Curst


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Curst
CN(E) large city
Corruption +6; Crime +3; Economy +5; Law +1; Lore +3; Society -1
Qualities asylum, defensible, free city, notorious, strategic location
Danger +25
Demographics
Location Outlands
Government overlord
Population 15,000 (human, githzerai, goblin, tiefling, hill giant, tanar'ri)
Notable NPCs

Burgher Tovus Giljaf (Pl/♂ githzerai/wizard 13 (necromancer)/Athar/LE)
Baron Yurel Zarnthaskar of the Wall Watch (Pr/♂ human/fighter 10/Fated/LN)

Marketplace
Base Value 11,200 gp; Purchase Limit 75,000 gp; Spellcasting 7th

Much as the plane of Carceri itself, Curst is little more than a massive prison, though in the case of this city it serves as a prison of the mind far more than a prison of the body. Here, exiles and refugees from across the multiverse congregate, nurturing their grudges and forging plans to some day take revenge on those that did them wrong — a day that for most tends to move further and further into the future the longer they remain within the city walls. Most of the people of Curst keep themselves locked into these old wrongs against them, focused on the glory of vengeance that few of their number will ever achieve.

However, this hope that they may one day find success sets Curst apart from Carceri. For many centuries, the city has avoided sliding to Carceri while so many of the peoples of Curst have held firm against resignation. However, this was nearly upended in the year Hashkar 127, when the city was simultaneously hit by a deadly plague and a sudden rash of violence. The combined disasters brought a sudden despair to the city that nearly tipped it over the edge, averted only by the acts of an unknown traveler.

The area immediately around the city is dry and dusty, with neither plant nor animal life of note but for the thick fields of razorvine kept clear from the roads only by the devoted efforts of the upper class (or more precisely, their servants), eager not to let themselves be cut off from their few connections to the rest of the planes. Still, travel to the city is far from safe, the vines along the roads studded with the bodies of those not careful in their step. Thanks to the danger and the lack of attraction in the city — Carceri never being a popular destination for either merchants or planewalkers — the roads about Carceri are rough and empty, with the sight of other passersby quite rare.

Government

Power in Curst is claimed by whoever can take it, with each new leader forming their own means of government. At the moment, the government is led by Tovus Giljaf, former factol of the Athar, and he has taken much inspiration from the structure of that faction in establishing a tentative ruling order in Curst. Under his direction, a basic bureaucratic government has emerged: beneath Giljaf are a number of officials hand-selected by the Burgher, each charged with dealing with the general populace in exchange for the power of their position. Beneath them, a number of clerks and minor officiants playing at keeping order. All exploit their positions for their own benefit, though Giljaf has been careful to entrust none of them with any meaningful levels of significance, having learned his lesson after being voted from his position by the factors of the Athar.

A more permanent feature of Curst, the Wall Watch has held arms through dozens of past rulers. As the name suggests, they man the walls of Curst, watching the gates and tracking the names of all who enter. They are no city guard, however, but instead wardens of the city, restricting all exit from Curst but for those they deem worthy and treating the entire city as one great prison. Though they do not rule, nor have they ever had any pretensions of ruling, they still hold great power and significance within the city. Only a few past rulers of Curst have tried to depose them, and none have succeeded; the most successful past rulers have been those working alongside the Wall Watch, as Giljaf has done himself. Presently, the Wall Watch is led by the former Baron Yurel Zarnthaskar, a once-lord from the Prime forced from rule and exiled to Curst. Since ascending to commander of the Wall Watch he has found common bond with Giljaf, and the two have made for a close pair since.

Sites

Unlike many gate towns, Curst's portal is little-used and little-appreciated. The Gate to Carceri stands in the center of town in Gate Square, a great four-sides archway of black razorvine, its center holding a dark-red glow that grows to a engulf any that step within, sending them to Othrys. Few use the portal, however: most Tartareans are bound to Carceri, and few Outlanders wish to risk becoming imprisoned themselves. Also located in Gate Square are the offices of the Burgher and his underlings and the city treasury, though few have call to visit either.

Beyond Gate Square, the city is arranged much as Carceri itself, a series of concentric quarters separated by circular ways known by the locals as "ring roads". Past the first ring road is the first ring of the city, where the highest-class citizens and government officials call kip. Even Curst has its upper class, even if those families of this city tend to have made their fortune in more violent or objectionable markets than most

The second ring serves as the trade quarter of Curst, and it is here that the city's businesses and warehouses can be found. Though the city has few exports, it does require a good amount of importation merely to support its people, even hesitant as many tradesmen are to deliver to the city on the off chance that they may be trapped within. As such, those few that do make regular business with Curst find themselves with ample opportunity to make jink.

Curst's third ring is home to the city's workshops, where craftsmen create goods for the populace. Nearly all manufacture within Curst remains within Curst, though the heartwine business — run by a pair of elven Sensates known only as the Cilenei brothers — is one of the city's few exceptions. The drink can be found only in Curst, its recipe a closely guarded secret, but it is quite popular throughout the Outlands, especially Lower-wards.

Finally, the fourth ring, the last such before the razorvine-covered wall, is where the city's taverns and lower-class kips can be found. Not quite a slum, as the close presence of the Wall Watch prevents things from deteriorating too far, it's still far from a pleasant place to live, especially the further one goes from the arterial roads leading from outer gate to inner.

Beyond Curst's walls are a few small, struggling farms unofficially considered as part of the city, but these are scant, having to fight against both the environment and the tenacious razorvine that stretches everywhere, and able to only barely provide for a fraction of its inhabitants. But for those traders willing to brave the Watch, most trade in the city is performed with the nearby lizardfolk of Semuanya's Bog and its outlying areas. Most of the fundamentals of life in the city are provided via the lizardfolk, and they tend to be quite well-paid for their efforts.

Finally, stretching underneath the city is the Curst Prison, a vast complex reaching beneath the entire settlement where the worst criminals (as well as simply those the current ruler would rather not deal with) are sent to spend sentences that, regardless of length, tend always to become life one way or another. Little is known of the details of its layout, as usually only those of the Wall Watch are allowed to pass within; even the Prison's entryway is known only to the Watch. It's said that none have ever escaped the Curst Prison, though as this is said of nearly any prison of any significance, the claim should likely be taken with a grain of salt.

Establishments

Residents

City Government

Wall Watch

References

  • Harbinger House, pp.40-43
  • Planescape: Torment
  • Planescape Campaign Setting: Sigil and Beyond, pp.35-36
  • Player's Primer to the Outlands, pg.12
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