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Slaan: Part 3 - The Life of Slaan

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The Two Most Interesting People in Slaan, and How they Got to Be that Way

Obviously the previous pages set down the most important people in the city, such as the Ministers of Trade and Water and the High Priest of Io, but Slaan has many unaffiliated and yet extraordinary characters. The two most intriguing of these are described here.

Wax Face

Something like two hundred years ago a strange being all white and wearing a bisected mask showed up in Slaan. He dominated a kobold and announced his intention to take up the professional dueling circuit. When the dueling ministry stated that they required a name for all entries this unusual being said he could be called Wax Face, and has gone by it ever since. At that time he was one of the only Etherguants anyone had ever seen, as the Etherfarer society had not yet been formed, but Wax Face showed up, started dueling, and never left. His past is completely unknown, just like his real name, if he even has one, though it’s assumed he was born in the Ethereal like all other Etherguants. As to why he’s in Slaan, well over the years Wax Face has been involved in many deals outside of the dueling circuit that have caused plenty of rumors that he’s monitoring some weird three-way interaction between Slaan’s rulers, the Etherguants, and the Dragons of Hoard. People all seem to think that Wax Face is planning a double or triple cross on them all. Wax Face will say nothing on the matter whatsoever.

Most of the city knows of Wax Face only as an impressive duelist on the Champion’s Circuit, which he has always done well on, but never won. They also may remember an incident about one-hundred and fifty years ago where Wax Face challenged several score people to death duels, seemingly at random, killed everyone who accepted, and then ended up dueling a dozen abiorach Rilmani in succession, of whom he defeated them all but killed none. That bizarre incident proved that the Etherguant is up to something other than just sharpening his Etherblade skills.

Wax Face holds strange dealings sometimes as an ‘arcane consultant’ always speaking through a dominated kobold, which he only occasionally remembers to feed (actually he can’t possibly fail to remember something, but the affectation serves him well). He also will occasionally hire adventurers for missions that make no sense, and often seems to kill whoever takes them up. Many of the city’s other power brokers are frightened of Wax Face and whatever influence he may have. The Illithid ambassador is positively terrified of him for some reason he refuses to reveal. Wax Face seems to increase his own influence by revealing nothing and stressing that it would probably be best if everyone in the city were dead. He abides by the law openly, but places no value whatsoever on the lives of others, and makes it quite clear when he talks.

Over the decades many have tried to see Wax Face eliminated, but with the exception of the Abiorach Valsha in her duel with him, none have even come close. Wax Face is always ten or twelve steps ahead of everyone else, and always positions pawns ahead of time, everything from kobold refuse gatherers to highly skilled adventuring parties, to a whole efreet regiment in one case.

Outside of the dueling arena Wax Face rarely acts directly except against attempts on his life, but he seemingly has tendrils of influence and confusion strewn everywhere. To human or even lizardman eyes his actions often make no sense, such as when he ordered a Red subordinate to the city and then allowed the Anatomists to cut him up. But behind the mask lurks a face that can shatter minds and an intellect of incredible brilliance. Slaan is more turbulent just for having Wax Face within it.

Smoig’Phlar

They call him the Monk of Burning Vapors, a Moloch’Phryn with a vision that cuts through the smoke outlines beyond the walls of Slaan to see the truth, or at least something close enough to it to touch the cold reptilian hearts of those he speaks to.

Smoig’Phlar was born on the Quasielemental Plane of Dust, under a different name. He was a child in one of the desperate colonies established in that hellish place by the Burning Desert lizards, colonies that live out a constant struggle against the disintegrating sands. Life was extremely hard for the young Moloch’Phryn, but he did not find it without reward. Like many of his strange people he gazed out into the shifting and crushing patterns of dust and saw a deeper meaning there, a stand sense of purpose in the endless swirling particles. He took up the path to seek out that meaning and to find his own equilibrium with the currents of the multiverse as one of the Moloch’Phryn monks.

The youth took to the monk’s path with a will few could match. He had great dedication, great insight, and a mind that would not accept answers unquestioned. Shortly he was among the most potent and learned monks in the nearby communities, but he was not satisfied. Dust was not the only way, not the only answer; it could not show him everything. So with a heavy heart and sharp mind he left his home to journey the planes.

The trail is all but impossible to follow from there. The young Moloch’Phryn left his home with a Ruvoka guide. Ten years later he came to the plane of Smoke with the name Smoig’Phlar. His family will not divulge his previous name, and he himself will not answer questions about his past, saying that gazing backwards within is not a path to truth. What little information can be gleaned about his travels indicates he spent extensive amounts of time with the Ruvoka on several inner planes, and did great service for them. He is known to have visited the Negative Energy plane and stopped at the Fortress of the Soul, where he apparently debated Factol Skall himself for some three days. It has been hinted that Smoig’Phlar thwarted an attempt to betray all the Ruvoka of Smoke by an efreet, that his very presence cowed the frightful Cryonax of Ice, and that Zhaman Rul of Fire owes him a life boon. Whatever the case of these tales Smoig’Phlar is a monk of tremendous enlightenment and vision, his Burning Vapors Path is both difficult and extremely powerful, and he may be the most potent Moloch’Phryn monk to have voyaged the planes in centuries.

Now he resides in Slaan. While Smoig’Phlar has not yet deigned to teach his way of the Burning Vapors, he has no shortage of acolytes and followers. The city’s Moloch’Phryn are proud of him in their quiet way. Allied to the complex and seemingly chaotic order found in the movements of hot gases, Smoig’Phlar’s goals are strange and difficult to perceive. He has immense personal power, and a personal presence to match an Ultraloth. Combined with his keen sense of the world around him, the monk can exert vast influence with a few words or gestures. A single sentence he utters can cause a vast cascade through the city, as if some great truth had been revealed.

Smoig’Phlar says he is resting before going to journey the multiverse once again. The Cinderformed swarm about him seeking wisdom and debating the nature of smoke. For now this monk waits, but all wonder where and when he will move, and how it will change the Plane of Smoke.

Slaan’s Trades

A lot has been said about trade in Slaan, the politics of it, the people who are trying to manipulate it, the illegal versus illegal trades, etc. Trade is the reason Slaan, heck the reason almost any major planar metropolis, exists. One of the reason trade congregates in Slaan is its portals and location, another is the relatively stable and personable government, and relative is the key word here berk. There’s a lot of things that make Slaan a promising city for trade, but what exactly, is traded in the city?

Well the short answer is just about everything, the markets of Slaan contain all sorts of varied items brought from nearly anywhere in the Inner Planes or the Prime. From Etherfarer oddities to draconic magical paraphernalia, to distilled light wine from radiance, almost anything can be found in Slaan. However, there are certain trades that dominate the city. These are the bread and butter of Slaan, the substances that make the city the central site it is.

The first, and by far the most important of these is food. The starfish things aren’t the most tasty fodder in the multiverse, but they’re food, they grow off smoke and water and they nurture a sod. Slaan has a surplus of foodstuffs that it grows itself, that’s an agricultural record matched almost nowhere else on the Inner Planes. Even the fabled City of Glass only feeds itself by hunting the surrounding waters nearly to death. They don’t think about this much in Sigil or the Outer Planes, where they import food from the Outlands or the Prime, but in the Inner Planes that sometimes just isn’t an option. Agriculture is Slaan’s most important product, and their biggest export. The lizard men charge prices for it that would seem ruinous too, until you realize where you are (food in Slaan costs about three times normal).

