The city being just on the outskirts of the Derelict Planes has led to a hard living by hard people. Shimmering Relief is home to the best Blacksmiths and Mead Makers in all the realm. Having been built on the only land that was not steel near the coast, the city is home to the only freshwater port in the world. A series of stones that lead into the harbor act as an aquifer and naturally clean and strip the water of it's salt making it potable. The water is known to taste a little sweet with hints of lemon. Travelers and merchants that come are required to dock nearby in the saltwater gulf as to not pollute the city's only source of freshwater. The water has a high mineral content due to rain runoff from the derelict plains washing into the harbor. The city has constructed a series of grates that act as filters to keep the larger minerals from falling in and polluting the harbor. The grates are maintained by the blacksmith's guild. The guild will make sure there are no major blockages and are allowed to take and resell all usable scrap that get caught in the grates. They do their best to make sure nothing gets wasted.
The Shimmering Relief gets it's name from the Freshwater harbor that shimmers in the light, due to it's the high mineral content, and the buildings shimmering due to the water used in the mortar and the stone-like material used for walls have a lot of pulverized glass and stone causing a similar effect. Also it is one of the only safe places in all the derelict planes. The city is seeing a period of growth due to it's metal working and mead making prowess. The City itself, is a sprawling mass of 1 and 2 story shops. The mortar does not have enough strength to support buildings any larger. The streets are very clean and all waste is moved to the ocean by a sewer system so as to not pollute the harbor. The city has 5 major districts, the Meadery District, Blacksmith's District, Apprentice District, Journeyman's District, and The Master's District also known as "The Shimmering Sprawl" or "The Sprawl" for short.
The People of the city are even tempered but can come across as cold to outsiders. They warm up quickly and can be very friendly with a few words of conversation. This land and the work has made them a tough people. They have a lot of pride in their ancestors who scratched out a living in this city and made the mead and wears famous. They talk about the shimmering waters with a fond reverence and are quick to lay down a copper for a glass of the sweet water or for a traveler who has never tasted it. The rain/once boiled sea water is free. They are fierce traders and will always cut a fair/slightly in their favor deal, however, that does not mean their are not unscrupulous people in the city.
The Apprentice District
This district is located furthest from the harbor, and closest to the Steel wall, and is the 4th largest. The lodging here is free for any apprentice. Both Apprentice mead makers and blacksmiths live together. Their wages are small but fair considering the smiths and mead makers sponsoring them pay for their food, lodging, and providing a skill. The city believes everyone should be paid and their wages are set by the council with heavy influence from the populace. The apprentices like to gamble and are always willing to take a wager to get a little extra spending money. There is a Tavern called the Honey and Hammer. It is a little Seedy, but much worse can be found in the realm. Apprentice meadmakers have been known to brawl over the latest Saga related issues and people even ordering it. However, the owner Thaddeus Pinkerton has quelled this problem by banning apprentices for a month who fight in his tavern. Thaddeus only stocks the mead because they bought all new Saga Mugs for the tavern. The tavern has a license to store 2 casks of water for sale, a copper a pint. The Tavern's First level is an Atypical bar with round tables and booths along the wall for more private conversations. The second floor has a couple of rooms that can be rented for the night or by the hour (Sorry No partial Hours) for the handful of promiscuous ladies who frequent the inn.
Activities: People can gamble here with the local Apprentices. There is Arm Wrestling and Cards. Arm Wrestling will be done like in Season 3 where a couple blacksmith apprentices are willing to match strength with our heros.
Cards however are Rigged. A perception check will not give away the cards as rigged. The hero must play 3 hands, and everyone can play at once if they want. The first two hands will play out in the Hero's favor no matter what. If a hero plays the first 2 hands he must play the third and the stakes are raised. The deal is going to shuffle and deal from again. If a perception check is made now or after the game anything over a 10 will show the trick. The dealer will appear nervous and sweaty and ink will rub off on the hero's hand indicating marked cards. Otherwise the hero will lose automatically costing them 50 Gold or as much as they have if less than 50.
Strong and squat human standing roughly 5 foot 5 inches tall. He built the honey and Hammer with his bare hands and isn't afraid to mention it a million times to the groans of the apprentices. Thad, as most people call him, purchased the land using money he saved being a master blacksmith. He tired of the heat of the forge and ring of the anvil, however, could never leave the water/city he loves. He wakes up every morning to watch the sunrise over the shimmering harbor and village from the roof of the 2 story Tavern. Thaddeus knows the local gossip and is willing to share, for paying customers ONLY! He also can be used at a fee for knowledge of the honest blacksmiths in the city.
