Alleys of Punjar
Punjar [POON∙jar] is an ancient city located in the far south on the coast of the Lurian [LOO∙ree∙ahn] Sea. It is divided by the River Safēda [sah∙FEE∙dah], which empties into the Chelēn [cheh∙LEEN] Bay, whose waters are said to originate from the Elemental Chaos itself. As might be expected for a southerly city, Punjar experiences a tropical wet climate that features distinct wet and dry seasons.
The city as well as its nearby environs are surrounded to the north, south, and west by the jungles of the Bloodtangle Forest, while the warm waters of the Lurian Sea forms its eastern border. The farmlands that feed Punjar’s numerous citizens lie north of the enclosed city, and for many miles beyond its walls, in a wide strip of cultivated land located between the ever-encroaching Bloodtangle and the Sea. Immediately outside the western walls lies the Great Black Swamp, a massive salt marsh of tall, grassy reeds and boggy hollows that is home to dangerous beasts great and small—as well as rumored source of the recent Dark Plague. The southern tip of the city, where the Swamp meets the Sea, is anchored by the unnatural Spiderhaunt Spire—a solitary 200-foot-tall black tower. The Spire with its smooth mirror-like finish is a reminder, to those that care, of Punjar’s even darker past when eldritch arcanists and fell priests ruled the city.
Punjar, a remnant of the Arkhosian Empire and most likely predating that civilization as well, is divided into a number of wards or districts based primarily upon the inhabitants’ social and economic standing. The wards east of the Safēda are newer and more prosperous, while the western wards (the original city) is dominated by the poorer wards. Upward economic mobility is certainly possible, but for most of the city’s poor it is only an unrealized dream.
The city itself is ruled by the Overlord, the self-declared “Master of Heaven and Earth” and “Dragon of the Lurian Sea.” He was (and still is) a despicable rogue and back-alley fighter, who fought his way out of the slums of the Old City, and rules Punjar with a balance of masterful diplomacy and iron-fisted cruelty.
The Overlord is advised by a council of nobles and masters of various guilds. The council table is limited to thirteen seats, each awarded according to the petitioner’s tithe. This has created an endless bidding war for a seat at the Overlord’s table, in which seats go for an astronomical amount, only to be lost the next month when a rival outbids the current seated lord or master. Presently there are five lords seated at council table, four guild masters, and three arch-clergy, with the last seat reserved for the Overlord himself.
The city’s walls and surrounding lands are patrolled by a fierce warrior caste more commonly known as the Dragonné [dra∙GHAWN∙nay]. The Dragonné are vested with the right of hereditary titles and lands, and are effectively above the law. However, the Dragonné captains and their warriors are not permitted to make their homes within Punjar proper. Rather, all have well-defended holdings outside of the city.
As much as a third of Punjar’s souls live outside the city walls, either working in the nearby iron mines or the carefully tended farms that defy the ever-encroaching jungle to supply Punjar’s burgeoning population. Depending on the Dragonné for their safety, most have sworn fealty to one captain or another. Should Punjar ever be attacked, those living outside the city would be the first to fall before the invaders, immediately cutting off a crucial supply line to the city, a fact that is not lost on the Overlord.
The city is divided into the following wards (districts):
- Smoke (Old Punjar)
- The Commons (Old City)
- City of the Dead
- The Souk
- Palace of the Overlord
- The High Quarter and Low Quarter
- The Blackwell Citadel
- Devil’s Thumb
- New City and Northside
- Slaver’s Hold
- Temple District
Punjar’s inhabitants are primarily human (over one-half of the population) with halflings and dwarves, in that order, comprising another third of its permanent residents. The remaining population is split between various racial minorities including (in no particular order): dragonborn, elves, eladrin, goblinoids, half-elves, shadar-kai, & tieflings. Other races are non-existent in any appreciable numbers in or around the city, although there is rumor of a shifter tribe living in the Great Black Swamp.