Campaign of the Month: September 2013
Situated on the shores of the Aras Sea, Urupa was founded after the Scourge by the residents of seven small kaers, like so many believing that safety lay in numbers. The city lies at the base of a high, sheer cliff on a peninsula in the Coil Delta. The 500-yard-high cliff discourages attacks on the city from above, and a well-fortified port helps defend against attacks from the sea. Urupa has considerable military resources, including troll drakkars and a large militia, commanded by a Leadership Council made up of the councilors of Urupa’s different districts.
The city has grown rich as a trading hub between the t’skrang of House V’strimon and the enigmatic people from across the Aras Sea, and remains Barsaive’s only major port city.
Although considerably smaller than the great cities of Barsaive such as Travar, Iopos and Bartertown, Urupa is the province’s fastest growing metropolis.
Located on a peninsula that shelters one of the finest harbors on the Aras Sea, Urupa is separated from the mainland by 1,500-foot cliffs. Additionally, the city is surrounded by a twenty-foot wall that contains five seventy-foot watch towers. In the mouth of the city’s harbor lies a compact but imposing fortress called Shabira’s Redoubt, which bristles with steel spikes and fire cannons. The city’s military numbers more than two thousand soldiers, and citizens who wish to vote in local elections must pay for the privilege by contributing enough money to arm and supply one soldier or sailor in times of war. Urupa’s fleet contains eight airships and five naval vessels, including two V’strimon warships that each boast forty fire cannons.
Despite its impressive military forces, Urupa’s main business is trade, not conquest, and the city’s location serves its commercial ambitions well. The city’s harbor provides ideal shelter against the severe storms common to the Aras Sea, and the Urupan peninsula juts into the Aras about a half mile north of the mouth of the Coil River’s main branch. Urupa therefore lies at a natural crossroads. Goods from all across Barsaive are transported down the Serpent and Coil Rivers, then pass through Urupa and on to distant ports all around the Aras Sea. At the same time, exotic goods from foreign Aras ports are transported to Urupa and up the Coil and Serpent Rivers to Throal, the Blood Wood and other Barsaivian cities. main branch. Urupa therefore lies at a natural crossroads. Goods from all across Barsaive are transported down the Serpent and Coil Rivers, then pass through Urupa and on to distant ports all around the Aras Sea. At the same time, exotic goods from foreign Aras ports are transported to Urupa and up the Coil and Serpent Rivers to Throal, the Blood Wood and other Barsaivian cities.
Urupa’s burgeoning power as Barsaive’s dominant Aras Sea port and its strategic location has drawn the attention of groups from all over Barsaive and beyond. Thera and Throal, Iopos and Travar, the T’skrang aropagoi, the Elven Court of the Blood Wood and countless others have all made a place for themselves in the crowded streets of Urupa. The city is home to every Name-giver race in Barsaive, from windlings to obsidimen. ln turn, Urupa’s diverse population lends the city a cosmopolitan air matched by few other Barsaivian settlements.
Crowded as it is, Urupa can hardly be called one of Barsaive’s more beautiful cities. Although it contains much to please the eye and ear, such as the Aulcroft Theater and the Three Temples to the Passions, the city’s architecture and layout are less than inspired. Built to last of available materials with little thought to the aesthetic pleasure of future generations, Urupa’s square, solid buildings are constructed of unadorned blocks of stone cut from the drab gray cliffs that loom over the city. Even new buildings display few architectural flourishes, because the City’s inhabitants rarely choose to fund ambitious architectural projects with money they can spend on business enterprises.
Visitors may enter Urupa by water, land or air. Travelers who arrive by sea are greeted by the sight of Tovar’s Pyre, a tower of flame that rises from the tip of the cape surrounding Urupa’s harbor. Legend has it that the pyre was created by a fire elemental bound to serve the elementalist Tovar. After performing the agreed-on services, the elemental returned to collect its due, only to discover that Tovar was unable to pay. The angry fire elemental responded by engulfing Tovar in a pyre of everlasting flames. Those who journey out to look closely at the beacon swear that one can see the silhouette of a man, writhing in agony, in the center of the fire. Whatever its origins, Tovar’ s Pyre can be seen from many miles out and provides a welcome beacon for ships caught in the Aras Sea’s vicious gales.
At the mouth of Urupa’s harbor the sea traveler passes by Shabira’s Redoubt, a massive fortress that rises seventy feet from the surface of the water. One of Barsaive’s most intimidating fortifications, the Redoubt is approximately 150 feet in diameter and surrounded by walls twenty feet thick. Atop the walls are mounted three tiers of fire cannons that can be aimed in any direction. The top tier of cannons consists of four of the largest cannons in all of Barsaive, as well as eight additional cannons mounted in ingenious mechanical chairs that enable gunners to track moving airships. Finally, refs of elemental water provide the Redoubt with additional protection against approaching ships.
Seaborne travelers who approach from the south, either from the open sea or the south branch of the Coil River, may cross the harbor’s narrow cape through a watery tunnel that passes under the cape and directly into the harbor. The tunnel is tall and broad enough to allow two large ships to pass side by side, At the harbor side of the tunnel hangs a huge metal portcullis called the Seagate, which can be lowered during attacks.
The Grand Levee surrounds the city along its north and east sides. This hundred-foot wall of earth protects the city from the storms and swells of the Aras Sea. Along the city’s south side, which faces the protected waters of the harbor, the levee walls are only thirty feet high. Urupa’s wharf runs from Zenicce in the city’s north-east corner, where it extends about 50 feel from the levee, all the way around the city to the Visitor’s Quarter, where it extends more than 150 feet out over the harbor. The levee walls that face the harbor contain forty-two gates that open on to the city’s North and South Docks. The North Docks can accommodate smaller vessels, such as fishing boats and private floats. The South Docks, which can accommodate larger commercial and military vessels, start in the P’shestis sector and extend to the Tower of the Harbormaster. Just past the tower lies the Long Pier, which extends two hundred yards out into the harbor.
The captain of any vessel that docks at Urupa must notify the city’s harbormaster within twenty-four hours of docking. During Urupa’s early days, the only docking facilities were located along the city’s south walls, and foreigners were required to enter the city at the Foreigners Gate – one of the primary reasons for the construction of the Long Pier. Shortly after the Theran War, however, Urupa relaxed its restrictions on foreign visitors and opened docking facilities along the city’s east side. Today daily docking fees stand at one silver piece per ten feet of draft. Small fishing boats pay less than a silver piece, t’skrang riverboats around ten. The office of the harbormaster is exceptionally vigilant about patrolling the city’s docks, and the main wharf around P’shestis is reasonably safe from violent crime even on the darkest nights.
Travelers who arrive by land generally use the Old Theran Road, which passes through Urupa’s two land gates. The road begins in Parlainth, traces the east bank of the Serpent River to Lake Ban, then traces the northern bank of the Coil River to the Aras Sea. The road then follows the shoreline to Urupa and enters the city via the South Gate. The road runs through the city, where it forms one of Urupa’s four main thoroughfares, then exits through the city’s North Gate. From there the road continues along the shoreline for some twenty-five miles and ends a few miles south of the northernmost branch of the Coil River. Apparently the arrival of the Scourge prevented the Therans from extending the road further. During storms the road immediately north of Urupa often floods, but otherwise remains passable in nearly any weather.
For air travelers, Urupa maintains airship docking facilities on special jetties built alongside the city’s water docks. Airships must register with the harbormaster and pay the same docking fee as their aquatic counterparts. The trolls of Otosk use the airship jetties to unload trade goods but typically dock their drakkars in the caverns of the nearby cliffs.