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City of Secrets
An Adventurer’s Guide to Nishanpur
By Kimberly A. Wajer-Scott
Cover: Richard Pace
Artists: Alex Bradley, Chad Sergesketter, Eric Lofgren, Richard Pace,
Thom Scott, Jason Walton
Additional Development: Henry Lopez and Derrel Weaver
Additional Material by: Vince Au, Sam Cluck, M. Sean Molley, and Philip Scott
Editor: M. Sean Molley (Lead), Adrian Estergaard
Layout: Philip Reed
Cartography: Anthony Marker
Team Paradigm: Henry Lopez, Nelson Rodriguez, Eric Wiener,
Pedro Barrenechea, Jim Beck
Except as otherwise identified, all portions of this publication are © 2000-2004 Paradigm Concepts, Inc. All rights reserved. The mention of, use of or reference to any company, trademark or product in this pub-
lication is not a challenge to the trademark of copyright in question. Dungeons & Dragons ® and Wizards of the Coast ® are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast and are used with permission. The D20 System
and D20 System Logo are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast and are used under the terms of the D20 System Trademark License.
LIMITED LICENSE FOR THE USE OF PRODUCT IDENTITY (PI)
Paradigm Concepts, Inc. hereby grants royalty-free limited license to use the Arcanis specific PI elements which appear in the names of Spells, Feats or Bloodline Powers contained in this book in OGL publica-
tions. Use of PI elements is restricted to using those PI elements in the Spell Name, Feat Name, Magic Item Name or Bloodline Power name and for no other use. EXAMPLE: The Bloodline Power name “Cadic Guides
My Hand” may be used to apply to the Bloodline Power “Cadic Guides My Hand” even though the name “Cadic” remains PI of Paradigm Concepts, Inc. From this example alone, the name “Cadic” cannot be used in
any other way except where it appears as part of the name of the Bloodline Power “Cadic Guides My Hand.” Any publication making use of such PI must bear a notice declaring 1) the Feat, Spell or Bloodline Power
name is reserved Product Identity and 2) the Feat, Spell or Bloodline Power name is copyright 2004 Paradigm Concepts, Inc.
DESIGNATION OF PRODUCT IDENTITY
The proper names of NPCs, all description/persona information, mention of Arcanis specific locations, deities or races and all illustrations are considered to be Product Identity of Paradigm Concepts. All other
material contained within this publication is considered to be open content and if so used must bear the following Copyright Notice: COPYRIGHT 2004 Paradigm Concepts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 1-931374-16-3
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CITY OF SECRETS
C ONTENTS
I NTRODUCTION ...........................................................2
C HAPTER O NE : A H ISTORY OF D ARKNESS ...................3
C HAPTER T WO : T HE C ITY OF S ECRETS R EVEALED ........9
Church of the Dark Triumvirate....................................11
The Dark Apostate.........................................................12
The Council of the Nihangs ..........................................12
The val’Mehan/val’Mehen..............................................12
The val’Mordane ............................................................14
The val’Virdan................................................................14
The Swords of Nier .......................................................15
The Knights of the Red Fist...........................................16
The Order of the Hidden Flame ...................................17
The Seekers of the Hidden Masters...............................17
The Ratcatchers .............................................................18
The Sisters of Nier .........................................................18
C HAPTER T HREE : B RICKS AND B LOOD .......................19
The Outer City.............................................................19
The Barren Hills Quarter .............................................23
The Trade Quarter .......................................................24
The Corpse Quarter.....................................................30
The Temple Quarter ....................................................33
The High Ridge............................................................36
The Undercity ..............................................................36
C HAPTER F OUR : T HE W ILES OF S ARISH .....................41
New Spells ...................................................................41
New Magic Items .........................................................43
C HAPTER F IVE : N ATIVES OF NISHANPUR .....................44
C HAPTER S IX : LIVING A RCANIS ..................................50
New Prestige Classes....................................................50
C HAPTER S EVEN : A DVENTURING IN N ISHANPUR .........54
Scenario: City of Secrets ..............................................54
I NTRODUCTION
Wlcome to Arcanis, the World of Shattered Empires!
