The Frozen City
As the name implies, this is the oldest part of the city. Today Oldtown serves as the center for all local administrative needs. You’ll find the fortress of Dalenguard here, as well as the Administration Building, the Imperial University, and the City Library. Other intriguing features include Kadmiel, a tower that exists only within its own shadow.
Population: About 10,000
Primary Function: Administration/Residential
Primary Social Class: Middle/Upper
The Flavor of Oldtown
The tall buildings of Oldtown speak of an earlier age hundreds of years ago, when builders took greater pride in their creations and architects commanded greater skill and knowledge. The old buildings were not just functional, they were grand, with domes, columns, and wide white steps. Walls boast carved reliefs and frescoes depicting events of Imperial history. These structures, raised in the heyday of the Empire of Tarsis, represent not only a different style of building, but they hearken back to a time when a great deal more money was available for such projects. Statues of granite and marble, now grey with corrosion and age, rise above many streets on pedestals in intersections. Oldtown is laden heavily with history.
In many ways, Oldtown represents the Empire in Ptolus. Most of its buildings are Tarsisan in appearance. In addition, many people come to the district only to interact with the bureaucracy of the government, to get a permit, pay a fine, or speak to an official.
Back when Oldtown encompassed the entire city, Ptolus claimed about ten thousand residents. At that time, more than two hundred years ago, the city could meet every need of its populace within the confines of the district. While the old marketplace is now the site of the Imperial University and the old stockyards are now the site of the Arena, many vestiges of that previous incarnation still remain. For example, a small section of southern Oldtown near Four Fountains Street once served a function similar to Tavern Row in Midtown today. Not far to the east, the town’s onetime manufacturing neighborhood contains old tanneries, breweries, and smithies used as residences or warehouses today. The northern end of Oldtown is mainly residential, but the gamut runs from old (in some cases dilapidated) manor homes to crowded tenements full of individual flats. Many of these old homes are now abandoned, but lots of people still call Oldtown home.
People of Oldtown
The people found in Oldtown are typically natives”visitors to the city rarely come here. Oldtown does not have Midtown‘s communal feel. The people here seem slightly more reticent and tend to mind their own business.
It’s worth noting that the families of most of the Commissar’s Men, government officials, and various bureaucrats and diplomats usually live in Oldtown. Further, some of Ptolus’ wealthy families live here rather than in the Nobles’ Quarter, sometimes because they have always lived in Oldtown, sometimes for other reasons.
Dalenguard Road (#55, D6)
This building holds offices for various city officials and administrative employees: architects, accountants, assayers, auditors, clerks, diplomats, engineers, inspectors, record keepers, and tax collectors. The Administration Building is the very heart of the byzantine bureaucracy of Imperial government in Ptolus. Most citizens come here only when they need a particular permit or license, a business license, marriage license, firearms license, building permit, and so forth. All Imperial records for the city are kept here as well, so if one needed to find out who owned a particular piece of land, or when a particular citizen died, one could do so here. However, wading through the bureaucracy proves difficult and time consuming. To find out any sort of recorded information at the Administration Building, one must spend a full day and make a Gather Information check (DC 30). The Difficulty Class decreases by 1 for every 5 gp worth of bribes paid but cannot fall to below 23. Impressive as they are, Imperial records are known to have errors or sometimes to be incomplete. Even after more than seven hundred years of Empire, it is still difficult to get the common folk to file all the right forms.
Greycannon Road (#61, D6)
Ptolus’ Arena was built about three hundred years ago, when the city was growing quickly beyond its previous role as a simple port town to support Dalenguard. Originally, the Arena was to host great sporting events and con- certs, plays, and operas. Soon after its completion, however, the populace clamored for a different kind of entertainment spectacle: gladiatorial combat.
Once introduced to Ptolus, the sport gave birth to a subculture surrounding the training and promotion of gladiators. Spreading out in a radius around the Arena, one can find training centers, fighter schools, weapon and armor-smiths (most specializing in repair), and promoters of fights and fighters.
Combat in the Arena is never intentionally to the death; with clerics and healers on hand, it very rarely ends up that way. Traditional fights allow neither poison nor magic, nor firearms or alchemical mixtures. (An Arena mage casts detect magic and detect poison on each combatant right before the fight begins.) Occasionally, the Arena hosts so-called spell duels of mages, but they are rare due to the damage they can inflict. In a few matches, called All Means combats, anything is allowed. Such contests sometimes pit humanoid gladiators against such captured monsters as dire animals, monstrous spiders, or even a hydra.
