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The City of Brass

by Ripvanwormer

Per Gaz 2, the City of Brass was "once the most wealthy and powerful city in the world," which makes me think it was likely the Nithian capital (which may not literally have been the most wealthy and powerful city in the world, but it certainly ranked high on the list during its heyday).

The PCs who explore it end up in the same city in several different eras. First they explore the city in the modern era, when it is dead and uninhabited. The "enchantress" sends them back to (what I presume is) the Nithian era, when the city is bustling and inhabited by humans. Next, a sorcerer in the city sends them to a period when the city is lush, green jungle. I thought this might be the era of "Mogreth," but the talking lion and peaceful beasts seem out of place. Perhaps it's the far future, when the desert has been made to bloom. But just wandering around an Edenic garden with peaceful talking animals doesn't seem like a very interesting adventure - what if the PCs were sent to the Mogreth era instead? The seemingly peaceful animals could be warped experiments of the lizard men, or even creations of the Carnifex before them.

The PCs visit one more era, a time just after the casting of the Spell of Oblivion (I guess), when the Nithian inhabitants of the city are starving, plague-ridden, or dead due to the sudden collapse of their civilization. The "enchantress," we discover, is actually an enormous serpentlike creature. Perhaps she's an Immortal who takes both human and serpent form (perhaps Ordana), or perhaps she's a Carnifex herself, bound to guard the city throughout time as part of an Immortal curse. Her goal, as portrayed in Gaz 2, seems simply to educate the PCs on the dangers of pride and presumption, and reward them if they're worthy, but that's kind of boring. The city would be best used, I think, in a case where the PCs have something specific, some item or bit of lore, that they want to retrieve from the past.

Anyway, what does everyone think? Was the City of Brass the Nithian capital? Should the City of Brass have a place in the Mogreth era? What role would it play in the scaly empire?

That would make sense. Ussur's an industrial town, so "City of Brass" might be a nickname it acquired from all the forging and smelting of copper and zinc that went on there. Plus, the river's navigable up to the lower city, so it has the potential to become a significant port town. Since the waterfall prevents any boats from going any further upstream, trading in Teshos or Ithkesh will be more difficult - presumedly boats will be smaller and the river shallower in the other two cities, and goods would have to be moved out of the boats in Ussur and shipped via stairs, ramps, roads, or elevators to the lower city before being brought to sea.

It's not really in the same place as Nithus on this map, but I can still see it becoming very important under the right circumstances.

The wealth of the City of Brass was based on, if you accept the speculation above, mining and metal working and possibly trade with the efreet. It was probably also dependent on access to the river so that it could easily ship its goods downstream. If the river ever moved it might have been stranded, forced to rely on caravans and much diminished in power and influence. I think there must have been a lake at some point to slow the waterfall's current and make it possible to move boats nearby. By the end of the Nithian era, with the desert advancing and the river dwindling and long since flowing between different banks, it was probably no more than a small town or entirely forgotten. Comparing James Mishler's map of Nithia with Chimpman's map of Mogreth, the river had moved several hexes in the past millennia. My guess is it was an early capital, its metalworking the beginning of Nithian civilization, but forgotten by the time of Oblivion.

A provisional timeline, inspired in part by Sir Robilar's City of Brass and the Secrets of the Lamp boxed set for Al-Qadim. Thane Brihnda is a character in Necromancer Games' City of Brass. Isfrizzal, Naogrizz II, Holem'tepp, Ek Byr, and Fiarz are from Sir Robilar's City of Brass. Sultan Marrake is from Secrets of the Lamp, which also discussed the worship of Freyal/Freyja by the efreet.

BC 5,200: The carnifex sorcerer Akhor makes a pact with the efreet to help build the city of Ussur.

BC 5,000: Agitated by the presence of humans in their city, nobles of the City of Brass stage a coup against Sultan Naogrizz II and replace him with Ek Byr, the head of a minor clan. Many humans flee to Mystara, where they become the ancestors of the Afridhi.

BC 4,990: Grand Sultan Ek Byr kills or enslaves all remaining humans in the City of Brass, breaking the Human Compact established by Sultan Isfrizzal the Orator.

BC 4,985: Grand Sultan Ek Byr begins a campaign of conquest across the planes. His hostility toward non-efreet dramatically reduces the City of Brass's status as a trading city. The nobles and merchants begin to grumble.

BC 4,900: Grand Sultan Ek Byr has an affair with Thane Brihnda, a fire giant daughter of Surtur. Her son with Ek Byr, Fiarz, is sent to be reared by on of the opposition noble families in the City of Brass.

BC 4,810: Fiarz acquires a horde of fire giant warriors and the support of the noble efreet against his father. He promises the cult of Surtur (also known as Zugzul) that he would make their faith the official religion of the efreeti nation if they aid him in his coup against Sultan Ek Byr.

BC 4,800: After a devastating civil war, Grand Sultan Fiarz ascends to the throne. He immediately begins the task of rebuilding the City of Brass economically as well as physically, reaffirming the efreeti treaties with other races and reestablishing the Human Compact. The high priestess of Zugzul, Holem'tepp (the so-called Bride of God), wields as much power within the City of Brass as the Grand Sultan himself. The Brotherhood of the Sun, worshipers of Ixion, are driven from the city. They settle on the Prime Plane, where they nurse a grudge against their persecutors. They ally with the helions and gold dragons and the Sun Brothers and efreet war off and on for millennia.

BC 4,000: Efreet, at the behest of their fiery god Zugzul, aid the Afridhi people in forging the Well of Souls artifact. By this time the Sun Brothers are a distinct race known as the sollux.

BC 3,500: Fiarz is killed by members of a society of Blackmoor wizards called the Ordo Elementarum. Marrake al-Sidan al-Hariq ben Lazen becomes Grand Sultan of the efreet. He retains Zugzul's worship as the state religion, but loosens the persecution on other faiths.

BC 2,900: Lizard man liches renew the pact between the efreet and the Empire of Mogreth. Once again, the city of Ussur thrives.

BC 1,660: Freyja ascends to Immortality. Her faith is adopted by some of the common efreet, who call her Freyal and worship her as a goddess of fertility.

BC 1,000: Inspired by the efreet, the Magian Fire Worshipers, cultists of Zugzul, come to power in the Kingdom of Nithia. On the ruins of ancient Ussur, the Nithians and their efreeti allies build a new city that rises to become the capital of the Nithian kingdom.

BC 700: Alxidaxes steals the Shard of Sakkrad from an efreeti vizier.

BC 690: The Flaems settle in the City of Brass.

BC 500: The Flaems are banished from the City of Brass.

AC 865: Al-Kalim visits the City of Brass, converting many of the common efreet to the Eternal Truth.