The Apprentice District CONTINUED: The rest of the guards and common folk live in this district as well. Not everyone in the city is involved in the trades, but the majority are involved. Everyone here is treated equally and fairly for their tasks. There is no real discrimination between those in industry and those not.
The Journeyman's District
The journeyman's District is by far the smallest district and located between the Apprentice and Master's Districts. Most journeymen leave the city as soon as they are promoted.They are always welcome back into the city and get hefty discounts on lodging when they are in town. The district contains mostly empty houses that can be rented out by journeyman blacksmith's and mead makers at the council house in Master's District. They present their mark and name and are granted a home for their stay. They only pay a small fee (5-10 Copper) for water use and cleaning/maintenance for the houses. Travelers are not allowed to rent these houses. Squatters found in these houses are to be banished from the city permanently. This district does not have much commerce or nightlife due to the infrequency of tenants.
Master's District (The Sprawl):
The council members and others of master rank live here. This is closest to the working districts and the closest living district to the harbor. A master's success can be measured by the size and sprawl of their mansions. As they have the funds they expand the mansions in an ever growing social contest. This is the largest residential district, and only dwarfed by the Mead Making and Blacksmithing districts. There are 4 prominent old Meadery estates are all next to one another. These are the Belvis, Kane, Belovar, and Vicril estates. The Belvis and Kane families are human with some elven features and the Belovar and Vicril's are Elves with some human features. The inter-mixing of the families happened long ago to stabilize the in-fighting that ended with the Vicril's meadery being burned down almost 200 years ago. However they have all tried to return their lineages back to their original race. They have little love for each other, but are a formidable force when united by a common enemy. As long as this city has stood they have been on the council.
The Saga Estate at the opposite end of the sprawl that refuses to sprawl. They have a considerably more modest 2 story estate. Saga instead prefers to put their money towards keeping the cost of their mead down and paying workers.
The Blacksmiths have taken a different approach to their estate. All the master Smith's in the city purchased one massive 2 story estate the commonfolk call "The Forge". The choice of 2 stories was to show strength of their craft originally, but has become more out of tradition for all additions. This estate is he largest by far taking up a sizable chunk of the district. They have Apprentices guard and patrol the grounds to make sure no thieves or other low-lifes break in. Only smiths who reach the rank of master smith are allowed to live here and to do so they have to pay a portion of their total earnings to secure spot in "The Forge" each year. They have maids and kitchen staff so the masters can work late and not worry about these trivial things. "The Forge" doubles as a guild hall. The Grandmaster has his own wing where he can work. The thought of having one house and hall together was to show the blacksmith's guild is a family. The grandmaster who stays here is very in touch with the needs of the blacksmith's in the city.
Retired smiths are also welcome on the grounds and live in dormitories on one side of the estate. These retired smiths teach at the shops and can be hired for private tutoring. Most were Journeyman smiths who never became masters and adventured in the wider realm. They will talk your ear off if given the chance. Especially Orlav the dragonborn.
There is also a forge on the property that is fully stocked at all times. This place is where they perform promotion ceremonies through out the year.
Might be the friendliest gal (Assuming Dragonborn aren't a-sexual) you will ever meet. She is thick of arm but is quick with a laugh. She can commonly be found in the blacksmith district selling wears at a journeyman stall. She will be happy to tell you the local gossip and especially about the forged goods that keep turning up around Shimmering Relief
Surrounding the city is a wall made of steel at the edge of the planes. They have long used this defense to keep out the Wyrms. The walls are well maintained and guarded but only protect the city from the plains. On the other 3 sides the city is a smaller earthen walls that are much smaller than the steel wall but prevents the water being stolen or polluted.
The sewer system is cleverly rigged to take advantage of the tide. The sea waters flood the path ways under the city where the waste is deposited and draws the waste out to sea using a nearby undertow that runs from the gulf to the sea. Blacksmith's apprentices do weekly maintenance on a rotating cycle to make sure there are no issues. Masters are required to do monthly circuits to verify nothing needs to be replaced.
Since the water is claimed as the secret ingredient for the mead and the smithing, there have been many attempts to steal it or pollute it by rivals. Some even claim the water has magical properties for healing but no mage or cleric has ever found evidence of this. The water is piped to two places in the city by a clever system of pumps and valves. The water exclusively goes to the Blakcsmith and Meadery districts. Indoor plumbing is seen as a waste of their precious natural resource and could put livelihood of the city in jeopardy.
