|Almas, the City of Liberty|
|Demographics||74% Human, 8% Halfling, 8% Dwarf, 7% Elf, 2% Gnome, 1% Other|
|Leader||Joric Hvalsbard, Mayor|
Table of Contents
Almas (pronounced AHL-mes) is the capital of the free nation of Andoran, and one of the largest and most influential cities on the Inner Sea. In many ways the city's egalitarianism and multi-culturalism typify the assumptions and prejudices that are held about Andoran society in general. The city has become renowned for being the southern terminus for the Razmiran technological marvel, the silver rail locomotive.
Almas is located on Andoran's southern coast, where the mouth of the Andoshen River meets the Inner Sea. Almas is built on a series of hills, and connected by several bridges crossing the Tamuth, Kernite, and Moulton rivers; these three waterways flow through the city before joining the water of the Andoshen and emptying into the sea.
The spiritual center of the city of Almas is the Field of Concord. This former Chelaxian parade ground is now home of the palace of the People's Council in its westernmost end and the twin spires of the Golden Cathedral to the east. The center of the Field is dominated by a large marketplace as well as the Golden Aerie, that headquarters of Andoran's Eagle Knights and residence of General Percival Landsdale. Beyond the Field of Concord the city is divided into numerous districts, each providing specialized services and goods the people of the Almas.
Districts of Almas
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The Embassy District contains dedicated political embassies of Taldor, Isger, Druma, Kyonin, Razmiran, Lastwall, and Nimrathas. The palatial High Embassy contains offices and spaces for diplomatic envoys and smaller nations to lend delegates to represent foreign interest in Almas.
Residential space in the district tends to be the most cosmopolitan in Almas, with foreign travelers carving up small, ethnic neighborhoods among the hustle and bustle of busy Almasian life. This Embassy District is largely upper class and well patrolled by the city watch.
Avenue of the Gods
The Avenue of the Gods is a quarter-mile stretch of road cutting east to west through the northern side of the Embassy District. Lining the street on both sides are twenty foot tall marble statues of Abdar, Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Gorum, Gozreh, Iomedae, Irori, Nethys, Pharasma, Sarenrae and Shelyn. Shrines and smaller statues of other more minor gods of good and neutral alignment can be found interspersed between the oldest and largest of the statuary.
Pilgrims from all across Andoran flock to the Avenue of the Gods to pay honor to the gods created here. Their statues were constructed over the centuries since Andoran was liberated from Cheliax, the newest of which is seventy-eight years old.
Churches, chapels and cathedrals line this long street, along with upscale residences and privately owned complexes dedicated to housing traveling members of the different faiths welcomed openly in Almas; all such property is church-owned.
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Flooded with a sea of people, the marketplace of Almas is a far cry from the clean and organized bazaar of generations past. Row after row of crowded tents and stalls choke the streets at its center to a point where no carriage or horse traffic can be accommodated. Thousands of day-to-day vendors from both local and foreign destinations come to peddle their wares, many traveling back and forth between Razmiran and Andoran along the Silver Line on a monthly basis.
A cornucopia of smells pervades the market district, from the scents of spiced food of ethnic origin to the stink of boiled leather coming from tanneries, to the acrid sting of sea air when the breeze blows in off of the sea. A myriad of languages fill this cosmopolitan district, and major trade organizations have their centers of operation here in this district ranging from single room brick buildings serving as makeshift offices to grand manors of mighty conglomerates like the Aspis Consortium.
City watch patrol the street of the district with a keen eye for illegal goods, especially illegal slave trade which has been attempting to gain a foothold in Almas' black market for decades on.
The Silver Line Station
Constructed in 4722 in a conjoined effort between the countries of Almas, Druma and Razmiran, the Silver Line rail represents an unusual alliance of nations. A sign of peace brokered between the theocratic dictatorship of Razmiran and the democratic nation of Almas was unprecedented. The Silver Line was built over a period of five years, countless hours of manual and magical labor, and millions of gold spent between the three nations.
