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“The Great Smoke sprawls over the land, so expansive and crowded that it takes a determined man on foot four days to traverse it. Filthy and cramped, ever-bustling, the cradle of great things and much striving, no other settlement is its equal, or can ever hope to be.”
—Maragus Harshorne, In Search Of Wonders Great And Small
Schlectenberg is the city, the largest gathering of sentients dwelling and working in one place that has ever been. Though some feel it, few know for sure that Schlectenberg’s glory wains, its power fades, and its demise is all but inevitable. In it’s expansion, Schlectenberg consumed all of the surrounding natural resources and minerals available. What they didn’t burn up was destroyed in war. Now it’s only in the new world of Amaurea that hope remains. If the Schlecteners are to save themselves, they will have to migrate to this jungle world or they will have to strip it bare if they want to preserve their towers and airships.
Schlectenberg’s tall and many-spired buildings sprawl for a hundred miles from one edge to another, having outgrown ever-larger concentric rings of walls many times over. And it has expanded not just outwards, but up, so its soaring buildings blot out the sun, leaving most of its cobbled and refuse-strewn streets in perpetual gloom. The streets meander, winding like tunnels around the walls of city structures that rise, many-balconied and irregular like great brick and iron-framed beasts, attached one to the other by many bridges both covered and unroofed, in a grimy maze in which one place looks very much like another.
The Great Smoke reeks, in a bewildering, ever-shifting mixture of pungent and caustic fog that assault the nose, lungs, and eyes. Nor does it ever fall silent, persisting in everpresent rumbles of machinery and seething vats, of shrieks of stressed metal and the thunder and clang of a thousand forgehammers and stamping mills. Its citizens are used to this unending cacophony, to the ceaseless distraction of many movements on all sides, and to the filth and stink, for heavy fogs belch from vats and forges. Billowing soot clings to walls and clothes and skin, slickest and thickest where the greases and oils of machinery seep from drains or naked cogs, or splatter from on high like the droppings of the few birds, crow-like black vultures, that still survive in this murk.
Schlectenberg is home to many foundries, forges, smelters, and cogsmiths; it is the place to have fine artificery designed, made, and repaired, from mechanisms large and small that tally or record, to worn braces and exoskeletons that augment weak or broken limbs or poor vision or bolster strength. From airships and lurching automatons to the smallest of automated hinges, lenses, and latches, Schlecten innovations and trends can be found the world over, where they dominate and make or remake habits and standards.
Nowhere else is the rampant proliferation of ingenuity more obvious than in the southern district of the city, known as the “Cauldron.” Where slums once brewed poverty and violence, new foundries and inventors have taken up residence. These manufacturers seized the cheapest spaces, often stacking their workshops one atop another in the lower sections of spires. This proximity led to new collaborations and the forming of new manufacturing conglomerations. Automatons hammer out iron as forgemasters direct their smiths and mages to attend to the inner workings of their weaponry and wonder. The barrage of presses, hammers, and voices pulses and echoes across the smog-choked spires. The frenzied beat of manufacturing is rendered into a constant dull roar.
To the north, vestiges of the former Sundaresh Empire decorate the narrow roadways of the “Somber Lanes.” Murals of old gods remain beneath the soot-covered and cracked edifices, upkept by brush and broom wielding neophytes from the local temples. Statues rise dramatically on street corners in bronze, veils obscuring their faces. Parts of these statues have broken off and worn down from the practitioners and pilgrims who visit these sites searching for spiritual instruction. Hawkers and beggars crowd either side of the streets, making travel by foot nearly impossible. Each claims to hold a relic of a former empire or claims to see the blood of an ancient king in your eyes. Few temples remain, despite the iconography, but Jalnu’s Archives and the knowledge of the old world remain. Most temples contain salvage markets and offer cots for a cheap price. Schlecteners often travel to the northern district when they’re searching for goods that might otherwise be considered historical, obsolete, or simply junk depending on whom you ask.
The “Iron Heights” in the eastern district are home to many of the wealthiest in Schlectenberg. The spires gleam impossibly despite the smoke between them. These towers are kept meticulously clean by a cadre of tower sweeps that climb, hang, and jump across the hard lines and angles that define the architecture. The towers clump in dense configurations, akin to the fabled forests that once dotted the landscape surrounding Schlectenberg. Beneath vaulted ceilings and through arched windows, the most powerful men and women gaze upon the city, keeping an eye on the goings on below and gazing upward to homes they may inhabit in due time.
The “Empty Pockets,” as some say with pride and others with disdain, remains the most diverse district in the city. Once a refuge for aspiring sons and daughters from the farms outside the city and immigrants from every kingdom, hints of that history remain in lowly huts and even some wooden hovels. Many of these ancient homes are rotted and falling apart. Derelict and grandiose towers rise above the streets in overwrought designs, once popular but now up for grabs. Street gangs and other organized criminal institutions provide employment and protection for many of those born beneath these towers. Here those from disparate cultures unite, smudged with soot, hands stained with oil, and otherwise sullied, but unflinching as they face each day.
Schlectenberg is the largest marketplace in the world, the trading ground where used goods and those of shady provenance can be had as well as the locally handcrafted or the new, where the widest selection of rarities and oddments is on offer, and the competition endless.
The city is where the greatest minds come to engage in design and commerce, and the pursuit — both overt and whispered — of steering the affairs of others.
Above all other classes in Schlectenberg stand the Flair, or the Quality, or behind their backs the Sneernoses, the grandly jacketed, fashion-conscious high society of those who have or aspire to wealth, power, and influence. They’re a rarified stratum of folk who inhabit the highest towers, where the breezes sweep away the worst of the heavy, clinging foundry fogs and stinks, and private cloud yachts and clanking airship taxis crowd for space around roof spire mooring masts. They front the factions, faiths, and established causes and societies, skirmishing often and haughtily with each other and with upstart Taelen who front cults and new causes.
Below the Flair, both socially and physically, are the Burgharr, the prosperous, hardworking managers of foundries and owners of shops, who inhabit mid-level and many-windowed suites of rooms, often above the factories they own or supervise. The Flair scorn the Burgharr yet often court them, needing their wealth and influence, or someone to serve as a scapegoat. The Burgharr do the greatest share of the work to bring about advances and incorporate them into things that all may wield and own.
Beneath the Burgharr are the Taelen, the artists, entrepreneurs, and “bright minds.” Though some sneer, calling them the greatest bulk of posers and charlatans in the world, gathered here because only Schlectenberg can support their “parasitic” lifestyle. They set fashions, gamble, and invest in desperation, often hiring rogues and other adventurers to reach where law and public opinion cannot. They lead hundreds of ever-changing cults and societies, both secret and public, investment syndicates and behind-doors cabals; it’s generally agreed that they’re “the glue that binds society, the fuel that drives it, and the caustic acid that poisons and corrodes it, all at once” (in the words of the thinker and inventor Sedmond Aumahl). They’re the bright stars and dismissed-in-disgrace scandalmongers who lead and populate learning academies where bright bumpkins flock from all over Schlectenberg to attend and better themselves “and the world, for us all.”
Below the Taelen, customarily overlooked by all save themselves, are the backbones of the city and civilization in general, the citizens who far outnumber all others in the Great Smoke: the Mopbrows, the workers and artisans, who toil day and night at the machines and in the kitchens and workshops, making and assembling and doing, repairing and servicing. Their grease-stained hands, often missing fingers or more, “keep all machinery running, and build ever more devices, turning from such work only to fix what has inevitably worn out or failed” (as the magistrate Klavarstern Levathlorhorst put it). It has long been observed that although they’re the essential citizens, those above them desire that they never have a say in anything.