There are other major trades, one is ceramics, which many of the Burning Desert Lizards fashion, another is mercenaries, since the dueling circuit attracts hordes of fighters, and many of the resident races are suitably militant. A side effect of this is that Slaan traffics in gambling, since betting on duels is fast and furious. Slaan does excellent business in poisons manufactured by Helods, herbal remedies and potions formulated by druids, guides to the inner planes, maps and homunculi sold to travelers, scimitars (as the favored weapons of both genies and several lizard races Slaan has a number of superb weapon smiths), healing (from both Helod medicine and the city’s priests), and art (abstract and strangely eye twisting pieces made by almost every lizard race, but especially Dact and troglodytes). Finally, while this is not precisely a trade, Slaan is one of the premier places in the multiverse to get documents translated from or to draconic.

There are also less legal, but tremendously profitable trades. One is assassins, for which the Xantu have a well deserved reputation. Another is slaves, for anyone lost in the wrong place in Slaan can be seized and be dragged away to secret places and eventually to the servitude of the Dao. Dragon body parts smuggled out of Mineral are another source of money, in high demand from sorcerers.

With all these things changing hands it becomes easy to see why Slaan is such a busy place, and why control of the trade is often seen as the true prize in the city, at least for some. As far as currency Slaan is like most locations on the planes, and accepts just about anything of a reasonable size. However, due to the proximity of Mineral, the price of gems and jewelry is strictly controlled, and such items can only be sold to certain licensed traders. The Minister of Trade has made arrangement with several major trading companies to dump such items carefully and dispersed on the Prime, and therefore keep Slaan from losing money on them.

Slaan Without Getting Eaten

The Following is Excerpted from “Visiting Slaan without Being Eaten, or What Pompous Cagers Should Know When they Get Here” a pamphlet written by a Prime who had become a permanent resident of Slaan and who was still harassed about it by Cagers. The inspiration for this project was apparently an incident wherein three highly skilled factioneers from Sigil got swarmed over and eaten by Troglodytes in the lower levels, without so much as a bone ever being recovered. This ain’t the Prime, but it sure ain’t Sigil either.

All right all you nitwits from the Cage and elsewhere, listen up. This here city is called Slaan, and it doesn’t work the way your Outer Planar towns work. This is the Inner Planes, where we don’t bandy about belief as the be all and end all. Instead of what you can blather, what you can do tends to count a lot more here. This is a place of action and substance, not spouting and magic.

Now then, Slaan’s a big city, probably bigger than Sigil in area actually, since so much of Slaan is built vertically up the walls. We also have a lot more open area too. There’s less people than in Sigil though, and a lot fewer travelers clogging the place, so it’s more open. Hell, there are public parks, well bogs really, in Slaan. Anyway, the city’s way too big to map with any thoroughness, especially since that’d be one doozy of a map, what with everything built on top of other stuff, and buildings hanging from the ceiling and all. Still the overall layout of the city is pretty simple, it’s a big shell. That means it wraps around itself and gradually grows tighter and tighter the closer you get to the bottom. This means the floor’s always slopped, though it’s a minor thing in most places, and uniform.

People coming to Slaan should understand it’s not laid out all helter-skelter like Sigil or a lot of other places are, there’s an organization to the broad areas and it tends to divide the city up. These are the Layers of Slaan, and I’ll talk about them more later, but municipal structures and things people need aren’t scattered randomly about the layers, they tend to be concentrated so as to make the city run smoothly. Some parts of the city are open to outsiders freely, and some parts aren’t. That’s part of the don’t get eaten bit, you go into the wrong part of Slaan and not only will there be nobody to stop you from becoming food, most of the residents will think you deserve it.

A Cager tends to talk a lot about the feel of Sigil, so I’ll mention a bit about the feel of Slaan. Slaan’s teeming, booming, and surging. It’s rough and crude, filled with people who are trying to make something of their lives in the hostility of the Inner Planes. Though Slaan’s just as old as Sigil it always seems like new. The people here are different, Slaan has a real native population, and the city is theirs. Likely they don’t think quite the way you do, and they think in real practical terms. They don’t see problems with the legal system as a dispute in the struggle of law vs. chaos, they see it as a threat to their livelihoods, they don’t see a holy preacher on a street corner a piece of the cosmic puzzle, they see a person trying to usurp the belief of their friends. This breeds directness into the people that you don’t find in Sigil. Here’s an example, if a Guvner cheats a merchant in Sigil the merchant will go to the Guvners and claim he violated faction rules, in Slaan the merchant will challenge him to a punitive duel, probably to the death.

Finally, I’ll make a note about language. The planar common tongue is pretty universal out on the Great Ring, but that isn’t the case in the Inner Planes. The different elemental languages tend to hold almost as much importance, and in some areas other languages are dominant. In the case of Slaan, while most everybody in the city speaks and understands common, the native language of most of the citizens was draconic, and that’s often considered the first language of the city. This not only helps preserve the mentality and sovereignty of Slaan, its helps trade, since draconic is commonly understood even on the prime where they may not speak the planar trade speech. It’s important to be prepared for this, and probably learning draconic is a good idea for anyone spending a large amount of time in Slaan.

Services of Slaan

Most services catering to outsiders are found only in the Mouth, but there are some things that the residents use as well, and so are found throughout the city.

Guides
Slaan’s residents know how confusing the city can be to those who have never visited, and the city changes often enough that even those who regularly pass through often need some help. The informal Guild of Guides overseen by the Ministry of Outsiders makes sure there are people willing to guide a body about the city for a small charge. Most guides are Ipsosaurs, with varying levels of experience depending on the price they charge. Ipsosaurs don’t gather anywhere, but tend to just wander the city freely. The race gets along with others well, so they can move about easily and pretty much however they want. For a price an Ipsosaur guide can take you anywhere in the city, something guides from other races might not be able to do, but they are very careful about who they take where, and charge accordingly. Also, if you anger an Ipsoaur guide they won’t show it outright, but they’ll spread the word around and you’ll find most of the city angry with you constantly.

Dueling Officers
Many of the low ranked members of the Ministry of Dueling have the duty of traveling about shouting out what duels are happening and when, and trying to recruit others to take part in amateur dueling matches. These are mostly Elgar, and if harassed they tend to try and rip your face off, and thereby get you into a punitive duel with them. Properly approached and paid off, however, they can be valuable sources of information, as many have connections to Slaan’s Underworld and the city’s nasty bits.

Of course, don’t try and trap an Elgar by a revelation and then not pay, they’re more than willing to have a friend act as a ‘witness’ that you agreed to a lethal duel.

Giant Lizards
In Slaan a horse, donkey, or ox is a meal on legs, not a pack animal. Instead they breed giant lizards to move things about the city when necessary. These creatures are more suitable anyways because they can climb walls. A number of places will rent out the lizards for use by visitors, though they will usually insist on sending one of their own with the group to help manage the unusual animals. Giant lizards can be saddled for two relatively light people or one heavier one; the pack versions can carry a tremendous amount of weight. Their managers will not allow these lizards into the Warrens, since the troglodytes there will attack and eat them.

Khaasta Patrols
The city guard of Slaan is one of the toughest anywhere in the multiverse, consisting of large bands of skilled Khaasta warriors (male and female Khaasta/Ftr 3-5/var). Most of these groups are twelve to fifteen warriors in size, and led by an experienced officer (Khaasta/Ftr 6-7/var). Khaasta patrols always wear bronzed armor (treat as scale mail) and carry halberds. All members also carry composite long bows, and a third of the squad will use them in a fight. Many squad members (50% chance) carry lethal Helod poison and will use it if in life-threatening danger. Officers often (40% chance) have magical weapons. Occasionally a patrol is mounted on giant lizards, but they are usually infantry.

