Rodhin, the city of the dragonborn

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Zeromaru X
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Rodhin, the city of the dragonborn

Post by Zeromaru X » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:26 pm

As part of my ongoing 4e Blackmoor campaign, I worked in a place of origin for dragonborn characters (as my brother and I are big fans of all draconic, and my brother is playing a dragonborn character). So, here comes Rodhin, the dragonborn city-state located in the Spine of the Dragon, that was mentioned in the few materials released for the vaporware Age of the Wolf campaign.

To celebrate this year's Dave Arneson Game Day, I want to share it with all of you here. The lore here is compatible with the current year of the d20 Blackmoor campaign (year 1030). If you allow dragonborn in your campaigns (perhaps, if you're playing with the 4e or 5e rules), you're free to use my version of Rodhin if you want.


Rodhin, the Hidden City
Long ago, when dragons were masters of all lands, there were scores of dragonborn clans. The armies of the Insellagi [1] rode unchecked across the known world, and their warlords led their vassals into battle against the Thralls of the Egg of Coot and other primeval evils, driving back the wilderness and returning with riches and slaves from the "lesser" races to support their ceaseless battle against the shadow. Eventually, however, the covetous dragonborn clans turned on one another. Petty rivalries and territorial disputes led to civil wars and horrible bloodshed. At the same time, slave revolts threatened to break the clans hold over their lands.

To maintain order, the Great Dragon of the North intervened. Insellageth decreed the end of the Great Empire of the Insellagi, and the liberation of the enslaved peoples. The dragonborn retreated to their mountain eyries, and became just an obscure legend to the common races of the world.

In the North, a loose-coalition of twelve clans founded Rodhin, the Hidden City, amid the Spine of the Dragon, in the ancient past. The Rodhinians secluded themselves until recently, when the Urmaekrix [2] sent a diplomatic delegation to Dragonia in the spring of 1030, to establish a political alliance with the Kingdom of Blackmoor.

Features of Rodhin
Rodhin is a terraced city built along the side of Rodhverthicha [3], a rugged mountain overlooking a vast plain amid the Spine of the Dragon. Its wide streets and graceful arches feature leering states and intricate façades on every pillar, plinth, and wall. The city faces east, so during the first part of the day, the sun bathes it, sparkling off the white stone and dancing across the life-giving waters that spill down from the heights. After the sun passes the zenith, the city falls into shadow and is illuminated by magical glowing balls that have the property to nourish the plants the dragonborn use to decorate their homes or to eat.

Rodhin its divided into three tiers, that are considered its districts. The lowest tier was built in the mountain's base, while the upper tiers were built in artificial platforms excavated from the mountainside. All tiers are connected by ramps, staircases and the River Rodh. This "river" is in fact a waterfall of fresh water that runs from the peak and down the mountainside, originating from an old portal to the elemental plane of Water. The river tumble out of the stone and down the mountainside until it gathers at a pool. At the pool's bottom another portal waits to drain the water back to the plane of Water. Those portals predate the city, and its believed the dragonborn chose this mountain to built their city because of those portals.

The buildings in the lowest tier are protected by a steep wall punctuated by towers and topped with rearing stone dragons. White stone houses crowd the wide streets and the canals that carry the waters of River Rodh to the private gardens and small farms that produce much of the food for the city. The second tier holds homes for minor priests, military officers, scholars and researchers. Its filled with white-washed houses with tiny gardens and shops, as well as small shrines dedicated to old heroes and the dragon gods. The uppermost tier holds the offices and palaces of the clan-masters, as well as the Royal Library and numerous other official buildings.

The walls and buildings facing the surface are but a third of the city's actual size, because contained within the great peak are endless corridors, chambers, staircases, meeting halls, temples, shops, and even entire neighborhoods. Near the mountain's base, the low-class citizens live, working as miners and farmers. The upper levels house the city's elite, including the states of the twelve clans, and the quarters of the Urmaekrix.

The city's architecture demonstrates how self-defense was the principal concern during Rodhin's construction. Flanking the city are the sides of the mountain itself, which are so steep and rugged that no army could ascend without flying. Numerous towers bulge out from the mountain's face, each equipped with catapult platforms, ballista batteries, and other siege weapons to rain death on an enemy host. Trapped tunnels connect each tower to the subterranean depths of the city.

In the case that the city's walls would be breached, the citizens can withdraw into the tunnels and chambers cut inside the mountain. Stores of food and cisterns filled with fresh water mean the people can survive for at least a year of siege. And even if supplies run out, the deeper tunnels offer safe routes away from the mountain, giving the Rodhinians a chance to flee while their enemy focus on navigating the traps and fighting the defenders inside.

Hierarchy and Government
The government of the city-state of Rodhin is monarchic, having a single absolute ruler, the Urmaekrix. The Urmaekrix is revered as a living god, as he or she is the representative to Insellageth himself. In 1030, the Urmaekrix is Kayitz Eyrina Dmidrov (female high-level cleric).[4]

Despite being monarchic, Rodhin also has a position similar to a prime minister, a head of domestic affairs. In 1030, the prime minister is Gozzo Halaar Maksumov. While the prime minister is mostly concerned with civilian and political matters, Gozzo Halaar has personal command of the Bombardiers, a force of dragonborn warriors that uses technological weapons.[5]

Underneath the Urmaekrix and the Prime Minister are twelve noble clans. The function of each clan in itself is not known to the Blackmoorians, although many of them are given important government and military posts. Out of the twelve clans, only five are known to the people of Dragonia: the Gozzo, Torah, Doban, Tichvah and the Kayitz [6]. The most dominant of these clans is the Gozzo clan, with the prime minister and most of the military commanders of Rodhin's military forces being members thereof.

