DescriptionWealth, tradition and a strict caste system - these are probably the most defining elements of the society of Bridgepoint. The city was founded over 2.000 years ago by a Human merchant called Drayzor. He is praised for his accomplishments, and statues show him in heroic poses. What most history books don't teach is that Drayzor used slaves to build the new settlement. Some of them were people from the region that had fallen into debt, others were "imported" slaves that he had simply bought. He forced them to work until they died - and most of them did. Drayzor had acquired his wealth by trading whatever was worth most: Weapons, drugs, secrets. In his time, the merchant wasn't revered, he was feared. And while things have gotten better in Bridgepoint, part of this legacy still lives on. The cruel caste system is one example: You are either born as a Worker, a Literate or a Noble (also called Aristocrat), and you have no chance of ever getting into a higher caste. Workers get only the simplest of jobs for just enough money to survive. Literates are allowed into schools, and have access to better jobs. They may never start their own business, though, and if a Noble "invites" them into an employment, they have to accept it. The only exception is, of course, if they already work for a different Aristocrat. The Nobles, on the other hand, are pretty much free to do what they want. Officially, they have to follow the law like everyone else. But in reality they never get sentenced for anything, until they seriously disrupted the society or offended another Aristocrat. And in the few cases they are sentenced, the punishment is usually little more than a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Both the city's judges and the so-called Seven Speakers, the official government of Bridgepoint, are chosen by the Nobles in biyearly elections. The lower castes have no vote in these choices. The current Speakers proclaimed that they want a united Delvaroth: A strong kingdom under a single rule. Of course, they see Bridgepoint as the future capital - something that many other cities see as an affront. The Nobles from Bridgepoint aren't overly aggressive about their plans, but they keep bringing up the topic in many important negotiations. It's clear they won't just give up on the plans. Bridgepoint was originally located at the shores of the Bravan river. That stream was entirely washed away by the Blackriver when Ashandri was created, along with several farms. The city was lucky enough not to be swallowed by the ashes, as well. These events created a food crisis in Bridgepoint, which took several months to solve. Before all that, as the war of the dragon gods got worse and worse in the old world, many people from the lower castes of Bridgepoint either fell into depression, or they stopped caring about rules. Trying to get the best out of the short rest of their lives was a common reaction here. And a few residents even turned against the Nobles. Several important people in the city were killed, either getting lynched or assassinated. To protect themselves and their power in the city - still hoping they would somehow survive the war -, the Nobles decided for a harsh course of action. They gathered clear drinking water for themselves, and then put drugs into everyone else's water. Bridgepoint relies on a system of canals within the city, so spreading the laced water was an easy task. People became calm, content and easy to control - for the most part. Many children as well as the sick and old couldn't handle the drugs, and died from the effects. When Delvaroth was saved, the Nobles stopped "medicating" the citizens. They claimed it had been done by followers of the dragon god Zathruax, and they, the Nobles, found out about it and stopped their evil schemes. With this lie, they changed the narrative, and the culprits turned into heroes. When the armies of Va'Laeth appeared during the first invasion, the Nobles tried their best to defend the city. While they were less driven by heroism than the desire to protect their own wealth and freedom, they were pretty effective for a while. Bridgepoint was one of the last bigger cities to fall after enduring a weeks-long siege. In the end, a dire plague broke out in the city, killing many soldiers and other residents. Bridgepoint surrendered - but with the disease still running rampant in the city, most Laethians preferred to stay outside. A group of powerful undead, immune to the plague, took control of the city. They helped finding a cure, not out of compassion, but to keep the population healthy as working slaves. But before they could reap the profits, Marisha Veilbreaker and her armies returned. Rumours are that a few of the former undead rulers are still hidden somewhere in the city. Stories tell of secret schemes and manipulation preparing the city for another invasion. The Nobles oppose any such rumours, claiming the city is safe now.