Some of the original vision for the Arena still remains. Many sporting competitions besides combats take place there. A racetrack around the circumference of the Arena allows both foot-race events and horse racing. Other contests of physical prowess, such as hammer throwing, pole vaulting, long jumping, and team sports such as targetball also appear on the bill at the Arena.
Targetball is a highly physical and combative field sport with two teams of nine players (most of which are armed). Each team has a ball and a small goal. The object of the game is to get the ball into your team’s goal in any way (carrying, throwing, kicking, etc.), while keeping the other team from doing the same. The sport is tricky to watch, because at any given time there can be two different areas of action.
Citadel of the Golden Cross
Emperor’s Road (#40, D4)
Located at the north end of the district, the Citadel of the Golden Cross is an old castle that actually predates most of Ptolus. It was built right after the Ghulwar by a human who had fought in the conflict. The castle has not been well maintained, and many believe it a ruin, or nearly so. Surrounded by a rusted wrought-iron fence, the citadel is a three-story keep flanked by two towers, one clearly on the verge of collapse. A large golden cross hangs above the still sturdy, iron-studded wooden doors.
Once the Knights of the Golden Cross, used this citadel for meetings, storage of important relics and tomes, and as a sanctuary for those in need. With most of the Knightly orders existing now in name only the Citadel is unused. Though who knows how empty it really is.
Emperor’s Road (#39, D4)
The Bladechapel is the name of the manor house of Dierna Hillerchaun (Female Human, Paladin), Knight of the Pale and leader of the
Dragons. The two-story house is practically a fortress and could easily be made truly defensible if needed. It boasts its own chapel dedicated to Lothian, an impressive martial training facility, and a large armory. In fact, Dierna collects weapons. Thus the major decorations in every room are shields, crossed swords, and unique or historical weapons carefully mounted and well cared for.
Cardilion Brunner (male human paladin) and Dartalius Estalon (male human fighter), spend a great deal of time at the Bladechapel. Vestra Totharson (female human paladin), a member of the Order of Dayra and a good friend of Dierna, is often on hand here as well. Vestra is the sister of Yavil Totharson, a retired fighter in Rivergate.
Citadel of Might
Four Fountains Street (#70, D7)
Located not far from the Arena, the Citadel of Might serves as the headquarters of the warriors’ guild: the Order of Iron Might. This tall structure resembles a fortress, but this is mostly a facade. The clash of weapons and echo of gunfire echoes throughout the citadel all day long from the open-air central court where members train. Besides a large armory and its own armor-smiths and weapon-smiths, the Citadel of Might contains lodging (a handful of private rooms and a number of barracks-like offerings) for members and even offers simple but hearty meals.
High Road (#64, D6)
The courthouse, a large, circular building on a hill, looks quite imposing. Two big statues of a human woman holding the axe of justice flank the steps up to the main entrance. This place usually stays very busy during the day, with those accused of crimes, their advocates, and the Imperial judges coming and going from their various appointments. Most people here dress in their best attire; judges wear blue robes and white sashes. Justice is swift in Ptolus, and the accused rarely have to wait long for a judgment.
The City Watch remains active around the courthouse, bringing prisoners to trial and sometimes taking them off to The Prison. They also look out for those seeking to exact violent revenge on judges (a common problem), either for judgments against them or against their family members, friends, or associates. Even more quietly, the guards keep watch for those who might attempt to bribe judges.
At any given time, at least one itinerant priest of Lothian is on hand at the City Courts to cast zone of truth or discern lies if needed. Likewise, one of three watchful Goldshield or mages patrols the courthouse at all times, watching (and using detect magic) for anyone attempting to use spells to influence a judge. Sometimes the city hires a more powerful wizard to cast antimagic zone to keep out magical influences in a case where the use of spells is deemed of particular threat.
Four Fountains Street (#74, D7)
This very large three-story building includes wings on two sides that circle around a lovely garden and yard. The library’s history tomes are slanted to favor the Empire (the place was funded with Imperial grants, after all), but otherwise it is an excellent resource. Citizens pay 2 sp to get in, noncitizens pay 5 sp. This fee is good for one day.
A dozen librarians and their assistants work in the City Library. The head librarian is Nelinda Kruppet (female wizard/loremaster), a knowledgeable but somewhat absentminded elderly gnome. She is constantly coming up with ever more efficient ways of organizing the Library’s texts, much to the annoyance of both those who work under her and the frequent patrons, she’s constantly moving things around.
The library allows those who use it to make untrained Knowledge checks on any subject (even though such checks are not normally allowed untrained). Whether characters have the skill or not, they gain a +1 circumstance bonus for each four-hour period spent using the library, to a maximum bonus of +4.
