The City of Lanterns
The rugged eastern cliffs of Nightcrawler Canyon rise from the misty depths. Merchant caravans speed across dangerous highways, for now the domains of the Darkspire Kingdom lie in ruins, the duergar and half-orcs scattered by the armies of Zon-Kuthon. Here and there the bones of towns and villages perch atop scraggy cliffs or fest along dark rivers, now populated only by those desperate souls lucky enough to escape being captured (or worse) by the hordes of hobgoblins and kytons that serve Zon-Kuthon.
Far to the north, however the empty roads and rotting cities finally give way. Here stands a grand settlement; a vast town perched upon a rocky outcropping. The town clings to a natural mesa that straddles Nightcrawler Canyons walls. Buildings have been crammed onto the rocky promontories with such congestion that they almost seem afraid of the gray, featureless lands beyond… rotting hills of brown and black and gray stones and vast muddy volcanic springs pocked with stunted trees.
The town itself is a montage of different architectural styles, designs, and cultures. Squat black towers rise along the walls and cliffs dividing the town, while intimidating golden domed festhalls that reach cathedral height cast shadows on the endless rows of hovels made form bits of timber, barrels, wagons, and rubbish. The shanties spread at the edges of town, like so much debris spilling out of a sack.
For many years two structures have dominated Precipice’s skyline. In the center of the mesa rises the luxurious Golden Cockatrice, while on the highest cliff-side stands Lord Gexx’s Palace. A monstrous tangle of webs and stone, the palace is anchored precariously on the cliff-side by it’s great drawbridges.
Precipice’s current ruler is a powerful Sorcerer Lord Gexx. Gexx is a tall, thin dark elf with indigo skin and long white hair. He dresses flamboyantly in silks and robes and has an aloof air about him. His voice is quiet and measured until his ire is raised, at which point his rage is a match for the worst barbarian. His cruelty is legendary, and many of his subjects have been executed for nothing more than an inappropriate glance.
Law in Precipice
Precipice is a town known to harbor bandits, thieves, and worse, yet the town itself is remarkably free of blatant crime. The low crime rate is one of the primary benefits that draw so many people to the town, since beyond it’s walls it is survival of the fittest. Of course the this is not to say the town is without vice – far from it. The criminal element of the town is evident everywhere, with the open selling of slaves, dangerous drugs and magic, and smuggled goods. Yet since these pursuits are regulated and accepted, they can be pursued with without the violence. Those crimes do happen but they are quickly hushed up (usually at the expense of the poor). No organized thieves guilds operate in Precipice, though they did in the past. In a way, most of the city is a massive guild with Gexx it’s guildmaster.
Visitors to the Cliffsides tend toward the rough, crude, and brutal, and they spawn most of the town’s violent crimes. Fortunately for the residents these crimes are curtailed by the presence of the Watchers (mercenaries who serve as Precipice’s town guard) and the lurking menace of the Black Widows (a company of female driders, led by Lord Gexx’s four daughters). Of course these two agencies are used just as often by Lord Gexx to bully the populace into complacency. Often, the threat of a visit by a Black Widow is all it takes to convince a merchant a new tax on his business is reasonable afterall.
Patrols of Watchers are common sights on the town streets. These merc guards patrol in groups of four and are the primary law enforcement in town. The Watchers have no authority to pass judgments and are expected to haul anyone they arrest to the dungeons under the Bridge, although those who resist are typically beaten or even killed in the process of resisting arrest.
Black Widows are less common, but hardly a day goes by without one clambering down from the Web Bridge above the town on some mission. The Widows are not coy; they do not cloak their true forms in magic. yet they are quite well behaved and focus solely on cases the Watchers are not equipped to handle.