Batumawberk

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Batumawberk
Other Names: Capital of Lord Ternus
Society:
Nation/Territorial Area: The Western Underdark, Territory of Demon Lord Ternus
Population: 75,000
Languages: Undercommon, Orcish, Abyssal, Infernal
Deities Worshipped: Lord Ternus (all other worship illegal until 2210 AOD)
General Alignment: Lawful Evil (Neutral)
Head of City Government: Demon Lord Ternus
Races:
40% Adomkuro, 20% Orc, 25% Kharakuro, 20% Other



Map of the City of Batumawberk

History

Batumawberk /bay-too-MAW-berk/ is the capital and seat of power of Demon Lord Ternus. From this vantage point located conveniently next to the Ferrell Cavernway, Lord Ternus controls trade leading to the surface for a wide swath of southwestern Negaria, and the taxes garnered from this trade is what powers his small empire.

During the Demonspawn Wars, roughly three centuries before The Great War, this area served as a major staging ground for attacks on the surface. The original settlement of Fort Lightstrike was a fortified cavern near a natural curling volcanic tube leading up into the southern part of modern day Ferrell. The tube ascends relatively quickly from the deeps and has a wide berth to allow large numbers of troops and equipment to travel upward.

As the war with the surface wound down, the strategic value of the area did not decrease. Instead it became an important line of defense against counter attacks from the surface, and an important avenue of trade between the surface and The Underdark. The first ruler of the area was a Spawn of Alifanitax named Schvan Heartsblack. Under his aegis, the settlement expanded and became the site of a formal marketplace which persists to this day. Lord Schvan also built the foundations of the main keep in the city, currently named Ternus Keep.

Around the year 1820 AOD, an enterprising wizard and self-styled Master of The Planes named Alvar Urik pushed the idea that Fort Lightstrike could become an even bigger trade hub than it currently was. He proposed accomplishing this through opening up permanent portals to other planes through which caravans could travel back and forth. His idea met with varying reception, but he tried anyway with his first target being Baator, aka The Nine Hells. Creating a portal that tapped into the outlaying area of the hellish City of Dis, Alvar Urik met with some success, at first. The portal functioned flawlessly. However, with such frequent contact between The Nine Hells and Fort Lightstrike, the settlement began to take on more and more characteristics of that connected Outer Plane. Trouble started when whole parts of the settlement started migrating through the portal. Sages determined that if the portal was not closed, the entire city and eventually everything around it would slip into The Nine Hells, permanently.

The portal grew bigger and was eventually referred to as The Baator Maw, as it hungrily gulped the settlement up inch by inch over a period of months. With some help from sages on the surface, a concerted effort was made to beat back the Maw and return as much of the city to the Prime Material Plane as possible. Upon seeing the settlement for the first time as it was being devoured, one sage from the other side of the portal exclaimed, "That's not a portal! It's a Baator Maw, berk!" The name stuck, and Fort Lightstrike was ever known as Batumawberk.

Luckily, the advance of the hellish plane was eventually curbed. Alvar Urik was put to death, and most of the city was returned to the Prime Material Plane. Certain keeps and parts of the market were irretrievable and remain in the outskirts of Dis to this day.

Through a series of wars and assassinations, Lord Ternus came to power approximately in the year 2152 and renamed the main keep in his own honor.

Districts

Though the city is not formally divided into districts, there are some general areas where certain types of buildings and activities are more common. The two major features of the layout are Ternus Keep and the Marketplace, with the Temple of Ternus forming a third point to the shape.

Ternus Keep

Along a winding side cavern that branches out from the main cavern of the city, the path stops at a small body of water that is partially natural and partially artificial. This moat houses a small island at its center on which Ternus Keep rests. Like many buildings in the Western Underdark, this one is carved out of a natural rock column that was originally hundreds of feet in diameter. This allows for a structured keep with multiple levels extending both above and below the plane of the city, as well as opening out onto the moat which can be crossed with a drawbridge or ferry.

Demon Lord Ternus uses this structure as his main residence and seat of government. Within its walls are provisions against seige and multiple garrisons and training facilities for his troops, many of which are not simple warriors but also accomplished users of magic and psionics.

Marketplace

The marketplace is the center of the city and its main place of activity. It lies along the main road that leads out of the southern cavern entrance to the wilder caves of Lord Ternus' territory. For the most part, in times when there is no battle, the market is freely accessible from outside of the city and traffic from all over the surface of Negaria and The Underdark makes its way in and out, depositing and acquiring goods along the way.

