Any other city which has a sewer or similar structure underneath it can be substituted for Taloona. For example: a DM using the world as presented in the DMG might substitute some of the crypts and caverns which are underneath Fallcrest for the sewers described in this adventure. A different DM may want to substitute a homebrew city of their own for Taloona. Yet another DM may want to fit Taloona into their game world. There is no right or wrong answer here. The only reason for using a specific name is for ease of reference for the rest of the adventure and to give a better alternative to simply saying something along the lines of "Generic City" every time the adventure makes reference to the city.Taloona fluff
As the previous note mentioned, a DM is free to ignore all of this information. This is only provided as a source for those wishing to use Taloona as part of this adventure. A DM is free to substitute a different city in place of Taloona as previously described. Even if a DM wants to use the name "Taloona" for a city, there is no need to use any of the following information, and a DM could just as easily invent their own information. This is only given as a bonus source of material. Use as much or as little of it as you like; follow it or ignore it completely as you see fit. The main reason for this information even being here is because I ended up with more time than I thought I would have and decided to keep myself busy with something.
Proper Name: Taloona
Other Names: The Ivory City, The Ivory City of Taloona
Population: 23,807 (10713 human, 4761 halfling, 238 elf, 120 half-elf, 1428 dragonborn, 5237 tiefling, 119 eladrin, 477 dwarf, 714 other...numbers are estimates made by the council; not always exactly accurate figures)
Government: City Council which poses as a sort of representative democracy (see below)
Defense: mainly professional city guards; a small dragonborn mercenary group employed by the city; each council member also maintains a small private force
Commerce: Ivory is one of the major commercial luxury products available; many mundane items crafted here are made with this material due to its abundance here. Four main taverns provide food, drink, and lodging for the populace. Most goods and services are available; one exception is that there are no stables or places to buy mounts in the city.
Organizations: Thieves guild, city council, house of commons, temple of kord, temple of erathis, temple of avandra, temple of bahamut, banking guild, merchant guild
Taloona is often called The Ivory City because it is well known that Taloona is a good place to find ivory. Another reason it is often called the Ivory City is because it is a somewhat literal description of the city. Many of the major buildings and houses of the wealthy are made out of ivory. However, there is a sharp contrast between the wealthy and the poor in Taloona, and the straw and mud huts of less prosperous citizens stand in a stark contrast to the white structures of the wealthy.
Taloona claims to be a democracy of sorts, but that is not true in practice. Wealthy merchants control the majority of the city. The four main elements which have control over the government of the city are the merchant guild, the banking guild, the city council, and the house of commons. Only the wealthiest merchants are permitted to join the Merchant Guild; they've created their own sort of nobility through wealth, and it is they who founded the Banking Guild which is little more than a way to protect their money while also having control over the money of others who enter the city. The House of Commons contains a handful of people selected by the populace to serve as their representatives in the government. A person may hold offices in multiple organizations. Those three organizations (merchant guild, banking guild, and house of commons) collectively vote upon and select the 7 members of the city council. In effect, the merchant guild has always and virtually always will control the city because they control two of the three organizations which select the council which always leads to them having control of the council and the city. The whole set up is just a front which they use to give the general populace the false comfort of thinking that the council has their needs in mind when making decisions.
The city is constructed in roughly a circular pattern with the wealthy living closer to the center, and the poor living on the outer areas of the circle. Some of the main structures in the city include a large tower built of ivory in the center which serves as the main government building; shrines to Bahamut, Erathis, Avandra, and Kord; a building which serves as a bank which is near the center of the city.
Many of the city's merchants do not deal in the common currency of gold, silver, and copper pieces that most other settlements do. Instead they require what they call "Letters of Credit." To obtain Letters of Credit, a person wishing to deal with those merchants must deposit money at the city bank, and the bank will then issue out Letters of Credit which are essentially specially prepared papers created by scribes working at the bank which tell a merchant how much money a customer has available to spend at the bank. Some people have tried to forge these, but so far these attempts have had minimal success due to the papers being prepared with special inks and markings which are hard to duplicate. Although these Letters of Credit are worthless everywhere else in the world, they are accepted as currency by the merchants in the city who deal with the bank. It's not unheard of for the bank to make "mistakes" when it comes to people who are looked upon unfavorably by powerful members of the city. When leaving the city the bank will reverse the process and Letters of Credit can be exchanged for gold, silver, and copper pieces.
