Here is the twentieth post in this year's A to Z Challenge series, which describes 26 different locations in the World of Samardan campaign setting, one for each letter of the alphabet. Only six more posts in this series to go, followed by a few additional posts beyond the A to Z Challenge to cover more locales in the setting. Today, T is for Torkobalem, City-State of Crystals.
1114 Torkobalem, City-State of CrystalsPopulation: 24,000 (80% Human, 15% Rakran, 5% Other). Ruler: Raganu Pekadevi Rekatur, the Lord-Emperor of Torkobalem (10th Level Human Warrior[Tactician]). Resources: Airships, Crystals.
Ambiance: Torkobalem is a city at war with the rest of the world, ruled by an imperial tyrant with dreams of conquest, and it shows. Personal freedom is only given to the elite who provide the Raganu Pekadevi Rekatur with soldiers and resources; the rest of the populace are oppressed, and struggle to avoid indentured service to the Raganu. Vigilant guards and militia constantly patrol the streets, looking for those without the proper travel papers or trade permits. Only in the gladiatorial games of the Great Arena does the public find entertainment and limited freedom.
History: Torkobalem began as a mining town, and quickly grew as mines rich in power crystals drew the attention of the wealthy and powerful. Always a stern city-state under strict rule, Torkobalem began an aggressive campaign of imperialistic conquest when the Raganu Pekadevi Rekatur ascended the throne after his father's fatal hunting accident. Since then, Torkobalem has launched both land and aerial assaults on several cities, who have been weakened considerably by Torkobalem's stranglehold on power crystals.
Encounters: Mercenaries, militia and technicians are commonly encountered on the streets of the City-State of Crystals. Recently, a secret society of silver-masked cultists have taken over the shadows of Torkobalem's back alleys, displacing more established criminal organizations as their members flock to this mysterious cult. Common hazards and encounters include city militia, gunslinging duelists, slaver gangs and corrupt forgers.
Treasure: Power crystals are the primary source of power for the military machinery of Samardan, and Torkobalem has a stranglehold of them. Great vaults hold a surplus that has been mined locally or gained through battle or theft. Guns are a common weapon here, and other mercenaries would pay dearly for high-quality Torkobaleman guns, pistols and especially cannons. Torkobaleman airships are an even greater prize, as the ones that Torkobalem sells to the rest of the world are far inferior in quality and function than the ones they keep for themselves.
Adventure Hooks: Adventure hooks for this site could include the following:
- Forto Podasanan, a noble from Pordel, will reward a pilot handsomely if he can "acquire" a small, swift airship from the Raganu's personal fleet.
- Hiko Sumarano, a slave-trainer of House Sanadasan, wants to hire investigators to locate who has been stealing slaves from the slave pens and discreetly bring the perpetrators to the House for punishment.
- Reko Devalogan, a timid Rakran herbalist, needs the services of a master forger to prepare travel papers for him, so that he can leave the city with his family and be free of the oppression. Sadly, he's pretty bad as asking for such things clandestinely.
- Several nobles out of Gorsal are discretely soliciting the services of "agents experienced in procurement" to "liberate" several crates of power crystals from the Raganu's storehouses.
- Viro Dilayatan, a leader of an organization of "acquisition specialists," seeks foreign mercenaries to infiltrate a secret society of silver-masked cultists, and report back on what they discover.
The City-State of Torkobalem is one of the biggest threats of the region. They are envisioned as the kind of government most players would love to challenge, irritate and eventually destroy. Nothing irritates a player-character like being told they can't go where they want, when they want, and Torkobalem is all about restricting the freedom of its people. The silver-masked cultists are the Mind Masters of Orkelium, although I prefer to see that secret become revealed and developed more extensively through game play. The fact that the Farleni and Torkobalem are at odds with one another makes for an interesting political environment, should the players (or the characters in a story) decide to pursue that route.