Dawn of the Scarlet Sun
On the western edge of the land of Varisia, along the southern reaches of a beautiful stretch known as the Lost Coast, the swampy expanse of the Mushfens and the coiling length of the Yondabakari River come to a stark and dramatic end in the shadow of a striking limestone escarpment jutting from the cliffs. Varisian legends have long regarded the place as a blessed resting spot for celestial messengers, and the wanderers would often visit in hopes of seeing an angel and gaining the good fortune such a portent presaged. Yet the upthrust mas s of stone itself is overshadowed by an even greater sight-the Ire span, one of ancient Thassilon’s most prominent ruins. Known also as the Giant’s Bridge, this ruined causeway juts out from the Seacleft nearly 400 feet, with its ruined pilings extending farther out to sea, giving the unmistakable impression of ancient grandeur. Be it the point at which angels descended from the heavens to bless their Varisian wards or the ancient site of forgotten commerce and travel, the region has long captivated the imaginations of those who beheld it. Its position at the mouth of Varisia’s mightiest river and at the southwestern most safe harbor on the mainland only further ensured that the site would, one day, host a magnificent city. Today, that city is known as Magnimar the City of Monuments.
Built in the shadow of megaliths, Magnimar endlessly endeavors to surpass the overwhelming scale and grandeur of the ancient wonders that litter the Varisian landscape .A place of great opportunity, social stress, and cold beauty, the city exudes the air of a southern metropolis, seeking to rise above its ignoble beginnings as a refuge for Korvosan outcasts to become a beacon of culture and freedom in an unforgiving land. Yet its towering monuments, elegant gardens, ostentatious architecture, and elaborate sculptures form but a cracked mask over a struggling government and a desperate people
More than 16,000 people make their homes in Magnimar, with the majority of that populace consisting of humans of Chelish or mixed Chelish/Varisian decent. While these people are ethnically Chelaxian, they are anything but in mind and spirit-the people of Magnimar prefer to be called Magnimarians (or even just Varisians). The city also boasts the largest semi- settled population of Varisians in the region, with approximately 2,000
such residents-significantly fewer in the spring and summer travel months. Aside from the region’s native nomads , Magnimar hosts a second transient population: thousands of regular traders from far-flung foreign locales, particularly Absalom, Cheliax, and Osirion. Many of these merchants and emissaries have homes that they reside in while passing through but that otherwise remain empty. As a result, whole city blocks-particularly within the Shore-appear deserted for months out of the year.
Magnimarians affiliation with show their the City of Monuments through symbolism. Magnimar’s colors are blue and silver. The city claims the osprey as its mascot, but also identifies with angels of all types, as seen in many of the city’s carvings . The city motto is “Where Freedom Can Never Be Lost.”
Magic of the Monuments
Magnimar’s founders were adventurers, and the spirit of the adventurer and explorer keeps the heart and soul of Magnimar alive. It should thus come as no surprise that the monuments the city is so well known for often having ties to adventuring themes. In addition, many of the major works have been magically empowered over the years. The source of these enhancements are hotly debated-some assume that they were created by now-dead or anonymous spellcasters as a gift to the city, while others suspect these magical effects instead represent a legacy of the ancient Thassilonian wizardry lingering in the region’s stones.
The Alabaster District is home to Magnimar’s richest and most affluent citizens. Aristocrat s, guild masters, and anyone rich enough t o afford such a lifestyle dwell in the grandiose villas and mansions that line this district’s streets, which also house the small armies of support staff each villa requires to maintain it s decadence and splendor. Shops , taverns, and the like are relatively rare here, with tho s e that do exist typically catering to small clienteles-practically secret societies, these establishments generally do not open their doors to non-members.
