"Behold, o elves of the north. Behold, o dwarves of the east. Behold, o masters of Xern. Behold, o souls of this realm. Know that these walls shall never fall, that this beating heart shall never seize. This is our home, and none shall take it from us." ― Ghomess the Greater, 6211 ICThe City of Matra, more commonly known as the Grey City or simply Matra, is technically the second most populous city in the world of Matai. It is second only to the Xernian Empire, whose territory is entirely urbanized. It is, however, the most densely populated city in the entirety of the world. Located on the western coastline of the mainland continent, the city has been the center of politics, religion, economics, and culture for the world for millennia. It's unrivaled and unquestioned influence on the world over has made it the target of innumerable invasions and attempted conquests. Historically, the city walls have been breached by an invading army only once, signaling the end of the Thuulic Wars in the year 623 IC. The city is home to many important organizations and several world wonders including the Guild of The First Circle, The Horizon Walkers, The Grand Gate, The Imperial Palace, and The Walls of Matra.
Situated at the apex of a massive natural harbor, Matra consists of six sectors each of which possess its own cultural identity. The six sectors--Central, North, South, East, West, and the Undercity, were each officially established throughout the first two hundred years of the city's growth. The method by which the ancient Mataian imperials were able to build such a massive structure has been lost to history, though some legends state that the city was literally 'grown' from the earth itself. It is also connected directly to its sister city; Dianapur, by the Grand Gate, a magic structure built during the Old Empire period. At its height, it was said that a million citizens would commute through the Grand Gate each day.
The City is laid out as a single massive circular disk and its foundation is entirely comprised of the same seamless grey stone. Most of the buildings in the city appear to be made of the same material though others have since been modified or renovated with more modern materials. The city itself is separated into three different regions, Upper City is set on an elevated plane at the very center of the city and consists entirely of the Central sector. Lower City is made up of the disk that surrounds Upper City and extends to the city walls in all directions. The third region is the Undercity, aptly named as it is beneath the surface of the city proper. The Undercity is approximately 1/3 the size of the entire area of the city above and is made of numerous large caves connected by hundreds of tunnels and passages.
The Lower City is home to the majority of the City's landmarks and accessible locales. Among the most notable are The Square, Forest District, The Highmark, and the Western Skydock.
The word Matra is actually a direct combination of the word Matai (The World) and Ran (One) it can literally be translated as "First among the World".
Historical records indicate that the City of Matra was founded in the summer of the year 6211 IC. According to what reports survive from the time period, the first Emperor of the Ancient Empire founded the city after a major conflict between the twelve tribes of Mataian Humans and Orckind that had settled in the region. In the account, Aloran, who would come to call himself Ghomess or Ghomess the Greater (as history knows him) would claim the plain as a home "for all peoples". His closest friend, Letran, gave his own life as a sacrifice to sanctify the formation of the city. The people would later call Letran by the name Lumar and venerate him first as a prophet and later as a deity.
Following this, reports appear to become mixed, some reports state that the city grew to its full size in seven days while others state seven months. More realistic estimations put the growth of the city at approximately two hundred years.
Ancient Imperial Era
After the city was founded, Aloran was made Empral (old Mataian for Ruler) of the city and given considerable governing power over it. During the earliest years of his reign, he sought out individuals of note to occupy key leadership positions in his court. He also established the grey rule, a form of governance that relied on a literal worship of the idea of laws and order. It was believed by the Ancient Mataians that the law "had open eyes" and "saw all for who they were, not what they appeared to be". The grey rule was fiercely enforced during the Ancient Mataian period with breaches of conduct among the courts punished almost universally with death. The first report of the grey rule being enforced was during the trial of a Baker who had laid suit against a noble for falsifying a deed to his home. The noble reportedly bribed the judge and orchestrated for false evidence to be presented. Both Judge and Defendant were executed by hanging, the plaintiff was given all of the Defendants property.
