A world steeped in corruption. A land turned against itself. A city where your most valuable asset is your wits. The city of silence, where snitches end up in ditches…
Welcome to Meldor, the world forgotten by it’s gods.
Once a place of exceptional kindness and beauty, largely ruled by mostly benevolent emperors, monarchies, councils, dukes, etc. and tended to by an attentive pantheon of gods; Meldor has become a place where even the concept of good has been corrupted and monetized. Where scraping by is staying ahead of the curve. Where money will buy you everything you could ever need or want and some things you don’t. And the jewel that sits atop it all…
Stille, The City of Silence
Stille, or The City of Silence because no one dares speak of it’s true nature, is the largest metropolis on the planet. It is ruled in name by an elected Lord but in actuality by the Five Families, noble families descended from those who founded the city in the distant past. The Outer City is a haven for all sorts of criminals, vagabonds, rapscallions, ne’er-do-wells, vandals, riff raff, bandits, brigands, thieves, murderers, rapists, brigands, highwaymen, beggars, and more all living among the lower class and penny merchants. The wooden walls of the Outer City are open to anybody and remain so as long as they don’t break the one rule of Stille: do not disturb the money. Gold flows through the city just as the river Flussia and many from top to bottom reach out to take their share. Violence and thievery, without the blessing of one or more of the Families, can disturb that torrent of gold and are not tolerated (if you are caught). That is, unless you have the coin to persuade calmer minds to prevail. Still, crime runs rampant here, different illegal operations backed by one Family or another as the Bewachen are paid to turn a blind eye. Many a poor occupant of The Outer City has ended up working for a Family, most without even knowing it.
The Inner City is restricted to citizens with few exceptions. Here is where the middle class and elite make their homes and fortunes. Divided physically into 5 buroughs, each managed by one of the Families, the Inner City is home to many extravagant pieces of architecture and art; high end stores of any kind carrying the most rare and expensive items on Meldor; wizards and sorcerers that make the impossible look like the work of children; manses and estates that shame even the most enormous temples to any god you can imagine and a park that passes as it’s own forest. Corruption of a different sort runs here, the politics between the families run deep, feuds have built up over centuries, but no blood is openly shed. The whole city is constantly engulfed in a shadow war (known to locals as the Quiet War), as each Family takes its turn waxing and waning.
The City extends many miles in each direction with its endless side streets and alleyways. Many need guides in order to quickly and safely maneuver the haphazard streets (a result of many different phases of expansion). Some shadier elements use a robust (but no less haphazard) series of sewers and waterways known as the Underway, rumored to be home to many who cannot ply their trade above ground. Necromancers, assassins, thieves, and other elements too aberrant for even Stille’s ruddy streets are rumored to make their home in the maze below the city and it is assumed that many an unsolved homicide could be solved by plumbing its depths. Unfortunately, years ago the Bewachen cancelled patrols into the Underway and sealed all but a few entrances, though if the whispers of beggars are to be believed many of these entrances have been reopened. There is also the Forest of Calm, a place of relative peace amongst the fast pace of city life. A variety of druids ply their trade here and it is also home to shrines to various gods of the natural world. Here also, amongst the stillness of the trees, there is an underbelly. Many people are seen last wandering amongst the trees and shrubs, and the Bewachen speak of hearing unnatural noises and catching glimpses of beasts of improbable proportions while patrolling the web of trails that snake through the park.
The Temple District, also known locally as The Free District, is home to the many religions that inhabit the world of Meldor. Ever since The Collapse and the following Renouncement, the religions of the world have fractured, some keeping the torch of the old gods lit, some have forsaken any gods, and many others have found new gods to follow. No where can this be witnessed more than in Stille’s Temple District, where any and all worship (that does not break the laws or disrupt commerce) is allowed. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands of temples, shrines, altars and sanctuaries litter the district. This is also where the Cleric’s Guild resides, and offers their skills to those in need. The Bewachen keeps a strong presence here (though not as large as the Market or Citadel) as fights and conflict are common. There are stories that some of the darker gods keep hidden temples and shrines in the Catacombs and Underway below, where dark rituals are carried out using human sacrifice. The Bewachen vehemently denies this, though with patrols into the Underway called off many doubt the veracity of this claim.
