The city of Ilmara sprawls across the mouth of the Avellyn River where it empties into the Cyrenic Ocean. It spills down the side of large hill overlooking the southern bank, with the palace and manors of the rulers and nobles at the top, and the common shops and homes scattered at the bottom. Ilmara is alive with the sounds of travelers, merchants, and pilgrims during the day, and at night the activity doesn't cease but simply shifts to other parts of the city.
Ilmara is protected on its south and east sides by a 20-foot high wall (which augments the southern cliffside of the hill), and 30-foot high towers armed with ballistas. The gate that crosses the Avellyn River has a portcullis that can be closed as needed, and the eastern bridge is protected by a gatehouse. The western bridge is designed to be easily collapsed in the event of an emergency (whether the inhabitants of the Garden District make it over before such an event is not considered a concern for the city's security). Domestic security is handled by the city's watch, while military action is conducted by the King's Lionsguard, augmented by mercenary companies as needed.
Like most cities, Ilmara can be divided into a variety of neighborhoods. Ilmara's include the Citadel, Noble Hill, Easttown, the Market, the Plaza, the Docks, and the Garden. A brief description of each is given below, along with a summary of the area's relative wealth and the presence of the city watch (if two values are listed they indicate day and evening). Note that while certain types of people or establishments may be prominent in a quarter, each one (except the Citadel and Noble Hill) still contains a variety of shops, inns, and residences.
The Citadel is home to the king's palace and the elite Lionsguard that serves as the core army of the city.
The area is populated by the manors and villas of minor nobility and prosperous merchant families. City watch patrols are common day and night, and they are complemented by the families' private guards. Anyone who doesn't seem to belong had best be about their business or risk being roughly escorted to Easttown.
Easttown is a fairly prosperous part of the city, home to a burgeoning middle class of merchants and academics. The people here are not as wealthy as those who live in Noble Hill, but they're certainly better off then most of the rest of the city's inhabitants. It is also where most of Ilmara's temples and shrines are located. The major churches are represented, along with scores of demigods and minor deities that may or may not actually exist.
The Market is Ilmara's mercantile and crafting heart. It is filled with shops, stalls, inns, smiths, and taverns, with the streets between them packed with carts, wagons, horses, and crowds. The activity lessens on Sundays, but overall the Market is constantly abuzz during the daylight hours. The city guard maintains a heavy presence during the day, to minimize or eliminate anything that would disrupt the vital commerce of the Market. After sunset, however, this area is far more subdued and dangerous, as most of the shops and stalls have closed, and the streets have emptied. Even the taverns and inns of the Market are relatively quiet, as nighttime excitement is the province of the Plaza.
In many ways, the Plaza is the opposite of the Market. This part of Ilmara is quiet during the day, but it comes alive after the sun goes down. The city's more raucous and infamous businesses are found here - popular gambling houses, boisterous taverns, and wicked brothels catering to exotic tastes. The after dark activities in the Plaza are generally considered distasteful and decadent (if not downright illegal), but as long as they don't spill over into the other neighborhoods, the city watch tends to turn a blind eye.
The Docks are the southwestern part of Ilmara. The harbors are found here, along with the bulk of the working class residences, warehouses, and the businesses that support the city's labor force.
This area is home to the city's more odiferous industries (tanners, ironworks, etc.), which gave rise to its ironic name - "the Garden". The intention was to keep necessary but unpleasant operations away from the more "refined" parts of the city. It has also become the neighborhood of Ilmara's poor, with humble shacks and squalid hovels sprawling across the northern side of the river. While the city watch maintains as minimal of a presence here as they can get away with, the Thieves Guild has taken it upon itself to help maintain a degree of order, which has engendered them to the Garden's inhabitants.
Places of Interest
1. Northwatch Keep: This small fortress is the city's first line of defense against threats from the north. A garrison of seventy-five soldiers is stationed here.
2. North Gate (aka Valley Gate): North Gate is the northern entrance to Ilmara. It is also known as the "Valley Gate" since it opens to the road that leads into the Avellyn River Valley. The gate is closed between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
3. Order of the Obsidian Tower: This is the Ilmara chapter house of the Sp˙re-based Order.
4. Market Square: Located in the middle of the Market neighborhood, the square is filled with vendors, stalls, hawkers, and pushcarts during the day. After sundown, it is quiet and empty.
5. Red Hawks: The Coreth-based mercenary group maintains an office here.
6. East Gate (aka Dwarf Gate): The eastern entrance to the city. East Gate opens to the road leading to the Dwarven city of Kharazgar. Like the North Gate, it is closed between sundown and dawn.
7. Zahara's House of Earthly Pleasures: Ilmara's most infamous brothel. Formerly owned by a member of House Malor, the new owners elected to keep the name unchanged.
8. Nightmarket: This part of the Plaza is vacant during the day, but at night it comes alive with vendors of exotic goods. If something can't be found in the market square during the day, it can likely be found here after dark.
9. Catacombs Main Entrance: An extensive network of tunnels and crypts are found underneath the city. This building houses the only public entrance to the catacombs.
10. Temple of Jhadara
11. Temple of the Triumvirate of Light
12. Temple of the Dark Court
14. Tower of Arendal Gaunter: Arendal Gaunter, a powerful wizard with questionable morals, has a tower in the eastern end of Easttown.
16. House Zelradas: Zelradas is one of the larger noble families in Ilmara. They dislike (or perhaps envy) the Great Houses, and actively work against all three.
17. House Argentus Estate: This large area of Noble Hill is home to the families of House Argentus. The estate is like a city within the city - walled, with a number of buildings for the different families.
18. Royal Palace: Home of King Balthasard.
19. Laughing Pirate Inn: One of the more infamous inns in the city. It is home to Salandra Canter, also known as the "Queen of the Buccaneers". If someone needs something smuggled, or wants to hire pirates, or pursue some other shady maritime service, she is the person to talk to.
20. Iron Storm Brotherhood: This mercenary company is periodically employed by the city. They are based out of Essengard but maintain a large chapterhouse and a fleet of five ships in the Docks neighborhood.
21. West Bridge: The West Bridge connects the Garden with the rest of the city. It has been constructed to allow for a quick collapse in the event the city's security is threatened from north of the river. The subsequent loss of the Garden has been deemed "regrettable but necessary" in such a scenario.
22. The Singing Dwarf: Located in the heart of the Garden, this dilapidated, non-descript tavern is supposedly the headquarters of the city's thieves guild.