Into the Burning Wastes
“Raam is a city exhausted. The land can support it no longer. There are no treasures left to pluck from the earth. The sorcerer-queen? She hides, knowing death waits in every shadow. The warlords? Petty,feckless, and brutal. Don’t waste your water on us.”
~Gaurav, disaffected rebel
Raam at a glance:
Ancient and magnificent, Raam has fallen far from its formerly wondrous heights. Centuries of plundering the countryside for its resources, rampant corruption in its government, and the rule of a hedonistic and disinterested sorcerer-queen have brought the city-state to the brink of disintegration. The alabaster quarries and gemstone mines stand exhausted; constant raiding and attacks from Draj have led to disastrous food shortages. In the streets, violent factions sworn to one warlord or another battle for control as the once-vibrant and influential city slips into ruin. Mobs riot daily against their ineffectual ruler, the sorcerer-queen Abalach-Re,and her templars dare not set foot in some of the city’s districts.
About 40,000 within the city with many more in the surrounding plantations.
Forty percent Human, Dwarfs and Elves are the most numerous minorities at twenty and ten percent respectively, followed by the crossbreeds in higher numbers than most city-states. Even Thri-kreen are not an uncommon site in Raam – perhaps a sign that the city is closer to ruin than thriving metropolis.
Water is scarce in Raam, hardly able to support its burgeoning population even in times of peace. Many wells have been lost to the burned fields and are now as often used by Draj raiders and slavers.
Raam was once wealthy beyond measure largely due to its productive silver and gem mines, which have been dry for decades now. Once Raam was famed for its clothiers, but the caravans rarely risk rolling into this city-state eaten up with anarchy and fear, leaving workshops not only empty of workers but also material. Deep coffers run dry buying food and water for a populous in a death spiral – buying empty moments that mean little or nothing.
Raam once had sizable armies, mighty enough that not even Draj dared attack their outposts – when now they brazenly raid the very fields of the city itself. The templars are completely focused on maintaining Abalach-Re’s security – while the army has fractured behind the banners of a half-dozen warlords.
Inns and Taverns:
Gangs rule the streets and the safest places are House client villages and forts outside the city, though Draj soldiers make these places far from safe and usually closed to those outside the employee of the House. There are public houses in the city that still function, but usually under the hand of one warlord or gang or another.
The Benevolence Center: The Benevolence Center is the name of a large housing complex for the elderly – though public funding had been reduced to nothing in face of other social issues.
The Consecrated Sepulcher of Badna: The massive Consecrated Sepulcher of Badna is one of the most majestic buildings in Raam. The Sepulcher is a mausoleum where the remains of the last 30 generations of favorite husbands of sorcerer-queen Abalach-Re were laid to rest. Rumors of templars removing the bodies and moving them to the palace have been popular of late.
The Crematory: The stark granite walls of the Crematory tower over the slums outside the western wall of Raam. There are no windows in the entire building. A large chimney rises from the back of the building, emanating a thick column of smoke. Only outcastes are considered suitable to handle the remains of the dead, and as such the crematory is staffed completely by outcastes. These same outcastes then spread the ashes of the dead over the fields to fertilize them
The Gallery of the Seven Stars: The Gallery of the Seven Stars houses the works of Raam’s finest sculptures. Built of white rock, the Gallery is decorated with ornate murals and minarets. The museum contains seven star shaped display halls where magnificent sculptures are displayed. Many famous works have been looted and destroyed of late – some looted by the templars themselves.
Natural Arena of Raam: Raam’s gladiator arena is a naturally formed amphitheater formed between two hillocks, outside of the city’s walls. Wind and time have carved one of the hillsides into natural seating areas of rust colored rock. The arena floor is a rough oval and has a floor of red sand. A natural crevasse separates the arena floor from the seating area. Known as “The Maw of Raam” the chasm runs the full length of the arena floor, and is rumored to be almost two hundred feet deep. The bottom of the Maw is difficult to see because of the wild brambleweed that grows within. On the second hillock, the side that forms the back of the arena is a sheer granite wall. The hillock contains many tunnels and secret passages that end at observation spots throughout the hill. It is from here, hidden from the sight of the populace that Abalach-Re and her templars watched gladiator contests. All such contests have ground to a halt however, with Draj soldiers raiding on a regular basis – the journey of the populous from an undependable location outside the city is untenable.
Psiumarkh: The Psiumarkh has been the most prestigious of the psionic schools in Raam. It can trace its founding back to the founder of modern psionic principles, Tarandas over 900 years ago. The Psiumarkh has always maintained strict neutrality in the struggles that afflict Raam, allowing them not to anger any of the city’s powerful factions. In the face of such chaos in the city – this has begun to shift. Even now the Psiumarkh decides which of the many factions to support.
Royal Barracks: Located within the Palace district of Raam, near the Ivory Palace, the Royal Barracks is a multistorey building used as a military barracks for the elite warriors and officers of the Raamish army. Occupancy is now lower than ever as many templars have been moved into the palace itself.
The Ivory Palace: Abalach-Re rules Raam from a beautiful palace of ivory and alabaster. Built upon a knoll and surrounded by a series of defensive ditches and walls, in this way Abalach-Re prevents most of her subjects from approaching her remote palace. Over one thousand templars have recently been allowed to enter the palace and hold it against all threats, rallying out in small groups to quash building mobs and decent in the town proper.
Wrestling Pits: Located near the Elven market, the wrestling pits are used for legal and illegal matches, with the arena closed – it is now supported by the state and exists as the sole form of blood sport and distraction for the starving masses.
The Yellow Monastery: The Yellow Monastery houses a group of monks who focus their study on telepathic psionic powers. The monastery has always been seen as a symbol of resistance to Abalach-Re rule, as the monks are opposed to slavery as well as the use of magic of any kind. Since this relatively recent period of unrest, the monks have tried to protect those who live near the monastery against the chaos that has engulfed the city, but to little effect. Many turn to them for food and shelter – but they have nothing to offer but protection. They are rapidly losing decades of amassed goodwill and see no way to alter the course.
Daro: Daro is the center of a vast agricultural administration, used to oversee the slaves working the fields of Raam. Templar Avish Thira acts as high warden out of Daro, exacting stiff martial law to prevented the chaos sweeping the rest of the city-state from reaching Daro. Under Avish Thira the village protects the fields in the face of heavy losses, making Daro the last remaining food production site within Raam’s zone of influence. Much of the fields and other field bases have been destroyed and most of the hundreds of field slaves have died in the bloody raids. Thira supports himself and his guards by exacting heavy costs on the civilians of Raam for the food grown, many being forced into service for a meal. Hundreds of green soldiers have died green but with a full belly on the burning fields.