The City of Melkot is a walled town with a population of
4,000 people. Melkot is the only town for 50 miles and is at the end of
a perilous road through bandit and monster occupied mountains. The road
leads from the Yeomanry through Melkot Pass, which separates the Tor
from the last spur of the Crystalmist Mountains. To the south lie the
Hool Marshes. All in all, Melkot is not exactly located in the safest
in the world. Despite this very isolated location, it is a very
trade center for one reason: Gems - and lots of them.
Just over 100 years ago (5991 SD), and within the memory of many of
the resident dwarves, a large army of the Sea Princes made the long and
perilous march around the Hool Marshes towards Melkot Pass. It was an
period in that country's history and their sea-war with Keoland was not
going particularly well. The plan was to march through Melkot Pass,
take the weaker Yeomanry (who had been providing resources to Keoland)
and then circle eastward and crush Keoland in a massive surprise
They expected to easily take the small mining town on the way. The
lasted 2 years (the longest continuous siege ever of any city in the
world), and many died, but the city never fell. Rather than attempt to
bypass Melkot, the siege became an obsession for the Sea Prince
Supplies stretched thin, the armies eventually had to retreat in total
failure, never having even stepped onto Yeomanry soil. Two things
to this miraculous feat. The first was the self-contained water supply
system built 250 years before. The second was the brilliant planning of
Lord Arabis II. After watching the increasingly militaristic activities
of the Sea Princes, he somehow predicted their possible plans years
the Princes' had even formulated them and spent an immense amount of
on turning Melkot into an important center of magical research. The
per capita concentration of wizards in any city proved to be an
obstacle to the invading army. To this day, no one knows how the Lord
at this great insight or even the details of his great Master Plan.
the mysterious death of Lord Arabis II was more than the end of an era.
His son, Marchanter, became Lord and so began the Years of Dark Terror
(6026 to 6063 SD).
Lord Marchanter Melkotia became a very powerful and very evil mage, ruling his subjects with an iron fist. As an addition to the already immense Melkotia Castle he somehow constructed two great 600 ft. towers like the world had never seen, made of black, seamless stone (with great magic it is assumed). Unspeakable evils were committed within Melkotia Castle and the entire city lived in fear. Many people disappeared from the streets of Melkot, and screams could be heard from the castle, even though it was almost 7 miles away! A group of powerful paladins and priests from the rather large Temple of Heironeous, with the help of several powerful mages from the prestigious Academy of Arcane Arts, made an attempt to kill Marchanter in a secret raid on the castle. They managed to surprise him in his personal quarters. He not only overcame them all somehow, but in his rage returned to the city and destroyed the Temple of Heironeous, killing all the occupants single-handedly and leaving the razed building behind as a reminder to the populace of his power. The terror continued until 6063 SD when Marchanter disappeared mysteriously (there are many conflicting rumors about it) and the castle was abandoned. It has remained so until the present. No one dares go within several miles of the site.
Since that time no one has stepped forward to claim the title of Lord Melkotia. This may be partly because of the legacy left by Marchanter (no one would dare profess a kinship with him, whether real or imagined) but more probably because many secretly believe Marchanter is still alive and may someday return to wreak vengeance. The mayor and city council have kept the government going since that time and more or less control the city (during the day at least) with a large, well-funded city guard. The man who presently holds the unenviable job of Mayor is Jahan Wiebhix. A member of a wealthy family which owns one of the gem mines, he started out many years ago in the city guard and eventually worked his way up through the government thanks to his great skill as a diplomat.
Around the destroyed Temple of Heironeous sprang up the "Dark City". It is a dark, dismal, maze-like, lawless, slum area with few entrances, filled with thugs, assassins and evil priests, and run essentially as an entirely separate city - no city guard patrol would dare venture within - and may be one of the most dangerous `thieves quarters' in the Flanaess. Several years ago (the date is unknown) a cult emerged from the heart of the "Dark City". This cult calls itself the "Sons of Marchanter".
Spoken of only in hushed tones, most of the population know several things (rumors) about them. The leaders apparently claim that they are all truly Marchanter's offspring (it is unknown if it is true, most would like to believe it is a lie designed to spread fear), their membership has supposedly grown to over 100, most cult members are supposedly double-classed as wizards (a lot of magical power if true), they may have partial control of Melkotia Castle, and they have spies all over the city and surrounding region.
One fact that is known for sure: their fighting unit, always fully armored in black plate mail, is known as the "Black Guard" (originally the name of Marchanter's terror-invoking castle guard). They control the seamier areas of the city by night. Although rarely seen outside of the Dark City, they are never interfered with. The Sons apparently worship Marchanter, perhaps even as a god, working towards his ultimate return. Some claim that Marchanter's spirit still roams the Castle. Scores of other related rumors abound concerning his demise and/or whereabouts. Marchanter, if he is a god now, may even be granting spells to priests within his cult. In any event, many citizens fear that the growing strength of this cult may result in a return to the "Years of Dark Terror".
The truth behind the Sons of Marchanter
to no one outside the cult. Asking questions attracts their attention.
Persist, and you forfeit your life.
Melkot Regional Timeline.
City of Melkot location descriptions
Warning: The index map is 300k and may take a few moments to load.
About the design of the map: I gladly admit to using pieces of several of Columbia Games' HarnWorld city maps as inspiration, and following the style of their excellent maps. I heartily encourage others to seek out HarnWorld supplements and adapt them to their personal campaigns! Their artwork has no parallel in the RPG industry.
The mines here have also attracted some of the most skilled gemcutters and jewelers in the Flanaess. Melkot is not just a source of raw gems, but of fine finished works also. Many royal treasuries across the continent have items created within these city limits.
The city's water comes from underground springs within the mountain cliff that rests along the entire western margin of Melkot. The springs flow directly into a huge storage chamber beneath Melkot Keep, without ever coming to the surface. From here, it flows through several tunnels to each of the city's public wells, eventually meeting at another underground chamber beneath Guardpost 7a, and from there flows south underground several miles before coming to the surface as a spring near the river. Though the water has a moderate mineral flavor, its self-contained delivery system was invaluable to the city when it came under seige by the Sea Princes.
Within the Dark City there are several temples to evil gods. The presence of these temples are completely unknown to most of the citizens of Melkot. However, within the Dark City, their presence is known by a fair number of the quarter's inhabitants.
Guards are permanently stationed at 9 major locations through the
The Barracks and Melkot Keep complex, the four city gates, and four
Guard offices distributed within the city proper. The duties at each of
these locations are detailed on the City Locations page. Roving patrols
operate from those bases of operation. Under no circumstances, short of
a major multi-building fire, will the city guard enter the Dark City.
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