The Shackled City (PFRPG Version)
Cauldron background for Shackled City players
The Cauldron background for Shackled City players is a limited background of the greater Cauldron city itself and its region for player character use in the Shackled City campaign. This writeup will be expanded as the campaign progresses, and more information is revealed to the players.
Cauldron is a small city with a mix of mostly human citizens, though halflings, gnomes, dwarves and elves are not uncommon. Other races such a half-elves are less common. Half-orcs used to be rare, but recently there has been an influx of half-orc mercenaries, who are being employed by the city guard to supplement their ranks.
The Lord Mayor Severen Navalant, a human, is the current primary political leader, though he does not act without the consensus of the most powerful nobles in the city. Captain of the Guard, Terseon Skellerang, also a human, is a stern man, but with a reputation for even-handed justice.
Much of the trade in the region involves deals brokered from Cauldron or Sasserine, but ore and crops mostly come from surrounding villages.
Cauldron is also a popular destination for traveling wizards who wish to measure the magical energies of a volcano without exposing themselves to the harsh conditions of much of the Hellfurnaces. These academics are usually welcomed, but the Bluecrater Academy is careful to keep tabs on such dabblers, and has been known to intervene if their “examinations” pose a threat to the city.
The politics of the region are complex at best. The largest political and military threat to Cauldron continues to be the Scarlet Brotherhood, while the logistics of waging any sort of military campaign up the side of a volcanic cauldron have thus far defended the city from even the notion of a siege, the Brotherhood can be a devious and dangerous foe regardless of the availabilit of military options.
A token stream of slaves is exported annually from Sessarine to mollify the Brotherhood’s slavers, and part of the “tax” that Cauldron pays to defend the roads between Sessarine and Cauldron is the contribution of two people each year to this trade. It is a heavy burden, but families are well compensated, and treated as heroes of the community for helping to defend the city by sending their children off. In some cases, there are some that say such slaves have even returned from the lands of the Brotherhood, but for most, the journey is one-way. This is something that the churches of Pelor and St. Cuthbert have been trying to end, but so far they have been unable to devise a better way that all agree would work.
The relationship between Cauldron and the Hold of the Sea Princes used to be fairly strong, but since the Brotherhood took control of the Hold, communications have dwindled to the point that goods are the only substantial form of communication today, and most of those come through Sessarine.
Other gods, especially those of the demi-human races are worshiped in Cauldron, but there are no specific temples to them within the city limits.
Over 500 years ago, the area was an outlying part of the Serpentfolk domain and there are tales of great wars against supernatural forces in the area. It was against this backdrop that a rush on newly discovered mineral resources lead to, first the founding of the mining town of Redgorge about 15-20 miles to the south, and then Cauldron itself. Recent rains have made news from Cauldron rather dismal. Flooding is a regular problem that the city only recently managed to get under some measure of control.
The Underdark is something like an underground kingdom from the point of view of the city of Cauldron. The citizens of Cauldron know that there are large caverns, rivers and tunnels connecting underground structures. They also know that there are some places in the area of Cauldron that have access to these places. However, the general understanding is that many of the races that live so deep underground are evil, and any interaction with them is seen as suspect. This means that anyone with significant contact with the Underdark typically keeps that to themselves, and does not walk around talking about it. Because of this, there is as much falsehood as truth in the rumors that swirl around about the Underdark. Stories one might hear on the street in Cauldron include:
In Golarian, such knowledge is widespread (if sometimes inaccurate). In a frontier city like Cauldron, there are probably better understandings of local creatures because the area is not as well controlled, but they wouldn’t know if a Steel Dragon is good or evil.
All of the common creatures are going to be known (orcs, goblins, lizardfolk, animals of most sub-tropical and even most temperate types, etc.)
Dragon lore is common for the Beastiary listed chromatic and metallic dragons.
People generally think that demons are either very deformed or have mixed features of animals and humanoids. They don’t always know the distinction between devils and demons, but anyone with Knowledge (religion) of 1 or higher is going to know that they are different and hate each other.
Beyond that, there’s the sorts of lore that people have around wizards and evil clerics. This gets touchy because Cauldron has a massive cathedral to Nethys, so they’re sort of OK with the fine gray line between “worshipers of a questionable deity” and “evil clerics that summon undead to kill us.” You will find that people are suspicious of anyone who associates with scary looking creatures, but they’re not as freaked out as they would be if you had a skeleton following you around (which you might be able to get away with, but it would make you a bit of a pariah at the very least, and might result in having to stay outside the city; certainly it would mean you could not get away with much before the city guard would ask you to leave).
“Lich” is a word that gets used a lot to mean “undead archmage” as often as “bad guy that works magic.” Thankfully for them, no one around here has the background to really understand the difference.