These patrols keep the peace of Slaan, and few toughs can take them on. The Khaasta give out prizes among themselves for successfully hunting down criminals. While they don’t make a plethora of arrests like the Harmonium, if you irritate them without really committing a crime the squad will just beat you up a bunch, and you can’t complain, though resistance of a non-lethal kind is accepted. The slightest move toward true violence will have the Khaasta charging in to attack with halberds swinging, and they won’t call for aid unless obviously outmatched.

The Khaasta can be bribed to look the other way, but they extort for as much as they can get, and if you don’t have the presence of mind to bribe every member of the squad equally (with a little extra for the officer) they’ll just take what you have and beat you down for attempted bribery. Thus, bribing a Khaasta patrol is extraordinarily expensive.

Couriers
It’s often hard to messages around Slaan securely, with all the traffic going through the city, and sometimes there just isn’t time to do it yourself. The simple solution is to higher a courier. The couriers of Slaan are primarily Dact, and they are quite reliable. Sure, they may not always get the message there on time or perfectly intact (lots of Slaan messages suffer water damage) but they consider it a personal failure when that happens. The only problem is that it tends to be hard even for other lizards to tell Dact apart, and many Dact thieves work the courier trade under false names. The message will still probably get there, but lots of other people may find out what was in it, and you may never know until too late.

Trash Collectors
Slaan is kept almost ruthlessly clean by the scavenging actions of Kobolds and Troglodytes, and they can be found shuffling throughout Slaan picking up all the bits of dropped and missing things and the refuse that lines the city. A body with coin or meat to bribe them can often look through their findings, and they’re the people to go to if you need to find anything that was genuinely lost (as opposed to stolen). These beings can also serve as informal guides, willing to answer questions about the nearby area for money, and they’ll reveal whatever secrets they know the Ipsosaurs won’t. They can also arrange to have things ‘trashed’ as long as whatever the thing in question is isn’t alive. Of course, these creatures are untrustworthy, and may betray someone to the authorities for better treatment, additional money, or just spite.

Business Specifics
Places in Slaan tend to be a bit different from places elsewhere. First, there tend to be three kinds of businesses for every discipline. One that caters to residents, one that caters to outsiders, and one that caters to both. The restrictions to where these places are found tend to be location. Outsider only type places are found in the Mouth exclusively, resident only locations are found mostly in the Desert and Marshes, while the Bogs have a lot of mixed places, as does the Mouth. However, even places where residents and outsiders congregate together have a different feel from a lot of places on the planes. Here’s some differences that most planewalkers find important.

Taverns
Travelers and workmen both spend a lot of time in taverns, and Slaan is no exception. The Mouth and Bogs are full of the places, and they are found in some way or another in all layers, but are far less common. There’s a commonality to almost all taverns in Slaan though, and that’s the nature of the drink. Alcohol in Slaan is not for the weak of heart. The lizard men farmers brew up some foul knock-dwarves-under-the-table-in-a-sip nastiness from their starfish crops, and raise tankards of such stuff high. There’s different types of taverns of course, catering to all the various types of atmosphere people wish in such places, but there’s a commonality to the brews. The local varieties will be the only thing served in cheap places, and they still serve the stuff in most high-class wine cellars. Sure, you can get imported luxuries if you want, but expect a lot of dirty looks from lizard men farmers, and expect to pay out an arm and a leg too. The local liquors are affectionately referred to as Starguts, and that about describes what they feel like. Smart people are very careful with how much they drink, it’s designed for a reptilian metabolism, and some of the farmers and laborers can conk greater fiends under the table.

Inns
Slaan’s a big place for lodging, since so many traders pass through the city. Places range to suit all kinds of tastes, from the elemental to the utilitarian. Enclosed aquaria are common, since lots of Slaan’s trade passes on to the City of Glass. Almost all the Inns in the city are in the Mouth, though someone in good standing with the residents elsewhere can usually find someone willing to take them on as a boarder. In Slaan, sleep in an inn or a house, sleeping on the street is not only a violation of the law, but an almost guaranteed way to end up either in a troglodyte cook pot or a Dao chain gang by morning, depending on how hungry the scavengers are. Don’t think the law will stop it either, the Khaasta are easily paid to look the other way on that matter.

Stables
Well, there have to be some stables in Slaan, since so many traders pass through the city, and many of them need animals to haul their goods. All the city’s stables are in the Mouth, they all tend to be built like fortresses, and they are heavily guarded. Slaan may have a food surplus, but that don’t keep troglodyte, or even more refined races for raiding the stables for prime meats. Therefore almost all the city’s few stables are operated jointly by major trading companies. Expect to pay a lot and get rather bad service if you need to put up a mount there.

Marketplaces
Ultimately the best way to describe the Mouth of Slaan is as a giant market. It’s disorganized and jumbled, but it’s a constant site of tremendous amounts of buying, selling, and dealing in all hours of the red day. Just about anything can be found there is you look hard enough. However, the specialty products of many of Slaan’s residents rarely find their way up to the Mouth except at highly inflated prices. There’s markets in other layers of the city as well. These mostly sell everyday items for the residents, but they also quietly showcase all sorts of Slaan’s top crafts. If a body wants to find them at a decent price he’s got to be willing to go out among the lizards and find them. The city also has a number of secret markets, both in hidden places in the Mouth and in the dark and dank depths of the Warren, where all sorts of illegal things and services are bought and sold.

Slaan doesn’t offer a lot in the way of ‘entertainment’ as most people would call it. There’s no Civic Festhall or Sensate social class in this city. So while the occasional musician, actor, or acrobat can be found in a high traffic area of the Mouth, the lizard types just don’t go in for it. Instead they gather around the dueling arena and watch, bet, and blather about that bloody past time. The blood sport offends many, but it’s a huge part of Slaan, and it keeps the peace as well, since many of the races take out their customary violence in the dueling ring, and not elsewhere. ‘Course, the duels conceal plenty of true darkness under their rough and bloody exterior. All sorts of nasty deals, threats and corruption circulates through the dueling arena, though the turnover rate over criminals here is ridiculously high, since the city’s rulers and their silent Xantu enforcement take such things extremely badly.

The Levels of Slaan

Levels may be a bit too quaint of a word to describe the divisions that organize the city of Slaan; environments might be a better one. These six areas really are different environments, with their own inhabitants, structure, and in some cases even climate. While the Level structure doesn’t really affect the politics of the city, since the Ministries aren’t broken down by Level or anything, they are a huge impact on the city.

The boundaries of the Levels aren’t absolute exactly. It’s pretty clear to anyone with a working set of eyes where one level begins and the other ends certainly, but those can change. The most common change is that the water level in the Depths will rise, but since nothing in the Mineral upon which the city is built has any boundaries the others can change too. It’s a constant and gradual process, the troglodytes bring more dirt down to expand the warren, and the lizardmen respond by pushing back the cinders that mark the desert a little, and back and forth it goes.

The Levels form the most common method of reference in Slaan, since streets are supplemented by catwalks, ladders, and roads that go all over the place. Since the levels fall generally along the curve of the shell evenly they serve as excellent spacers in the city. People often refer to locations by which level they are in and what they’re nearest to, such as ‘In the Bogs across from the Ministry of Trade.’

