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Praag
Map City Praag
Map of Praag
Vital statistics
Inhabitants Ungol
Type Inland walled town
Location Kislev
Population Unknown
Allegiance Tzar
Industry Multiple

Praag, also known as the Cursed City, is the largest and most heavily fortified city within northern Kislev, earning itself the title as the Bastion of the North. Though rebuilt again and again, Praag can never shake off the legacy of its endless sieges and the destruction left behind. Mutation and madness taint its people, depravation and decay eat away at its streets, and the siege mentality endures eternal. But Praag has never been a shrinking violet, and its people are not prepared to give up and move elsewhere. Praag may be a dying city, but it the city and its inhabitants are defiant to the last.[2a]

History Edit

Praag is the oldest city in Kislev, built by Ungol lords before the coming of the Gospodars. Located on the Lynsk near the mountain passes to the east, it was a natural trade-hub: meat and hide were gathered from the surrounding stanitsas, and stone and silver flowed from the mountains. The town soon gained the nickname “the silver city,” not only because of its chief source of income but because the streets and buildings were decorated with the substance and other precious metals, until its gleaming onion domes and high-peaked roofs could be seen for miles.[2a]

This wealth had another purpose as well. Their northern position made Praag vulnerable to attack, yet they were always far from the minds of the rulers in the capital. Thus, Praag devoted itself to becoming a place of stunning beauty and grandiose entertainments. Their reputation produced a steady flow of visitors keen to sample the delights of their northern climes, ensuring the protection of Praag would never be forgotten.[2a]

Their trade reflected this, too. Praag grain is sickly and in short supply compared to that of the southlands, and the city has been starved out by the south more than once. To combat the cost of shipping essentials north, Praag fostered the craftsmanship and sale of luxuries and ornaments: gold, silver, and copper filigree work, set with precious stones, along with the finest furs and cloths stitched into stunning headdresses, shoes, jewellery, and cloaks. Soon, it was known by all that the best silversmiths, jewellers, embroiderers, tapestry weavers, clockwork makers, and cameo painters were found only in Praag. Many of these used ancient Ungol designs and techniques, unknown to the city folk of the south. Likewise, the High Pass meant Praag dealt in exotic goods from the far east, such as spices, jade, and ivory. The money from this trade soon paid for the city’s key attraction: the great Opera House. It was soon followed by an Academy of Music and an Observatory, all of which had the boyars of the south clamouring to visit. Wizardry was encouraged also; in the days before the Colleges of Magic in Altdorf, Praag was the centre of the Old World for magical and alchemical experimentation, and many legends are told of strange spells working amongst its streets.[2a]

Of course, such prosperity was not kept without a struggle, and Praag is a warrior city, as well as a poetic one. Over the thousand years of its life, the city has endured countless attacks, including ones from the armies of the southern capital. Praag’s large Ungol population and proud independence has led the city to attempt secession on no less than three occasions. After the third, the Tzarina displaced Praag’s rulers (dubbed the Z’ra) and appointed her own agent over the city, but the rebellious spirit lives on.[2a]

Most of Praag’s military engagements have been against the forces of Chaos from the north. Against these, Praag raised huge, viciously spiked walls called the basta. Within these is a second wall, barely a yard away, peppered with murder holes to deter invaders. Both layers are carved with Dwarfen runes of protection and are said to contain ancient magic, though none living know what they might be. Behind these defences, more walls surround the original city, now known as the Old Town. And on top of that stands the massive cannon-studded fortress, perched on a rocky spur like a massive, misshapen gargoyle.[2a]

The city also has spaces within those mighty walls to house peasants and nomads from the surrounding countryside that inevitably flee to the city when the Chaos powers descend. Thus, Praag is a constant jumble of races, with a Gospodar ruler, Ungol boyars, oblast folk, steppe nomads, Empire wizards, traders from Cathay, and even remnants of the Ropsmenn in the Old Town. Racial division is common but is dwarfed by the Praager’s need to unite against both the threat from the north and the presumptions of the south. Praagers have a reputation for being paranoid and insular, and it is somewhat deserved. Praagers do not trust anyone who is not from Praag, for those who do not live there cannot truly understand what that life entails. For many, being a Praager is more important than being a Kislevite.[2b]

Withstanding the endless sieges and incursions has caused, on top of the immense loss of life, great destruction to the city’s beautiful buildings. The citizens of Praag never forget the bloodshed but are relatively blithe about the destruction of their city—it presents an opportunity to redo the work in an even grander and more startling fashion. Once, there was nothing Praag could not endure and simply rebuild anew. Then came the Great War of Chaos.[2b]