Within the stalls of this exotic market there are a wide array of items for sale. Foodstuffs from both the surface and below ground are common, ranging from the many species of cave grains and mushrooms to surface fruits and vegetables, which are of course more expensive. Meats from common Underdark creatures such at rothe, giant rat, basilisk, and other less savory beasts are for sale alongside beef, pork, and chicken. One of the main exports from Batumawberk are gems which are traded heavily in the marketplace, as well as weapons from renowned kharakuro smiths that sometimes have magical properties. Favorite imports from the surface include elicit substances like bloodfury crystals and mellowsmoke weed, which are all traded here.

Keeps and Residences

Surrounding the marketplace are roads and alleyways lined with smaller caverns that house the populace. Dwellings are either built from natural columns or assembled from worked stone on the floor of the large cavern itself where the city sits. The dwellings range in size from single-person hovels to keeps that can rival Ternus Keep, albeit without the moat.

Lesser lords that choose to live within the confines of the city make their homes in the smaller keeps around this area. Some lords possess multiple keeps both inside and outside of the city where they can easily conduct business in both places, or store their personal armies in non-threatening and out of sight venues not seen by Ternus.

Temples and Shrines

Most of the temples and shrines in the city are scattered along the outer edges of the main cavern. They range in size from single altars set on stone platforms to large multi-story buildings that extend above and below the plane of the main cavern.

Government

Demon Lord Ternus is the undisputed head of state, mayor, and dictator bar none, when it comes to running Batumawberk and its surrounding caverns. For the most part, the government is what he dictates, but in practice it resembles a feudal system of Lords and vassals. Directly below Demon Lord Ternus in the hierarchy are his Lesser Lords who in turn have vassal lords of their own. Not all of these feudal lords live within the confines of the city, but most have some representation there. In certain cases, some of the more adept vassal lords may also have smaller vassals of their own.

Each Lesser Lord and vassal is responsible for clearing and maintaining the area of the city directly around his or her keep. Ternus routinely sends around his own forces to be seen throughout the main cavern, but daily incidents and violations are settled by the soldiers, and "associates" of the Lesser Lords and vassals. An associate to a Lesser Lord or vassal can take the form of any person or organization tasked with maintaining order in the city. Traditionally, this means one or more of the Rogue's Guilds in the city, such as The Forsaken Waifs and The Rocs play a part in cracking down on crime (or controlling and profiting from it as the case may be). Other types of thugs and strong-armed individuals also independently play this part at times.

Due to the feudal nature of organization, justice in the city is corrupt and arbitrary. Laws are decreed by Ternus and his Lesser Lords and just as easily ignored or struck down when they become inconvenient or a bore. In general, the Rogue's Guilds tend to be more concerned with justice and order within the city as it pertains to their business, and the official rulers of the city usually see fit to let them take care of that.

Religion

In the year 2206, Demon Lord Ternus outlawed all worship of deities besides himself within the city of Batumawberk and the surrounding caverns. This was part of his effort to deify himself as some of the more powerful Demon Lords have done by taking on the adoration and worship of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of souls. The end result would increase his power exponentially and allow him to grand spells to his own priesthood which at the time did not have that ability.

Before that decree, there were some thriving communities that worshiped Qinoxitl, The Dead Dreamer, Demon Lord Kuthos, and even the surface gods Maleki and Valok among many others. Unfortunately, after the outlawing of all worship of foreign deities, there was a tremendous effort from the Lesser Lords and vassal lords to desecrate and destroy all of those communities (while simultaneously hiding and going clandestine with their own deific preferences). Within a 50-mile radius of the city and within, all temples that were not dedicated to Ternus were razed.

The one temple that escaped this destruction is the grand Ternus Temple in the north part of the city. The spoils from the other temples were taken there to beautify and renovate the structure, and it currently stands as the most elaborate one in Batumawberk.

(At this time, the end result of this decree is still in flux. A pen and paper campaign is currently ongoing and the final fate of Lord Ternus still remains to be settled.)

Organizations

Aside from each individual Lesser Lord and vassal operating as a miniature royal court and justice system for the peasantry, there are various other organizations in the city that do not strictly owe fealty to any higher power other than what is contracted case by case.

The Burning Page

Though at various times it is hated and welcomed within the city, The Burning Page and its three wings: The Binders, The Death Runes, and The Glyph Bringers form an important symbiotic relationship with Batumawberk. For The Binders, the city's proximity to the neighboring territory that holds their headquarters in Varwat Citadel is important. The citadel and its surrounding caverns were the territory of the late Demon Lord Sarath Hutha of Alifanitax and Batumawberk represents the fastest route to the surface from there for the proliferation of Runic Magic. The Death Runes, as the merchant and mercenary arm of the organization are primarily concerned with trade. For them, the continued operation of Batumawberk's markets is essential, especially for buyers that need to rent armies or want to deal in buying and selling of runes. Profiting from the dissemination of runic magic to the highest bidder requires a safe and open market reasonably close to the surface but also in a good Underdark location. Batumawberk fits all of these requirements.

