Ptolus: City by the Spire
You have recently arrived in the port city of Ptolus. New or not, you know a few things about this city—it is not without a reputation, to say the least. Ptolus is where that strange breed that calls itself “adventurers” congregates. It’s a place where people are as concerned with what lies below the ground as they are with what’s above. This is like no place else in the world.
To call Ptolus a dynamic place with a strange and varied identity is to understate the situation greatly. Rival criminal gangs war in the streets. Chaos cultists hide among the citizenry. Ratmen over-run the sewers spreading filth and disease. Adventurers explore ancient ruins beneath the city streets. A emerging merchant class struggles for political power against entrenched nobility. Demons animate undead in the necropolis. An association of technologists struggles to break the monopoly on the trade in magic items enjoyed by a secretive order of wizards. The streets are plagued by addiction to Shivel, a narcotic seaweed. Meanwhile the entire city falls under the shadow of a massive evil monolith known as The Spire.
The city lies in the world of Praemal within the bounds of a very old Empire unsure of whether or not it has toppled. Three different emperors claim the throne, and portions of the once great realm cleave off like icy shards from a melting glacier. This decaying society looks upon previous centuries and sees grander, more civilized, and certainly better days. Progress seems on the decline—skills and lore that people possessed just a few hundred years ago are lost now.
Ptolus is currently the exception to the general imperial decline. In the past decade the discovery of vast treasures buried in a maze of ruins beneath the city has brought great wealth to the city. It is thought that the greatest treasures have already been discovered, but that hasn’t slowed the influx of treasure seekers, known locally as “delvers”, from exploring deeper and deeper below the city streets. Economic growth has spurred activity in other areas, such as technology. Ptolus is the one place in the world where technology is actually advancing, as the city actually produces devices such as firearms, clockworks and steam powered carriages.
Adventurers aren’t the only immigrants drawn to here. Scholars are drawn to the city’s Imperial University. Pilgrims come to see the Holy Emperor of the Church of Lothian. Bards and minstrels come to study at the Imperial Conservatory. Wizards petition to join the Inverted Pyramid.