Ruled by the Diviner Qedeth Set. None but her most trust servants will ever behold her. Her palace is white marble, lapis, heavy with trees and the sound of running water, perched at the peak of the mountain. The hovels of the city huddle around the base. The sandstone walls keep the worst of the desert out. Within, the people work, fight, and die.
A Table of Professions. I want to run the game classless, but I like the idea of choosing/rolling a profession to determine your starting equipment. Here are some options for characters from Qedeth.
- Lapis Miner.Worked in the lapis mines, but you’d rather not die choking on rock-dust. Re-roll: Strength. Start with: a pickaxe you stole (d6); your last payment (1 coin, 1 drachm of water).
- Ex-Scribe. You were employed copying spells onto clay tablets, but an error was found in one of your copies and you were thrown out into the streets. Re-roll: Charisma. Start with: a random spell, and you can cast spells.
- Escaped Slave. The wealthy have many slaves, and it little matters if one escapes; they can’t hope to find a better life. Re-roll: your lowest stat. Start with: nothing.
- Pick-Pocket. You’ve made a living snatching coins from purses. The corpses of captured thieves dangle from gibbets in the town square – the lifestyle is hard to sustain. Re-roll: Dexterity. Start with: thieves’ tools, a bone knife (d4).
- Ex-Fighter. You’ve won once or twice in the fighting pits, and you’re scarred and weathered as a consequence. Re-roll: Strength. Start with: a bone sword (d6), 2 coins (your winnings), battered leather armour (AC 12), a disfiguring scar (-1 max HP).
- Disgraced Merchant. You were a minor figure in the water-trading business, until you were caught stealing; you should be bound to a post outside the city, waiting for the vultures to eat you, but you escaped justice. Re-roll: Charisma. Start with: 12 coins (your stolen goods), a warrant for your arrest.
Some Places in the City
Taverns and Drinking-Holes. They serve a dark, bitter beer that is much cheaper than water.
The Lapis Mines. They are a short distance from Qedeth, and employ a significant part of its populace. Workers return to the city at the end of the day, heavy with dust, to exchange brass chips for water and food.
Caravans. Run regularly, and are always hiring guards or porters. Qedeth trades lapis, gold, and other incidental metals from the mines; they receive in exchange spices, exotic foods, animals, and motley other goods. The caravan-routes are as safe as the Black Sands get, but there are still casualties every time.
The Library of Inscriptions. Well-guarded, home to a trove of tablets on which are inscribed all the spells known to Qedeth’s official magicians. Absolutely no commoners are admitted! The magicians frequently hire expeditions to search the wastes for new spells, known to be buried in the tombs of the lost kings; such expeditions are never paid in advance, since most never return. But, on the rare occasion that new tablets are found and returned, the magicians pay handsomely for them.
The Prisoners’ Gardens. Some time in the distant past, vines hung from these sandstone archways, and these pools were filled with instead of dust. Now it is rumoured that the gardens are a habitat for ghosts; in fact, a conclave of thieves lurks here, led by the infamous Seden of Graves, who once stole water from the Diviners’ own vessels (or so it is claimed). Thieves wishing to join the conclave must give proof of an astonishingly illegal deed committed against the city.
The Black Markets. For trade forbidden by the Diviners. The Black Markets are concealed in the rambling old ruins that ring the city, marked with signs known only to thieves. If you wish to buy from the black markets, you must have a connection among the city’s criminal elements; sellers of contraband, such as stolen spells or iron weapons, will have easy entrance. Once within, in addition to illegal weapons and magics, one can purchase monkeys trained in combat; the captured regalia of city guardsmen; draughts of luxurious wines meant for the lips of nobility; poisons brewed in secret laboratories; maps to secret tombs and lost cities; and anything else the heart desires. The merchants accept brass chips, gold, or drachms of water.