Punjar: The Tarnished Jewel
PUNJAR AT A GLANCE
The city of Punjar is ruled by Overlord Trayr Sains, who self-declared himself the Master of Heaven and Earth and the Dragon of the Lurian Sea. At one time a ruthless thug and thief, Sains clawed his way out from the slums of the Old City, and rules Punjar with a careful balance of unrivaled diplomacy and unwavering cruelty. Always paranoid that those below him wish to take his power, he plays an endless game of turning the would-be usurpers against each other so as none of them ever gains enough power to rival him. Even though Sains is a masterful strategist, he has no clear heirs. This fact has some frightened that absolute anarchy would break out if the Overlord were to die. Many believe that Sain’s lack of successor is just another clever ploy to make him indispensable to the people of Punjar.
The Overlord is advised by a council of nobles and guild masters. His council table is limited to thirteen seats, each awarded according to the petitioner’s value. This has created a endless bidding war for a seat at Sain’s table. Seats go for enormous amounts and often change hands month to month when one rival outbids the other for their seat. Presently there are five lords, four guild masters, and three arch-clergy seated at the table, with the final seat reserved for the Overlord himself.
Punjar’s walls and surrounding lands are patrolled by the Janizair, a fierce warrior caste more commonly referred to as the Dragonne due to their scaled armor and fearsome presence on the battlefield. Although they were once warrior-slaves, the Dragonne are now granted the right of hereditary titles and lands, and are effectively above the law that rules Punjar. Organized into loose companies, the Dragonne are feared for their disciplined heavy cavalry which are supported by spearmen and mounted archers. The Dragonne warriors are not permitted to live in Punjar proper, rather having well-defended holdings outside of the city. Ironically, it is the Dragonne that run Punjar’s slave trade, using slaves to work their lands and homes.
Roughly one-third of Punjar’s 75,000 residents live outside the city walls, working the intricately irrigated farms that defy the arid land to supply the city’s burgeoning population. Those that live outside of the walls rely on the Dragonne to protect them, often swearing loyalty to one captain or another. If Punjar were attacked, they would most surely be the first to fall and thus cut off a crucial supply line to the great city, a fact that is not lost on the Overlord. In turn, Sains has started a secret campaign to encourage the more rebellious Dragonne captains into strengthening their lands with fortified citadels. Once the war-worthy citadels are complete, the Overlord’s agents will reveal the captain’s treasonous plots, taking their lands and their heads, and awarding the fortified lands to younger, landless captains. This plot is slowly inspiring a new generation of loyal Dragonne warlords.
Lacking the abundant natural resources that bless much of the surrounding lands, Punjar’s economy is founded on three equally dubious industries:
- The Black Market: Punjar’s open market is flouted in the face of the Criestiene Empire. Ranging from simple merchants seeking to avoid Crieste’s high tariffs to outright pirates, the city’s docks welcome ships of any nation, and opportunities abound for those able to live by their wits.
- Mining: Punjar’s old iron mines once produced some of the crudest ore in the lands, but most shut down decades ago, now regular shipments of ore are delivered from the inland. Local blacksmiths are known for their work forging slave manacles and shackles, nails, and low-quality arms and armor. Domestically created weapons are notorious for falling to pieces with their first strike, thus making the market for imported foreign blades big. Weapon dealers have even gone as far as to trade in counterfeit foreign weapons to make a few coin.
- Entertainment: Punjar’s entertainment district has long been known for catering to the sinful tastes of south seas traders, pirates, and the debauched desires of the city’s slumming nobility. Coming alive at night, Punjar’s numerous taverns and raucous dens of vice have no equal. Whether enterprising thieves looking to roll a drunken mark, or high-riding con artists out to swindle aristocrats, the night offers no end of chance or danger.