And the Mopbrows look down on the Feckless, or the Rats as the unsympathetic say. They are the beggars, maimed, lackwits, and the desperate. The Feckless would starve if not for their makeshift knives and wrenches; they hunt for edible discards and the ever-present vermin, as well as the haubloid, or “grease-shrooms,” the bulbous brown mushrooms that grow swiftly and thickly on exposed grease in every gloomy corner of Schlectenberg. They spit and roast their scavenged meals in exhaust jets or forge flames, when lucky enough to not get chased off. The most dire and desperate Feckless hide in secret passages and scale outside walls, stealing anything and everything they can. Only stealth keeps them alive, for Schlecteners are apt to carry firearms and swift to use them. Down on the refuse-choked cobbles of the darkest, deepest alleys, the Feckless reign.
All Schlecteners give way to the massive, clanking automatons that attempt to clean the streets. They scoop up refuse while flattening what is already caked to the stone — along with anyone who doesn’t get out of the way quickly enough. Above the heads of the streets, swarm many airship taxis, from gleaming new to rattling, clattering, plate-shedding rust crafts, which shuttle Schlecteners high and low. Flying in and out of the Great Smoke, these vessels link the levels of the city in daily commerce and swift journeying — for personal delivery and negotiation is the Schlectenberg way. Trains rumble in and out of the city, and in circuits through it, conveying many, most notably crews who muscle large mechanisms into place and assemble them, or carry away what is broken or superseded by newer machinery.
Despite the crowding, the clinging smoke that shortens and sears lives, and the noisome, cacophonous squalor, all that’s left of the world resides in Schlectenberg, or comes to it. Every culture carves out its own fief where its dress, architecture, and ways are recreated, as much as the overriding drive and bustle of the Great Smoke will allow, until consumed by the city. Some of these exist on the sites where they formerly flourished, before the ever-expanding city swallowed them up and built over them, as it is in the Somber Lanes, and some now survive nowhere else, for Schlectenberg is an insatiable maw that strips all resources it can reach — and reaches farther and farther as the years pass.
Some say a time will come when the Great Smoke will cloak the entire world in an endless shroud of persistent, swirling smog. Others say that Schlectenberg will avoid such a fate through the rise of innovation, remaking civilization as it does daily to grasp a brighter future for all. And still others say the city has turned its back again and again on what would benefit all, to cleave to what satisfies personal greed and vice, for that is the true driver of civilization, and that only the green and savage Amaurea offers a last chance to escape a slow, grim drowning in squalor.
And the wisest of all say that no one can clearly see what lies ahead, and only passing time and deeds will tell.
A small cult devoted to the Sacred Oil, the Bloodoil Initiates engage in regular bloodlettings with their followers. Lead by Kira Ver Krulgart, a former member of the Council, the Bloodoil Initiatesy collect blood in order to transform it into the Sacred Oil. Their rituals take place in the hovels below the smoke and in the spires looming above. The transfiguration attracts worshippers of all classes. They devote themselves to Ver Krulgart. No other members have replicated her abilities, despite their attempts. Many worship at her feet in hopes of learning her secrets and growing rich.
She requires little but their blood and devotion. Ousted from the Council for her experimentations with the properties of blood in magic, Ver Krulgart believes that her removal was unjust. Operating on her own, she avoids the Council. Attacked by assassins on three occasions, she now meets her followers in secret and only on her own terms.
Her followers wonder what she does with the oil. Some, she allows them to collect, but the majority of it she keeps for herself. When asked what she means to do with the Sacred Oil, she’ll reply simply, “Oil once coursed through the veins of this land and once again it shall return. We will drain the unworthy. Their blood shall renew the iron heart of our dying world.”
There’s no doubting that her life is in danger, but with the Sacred Oil she collects she could easily finance a home in the highest towers and retire. She perseveres for reasons that appear mysterious to most, but it’s clear that she means to get even with those she holds responsible for Schlectenberg’s dire state. If Ver Krulgart’s techniques for turning blood to oil were revealed, it could destabilize the economy in Schlectenberg and endanger the lives of any who couldn’t defend themselves from blood seeking opportunists.
If in need of a weapon of high quality and superior design, there’s none more fitting than Blowfeld’s Arms & Armaments. The forges and experimental workshops maintained by Blowfeld’s produce the latest innovations in black powder rifles, long-range scopes, explosives, and the armor needed to withstand the latter. The smoke from these forges billows out at all hours. Soot stains the nearby buildings. The clang of hammers and the hiss of fire join the din of voices yelling orders and clamoring for sales.
In the southern district of Schlectenberg, where the manufacturing primarily takes place, those below the forges must walk the streets with handkerchiefs over their faces or adapt to wearing Blowfeld’s latest in air-purity masks and breathing apparati. The smoke lingers, casting the surroundings in permanent dusk. The levels of production once again rival those of the last war’s, before Schlectenberg heavily deescalated the size of its active army.
With the recent expansion into Amaurea and the new demands of the colonists, Blowfeld’s flourishes. Many hail Haradrun Blowfeld VI as the genius and savior of the once failing family business. He reopened forges that had been closed down for over ten years and hired hundreds of new workers. The tenants who’d taken up in these empty vestiges of Blowfeld’s past were forcibly removed and production increases at an ever-quickening pace. Many view him and his company as a force for transformation in Schlectenberg’s most stagnant and impoverished neighborhoods.
Blowfeld’s artificers work feverishly to develop new weapons that will resist rusting, jamming, and misfiring in the unsuitable conditions of the jungle. Smiths toil over their anvils, retrofitting older models and replacing the weapons that continue to fail. Despite the setbacks, the demand for new and effective arms outweighs any frustrations over the current models. In a surprising twist, more swords, axes, and bladed weapons have been commissioned as they’ve proven more reliable in the jungle’s temperamental conditions.
Blowfeld’s empire continues to expand as Haradrun requisitions homes and businesses that can’t afford to say no to the prices he offers. He strips these places of every piece of metal and then turns them into new forges. Though the Voices of Light and numerous members of the Flair and the Taelen support him and the industry he brings, those displaced by his expansion have fought back. Several attacks on Blowfeld’s newest forges prompted the enlistment of mercenaries and the installation of defensive automations to protect Haradrun’s latest acquisitions. A number of bloody clashes between Haradrun’s guards and the disgruntled followed.
If another artificer could develop a weapon that would replace Blowfeld’s designs, then the rapidly growing empire might crumble under its own weight, but for now Blowfeld’s Arms & Armaments finds itself once again reliving past glories and historical sales.
The Council of Three governs Schlectenberg with a mix of policy and ancient invocations. They exploit the arcane to glean hints of the future as they search for a method to restore the devastated lands outside Schlectenberg. These mages fortify the impossibly high towers and maintain the wards that support their mathematically improbable shapes and proportions. The extent to which their magic supports the upward trajectory of Schlectenberg, allowing it to grow, is often overlooked by the inhabitants who simply take the height and scale of the city for granted.
Despite the name, The Council of Three’s numbers sit well into the hundreds, though they command thousands among several far-reaching branches and associated organizations, including the Keepers of the Ledger and the Order of Silence. They dictate and guide the development of Schlectenberg, while defending it from the terrors that lurk beneath the city and beyond the smog-choked sky.
At the lowest level, these mages safeguard the city and shield the public from the worst consequences of their magical and technological proliferation. The three highest-ranking mages maintain the seats of power, but their identities remain concealed to the public. Like many Schlectenberg institutions, the Council fears infiltration, corruption, and coercion.
In recent times, Magdalena Tressen came forward, serving publicly after pressure from all sectors of Schlectenberg reached a new high. She openly supports the colonization in Amaurea, which helped the Council regain some favor. Mistrust for the Council, spearheaded by the Voices of Light and Blowfeld’s Arms & Armaments, threatened to undermine the Council’s authority. That authority remains precarious. Protests and rioting, especially from the Mopbrows, Feckless, and Taelen threatened to climb into the classes above. The Council can’t simply destroy or charm these belligerent masses, which makes them the most formidable and perplexing challenge yet.
