Ular Kel

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Ular Kel
The flag of Ular Kel.

The Caravan City
15,750 humans, 1,100 halflings, 550 elves, 450 gnomes, 2,550 other
Source: Distant Shores, pg(s). 54–63

Ular Kel is the de facto capital of Karazh in the Grass Sea of Casmaron, the site of the only oasis in the steppes, and a vital trade nexus at the intersection of two caravan roads.1


Ular Kel sits at the heart of the vast steppe known as the Grass Sea; its location is where two lonely caravan roads meet. North of the city, through the Gate of Winds, the track leads eventually to the Castrovin Sea. From Lowgate, the same trail leads south to the Impossible Kingdoms of Vudra. To the west, the mockingly titled Empire Gate leads to the Padishah Empire of Kelesh, who have never been able to take Ular Kel as their own, and, finally, to the east, the road leads to the distant and notoriously xenophobic Kaladay.2

Both visually and geographically, the city is dominated by three colossal water cisterns known as the Water Houses and the lavish palaces built atop them, as well as the towering Spire of Azi, a Sarenite religious site built where a priestess of the faith slew an azi that attacked the city. The city is surrounded by a 20 foot high wall that is made of stone blocks as large as houses. Each of the four gates is flanked by a pair of carved statues of magical creatures, either garudas, lammasu, manticores, or nagas. Rumour claims that these 'statues' are actually powerful golems created to help protect the city.3


The Water Lords control Ular Kel's water supply and, in exchange, they tax and loosely regulate the city's bustling caravan trade. The title of Water Lord is conferred on whoever can take and hold one of the three Water Houses that act as reservoirs for the city's spring. While this may sound chaotic, normally the control of the Water Houses is dynastic with Azat Ihnkara of the Ihnkara family controlling one of the houses and Comelis Nurasili of the Nurasili family controlling the other. The third Water House is controlled by a newer organisation, a council of merchants known as the Concord of Peers, who are currently represented by Speaker of the Concord Jorgyz Erasyn.4

Below the Water Lords are a group of spellcasters known as the Robed Council who oversee the military magic used to help protect the city. Beyond this, the most powerful private citizens are the merchant lords of Ular Kel. While much of the city profits enough from its economy to allow the Water Lords to rule, a small and secretive group of dissenters called the Oasis seek to undermine this oligarchy and make the city's water free to all.4


Ular Kel was founded thousands of years ago by Altyn Batyr, a Han of a minor tribe, as little more than a watering hole for passing travellers. When first he visited the region that would one day become Ular Kel, it was nothing more than a small oasis. At the time, Altyn was only the Han of a small Kara horse tribe with little political power (his was not one of the 13 great tribes). He came up with the idea of fortifying this ideally located oasis and charging the other Kara for access to it. Initially, Altyn and his tribe were mocked by the other Kara as the "Dead Tribe", as to the nomadic Kara only the dead stay still. However, Altyn's plan took shape and proved to be extremely lucrative quickly growing from an armed camp to a fortress and then into a full-blown settlement as Ular Kel attracted merchant lords, caravan guards, and exiles of all sorts to this new city.3

After its founding, growth was not always smooth for Ular Kel. With control of the city falling to whoever controls the Water Houses, historically, the city has been frequently wracked with bloodshed, coups, and border-line civil wars, sometimes multiple times within a single generation. Disease has also often devastated Ular Kel, borne there by the caravans that are the city's lifeblood. The biggest threat has (and remains) the Kara horse tribes: despite hefty 'tribute' paid to the tribes and the city's impressive defences, it has still been sacked and looted on several different occasions. The last of these sackings was several centuries ago at the hands of a Kara Han who claimed to be a reincarnation of the legendary Sogys Taramai himself.3

In 3789 AR, two men known only as Teacher wondered out of the Grass Sea and into the city of Ular Kel. Chained together, this pair moved and spoke in perfect unison that spoke of a profound connection at some deep, fundamental level. Together they sought out an audience with the reigning Water Lords who ruled the city. Despite being completely unarmed, Teacher managed to overcome every guard the Water Lords could throw at them. Eventually, a pair of lovers who were also sons of the ruling Water Lords, Mitrae and Loyeru, descended from one of the Water Houses. They were so impressed by what they saw that they immediately become disciples of Teacher. For a decade until 3799 AR Mitrae and Loyeru studied beneath Teacher, blending their souls together and becoming szerik until one day Teacher simply walked back into the Grass Sea never to be seen again. Mitrae and Loyeru took over leadership of the organisation known as the Iridian Fold.5


Ular Kel's population waxes and wanes with the constant arrival and departure of various trade caravans. As well as traders, Ular Kel has attracted a range of people from across Casmaron, from some of the finest scholars and artisans to priests of every stripe. The people of Ular Kel pride themselves on being cosmopolitan and do not bat an eyelid at the city's non-human inhabitants.6 While these include more mundane halflings, elves, and gnomes,3 the city is also home to more exotic residents including centaurs, many varieties of naga, tengus, and, rumour has it, even the odd lammasu.3 The ysoki known as Sarki Tunnelers also make their home in and beneath Ular Kel.7


Paizo published a map and article on Ular Kel in Distant Shores, pages 54–63.

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

  1. John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 54–63. Paizo Inc., 2015
  2. John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 55. Paizo Inc., 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 57. Paizo Inc., 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 58. Paizo Inc., 2015
  5. John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 62. Paizo Inc., 2015
  6. John Compton, et al. Ular Kel” in Distant Shores, 54. Paizo Inc., 2015
  7. Patchen Mortimer. Ratfolk” in Ancestry Guide, 54. Paizo Inc., 2021