzia. They do not have to produce much themselves as almost all the collected wares traveling along the King’s High Way come through its gates. Eastern silk, spices, smoke powder, Long Jing, and works of art go through Venchenzia to reach the rest of the Free Kingdoms.
Because of its excellent location on the Caspian Sea’s coast, Venchenzia is an extremely active shipping port, receiving and shipping all sorts of goods and items for transport throughout the world. The city is speckled with numerous warehouses and docks, and in the mornings Venchenzia has the spirit of an active, mercantile city.
Venchenzia is a major port city in the eastern Free Kingdoms. The city itself consists of islands and canals amid the mouth of the Grande Flume. The Ghiaccio Montagne lay to the west of the city, through which flows the Grande Flume, with the King’s High Way flanking alongside.
City districts of Venchenzia
The Eastern city of Venchenzia is divided into three greater regions, called Parego, which are, in turn, each sub-divided into any number of smaller regions, or Rego.
The Parego Regicona is the local name for the large island in the center of the city formed by two branches of the Grande Flume, namely the Westchannel and the Southrun. The island is divided by a number of canals and surrounded by an encircling wall with chained arches spanning the entrances to the internal canals. In times of war and civil disobedience chains can be hoisted between the arches to prevent access to the Regicona. Lifting bridges cross the canals at regular intervals which can be hoisted aloft to allow the passage of water craft through the city. The nobility of Venchenzia have their manors on this island.
A number of piers are set up in the river’s flow: Highpier, Midpier, Lowpier, and Eastpier. The docking islands bustle with activity as merchants and ferries ply their trades between Parego Regicona and the mainland.
The Rego Corna, or “Crown Sector”, was once the most important real estate in all East Realm as it holds the buildings of the former Royal Court of the East before the death of King Sciottia. The Rego in made up of the three island of Impriax, Dlaratha and Siraon.
Impriax island holds:
- Vaneo Drovenge, the manor house of the Drovenge family. This home’s marble walls are scrubbed clean once a week by its slaves to stand out among many of the drab homes of Venchenzia.
- The Korradath, the former royal castle and its associated buildings. A massive fortified castle, it remains an impressive sight even though it has not seen any major upkeep since before the death of King Sciottia. It is still used by Venchenziaar nobles for offices, temporary lodgings, or neutral meeting places for visitors to Venchenzia that need to be impressed and protected from the rabble of the streets.
Siraon island holds:
- Vira Oberigo, the walled estate of the Oberigo family
- The Dorjanala, a secondary palace for the Eastern royal family. It is now maintained as a shrine to Shalimyr and used when the Eastern King visits the city.
- Sostarlannex, a square with grime-covered, carved friezes showcasing Eastern military strength by the artist Sostarl created two centuries ago. The style is carried over into parks and buildings throughout Venchenzia.
Dlaratha island holds:
- Vira Julistarc, the Julistarc family compound is an estate of multiple buildings under one massive roof of stone shingles and crystalline skylights.
- The Grande Tower, the location of the office of the Inquisition, The Black Cloak, and the barracks of the Condottieri Regale.
Rego Laina, or “Blade Sector”, is compromised of the islands of Islatra and Triam. Laina is named for its swordsman school, as well as the armories and smithies located here.
Triam island holds:
- Vira Grulios, the home of the Grulios family. Its red-capped towers loom over the wall on the western side of the island.
- Vaneo Dioso, the grandest building on this island is the home to House Dioso.
- Staviancara, the oldest, occupied building in Venchenzia; its walls gained the carved and plastered facade of a Phthyan military tent. It is the home of the regidottari’s commander.
- La Scuola Bernoulli dell’Est, the Bernoulli swordsman school. This large villa was converted to a swordsman school. It has an open courtyard where practice is held, as well as many indoor classrooms and gymnasiums.
- Masters at Bernoulli:
- Giardino di Foscari of House Lorialn
- Cavalieri Nicolino Scrovegni di Venchenzia
- Masters at Bernoulli:
- Taverna Stocco Accortezza (Rapier Wit Tavern) ~ Frequented by students at Bernoulli
Islatra is occupied by:
- Vira Salisfer, the black-shingled and barbican-defended estate of the Salisfer family.
- Trivardum, a large, slate-shingled building that once served as the heart of power for Venchenzia before the arrival of the New Nobility. It once served as the headquartes for Houses Oberigo, Drovenge, and Julistarc while their estates were being constructed. It contains merchants’ shops on its ground floor.
- Tricalista Inn, operates on the second floor of the Trivardum, for those with coin to stay.
- Vors Kyniar, the third floor and the roof gardens of the Trivardum are home to the Caspian ambassador.
Rego Aerum, or “Treasure Sector”, is made up of the Siar, Ghiam, and Karhal islands. This is the home of merchants with rare and high end items.
- Miratanza, also known as the Floating Market. It is the only area open to transactions and commerce on Venchenzia Island or the Parego Regicona. It allows servants from the noble homes to shop for goods for their masters without visiting the mainland. Floating platforms are anchored in place allowing permanent merchant stalls as well as merchants selling directly from their watercraft. The condottari keep all transactions and business within the Miratanza, taking a commission on all goods sold inside the four red-and-black marble arches that vault over the canals leading to it.
- Nightshade Theater, the latest of Mayor Arvanxi’s attempts to “bring culture to Venchenzia,” is an exercise in excess. The iron and stone cathedral has been under renovation for some time to turn it into a theater.
- Southernmost island was made into a park at the south end of Karhal.
The Parego Dospera, or “Despair’s Alter”, is the ruined northern section of the city that has fallen into ruin. It was once known as Rego Plea, once home to servants, lesser trades, and house slaves.