Shadow Road (#42, D5)
One of the most recognizable structures in the north part of Oldtown, the Clock Tower was built long before the Frost at the height of the Empire almost two hundred years ago and boasts the largest clock in the city. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked in years.
Now the building stands vacant. Rickety wooden stairs lead from a large, empty ground floor chamber up to an equally empty second level. The stairs to the third level, where the clockworks can be found, have collapsed. Now the place is a rat-infested, cobweb-filled testament to an earlier time.
A cellar below the Clock Tower leads to a very old family crypt that once lay under a manor house built on the site (the mansion is long gone). The crypt itself leads to an area of the Undercity, the ancient remains of a settlement ten thousand years old. This area leads into the natural caverns below the city and eventually to the colossal Giant’s Staircase.
Dalenguard Road (#60, C6)
This vast fortress was built to withstand an assault far greater than any that ever threatened it. Fearing the return of Ghul and his dark horde, its designers fashioned a bastion to hold off legions of orcs, monsters, and half-demon things. In truth, however, no force was ever marshaled against Dalenguard. And now, more than seven hundred fifty years later, it sits within the confines of a small metropolis.
Jan Dalen was a great Prustan general in the Ghulwar who fell in battle, the victim of some dire spell. The fortress was named in his honor. According to the philosopher Tinerias Edren, Dalenguard serves as the Pact of Brightfather’s Day writ in stone. Although it was built mostly by dwarves, the other races of the pact each con- tributed to the fortress as well, at least in some ceremonial way. The builders clearly were highly motivate, the massive structure took only three years to complete.
Whipstone Street (#63, D7)
Hammersong Vaults, owned by Ollam Hammersong (male dwarf fighter), occupies a small, windowless, all-brick building. Ollam has built various lockboxes and vaults in and below this structure and rents space in them for people to store their valuables.
Each vault is made of three-inch-thick iron plates and is double-locked (Open Lock, DC 30). Vaults come in three sizes: small (two feet square, 10 gp per month), medium (four feet square, 18 gp per month) and large (10 feet square, 30 gp per month).
Each lockbox is made of iron a half-inch thick. They are all chained to a wall and locked (Open Lock, DC 25). The lockboxes themselves are kept in a vaultlike room with a three-inch-thick locked iron door (Open Lock, DC 30). All lockboxes measure twelve inches by eight inches by four inches. Rent for them is 2 gp per month.
Renters get a key to their vault or lockbox, but not a key into the building; the iron door into Hammersong Vaults has a triple lock (Open Lock, DC 30). A guard allows renters (or potential renters) into the building after they show proper identification. They disallow admittance to people they consider suspicious looking.
Ollam employs ten guards (human or dwarf warriors), any five of which are on duty at any given time. Ollam himself is usually here; if he is not, his wife Karsha (female dwarf fighter) is present instead.
Dalenguard Road (#54, D6); see map, page 313
According to the decree of Empress Addares XIV, every city in the Empire of at least twenty thousand citizens received 100,000 gp to be put toward the building of an official Imperial University to increase education throughout her lands. At that time, Ptolus barely qualified in fact, rumor has it that census figures were falsi- fied by then Commissar Tarbenthis Frome, a corrupt official in the pocket of Maven Balacazar. The university was built quickly, on the site of the old open market, which the city moved to where the North Market lies today.
Some three hundred students attend the Imperial University at present. A full course load (four classes) costs 500 gp per year for citizens, but twice that amount for noncitizens.
The university is a grand building with numerous towers. The largest of the towers is seven stories tall, making it one of the tallest buildings in the district. Nolvaga von Meudel (female human aristocrat), is the chancellor of the university. When she is gone, vice chancellor Tharla Tennebaum (female human expert), who prefers the title administrator, is in charge. As opposed to the middle-aged, arrogant, and effete Nolvaga, the older Tharla seems extremely competent and efficient.
The university offers courses on all manner of subjects, including mathematics, literature, history, and science; the latter includes courses on magic, its esoteric study, not its practice. Most human students range in age from sixteen to twenty-four, although most spend no more than two years in their studies here. There are, of course, wealthy and talented intellectuals who become veritable professional students, but even they are eventually offered teaching positions. Students do not live at the university except under special circumstances.
The teaching staff numbers three dozen, with at least twice that many assistants and support staff. The job of University instructor is a coveted, well-paying position (around 500 gp per year). About half the teachers live in communal housing here at the university, and the rest live elsewhere in the district.
Kadmiel, The Shade Tower
Ridge Road (#47, E5)
Most people do not know the name Kadmiel, but quite a few residents of Oldtown talk about the Shade Tower. On bright, moonlit evenings (which are not common in Ptolus), a passerby might spy on the ground a long shadow of a round tower, even though no apparent tower casts the shadow. This shadow is Kadmiel.
