Tags author-mike-bernier lore
Whether you want to run a city-centric campaignor are looking for an interesting hub from which your party can strike out on their adventures—such as the Radiant Citadel from Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel—cities are an essential part of D&D. Where else would your party be able to negotiate with highfalutin diplomats or approach the local thieves' guide for a favor?
In this article, we'll be taking a look at the most exciting cities that fifth edition has to offer!
- The Radiant Citadel
- City of Brass
A city with origins tied to Magic: The Gathering lore, Ravnica was introduced to D&D players inGuildmasters' Guide to Ravnica. It isa sprawling city that covers the whole of the known world. Full of techno-magical wonders and numerous, diverse cultures, Ravnica is unimaginably large.Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnicafocuses on the Tenth District, the hub of the most critical activity inthe city.
Ravnicais governed by 10 powerful guilds that each control a separate civic function. Thousands of years ago, these ten guilds warred amongst themselves in a battle so devastating that it was agreed something of its like could never happen again. As a result, the guilds entered into what became known as the Guildpact, a magically binding contract that gave each guild a specific role that allowed it to coexist with the other guilds.
Sharn is the most cosmopolitan city on the continent of Khorvaire in Eberron. The city was built on an important trading route which has allowed it to thrive into a burgeoning metropolis. However, because it is surrounded by mountains, it can't spread out to accommodate its growing population. Instead,it has to grow upward, which is where it gets its nickname, the City of Towers.
The cityconsists entirely of massive towers that stretch for miles into the air. The primary method of getting around is a series of bridges, though those from the higher walks of life prefer flying vehicles and mounts.
The city is divided into wards, each denoting an elevation both physically and as a societal status. Upper wards are the domain of the rich and powerful, middle wards are home to the middle class, and lower wards house laborers and the destitute. Those in the lower wards struggle for a living and can go their entire lives without seeing the sun. On the other hand, the residents of the middle and upper wards can bask in the delights of the advanced civilization that flourishes in Sharn.
In Critical Role's world of Exandria, Bazzoxan was once a dark temple to the Betrayer Gods. But after the great battles of the Calamity,it was left little more than a ruin. Once the dark elf-ledKryn Dynastyemerged as the controlling power of the Wastes of Xhorhas, Bazzoxan was rediscovered with the hopes of renovating it into a stronghold for the empire.
A community began to build foundations of a new city within the ruins of Bazzoxan until demonic creatures emerged from the old temple and threw the city into chaos. Bazzoxan is now a place of desolation and war as Kryn forces attempt to defend the city from ongoing invasions from within the temple.
In the vast, misty expanse of the Ethereal Plane, the Auroral Diamond—a mysterious, life-giving gemstone that emits an aura of healing energy—floats near a spiraling ethereal cyclone. Eons ago, an immense creature sought out the Auroral Diamond and wrapped itself around the gemstone for unknown purposes.
An expedition of adventurers from 27 different civilizations discovered the Auroral Diamond and the fossilized remains of the creature. They carved acity into the creature's skeleton, thus establishing the Radiant Citadel. The founding civilizations have developed a deep connection to the Radiant Citadel, and it serves as a hub to share their culture with the other founding societies.
Large gemstones called Concord Jewels float around the city and act as a way for members of the founding civilizations, travelers, merchants, and adventurers to travel between the Radiant Citadel and each of the founding civilization's linked locations on the Material Plane.
The Radiant Citadel is the sole location confirmed to exist permanently in the Ethereal Plane in fifth edition D&D. This makes it a vital bastion of respite and safety for travelers or those who have gotten themselves lost in thenotoriously difficult-to-travelEthereal Plane.
Another city from Critical Role lore, Rosohna is the center of the powerful Kryn Dynasty. Before its use by the dark elf empire, Rosohna was called Ghor Dranas and was home to a stronghold of the Betrayer Gods.
Now, the city's primary population consists of dark elves, though some other Underdark-dwelling creatures have made their way up to the surface to join the Kryn. The citizens of Rosohna have to deal with a unique issue; most of them worship the light-bearing god, the Luxon, thus their move from the Underdark to above ground. While they may worship the light, 12 hours of sunlight each day is detrimental to races accustomed to living in the dark. In order to mitigate this problem, powerful spellcasters created arcane shields to block the sun above the city. These shields are only taken down for short periods to perform mass worship under the sunlight.
