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Nibenay Map

The City of Spires

The city-state of Nibenay is called the City of Spires, located east of Tyr at the northern tip of the Crescent Forest, boasts a population of about 25,000.

It is a city sitting at the very center of the Tyr Region. Ancient beyond measure, it is a wealthy and powerful city-state, deeply immersed in age-old decadence and intrigue, and under the rule of a distant and mysterious sorcerer-king.

Currently, templars with the ability to cast priest spells exist only in the city-states of Urik, Nibenay, and Gulg, serving the remaining sorcerer-kings Hamanu and Nibenay, and the sorcerer-queen Lalali-Puy.


Nibenay 01

Nibenay Map

Located at the northeast tip of the Crescent Forest, Nibenay overlooked the Great Ivory Plain to the south. The city rested atop several hundred acres of bubbling hot springs, each one owned by one of the city’s many noble families, and used to provide water for both the people of Nibenay as well as to irrigate the fields of rice that keep the city fed.

Nibenay was built against a huge, rocky bluff to its immediate north, known locally as the “Earth Wall”, that protected it from both attacks and harsh weather from the north. Some of the city’s most affluent nobles made their homes inside the cliffside, having tunneled into it, far above the city itself.

Beyond its massive walls, the city-state stood surrounded by rolling fields of sandgrass and tenant farms, and within 10 to 15 miles of the city, virtually every inch lay under someone’s claim.  


Though there have been no major changes to life in Nibenay, enough strange occurrences have been worked into the routine to put a different spin on the city-state. For example, average citizens and even powerful nobles never expected to see the Shadow King, let alone attend one of his courts. Now the Shadow King regularly makes public appearances and shows an active concern for his community. This doesn’t mean that life is any harder or easier than it’s always been. It’s just different. If a citizen or visitor breaks a law and can’t afford to bribe a templar, then that citizen or visitor is still going to end up in Nibenay’s slave pens.

The other major change is the city’s outlook on matters of a martial nature. The Shadow King and his templars seem to be concentrating much of their efforts on bolstering Nibenay’s military might. The army regularly practices in the arena and patrols of the surrounding countryside have increased dramatically. In addition, free citizens and nobles have been ordered to serve in Nibenay’s defense. Templars are busy organizing them into part-time militias and regimenting training sessions.

What the Shadow King is truly concerned about, besides the unrest and upheaval that seems to be spreading throughout the Tablelands, are the rumors claiming that Dregoth has returned. Nibenay knows how powerful the sorcerer-king of Giustenal was. Dregoth was second only to Borys the Dragon in power. If Dregoth and his city have somehow come back from the dead, Nibenay wants to be prepared. After all, Nibenay’s city-state is one of the closest to the ruins of ancient Giustenal, and he has no intention of losing his domain to a rival that was destroyed two millennia ago.


The culture of Nibenay stressed self-discipline, quiet acceptance of authority, reverence for the elderly, and politeness to strangers. Nibenese expected decorum in all things. Slaves and commoners knew their place and showed courtesy and deference to their betters. All the while, people of higher standing remained cool and distant to their inferiors, for to demonstrate anything but calmness and serenity was to reveal a character flaw.

The politeness of the Nibenese is a double-edged sword, however, and is often a cover for ruthless dishonesty toward anyone outside of a person’s own family. Common wisdom states that a Nibenese merchant may well grovel as he offers you a spear, smiling and nodding at everything you say, only to then swindle you out of your last bit and as he scurries away, the spear breaks apart in your hands.

Newcomers may find the local customs curious and even bizarre compared to what they’re used to. In Nibenay, betrothed couples tie long scarves around their wastes to express commitment. Friend’s pull at each other’s hair as a common greeting. Children drag life-sized straw dolls around as a representation of their mothers. Cats are revered as vessels of unknowable wisdom, but dogs are considered vermin. And then there’s the never-ending music and dancing, as well as the uninterrupted displays of public art on every available wall.

Though all of these practices are old, no one knows how old they actually are. They certainly predate the city’s founding, but the truth has vanished to history. That Nibenay himself would never have instituted some of these customs voluntarily proves their antiquity.

The Nibenese have seen the forest as a resource to be exploited so this attitude was one of the contributing factors to the problems with Gulg.

The Ancestral Cults[]

“May you be worthy of your ancestors” was a common greeting among the nobility of Nibenay. This simple phrase served to prove the absolute veneration of the ancestral cults among Nibenay’s nobility. These cults served to promote social authority, conservatism, and order. The nobles had many rituals and traditions surrounding the veneration of their forebearers, and they believed that their ancestors possessed the power and influence to intervene on their behalf to protect them, the hot springs, and the fields surrounding Nibenay if they were ever endangered. Because of the nobility’s long and prosperous history of control over the hot springs and the rice fields of Nibenay, non-traditional businesses were considered risky, as well as affronts to the ancestral spirits.

The ancestral cults also required sacrifice in the form of slaves. This was done whenever the leader of a house passed on, as the spirit of the slave was expected to carry a promise of sound stewardship on the part of the new leader to the ancestors. Similar acts of ritual sacrifice occurred whenever the living needed to send a message to the sprits of the family’s forebearers.

Each noble house maintained its own library containing the history of their family, as well as display cases filled with death masks of these ancestors made out of wax. These masks were worn during ceremonies such as the ritual of declaring an heir or at funerals, and even at public games in the local gladiatorial arena.

While the free citizens had a tendency to adopt certain fashions and practices of the nobility, the ancestral cults was one such area that they never adopted, as they were more concerned with style over family pride.

The Elemental Cults[]

The elemental cults played important roles in Nibenese society, and each layer of society was engaged with the cults in a myriad of different ways. The nobility venerated the cults of earth and water, for they have long been the benefactors of the hot springs and fields surrounding the City of Spires. Many of the rituals conducted by the nobles centered around the earth of the fields and the water of the springs, and were always conducted in connection with those of the ancestral cults, as the nobles believed that only the spirits of the ancestors held sway over the remote and impersonal forces of the elements. The free folk of Nibenay were far more concerned with the mastery of the elements than the appeasement of them, and hoped to gain personal and dynastic power by gaining control over these forces. In the countryside, the cults of air and fire were more prominent, as the farms and villages were victimized by the sun and wind.