Kadmiel exists in what sages call the Shadow of Ptolus (see sidebar, next page). It is the only structure of substance in this strange half-world, having been mystically transposed so that only its shadow exists in the real world and only its real form exists in the shadow realm.
Kaira Swanwing’s Home
Becker Street (#56, D6)
A rather modest, well-kept house sits near the center of Oldtown amid a number of other modest, well-kept homes. This house in particular, however, belongs to the head of the Goldenshields and holds the title of Knight of the Golden Cross, Kaira Swanwing. It is full of caged birds and birds on perches, maybe as many as two dozen of them.
Off the kitchen, a stairway down appears to go into a cellar but instead leads to a black-and-white marbled hall under the house. This hall is appropriate for meetings, feasts, and parties (which Kaira is known for).
Shadow Road (#52, D5)
Only very recently opened, this theater is unlike any other. Rather than showing plays with actors, the theater hires performers who magically cast animated shadows on a huge white wall to portray an epic story, sometimes with hundreds of characters at once (in large battle scenes), sometimes with amazing effects like flowing rivers or trees blowing in the wind during a storm. The shadow play changes each week. Admission is one silver coin.
The performers are all low-level wizards, sorcerers, or bards who use a modified form of prestidigitation, sometimes as many as a dozen spells at a time. Carson Herdsman (male human com- moner3), the father of Tellith of the Ghostly Minstrel, works as the manager here, overseeing the performers and handling the crowds. Carson is, in fact, a terribly inept manager. If the theater succeeds, it will be in spite of him.
Rumors abound that the Shadow Theater is connected to House Sadar, and those in the know wonder whether the magic used in the performances taps into Kadmiel the Shade Tower or the Tenebrous Pit beneath the Imperial University.
Yarrow Street (#71, D7)
This is a rather innocuous looking dead-end alleyway between a pair of office buildings. However, scrawled on the far wall, is the skulk symbol. Those who come into the alley and wait by the symbol for at least half an hour are rewarded with a sudden, What do you want? that seems to come out of nowhere. It is the voice of Shim, a skulk. For a price, Shim can use his incredible talents to slip into places no one else can go and learn information. Shim will not steal, but he will spy. His price is 100 gp or the equivalent in magic or other goods. There are other skulk meeting points around the city, but few skulks are as willing to deal with nonskulks as Shim.
Tower of Science
Four Fountains Street (#73, D7)
This building is not yet finished. In fact, it may be at least a year from completion. Still, it seems impressive and looks like no other structure around it. The thirty-foot-high iron tower is topped with a framework that doubles its height, the finished tower will be sixty feet high. Overseeing the job is an architect named Dorut Wolfstone (female dwarf expert).
The White House
Fetch Street (#44, E5)
Located in a respectable part of Oldtown, the White House offers some gambling but is primarily a high-end brothel. In both respects, the White House is fully licensed and pays all the proper taxes to keep everything completely legal. It is the most exclusive and lavish establishment of its kind outside of the Nobles’ Quarter. The tall, single-story building features white marble facades and massive columns flanking the entrance.
The proprietor of the White House is Thurman Rees (male human fighter12). This slight, clean-shaven man with short, dark hair appears flustered all the time. In times of trouble, however, he is deadly with a bow. Thurman is the cousin of the mercenary Barras Noven. The White House employs a dozen prostitutes (four females and eight males”the place has a large number of homosexual clients), a dozen guards (human warriors), a bouncer (male human barbarian), and a support staff of ten.
Yarrow Street Forum
Yarrow Street (#78, D7)
This structure has a wide plaza around it, filled with statues and well-trimmed trees and hedges. In the spring and summer, flowers bloom in lovingly- tended gardens. The building itself appears to be three stories but in fact is only two. The main hall on the lower floor has an extremely high ceiling.
The forum hall serves many purposes. Groups can pay a small fee (usually 50 gp) to hire the city-owned hall for a day and a night to hold meetings, parties, celebrations, costume balls, and so forth. During any normal day, the surrounding plaza (and the interior of the building when it rains) is a forum for public discourse of all kinds; concerned, influential citizens may voice their opinions to members of the City Council. Philosophers and teachers instruct students”or anyone who will listen. Debates sometimes rage over a number of topics. Important individuals frequenting the forum include Helmut Itlestein, Sorum Dandubal, Tallaeth of House Kath, Yarek Nagel, Marcad Shever, Celdore Silver- wood, Marija Elinek, Chuster Nogol, Moynath Autumnsong, Jevicca Nor, Dierna Hillerchaun, Nivae Tamelli, and Kaira Swanwing.