The Order of the Lantern
Home of the order, trade hub and maritime power, Tasir is the wealthiest of the Free Cities, rivalled only by Ebetal. The city, built on several islands in the delta of the river Kymur, is laced with canals which serve as thoroughfares, carrying a steady traffic of livestock, goods and people from place to place. Mists and fogs rise from the river year-round. Inland from the city proper the rich alluvial soils of the delta create fertile farmland and grain is one of the city’s primary exports. The swamps, bayous and endless shifting channels to the east and west of the city, however, are impossible to tame and are teeming with dangerous creatures such as poisonous snakes, giant crocodiles and other, more alien threats. Savages infest the swamps as well, kidnapping or robbing travellers and occasionally making forays into the city itself.Demographics
- Population: 88,000
- Racial makeup:
- * 67% Human
- * 23% Halfling
- * 5% Half Elf
- * 3 % Elf
- * 2% Dwarf
- Social Classes:
- * 5% Wealthy (3% Aristocratic)
- * 24% Middle
- * 33% Lower-middle
- * 38% Poor
Geography and Climate: Tasir is built on a multitude of islands in the delta of the Kymur river. To the north and south the land is dense swamp, riddled with ever-shifting channels in the delta. The swamps surrounding the city contain the ruins of former districts, inhabited by dangerous animals, savages and insane swamp dwellers. Inland the ground becomes firmer and the rich alluvial soil is highly fertile, giving rise to seemingly endless grain fields beyond the city. Although the delta projects somewhat into the inner sea the city it is sheltered by several barrier islands, providing it with a safe harbour, although local pilots are necessary to navigate the shifting channels between the islands.
Tasir’s location on the warm waters of the Inner Sea means that it enjoys faily long summers and mild winters but its low elevation and watery location mean that it is extremely humid all year round. During the winter cold and clammy mists rise from the river, blanketing the city in a thick fog. In summer the city is hot and humid, subject to sudden downpours and the odd lighting storm. The warm waters of the Inner Sea have also been known to conjure up hurricanes and typhoons from time to time.
Architecture: Tasir is one of the most ancient cities in Nathemar, its origins lying in the mists of history. It is filled with looming stone structures, decorated with arcane motifs, fearsome gargoyles and represntations of forgotten gods. Many of the older buildings have been abandoned for centuries. These derelicts are quickly reclaimed by the vines and are home to vagrants, thieves and worse. The necessities of a canal city mean that buildings are often cheek-by-jowl, with individual island-blocks laced with a maze of alleyways and passages. The humid conditions play merry havoc with any construction in wood but the expense of importing stone from Khazares means that many of the city’s poorer inhabitants have no choice. Such cottages and shacks start to rot and fall apart almost as soon as they are built and the city’s poor districts are a slightly lunatic landscape of sagging roofs and slanted pillars.
Culture: Tasiri are known for being impulsive, passionate, sensual and superstitious. From the wealthiest decadent noble to the dirtiest unwashed labourer they love to have a good time and in Tasir a good time means risk. Gambling is a popular pastime and nearly every tavern has a game of some sort going on pretty much constantly. Games run the gamut from cards and dice to more exotic and dangerous fare such as Up-and-Down (where players place their hands palm down on a table and a dagger is tossed above the table and bets are placed on whose hand will be hit and where). Although gladiatorial combat is considered rude and uncouth (unlike in Khazares) duels are fairly common between hot-heads and will often attract crowds of spectators and punters.
The Tasiri indulge their senses whenever possible and this sensuality is reflected in everyday life. The food tends to be both coloful and very spicy and the wine is robust and free-flowing. Almost all houses have at least a window-box with massive and pungent swamp blossoms and men and women wear scents and perfumes. Tasiri love music but their music leans more towards percussion than melody – it’s there to be danced to. Tasiri art tends towards the erotic, often presented in dark reds and violets.
Tasiri dress leans heavily in the direction of embellishment and luxurious fabrics whenever possible. However, a certain nonchalance is always fashionable – top buttons are left undone and hats are worn at rakish angles. The typical middle class Tasiri man wears close-fitting linen trousers and a full-sleeved shirt under a doublet or waistcoat. Highly polished knee boots, preferably of snake or alligator skin and a full-length coat complete the outfit. Dark reds, off-whites, greys and browns are the preferred colours and many men wear earrings. Women are often clad in diaphanous gowns that cling to their bodies in the heat.