The rail stop in Almas, the southern terminus of the line, is an elegantly appointed brick building that resembles more a cathedral to industry than a place of transit. Marble floors, glass chandeliers lit by gas lanterns and high, ornate arches coupled with stained glass windows give the station a feeling of opulence, even for the common man who can afford passage on the railway.
The Silver Line leaves twice per week from Almas along its route for all points north. On days when the train is in town, the station buzzes with activity of travelers coming and going, cargo being loaded and unloaded and the industrial chorus of progress' drum beating towards the future.
Set on the banks of the Moulton river, the Railyard is a brick walled industrial complex maintained by a contingent of clockwork mechanists from Alkenstar and laborers from Almas. The purpose of the railyard is the maintenance of the Silver Line and its steam engine. The primary offices of the Railyard is off-limits to non-employed personnel and is protected by clockwork soldiers from Alkenstar that ensure that some of the trade secrets of the steam engine remain as such.
The Black Emporium
Rumors have persisted for a century about the "Black Emporium," a so-called black market operating somewhere in the depths of Almas. The Emporium has as many tall tales attached to it as myths of the fall of Azlant, leading there to be few credible accounts of its existence.
What little is known of the Emporium — and is consistent between stories — suggests that it somehow moves beneath the city, never in the same place twice. The Emporium is allegedly run by a survivor of the kingdom of Azlant, though no proof has been offered to that case. Further confusing the record is the mixed tales of what could be found at the Emporium. Some say that it holds vast treasures from across the planes, citing elaborate display cases containing priceless artifacts and relics. Others have said that the Emporium is merely a dusty den of worthless trinkets tucked away in a foul-smelling sewage drain and run by a charismatic but lowly imp.
Those who claim to have seen the riches of the Emporium have returned from the depths of Almas with unique and unusual magical treasures, though they have been unable to relocate the Emporium at the request of city officials. To this day, the magistrate of Almas is interested in discovering the Emporium and discerning its true nature.
Offices of the Aspis Consortium
Formerly the Ravenwood Estates, this stately manor overlooking where the Tamuth joins the Andoshan river has stood in Almas since long before Andoran's independence. The manor — seven floors tall and covering several acres of gated parkland — is visible as a copper roofed, brick landmark from nearly all of the mercantile district, resting on the western-most edge of Ravenwood Hill. The grounds of the estate are well maintained and portions are open to the public, with business matters of the consortium handled behind closed doors in the sprawling estate.
While the Aspis Consortium traffics in slavery outside of Andoran, they are under strict restraints on the types of business they are allowed to do within Andoran borders. However, with their trade routes into the Mana Wastes and access to the gunsmiths of Alkenstar, the people of Almas can little afford to be too tight-fisted against the consortium if they wish to maintain their edge in the war with Cheliax.
Smithtown & Mill District
The most industrialized and congested district of Almas is the ever-expanding Smithtown. Originally home to a small dwarven neighborhood, smithies and lumber mills the district saw a dramatic expansion between 4714 to 4730. The entire district is now home to hundreds of mills, factories and fabrication shops where instruments of war and peace alike are forged and shipped across the Inner Sea.
Smithtown is a dirty, polluted and poor district. Residents of Smithtown are typically poor laborers who live in multi-story, cramped dwellings owned by the trade businesses that run the mills and factories. Entire families crowd into small one or two room residences stacked side-by-side down narrow and winding streets. Smoke billows from the chimneys of factories and forges and a sooty mix of ash and water line the gutters.
Few things are actually available for purchase in Smithtown as most businesses migrated to the Mercantile District or other neighborhoods and districts of Almas. Most of the industry produced in this district is shipped elsewhere in Almas or the Inner Sea for sale.
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Several acres of hilltop land are surrounded by tall brick walls crowned with iron spikes. The few gated entrances of this walled compound reveal little save for the silhouettes of warehouses and factories off-limits to the general public. Above all of the other buildings in the Clockworks, the seven-hundred foot high Libertine Clocktower dominates the view and can be seen from the opposite side of Almas.
