Ruled for centuries by Andropinis, the sorcerer king, Balic is the richest and most powerful colony. It lies far to the South, at the coast of the Great Silt Seas. The power of the waterways, the Southern crossroads, Balic trades across the Omniverse and has amassed great wealth. Bringing curious peoples and creatures from around the Omni, its markets are a place with nothing is forbidden and everything is permitted.
Balic is the beating heart of Athas’ slave trade, fueled by its expansion deeper into the surrounding wastes. The great merchant houses taking contracts to build public works, or to uncover lost cities in the desert always need more lives. Slavers roam the outskirts of the kingdom, preying upon the unwary, as Templars condemn the unlawful to servitude inside the city walls.
A wealthy mercantile city on the shores of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, Balic is under the control of Steward Andropinis, a steward who claims to have been elected to his position over seven hundred years ago. Despite the steward’s grip, Balic is perhaps the most affluent colony in the Tyr Region and is home to powerful companies that bring great wealth to Balicans fortunate enough to share in the prosperity; and funnel resources to Multiversal Corporations that sponsor the ruling bodies. The business of Balic is business, and for the most part, Andropinis does not interfere in routine affairs of nobles or merchant emporiums.
The city is renowned for its democratic traditions. Balic’s nobles are seated in a Chamber of Patricians that creates and maintains the colonial charter, and its templars must stand for election to 10-year terms. The various professional guilds (and Balic’s chapter of the Veiled Alliance, for that matter) conduct their business by taking votes and electing officers; even the steward is, in theory, elected. Much of this democracy, however, is little more than an illusion.
The office of steward is held for life, and Andropinis has endured in his position now for centuries. Public debate and discourse is allowed, but only up to a point. Any direct criticism of the steward or his templars is dealt with harshly, and the patricians learned long ago to pass only those laws that meet with the steward’s approval.
Balic enjoys a cultural heritage and a civic mythology dating back thousands of years, which finds expression in a public appreciation for poetry and drama. The mythology still lives in the form of powerful arcane vestiges; Andropinis and his templars are masters of manipulation. The cultural heritage is evident in the dozens of theaters through out the colony, which run the gamut from crowded, ramshackle stagehouses in the poorer quarters to magnificent amphitheaters in the noble districts. In Balic, talented playwrights and orators can win acclaim equal to that held by the greatest gladiators as long as they steer clear of subject matter that the steward’s templars might find offensive.
Life and Society
Balic is a clean, comfortable metropolis on the shores of a silt bay. The city has been divided into three parts, each ruled over by a different trade lord. Balic was untouched by the Great Earthquake, but other disasters have left their marks on the place in recent years.
On the surface, the city appears to be one sprawling metropolis, not a divided city. No walls separate one territory from another, no guards wait to collect tolls as citizens move from block to block. To the locals, however, there is a clear delineation between one lord’s domain and the next. Wavir is free and bright, Tomblador oppressive and dark, and Rees is like an extended work camp where everyone labors for the benefit of the trade lord. Though they appear to cooperate for the good of the city, the trade lords wage a secret war against each other that everyone knows about but few people understand. None of the trade lords is willing to let this conflict escalate into a full‐scale civil war, but they have come very close to it in recent months. Caravans have been raided or sabotaged, warehouses plundered or burnt to the ground, and important agents have been killed on all sides. How far each is willing to push before a better solution must be found remains to be seen.
To stave off another war with the giants, House Rees has sent representatives into the silt basin to negotiate a lasting peace. No contracts have been agreed upon, but it seems Balic may soon have an agreement with the usually hostile giants.
Oriol the Patrician has dedicated his noble house to Lord Tabaros; though he is ready to step back to the forefront should the old man grow too sick to rule. General Zanthiros has fled the city with a small but significant portion of the city militia. His band operates as a raiding tribe along the peninsula, waiting for an opportunity to return to Balic to seize power. The templar Asthira, meanwhile, has gone into hiding within the city. From her place in the shadows, she continues to keep in contact with many of the templars who still have roles in the government, as well as with those who have taken to hiding.
The steward Andropinis administers Balic from the airy confines of the White Palace, not far from the dusty shores of the city’s silt harbor.
Balic has suffered on a number of fronts in recent years. In the Year of Dragon’s Agitation (FY 3), when Tyr had refused to pay the Dragon’s Levy, it fell to Balic to make up the loss by adding an extra thousand slaves to its contribution. The following year, Mountain’s Fury, saw the Peninsula Rampage, a short‐lived war in which a small army of giants overran most of the Balican Peninsula. Half of Balic’s army and a quarter of its fields were destroyed in the battle.
