Dūbavum - the Drowning City
Located on the shores of the Abyss, the Drowning City of Dūbavum is bound to the black waters by faith and necessity. They make their living by the waters and struggle against its encroachment, from where the city has gotten its moniker. The fishermen who brave the waves feed the city and in turn feed the waters with every boat that fails to return. Dūbavum accept this hard lot as a matter of course: there can be no life without death and sacrifice.
Hope you don't mind the smell, because it's going to be here much longer than you are, stranger.Dūbavum is roughly divided in three parts; the new city, the old city and the rafts. Of those, only the new city is still on dry land and catastrophic floods have seen much of the old city submerged beneath the waves. The rafts are almost a city in its own right, snaking out across the water in haphazard fashion. That is where the poor live, working, sleeping and dying upon the waves.
The New City
It's a great place to live, but I think I prefer fish to noblemen.Constructed shortly after the city begun to flood and the ancient buildings of the city's founding begun to vanish beneath the waves, the New City is the political center of Dūbavum. The structures are new, but the powers that have claimed them are the same as has ruled Dūbavum for some time. This is where the nobles and wealthier merchants make their home, far away from the black water and smell of fish guts.
Wall of Shrines The dividing levy between the New and the Old city are guarded by regularly spaced shrines, square stone alters adorned with bones and burning incense. Processions to the shrine are near daily, with the clergy promising that they will keep the waters from consuming the New City as it did the old. Most, however, prefer to trust the levy wall.Fisheries are replaced by workshops and forges, with most of the city's non-fish related industries located here. The grand temples and government buildings make their home in the New City. Any visitor who come by land will enter through the gates of the Foreign District and housed there in any of the many inns and taverns, ranging from simple to luxurious.
The Old City
Well, when they didn't listen to our warning, the ocean made our point for us.The Old City lies beyond the levy but before the Rafts. It was the old center of the city, before the waters rose and drowned it. Now, the crumbling remains of old buildings jut from the water like bones. Some of the tallest building and largest temples provide enough ground that those with nowhere else to go squat there and scavenge from the drowned districts for anything of value. Other make their homes on long-legged homes and rafts with the buildings as either anchor or foundation. Once abandoned by the wealthy, the Old City has become a lawless place where the peacekeepers rarely go. Most would prefer to forget the time the ocean turned on them and simply pretend such a thing could never happen again.
Raft CityBeyond and around the Old City, rafts and boats are latched together to form large floating island, snaking streets and simple homes. This is the Raft City, a floating district of the working poor and to many, the true heart of the city. The rafts form a chaotic mess of homes, businesses and pathways with near constant activity at all times of day. Lanterns of fish oil or Ahi bugs glitter against the water just below the rolling wooden streets while cooking fires compete with fisheries in filling the air with smells.
Thank the water and the waves.The Abyss and the waters play a central part in the life of all who live in the Drowning City and it is a central part of their culture. Most make their living from the waters in one way or another, whether it is by pulling the nets from the waters or carving charms from the bones. All know the Abyss to be something to revere - and fear. The ocean is equally content to feed them as it is to swallow them whole. Death on the waters are not uncommon, with everything from freezing waters and drowning to dangerous, lurking terrors that drag the unwary under. This familiarity with death has bred superstition, with charms and talismans common and popular among all classes in the city. Omens, good or bad, are everywhere and in Dūbavum, it is considered wise to heed them lest it be your boat that goes under. The same familiarity brings with it a sort of grim gallows humor and stoicism, features that return again and again in the theater plays and folktales in Dūbavum. To those who visit the city, the people of Dūbavum are a reasonably friendly bunch, quick to welcome but slow to trust. To take someone on your boat is a sign of respect and trust. While the wealthier in the city are changing and importing new habits from places like Mharaji, the common folk live like they always have: elbow deep in fish.
The political power of the clergy of the Ch’elema is currently in ascendant in Dūbavum, exploiting the superstition of the masses to ensure their support. They use omens and prophecy to spread fear, then promise that sacrifice can avert disaster. On a more practical level, it is the clergy that now occupy many of the bureaucratic roles involved in the day to day management of the city-state. It is considered a highly desirable assignment, far from the black waters and all its dangers.
Some are more fervent then others and shun such easy life. These true believers worship the very Abyss as a godlike entity, standing far above all the gods in the church's pantheon. Out of all the clergy, they are particularly fast to suggest sacrifice.Despite their current control, the situation is more complicated than the Ch’elema would prefer. Without the support, or at least non-interference, from the city's powerful merchant and nobles, the church would not be able to keep their grip on power. Each vie with the other for favor and influence. So far, there have been no conflict so dire to begin to fracture the city, but only time will tell if this state can continue.
