Oppara

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Life in Oppara isn’t diffcult to handle, once you’ve learned therules: if a senator tells you that what you want to do is illegal,talk to a different one; if the district tax you pay is too high,move to the next house over; if you require a diplomat to getthe upper hand in negotiations, hire your rival’s out from underher; if you need an honorable noble, promote the nearest farmer;if you make a mistake, act like it never happened until peoplefeel awkward and follow suit; if you don’t like your past, pay ahistorian to write a new one; if your offce needs more funding,buy a weapon and declare yourself a military branch; and if youneed to keep something hidden forever, claim it’s urgent and handit to a government offcial.

—Baronet Solmon Menander, Taldan bureaucrat[1]

Présentation

Oppara is Taldor’s thriving capital—a shining monument to the grandeur and majesty once common to the entire Taldan empire.

Seated on the black cliffs of the River Porthmos inOpparos Prefecture, Oppara bears all the gravitas andextravagance that 6,000 years of history have conferredupon it. The roofs and domes of Oppara were onceplated with gold, earning it the nickname “the GildedCity,” and though past rulers stripped the gold awaylong ago to pay for the empire’s follies, the wealth anddecadence of Taldor’s capital keep the spirit of thatname alive.

Oppara serves as Taldor’s primary trade center, withtrafc coming both from Taldor’s interior via the RiverPorthmos and from the steady stream of internationalvessels sailing in from the Inner Se.a It is also the homeof Taldor’s government, hosting both the ImperialPalace of the grand prince and the polished marblehalls of the senate. As the economic and politicalhub of Taldor, Oppara is the beating heart of theempire and the center of Taldan culture. Twin harborsprovide goods to the city’s thriving marketplaces andrestaurants, and they’re ofen so crammed with shipsthat the river cannot be seen. Public fountains andmarble statues can be found at many major crossroadsand plazas. Columned villas and grandiose templesfrom every age of Taldor’s history line the streets, andeven the humbler merchant districts are holdovers froman unparalleled age of glory. Most of Oppara’s buildingsare made of carved stone, and the roads are paved witheither intricate mosaics or well-ftted cobblestones.

Much of the city’s advanced public works havewithstood the test of time, including its labyrinthinesewer system and the network of stone gutters that keepthe streets clear of summer rain. The Grand Bridge ofthe Empire, emerging from the southeastern shore ofthe city’s heart to cross the massive Porthmos, remainsone of the most ambitious and impressive engineeringmarvels in the Inner Se.a Two magically animated lionsculptures stand sentinel atop Oppara’s main gate,offering a glimpse into the greatness that currently liesdormant within the empire. At night, the city is lit withtens of thousands of lanterns, causing it to shine like abeacon in the darkness.[1]

OPPARA

N metropolis Corruption +9; Crime +2; Economy +9; Law +7; Lore +9; Society +5

Qualities academic, bureaucratic quagmire, heart of Avistan, prosperous, strategic location, tourist attraction

Danger +10

DEMOGRAPHICS

Government overlord

Population 109,280 (100,000 humans; 9,280 other)

NOTABLE NPCS

Baron Oltar Vinmark (N male human expert 4/barbarian 4) Dominicus Rell (N male human bard 3/rogue 3/Lion Blade 3; Pathfnder Player Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory 22) Grand Prince Stavian III (CN old male human aristocrat 8/ wizard 4) Princess Eutropia Stavian I (NG female human aristocrat 7/ swashbucklerACG 6)

MARKETPLACE

Base Value 25,600 gp; Purchase Limit 150,000 gp;

Spellcasting 9th

Minor Items all available; Medium Items 4d4; Major Items 3d4

QUALITIES

Bureaucratic Quagmire Taldor’s obtuse system of governance is mitigated only by the tendency of those in power to ignore it. (Corruption +3, Law +1)

Heart of Avistan Though decadent and deteriorating behind its glorious facades, Oppara epitomizes the Taldan pride in 6,000 years of history and unparalleled influence on Avistani civilization. (Economy +2, Lore +2, Society +3)

HISTORY

Once a city-state built atop of the ruins of a settlementestablished long ago by the descendants of Azlantirefugees, Oppara became the capital of a newlyformed empire when its frst grand prince, Taldaris,began a 12-year campaign to unite the surroundingcommunities under a single banner. By the timethe frst emperor died in –1144 ar, the combinedprincipalities had come to see themselves as a distinctnation. Next followed a slow and methodical conquestof the surrounding wilds and territories, with Opparaserving as both the naval headquarters and economicfnancier of these expeditions. In 1 ar, Oppara rose toeven greater heights when Aroden pulled the Starstonefrom the Inner Sea and became a god in the process.

