The Shattering of Darkmoon Vale
Built in the shadow of megaliths, Magnimar endlessly endeavors to surpass the overwhelming scale and grandeur of the ancient wonders that litter the Varisian landscape. A place of great opportunity, social stress, and cold beauty, the city exudes the airs of a southern metropolis, seeking to rise above its ignoble beginnings as a refuge for Korvosan outcasts to become a beacon of culture and freedom in an unforgiving land. Yet its towering monuments, elegant gardens, ostentatious architecture, and elaborate sculptures form but a cracked mask over a struggling government and a desperate people in need of heroes.
Magnimar’s sprawling slate rooftops and marble avenues stretch from the foundations of the unignorable tlrespan—a ruined stone bridge of impossible size—to beyond the western banks of the Yondabakari River. A sheer cliff, the Seacleft, cuts through the city’s heart, dividing Magnimar into its two major sections: the Summit, upon the cliff’s top, and the Shore, below. A third district, the Shadow, lies beneath the Irespan, a place where the sun rarely reaches and the city’s failures and corruption hold blatant reign.
The second largest city in Varisia, Magnimar wages an open war of coins and lies with Korvosa to the east. Both city-states vie for control over vassal communities, natural resources, and trade with the cosmopolitan south. This rivalry stretches back to a time even before the city’s founding, as droves of Korvosan dissenters, unwilling to blindly kowtow to foreign despots after the fall of the Chelaxian Empire, departed for the Lost Coast. Ever since, Magnimar has welcomed those who would shape their own fates by the sweat of their brows and keenness of their wits, regardless of race or beliefs. To this end, the city has opened its gates and harbor to all comers, encouraging traders from many lands to discover the wonders of Varisia away from the excessive taxes and regulations of Korvosa, yet in greater safety than that offered by pirate havens like Riddleport.
Today, more than 16,000 people make their homes in Magnimar, with the majority of that populace consisting of humans of Chelish decent. It also boasts the largest semi-settled population of Varisians in the world, with approximately 2,000 such residents—significantly fewer in the spring and summer travel months. Aside from the region’s native nomads, Magnimar hosts a second transient population: thousands of regular traders from far-flung foreign locales, particularly Absalom, Cheliax, and Osirion. Many of these merchants, emissaries, and adventurers have homes that they reside in while passing through but that otherwise remain empty. As a result, whole city blocks—particularly along the Shore—appear deserted for months out of the year. Should every homeowner coincidentally be in the city at the same time, Magnimar’s population would increase by almost half again its current number.
The city is split in two by a massive cliff face, separating the city into two major districts. The one atop the cliff is called the Summit and the one below that meets with Varisian Gulf is called the Shore. The slums of Magnimar, known as the Shadow since that district sees little sun during the day, lies below the Irespan, a colossal and ancient bridge ruined ages ago. In terms of the trade and purchase of magic items, Magnimar has a base value of 12,800 and a purchase limit of 75,000 gp.
Heidmarch Manor, a Pathfinder Lodge and home base for characters in this Adventure Path, is found in the Alabaster District located in the Summit. Other districts throughout the city offer locations that may interest adventurers. The Bazaar of Sails, easily the largest free market in Varisia where all manner of goods can be found, is located in Dockway as well as in Old Fang, a popular watering hole. Temples to various deities can be found in the City of Monuments. The Dome of the Savored Sting, a temple of Calistria, is found in the Keystone District; this district is also home to the Church of Pharasma, which tends to the city’s dead and newborns. Deadeye Lodge, a church of Erastil, can also be found here, as can the Cynosure Tower, a church dedicated to Desna. Up on the Summit in the Naos District lies the Church of Iomedae, and just a few blocks away stands the Cathedral of Abadar. While in the Keystone District, those studying arcane magic might want to visit the Stone of the Seers, a school that focuses on educating casters in abjuration and divination magic.
On the edge of the cliff overlooking the Varisian Gulf, many seek entertainment at Serpent’s Run, a huge hippodrome that features all manner of exciting events from decathlons, horse and dog races, displays of magic, circus performances, and mock-gladiatorial battles. Just across the Capital District in the district of Naos rises Magnimar’s tallest structure, the Arvensoar, home to Magnimar’s military forces.
On the opposite banks of the Yondabakari River lies Ordellia, known also as the Foreign Quarter. Those seeking potions and other alchemical products often search out Billivin’s Benevolent Balms and Effulgent Elixirs, though some doubt the reliability of his wares.
