An Episodic Life
A city which seems to almost grow out of the southern cliff wall of Atlas’ Breach, sprawling down the rockface from surface level to the floor of the chasm about 1000 feet below. The Severed River flows from the surface in a spectacular waterfall down through the middle of the settlement, forming a pool at the bottom known as Shadelake. The city extends back into the cliff wall in a hive of tunnels and chambers, with connections to some heavily frequented Underdark routes.
Originally settled in the third wave of colonisation from Cepilos (around 500 PR), Chasm has since thrived as a trading point between several Underdark settlements and the upper world, and has steadily grown and expanded despite being under constant threat of attack from the more hostile Underdark dwellers and the twisted, animated herbage that sometimes sprouts from the Creepingwood.
Population:[c. 850 PR] About 15 000 souls; mostly Humans, Dwarves, Dragonborn, but specimens of almost any race can be found here, including many from the Underdark. An extended family of Goliaths have resided in their own little (metaphorically speaking) quarter of Chasm since about 840 PR – they claim to be descended from the exarch Atlas, and have been taking an interest in expeditions to Thalarion.
Languages:[c. 850 PR] The Cepilotian spoken by the original settlers has undergone considerable change in the last couple of centuries from the influence of several Underdark tongues and Deep Speech. The local argot is now known colloquially as ‘Breachspeak’; those of a more scholastic bent refer to it as ‘Hiaitoi’. A Cepilotian could, with some difficulty, communicate with a Breachspeaker, though they would be baffled by the queer inflections, hisses and gesticulations performed by the Chasmite.
Of course pure Deep Speech is commonly encountered, as well as the racial languages belonging to various inhabitants.
Government:[c. 850 PR] Several families descended from the original settlers hold most of the political power in Chasm. Some of these families were Aristoi, others have risen up from more common backgrounds, gaining power through commercial activities, military prowess, or by aligning themselves with the church of Kord.
A council (the ‘Nest’) consisting of senior members of these prominent families is the principal organ of government. Each year the Nest elects one of their own as ‘Riftwarden’, who basically holds supreme power for the term of his office (which in practice is often extended years on end). The Riftwarden is also head of the Trenchguard, and ultimately responsible for the city’s defence, so he almost always has extensive military experience, and, in the last few decades at least, usually has close ties with the Kordians.
Defenses:[c. 850 PR] Though the city is somewhat vulnerable, hanging off the edge of a cliff as it is, Chasmites have been remarkably successful in maintaining and even expanding their settlement in the face of frequent raids and incursions from denizens of the Underdark and the Creepingwood.
Elements of the city lying within the cliff wall of Atlas’ Breach are the most extensively defended – a complex network of well-manned guardposts, false entrances and dead ends, chokepoints and killing zones, collapsible tunnels, spellwarded stone, hidden reinforcement passages, alarms magical and mundane, and sundry booby traps have proven to be effective security against all but the strongest aggressive forays from the Underdark. A screening system where only authorised traders and visitors from the deeper realms are allowed entrance helps to prevent infiltrators and spies – this has been a major concern recently, after a cult of Ghaunadaur worshipers was discovered and eliminated.
The open air segments of Chasm are not quite so effectively warded. All the upper world traffic enters the city from here, and the guard is not so stringent in their monitoring of comings and goings. A small force of Hippogriff riders, flight-capable spellcasters, and a few Chimeras comprise a token air force which is the first line of warning and defense. Some fixed and mobile artillery pieces stationed in various strategic points around the city cover the most important points of access. Fortification is light to non existent. Arguably the most effective protection has been the priests of Kord, who call down storms and wild weather to hinder attackers.
The Trenchguard are the backbone of Chasm’s defense. A voluntary, professional standing army, they are well trained and supported by the church of Kord. They are primarily a defensive force, though the Kordians have been waging a holy war against The Reaping Legion since 845 PR, and they have utilised some elements of the Trenchguard in this enterprise. This has angered some citizens, who are growing concerned over the amount of influence the church is aggrandising in the community.
Commerce:[c. 850 PR] Chasm’s merchant organisations have found a lucrative market in exporting various goods obtained from Underdark denizens to other surface world communities. Some of these trade goods are acquired by muscle groups or adventuring bands sent out to raid and steal from Underdark settlements (which in turn often provokes retaliatory strikes). However, most of Chasm’s business is conducted relatively above board – several long term agreements and exclusive trading rights have been established over the last few centuries. Spies and informants are commonly employed by merchants to monitor the situation with power groups in the depths, which can be a dangerous task, not least because the structure of power and influence in the Underdark is often somewhat fluid and prone to rapid and violent change.
Organisations:[c. 850 PR] The local church of Kord, The Knights of the Temple in the Roost (known individually as Loftwarriors, and disparagingly as Roosters), is probably the single most powerful bloc in Chasm. They are unusually well organised and disciplined for followers of Kord, with a strong drive for dominance in the city’s affairs – and not merely the religious and military, but in government, the economy and society in general. Several years ago the Loftwarriors declared a formal holy war (again an unusual concept for a Kordian – generally a follower of the war god considers any battle he is in to be a holy war) against the troublesome Reaping Legion. Since then they have been in frequent engagements with the Banites, usually very bloody affairs, and more often than not with the Loftwarriors coming out the worst. The Temple has had to make extensive use of slave warriors, mercenaries and reinforcements from other temples of Kord to continue their campaign.
The Roosters would like to think that they have a firm grip on Chasm, with control over most aspects of the city’s governance, but one group has so far eluded all of the Kordians’ attempts to eradicate them. The Tunnelworms have established themselves as Chasm’s only successful Thieve’s Guild, and very little is known about them as they have had to develop very keen skills at avoiding detection. There is speculation that they have access to very expensive and very effective items or allies to aid them in their larcenies, and it is true that they must have a significant amount of revenue with so many rich targets in Chasm.
Characters Originating from Chasm
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