This sourcebook is meant to help you begin to fathom the web of lies and deceit that surrounds one of the most danger-
ous and intrigue-filled cities in the nation of Canceri: Nishanpur. This book will give you insight into the dark and twisted his-
tory of this city, as well as an overview of its important locales and NPCs. This supplement also includes new monsters, spells,
magic items, and prestige classes drawn from Nishanpur and its environs. There is something here for any campaign.
Also included is a complete, ready-to-play adventure set in the city of Nishanpur, suitable for home play. The module is
compatible with the RPGA’s Living Arcanis: Nishanpur campaign. To find the documents necessary to tier this module and to
play the module as an RPGA-sanctioned event, visit the RPGA homepage, or Paradigm Concepts’ own L IVING A RCANIS website
at www.livingarcanis.com.
My introduction to Arcanis was through a classic module: For Duty and Honor. I found the entire idea of a complex cam-
paign where diplomacy and politics affect the course of events as much as magic and the sword to be very attractive. Not to
mention the idea of a Roman Empire-based setting; something refreshingly different from the stereotypical fantasy-medieval
genre.
I began to run the Living modules for my own group of players, and they found the setting as intriguing as I did. As the
local group grew, I got more involved in the campaign. It wasn’t often something so new and different came along, and I was
afraid that Arcanis might disappear like so many other settings have. I didn’t want that to happen to my new favorite! So I vol-
unteered my time to build a fan website and organize information for the prospective new Living Arcanis: Nishanpur spin-off
campaign.
I was stunned when I went to GenCon in 2002, and saw just how many other Arcanis fans there were! I realized Arcanis
was a growing campaign, but I never expected the sheer enthusiasm I encountered there. When the crowd started chanting
“For Duty and Honor” during mustering for Assault Upon the Gate of Tears, I knew Arcanis was a phenomenon unlike any
other.
It was at that GenCon where I finally met Henry, Nelson, Eric, Pedro and Michelle in person. I never expected to find the
leaders of a company and campaign so friendly and accessible. When Henry and Eric then asked if I would be willing to write
this book, I went from stunned to absolutely floored!
The rest is history. Now, after over a year of effort, you have in your hands the result. I hope that you will find this book
as fun to read as I did to write!
As a final note, I need to offer my thanks to all the folks that helped me get this far, and made this book possible: Team
Paradigm, as well as the folks on the LA: Nishanpur Development Team, Edit Team, Metaorg Team, etc.: Vince, Sam, Jeff,
Daniel, Adrian… I can’t name all of you! Everyone contributed to this book in some part, whether in ideas or help editing, etc.
And, of course, the players. Without you, we wouldn’t have a campaign!
And a special thanks to my husband, who not only put up with the fact that for a long time, I spent more time with my
computer than with him… but also agreed to give up playing Nishanpur to become the latest member of the LA:N support
team. You’re the best Phil!
- Kimberly Wajer-Scott
May, 2004
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CITY OF SECRETS
Chapter One
A H ISTORY OF D ARKNESS
Losknek’s cultured voice drifted through the room. “So, you wish to make
your fortune in Nishanpur, do you? A bold choice, though you are hardly the
first to make it. In order to be prepared for what you will face here, you must
understand the history of this place, and its character. This city is built not of
stone, but of intrigues and betrayals, layer upon layer, all set in a foundation of
blood. You won’t last five minutes unless you are willing to do whatever it takes
to survive. And yet, I am not entirely offended by the look of you, so perhaps it
will be worth my time to enlighten you… in anticipation that you will someday
return the favor, of course. If you truly wish to succeed in the City of Secrets,
then sit, and listen carefully to what I have to say...”
hard for the settlers there. To the east, the land stretched away into the
barren plains and steppes that eventually lead to the Hinterlands.
Nowhere was there a place where any group could live peacefully and
prosperously.