After the grey rule, the city saw the birth of three orders of knights to protect it and keep the grey rule in balance. These were the Pala'din, Thuul, and Grey Guard. According to what reports remain about these people, the Pala'din were agents of the state that practiced various forms of healing and purgative magic, they acted as benevolent enforcers and were often involved in public service. The Thuul, in contrast, practiced what would later become known as the "dark arts", they acted as brutal enforcers of the law and were often involved in the business of the criminal element of the city, keeping it in check and managed. The Grey Guard were the personal guard of the Emperor and acted specifically to rein in the Pala'din and Thuul if either side acted beyond their authority.
What little concrete knowledge remains about ordinary life in the Imperial City is vague at best. Most records indicate that the long-standing bond between Orcs and Humans originated in this time period and that their animosity towards other races also saw its origins here. There is some debate as to the reason why this happened, though most cite systemic oppression of other races. As such the population disparity between orcs and humans against the other races was wide. The conditions in the city also saw a level of stratification despite the Imperial Court's efforts toward a measure of equality, with the closeness to Center City dictating the quality of life.
Around the year 4000 IC, Ghomess the Greater was killed. Any information to the cause of death and circumstances around the ageless monarch's passing has been blatantly scrubbed from history.
Old Imperial Era
Approximately 3950 IC, Akrol the Black ascends to his father's throne as Ghomess the Restorer. [cont]
Third Imperial Era and Decline
Approximately 1400 IC, Tiegan of Baen ascends to his father's throne, he will become known as Ghomess the Lesser. [cont]
Approximately 600 IC, The Thuulic Wars break out.[cont]
The Thuulic Imperial Rule
Approximately 610 IC, Matra falls to the High Lord of the Thuul, the first Thuulic Emperor dies in his sleep in 630 IC.[cont]
Imperial Collapse and the Dark Age
Following the death of the Last Emperor, the Haustian Revolt begins leading to the final collapse of imperial control and oversight. The Mainland continent recedes into a dark age.[cont]
In the year 443 IC the splintered factions of the city unified into the Matran City Council. The original membership was formed of Archmagus Klein Deville, Gormer Pikman, Tegg Yll-aban, Minthe Tobis, and Geniveve Wilt. With the establishment of the city council, the sectors of the city were re-established along old Imperial Lines. Archmagus Deville personally saw to the reopening of the larger parts of the undercity and Gormer Pikman instituted a massive overhaul of the city's infrastructure, breaching the abandoned tram tunnels and refurbishing the city's plumbing. Over the next fifty years, resources and personnel were drawn in from across the western half of the continent in order to push the initiative to restore the city. The work was paid for through a resettlement program which issued residence deeds to workers who agreed to service the city for a decade. With hundreds of thousands of abandoned homes in the city, the program was largely successful. Unfortunately, there was some discontent as workers who could prove they had lived in the city prior to the program were given priority and special treatment.
During the refurbishment, Tegg Yll-aban established the new city guard, personally overseeing the creation of what was arguably the first proper standing military force in the region in centuries. His work also included an audit of the city walls and the push for a census. Minthe Tobis' work focused almost entirely on the merchant population and expanding the types of products available to locals. She spent the better part of twenty years attempting to re-establish trade with the Xernian Empire, which had become even more insular over the centuries. Despite her failure in this respect, Tobis' new trade rules and formally established Central Bank of Matra heralded the end of dark age mercantilism. Geniveve Wilt focused explicitly on corruption and the elite of the society, spending a great deal of her political muscle to create laws and a legal system that would be immune to the influence of the sedentary wealthy.
427 IC, The Workers Revolt forces an overhaul of the resettlement program.
402 IC, Geniveve Wilt is assassinated in the home of a known associate of Gormer Pikman, while focus was placed on Pikman for a time, the conspirators were eventually apprehended. Darl Bowt, leader of a small organized group of nobles arranged for the murder. He and three others were executed for crimes against the City Council. Elections are set to take place in the coming months.
