Last week, much of the map was drawn and the area around Irongate (which seems to be the official name of the city now) was expanded. Now it’s time to analyze the results and see what new NPCs and adventures will come out of it.
First of all, it seems that Irongate is still the largest and most powerful state in the archipelago. Although its navy was destroyed in a war 15 years ago and the empire fell apart, it does not seem plausible to me that the Itza state has not at least partially restored its former power in the past 15 years. The population is sufficient (200 000), the timber to build ships is not gone from the forests, and most importantly, most of the former vassals are smaller than the Itza state.
However, I want to stick to the fact that only Irongate and its surroundings remain in the Itza state. This means that I need to find some additional obstacles that have prevented them from at least partially restoring their empire.
One possibility would be simply to say that Zipopan has taken the place of the dominant sea-faring nation, but I don’t like that because the region meant for PC shenanigans is best if there is not one totally dominant force, but rather a number of small factions that can be played against each other. I believe that in the end, the PCs’ adventures will take them away from the Irongate and I don’t want one all-powerful empire waiting for them. For similar reasons, the ring defence is also out, meaning former vassals are not in a defensive alliance against the Irongate and are still fighting among themselves.
Generally, I have the idea that the region is somewhat like a no man’s land after the collapse of the Itza empire. All the small tribes and city-states compete and fight over resources and influence. This in turn leads to the fact that even Zipopan has to have a reason why it does not dominate the islands. Generally, we can say that Zipopan is a mainland state and its interests are not so much on the islands. However, Zipopan is still interested in foreign trade, and we wrote that Zipopan built a powerful navy that destroyed the Itza empire’s navy. This fact must now change slightly.
A section of the city’s history previously:
„In 1492, Tzek III had to retreat from the continent. This was followed by a period of recovery, which the Zipopans used to build their navy and in 1497, they destroyed the Itza state navy completely in sea battles. Today, 15 years have passed since those battles and there are many Kalis living in the city and around it who remember all this well.„https://sake.ee/day-20-of-dungeon23-%e2%94%82-city23-project/
The new section of the city’s history:
“In 1492, King Tzek III was forced to retreat from the continent. This was followed by a period of recovery. During this time, the Zipopans employed ban Bogodan, an independent roadic prince, and his navy as mercenaries. Under Ban Bogodan’s direction, the Zipopans established their own small navy and, together, they triumphed over the Itzan imperial navy in a series of battles in 1497. The events of 15 years ago are still fresh in the city’s memory.
Ban Bogodan, however, never left the archipelago. Together with his mercenary crew, he seized a former Itzan naval fortress and the nearby islands, and is using it as a pirate base to attack Asteanic merchant vessels in the southern seas.”
With this change, we justify why Zipopan does not rule the islands and naturally add more chaos and intrigue to the islands, as there is now also a base of pirates.
Pirates do not solve our issues with the Itza state — why it has not yet recovered from the war. Zipopan and the pirates do not stop Itza, in fact, there is almost no good reason. But luckily we are in a fantasy world, so magic can come to the rescue. And I have an idea. In SAKE there is a powerful priest ritual: the Contract of Menes:
Contract of Menes
Price: 10 EXP
Prerequisite: Ritual: Cursing, Channelling +14, Law and Society +6
Description: The priest of Menes has the capability to compose a Contract of Menes that links the agreement between the parties with a powerful curse. The signing of the contract must be done with full knowledge and voluntarily by the parties, regardless of their understanding of the curse. The curse applies personally.
The priest performing the Ritual: Cursing, adds their Skill Level in Channelling and Law and Society to determine the strength of the curse bond in the contract.
If a party breaches the agreement, they are given a Spell Resistance roll against the applicable curse. The curse imposed by the Contract of Menes can be lifted in a similar manner as any other curse.
So, when the current king Wadcha VII Itza came to power after the war, he was forced to sign a peace treaty. As a young ruler, he panicked after the destruction of the navy and made a decision without thinking about the consequences. The peace treaty prohibits Irongate from rebuilding the navy and re-conquering its neighbours. For the past 15 years, Wadcha has been looking for a way to escape the curse while sabotaging his own kingdom, forcing it into inactivity. That’s why he’s called The Cursed King or Rustking.
The Cursed King presents us with future adventure arcs and ideas to develop around the curse:
- Breaking the curse, of course.
- Who was the priest, so powerful, that the King of Itza has not been able to find anyone to break the curse?
- Why hasn’t the lich god Yaxchila, who lives in the city, broken the curse? Maybe he was the priest?
- What other points are in the peace treaty?
- Clearly, the rest of the Itza clan’s important members are not happy with the situation. The city could actually rebuild its navy and retake its former vassals, at the cost of simply killing the king. This means that Wadcha actually fears his close ones the most and has shut himself into the Iron Palace with his personal guards, not letting anyone close to him. And Nene, his loyal military leader, doesn’t search for the city’s enemies but instead actually hinders the city’s development and power restoration.
- And, of course, the Cursed King has enemies among his closest relatives who would want his death or removal from power (and thus death through the curse).