The Clans
There are twelve major clans, that conforms Rodhin's nobility, and a myriad of minor clans. Each clan is led by a clan-master, who is usually appointed to the position by the former clan leader.

Although the major clans are equivalent to the noble houses of other nations, the clans themselves resemble an army more than anything else. Members of the major clans not only conform the nobility, but also the upper echelons of the military and the priesthood.

The minor clans are composed of family lines that were elevated to clan status through great deeds in the distant past, but have no political power in the government of Rodhin. Some minor clans rule themselves, but most of them are subservient to one of the twelve major clans. Minor clans are composed of low-ranking soldiers, miners, crafters and farmers.

Of the twelve major clans, only five are known to the Blackmoorians, because members of those clans were part of the diplomatic delegation sent to Dragonia.

Clan Doban:
Members of this clan seek mastery of self through the discipline of the blade, the clan's favored weapon. Regarded as sword-saints, members of Clan Doban are wandering warriors, seeking for worthy opponents beyond the lands of the Insellagi. Most dragonborn the Peshwah met in the past were members of Clan Doban. Members of Clan Doban also produce the finest arcane warriors of Rodhin.

Clan Gozzo:
The warriors of Clan Gozzo are renowned for their discipline and nearly undefeatable tactics on the battlefield. Their grand army, the Bombardiers, is perhaps the finest fighting force in the world. Gozzo dragonborn are proud and honorable, but cling tenaciously to their ancient traditions and the fading legacy of their once great race.

Clan Kayitz:
Members of this clan are known for their pacifist ways. Most of them are priests and healers. Members of Clan Kayitz are also the lorekeepers of Rodhin. According to legends, the mystic knights of Clan Kayitz guard the secrets of the great Dragon Kings of old. They revere Tsartha as much as they revere Insellageth.

Clan Tichvah:
Clan Tichvah is the only known clan of arcane spellcasters. Its a secretive clan, and their arcane practices are considered exotic and unorthodox by members of the Wizard's Cabal.

Clan Torah:
Most dragonborn paladins are members of Clan Torah. The sons and daughters of this clan are devote followers of the Father of Dragons. Paragons of honor and good, the scions of Clan Torah are responsible for the bulk of the ballads sung of dragonborn heroes. Consequently, the most infamous villains of the dragonborn race also hail from the ranks of this noble clan.

The dragonborn of Rodhin are a highly militaristic people, and their lords and ladies are those dragonborn who had proven themselves capable of leading their fellows on the battlefield. Their magic is mostly focused to better suit their war-like lifestyle, and is more practical and focused in destruction than magic used by other races.

The Army:
The Army makes up most of the bulk of Rodhin's military. There are seven platoons that comprise this group. Each platoon is commanded by an officer simply known as a "Commandant". The seven commandants answer to a "High Commandant". Apart from this, the chain of command of the seven platoons is unknown.

The Bombardiers are the elite special forces of Rodhin's military. The Bombardiers' organization seems to be streamlined: it only has a captain and a vice-captain. The captain of the Bombardiers directly answers to the prime minister of Rodhin. The Bombardiers squad is equipped with technological weapons recovered from the City of the Gods in the ancient past.[7]

Royal Guard:
This group is the least known of the three by the Blackmoorians. Their main purpose is to protect the Urmaekrix. Doban Baran Basilin, the leader of the Rodhinian diplomatic delegation in Dragonia, used to be a member of the Royal Guard.

The dragonborn do not discuss their religious beliefs with outsiders, but many believe that the state faith of their civilization revolves around Insellageth, whose herald is the Urmaekrix, in some form or another.

Its also known that Rodhinians fanatically revere their ancestors. Because of that they cremate their dead, as dragonborn pale at the tough of their loved ones being raised as undead.

The Rodhinians have access to steam technology and advanced clockwork technology. According to the dwarves, the Rodhinians got the knowledge to create such technology from them. The Rodhinians also have a few items of strange technology recovered from the City of the Gods. How much they had dominated this strange technology is unknown to the Blackmoorians.


1. Insellagi is how Blackmoorian dragonborn call themselves in draconic. Can be translated as "the children of Insellageth".
2. Urmaekrix can be translated as the Spirit King. From the draconic word Ur (it has to do with divine stuff) and maekrix (leader)
3. Literally the Mountain of Rodh (verthicha is mountain in draconic). Dunno who or what is Rodh, though.
4. Dragonborn always put their clan names first, because honor and such stuff.
5. In my campaign I use futuristic weapons recovered from the City of the Gods (in 4e you can use Gamma World futuristic items, as Gamma World rules are compatible with 4e's). In the original Age of the Wolf campaign, the Bombardiers of Rodhin would have used steam weapons, but I feel steam technology is the purview of dwarves.
6. I only developed 5 clans for my campaign. You're free to device the others if you want :P
7. In my campaign, the purpose of the Bombardiers is assumed to be similar to that of the United States Marine Corps.

For more ideas:
Rodhin its not the only dragonborn settlement of Blackmoor, just the only known to the Blackmoorians (and to us) thanks to their embassy in Dragonia (and the mention in the previews of the Age of the Wolf vaporware campaign). The 4e Blackmoor campaign guide suggest the existence of other dragonborn communities in the Spine of the Dragon, in the Gut and in the Kerman Peaks.

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Re: Rodhin, the city of the dragonborn

Post by Havard » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:33 pm

Nice work!

If you need an NPC to meet in this town, I think this character would fit in nicely :)


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Tim Baker
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Re: Rodhin, the city of the dragonborn

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:49 am

Very cool -- both the city and the NPC.
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