Slaan has six levels; they are, from bottom to top, the Depths, the Warrens, the Marshes, the Bogs, the Desert, and the Mouth. Many sages have considered it interesting and made a lot out of how the number is the same as the Wards in Sigil, but in Slaan mentioning something like that is likely to get you a punch in the face, since the residents don’t like being considered pawns in some cosmic scheme. As far as they’re concerned, the city is like it is because they decided to set it up that way. This sentiment has a lot more truth to it than is initially apparent, since by controlling the water flow throughout the city it is possible to change the internal climate quite significantly.

Each level has its own purpose, and generally, its own dominant races. The Depths have no inhabitants, but Troglodytes and Kobolds dominate the Warrens, Lizardmen and Khaasta are the main inhabitants of the Marshes and Bogs, the Burning Desert Lizards collectively call the Desert home, and the Mouth is given over to outsiders. Each level also tends to have specific functions associated with it. The Depths is the center for the business of water, the Warrens for the city’s darkest natures, the Marshes for residences and farming, the Bogs for administration and industry, the Desert for crafts and faith, and the Mouth for trade.

Since every level except the Depths has its own gates to the outside they can sometimes seem like little cities on their own, with limited traffic between them, but in truth they are heavily interdependent. Each layer has its own ‘heart’ a central area that serves both as the main point of interaction with outsiders and a great deal of the business of that layer. These are really sort of like highly evolved town squares, and indeed the center of the Mouth is a giant market square. Those not familiar with a level would do well to concentrate in these areas, which usually have anything a casual visitor requires.

The Depths

There is a bottom to the world, and it is a cold dark place that few wish to walk within. In the very lowest portion of the mineral shell which shapes the city of Slaan water flows ever upward from a portal that allows in the elemental plane of water. Yet not just water travels in from that portal, and along with the fluid that represents the lifeblood of Slaan comes the great vulnerability in the city’s defenses, and a terrifying threat to the health of its citizens.

The Depths stretch from the very bottom of Slaan, where the city tapers into a pointed cone less than ten feet in diameter. Through that ten feet flows the water, always coming through in a continuous stream. The rest of the level is bounded by the water, and where it reaches its maximum height and meets the wall of piled earth that forms the edge of the Warrens it ends. The Depths are Slaan’s smallest level in terms of both volume and area, occupying only the very bottom of the city, in an area where the boundary walls of glass are clearly visible, and light seems to come from all sides, yet this level could be said to be the most important to the city.

It is in the Depths that Slaan’s critical water supply is both threatened and defended, and that the all-important management required seeing that it is channeled up to the rest of the city in the right way is located. There are no citizens that live in the Depths, but the place is the seat of power for the Ministry of Water, and the location of one of the city’s most secret and respected traditions: The Water Militia.

Water Militia Headquarters
A floating platform of wood and metal that sits atop the water that makes up the depths, and anchored to the walls themselves, this compound is the site from which the Water Militia sends out its patrols and managers and secures the Depths. The Headquarters itself is built like a combination of fortress and foundry, as there is constant construction and repair of critical components to the water channeling system. Here are also made the special weapons and homunculi used by the Water Militia.

This platform can only be accessed by Water Militia members or those with a pass from the Minister of Water, all others will be captured immediately, and undergo secret trial from the militia’s officers. The Militia runs specialized magical transit out to its headquarters on modified versions of Tenser’s Floating Disk, but no one goes into the water supply itself.

The Militia exists because of the threat to Slaan’s defenses that the portal to the Plane of Water represents, but also because no ordinary military force could meet that threat. About half of the militia consists of non-combatants, personnel who are recruited to clear away plants and ordinary animals that swim through the portal and otherwise represent no threat to the city beyond being contaminants. The other half, however, has a mission that is deadly serious. The plane of water is a dangerous place, and sahaugin, locathath, Ixilacxil, kraken, and many other villainous creatures often try and succeed in entering Slaan’s waters. Screens over the portal itself can prevent most large animals from getting through, but not these creatures, who often realize where they have ended up quickly, and then set out to take over the city by cutting off the water supply.

The problem with these incursions is two-fold. First, there must be a group strong enough and with training in combat in pitch black underwater conditions to repel them, and it must be done in such a fashion that does not contaminate the water supply. Blood and bodies released into the water would be a disaster. Therefore the Water Militia utilizes specialized weapons that kill via electric shock or force blasts, and wear complex homunculi that seal over their own wounds and prevent anything from getting free, as well as letting them breathe and see in the conditions. The origin of these devices is unclear, since while the militia crafters can reproduce them, they clearly did not come up with the design. It has been suspected that the devices might have been designed by Ethergaunts. The Water Militia recovers the bodies of both their own fallen and their enemies.

The Water Militia is unusual among Slaan’s military groups in that it contains many outsiders and non-reptilians among its membership. Many of these are highly skilled adventurers, attracted by the excellent pay, which is believed to be directly subsidized by the city’s rulers. At the moment the long tenure of Opolin’s exemplary leadership, and the current Commodore of the Militia the half-shen lung Hyspira (Female half-dragon/human/Ftr 15/LN), has made the Water Militia almost as strong as it has ever been. They have fought successful battles; perhaps they might even be called wars in some cases, throughout the Depths, the city’s pipes, and even once into the Elemental Plane of water itself, all the while unknown to the majority of the city. The military tradition of the militia is quite proud, and many races in the city consider it an honor to serve, and many of the city’s most notable duelists have indeed served the militia at some point.

The Warrens

The dark earth piles up at the bottom of the city, soil, refuse, and solid ooze all mixed together into a gritty morass penetrated by troglodyte stink and loose refuse. In dark twisting passages through this mess the light from the walls does not reach, and the level sits in a sullen and hungry darkness.

This is the Warrens, the darkest, dankest, and most filthy part of Slaan. Where troglodytes burrow, scratch, and consume in the dark, where kobolds linger in fear and hatred, and where the darkest deeds of the city come to hide from the red light and watchful eyes.

The Warrens of Slaan depart greatly from the rest of the city in their organization, nature, and residents. This area is foul, and it is here that the foul dealings of the city occur. In the solid mass of dirt and earth that occupies all space between the walls in this layer near the bottom of the city, tunnels exist and caverns are formed that contain a lifestyle not found anywhere else in smoke. Principally this level is a hellish place where the refuse of the city gathers and its worst poor, the troglodyte and kobold races cower on the brink of hunger and despair. It is also a place of anger and corruption, where the law holds next to no sway and the worst dealings and powers of Slaan control all.

One might wonder why the rulers of the city allow this horrid place to exist. The truth is that they know every city must have its pit of foulness, and they have chosen to allow the warrens to concentrate it and keep it out of the rest of the city, which is why everywhere else seems so wholesome for a place filled with lizards. Unfortunately that means life in the Warrens is nasty, very nasty. Life’s cheap here, especially considering that once you stop breathing, it becomes legal to eat you, though sometimes troglodytes don’t wait until breathing stops if they’re really hungry. Of course, that sort of savagery pales in comparison to the dark ceremonies of the cultists who come down here, or the slave traders who sulk in and out of the Warrens looking for new bodies.

Now, the Warrens aren’t all ridiculous. Heck, a number of the troglodytes and kobolds who live here actually have real jobs in the city, and they tend to be careful, since they don’t want to disrupt their source of food. The problem is that many of them actually aren’t citizens, and therefore have no money to purchase anything. These are the lizards driven by base reptilian hunger. There are some other reasonables down in the Warrens, like the glory hunters who go in trying to break up cultists and enforce the law. They tend to have short lifespans, but success is lucrative, given the running bounty on Falazure Cultists. Charitable druids also come down here, as do crusading priests of Chronepsis, to try and impose at least that the dead stay in the bellies of those who eat them and don’t come crawling back.

