In Depth Map Of Riddleport

Most of Riddleport’s buildings are composed of wood— logs or planks—with multiple floors and steep, highpeaked roofs of wooden shingles. They are built in close quarters, and in some cases their wooden upper floors sag and lean together from the constantly sodden conditions. Stone fireplaces ward off the bitter winter cold and the chill that lingers in the fog-laden streets for much of the year, save for in high summer. During this two-month period, warmer air currents from the south bring a muggy, oppressive heat along with great black mosquitoes that breed in the nearby marshes. Many burn peat treated with incense in their hearths during these months to ward off the vermin with their thick smoke.
The major streets of Riddleport are cobbled, often becoming rain-slick cataracts during the wet seasons. Cobbles are often missing or crushed by the incessant traffic, leaving gaping holes and ruts in even the most welltended thoroughfares. Side streets tend to be relegated to muddy tracks that are swift to turn into stinking morasses of sucking mud and filth. Riddleport doesn’t have much of a sewage system, and relies mainly on gutters along street edges to carry refuse to the river and harbor. One feature unique to the major streets is the frequent oil lamps mounted on iron poles that provide beacons of light in the benighted mists. These are set in sturdy hurricane lamps and burn thick, rancid oil from barrel-shaped reservoirs at the lamppost base—a byproduct and innovation of the Gas Works. These wavering lights give off illumination equal to a torch in even the foulest weather but are not well-tended—just over a third of them are out on any given night, in need of repairs or refueling.
The following locations correspond to the map below.

1. The Cyphergate

The enigmatic Cyphergate looms large over Riddleport’s harbor, a constant reminder of the transience of life and even civilization, since few can even imagine what society might have raised this architectural wonder. The arch rises 350 feet above the water below at high tide, rising from the rocky crags on either side of the harbor mouth—its diameter is exactly 700 feet. Rectangular in cross section and 35 feet wide, the sides bear massive runes and glyphs. It is of an unidentifiable stone of almost supernatural hardness that resists most efforts at defacing or marking, and has weathered countless years amazingly well. There is speculation that the arch is actually the upper portion of a great stone ring, the bottom of which lies buried beneath the harbor, and long-abandoned excavations have shown that it descends deeply into the bedrock, but how far down it goes and how it could have been implanted in the natural stone remains a mystery, as do the meanings of the runes on its sides.
Some researchers note that these runes are similar to those that comprise the Thassilonian language, yet each bears subtle differences that make translation difficult, if not impossible. Most scholars believe that the runes have no meaning, and are simply decorative. Magical attempts to decipher the runes have supported this theory, yet the Order of Cyphers believes that this simply points to the runes’ mystic nature, that even magic cannot decipher their meaning or the Cyphergate’s true purpose. Cracking this code has become the primary goal of the Order, yet they are no closer to solving it today than they were when their order was founded.

2. Riddleport Harbor

Riddleport’s harbor is a somewhat crowded natural cove
grown increasingly dense with piers and ship traffic. Runoff
from the city’s sewage gutters and silt from the ever-muddy
Velashu River sometimes transforms the water into a nasty
brown, but for the most part ocean currents keep the harbor
relatively fresh and filled with fish, which in turn draws
numerous, more dangerous predators to the harbor. Sharks,
reefclaws, bunyips, devilfish, and barracuda (both the
standard and the regional amphibious variety) have all
been spotted in the harbor waters, creating
a dangerous environment to swim in.
Men who fall overboard from ships in
Riddleport’s harbor generally have
only a few minutes to reach safety
before one of these predators
finds them.
3. Inner Harbor
A smaller harbor at the river’s
mouth, the Inner Harbor’s pricier
berths provide more direct access
to the mills and mercantile buildings.
Unfortunately, the number
of pollutants in the slow-flowing
river from the city’s sewage
gutters and mills makes water
drawn from the inner harbor
undrinkable at best—fortunately,
it also makes it less predator-
infested than the main harbor.
