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For the roleplaying supplement, see Shadizar - City of Wickedness.

The sister city to Zamora the Accursed, Shadizar is neither as war-torn nor as restrictive, thanks to being out from under the thumb of the king. Once the religious center of the country, the temples have since relocated to Zamora, and their current occupants are far less pious but just as desirous of freely offered coin.

The city was originally designed in the shape of a wheel, with the various temples in the “hub” at the center, and the major streets radiating out from the center like spokes. Those temples are now houses of prostitution, gambling halls, and the homes of Shadizar’s infamous assassins.

The streets themselves act as de facto districts, and like businesses and institutions are grouped along parallel roads. All of the major thoroughfares run into the city center, where they terminate into an open area that at one time was the cultural center of the city. Now, those buildings serve another purpose. Cross streets and side streets abound, and they are where the citizens live in modest to ramshackle homes made of brick and clay.

Notable Locations[]

The City Gates[]

Three gates provide access to Shadizar from various trade routes entering the city, and they are all regularly guarded and well attended to. Few are stopped on the way into Shadizar unless they show open hostility or malice.

North Gate[]

The road leading up to the north gate is known as the Pilgrim’s Path, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the number of acolytes to and from Yezud who use this road.

The north gate enters into Nobles Street, a large boulevard of exquisite homes for the wealthy. These houses are well kept, and their owners represent very old families who have lived in Shadizar for hundreds of years. Some of the more successful merchants and priests also call Nobles Street their home.

West Gate[]

The road that feeds into the west gate is known as the Merchant’s Way, and it leads travelers straight to the Road of Kings and Zamora beyond. Caravans are a regular sight along this highway.

The west gate transforms into Market Street, the source of commerce in Shadizar. Here, one may purchase goods and supplies, food and drink, and anything else player characters may need. As Market Street continues into the heart of the city, the shops become more gaudy, shopkeepers more aggressive, and the merchandise more scandalous. At the point where Market Street terminates into the city center, a regular slave auction is found with people buying criminals and hostages with years left still to pay on a sentence or a debt.

South Gate[]

The southern road leading into Shadizar is called the Sand Road, and it was once the main trade route before the Road of Kings was established. Now, it is primarily used for caravans from the south for which Shadizar is their final destination.

The south gate opens onto Maker Street. This street is also a wide boulevard, much like Nobles Street, lined with master craftsmen and their wares; blacksmiths, leather workers, wheelwrights, brewers, coopers, and all other manufacturers make excellent goods and furnishings. Artists, too, have shops and studios here and produce artwork, tapestries, sculptures, and more.

Nobles Street[]

Nobles Street and the streets on either side of it are where the upper class conduct their business. There are temples here; smaller, less stately than the giant structures that mark the city center, but they are in good standing and carry modest congregations. Guards are always present during daylight hours, and regular posts and patrols at the major intersections ensure that revelers don’t take a wrong turn and disturb the sleeping, or mistake one of their stately manors for a house of ill repute.

Temple of the Spider God[]

In the middle of Nobles Street, not quite in the bad part of town and just on the other side of the respectable businesses, is a large square stone structure that now serves as the temple of the Spider-God cult. The torches in the iron sconces are always lit, and acolytes scurry in and out of the temple at all hours of the day and night, going about the business of the cult and occasionally escorting dazed travelers into the building.

It’s rumored that one of the giant spiders from the Zamorian hills is installed in the upper chambers of the building. Some will even brag of having seen it, along with a sufficiently lurid description of the monster. Locals shun this building, much in the same way that many of them do not go into the city center without a good reason. Cultists wear gray robes and are polite, inviting and, if their intended victim is weak-willed, insistent that they explore the temple and experience the wonders of the celestial spider.

Fleck Street[]

This avenue runs northeast from the center of town and contains Old Town. Most of the working poor, the servants, and the regular citizenry who are trying to get by live in these wood and stone buildings. There are several small open air markets and stalls nestled in-between the densely packed houses that sell fruits, vegetables, and even chickens and eggs.

Lantern Street[]

Lantern Street runs in a southeast direction from the city center. It’s named for the colorful lanterns that adorn these ramshackle hovels and create a carnival-like atmosphere at night, but make no mistake: those lanterns advertise something very specific, and the color of the lantern tells the regular patron what to expect inside the building in question.

Many who live in this area of town also work there. Its reputation as a district of ill-repute ensures that a steady stream of guards, well-to-do travelers, politicians and priests — all with a pretense of having other business to conduct — make sure they take a stroll down Lantern Street and spend an agreeable hour or two.

