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 City Guide

Seal of the City of Ptolus

Well over three hundred fifty years old, Ptolus is a city of seventy-five thousand people, the largest urban area in the northwestern Tarsisan Empire. While neither the largest nor—from most people’s point of view—the most important city in the world, it is perhaps the most interesting one. Only Tarsis and Dohrinthas are larger, and both are more important trading centers - but neither has the Spire nor the Dungeons.

The Docks Guildsman District Midtown The Necropolis Noble's Quarter North Market
oldtown.htmOldtown Rivergate South Market Temple District The Warrens The Undercity

The Feel of the City
It’s sometimes difficult to find a single label for Ptolus. Depending on who you talk to, Ptolus is either a festering nest of liars and thieves or the last bastion of nobility in the otherwise mundane Empire. It is either the land’s central hub of magical  nowledge or an inconsequential backwater port on the fringes of the Empire. It is the home of the Prince of the Church and it is the focus of evil in the world.

Ptolus is the least human-dominated metropolis in the Empire. By the standards of the rest of the world, it teems with elves, dwarves, and far stranger creatures. The very idea of counting orcs or lizardfolk among the population is unheard of elsewhere, and most people in the world have never heard of tieflings, let alone seen one—unless they’ve been to Ptolus.

The influence of the ancient evil below the streets of Ptolus has probably led to the city’s widespread corruptive elements—powerful criminals, demons, undead, and monsters of all types. Of course, being on the fringe of the Empire rather than more centrally located contributes to at least the first of those, if not the others. However, the ancient evil and its resulting corruption has brought the forces of light to Ptolus like nowhere else as well. You won’t
find an entire fortress of angels and aasimars in Tarsis or Dohrinthas, for example.

Perhaps the best way to think of Ptolus is as an adventurer’s city. “Adventurers” are not common throughout the Empire. In fact, the Imperial authorities look down upon such people and discourage their activities. Adventurers—often a euphemism for tomb robbers, mercenaries, and thieves—typically carry dangerous weapons and even more dangerous magic with them, making them a threat to public safety, order, and the authority of local government. However, the Empire, through the Commissar, allows them a sort of “safe haven” in Ptolus. Why?

The unplumbed depths below the city, with their potential risks and rewards, have drawn most of the adventurers from around the Empire, which is just fine by other local magistrates. Those communities are happy the adventurers head to Ptolus rather than sticking around in their areas causing trouble.

The powerful and influential Delver’s Guild keeps the adventurers in Ptolus organized.Adventurers perform a helpful service by ridding the city’s underrealm of dangerous creatures that could come up to the surface and wreak havoc.

But as much as Ptolus differs from the rest of the world, it shares much as well. As elsewhere, the Church holds considerable power, both spiritual and secular. Like other major cities, Ptolus is governed by a Commissar representing the Empire of Tarsis. The technological level of Ptolus has fallen in recent years, like that of the rest of the Empire—as the Empire crumbles, so too does its knowledge. Every year, there are fewer and fewer smiths who can repair the firearms, printing presses, elegant clocks, and other wonders from the Prustan folk and the Grailwarden dwarves of the east.

Overall, the flavor of Ptolus, as you will discover in the chapters to come, combines the city’s great age, its incredibly varied population, its large number of adventurers and classed characters, and its dark side, which has surfaced more and more of late and continues to grow.

Ptolus is cosmopolitan in the extreme. The names of many humans, for example, have become so jumbled that often they no longer offer a clue as to a person’s original lineage and familial land of origin. Likewise, the currency is a mixture of very old coins and standard Imperial coins, as well as a smattering of foreign money, such as from Uraq. Lastly, the many and varied gods of Ptolus come from everywhere. It’s been said that if someone, somewhere worships something, you can find a temple for that religion in Ptolus. The City by the Spire has always been accepting of variant outlooks and beliefs, even when they are not popular; for example, the Inverted Pyramid hid in Ptolus when the Edict of Deviltry outlawed the use of arcane magic.

Ptolus is far more cosmopolitan than most cities in the Empire. The city’s population breaks down demographically as shown in the diagram at right. These population figures count only individuals living above ground who are recognized in the city more or less legally. No dark elves figure into the population, as their very presence in the city is illegal. No skulks figure into the population breakdown, as they dwell underground; a band of goblins living under the city would not be counted, either. It is estimated that if one were to count all the intelligent beings dwelling under the city, the population would increase by another five thousand, not counting the dark elf city of Nluguran or the captured city of Dreta Phantas, but counting the Stonelost dwarf community Kaled Del. Including the undead and the demons in the Necropolis would add perhaps another thousand.

When applied to the above statistics, these criteria imply that some orcs, lizardfolk, and even ogres and demons are officially recognized city residents. This is true. Due to the work of the Brotherhood of Redemption, many of the “monsters” in the city live there legally, such as the ogre-mage Urlenius, Star of Navashtrom.

Ptolus covers roughly two thousand acres. That makes its population density average about thirty-seven people per acre, which sounds comfortable. However, much of Ptolus is not residential. Residential areas average more along the lines of fifty people per acre. In some districts, such as the Nobles’ Quarter, it is more like ten or even five people per acre, while in others, such as the Warrens, it can be as high as two hundred.

Racial Distribution
Of all the districts, Midtown is the most racially diverse, containing neighborhoods devoted to elves, aram (centaurs), halflings, and litorians. Orcs, assarai (lizardfolk), and less desirable creatures are found in many districts, but nowhere in as great a concentration as the Warrens. Dwarves are more heavily represented in the Guildsman District than elsewhere. Both market districts also have a fair diversity.

The least likely place to find a nonhuman is the Nobles’ Quarter, and most nonhumans who live there are elves.

Although each race has its own prejudices and preferences, the only ones that routinely face real discrimination are those considered by most to be generally evil (whether it is true or not). Examples include orcs, lizardfolk, goblins, dark elves, and so forth.