The Frozen City
Ptolus has no shortage of wealth or wealthy people. Technically outside the city’s walls, the Nobles’ Quarter, with its row upon row of manors and estates, climbs the city’s western cliffs abutting the Spire itself. Travelers can enter the area only via a single avenue up from Oldtown that runs through the fortress of Dalenguard before reaching the Nobles’ Quarter. The heights where this district now sits were easily defensible in the city’s younger days; originally, all Ptolus residents could gather here in times of emergency, secure behind Dalenguard’s stout gates. However, as time passed and the city grew, members of the elite class claimed these enviable heights for their residences, leaving the less wealthy to expand into the lower quarters.
The largest estates in this section of town belong to the ten noble families that have held power in the area—to one degree or another—for centuries. In addition to the homes of the wealthy and the services that cater to them, this district houses the Holy Palace, where the Emperor of the Church. The Nobles’ Quarter holds the Crown Theater opera house, the Imperial Academy of Music, fabulous eating establishments, a floating apartment building, and other luxuries and sites of interest.
Population: About 3,000
Primary Function: Residential
Primary Social Class: High
The Flavor of the Nobles’ Quarter
Unless one is flying, there is only one way into the Nobles’ Quarter. Passing from Oldtown through the ancient fortress of Dalenguard, up a winding road carved into the Jeweled Cliffs, a traveler walks through a tall stone arch into the most luxurious part of town. A large district, the Nobles’ Quarter has bigger and much more expansive buildings than other parts of the city. Even now in as the city is half frozen over most of the noble estates, each command a large acreage with lush green lawns and extensive gardens.
The smell of blooming flowers, well-prepared food, and perfumed flesh wafts delicately throughout the quarter. Buildings are cleaner and better maintained here than elsewhere in the city, and one can see a greater effort paid to incorporating trees, bushes, and other plants (particularly ivy) in the landscape. Arcane magic keeps the area comfortably warm even in the dead of winter (control weather confined to the district).
Even the streets themselves differ from those in the rest of the city. Here, they are cleaner, wider, and paved with large square stones rather than cobbles. The local architecture varies greatly, including towers, circular buildings, and large edifices with multiple wings, marble columns, and tall windows. Many homes have vast open courtyards or grassy lawns. Botanical and statuary gardens are commonplace, as are fountains. Magically maintained street lamps light the way at night. Opulence is the order of the day.
Most city residents go their whole lives without ever visiting the Nobles’ Quarter. Rumors of its extravagances generate not a little resentment among the middle and lower classes. And, generally speaking, those who live in the Nobles’ Quarter are both arrogant and ignorant about the rest of the city. Many of these wealthy or aristocratic types rarely stray from the district, other than to venture occasionally into Oldtown or the Temple District or to leave the city entirely. Their servants go to the markets for them or down to the Docks as needed. Their proxies visit the Guildsman District and go elsewhere to conduct business. Most residents of the Nobles’ Quarter, particularly the very wealthy or the members of the noble families, would not even know how to find Delver Square or other common destinations in the rest of the city. They have little idea of what life is like for those so far beneath them.
Nobles’ Quarter Locations
The Aristocrat’s Table
Hin Street (#23, C5)
This elegant dining establishment understands the needs of its aristocratic and wealthy clients perfectly. The extraordinarily exclusive restaurant boasts an even more exclusive back dining room for those nobles who want privacy even from their upper-class peers. The proprietor of the Aristocrat’s Table is Dasani Merriwether (Female Aasimar).
The interior of the Aristocrat’s Table is as opulent as any noble’s estate, and the food is always decadent and sumptuous, sometimes prepared and enhanced with magic. Sculptures of colored ice, mountains of caviar, fountains of sweet wines or honey, and platters of delicious hors d’oeuvres brought to the table by swarms of butterflies are not uncommon sights here.
A trip to the Aristocrat’s Table is the experience of a lifetime for most people, but it is next to impossible to leave without having spent at least 800 gp. And that assumes one can even get a table, which proves very difficult for anyone not associated with one of the noble houses or some of the extremely wealthy families.