The organized worship of Aroden sprung up almostovernight, with Oppara building the frst cathedralto the god and becoming the center of Arodeniteadoration within Taldor. Even today, more than ahundred years afer his death, countless monumentsand smaller vestiges of Taldans’ dedication to the Lastof the First Humans can be seen throughout the city.

Oppara has suffered many blows and setbacks overthe long centuries, though it has so far risen fromthe ashes in the face of all adversity. In –632 ar, thespawn of Rovagug known as the Tarrasque leveled thecity, and as Oppara and other prominent Taldan citiesscrambled to rebuild, unscrupulous exploitation oflaborers triggered rebellion, both in the city and acrossthe empire. Despite this, Oppara eventually managedto return to its former glory, rebuilt with robust civicimprovements that have lasted into the present day,and with a working class that held little contemptfor their erstwhile oppressors. In 4606 ar, the deathof Aroden shook the nation of Taldor to its core, butOppara has found new faith in Iomedae, the Inheritor,along with new purpose for the abandoned churchesof the Last Azlanti. War with the neighboring nationof Qadira and the blunders of several of the Armies ofExploration have cost Taldor’s capital a fortune manytimes, but it has remained a thriving urban centerdespite it all. And though the slow decay of Taldor hashad no small impact on Oppara, and while internalintrigues threaten the city from within, it continues toembody the proud resilience and spirit of the ancientempire it symbolizes.[1]


SOCIETY

Oppara’s current mix of glory and degradation stemsfrom its past, as the city’s triumphs and failures overthousands of years have lef indelible marks that shapeits present-day society. An excessive, even blind pride inone’s heritage is a cornerstone of Taldan identity, andthe empire’s slow degeneration has only exacerbated theissue as nobles and commoners alike make desperateattempts to cling to their glorifed, self-aggrandizingversions of the nation’s history and its role in shapingcivilizations across the continent. Though viewed aspompous folly by those from neighboring countries,this extreme national pride grants Taldor remarkablestability, with loyalty and patriotism bridging many ofthe gaps caused by the nation’s extreme stratifcationof power and wealth. Yet this pride can also prove thebane of Taldor, and by extension its capital, as noblesconvince themselves they rule over an empire at theheight of its power and refuse to update the country’sarchaic social structures. Living in Oppara—aneconomic, military, and political powerhouse—addsfuel to these delusions, as the privileged few allow theheights of the city’s decadence to mask the depths ofits decline.

The presence of so many artists, clergy, merchants,nobles, and senators makes Oppara a flourishing andhectic society that can prove exceedingly difcultto navigate, especially for the uninitiated. Taldor isa complex nation, and its people are pulled in manydirections thanks to the large gulf between theimpoverished and wealthy, the competing forces ofprogress and tradition, and the influence of corruptionon a chivalrous heritage. While the common peopleof Oppara are pragmatic folk who go about their dailylives without giving much thought to who is in chargeand what their secret motivations might be, socialitesfnd the Gilded City to be a roiling center of politics.

Nobles and other elites live insular lives of excess,eternally concerned with gaining status throughostentatious displays of wealth and power, whilesycophantic hangers-on rise and fall on their coattails.

The current mayor of Oppara, Baron Oltar Vinmark,was appointed by the grand prince himself, and hehas been a source of consternation for much of thenobility; as a former member of the Ulfen Guard, helacks Taldan cultural mores, but as a favored friendof Stavian III, he is essentially untouchable—at leastpolitically. As is common whenever public allegiancesclash with private interests, spies and intrigue aboundin Oppar.a Taldor’s secret police, the Lion Blades, seekout dissidents and other serious threats to the empire,while nobles clandestinely plot reform, ofen to furthertheir own self-serving interests.

Despite the abundant political strife, many ofOppara’s commoners are relatively safe and well off,especially in comparison to those of neighboringcities and countries. Art and refnement remain richtraditions within Oppara despite Taldor’s fnancialfoibles, and Opparan citizens, no matter theirsocioeconomic class, are surrounded on all sidesby brilliant music, magnifcent architecture, publicsculptures, and skillful paintings. This only furtherreinforces Taldor’s national pride, engendering asense of sophistication within even the most destitutedockworker. Most commoners have at least a fewimported luxuries purchased from Oppara’s legendarymarketplaces, as well as treasured heirlooms fromTaldor’s prestigious past. Though some districts holddangers in the form of thieves and cutthroats, most ofOppara is clean, well maintained, and patrolled by thecity constables. Whatever the many flaws of the capital,citizens have little fear of major upheaval, trustingthe might and traditions of Taldor to protect them nomatter how chaotic the political situation becomes.[1]

Oppara map

DISTRICTS OF OPPARA

Oppara is divided into 15 distinct districts, each of whichis described in greater detail below. A de facto sixteenthdistrict known as Grandbridge Vagabond Camp (seepage 69) lies within Oppara’s jurisdiction, but mostOpparans do not consider the unsavory locale part ofthe city proper.

