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Urgir

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Urgir
(City)
Nation Hold of Belkzen
Size Metropolis
Population 28,700
Demographics 24,100 orcs, 1,430 half-orcs, 1,150 humans, 574 giants, 290 elves, 275 half-elves, 881 others
Government Overlord
Alignment Chaotic evil
Ruler Ardax the White-Hair
Leader Nogalt the Unpure

Source: The Inner Sea World Guide, pg(s). 49

Urgir is the unofficial capital of the orc-ruled Hold of Belkzen. The nation has no true capital as Belkzen has no centralized government, yet the ruler of Urgir is generally seen by most orcs as the most powerful chieftain in the area. The disparate tribes of Belkzen are fiercely independent and fight against each other even more than they fight outsiders, although Urgir's leader, the intelligent Ardax the White-Hair, has instituted changes in the hopes of encouraging cooperation and greater unity.[1][2]

History

Urgir wasn't built by the orcs, and originally was a Sky Citadel known as Koldukar, erected by the dwarves upon their emergence on the surface of Golarion during the Age of Darkness. At its height, Koldukar had over 100,000 inhabitants, the highest population of any city in northwestern Avistan. Unfortunately for the dwarves, the orcs had emigrated to the surface before them and organized near Koldukar under the leadership of the great warlord Belkzen. The orcs laid siege and eventually overran Koldukar during in the Battle of Nine Stones in -3708 AR. Belkzen renamed the city Urgir, meaning "first home" in his native tongue.[3] The victory over the dwarves led to the orcs' second great golden age, which historians call the Reckoning.[4][5] Over the years, the masterful stone and metalwork of the cities dwarven builders has been defiled by its current residents, but even despite this defacing, Urgir remains a testament to its creators' talents and vision.[6]

Recent history

For thousands of years after Urgir's capture by the orcs, the city served primarily as the stage for the ambitions of countless orc chieftains who led their tribes against their competitors in a struggle for dominance. This began to change when the mighty warrior Grask Uldeth gained control of the Empty Hand tribe and the city in 4692 AR. After years of eliminating his rivals and consolidating power, he began instituting fundamental changes in orc society within the city in 4702 AR in an attempt to curtail some of the most violent excesses of its inhabitants and create a semblance of order.[7]

Upon gaining his freedom in 4719 AR, the lich-king Tar-Baphon sent a delegation of envoys to Urgir to regain the allegiance of the orcs. Remembering that their ancestors had ultimately fared well under his rule 15 centuries previously, Ardax had the diplomats slain as soon as they finished their speeches, and mounted their heads on the city's walls. Their decapitated bodies he tied to their horses, which he sent back over the border with the Gravelands with their diplomatic entreaties stuffed down their necks. Tar-Baphon was so incensed by this that he sent an army of his undead soldiers to Urgir to teach the orcs a lesson. Ardax quickly organized the local tribes into an irregular army and met the undead at the Battle of Nine Broken Skulls and won. Even though Tar-Baphon had intended to break the orcs' morale, he instead reinforced the benefits of cooperation.[2]

Geography

Urgir is situated in the south of the Hold of Belkzen, along the Flood Road, the region's central highway. Built on a small hill, it is a mass of stone spires, dwarven monuments, and deep warrens that resembles a multi-layered cake of eight concentric tiers that rise up to the highest, innermost level. Each tier is separated from the others by defensive walls designed to protect it during a siege, and the dwarves dedicated each tier to one of the dwarven gods. In order from lowest to highest these are: Torag, Fogrit, Angradd, Drundinnar, Dranngvit, Trudd, and Magrim. Each layer included religious structures dedicated to its deity, as well as buildings tied to the the aspects of dwarven society for which a god had oversight. Even though the orcs ignored these aspects of dwarven culture, many of these buildings still stand within Urgir.[5]

As Urgir now has less than one third of the inhabitants it boasted during its dwarven heyday, many of the sections of the city are abandoned or underpopulated. This is especially true of the upper four tiers of the city, as these have suffered more severely from the recent earthquakes (see below), and are now structurally unsound.[5]

The city is supported from below by giant pillars of stone and iron deep beneath the earth. These supports are subject to a large rust monster infestation, and frequent tremors hit the settlement as the columns are devoured by the pests.[5][8] The fact that Urgir has stood as long as it has is a testament to the dwarven engineers and builders who laid its foundation.[9] Thus far, the orcs have remained unaware (or uninterested) in the mounting structural damage and occasional localized collapses.[10]

