Kain Darkwind's Savage Tide
N Large City
Corruption +0; Crime +3; Economy +4; Law -1; Lore +4; Society +7
Qualities Academic, Holy Site, Notorious, Prosperous, Strategic Location
Notable NPCs Sea Lord Milton Drac (Master of the Dawn Council)
High Warden Lux Seoni (Head of the Witchwardens)
Lady Silvermane (leader of Church of the Whirling Fury)
Mister Wednesday (leader of the Canting Crew)
Zasker Grankus (leader of Zelkarune’s Horns)
Lady Heldrath Kellani (Harbormistress of the Azure District)
Warren Lidu (Patriarch of House Lidu)
Base Value 12,800 gp; Purchase Limit 100,000 gp; Spellcasting 7th
Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
Sasserine began not as a city, but as a woman. Over 700 years ago, a cleric of Pharasma named Sasserine woke one night after a particularly vivid dream of a hidden cove, protected from the sea by vast cliffs and from the land by steaming swamps and jungle. In this vision, she beheld a thriving city and glittering spire of scarlet stone and knew Pharasma had visited her with a prophecy. Sasserine called together her followers, including her lover Teraknian, a soldier and worshiper of Irori, and set out to find this hidden cove. Diseases, accidents and monsters took their toll, and near the end, despair gnawed at Sasserine’s pilgrims. Finally, their numbers reduced to less than a quartet of their initial strength, these pilgrims emerged into a bounteous stretch of land with fertile soil and fields of exotic plants sheltered by twin shoreline cliffs. Sasserine recognized the landscape at once, but Pharasma had not warned her of the black dragon that had taken the cove as his territory. Mere hours after the pilgrims had thankfully fed on the abundant plants and had only just begun to hope they had found their new home, the dragon Zelkarune struck. Enraged at this final trial, Sasserine stood her ground against the dragon and defeated it – but at a terrible cost. For in delivering the final strike, Sasserine had been forced to step between Zelkarune’s claw and Teraknian; the blow meant for him instead laid her low, just as she called down a bolt of fire from the sky to slay the dragon.
In the days to fellow. the survivors turned to Teraknian for leadership, who vowed to found a city in Sasserine’s name. It was the year 124 BCY and over the seven centuries to follow, Sasserine would mature into one of the great hidden wonders of the south.
Sasserine is located at the westernmost edge of the Amedio Jungle, nestled in a sheltered harbor. Most travelers come to Sasserine via ship, as overland routes are fraught with peril. From the sea, Sasserine isn’t much to look at; two ragged cliffs of stone jut from the coastline, their faces home to seahawks and gulls but little else. Then a vast rent in the cliff slides into view, its summit crowned by the shattered remnants of an immense stone bridge. Sailing between the slowly eroding stone pylons that once supported the bridge above, a visitor passes from open sea into a thriving harbor of commerce, whaling and intrigue. Certainly the smell of the city is breathtaking – a tremendous riot of exotic spices, smoke, humanity and sewage that assaults the senses. Perfumes and scented candles are popular commodities in Sasserine.
Sasserine is split into seven distinct districts, each with its own personality. These districts are separated by inner walls, by networks of canals or rivers or simply by age. Friendly competition between the districts is common, especially during festivals, yet the citizens of Sasserine do not hesitate to come to each other’s aid. Perched at the edge of civilization, Sasserine is (and has always been) often the target of assault from land and sea; the pirates of the Crimson Fleet, the navy of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the frog-like bullywugs of the surrounding marshland, and even gangs of ogres and giants from the nearby mountains keep the city on constant alert, yet to date the fiercely proud city has fallen to the enemy only once, and even then only through the act of the city’s most notorious traitor.