ResidentsAt first glance, Bridgepoint seems like a typical trading center. People are busy all day long, and caravans come from every direction into the city. But the society is clearly divided, Nobles looking down upon everyone else - including travelers. The lower castes either look up to the Nobles, or they hate and fear them. But most of the population just tries to make it to the next day, and to forget about all the horrors of the past. Life in Bridgepoint might be bad for many, but it's still better than it was. The toughest times seem to be over, and the Nobles try their best to take the credit for that. A small group of the Worker caste has stopped believing these lies. They are working towards a revolution, but they are doing it pretty smart. The occasional sabotage or lethal accident keeps the local guard on their toes, but no one involved was caught so far. Rumours are the wannabe revolutionaries are led by a man called Nightshade, and the tales and stories slowly turn him into a folk hero.
Important charactersMardrigal Summervoice is a Halfling Noble who originally lived in the kingdom of Cramovia - and he is one of the most important advocates for the lower castes in Bridgepoint. The kingdom and all of its neighboring countries were entirely destroyed during the apocalypse. Like most people from this region, the halfling has had dark brown skin and almond eyes. Mardrigal was in Delvaroth because his family, members of the royal court of Cramovia, had banished him for his frivolous lifestyle. But the halfling was not just a libertine. Trying to build a new life in Bridgepoint, Mardigral turned out to be a highly talented businessman, and after a few years married Helbra Jumblebloom. Helbra is the daughter of an influential Noble in the city, and through the marriage, Mardigral also became a Noble.
As someone who was treated badly by his own family, Mardigral officially shows compassion to the needs of the lower classes. He has contacts in both the Worker and the Literate castes, listens to their problems and negotiates with the other Nobles to improve their life. He appears to be a friendly and caring person - but the truth is, he's a pragmatist. The events before the apocalypse made it clear to him and other aristocrats that they have to improve life for the lower castes a little to keep them calm. Mardigral has no intention of disrupting the structures of Bridgepoint's society, and his "negotiations" with other Nobles are more about what has to be done, than what would be right and fair. Iraelah Eakin is an Areian Elf from the Spirit Fields who came to Delvaroth looking for a cure for the Heartwaste. She found a plant, the so-called Rubyroot, that is unique to the area surrounding Mermaid's Rest. Iraelah is convinced the root has the potential to be turned into a cure, or at least to tone down the symptoms. She acquired a building in the city, and has created a beautiful garden in her backyard. Her experiments have led to the creation of several new types of plants, some of them so nourishing that a single root can feed a family for a week. This makes some people in the city nervous, because the Worker class might actually keep more of their earned money with access to such a cheap, yet healthy food. Instead of just surviving from one day to the next, they might actually find the time and energy to think about their situation - which might lead to the desire to change it. Iraelah has received several anonymous death threats already - most certainly from ruthless profiteers from the Noble caste. Nightshade is the leader of the Workers' Revolution, an underground organization preparing the downfall of the current government. Few people have ever met him, and even then, he was covered in a dark hooded coat. All that is known is that he's relatively small - probably a Dwarf, Gnome or halfling. The Nobles try their best to hunt him down, but they know they have to do it silently. The more attention Nightshade gets, the more influence he gains.
The true story about this up-and-coming folk hero is not one of heroism, sadly. Nightshade's true name is Varellan Lucentstream, a gnome who grew up in Bridgepoint as a worker. He found out the truth about how the government drugged the citizens, but few people were willing to believe him. After the first invasion, he got into contact with a man calling himself Bleaksnap. He felt like Bleaksnap was the first person to really support him... until his family suddenly disappeared. Bleaksnap revealed to Varellan that he was one of the undead from Va'Laeth who had ruled the city for a short time. And if Varellan wanted to see his family ever again, he would help to bring down the government. Bleaksnap promised there wasn't going to be another invasion, and that all he wanted was revenge. Terrified, hoping to protect his family, but also understanding and identifying with the goal, he agreed to Bleaksnap's terms - and turned into Nightshade, leader of the Workers' Revolution. Emerilia Ruthanyi is a Shadowblood Half-Elf from Blackbed. Her human mother, Mara, escaped the darkness of the underground world when Emerilia was only seven years old, and since then, never stayed long in any place. By now, Emerilia is 25 years old. Her mother died during the apocalypse. The young half-elf travelled alone for a while, until she found a new home in Blackbed - the very first time she stayed for a longer period in one place. But after a while, people still felt uncomfortable in her presence. So they "granted her a diplomatic position" in Bridgepoint. Heartbroken, but taking at least the money and status that came with the job, she moved to the city at Mermaid's Rest. Here she is responsible for negotiating trade deals with the local government. Emerilia does her job well, but even her staff fears her, and the half-elf grows lonelier every day. Mika Vandergreen is a successful Halfling alchemist in Bridgepoint. Officially a Noble, he cares little for politics, and focuses on running his own potion shop. He's known to support people who fight for a just cause by making them particularly good offers, and despite being a bit awkward, people generally like him. And all this was nothing but the truth since about a year after the apocalypse.