Tressen’s public leadership deepened a preexisting crack in the faceless edifice of the Council. Now the Council is split between those who wish to operate outside the public’s scrutiny and those who strive for more transparency. The Council supports the expeditions into Amaurea, viewing it as a necessary measure to bring peace and stability to Schlectenberg.
The Nameless, as they call themselves, believe that the public will not understand what the Council must do to protect Schlectenberg. They believe that giving into demands for more oversight will lead to further scrutiny from the public and the erosion of their necessary power and autonomy. Worse yet, they fear that their enemies will gain the knowledge to counteract and anticipate the Council’s maneuvers. If the Council gives into the mounting pressures, the Nameless believe that they will be toothless and replaced in due time as they grow ineffective.
The Beholden believe that they owe the citizens of Schlectenberg the same openness they demand from other institutions. They propose that the current policy of anonymity emboldens their enemies and lends credibility to their claims. Through the process of opening their doors and revealing the true nature of the Council, they believe reconciliation is possible and trust in the Council of Three will be restored.
No matter which side a mage falls on, there's no doubt that the secrets of the Council would endanger Schlectenberg if they weren’t carefully revealed. Though both sides remain polarized and hostile to one another, they must find a way to unite before their enemies crumble their authority and render their institution impotent. The path forward is unclear, but some believe they can restore the public’s faith with their expedition into Amaurea, while other mages fight to renew the land they ruined in past conquests.
Without the Council of Three, Schlectenberg’s spires would topple and the blighted creatures outside the city would run rampant in the streets. For Schlectenberg’s future, the Council must restore the fractures in their own towers and in the classes of the burgeoning city.
The Curators of Reminiscence, a circle of artificers, maintain the ancient altars, sometimes called “live-again stations” that appear all over Schlectenberg in hidden nooks and bustling markets, each marked by a shift in the architecture curving around it and the long lines waiting for a turn. These altars, as they’re known colloquially, though perhaps not entirely accurately, twist and articulate like bone and sinew. When one lies upon the ribbed surface, the edges of the altar fold and embrace them. A shroud of metal descends to cover the eyes and a pincer emerges from the mask and clasps the tongue. Once connected, arcane energy surges through the participant, transporting them to both utopian ideal and devastating calamity. In these machines, followers seek their futures and reexamine their pasts, conjuring them up with the Curator’s potent magical-mechanical interface.
Visitors may commune with their memories, visiting the dead or reliving tender moments with past lovers. One may access memories that they couldn’t normally recall, invoking scenes of long forgotten childhood. These visitations prove incredibly useful for treating melancholy. The relived moments, both forgotten or cherished, may offer insight and closure to those who’d otherwise be stuck with the murkiness of their own limited memories.
While the ability of these altars to allow one to delve into their past remain undisputed, some doubt the veracity of the futures conjured from these stations. The Curators are quick to explain that the altars only reveal possible futures and that no one can fully predict what might happen, but notably they emphasize that these altars allow one to fulfill or avoid the premonitions they experience.
Dismissed by Blowfeld’s as rabble and condemned by the Council as traitors, the First Salvo represent those who feel that those above them are determined to keep them trapped below the smog and smoke. The First Salvo believe they are only the beginning of sweeping and destructive change in Schlectenberg. In firing the first shots at those who ascended like gods atop airships and spires, they intend to prove that they can plummet, too.
The First Salvo gained a coherent voice when Erkennt Rohung penned the opening to their manifesto: “The First Salvo is a warning of what’s to come from the unheard voices that have hardened into lead.” A failed poet who’d fallen into despair, Erkennt finally found purpose shaping the grievances and threats for his comrades. The downtrodden he’d once attempted to uplift through his poetry he now joins to smash Blowfeld’s windows and battle against the guards they see as nothing more than thugs and cronies.
The First Salvo functions as more of a loose coalition than a proper organization. Their numbers fluctuate as they rescue those pushed out of their homes and provide shelter. Not all whom they rescue fight. The First Salvo provides air filters and respirators from Blowfeld’s after raiding their warehouses. The also provide arms for any who wish to take up their cause against the upper classes.
In their battles, they’ve slaughtered smiths and researchers. Sometimes by accident, but other times on purpose. There’s no agreement on who’s a fair target and who can’t be blamed. The death of civilians has driven many members away and caused fractures in a militia that only numbers in the hundreds at best. The division in the First Salvo may be the greatest threat to its campaign for justice.
Steel buckles and iron groans when the members of the Inverted Helix reveals their powers. With a rare ability, honed over centuries in the solitude of the Sawtooth Hills, these disciples manipulate metals of all kinds, attuning their bodies with and against their properties. Originally a monastic order, called the Circle of Steel Nettles, each monk harnessed their inner power to pull materials from the surrounding wasteland. They still favor the thick robes that shielded them from the sands, but now they serve Blowfeld, working as an elite and secretive task force, dismantling rogue automatons and quelling worker rebellions.
With mastery, disciples of the Inverted Helix scale towers with magnetized feet, disarm their opponents from afar, and even turn an enemy’s armor into a crushing death trap. These powers are tied to the eastern hills, where these monks travel once a year to search for recruits. It’s unclear how their powers manifest, but not all who study their arts gain access to their abilities. Something in that roiling desert changed their biology. They continue to search for the origin of their powers, while serving Blowfeld and amassing a considerable sums. With such power, they could even shatter the very spires that rise above them, but for reasons unknown the Inverted Helix appears content to maintain their duties for now.
In the severe and elevated halls of the Vault of Balance, the Keepers of the Ledger maintain the records of all registered citizens of Schlectenberg. Unfurled via an intricate series of gears, the massive tapestry stretches across pins and pulleys that rise and swing up into the heights of the spire. The tower encases the massive scroll, and a staircase spirals upwards against the walls of the Vault. With each step, the Keepers’ cloaks of interwoven iron rings rattle and echo throughout the tower as they lead approved visitors to the floor from which they can view their own name. Calligraphers dangle from hydraulic lifts, carefully adjusting or adding new details.
From afar, the scrawled records on the ledger, rendered impossibly small, appear like a pattern of intersecting geometric designs. On a closer inspection the patterns reveal an immense amount of meticulous detail. With multi-lensed and mirror-inlaid telescopes extending from metal arms, Keepers position and review the information with visitors. These scribes and mages specialize in the preservation of these records and in maintaining their relevance.
With the decree of the Council of Three this minor branch of mages grew into one of the most powerful institutions in Schlectenberg. In a bid to preserve scarce resources, the Council of Three ordered that all physical coins be returned to the Keepers. They banned physical currency and outlawed its usage. Those who return coins are granted a balance on a specifically issued ledger in exchange. These enchanted ledgers share a bond with the Great Ledger maintained by the Keepers. Thus, when one purchases their daily goods, the merchant makes a mark with their specialized ink, and the mark then appears on the record hanging from the Vault of Balance.
Not only can you trade coins and outdated currency into one unified Schlecten currency, you can also call for records of all your transactions. High-ranking members of the Council of Three may peruse these details as they wish. They also use the records here to finance and loan out new ledger balances for businesses and individuals who can convince them of their need and ability to pay back such a loan.
The Keepers maintain the records in their Vault of Balance and keep watch for any suspicious updates or changes. If a citizen attempts to destroy their ledger, the Keepers will see their ink turn red in warning. Investigating and tracking down individuals attempting to leave the Great Ledger is a chief duty of these mages, along with preventing theft and fraud.
The new markets of Schlectenberg depend on the accuracy of the Great Ledger and would pay dearly for influence over it if they could. Attempts to bribe and infiltrate the Keepers have been thwarted, but still suspicion looms in this spire. The mages here must submit to observation and review by the Council of Three each month to be sure they have not been tampered with or compromised in any way.
The Order of Silence plucks the unwanted and discarded children of Schlectenberg and transforms them into highly trained assassins, spies, and elite guards. They practice the art of observation, mimicry, and assimilation. These agents regularly live entire lives in the service of other organizations, and even start families to maintain their identities. Without hesitation they will eliminate their targets once the order is given and then disappear from their false lives without regret.