For cleaning tools and bodies people can use public bathes that use gulf salt water. The Bathes are divided into two sections. The first section is for tools and casks to be cleaned. The cleaning process uses salt water first to get grime and the major residues from the instruments. The final rinse uses either rainwater that has been collected or once boiled salt water to remove the salt from the water. The drains in this area flow the the sewers. The second section are the bathes that use salt water pumped in from the gulf. Everyone cleans their bodies with the salt water pools and then rinse with the rain/once boiled water to remove the left over salt.
UNKOWN TO ALL: The water has a slightly addictive property. The metal has a tainted the shimmering water and with prolonged exposure or over indulgence one can become addicted. The effects are mild, and only last for a day or so based on the exposure. A person would only feel this after 2 days away from the water and want another drink of it. No other water will ever taste so good. Becasue of this delay no one has figured out it's addictive properties. This property can be fermented away by yheast, so the mead only has it's normal alcohol addiction issues.
The last plot to steal harbor water had a group of entrepreneurs pumping out the water to casks on their ships. When the plot was uncovered by the guards patrolling at night the casks of water were drained into harbor and and the group was punished. They were flogged and had their legs and arms broken.They were then thrown in the sewers and guarded until high tide came to drown them and low tide swept them out to sea.
Arthus: Is a tiefling who has a great get rich quick scheme to grab a few casks of water from The Honey and Hammer, however he needs a crew to pull it off.
Oligarchy - The city is run by a council of the most wealthy blacksmiths and meadmakers. The council must add new members based on net wealth or number of employees. Every member gets only one vote irregardless of their ability to have the requisite number of employees and total wealth. All meetings of the council are public and regularly attended by the entire city, especially over labor issues. A members voting privileges can be rescinded at any time if they do not have the proper wealth or employees. More than once a smith has lost voting privileges because their apprentices quit during a labor dispute because he was not thinking of the employees best interest.
Because of this system the city has a high standard of living and it's citizens take pride in their government and industries. Anything to hinder industry or hurt the cities reputation for it's weapons/tools and mead are are resolved with ruthless efficiency.
Is filled with forges and chimneys making any number of goods and wears. There are Farriers making sparkling horse shoes for noble horses. Others making shimmering weapons for kings guards. Others are practicing their crafts as apprentices are quickly rushing about gathering goods and stoking fires, learning from their masters. Work here starts as soon as the sun goes up and finishes as soon as the sun sets. After the sun sets masters will walk about checking hands for glows to make sure the people selling wears are true shimmering smiths and not impostors. Journeymen can rent stalls or forges from their old masters and sell wears at their shops. Some masters check these wears to make sure they are still up to snuff but most trust their old apprentices. The Blacksmith's guild owns all the forges and shops. Masters are assigned a forge to run if they want to live and work in the city. This helps control quality and gives a place for apprentice and Journeymen to train whenever they need. The air here is always hot, but never oppressive due to the breeze that comes off the harbor. This district is located on the water and may be the cleanest district in the city. All ash and refuse is swept up and contained. This district has a small 2 foot retaining wall built so no soot and pollution flow into the water. The Sewers were originally designed and created to solve the blacksmiths pollution issue. Blacksmiths maintain the sewers but also take a small tax from the meadmakers for their troubles.
The Blacksmiths: The blacksmiths swear by the high mineral content lending to having the highest quality goods.The Smiths pay top dollar for the Steel Wyrm's guts and a few Master Smiths even know how to enhance weapons with the Greenblight Wyrm's guts and pay even more for this dangerous commodity. The weapons they craft and quench in the mineral rich water are known to be of the highest quality and have a distinct spiral pattern in the metal to prove their authenticity. Their techniques have been attempted to be duplicated everywhere and have thus far failed. However the ability to etch these spiral patterns with acid have led to many knockoffs and forgeries (Pun totally intended). The fakes deal roughly equal damage as the real things, but are known to be brittle and shatter when needed most. Anyone who is caught making fake blades has the distinct spiral pattern tattooed on their face to mock the smith of his lack of skill, and warn others of their underhanded dealings. Second offenses are executed on the spot by whatever means necessary. The Spiral Tattoo is knowledge only the locals possess, and they feel like talking about it is bad manners.
