Tohl
Known as the City of Light, more commonly the largest city in the world is known simply as The City or Tohl (TOLE) in the high ral. Described in the writings of the Reddowner scribe Denier Harkreft "Words cannot describe the sheer vastness of the place that the people of Ralstaa know simply as ‘The City’ as if they venerate it unto a semblance of divinity. I can scarce comprehend the volume of humanity pressed into this tangled forest of hand-hewn stone. The majesty and poetry of this alien landscape is inescapable, and I must confess that on the nine days for which the vast cloud of smoke that hangs about the city was visible I swore to myself that surely nothing could be that big. I cannot imagine quite how, scarcely months ago in this very journal I penned my awe at the size of places such as Leirkist or Southaven, for even a single district of this gargantuan city dwarfs their whole bulk. I feel that even the term city is insufficient to convey the sheer leviathan majesty of Tohl."

Total Population: 1,132,400 approx.
Tech. Code: 7
Governments:
Religions:
Industries and Trades:
Major Terrain: City.
Primary Languages: Ralstaan (Tohler).

Geography


The City is made of of thirty nine individual districts, plus two garrisoned fortresses and four ruined slums which are part of the city, but not administered by it. In addition to acting as the capitol city of the High Kingdom of Ralstaa and housing it's royal family, the city is also controlled by twenty four local noble families, with small summer estates belonging to dozens of other royal houses outside the province of Bradenthyr. These noble houses not only control property in the city, but rough house-gangs of men go around intimidating one another and shedding blood in the name of one or another of the noble houses.

The City of Lights is a bustling hub of culture, trade and society for all of Ralstaa. Nearly all of the Knives native races are represented here, in addition to the vast numbers of Ralstaans several districts of Ghans, communities of Vargor, and even Birdman rookeries and a small Irino all stand within it's walls. However the city is also a place of oppression, where memories of the violent insurgence known as the Bandit Wars are fresh in the minds of the authorities and the people, and where the last of this clash's survivors are mercilessly hunted by the shadowy secret police known as the Citizen's Militia.

Setting Trait (3): It's so… big The City of Lights is enormous, dwarfing every other settlement in the entire world utterly in both its population, and sprawling mass. One can wander the streets and never glimpse beyond the city limits, and most of its citizens will never venture, or even see beyond its towering walls. It is hard to imagine the awe of a visitor at the sight of a thronging million-strong city, and harder still to imagine a Tohler trying to comprehend the vast emptiness that occupies the rest of the world.

Layout

The City is broken into no less than forty four separate districts, all contained within an outer wall. The Inner City is the walled region around Rallah's Keep including Broadstreet, The Lights, Birdhe and Winebridge. Beyond this is the Middle City, split into two general areas by the Silver River, a strange mix of upper and lower class districts and city facilities. The northern bank comprises Breakford, Sendale, Peathouse, Buinebridge, Dohlswatch, Reinech, Barrowdale, The Haules, Ravvh, Old Man's Crook, Westbridge, Tohlber, Faldon Vaults, the so-called 'Scholar's District' of Carrafield, Templeton, and The Rookery and and the hilltop towers of Cloudgraze. The south bank is made up of the districts of Brickshill, Brooke Moore, Dorrensholm, Oldgate, Roerarch's Lament, Gallows Square, Shatterdale, Fatlip, Giddeon's Forge, Couldel, Tawlmarket, Eldenborough, Gateside and Traedren's Reach. Surrounding these is the Outer Wall which has four public gates and five massive fortresses built into it, all of these except Caer Sygard are abandoned, and have become some of the most horrible slums to be found anywhere on Allornus, these are Caer Gilneth, Caer Kloern, Caer Deresh and the infamous, flooded Caer Ghiere. Finally the City is surrounded by three enormous districts collectively called The Wards, these are The South Ward, The Gate Ward and The Old Ward. Through the centre end of the city the Silver River flows, and at the heart of Tohl Rallah's Keep and Cloudgraze are built on the pinnacles of two hills. Between the boarders of the south-eastern inner city and the district of Brickshill is a towering cliff where the stone for the city was quarried, the drop off is quite dramatic at it's highest points.