King’s Road (#6, B4)
Crown Street (#34, B7)
This beautiful house has been the home of the wealthy Dallaster family for four generations. The first Dallaster to live here was Kenill Dallaster, who made a small fortune as a spice merchant. Today the Dallaster family has fallen quite a bit in power and standing as their trade has fallen, Rillis (male human, aristocrat). Rillis and his wife Nora (female human ) have a daughter, Tillian (female human), who is eighteen years old. Bored, idle, and without moral compunctions, Tillian and a pair of her friends attended a gathering of a chaos cult called the Black Curtain in the back of a restaurant in the Nobles’ Quarter simply for a lark. Presumably there to recruit young nobles as members, the Black Curtain cultists actually belonged to the Plagueborn, a group with a far more sinister plan: They secretly infected the newcomers with an insidious magical ailment.
Crown Street (#32, B6)
The Prince of the Church, heir to the Holy Throne, has lived in Ptolus since the Frost. His original home, the Silver Palace, was built at that time, although it burned down in a fire. The construction of the new palace, a much more lavish home built into the side of the Spire, was finished two years ago. The grand, three-story structure can serve as a fortress if need be.
Since the Emperor himself now calls the place home, it has become the Holy Palace (technically, wherever the Holy Emperor lives becomes the Holy Palace). The Holy Palace also serves as the headquarters for the Knights of the Dawn, the Holy Emperor’s royal guard. These knights not only protect the Emperor and Prince of the Church, but they act as enforcers of the Holy Emperor’s will, and therefore Lothian’s will.
Thanks to a permanent dimensional lock, the place is warded against those who would teleport in. An invisibility purge keeps out invisible intruders, and the entire palace remains completely proof against scrying or similar intrusive divinations.
Imperial Academy of Music
Jeweled Road (#16, B5)
Ptolus’ Imperial Academy of Music carries a reputation that extends far outside the city walls. Many consider it the premier school of music in the Empire, perhaps surpassed only by the Imperial Academy of Music in Dohrinthas. House Kath backs the Conservatory and provides tuition for talented students (and sometimes even covers other expenses). Nearly two hundred students attend the academy. Most come from very wealthy families, but House Kath collects a few promising children from various schools around the city.
Longhour Street (#13, C5)
Swordthrower’s is a social club. Far more than a tavern, it is accessible only to those recognized by the guards at the door or those who come bearing an invitation. These printed invitations are like pass cards, they work as many times as needed, but any employee of the club has the ability to immediately revoke and confiscate them.
The club has two levels. The first serves mainly as a grand entrance, with storage and office space plus guardrooms. There are ten guards on duty here at any given time. The second level, reached by a staircase that rises and lowers from the ceiling, contains the club, where minstrels play, dancers dance, and the clientele drinks and mingles. Private rooms in the back are used for confidential meetings, small exclusive parties, and rendezvous with the expensive prostitutes (all non- licensed and illegal) who work at the club.
Swordthrower’s is known as a gathering spot for members of House Abanar. The owner, Yavan Helliscon (male human rogue), is a low-ranking member of the house himself. Yavan also works for Malasir, an efreet who serves as Kevris Killraven‘s head of operations in the Quarter. As Swordthrower’s is Malasir’s main income source, he guards it jealously, appearing there almost every night in human form, a handsome
mountain of a man with appetites of all kinds and a terrible temper. Malasir has two Harrow elf assassin henchmen (male rogue6/assassin6) that watch over the place when he is not present.
Korben Trollone uses Swordthrower’s as an out-of-the way spot to meet with his mistress, Nallia Feston (female human commoner).
Wealth and Nobility
Some of the noble houses command a great deal of wealth but many, surprisingly enough, do not. They own large amounts of property, to be sure, but when it comes to liquid funds, many noble families find themselves forced to borrow against their elegant possessions or even against their own influence and prestige.
Moneylenders happily do business with the nobles, extending them vast lines of credit, just for the opportunity to establish a relationship with them. It’s not uncommon for moneylenders to for- give the interest on a debt or even large portions of a debt altogether, in exchange for the gift of a minor but ancient heirloom, a favorable glance toward some issue in the City Council, or perhaps just an invitation to a party for their family (maybe to help an eligible daughter meet some wealthy or noble suitors). Not everyone in the district is an actual noble, however. The Nobles’ Quarter is also home to the very wealthy of Ptolus, regardless of how they obtained their wealth, inheritance, business, or even adventuring. And, of course, many of those who live here only work for the rich. Guards, servants, employees, and service providers make up more than half the district’s population.
A great many residents of the Nobles’ Quarter attend services at the temple of Lothian in the Holy Palace on Crown Street, so they don’t even have to venture out amid the common churches of the Temple District.