Heidmarch Manor, the Magnimar Pathfinder Lodge, is found in the Alabaster District located in the Summit. Heidmarch Manor is the home of two of Magnimar’s most eccentric citizens: esteemed hunters, explorers, and Pathfinders Sheila Heidmarch (LN female Taldan fighter 3/monk 4) and her husband Sir Canayven Heidmarch (NG male Taldan ranger 8). The world-traveling adventurers have retired to Magnimar, but have not been content to settle into the quiet life, instead opening their sizable manor to the Pathfinder Society. The first Pathfinder lodge in Varisia welcomes all members eager to explore the still relatively unknown land, including the surrounding region and the mysterious City of Monuments itself. Visiting members of the Pathfinder Society are welcomed to the manor by comfortable lodgings, a well-stocked library of far-flung lore, its open bar, and its owners’ sagely advice.
Two architectural marvels dominate the Magnimarian landscape: the ancient Irespan and the modern Arvensoar.
Visible for miles out to sea, the ancient basalt bridge known as the Irespan dominates Magnimar’s coastline. Jutting from a prominent foundation upon the Seacleft, the Giant’s Bridge, as it is sometimes called, soars more than 300 feet above the city below, giving the eclipsed area its name: the Shadow.
An obvious remnant of ancient Thassilon, few know that the Irespan once served as a vital travel route across the broken, mountainous terrain of Bakrakhan, the Domain of Wrath. This consecutive series of bridges formed an incredible highway of overpasses leading to the capitol of Xin-Bakrakhan, now known only as the strange island monument Hollow Mountain. Marking the northern and southernmost holdings of the Domain of Wrath, the foundations of the Irespan lie at the edge of Edasseril to the north and between Eurythnia and Shalast to the south. When Bakrakhan sank into the Varisian Gulf during Thassilon’s final days, the Irespan shattered. All that survived was its southern foundation, numerous broken supports, and a few resilient stretches of bridge now spanning turbulent waters rather than airy heights.
In modern times, the Irespan has been a source of wonderment, mystery, and ill-fortune. Although the founders of Magnimar chose their community’s location primarily for its natural harbor and proximity to the Yondabakari River, the ancient rubble of the Irespan that once littered the surrounding beaches proved an opportune source of building materials for the fledgling community. Today, many of Magnimar’s oldest and most elegant structures boast foundations, supports, and statuary constructed of Irespan basalt.
The tallest structure in Magnimar and a wonder in a city of architectural feats, the Arvensoar stands approximately 400 feet tall, climbing the entire length of the Seacleft and extending nearly a hundred feet above. In the simplest senses, the great tower is the garrison of the city’s watch and small military, as well as being a quick city-controlled connection between the Shore and the Summit. Beyond these mundane uses, the tower is a symbol of the city’s unity, ambition, and history.
Commander Ismeir Odinburge—a competent, sober, honest, but inflexible man—serves as Lord of the Tower and leader of Magnimar’s military forces. Several field commanders report directly to him, as does Captain Acacia Uriana, the fiery and opinionated head of the city watch. A military of 400 professional soldiers—most particularly well-trained in archery—stand garrisoned within the Arvensoar, patrolling its heights and the city walls. Should more fighters ever be needed, the city watch and a local militia can be rallied within an hour, supplementing the tower’s forces with upwards of 900 additional lesser, but willing, warriors. Well positioned to defend the city, the Arvensoar boasts eight trebuchets capable of firing over the city and even past Outcast’s Cove—though Fort Indros and the Wyrmwatch are far better positioned to defend the city harbor—and provisions to supply the city through at least a week-long siege.
Along with the stone sentinels that dominate the Magnimarian skyline, several lesser monuments adorn the city. Some are mere decoration, but others are much more. These are but a sampling of Magnimar’s best-known and most magnificent landmarks.
- The Battle of Charda: A statue depicting the first and most famous battle between Magnimar’s navy and Riddleport’s pirates.
- The Celwynvian Charge: A gift from the elves, this two-story tree-shaped sculpture is crafted from white wood and crystal. Real leaves bud and fall at the appropriate times of year.
- Champion’s Walk: A statuary-lined avenue leading to Serpent’s Run and depicting the field’s greatest champions.
- The Fifth Wind: A massive stone weather vane visible along the docks.
- The Floodfire: A beacon warning ships away from Kyver’s Islet.
- Founder’s Honor: A monument to the city’s heroic founder.
- The Guardians: An arch depicting local twin heroes.
- Mistress of Angels: A sculpture of city leader Ordellia Whilwren, known for seeing celestial messengers upon the Arvensoar.
- Our Lady of Blessed Waters: A bronze , strangely verdigris-free statue of the spirit said to linger within the Seerspring.
- The Wyrmwatch: A lighted guard against dangers from the sea.