4. Velashu Ferry
When Riddleport was founded, it often had difficulty with
the goblins, ogres, and trolls that dwelt in the Calphiak
Mountains. While these creatures have dwindled in number
since then, the traditional ban on building bridges over the
Velashu remains. Those seeking to cross the river can either
pay local fishermen for passage, or they can engage the
services of the Velashu Ferry here. The ferry runs regularly
throughout the night and day. Grimas Oltedler (CN male
human commoner 3) works steadily through the evening
and night but must be summoned from his bed by ringing
the ferry bell if one is seeking passage before midday. Prices
range from 2 to 6 cp per traveller, depending on the length of
the journey up or downriver.
5. River District
This section of the town runs along both banks of the
Velashu River. It consists primarily of shops and fulling
mills that turn out the few trade items manufactured in
Riddleport, mainly finished metal goods, lumber, fulled
cloth, tanned hides, and cured furs taken by hunters
from the nearby mountains or the Uplands. Two fishpacking
houses operate in this stretch as well. All of
these operations dump their wastes directly into the
river, as do several sewage drains from the streets of the
city, providing a particularly pungent odor for which the
district is infamous and has earned the unofficial name of
“Reek District.”
6. Publican House
(Temple of Cayden Cailean)
This building of clapboard and shingles appears to
be a large, rough-and-tumble tavern.
Great bay windows of leaded glass
look out over the river, often lit by the
revel ongoing through most hours of the
evening and night. A sign bearing the symbol
of a dented ale mug hangs above the
door, and written discreetly beneath
it in gold letters are the words
“Publican House.” This
raucous place is actually a
temple to Cayden Cailean,
god of adventurers and
drink, and is a favorite
among the ships’ crews and
travelers that visit Riddleport
for its fair prices and wide
selection. It is overseen by High
Publican Arnando Rolf (CG male
human fighter 3/cleric 5), a bear of a
man who is rarely seen without a notched
sword swinging at his hip. The temple-tavern
is open to all, with the one exception painted in bright red
letters in several languages directly above the bar: “No
Cyphermages,” a policy enacted several years ago after
numerous problems between Rolf and some of the more
egotistical and stuffy members of the Order of the Cypher.
7. Windward District
This affluent section of Riddleport consists of sturdy
timber structures built upon the slopes of the city’s western
ridgeline. It gains its name from the warm summer breezes
that come in off of the gulf. Winding paths with steps
cut into the bare stone provide egress through this steep
district, and most buildings are several stories high with
numerous balconies, many connected by narrow bridges.
This district houses most of the city’s scholars and sages,
and about 80% of the cyphermages make their homes here
among these wind-blown tenements.
8. Cypher Lodge
This grand structure of stone and timber sits perched
upon a lonely crag nestled against the very slope of the mountain, and provides a panoramic view of both the gulf
and the city. More importantly, its three wings look directly
out over the Cyphergate. This lodge is the headquarters of
the vaunted Order of Cyphers, a society of skilled wizards
and sages who have dedicated themselves to unraveling
the secrets of ancient arcana—in particular, the purpose
of the Cyphergate. The lodge is open to all cyphermages
for a monthly room-and-board fee of 5 gp, a fee that grants
access to its extensive libraries as well as a host of learned
scholars on the subject. To non-cyphermages, a day’s room
and board (and access to the libraries) is a much heftier 20
gp. Nevertheless, its guest rooms are almost always full.
Today the cyphermages toil under their current leader Elias
Tammerhawk (CE male human diviner 9), an accomplished
wizard who has been elected as speaker of the order for two
consecutive 8-year terms. Many whisper that Elias has his
eye set on the position of overlord, and Riddleport’s other
crimelords worry about the nature of the changes to their
beloved city should this event occur.
Rules further detailing the Order of Cyphers can be
found in Pathfinder Companion: Second Darkness.