The Clockworks is a privately owned neighborhood serving as residence and offices for the representatives of Alkenstar that have come to reside in Almas. Forsaking residences in the Embassy District, the natives of the Mana Wastes that have come to live and work in Almas prefer to be close to the factories and forges that produce their clockwork and gunpowder creations.
The presence of clockwork automatons within the walled compound is known, though few are ever seen clearly. Most that patrol the grounds are known only by the sound of clicking gears and clanking metal from the other side of the wall. Within the compound, they are ever-present sentries ensuring that the secrets of Alkenstar remain controlled and that unwelcomed visitors are kept out.
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Settled in the western heart of Almas, the Theater District is a wealthy and clean region of an otherwise industrially clogged city. The structures here are among some of the oldest in the city outside of the Embassy and University districts. The tall, stone structures represent architectural styles more in line with the Azlanti-themed flair of old Almas. Tall spires, vaulted cathedralesque structures and majestic statues make for breathtaking and resplendent scenery.
Venues ranging in size from small playhouses to grand theaters built like cathedrals serve the artists that congregate in this district. Shops that cater to writers, artists and actors are abundant here, as are the tradesmen that run them. Textiles of many varieties can be found here, as well as the services of aspiring actors and performers of all varieties.
The Vilcount Theater
Situated just a few blocks from the Avenue of the Gods, the Vilcount Theater is a modest size playhouse that once served as a temple of the goddess Shelyn. When the boundaries of the Embassy District shifted a decade and a half ago a new (and larger) temple dedicated to Shelyn was constructed further north and the original property was sold to the city. It was purchased from the city in 4733 and converted into a theater.
The Vilcount Theater remained a proud but unremarkable venue until 4742 when the Heroes of Almas, in coordination with the Eagle Knights chose to utilize the theater as their battle ground with the Demon of Almas. Turning the theater into a cunning trap and luring the demon into the open, the Heroes of Almas defeated the murderous creature in battle. With the battle a public spectacle due to the damage it caused to the theater, word spread quickly and the Vilcount Theater's fame soared overnight.
The City of Almas paid in full for repairs to the theater. By the time it reopened two and a half months later, with a performance dramatizing The Winter Fiend story, the theater had to turn away customers after reaching well past maximum capacity. Since that day, the theater has become a sight-seeing spectacle for visitors to Almas and a spot of local renown immortalized by the deeds of the Heroes of Almas.
The Vilcount performs an annual week-long series of performances of The Winter Fiend in the month of Abadius to honor the theater's essential role in the defeat of the demon.
When the original Pathfinder lodge in the University District was burned to the ground in 4721 by what is believed to be Chelish terrorists, the society was quick to adopt a new settlement in Almas. The new lodge was born of an unfinished museum, purchased from the city, that was intended to be build thirty-six years ago by an aspiring Osirionologist. When his funding dried up, the nearly completed building lay abandoned for decades. The Pathfinder Society completed the construction and converted the building to suit their purposes.
This lodge is one of the largest in Avistan, featuring a collection of rare and exotic art and artifacts from around Golarion. The squat building of marble and granite is capped with a copper dome inscribed to resemble the inside of a wayfinder when viewed from above. The lodge's collection of exotic plants in the foyer is overshadowed by the skeleton of a gigantic, ancient Wyvern that was unearthed by Pathfinder explorers in the Mwangi two decades ago. Now it looms over all those who enter from the platform its bones have been arranged on.
The lodge is run by Andomar Estrel (NG, Male Half-Elf Wizard 6), whom also holds a seat on the People's Council. Andomar has focused this lodge's efforts in training new Pathfinders and instating annual major expeditions to the far northern reaches of Avistan to unearth the ancient past of the continent. The Almas lodge is seen as a companion to the Grand Lodge in Absalom, and many students transfer freely between the two locations to expand their studies.