Maker Street[]

The street running due south of the city center is known as Maker Street, and it’s where one can find no end of fine art, both beautiful and blasphemous, in the form of elegant tapestries, hand-dyed silks, paintings, statuary, jewelry, and much more. Even mundane items are decorated with intricate carvings and delicate stains and paints adorn furniture, leather, armor, and even weapons.

All prices for mundane items are doubled here, and uncommon or unique items cost five times more than the listed prices. This does not apply to thieves’ tools, or other tools of the trade, which cannot be obtained here.

As Artisan’s Row moves closer to the city center, the statues become more lewd, the paintings more suggestive, and the artists more depraved. Visitors to Shadizar walk only as far as their comfort level, and then turn around when their sensibilities have been strained past the point of decency and personal morality.

Market Street[]

Every block on Market Street is grouped around a different commodity. Woodworkers are near the front gate, as are stonemasons. Farmers and florists are located centrally, about halfway down the wide street. Food traffic and carts move slowly, as pedestrians clog the thoroughfare and the streets, crisscrossing in all directions and heedless of the right-of-way. The locals know the trick of taking parallel streets to the block where they need to shop, and then retreating when they have made their purchases.

Closer to the city center, the merchandise changes and so does the character of the street. Stolen goods are openly hawked in rickety stalls and shabby tents, and used items like leather jerkins with only a single knife thrust through the breast are available for sale at cut-rate prices. At the edge of Market Street, facing the city center, is an auction block used for trafficking human lives. The men who run the auction block have a contract with the city to sell petty criminals to traveling merchants, wealthy farmers, and flesh peddlers when the jails are overcrowded.

Each block on Market Street leading into the city center is grouped around what is sold. Livestock and food, for example, is closest to the outside of the hub. Vegetables are on the next block. Textiles, rugs, and silk after that. Rare and wondrous items are in short supply, for what foolish merchants would paint targets on their back? But common items are easily obtained at fair prices. Seedier commodities, and seedier merchants, are located closer to the city center. At least one block in this area could serve as a clearinghouse for folks unloading stolen goods.

The City Center[]

Known as “The Heart of Shadizar” (and a black heart it is), this wide, open island is circular as is the street that surrounds it. Here’s where the major thoroughfares terminate from as far off as the city gates, and other smaller streets branch out from this circular hub, as well. In the circle, all things are permitted and all vices encouraged. The guards are paid well to stay clear of the city center, and murder and robbery is commonplace. It’s the city center that gives Shadizar its reputation for wickedness.

There are several noteworthy businesses and institutions here. This is the place where player characters are likely to get in the most trouble, guaranteed. Any newcomers into the city center are watched as closely as predators watch potential prey. Eventually, someone or something will test the newcomers and, if they don’t respond accordingly, it will color all future business in Shadizar — especially with the criminal element. Whether they are propositioned, challenged, insulted, or just ignored, the underworld of Shadizar expects a certain response from fellow predators…and an entirely different response from prey.

The Black Hand Safe House[]

This unassuming grog house serves overpriced, watered down ale and spirits to newcomers. But, if you know what to order, and know the words to say, you can get a message to the Black Hand. You might request an audience, get paid, or avail yourself of any number of other functions that go with being a dead drop for a group of secret assassins.

The bar, known as The Thundercloud, has several regulars who know exactly what the place is and what it’s used for. That does not prohibit them from drinking, dicing, and in all other ways making full use of the place.

The Hall of the Black Hand[]

Once the home of a local potentate and self-appointed “savior of Shadizar”, this large, square building was fully claimed by the Black Hand. It was taken from its previous owner at the point of a knife (a knife that, a few weeks later, was inserted into his spine) and brutally converted from a luxuriously appointed residence into something resembling a fortress. Murder holes were bored through thick walls, defensive spikes planted on top of walls once decorated only with ivy, and doors reinforced with layers of iron and steel. Few enter the Hall itself: indeed, there are almost none who can attest to the door ever opening, yet the lights always burn in the windows and sometimes revelry echoes from within. More often, though, the building stands in ominous silence. Thieves speculate that the Black Hand must have a sewer entrance, though none will confirm this — preferring to live instead of proving a theorem. Though the whole city of Shadizar knows the building to be the Hall of the Black Hand, none acknowledge it to be so. Asking a local tavern-keeper or passing merchant for directions to the Hall will result in muttered repudiations of any such place and a hurried cessation of chatter. The Black Hand has eyes and ears throughout Shadizar, and they are ruthless in dealing with any who betray their secrets — no matter how obvious these secrets might be. That being said, directions can be obtained by asking locals “Where should I avoid?”

Domain of the Black Hand[]

Astute observers will note that there is no eastern gate leading out of Shadizar. In fact, there was a gate, but it has long since been bricked up and mortared over.