The elemental temples received many contributions from citizens in need of the services of a cleric, and the citizens of Nibenay give the elemental cults decidedly pragmatic attention. In the years following Kalak’s fall, there existed one major temple dedicated to each of the four elements in Nibenay, overseen by a high priest or abbot. The human High Priest Hanathos, and his twenty acolytes at the Temple of Air, were often called into the countryside to tamper the windstorms that threaten the livelihood of the tenant farms. The Temple of the Earth, carved into the bluff to the north of the city, housed forty priests, including the dwarven High Priest Orolon – the Prophet of the Stone. Orolon was not only a powerful cleric, but also possesses incredible psionic abilities that allowed him to foresee one aspect of a person’s future upon first meeting them. The Temple of the Sun was led by the half-elven High Priest Fettch. He, his twenty priests, and just as many followers aided the people of the city-state in matters concerning the forces of elemental fire. Fettch, at one point, rather aggressively promoted a new clerical service involving the collection and cremation of the dead that raised a few eyebrows. Finally, High Priestess Kira Tin oversaw the Temple of Water, attended to by her twelve husbands who were all also priests. The husbands were often called upon to assist with problems at the hot springs, and the temple was entirely supported by the contributions of the noble houses. Kira was a pensive human woman of regal beauty, who highly valued the traditions of her cult and was fairly removed from the day-to-day life of the citizenry.

None of the temples demanded sacrifice, and actively disavowed such practices, but such things still occurred in the countryside. People were on occasion immolated on biers to appease the wind and sun, and the common belief was that the spirits of those sacrificed would intervene with the elemental forces on behalf of the community. However, there was also a fear that an unwilling sacrifice would curse its killers upon entry into the Elemental Planes. To circumvent this bitter incrimination, a small bird was ritualistically imbued with the pleas of the community and then placed within the still-living victim’s mouth. Now, as the spirit passed through the Elemental Planes, instead of a curse leaving its mouth, the bird would instead bring the message of the community to the elements.

The Monastic Cults[]

At one point in the city’s history, the monastic cults served as an integral part of Nibenese society. The cults were once the training grounds for Nibenay’s original templars, where they were taught the quiet acceptance of authority, and that all suffering could be eliminated through mental discipline and the extinguishing of self. This state of internal peace was known as vihear, Nibenese word for “sanctuary”. As time passed, new opportunities arose for the free citizens of Nibenay, and they became less inclined to submissively accept their lot in life. This led to the monastic temples diminishing in importance and power, and for centuries the monasteries were left to become a refuge for eccentrics and psionicists.

By the end of Kalak’s rule, however, Nibenese society had grown more stagnant, and the young of Nibenay had grown jaded and begun to flock back to the monasteries. They viewed their elders as materialistic and despised the lack of opportunities that society afforded them, and instead turned to the monks to hear teaching that would pacify their frustrations. This monastic resurgence involved both free citizens, cynical merchants, and bored nobles, and citizens of the time venerated the monks, and they were once more enjoying the respect with which they were regarded in the past, rather than just idle curiosity.

Despite the many new faces that sought enlightenment among the monks, and most monks not being psionicists themselves, students of the Way still remained. Those young psionicists who had no interest in the practical and profit-minded emphasis on psionics taught at the School of Augurs had turned to the monasteries to pursue their mental disciplines. That being said, these psionicists cared little for the teachings of the old monks, and viewed the monastery only as a place to advance their psionic abilities. This small subculture within the population of the monastery was a concern to both the monks as well as the officials at the School of Augurs.

The Exalted Path and Serene Bliss[]

There are two monastic temples in Nibenay, the temple of the Exalted Path and the temple of Serene Bliss, located at each end of the city, and home to male and female monks, respectively. Regardless of gender, the monks shave their heads and eyebrows and dress in bright orange robes. Their main duties, apart from rigorous meditation and study, involve growing food to feed the monastery. Some also train in stonecutting or painting and go on to become artisans in these fields.

Both orders pledge allegiance to the Shadow King, and many monks of the temple of Serene Bliss petition to join or serve the ranks of the templars. The king, in turn, allows the orders to operate with amused tolerance. He views their philosophy as something a child might do, willfully ignoring the world and its troubles, but realizes that the monasteries provide a valuable social function as it turns would-be dissenters into willful, if ignorant, servants.

The Dwelling[]

Among the many practices that has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, one stands above the rest: the Dwelling. This is a period of 30 days, during which a child is sent to the monastery to live and learn. The free citizens have begun to return to this practice, and some of the most reactionary citizens have allowed their young slaves to be sent on a Dwelling, yet the nobility hasn’t caught on. Historically, the children of nobles, free folk, and slaves could freely mingle as equals during the Dwelling, and was then, as is now, a phenomenon unique on Athas.

Soldier slaves[]

Servants used to bolster the regular army units of the sorcerer-kings, nobility, and even some of the merchant house. In Nibenay there is a half-giant legion.


Nibenay was renowned for its extraordinary architecture, and at first glance it appeared that the entire city had been carved out of the hillside it rested against. Here, all permanent buildings, as is made law by royal decree, were constructed in sandstone, granite, or laterite, and each one was decorated with elaborate images carved right into the stone. For the Nibenese, there was no distinction between architecture and sculpture, and the people invested tremendous amounts of power into the carvings.

The expansive friezes detailed the history of the city, its many legends, and its ruler through the language inherent in Nibenese dance. Similarly, the most affluent and prominent families decorated their homes with life-sized carvings of members of their house to tell the family’s own history. Beasts of the nearby Crescent Forest were also represented, and these carvings were said to guard the city and its inhabitants against attacks from such beasts, and huge faces with opened, fanged mouths served as decorations around windows and doorways. The many spires and minarets that gave the city its moniker stood tall above the rest of the city, jutting across the skyline. The design of these was as gruesome as they were grandiose, as they seemed to have been formed out of many thousands of stacked skulls.