Though trained to use any weapon and to understand a range of hand-to-hand traditions, these assassins tend to favor methods that almost always look accidental. If they want to make their actions known, they typically employ motorized garrotes. The steel wire of the garrote automatically tightens, leaving the victim helpless once activated. This cruel and deadly act ensures that the victim’s death is prolonged and bloody before their head is removed entirely.
The highest-ranking assassins bond with the Silent Masters, who’ve remained with the order since its inception. Though the Council of Three oversees the Order of Silence, even these mages don’t fully understand the nature or identity of the Silent Masters.
The Silent Masters go without names and only a select few have ever seen them. Though in truth, many have actually seen the Silent Masters without having an idea what or who they are. If the true nature of the Silent Masters ever got out it would undoubtedly cause an uproar. They’ve simply been asking the wrong question. The Silent Masters are not a matter of who, but what?
The Silent Masters may be as old as Schlectenberg, likely older. These creatures resemble large centipedes with powerful mandibles and thick, carapace-plated armor. Supremely intelligent, the Silent Masters have no capacity for language outside of the clicking of their mandibles and many legs.
They attach themselves to the spines and embed themselves in the flesh of those who ascend to the highest ranks. In this manner, the Masters hide beneath clothing. They communicate through sights and sounds, which they relay to their hosts’ minds. They imbue the memories and skills of their prior hosts into whomever they bond with. Through their bond, the Silent Master may separate as needed, serving as an extra set of eyes and ears for their assassin. With shared sentience, an assassin may send their Master to infiltrate and scout out a location and even use them in combat as another weapon.
For obvious reasons, the Order of Silence maintains a great deal of anonymity. Though technically they fall under the jurisdiction of the Council of Three, they operate with extensive autonomy and a deep secrecy that allows their clandestine operation to remain hidden.
The Sons of Jalnu protect and maintain Jalnu’s Archives. Each carries a rifle-cane handed down from previous Sons and a key threaded on an iron chain around their necks. The keys they wear open up different sections and rows of the armor-plated and lead-lined bookshelves. The bulwark defends against the physical and magical scrying that might otherwise pilfer the secrets here. Due to the nature of their keys, each member of the Sons must know and befriend all other Sons if they want to fully utilize the archives and ascend in rank. In this manner, the lowest members of the Sons remain equal to the highest when searching for a particular text.
These warriors, mages, and scholars maintain their studies and discipline in order to combat the alteration of history. The tomes they protect remain untouched. They’ve seen how the history of Sundaresh shifted and was forgotten. They suspect that the Voices of Light are behind a plot to slowly manipulate and distort the history of Schlectenberg to take control of its future. They focus on developing the will to resist even the most potent mind-affecting spells and guard an untold number of artifacts to aid in this purpose. They’ve developed an array of defensive magics to protect themselves from the poisonous lead that once claimed their numbers, as well as from the forced entries of assailants and thieves.
In later years, the organization opened up to both men and women, much in the way that it opened up to those who did not descend directly from Jalnu one hundred years earlier. Tradition dictates that all members refer to each other simply as “Brother” or “Son,” regardless of gender. Sons of Jalnu leave behind their past names when accepted into the Sons of Jalnu. Each member wears an identical blue robe, tied with a bright yellow sash. This causes some to consider them eccentric, while others believe them to be a cult of musty tome worshippers.
In some respects, that claim rings true. The knowledge contained within these walls remains under constant guard, but the texts here outnumber all the rest in Schlectenberg combined and surely would be lost if they hadn’t been guarded by this longstanding organization. Valiantly, the Sons of Jalnu fortified and defended this bastion of knowledge during the Final Vein War and successfully kept Schlecten forces from overtaking them while the rest of the Sundaresh Empire fell.
The architecture of Jalnu’s Archives varies immensely from the highly mechanized and dramatic angles common in Schlectenberg. The ceilings and walls curve and bow gently, the carved walls flow into long scenes of heroes and legend. The shelves themselves are carved deeply into the stone walls and girded by iron. Though many archives exist in the spires of Schlectenberg, few claim the lineage and vast resources protected inside these vaulted chambers. Jalnu’s Archives dates back to an era prior to Schlectenberg’s expansion and the resulting wars. The Archives can’t compete with the height of other marvels in Schlectenberg, but the carved guardians and dusty automata that fill these halls resemble that of the Sundaresh and preserve a portion of their history that is now gone, consumed and transformed in the “Somber Lanes” of Schlectenberg.
When the steam and smoke that clots the sky tears apart and the bow of a hulking ship lurches overhead, the Skybreaker’s Company planned it. The Skybreaker’s Company maintains the regulations and training necessary for airship travel from the highest-paid cloud yacht captains to the lowest mop pusher on an airship taxi. All members must be proficient in ropework, spotting, and steering. Apprentices are taught to use a compass, gauge the wind, and compensate for fluctuations in their tools and measurements. Maps of the airship routes must be updated each day in order to ensure safe travels. Smoke dispersion and alleviation remains a continuing challenge for these crews as they take to the crowded skies.
Beyond the challenges of navigating the spires and other airships, visibility remains a top priority for all crew members. Equipped with large mechanical fans, the crew positions these fans to break the smoke before them so they don’t get lost. Commonly, the crews of these ships suffer from “Sailor’s Lung.” The soot in the air comes back up in fits of coughs and hacking that can be heard frequently among the crew.
To captain a ship, a sailor must serve at least four years before they’re even considered for such a position. The airships they fly, regardless of size, are some the most valuable fusions of artifice and magic. They belong to businesses and families, and only rarely does a captain own his own ship. The airships remain a testament to a previous era when Blowfeld’s and the Council of Three worked together to ensure that the war effort would be successful. Many that soar above Schlectenberg are decommissioned warships. The introduction of new airships since the war has been rare and sometimes disastrous. Without the backing of the Council, airship production has nearly halted as the costs and dangers have emptied the coffers of the wealthiest of patrons.
The Skybreaker’s Company ensures that the airships remain in working fashion. The crews of the ships know their lives are worth far less than the ships, and that they are expected to conduct themselves with such knowledge in mind. The fines and fees for reckless endangerment of an airship have driven many captains from the skies. The romantic inclinations many feel when the look above quickly die when they face the reality of Skybreaker’s Company.
The Flair engage in many outlandish and eccentric clubs and organizations to pass their idle time; chief amongst them is the Theoretical Explorers Society. Here, genteel men and women school themselves in the art of rifle-cane duels, performed with non-lethal munitions of course. They learn the proper shoulder from which to hang their cloaks and other rules for social engagements, decorum, and balls. They also develop their hand in cartography. They engage in mapping the unknown reaches of the world, including the lands outside the devastation in Schlectenberg and most notably the new and tantalizing world of Amaurea.
With the discovery of Amaurea, the parlors of the Theoretical Explorers Society have grown crowded. Membership has tripled in the last six months. Within these gathering halls, members of the Flair compare maps and trade charted territories. They seek to impress one another with their superior detail and far-reaching drawings. The power of these status symbols has emboldened a number of the Flair to outfit privateers and pay for their passage through Eternity’s Gate. In exchange for the gear and substantial bonus for returning with more geographical details, the Flair will expend great sums.
In an attempt to get a leg up on their compatriots, members of the Theoretical Explorers Society may bribe members of the Schlectenberg military or even procure illegal goods if they believe it will give their expeditions the edge in mapping Amaurea. In the last six months, civilian casualties in Amaurea have risen dramatically. There’s no doubt that the Theoretical Explorers Society is responsible for this statistic, but if their secret expeditions reached the ears of the Council or the higher ups in the Schlectenberg military they’d likely be disbanded immediately, if not imprisoned.