The streets of Alabaster District are kept quite clean-even the alleyways here are relatively free of vagrants and accumulated trash. Stone blocks pave all major streets, with bricks and cobblestone more common in alleyways and side streets. The majority of the buildings here are made of stone as well, with wooden or slate shingle roofs. The eastern and northern border of the Alabaster District consists of the Fogwall Cliffs-steep but stable escarpments
Of mention the House of Lords is located in the Alabaster District. The facade of this large stone building gives the impression of being a temple, yet in truth it is completely secular. Representatives of all seven of Magnimar’s major families maintain offices in the House of Lords that are open to the public during daylight hours. Here, citizens can air grievances, beg favors, or otherwise interact with representatives of the city’s nobility, without forcing the aristocrats themselves to use their valuable time in such pursuits the representatives do an excellent job at identifying the truly important matters to trouble their lords with. The city’s lesser families (of which there are many) do not maintain offices here, but for a small fee can rent offices for business needs as they see fit.
Comprising the western rim of Outcast’s Cove and ending at the statue- studded point called the Wyrmwatch-a
lighthouse said to overlook the spot Alcaydian Indros battled the Vydrarch, a legendary sea monster-Beacon Point is a raucous home to traders, sailors, and hardworking, hard-living families of all sorts. Numerous warehouses, shipping concerns, and other businesses fill the area, as do numerous simple but boisterous brothels and taverns. The farther one travels from this district’s borders, the more closely packed and poorly maintained the buildings get-many critics of Magnimar see Beacon’s Point as a metaphor for the whole city as being a shell of civility and industry wrapped around a corrupt heart.
This core of slums hidden in Beacon’s Point is known as Rag’s End, a cramped, and mazelike knot of alleys where the poorest of the city’s working class make their homes. Temporary laborers, crippled dockhands, drunks, and the sorely out-of-luck scrape by on coin earned from begging, performing odd and often demeaning jobs, and the charity of the city’s sympathetic religions.
Notably the Harbormaster is located on the coast within Beacon’s Point.
Although much of Magnimar’s industry and trade takes place along the Shore, the dusty blocks that surround the
Irespan ring with the noisy work of sculptors, jewelers, woodcarvers, and all manner of other artisans who work in rare mediums-even magic. In Bridgeward, studios and workshops of such artisans engage in their trade and competition for students, members, and custom. Yet despite the quality of many of Magnimar’s artists, these establishments are not the primary purpose of this large district, for it is here that the city’s government is centered.
Magnimar has two official government branches (a third, the Varisian Council, has relatively little official influence in the city). Both of these branches maintain a presence in the central part of the Capital District. The office of the lordmayor and the Council of Ushers are based in neighboring buildings: the Pediment Building and Usher’s
The Irespan and Golemworks are both located in this district.
The shouts and bustle of countless traders, fishermen, and foreign travelers stir the choppy waters of Outcast’s Cove through all hours of the day and night. Along the seaside district of Dockway, salt-blasted storefronts and cramped businesses cater to the typically rough seafolk, while exotic inns and taverns serve as familiar welcomes to visitors from afar. First and foremost a trade city, Magnimar owes its prosperity to the countless foreign merchants who readily make use of the city’s reputedly safe and certainly free port. Enforcing no taxes on harborage or imports, the city welcomes business from all lands and makes the bounty of Varisia available for trade. As a result, several of the most prestigious trading coasters, mercantile families, and shipping concerns do regular business in the city, with some having even established offices and private local shipyards.
Dockway’s most incredible feature is the sprawling Bazaar of Sails, yet the district itself is more than merely one enormous market. The waterfront is a constantly bustling scene of activity as ships bearing travelers and cargo vie for dock space, and even the neighborhoods farthest from the shore are noisy and raucous. The large number of fishing eagle nests amid the crags of the Seacleft are the source of the area’s less common name, Eagle’s Quarter." The streets here are cobblestone, and buildings are an equal mix of stone and wood. Streets are patrolled regularly, yet the high volume of traffic and the district’s close proximity to Underbridge make it difficult for guards and mercenary companies to always keep the peace.