Aroden’s View: Standing atop the highest hill in thecity, Aroden’s View is a small district, but one with greatcultural importance—even taking into account that itis surrounded by a city full of Taldan touchstones. Itholds some of the oldest buildings in Taldor, some ofwhich even survived the destruction wrought by theTarrasque (or so their current owners claim), grantingthe area immense historical signifcance. It is also oneof the most beautiful sites in Oppara, with extravagantgardens flled with rare flowers and other flora, treelined avenues perfect for promenading in the latestfashions, and massive villas carefully arranged totake advantage of the breathtaking views the districtprovides its privileged residents Canal Row: Packed with canal houses runningalongside the central canal before transitioning intoa more spacious residential district as it progressesfurther north, Canal Row is home to Oppara’s wealthiercommoners—merchants, professors, ship captains, andplyers of many other proftable trades. Though not aslavish as the noble districts in other parts of Oppara,Canal Row is brightly colored, clean, and safe, makingit an attractive place to visit, as well as a spot that manyof the city’s more modest social climbers aspire tosomeday live.

Crownsgate: Named for Oppara’s smaller secondarygate at the northeast edge of the city, Crownsgate isa poor district choked with old industrial buildingsand warehouses. The district was long ago pilferedfor anything desirable by the rest of the city—eventhe cobblestones in the streets have been pulled upand used elsewhere. Cutthroats, petty thieves, anddesperate beggars lurk in the narrow, dirty alleyways atnight, and the constabulary rarely bothers to patrol thearea, leaving any chance for justice in the hands of thedistrict’s residents.

Eastport: The smaller of Oppara’s two ports, Eastportoccupies the area on the east side of the Grand Bridgeof the Empire, and it receives most of the trafc comingfrom the inland portion of the River Porthmos. Thedistrict’s buildings are primarily made of wood andhave proven something of a fre hazard; twice in justthe last century, large portions of Eastport burned tothe ground under mysterious circumstances. Even moresuspiciously, both of these most recent fres took placeexactly 3 days afer a Grand Day of Exaltation.

Grandbridge: Grandbridge is the largest district inthe capital, spanning the central canal. A mercantiledistrict of worldwide renown, it hosts the infrastructureneeded to take advantage of Oppara’s internationaltrade, including currency exchanges, factories, importexport frms, open-air markets, shopping squares, andwarehouses. The city’s infamous Gray Market standsbetween the split rises of the Grand Bridge of theEmpire, offering goods of questionable provenancestraight from the docks.

Imperial Square: This exquisite plaza stretchesout from the Imperial Palace for several blocks in alldirections. Due to the plaza’s proximity to the homeof the Grand Prince and the constant stream of otherhigh-status clientele, the surrounding apartments,restaurants, and shops are some of the best in all ofOppara—and by extension all of Taldor. Here, localnobles seek out lavish dwellings to impress their peers,and local businesses source the fnest products toimpress the nobles.

Jadrishar Island: This island southwest of the city isdominated by the headquarters of the Taldan ImperialNavy, including the navy’s prestigious college. Thenaval base is a literal fortress, surrounded by thickwalls of blackened stone and guarded day and night byan elite force of dedicated naval personnel. The shoreestablishment also contains the heavily protectedsource of Taldor’s naval might: a shipyard that canmass-produce vessels, allowing a full-scale warship tobe built in as little as a week. Dozens of Taldor’s mostformidable warships can be found docked here atany given point in time, swarming with maintenancecrews working to clean and reft them with newequipment while students from the navy’s collegeperform training exercises.

Oppara-lionsgate

Lionsgate:Two spectacular, 50-foot-tall, magicallyanimated marble statues of lions top Oppara’smain gate. Until recently, a powerful spellcasterwas charged with controlling and preservingthe massive stone beasts, but—unbeknownstto all but a few bureaucrats—she quit her post andlef the city under a shroud of secrecy. Fortunately, the statues seem content for now to lounge most of the day,occasionally rising to let out a mighty roar. A sprawlingmarket occupies the area just inside the gate, takingadvantage of the proximity to the city’s primary entrance.

Small, ornately carved stone buildings are tightly packedtogether along narrow streets. These originally servedas houses, but many have since been converted to shopsthat cater to the many visitors who arrive by land routes.