Silence looms in the dimly lit halls of the Voices of Light. The quiet is only broken by the scraping of boots as practitioners climb the gold-inlaid steps to the Light above. Steep spires climb upwards, reaching through the smoke and smog that covers Schlectenberg. They twist around one another in a knot of stone and steel that forms a central spine-like column. Along the tight corridors, mirrors lie within the intricate ornamentation that decorates the walls. Each line of geometry leads the eyes upward. Triumphs and losses in Schlectenberg’s history play out along the ceiling, depicting the ever-watchful Voices of Light stepping in and assisting as needed.
The light from above reflects and refracts across glittering scenes, highlighting the angles and lines while descending to the gathering hall at the base of the cathedral. The further practitioners advance in their teachings, the higher they may ascend and revel in the warmth and clarity of the Light above. At each floor is a Voice of Light, a locked door, and a dozen seats carved into the walls.
In their temples, the Voices favor simple black robes. Clasped around their necks are collars of iron and gold, of varying complexity and size depending on rank. The collars serve as vestiges of their history as slaves who escaped the tyranny of the lands outside Schlectenberg. They serve now as symbols of devotion and servitude toward the Light and their followers. These collars often force the Voices to keep their eyes forever upward. For the highest-ranking officials, the collars extend into stocks that fall across their shoulders and restrain their hands and arms.
The Voices never speak aloud. They excise their tongues from their mouths in a final ritual before they’re granted the collar. In this manner, the tongue may not profane the heart with its blasphemies. They spread their teachings through a series of images conjured in the air or depicted in their collection of books. They share texts tucked within the numerous alcoves of their cathedrals, but more commonly they summon visions of the past and future to their followers. They teach that the tongue allows humanity to twist and corrupt truth. They celebrate the purity of the eye.
The higher their followers climb, the more the Voices reveal about the future and how their followers can avoid their doom-riddled premonitions and prophecies. They accept offerings of iron, gold, silver, and other precious metals and minerals from their followers in exchange for access to the heights of the tower. At the tops of their cathedrals the Light overwhelms, transfixing those who reach it. As a point of pride, many of the leaders in the Voices of Light lose their sight at an early age as they commune with the infallible Light and forego the temptations and distractions of the dim and dark world of humankind.
The followers of the Voices of Light come from all walks of life, but they receive ample support from the most influential and political leaders in Schlectenberg. They’ve been afforded a rare exception to the law that criminalizes the possessions of past currencies. One may freely bring their metals in any form, including coinage, as offering to the Voices of Light.
Members of the Council and the Sons of Jalnu cite major inconsistencies in past prophecies of doom from the Voices of Light. These critics argue that the Voices of Light manipulate public perception to suit their schemes. If these critics could find concrete evidence that proved their suspicions, it’s hard to say if their followers would even notice as they await their next communion with the rapturous Light. The truly blessed may be granted an audience with the Herald of Light, but many will meet with the Herald without knowing, as the leader of the Voices of Light prefers to mingle without interference with disciples and sinners alike.
True Machinations of the Voices
The full extent of the Voices of Light and their networks remains obscured to the populace of Schlectenberg. The Voices of Light maintain a longstanding arrangement with Blowfeld’s and numerous weapons manufacturers in Schlectenberg. While they don’t openly support any organization, their wealth and stores of precious metals make them valuable business partners, but this is only a fraction of their influence over Schlectenberg. Through their manipulation of memory and control of lesser minds, the Voices of Light, under various guises, have infiltrated every corner of Schlectenberg from the inner circle of the Council to the lowly ranks of the First Salvo.
Their dupes serve both unknowingly and as volunteers, depending on their stations. Often, those who proudly serve the Voices go unaware of the crimes they’ve committed in tampered or completely lost memories. The Voices operate in secret, free of their collars, posing on street corners as street urchins or wild-eyed mystics. Other times they blend right in as shopkeepers or nobles. Through their mastery of mind-altering spells, they may appear as if speaking though no tongue holds claim to their mouth.
Through the Altars of Insight, the Voices of Light prepare Schlectenberg for their own vision of the future. In various premonitions, their altars reveal images of destruction and death at the hands of invading elves, rendered as savages and barbarians. They fan the flames of patriotism and honor, ensuring that young men and women march to Amaurea. The Voices’ manipulations, both subtle and more direct, will in time funnel their opposition into Amaurea’s untamed jungles. When they succeed, they’ll close the portal and finally gain complete control of Schlectenberg and no one will know the difference. Twisted and deformed, history will bend and the Voices’ narrative will become truth in the minds left in Schlectenberg. And those trapped on the other side of the gate will be left facing the nightmare predicted by the Voices of Light all along.
Acrid smoke hangs over the Charn Sea. The tide stains the shore with caustic sludge. Fire jettisons from the dark surface, erupting as the current mixes volatile chemicals. Once pristine, the Charn housed a massive refinery that occupied a series of isles off the southernmost shore. The deep sea drilling destabilized the dormant volcanos below and destroyed much of the refinery in an enormous explosion. The eruption dumped untold millions of gallons of refined crude, natural gases, and pyroclastic byproducts into the Charn. The ruins tempt researchers and scoundrels alike, both parties equally interested in salvaging the resources that may remain.
Crossing the sea requires travel by airship or ironclad vessels. The iron bellies of these ships often return scoured and puckered. They require maintenance both during and after a trip across the Charn. The ships sink low into the acidic currents, mottled brown. The vapors choke any crewmen who don’t keep their ventilators secured above deck. The surface may bubble and pop, splashing acidic water across the ships and their crews. Full-body rubber suits and armor are a must for any sailors that the captain needs to retain, though they are a rare sight. Many desperate men and women join these ships, hoping to survive long enough to become indispensable and salvage enough fuel to provide for their families for years.
There’s no duty more dangerous on a ship than repairing the hull. Welders, suspended above the boiling sea in suits of rubber, patch the armor plating as the ship trudges forward. They hammer off slag and sear new metal atop old. Their suits will only guarantee them a few minutes of safety if they fall into the sea below. Above the boiling surface, mechanics sweat away fat and muscle. Their skeletal appearance makes them easy to distinguish from the rest of the crew.
Even travel by air can be dangerous, as the delicate airships can’t afford to weigh themselves down with extra armor, and the plumes of fire can wreck the ships if they get too close to the surface. Crews parachute down into the wreckage of the refineries with ropes attached to their waists. About half may return attached to their ropes. Many lines return with the remnants of the crewmen fused to the tattered ends of the rope.
The heat and acidity of the sea transformed the wildlife it didn’t immediately destroy. Strange creatures prowl the deep sea. Their tissues fused with rock and iron in startling and impossible reconfigurations of aquatic life. Though rarely seen, the wreckage they leave behind and the rumors of crews that never return keep them in the minds of sailors. Those who brave the sea typically do not return to it. The Charn grants few second chances to those above its murky surface and only promises death to those who sink below.
Deep below the upturned earth and ruined hills northeast of Schlectenberg lies an ancient and long-dormant portal, known as Eternity’s Gate. A slab of black stone, the structure resembles an obelisk more than any door or gate. It towers nearly a hundred feet, connecting to the cavern’s ceiling. The smooth black surface of Eternity's Gate features no markings, except for a series of depressions along its sides. Each depression varies in width and depth, but what each suggests remains a mystery to the mages that study and protect the gate. One hundred years ago, they opened the gate to allow an exploratory force of the best warriors, mages, and scholars through, but they never returned. Now once again it glows with unknown potential. Only those approved by the Council of Three may enter through the portal into Amaurea.
Eternity's Gate rests in the center of a natural spring, miraculously uncontaminated and set within a large network of caverns and tunnels. Roots hang from the roof of the cavern, while mushrooms clump in the corners. When it opens, the entire cavern fills with its purple glow. When one passes through the shimmering surface of light, they glow with their own specific hue of light before melding into the impermanent portal.
Up above, military squadrons train in formations on the surface, where they serve as further protection and prepare to embark on a campaign to Amaurea. The barracks houses a number of anti-airship batteries and cannons, ensuring that only approved vessels approach. Civilian personnel are escorted to the gate only after thorough vetting, are transported with blindfolds, and delivered under strict supervision.
