The Frozen City
In many ways, the Necropolis is the least typical district in Ptolus. In fact, it’s strange to even call it a district. It has no shops and no homes (with a few strange exceptions). It’s really just the city’s cemetery. But, as with so many things in Ptolus, there’s much more to it than that.
The borders of the Necropolis are very clear, a wall surrounds the entire district. It sits atop a number of small hills at the northeast end of the city, near the cliff edge over-looking the Bay of Ptolus.
Population: 0 (officially)
Primary Function: Cemetery
Primary Social Class: None
Flavor of the Necropolis
A chill wind blows through the twisted branches of a shriveled tree. An avenue runs between rows of mausoleums, and gravestones dot the hill beyond. Shadows move out of the corner of your eye, and haunting melodies waft from some distant wind. This is a gloomy, somewhat unnerving area during the day but a terrifying place of horrors at night. The evil that walks in the Necropolis slumbers during the day, either due to the sunlight’s power or through a sort of wordless detente reached with the city’s protectors.
Like any other section of town, the Necropolis has streets, avenues, and lanes, but they lead only from one grave-site to the next and from one crypt to another. Laws of the city forbid the construction of any buildings within the Necropolis other than crypts, tombs, or mausoleums. However, a few structures existed long before such laws: the Hall of the Valiant, for example, and, of course, the Reliquary.
Not surprisingly, the Necropolis is one of the quietest areas of the city. Sometimes”during the day, of course, people come to the cemetery just to stroll around and enjoy a bit of peace in the isolation. Some call this practice sightseeing the dead.
Keepers of the Veil can be found around and within the Necropolis even at night. Their organization has been waging a war against the undead for the better part of the last 300 years and keep watch over the district day or night.
Darklock Hill (#130, L4)
Alchestrin was a powerful wizard of antiquity, having lived some 1000 plus years ago. His tomb is one of the oldest in the Necropolis, and in life he was one of the masters of Castle Shard.
The entrance to the tomb lies at the apex of a hill, surrounded by standing stones worn with age and covered with moss. An iron plug six feet across and inlaid with bronze at the center of the stone circle serves as the entrance. On the plug, inscribed in Palastani, are these words: The sun is now my enemy. I retreat forever from its light. The doors to my kingdom shall not open during its reign. This fairly obvious clue suggests that one cannot remove the plug during the day. This is true nothing less than a wish can do so.
Alchestrin’s Tomb is a large complex that extends deep underground. It is warded by magical traps and guardians, as well as undead defenders. Those who brave its dangers would be well rewarded, however, for it also contains a great many magical treasures, including, hidden away in the deepest, most secret vault, the soul magic spell that allows one to enter the top of the Spire.
The Quiet (#126, K3)
Thamus is an old, forgotten deity of protection and safety. Long ago, he bequeathed the Stones of Thamus to the world as tokens of his power. These stones fell into the possession of a human druid named Andach, who placed them on the far end of a bridge that connects a little island to the shore of a very small lake called the Lake of Sorrows within the Necropolis. He named the island Clasthamus, meaning in the hands of Thamus.
The artifacts of this good god of life make it impossible for any undead or demon to step onto the bridge or the island, or even touch the waters of the lake. However, the Stones of Thamusfail for twenty-four hours ”midnight to midnight” on Godsday each year. During that period, the island becomes vulnerable, though Andach defends it ably with all his considerable might.
The small island seems entirely out of place in its mournful surroundings. Andach and his apprentice, Hennam, have turned it into a verdant grove teeming with life. No real paths run through the island, which is thick with trees and shrubs, although it does have a bit of a clearing in the middle with two crude huts where the druids live. Over the years, Andach has awakened a mountain lion, rattlesnake, falcon, and squirrel, all of whom live on the island amid a surprising number of other creatures. The awakened animals help keep a vigil around the perimeter of the island; even though the undead and demons can’t come here, they can still send living Forsaken spies or assassins”although after all these years, almost none are brave enough to attempt it anymore. A treant close friend of Andach’s also lives on the island.
The Ghoul Paths
Throughout the Necropolis
Just below the ground level of much of the Necropolis, narrow burrows created by ghouls wind to and fro beneath the cemetery’s graves. These passages are used to remove corpses with- out anyone on the surface ever being any the wiser. Most ghoul paths measure no more than three feet in diameter, requiring the ghouls to crawl.
Ghouls and ghasts dwell in these tunnels, sleeping during the day and scurrying about the surface at night. The tunnels go from grave to grave, but many collapse after a short period, requiring the undead to dig new passages all the time. This havoc makes the ghoul paths a seemingly nonsensical maze. Treasure-minded adventurers report that one can sometimes find coins and other valuables strewn along the subterranean pathways” items lost from corpses dragged away by the ghouls, who do not care for such things.
Noble Family Crypts
Each noble family has its own crypt in the Necropolis, most quite lavish and warded against tomb robbers and body snatchers. Still, about half of the families choose not to use their crypts, or do so only rarely. Instead, they bury their dead on the grounds of their estates or in underground family crypts.
Center Street in the Waiting (#129, L4)
The Morticians Guild an organization of morticians, gravediggers, professional mourners, and others involved with the business of interring the dead. This large and surprisingly influential Ptolus organization has at least two hundred fifty members.
Most Morticians hate the Forsaken, but they dislike the Keepers of the Veil as well. Ultimately, the guilders ignore the worsening situation in the Necropolis and operate as if things were the same as decades ago, when the worst problem was the occasional tomb robber.
Members of the Forsaken often infiltrate the Morticians, serving as spies or informants. Further, some Ptolusites in professions dealing with the dead secretly revere death and adore the dead a little more than is healthy. These individuals quietly sympathize with the Forsaken, and some even join that unsavory group.
The Morticians Headquarters is located next to the main gate into the Necropolis, the Center Street gate. The large, two-story structure is built into the Necropolis side of the wall.
Hall of the Valiant
The Quiet (#125, K3)
Near the center of the Quiet stands a vast mausoleum containing the remains of some of Ptolus’ greatest heroes, leaders, and other honored dead. Those entombed here include dead commissars, council members, and even one Prince of the Church (Lukas Mikolic), plus such heroes as Abesh Runihan and Tacheron Kint, and notables like the historian Gerris Hin and the former leader of the Keepers of the Veil, Sir Tomas Storocek. The Commissar grants families’ request for burials here of heroic loved ones.
The building is a huge, open hall with marble floors and columns lining the walls. Side passages hold small individual crypts. The entire open structure stands above ground, lit by a few high-placed continual flame spells.
An iron golem waits in the middle of the great hall. Its orders are to attack anyone attempting to disturb a sealed crypt. The golem has stood guard here for many years and has proven an effective deterrent.
Further, each individual crypt is trapped, both conventionally and magically. This practice started almost twenty years ago to deter tomb robbers and, even more, the Forsaken and the undead.