The City-State of Balic
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The crimson sun blazes over the Sea of Silt, setting the eastern horizon ablaze. The sky above is cast into olive hues and the first furnace winds blow across the Balician peninsula.As the winds pick up, the dust rises in choking deadly clouds, threatening the life of anyone trapped outside unprepared.
On the public docks, crews tie on wetted silk bandannas over their mouths, holding back the dust long enough to load up their silt skimmers. They will spend the next few days or weeks on the Silt Sea, trading their wares with the giants, villages, and cities that dot the shoreline all the way up the coast. Those who survive will reap the rewards...for a time. Once they return to Balic, the trade houses will take their share, as will the Dictator's templars. They will be left with just enough to survive another day. Then they'll load their skimmers and head out again, risking their lives under the brutal sun and uncaring twin moons, Ral and Guthay.
The city spreads out to the west of the docks, protected from raiding giants by a wall fifty feet high. Within this wall, a populations of nearly thirty thousand people huddle against the desert waste beyond. In the center of the city sits in the Megaleneon, the palace of the Dictator Andropinis. Andropinis was elected by the people to his post to serve for life, but no one guessed that he might live this long. As far back as the scrolls of the Great Library go, Andropinis has ruled Balic, and the scrolls (it is said by those who are allowed to read) go back over a thousand years.
The people of Balic elect the templars, the people who carry the will of the Dictator to the people. The templars are Andropinis' enforcers and he often makes it clear whom he wants to be elected. When the people go against his will, the newly elected templar often meets a sudden end. None are powerful enough to challenge Andropinis' tyranical rule and the few who have tried meet quick, and often very public and painful, ends.
Below Andropinis and the templars are the patricians, the noble class of Balic. By blood, these patricians inherit the vast olive orchards and wheat fields beyond the walls of the city to the west, protected by vast estates and small personal armies to protect against invading giants and foreign armies from the north. Within the walls of the city, the patricians have villas in which they conduct their business and run their families. This would not be possible without numerous slaves, who make up nearly eighty percent of the city's population. Due to frequent raids by the giants of the nearby islands in the silt estuary, every citizen of Balic serves in the militia and is called on every ten months, slave or freeman, patrician or templar.
In the center of the city sits the Megaleneon and the city radiates out from center. Surrounding the small plateau is the agora, an open-air marketplace where anything that can be sold can be found. Surrounding this is the elven market, where more questionable items can be found. The elf tribes are known for coming into town, setting up a tent, selling illicit goods, and then disappearing before the templars can impose their will.
Also located at the base of the Mageleneon is the great Criterion, the arena of Balic, where the populace gathers to watch gladiators do battle with each other, beasts from the wastes, and anyone who is unlucky enough to be sentenced to that fate. It is here that the people of Balic vent their frustrations and anger and, without the Criterion, it is likely the city would be in open revolt against the Dictator and his tyrannical rule.
Surrounding the agora is a network of canals filled with silt. Over these channels are great marble bridges which glimmer in the sun. This is where they get their name: the Shining Bridges. Beyond this, the city spreads out in organized city blocks, with each neighborhood looked over by a templar or patrician. The one exception to this is the portion of the city named the Maze. The Maze is where the bulk of the city's freemen live and is also where most slaves, scared to run to the wastes beyond, only to be recaptured days or even hours later.
What lies beyond the walls of Balic is told in the songs and legends of the bards and traders. To the average Balikite, the horrors of living in the city are only overwhelmed by what lies beyond. The creatures of the wastes can be seen in the Criterion and that is typically enough to convince the slaves and people of Balic that life inside the city is considerably more safe than life outside the city.
Below are several links that will lead you to different sections of this web page. Races will go over the races that are available on Athas and will explain some of the finer points of them. Don't let the familiar names fool you: the races of Athas are anything but normal. Classes goes over the available classes for players. Again, some may seem familiar, but there are significant changes to how they operate on Athas. Classes that do not change from the PHB are so marked under their section. Feats & Skills goes over some new feats and (surprise) skills available to characters on Athas. Magic goes over arcane magic in a little more detail. Athas is a world where magic was never meant to be and it works a bit differently here. Psionics covers the Way (as it's called by the locals). Psionics is the dominant force on Athas and none can go long without feeling its influence. The final section is dedicated to Role Playing and will explain what it is to live and exist on Athas.
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