Although it may seem strange for a temple to Avandra to be in such a large city, the importance of trade and commerce in the city has lead to a small following of her faith her. Avandra's temple is near the city bank. The temple of Bahamut was built mainly to keep the dragonborn mercenary group which the city employs as extra muscle happy even though many of the members of the group aren't exactly pious. Bahamut's temple is south of the center of the city and roughly halfway between the outer perimeter of the city and the city's center. The temple of Erathis in this city differs from most others; it serves the crooked government officials more than anything else, and the "priests" are paid well to preach adherance to law - especially when people start to ask questions. The temple of Erathis, strangely enough, is built right beside Avandra's temple. The city's temple to Kord is somewhat of an oddity in how it came to be. An athletic holy man who was gifted in defending himself without weapons came to the city many years ago and began teaching a form of self defense which relied on the strength of the body instead of the strength of weapons. He gained a small following, and through donations from people wishing to be taught his martial art he founded a small temple which doubles as a dojo which still teaches the fighting style that he brought with him. Kord's temple is built on the Northern edge of the city in one of the poorest and roughest neighborhoods. Those who are priests and martial artists at the temple say that being in such a dangerous area motivates the mind to perfect the body and survive.
The four main taverns in town are The Laughing Lady, The One-Eyed Dragon, Meldon's Mead Co, and The Ebony Donkey. What can be expected in each one varies greatly.
The Laughing Lady is where most of the snobby upper class members of the city go; it generally serves what they consider "more refined" drinks and meals. Even when full, this is a relatively quiet place for a tavern, and most of the patrons maintain quiet and reserved interactions with each other. Entertainment usually takes the form of poetry readings, a ballet troupe skipping around the main area, or the telling of a story. The barkeep is, ironically enough, an orc male named Zarn who was raised to be prim and proper by the self-righteous noble who owns the place. Zarr acts nothing like an orc at all, and is extremely prissy; he tends to wear a powdered wig to attempt to appear more regal. The Laughing Lady is owned by wealthy Tiefling male who goes by the name of Poetry Flame. Poetry tends to be a little flamboyant and tends to be a litte preachy about how to be a proper member of society. The Laughing Lady is located a short distance North of the Ivory Tower. Rooms here are very expensive, but they come with all the fine furnishings that one would imagine from a higher class place.
The One-Eyed Dragon is also a higher class place, but it is more rowdy and loud than The Laughing Lady. This is the place to come for those who have money and are seeking more simple pleasures such as singing loudly, dancing, and playing a game of darts. Buying a drink here is about the same price as The Laughing Lady, and for your money you're sure to get a clean glass and a strong drink, but the rooms here are a bit more spartan in nature. They still have a comfortable bed, but there aren't any fine furnishings or extras in them. There are a pair of barkeeps who are also the owners, two human brothers named Gareth and Kregger. The entertainment here doesn't extend much beyond young members of the upper class getting drunk and loud. The One-Eyed Dragon is located in the eastern part of town; just shy of where the poorer housing districts start.
Meldon's Mead Co. is a bit of an oddity when it comes to taverns. Even though you can order a drink and consume it there, the majority of business here buys barrels of mead for consumption at private parties. Still, some people come here because they enjoy hearing Meldon's war stories, and they appreciate the easy going atmosphere; some of the city guard also frequent this place. Meldon is an old retired dragonborn mercenary. Apparently a dwarven companion of his who died during a battle many years ago had a dream of starting such a business; that's the story that Meldon gives when asked. There aren't any rooms available here, but Meldon will allow someone to sleep in the common area on a bearskin rug for a small price. Meldon's Mead Co. is in the western area of town; it is located roughly on the border of the rich and poor areas of town.
