Organizations and People Worth Knowing
Ptolus has ten noble families, all of whom enjoy special status by ancestral right. Although the empire does not officially recognize their titles, Ptolus is far enough removed from the capital that local tradition still grants the noble houses hereditary seats on the city’s ruling council. Additionally, most of them are quite wealthy, and affluence brings influence. The noble houses were once the real powers of the area, serving the King of Palastan before the empire took control of the region (the name of the King’s River recalls this ancient time).
A mercantile house, Abanar is very wealthy but not well regarded. Dered Abanar is the very old head of the house. There is much controversy among his many children over who will take control of the house when he is gone. Abanar is unique among the ten noble houses because it allows wealthy citizens to buy membership in the house. A minor noble title costs 10,000 gp. The other houses look upon this practice with disdain.
Often called “House Dragon,” Dallimothan’s members dress in dragonscale armor, use dragon regalia, and are said to be friends with actual dragons. The house is led by Kirstol Dallimothan and remains a powerful force in the city.
The members of Erthuo are scholars who normally avoid confrontation and rarely get involved in the squabbles between the other houses. The family, headed by Peliope Erthuo, is composed entirely of elves and half-elves. Speculation runs rampant in broadsheets of late that she has a secret love interest.
A wealthy house, Kath is known for its members’ talent and glamour. Devina Kath, the head of the house, is a well-known patron of the arts.
Famous for its martial prowess, Khatru numbers many arrogant and self-righteous warriors among its members. Dorant Khatru, the current master of the house, is a member of the Twelve Commanders.
Nagel is an old house known for its charity, but it has recently fallen on hard times. Fransin Nagel, mistress of the house, makes no secret of her family’s long-standing feud with House Sadar.
Hated by House Khatru, Rau’s members have a reputation as rogues and pirates. The house also boasts a large cadre of spellcasters. The head of the house is Verrana Rau.
For as long as people can remember, Sadar – called by some the House of Shadows – has been led by powerful mages. Its current leader, Renn Sadar, is a shadow mage and has a strong association with the Inverted Pyramid mages’ guild.
Known for skill with machines, Shever used to make a great deal of gold but has recently seen its influence fade. The house may be on the rise again now that it has allied itself with the technophilic organization known as the Shuul. Thollos Shever is the head of the house.
Vladaam may be the oldest, and is certainly the most evil, of the noble families. It seems to have lost much of its influence recently. Iristul Vladaam, the current master of the house, has not been seen in the city in years. Most people whisper that demonic blood runs in the family’s veins, and all agree that every member of the house is at least half mad.
Probably the most powerful crime family in the city, the Balacazars are certainly the oldest. Menon Balacazar is the aging head of the organization, and his son Malkeen serves as his second in command. Menon also has at least two daughters. Arkhall Vaughn, a wizard of substantial power, is a known associate of the family. The Balacazars fund a number of criminal endeavors, including theft, extortion, smuggling, illegal gambling, assassination, and trade in slaves, drugs, and evil magic items.
Killraven Crime League
Kevris Killraven arrived in Ptolus only recently, but this mysterious woman has created the second most powerful criminal organization in the city in a very short time. The League deals in extortion, prostitution, and illegal drugs. A number of troglodytes, ogres, and other nonhumanoid creatures work for Killraven. Rumors make Killraven herself variously a medusa, a particularly intelligent harpy, or even a giant. There were early rumors tying Killraven to the Shuul mechanists or the Sorn mages, but most dismiss these tales as nonsense.
The Longfingers Thieves’ Guild is steeped in tradition, but many say that its time in the city has passed with the rise of other criminal organizations with broader ranges of activities. Its headquarters are said to be hidden somewhere in the Undercity, and finding them is supposed to be the first requirement for joining the organization.
A gang of young thieves based in the Warrens, the Pale Dogs paint their fingernails black and often wear distinctive two-fingered rings. They follow a mysterious leader named Jirraith who is rumored to have connections to the Balacazars and to the Vai.
The assassins’ guild known as the Vai is wholely evil. Each member is said to have taken an oath to kill an intelligent being every day. The services of the Vai are used by many of the city’s darkest organizations.
Religious and Philosophical Organizations
Church of Lothian
Lothian was a mortal man who lived about fifteen hundred years ago. He ascended to godhood by strength of spirit and a multitude of good works. Today, he is a god of justice and purity. His followers usually focus on one aspect or the other. As god of justice, Lothian is known as the Lawgiver. As god of purity, he is called the Daykeeper. He is the foe of all cruelty and destruction and particularly hates the undead. He promotes peace, harmony, and safety. His holy symbol is an ankh crucifix. His priests normally wear white and blue, but they wear gold on high holy days.