Traveling east from the city and into the southern end of the Kezankian Mountains, there is a desolate-looking temple that appears abandoned and neglected. The outer courtyard is strewn with rubble, and there are many stories told of this place: haunted, cursed, or merely unlucky. It all means the same thing — travelers avoid this place or risk life and limb.

But beyond the courtyard, through hidden stairs in a concealed alcove, there is much more to this place. This is the meeting place for the Black Hand, the assassins who call Shadizar home. Here is where new “brothers” are initiated and all business relevant to the guild is conducted, including trials and punishments for any member who disobeys the code of conduct or fails to resolve a contract.

It is, of course, off-limits to any non-members, and anyone stumbling into the place find themselves quickly subdued, drugged, robbed, and removed from the hall with no memory of what happened. If the intrusion calls for more harsh measures, the Black Hand has no problem with killing someone and leaving the body in the streets of Shadizar for the watch to find.

Anyone wishing to join the Black Hand must first meet them in Shadizar. Only those that meet all the criteria and pass the tests are allowed access to the Hall of the Black Hand. They are blindfolded on their initial visit. After they are initiated, they are allowed to know the route in and out of the hall, as well as the secret means of accessing Shadizar from the east gate.

Dagoth Hill[]

East of Shadizar, this ancient burial site is a day’s ride from the city and said to contain the remains of pre-human monsters in its packed earth mound. Tall, flat stones carved with unusual symbols sit atop the hill at strange angles, neither tombstone or monument. The stories surrounding the site are weird and fantastical; sleeping women ravaged by demons, weary travelers losing an entire day upon first staring at the standing stones and so forth.

Whether there is anything valuable or any truth to the rumors that hang over Dagoth Hill, this is where the Black Hand dumps interlopers who stumble upon their headquarters, or who they deem unworthy of an audience. Anyone waking up amid the standing stones in the middle of the night is bound to make haste for Shadizar and count their blessings that they are still alive to tell the tale.

"The King's Court"[]

This open-air market is home to the thieves and rogues of Shadizar. “The King’s Court” is little more than a collection of tents and tarps, smoky oil lanterns, and a ramshackle bar. Thieves lounge about on the grassy hillside or try to talk business at one of the crude tables.

The “King” himself is a loud, crude master thief named Hazeer, who runs the bar and oversees operations while making sure the only people drinking in the King’s Court are those who work at night. His “court” is a motley gang of thugs and killers from the grimiest corners of the civilized world. They are fiercely loyal to Hazeer and obey his every command.

If any group in Shadizar is going to be a problem for the player characters, it’s the King and his court. Hazeer, the leader of the band of miscreants, is used to people paying him the appropriate amount of respect, whether or not he rightfully earned it. Any player characters failing to show the proper feudal spirit are called out by the King and harassed by his men. These men may attempt to find out the player characters’ business in town for the entire time they are in Shadizar.

"The Temple of Gold"[]

This former temple of Anu was converted into a gambling hall, where all kinds of games of chance and other betting sports are played. Some of the games are actually honest, though it’s not readily known how to tell the difference, so sharp are the dealers and gamesmen.

Cards, dice, darts, throwing knives, and other such sports are easy to fall into. More exotic attractions take place below the former temple. To gain access to these requires a patron or a friend who can vouch for a person, or personal wealth readily on display.

"The Slaughterhouse"[]

Next to the Temple of Gold is a ruin, one of the few casualties of war over the years. This once-great temple has been partially reconstructed and refurbished, and now serves as an arena where blood sports are regularly held. Boxing, wrestling, and when grudge matches, armed combat, all are conducted in the middle of a howling crowd. The smooth stone floors that once held prayer mats are now permanently stained with dried blood.

Formal challenges among rivals are fought here in the open with the stakes clearly stated, so that the witnesses corroborate the victors’ story or help uphold the decision in the event of a non-lethal encounter.

Anyone fighting in the Slaughterhouse under contract that does well, or exhibits puissant skill, is quickly bought and sold to the Nemedian flesh-peddlers who haunt the Slaughterhouse looking for new talent to exploit in Hanumar and elsewhere. Player characters can try to pick up a purse of gold if they don’t mind fighting to the death. The patrons of the Slaughterhouse expect to see blood and react poorly if someone’s hand is stayed from a killing blow.

History[]

People[]

Distinguishing Features[]

Military[]

As capital of Zamora, the Zamoran army is located here. While the regular army boasts about 10,000 men, Zamora relies primarily on its evil reputation, assassins, and sorcery to defend its borders. The Shadizar Watch numbers about 1,200 men, 400 which are on duty at any given time.

Stories[]

References[]

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