The scholarly mages that protect Eternity’s Gate theorize that perhaps mankind once poured through this portal, but from where and why remains firmly in the realm of speculation. If this theory is proved true, then either mankind once thrived on Amaurea or perhaps the gate can be attuned for transportation to other worlds. If scholars ever gain understanding of how Eternity’s Gate functions, they might completely revise how they approach Amaurea, or they might find themselves on an entirely new frontier.
The Gash marks the site of the most harrowing battle in the Vein Wars. The pit occupies the land where the Sundar Range once stood. The jagged edges of the pit crack and break with regularity as the mouth of the Gash grows larger each year. The surrounding earth remains dull and dead; nothing grows with miles of the the Gash. Here, the Schlecten military maneuvered an airship over their enemies who sought refuge in the mountains. They dropped an alchemical explosive, loaded with black powder, oil, and enchanted with the Council’s own devastating invocations. The resulting explosion stained the sky with a harsh red glow for weeks, while soot and ash filled the air before finally settling in the crater left behind.
The gap attracts explorers of renown and those with death wishes alike. Though explorers mapped nearly two thousand miles of the Gash, more remains to be discovered. It’s unclear how far it may extend. Many believe the iron ore and other rare metals that were beneath the mountain must be at the bottom of the pit. Others theorize that the bomb tore through the planet’s core and flew out the other end. Many blame Schlectenberg’s desperation on this harrowing weapon. Scholars suggest the explosion may have ruined what little sustenance remained in the soil, or that it altered the turning of their world.
Theories and rumors abound, especially concerning what else lies in the pit. The tarwings that assail airships were first spotted flying from the Gash. Their wings leave trails of darkness behind them and their numerous arms and legs tear through the best steel with ease. The only way to defeat them is to disperse them with a strong enough gust of wind. Luckily, this means most tarwings are naturally blown apart before they reach Schlectenberg. Those who travel within the gap are less lucky. The only successful missions into the Gash involve specialized airships with heavy armor and numerous lights, and the aid of elite mages. The secrets of the Gash remain to be discovered or devour those who seek them.
The Golden Cloud offers a taste of Schlectenberg’s former splendor for those who can afford the trip. Above the smoke and smog, the Golden Cloud drifts higher than the tallest spires. The luminous flotilla shines in the sun. The bronzed and brown bodies aboard bask in the warmth. Colorful lights stream through glass and voices rise in celebration. Dancers whirl in the air, their bodies floating above the massive propellers positioned beneath them. Music and laughter ensure that the patrons of the Golden Cloud never hear the roar of its engines. Through the marriage of magic and machine, schedules and images of attractions float through the air.
The collection of airships stays tied up at the floating docks all year round, each ship boasting different themes and entertainment. The main ship, formerly a warship, anchors the surrounding vessels. Sails, rigging, and propellers line the exterior walls, while more docks and walkways crisscross its center. Panels in the hull retract, revealing games of chance, lavish meals, and aeronet players preparing for their next game. With aeronautic precision and ample magical enhancement, the massive ship dwarfs even the cloud yachts. Taxis from the towers below escort the wealthiest in Schlectenberg to this paradise.
The Golden Cloud boasts entertainment and pleasure beyond compare and well outside the laws and customs of Schlectenberg. Here you may gamble, drink, smoke, love, or destroy anything you want if you talk to the right person. Technically outside the boundaries of Schlectenberg, the Golden Cloud enjoys a level of autonomy only afforded to the nations that lie beyond the swath of destruction that surrounds the city-state.
While some members of the Flair may express discomfort with the lawless nature of the Golden Cloud, many have stakes in the business and others profit off the constant need for fuel and crew. Keeping this enormous network of lavish airships afloat requires a constant supply of goods from the ground. In the city below the smog-choked sky, the Golden Cloud lives as but a fable, a rumor, or a dream, depending on who you ask.
The fields of Harnerton lay desolate, littered with abandoned farm houses and fallen trees. Schlectenberg’s industries dumped their chemical waste into the Sweyn River, which swept westward through these once fertile lands, and the water seeped into the earth. The crops withered, cattle grew mad, and families despaired as the corruption spread. Where the river once flowed, a ravine remains. The leftover villages clump together for safety from roaming thieves and bandits.
Harnerton never received the full benefits of the industrial revolution in Schlectenberg. The people here remain decades behind. Their simple equipment is frail and battered where it’s left at all. Machines with many arms, pistons, and shears lay dormant in the fields, rusted and unmoving. Flocks of birds take refuge in these hulking machines before they rise in flurries of wings and shrill songs. Bandits restore and recover what they can from the abandoned machines, crafting new weapons to threaten the locals with. The soot-stained and weary bandits stand out with their Schlecten garb and advanced technology. These “Vultures,” as they’re called, are often desperate and dangerous, but so too are the people of Harnerton.
Survivors in this harsh and fruitless land practice old traditions. Descendents of proud farmers cling to ruined homes as the dregs of Schlectenberg wander through. They Harnerton locals despise Schlecten technology and destroy all traces of it. Those who remained in this desolate land have had many years to build defenses and traps, and develop strange practices unlike that of Schlecten proper. One must be wary when crossing through these grey and rugged plains.
East of Schlectenberg, the Sawtooth Hills crumble, heave, and shake. As the earth churns and gas vents from below, the hills give out. These hills of grey, red, and yellow fracture and break apart, abruptly plummeting hundreds of feet below. New mounds rise as the old fall. The shifting silhouettes against the horizon differ with each day. With them tumbles ragged weeds, unlucky field mice, and foolish travelers. The rockslides unearth ancient corpses on the surface, where they lay sometimes in strange configurations or other times are found sitting upright, as if waiting for the next traveler to pass.
These corpses, decorated in warriors' garb, often clutch the scabbards of oiled blades or sparkling brooches. The luster of these metals, despite their age and location, mystifies scholars. Though the dead’s bones are picked clean and bleached, their belongings glitter as if they’d been pulled from the forge only moments earlier. Before the upheaval began in the Sawtooth Hills, there was no record of any kingdoms in the lands east of Schlectenberg. The hills and the surrounding desert proved far too harsh for settling and food was too scarce. Up until very recently, it was common knowledge that east lay a barren wasteland.
In modern times, archaeologists and opportunists with Schlectenberg’s advanced technology investigate the hills. The “Dry Forge,” as some have it dubbed it, provides incredibly valuable metals for personal use or study. Understandably, Blowfeld’s and a number of other weapons manufacturers have funded private expeditions into the Sawtooth Hills in hopes of collecting and unlocking their secrets.
The condition of these wondrous items begs some important questions that scholars have been unable to answer. Many academics wonder what became of the desert kingdom, how they survived there in the first place, and what brought on their ruin? The answers may be difficult to uncover, as the bodies pilfered from the Sawtooth Hills end up in the hands of the highest bidder.
When asked why he leads the First Salvo, Erkennt simply replies, “I had already failed at everything else.” Quiet and modest, Erkennt’s shaggy grey beard hides the scar that runs across his neck. Once an aspiring poet and a former welder for Blowfeld’s, he utilizes his knowledge of his former employer’s facilities to lead hit-and-run strikes on them now.
Before the first Salvo, Erkennt found himself ‘borrowing’ Blowfeld products from the back of the warehouse he worked in, at first for himself and then for his neighbors. Living in squalor on the ground with the Feckless and the Mopbrows, their rasping breaths and hacking coughs kept him awake at night. They echoed through his multi-unit hovel. Admittedly, his first reaction as recorded in his journal was annoyance, but he softened as grew to know his neighbors. Then he ‘borrowed’ an entire crate of respirators.
