Alkenstar City

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Alkenstar City
Alkenstar City.

City of Smog; Clockwork City; Clockwork Metropolis
85% humans, 7% dwarves, 3% halflings, 5% other
Constitutional Monarchy
Grand Duchess Trietta Ricia
Source: Wardens of the Reborn Forge, pg(s). 56 (1E)
Impossible Lands, pg(s). 72 (2E)

Alkenstar City is the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar and houses the whole of the Duchy's governmental infrastructure. The city is located on top of the Hellfallen Cliffs, where the Ustradi River falls seven hundred feet down Alken Falls. Monumental works of engineering and architecture, including the Bridge of the Gods, connect the city to the vassal communities of Martel and Dongun Hold. As a result of the urban development of the Duchy, many incorrectly consider these vassals mere districts of Alkenstar City proper, rather than distinct communities in their own right.

Alkenstar City is also the nation's center of industry, housing the Duchy's infamous Gunworks, the source of mass-produced firearms used both for the protection of the city-state and for trade throughout the Inner Sea region. As a result of the industrial advancement of Alkenstar, a constant cloud of white steam and sooty smoke hangs in a haze over the city, generated by the gears and pistons of countless factories operating around the clock.1

To the west of the city are the Karggat Hills, a rocky region dotted with mines and factories.2


The sprawling city of Alkenstar straddles the Ustradi River at a point where a 500-foot-tall cliff face, called the Hellfallen Cliffs, creates the perilous Alken Falls waterfall.34 The river divides the city into two distinct parts, Smokeside and Skyside.5


The poorer and more dangerous half of the city, Smokeside, is located in a permanent pocket of antimagic, where spells both arcane and divine simply cease to function. Here, a tumble down the stairs can be just as lethal as a bullet wound (though the latter is far more likely), as magical healing is non-existent and unpracticed doctors are the only way for many citizens to remedy deadly injuries or disease. Gangs and criminal organizations operate out of soot-covered factories, ruling the streets beneath a perpetual cloud of lung-burning smog. For all its hazards, however, this side of the city is also one of the most highly sought out, since it is one of the few places in the Inner Sea where one can reliably avoid magical detection via divination, as scrying and other eldritch means of locating a person simply do not work among the smokestacks and filth-ridden alleys of Smokeside.5


The half of the city on the eastern side of the Ustradi River is known as Skyside because the towers here are among the few places in Alkenstar where one can penetrate the blanket of smog and see the sky. The wide river itself is an area of unforgiving primal magic, which washes down the Alken Falls as surely as it occasionally seeps into the waters of Smokeside and Skyside from time to time. Only the wealthiest and most established Alkenstarians may live in Skyside. Here, the Grand Duchy holds sway, as do the myriad engineering guilds, metallurgic factories, Brigh- and Abadar-worshiping temples, and universities of alchemy and primal magic. The organizations and businesses of Skyside utilize the unpredictable fonts of magical energy that course through the soil—arcane remnants of the ancient wars between neighboring Geb and Nex—in order to drive their noxious industries ever forward in the name of profit, progress, and power.5


Alkenstar's two distinct sectors results in a dichotomy between the haves and have-nots—those who use haphazard magic in their privileged daily lives and those who must subsist in a raw, unforgiving world run by machinery and grit alone. Factor in the presence of clockwork automatons constructed by Skyside's wealthiest engineering guilds and the burgeoning technology of guns, and Alkenstar quickly proves to be one of the most fascinating, exotic, and compelling cities in the Inner Sea region.5


A shieldmarshal's badge framed in blood.

As part of the Grand Duchy of Alkenstar, the city of Alkenstar is technically a vassal of the nation of Nex, and Grand Duchess Trietta Ricia should, by the letter of the law, report to the rulers of that land. In practice, however, Alkenstar remains a fairly independent city-state and a force of neutrality between the rival nations of Nex and Geb.6

Alkenstar's laws are enforced by shieldmarshals, gun-wielding officers of the Grand Duchy.7 While nominally led by Ironmaster Vulane, almost all shieldmarshals consider High Shieldmarshal Armand Meneley as the true commander of their organization.8


Paizo published a Pathfinder Adventure Path set in Alkenstar City titled Outlaws of Alkenstar, as well as a Pathfinder Module titled Wardens of the Reborn Forge and articles on the city in Impossible Lands and Guns & Gears.

For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 2: The Inner Sea” in Campaign Setting, 59. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. Patrick Renie. “Introduction” in Wardens of the Reborn Forge, 3. Paizo Inc., 2013
  3. Patrick Renie. “Appendix 1: Alkenstar” in Wardens of the Reborn Forge, 54. Paizo Inc., 2013
  4. Patrick Renie. “Appendix 1: Alkenstar” in Wardens of the Reborn Forge, 60. Paizo Inc., 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Mark Moreland. (August 31, 2013). Inner Workings of the Clockwork Metropolis Part 2: Alkenstar, Paizo Blog.
  6. Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 2: The Inner Sea” in Campaign Setting, 58. Paizo Inc., 2008
  7. Benjamin Bruck, et al. Paths of Prestige, 48. Paizo Inc., 2012
  8. Michael Sayre, et al. “5: The Rotating Gear” in Guns & Gears, 197. Paizo Inc., 2021