Scales of War
Sayre is an artistic, monument-filled city built in a particularly beautiful valley. Sayre holds a university and a large number of artisans, making it a popular site for those who deal in either information or fine art.
Population: Approximately 12,000, including almost 1,500 students attending the University. Most inhabitants are human, elf, eladrin, or halfling. Some dwarves also live in Sayre, although they tend to keep to themselves.
Government: Sayre is governed by Lord Divian Torrance, a politically astute nobleman adept at playing different factions of the city against each other. Power resides with Lord Torrance, as well as the Artisan’s Guild and the University’s archdean.
Defense: The Guards of the March are a force of 100 soldiers led by General Alvro Taramin that have little to do other than patrol the safer sections in and around the city. Most merchants, guilds, and noble families have their own mercenary guards that protect their property and work together when danger appears. In a time of crisis, General Taramin has the authority to call on any house with its own private guard to cede command of their troops directly to him. Fortunately, he has never had to do so, but if he were, he could call over 2,000 troops. With a cliff, a lake, and steep hills protecting three sides of Sayre, the Guards of the March spend much of their time outside the city patrolling the farming areas to the west.
Inns and Taverns: Caperly’s Dancehall; Firetree Alehouse; the Rat and Hammer Inn; the Singing River Inn; the Sodden Mage tavern; The Tankard of Ink tavern. The River Jewel in The Glassworks is the most expensive inn in the city, and the Inn of the Ugly Dog in the Dregs is the cheapest.
Supplies: The Market; the Glassworks; Low Mountain. The Market District is the home of hundreds of different vendors of almost any product conceivable, although not all are legitimate. The Glassworks is home to the city’s finest artists and artisans, and is the place to go if you’re looking for jewelers or sculptors.
Temples: Bright Forge (Moradin); the Founding Tower (Erathis); Great Hall (Ioun); Shrine of the Singing Waters (Corellon); the Waypoint (Avandra).
Sayre is built in a small, defensible valley. Steep hills to the north provide protection from overland armies and make excellent spots for small defensive guard posts. The Lake of Songs sits uphill to the northwest of the city. Dammed at its outflow to help control floods, this lake is used year-round for fishing and recreation; it is extraordinarily beautiful and the subject of many paintings and tapestries by local artists. The Singing River descends from the lake and splits briefly into three branches as it flows through Sayre. A tall cliff guards Sayre’s eastern flank, dropping 200 feet to the valley below. The only direction an invading army could easily approach Sayre from is the west, across the farms and fields, and guard towers alert the town to any threat approaching from that direction.
Before Sayre was built, the city of Auger stood on this site, built over 400 years ago as a refuge for exiled diviners. A diviner named Auglos and his apprentices were driven from the island of Nefelus after he prophesized a local noble’s death and was blamed by the man’s relatives. After fleeing the family’s wrath, Auglos settled in this particularly beautiful and defensible valley to continue his research into divination and communication. More academics and sages slowly joined him, and a small city — Auger — grew up around his tower. Some time later, Auger was destroyed in a quick but vicious raid. The nature of that attack is lost to time.
Shepherds moved back onto the site within sixty years, but without a dam on the Singing River, the site of the former city had become a flood plain whenever it rained. Finally, dwarven engineers rebuilt the dam on the Lake of Songs, and Sayre was built where Auger once stood. The level of the land had risen after so many years of floods, and none of the old buildings were still visible above ground. All residents of the modern city know that there is an old city beneath the streets, and some families dug down to take advantage of a pre-made cellar by digging through the roofs of old buildings, but enough people caused cave-ins or unleashed monsters that it’s now illegal to dig into the undercity.
Sayre is ruled by a wily half-elven politician named Lord Divian Torrance, and under his direction the city goes out of its way to attract the finest artists and craftsmen in the land. As a result, many wealthy families call Sayre home, and all of these have their own mercenary security forces to protect their houses and workshops. Not much of a public militia is needed, although a small force controlled by Torrance’s good friend General Taramin remains active. The public militia is subsidized by a public ordinance crafted by the wily Lord Torrance. Each family above a certain income level must commit a number of troops from their own personal guard units to the city’s defense. This makes the city’s safety the concern of all the wealthiest families, although it requires a charismatic and skillful general to keep all the different house troops in line. Sayre boasts a small theater and a large university that attracts scholars from cities across this corner of the mortal realm. For such a small city, Sayre is a shining beacon of light. Lord Torrance fully intends to keep it that way.
The Fisher District
Located at the northern tip of the city, this low-lying area is prone to floods during the spring rains. Fishermen and fishmongers who live here ply the lake for their trade and live in raised huts. It’s possible to buy fish in the market district, but the freshest fish can be bought by those brave enough to come north up muddy streets and buy the catch coming off the boats. There isn’t much crime in the Fisher District; most fishermen have large families, and they police their own neighborhood with stout clubs and many friends. Interestingly, this is the one neighborhood that isn’t defined by the breaks of the river. Fishermen live on both outer shores and both inner ones, crossing the rivers in small boats or over swaying rope bridges.