Notable Individuals

Sharn Ghasta, Lord Mayor of The City
The at once enigmatic and flamboyant Lord Mayor of The City is Sharn Ghasta. The absolute power behind The City; the epitome of the iron fist in the velvet glove, Ghasta rules with a lethal combination of fear, force and sheer popularity. The son of a Ghan émigré, Ghasta was born into considerably merchant wealth, and even owned a small household of Vargor 'servants' who were little more than slaves. He expended a great deal of this in his campaign for the office of Lord Mayor, buying many votes and generating a record number of non-noble vote buys in the history of the office. Today he rules over The City like a king, and indeed his domain is larger than that of many kings in Ralstaa. Using his far superior intelligence and rhetorical skills, he has proven able to remain several steps ahead of most of the major power of the city, and more than a few of the Lord High Provost.

Agniel Banditslayer Ur-Laren, Lord High Provost of The City
A veteran of the bandit wars, Agniel Ur-Laren has held his esteemed post for only the past six years, and in this time the Lord Mayor has made Agniel almost totally ineffective. Deeply frustrated, Ur-Laren has remained popular however thanks to his more than earned 'Banditslayer' moniker, and the various deeds of heroism, such as the purging of Old Man's Crook, which were well recounted high-points in an otherwise losing battle of watch and bandits. A lifelong watchman, Agniel never really realized that the ultimate post of his profession would be so beholden to the Lord Mayor's gold, and he is only just beginning to understand the delicate game that both men are locked in. The watch respect and love their leader, and many of the younger ones are fanatically loyal, and even the Palisade Guard have a great deal of respect for the man.

Raenal Mastorial Stonefist Uth-Gavrain, Grand Marshal of the Palisade Knights
The master of the walls of Tohl, custodian of Rallah's Keep, and ranking military commander of The City usually simply goes by Lord Marshal Mastorial. A hero of many quests, secret and public, Mastorial is a retiring man, gruff and prone to letting his actions speak for him. Not an expert commander, Mastorial has spent most of his career on special quests for the King, but he knows who best to delegate to for what situation, and is not to proud to do so. It is said that Mastorial has defeated mythical monsters, travelled the world, faced one of the Zmaj, and even briefly wielded one of the seven swords. Given how decorated and legendary his life to date is, one might consider the position of Grand Marshal as a sort of retirement.

Culture


Social Etiquette and Customs

The etiquette of Tohl is, by necessity rather than design, far less rigid than that of the rest of Ralstaa. People aren't expected to make formal greetings to one another, though they are still expected to kiss the palms of a priest, bow to a nobleman, and it is still considered a taint to come into contact with a magician. People in Tohl are also more open about names than in the rest of Ralstaa, though again they would never tell their name to a magician willingly. Tohl is simply too big not to differentiate oneself by full name. Strict sumptory laws have made class attire a matter of law rather than custom, and all eating customs have been abandoned in the face of the value of food, especially good food.

However class differences are rigidly enforced. A nobleman who feels that a man of lesser station is not showing him the correct respect will have the commoner thrashed, and the commoner has little or no legal recourse in the face of this treatment. Those ordained by the Temple of the Sun are the exception, priests demand a great deal more respect in Tohl, where the temple is supported by the Canonate and by the High King himself.

Arts and Entertainment

Tohl has publicly accessible parks and gardens, museums and of course collections at temples, allowing a class of artists to emerge amongst the middle classes, and artists are often of the same class as tradesmen and professionals if they have a wealthy patron. The parks of the wealthier districts, especially Winebridge Park, are places of great natural beauty, with beds of rare flowers and beautiful sculptures scattered throughout them. However since the city lives under a pall of smoke it is common for only the hardiest plants to survive. Sculpture, mosaic and oil-painted portraits are all popular, especially when they depict the noble patron or one of his famous ancestors. Museums are similarly usually supported by noble patrons, and act as hubs for various historical societies of Canonate scholars.