Memorial Park: This park serves as a memorial toTaldor’s heroes, both real and imagined. Monumentsfrom every era of Taldor’s 6,000-year history can be foundhere, from a brass-plated obelisk in honor of GeneralArnisant to commemorations of each of the Armies ofExploration. While Taldans are usually quick to loudlyand insistently celebrate their country’s legacy andits famous fgures at any opportunity, this district is aperhaps surprising exception, as its visitors ofen spendtheir time in silent reflection—a tradition so ingrainedthat anyone who makes excessive noise in Memorial Parkrisks sharp censure from the district’s watchful guards.

The Narrows: Oppara’s poorest district, the Narrowsis more a health hazard than a city neighborhood. Theconstabulary refuses to patrol the area except rarely andin force, and residents of the neighboring Canal Rowdistrict have even gone so far as to request that a wallbe built between the two areas. Basic public services donot exist in the Narrows—bodies and refuse lie openlyfor days in the muddy pits that serve as streets, and theramshackle wooden buildings collapse into each otherwith scarcely a warning.

Senate’s Hill: Home to the columned marble halls ofthe senate, Senate’s Hill also contains the lavish villas ofmany senators, especially those who represent distantprefectures and require an ofcial permanent residencefor their tenure in Oppara—a much squabbled-overperk. The wealthy district is flled with shops thatprovide high-end goods and services to this exclusiveclientele, with coffee houses, fnery shops, luxuriousinns (with discreet staff), and bespoke tailors providinganything the local senators might require.

Seven Towers: This district is named for a group ofsix crumbling towers arranged in a circular patternaround one central column. Dozens of ancient,interconnected dungeon complexes and vaults—remnants of the layered ruins atop of which Opparais built—have likewise been discovered beneath thedistrict at regular intervals during the city’s longhistory. The government sealed the known entrancesto these ruins long ago, without publicly stating areason, though rumors abound of undead walking thestreets of Seven Towers at night and of the namesaketowers humming discordant low notes while theground beneath seems to undulate.

Westpark: Oppara’s wealthiest district, Westpark ishome to much of Oppara’s upper class. The constabularymaintains several stations here and patrols day andnight, while the enormous villas that grace the areaare walled in to keep out any undesirables, thoughsuch barriers are more ofen a way for nobles to pushthe boundaries of their ever-increasing property linesand compete in ostentatious displays than they are anecessary security measure.

Westport: The larger of Oppara’s two ports, Westportservices all international trafc and all vessels providingsupplies to the Taldan navy. The waterfront is crammedwith businesses—ofcial or otherwise—that vie forsailors’ coin, with flashy brothels, hazy drug dens, chaoticgambling houses, jam-packed inns, unscrupulousmoneylenders, ramshackle pawnshops, and rowdy pubsall clamoring for attention.

Worldbreaker Hill: Named for the famed magical siegeweapon that once held a prominent place here (before itwas removed for use by the Fifh Army of Explorationand subsequently lost in a disastrous battle by the SixthArmy of Exploration), this district now serves as hometo many of Taldor’s high-ranking military commandersand heroes.[1]


NOTABLE LOCATIONS

Some of Oppara’s most iconic sites are described below.

Altar of Divine Innovation: While the ImperialPalace and the senate building get all the glory ofrulership, the civic center in the nearby Westparkdistrict is where most day-to-day business of the stateactually gets done. Formerly a temple to Aroden, thebuilding was converted into government ofces aferthe god’s death, and it now contains a byzantine messof overworked actors within the Taldan government,including bureaucrats, diplomats, military ofcers,agents lobbying for the pet projects of influentialpeople, and even representatives from popular clothiersand jewelers.

Attempting to accomplish anything via strictly legalavenues is a source of extreme frustration for everyoneinvolved; requests are redirected to departments thatdon’t exist, while myriad redundant agencies work atcross-purposes in pursuit of their own notions of thecountry’s aims. The once-orderly system has effectivelydevolved into a frustrating and chaotic melee in whichindependent political entities grab as much power aspossible from one another in an attempt to accomplishtheir goals.

Even the seemingly simplest processes have becomeso opaque that one bitterly jaded noble, Baronet SolmonMenander (CN male human investigatorACG 5), has goneso far as to set up a bureaucratic back channel in whichhe regularly employs means of blackmail, bribery,and forgery. While unquestionably corrupt, Solmonuses his misbegotten influence mostly to provide ameans of recourse to nonnobles who get caught up in the dysfunctional and uncaring system. Solmonsometimes even goes out of his way to offer assistanceto those in need—especially if helping them fulflltheir requests is likely to make one ofSolmon’s fellow nobles suffer.

