(and the Imperial Court of Rhakhaan)

A Shadow World Supplemental

Written by Terry Kevin Amthor

Reviewed by Jay A. Howell, 1999

Greetings, my friends, I'm glad to see you've made it safely through this dreadful weather to join me. When Amthor warned me that travel was nigh impossible, I didn't expect it to be this bad. I think it should be struck on the calendar that the Navigators have stopped taking money from customers. (If you ever have the joy of hiring one, you'll gain first-hand knowledge of their "Sky-jacking-before-you-leave-the ground" fees.)

But, enough of the unpleasantness of current travel. Come sit with me here at The Five Gables Inn and I'll give you a quick tour of the Capitol of the Rhakhaan Empire. Here, join me in a mug of mulled wine while I regale you:

Haalkitaine is unlike any other city, when you first arrive to see its splendors. The Sun rarely shines on this city. The majority of the year this city is cloaked in mist, fog, or most likely a rainstorm. The Royal palace is a site to behold on a cloudless day. The villas of the Noble peerage are worthy of touring as well, if one can get close enough to study the structures. The city contains numberless shops within its walls. All crafts and trades are present, and one can obtain their services for the right price. As Amthor's travel guide states; "Barely are you past the inner gates when the city envelops you with sights, sounds, and smells! Pushcart vendors, peddlers, and jugglers line the streets near every gate, assailing the unaccustomed visitor with aggressive advertisements of their wares."

Like all other large centers of population, the populace is largely mixed. There are Elves of all races, as well as: Zori, Jameri, Myri/Talath, Haid, Quaidu, Y'kin, and Y'nari peoples. All can put claim to permanent residence within the cities walls. What's that? Why yes, there are also some Dyari living within the city. The logistics and administration are given to appointed offices. The Mayor's office is an elected position with a term of six years. The City Constabulary is numerous, all answer to the Chief Constable. The Laws of the city are defined by the local government, with punishments for crimes just as clearly defined.

The Empire of Rhakhaan is unique for several reasons. For one, The Emperor has begun what is now called "His Majesty's Post". Twice daily, within the cities of Lethys and Haalkitaine, letters can be delivered across the town. Other cites or destinations take much longer, unfortunately. The most entertaining reason why Rhakhaan is unique, however, are the holidays. I won't bore you with listing them all, but my favorite one is called "Kieronalia", a nine day festival of music, dancing, and general sating of the physical pleasures. Another unique fact is that this empire seems to hold the eighth day of every month as a "bad luck day".

Have I bored you enough with the superficial details? Well enough, I'll get to the interesting tidbits now...

While Haalkitaine is a bastion of civilization on the surface, there is a dark underside which is denied by almost all within the city. Rumors are rampant about the contents of the sewers underneath these streets. Most rumors connect the sewers with even deeper catacombs, but these are brushed off as hokum. Regardless of the disbelief, within some areas of the city one can purchase a map leading to these catacombs dubbed "Gates to the Ash Lairs".

There are quite a number of dangers above the ground as well, my friend. The gangs have become more aggressive lately. Clashes between the Nightwings (primarily young Laan males) and the Red Dragons (young Elven males) have recently started getting bloodier, if not deadly. The black market is run by a hidden Cartel, a secretive guild of thieves and assassins. Worst feared by all the merchant class is "The White Hand", an extortion ring running within the city that strongarms and blackmails.

There I go again, darkening the mood with talk of murky tunnels and lurking evil. I'll not detail this any further.

If you spend enough time within the city, you'll begin to hear of the political schemes crafted by the various personages within the Noble class. One young lord that avoids the court of Haalkitaine, due to his very apparent elven blood, is Lord Joren Paulik Lydania. Talk is that the young Kalen Avenir, son of the Duke of Prevan, avoids the city as much as possible for the same reason. Of the other nobles within the Empire, the pranksters of the court are the young lords Mykal and Marko Vodrey, twin brothers I've had the fortune (I think) to have met briefly. These two have an uncanny knack for pulling silly pranks on unsuspecting members of the court. Young Lord Lukas Deroy, Viscount Ridgeston, has some intriguing rumors circling about him. One can only speculate about his friendship with the young Prince Toren.

The older generation of nobles hold more ambitious men, and women let's not forget, than you can shake a stick at. Most suspicious are the Archprelate of Esov Turic, and the Archprelate of Purll Kurn. These two are the most powerful men within the United Church of Orhan, and strangely enough hold "noble status" within the court. I've always suspected that all priesthood's contained hidden agendas to manipulate the socio-political agendas to suit them. With these two in such a prominent position to do just such, it makes me uneasy. One of the most talked about nobles is Lord Byren, Viscount of Norek. Yes, you heard me right, Norek. The once independent city state just recently became a part of the empire. Of course, you already know that the Prince Westley Malvion, of Lethys, (not really a member of the Royal Family) rules the largest port city of the Empire.

The Emperor's Privy Council holds some of the most stalwart and loyal followers of the Emperor. Most dangerous is the Lord High Chancellor, Lord Rugan Bulcenor, a consummate politician by all accounts. The least bribable, according to all rumors, is the Royal Truthsayer, an Itanian Warlock named Jorun. Also of note is that the Loremasters have assigned Ren Thraysk and Randae Terisonen to the Rhakhaan Court as advisors to the Emperor. Currently absent from court, but sure to return in the future, is the White Mage.

For worship, the city holds the usual as well as some unexpected temples. There's the United Orhan Church, The Followers of the Holy Word (Valris worship), and The Sisters of Eissa. Some alley rumors even say there's a Moralis Sanctity hidden somewhere in the city.

I hope this whets your appetite concerning the city of Haalkitaine. If not, I encourage you to stroll through the city and explore the full range of crafts available. Just one warning: tread warily where Nobility and "Honor" are concerned, and always keep friends around you after dark.

Ah, yes! It's dinner time and I hope you've worked up an appetite, I sure have. I hope you enjoy your time in Haalkitaine, Capitol city of the Rhakhaan Empire.

Reviewers notes:

This supplemental is another must have for Shadow World aficionados. The details brought to us on the Haalkitaine area are priceless. GM's will be able to revitalize their campaigns and gather enthusiastic attention when guiding the players through Haalkitaine. Terry provides us with price charts on all types of commodities, details on the catacombs and sewers under the city, and provides necessary information on the niceties of social interaction (i.e. Etiquette, Honor, Clothing, Fashion, and Courtship beliefs). The layouts and colored maps are (long overdue for this city) excellent. "Brava Terry!" Keep up the good work!

Editor's Note: Haalkitaine is published by Eidolon Studio. Their contact details are as follows:
Eidolon Studio
P.O. Box 57083
Washington DC
Web: http://users.aol.com/terbob/Sworld.html
Email TerBob@aol.com

You can buy this product through our affiliate GreatGames in the UK. Click here or on the logo for direct access to their catalogue.

All trademarks and copyrights are acknowledged.

Editor's Note

Please post your comments on this review on the General Discussion Board.