Since my last design diary, I’ve almost – but not quite – finished writing about the eleven wards of the city. I’ve got a few more locations in the Poor Ward to write about and then that’s it. I’m also very pleased that the first draft now stands at over 60,000 words!
Once the city wards are done, I’ve still got the Hidden Quarter beneath the city to write about – home to the Golden Scimitars, ghouls, derro necromancers, underground slave markets and more cool stuff. I need to write a short section about places just outside the city too like the Feyshore Forest. Then, it’s on to organizations (criminal gangs, fighting orders, guilds, nobles etc) and the gods. The gods need a lot of work – I already talked about needing to sort the Batiaran pantheon out here but I also need to revise the gods of Akhran (borrowed from Al-Qadim in the original campaign) and Tiangao (borrowed from Dragon Fist) as well as tidying up the Vedic gods I’m using for Sahasra. Talking of which, I still need to come up with new names for Sahasra and Batiara too – something to tackle in the revised draft, I reckon!
The stuff I’ve been writing about recently has been the Artisans (formerly Makers) Ward, the Temple (formerly Faiths) Ward and the Garden Ward. The Garden Ward was fun to do as I got to write up Parsantine versions of a couple of cool places we visited on our trip to India in 2007. That’s how long some of this stuff has been kicking around in my head before it finally gets committed to text in a computer file. The Observatory is one of these locations, based on the very cool Jantar Mantars in Jaipur and Delhi:
The Observatory was built by the great sultan Hulieman as part of the many public works that took place during his thirty year reign. Hulieman was very interested in astronomy and astrology, and wanting to use the movement of the stars and planets to predict important events in the future that would affect the city, including wars, earthquakes, political upheaval and famines. The construction of the Observatory was overseen by a vanaran mantrika (sorcerer) named Vipinbehari and carried out by numerous human and dwarven masons.
The Observatory consists of sixteen huge astronomical instruments for measuring time, predicting eclipses and monitoring the positions of stars and other celestial bodies. Each instrument is a large stone structure bearing an astronomical scale; the tallest, the Samrat Yantra or Supreme Instrument is a 90 feet high sundial which can tell the time with pinpoint accuracy and is also used to predict crop forecasts. The other instruments include the Jai Prakash Yantra, two sunken hemispheres which map out the heavens, the Unnatansha Yantra, used to determine the position of the stars and planets, and the Rashivalaya Yantra, composed of twelve pieces, each of which represent a different sign of the zodiac, and are used to draw up horoscopes.
The instruments are located in a walled compound amid trees and grass, allowing visitors to walk amongst them. Admission is normally restricted to students from the Scholasticia (who take some of their lessons here) and members of the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus. The current Royal Astronomer is a male gnome called Barreus Pogor who dresses in black robes and hat embroidered with stars and moons in silver thread. Barreus is a scholarly wizard of some renown who specialises in divination magic. His recent observations of the alignment of the stars and planets indicate that a terrible evil is soon to return to Parsantium. Are the stars right for Vrishabha to be freed from his icy prison? Barreus has tried to warn the Basileus but has yet to be taken seriously.
As you can imagine, coming up with new locations, changing names and moving things if I’ve realised they don’t make sense where they are has played havoc with the city map. So far I’ve been scribbling over a printed out version of the most recent campaign map (see below). Once the first draft is done, things should be firmed up a bit more and I’ll be able to revise the map properly, making sure I have a complete list of places to include before I brief the cartographer.