9. Wharf District
This raucous district lies hard on the edge of the very docks
of the city and is where much of the city’s day-to-day action
of commerce and thievery occurs. Nearest the docks are a
series of warehouses and cheap grog shops where merchant
and pirate crews mingle in a haze of rum-soaked debauchery
and blood. Once the most commercially successful portion
of the city, its aged facade and Riddleport’s slow slide toward
legitimacy have seen much of the action move northward to
the Free-Coin District, leaving the Wharf District a tattered
shadow of its former self. Inns and shops have grimed
windows and peeling paint hinting at a prosperity that
no longer exists, which is just fine for the run-of-the-mill
pirate crew.
10. Gold Goblin Gambling Hall
Once a high profile venue and shining diamond of the
bustling Wharf District, this run-down gambling hall
currently run by Saul Vancaskerkin (CN male human
rogue 4) has seen better days and a half-dozen changes
in ownership over the years. Despite financial setbacks,
it continues to put up a good face and even provides
beast fighting to bet on in competition with the nearby
Zincher’s Arena. The Gold Goblin is featured prominently
in the adventure “Shadow in the Sky” and is fully detailed
starting on page 56.
11. Zincher’s Arena
This massive stone structure dominates the Wharf District.
Brutal contests of strength and combat prowess between
slaves, criminals, professional gladiators, and captured
wild beasts and monsters are held here for the public’s
entertainment, but so are formal duels by members of the
city’s elite who wish to settle feuds in a public spectacle.
The latter are much rarer, as such duel challenges are
seldom issued—assassinations and poisonings are so
much more efficient—and even more rarely accepted for
the same reasons. However, such events draw by far the
largest crowds. The last such duel was between Speaker
Tammerhawk of the cyphermages and a visiting evoker who
was denied entry to the Cypher Lodge after one too many
insults levied at the school of divination. Tammerhawk
won in short order in a spectacularly bloody bout that
involved a swarm of rats devouring the still-living rival
mage. Local crime boss Clegg Zincher (CN male human
expert 2/rogue 7) runs the arena, and his booming voice
and flair for melodrama make him uniquely suited to run
such events as the establishment has become regionally
famous for. While not the most powerful crimelord in
Riddleport, he is certainly one to be feared and respected.
12. Gas Forges
The Cyphergate is not the only unique local feature, merely
the most obvious. The second, more subtle peculiarity is
also the primary reason for Riddleport’s prosperity, for
the location sits above a large deposit of carbauxine, a
rare gas normally found deep in the Darklands. Dwarven
smiths have long known of the properties of carbauxine,
of how flames fueled by the gas run hotter than most other
forges and allow for the smelting and forging of many rare
and difficult metals like adamantine. When this unusual
deposit was discovered beneath Riddleport over a century
ago, the dwarves were quick to capitalize and constructed
the Gas Forges above the site.
Carbauxine is a poisonous, heavier-than-air gas that is
difficult to work with, but carbauxine forges are immensely
valuable in metalcrafting. The Gas Forges are the only
forges in Varisia capable of smelting adamantine and other
high-hardness metals, and despite the rarity of such ore,
the Gas Forges never seem to be without custom. The Gas
Forges are an immense structure of brick and iron with
dozens of foul, smoke-belching stacks built over the forges.
The actual workings beneath the structure are populated by
dwarven laborers who don crude breathing devices as they
work to maintain proper gas flow for the forges by removing
the huge deposits of carbon and poisonous heavy metals
that develop from their usage. The facial bellows they wear
are inefficient and must be hand-pumped, forcing workers
to hold their breath as they work, pausing as infrequently as
possible to work the bellow filters to provide fresh air. The
work is taxing even for the hardy dwarves, but those who
survive a few years of such labor retire wealthy—usually
to die shortly thereafter of black lung or liver failure. The
anonymous consortium of dwarves that own the Gas Forges are some of the richest residents of Varisia, although they
live in distant Janderhoff and trust the daily maintenance
and running of the Gas Forges to Tromard Roldheim
(LN male dwarf fighter 2, expert 5), their embittered but
relatively well-paid proxy.