It's unknown when or why this tradition began, but it was certainly as ancient as the city itself. Some attributed this to the practices of an ancient cult of elemental earth, and the city remained a favored residence for earth clerics, who delighted in this city of dancing stone. The most prominent local elven tribe, the Sky Singers, believed that the Shadow King was actually a great basilisk who was slowly turning his city to stone. The elven name for the city of Nibenay was the same word they used for these monsters.

The homes of the less grand families of Nibenay were simple structures made of clay bricks and wood. Families dwelled inside these single-room homes, partitioned by decorative and functional papyrus screens that created various living spaces. Rock gardens, laid out in intricate patterns, also complimented many homes in the city. The wealthy also enjoyed the company of pets, such as birds and lizards, which they housed in small mud houses called milla. The number of milla built around a home indicated a family’s prosperity.


While all building facades were covered with sculptural art, the interiors of Nibenese homes weren’t any less decorative. For their interior art, the Nibenese favored murals, intricately woven carpets, detailed frescoes, and decorative screens. This was especially true in the homes of free citizens, that furnished their large open area homes with nothing but carpets and screens to separate the “rooms”.

The carpets were often decorated with geometric patterns, while the screens and frescoes often featured stylized images of the Crescent Forest. Artist slaves were employed to decorate the homes of the wealthy.


The Nibenese harbored an ancient love of the study of the night sky and pursued astronomy with a passion unequaled among the other people of the Tyr Region. This understanding of astronomy and astrology had an impact on all things Nibenese. Astrologers were often retained by noble families to plan harvests and other major projects, while caravan masters used it to navigate. Even Nibenese children were taught to identify the constellations of the Athasian sky.

One of the greatest examples of astronomy being a part of society as a whole came from the fact that Nibenay, by the time of the Liberation of Tyr, was the only city-state to officially adopt the Merchant’s Calendar. The heavy amounts of trade occurring in the city, which needed to be efficiently coordinated, and the calendar’s astronomical basis made it very appealing to the people of Nibenay. The festival weeks of Desselia, Assalia, and Zenalia, which marked the middle of each of Athas’ three seasons, were celebrated throughout Nibenay. While these festivals were considered holidays, many merchants and vendors remained open to cater to the free citizens who flooded the streets during these weeks. Games were held every day of the festival, and noble families and merchant houses vied to become sponsors of the games.

Dance and Music[]

Dancing was a fundamental part of Nibenese culture, and the people of the city-state saw dance as their gift to the world. Day and night, music and movement permeated the entire city – even the facades of the buildings were decorated with images of dancing people. The first thing visitors to the city were greeted by was the sound of music and merriment, and as they entered what was metaphorically known as “the Dancing Gates”, they often became spellbound by the near-constant hypnotic music and dancing.

This distinctive style of dance consisted of hundreds of specific stilted postures and stylized gestures, each of which was part of a complex code which the Nibenese could actually use to communicate nonverbally, all through the metaphors of dance. So engrained in their culture was dancing that the Nibenese often used gestures borrowed from this traditional codex of movements to punctuate conversations.

The dancing was accompanied by small orchestras that included woodwinds, drums, and xylophones. Actors, some of whom were wearing masks to represent certain monsters or supernatural forces, silently moved along with the dance to comment on the dance as it developed using facial expressions and hand gestures to enhance the experience further. While dancers rested between appearances, jugglers and acrobats entertained the audience.

There were three major styles of Nibenese dance, each one reflected certain aspects of their culture – joy, tragedy, and warfare. Dancers learned all three, but usually favored one over the others. The by far most popular style of dance in Nibenay was Priytu-ih, which was meant for celebrations and joyful events. The themes of this dance were often comical, and the dancers decorated themselves with tiny bells and blew whistles to elicit laughs from onlookers. Liaka-ih was a dramatic style that saw the dancers wrap themselves in veils, scarves, and ribbons that whirled while they danced. This dance was meant to reflect tragedy, a comment on the inherent suffering of existence. To mark this, dancers often painted themselves with red pigment to symbolize blood. The wriquo-ih, or “war style”, had dancers wield decorative wooden swords and daggers in a violent choreography. This was done in honor of warriors and their battles, and to commemorate military life.

Dancers and musicians often accompanied caravans on their trips. These entertainers performed for the caravan crew as well as for the residents of the places they visited, and sometimes made use of psionics to heighten the hypnotic power of their music. This also allowed less scrupulous members of a performing troupe to lighten the purse strings of the audience.

The Starlight Pageants[]

So revered was dance that it was used to mark all ceremonies, feasts, and gatherings in Nibenay. The most famous of all these Nibenese dance performances were the ones that occurs during the Starlight Pageants. These all-night festivals marked the beginning of each of the three season and were the culmination of a week-long celebration. Dozens of young female dancers, called aspara, performed a dance that lasted from the gates of the Naggaramakam, down the High Road, all the way to the Reservoir Garden where they performed a meticulously orchestrated series of dances drawn from a repertoire of 231 ancient dances passed down through the generations. The stories told through these dances celebrated the city, its history and lore, and the Shadow King.

The Starlight Pageants were accompanied by the usual setup of instruments, but also included the khong – a circular wooden frame lined with copper gongs, which the musician sat inside of. Only Nibenay himself owned a khong, as it was close to being priceless due to its heavy metal content. To further enhance the performance, and despite the fact that the sorcerer-king never attended the festivals himself, he nevertheless provides his people with a show, as his state-sanctioned defilers used magic to dazzle the onlookers with magic. These grand performances of arcane magic drew power from a collection of Trees of Life found in the gardens, and a slave druid was often on hand to secure that the trees’ energies didn’t diminish too much.