A Shimmering Relief trained Black Smith's rank can be determined by a brand on their right hand. The brand is a Hammer for full-fledge apprentices, a Hammer and Anvil for Journeyman rank, and an intricate "M" branded between the two for the rank of Master. Also a spiral tattoo is placed on the heel of the right foot. The master's do this as a way to verify each other as true Shimmering Masters. Some masters leave the city seeking fortune elsewhere as true shimmering smiths that are prized throughout the land. The brands shimmer in the light and glow a faint red at night. The smiths use the prized harbor water to quench the brand to give the healed flesh the same shimmer as the water they love. As a coincidental effect it glows red when day turns to night. The heat of the forge, sun and blood are what powers the glow. The faint glow only lasts for the first hour after the sun sets and the heat has left the hand. Others have faked this brand with make-up and pulverized glass. Some even use an alchemical compound to fake the glow at night too.
Ulgar: Female Dwarf Master Blacksmith. Has been looking for some mithirl/other rare items that have been going missing lately. willing to reward with a special shimmering weapon or armor?
Both of the Blacksmith guilds of the land host a competition every year, a Smithing Olympics. Everyone is welcome to participate, but some of the events are only available to higher ranking smiths. The 3 rankings go from the least experienced to the most. Apprentice, journeyman, master. But at the end of the competition, its all about the craft and a friendly rivalry between friends and cities. The Event switches off every year between Shimmering Relief and EtherForge.
On the opening night there is a grand feast for all participants and spectators. There is much Mead and ale, Mutton and Stew. It is exactly what you think a blacksmith guild's feast would be like. Very loud very beardy....
There are events that span a Three day period. There are 3 classes for competition: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master.
Hammer Toss - Smithing hammer thrown at a wood board with a target on it. Hammer breaks the board and points scored according to wear it breaks.
Test of Strength - The Smiths have different materials laid across 2 anvils. They must break it with only one stroke of their hammer.
Anvil Toss - Self explainitory
The most prestigious event is a weapon forge. All smiths have from first light on the first day until noon on the third to craft a piece to be judged by the grand masters. The categories are as follows: daggers, armor, small weapons, medium weapons, large weapons and overall champion. They are tested on beauty, strength, quality of craft, and functionality. Grandmasters are not allowed to participate. There is no glory in proving their skill and can stifle other masters from gaining renown, and losing can hurt their own reputation. The Grandmasters Judge the competition.
More on the guilds, each of the guild's councils have 3 members; 3 grandmaster smith's that run the guild. One Resides in Etherforge, one in Shimmering Relief, and one that is more of a nomad and does inspections and certifications at other guild houses. Each one rotates positions as to keep good relations with all guild members. The cycle for this is The Nomadic Grandmaster goes to Shimmering Relief after a year and replace that Grandmaster. The old Shimmering Relief Grandmaster becomes the wanderer and after a year replaces the Etherforge Grandmaster who becomes the new wanderer and the cycle continues. This allows everyone to stay current with the latest and best techniques for smithing. All three meet as needed for voting on large guild issues. Otherwise the Grandmasters make decisions as needed for the best interest of the guild.
The Meadmaker's guild is located here. It is a 2 story larger warehouse style building. The guild tests for mead purity and quality is maintained by all meaderies. Shimmering Mead as a style must meet the highest quality standards. The guild has the right to shut down any meadery not found to keep with the standards. The guild is headed by each of the 5 major meaderies, however this is just symbolic. The real voting is done by committee by the journeymen and master level mead makers. The different ranks are easy to determine. Apprentices wear black hats, the Journeymen Red, and the Masters a shimmering Gold like the mead they love. The apprentice houses are owned by the guild itself. The guild affords's its taxes and other necessitates by the owners of the meaderies paying for all expenses. This is done as a good faith showing to help prevent walk-outs and loss of voting privileges.
This district is the second largest and is right on the water. Every Meadery has pumps that lead to the harbor to bring Shimmer Water to their meaderies. This district is loud during the day but quiet at night. Most of the activities happens inside large warehouses. There are large barns for holding aging mead, and for receiving shipments of goods. All of the floors are covered in sheets of steal to make the meadery easier to clean and in general more sanitary. Every meadery has a slightly different recipe for their mead and swear it is the correct way to make mead.