For 150 years after its foundation in 124 BCY, Sasserine experienced phenomenal growth. In 30 CY, Sasserine had its first conflict with the notorious assassins and slavers of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Brotherhood wizards and clerics managed to destroy the stone bridge known as Teraknian’s Arch and burned much of the waterfront before the defenders managed to repulse the attack. Over the next four centuries, Sasserine would be variously assaulted by the Scarlet Brotherhood, the Great Kingdom, and local tribes of giants and bullywugs once or twice a decade, so tempting were the vast plantations of coffee and spices the city protected. Yet with each assault, the soldiers of Sasserine grew more adept at defending their city. Teraknian’s Arch was rebuilt and destroyed nearly a dozen times. The final decision to abandon the bridge entirely and leave it in ruins marks the only remaining physical scar from years of warfare.
Over the years, a line of lord-mayors also known as Sea Lords ruled Sasserine in conjunction with advice from the churches of Pharasma and Irori. In the year of 502 CY, Orren Teraknian ruled the city. For the first time in centuries, the church of Pharasma was stripped of its power when fabricated charges of devil worship led to the arrest, imprisonment and even execution of its faithful. Just as Orren’s rule became unbearable, a great fleet of ships arrived – representatives of the Hold of the Sea Princes to the north. Promising an end to Orren’s cruel rule. the invaders were aided in their assault on the city from within as the citizens rose up in rebellion. Orren Teraknian was overthrown and the Sea Princes claimed Sasserine as their own. Over the near century to come, Sasserine’s resources were savaged. The Sea Princes kept Sasserine a secret from the rest of the world, hoping to hide the valuable port from invaders by destroying any references they could find to it. Spies infiltrated cartographer guilds and libraries throughout the world, altering maps and sea charts with magic. Ship captains who knew the route to the city were bought off or murdered. Sasserine suffered in these years, but the underlying spirit of her citizens did not die. The Drac family especially emerged to become a force for independence, whether they were covertly sabotaging the Sea Princes’ efforts or taking up leadership positions in which they could work within the system.
Their prayers were finally answered in 584 CY, when the Scarlet Brotherhood assassinated nearly all of the Sea Princes. The resulting turmoil threw Sasserine into chaos. Without the support of their homeland, the leaders of the city were overthrown in a fortnight.
In the decade since their emancipation, the people of Sasserine have rebuilt their city with astonishing alacrity, but they still work to restore their navy, to re-establish trade routes with lands to the north and to heal the rift of hatred between the churches of Irori and Pharasma. Burgeoned by events in their sister city of Cauldron (which recently survived a disaster of its own), the city of Sasserine seems to be perched on the edge of glory.
Money once again flows into the city coffers as the trade routes are reestablished, bolstered by the trove of absconded funds recently liberated from the Sea Princes. Dress style in Sasserine ranges from rags to riches,but the one thing that applies across all classes is the fact that in this hot humid city, less is more. Public nudity is generally frowned upon, but it’s not uncommon to see outfits that leave little to the imagination (for better or for worse).
After a hundred years of oppression, the law in Sasserine has finally relinquished its stranglehold on the citizens. Murder, arson, treason, assault, theft and other violent or destructive crimes remain illegal and are severely punished by the Sea Lord’s Guard, but lesser crimes (drug trade, prostitution, gambling, vagrancy and similar offenses) remain unrestricted. Many come to Sasserine precisely because of the fact that their vices may be pursued here without fear of legal repercussions. Some public groups (in particular, the church of Iomedae) are attempting to rally the Guard back to more conservative ways, but for now the income generated by visitors and the recent memories of repression serve to keep the majority of the city’s populace open-minded and accepting.
Each of the seven districts of Sasserine is represented not only by a noble, but by an allied church. Traditionally, the seven churches of Sasserine have been on good terms, but unfortunately the last 100 years have placed an undue strain upon them. In particular, the faithful of Pharasma and Irori have suffered. The terrible rift of suspicion and hatred that formed between these churches during Orren Teraknian’s rule exists to this day. The remaining four primary religions include a patron saint of merchants named Worgul, Gorum, Desna and Iomedae. The final church is in fact comprised of the worship of three sea deities: Gozreh, Besmara and the now dead Aroden. Numerous smaller shrines can be found in Sasserine, each dedicated to different gods, but these shrines rarely have congregations of more than fifty. There are rumors of a few evil religions operating in the shadows of the city – the two most notable are the cult of Zon-Kuthon and Norgorber.