13. Rotgut District
This district of disheveled businesses and collapsing
tenements is crammed up against the city’s protective
ridge. Easily the poorest section in the city proper,
Rotgut also hosts the highest crime rate and the
most brothels and alehouses per capita. Every
crimelord seems to have a finger in the Rotgut
District, though few actually dwell within its
dubious environs.
14. St. Caspieran’s Mission
This small mission church and almshouse
was founded several decades ago by a
starry-eyed follower of Sarenrae who
dedicated the mission to the care of
crippled sailors and those widowed
or orphaned by the sea. Things
didn’t turn out so well for
the missionary, and today,
the almshouse serves as
the headquarters for a
beggarmaster and petty
conman known as the
Splithog Pauper (NE male
human rogue 4).
15. Riddleport Light
Built on a lonely crag at the terminus of Riddleport’s
eastern ridge, this beacon tower provides guidance to the
safety of the harbor and away from the treacherous rocks
just to the east of the harbor mouth. It can only be reached
by a narrow winding stairway. It has been occupied over
the years by a number of different groups and individuals,
but is currently the home of a reclusive sorcerer named
Gebediah Krix (NE male human sorcerer 10) who, rumor
holds, consorts with fiends from the Great Beyond. Krix
is courteous enough to make sure the beacon is lit each
night, so the powers-that-be elect not to try and dislodge
his occupation of the tower.
16. Leeward District
Riddleport’s largest district, Leeward is built into the
protecting curve of the city’s eastern ridge, where it is
sheltered from the worst of the winter winds. The majority
of the city’s population resides in the tall tenements of this
district, and most buildings have a shop at street level where
standard goods and services can be obtained. From the central
well and market to the temples and the walled compounds of
the various bosses that run the crime in Riddleport, almost
anything can be found on the streets of Leeward District.
17. House of the Silken Veil
This octagonal pyramid is topped by a blood-red steeple.
The walls were once of white marble but are now grimed
and stained by years of exposure to the salt air and the
pollutants of the Gas Forges, giving it a dreary, unhealthy
look. But the silken curtains that cover its three
wide, inviting entrances are always freshly
laundered and do little to mask the scent
of exotic incenses that waft from within.
This structure is the headquarters for
Riddleport’s “hospitality industry,”
an industry that includes prostitutes,
alehouses, escorts, dancers, and even
(it is rumored) exotic assassins. The
House of the Silken Veil serves
another purpose as well: it is a
temple of Calistria in addition to
being a high-class brothel. Temple
prostitutes work the streets
and squares of Leeward
and send criers and
samples down to Wharf
District to bring in the
“pigeons.” The high
priestess of this temple
is Shorafa Pamodae (CN
female tiefling cleric 10), a
leather-clad mistress seldom
seen without her snakeskin whip coiled about a shoulder.
She is also one of the city’s minor crimelords and rules the
hospitality industry, from pimps to liquor sales.
Currently working within the confines of the temple
and never venturing forth is a call girl called Lavender
Lil (NE female tiefling rogue 4). A faithful follower of
Calistria, Lavender has been granted asylum by Shorafa to
escape the wrath of Clegg Zincher after her involvement
in the death of his brother more than a year ago. She
chafes at her confinement and would be only too willing
to manipulate a heroic “pigeon” into helping her escape
Zincher’s retribution.
18. The Fish Bowl
This bowl-shaped structure is open to the air and has
a saltwater pool at its center, earning it its common
nickname. In fact, this site is the city’s temple of a relatively
minor goddess called Besmara, goddess of piracy, strife,
and sea monsters. Various sorts of aquatic predators
are kept within this deep pool by the small staff of seapriests
that man this temple—from swamp barracuda to reefclaws to the occasional giant octopus. The clergy has
been careful to keep such “guests” under control ever since
a number of reefclaws plagued the eastern portion of the
city for more than a week a few years back. Rumor has it
that on certain special nights, sacrifices are given to these
creatures to placate Besmara’s more sinister aspects. The
temple is currently headed by a wizened, old, one-legged
man named Ruben Carfay (CN male human rogue 1/cleric
7). Most of Riddleport’s merchants and sea captains make
at least occasional visits to this temple to leave tithes and
request the favor of the Pirate Queen, but like most of
her worshipers, they aren’t a very faithful or particularly
devout lot.