The Great War Edit

The gigantic army of Asavar Kul headed south, determined to destroy the realms of men, and their fury fell first and foremost upon the city of Praag. The great basta held strong, the soldiers of the city were brave beyond sanity, and the siege lasted months, until the twisted corpses of the Chaos army were piled to the tops of the walls. But the tide could not be held back forever. The walls fell, and the Citadel was abandoned. Balefire burned down the palaces, Dark Magic roared through the houses, and Chaos reigned in the streets. Thousands were slaughtered or driven into the freezing snows, and they were the lucky ones.[2b]

The survivors crawled back to find their city in ruins—and worse. The armies of the south burned what remained to the ground in an attempt to cleanse it, but the Chaos-taint had been driven deep. The walls sprouted monstrous eyes and tongues, men and silver were melted into one, and a rain of severed fingers fell every day around the Fire Spire. Black blood ran from all the wells, and carpets of living, moaning flesh slid across the surface of the river. For years afterwards, every second child was born a Mutant, and it was a century before birds were heard in the sky again.[2b]

But the people of Praag would not abandon their city. Instead, they rebuilt it, piece by piece, with whatever they could find. To this day, the city has a haphazard look, structures unfinished or approximated around scars and open wounds still unhealed from the devastation. Then came new invasions and fresh destruction. The walls were broken down once again two hundred years later. In the face of such unrelenting suffering, many gave in to despair. Repairs began to be forgotten, desolation no longer reclaimed. Some abandoned the city; others stayed and waited for death to claim them. Still more feed like ravens upon its sickly, lawless streets. And Chaos rises: the laneways of the New City swallow the souls of those who walk them, the dead will not sleep in their graves, and restless spirits haunt the ruins of the gutted spires.[2b]

The Praag Affliction Edit

Living in a city so tainted by Chaos weighs heavily on the mind and body, even for those who escape mutation.[2d]

  • Absent-Minded: You never seem to remember things you’re sure you know.[2d]
  • Addled: You’re not quite right in the head.[2d]
  • Clouded Vision: A milky liquid swims in front of your eyes.[2d]
  • Club Foot: One of your feet is a twisted, shrunken mess. You can walk fine, but you may never run, and jump half as far.[2d]
  • Frail: You begin your adventure somewhat weakened in terms of physical health.[2d]
  • Jumpy: You are easily spooked.[2d]
  • Poor Hearing: Due to a loud noise or birth defect, you have trouble hearing properly.[2d]
  • Sickly: Your poor constitution means you catch every disease that goes around.[2d]
  • Stutter: Your speech impediment makes it difficult for others to understand you.[2d]
  • Weak-Minded: Your mind is not as strong as others, making it easier to go insane.[2d]

The Vampires Edit

The citizens of Praag would not be surprised to hear there are Vampires in their midst, but they would be terrified at just how far and deep their influence reaches. The Vampire taint is upon many of the great boyar families, most notably the Upirnovs, the Vasilikovs, and the Kalashiniviks. The Vasilikovs claim to be directly descended from Vashanesh, one of the original Vampire princes, while the Kalashiniviks are Lahmians, of the same bloodline as the crazed Vampire Tzarina of centuries ago, who thus declare themselves the true heirs to the throne. The Upirnovs are not aligned and keep the others’ feuding from becoming outright war. The Vampires also control a great many other boyars, druzhinas, and merchants who, though not Undead, have come under their spell.[2f]

Layout Edit

Praag has a number of quarters and districts as follows.[2c]

Gates and Bridges Edit

Praag’s monstrous walls have three gates. To the south is the Water Gate, which allows both boats and road traffic to enter. To the east is the Mountain Gate, where those heading to the Worlds Edge Mountains depart. To the north is the Gate of Gargoyles, named for its numerous, vividly carved waterspouts. When the forces of Chaos blew down the north gate, the gargoyles faces became horrifically mutated. It is said to be very bad luck to look up when passing through the Gate of Gargoyles, for if the tainted faces of the gargoyles catch your eye, they will feast upon your soul that very night. Whether the tale is true or not is unknown, but those who glance from the corners of their eyes have noted the number of gargoyles on the gate is never the same.[2c]

The southernmost bridge is called Karlsbridge after Z’ra Karl the XII, the ruler who led the first secession campaign against the tyranny of the south. The bridge is wide enough for two carriages to pass alongside and is flanked by elaborate stone towers of Dwarfen design. To the north lies the Empty Bridge—or the Bridge of Death. The latter name comes from the fact that it used to carry the men of the Old City across to the Citadel to become soldiers. The former name is Kislevite irony, for the bridge is never empty. Anyone who crosses it at night feels as if he is being followed. Looking behind reveals a figure cloaked in shadow that keeps coming nearer, yet never catches up.[2c]

