While Ryan and Perram are on-air, Alexander Augunas and Anthony Li aim to misbehave! Each week on Private Sanctuary off-weeks, either the Everyman Gamer or the Man Behind the Screens comes to the Private Sanctuary with a bit of a brain exercise involving their shared project: the demiplane from Create Demiplane. This week, the Everyman Gamer is going to be dreaming up the basics for a sprawling metropolis within the frozen Demiplane.
Hello, everyone! Welcome to another installment of Private Sanctuary Press. Today I’m going to be putting out some ideas for another metropolis in our Demiplane, which I’m going to tentatively call Birrothgarde. Ever since Anthony and I talked about Intrigue in our demiplane, I’ve had a “big city of dragons” on my brain. Historically speaking, major cities in the real world tend to spring up at or along water sources, specifically ones where one can sail to other settlements for purposes of trade or economic gain. Birrothgarde is no different—it is built at the conflux of two major rivers. The eastern-most river is called the Protectoria River while the western-most river is called Mercy, and collectively they’re known as Birroth’s tears.
So, this “Birroth” person has two rivers and a town named after her, so she must be important, right? In a way, yes. You could say that. So, who is she? Well, she has many wonderful personality traits, such as being, protective, and wholly devoted to the progress and protection of the mortals of Birrothgarde. But her most interesting character trait is, I’m sure you’ll agree, that she’s dead. No, not like, “I’m dead and now I’m a zombie,” dead. Dead-dead. As in, out of the game, moved on to the afterlife and can’t be raised dead.
Because as Aroden himself has shown us, sometimes characters are far more interesting after-the-fact.
The Rise of Birroth
As you probably inferred, Birroth was a dragon who lived in a sprawling city that bore her name. We’re not talking about some small-fry city; in my head, Birroth is MASSIVE—likely the largest populated city on the Demiplane. Birroth was a gold dragon, and Birrothgarde is essentially three cities that merged together over the course of several generations. Basically, you have these three major cities—West Birrothgarde over on the western shores of the Mercy River, East Birrothgarde over on the eastern shores of the Protectoria River, and Center Birrothsgarde located squarely between the two. (Remember, this town is built at a conflux, as shown below, so Center Birrothsgarde looks something like a peninsula.)
So, what’s the store here? Well, this region was considered excellent for gathering resources via farming (or what passes for farming in the Demiplane), fishing, and mining, and so three different tribes of humans settled here with young adult dragons from the same clutch to form their own cities. In time, the three cities grew and prospered, but the dragons of two of the cities (the western and central cities) both died during a raid against all three settlements that was orchestrated by a clan of dwarven raiders. Rather than see those cities freeze and die, the young gold dragon Birroth—the only survivor of the three—swore an oath to the people of all three tribes. Thus she became the sole flame of three cities, and spent most of her time ferrying herself and her staff across all three settlements that they all would have the crucial warmth that they needed to survive.
An adamant follower of the Flame Dragon faith that Anthony and I put together all the way back in our very first episodes of Create Demiplane, Birroth’s resolution did not go unnoticed by the draconic gods. She began to physically age rapidly, until she had the body and powers of a gold dragon thousands of years her senior. This is considered to be the first of the Birrothian Miracles, a set of deeds and divine interventions surrounding the gold dragon that the locals of Birrothgarde believe in with a reverence not unlike the Stations of the Cross in Catholicism or the Acts of Iomaedae in Golarion. Within a generation, most of the people of Birrothgarde viewed the dragon Birroth as a living saint and a bringer of miracles. Some even dared to hope that she would, in her mercy, end the Freeze and bring summer back to the Demiplane.
However, it wasn’t meant to be.
The Death of Birroth
As I mentioned, things in a campaign setting are WAY more interesting when they’re not happy and hunky-dory, and that VERY much describes life in Birrothgarde when Birroth was alive. So, what ultimately ended the dragon? No one knows, actually. She flat-out disappeared, and no one knows why. Her attendants had a big funeral for her, but no body was ever seen by anyone. She’s effectively gone, and plenty of people in Birrothgarde are suspicious about the entire affair.
Before she died/vanished, however, Birroth laid a clutch of ten eggs, and bore ten children.The city of Birrothgarde is MASSIVE now, the original three tribes heavily integrated with one another and several more moving in to join them. (Prosperity breeds travel, after all.) In order to keep Birrothgarde alive, Birroth’s former attendants shuttled her whelpings around the city, trying desperately to use the ten dragons’ fires to keep the city alive. Sadly, ten infant dragons do not produce even a fraction of the heat and warmth of a single great wyrm, and three of the young whelps died from the strain placed upon them. Its been roughly 50 years now since Birroth has died, and all seven of her surviving children are now young adults (the draconic equivalent of adolescents). The young dragons’ fire has not been enough to keep the city of Birrothgarde at its full glory, and roughly 35% of the city has been abandoned and subsequently reclaimed by the wilderness—buried and collapsed beneath the driving snowstorms and the like. No one is happy with the arrangement—the people fear that they will freeze and die before the dragons can properly grow and guide the town, and the dragons—instinctively solitary beings by nature—loathe being in such close proximity to each other and having to share one measly, human settlement amongst the seven of them when other dragons their age have entire towns to themselves. The seven dragons are now known as the Birrothkin Accord, or simply the Accord for short, and that union has been steadily cracking over the years against the dragons’ growing pains. A full split seems eminent, and the issue is as much an issue of intrigue as it is survival, with wealthy nobles trying to play the siblings this way or that way to their own benefit. (There are plenty of nobles who see the value in splintering the Birrothkin Accord and starting a new town with a young adult gold dragon, effectively becoming nobility in the process.) The dragons are split 3-4 on the issue, and only the voice of the clutch’s lone silver dragon, who took her mother’s name for herself, keeps the Accord together.
Today, the six surviving gold dragons are old enough and the city withered enough that the six are able to warm the city in pairs—Rothsaar and Visarni in West Birrothgarde, Jharlstrome and Wynvar in East Birrothgarde, and Alstrazor and Alstraza in Central Birrothgarde. Because her being is derived from the cold, Birroth the Younger cannot aid her siblings in keeping Birrothgarde alive, though she serves them reverently by acting as a peacekeeper and a neutral party on the others’ behalf. Many view the efforts of Birroth the Younger as the only thing keeping the Birrothkin Accord together, and some worry for her safety as a result. The people of Birrothgarde have already experienced what calamity befalls a settlement when its dragon dies, and many are convinced that Birroth was assassinated, abducted, or worse. As a result, many worry that the more Birroth the Younger tries to keep her siblings together, the more she paints herself a target of those who wish to see Birrothgarde separated once and for all.
I haven’t decided if Birrothgarde should be the Demiplane equivalent of Absalom, or if our Demiplane even needs an Absalom-equivalent. The idea is that Birrothgarde is a place where you can have a high-intrigue game with very real stakes both politically and socially. Given time, I think Birrothgarde could use some more factions and people of interest, as well as some legitimate reasons as to why someone would want the Birrothkin Accord broken that don’t amount to mustache-twirling. So, what do you think of this metropolis, readers? What do you think would be a good, legitimate reason someone might want the Birrothkin Accord broken? (Both with existing canon and new canon you feel like dreaming up.) How would you add to Birrothgarde if you were playing there, and does this sound like a place you’d adventure in? Leave your answers and comments below, and check back for another installment of the Private Sanctuary Press in the near future. Toodles!