During the years since the founding of the First Imperium, some of
the peoples that came from the far eastern continent migrated east and
south, wishing to live apart from the vast Empire of Coryan and to remain
free from the rulership of the val’Assanté. Others broke away from the
Imperium in the hopes of finding and securing dominion over areas that
could be of great strategic value in the future. For these reasons and many
more did the families of the val’Mordane and the val’Mehan journey to
this unpleasant land. For the val’Virdan, on the other hand, it was noth-
ing more and nothing less than a perceived insult that drove them from
the Imperium and placed a wedge between them and their brethren, the
val’Emman.
Losknek paused, seeing the look of confusion and ignorance upon his lis-
tener’s face. “What’s this? You know not of the val’Emman and their incestuous
ties to the val’Virdan? Truly this is a benighted age…”
Birthed in Blood
The history of the city of Nishanpur cannot be understood without
considering the context of the region now known as the Theocracy of
Canceri, of which Nishanpur is the current capitol. Thus, we shall begin
this tale with a brief description of Canceri in ages past.
The land of Canceri itself is harsh and inhospitable. The ancient
Elorii shunned the territory, saying that it was cursed, its very ground
steeped in corruption and malevolence. The first human settlers that ven-
tured forward into this place found the land rough and untamed. To the
north rose the great volcanic mountains of Nier’s Spine. The land there
was rocky and crops were sparse. The Voiceless Ones, which have now
largely gone into myth, also plagued the north, and of them I’m sure I
need say no more. To the south, crops grew readily in the large tracts of
marshy wet ground, but predatory beasts and sinister creatures made life
Sibling Rivalry
After the end of the God’s War, the champions of the Gods were cho-
sen. These scions were touched by the power of the Gods’ own Valinor to
create the various Val families.
The Chosen of Nier, however, had fallen in battle against the forces
of the Other. Rather than take him from his rightful place in the Paradise
of the Gods, Lord Nier chose to anoint both of the Chosen’s children,
Virdan and Emman, with His power, as one was equally as worthy as the
other.
While both children possessed the ability to command Lord Nier’s
holy flames, Virdan’s particular abilities tended to augment his nearly-
unmatchable prowess in battle. In contrast to her brother’s reliance on
power and strength, Emman manifested those traits that best comple-
mented her grace and speed.
Following the anointment of the Val as the protectors of humanity,
the Gods left Mankind to craft a magnificent new empire. That was when
it became clear that even though the Val families had been blessed by the
glory of the Gods, they were not immune to the baser emotions that even
to this day hold sway over all mankind.
The Lady Emman was an untamed beauty, as wild and passionate as
any of the val’Sheem. She was equally thoughtful and graceful, a worthy
bride of Imperators – or so the first lord of the val’Assanté felt. In order to
woo her, the first Imperator gave the val’Emman family and all its subjects
title to the fertile lands to the south of the Corlathian Mountains.
This gift of the Imperator to Lady Emman and her progeny infuriat-
ed Lord Virdan, who had originally been promised those same lands.
During one tempestuous night in court, Lord Virdan demanded that he
be granted the lands of his sister – a demand that was not only denied,
but also ridiculed by the entire court. Incensed, Lord Virdan cursed the
Imperator’s name and vowed that neither he nor his children nor his chil-
dren’s children would ever be part of the Imperium.
That very night the entire val’Virdan family, as well as all its vassal
families and subjects, abandoned the fledgling Imperium and struck off
to the east, eventually settling in the lands that would one day be known
as Canceri. As for the eventual fate of the val’Emman… ah, but theirs is a
tale for another time.
The Founding of Nishanpur
“Are you still paying attention? I assure you, this history lesson is for
your own good, and not simply for me to have the pleasure of hearing my
own voice. Yes? Splendid. In any case, time passed, until – as Empires
are wont to do – the legions of the First Imperium marched forth in order
to subdue and unify all the people of Onara...”
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CITY OF SECRETS
The Nerothian settlements in the southern regions of Canceri were
the first to encounter the legions, and neither they nor their val’Virdan
trading partners to the north welcomed this invasion of their territories.
