Built over the Yuan-ti ruins of Vrael Othloon at the outlet of the otherwise unremarkable Marpenoth river, Marpenoth River City has exhausted several alternate names since it was built and is now named and known for its physical location and gambling.
The city began as a small monastery-fortress built as a safe base of operations for exploration of the old ruins of Vrael Othloon. As the region became tamed and the ruins ran out of surprises for explorers and sages alike, the settlement transitioned from being a safe supply base for archaeologists to a trading centre of its own right. A breakwater was built up to help protect the harbour, expanded curtain walls added, and Marpenoth River City almost became a boring merchant city with access to sea and river trade.
The local businesses missed the high value trade in artifacts and magic of the Yuan-ti and sought other ways of making quick cash. The result is the gambling-laden atmosphere of the city today. There are two “houses of games” within the city walls and a pair of boats in the harbour that also host games and entertainment. But games of chance are common throughout the city, especially mixed in among the city market – bartering with the various vendors will often involve a final “coin flip” or other simple game agreed to impact the final transaction price of a purchase or sale.
Visually, Marpenoth River City is built primarily of stone – often including pieces salvaged from the old ruins and still bearing partial markings and inscriptions of the snake folk and their demonic patrons. Main roads are wide and welcoming, an effort to make the city feel safe for those who come here to risk their money in games of chance, not muggings. There is a lot less Yuan-ti stonework in the old city which was built while people were still exploring the ruins instead of exploiting them.
There are three large open spaces in town along the Marpenoth. Starting from the north we have the marketplace where vendors and games set up brightly-decorated stalls and tents to attract customers (and immediately to the east of the market square is the confusingly-titled market square building where many of the most regular vendors rent space). South of the market, we have the square in front of the monastery-fortress that is used for religious gatherings, as market space during major events, and for major announcements by either Baron Millicent Harper, the civic council, and of course the Grand Proctor of the monastery. Finally, within the old curtain walls of the old city, we have the original town green. Since it isn’t as central to the town anymore it is no longer used for announcements and town gatherings and instead serves more like a park and is still communal grazing space for local goatherds. It was going to be converted into warehousing supporting the docks, but this is still being argued about as many residents enjoy the greenspace right by the docks and river.
There are many other points of interest in Marpenoth River City, (such as the Black Bastion along the new curtain walls, the Baron’s citadel, the houses of chance, and so on) but this is an introduction to the city. Perhaps more gazetteer-styled discussions of the city will follow.
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