There’s not a whole lot of legitimate business going on down in the warrens. The occasional troglodyte crafter or abstract artist exist, and the Ministry of Water sends in people to make sure that water corrupted by its passage through this region doesn’t damage anything else. Mine workers sometimes get jobs repairing breaking tunnels or widening caverns as well, but it’s unsteady. Illegal work’s a whole lot more common. The dark business and ceremonies of the cultists, the secret markets of those who serve Dao slavers, who constantly try and sneak their charges out unwatched gates, and the places of contact for dark deeds for the future. Other nasty things not legal in the rest of Slaan find themselves occurring in the dark of the Warren’s tunnels; Illithids barter for bodies to serve as brain food, rogue anatomists change men from one type of creature into another, and the Pyros and Primals sell dark and secret spells. Slaan is always busy, even in these hellish environs.

Broken Souls
The unofficial center of slavery in Slaan, Broken Souls is the name given to the mobile market that travels about in the Warren, hauling the torpidly confined as buyers are acquired and methods of shipment made. As the gates are watched the slavers cannot get the slaves to their Dao masters easily unless they use magic, which increases the price. Therefore the tactic is to gather buyers and ship as many of their wretched prisoners at once.

Broken Souls is a mass of tents, manacle lines, platforms, and chairs. All of which fold up into the saddlebags of groups of giant lizards, and can be moved at only a few moments notice. Vicious troglodytes and Khaasta, supported by Helods and Elgar, form the guards of the market, but almost all the slavers themselves are non-reptilian. These are mostly outsiders from other locations. Many are Yuan-ti, earth genasi, and tieflings, but almost anyone can be a slaver, just as anyone can be a slave. The most powerful brokers are always mages, though their identity often changes rapidly, as the smart make their fortune and get out, while the fools stay and die. Any slaver who lasts too long down here is going to find himself on a Xantu blade. The rulers suffer this place only so far. Currently a triumvirate of slave masters rules the group, a pair of Yuan-ti lovers Nessaraulk (male yuan-ti halfblood/Psion 10/LE) and Ysrilen (female yuan-ti pureblood/Sorcerer 14/LE) aided and betrayed at intervals by a human called Blank (male human/wizard 15/NE) who has survived longer than either of the Yuan-ti.

The rules for entering the Broken Souls market are simple; intimidate the guards enough that they let you through. This almost always requires some violence with blood drawn. The guards will use such incidents to look for signs of their opponent’s nature, and all are very skilled in determining the true motives of a visitor. They are most vigilant for members of the Order of the Broken Chains, who have all but destroyed the market many times.

The slaves here are in horrid states. They hardly get any food, and are forced to walk about the twisting tunnels mercilessly, and often to run. Depending on how long they’ve been here their condition will vary, but few slaves manage more than two weeks in captivity, and unless there is a major setback the slavers sell off eighty percent or more about once a week, regardless of how long they’ve been captured.

The Mausoleum of Black Vapor
The high temple to the Night Dragon, Falazure, is not a physical structure, but an area created by a set of powerful illusions and lairwards that contains and affiliation with the evil dragon power. Able to come into being in any cavern, this creation calls into being a magical assembly of dark solid smokes that cloak and choke those within, and protections and villainy that strip the righteous of strength and spark cruelty in the mind. Most hated of all powers of Slaan, and considered the greatest threat to the city; the Cult of Falazure nevertheless has many followers with its promises of eternal unlife and the dominion of the dead.

This horrid temple is called into being once each week, during the darkest hours of Slaan, and always in a large cavern that has no light sources. They make an effort to never summon their Mausoleum in any sequence of sights that could be tracked or traced. The Cultists then conduct their vile ceremonies, plan their activities for the coming week and send out messages to those who cannot attend such meetings. They also drag captured enemies before the altar of their Reaver god and sacrifice souls to work powerful magic.

No one dares enter the Mausoleum who is not a worshipper of Falazure or personally vouched for by one of significant rank. The undead, animated victims and more powerful creatures such as wraiths and wights patrol the complex. Anyone who enters who is not a servant of Falazure, even if vouched for, will be rigorously interrogated before being given a chance to conduct his or her business. There is precious little one can find here, unless searching for evil artifacts or the power of necromancy. The Cultists pride themselves on being personable, and willing to share their knowledge, but they are backstabbing bastards all the same. Few escape their clutches quickly.

Beneath the gaze of Falazure all cultists are separated only by rank, and race holds no place here. In the dark gathering all races stand equal, and troglodytes work alongside half-dragons under the commands of their priests and the Reaver’s Fangs who serve as enforces of the god’s will. The current High Priest of Falazure in Slaan is Raslay (female half-shadow dragon human/Clr 16/Hr 1/NE) a dark and villainous woman who has positioned herself solidly in charge of the faith there. All the humanoid members of the Cult know the absoluteness of her will. The only challenge to her power is Illystich, a young adult shadow dragon, and his group of dragonkith dragon-kin. The dragon is constantly polymorphed into dragon-kin form, and has a lair deep in the warrens.

Almost everyone in the city would like to see the Cultists gone, even the rulers. However, while the group long ago lost the ability to maintain any sort permanent stronghold, there’s really no way to amass a highly mobile force and bring the Cultists down, given the defenses of their lair. Even if they could, the Mausoleum has powerful connections with corrupt officials, and uses them to keep themselves secreted. The lairwards and standing affects around the Mausoleum of Black Vapor include, but are not necessarily limited to: Inscriptions of Privacy, Secure Cavern, Wonderous Absence, Unhallow, and Magic Circle against Good.

If Slaan has a dark heart, this is it, and thus the Cultists control many of the city’s darkest vices from this black hall of vapors that does not really exist.

The Marshes

Water seeps endlessly through a floor of dirt and dead organic matter above the mineral stone that makes up the marshes. Veritable rivers and lakes are formed here, and the light can only penetrate through from above, creating an environment similar to a boggy prime world. Through the expanse of sogginess move the reptilian forms of the residents, hard working, hard playing, and hard fighting, they simply want to live out their lives and little more. The ambition is gone from this place that is abandoned by the ambitious, leaving a site of surprising quite and rural tranquility in the midst of a great city. These are the Marshes, where the life of Slaan is slowed by torpid water.

This level is Slaan’s great residential center. It is a relatively simple place that produces the common goods for daily life. Here live almost the entirety of Slaan’s many lizard man farmers, who issue out the membrane gates each day and tend their great expanse of smoky crops. Food is produced and treated here, as are all the other products needed for daily affairs, rope, baskets, rugs, and more. Though these are things made by individual hands, the great crafting centers are located elsewhere.

The Marshes have little outward effect on the city beyond a site of residence and food processing. People here live relatively ordinary lives, or at least come back to their quiet homes after troubling days. The simple lizard man construction patterns of small circular buildings around water sources dominate the level, though there are far grander buildings of the rich, and the squalid homes of the city’s poor. The Marshes are designed to be something of a refuge from what goes on in the rest of Slaan, and many of the residents appreciate it. The many residences of the city’s priests and druids, who often have lodging houses here for when they live within the city walls, reinforce this aspect.

Of course, nothing is completely quiet, and the rich of Slaan often disturb this with their parties and gatherings. So do any major social events and the Marshes lurch into a frenzy of motion of the few holidays celebrated in Slaan (mostly a few draconic holidays based around the passing of heroes of the city, seasonal observances being rather pointless).