The Bazaar is probably the crowning achievement of Stille and by far its busiest district. Everything can be bought and traded here, from food, clothing, art and magical supplies to services of the mundane variety and even much more eclectic desires such as slaves, mercenaries and assassins. Market Street runs from the western gates, following the northern bank of the Flussia, all the way to The Citadel and is littered with stalls, shops, taverns and workshops, ranging from mid- to high-end. But much more awaits those who wander the side streets and alleys of The Bazaar. Most guilds maintain headquarters or chapters here and offer their services or ply their trade, The Militant’s Guild, The Ranger’s Guild, and The Paladin’s Guild all have a home here, amongst many more. Though the Bewachen maintains a larger presence here than anywhere but The Citadel, many recommend hiring protection or bringing your own. Citizens gossip about a Thieves Guild and Assassin’s Guild but no official proof exists, only rumors and smoke, such as a mansion broken into with no alarms tripped or a merchant turning up dead after being left alone for mere minutes.
The Magic District or The District of Wonders is the least cramped district. It sports its own shops and guilds of the more enchanted variety. Though magic of any power higher than a cantrip is frowned upon in the city, here it is embraced. Many young magicians have come to learn or hone their skills at the many universities and different magic guilds vie for applicants once graduation takes place. Though not as complicated due to the larger size of most of the buildings, the streets are still many and varied and many a newcomer has found themselves lost in a forgotten corner. No magic school is outright banned, however, some of the more notorious forms (Necromancy and any magic that invades privacy or defrauds the public) are very frowned upon. The doesn’t stop all practicers of the arcane arts though, as in the rest of Stille, look hard enough (and throw enough coin out) and you will always find an exception to the rules.
The Administrative District is the home of all the buildings that keep Stille running, including the City Bank, The Permit and Patent Office, Bewachen Headquarters, and many others. Many large businesses and companies have headquarters and holdings here where they conduct and coordinate their activities. It is also the home of most of the middle and upper class in the city. As such, the buildings here are stone with few exceptions and are usually large with manors and apartments being a common site. Well patrolled by the most elite of the Bewachen, it is one of the safest and most orderly parts of the city. The streets are laid out in a relatively square grid and are well lit, even alleys and side streets are fairly wide. In addition, flora and fauna are comparatively common, with parks and green spaces dotting the district. Nonetheless, like the rest of Stille, many business dealings are less than savory. Though violence and outright crime is comparably low, many shady dealings, just inside or just outside of the law are done here. Though you may not wind up in a fight here, the man who hired your proposed killers, could very well reside or do his business here. The Quiet War is the quietest here and most residents would recommend you be on your best behavior, for even the smallest slights are not forgiven quickly.
Last but not least is the most recognizable landmark of the city, The Citadel. Smack dab in the center of the river Flussia, on the island of Einsam, this fortress/palace is the home of the Lord of Stille as well as most of the members of the Five Families. Almost a city in its own right, The Citadel is an ostensibly impenetrable fortification which contains the ancient palace Chittorgarh. A massive complex that reaches into the sky almost as far as it is dug into the ground and is visible from anywhere in the city and for many miles around. The top of the upper class maintains apartments within these walls as well as the army of servants that wait on their beck and call. The Lord’s Court is here, where the Lord of Stille makes the decisions that guide, protect and nurture the gold flow that keeps the city thriving. The Quiet War is at its most dangerous here, one word astray could see you thrown into the dungeon or even the oubliette. Escape from here is next to impossible, though only a fraction of the cells, vaults, storerooms, and cellars are still in use and legends speak of a lost connection to the Underway. Servants make their way through the palace quiet and unseen through secret passages that honeycomb the walls of Chittorgarh, always just a bell ring away. It is said that being a friend to the servants can help you reap great rewards of knowledge regarding the many political, financial and martial goings on within the palace. Access is restricted to only those with specific business or residency and security, both mundane and magical ensures that only the right people see the inside of this magnificent structure.