The Old Fang is the best known of the Dockway’s taverns is the Old Fang, a taproom and cheap inn built right on the docks and covered in barnacle s below and peeling white paint above. Ol’ Mam Grottle, a Varisian burly, no-nonsense matron, runs this favorite local watering hole, decorated with the nautical trophies of her late husband, a hunter who died on his last trip into the Mushfens. The head of the enormous swamp barracuda that killed him before he could return home now hangs above the bar-testament to the fact that Ol’ Mam is not one to be trifled with.
Bazaar of Sails is a destination for traders the world over, the Bazaar of Sails is the largest free market in Varisia. Anyone with merchandise to sell is welcome to set up a tent, booth, or wagon among the hundreds of other ever- changing shops that fill the dockside plaza. Crops from local farmers, Varisian artifacts, Osirian spices, Chelish finery, Andoran quartos , and more exotic goods from a hundred foreign ports fill the market, with each day’s offerings varying with the season, trade winds, and tides. As merchants eagerly trade, competitions, rivalries, and all manner of criminal temptations arise. Although the market welcomes all comers, the ever- changing crowd, shouts of exotic traders, and generally raucous bustle make the place a nightmare for the local watch to patrol and mete out justice. Fortunately, the Princess of the Market, Sabriyya Kalmeralm, of Kelish decent, takes care of policing her own. The daughter of the first Prince of the Market, Nazir Kalmeralm, who disappeared nearly 28 years ago, Sabriyya is well-loved by most of the bazaar’s regular traders and her “court”-a
sizable gang of toughs and money collectors. She is a passionate woman in her late forties, and her quick wit, aristocratic bearing, and silver tongue are as famed as her fiery temper and unforgiving memory. While many in the city still see her as little more than an exceedingly public gang lord, those who frequent the chaotic maze of
stalls and shops know the service she provides in keeping the peace between squabbling traders, maintaining fair prices, limiting racketeering, and so forth.
Nestled at the bottom of the Seacleft lies one of Magnimar’s most vibrant districts. Numerous small playhouses, pubs, brothels, hookah bars, dance halls, and a wide variety of other entertainments make Lowcleft-or “the Rubble,” as locals typically call it (as much because of the minor but frequent small rockfalls that tumble from the face of the Seacleft and land here, as to the district’s perceived low morals)-a home to the city’s artistic and avant-garde community. Many of Lowcleft’s citizens see themselves as the city’s true artistic heart and soul, and regard the fine arts of the Capital District or the upperclass entertainments of the Summit in general as falsified institutions that cater to a muse made of money. In Lowcleft, subversive entertainment, anti-establishment rhetoric, and wild social experimentation are the norm. Aristocrats often sneak down to Lowcleft to enjoy its edge just as middle – class workers often visit the district to escape the drudgery of mindless work. Those who choose to live and work in Lowcleft often regard these visitors as lesser forms of life or unwelcome intruders, yet they are always careful to avoid voicing such opinions in mixed company, since if there’s anything that binds the people of Lowcleft together, it’s an appreciation of the money these frequent visitors spend in the district’s distractions.
Home to many merchants and comfortable families, Naos is disparagingly called the “New-Money District” by local aristocrat s . D e spite the disdainful comments of the elite, Naos is one of the most welcoming and wellkept
parts of Magnimar.
In the relatively small neighborhood of Vista, highclass shops, restaurants, businesses, and the offices of mercantile concerns perch atop the Seacleft’s edge. Here, citizens of Naos can enjoy the convenience of hopping
without having to venture down to the Shore and rub shoulders with the working class. The shops of Vista are remarkably open to visitors from the lower districts, though-as long as visitors from less affluent districts don’t cause too many disruptions to paying customers, the illusion of more patrons is always welcome.