- The Blood Games - in the early days of the arena, when slaves were plentiful, Andropinis
would put dozens and even hundreds of slaves against each other in fights to the death. After years of watching his slave stocks diminish, he repurposed his slaves to the marble quarries. When his citizens threatened to revolt under his oppressive tyranny, he resumed the games, this time pitting his gladiators against captured horrors from the desert. Fearing the power and fame achieved by some of the gladiators, Andropinis declared the longest day of the year "the Blood Games" to thin out the population of experienced gladiators. The weeks leading up to Blood Games are filled with revelry, as all work stops in preparation for the events. The Criterion is closed for months, as laborers prepare elaborate sets for combat. Gladiators fight each other, instead of strange creatures. Death is common during the blood games.
- The King's Tournament - another holiday centered around the Criterion. It is a day of
judgement for gladiators and the noble houses that train them. A grand tournament spanning an entire week, with not just displays of combat, but of strength and prowess.
- Day of Stillness - Andropinis declared a holiday to coincide with the end of the storm
season on the Sea of Silt. It is a holiday that spans three days: two to clean ash from your residences and places of work, and a third to rest from your labors. It is marked with an hour of silence at the beginning and end of the holiday, and lots of song and dance in between.
- Free-Market - This holiday is an observed custom among the elves that has spread
to the remaining citizens of Balic. It is a day of giving gifts to family and strangers alike. The holiday was promoted by Andropinis to foster good will among the poor and gain their sympathy as he struggled to keep his templars in line. It is a time of rekindling lost friendships and forgiving past wrongs (though to be honest, Andropinis has used this holiday to exterminate political dissenters, a display of his twisted sense of humor).
It is also, paradoxically, the city state that grants the most freedoms to its citizens. Templars and senators are elected by the people, granting a level of independence not to be found outside of Tyr, the ragged free city of the North. Citizens may travel freely, own land, conduct trade and cannot be robbed of their freedom without due process in the courts of Andropinis.
It is a place of astounding opportunity, ruthless exploitation and unimaginable wealth. Life and death, fame and obscurity, chance and ruin. They are the specters that haunt the marble streets of Balic. It will be the site of your greatest triumphs. Or your tomb.
Andropinis - As far back as any records show, Andropinis has ruled Balic. The templars are Andropinis' enforcers and he often makes it clear whom he wants to be elected. When the confederation goes against his will, the newly elected templar often meets a sudden end. None are powerful enough to challenge Andropinis' tyranical rule and the few who have tried meet quick, and often very public and painful, ends.
Rees Foods- Lady Essen of House Rees (LN female human, dune trader 5/telepath 4)
Tombpac Labor- Flagship of Tomblador Industries- Kaladon CEO of Tombpac Labor services (LE male human, dune trader 5)
Wavir Shipping- Tabaros, Founder of Wavir Shipping, is Majordomo. Company controls the White Palace, the silt harbor, and all of the territory in between. Tabaros of House Wavir (NG male human, aristocrat 7/ dune trader 5)
First Templar Asthira leads the shadow templars. First Templar Asthira (LE female human, templar 6/shadow templar 7).
General Zanthiros of the Balican Legion (LE male human, fighter 13)
Chamber of Patricians
Balic has always had a tradition of the illusion of democracy. Andropinis claimed to have been freely elected to his position, the templars were elected to ten‐year terms by the free citizens, and even the nobles (called patricians) were allowed to participate in the governmental process by selecting members to attend the Chamber of Patricians on a regular basis.
Oriol of Magestalos, First Speaker of the Patricians (LN male human, telepath 7)
The Veiled Alliance
Like other organizations in Balic, the city’s Veiled Alliance is run by an elected leadership. For this reason, a nonwizard leads the Alliance. Ramphion (LG male human, rogue 11) has held his position for 15 years, winning five elections in a row. The next election must occur later this year, and Ramphion may finally give up his role as head of the Alliance. He has strong ties to House Wavir, though House Rees has begun to court the preservers. Ramphion listens to all sides, hoping to play peacemaker if the three factions ever resort to civil war. The Alliance has two other goals at the moment: to turn Balic into a true democratic society, and to find out if the rumors concerning Andropinis are true.
Balic lies near the eastern end of the Balican Peninsula, a range of arid hills between the arms of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue. The slopes of the hills are mild and verdant by Athasian standards; grain fields, vineyards, olive groves, and progressively drier pastures extend about thirty miles west of the citystate’s walls before giving way to stony barrens and brown mountain peaks. Large, slave-worked noble estates along the peninsula provide most of Balic’s food supply, but they are threatened by desert raider and by giants who lair in the islands of the Estuary. Most travelers bound for the city-state follow the Road of Legions, the major passage along the spine of the peninsula. Balic’s wall cuts off the tip of the peninsula, running about two miles between the arms of the Estuary. The Vassal City sits on a natural harbor formed by high hills ringing a bay of silt. Many ages past, the harbor was a seaport, but the water is long gone. Where proud galleys and dromonds once rocked gently in their moorings, a great fleet of silt skimmers now takes shelter. Scores of the skimming vessels call Balic home, carrying the commerce of the local merchant houses from Altaruk and Ledopolus all the way to the distant Silt Archipelago or the shores by Raam and Draj. Within the walled harbor of the military shipyard known as the Arsenal lies the pride of the steward’s fleet—a dozen silt dromonds, light warships fitted with Grav-Tech.