- Cader Boneyard, hasn’t seen a lot of use in the last 100 years, although it was once one of Venchenzia’s largest cemeteries.
Rego Cader, or “Dead Sector”, contains the ruins of smithies, inns, taverns and squat buildings inhabited by barbaric humans, dens of thieves, and monster lairs.
- The Dusk Market, a semi-secret market for contraband items that moves around the abandoned viras, temples, and theaters of Rego Cader. The market sells all things illegal such as drugs, exotic poisons, strange creatures, kidnapped slaves, and many other diresputable items that cater to the vice-ridden.
- Ramble Gardens, untended gardens of abandoned viras grew wild in Rego Cader creating areas of thick foliage.
- Sunset Gate, once one of Venchenzia’s primary entrances, but now little more than a ruin.
- Old Temple of Rontra, a abandoned temple of Rontra.
- Vira Khollarix, is the overgrown estate for the Khollarix family.
Rego Crua, or “Blood Sector”, is home to the slave markets and other undesirable industries (slaughterhouses, tanneries, etc.). It also houses the most destitute inhabitants of Westcrown in its slums. The further south you venture, the nicer the homes become. Crua is walled off from the ruins of Cader by a wall broken only by the Obrigan Gate. Buildings of note in Rego Crua are:
- The Pleatra, a massive slave market
- Phthyan Enclave, a magic emporium run by Phthyan wizards.
- Obrigan Gate, this heavily reinforced northern gate stands more than three stories tall and twice as deep as the walls it pierces between Rego Crua and the abandoned portions of Venchenzia. It’s complex gates only allow one person to pass through at a time. Access is restricted to prisoners being exiled and dottari.
- Jacovo’s Stables.
- Bruised Eel Tavern.
Parego Spera, or “Hope’s Altar”, is the still prosperous section of the city where trade trumps politics. The four sub-sectors that make up Spera are Scripa, Pena, Sacero, and Shou. This thriving, bustling commerce district is filled with scribes, printers, money lenders, blacksmiths, tanneries, and the like.
- Canaroden, the longest canal in the city dates back to the days of its Ionian origins. The canal separates the Dospera from the Spera and is a much-visited spot by tourists because of a quite unique feature: running along the northern wall carved impressions of the twelve guises that the gods used to walk the mortal world: beggar, thief, fisherman, hunter, shepherd, farmer, soldier, merchant, tailor, craftsman, artist, and scholar.
- Pegasi Bridges, the last two of the eight Pegasi bridges built during Ionian times. They connect the Dospera from the Spera.
- Visio’s Tavern, named for the Mung family that once ran the establishment. Visio’s was a place where merchant guards went to relax, gripe about their employers, and look for more work. Several months ago, however, the Visio patriarch passed away, and the surviving family moved out of Venchenzia to go live with kin in distant Mung-Li. The tavern now stands empty.
- The Drunken Bishop, a tavern.
- Limehouse Theater, a small theater owned by Robahl Nonon. The Limehouse serves more as a headquarters and a place for dress rehearsals than an actual venue.
Rego Scripa or “Scribe Sector” is populated with cartographers, trade warehouses, and ship-related businesses.
- Taranik House, the scriptorium.
Rego Pena or “Coin Sector” houses the more lucrative trade businesses and the homes of lower nobles and wealthy merchants.
- Delvehaven, its gates permanently barred, the abandoned walled vira housed the local Explorer’s Lodge until it was also abandoned 33 years ago.
- Rolan the Tinker, a brilliant but eccentric dwarven inventor who creates clockwork toys
Rego Sacero or “Priest Sector” used to house shrines and temples. It used to contain land established as the King’s personal garden until a land grab ensued after his death.
- Sanqatada Cinqarda, the six-story Ionian temple predates all memory. The white marble building remains unstained despite defacings and chimney soot. Two-story columns depict the Olympian Pantheon.
- Vaneo Arvanxi, the Lord Mayor’s manor, often called Aberian’s Folly due to the current mayor, Aberian Arvanxi, and the wild sums he spends on expanding the house.
- The Acropolis, a large, man-built double plateau that extends 200 feet above the rest of the surrounding city. The lower plateau remains as a trading area for ecclisastical supplies, religious icons, and goods made in the temples. The upper plateau contains abandoned temples to the Olympian Gods.
- Uralt’s Walk, a set of steps built for pilgrims visiting the Arodennama.
- The Titan, a 90 foot statue of a Titan standing atop The Acropolis predates all other structures in Venchenzia.
- Qatada Nessudidia, the largest temple to Darmon in Venchenzia, a four-story cathedral that is the tallest building east of The Titan. Its crystalling skylight glows golden at all times.
- The Imperial Marina, Phthyan Imperials negotiated a treatise and confiscated these docks and land from House Roalmo establishing an Phthyan troop presence in Venchenzia. To date the treatise holds and the Phthyans have kept peaceful.
- Old Shrine of Maal, abandoned.
- Vira Ciucci, the two-story manor for the Ciucci family.
- Gargling Gargoyle, on the docks along northeastern Rego Sacero, an upscale old tavern, well loved by Venchenzia’s nobility
- Xiang Temple, home to an order of monks dedicated to mastering fighting with both weapons and their hands.
Rego Shou, or "Shou Town’, is decidedly more eastern in nature, founded by eastern merchants traveling from Mung-Li along the Silk Road, then across the Caspian Sea from Phthianopolis. The architecture is distinctly Mung-li, the businesses are mostly Mungese restaurants and inns, and the people are mostly Mungese. Few major merchants operate here and most residents are poor but honest. The only exception is the yakuza of the Nine Golden Swords.