The Nibenese were renowned for their good looks, with round faces, tan skin, and black hair. Most free Nibenese complemented these natural features with brightly colored and loose-fitting linen shirts and skirts. They wrapped their heads with long, checkerboard-patterned scarfs called krama, and most wore sandals on their feet, unless they worked with large animals, as then, heavy boots were preferred. Among the more well-to-do, and especially in the fashionable merchant districts, imported shirts, shoes, and jewelry were frequently worn.

Nobles preferred traditional garb, but often omitted the krama, or wore a headdress that featured a pattern related to their family. However, despite their demand for the highest quality garments, the leaders of a house often wore little or nothing at all. This was part of yet another old tradition stating that clothes were meant to shelter a person from shame, and the more influential and richer you were, the less you had to be ashamed about.

This practice also extended to the templars, where only the lowest ranking templars remained fully dressed at all times. As one advanced within the hierarchy, the less you were required to wear. High-ranking Templar Wives were known to not wear anything at all while undertaking their civilian duties, even though all military personnel on active duty wore protective gear and tabards.

Some of Nibenese oldest inhabitants had blue-stained teeth, a result of a lifelong habit of chewing the local betel nuts.


As was the norm on Athas, literacy was a luxury and a privilege only afforded to the nobles and templars of Nibenay. Each noble family kept extensive libraries of hide scrolls and hardwood panels containing the history and memoirs of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the house, and the study of these documents was an integral part of any young noble’s education. Beyond this, many young nobles also indulged in amorous poetry as either a part of a rite of courtship, or to amuse their friends with humorous tales of their lustful adventures, regardless of if they were true or not.

The traditions and history of the city wasn’t lost on the illiterate common folk, though. The intricate system of dance used in Nibenay was its own language, and all Nibenese knew the postures and gestures associated with the traditional codex. As almost every building in Nibenay was beautifully decorated with reliefs of people dancing, the city itself became a series of stories for the populace to enjoy and wonder at. However, as these reliefs could be constructed as a written language, it was illegal to recreate any of these symbols on anything but the walls of a building.


As with many other things Nibenese, the city’s marriage customs were also quite unique. Marriages in Nibenay were usually polygamous, and only the poorest citizens had only one spouse. Marriages were also powerful political tools, and were almost always arranged as if they were business deals or political agreements. While marriages born out of the love between two people did exist, known in Nibenese culture as “love matches”, they were often scorned and labeled as fruitless in terms of what could be gained from them economically and politically.

Regardless of gender, the head of a household was referred to as the “master of the marriage”. The master had one primary spouse with whom they produced heirs, in an effort to limit the dispersion of property and wealth. The master of the marriage had complete discretion over the lives and property of their spouses and children. The heir of a family always assumed the position of master of the marriage, and marriages between heirs only occurred when a specific alliance needed to be forged between two families. Children of subordinate spouses were married off for financial and political gain if possible, or to relieve debt or get them out of the house if necessary. Marriages also became important when it came to land holdings, as only married people were allowed to own land.

Nibenese commoners had a propensity for desperately grasping at anything that would increase their family’s standing and wealth, even if was over the course of many generations. Because of this, they tended towards patriarchal marriages that had the potential of producing several children that would eventually contribute to the household. Some citizens, on the other hand, favored the customs of the nobility. Historically, each child born to the master and their primary spouse were entitled to an equal cut of the estate. In an effort to prevent the unnecessary dilution of a family’s property, matriarchal marriages became the norm, as they typically yielded far fewer children. By the time of Kalak’s demise, the holdings of a noble family were usually passed on solely to the heir of a family, with only small parcels bequeathed to the heir’s siblings. This came with the provision that these gifts may only be sold back to the family. Who became heir was never a given thing, however, and the children of noble families spent much of their lives currying favor with the heads of their house for the chance to be named their heir. The role of heir was usually passed on to the child that had proven to be the most conservative or capable among their siblings. Consequently, this led to many nobles not being married off until they reached middle age. In the meantime, young nobles were encouraged to pursue many free-floating polyamorous relationships outside the formal institutions of marriage. Nobles were also expected to marry outside of their own extended family, a means of overcoming political differences between the divided noble houses.

Because of the traditions regarding both inheritance and the arrangement of marriages, there was an entire subsection of Nibenese society that had no real property or power of their own. These people were essentially slaves within the confines of their own marriages or families.

Despite all of these caveats and heavy cultural and societal implications, marriages were still occasions for celebration – and lengthy ones at that. One month before a wedding, the master of the marriage spent an entire week joined to the betrothed by a long scarf attached at their waists, and as the month progresses, the would-be mate devoted at least one day bound to each of the other spouses. This tradition served as both a public sign of commitment, and provided all members of the marriage with the opportunity to get to know one and other. Each wedding was then celebrated by the master of the marriage providing the family of the betrothed with a often substantial gift, meant as compensation for the loss of the betrothed’s productive capacity.


The dead of Nibenay were traditionally buried, and a large district of the city was completely dedicated to the interment of deceased nobles. Upon death, the family called for a priest of the particular elemental cult the family served adherence to. The cleric oversaw the funerals and ensured that the dead were protected from rising as undead creatures, this was the same for all people of Nibenay, from the wealthiest noble to the lowliest slave.

Burial among the free citizens of the city was mostly a simple affair conducted by the cult of elemental earth, while funeral pyres of the elemental cult of air or fire were often erected in the countryside beyond the city walls. Slaves had been buried in shallow graves in fields outside of the city for centuries, but at one point not long after the Liberation of Tyr, the abbot of the Temple of the Sun began offering somewhat less costly cremations.

In contrast, the funeral ceremonies of the rich and noble were naturally far grander, and all followed the traditions of the cults of earth and water, as these noble families were so reliant on the rice fields and hot springs for their wealth. The ancestral cults of the nobles, prescribed a number of observances, including the wearing of ancestral death masks in the funeral procession, and the sacrificial killing of slaves upon the death of a house leader. In the cemetery district, each noble family had several blocks dedicated to their house, and rows upon rows of mausoleums and tombs sat atop each other, forming the walls of a maze of narrow alleys measuring 20 feet tall in places. The dead were laid to rest on slabs within the tombs, which were then sealed before being flooded with water – a process overseen by clerics of the elemental cult of water. Despite the clerics best efforts, the protection from undeath wasn’t always perfect, and visitors were advised not to venture into the maze-like district of the dead without the aid of clerical magic.