It was the year 127 of the First Imperium; what you would call 3641
Ante Imperium. The Imperator was Claudius val’Assante, if I remember
correctly... which, of course, I do. The Cancerese settlers had fought hard
to eke a living from their unforgiving land, and the thought of paying
tribute to a far-away emperor did not please them. For the val’Virdan, of
course, the resentment was far deeper than mere monetary and political
concerns. The Nerothians, being the closest, were the first to be attacked.
Some retreated into their underground towns to wait; others called forth
their undead guardians or stood to fight the legions in person. Thus
began the first siege of Canceri.
The val’Mehan, to the east, waited and watched. They had only
managed some sporadic trade with the other regions of Canceri and the
Hinterlands, and so did not see themselves as having a vested interest in
the outcome of this conflict. They also realized that this invading army
was not the small and harried force of a Nierite settlement, nor the grue-
some spectacle of the val’Mordane’ undead guardians. The First
Imperium’s forces were disciplined, organized, and well-supplied. The
val’Mehan leaders quickly realized that their own settlements were not
capable of standing against the might of the legions. As is often the case
with Sarishans, they chose to negotiate rather than to do battle.
When the first centuries of the Legion of the Might of the Empire
reached the eastern settlements, they were surprised to be met by emis-
saries from the Sarishans. The val’Mehan elders had gathered and
reached a consensus: that the best way to survive the advance of the
legions was to welcome and aid them. The val’Mehan decided to join the
Imperial forces. Using not only their skill at diplomacy, but also their
facility for summoning and controlling Infernal creatures, the val’Mehan
actively helped assault first the val’Mordane, and then the val’Virdan.
With the Voiceless Ones still inhabiting the northern mountains,
and the Imperial Legions advancing from the south, the followers of
Nier were not willing to sit idly and risk becoming trapped between two
enemies. They therefore marched forth to meet the legions. Although
their foes outnumbered them and were better-supplied, the val’Virdan
warriors proved themselves both brave and capable. They won many
battles, even against staggering odds, but the war as a whole went
against them. Even in defeat, the val’Virdan won the respect of their
Imperial adversaries, and many of the conquerors chose to take the
val’Virdan as slaves rather than kill them outright. Even so, attrition
took its toll, and as the Imperial forces moved inexorably forward, aided
by Sarishan intelligence, the ranks of the devotees of Nier grew thinner
and thinner. The Imperator had sent no less than three full legions to
subdue Canceri: the Legion of the Might of the Emperor, the Legion of
Radiant Glory, and a new legion that would later become known as the
Legion of the Black Sun.
As the inevitability of the Imperial conquest became clearer and
clearer, the remaining forces of the val’Virdan contacted the Nerothians
to the south. In secret negotiations, the two groups made a pact. The
Nerothians would bring their remaining undead to stand with the
Nierites. Although they could animate the dead bodies of their enemies
to fight, the Nerothians did not have the means to withstand an indefi-
nite siege, and could not prevent the starvation and slaughter of those
still living. The two factions agreed to make their final stand on that
northeastern edge of the Cold Plains that later became known as the
Plains of Blood.
The results of the final battle between the legions of the First
Imperium and the combined army of the Nierites and Nerothians can
still be seen to this day. It is said that the brown clay of the Plains of
Nishanpur was stained forever red with the blood of all those that died
in that conflict. To this day, bits of rusted armor and shards of bone still
wash out of that red clay during heavy rains.
The battle lasted seven days and seven nights. The Nierites called
forth the fires of their patron god and the Nerothians walked among the
fields of battle calling upon the newly fallen to stand again and fight as
the minions of Death. The tireless undead hordes and the burning zeal
of the val’Virdan fought the Imperial legions to a near standstill. The car-
nage was indescribable; the dead, countless. The bodies of many men
had been slain twice before their souls reached Beltine’s cauldron.
