The Dark City (3.5e Campaign Setting)/The City
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The Great City has existed for many centuries building on top of the remains of once was the trading Center of the Great Southern Empire. After the Empire fell to barbarians it was through the Crusaders of Aarth that the city was reborn under the control of the Overlords. The Church of Aarth established itself as the main religious order building over monuments and shrines of gods past.
The overlords, under very wise rulers, encouraged economic growth in the city. The City expanded outward and seized the land of the pagans, forcing them to integrate into the city to access their sacred lands and keep their traditions alive. Lands outside the city became great fields of grain that would become the cities main export to the world market. As the trading to other cities expanded the Guilds rose to power and influence over the city.
The City is now host to some of the richest merchants and Lords. Working in the shadows, the thieves guild has also rose to prominence by the guile of its leaders in the early days. Today, the Guild is run more like a business with bureaucratic meddling and excessive taxation. The guild’s oppressive rules make it difficult for a hard working thief to make a living.
It is no wonder that the next generation of thieves have found it so much profitable to run freelance no matter how dangerous it might be…
Running Adventures in the City
For the simplicity of the game, the city is vast and infinite and immortal. Their is countless of NPCs, places, plots, organizations, and resources available. When shop is closed down, another opens up. If one powerful NPC falls, another takes its place. If an institution is crushed, a new one emerges from the shadows. If players need to find a tavern that serves only elven wine run by a one eyed drow then such a tavern exists and such one eyed drow is there.
The design of the city and its political systems are vague on purpose; created to allow the DM to insert only information that is relevant to the players for their particular needs. Players need not know who the Guard Captain of the North Gate is until they have business with the Captain at the North Gate. PC's need not know about the Templars of St. Baslum until they have dealings with the templars.
In these cases, having knowledge and gather information rolls gives the ability for the Players and the DM to create the city in their vision. It allows for sandbox gaming as well as structured campaign arcs in a setting that is never cleared away of monsters and challlenges.
The city police forces do enforce laws when not manipulated by Lords and bribes from the Guilds. The laws apply only to the city. The Laws are complex and vague in several ways but do have basic tenants that affect the characters in the following:
1. Stealing. Punishment by Fine and Imprisonment Crimes against the citizenry of the city are unlawful. Pickpockets, taffers, and thugs are thrown in prison when caught and fined.
2. Murder: Punishment by Death. The act of killing someone is against the law. The law does not recognize self defense (it’s easier to throw all troublemakers in the jail.) Murderers are usually later executed if they fail to convince a judge for leniency or contrary evidence. Monsters are exempt from the protection of the law. Bounties that are for dead or alive are also exempt in some cases.
3. Trespassing: Punishment by Fine or Imprisonment. Which includes not having the correct paperwork for being in a particular place. Moving at night under city curfew without papers can be hazardous if caught.
4. Guilt by Association: Punishment by Imprisonment Sometimes it’s whom you know or associate with that can get you thrown into jail. High ranks in the Thieves Guild make you a target by the police trying to score policy points. Associating with a known murder can make you a target or even with a Lord who might fall out of favor.
5. Outstanding Warrants/Bounties: If you manage to escape punishment for a crime you effectively have a warrant for your arrest. Law officials and law-abiding citizens then will try to get you if you are recognized. A bounty can be placed on your head in which anyone can collect for your location, capture or death. Once you have paid fine, secure release or served sentence the warrant or bounty is removed.