Diet and Eating Customs

Such an immense population in a non-agrarian society means that food is in exceptionally high demand. Most has a long shelf life, like heavy-doughed bread, pickled meat and vegetables stored in brine and a rich honeyed mead heavy enough to be a meal itself. Food is also extremely valuable, and a man can expect to spend at least half of his weekly income on food alone. Most people have two daily meals, and amongst the poor both of these would consist of tallow-gruel, sometimes with a hunk of meat or an old tuber in the mix. An artisan or merchant might take a loaf of bread and some meat, and perhaps a thick waxy cheese of a morning and a thick cut of meat and a flagon of mead or ale in the late afternoon. The upper classes can get fresh meat and vegetables, and keep extensive cellars of barley-wine. Street vendors hawk all kinds of exotic meals day and night along the main avenues of the city for those wanting variation, but these are a costly luxury and often of questionable origin. Inns and taverns will generally brew their own mead, and many famous shaeish-style mead-halls with distinctive blends make extremely popular districts fought for savagely by the house gangs of The City. No one in The City would consider drinking water, no well could be called clean enough to drink from, but cheap mead is plentiful and affordable, and most households will distil a weak ale.

Fashion and Dress

Attire in Tohl is quite different to that in the rest of Ralstaa, or even anywhere else in the world. Men wear laced layered overcoats, usually in blacks with occasional browns. Under these they usually wear laced shirts of white or grey, belted trousers that are bound at the waist and upper calf, and boots tall enough to meet the bottom of the pants, over the top of heavy hose. Some wealthier individuals wear a gown of finer fabric under the overcoat, this usually splits at the front of the waist to allow movement and reaches down to the top of the boots. Often the sleeves of the overcoat will be laced or buttoned so that they can be opened in fine weather to revel the finer fabric beneath. On their heads most men wear tall stovepipe hats or broad brimmed straw peasant hats in districts where slop or garbage is more of a threat. Hair still just as important to all Tohlers, and men wear long golden braids or loose pony-tails, and close-cropped beards are common. Cloaks are worn over clothing in poor weather. Noblemen dress in a more traditional style, with doublet or tunic and hose, always wearing house colours, or sometimes fur lined gowns and caps. House gangers will usually wear a scarf coloured to signify their allegiance around their waist, neck or hat.

Women also wear the same heavy overcoats as men, though theirs are split at the back to accommodate the volume of their skirts. Dresses are laced around the waist and bosom, and usually the neckline is square, cutting off just below the collar bone. The dress becomes broad and often pleated down to the ankles, where women wear the same heavy calf-high leather boots as men. Hair is long too, but generally tied up, and not covered by a hat, but wet-weather cloaks are hooded and can be clasped at the front. Noble women wear more traditional gowns, of complicated lace and brocade, but sharing the same neckline. Where blue-grey, pale blue and grey are the norm for citizens nobles again favour their house colours in bright, expensive materials like velvet or damask silk.

Religion and Philosophy

The Temple of the Sun almost exclusively controls the faith of Tohl, and with every resident nobleman being an initiate of the Canonate there is little opposition, thought outsiders are always invited to establish shrines - if they can rent or buy the land to do so. The only real exception is the cult of Viran, an ancestor cult devoted to the line of the High Kings. Though not as popular as Talladale the cult has a populist following within the royal court, and amongst the richer districts where men think that deifying the royal family and devoutly worshipping might gain them favour, or even better, business, from the King. However mainly they displace the tenets of the cult for those of the Temple of the Sun. The Royal University is also a major hub of the temple, second only to the Great Temple of the Dawn in Tohl Dannis.

Ghanish mystics, several Irinos, small cults devoted to Haedra, Sarenny, T'athair and the Straw Divhi all hold a foothold in the city, and whispers of sects devoted to Dúltach, and even of missionaries of the One True Faith surface now and again. Birdmen and Vargör, the only myr who have a strong presence in Tohl, often adhere to the Temple of the Sun more readily than their own complex faiths, but in isolated communities old traditions of the Order of the Cursed and the Hawklord's Broeterbund certainly have a presence.