Prospect HillThis residential neighborhood holds the majority of the city’s grand estates and mansions. Flanked by rivers on either side, the low hill rises gradually over the rest of Sayre. This neighborhood was the heart of the ancient City of Seers. All the richest citizens of Sayre live here. There is virtually no crime here, and private mercenary units ensure that the neighborhood stays safe. Unsavory types moving through Prospect Hill should expect to be challenged several times, especially after dark.
The Pillar of Hope Reborn: This ostentatious memorial is a 60-foot-tall pillar with an eternal, magical flame atop it. According to the plaque this marks the spot of “Auglos the Wise’s tower in Auger, first founder of the city that became Sayre.” It’s a good meeting spot for young couples on Prospect Hill who wish to go courting after dark. The beggars of Sayre have a yearly competition, awarding 50 gp to anyone of their ilk who can surreptitiously climb the pillar and extinguish the flame. Guardsmen usually find crippled and dead beggars under the pillar for weeks afterward.
This neighborhood on the eastern edge of Prospect Hill is home to the city’s artists. Sayre attracts many of the finest craftsmen to this area. The wide roads are lined with shops and stores, and are roughly grouped by type of business. Businesses selling expensive goods, such as goldmakers and jewelers, typically have their own security. There’s an atmosphere of camaraderie in the Glassworks, and in the event of trouble, all locals pitch in to solve the problem. Many artists and shop owners live in apartments located over their stores.
The University of Sayre
Founded by a priestess of Ioun who was appalled with the lack of learning among most people she met, the university is a bustling school of higher learning that teaches everything from agriculture to esoteric magical theory. Students tend to be young and from out of town, as the university recruits the best and brightest from many different areas. The university is often viewed as an excellent finishing school for noble sons and daughters, and it isn’t uncommon for loyal servants to be seen dragging their drunken masters back home after a rowdy night in the Dregs.
While most races have integrated nicely in Sayre, the dwarven inhabitants tend to keep to themselves. Low Mountain is a neighborhood of high stone walls and twisting streets. Non-dwarves have trouble finding places in Low Mountain, as none of the streets are labeled, and none of the buildings are numbered or named. As they say, “If you need to know where you are in Low Mountain, you probably shouldn’t be there.” The area is safe, with squads formed exclusively of dwarven guards patrolling the streets after nightfall, but it’s not particularly exciting to nondwarves.
This is the heart of the city for everyone but the wealthiest citizens. The streets are full of people from all walks of life, and any non-exotic object (as well as many exotic and rare ones) can be purchased here. Whether you’re looking for ink from a giant octopus or the feather from an angel, you’ll likely to be able to buy it—or something that the seller swears is authentic—somewhere in the market. This area is characterized by narrow streets, tiny shop stalls, yelling shopkeeps, and a multitude of different bazaars. Due to the university, the market contains a great number of booksellers and scrollmakers. Debt-ridden sages who have been forced to sell their library crouch side by side with itinerant thieves peddling stolen spellbooks.
The name for the farmer and tannery district is usually correct, with the stink of the livestock blowing away to the southwest. This district is characterized by wide pens, warehouses and slaughterhouses, and stockyards where herd animals are sold. On the rare occasions when exotic animals or monsters are brought into the city, they’re kept in Downwind until sold.
The MarchThe March looks almost like a military parade ground. This area was once the preferred spot for Lord Limbic the Scholar, a former ruler who had an obsession with statuary and monuments. As a result, he spent a great deal of the city’s coffers on self-aggrandizing monuments. More than two dozen great statues, triumphal arches to non-existent battles, and other spectacular monuments stand in this area. They’re starting to decay somewhat due to a lack of interest in keeping them pristine, but they define this section of the city.
The Dangle: This was originally named “The Triumphal Arch of Limbic the Gracious” until it was turned into the city’s location for public execution and punishment. Murderers are hanged from the 30-foottall arch and left to dangle for a few days. Public stocks are also located here, for punishments of a less severe nature. Public executions are rare in Sayre, and the city hasn’t seen one in months.
Most of the city’s entertainment is located in this rundown, old section of the city. Dancehalls, seedy taverns, pawn shops, breweries, and comfort houses all crowd its narrow alleys. The area isn’t immediately dangerous to visitors, as thugs paid by local businesses roam the streets with the intent of keeping people safe in the theory that “a live customer is a paying customer.” They’ve been known to look the other way after dark, though, especially for a sizeable bribe.
These are the slums of Sayre, and the area where the city’s undesirables live. Beggars and unsavory visitors gather here, along with anyone too poor to pay for lodging elsewhere. Abandoned and crumbling warehouses hold rotting goods or illegal and smuggled property. The streets are narrow and twisting, made slick by constant mist that rises from the waterfalls. Dark and smoke-stained buildings house beggars with wet coughs from the constant moisture. Rats scuttling through glassless windows provide one of the few free food sources for the locals. It isn’t an attractive place to live, and visitors who show weakness are likely to be preyed upon by the locals.