As the World Burns
Ancient and magnificent, Raam has fallen far from its formerly wondrous heights. Centuries of plundering the countryside for its resources, rampant corruption in its government, and the rule of a hedonistic and disinterested sorcerer-queen have brought the city-state to the brink of disintegration. The alabaster quarries and gemstone mines stand exhausted; reckless agricultural practices have led to disastrous food shortages. In the streets, violent factions sworn
to one warlord or another battle for control as the once-vibrant and influential city slips into ruin. Mobs riot daily against their ineffectual ruler, the sorcerer-queen Abalach-Re,and her templars dare not set foot in some of the citys districts.
The present difficulties might have been averted by a strong hand, but Abalach-Re had less interest in ruling than in feeding her insatiable appetite for pleasure. Generations ago, she abandoned her royal title and declared herself to be the representative of an all-powerful deity known as Badna. Calling her self the Grand Vizier, a title normally held by Raams greatest mystics, she razed the citys existing shrines and temples, replacing them with new shrines dedicated to Badna. The deitys image – that of a grinning, four-armed male dressed in a long loincloth appears all over the city-state. Abalach-Re continues to assure the citizens that Badna watches her closely and will strike her dead if she falters in her duties, but few believe her anymore.
Extensive irrigation combined with the water beneath Raams holdings have transformed the natural scrubland into a rich, verdant area ringing the city for miles. At its height, Raam rivaled Draj in grain production, and its date orchards were second to none. Now, many fields lay fallow, burned, and salted, the work of raiders and warring nawabs. Such destruction has led to food shortages, driving up prices for the most basic foodstuffs.
The Road of Kings and the Nibenese Road lead directly into the city from the west, south, and east. Noble estates front these roads, each one a small fortress replete with steep walls, turrets, and garrisons to protect the households within. Most nobles try to collect tolls from passersby. The crude huts of field slaves lie clustered in squalid hamlets between the estates. The three great ways meet at the plaza where the Circle Market stands, near the middle of the city.