Grand Arch is the largest of Naos’s neighborhoods, stretching from the Twins’ Gate to the heart of the upper
cliff. Many of Magnimar’s middle class and simple shop owners live here comfortably, but a surprising number of the area’s homes stand unoccupied much of the time-the homes of foreign merchants and travelers whose business takes them elsewhere but who desire comfortable living upon their return. Here, street names are not marked-an only partially successful ploy to complicate and deter the easy organization and orchestration of burglaries in the area.
Naos is similar to Ordellia (not that anyone from either district would ever admit to such) in that it truly functions as a miniature city within the greater city of Magnimar. Here, one can find a mix of residential neighborhoods, markets, government agencies, and temples, all within a relatively short distance of one another. The large number of well-to-do inhabitants ensures that the city watch would patrol the region well, even were the watch itself not based in this district. Dozens upon dozens of shops and merchant’s stalls sell goods and services ranging from groceries to jewelry, fine clothes to magic items, oxen to rare birds, chimney sweeping to fortune-telling, and more. The streets are mostly paved with stone s, with only the narrowest alleys downgrading to cobblestones.
Of note, the Kaijitsu Villa is on the southern edge of the Naos overlooking Lowcleft.
Arvensoar is located on the bottom right edge of Naos (circle on the map). It is the tallest structure in Magnimar and a wonder in a city of architectural feats , the Arvensoar stands approximately 400 feet tall, climbing the entire length of the Sea cleft and extending nearly a hundred feet above Naos itself. In the simplest senses, the great tower is the garrison of the city’s watch and small military, as well as being a quick, city-controlled connection between the Shore and the Summit. Beyond having these mundane uses, the tower is a symbol of the city’s unity, ambition, and history. Commander Ismeir Odinburge-a competent, sober, and honest but inflexible, man-serves as Lord of the Tower and leader of Magnimar’s military forces. Several field commanders report directly to him, as does Captain Acacia Uriana, the fiery and opinionated head of the city watch. A military of 400 professional soldiers-most particularly well trained in archery-stand garrisoned within the
Arvensoar, patrolling its heights and the city walls. Well positioned to defend the city, the Arvensoar boasts eight trebuchets capable of firing over the city and even past Outcast’s Cove-though Fort Indros and the Wyrmwatch are far better positioned to defend the city harbor-and enough provisions to supply the city through at least a week-long siege.
Although named for one of Magnimar’s most beloved historical figures, Ordellia Whilwren, the district of Ordellia faces a specific (and for a city of Magnimar’s supposedly open-minded nature, rather ironic) challenge-for it is here that many of those of “foreign” blood dwell. Separated from the main city by the deep waters of the Yondabakari, Ordellia simultaneously extols the virtues of diversity Magnimar was founded on and suffers from and supplies those who distrust outlanders with constant reminders of why a safe city has walls. Referred to disparagingly by many Magnimarians as the “Mush” (a play on words that references not only Ordellia’s proximity to the Mushfens, but also its highly diverse population), Ordellia is in many ways its own city, distinct from the rest ofMagnimar, yet bound to it by a dependence on government support as surely as it is by the sturdy stone bridges that connect the district to the east.
Long a hotbed of dissension and governmental criticism, Ordellia perhaps best embodies the spirit of freedom and leaderless rule Magnimar was founded upon. Many in the district consider Ordellia a town apart from Magnimar, taking pride in organizing their own small community militia and council apart from the city’s. Humanity remains the dominant race in Ordellia, but only just, with an increasing number of half-elves, half- orcs, dwarves, elves, gnomes, and halflings taking up residence in the district. Those humans who do live here are of ethnicities from across the Inner Sea region, with embassies established in the district’s nicer neighborhoods. That Ordellia offers significant discounts on home s and lodging to tho s e not of Chelish or Taldan descent, as a draw to foreign traders, certainly help s to maintain the district’s cosmopolitan themes.
