Parsantium is a complex city but the six things below encapsulate the main points about the setting.
1. A Melting Pot
Parsantium is a city where trade routes meet and where several cultures collide. It is a cosmopolitan setting, inspired by the real-world city of Byzantium which also sits astride two continents, and allows the DM to incorporate characters, monsters and magic from the tales of the Arabian Nights, ancient India, and the Far East into his game alongside the more traditional European fantasy elements.
2. A Divided City
The layout of the city and the fact that the Bathuran rich tend to live on the north west side of the strait while the poor (many of Sampuran or Aqhrani origin) live on the south east side makes Parsantium a divided city, both physically and culturally. This is made worse by restrictions on commoners from the Old Quarter visiting the Imperial Quarter – they need a pass which is only issued for those on “special business”. Unsurprisingly, there is a thriving black market dealing in stolen or forged passes, and many would-be burglars disguise themselves as nobility to sneak into the Imperial Quarter. However, since many of the residents of the Old Quarter are Sampuran in ancestry and therefore darker-skinned than the Bathurans of the Imperial Quarter, some of the guards are known to make racist assumptions about who is a commoner and needs to show a pass.
3. Intrigue Abounds
The rich and powerful inhabitants of Parsantium are always scheming, and the presence of rakshasas in the city makes it difficult to know who to trust. As the player characters gain levels and grow in influence, they are sure to attract the attentions of those who seek to manipulate and use them for their own ends.
4. A Dark Past
Parsantium is built on the ancient ruins of Dhak Janjua, ruled long ago by the rakshasa rajah and ruthless tyrant Vrishabha. Slain by a great hero, his reincarnated form is encased in ice atop the Pillars of Heaven Mountains far to the south east. Perhaps one day his disciples will find a way to free him from his prison so he might reclaim his throne.
5. The Fourth Quarter
The cellars, cisterns and twisting tunnels and passages of the Hidden Quarter are supposedly ruled by the “Fourth Tribune”, a sinister crime lord and the “Boss of All Bosses”. Certainly, criminal gangs such as the Golden Scimitars, slavers and necromancers use the catacombs to conduct their evil business and make their way around beneath the city streets without detection by the City Watch. Monsters live here too, and in the deep places forgotten since the heyday of Dhak Janjua, dark things slither.
6. Dozens of Adventuring Possibilities
The city (and the sourcebook!) contain enough adventure hooks and potential patrons and adversaries to keep most adventuring groups busy throughout their careers, without them having to leave the city.