Transportation and Communication

Tohl, unlike many cities whose centres were drawn up and land was levelled, was never planned. As a result the thoroughfares of The City are chaos. Roads often transform into alleyways, stairs, short tunnels and overpasses without sense or warning. With demolition often resulting at catastrophic chain reactions, or in poorer districts some buildings overhanging or even resting on others, meaning that an owner has obligations to his neighbor who rests on his roof, buildings are adapted and worked around. Thanks to this chaotic landscape mounts are rare and not especially useful, and people go about on foot for the most part. Small children are always about to be used as runners for messages, and those in the city with money, such as successful professionals or nobles, travel in ornate sedan chairs from place to place, nearly always with guards, as such conveyances attract a lot of attention. Ikars are actually an excellent way to travel long distances in Tohl, but gate tax means that only a privileged few are allowed to use these creatures, and in lower class districts Ikars struggle with the thick cloud of smoke, and with having and nowhere to land. However richer districts have plenty of raised roosts and stables, and minor nobles like knights who can move freely through the city use their Ikars freely. Thanks to the commonness of these large birds of prey messenger pigeons are all but useless, as they are so terrified by the number of these massive birds.

Common Pass Times

Drinking at mead-halls, games of cards and dice, and cloud dens are common pass times in The City. Cloud is legal, but frowned upon, and generally cloud dens are a hub of criminal activity, so only those who are dependent on the cloud or who have criminal dealings habitually frequent the dens. Tohl is not a place where family is the center of life, and men will often only return to their wives to sleep, but women are expected to stay home and keep the house and children, even in homes that have servants. Women often make clothing, tapestries, blankets of other household necessities to pass the time, but wealthier households host musicians or poets regularly, often for entire seasons.

Political


Political System

The political landscape of The City is a complex one. The land itself is divided between various noble landowners, the five princes of Bradenthyr control a good deal of land in the outer wards, and the noble families exclusively in Tohl control a roughly equal share, as well as various Kings from further flung territories controlling small estates of their own, mainly for the winter court. However the entire city, just like the rest of Bradenthyr, is directly ruled by the High King, levying his taxes and tithes on the property of all landholders. The High King's laws however only control the walls of the city and Rallah's Keep. Power in the city itself is divided between the Lord Mayor, a man elected by the local nobles, who controls the city's finances and bureaucracy; and the Lord High Provost who controls the watch, but depends upon the Lord Mayor to fund them. This creates an uneasy situation of competition and conflict between the Mayor and Provost's offices, while they both scramble to stay out of the way of the agents of the King on the walls. In addition various houses are able to exercise a good deal of unofficial power via their house gangs.

The Oerocrast

The Oerocrast, High Ral for “Gathering of Kings”, is the council that the High King calls in times of emergency, but it is also a name ascribed to the greater court of the High Kingdom that appears during the autumn and winter seasons when many of the local kings move their entire courts to The City, where they merge into the court of the High King. In these times the population of the City grows by several thousand, especially in the inner city, and Rallah's Keep, practically empty in the summer, buzzes with activity. The Palisade Guard often officially invade parts of The City and occupy it, the guard retreating from their posts and offering official surrender when the High King feels a district is not safe enough for his Kings.

Legal System and Enforcement

The Lord High Provost enforces the High King's law with the watch, though he has certain rights to make laws that add to of situationally alter those of the High King, so long as he does not breach the laws that govern all of the Kings in the High Kingdom. The walls of The City and Rallah's Keep are the province of the Palisade Guard, commanded directly by the Palisade Knights. The Watch and the Palisade Guard will not intervene in each others business for any reason whatsoever, as evidenced by the events of the bandit wars. The Citizen's Militia on the other hand don't officially exist, and their specific brand of heavy handed, above-the-law terror keeps the law when the convoluted bureaucracy of The City fails to.

The Laws of Tohl are arranged into the eight schedules of Ralstaan Common Law, each of which has several crimes associated with it, and each of which has a specific range of punishments that are associated with a guilty verdict.

Military

The Pallisade Guard, Pallisade Knights, Loric Knights, Templar Orders and Royal University are all based in Tohl, as well as the personal guards of the various Kings who are in The City at any given time. With some of the most elite warriors in the world all focused into one place, the force fielded by The City is smaller than one that might take the field against it, but their knowledge of the forests around Tohl is an enormous advantage, and such is the sophistication of Rallah's Keep as a fortress that the Palisade Knights claim that they alone could hold it against an entire Imperatry Legion with ease.