Basilica of the Last Man: Anenormous domed buildingsituated on a hill in Aroden’sView, this basilica remains amagnifcent structure despiteits deteriorating state. The Basilicaof the Last Man is the oldest knowntemple to Aroden on Golarion,and it is one of the very fewthat remain. The cathedral’sarchbishop, Father Basri(LN male venerable halfelf ex-cleric of Aroden 13),prevented the templefrom being torn down byrepurposing it as a touristattraction. Most now seethe once-proud basilica asa curiosity at best, thougha few less secure Taldanssee it as a constant reminderof Aroden’s death and Taldor’sdecline, and therefore as anunbearable embarrassment to the glory of the empire.

Those few faithful who remain in unanswered service toAroden are usually pitied or held in contempt by the restof Taldor; the aging and ever-dwindling devotees watchover their lifeless relics, displaying their sacramentsto occasionally derisive sightseers in order to keep thebasilica intact.

Unknown to the temple’s keepers, one of thebasilica’s artifacts still has a spark of power withinit—a holy longsword infused with an infnitesimalbit of the power of the Starstone. The sword is wardedagainst detection, leaving its minders ignorant of thetruth. Though the longsword has remained dormantsince Aroden’s death, some fluctuation in the weaveof fate has awakened it again, causing it to reach outpsychically to humans who spend a great deal oftime in its vicinity. The museum’s current apprenticecaretaker, a young Taldan woman of Keleshite ancestrynamed Cyr Amestrin (LN female human expert 2), hasfallen under the sword’s influence due to repeatedcontact, and she fnds herself increasingly moved totake up the blade.

Brotherhood of Silence Chapterhouse: Based inCrownsgate, this unassuming building is the mainchapter house of the Brotherhood of Silence, a largeand influential thieves’ guild that is active throughoutthe Inner Sea region. The organization owns a greatdeal of property and has chapter houses in most majorcities. Their Opparan headquarters is made of blackmarble and has darkened windows, with two armedand armored guards stationed at the front doorat all times. The Brotherhood operates with thetacit sanction of Taldor’s government,as it is an open secret that nobles—and even the grand prince—occasionally commission theguild’s services. Targets areusually other nobles, thoughguild members are believed to havestolen from elemental lords, distantdragons’ hoards, and even divineservants. The full breadth of anysecret agreements betweenthe state and the Brotherhoodis not known, but mostnobles consider it commonknowledge that the guild is notto be retaliated against unlessthe thief involved is caught inthe act or causes physical harm;the crime is otherwise recognizedas the responsibility of whoevercommissioned the thef, ratherthan the particular thief or thieveswho carried it out.

The presumed leader of the Brotherhoodis popularly known as the Masked Marquis, amysterious fgure whose reported appearance, race,and gender seem to change with every sighting. Thelittle information on the Masked Marquis that hasbeen gleaned from defecting members is steeped inritualism; the person such deserters describe is moreakin to an ideal than an individual being—a mythicpersona who lesser thieves aspire to become throughthe act of stealing. The well-kept secret of the MaskedMarquis’s identity and disparate or vague descriptionscause many to assert that the Masked Marquis is actuallyseveral people. Any goals the Masked Marquis hasbeyond proft are unknown outside the organizationand, if the defectors are to be believed, perhaps evenwithin the Brotherhood itself.

Cathedral of Coins: Part temple and part bank,Abadar’s church in Oppara is a cathedral in CanalRow topped with a dome of silver and gold, withmarble fountains decorating either side of the churchsteps. Inside, the clergy’s sermons border on statepropaganda, citing the wealth of the nobility and thestability of the countryside as signs of Abadar’s favor. Agrowing faction of the church’s worshipers has becomediscontent with this viewpoint, however, fnding theabsurdity of Taldan law to be an affront to their god’steachings. These separatists call themselves the Tare and have begun to encourage victims of bad governanceto carve their grievances into lead scale weights andplace them within the collection boxes. The weightsare then taken to the knight Veneranda Cain (LGfemale human paladin of Abadar 6), who attempts todetermine whether legal measures can address theetched complaints. Despite this unsanctioned breakfrom the church’s public message, the cathedral’s clergyhas yet to either condemn or condone Veneranda’sactions, turning a blind eye to the matter for the timebeing. In recognition of this, members of the Tare havetaken to wearing a symbol of a two-headed eagle, asa representation of the two different outlooks withinthe church.