These disappearances were noted and Erkennt was caught. He spent years in prison, paying off his debt to Blowfeld’s. When he reemerged, the cramped complex he’d occupied and all his neighbors were replaced with a new foundry. He fell in with a street gang, handling the break-ins while his accomplices cleared the homes and businesses. They even took up an offer to capture and deliver a member of the Flair. These jobs wore him down and he proposed a plan to help his accomplices score big, but only if they promised to stop targeting the poor and the innocent. The First Salvo grew from an unlikely compromise into an attractive criminal operation and from there a populist rebellion. At least for now.
The First Salvo contains a number of unsavory and truly dangerous criminals. Erkennt will have to come to terms with the divisions in the First Salvo or he may find himself a victim of their blades. If Magdalena Tressen found out that her brother was captured in one of his early jobs, she’d likely scour them from the streets. Erkennt’s poetry shows that he’s aware of the dangerous position he’s in, but whether he will find a solution to the challenges facing the First Salvo remains to be seen.
(Level 2, Medium size, 30’ speed)
Attributes: Agility 4 (1d10), Fortitude 2 (1d6), Might 1 (1d4), Learning 3 (1d8), Logic 3 (1d8), Perception 4 (1d10), Will 2 (1d6), Presence 4 (1d10)
Hit Points: 26
Feats: Hospitaler, Inspiring Champion I, Knowledge I (Poetry), Resilient
Modified Riot Gun (damaging attack): Agility vs. Guard. Also inflicts stunned bane on 5 damage or more.
Incite (inflict provoked): Presence vs. Resolve. Erkennt hurls insults and rhetoric at his enemies to draw their ire.
Inspiring Rhetoric (invoke bolster): Presence vs CR 16 (PL 3) Erkennt inspires an ally of his choice as he extols the virtues of their past and future deeds.
The unlikely inheritor of his father’s business, Haradrun revitalized the failing Blowfeld’s after his older sister and brother stepped down. He spent his youth galavanting with Niklaus Tressen across Schlectenberg until he found the Voices of Light. Tall and serious, his faith now shapes his desire to spread Blowfeld’s foundries across the city.
He believes that hard work, sweat, and steel can redeem the impoverished sections of Schlectenberg. Conveniently, these places often end up being bargains as well. With strategic placement of his forges across the city he’s provided industry and jobs for many Schlecten, but he’s also displaced those whose buildings he has purchased, torn down, and built over. Schlectenberg’s expansion into Amaurea earned Blowfeld’s an invaluable contract with the military.
To ensure that Blowfeld’s remains at the top of the industry, Haradrun recruits his opposition’s best artificers and engineers. With the wealth provided by his military contract, few can resist his generous offers and tantalizing projects. Progress in making weapons that would replace his failing models in Amaurea has halted, as he’s commissioned grander projects. Conveniently, the inability for his artificers or any others to produce rust-proof or non-jamming models promotes sales, as weapons must be replaced at a swift pace.
Strongarming the weapons manufacturing industry, Haradrun believes that his purpose is sacred. He will intimidate those he can’t buy, and those he can’t intimidate happen to find their workshops raided. These incidents are blamed on the First Salvo, which allows him to operate with impunity. If the full extent of his bullying and break-ins were uncovered, the ranks of the First Salvo would likely grow into an army. Though Haradrun is far from the only business owner employing illegal tactics to get an edge in his industry, he’s the clearly the most successful by a wide margin.
Haradrun Blowfeld VI
(Level 3, Medium size, 25’ speed)
Attributes: Fortitude 1 (1d4), Might 3 (1d8), Learning 5 (2d6), Logic 3 (1d8), Perception 3 (1d8), Will 2 (1d6), Deception 2 (1d6), Persuasion 3 (1d8), Presence 3 (1d8), Creation 7 (2d10)
Hit Points: 20
Feats: Armor Mastery I, Wealthy
Notable Equipment: Intelligent Armor (Extraordinary Item: Armor [Power Armor], Reliable, Special [The armor changes Resistance types as a free action each time Haradrun is successfully damaged.]), Taljier Hand Cannon (Extraordinary Item: Weapon, Agility 6, Baneful [Forced Move], Deadly 2), Helix Hand (Extraordinary Item: Creation 7, Special [Can only be used if there is metal nearby.])
Commission: Haradrun acts as if he has access to the Craft Mundane Item II and Craft Extraordinary Item III feats.
Taljier’s Finest (damaging attack [Taljier Hand Cannon]): Agility 6 vs. Guard, advantage 2. Also, inflict forced move bane on 5 or more damage.
Reconfigure (invoke resistance [Intelligent Armor]): Auto-success at PL 7 via the Reliable property. In the heat of battle this armor shifts and adjusts in order to counter the last attack made on Haradrun.
De-escalation Field (invoke barrier, 20’ line [Helix Hand]): Alteration vs. CR 24. (PL 7). Stripping steel from nearby, Haradrun creates a wall of spinning jagged metal.
The Herald of Light serves as the ultimate authority within the Voices of Light. Those who have met the Herald more than once recount meeting a different Herald every time. The Herald may appear as woman, man, old, young, slim, large, or some combination of each of these factors. The details of the Herald’s appearance matter little to most. The only constant is the feeling that the Herald leaves with visitors.
Those who visit forget what is shared in these meetings, but visitors to the Herald feel driven to pursue a task the Herald gives them. Many never mention the Herald again after being granted an audience. With no name and no history, the Herald remains an enigma to all but the Sons of Jalnu. The Sons hide this secret along with countless others within their iron-and-lead library, fearful even to speak the Herald’s name, perhaps for good reason.
Visiting the Herald changes the course of one’s life, but being visited by the Herald often erases entire bloodlines from the records in Schlectenberg. The Herald’s influence can be felt in every offering to the Voices of Light and in the ubiquitous Altars of Sight that appear in shops, parks, and even households across Schlectenberg without question. The Herald’s domain is not secrecy, but acceptance.
Herald of Light
(Level 8, Medium size, 30’ speed)
Attributes: Agility 5 (2d6), Perception 4 (1d10), Will 5 (2d6), Persuasion 2 (1d6), Presence 3 (1d8), Influence 9 (3d10)
Feats: Attribute Substitution I (Influence > Deception), Ferocious Minions III, Hallucination II, Heightened Invocation II, Unending Charm
Submerged Reality (inflict phantasm and charmed, 50 targets): Influence vs. Resolve. The Herald’s invocation of phantasm is so potent that, when a target fails a single resist roll, they are permanently affected by both the phantasm and charmed banes. Looking through the minds of his enemies, the Herald creates compelling replicas of past loved ones and close friends. These phantasms plead with their targets, toying with their emotions and manipulating their courses of action in this fully manufactured reality.
Silvered Tongue (inflict dominated): Influence vs. Resolve. The few who can resist the Herald’s powerful deceptive magics find themselves compelled by his deeply logical and reasonable suggestions about courses of action favorable to him.
Lightsworn Champion (invoke summon creature): The Herald of Light uses Influence to invoke this boon. Influence vs. CR 18 - 28 (PL 4 - 9) The Herald summons forth a creature of blinding light, which protects him at all costs. When defeated, the Champion is discovered to be a normal human who was shrouded in illusion. This Champion receives advantage 3 on attacks due to the Ferocious Minions III feat.
Wordless Conversion (inflict dominated): Influence vs. Resolve. Targets may not make resist rolls against a bane for one minute after it is invoked via Heightened Invocation II. The Herald conjures up an image of doom and compels his target to serve him and escape their terrible fate.
Kira, in whispers dubbed the “Oil Witch,” is known more commonly as the Crude Mistress. Amber-colored eyes stare out from a mask of burnished bronze. Carved in the likeness of a monstrous mouth with gleaming fangs, the mask amplifies her voice through the unseen apparatus encased within. On her shoulders rests a mechanical snake with one single eye in the middle of its head. The snake wraps across her torso. Its head lurches upward, its mouth encasing a hissing hose, its body a vessel for the Sacred Oil.
