Absalom.   Posted by Absalom.Group: archive Z
Tue 8 Jul 2008
at 13:03
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Alignment: N
Capital: Absalom (303,900)
Notable Settlements: Diobel (4,850), Escadar (11,700)
Ruler: Lord Gyr of House Gixx, Primarch of Absalom,
Protector of Kortos
Government: Grand Council composed of representatives
from several major noble houses and religious groups. The
greatest of this council, called the primarch, enjoys a wide
range of powers.
Languages: Common (Chelish/Taldoran), Osirian, Kelish
Religion: Abadar, Iomedae, Aroden, Norgorber, Cayden
Cailean, Nethys, Sarenrae, Calistria, Shelyn, Irori

The Isle of Kortos, in the eye of the Inner Sea, stands astride dozens of major shipping lanes. Its sprawling citystate, ancient Absalom, thus earns its title as the City at the Center of the World. The conf luence of mercantile, strategic, and religious inf luence in Absalom has attracted would-be conquerors throughout history. The ruins of dozens of siege castles litter the grounds outside Absalom’s walls, and its harbor is so choked with the masts and moldering hulls of sunken warships that safely reaching the city’s docks requires the steady eye of a paid pilot. Yet Absalom has never fallen.

Legend claims that Absalom was founded by Aroden himself when the Last of the First Humans raised the Starstone from the ocean depths and left it in its current resting place at the heart of the city. Since those ancient days, a succession of self-made noble families have vied for control of Absalom, an endless battle whose weapons include subterfuge, betrayal, and assassination. The city’s culture is an amalgam of customs and beliefs drawn from Osirion, Thuvia, Cheliax, Andoran, Taldor, and Qadira, and many of the noble houses identify themselves closely with elements from those nations. The common folk represent an even wider array of cultural inf luences, from Mordant Spire elves to Tian traders to travelers from other planes. As a result, food, song, and clothing from nearly every corner of Golarion can be found here if the visitor knows where to look.

This cross-mixture of culture and ideas engenders a thriving community of learning and the philosophical arts. Many of Golarion’s most adept insitutions of magic exist within the walls of Absalom, including the Arcanamirium, a large school of magical study founded by the Arclords of Nex; the College of Mysteries, a more exclusive arcane school; and the Clockwork Cathedral, a prestigious academy devoted to the study of constructs and machines.

Nearly all of Golarion’s gods have temples in Absalom (some of them secret), but four religions have dominated local affairs for centuries. Each of these deities—Aroden, Norgorber, Iomedae, and Cayden Cailean—entered Absalom as humans and left as immortal demigods after completing the infamous Test of the Starstone. Surrounded by a deadly maze of traps, guardians, and wards, the Starstone is a gateway to divinity for those who survive and a terrible death for those who fail. The clergies of these Ascended deities hold great power in Absalom, although the inf luence of Aroden’s moribund church has waned since the death of its god a century ago. Ambitious would-be deities scheme to attempt the Test, establishing cults and temples in Absalom’s Ascendant Court and drawing worshipers and support. For every Ascended god who survives the Test of the Starstone to achieve everlasting fame and adoration, there are hundreds who fail the attempt and are forgotten.

Absalom is comprised of several bustling districts, each with its unique character. The following represent some of the larger, more powerful neighborhoods of the city.

Ascendant Court: Most of Absalom’s temples congregate in the Ascendant Court, the hub at the center of the city’s great thoroughfares. The Starstone itself rests in a massive cathedral perched atop a pillar of rock surrounded by a seemingly bottomless pit. Three bridges cross this expanse, one for each of the Ascendants’ faithful. A fourth bridge, corresponding to Aroden and maintained by his aging clergy, crumbled when an earthquake rocked the city a decade ago and has not been repaired. Seekers of the Starstone must find their own way across these wellguarded spans before risking the legendary dangers of the cathedral itself.

The promise of the Starstone attracts legions of would-be deities, zealous cultists, and desperate followers eager for something to believe in. Every day, pilgrims from around the world visit the great chasm at the center of the district. Some write their wishes and dreams onto pieces of paper they drop into the pit, hoping to send a message directly to the gods. Others hope to catch a vainglorious fool or righteous hero in an attempt to snatch divinity. Agents of Absalom’s thieves guild prey upon the visitors by picking pockets, running cons, and demanding protection money from various “deities in training.”