The Templar Wives had their own unique funeral practices. The death of a templar was commemorated by a somber ritual in which twelve templar mourners carried the body of the deceased to an underground temple beneath the Naggaramakam. This temple connected to miles of catacombs that extended deep beneath the palace of the Shadow King. In the temple, the mourners washed the body and then laid it to rest upon a platform teeming with ock’n snails that would cover the body with a thick resin that later hardened to seal the body inside. During this process, the twelve templars mourned in silence outside of the room, and it’s believed that the sorcerer-king himself arrived at the temple to mourn the loss of his wife. Once the resin had hardened, the mourners began to sing an elegy that resounded of the walls of the catacombs, as they carried their dead sister to a tomb where the body was sealed within a warded sarcophagus.


Human sacrifice was far more common in neighboring Gulg, and instead, the Nibenese often sought to appease the supernatural forces by appealing to ancestral spirits, monetary contributions to temples, or by seeking help from the Shadow King’s templars. Despite this, the practice still persisted in the traditions of the nobility of Nibenay and the elemental cults of the countryside. In addition to this, at several times in the city’s history --at cyclical intervals, slaves and criminals were brought to the Naggaramakam and never heard of again. It’s believed that these people were used as sacrifice to strengthen the sorcerer-king’s magic, and while the Nibenese feared the staggering cost in human lives necessary to provide the Shadow King with magic, they were also thankful for the tremendous power that protected them from the warriors of Gulg.

The Dragon’s Levy[]

Every year, captives, criminals, and slaves all over Athas were used to pay the Dragon’s Levy, and Nibenay was no different. When the time came for the levy to be paid, a thousand of these unfortunate people were taken into the salt flats by the king’s templars and then never seen again. Legends tell of a time when the city wouldn’t be able to provide servants to the Dragon, and at that time, the springs would boil dry, the fields turn to dust, the forest wither, and the walls of Nibenay crumble and fall.


The structure of Nibenay’s government was unique. From the founding of the city to the Liberation of Tyr, a period of some 2,000 years, the sorcerer-king, who had named the city after himself, played little part in the actual governance of his city. Instead, Nibenay, also known as the Shadow King, preferred to retire to his study within his palace, the Naggaramakam, his walled sub-city. His templars, who are all female, ran the city with skill nd great care. He only appeared for short periods of time to lead a war or crush a rebellion. Now, however, the Shadow King has become more prominent.

In the past, the average free citizen could hope to see King Nibenay once or perhaps twice in an entire lifetime. Since the time of the Great Earthquake, Nibenay has taken a more active role. He still allows his templars to deal with the daily business of goverment, but now Nibenay has turned his attention away from the mysterious scholarly pursuits that once occupied his time to hold court for the city's nobles and free citizens.

Nibenay's military might was never a question, but it also was never a major concern of the Shadow King. Now he actively seeks to understand his forces and looks for ways to improve their might and readiness. While the city used to appear to be secure in its own position, it now seems to be gearing up to battle an enemy that only the Shadow King knows about. The problem is that the enemy is change, and no army that Nibenay raises will be able to stop its relentless tide.

In the wake of all this upheaval, Nibenay's nobles continue to care for and maintain the bubbling springs that surround the city. They don't know what to make of the Shadow King's sudden interest in the business of the city, but many of them are seeking ways to improve their own positions by getting closer to their once-elusive king.

The templar bureaucracy was comprised of four separate organizations, each of which was symbolically named for one of the elements and which dealt in one key area of government each. A fifth organization had its own chain of command, as well as a lateral structure that cut across the other four. Nibenay’s templars ran the city with skill and great care, but were also known to abuse the system in their favor, a benefit of the king’s detached approach to his rule.

All of Nibenay’s templars were women, and while men were employed throughout Nibenay’s government they held no positions of power. Most males enlisted in the army and served under the command of the templars, while others found work as laborers or guards.

The death of Kalak and the Liberation of Tyr came to shake the ancient structures of Nibenese government, as the Shadow King took on a more active role as ruler. Following the later deaths of several of the sorcerer-kings, as well as the Dragon, the sorcerer-king became even more involved with his city’s affairs by holding court for the city’s nobles and free citizens.

Nibenay, the Shadow King[]

The sorcerer-king of Nibenay, which shared his name with the city, was a bizarre and enigmatic figure. He was called the “Shadow King” by his subjects, as he was rarely seen by them, preferring to remain behind the walls of his enormous palace. He appeared so seldom that rumors of his death constantly filled the streets of his city, and he only choose to emerge from his palace when those rumors resulted in civil unrest. In those cases, he sought to impress upon his subjects that he was still very much alive – usually by singlehandedly crushing the would-be rebellion. The only other times he were known to appear in public was to lead his forces in war, wielding both mighty arcane abilities and powerful psionics. Nibenay was also known to not be afraid to get blood on his hands, as well as verbally lashing out at enemies that he found less than impressive in battle.

Since leaving the service as a Champion of Rajaat and assuming the mantle of sorcerer-king, Nibenay remained secluded in contemplative study for much of his time. When forced to put aside his studies, the sorcerer-king would radiate his displeasure for he fancied himself a scholar and researcher of wide repute, and was constantly seeking ways to increase his own knowledge and power. While no one outside of his private sanctum knew what Nibenay was studying, rumors persisted that it involved the mysteries of the world and the secrets of Athas’ past. His Templar Wives would hear him speak of what he called “the time before” – a time before the sorcerer-monarchs, a time before the Champions, and even before Rajaat. Some believed that the Shadow King looked to bring about a new age, while others believed him to be searching for a way to travel through time.