At the ground level of city operations, The Burning Page does not hold much interest in controlling anything. Its focus is more on the supply and liquidation of assets into and out of the city. For this reason, it usually does not come into direct conflict with any of the Rogue's Guilds, and often will ally with them for short periods of time on certain projects. The same goes for most of the Lesser Lords and vassals around the city. Most of them understand that The Death Runes have a nice talent for procuring rare items.

The Church of Ternus

For most Demon Lords of the Underdark, the goal is to gain enough power to grant spells and produce functioning clerics. This extends the ability of the Demon Lord to see and hear what is going on within its realm, and magnifies its power a hundredfold. This right of passage is seen as taking a seat next to the original Demon Lords, Kimonictinus, Kuthos, Sharistracterus, and the late Alifanitax, all of whom were or are able to grant spells to worshipers. Demon Lord Ternus is no exception.

In preparation for that eventuality, as Ternus sees it, he has created his own Church and started appointing clerics and templars to write his liturgy and carve out holdings for new temples. As of yet, none of these followers are able to cast spells granted by Ternus, but he does his best to equip them with some basic items capable of completing some common magical tasks like healing, blessing, and even resurrection.

The Forsaken Waifs

The Forsaken Waifs are the dominant Rogue's Guild within the city, but not the only one. Most of the guild members are adomkuro that were abandoned by their parents to survive on their own. While this is an extremely common occurrence in adomkuro society, the children and young adults of this city instinctively band together for safety in numbers. Over the years, some of the members matured into adults and took on leadership positions, and as time went on the original gang of children became a true force to be reckoned with.

Basic income for the guild and its members is secured through petty thievery and distraction. The larger "scores" come from burglary and extortion of the shops in the Marketplace. In rare cases, a Lesser Lord or vassal may run afoul of the guild and become a target. Usually these operations are in conjunction with rival lords who look the other way. As far as anyone knows, Ternus is not the target of these operations because he is on good terms with the guild for mutual benefit: He lets them exist and they work to keep order.

Since the guild makes so much of its income from thievery, burglary, and extortion, they will rabidly attack any non-guild members engaging in these activities. Sometimes, this puts them at odds with Lesser Lords and vassals that may also be extorting from the local merchants, but most of the time it puts them in direct conflict with other guilds.

The Rocs

Second only to The Forsaken Waifs, The Rocs are a ruthless and guile Rogue's Guild with a more worldly and cosmopolitan outlook than their nearest competitors. Comprised of a mix of races with ties to other cities and even some surface guilds, the Rocs see themselves as less insular and more open to opportunity. They accept petitions for membership from anyone willing to prove their skill and loyalty, and frequently extend their activities outside the main cavern of Batumawberk.

In practicality, The Rocs make their living through similar means as their competitors: petty thievery, burglarly, extortion, and even a little kidnapping, fencing of illicit goods, and slave trading. This brings them into frequent conflict with The Forsaken Waifs and other smaller guilds which often turns bloody. For the most part, the Lesser Lords and vassals turn a blind eye to these conflicts since it does not concern them. However, theoretically, if the balance of power between the various guilds were to start upsetting law and order in the city, it is conceivable that one of the vassals or even Ternus himself might step in.

Notable Officials & Personalities

Demon Lord Ternus

The powerful ruler of Batumawberk and its surrounding caverns is an evil half-orc bloodrager with some unknown extraplanar ancestry that gives him immense innate power. He rules the area with an iron fist, but understands the need for economic growth, trade, and order. His recent decree to outlaw worship of all "foreign" deities in his territory is being met with mixed results. Certain Lesser Lords and vassals were well-known devotees of other gods, including Qinoxitl and The Dead Dreamer, and the decree has supposedly irked them though they are complying outwardly. Ternus' motive for the decree is the pursuit of power an the desire to win converts to his worship so he can achieve immortality and even divine status.

(The final fate of Ternus has yet to be determined in the currently ongoing Avlis Campaign 5.)

Evin Binder

As one of the direct descendants of Damar Binder who obtained the mysterious scroll of runes from a dying spirit during a disastrous time travel experiment, Evin Binder's focus is on his ancestor's legacy and power. There are many cousins of his working in other parts of The Burning Page organization, but Evin's job is to oversee The Glyph Bringers and their subsequent rise. This requires inputs from all three wings of the organization, which he manages deftly with the help of his best friend, Yar Wayforth. Evin was one of the first people to learn the Saemilist art after the first pioneers rediscovered it. His teacher was The Death Rune member, Dhazeel of Alifanitax.

