Ruined Metropolis: Non-standard; AL LE; 5,000gp gp limit; Assets 750,000gp; Population: 3,000; Mixed (human [OSf] 2,733, half-orc 212, halfling 31, dwarf 10, half-elf 8, gnomes 6)
Authority Figures: Prince Gartrel of House Darmen (LE male human Fighter L10) Falrenn of House Darmen (LE male human Fighter 4/Cleric of Hextor L11), commander of the Ahlissan garrison
Important Figures: Myrrha (LN female human Cleric of Stern Alia L11).
The shattered ruins of this sprawling metropolis occupy a strategic position on the Solnor Coast. Set on the eastern bank of the wide but sluggishly flowing Flamni River, Pontylver was a city of lofty towers, mighty temples and thronging thoroughfares. Pontylver was once a hub for trade in the southeastern Flanaess. From its position at the mouth of the Flamni it acted as a gateway for Aerdy trade goods. The ships of a dozen nations moored at Pontylver’s docks and her markets, temples and hostelries rang to the sound of many tongues.
Stout city walls pierced by two gates protected the population from the ravages of Duxchan pirates and other foes. The city’s oldest ward, the High City, nestled along high bluffs overlooking the river and held the palace of the city’s prince and the houses of many of its most ancient families along with many of the temples and places of learning for which the city was famed. North of the High City stands a second bluff, crowned with the Halls of Slaughter – a massive fortress temple dedicated to Hextor. The wooded slopes below the Halls were home to the villas and mansions of Pontylver’s moneyed classes.
Pontylver’s docks were the city’s mercantile heart but were mainly situated on Keritharn, a large island whose jagged spurs form a series of sheltered deep-water anchorages. Lying less than a quarter mile off shore this heavily fortified and densely populated island is Connected to the city by a massive, stone-flagged causeway and sea wall (the Stormward). Due to silting and ever shifting sand bars, the waterfront of the city proper is too shallow to accommodate anything but shallow draft barges. Thus, in happier times, cargoes would be transferred by rafts and skiffs between the ocean-going ships at Keritharn and the river barges moored along Pontylver’s waterfront.
As a center of learning, Pontylver also boasted an inordinate number of priests, wizards, sorcerers, sages, soothsayers, wise men, seers and other learned men amongst its population. These learned individuals tended to dwell along Andorann’s Way, a long winding avenue linking the city’s two main gates, that ran along the valley between the two hills. Of the balance of the city little was remarkable; it had its (extensive) slums, residential areas and mercantile districts like any other large city. The Archon’s Seat, the chief temple of the city’s patron goddess, Stern Alia, was situated here.
Both banks of the Flamni’s were dotted with small towns, villages and farms for several leagues upstream. Food, cloth and other staples flowed into the city from these settlements providing wealth, security and jobs for the local population. The heart of the port was the ancient Watertown – a warren of warehouses, merchant’s compounds, and hostelries. The district had an unsavory reputation with vagrants, beggars, and thieves thronging its warren of alleys.
Though founded by Oeridians, the city was home to a significant Suloise community – immigrants from the Duxchan and Lendore Isles. The Suel dominated shipbuilding and related crafts and clustered in a district known as the Keelsands, in the south of the city.
City of Ruins
Pontylver was utterly devastated during the summer of 584 byImperial forces exacting Ivid’s terrible revenge. The city’s impressive fortifications and mystical defenses availed it naught against the fiendish and mundane forces arrayed against it by the Naelax. Of Pontylver’s pre-war population of 30,000, barely a tenth survived the holocaust unleashed by Ivid’s commanders. The lucky ones fled to Rel Astra, Roland or the Sea Barons. Any who did not escape were forced to cower in the ruins of their homes witnessing the blood-crazed atrocities of marauding orcs, Hextorites, mercenaries and fiends who sought to exterminate the hapless inhabitants.
Prior to its destruction temples dedicated to Wee Jas, Pyremius, Xerbo, Procan, Zilchus and a local deity, Stern Alia, dominated the city’s skyline. All are now little more than heaps of scorched and tumbled rubble. The only building of note to survive the frenzied orgy of destruction was the Halls of Slaughter, a vast cathedral complex dedicated to Hextor, Scourge of Battle. Now it stands alone atop its hill, a stark contrast to the surrounding sea of rubble. Its many gargoyles and convoluted carvings leer down at the destruction as if mocking the few insane survivors that linger.