Grand Bridge of the Empire: Oppara’s massivecantilever bridge is set atop enormous stone pilessunk deep into the Porthmos. Built 3,000 years ago togreatly increase the ease with which goods and peoplecould be transported across the river, the Grand Bridgeof the Empire remains an impressive architecturalachievement even in the present day. The span’ssurface is paved with delicate mosaic tiles laid across afoundation of thin granite sheets. Two causeways, oneon either side of the central canal, offer Opparans easyaccess to the bridge. The bridge has long been rumoredto be a recruiting spot for subversives—especially thosewho wish to see an end to the Primogen Crown—withthose wanting to declare their loyalty to the causeperforming a series of subtle steps on a specifc patternof mosaic tiles.

Grandbridge Vagabond Camp: Oppara’s unofcialsixteenth district sprawls under the northern span of theGrand Bridge of the Empire, though most citizens donot consider it a part of the city. This massive tent townis populated with criminals, refugees, runaway soldiers,and vagabonds. Oppara has made concerted efforts toclear these undesirables several times in the past, buteach attempt has met with vicious resistance from theresidents, and the Taldan government now chooses toignore the camp’s existence. While neither the safestnor most appealing place to visit, the vagabond campcan provide an effective place to disappear, one way oranother. A few traitors to Taldor have used the camp asa hideout before escaping to Cheliax or elsewhere; it isalso the covert refuge of Samarag Nazres (LG femalehuman cavalierAPG 10), who was an up-and-comingmilitary hero until she mysteriously abandoned herpost and vanished 5 years ago.

Seferi

Gray Market: An open-air square near the RiverPorthmos in the Grandbridge district, the Gray Marketis flled with makeshif stalls hawking wares fresh fromthe docks. Though the name is supposedly in referenceto the morning fog that rises off the river, most peopleconsider it a nod to the dubious origin of the market’sstaggering array of offered goods. A number of ZimarCorsairs are known to favor the Gray Market as a placeto unload stolen Qadiran cargo; the captains claimOppara pays better prices than Zimar, as the Opparanmarketplace has yet to be saturated with plunder fromQadir.a More skeptical citizens suspect the corsairshave an ulterior motive choosing Oppara as a port:namely, moving supplies to certain political factionsunder the lax scrutiny of those who monitor the GrayMarket’s ever-shifing merchandise. Suspicion falls inparticular on one of the most frequent visitors, CaptainSeferi (CN female human magusUM 7), who makes nosecret of her admiration of the grand prince’s daughter,Princess Eutropia.

House of Dawn’s Redemption: Standing in the heartof Oppara’s Grandbridge district, the House of Dawn’sRedemption is a soaring monument to Sarenrae’s faith.

Built in the Qadiran style and topped with gleamingrose-gold domes, this church is a center for healing andforgiveness, as well as a celebration of the Dawnflower’scentury-long presence in Taldor. The cathedral standson the site of Sarenrae’s original temple within Oppara,the land having been returned by the city as reparationfor the slaughter and exile of Sarenite priests andworshipers under Stavian I. The House of Dawn’sRedemption now serves as proof that faith cannot be soeasily extinguished, and the church plays host to a greatnumber of once-lost relics that have been returned tothe care of the attendant Sarenites afer being scatteredby the Great Purge.

The current high priest of the temple, DawnmotherZenaida Tandleos (NG female middle-aged humancleric of Sarenrae 9), has devoted herself to healing andwelcomes anyone who wishes to join the church intoher flock. Old prejudices die hard, however, and someTaldans still consider Sarenrae’s faith untrustworthydue to its strong connection with the rival nation ofQadir.a The temple’s willingness to accept reformedvillains among its members adds further fuel to thisfre; rumors abound that Sarenites provide sanctuaryto fugitives and enemies of the state. While thecongregants of the House of Dawn’s Redemption arepatriotic Taldans and hand over foreign spies andunrepentant criminals to the constabulary, they haveon many occasions harbored nonviolent politicalopponents of the grand prince.

House of the Immortal Son: Formerly the secondoldest temple to Aroden in the Inner Sea, the Houseof the Immortal Son has been converted into Taldor’smost opulent and expensive opera house. Situated tothe north of Imperial Square, this marble-and-granitebuilding is constructed in the shape of a cylinder, andthe sleek Azlanti-inspired architecture is surrounded byfnely carved pillars. Aroden’s holy symbol still adornsthe roof—a complex work of stone that gazes into theheavens. Tickets to the performances here are one of the city’s most precious commodities, at least for those of thewealthiest classes who are desperate to see and be seen,and there is no shortage of nobles who would go to greatlengths to secure an evening’s entertainment atthe opulent theater.