Between Ordellia itself and the rest of the city is a small island given over almost completely to lumber mills, granaries, tanneries, and other smelly or noisy workshop s best situated away from homes and quieter businesses. The island is known as Kyver’s Islet, and to Ordellians as “Little Beacon” (because of its smaller size but similar purpose to Beacon’s End). Its status amid Magnimar’s districts has long been a matter of contentious local debate-the islet’s industries bring in a large amount of income, and while it has traditionally been regarded as part of Ordellia, the movers and shakers of Beacon’s Point have lobbied for decades to have the island’s districting be revised so it falls under their control. They argue that the only reason the islet has remained a part of Ordellia for so long is a stubborn adherence to tradition-“That the isle has been connected to Ordellia by bridge for 10 years longer than it has to the east is not reason enough to keep it apart from the district it should belong to,” the lobbyists maintain. Nonetheless , Kyver’s Islet has remained Ordellia’s “ward,” with the government wisely noting that preventing all of Magnimar’s major industries from falling into a single district monopoly keeps the city as a whole healthier. Of course, the sheer amount of paperwork and bureaucratic complexities involved in reassigning Kyver’s Islet to Beacon’s Point may be an even stronger reason why the isle’s allegiance has remained unchanged through the years.
The lumber mills of Kyver’s Islet are the only major Magnimarian industry not affiliated with a guild. Each of Kyver’s Islet’s lumber mills is individually owned and funded, free to pocket all of its profits but forced to assume all the risks of the business venture as well. As a result, ownership of most of the lumber mills switches relatively frequently. Magnimar’s government set this unusual mandate after one oft he city’s more prestigious founders, a wizard named Savasten Kyver, pressured the government to leave the mills as a long-term experiment of sorts.
Of note the Seven’s Sawmill is located on the south-western corner of Kyver’s Islet.
Seedy taverns, poorly run brothels, and rat-infested gambling dens compete with salt-blasted tenement buildings and cheap flophouses in Magnimar’s most dangerous district, Underbridge. While the Magnimarian government champions cleaning up Underbridge as one of its most important long-term goals, many council members realize that the vices of the slum attract a certain amount of business to the city and that truly clearing away the “bridge trash” could significantly impact the local economy. While several of the city’s religions have attempted in the past to reform and redeem the lost of this district, it seems that the denizens of Underbridge prefer to live amid squalor and danger, if only as a way to escape the demands of faith and society. It’s not uncommon to hear talk amid the citizens of Under bridge of how their district is the only one that maintains Magnimar’s purpose-that they, and they alone, uphold the values of freedom and liberty that Magnimar’s original founders held so dear. Of course, such values are crowed primarily by the bullies and slumlords of Underbridge-those who build their success on Underbridge’s desperate common folk, who have no public voice at all, and whom Magnimar sees as little more than filth to be swept under the metaphorical rug that is the Irespan.
Although the submerged rubble and jagged, ruined pylons of the Irespan make sailing beneath the Giant’s Bridge a treacherous prospect, a few docks line the trash- strewn Underbridge shore, serving as the entry point for all manner of contraband. The vast majority of Magnimar’s smuggling operations take place here as a result, despite regular raids and restrictions imposed on trade by the city guard. The people of Underbridge have traditionally displayed an almost uncanny knack for one-upping the law, to the extent that rumors persist that the government secretly endorses the crime and cruelties that take place under the Ire span’s shadow.
While the majority of Underbridge’s roads are little more than muddy gaps between slumping shanties and decaying shacks, evidence of the Magnimarian founders’ attempt to bring civilization even here are evident in short stretches of broken cobblestones . The larger paving stones that once lined the major streets (placed during the city’s foundation when visions of Underbridge as a slum had yet to manifest) have all long since been dug up and sold off.
The Irespan pilings are named after the motifs of intricate carvings. Chambers have been discovered in most of the pilings that provide homes to dangerous and sordid troupes who can take on the even older dangers that have grown up in the 10,000 years since the fall of Thassilon.