The Church of Lothian seeks to convert the heathen and to protect and nurture the faithful. The church was once far less tolerant of other religions and of arcanists than it is today. The Edict of Deviltry proclaimed, centuries ago, that all arcane spellcasting was evil.
The Church of Lothian is the most powerful religion in the Empire of Tarsis. The head of the priesthood is known as the Emperor of the Church and is every bit as powerful as the secular emperor. The Emperor of the Church normally lives in the capital city, Tarsis, but has spent the last few years in Ptolus visiting his son, the Prince of the Church. The church remains involved in the daily administration of government, and Lothianite priests can and do serve as judges and other officials. Ptolus has several chapels devoted to Lothian, but the largest of these is St. Valien’s Cathedral in the Temple District. The church maintains its own order of knighthood, the Order of the Dawn.
Brotherhood of Redemption
An order of monks who believe that no evil is irredeemable, the Brotherhood of Redemption seeks to give any evil creature a chance to repent. Its members do not believe in inherent evil. They operate in the Undercity out of the Fortress of the Redeemed but maintain a surface headquarters in the Guildsman District. They make it known that they willingly accept any prisoners who are not members of the major races. They’ll even pay a small bounty for evil creatures, so long as they are intelligent enough to be shown the error of their ways.
The Church of Lothian includes an organization called the Conciliators, which consists of inquisitors dedicated to converting infidels, destroying chaositech, and stamping out evil. The group is headquartered in the Temple District.
The Fate Weavers are a small group of prophets and seers who claim the ability to tell people’s fortunes. Locals consider the group to be a thin masquerade for a prostitution ring.
Those who value death and undeath more than life are called the Forsaken. Necrophiles, necrophages, and necrophiliacs, these disgusting people worship dark gods and consort openly with undead and the Fallen. They are based out of the Necropolis. The Forsaken are the sworn enemies of the Keepers of the Veil. A small subgroup of the Forsaken called the Licheloved carry out the will of their death gods in ways that turn the stomachs, it is said, even of other Forsaken. Another subgroup called the Torrens focus their efforts against the Church of Lothian. Some of the Forsaken are living people who consort with the undead, and others are themselves undead. They particularly revere ancient undead known as the Wintersouled, who are reported to have built the Dark Reliquary. Thankfully, no one has heard from the Wintersouled in generations.
Healers of the Sacred Heat
Healers, physickers, and surgeons who use a magical process involving heat to heal wounds, the Healers of the Sacred Heat are based in the Temple District and offer inexpensive healing. The process is said to be quite painful but effective. They do not typically ply their trade for adventurers (who can afford quicker, less painful methods), but for commoners who need treatment for chronic ailments.
Order of the Fist
The Order of the Fist is not a traditional religious order. The monks and other fighters who belong to the order are united only in their belief in taking action. They believe that one must set goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them. Members may disagree, sometimes violently, over what those goals should be, but they all agree on the importance of pursuing your desires. Their leader is Wynn Rabinall.
Once a simple organization dedicated to upholding the concept of order, the Shuul have become a powerful force pushing for the restoration of technology to its former prominence. They make use of firearms, clockwork devices, and steam engines. Despite this love of machines, the Shuul do not reject magic. Instead, they see the union of magic with machine to be the ultimate accomplishment. Most members of the organization are humans or dwarves. Its mission particularly appeals to Grailwarden dwarves. The Shuul maintain close ties with the Temple of Teun, Mother of All Machines, and with House Shever.
Sisterhood of Silence
Founded in Ptolus more than two centuries ago, the all-female order called the Sisterhood of Silence is focused on upholding the law and defending the city. The order has spread to other cities, but its central headquarters remain the Priory of Introspection in Ptolus. The Sisters of Silence do not speak. Instead, they employ a cadre of devout eunuchs to speak on their behalf. They are said to have a complex sign language involving body posture and facial expressions that allow them to communicate with each other quickly and efficiently.
Other Religious Organizations
There are many religions in Ptolus, though none of them have the popularity or influence of Lothian. Some examples include Ahaar, Lord of the Air; the Fifty Three Gods of Chance; Gaen, Goddess of Light; and Teun, Mother of All Machines.
The Dreaming Apothecary may be more legend than fact. Some claim that a secretive group of spellcasters crafts magic items for people, making transactions with them magically through dreams. Darker rumors circulate accusing these powerful mages of using threats and their magical might to prevent anyone else in the city from making magic items for profit. It is said that potential customers can reach the group at Danbury’s in Delver’s Square.
The Delver’s Guild has grown in influence and wealth over the last five years. It offers its members information about job opportunities and events pertaining to the exploration of the Dungeon. The guild also maintains the city’s most extensive collection of maps and an impressive research library.