Imperial Palace: This is the homeof Grand Prince Stavian III, as it hasbeen to every grand prince of Taldorsince the empire’s founding. From theexterior, the palace is a simple granitebuilding, surrounded on all sides by theImperial Square district (see page 66).

The interior of the palace is extravagantlydecorated with ornate arches of patternedstone and shining panels of gold. StavianIII is an indulgent, disinterested ruler, andhis court consists mostly of sycophantswith no real value to the state. Thegrand prince’s daughter, PrincessEutropia, sometimes holds courtin his absence, encouragingmore robust debate. Theexterior of the palace is ofenheavily guarded by regimentsof the Taldan Phalanx and Taldan Horse, who marchacross the square daily and watch the palace entrances.

Stavian III also employs a permanent detachment ofUlfen Guards to keep the palace secure.

Kitharodian Academy: The larger of Oppara’s famedbardic colleges, Kitharodian Academy—also knownas the Kith—is located along the northern edge ofCanal Row. The school is a hallmark of Taldan culture,and people of all social classes regularly attend itsstudent and alumni performances. Even the grandprince himself has been known to attend these events,providing one of the few opportunities for untitledcitizens to see him in person. The Kitharodian Academyis less known for its other function: it is the primaryrecruiting ground for Taldor’s enigmatic secret policeand spies, the Lion Blades. The organization seeks outbards in particular due to their versatile skills andcreative minds, scouting the most promising studentsfor potential training in one of the many shadowschools hidden throughout Taldor. Nearly all of theschool’s teachers are former Lion Blades, includingthe school's administrator, Lord Merriweather Stokes(N male human bard 4/rogue 3/Lion Blade 3; PathfnderPlayer Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory 22), who handlesmost matters of enlistment.

Hidden beneath the Kitharodian Academy is theLion Blades’ most prestigious shadow school, as wellas a secret archive known as the Library of the Lion—apriceless collection of unmodifed histories, contentiousfrst-person accounts of famous events, and espionagedossiers. The head of the Lion Blades, Dominicus Rell,is ofen found here training new recruits or improvingthe archive’s considerable resources.

Memorial Arch of Grand Prince Jalrune: Spanningthe width of the central canal, crossingfrom Memorial Park into Canal Row,this arch serves as a memorial to anassassinated grand prince of Taldor.

The monument depicts a half-dozenfamous scenes from Grand PrinceJalrune’s life, beginning at the baseof Memorial Park with his birth, ascendingto his crowning at the center of the arch, andending at the base of the monument in CanalRow with his assassination. His assassins areportrayed as plain and faceless, which curiouslygoes against the common view that Qadiranagents murdered Jalrune. Even so,his arch has become a meetingplace and a covert symbol tothose nobles and militaryofcials who still press forwar with Qadir.a These likeminded thinkers draw inspirationfrom a doomed secret society thatattempted to start a war with Qadira and whose memberswere exiled afer being stripped of all titles. For obviousreasons, present-day conspirators rarely announce thesesentiments, instead using Prince Jalrune as a secret signalto others who share their beliefs. Several high-rankingmilitary ofcials meet here surreptitiously, as well asSenator Karthis (N male middle-aged human aristocrat 5/bard 4), a thin-skinned demagogue who vocally advocatesfor the destruction of Qadira in both public orations andspeeches to the Taldan senate.

Oppara Arena: Located in Grandbridge, Oppara’sarena is among the oldest in the Inner Sea, and itsmassive stone stands hold up to 20,000 spectators.

Both gladiator matches and battles between other lessintelligent creatures are held frequently—the arenaoffers a handsome price for wild animals or moremonstrous creatures that can be used as entertainment.

On special occasions, the stadium can even be floodedto simulate naval engagements in miniature. Skilled(or foolhardy) warriors from abroad are frequentlyinvited to compete for wealth and glory. Admission is asingle copper piece, and it is not uncommon for noblesto provide food and drinks for the entire audience,though it is painfully obvious to all that they do so onlyin service of an ulterior motive.

The blood of generations of combatants hassoaked the arena’s sands, granting the stadium itself amalevolent, magical bloodlust. Spectators can remaincaught up in the crowd’s supernaturally enhanced frenzyfor days aferward, with those most affected becomingmore likely to torment animals or attack someone in a maddened fervor. Uncanny accidents are known tohappen whenever blood has not been spilled in thearena for more than a few days, though the degeneratetastes of regular attendees mean that the coliseum rarelygoes unfed for long.