A thousand flavors of fish. But it's not a bad deal if all you've ever had is mushroom and rat.Most of the city's industry is drawn from the Abyss; fishing, catching shrimp and crab, or farming kelp and other aquatic plants. What they can't eat, they grind up to fodder for crops or Khtam while bone, plate and skin are turned into any number of products, from spear-tips to religious icons.
One of the city's most popular exports if a spiced fish-oil called Shoriba, used to cook or as a condiment to flavor food. It is so popular that Dūbavum have successfully used the threat of ending its sale in negotiation.The Drowning City maintains several smaller outposts further into the caverns to mine metal and grow mushrooms, but much of both are imported. In the wet air near the Abyss, poorly kept metal can rust fast and the demand is rarely sated. Since the water of the Abyss is by large drinkable with only some treatment, the Dūbavum sell some of it to their allies and friends while wielding its supply as a implied threat in negotiations. Some of the Ch’elema are loath to do so, but these fanatics are outnumbered by more practical minds.
Between the Ch’elema, the nobles and the vast ranks of fishermen and women, the city is divided between several powerful interests.
Guilds and Factions
Hulumi UnionOn the surface, the Hulumi are the voice of the people, united to make their demands for justice. But just beneath this thin veil lies a large mass of regular people backed by wealthy patrons that guide them. While the exact names of these backers are not known to any but the closest circle, they use the same tactics as the Ch’elema to maintain control, but with much less finesse. So far, they've avoided the consequences of their fear-mongering manipulation, but for every day those paid to spread their message report less and less control. A reckoning seem inevitable and the entire city is bracing for it.
The Celestial Bureau of Business and BenevolenceKnown to most as simply "the Bureau", this association of merchants and mid-level clergy have always been a moderate power in the city. Motivated by very little more than profit and peace, they occupy a position as deal-maker and power-brokers. When the other powers begin to fray or fight, the Bureau find itself in a place to make the crucial vote or show of support. Despite their name, the Bureau have extensive dealings with the criminal elements in the Raft City and the smuggling of goods in and out of Dūbavum. The church of Dūbavum evolved from ancient, tribal customs when the city-state was still young. It's pantheon of gods have grown to a great host, each with some role to play with the Abyss. They maintain the temples, keep the city in good standing with the divine and offer sacrifice to calm the waves.
Those that worship the Abyss itself as a living thing are feared as fanatics, dangerous cultists that have lost themselves to the waters. While small in numbers, the fear they inspire give them influence disproportionate to their actual power.More important than faith, the Ch’elema are more organized and unified than the other factions with a common goal and an established way of reaching it. This goal is largely to remain in control and continue to profit, with both taxes and involuntary sacrifice filling the temples coffers.
At present, the Drowning City maintains a standing militia due to their conflict with Dhanā and their vassals. Skirmishes and small raids have become part of the routine for these levy troops, with mercenary troops providing the bulk of the offense. On average, the warrior in service of Dūbavum is not a well-trained professional, but an laborer or worker called to trade their tools for arms. While defending the city-state in the more expansive caverns, they favor longer polearms made out of bones, horns or fangs of ocean creatures.
In the Naaaaavy! Dūbavum does not have a conventional navy. Hattick does not allow for ships of any real size, so most favor simple and small canoes for rapid movement and surprise. When battle does happen on the black waters, it is usually fought at range with javelins and crossbows.The Dūbavian Ranger stand apart from the levy as an well-trained standing force that specialize in prowling the waters on small, fast-moving ships. Most of their time and efforts are not against other humans, but against the monsters of the deep. This has left them no less dangerous to face for the soldiers of Dhanā and their arrival has turned several battles.
State of War Dūbavum is currently engaged in an extended conflict with the city-state of Dhanā over what began as a minor border skirmish. Neither side has been willing to settle as of yet and blood still feeds the black waters with every new raid.
Sanghin's Ship of LuxuryOne of the more popular places among the Raft City is Sanghin's Ship. This large floating palace is constructed from several rafts and precariously stands two stories tall. It travels along the Raft City, bringing cheer (and vice) to all who come aboard with coin in hand.
Old City Kelp-FarmWIP
On the DivineWIP - TL;DR version: there are no gods. Read more about Faith in Araea
- Characters in Location