The city is known for its vast urban sprawl. In some places, it is impossible to see the edges of the city even when standing from a height. Most of the structures in the city rarely reach over three to four stories in height though as one gets closer to the center of the city the buildings grow taller.
The Architecture unique to Matra is known as Post-Imperialist. Many of the structures in the city possess a square footprint and are often pushed close together. The buildings have a superstructure of smooth grey stone that is accented with a mixture of old reliefs and modern accents. These accents often include more practical pieces such as modernized street lights and even gas based signage. Unimproved structures possess a premium of windows and inlets for light while more recently modified structures are awash with windows and glasswork.
The City of Matra is comprised of six sectors that make up its overall structure. There are hundreds of distinct districts and neighborhood within the sectors; each of which possess their own unique history and culture.
Located on the raised circular steppe at the center of the greater Matran Area, Central is the most modernized and populated part of the city. Home to the centers of governance and trade in the city, it is often referred to as the beating heart of Matra. Many major landmarks have their homes in Matra, including The Grand Gate, The Imperial Palace, and the Highmark. Access to Central is possible through a series of spiraling roads that make their way up the sides of the sheer surface of the steppes sides. There is evidence that various elevator based systems were also experimented with throughout history but never fully implemented. The majority of the population of Central is comprised of humans and orcs, and many families in this part of the city date back to Imperial rule.
The Coastal western sector of the city occupies a full fourth of the massive ring around Central. While it possesses the lowest population per square kilometer of the city compared to the other sectors, it is also the wealthiest. Home to numerous estates and parks, West City is the home of the wealthy elite and members of noble families who's names go back centuries. Over time families from other races and dark-age nations have come to reside in the sector. This growing mix of races has lead to great strides in abolishing old hatreds among the nobility. The gates of the West are known as the "Harbor Gates" and open into the harbor area bordering the city, most sea-based trade goes through the West. West Sector is home to Alerai Park and the Skydock.
The Northern sector of the city is the most urban compared to the other Sectors. Possessing a large number of high-rise buildings and encouraging a culture of enterprise. This culture has lead to the sector being devoid of major landmarks beyond the skyscrapers themselves. Instead, the sector is home to two very famous neighborhoods bordering the eastern and western sectors of the city. Little Xern sits in the western part of the sector and is home to a large population of Raemuzel. In the east is The Forest which is home to an equally large population of Aelfs. The Northern Gates of the city see the most foot traffic of all four gates.
Also known as 'the slums' or 'the foul sector' the Eastern Sector of the city is overrun with industrial complexes dedicated to the processing of raw materials. Working conditions in the sector are poor despite the best efforts of the city council. The sector is also home to the highest crime rate in the city and is the most densely populated sector. As one gets further from the center of the city the Eastern Sector devolves into what most people call 'the yards', fields of abandoned buildings and junkyards left behind by previous generations. Despite it's lesser status among the other sectors, the eastern district has it's own form of law and order. The various gangs that operate on the city streets maintain a semblance of peace and have until recently maintained a culture of peaceful territorial disputes.
There is a common saying about South Sector, "You go North to earn money, you go South to spend it". The South Sector is made up of apartment complexes and shopping centers. It is also the home of The Square, which is considered the cultural and entertainment center of the city. The large rectangle of paved space is almost always occupied by some manner of festival or street market. The buildings around the square reflect the 'party culture' of the South and include casinos, clubs, bars, brothels and a new development known as 'shopping plazas' large structures filled with various stores. Like the East, South District has a great deal of criminal activity, however, most of it is restrained by large organized criminal groups and societies.
UndercityAccessible through the various transit tunnels that run beneath the main part of the city, the Undercity covers an area comparable to the other sectors of the city-spread out through numerous tunnels and caverns. Home to a large population of species that either depend on the dark or actively choose to live in the area, the sector is surprisingly orderly. A generous presence of the City Guard keeps order, however, it is known to overlook and even participate in the dealings of the Black Market. The Slave Trade, Menagerie and other unsavory but technically legal enterprises thrive in the undercity.