The Mead Makers: The Mead-makers swear by the high mineral content in their water as their secret ingredient. The mead that comes from here is called Shimmering Mead and actually sparkles/Shimmers gold in the mug or glass when it catches light. Originally there were only a 4 Meaderies around Shimmering Relief and their mead would sell at the same price as the finest wines. In the last 10 years a new meadery, Saga Meadery, opened up in the city and has been producing massive quantities of equal quality mead and has driven the price of mead down across the realm. It has become so cheap the common folk could finally drink shimmering mead. To the original 4 this is blasphemy. All the meaderies get most of their honey through trade because bee-keeping is fruitless without good plants for the bees to pollinate and make honey. Saga Meadery's new success has caused a small honey shortage in the region and driven the price up causing complaints from everyone who makes mead. Saga, however, is unfazed by the shortage due to it's colony on Bunrit Achapelago (See Below for details). To keep the peace Saga has been hiring more employees everyday and pay slightly higher wages than the original 4, making unemployment in the industry with-in the city to drop to almost zero. Saga Meadery offers a position to anyone who has experience and wants to work for them. This and the slightly higher wages has prevented walk-outs/strikes from hitting the meadery and helped it's incredible growth. The older families with the more prestigious meaderies are suffering. Their employees have left to make mead for Saga where they believe mead should be for the masses not just the wealthy. The drop in employees and profits has cause quite a bit of tension between the old houses and Saga. They believe with-in a generation they will lose voting privileges and their sprawling mansions and be reduced to common-folk scum. The old families want to destroy Saga Meadery for their plans to have mead be accessible to the common folk, "stealing employees", and driving up the price of honey, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
Saga Shimmering Mead can be found anywhere in the realm for 5-7 coppers, where before shimmering mead would be 10-20 gold per bottle. Many mead critics believe Saga tastes better than the other Shimmering Meads and the old families believe it needs to be burned to the ground.
Komund: A half Orc who owns Saga Meadery. He has had to put out 3 fires in the meadery in as many months. He also found a cloaked figure with a hatchet hitting one of his casks. Could use a hand hunting down this burglar. Komund has purchased a hefty insurance policy for his meadery as a response.
Quest: NPC Mechalen: A half orc and very close to Komund. He is the 2nd in charge of the Meadery and works heavily on the intercity trading. He has a small favor to ask. He needs an Unmarked package that jingles delivered to Eldorheim. There they will find Lord Vinallia Song and give her the box. (This is support to keep the vinters guild in that city down and the alcohol markets deregulated. Saga Shimmering Mead finally has a foothold in the city and Lord Song is keeping it that way. Prior to this Eldorheim charged large tariffs on Saga Shimmering Mead to drive prices up and give the guild the upper hand. Now the deregulated market and the removal of the tariffs has allowed the cheap tasty mead to finally find a foothold.)
Valrich: Female halfling who is looking for a little help with a "side" project. Has a gang of thugs that are tasked with bringing down Saga Meadery. Some of the gang were fired for stealing mead, and others for trying to steal the recipie. Some of the gang were just plane lazy.
Saga's Mead production has expanded to the point they needed a new source, cheaper source for honey. Saga has set up a small colony on the Bunrit Archapelago. At the colony they have a large apiary able to produce massive amounts of honey from the special untamed jungle. The Jungle however is very dangerous and this colony loses roughly 1-2 employees a month for various reasons. Saga has a strict policy of only being there to produce honey, however, some enterprising colonists venture out into the jungle to pick and sell rare fruits, spices and other natural goods. These ingredients fetch a high price on trading vesseles going to and from the island. The head Bee Keeper toes the line and any employee found out of the camps perimeter is fired, imprisoned, and shipped off on the next vessel leaving for the main land. Saga Meadery wants the utmost safety for their workers and understands the risk of the island, because of these risks they pay a hefty salary to anyone working the apiary. The savings on this unique honey they produce and not having to pay for the other honey that currently is trading at all time highs, makes the colony a profitable venture.
Saga Meadery since establishing this colony makes sure to use at least a 1/4 of island honey in every batch. This has led to their great taste, unique flavor and ability to drop the price of mead through out the realm. Saga does sell a specialty Bunrit Archapelago Shimmering Mead. This is costs more due to it's small batch nature (roughly 1.5-2 Silvers). This mead has unique properties. It has a fruity, floral, and yet spicy taste due to the special plants found on the main island. However any who drink it become drunk faster, but gain a small strength buff and slight poison resistance due to the fauna found on the Bunrit. Saga Has created a poster Campaign "Saga Bunrit Archapelago Shimmering Mead...Uncork your wild Side." The posters can be found all over Shimmering Relief and around Naluri.
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