Entrance to the Darklands

As one of the places where millennia ago dwarves emerged onto the surface world at the end of their Quest for Sky, the countless tunnels below Urgir still connect to the realm of Nar-Voth in the Darklands.[11] The tunnels beneath the city lead directly past the duergar city of Fellstrok, although the grey dwarves rarely take this path to the surface, for fear of the rust monsters.[9]

Government

It is difficult for orcs to maintain any stable government, and even in the metropolitan Urgir this is no different. Throughout the years, control of the city has shifted from one powerful warlord to another, and the ruling tribe has shifted more times than most orcs have the intelligence to count. The current ruler is Ardax the White-Hair, who has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Grask Uldeth of the Empty Hand tribe. Envious of the human cities in neighboring and distant nations, Uldeth and now Ardax opened Urgir up to foreign traders and travelers in the hopes of benefitting from trade with non-orcs.[1] To facilitate this, Uldeth created a token system that allowed non-orcs to travel through southern Belkzen without being attacked by rampaging orc tribes. He also actively encouraged merchants to relocate to Urgir, tempting them with light taxes and the freedom to trade in wares that are illegal in other countries. Since Uldeth's demise in 4716 AR, Ardax has reached out to neighboring nations to find allies in their mutual fight against Tar-Baphon.[2]

Ardax's innovations

Ardax the White-Hair consolidated power upon Uldeath's assassination using the strength of the Closed Fist, the police-like force his predecessor had instituted in the city to crack down on his opposition and protect the lives of the non-orc merchants. He armed the Closed Fist with dwarven weapons and armor found in several caches found in the undercity, and managed to capture a huge herd of rust monsters he found there as well. Ardax trained these creatures like dogs, and now uses them to supplement the power of his Closed First enforcers.[2]

Inhabitants

The large majority of Urgir's inhabitants are orcs and half-orcs, but the presence of other species has grown in recent years. Grask Uldeth opened the city to "pinkskins," and now a small population of humans, half-elves and even elves live in the more trade-friendly sections of the city. Each of these non-orc inhabitants must buy and display a token from a tribal chief that indicates that this person is under the protection that tribe. These tokens are not easily obtained however, and can cost a great deal in bribes and favours. That said, taunting and discrimination are prevalent from the orc natives, and while a pinkskin's safety may be guaranteed by law, they tend to stick mostly to themselves to avoid mistreatment from their hosts.[12]

Even with the law on their side, outsiders have been known to be slain by degenerate orcs living in the warrens beneath the city. Although such a crime is punishable by death, these outcast orcs have a habit of ignoring such consequences.[13]

Languages

In addition to the Orc language, the most commonly spoken languages in Urgir include the Common tongue of Avistan as well as Giant.[5]

Organizations

Urgir is home to several brutal fighting schools, some of which even focus on unarmed combat, such as that of the fierce Masha the Seven-Limbed.[14]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 64. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Tanya DePass, James Jacobs, Lyz Liddell, et al. (2019). Lost Omens World Guide, p. 38-39. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-172-6
  3. James L. Sutter. (2008). The Hold of Belkzen. Skeletons of Scarwall, p. 63. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-099-5
  4. Tyler Beck, Jason Garrett, Alex Greenshields, and David Schwartz. (2014). Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, p. 4. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-710-9
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Tyler Beck, Jason Garrett, Alex Greenshields, and David Schwartz. (2014). Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, p. 18-21. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-710-9
  6. James L. Sutter. (2008). Pink Like Me (Pathfinder's Journal). Crown of Fangs, p. 78. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-109-1
  7. Tyler Beck, Jason Garrett, Alex Greenshields, and David Schwartz. (2014). Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, p. 5. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-710-9
  8. Jay Thompson. (2008). Fear in a Handful of Rust (Pathfinder's Journal). Shadow in the Sky, p. 76. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-115-2
  9. 9.0 9.1 James Jacobs and Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Into the Darklands, p. 8–9. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-140-4
  10. James L. Sutter. (2009). Rust monster. Dungeon Denizens Revisited, p. 56. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-172-5
  11. Anthony Pryor. (2011). Candlestone Caverns. Dungeons of Golarion, p. 3. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-304-0
  12. James L. Sutter. (2008). Pink Like Me (Pathfinder's Journal). Crown of Fangs, p. 77. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-109-1
  13. Steve Kenson, Rob McCreary, Richard Pett, et al. (2010). Orcs of Golarion, p. 18. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-256-2
  14. Dennis Baker, et al. (2014). Advanced Class Origins, p. 10. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-674-4