Porthmos Club: Formerly a temple to Shelyn andstill holding many books and artworks of the faithful,the Porthmos Club was converted into a high-classteahouse almost a century ago. The resplendent stonebuilding looks over the city from Aroden’s View,and only the highest strata of Opparan clientele areadmitted. Membership is a highly pursued commodity,as it offers promises of wealthy contacts and thepotential for social climbing. The Porthmos Club alsocontains a hidden basement chamber, which secretsocieties or conspirators can discreetly book with theteahouse’s proprietor, Trelorick Anstarza (LN malehuman aristocrat 5). This private meeting room attractseverything from political dissidents to nobles withdelusions of more influence than they actually have; itis also both used and carefully monitored by the LionBlade agent Lenorilia Callatarro (N female human bard3/rogue 3/Lion Blade 3; Pathfnder Player Companion:Taldor, Echoes of Glory 22).

Rhapsodic College: Hidden within the clutter ofWestport, Rhapsodic College is easily overlookedby tourists, consisting of only a few small buildingsaround a performance and practice hall. While asmaller and lesser-known bardic school than theKitharodian Academy, Rhapsodic College makes upfor its size with quality. Many of the fnest bards inTaldor have come from this school, so graduates arefrequently in demand across the Inner Sea region andbeyond. The Taldan nobility also regularly taps suchbards to write histories of the empire—ofen with aheavy political spin. Many bards make a fne living inTaldor publishing accounts of past events that painttheir employers in a favorable light. Politics can be adangerous business, however, and these propagandistssometimes suffer ignominious ends to their careers orlives for supporting the wrong person.

Carina_ignatus

One of the college’s more successful historyprofessors, Carina Ignatus (N female middle-agedhuman bard 6), has accumulated a small fortune—and no small degree of infamy—by secretly writingunflattering biographies of her patrons and their alliesand releasing them quickly when one of them fallsfrom grace. This recently backfred when her scathingbiography of a well-loved noble was lost (or worse,stolen), leaving her scrambling to fnd it before she toofalls victim to the axe of public opinion that she has soexpertly sharpened.

The Senate: Immediately adjacent to Imperial Squareon Senate’s Hill, this striking hall of governance iscarved from marble and surrounded by lavish columns.

Each evening, dozens of lanterns set the structureaglow. One hundred steps lead up to the main entrance;theoretically these remind senators of their duty to thepeople they serve, though most senators use the backentrance.

Older and cannier members of the senate arebecoming increasingly troubled by the apparentsuccession crisis looming in Oppara, though theirconcerns have yet to spread throughout Taldor’s hallsof power. These lawmakers have instead begun makingtheir own private preparations. One of Taldor’s moreunusual senators—a former wrestler named Gengethlia(CG female old dwarf skaldACG 8) who was appointed byStavian I on the sole basis of her popularity—has evenbegun mustering a private army in case of trouble.

Oppara’s senate building is built on top of the city’sprevious senate buildings, from the ruins of the chamberthat was destroyed by the Tarrasque to the foundationsof the structure destroyed in a massive earthquake in2920 ar. As a result, the earth beneath the building isriddled with forgotten chambers, hallways, and tunnelsthat have been closed off and forgotten for centuries.

Serpent Column: Located in the heart of MemorialPark, the Serpent Column is actually two columns,apparently built side by side and twisted together.

The structure rests on a base of green-hued stone, andits surface is perfectly smooth to the touch, bearingneither scratches nor deliberate carvings. Most assumethe column is magical in some way, as it is harder thansteel and untouched by age, but scholars have beenunable to detect any magical auras or effects emanatingfrom the pillars. The Serpent Column is a vestige ofthe ancient settlement that predated Oppara, and it islikely related to the ruins buried beneath the city in theSeven Towers district, leading some to wonder whetherthose ruins are far more extensive than historiansadmit. Residents and visitors alike fnd it curious thatthe column holds a position of pride within Opparawhile the rest of the city’s most ancient ruins remainburied and sealed off.

White Hall: A four-story marble structure inGrandbridge, White Hall is the headquarters ofOppara’s constabulary. Residents who are familiar withthe structure and its tenants are decidedly ambivalentabout its existence. On the one hand, the city’sconstables have a long and proud tradition of servingand protecting Taldan citizens, and they treat theirmain station as an extension of that illustrious history.

On the other hand, the White Hall has been quietlynicknamed the Screaming Pillars, as rumors aboundof torture and political dissidents vanishing into thebuilding forever afer being hauled there on trumpedup charges. If an independent group of investigatorswere ever to confrm such rumors, the entire city couldbe thrown into chaos.[1]


Références

  1. 1,0, 1,1, 1,2, 1,3, 1,4 et 1,5 AP 23 - La Guerre de la Couronne (War for the Crown)- 01