19. Mystery of the Gate
This grandiose structure is the inn and tavern most favored
by visiting scholars who come to study the Cyphergate. Its
walls are decorated with etchings of glyphs, diagrams, and
sketches showing the various dimensions and angles of
the monument, and twice a week a cyphermage visits from
the lodge and hosts a short lecture. In recent years, the inn
has become a watering hole for adventurers as well, as the
concentration of sages and scholars is a bountiful resource
for researching quests throughout Varisia and beyond.
20. Lymas Smeed’s Townhouse
Fronting on Rat Street, this townhouse is the abode of the
loan shark Lymas Smeed—it is detailed in full on page 27.
21. Zincher’s Tenement
Clegg Zincher owns this five-story tenement and takes
the entire top floor as his abode and headquarters. The
lower levels are occupied by his loyal soldiers and capps,
as well as gladiators and mercenaries in his employ.
The entire building is fortified from within and virtual
suicide for anyone who might suppose to openly confront
Zincher here.
22. Boss Croat’s Compound
Several buildings of the Leeward District here have been
connected by a 15-foot wall topped with a spiked parapet.
Boss Croat (NE male half-orc fighter 5/rogue 4) operates
from inside this fortress, where wagonloads of the illicit
drugs and contraband he sells are carted in under heavy
guard for eventual disbursment among various street
vendors. All of the windows are shuttered and barred,
and at least two dozen half-orc men-at-arms are known to
reside within.
23. The River Runner
This large establishment is perched on a bluff overlooking
the Velashu. Once grandiose, now its paint peels and
the shingles of its roof are missing in several places.
Though still a functional, if somewhat pricey, inn, the
River Runner’s true purpose (as revealed by the double
entendre of its name) is to serve as a clearing house for
the smuggling and black market operations of crimelord
Avery Slyeg (CN male half-elf wizard 3/rogue 4). The
fact that it is operated directly under the nose of the
gendarmes at the Devil’s Fork merely reveals the extent
to which his bribery has infiltrated their ranks.
24. The Devil’s Fork
Riddleport’s military district is nestled into the draws
formed by the rocky ridgeline that guards the city’s east and
north sides. The Fork guards the northern approach to the
city. Within the draws have been constructed a stableyard
and barracks for the city’s 250 gendarmes and a small force
of light cavalry. In the southern draw is Shoreleave, the city’s
fortress-prison compound backed up against the rocky
ridge and said to extend underneath in tunnels mined
out by prisoners sentenced to hard labor. General Anton
Mescher (N male human fighter 8), Overlord Cromarcky’s
right-hand man, oversees Shoreleave efficiently and fairly,
and is one of the few people in power in Riddleport who
isn’t seeking to gain more.
25. Maskyr’s Island
Named for Cabriem Maskyr, the pirate captain who became
the first overlord of Riddleport, this islet in the center of
the Velashu River holds the current overlord’s citadel and
estate as well as many of the city’s various administration
buildings. Several docks provide access to the island, but all
are heavily guarded by gendarmes—Overlord Cromarcky
does not accept visitors lightly. The citadel was built with
the idea in mind that should the city fall (likely to internal
turmoil), the residents of Maskyr’s Island would be able to
weather the tumult for some time.
26. Free-Coin District
In recent years, the gambling hall business in Riddleport
has seen a sudden surge in popularity—game halls are
now among the city’s greatest sources of revenue. This
recent expansion to the city serves as the demesne of
three of Riddleport’s newest and grandest gamehalls—the
Dragon’s Hoard, the Watercress, and the House of Nabin.
All three, incidentally, are at least partially owned by
Overlord Cromarcky, which likely explains the district’s
exclusivity from competition and unique tax-free status.
Of course, all three establishments are rigged for the
house, but this has as of yet not dampened their popularity
among locals and visitors alike.