She enjoys celebrity status within both the lower and upper classes in Schlectenberg, as it’s not their wealth she desires but their blood, and all are equally qualified to give it. With no formal gathering place, she meets in private with small groups of followers. The process by which she turns blood to oil remains unknown.
Once a member of the Council, both her former peers and agents of Blowfeld’s have attempted to capture her. Her abilities threaten the Council’s stance and would severely impact the value of Blowfeld’s oil reserves. If her practices became widespread, the economy in Schlectenberg would spiral, but new and powerful machines could revolutionize life for all classes.
Kira Ver Krulgart, the Crude Mistress
(Level 7, Medium size, 30’ speed)
Attributes: Will 5 (2d6), Deception 5 (2d6), Persuasion 6 (2d8), Presence 5 (2d6), Alteration 7 (2d10)
Hit Points: 30
Feats: Boon Focus II (Transmutation), Companion III (Mechanical Snake)
Oil Sculpting (invoke transmutation): Auto-success at PL 7 via Boon Focus II. Kira sculpts oil into whatever tool she needs.
Persuasive Insult (inflict demoralized): Persuasion vs. Resolve. Kira makes sure her target knows how tiny and insignificant they are compared to her.
Sacred Oil Reparations (invoke regeneration): Alteration vs. CR 12 - 24 (PL 1 - 7). This boon is only used on her Mechanical Snake companion.
Bloodfuel (invoke bolster): Alteration vs. CR 16 - 24 (PL 3 - 7). This boon is only used on her Mechanical Snake companion.
Mechanical Snake Companion
(Level 7, Small size, 30’ speed)
Attributes: Agility 7 (2d10), Fortitude 3 (2d6), Might 4 (1d10), Entropy 7 (2d10)
Hit Points: 16
Feats: Bane Focus (Fatigued), Bane Focus (Persistent Damage), Boon Focus I (Life Drain), Natural Defense II, Multi-Target Attack Specialist III
Draining Bite (damaging attack): Agility vs. Guard. Also inflicts persistent damage bane on 5 damage or more. If the life drain boon is active, Mechanical Snake Companion heals half (round up) the damage inflicted.
Toxic Vomit (damaging attack, 15’ cone): Entropy vs. Guard. Also inflicts fatigued bane on 5 damage or more. Spewing forth a massive gout of toxic sludge, the defiled oil causes extreme sickness, and even death for those repeatedly exposed.
The face of a new and growing movement for transparency in the Council, Magdalena finds herself embattled in controversy. Her pristine appearance and calm belies mounting anxiety and tension. Clad in shimmering Schlecten dress, she mirrors the fashions of the Flair. Few know that the iconic brooch in hair, in the shape of a woman kneeling with an emerald in her hand, is in fact an ancient relic passed down to her from her grandmother. She strives to restore the name of the Council and its power, but she harbors her own secrets. As an archmage, she commands the arcane wards that support Schlectenberg’s burgeoning towers. With the same power she could level them, but her abilities can’t bring her brother back.
Her attempts to locate Niklaus through scrying proved useless. An impenetrable fog obscures him. In desperation, she peers into the thoughts and minds of the Schlecten public. Though she knows it’s an abuse of her power, she’s unwilling to abandon her brother. If her supporters in the Council understood the scope of her violations, she would be deposed and the movement for transparency would fall apart.
Through cryptic messages and fragments that disappear in her hand as quickly as they appear, she receives visions of her brother. The glimpses show him restrained and alive. Other times they reveal masked figures selecting their next tools from a table of horrific instruments. They demand access to Eternity’s Gate or beseech her to go alone to designated alleys deep in the slums of the “Empty Pockets.” No matter how she tries, she can’t preserve these messages and must suffer them alone.
If Magdalena discovered that the Voices of Light were behind her brother’s capture she would do everything in her power to wipe them from the city, but there’s no doubt that they have their own potent magics to resist her and a number of insiders in the Council to condemn her.
(Level 9, Medium size, 30’ speed)
Attributes: Agility 1 (1d4), Learning 4 (1d10), Logic 4 (1d10), Perception 3 (1d8), Will 5 (2d6), Presence 4 (1d10), Alteration 9 (3d10), Prescience 5 (2d6)
Feats: Attribute Substitution (Alteration > Might), Bane Focus (Polymorph), Battle Trance, Extraordinary Defense III, Multi-Bane Specialist (Knockdown, Immobile), Potent Bane (Polymorph), Reactionary Trance, Resilient
Notable Equipment: Kneeling Woman Brooch (Extraordinary Item: Reliable, Consumable 1 [Flight, Haste, Resistance])
Petrify (damaging attack): Might vs. Guard. Also inflicts polymorph bane on 5 damage or more. Magdalena’s touch renders her enemies into frozen statues, which resemble those seen all throughout the city.
Crushing Tethers (inflict knockdown, immobile, 20’ cube): Might vs. Guard. Magdalena turns the environment into a prison to restrain her enemies.
Zephyr’s Grace (invoke flight + haste + resistance [Kneeling Woman Brooch]): Auto-success at any PL via the Reliable property. Activating the brooch in her hair, Magdalena gains incredible powers from a former member of the Council, but only once.
Notorious for his antics at the Theoretical Explorers Society, Niklaus’s face now covers missing person posters and enchanted walls that grin and call out to passersby. With his bare chin and mess of long hair draped across his shoulders, he resembles the Mopbrows more than the Flair. He’s gone missing before, only to be located naked on a cloud yacht or face down in a grease-shroom patch, but as weeks stretched into months his family dispatched spies and investigators to search for him. None but Magdalena and his captors know the true nature of his disappearance.
Niklaus’s reputation for bravado, mischief, and downright foolishness precede him. During childhood, his sister set wards on all the windows to keep him from sneaking out. In some respects, her safeguards taught him how to circumvent and avoid detection. With a friendly embrace and a smile, he’s quick to welcome strangers and to swipe something off their person. Niklaus disarms friends and enemies with his boyish demeanor. Any member of the Flair that hasn’t had a disastrous run-in with him is either lying or an unfashionable bore.
Though Magdalena looked out for her brother, she allowed him to succeed and fail on his own merits. He never attained the Council’s cowl. Trained formally and tutored since his youth, Niklaus learned just enough to get by. Like many children of the Flair, his illustrious parents left him to his own devices, but his devices tended to blow up. Those who know him best kept a careful eye on him, but the twinkle in his eye and his quick-witted nature tend to get him out of trouble as often as they land him in it.
Captured by agents hired by the Voices of Light, Niklaus’s well-being is leveraged against Magdalena. To appease the demands of his captors, she fully supports the rapid and aggressive colonization of Amaurea. All the while, she continues to tirelessly hunt down her brother’s captors. Niklaus continues to search for an opportunity to escape the underground vault where he’s held. If the Schlecten public caught wind of the Voice’s schemes and abuse there would be rioting, but it’s not certain if they would rally behind the Tressens or the master manipulators, the Voices of Light.
(Level 2, Medium size, 40’ speed)
Attributes: Agility 5 (2d6), Fortitude 1 (1d4), Might 2 (1d6), Learning 3 (1d8), Perception 2 (1d6), Will 1 (1d4), Deception 3 (1d8), Persuasion 3 (1d8), Presence 4 (1d10)
Hit Points: 22
Feats: Fleet of Foot II, Skill Specialization I (Agility), Wealthy
Sucker Punch (inflict incapacitated): Agility vs. Toughness. Niklaus extends a friendly hand, but swiftly alters its course to knock the wind out of his opponent.
Misdirecting Strike (inflict disarmed): Agility vs. Guard. Niklaus distracts his opponent and swipes their weapon, turning it against them.
Farewell: Agility vs. Resolve, advantage 1. If all players within 20’ feet of Niklaus fail to notice him slipping away, combat ends and Niklaus disappears. Niklaus is not a fan of fair fights or long battles, so he’ll often attempt to escape after making a suitable distraction.