Located on the Equator, Matra enjoys consistent seasons year round with high temperatures during the summer and bitter cold winters.
The Imperial Palace
[wip] Currently Inaccessible
The Grand Gate
[wip] Currently Deactivated
Race and Ethnicity
From a very early point in its history, Matra has been a microcosm of the world at large. Home to a contingent of every race known to the world, it is not without its own troubles concerning such tensions. While the majority of the population of the city consists of Humans and Orcs, there is a sizeable amount of Dwarves, Aelfs, and Raemuzel that also occupy the walls. Other races such as Farfolk, Undead, and even Psions make their homes there.
The numerous ethnic groups and subraces of the city are listed below;
Human Ethnic Groups
Idran: Slight and sickly pale, native to the Searing Sea Desert region. They are nocturnal and prone to bouts of extreme emotion. Native Idrans are raised believing that the world of daylight is fraught with danger and pain.
Thuul: Hardy and earthen, native to the Central Frontiers and the Schisma Mountains. Naturally tough and enduring even in the harshest conditions. Thuulic tribes interbred with Mataians many years ago. Many people trace some sort of Thuulic heritage in their blood.
Mataians: Fair-haired and blue-eyed, native to the grasslands of the east and western sides of the continent. Mataians are proud and charismatic with a more-common-than-not friendly outlook toward other species (except elves).
Orcish Ethnic Groups
True Orcs: Large and imposing, the green-skinned orcs call both the Mainland Grasslands and Tegaar their home. Physically strong and possessed of sharp intuitions, True Orcs are highly prized warriors of pen, word, and sword.
Goblinkind: Diminutive and intelligent, don’t let their bulbous eyes and wide smiles fool you; Goblins are extremely intelligent and creative. The first race to master magitech after it was brought to the mainland by the Raemuzel, native goblins have a natural knack for technology.
Trolls: Brutish and lanky, the tall and powerful trolls of the Tegaar jungle very rarely leave their native homeland to seek greener pastures. They possess an insular outlook born of a difficulty to reconcile their shamanistic and druidic beliefs with the pantheon of the gods.
Aelfen (Elven) Ethnic Groups
High Elves: Known as the Alytar, the wise and magnanimous High Elves were the first to propose an alliance between the three peoples. Gifted (and cursed) with an innate sensitivity to mana; they are noted for their deep religious beliefs and use of natural magic.
Wood Elves: Known as the Dulin, the fierce and clan-oriented wood elves are constantly wandering their wooded homeland, never settling. Sensitive to nature and the ‘feelings’ of plants and animals, they are deeply bound to the fate of the land. Wood elves are notable shamanists.
Drow Elves: Known as the Erbyl, the proud and insular drow maintain great cities deep beneath the earth. Savagely loyal to the success of the Triad, most Drow loathe members of any race other than aelfkind. At one time, Drow practiced outsider magic as a tradition, this practice has been abandoned by all but the most traditionalist families.
Raemuzel do not possess ethnic groups in the traditional sense.
Farfolk Ethnic Group examples:
Farfolk are too varied and numerous in type to list all of the ethnic groups that make up the race. The most populous are listed below;
Tiefling: The most nomadic of the various farfolk, cursed with frightening features granted to them by demonic or infernal bloodlines, the Tieflings are scorned in all but the most integrated societies. They are notable for their talent with outsider magic and some believe that tiefling blood is a potent alchemical catalyst.
Aasimar: Sedentary and noble by nature, Aasimar are blessed with beautiful appearances derived from celestial bloodlines. Aasimar are the least reviled of the farfolk and rarely find trouble integrating. Sensitive to divine magic, they are aware of its presence when cast. Unfortunately, Aasimar are habitually servile and have difficulty saying no to an authority figure.