27. Lubbertown
Reflecting Riddleport’s early days as a purely nautical
destination, this shanty town of tents and simple dwellings sprung up outside the gates and beyond the official reach
of the overlord’s taxes. Known derisively as Lubbertown
for the fact that most of its inhabitants arrive at the city
by land rather than by sea, the district is not patrolled by
the gendarmes and has developed its own social order,
informal system of laws, and distribution of goods and
employment. Many of the city’s criminal organizations
train (and recruit) their lowliest operatives among the vice
of Lubbertown.
28. City Mortuary
This large, nondenominational
chapel is maintained
by the churches
of Cayden Cailean, Calistria,
and Besmara,
and is used for funeral
services and burial
rites. It features its
own attached mausoleums
for those who
can afford interment
there rather than in
the common graves of
the Burying Ground. The
building is locked up tight
when not in use.
29. The Burying Ground
The land in and around Riddleport
is either low-lying and saturated by the
high water table or consists of rocky peaks and ridges—
neither of which make ideal conditions for the interment
of the deceased. As a result, this low hill conveniently
located just outside of town has been the predominant
burial ground for generations of those unwilling or
unable to afford the expense necessary to have a rockcut
tomb in the surrounding ridges, or a private vault
in the city mortuary. Graves are spaced closely together
to maximize the limited hill space and burials typically
involve interring bodies two and three deep. Stone
tombs—anywhere from crude cairns to ornate vaults—
surround the hill on the lower ground where the earth is
too soggy to make burials practical.
30. Boneyard Cut
Climbing over Riddleport’s eastern ridge, this pass
ascends almost 200 feet at a near-45-degree angle. Garbage
is carried over this pass on mule-drawn carts in well-worn
ruts and then down at a shallower angle to a ledge 40 feet
above the salt marsh. At the terminus of this path is a sheer
cliff and the caretaker’s hut. The caretaker, Hyram Crooge
(CE male bugbear rogue 5), maintains a constant bonfire
for the burning of some trash and dumps the rest over the
cliff edge into the marsh below. Crooge uses his isolation
and ranks in Disguise to hide his identity as anything
other than a heavily cowled half-orc hermit of peculiar
posture and questionable hygiene. This false front serves
his murderous instincts well as he sometimes descends
the Cut on certain nights to brutally murder derelicts and
drunks in the fog-wrapped streets of the city—his work
has long been known as the doings of a killer named the
“Rotgut Ripper.”
31. The Boneyard
This deceptively named place actually serves
as the city’s dump and ship’s graveyard
rather than the intended final resting
place for the once-living, though there
are certainly enough corpses that end up
concealed here to give most city graveyards a
run for their money. Its name is derived
from the many old hulks and collections
of ships’ ribs that protrude from the
swampy ground. The whole area
is a partially flooded salt marsh
that is generally 2 or 3 feet deep,
although some hidden patches
of quicksand are much deeper.
The tidal influx keeps a mild
current swirling through the
marsh that stirs the garbage
around until it collects in
various clumps of decomposing
compost that eventually form stable isles—
some supporting considerable vegetation—within the
swamp. Abandoned ships are towed up into the swamp
from the bay during high tide by flat-bottomed skiffs
and then set adrift. They quickly settle into the shallow
waters, and the pull of the tide here is too weak to float
any of them back out, though some of them do slowly
change position over time due to the inexorable tidal
forces. Several scavenging creatures are known to
inhabit the fertile scavenging fields of the Boneyard,
including the dangerous swamp barracuda and immense
cockroaches.
In several places, numerous ship hulks have clumped
together, forming tangled warrens of chambers
interconnected by plank bridges, ropes, and crude ladders.
Many of these are inhabited by packs of wererats, all of
whom belong to a larger family run by a charismatic but
still horrifically filthy killer named Ziphras (LE male
wererat human rogue 4). Ziphras and his boys periodically
venture into Riddleport in rat form to search for new
opportunities for robbery, smuggling, and other highpaying
crimes.

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