The Old Town (Starograd) Edit

The area inside the original walls of the town is filled with the oldest buildings, packed haphazardly into tight, winding streets that all too often lead nowhere. Due to the protection of a second wall, the Old Town was spared the true horror that has consumed Novygrad but still suffered destruction and bears the marks of Chaos. Rebuilding is slow but constant; shiny new houses mingle with those from centuries ago—modern design is found next to the thatched roofs of the Ropsmenn ghetto. Once, these streets housed Praag’s craftsmen, but as the city expanded, such things moved south, and the traders here turned to more exotic goods. Here, you will find the sellers of proscribed books, magic ingredients, and foreign wonders. Here, too, are the more exotic bordellos, the more specific drug dens, and the more presentable victims of mutation and madness. In the tiny street-corner cafes, men of the Old Town sing songs from better days, drink strange Cathayan beverages, and wait for the taint to kill them.[2c]

Newtown (Novygrad) Edit

The area immediately surrounding the Old Town to the north and east has been known as Newtown since it was constructed eight centuries ago. Its closeness to the north gate meant that its narrow, densely housed streets were the first and hardest hit of the entire city, and no rebuilding can reclaim it. Only the poorest of the poor live in these streets, for the sickness kills too quickly, and the Sunworms and Chaos Slime get the rest. The drains are scabrous sores that ooze stinking liquids, and the sickly air chokes with insects spawned endlessly from the piles of mutated corpses. The wind whispers murderous thoughts, and the muddy streets are full of deadly quicksand. The law will not follow criminals here, but only the desperate or the most perverse stay long. Cultists and rebels can meet safely amongst the ruined streets, but they too leave quickly lest the price is too high—the streets could shift, and they might never find their way out. Occasionally, controlled fires and demolitions are carried out in the quarter, but the taint remains, and most residents of Praag have accepted it.[2c]

The Deep City (Glubograd) Edit

Although not on any map, everyone knows there is a city underneath that which lies on the surface. Praag is very old, and its Dwarf population built tunnels from the very beginning. More famously, during the time of Z’ra Zoltan, the area under the Citadel and the Old Town was filled with vast catacombs on the idea that when the walls broke, retreating underground might be the only escape. The catacombs were never used, but apparently, great war machines and sorcerous defences were constructed and cunning devices installed to provide sun and water and food in case a siege ever lasts for years again. Z’ra Zoltan’s ice witch, Walpura, also built a great laboratory below, and legend has it she discovered some Dark Magic source far beneath the city. In the devastation of the Great War, however, all entries to the true Deep were lost, and nobody goes far below any more. Deep down, the great secrets of Praag may be waiting to be discovered, but right now, survival is more important than secrets.[2c]

The Noble Quarter Edit

The south-eastern corner of the city has always been the area most spared from the depredations of war and Chaos, and thus it has become the area of residence for the richest and most ennobled of the city. Here, too, sits the Opera House and the Great Museum, as well as the massive expanse of Windlass Square, the staging area for all the greatest celebrations and most elaborate masques. The druzhinas do not pretend the war did not happen or that their city is not suffering, but they do believe the spirit of Praag should never be diminished even in the face of destruction. Thus, the pageantry goes on, and art, music, and poetry remain the focus of life. Here, the madness of Praag lives large in indolent eccentricity and inveterate decadence, regardless of the cost.[2c][2d]

The Merchant Quarter Edit

Between Windlass Square and the Lynsk lies the Merchant Quarter. It is packed with warehouses, guild houses, docking ports, markets, and storefronts and is constantly crowded, even after dark. Among the silversmiths and craftsmen that made Praag so famous are also tanners and furriers, grocers and bakers, farmers and peasants, and silk merchants and spice caravans, all seeded with barkers, agitators, conmen, foreigners, and Dwarfs. Nomad and steppe folk add a rustic feel as they sell their beasts, flesh, and hides in the open squares. Ogres are also common, as many find work as guards on eastern caravans. Business has been subdued of late, but nothing can stop the merchants of Praag. Things have become even more chaotic, as hundreds of refugees from the north of the city have taken over the abandoned warehouses and port stations as their new homes. Some merchants view these newcomers as vermin who must be exterminated, others as just highly motivated customers. Lives are now bought and sold like meat on those narrow streets and for far less money. Organised and petty crime abounds, and the beleaguered and corrupt men of the Dock Watch have neither the manpower nor the inclination to do much about it.[2d]


Notable Locations Edit

  • The Street Shifting Signs
  • Grand Parade
  • Windless Square
  • Opera House
  • New Palace
  • Old Palace
  • Red Rose Bordello
  • White Boar Inn
  • The Bow and Bard
  • Fire Spire
  • Mangus Gardens
  • Temple of Dazh
  • Temple of Ursun
  • The Slyak's Arms
  • Butcher Bigfeast's Merchant House

SourcesEdit

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Kislev (6th Edition)
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realm of the Ice Queen
    • 2a: pg. 69
    • 2b: pg. 70
    • 2c: pg. 71
    • 2d: pg. 72
    • 2e: pg. 73
    • 2f: pg. 75
    • 2g: pg. 76
    • 2h: pg. 77
    • 2i: pg. 78

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