Riddleport

Riddleport_Flag.jpg
Riddleport runs with the blood and booze of countless bar brawls., and it jingles to the tune of coins sliding from greasy purse to greasy palm. It’s a city of pirates, smugglers, gamblers, those who seek to make names for themselves, and those who wish to become invisible. It is a place where fortunes are shaped with the turn of a card, and good deeds rarely rewarded with anything but a knife in the back.

Wealth endlessly changes Hands in Riddleport, weather by the rare adamantine-smelting trade of the Gas Forges, in the gambling houses of the Free-Coin District, via expeditions undertaken by the academic Order of Cyphers as they seek to reveal the mysteries of the Cyphergate, in the sprawling brothels of Rotgut, or by the unskilled labor done in the camps of Lubbertown. While Magnimar might consider itself the center of civilized free trade in Varisia, Riddleport is more than happy to accommodate the rest. It’s messy and it’s dangerous, but for those who make their home in the City of Cyphers, the system works.

Once a secret pirate haven, Riddleport has grown over the last three centuries into a port city in its own right. At first it served as a secure base from which to conduct raids against Chelish merchant vessels bound for Korvosa, but over time the city has expanded into a true settlement, the frontier’s frontier, the northernmost outpost on the lonely strip known as the Lost Coast. Yet while Riddleport has grown into a proper city, it remains true to its roots—you can get rich quick in Riddleport if you’ve got skill and a bit of luck, though for every Riddleport success story there are a dozen nameless bodies buried in potters’ fields or tossed to the hungry denizens of the sea.

Riddleport is located in a secluded, rocky harbor situated at the easternmost reaches of the Calphiak Mountains, where the meandering Velashu River meets the sea. Although the site was partially chosen for ease of defense (either from Chelish privateers or raiders from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings), the original settlers picked the site as much for its singular Thassilonian monument: the mysterious and intriguing arch known as the Cyphergate — a breathtaking 700-foot-tall arch of rung-engraved stone — spans the entrance to the perilous Riddleport Harbor. Built to the north of this ancient monument, the sodden, filth-ridden city of Riddleport clings to the riverbank, its bustling port constantly clogged with pirate ships and bold merchant galleys.

The city proper is tucked in between two rocky ridges, the easternmost rising just over 300 feet in elevation and blocking the city from a tidal swamp of hillocks and mires that serves today as a dumping ground for refuse, derelict ships, bodies, and undesirables. The western ridge ascends swiftly into the Calphiak Mountains themselves. To the north, the Velashu River threads its way between these ridges, leading up into the Velashu Uplands. While roads from the east and north exist, they are not well-maintained—the most notable access to the city is its harbor. No one who sails into Riddleport by sea can avoid passing beneath the Cyphergate. Many sailors have favorite private signs or rituals for good luck they perform as their ships pass under the storied arch, for one can never be too careful around Varisia’s storied monuments.

Riddleport today bears an air of legitimacy that eluded it in earlier times when it was little more than a haven for those seeking shelter but not necessarily law. This legitimacy arises from a growing influx of scholars and experts, for of all Varisia’s monuments, the Cyphergate may be the best preserved. It’s certainly one of the most enigmatic. An entire tradition of arcane study has risen in the Cyphergate’s shadow—the growing Order of Cyphers has become one of Riddleport’s most powerful factions— quite the feat in a settlement known for traditional values of piracy and bullying. This newest faction of Riddleport’s already complicated administration may just be what it takes to force the growing city into a stable government—or it may be the final load that causes it all to come crumbling down.

The city has enjoyed a measure of stability in recent years, thanks in no small part to Gaston Cormarcky, its current overlord. Cromarcky funds his hired force of brutal gendarmes through trade taxes he raised, and their guardianship over the fetid streets has brought a semblance of order to the City of Cyphers. Few say that the port is safe, but at least open murders have largely been replaced by private assassinations.

Most of Riddleport’s buildings are composed of wood— logs or planks—with multiple floors and steep, highpeaked roofs of wooden shingles. They are built in close quarters, and in some cases their wooden upper floors sag and lean together from the constantly sodden conditions. Stone fireplaces ward off the bitter winter cold and the chill that lingers in the fog-laden streets for much of the year, save for in high summer. During this two-month period, warmer air currents from the south bring a muggy, oppressive heat along with great black mosquitoes that breed in the nearby marshes. Many burn peat treated with incense in their hearths during these months to ward off the vermin with their thick smoke.

The major streets of Riddleport are cobbled, often becoming rain-slick cataracts during the wet seasons. Cobbles are often missing or crushed by the incessant traffic, leaving gaping holes and ruts in even the most well-tended thoroughfares. Side streets tend to be relegated to muddy tracks that are swift to turn into stinking morasses of sucking mud and filth. Riddleport doesn’t have much of a sewage system, and relies mainly on gutters along street edges to carry refuse to the river and harbor. One feature unique to the major streets is the frequent oil lamps mounted on iron poles that provide beacons of light in the benighted mists. These are set in sturdy hurricane lamps and burn thick, rancid oil from barrel-shaped reservoirs at the lamppost base—a byproduct and innovation of the Gas Works. These wavering lights give off illumination equal to a torch in even the foulest weather but are not well-tended—just over a third of them are out on any given night, in need of repairs or refueling.

The following locations correspond to the map:

  1. Cyphergate
  2. Riddleport Harbor
  3. Inner Harbor
  4. Velashu Ferry
  5. River District
  6. Publican House
  7. Windward District
  8. Cypher Lodge
  9. Wharf District
  10. Gold Goblin Gambling Hall
  11. Zincher’s Arena
  12. Gas Forges
  13. Rotgut District
  14. St. Caspieran’s Mission
  15. Riddleport Light
  16. Leeward District
  17. House of the Silken Veil
  18. The Fish Bowl
  19. Mystery of the Gate
  20. Lymas Smeed’s Townhouse
  21. Zincher’s Tenement
  22. Boss Croat’s Compound
  23. The River Runner
  24. The Devil’s Fork
  25. Maskyr’s Island
  26. Free-Coin District
  27. Lubbertown
  28. City Mortuary
  29. The Burying Ground
  30. Boneyard Cut
  31. The Boneyard

Riddleport

Second Darkness qtperdu qtperdu