Notable churches in the district include the Temple of the Shining Star, where clerics of Sarenrae honor the sun; the Seventh Church, site of one of Iomedae’s 11 miraculous Acts; and Cayden’s Hall, a grand tavern devoted to the Accidental God where his faithful honor their master with upturned tankards and eager fists. Not far from the heart of the district lies the enormous Cathedral of Failure, where silent caretakers erect small shrines to unsuccessful seekers of divinity. The oft-empty chambers of this dour edifice echo with the memories of conquered aspirations and forgotten dreams. Those sensitive to the whispers of spirits find the cathedral’s winding passages and baroque galleries almost unbearable.

Azlanti Keep: A district all to itself, this massive stone fortress sits near the northern edge of Absalom to protect the city from land-based invaders. The keep houses the city watch and the First Guard, an elite group of warriors, wizards, and scouts whose sole purpose is to root out and eliminate threats to the city. The citadel’s architecture is among the oldest in Absalom and ref lects influences of the city’s Azlanti origins by way of Aroden. Wide balconies offer a commanding view of the city in all directions, and the immense f lat roof of the structure forms a useful battle platform in times of siege.

The Coins: Situated just north of the docks, this district hosts most of the foreign traders and seamen who come to the city. The transient nature of the Coins’ residents attracts illicit trade in the form of drugs, slaves, and contraband. At the center of the district, near the major thoroughfare, trade in the Coins takes on an air of respectability at the Monger’s Mart or the Grand Bazaar, where the merchants put on a pretense of fair play and legal wares. Negotiations in this tough district often erupt into blade-fighting, and more murders take place in the Coins than in any other district save the treacherous Puddles.

Ivy District: Overlooking the harbor and seedier sections of town from atop a short bluff, the verdant Ivy District attracts some of Absalom’s most influential artists and craftsmen. Minor nobles, gifted actors, and popular bards call the Ivy their home, and while certain “soft” crimes such as narcotics and prostitution thrive here, in general the residents of the district have little tolerance for hardened criminals or indigent street-dwellers. Numerous theaters, bawdy houses, and galleries serve as common ground between the high and low classes of Absalom, resulting in a great deal of cross-class intrigue.

The Petal District: Perched atop Aroden’s Hill, with the whole city at its feet, Absalom’s Petal District is home to the wealthiest merchants and most powerful nobles in the wealthiest and most powerful city in the world. Decadent palaces, fabulous towers, elaborate gardens, and glittering promenades characterize the district, which gets its name from the well-tended rows of flowers that run down the center of nearly every street. The overwhelming beauty forms a strange backdrop for the treacherous politics of Absalom’s ruthless upper class, where nobles and merchants resort to poison and murder as often as negotiation and armistice.

The Puddles: On the opposite side of the spectrum (but no less ruthless) are the city’s poorest of the poor, who dwell in the soggy lowlands of the Puddles because they have little chance or opportunity elsewhere. A terrible earthquake 10 years ago sank the Puddles just below sea level at high tide, resulting in persistent minor f looding and erosion of building foundations and society. Honest citizens f led the district years ago, ceding it to the addicts and criminals. Thieves and cutthroats abound here, and more than one guild of dubious character operates from the slouching, unsteady buildings of the Puddles.

Surroundings: The landscape surrounding Absalom is littered with 31 major ruins, the so-called “Siege Castles” that are all that remain of failed attempts by foreign armies and power-mad sorcerers to take the city by force. The immense and weirdly beautiful Spire of Nex is located 10 miles north of Absalom and remains a popular adventuring spot thousands of years after it was abandoned by its influential master. Other Siege Castles include the treacherous El Raja Key and the Red Redoubt of Karamoss.

Absalom also counts two smaller settlements under its banner. Diobel, a popular port on the western shores of Kortos, serves those wishing to bring illicit goods to Absalom by avoiding its watchful harbormasters. Escadar, on the small island of Erran just north of Kortos, is home to a sizable garrison and a f lotilla of war galleys stationed to patrol the waters north of Kortos and watch for invaders or pirates.

This message was last edited by the GM at 13:03, Tue 08 July 2008.