Then, the Unbound Spirit of a powerful devil sneaked into the city. Arizcar managed to possess Mika's body, and now he schemes to take complete control of Bridgepoint. But the city is only the beginning: Arizcar wants to become King of Ashandri, and dreams of having Marisha Veilbreaker imprisoned, and everyone else bowing down to him. But the devil is patient, and he knows the most important thing is not getting any attention too early. Tendrol Viyagi is a gnomish engineer and a member of the Literate caste. When the Blackriver split Delvaroth in two, it was his idea to build the new bridge. He knew that manual labor wouldn't be enough to create such a massive structure in an acceptable time, so he created his plan including the use of magic. When he presented his work to the Seven Speakers, they loved it so much that they started work on the Blackriver Bridge almost immediately. As word of the plans reached Blackbed, they made an agreement with Bridgepoint to join the project. Tendrol travelled between the two cities until the bridge was finished, and is still directly responsible for its maintenance. But since the bridge's mystical self-repairing powers appeared, Tendrol simply travels the bridge once a year to make sure everything is still intact. His efforts made him famous, and he is now employed by the Noble House Dandreville, who own dozens of buildings in the entire city. Since the last twenty years, one of the Dandrevilles has always been a member of the Seven Speakers, making them one of the most influential families in the city. Velgron Dandreville is a so-called Saphor - a nubile offspring of an aristocratic family, beautiful, healthy and rich. But Velgron is exceptionally handsome - a human with broad shoulders and a face that looks like the work of a master artisan. His voice is dark and smooth, and as if that's not enough, he is highly intelligent, too. When he walks the streets of Bridgepoint, young girls faint and women try to get his attention. He loved this when he was younger, but being just over 20 years now, he just feels harassed. His family doesn't even consider protecting him, for his fame and status in the city helps them. Their plan is to make him marry someone in another city, where they gain political influence through the marriage.
Blackriver BridgeBridgepoint lies at two shores: The lake Mermaid's Rest in the south, and the Blackriver in the northwest. The river of ash divides Delvaroth into two sides, and the great bridge reaching from Bridgepoint to Blackbed is the only structure connecting the two sides. While Bridgepoint has always been a center of trade, the new geography of Delvaroth has increased the city's importance even more. At the foot of the Blackriver Bridge, there are streams of caravan merchants heading into different directions. The so-called Bellmen from Bridgepoint constantly wander the area, ringing their silver bells and shouting promises of a warm bed in one of Bridgepoint's inns, or barking and shouting some special offer available in the city only today!
The Speaker's HallA beautiful white spire, built by elven ambassadors a thousand years ago as a gift to celebrate an alliance, the Speaker's Hall is located at the shores of Mermaid's Rest. The tower rises up about 250 feet, making it one of the largest buildings in Bridgepoint. It has been the seat of government ever since, but it also houses markets, temporary homes for ambassadors, an opera and - at its very top - the Speaker's Library. The library contains books that have been gathered over the last two thousand years. From powerful spells to dark secrets, journals of legendary heroes and even a few living books (one is rumoured to contain the soul of the serial killer Jaycelin Goriaz, called Lovebinder), every single work here is something special. When the forces of Va'Laeth took over, they realized this, too. And as their armies later retreated, they took about half the tomes and spellbooks with them. They probably would have stolen everything, but the most important and valuable items had been magically bound to the library. Still, the loss is enormous - and frightening, considering the powerful spells the Laethians stole. Only Nobles are allowed into the spire, and only the Seven Speakers may enter the actual Speaker's Hall. The entire fourth level of the building, with the exception of the spiral staircase leading to the other floors, is one big chamber, decorated with paintings and statues from the most famous former speakers.