The Ebony Donkey is located close to Kord's Temple, and it's the usual hang out for the rougher crowd. A lot of the members of Kord's Temple also hang out here for "training" whenever brawls erupt among the crowd. A handful of coin may not get you a clean glass, but it will get you a strong drink. There's not generally one regular barkeep due to the violent nature of the place and not many people wanting to work here, but there's always someone available to take your order. It's not fully known who owns the place; most of the patrons don't know and neither do they care. There are cheap rooms available, but the rooms aren't much more than a bedroll on the floor and a chamber pot.
Level 2, Encounter 1: The Ivory City of Taloona, Complexity 5 Skill Challenge at Level 1 Difficulty XP 500
The PCs hear rumors of some sort of bandit organization or thief guild based out of the city. How exactly the PCs become aware of this knowledge depends upon the DM's needs and how the DM is using this adventure in his or her campaign. If you are continuing the level 1 part of this adventure you may have had the PCs discover a clue at Horian's Tomb, the Goblins may have given the PCs some information, the PCs may have overheard a coversation while at a tavern or any number of things. If the DM isn't using the first part of this adventure (Horian's Tomb) and is looking for a way to fit it into a different campaign, feel free to come up with a reasonable way to connect this part of the adventure to your campaign's needs. Either way, the thieves maintain a hidden base of operations beneath the city; learning the location of their base is part of a skill challenge. This skill challenge covers attempts to gain information from the streets of Taloona about the thieves guild and use that information to discover the location of their base.Level:
5 (requires 12 successes before 6 failures)Primary Skills:
streetwise and history; more skills unlocked with successes, see belowStreetwise (moderate DCs):
You use your skill in gathering information and mingling with people in the various parts of town to learn bits and pieces of information about the thieve's guild. The first successful use of this skill unlocks the usage of bluff and diplomacyHistory (easy DCs):
You remember stories that you've heard about the thieves guild in Taloona. You use the knowledge that you remember to aid you in trying to track down more information. Stories are often full of rumors and exaggerations though, so what you remember may or may not be completely true. This skill can only be used once, but the first successful use of this skill unlocks the usage of insight and diplomacy; a success with this skill also gives a +2 bonus on the next roll made during this challenge.Bluff (hard DCs):
You attempt to gain information using false pretenses. You claim to be working for the town guard or you claim to be someone seeking to join the guild. Racking up a lot of failures with this skill could gain unwanted attention from the local legal authorities.Diplomacy (moderate DCs):
You attempt to gain information with your tact, subtlety, and social grace. A few gold coins and a round of drinks also go a long way in gaining information.Insight (easy DCs):
With all of the various information you find, it's hard to figure out what is fact and what is rumor. You use your insight to read between the lines, determine how truthful the information you're recieving is, and gives you a general idea of how trustworthy the information you find is. Using this skill counts neither as a success or a failure. Each successful use of Insight gives a +2 bonus on the next roll made during this encounter; each failed use of Insight gives a -2 penalty on the next roll made during this encounter.Success:
The PCs find out that the thieves have a base of operations somewhere in the sewers of the city. There are many entrances to the sewer and the sewers are complicated to navigate, but one of the NPCs who the PCs speak to claims to have witnessed some of the thieves entering a specific grate after a recent robbery. The NPC offers to take the PCs to where the thieves entered the sewers.Failure:
The PCs fail to gain enough information to trackdown the location of the thieves. Since the rest of this adventure somewhat hinges upon the PCs finding the thieves, the DM should figure out a way for the PCs to still learn the information if the DM wants to continue along this adventure path. A local guard could approach the PCs and say that he heard the PCs were asking about the thieves guild; the guard could then offer to give the PCs information he has gathered over the years. On the other hand, if one of the PCs fails the challenge by bluffing about wanting to join the thieves, the guards may attempt to arrest the PCs; in such a case, once the PCs get their situation straightened out with the local authorities, have the city guard offer to release the PCs in exchange for eliminating the criminal element (the thieves) of the city. If asked why the city guard doesn't take care of the thieves, disagreements among the city's upper level leaders about how to handle the crime problem and whether or not spending upper city funds on this matter is a priority has the guards' hands tied with red tape and differing political views.
I don't have my errata sheet with me at the moment, so I'm unsure what the skill challenge DCs are off hand. If somebody could post that information for me, I'll go back and edit my post.