Members receive passwords that allow them to access secret chambers within the Dungeon. These chambers, called waystations, are stocked with food and simple supplies. High-ranking members gain retrieval insurance, guaranteeing that guild members will retrieve their bodies if they die while exploring and have them raised if possible. Retrieval and raising costs are paid out of a special guild account funded by the insured.
The guild’s membership hovers around eight hundred. It is estimated that there are an additional four hundred or so delvers not affiliated with the guild. At any given time, about two hundred and fifty delvers are actively exploring the Dungeon. It is also estimated that for every ten delvers who enter the Dungeon each week, one does not return. About one hundred new adventurers come to Ptolus each week, and another twenty five or so are raised from the dead. Since the Delver’s Guild began keeping records three years ago, about eight thousand adventurers have died permanently while exploring the Dungeon. Another two hundred and thirty have retired, some remaining in Ptolus.
The Inverted Pyramid is a mysterious and ancient guild of arcanists. Their membership roll remains shrouded in mystery, but it most likely includes the most powerful mages in Ptolus, perhaps in the world. For years, they have wielded considerable influence in the city. Their headquarters are said to be hidden from normal sight by powerful spells. Long ago, the Inverted Pyramid was founded as a great foe of the Church of Lothian. When the Edict of Deviltry proclaimed all arcane spellcasting to be evil, a number of mages gathered to form a secret society devoted to preserving themselves and their lore. Even though the Church of Lothian no longer hunts mages, the Inverted Pyramid continues in its purpose to preserve magical lore from those who would eradicate it.
Some rumors say the the quasi-legal spellcasters’ guild, the Sorn, is closely associated with the Shuul. Others insist that the group is backed by Kevris Killraven. Its members supplement their magic with mechanical devices and other technology.
Orders of Chivalry
Keepers of the Veil
The Keepers of the Veil are an order of holy knights dedicated to the destruction of undead, specifically free-willed spirits who should have remained on their own side of the great veil of death. Occasionally, the Keepers ally with a smaller group called the Knights of the Pale. The Keepers work from a fortress built into the wall around the Necropolis. From the Siege Tower, as it is called, they strive to eradicate the curse of undeath from the world. They are led by Sir Beck Von Tibbitz and a Lothianite priestess named Phadian Gess.
Knights of the Golden Cross
An ancient order, the Knights of the Golden Cross oppose evil in all its forms. They have a particular hatred for House Vladaam. The knights are devout followers of the mysterious Elder Gods, a pantheon that no longer has an organized religion. The knights, led by an elf named Kaira Swanwing, operate from a fortress in Oldtown.
Knights of the Pale
The Knights of the Pale are a small order dedicated to combating supernatural threats, particularly demons and spellcasters. Although not an official arm of the Church of Lothian, they venerate the Lothianite saints. Their leader, Dierna Hillerchaun, operates the order’s headquarters in her manor in Oldtown, which she has renamed the Bladechapel. The Knights of the Pale often work with the Keepers of the Veil and the Malkuth.
The Fallen are fiends also known as the “young demons.” Few people care to dwell long on the question of who the “old demons” might be. The Fallen live in the Dark Reliquary in the Necropolis with their allies the Forsaken. Whispered rumors claim that they follow the leadership of two powerful demons, Raguel and Lilith. Most people wish the Fallen were not in Ptolus, but they actually cause surprisingly little trouble. Few speak of them, but there are rumors that they are waiting for something to happen or looking for something important.
The Malkuth are a mysterious group of celestials and half-celestials who live in the Pale Tower in Oldtown. Little is known about them because they keep to themselves, rarely emerging from the tower.
The Viridian Lords are powerful rangers who roam the wilderness of Palastan. They have learned to fuse plants into their own bodies, granting them great power and a strong connection to the land.
More People Worth Knowing
- Aoska: A woman with a unicorn horn growing from her forehead who is a member of the Malkuth and of the Commissar’s Twelve Commanders.
- Daersidian Ringsire: A well-known elf battle mage who can often be seen riding a wyvern over the city.
- Doraedian Mythlord: An influential elf who is master of Iridithil’s Home, a sanctuary for elves.
- Fabitor Thisk: The most visible cleric of Lothian to adventurers, he runs St. Gustav’s Chapel near Delver’s Square.
- Iron Mage: Rarely seen, he is said to be the most powerful wizard in Ptolus.
- Jevicca Nor: A powerful sorceress and one of the leaders of the Inverted Pyramid.
- Sheva Callister: One of the better known early delvers, she is retired but continues to frequent Delver’s Square.
- Steron Vsool: The champion of Gaen, Goddess of Light, his heart glows so brightly that it can be seen through his chest.
- Urlenius, Star of Navashtrom: An ogre-mage cleric of Navashtrom, God of Strength and Harmony, he was converted from evil by the Brotherhood of Redemption.
- Zade Kenevan: Bald, thin, and gruff, he tends bar at the Ghostly Minstrel.