The Kryn have retrofitted the old subterranean torture chambers that the followers of the Betrayer Gods had created beneath Rosohna for various purposes. Some have been made into living quarters, others function as sunless farms for edible fungi and vegetable crops, and some have kept their original purposes to contain enemies of the Kryn.
The city of Sigil is located in the Outlands—a unique plane centered between the 16 Outer Planes—and is made up of a large ring that floats at the top of a needle-like mountain. Located on the ring's inner rim, Sigil is laid out in such a way that creatures standing on one of Sigil's streets can look up and see the far side of the city directly overhead.
Due to its position in the Outlands, Sigil is known as a hub of interplanar travel. It has beennicknamed the City of Doors because of the countless portals contained withinit that lead to other planes and worlds. When looking for creatures, goods, and information from across the multiverse, Sigil is one of the best places to find what you need.
I'Cath is a city that has been sectioned away from the rest of the natural world into a Domain of Dread. The city's ruler isDarklord Tsien Chiang, who lords over the city's citizens in both the waking world and the dreamworld.In the waking world, I'Cath is a grim, labyrinthine city full of exhausted citizens. Each night Tsien Chiang sends a force of jiangshi to rebuild sections of the city that she deems inferior,renderingany attempt to map the winding streets futile. Any citizen caught out after dark becomes an unfortunate victim of the merciless jiangshi.
In the dreamworld, a whole other type of horror awaits. The dream I'Cath is a vibrant, beautiful city, though its occupants aren't any better off. In their dreams, citizens are ever toiling to perfect the buildings, gardens, and plazas of the dreamworld-version of I'Cath. Citizens of l'Cath face a terrible choice: remain awake and endure the danger of the waking world or succumb to sleep and enter into endless servitude.
In the sprawling caverns of the Underdark, the drow city of Menzoberranzan acts as a stronghold of the drow's power and influence. The city is carved into the cavern floor, with some buildings using the natural stalagmites and stalactites that stretch hundreds of feet into the air. These stone towers are spanned with bridges of spider silk that may look delicate at first glance but have been magically hardened to form secure pathways. The city's streets are lit with coldly glowing eldritch fires that provide just enough illumination for its Underdark-dwelling citizens.
Menzoberranzan has one of the most powerful armies in the Underdark, consisting of thousands of trained drow warriors and mages, along with enslaved creatures that have been forced into servitude for the city. Menzoberranzan's principle law is the Way of Lolth, making it a hostile place for outsiders, especially those that follow the path of a different deity.
Located in the Plane of Fire on the shores of the Sea of Fire is the City of Brass. This is the fabled city of the efreet, hulking genies that are residents of the Plane of Fire. Efreet are cunning, cruel, and powerfully magical, and their city is made to reflect their grandiose nature with its ornate spires and metal walls. Unfortunately, the environmental hazards of the Plane of Fire make visiting the City of Brass a rather unpleasant experience for those not accustomed to such conditions. Gusting winds blow cinders and ash through the air, and the ever-present sun cycles through blinding radiance at noon and a dull red at midnight.
The City of Brass is a destination for seekers of powerfully magical artifacts. The efreet are known purveyors of legendary magic, though the price they require is usually more than simple gold. The efreet are cunning bargainers that prefer to trade in favors and know that those seeking powerful magic typically have a great need of it.
Located near Baldur's Gate on the continent of Faerûn, Elturel isn't a particularly unique city. That is, it wasn't. Recently, the events ofBaldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernussaw Elturel ripped from the Material Plane and chained by infernal iron to the River Styx in Avernus, the first of the Nine Hells.
Depending on a number of factors, Elturel could still be in Avernus in your campaign world. If the city hasn't been rescued by now, it could be fun to think ofcertain ways that the city has changed. Maybe the demons and devils of Avernus have overrun the city and are now warring with one another in the streets. Or perhaps the residents of Avernus have made an agreement with emissaries from the Material Plane and have made Elturel a rare area of commerce and diplomacy in the Nine Hells. Any way you slice it, Elturel is no longer your bog-standard fantasy city.
Where will you travel next?
Maybe your travels through the Ethereal Plane have accidentally brought you to the Plane of Fire's City of Brass? Or perhaps one of the Concord Jewels at the Radiant Citadel allows your party to travel to Sigil?WithJourneys Through the Radiant Citadelreleasing on July 19, 2022, there will be plenty of opportunities to visit different, unique locations across the multiverse.
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Mike Bernier (@arcane_eye) is the founder ofArcane Eye, a site focused on providing useful tips and tricks to all those involved in the world of D&D. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house.