Tasiri also have a fascination with the mysterious and otherworldly. Some have theorized that the presence of the swamp on the borders of the city are the cause of this but whatever the reason, Tasiri are a superstitious lot. Almost all of them have a lucky charm or talisman that they wear and astrologers and fortune-tellers do a brisk trade in the city. The fact that many of these are charlatans and fakes does not stop them from raking in the money or from acting as informers, revealing the secret fears of nobles and merchants for the right price. Some channel their obsession with the supernatural into religion and Tasir boasts some of the most devout folk in the Free Cities. However, they can be quite faddish with gods and cults have been known to spring up one day and be gone the next.
Economy: Tasir’s wealth comes from two sources – grain and trade. The river Kymur is the main North-South thoroughfare in Western Nathemar and Tasir’s position at its delta makes it a key trading center for the Free Cities. Goods from Talisoria, Koskovy and Valenna make their way across the Inner Sea to Tasir to eventually be shipped upriver by the massive wheelboats which ply the Kymur. On the return trips the boats carry goods to be shipped back to the East and Tasir makes a profit at both ends. The other source of Tasir’s wealth lies in its grain fields. This is traded for Khazaresian stone, manufactured goods from Ebetal, magic items from Merondor, exotic spices from Dragonport and ore from the Dwarves.
Government: Tasir has a bicameral government. The council of Lords consists of the heads of the ten most powerful and ancient noble families, while the council of citizens consists of representatives of each of the seven districts of the city. The Duke is elected for life from among the members of the council of Lords but acts more as a president than an autocratic ruler. The Duke is the head of state but cannot override a decision by the council.
Districts of Tasir Coin-Kisser’s Row is said to be ‘the oldest and goldest financial district on the continent’ and its ostentatious three/four storey buildings reflect this claim. The northern half of this district lies opposite to the Ampilles, a crowded island consisting primarily of multi-tiered stone apartments and rooftop gardens.
Lanterns, Between Twosilver Green to the Northeast and Dockside in the southwest, is home to the Order’s guildhall as well as many of the support services and residences for members. The area along the riverside is home to several taverns and gambling houses where freshly cashed wayfarers blow off steam the largest and most well-known of which is The Silver Eel.
The Ollelux district is a comfortable part of the city (though possibly not as much as the Sedecelle), clean and spacious and well patrolled; its shops, despite being situated within old buildings, are well kept and sport brightly coloured roofs and recognisable names of distinguished merchants not inclined to face the Shifting Market.
The Narrows is located at the tip of the bad part of the city. Forty feet beneath the outer edges of Tasir, it is a labyrinth of warrens and hovels consisting of rows upon rows of tenement housing and windowless shops with countless narrow alleys snaking between these structures barely wide enough to fit two men walking abreast.
The Shifting Market is a lake about half a mile in circumference, packed with hundreds of merchant barges selling their wares to civilians on breakwaters. The Shifting Revel, where observation barges are secured to the breakwaters and occupied by hundreds of Tasiri wanting to see the performances, replaces the Market once a month. These preformancs are conducted atop sunken iron cages, and include Judicial Forfeitures and Penance Bouts.
Opposite the Shifting Market are the Sedecelle islands, home to the minor nobility of Tasir. It is a place of walled gardens, elaborate water sculptures and white stone villas where any persons appearing as low-class are brusquely discouraged to enter.
The openly dangerous Couerblazier and Twosilver Green are both open parks, the latter being safer than the other courtesy of constant patrols by city guards.
The Wooden Waste, located south in Tasir, is a sheltered bay open to the sea, acting as a ship graveyard. It is also the location of Capa Sazeri’s home and headquarters, the Floating Grave, an anchored, dismasted ship sixty yards long and thirty yards wide.
The Dregs are poverty-wracked, the Snare disreputable, and Ashfall dirty and falling apart.
The Cauldron is the worst part of Tasir, the name possibly originating from claims that the Cauldron is an amalgamation of all the bad parts of the city. One in three of all Right People reside in the cramped, stinking streets and crumbling hovels of this dreary location. Even the guards refuse to enter the place unless in well-armed squadrons.
There are three main graveyards in Tasir: Beggar’s Barrow (where the common, lower class individuals are buried by convicts), Shades’ Hill (long since converted to the home of the Thiefmaker’s orphans) and the Hill of Whispers (where the most prestigious folk are buried). Graves in Tasir are above ground since the swampy earth does not hold bodies well. Since space is at a premium grave plots are leased for ten years after which the bodies are exhumed and loaded onto large barges, which are towed out into the swamp and left there.
People and Places of Note The Silver Eel