Following the events that led to the slaying of Kalak and the freedom of Tyr, Nibenay was forced to reconsider his habitual detachment to the city’s affairs, and his interest in ruling was reawakened. Not long after the news reached him, he began calling for council meetings, deposed several of his templars, and began to monitor his armed forces and the affairs of the city’s noble houses. This scrutiny sent terror through the upper echelons of Nibenese society, as much of the power amassed by the elite had been done outside the bounds of what was acceptable to the king. Despite his renewed interest in government, the Shadow King still engaged scholar-slaves in labors over ancient texts and arcane relics.

Among his closest allies, Nibenay counted his High Consorts and his arcane assistants. These were the only ones who truly knew that the Shadow King, as was the case with many other sorcerer-monarchs, had taken on a serpentine, draconic appearance – far from the handsome, regal human he portrayed himself to be to the rest of the world using powerful illusions. He would only bear his true form for important meetings.

Nibenay survived the events surrounding the Cerulean Storm alongside Hamanu of Urik and Lalali-Puy of Gulg, which left those three as the only remaining sorcerer-monarchs in the Tyr Region. He knew that the time for change was at hand, and his experiences forced Nibenay to reconsider how to best rule his city and he became a more visible and active force in the city-state. This change in outlook also brought with it an end to the age-old enmity with Lalali-Puy, even if the nobles and templars of his city believed that the new level of corporation was a ruse to gain the Shadow King even more power.

While the average citizens could hope to see the king once or perhaps twice in their entire lifetimes, following the events in the Sea of Silt , Nibenay began to hold court regularly for both the citizenry and the nobility. The populace had no idea what caused their monarch’s interests to shift so suddenly, but many of them took the opportunity to improve their own standing with the once-elusive king. He still allowed his templars to deal with daily business, and his now-constant oversight only served to increased the efficiency of the administration even further.

Once news of the Dread King Dregoth spread to Nibenay, the Shadow King began to make arrangements, seeing to it that his army was equipped to stand against the forces of the once-thought dead sorcerer-king of Giustenal. Nibenay knew how powerful Dregoth had been, and because of his city-state’s close proximity to the ruins of Giustenal, the Shadow King wanted to be prepared for anything. Nibenay had no intentions of losing his domain to an enemy that was thought destroyed two millennia ago.

Dhojakt, Prince of Nibenay[]

Among the many dark secrets of the Shadow King of Nibenay, one stood above the rest – that of his son, Dhojakt, a creature who was seemingly even more reclusive than his father. Dhojakt’s mother, a high-ranking templar, wished for her child to be infused with physical and magical power – in short, a suitable heir to the throne. To accomplish this, she exposed herself and her unborn child to the transformative powers of the Pristine Tower. This did not have the intended effects, however, instead Dhojakt was born a monster, half man and half cilops. For reasons of his own, Nibenay chose to not destroy the creature, and accepted him as his heir.

Dhojakt rarely, if ever, left the Naggaramakam and most citizens considered him little more than a myth. He spent his days in study of the arcane and plotting against the High Consort of the Chamber of Air, Siemhouk, whom he resented for the status and attention she enjoyed from his father.

Apart from Dhojakt, it’s unclear if the king’s wives bore him children. If they did, those children were never seen in the city, and some rumors persist that claim that the templars only gave birth to daughters who in turn would become new wives to their father. This story is unlikely, however.

The Templar Wives of Nibenay[]

All of Nibenay’s templars were women, and almost all were either human or half-elven. In addition to this, each of them, save for the lowest-ranking members of the order, were also the sorcerer-king’s wives, which was the result of either a custom begun to ensure loyalty among his priesthood or simply of his insatiable appetites. The Templar Wives of Nibenay, as they were known, numbered several hundred strong, and were perhaps the second most efficient and disciplined templars in the Seven Cities, second only to the Warrior Priests of Urik. They dressed in black traditional Nibenese garb, black armor crafted from the carapace of giant insects, ridged with rows of spines and other deadly decorations, and were armed with terrible, barbed agafari spears.

The influence of the templars was strictly defined through the system of a smooth autocratic machine designed by the Shadow King himself. This system allowed him to delegate virtually all matters of government to his templars, and while all of them were allowed to operate freely they were also unable to stray too far from what Nibenay has predicted and demanded of them. As long as the templars maintained this order they enjoyed the king’s disinvolvement, but should they ever fail in their tasks, he knew all too well how to administer suitable punishment.

According to some legends, templars only ever met the king on the day of their wedding. Thereafter, they would see him at high sun observances and occasionally during times of war or rebellion. Some, however, were called regularly to his chambers, even though he only took counsel from his five high templars. The Templar Wives always looked to gain the affection of the king, and this often came at the expense of other templars. The schemes they planned were like those of the noble houses, where they constantly jockeyed for position within the government. Despite the fact that they frequently lead to backstabbing, temporary alliances, small wars of intrigue, and even assassinations, Nibenay didn’t interfere in these feuds unless a templar’s personal interests became inconsistent with those of the city. In such situations, Nibenay ruthlessly destroyed the offender and restructured her areas of responsibility.

Even though the templars were all Nibenay’s wives, and thusly a part of the royal family, the marriages were purely ceremonial for all but a handful of favored or high-ranking templars. The marriage ritual occurred within the walls of the Naggaramakam when an initiate reached the age of 16. Following this, the templar could call upon the king for her spellcasting powers. No members of the bride’s family were allowed to attend the ceremony, but a token with the Royal Cilops on one side and the name of the templar on the other was presented to the family as a gift from the king. The head of the household could then use this item as an official indication that they were related to the royal family. More than one free citizen escaped death by proving that their daughter was a Templar Wife. The customs of marriage and property were treated the same as in any other marriage in Nibenay, and each templar was authorized to distribute state property among their subordinates as she saw fit, but each templar was also allowed to accumulate and dispose of small gifts and private property freely and to keep small objects of personal interests. The king was also known to occasionally bestow gifts upon his wives for acts of exceptional devotion. Beyond this, templars were also permitted to take concubines of their own from among the slaves of the palace, as long as such diversions didn’t interfere with her duties.