Such was the intensity of the destruction wrought here that only Chathold’s ruins rival the horrors found within. The interior of the city is little more than a nightmarish jumble of collapsed buildings, undulating mounds of shattered masonry, and piles of bleached and splintered bones seemingly almost to stretch throughout the wreckage. Virtually every building of note was razed to the ground, as were the city’s ancient walls. Few individual buildings can now be discerned, save for the odd blackened shell rising here and there from the devastation. The course of streets and alleys is only identifiable when they form troughs through the shattered desolation.
Since the city’s fall, nature has begun to reclaim the ruins, though the magnitude of the evil wrought within has warped its growth. Thickets of stunted saplings, choked by tangles of thorn bushes and briars whose wicked barbs inflict festering wounds, have sprung up from the tumbled stone. The valley between the city’s twin hills has become a suppurating mire, a breeding ground for disease-bearing insects, oozes, and carnivorous plants.
Unsurprisingly, Minor undead of all sorts are rife here as are the wretched, or vengeful, ghosts of the slain. A gargantuan corpse gatherer once haunted the city, until soldiers slew it with great loss in late 592 CY. Its remains are scattered over the blackened cornerstones of the Temple of the Correct and Unalterable Way known locally as the Archon’s Seat. Particularly resilient zombies and other undead still infest this area keeping treasure-seekers away. The undead often use the dense sea fogs (known locally as the Harr) rolling in from the estuary as cover for raids on the Ahlissan pickets on the Stormward and Keritharn. As a result, the sight of the Harr rolling in sets alarm bells ringing and causes no small measure of dread among the island’s defenders. The bandits and deserters that once lingered within the fallen city are now long gone, either slain by undead, driven mad by the desolation of the place or fled.
Elements of the Ahlissan army now control the vital anchorages of Keritharn and have recently finished clearing the harbor of the gutted hulks of vessels sunk while trying to flee the devastation. Many of the island’s formidable defenses have similarly been repaired or rebuilt with the focus of Ahlissan efforts shifting to the clearing and rebuilding Keritharn’s docks and shipyards. Once successfully completed these new facilities will allow the United Kingdom to begin construction of its Grand Fleet of the Solnor. Ostensibly the fleet’s primary task will be to challenge the Scarlet Brotherhood’s hold over the Tilva Straits. However, the merchants of the Solnor Compact fear the fleet will be used to dominate trade on the Solnor and to bring Rel Astra and its allies to heel.
The battered length of the Stormward, still protects the city’s anchorages. In happier times this broad and massively wide seawall was used as the primary means of moving goods to and from Keritharn. The fortifications and watchtowers that studded its length, along with the towering temple-lighthouse dedicated to Procan, the Storm Lord, were all destroyed in the fighting but Ahlissan engineers have rebuilt several of its gates and guard posts, to defend the island from the undead still prowling the city proper.
As a sign of Pontylver’s importance in Ahlissan planning, the capable and ruthless Prince Gartrel (LE male human Fighter L10) moved his seat here in late 591 CY. Now, from his fortress atop Keritharn, he monitors Rel Astran troop movements and directs Ahlissa’s campaigning in the former See. Gartrel’s nephew, the charismatic and iron-willed Prince Falrenn of House Darmen (LE male human Fighter L4/Cleric of Hextor L11) is the provost of the city and commands the city garrison. A charismatic leader with a reputation for his iron will and inflexible discipline Falrenn is a rarity in that he is an Ahlissan commander beloved by his troops.
As if all this were not enough, the ruins of Pontylver are beset by a strange, pernicious curse. Any who spend much time within the city proper often degenerate into homicidal mania, insanity or both. Sages theorize that the almost unprecedented amount of death, suffering and violence perpetrated here have left behind an echo of sorts, affecting those predisposed to violence. Others point to the unusually high numbers of fiends said to have stalked the wreckage of Pontylver after its fall as explanation for this malign affect. This effect does not seem to penetrate to Keritharn although why this is, is unknown why.
Even Ahlissa’s hardened veterans blanch at the prospect of exploring the city proper. Clerics always accompany Ahlissa’s heavily armed incursions into the ruins. In the vanguard of such exploration is the priestess Myrrha (LN female human Cleric of Stern Alia L11). A severe woman, Myrrha is a native of Pontylver banished by her ecclesiastical superiors in the late 570s. Thus spared the nightmare of Pontylver’s fall she has returned to her birthplace to spread word of the Correct and Unalterable Way amongst the garrison, with some limited success.