This area is the muggiest and wettest of Slaan’s inhabited levels, and therefore lizard men predominate greatly, with other races finding the area uncomfortable.

The Grand Row
Along a river in the Marshes is a set of great and glorious mansions, constructed in the style of the great Arabian buildings of the efreet. These are the mansions of Slaan’s rich and powerful, among them the Minister of Trade, the current dueling champion, and not less than three dragons that live openly in the cities bounds (a sapphire, an amethyst, and a crystal). From these buildings comes activity at all hours as the rich throw grand parties and gatherings. These gatherings tend to be a bit different from the balls and sedate parties of other cities. More common here are stylized dueling demonstrations, with the dueling ministry’s approval of course, animal fights, the display of dangerous captive creatures, and all sorts of rather ‘barbaric’ entertainment. This sort of thing often disgusts foreign visitors, but the reaction of Slaan’s residents is usually to consider them extremely weak stomached. The more formal ball or recital in the tradition of Sigil or the City of Glass does occur of course, but far more business gets done with a little noise or violence in the background. There has not been a masked ball here in three centuries, since the previous minister of dueling went about the last one ripping off the mask and punching in the face of everyone who attended, symbolizing the pointlessness of hiding one’s face in a city where the rulers see everything. Indeed, nowhere is the shadow of Slaan’s invisible rulership longer than here, at the heights of power.

Regiralite’s Lair
The old sapphire dragon Regiralite is one of Slaan’s more unusual citizens. Living openly as a resident of the city and friendly with ordinary humanoids, he is a very strange dragon. The reason why he moved to Slaan instead of remaining in Hoard on his home plane is unclear, but he brings a strange presence to the city. Regiralite’s Lair is a grand building, constructed in the draconic style of Hoard and partitioned into two sections. One is for the dragon’s private use, and only the Ambassador of Hoard, a personal friend, has the right to enter. The other, however, is open to visitors. Regiralite is a talented sorcerer, and has a collection of spellbooks of some notoriety. He’s even willing to give access to them, for a price. The dragon is addicted madly to the complex oriental game of Go, and is phenomenally skilled at it. He claims to not have lost a game in over two centuries, since a Shen Lung dragon managed to beat him. However, he constantly wishes challenges. The cunning sapphire has made it known that he will give anyone who offers him a sufficiently good game a chance to study his spellbook’s for a day, or a treasure worth five hundred gold pieces. The dragon is a formidable opponent, not holding back whatsoever, and heaping verbal abuse on his opponents, but he keeps to his word.

Regiralite will also take challenges in other games of strategy, but only if he can be convinced the opponent has something to teach him.

The Bogs

Grimy humidity fills the air, mixed with a dank and foul smoke. Noise suffuses the shell from wall to wall, and a vibrant bustle dominates the level. Lizard men, khaasta, and every race with scales run back and forth from place to place, slave to the fires of industry and government. This is the Bogs, administrative center of Slaan, where all the most important business of the city that does not involve trade takes place.

While the climate here is somewhat less torpid than that of the Marshes, it’s still an environment only lizard people can take comfortably. Hot and humid, with the occasionally smoky fog hanging in the air, many have drawn parallels between the bogs and Sigil’s lower ward. Thankfully, Sigil’s managed to corner the market on extremely bad metropolitan air.

The Bogs share with the Mouth the burden of almost all of Slaan’s business. Here is conducted the business of government, of religion, and of industry. All the great ministries and embassies are located here, as are many of the chief temples of the city. The dueling arena of the bogs is almost as large as the grand arena of the Mouth, even though no major championship matches are conducted here. The wealth of Slaan may be concentrated several hundreds of feet overhead, but the power of the city is focused here.

Few people actually live in the Bogs, mostly migrating up to their jobs from the Marsh every day. An exception to this are the members of the city’s police and army, who sleep in their many barracks here. This creates a concentration of martial power on the streets whenever the guard is changing, and everyone else tries to get off the streets at those times, since blocking a Khaasta in a hurry is a bad idea.

The Blocks of Stone
This rather unappealing title is given to the area of the Bogs devoted to the government. Located rather centrally to the level, slightly askew from the temple of Semuanya, a series of buildings exists for each ministry of the city, surrounding the great dueling arena and the council chambers. The smaller embassy compounds, both large and small, are also found stuck in spare spaces here. Construction here is boring, and surprisingly favors stone. All the major government buildings are made of it, designed for functionality and longevity. It makes the area really rather drab though.

This area is filled with such a concentration of bureaucracy and double-dealing that the air practically shimmers with the politics. It is here that non-lizards are most likely to be found, trying to work their way through the ministries to accomplish something of importance to their own affairs. The resident civil servants mostly view them as a menace.

Other major structures and those that cater to the powerful cluster around this area. The city’s many private libraries (it lacks a public one), specialized eateries and quiet cafes, merchant headquarters, banks (such as they are), and art galleries and museums celebrating the achievements of the city’s great duelists. Most of it is very blatant leeching off the power and money concentrated here, and is little appreciated by those trying to get work done, though the corrupt among the officials revel in it.

A more disturbing aspect is this area is the frequency of two races. Both Abiorach Rilmani and the frightening Xantu appear here in great numbers. Indeed, a body can go hours without seeing one elsewhere in the city, and then run into a dozen sitting on a street corner. The abiorachs are obviously here to monitor, but the Xantu are more mysterious. Most don’t seem to be working, and they look at a person as if sizing’im up for a troglodyte belly. Anyone who finds more than one Xantu glaring at them at once is likely to quiver and run within moments from those alien stares.

Redstone Facilitators
This is a small building of red stone that specializes in helping the uninitiated navigate the morass of Slaan’s reptilian bureaucracy. Run by an the kind-hearted, if aging, Fevor (male Ipsosaur/Expert/Cinderformed/LG) this service can take you through a few questions and then tell you almost exactly which room in which building you need to go to. Fevor’s been so successful that many of the residents, when directing people to the government just say “Go to the Bogs and see Fevor.” The Ipsosaur doesn’t charge much, just a silver to go through a five-question quiz, and another silver if he has to spend more than a minute deciding a tricky question. He makes a point of serving everyone equally, and employs a couple of Scel as guards to make sure everyone waits in line. On a busy day that line can get long indeed, sometimes stretching out the door and well down the street, but it moves quickly. Pushing and shoving will get you thrown out and warned not to return, and is also likely to poison a good portion of the bureaucracy against you, as they appreciate having someone guide the right people to them.

The Armory
Slaan’s armory is a great circular structure with ten doors, each of which can be sealed with a massive iron portcullis. It’s not truly designed for defense, but the rapid distribution of weapons and armor to the populace in case of attack. The armory is located at the center of great blocks of barracks buildings, each almost a fortress in its own right. The building serves as the central command of Slaan’s garrison army and its police, each having their own halves of the building. The Armory is constructed of hard baked mud from ooze, as solid as a rock. What few know is that the walls have a middle layer filled with all sorts of disease causing organisms that could be released upon besiegers by melting the outer wall with specially prepared acid traps.

Clustered around the edge of the wall of barracks are all sorts of businesses catering to soldiery, such as boisterous taverns, a great portion of the city’s smithing, mercenary recruitment offices for Djinn, Efreet, and third parties, gallows for the punishment of criminals, and more. Khaasta, Mon’Varan, and Scel dominate this part of the city, and anyone unwilling to stand up to them can expect to bear the brunt of their anger and lashing jokes.