The newest of the garrisons of Almas, Westwatch was constructed six years ago to alleviate some of the strain that was being put on Northwatch as the city continued its expansion. Home to 750 members of the Almas city watch, Westwatch's jurisdiction covers the entirety of the Embassy District and the Theater District, servicing over 30,000 citizens.
Westwatch Garrison is a square fortress with a single central prison tower, surrounded by a thirty-five foot tall stone wall cornered with four circular towers. The sole entrance to the garrison's grounds is a twenty foot high iron gate that leads in to the commons where one of two gallows still operating in Almas are erected.
Marshall Obran Forenta (LN Male Human Fighter 7) commands the Westwatch.
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Covering much of Almas' northern edge, the University District is home to major educational institutions known not only in Andoran but across Avistan for the quality of their services. The district is wealthy and well-maintained, proudly displaying banners of the nation and region alongside high flying flags of the Eagle Knights. This district is home to the highest concentration of Eagle Knights in Almas and their distinct uniforms can be seen in almost any bustling street.
Field of Concord
At the center of the University District lies the field of Concord, the nerve center of Almas. The Field is a broad, cobbled avenue lined with statues of the heroes of Andoran's revolution, plaques at the base of each outlining their achievements. Each of these statues stands guard at one of the entrances to a smaller gardened alcove, in which merchants set up stalls and display their wares during the monthly duty-free markets held here.
At the center of the Field is the Plaza of Revolution, dominated by an enormous white marble fountain. The addition of this plaza in 4715 served to connect the Golden Cathedral, Golden Aerie and the People's Council by a single open space. A pulpit and stage has been permanently erected here for members of the public to address the city in freely held open forums.
The Golden Aerie
The tallest structure in the district, the Golden Aerie is an enormous circular building from which rises a five-hundred foot tall whitewashed tower crowned with a copper dome and an enormous gold-plated statue of an eagle in flight. Balconies ring the tower and banners depicting the seals of Almas and Andoran as well as the Eagle Knights hang down its length.
The entirety of the Aerie is surrounded by a fifteen foot high wall the bounds in the forested courtyards, parks and training grounds for the knights, encompassing three acres of land.
This structure is the heart of the Eagle Knights of Andoran where members of all branches of the knights are trained. The Aerie serves as both a garrison and command outpost for the Eagle Knights and is the home of the Knight-General, commander of all Eagle Knights of Andoran. Calisaria Reinn is the current, standing Knight-General of Andoran.
The Golden Cathedral
In ages past, the Golden Cathedral was the grand center of worship for Aroden from its time as a Taldane colony through Andoran's position as a holding of Cheliax. Following Aroden's death the cathedral lay abandoned for nearly seventy years. After the declaration of Andoran independence the structure was given new life.
Now the Golden Cathedral stands as a great library and assembly hall where the people of Andoran enshrine the tenants of common rule and display the published writings of the greatest proponents of freedom.
The People's Council
Built in the architectural style of old Azlant, the People's Council is a white stone building with a column-lined front facade atop an ascending set of wide and shallow steps. Here in the airy halls, members of the people's council meet daily to decide on policies both foreign and domestic along with the mayor and other appointed government officials.
This ancient ivy-strewn structure has stood since the days of old Cheliax and has served the same function for just as long. Students and dons of the university decked in their flowing black robes have filled the halls of the university for nearly five-hundred years. Classes at the university run half the year, allowing students to return home during the summer months, with classes re-starting shortly after the fall harvest.
An entrance fee of 25 gold is charged to all students at admission and a semester of attendance costs an additional 50 gold. For impoverished students that are Andoran citizens, financial aid is offered in exchange for military service.
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Perched at the highest point of Ravenwood Hill, Southwatch Garrison is an old, decaying fortress from a bygone age. Resembling a moss-covered castle reinforced by wood and metal supports to keep its sagging walls up, Southwatch is in need of replacement. However old it is, the keep on Ravenwood Hill still diligently serves as garrison to some two hundred and fifty city watch members who patrol the mercantile district and portions of the Aeries. The Garrison is commanded by Marshall Stenos Landalvar (LN, Human Ftr 8).