The Crystal MarketsLocated at seven different spots in the city, the Crystal Markets are the result of a magical experiment. Jorghun Marafaz, an elemental mage, tried to create wealth out of thin air. He prepared the seven locations with arcane symbols, then performed his ritual - and was, well, partially successful. The ground and the plants and trees crystallized, the magic transforming them into precious gemstones. But Jorghun himself dissolved, his soul split up and transferred into the magic crystals. All this happened over 800 years ago, and Jorghun is still trapped. As he never officially died, he still owns the locations. But since he's incapable of paying taxes, the Seven Speakers decided to free him from the duty to pay taxes in return for using the locations however they wanted. So unless Jorghun somehow manages to return one day, the seven crystallized places practically belong to the city. They have been used for different purposes over the centuries. Currently, they are used as market places for the particularly wealthy. Called the Crystal Markets, each one specializes in a different type of goods. You can buy the most expensive jewelry in one, exotic and alluring spices in another, and so on. Rich children of the noble houses like to bring their lovers here to show off their wealth, buying gifts that cost more than a Worker earns in their entire life. As all these riches attract criminal elements, too, and the marketplaces can be found throughout the city, the Crystal Guard has been formed. These soldiers protect the Crystal Markets, and they are trained to spot pickpockets and fraudsters. There are tales of people visiting the Crystal Markets that heard Jorghuns voice. Some were just scared by it, but it's rumoured that he convinced a few people to help him. If Jorghun succeeds in freeing himself from the gemstones he created, the Crystal Markets might close off completely - a thought that many Nobles don't like very much.
Academy of the Mystic and ArcaneLooking behind the great veil, understanding cosmic questions, shaping reality itself - these are the big topics at Bridgepoint's most renowned academy. And all the arcane research, the education of talented students and the practical use of magic follows one big question here: How can we get the most profit from it? In Bridgepoint's Mystic Academy, as most just call it, magic is a means to an end to make business. Students are taught which spells to choose based on their profitability: Which jobs can you get based on your knowledge of spells? Which are currently needed, and how can you create an artificial scarcity, increasing the need for your services? Wizards that leave this academy are more businesspeople than sages. Clients from outside the academy can hire members of the faculty for spellcasting - the money goes to the academy, not to the teachers. But the academy's staff is so well-paid that they usually don't complain about that. In the underground sections of the building, there are twelve so-called Darkchambers. These rooms are surrounded by antimagic areas, and the academy uses them for dangerous experiments. They don't tell anyone what exactly they do there, unless they can present a great new success.
The Bridgepoint ShipyardThe Shipyard is the central area of Bridgepoint's lake harbour. Incoming ships from nearby cities register here and get their necessary repairs. It's also possible to buy or rent new boats and ships here, both for transporting goods and for leisure activities. Warehouses in the area can be rented to store goods, and some local merchants buy wares right from the ships, so their business partners don't lose time finding a buyer in the city. During the siege, this place of bustling activity looked very different. The plague started in this area, and as it spread, the dead bodies were stacked in the warehouses. When it was all over, the countless corpses were burned in the open square in front of the shipyard. The people that live or work here still call it the Smoldering Square. The bones of the dead were simply thrown into the harbor, still lying there on the ground like a thick white layer.
ServicesA large and wealthy city like Bridgepoint offers everything: From mundane items to the most luxurious status symbols. The rich people love to flaunt their latest dresses or arcane items (which often do little else but attract attention). Laws are relatively strict in the city, and trying to purchase illegal goods is dangerous. Buying drugs or poison, for example, is far more complicated in Bridgepoint than in Blackbed. There are some exceptions, like healers being allowed to purchase poison for research or for their work. The administrative processes to receive such a license are very rigid. It's an open secret that, occasionally, the elite of the city uses these exceptions as loopholes. The Nobles have a history of owning exotic (and often dangerous) pets, and the many new hybrid species that were spawned during the creation of Ashandri caught their attention. A side effect of this is that there's a vivid black market for animal parts used in alchemical or arcane work.