The armory itself contains a great concentration of ready weapons, both normal ones for the arming of the militia, and special ones for cases of dangerous criminals with immunities. These stockpiles are extremely well guarded and the army never sells its weapons, regardless of price. Any criminal found to have a suitably nice weapon will see it added to the collection here forever.

Bare Blade Tavern
An open secret in the city, the Bare Blade tavern is hidden in the heart of soldiery and lawfulness, but is a site for the nastiest kind of law breaking there is. This is where you go to hire a bare blade, Slaan speak for an assassin. It’s a strange paradox, one only the Xantu would set up. The tavern is constantly filled with Xantu, but also with Khaasta officers off duty. Anyone coming to the tavern can make their case to a Xantu and see if Slaan’s only assassins are willing to accept. However, every step must be conducted under the watchful eyes of Khaasta guards, from the initial approach to a discussion of payment. This is widely considered to be the Xantu way of avoiding having to do any assassination that could be conducted by amateurs.

Of course, for the rich, there is another option. Hire a middleman skilled in approaching the Xantu. This action carries its own risks, but it at least means you have time to flee if the Khaasta haul the poor fool in for questioning. The dangers of this task make it almost as expensive as hiring the Xantu themselves.

The Desert

The baking heat suffuses everything, even your mind, making it almost impossible to think for the burning, biting agony. Black cinders ground as finely as any sand crunch under your every step, and cover everything you see. Baked reds and blacks are the only colors of construction, and the whole world seems like its on fire. Yet among this maddening, burning wasteland walk many figures, calm and sedately, with a quite ready menace to their movements they go about their lives, untroubled by this baking environment. They are the Burning Desert lizards, and you are beneath their notice.

Like a wall of fire the Desert divides the reptilian sections of Slaan from the Mouth that gathers planewalkers like a dead corpse draws flies. This scorching place, made dry and hot by the deliberate lining of everything with finely ground black cinder, resembles nothing so much as a hateful prime desert. Indeed, hidden somewhere within this layer is a portal to the desert world the Burning Desert lizards come from. This level is their realm, shared only with a few unfortunate firenewts. Other reptiles and outsiders may pass through, or even visit searching for things, but the hateful heat drives them out quickly enough.

More than any other level the Desert is something of a city on its own, the buffer city between the other halves of Slaan. The Desert lizards specialize in craftsmanship and the martial arts. While those serving in a martial capacity can be found throughout the city, their artists and craftsmen concentrate here. To get anything resembling a decent price on anything made by these races, one must brave the boiling heat and journey out into the Desert. Few do, sticking instead to the wide thoroughfare of Spiral Road to take them from the Mouth to the Bogs, the reason most are passing through here.

The Desert contains more open space than any other level in Slaan, since the Burning Desert lizards stack their homes and workshops against the glass walls and on top of each other, each race with its own small enclave. Construction is basically the same for each though, making it difficult to tell who lives where sometimes. The vast open area is used by the lizards to simply roam around in the environment. For these races dislike abandoning their nomadic roots fully. Druidic sites dot this area as well, along with the practice rings of the Mon’Varan, and the contemplative challenges of the Moloch’Phryn. Many travelers think this organization is designed simply to irritate them, since it means more time must be spent walking through the desert. This is foolish, since the races here are actually the most sociable to outsiders of any of those living in Slaan, well some of them anyway.

The Garden of Slaan
The Garden is poorly named, since its plants are scraggly, covered in spines, and ugly. This site is where the Helods grow their plants to make medicines and poisons, using magic to create artificial light. Helods tend the garden constantly, gathering ingredients for the alchemists’ art. This is where all the best potions can be found in Slaan, and other crafters may come by here to sell their goods as well. The Helods are hardly accommodating to visitors, and anyone with business here had better be willing to stomach at least two attempts to scare them off. Once that is past, however, the Helods become all business. They’re good at it too, slow to compromise and always quick to seize upon weakness.

The Garden has another purpose as well; it serves as Slaan’s unofficial medical center. While several of the temples in both the Mouth and the Bogs offer healing to the faithful, that’s at a price many are unable to afford. Healing here is cheaper, though the rough medicine of the Helods, while effective, can be extremely painful. In extreme need the druids of the level can be called in, as they are accounted Slaan’s most skilled healers.

The Field of Banners
Tall poles ripple in a wind that does not exist on a field of black cinder. A circle of banners commemorates the battles of Slaan’s past, and those who fell in them. While those who die in Slaan are ordinarily fed to the troglodytes, the dead of the battlefield, and police who die in their duty are given a different treatment. Burnt to Soul Ash by the Cinderformed their ashes are scattered under the banners here, to be an eternal monument.

The storms that occasionally blow through the Desert never enter the circle, and there is a feeling of quiet accomplishment that suffuses the area. The field is a renowned site of meditation and enchantment, and many of the champion duelists will come here before key duels.

Only on this field is all violence forbidden, and no duel challenges may be made. The ground is sacrosanct, though it is consecrated to no gods. Within the field mental magic always fails, and no being can be held against their will. The field is a common site for those who are fugitives of the Xantu or the police to flee to, but only the ignorant try this trick, since those who have disrupted the order of Slaan are not safe within the field of banners, and will find themselves fighting a phalanx of incorporeal warriors, formed of shadowy visions of ash. These warriors strike as wraiths, and though they may fall, their numbers only constantly grow, eventually slaying the interloper or driving them out. It is said that a dutiful person who meditates here long enough can contact these spirits of Slaan’s fallen warriors, but though people claim to have done so, no one has ever seen it happen.

Moloch’Phryn monks and Mon’Varan warriors are constantly present here in some numbers, with occasional others passing through or meditating for a few hours. They will not bar foreigners from the field, but will explain the nature of the site and insist on the strictest courtesies. Certain important official ceremonies, such as the crowning of a new dueling champion, or the appointment of new members of the city council, are held here.

The Mouth

The throngs move in endless motion, here and yonder with steady purpose or none. Roads and travelers wind up, down, sideways, and through the air. Business is cried out through the humid air in a hundred tongues, and great sums change hands every minute. Vices and virtues alike can be bought and sold here, and the finest luxuries of the Inner Planes are on display or for sale to those with the money and power to seize them. Humans flock side by side with lizard men, and a hundred other races can be seen in a glimpse of the thronging Spiral Road, gateway to Slaan. High above the heads of all but the most towering wall businesses lies the great gate of the city, a giant membrane stretching across the open outside of the shell and the greatest passage into the Smoke beyond. This is the Mouth, the busiest section of Slaan, and one of the greatest trading centers of the Multiverse.

There is really one purpose to the Mouth: trade. The Mouth is really one giant bazaar, filled with a thousand markets all offering different services. Traffic never stops or ceases here. Beyond the simple buying and selling that goes on here are endless other options for the traveler in Slaan. Inns are found here, and temples, libraries, guilds, and more. The great arena of Slaan is here, a site of tremendous bloodsport and rigorous violence. The compounds and offices of the factions and sects are here as well, including the headquarters of the Cinderformed, the sect of Smoke.

The Mouth is filled with the residences of outsiders. Basically if it doesn’t have scales and lives in Slaan it lives here. For many visitors to Slaan this is the only part of the city they ever see, and they know the rest only from horrid rumors. Indeed, travel down into the desert and beyond is not for the faint of heart, but those who limit themselves to the admitted wonders of the Mouth are rather missing the point (which is why it is described last).