Technology


Architecture and Construction

The bulk of The City is made of the clay-tinted orange grey stone that is common to the region, with the walls in even darker terracotta coloured granite slabs. The Ral gift for working stone is well evidenced in the High Kingdom's capitol. Most buildings are multi-level conversions, with beautifully decorated façades, upper levels being of clean-cut red-brick with off-white moulded cement cornices and buttresses. Houses, and even shops, are warrens of small rooms based around a central hallway. Most buildings have a business on their lower level, and homes on the upper. Houses build up rather than out, and even the smallest tend to be two levels with an open attic-loft. Extensions, timber skywalks, towers, balconies, buildings that lean on other buildings or even rest on the top of others, spiral staircases, raised walkways and over-roof causeways and rooftop gardens are epidemic, adding rude wooden extensions to the masterful and beautiful stone originals.

The most exceptional structures in The City are cased around the inner city. The Lights is the name given to the tiled roofs of the inner city buildings. These are made of a metal said to have come from the sky, captured by Rallah herself. Too soft to be made into a tool, this metal was forged into roof tiles for the original city, and in the night they cast a faint, vivid myriad of rainbow lights that dance and flicker, meaning that the entire region requires no lights, lit up as bright as the brightest night on even the darkest. Cloudgraze is a region of enormous, willowy towers with broad chambers at the top, rising like needles for the city's normal landscape. Finally the major bridges that arc over the Silver River are all tremendous in scale. So much so that one passing over them would never know he was on a bridge. Totally flanked on both sides by buildings, all of these are shops with the upper levels accessed by raised sidewalks that span the length of the bridge. Doors and windows in the rear of these bridge shops drop straight into the river below.

Daily Living

Much of daily life in Tohl is governed by the ritual prayer to the sun at dawn and dusk, which only takes a few moments, but shuts down the entire city for a few moments at the beginning and end of the day. Usually Tohlers aren't very mobile, districts remain isolated from one another, and the gate tax to leave or enter the city means that departure is a seemingly unnecessary expense to most. Of course noblemen or anyone in the service of a noble family - that is to say bearing a recognized noble house's seal - moves about freely by law, but commoners and merchants are expected to pay the tax every time they pass. The tax is a silver penny per pair of feet, a gold crown per pair of wheels or a flat two gold crowns for a barge, however most barges of trade caravans attach themselves to noble houses so as to attain a noble seal.

Medicine

While it is some of the finest available in Ralstaa, medical technology is poor, mediocre at best, and lots of people have no access to anyone to treat any illness or injury. Professional churogeons have shops in most districts, and these men have a high level of competency, but their services are prohibitively expensive. Generally the lower classes can find someone to set broken bones or roughly bind a wound, but professional medical help is something exclusively available to those with money. Ralstaan medicine espouses the clarification of the blood, and leeches and bleeding are common treatments for disease and for infection.

Economy


Tohl is resource hungry, literally. Fresh food flows daily into the inner city, and preserved meats and grains come into the rest of the city in even greater volumes. If the wagons stop, for even a day, the city's stores may not be enough to keep it. As a result food is easily the most high demand and valuable resource in Tohl is food and drink. However all kinds of resources flow into The City, where this hub of professionals and tradesmen turn out unparalleled volumes of finished tools, textiles, paper, written materials, clothing, tanned leather, glass, advanced ceramics and other finished goods bring gold into the city.

Today in The City…


The rumour mill of Tohl spits out dozens of rumours each day, too many, often too outlandish or crazed to be true. At any given moment a director who has a character encountering gossip on the streets of Tohl should roll on the Tohl Rumour Mill table. For the locals there are too many confusing and often contradictory things going around, and there is little of substance that everyone agrees is happening.

The Knives of Rallah, High Kingdom of Ralstaa
The Shaeish Kingdoms Caldare, Donnaigh, Rhuovaith, Kileirey, Balleymoore, Cannavin, Wynd, Breconn, Coulbaigh
The Lleweith Kingdoms Avalaigh, Haeliard, Lammornia, Branddale, Talladale, Bradenthyr, Tohl
The Starwood Cwmbran, Kentallen Wood, Uerenuell
Tuarvael Castrette, Serlot, Friesse
The Dunsain Kingdoms Byrnham, Blackstone, Craigbyrn, Duncarrick, Strath Gorge, Garynshae, The Clanlands, Aulorn's Gate
Director's Miscellany Amenities, Culture, Gear & Prices, Professions, Random Encounters, Small Settlement Generator, Supporting Cast Generator