Evin's involvement with Batumawberk is cursory as it pertains to his mission, and since the city lies along the main route between his organization's headquarters in Varwat Citadel and the surface, he does all he can to maintain good relations with Lord Ternus.

Teera Geru

Teera Geru is the female tiefling Guildmistress of The Rocs, one of the major Rogue's Guilds in the city. Her abilities to work with the shadows are unprecedented for miles around, and she uses them frequently in her ongoing struggles against The Forsaken Waifs and other encroaching guilds in her territory. Teera has a close business relationship with The Burning Page that has turned out profitably for both parties involved. Regarding the rule of Ternus, she is apathetic to his demands because of practical matters that take most of her concerns.

As a leader, Teera likes to get her hands dirty. She is frequently seen out on operations with the regular guild members, giving them guidance and instruction. This gives her a good view of the city and the pulse of the populace, which she uses to gain advantage whenever she can.

Yarlan "Yar" Wayforth

Though he is not known to live in the city full time, the adomkuro Yar Wayforth makes frequent appearances in the city as he passes through on other business. As the right-hand of his friend Evin Binder of The Burning Page, Yarlan Wayforth is the celebrated leader of The Glyph Bringers. His singular drive for the advancement and spread of Runic Magic disguises a selfish entrepreneurial nature, and he often comes across as a mildly paternal guide and coach for new Saemilists.

It is thought that much of his time is spent traversing both the surface and The Underdark visiting his pupils to check on their progress, but he is also heavily involved in the organization and subdivision of The Glyph Bringers into cohorts that coincide with alignment, much the same way in which the Orders of Magic are divided. This naturally sets him on a collision course with the various political forces of Batumawberk and other cities, which he handles adeptly.

Landmarks

The Marketplace

The marketplace is roughly at the center of the city. It lies along the main road that leads out of the southern cavern entrance to the wilder caves of Lord Ternus' territory. For the most part, in times when there is no battle, the market is freely accessible from outside of the city and traffic from all over the surface of Negaria and The Underdark makes its way in and out, depositing and acquiring goods along the way.

Most of the inns and merchants within the city are found here, along with other eating establishments, and outfitters of supplies for traversing The Underdark. At local night, the market stalls change out for more illicit supplies and activities.

The Ruined Temple of The Dead Dreamer

This is just one example of the several temples and shrines that were ruined on account of Lord Ternus' orders to outlaw all worship of deities other than himself within his lands. It is said that a single band of adventurers was responsible for this temple's destruction.

The ruins lie at the northwest corner of the city on a small island in the middle of a moat-like lake. The building occupies only a single level approximately even with the ground plane of the city. Since its abandonment by the clergy and worshipers of The Dead Dreamer, some less savory creatures and individuals have been seen squatting within the walls, and it is quickly becoming one of the more dangerous (or interesting) parts of the city.

Ternus Keep

Along a winding side cavern that branches out from the main cavern of the city, the path stops at a small body of water that is partially natural and partially artificial. This moat houses a small island at its center on which Ternus Keep rests. Like many buildings in the Western Underdark, this one is carved out of a natural rock column that was originally hundreds of feet in diameter. This allows for a structured keep with multiple levels extending both above and below the plane of the city, as well as opening out onto the moat which can be crossed with a drawbridge or ferry.

Ternus Temple

This is the most elaborate and decorated structure in the city. Its beauty and gaudy decadence dwarfs the care and artistic quality of Ternus Keep. Demon Lord Ternus sees this as a testament to himself and his personality, and has ordered that spoils from all other desecrated temples in his territory are brought there and stored. Much of the gold and gems recovered are repurposed as decorations.

Frequently worshipers are seen entering and leaving this structure at the north side of the city, directly above the Marketplace.

(The final fate of Ternus Temple has yet to be determined in the currently ongoing Avlis Campaign 5.)

The Wingover Inn

The inn is a single storey stone-walled building, with a large cellar located midway up the Marketplace's main avenue. It is tastefully decorated with a collection of magical weapons hanging over the hearth. Travelers from all over The Underdark and the surface of Negaria go about their business eating and drinking and making merry. In a dark environment with an oppressive regime, the Wingover Inn is a spot of light within the shadow. Many adventurers have begun their careers from this establishment.

In Game Developments

This information is in flux as Avlis Campaign 5 progresses. The events in that campaign take place starting in the year 2206. As of November 2016, the server year is approximately 2252.

There is no online version of these lands in play currently, and knowledge of this information in game is limited to characters that have reason, ability, and circumstance to know. Seek DM permission if there is any doubt.

Technical Aspects

N/A - These lands exist only in the pen and paper version of Avlis, not on any of the current servers.