Finally, the battle lulled, as both armies pulled back to assess the
stalemate. The pride of both sides made a surrender or retreat by either
unthinkable. It was the Sarishans who intervened to end the deadlock.
They saw that the eventual victory of the legions of the First Imperium
was unavoidable, though it might take weeks, or even months, of con-
tinuing battle. They reasoned that by arranging a resolution that would
minimize further bloodshed, they might garner favor with their new
overlords, and thereby better their own positions. The val’Mehan sent
their best diplomats into the camp of the combined val’Virdan and
val’Mordane armies to negotiate a settlement.
What exactly happened during those negotiations, I am not at lib-
erty to say, but what I can tell you is this: over the next few days, the ten-
uous cooperation between the Nierite and Nerothian forces was shat-
tered. Internal fighting broke out between the two factions and
unknown assassins killed several of the higher-ranking generals of both
armies. Rumors spread that these assassins had arisen from among their
own men. These events shattered the backbone of the resistance, and the
Imperial legions were able to sweep in soon afterward, easily completing
their conquest. Many of the surviving Nierite fighters were enslaved, and
most of the remaining mindless undead belonging to the val’Mordane
forces were destroyed.
Now firmly in control of Canceri, the Imperium naturally began
imposing the trappings of Empire upon its new province. Ventaka, being
the largest settlement, was named the provincial capitol. However, the
Plains of Blood, as they were called in those days, were determined to be
the location most central to the three major population groups in the
new province of Canceri. Imperator Claudius thus wisely decided to
place a fort at this location to monitor his newest province and her con-
quered peoples. So it was that Fort Nihilaspera, which later came to be
known as Nishanpur, was founded.
The Burning Times
For centuries, the small settlement of Nishanpur slowly grew and
prospered. Its central location gave it a competitive advantage over other
towns and cities, and over time, it became the center of trade for the
entire province of Canceri, eclipsing Ventaka with its mercantile success.
The legionnaires stationed at the city-fort built a great reservoir, in order
that the growing population would have a reliable water supply, even in
years of drought. The legionnaires also constructed an arena, and held
games for the entertainment of all. However, the Empire itself could not
remain stable forever, and Canceri was once again embroiled in conflict
around 1800 Ante Imperium.
Many val’Virdan soldiers had been consigned to slavery after the first
conquest of Canceri. In the ensuing generations, the lot of these slaves
had improved but little. They looked towards their brethren, the
val’Emman, for succor – but found none. Over the centuries, these for-
mer soldiers’ progeny had been impressed into the Imperial Legions,
where they formed a considerable force, regarded as some of the best in
the Empire. Their masters prized them for their fighting prowess, loyal-
ty, and discipline. Unfortunately, their masters demonstrated no such
virtues. In these waning years of the First Imperium, the enslaved
val’Virdan saw corruption and debauchery all around them. They felt
that the empire had lost whatever honor it once had, and that they could
no longer serve such an unfit master. They rebelled, and though initial-
ly these slave revolts were quickly suppressed, others who were disen-
chanted with the majesty of the Empire quietly lent their support, with
the result that the val’Virdan uprising gained momentum. Finally, in a
desperate attempt to quell the growing Nierite threat to his rule, the
Imperator ordered all val’Virdan to be exterminated.
The effect was the opposite of what he had intended. Though many
val’Virdan died in the ensuing purge, many also escaped, making their
way back to their ancestral homeland in northern Canceri. From among
these refugees rose a figure who would come to dominate his era of his-
tory – Leonydas val’Virdan, called the “Sword of the Heavens.” Leonydas
was powerful and charismatic, and was said to be favored by Nier
Himself. It was whispered that Lord Nier had blessed Leonydas with
such divine providence that no army could be defeated as long as the
Sword of the Heavens stood at its head on the field of battle. Leonydas
journeyed to Nishanpur, and began firing the passions of the native
val’Virdan, appealing to their pride. He called for the Nierites to rise up
and overthrow the corrupt government, thereby freeing themselves from
imperial tyranny. He called for Onara to be cleansed by fire.
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