Solace sits at the base of the only pass in the area through the Blue Cascades. Once a thriving trade nexus between an ancient desert kingdom and numerous coastal baronies and port towns, the city’s fortunes have suffered a bit as the darkness of chaos has begun to spread. The desert kingdom has crumbled into nomadic tribes scratching by in the storm-tossed lands; many of the towns of the lush western lands lay abandoned or walled off from others. Trade is slow and dangerous but it does continue. The defenses of the city, the efficiency of its infrastructure, and the wisdom of certain economic policies have allowed Solace to remain quite viable despite its somewhat remote location.
(40% Human, 17% Dwarf, 10% Eladrin, 10% Elf, 10% Half-Elf, 8% Halfling, 5% other).
In its height Solace claimed nearly 12,500 citizens living in the city and the immediate surroundings, with another 1,500 under its protection in neighboring farms and outposts. In addition to the growing dangers of the world in general, the Blood War, which ravaged Solace about two centuries ago, and the Schism, a racial split among the fey over a hundred years ago, have depleted the population. However refugees, ranging from overrun farmers from valleys less than two miles distant to the Dragonborn mysteriously transported in from parts unknown, find plenty of room within the city walls.
Government: Hereditary Monarchy
The Lew family has held the throne ever since the very first King was proclaimed several centuries ago. The current monarch is Queen Madeline the Benevolent who has ruled for twenty three years. The Queen is advised by the King’s Steward who, along with the King’s Council, handles most of the day to day business of running the city. Each district of the city also elects aldermen responsible for addressing more local issues. These Alders meet quarterly with the King’s Council at Parliament.
The city maintains a Guard of 75 well trained soldiers and an additional 25 officers form the backbone of the city Watch. Each district provides some assistance to the Watch for local law enforcement. The Lew family retains a small personal guard that provides security for the family and the Royal Manor. The noble Houses are not permitted to hire their own forces, but most keep a few bodyguards on permanent retainer. The physical defenses of the city rely heavily on the severe terrain of the mountain pass, with some minor fortifications along the slightly more accessible rises around the Upper Ward. Strong, thick walls with reinforced gates cross between the mountainous walls on the western end and the northeastern edge of the city. No formal plans or provisions exist for additional militia.
The city consists of two roughly circular hollows in the pass as different elevations – the Lower Ward and the Upper Ward. The Lower Ward sits slightly southwest of the Upper Ward and the two wards are connected by a steep slope lined with switchbacks and staircases.LOWER WARD DISTRICTS
- The Civic District Located on a small rise in the southern portion of the ward, this district is home to most government buildings, the Royal Manor and a few supporting establishments.
- The Embassy District Spread around the rise of the Civic District, this district is sometimes considered two districts – Embassy West and Embassy East. Years ago this district supported all manner of permanent and visiting foreigners, along with well to do residents. Recently, the Dragonborn have been granted a large block of this district.
- Market Square The northern half of the ward is filled with warehouses, middle class residences and the city’s biggest permanent market, from which this district gets its name.
- College Way Wedged up against the steep northern edge of the Lower Ward and built partially into the mountain, this district is comprised entirely of the public schools and trade schools of Solace. The Gnostic Ecclesia is also located here, with a formidable tower built into the edge of the rise between the wards.
- The Northern Rise The relatively gentle slopes here were once covered by vineyards, orchards and fine homes. Throughout the years, this part of town has declined in grandeur but two vineyards and wineries still remain. The Holy Citadel is located in this district.
- The Estates The Noble Houses keep their personal estates on the southern portion of the Upper Ward, originally called the Southern Rise. Other affluent families also make their homes in this district. A few high end businesses provide various services for the wealthy residents.
- Trade District The long corridor between the Northern Rise and the Estates is called the Trade District. This wide swath is filled with warehouses, small markets, and numerous elementaries. The Trade Guild main offices are located in this district.
- River Town A swift and treacherous river cuts a crevasse into the mountain side outside the city. About ¼ mile north into the crevasse, The Falls crash down over 275 feet. The river bends back into the rugged hills just north of the road to Solace. A few buildings and services had cropped up between the western gate, the river bend and into the crevasse over the past few decades. River Town is the colloquial name given to the area. Now threatened by the returning Blood War, many are leaving River Town for the safety of the city walls.
- The Summit Not actually part of Solace, the Summit is 17 steep, hard miles from the city. Fifty years ago, Solace established an outpost there to protect travelers and provide advance notice of any problems from the desert. As a natural stopping point along the trip through the pass, a few businesses set up shop and did well until about 10 years ago when a ferocious flight of manticores attacked, killing nearly every one there and destroying many of the few buildings as well.
Houses, Guilds and Organizations
- The Royal Family: The Lew family dates back to the origins of the city and keeps a tightly controlled line of succession. Those of the family tree but not of the royal line are named differently, but various familial offshoots have tried to hang on to prestige with naming similarities, such as Nidelew, Esterlewn and Lewnson.
- House Ebonmar: One of the five ennobled founding house, primarily involved in politics.
- House Mavenor: One of the five ennobled founding houses, comprised mostly of builders and artisans, responsible for much of the city’s infrastructure.
- House Remiel: One of the five ennobled founding houses, originally associated with the city’s defenses but recently linked to various aspects of the Eight due to several powerful spiritualists of the family.
- House Cynwrig: One of the five ennobled founding houses, known for agricultural concerns, lumber and lumber byproducts.
- House Leandros: One of the five ennobled founding houses, philanthropists and patrons of the arts, distantly related and most favored of the royal family.
- Even’glow Assembly: A high society organization, ostensibly created to continue the social educations of wealthy young men and women.
- Trade Guild: Sanctioned by the government, this powerful group coordinates all business aspects of the lucrative trade through town.
- Holy Citadel: Housed in a beautiful domed building, this organization of adepts, healers and spiritualists see to the spiritual needs of the people of the city. Nearly all important ceremonies are performed at the Octogram in the main hall.
- Gnostic Ecclesia: Scholars and arcanists comprise the majority of this Order, which keeps a tight control on rituals and watches over the newly dangerous teleportation practices and portals. The Order has been in existence much longer than the city and claims to be worldwide.