As the bard Gebreth once said, “He who tires of Cinnabar tires of life.” With its rich history, dynamic and ever-changing population, and vibrant cultural, religious and mercantile dimensions, the City of Cinnabar is the most populous, and most dangerous, metropolitan area in this world. Although some say that Thentis is, in fact, an older city, others are quick to say that Cinnabar is eternal – that it has always existed and that it will always exist.
There is no question that parts of Cinnabar are extremely old. And some older quarters have a foreign, even alien, look to their narrow, twisted streets, cramped buildings and odd plazas and bizarre public spaces. Some great temples had much more humble beginnings, just as some palaces and great edifices have fallen into decline and ruin.
Aside from the Temple District, which is known for its wide thoroughfares, large parks and green spaces, and monumental edifices, and the Wizard’s Palace, surrounded by a deep moat and glassine walls, parts of Cinnabar are densely populated and over-built. Most neighbourhoods are located around market areas – either formal squares or impromptu street markets – and there is a somewhat natural stratification between races, occupations and classes. There are even market gardens, farms and wastes that are contained within the great walls of the city.
The water supply for this great city comes from a series of deep wells that fill the reservoirs used to distribute water. This great construction is a marvel and is said to be one of the main contributions of Ectofors to the well-being of the city. It was this great wizard who made the pact with the elemental lords of water for the provision of this supply to the city.
Every seven years, a new ruler is chosen by means of a contest of magical combat. Anyone who dares enter can. The contest is brutal; approximately one in four contestants dies in the course of this two week event.
Notable Rulers of Cinnabar
Ectofors – The legendary founder of the Great Contest, enchanter of the first order.
Iblis the Black – The only Wizard to rule twice, alleged to be a demon in human form.
Wencia Starborn – Her knowledge of the Planes was the source of her power.
Imré, Queen of Prisms – A great sorceress, she was also a noted builder.
Tamblyn – A wishmaster, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Glendower – It is claimed that he could command comets and knew the source of Ioun stones.
The rules are simple. To win an individual match, your opponent must be killed, incapacitated or forced from the arena. All possessions taken into the arena are forfeit to the victor (in one case, a notorious necromancer even claimed the bodies of the losers, but this claim was rejected by the Judges), which means that vast stores of magical items and other riches exchange hands over the course of this contest. Many contestants are content to withdraw from competition once they have accumulated enough winnings (or perceive that their chances of victory are slim) that it is better to resign (and retain their newly gained wealth) than to continue.
There have been 110 rulers of Cinnabar since the contest was founded over 700 years ago. With few exceptions, the contest has only been won by wizards or sorcerers. It takes many years of preparation for a contestant to have the chance make it to the final rounds.
Once the contest is over, every contestant is ranked. To even have a rank is a mark of prestige and a good ranking can be very meaningful when seeking employment or patronage. The lower the number, the higher the rank. Caution should be exercised when dealing with anyone possessing a high Cinnabar Rank (or with any rank at all).
The current ruler, Vayanodé the Just, defeated Asphodel of the Many Hands in the final round almost four years ago. The City is experiencing a time of relative peace, a relief since the departure of the despotic and chimerical Ussman, the previous ruling Wizard.