Vault of Port Balifor



Jan 26, 2004 1:42:18
I am planning to construct Port Balifor's undercity, and I was wondering what you would all like to see.

Basically I am imagining Port Balifor as not only a town that survives on the fringes of the desolation, but is also a trading connection to the deepdark with the surface, along with Nereka and Sanction.

I will blend the old and the new Port Balifor's. The old Port Balifor was built out on piers into the ocean. I don't see why those same piers can't extend out of the cliffs of the new Port Balifor. The City itself can seal off the cave into the cliffs with a stone bastion that not even dragon breath and claw cannot tear asunder. The docks will remain unprotected, but the dragons are not as aggressive these days, and the docks can always be rebuilt. I do not believe it is reasonable to have an underground harbour when old Port Balifor itself didn't even have a very good one. So around a 100 people living and owning businesses on the pilons and boardwalks of Port Balifor seems like a good number to me.

Now up the stairs in the mountainside and through the bastion is the true Port Balifor, lit by beds of glowing phosphorescent fungus (TSR Jam). I imagine that to conserve fuel and reduce smoke, communal dining is now the norm for all of the residents of Port Balifor. I also imagine that there is a daylight spell in one chamber to serve as a park and keep the citizens of Port Balifor from hacking one another to bits with axes due to light deprivation. I imagine that frequent trips to the surface and upon the water do much the same thing.

To supply this underground daylight, I imagine a temple to Habbakuk in the city's heart would be a good idea, due to the town being on the ocean and that diety's determination to restore the desolation to its natural beauty. A minor cleric of Sirrion (3rd level) to tend the city's communal fires might not be a bad idea either.

Now, the shaping of the natural caverns into something akin to a home (plus the building of the bastion itself) was described in 5th Age products as being the work of dwarves. I would add to this as well a guild of geomancer sorcerers. After all, how else (except by magic) are you going to create the cracks that will let the smoke escape? How else are you going to smooth out a floor or create a new chamber (except by magic) in a few short decades?

As for the dwarves that have been mentioned, well we do need to figure out where they came from. Hill dwarves would not have the skills to create this underground city, and the closest mountain range is the Khalkhists. Luckily, there is a band of dwarves that have been forced from their home by the Daewar under Severus Stonehand. So I'm going to bring the Zhakar to Port Balifor, who have been cured of their mold plague by Port Balifor's clerics. I imagine they will be much more receptive of a cure disease spell that doesn't come with the demand of unquestioning loyalty. I'm certainly not going to let them bring the mold plague to Port Balifor.
There are of course, still plenty of Zhakar dwarves to sit in their various camps and strongholds in the Khalkhists to plot against Stonehand. I'm actually glad I get to use the Zhakar because they have always been my favourite dwarves. Who wouldn't like dwarves who are tea drinking poets and philosophers with anger management issues?

Yes, I realize that the Age of Mortals companion has a bunch of houses above and that all of them have passages leading to the undercity. However, it isn't really a good defense strategy against a swarm of dragonspawn sent by some red dragon warlord. After one such invasion, the geomancers will have that sealed up tight. As for building a phony city above for Malystryx to destroy over and over... what was that? An homage to the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles? It sure as heck wasn't a good idea. No one is dumb enough to fall for that. I can imagine however a significant population of salvagers, adventurers and afflicted kender in "Gloom Town", and Hope's End being the tavern that serves them.

Since we have an afflicted Kender population in Port Balifor, which should be an interesting when combined with the ill mental health of the Zhakar. I imagine there are no elves, which means that minotaurs probably dock here and not in Flotsam (which has a significant elven minority). In fact, I'm guessing that the pilons and boardwalk come from the Silvanesti forest. There is also probably a scattering of gnomes and draconians. I would particularly like the idea of a squad of kapak scouts left over from the dragonarmy days, because we don't see much of this caste.

Now here is where things would get interesting. Remember when I said that I wanted Port Balifor to have trade with the world below? Well I want to put three small settlements below Port Balifor to contribute to the urban economy of the town itself. Uneasy alliances as it were, to the mutual benefit of both parties. I've already decided on one race, the Kuo-Toa who will live in underground chambers close to (and connected with) the sea. So the watery underground menace/ally is covered.

I was considering using the shadowpeople, but I'm not interested in them living beneath Port Balifor. If I wanted to detail shadowpeople in such a situation, I'd just write about Sanction. However, I still want variety, so I turn it over to all you. What suggestions do you have for a small settlement of monsters? Would you like a tribe of kobolds or jarak-sinn? A goblin outpost of an underground goblin kingdom beneath the Khalkists? Dao genies ruling over Xorn? Do you have a concept for a new subterranian monster? What do you think would compliment the Port Balifor I've described to you?

Oh, one last tidbit. Some residents of Port Balifor have been complaining of weakness, dizziness, and sore throats lately. Myself, I think they just need more sun.


Jan 26, 2004 8:48:15
really cool terry. If my port balifor wasnt so vastly different from canon, i'd totally use this.


Jan 26, 2004 9:38:19
You could use the shadowpeople. Apparently (I can't remember which sources, think it was a Bertrem's guide, or even just a rulebook) the shadowpeople have moved away from Sanction. They'll have had to have gone somewhere. If only we knew anything about them... I imagine there was something in one of the original modules, but between the 3rd ed books and the novels, I know next to nothing. They like peace - perhaps they could have gone to Port Balifor for that, and since there are all these diverse elements all over the place - afflicted kender, cured zhakar, draconians, kuo-toa, and whatever else you've put there, they must get on reasonably peacefully.

Wouldn't be much in the way of secrecy, which is probably why they moved away from Sanction. It's fair distance and they don't like the sun. However, the destination would have to be a fair distance away. Perhaps some underground tunnels? The dwarves did it to get to Qualinesti...