The City of Skulls rules the Homeland of Iuz and north shore of Whyestil Lake. Iuz’s mighty capital, Dorakaa would not be out of place in the heart of the infernal Abyss. Even after the Flight of Fiends, demons walk the the 50-foot high stone grim battlements around the city, Occasionally leaping from their height to savage a passer-by, sometimes upon orders, but more frequently because they like the way blood feels between their fingers and teeth. The city is always overcast with black clouds in a four mile radius.
The word “evil” hardly does justice to Dorakaa’s atmosphere. Beyond the city’s massive Iron Gates, clerics in gore-splattered robes lead armored contingents of orcs and goblinoids, or shivering slave chain gangs, undead, gibbering lunatics, and/or snarling captive trolls through a chaotic jumble of streets, past buildings in horrible disrepair, trampling the bones of the freshly dead. Mobats and varrangoin fly in the eternal gloom of Dorakaa’s skies while baneful babau guard the great gates. More fiends, salamanders, golems, evil dao and worse act as guards around Dorakaa’s dwellings. Though the city retains the docks that once made it one of the most lucrative stops in the Northern Reaches, no trade comes to Iuz. The Old One imports only what his armies plunder; his chief export is misery.
The Old One resides in a skull-bedecked stone palace that dominates Dorakaa’s skyline, a dark edifice that also houses the Legion of Black Death, Iuz’s elite orc, human, and fiend army. Not far from the palace is the demesne of the Lord of Pain’s administrators, a cabal of wizards and clerics known as the Boneheart. The Boneheart Citadel and Iuz’s Palace are the center of the cancer that inflicts the northern Flanaess. Given the defenses of Dorakaa, little hope exists of destroying that cancer in the near future.
Walls, Gates, Highways: Atop the walls, orcs, fiends, and giants stand watch at regular intervals on great ballista platforms. The 25-foot tall Iron Gates, with their engraved sneering skulls, open out to the Road of Skulls beyond.
In the Iron Barracks beside the gates, General Sindol can be found with his 1,000 elite orc and orog soldiers, the creme de la scum of the celbit forces. Lesser gates, with similar designs, open out of the city to the new Skull Trails. Along the shoreline where the Opicm empties into the Whyestil, there is a small dock area, although Iuz possesses few vessels and no trade comes here. It is used as a departure point for troops heading to Crockport, Grabford or the Horned Lands.
City Quarters: The term “quarters” is misleading in that the city has few internal walls subdividing it, but the term is still commonly used. Of the 25,000 orcs in the city, over half are found in the orc quarter, thronging the barracks and cluttered slum terraces of the northern city.
The Foreign Quarter is walled off from the rest of the city. A few evil or desperate traders come to Iuz from Ket or other lands which Iuz yet favors, and they are to be found here.
The Artisans Quarter is the home of a few orcs, and a large minority of the 10,000 humans who live in Dorakaa, with some worthwhile skill, be they blacksmiths, armorers, fletchers, bowyers, and stonemasons.
The Slave Quarter contains nearly 2,000 enslaved humans and demihumans who are forced to perform disgusting and menial duties as house slaves, cleaning up the filth from The Agony Fields or sewers when it gets in the way, and generally being subjected to terrible indignities and sufferings at the hands of any Dorakaan resident who feels like brutalizing them. It is hard to imagine a more dreadful scene than these slaves, chained, beaten and tortured, with whip-wielding orcs and fiend masters gleefully abusing them at their sadistic whim.
The Fiend Gardens are a ghastly mockery of the herb-scented, flowery parks of Furyondy or Veluna. Fiends cavort and shriek in stagnant pools of rotting offal strewn with bones and bodies, among stinking pitcher plants and hideously warped trees which give off a constant stench of decay. These are deliberately designed to be the first sights to greet any visitor to Dorakaa, since visitors are only admitted through the Iron Gates.
The Jade Streets are the name given to the “entertainment” quarter of Dorakaa, since many of the buildings here have roofs, wall panels or plaques made of a freak jade deposit recovered from the Rift Canyon and exhausted long ago. Here, those who have gold, magic, or favors to offer can pay to amuse themselves observing or participating in depravities which defy description. The remainder of the city is a mass slum, disease-ridden narrow alleys and back streets cluttered with filth, lying between overcrowded, dilapidated houses which are home to the laborers, the old and infirm who struggle to survive, abandoned ore whelps and others who have no useful role in Iuz’s ghastly legions.
City Locations: Dominating the whole city is Iuz’s Palace. Stone walls yards thick bear murals made of skulls of every type, mocking all that stands for good in the Flanaess. Ringed with battlements and inner iron railings, the magical defenses of the palace are immense. Railings can be commanded to fly as spears. Impaled giant skulls can shriek and create fear, and even speak power words if a Boneheart mage is on hand to command them. Great cannonlike tubes crafted of giant thigh bones can fire bony spears with hooks that inflict hideous unhealable wounds. Elite fiends stalk the palace grounds, ever looking for a victim who dares to come too close. Two great, black-stone barracks hold the unspeakable Legion of Black Death, the orog/warrior/fiend elite army of luz, used to such crushing effect in the battles of northern Furyondy.
In the north wing of the palace, The Blackspear Chamber is Iuz’s gate to the Abyss. Iuz’s throne chamber stands in the palace’s center behind vast brass-sheathed valves that control entry through great metal doors. Within that chamber lies Iuz’s Pool of Divinations and his awesome throne, said to be formed from a thousand skulls and the rib cages of a hundred paladins and priests of good. Elsewhere in the palace’s great halls, dwell the renegade drow, elite orogs, fiends, and the rooms of the Greater Boneheart, all within easy summoning distance of Iuz’s presence. Fungus gardens fondly dedicated to Zuggtmoy, simulations of abyssal planes, and much else can be found in this dread and awful palace of evil.
The Boneheart Citadel north of the palace is occupied by the High Priestesses Halga and Althea, together with Jumper and Kennin Mind-Bender and their acolytes and apprentices. The Archmage Null has rooms in the main citadel, but also has his own tower in the same grounds, where an iron golem stands guarding the single entrance to his dwelling. The grand cathedral of luz dominates the residences of the other priests, separated from the rest of the city by a ringed highway with great iron stakes set into the ground around its full length. Any aspirant priest must set a dozen skulls on these stakes before he is accepted into a higher grade (i.e., permitted to gain an experience level) if he serves within the Land of luz. Priests triumphantly journeying with their bags of skulls are regular arrivals at the Iron Gates.
The Agony Fields are the site of public “entertainments” for the priests, fiends and important visitors, and sometimes for the common populace. Victims are torn apart here by fiends and monsters in barbarities which again defy description. Torture instruments of the greatest intricacy are used. Victims are given a ring of regeneration if important enough, so that the jeering, babbling onlookers can enjoy the spectacle for hours on end.
The Destiny Wall is a long city wall section with a 150-foot long stone dais set before it, where priests and warriors present great trophies of their courage and triumphs. Broken shields from mighty warriors of good, the skulls and rib cages of paladins and good priests, and other such mementos of war are hung upon the wall with a brass plaque below recording the nature of the triumph. The High Priestesses judge whether an exhibit is of sufficient renown to be placed here. Very rarely, luz himself will attend the ritual-emplacement. For an evil follower to be so favored is a sign of very great favor indeed. It may be a sign which suggests that luz considers the victorious party worthy of advancement, perhaps even into the Lesser Boneheart. Since the number of the Lesser Boneheart is fixed, and there are no current vacancies, promotion for the favored one means the demotion of one of the current Lesser Boneheart. The triumphant one had best watch his back!