Most templars lived within the Naggaramakam, and they were the only ones permitted to come and go into the walled sub-city without the expressed allowance of the king. The templar apartments of the Forbidden Dominion ranged from modest barracks for the low-ranking templars to entire wings of the palace for the High Consorts. Within the Naggaramakam, the needs of the templars were provided for, and they had no wants or need for anything. Those templars who lived outside of the Naggaramakam, including those stationed throughout the city as well as abroad, lived in comfortable, state-appointed residences.

The lowest ranking members of the templar order were derogatorily referred to as “shadow brides” by other templars and even nobles. This mockery was aimed at their trivial station within the government and their status as yet-to-be-wed. Because of their low standing, shadow brides often became pawns in the games of the higher-ranking templars, but the craftiest among them to used this to their advantage and played both sides of a conflict against each other to scheme their way into the higher echelons of the order.

Because of the derision often levied against shadow brides, many carried with them a great deal of pent-up rage – a rage that they happily unleash on anyone who dared to oppose them in a fight. While shadow brides didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, they tended to reserve their more potent psychic punishment for well-dressed and well-spoken adversaries. A sign of what they really thought of the condescending noble snakes.

On the opposite end of the hierarchical structure to the shadow brides were the High Consorts, sometimes referred to as the “High Courtesans”, the highest-ranking members of Nibenay’s templars and the Shadow King’s most trusted warriors and administrators. As the king’s favored wives, the High Consorts benefited from his magical protection, and anyone who dared so much as touch a High Consort was stricken by a deathly, life-draining chill that afforded the templar a chance to teleport to a point of advantage from where she could hurl spells at her foes. Despite their power and protection, High Consorts knew all to well when a battle seemed lost, and unless their temples were endangered, they weren’t afraid to withdraw from battle if need be.

Each High Consort ruled one of the five Chambers that together controlled every aspect of the city-state, and answered to no one apart from the High Consort of the King’s Law and to the sorcerer-king himself. The templars conducted their oversight from temples associated with their Chamber, each of which contained massive statues of the Shadow King. Nibenay uses these statues to hold audience with petitioners and prisoners when it became necessary. At such times, the eyes of a statue would glow with an intense blue flame, and the walls themselves resonated with the deep voice of the sorcerer-king. Thanks to this, the king could remain in seclusion even when affairs of state demanded his attention.

Siemhouk, the Child Priest[]

The pandita of Nibenay, the High Priestess and right hand of the sorcerer-king himself, wasn’t what one might expect. They called her the “Child Priest” of Nibenay, for that is what she was. Siemhouk was a thin, quiet girl and merely 14 years old at the time of the fall of Kalak. Despite this, she had nonetheless proven herself as both a highly competent templar and powerful psionicist. No one in the Nibenese government, save for Nibenay, had authority over her, not even the High Consort of the King’s Law, as had been decreed by the Shadow King, despite the usual conventions. How she came to advance to her position despite her young age is subject to rumors and speculations – mostly from outsiders that learnt of the Child Priest of Nibenay. Natives did not express this astonishment, for they placed a high value on courtesy, but they did still wonder.

Siemhouk was born to one of Nibenay’s high templars, however, her mother died in childbirth. Due to the curious circumstances of her birth, Siemhouk came to the attention of Nibenay not long after, and the sorcerer-king took great interest in the girl. Through portents apparent only to the Shadow King, he began to believe that the spirit of the mother had passed into the child at death. The extraordinary magical and psionic potential inherent in the infant spoke to this theory, and so the king himself took charge of rearing her. Under Nibenay’s tutelage and pressure, the girl grew steadily in power, and was allowed to travel across the Tablelands and then into other planes of existence as she gained mastery over her talents.

The young templar came to achieve prodigious skills in templar magic, beyond any other prodigy in the palace’s extensive history, but while her affinity for psionics were impressive, Siemhouk could only advance as quickly as her maturity allowed. However, it was believed that If her abilities at 14 years old were any indication, she would one day come to equal the powers of Nibenay’s most skilled augurs.

In addition to her already impressive abilities, Siemhouk had also shown signs of a unique psionic wild talent, known only to herself and the Shadow King. Through psionic means, she had proven able to allay even the most heated of emotions in any creature she faced. Nibenay saw great promise in this ability. With Siemhouk’s help, the sorcerer-king looked to smooth his potentially disastrous transformation into a true dragon, as he hoped that her wild talent would be enough to calm the bestial rage that would surely grip him upon his ascension. Siemhouk devoted a large portion of her time to mastering this particular psionic talent.

The Chamber of Air and the Temple of the Thought[]

Within the Temple of Thought, also referred to as the “University of the Naggaramakam”, one would find the Chamber of Air. This Chamber was involved with education in the city, meaning both the state school as well as training and research concerning both magic and psionics. The Chamber oversaw the mystical training of Nibenay’s agents, including templars, defilers, and psionicists.

Nibenay made great use of the Chamber of Air for his personal projects, and employed a college of scholarly slaves to aid in his quest to uncover the secrets of the world. One of these special projects concerned the translation of ancient texts found within a temple ruin discovered in the Crescent Forest.

The Chamber of Air was the responsibility of the young templar Siemhouk, High Priestess to the king. However, since Siemhouk’s duties often required her presence in the Shadow King’s court, she left the day-to-day administration of the psionic academy to master Chagrama.

The Chamber of Earth and the Temple of the House[]

The Chamber of Earth, located within the Temple of the House, handled administrative duties concerning the city as a whole. This included the reservoir, the king’s fields and city’s grain supply, infrastructure, public festivals, and taxes. The Chamber of Earth also managed the slaves and concubines within the Naggaramakam.

The High Consort of the House, was the head of the Chamber of Earth.

The Chamber of Fire and the Temple of War[]

The Chamber of Fire, housed within the Temple of War, was the military organization of Nibenay. It oversaw the recruitment and training of all soldiers of the City of Spires, and every young templar began their service as a soldier there. The organization also supervised the creation of new weapons and war machines, one of their most prominent innovations being the dreaded gouge, first developed for their infantry.