This area contains many more important locales for outsiders than others, from the arena to the markets to the temples, and describing them all would be impossible. The Grand Arena, the Unburned Halls, and Spiral Road are therefore given attention here.

The Grand Arena
A tremendous hall, filled with countless stands and dueling circles, and built of great slabs of carved ooze, the Grand Arena may be the single largest building in Slaan. Meant to hold the duelists, the crowds, and all the machinery of the Dueling Ministry to administer it, this building carved with endless pictures of figures locked in combat, is a central piece of the city. Within these dueling circles are fought the great duels of the championships, where the best come to Slaan to pit themselves against all comers and bet their blood for gold. There are many duels each day, as the many more notable punitive duels and the duels of the amateur’s league are scheduled constantly, and matches are almost always held hourly. The great duels of the champion’s circuit may not be held more than once per week, but they are guaranteed to pack the giant edifice with thousands of onlookers and flood the coffers of the ministry with gold in bets.

The arena does not hold any concessions itself, there simply isn’t space, but hordes of such establishments are surrounding it, and they pay almost ridiculous tax burdens for the privilege of their locations.

Anyone can enter the arena and sign themselves up as a duelist under the watchful eye of Elgar enforcers and administrators. The Elgar run a large amount of the dueling administration, and act as judges and referees, not hesitating to intervene when duels turn ugly. The Vice minister of Dueling, Viriom, oversees all of this mammoth bureaucracy with two simple goals: ensure that the rulers’ commands are followed, and please the public. This often requires walking a fine line, and tends to make the unfortunate vice minister unpopular with both his subordinates and the public itself. Signing up ignorant outsiders to watch them get monstrously beaten by reigning champions is one of the more popular tactics.

Currently the dueling arena is abuzz for two reasons. The dueling season is heating up again and the Champion’s circuit looks poised to bring the reigning Hirei into combat with the Etherguant Wax Face, who he has never faced before. Wax Face is in a position that should he win he would hold the Champion’s title for the first time since his appearance centuries ago. Many among the public hope this occurs, so that they can entice the Tsnng Knnnttt back for a challenge against Wax Face. Any battle in which the legendary Tsnng participates is an event trumpeted across the Inner Planes.

The Unburned Halls
The Cinderformed are the only faction or sect to be headquartered in Slaan. The strange sect of smoke, with their unusual be transformed but not burned philosophy, is popular on this plane that fits their view. While they have no great hold on the residents here, as few of the reptilian people care for faction or sect membership, a goodly number of the city’s humans follow the strange teachings of the sect. The Cinderformed are relatively harmless, unlike the Pyros or Doomguard, and have been effectively charged with keeping other dangerous sects out of the city.

The Unburned Halls are a great building made of solidified ooze that was not fired, but hardened by magic long ago. How old the sect is cannot be known, but the building has existed for as long as anyone can remember. It is a relatively blocky edifice, since the nature of the construction materials did not leave for all that many options, but sturdy. The interior is unadorned, and often quite dark. Ventilation is poor as well, and everything is perpetually smoky. The Cinderformed don’t seem to mind, but others find this horridly uncomfortable.

The headquarters is run by the leader of the sect, the smoke genasi Trerct (male smoke genasi/Sorcerer/Cinderformed/CN) an unusual person who seems to shift his direction of action constantly. Trerct is known to the rulers of Slaan, and occasionally consulted by them apparently on matters of great important to the state of Smoke as a whole, since the Sectol has something of a pipeline to understand them. This rather marginalizes the Cinderformed ambassador unfortunately.

The faction headquarters is a resource for planewalkers, supplying members of the sect with maps, homunculi for all the inner planes, traveling gear, portal locations, and all sorts of other useful knowledge. It is possible for non-Cinderformed to avail themselves of these services, but the prices are dear and most such things can be found for better out in the markets. There is the advantage that here everything is concentrated closely.

The Cinderformed make it their business to keep track of members of factions and sects they consider ‘dangerous.’ At the current juncture this is the Cremators, the Opposition, the Doomguard, and the Xaositects. Any members of those sects may be brought in for voluntary questioning. The sect members have no legal authority, but they can put out an alert that generally ostracizes anyone in Slaan if they can provide good reason.

Spiral Road
The great road that cuts through the center of Slaan all the way from the Mouth to the Depths is Spiral Road. While in most levels it is merely a conduit for transit, here Spiral Road is a massive center of trade. The great trading companies have buildings lining its front, and stalls are festooned everywhere along the road. Almost anything can be found in close proximity along Spiral Road, though the prices are high for the convenience and display. Those looking for fine crafts should probably try elsewhere.

The greatest aspect of Spiral Road is that is caters to planewalkers and sells a large amount of magic. From breathing apparatus, armor, weapons, and wands, all things can be found here in the hands of the traders. Strange creatures and even stranger materials, contracts for building, and full-fledged ships can be purchased here. There’s even a wizard who sells the rights to specially crafted demiplanes for the powerful and rich spellcaster.

The Road itself is set upon the bare mineral of Slaan’s floor, and is so hard that even thousands of years under the pounding of thousands of feet has not made an impact upon it (a good thing cause likely the floor would be gone otherwise). Along it everything is set up pell-mell with fights and duel challenges breaking out among sellers regarding who can claim what space. Everyone here is looking to buy or sell something, and most of them many things. Opportunism, more than specialization, tends to be the rule here. Get the goods moving, and keep them moving, Slaan is only a stoppage on the way.

Spiral Road tends to overawe many visitors, who could not believe lizard men could make, much less own many of the mansions the trading companies control. However, stopping here is asking to be run over and nearly trampled beneath the constant crush of people. The smart learn what they need on the road and then disperse out elsewhere to find it, this place is a trap for the unwary, pure and simple. While it looks fabulous this place is truly shoddy and cheap, and breaking apart at the seams.

The Quiet Tent
A tiny island in a sea of people, the Quiet Tent moves about Spiral road and changes ownership regularly. It is a simple tent, made of blue silk and always watched by a quartet of sturdy Elgar enforcers. It looks unassuming and does not advertise its existence, but for those who know, there is no place better for magic. The Quiet Tent is the Arcane’s trading establishment for magical items. While many arcane are active in Slaan, most work at the upper echelons of trade, in the great deals between companies and cities that move large cargoes about. Only here do they sell directly to the public.

The Quiet Tent offers almost any magical wonder imaginable, but the price is great (at least twice the market value). Quality is assured and the arcane will fully explain the capabilities and command words of what they sell. However, they tolerate no questions about origin, nature, or how the creation came to be. Once it passes from arcane hands it’s the purchaser’s problem. Caveat Emptor is the rule with them. Still, it doesn’t keep people away.

In addition to the Elgar, the Quiet Tent is constantly watched by a Lizard Man in the employ of the Ministry of Trade, who works to make sure that the excise taxes placed on this establishment are followed. This is the policy of Ralshar, who dislikes the arcane stealing the business of native traders. The tax level changes almost weekly, as Ralshar has to be careful that he’s not claiming to be unfair, so he tries to target the arcane on days that they will have many visitors. Whether this is working or not is unclear so far.

ripvanwormer's picture
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Joined: 2004-10-05
Re: Slaan: Part 3 - The Life of Slaan

And a part 3, as well! I probably did notice this when it was posted, but shamefully let it pass without saying anything. I'm bumping it up now, for the sake of bringing more attention to it. It's really a fascinating, well-developed planar city and a good base from which to explore the Inner Planes.

atomicb's picture
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Joined: 2011-06-19
Re: Slaan: Part 3 - The Life of Slaan

I heart Wax Face.

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