Djinn-sai: The most unusual of the Farfolk, born of both djinn and elemental bloodlines, they have often dramatic appearances that may include frost covered skin, flaming eyebrows, persistent wind tossled hair and/or craggy flesh. Despite their usually pleasant and gregarious nature, Djinn-sai are considered monstrous and frightening by most people.
Faemen: Reclusive and dangerous, Faemen are descendants of those touched by wild magic and raw mana who have then further been touched by the god of madness. They are prone to emotional fits and have a great deal of difficulty resisting temptation. Most of them are small in stature, gifted with exaggeratedly elvish features including slanted, bulbous eyes and long pointy ears (this does not help their chances of integration).
Dwarvish Ethnic Groups:
Mountain Dwarves: Reclusive bordering on paranoia, their xenophobia is only rivaled by that of the Raemuzel. Residing deep within the schisma mountains, they are constantly fighting with the regional Thuulic tribes for control of underground resources. Their mighty subterranean kingdoms are vast, complex, and filled with beautiful works of architecture and machinery. They loathe the Hill and City dwarves. Despite their nature there are a small few that reside in Matra.
Hill Dwarves: Unwilling to associate with the cities and laws of man and the other races, the hill dwarves also resented the isolationism of their mountain cousins. Choosing to set up settlements in the frontier they established friendly relations with the Thuulic barbarian tribes. Hill dwarves abhor external influence but are open and friendly to trade and communication with outsiders. Like the Mountain Dwarves, some small few have settled in Matra, specifically in the hills surrounding it and the Undercity.
City Dwarves: Having fled lost kingdoms and failed settlements, many generations of dwarves came to live in Mataian cities, most of them coming to live in Matra. Plague and disease soon followed, leading the dwarves to suffer innumerable losses from lack of proper sanitation in their culture. This pushed city dwarves into shaving their bodies completely despite the survivors having already built an immunity to the illnesses that had felled their ancestors.
In 538 IC, many of the old laws that enforced racial segregation were struck down during an unprecedented conference among the existing natives. As the Aelfwars had ended centuries before, the need to control various populations seemed unnecessary. Unfortunately, many of these laws survive as custom and tradition among the majority of citizens.
- Humans, Orcs, and Half-Breeds of the two are considered to be first class citizens.
- Members of other races are given to various levels of stratification with Aelfs being the worst treated and Raemuzel being the most respected.
- Though no longer a legal practice, Non-First Class peoples are commonly forced to obtain a 'Writ of Appeal' to possess land within the city.
- Many near-central neighborhoods and shopping centers will make efforts to discourage the return of undesirables either by adjusting prices or bullying.
As a generalization; the racial tensions in the city can be seen as thus:
Humans are long time friends of Orckind and show no animosity toward them. They see Dwarves as talented but overtly insular and stodgy and their refusal to fully integrate makes them unlikeable. They tend to respect Raemuzel but caution that Raemuzel always have another agenda in mind and their knack for magic and technology makes them threatening. They see Elves with a dislike born of generations of hatred, though this has dipped mostly to an unpleasant simmer there are still some who possess the same level of single-minded bigotry that framed the end of the Empire. Humans see the Farfolk as beyond understanding and less than people, many farfolk end up as slaves because of this. Humans and Undead have a tense but tolerant relationship originating from the Thuulic Imperial Period. Most humans do not even acknowledge the other races of the city and possess a special amount of disdain to the 'freakish' psions.
Accent and Dialect
Taxis and Trams
Streets and Highways
Governance and Hierarchy
Representative of the most qualified and respected individuals in Matran society; the City Council developed into a meritocratic oligarchy, electing its members from within a closed group of successful and influential individuals in the city. While the group is considered quite insular, they have been known to invite newcomers into their ranks based on achievement and raw talent. It is worth noting that the organization systematically snubs the advances of a large portion of the wealthy elite of the city and frowns heavily on the type of noble that leans on their wealth and family name. That is not to say that they have the best interests of the general population at heart either, each member of the Matran City Council tends to pursue their own agenda.
Notable Current Residents
Historic Figures from Matra