The army of Nibenay commanded fear and respect among the people of the Ivory Triangle and beyond. All free citizen of Nibenay were welcome to attempt to join the city’s army, but only those that completed the rigorous test put forth by the Chamber of Fire were accepted. At the core of Nibenay’s army stood a disciplined elite force of a thousand half-giant warriors armed with agafari lances and clubs, known as the Shadow Guard. The Chamber of Fire employed an army of approximately 5,000 free soldiers, including the templars themselves, the city watch, and specialized scout troops consisting of well-trained telepaths.

Beyond these troops, the Chamber of Fire also commanded a large number of slave soldiers, known as janissaries, who numbered about 5,000 as well. A small cadre of dray mercenaries were also under contract with the city at one point. The Shadow King, spurred on by his own twisted interests, saw to supplements his troops with scores of undead war machines, created out of the hollowed-out bodies of great rezhatta beetles and watroaches.

The Nibenese army preferred to engage its enemies in the open salt flats of the Ivory Plain. There, the half-giant infantry, alongside a swift-moving kank cavalry and the lumbering, undead war machines, were used with the greatest advantage. When the devastating forces of Nibenay cut through the Great Ivory Plain, it sent a clear signal about who truly ruled those lands.

The High Consort of the Army commanded the Chamber of Fire.

The Chamber of Water and the Temple of Trade[]

The Chamber of Water resided within the Temple of Trade and oversaw Nibenay’s commerce. This included the city gates, business licenses, and trade tariffs. Some of its most important duties consisted of managing Nibenay’s relationships with the dynastic merchant houses of Athas, and managing the sale of government property such as grain and slaves.

The High Consort of Trade, oversaw the business of the Chamber of Water.

The Chamber of Order and the Temple of the King’s Law[]

The Chamber of Order was feared even more than the oppressive power of the Nibenese army. The organization had its offices in the Temple of the King’s Law, and from there, its commands swept over both society at large, and the government itself. The Chamber of Order was responsible for the supervision of law enforcement, the administration of justice and taxes, management of the city’s prisons, and the maintenance of the rolls of citizenry. The Myrmeleon program, designed to infiltrate the shadowy Veiled Alliance, was also run by the Chamber of Order.

Officials of the Chamber of Order had authority over all other branches of government and a templar from the Chamber of Order could commandeer resources or subordinates from any lower-level templar in any other government agency. The city watch was generally run by Order templars with soldiers commandeered from the Chamber of Fire, for example. Templars of this Chamber were posted throughout the governmental organization, serving as watchdogs and facilitators, and even had the mandate to administer the law within the government and wielding powers of accusation against other templars.

The Chamber of Order was commanded by the High Consort of the King’s Law, who had the power to direct the other High Consorts – that is, apart from Siemhouk of the Chamber of Air.


In Free Year 10, Nibenay was left largely unaffected by the Great Earthquake thanks to its proximity to the Windbreak Mountains, as the mountain range absorbed the last tremors of the quake’s dissipating energy as it rippled eastward. The city was also spared from the worst effects of the Tyr-storms that began appearing in the wake of the appearance of the Cerulean Storm, and the growing unrest spreading throughout the Tablelands. If the Shadow King has his way, none of these problems will ever reach his domain.

Nibenay has been affected by the monumental happenings of recent months.

Trade and commerce[]

As always, the city-state’s main commodity is wood culled from the agafari trees of the Crescent Forest. Nibenay’s crafters fashion the wood into shields, spears, and clubs which are then sold throughout the Tyr Region. The wood is extremely hard and the next best thing to metal on Athas.

The merchants continue to conduct a brisk trade with Urik, Tyr, and Balic.

Besides wood, copper, rice, fruits, and spices from Nibenay are desired in the other city-states. Nibenay’s client village of Cromlin, located on the shores of the Sea of Silt, remains one of the only links with Draj. For this reason, Nibenay’s merchants have an almost exclusive line for moving trade goods to and from the northern city-state.

Dealings with Raam have collapsed (though it is rumored that Nibenay is building up his army to restore order in that troubled city), but conditions between Nibenay and Gulg have never been better. In the past, the two city-states competed for the precious resources of the Crescent Forest and often fought battles over control of the woodlands. The two city-states never actually went to war, which was good for Gulg. Lalali-Puy’s domain would not last long if Nibenay decided to throw its full might at the smaller city-state. Since the events that saw the birth of the Cerulean Storm, the two leaders have set aside their differences and have begun to work together. The sorcerer-king and sorcerer-queen have met on two separate occasions since they returned to their city-states after participating in the battle against Rajaat. What the final results of these meetings (and even if they will continue) will be remain a mystery, but it is known that Nibenay has begun to show more respect for the forest. For every tree a Nibenese slave pulls from the ground, another slave plants two more.

Notable places and districts[]

  • Traders' District
  • Nobles' District
  • The Naggaramakam
  • Free Citizens' District
  • Mekillot Gate
  • Merchant House District
  • Abandoned District
  • Hill District
  • South Gate
  • Reservoir Gate
  • City Reservoir
  • Nobles' Cemetery
  • Free Merchants' District
  • West Gate

Famous Residents[]


The Veiled Alliance[]

Nibenay’s Veilled Alliance has an utter hatred of defilers. This has led to a rare commodity beneath Athas’s crimson sun-idealism. With the help of an ancient spiritual force known as the zwuun, which resides in the hot springs outside the city, the Alliance does what it can to protect preservers.

The Alliance doesn’t feel it can oppose the Shadow King directly, so it directs its activities against lesser defilers. Thagya Phon (male human/17th-level preserver/LN) leads the Nibenese Alliance, though his health has begun to fail him in recent years. He has two goals he wishes to accomplish before he dies: He longs to discover what Nibenay’s scholar slaves have been working on in the Naggaramakam, and he has a dream of mounting the Shadow King’s head on the obsidian pedestal that rises from the floor of his spartan quarters.