Arena Precinct Travelers following the Road of Legions to Balic arrive at the Great Gate, the heavily guarded main entrance. Beyond lies the Arena Precinct, an area of artisans, workshops, and small stores. The Road of Legions cuts through the middle of the precinct and ends at the plaza surrounding the Criterion, Balic’s spectacular arena. As one ventures north or south from the main road, the streets grow more cluttered and the people grow poorer.
Guilders' Precinct North of the Arena Precinct stretches another commoner district that reaches to the shores of the silt. This district is home to many artisans and workshops. Balic’s professions are organized into large guilds. The crowded taverns and stagehouses of the Guilders’ Precinct are full of voices muttering against the steward and the wealthy patricians—not to mention spies who report what they hear to the praetors.
Harbor Precinct Between the Agora and the Estuary of the Forked Tongue is Balic’s Harbor Precinct. Like the Guilders’ Precinct, it is cluttered with the dwellings and work shops of common folk, but it is also home to several large shipyards, warehouses, and a legion barracks.
Market Precinct This part of the city is dominated by emporiums and warehouses of the prevailing businesses. Some of these compounds are small cities within the city, housing hundreds of mercantile agents and laborers.
The Maze. The Maze is where the bulk of the city's freemen live and is also where most slaves, scared to run to the wastes beyond, only to be recaptured days or even hours later. What lies beyond the walls of Balic is told in the songs and legends of the bards and traders. To the average Balikite, the horrors of living in the city are only overwhelmed by what lies beyond. The creatures of the wastes can be seen in the Criterion and that is typically enough to convince the slaves and people of Balic that life inside the city is considerably more safe than life outside the city.
Megaleneon The physical and political center of Balic is the Megaleneon, a high, rocky hill overlooking the harbor. Andropinis rules from the White Palace, a majestic structure at the top of the hill. The Chamber of Patricians and the barracks of the First Legion sit farther down the slope of the Megaleneon.
The Shining Bridges: Ravines, filled with silt, break through the ground around the agora. Monumental bridges made of marble allow access to the agora.
Villa Precinct The Villa Precinct, Balic’s noble district, spreads over the slopes of the cypress-dotted hills south of the Arena Precinct and the Megaleneon. High above the haze of silt that chokes the lower-lying precincts stand the palaces of the patricians, surrounded by orchards and guard barracks.
Altaruk (Village, 620): Altaruk is a client village of the merchant houses of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador. This major trade village is located at the head of Big Fork of the Forked Tongue Estuary. Heavily fortified, a 15‐foot wall surrounds the village, and 500 free mercenaries defend it. Altaruk is commanded by Arisphistaneles (LG male human, wizard 5/veiled one 6/dune trader 4), a powerful preserver who allows the Veiled Alliance to use the village as a meeting place. The village is regularly attacked by giants from the islands of the Forked Tongue, and the Great Earthquake buried parts of Altaruk beneath rubble from the nearby mountains. As always, the merchant houses of Balic are in the process of rebuilding the village, for it serves as a key deterrent to raiders along this portion of the trade roads. Protection is extended to caravans of other merchant houses, provided they pay the toll as they pass through Altaruk. For caravans, the toll is one gold piece per caravan mount, an exorbitant price that prohibits most merchants from spending more than one day in the village. For individual travelers the toll is one ceramic piece.
Fort Glamis: Established and maintained by House Wavir, Fort Glamis is located on the Balic/Ledopolus road and is an important supply center for caravans from Balic on their way to the rest of the Tyr region.
Last Port (Hamlet, 200): The village of Last Port is surrounded by a silt moat. The village falls under the influence of Balic, but has maintained its independence as much as it can. Aicmenes (LN male human, telepath 9) leads the village. The village is a mix of Dwarven architecture, influenced by the Smokestone clan that makes Last Port its home, and Balic artistry. A small amber mine is the main source of income for the village, though many villagers also provide services for the silt skimmers that stop at the village’s small docks.
Segovara: The village of Segovara was a client village of House Rees of Balic. Located southeast of Balic across the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, the village rests inside a small narrow canyon. The village is mainly a collection of huts built against both sides of the canyon walls. Because of the lack of space inside the canyon only one narrow road exists in the cramped village. The villagers manufactured leather goods for House Rees, however their isolated position, without a source of water, left them utterly depended on Rees caravans. In the chaotic aftermath of the trade lords’ seizure of power in Balic the village was forgotten and all of the villagers perished.
The Criterion Campaign Balic Article- https://the-criterion.obsidianportal.com/wiki_pages/balic
Dark Sun Austin Balic Article- https://sites.google.com/site/darksunaustin/region-balic
Dark Sun Pathfinder Balic Article- http://whinehurst.com/darksun/index.php?title=Balic