Local rumours and news
- Mardrigal Summervoice is preparing a great celebration at the Bridgepoint Shipyard. It's a festivity he invented himself: The Prospering Future Day. On squares and marketplaces throughout the city, he wants the people to celebrate leaving the past behind, and looking into a better future for the city of Bridgepoint. As part of the celebration, he is trying to acquire exotic foods, fascinating animals to show to the people, and to hire extraordinary performers and bards. The Seven Speakers also announced that they are looking for additional security staff to ensure a peaceful celebration.
- There are rumours of a splinter group of the Workers' Revolution. It seems some members of the underground organization don't fully trust their leader, and are now trying on their own to topple the current government. The interesting thing is that one of them appears to be a trained wizard. In case this is true, he must have learned his skills in secret, or he comes from outside the city. Or, and that's a thought that is really troubling the aristocrats, he's from a higher caste than the workers.
- Mika Vandergreen recently gave some powerful potions away for free - to members of the Worker caste. The people who drank them became highly intelligent and gained deep insights and understanding while the magic influenced them. After the effect ended, they forgot the entire time, including all their insights. Mika claims he wanted to grant them a gift, and he doesn't understand why the powers of the potions didn't work permanently. The other Nobles criticized him heavily, and Mika promised not to do something like that again.
- The Moribund are a criminal organization that first appeared in Bridgepoint about two months ago. Rumours say that the first members were refugees from Blackbed, making an alliance with the local Thieves' Guild when arriving here. After the apocalypse, the invasions from Va'Laeth and with them, the appearance of The Perishing, the Moribund believe that the end is coming. It's only a matter of when, not if. And under such circumstances, everybody should just try to squeeze as much out of life as they can. The members of this organization care for no rules, and live their lives focused on all kinds of sensual pleasures. To finance that lifestyle, they take on a variety of violent jobs: From beating someone up to torture and murder, there's nothing they don't do. Every Moribund member wears a poison ring, and if they are caught, they activate it. The poison is so deadly that it kills the target immediately, and even prevents resurrection.
- About two weeks ago, the sculptor Nourash Mecradion got infected. The disease had very similar symptoms to the plague that killed so many people in the city. But Nourash healed quickly, showing no signs of illness after only three days. People are still wary, and a couple thugs even tried to kill the sculptor. He is now looking for someone to protect him.
- Halflings: 35%
- Humans: 30%
- Gnomes: 15%
- Elves: 10%
- Dwarves: 5%
- Other races: 5%
The Seven Speakers are chosen every two years by the members of the Noble caste. The so-called Collectors, themselves Nobles that are under magical obligation not to cheat or otherwise influence the process, walk from house to house to collect Votestones. Every Noble receives such a Votestone two weeks before the election, and mentally imprints it with the name of the person they want to see as a Speaker. The seven Nobles with the most votes are elected. If one of them rejects the offer, that person can decide for a different Noble to take their place. The Speakers take care of practically the entire government, supported by hundreds of Literates as their staff. The only thing not under their rule are the judges. A judge can be elected by the Speakers, but once in that position, keeps it for life.
The city of Bridgepoint is about 2.000 years old. Before the invasion from Va'Laeth, it has never been conquered - partially because of its effective defenses, but also because the Nobles of Bridgepoint are masters of negotiation. They have always had so many alliances and deals going on, that attacking them risked the wrath of many other powerful cities or even nations. Freedom, on the other hand, was never a priority in the city. For the first thousand years, about half of the population of Bridgepoint were slaves. Things slowly became better in the following centuries, with slavery officially abandoned about 500 years ago. But the current caste system is still not much better, merely giving a different name to the exploitation of the lower classes.
About 2.000 years ago
22.000, plus about 4.000-5.000 visitors at any time