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Tobaro
Warhammer Tobaro
Map of Tobaro
Vital statistics
Inhabitants Humans, Dwarfs
Type Cityport
Location Old World, eastern Estalian Peninsula
Population 10,000+
Allegiance Tibaldus Marsarius de Vela, Prince of Tobaro
Industry Silver and gem-mining, regional trade

The Tormented Principality of Tobaro, known for famously as the City of Sirens, or the City of Fools, is the only great Tilean city on the western shores of the Tilean Sea.[2a] Here the narrow coastal plain of Tilea is separated from the arid uplands of Estalia by the Abasko Mountains. Tobaro is situated on the coast. It is quite a rugged coastline, especially to the south where there are numerous small rocky islands. These are inhabited by bird-like creatures called Sirens, that sing so sweetly that they lure unwary sailors to their doom on the rocks. Most of these islands are uninhabited by men, except for those that are isolated and remote enough to provide lairs for pirates and raiders.[1a]

Tobaro lies apart from the rest of Tilea, both physically and psychologically. Geographically cut off from the rest of the land by the towering Abasko Mountains and made nearly unreachable from the sea by the perilous Fool’s Rocks, travelling to Tobaro is no easy task—a fact Tobarans relish, for only their pilots and navigators are able to safely guide ships to the harbour, for a fair sum of course. By virtue of its geography Tobaro is rather insular, choosing to keep itself from the squabbling of the city-states across the Tilean Sea.[2a]  

This often rankles with the other states that take this as a show of Tobaran arrogance. Tobaro is on good terms with the Estalian kingdoms, much to the jealousy of the other states, and of the few foreign vessels to be found within the harbour, at least half will be from Estalia. Tobaro has little to trade in the way of luxuries; its wares are, as befits the down to earth nature of its people, of a much more basic nature—most commonly ore mined from beneath the city, traded for less readily obtained items such as foodstuffs.[2a]


HistoryEdit

Local legend has it that the entire coast was once inhabited by fell, bird-like creatures that made their nests in amongst the crags of the cliffs. Untold millennia of their scratching contributed to the erosion of natural sea caves, leading to the cliffs becoming maggot ridden with tunnels and caverns. With the arrival of Sea Elves seeking either wealth in the mountains or a defensible site for a trading post, the creatures were driven from their homes and the Elves made their home in the cave system, enlarging it and constructing the harbour. The city of Tolarie was inhabited for nigh on a thousand years until its abandonment at the end of the Dwarf Wars. Tolarie lay abandoned for centuries until its chance rediscovery by a group of Tilean shepherds seeking shelter from the worst of the Abaskan winters. Tobaro, as the city was renamed, was quickly settled by farmers who knew a good thing when they saw it, building on the Elven ruins found within the rock face.[2b]

The Rise of TobaroEdit

As the only harbour on the western Tilean coast, Tobaro grew, acting as a sometime stopover point between Tilea and Estalia. However, the danger involved in actually reaching the port prevented it from attaining the wealth or the stature of the eastern Tilean city-states. This very same danger acted as a deterrent to would-be aggressors as well, and during the Arabyan Conquests of Estalia, Tobaro proved invaluable as a safe haven from which the crusading forces could be based during the defence and re-conquest. Over the course of the Conquests the city was besieged from both land and sea on five separate occasions, but did not fall.[2b]

Tobaro's BaneEdit

Warhammer Tobaro Deepwatch

The Ratmen invasion of Tobaro

Although unassailable from outside, Tobaro was not so secure from within and its extensive and uncharted network of tunnels proved to be its bane. Skaven forces attacked the city from below in a series of raids between IC 1563 and 1565, razing large parts of the city and enslaving much of the populace. Tobaro was only saved by the arrival of the merchant-prince Meldo Marcelli at the head of a mercenary army accompanied by Sea Elf allies. The force succeeded in entering the harbour unnoticed and sneaking into the city, catching the Skaven unawares and driving them back into the tunnels. Fighting between the Tobarans and the Ratmen continued on and off for many years with countless skirmishes in the lower levels. An end was finally achieved with the collapse of several strategic tunnels by Dwarf engineers, allowing the city guard to better watch the entrances to the city. A permanent garrison of warriors, the Deepwatch, are employed to regularly patrol the tunnels and to root out any sign of Skaven. As a result, Tobaro is probably the only city in the Old World without a significant population of rats—bipedal or otherwise.[2b]

The Golden AgeEdit

Warhammer Tobaro Meldo Marcelli

The Golden reign of Pigallo I

Meldo Marcelli was summarily elected as prince of the city and his family remained rulers for many years after. Their reign is often looked back upon as the golden years of Tobaran culture. The rule of the Marcellis came to an end in 1877 when a secession squabble erupted following the death of Antonio Marcelli III. Civil war was only averted when the court seer prophesied the next prince would meet with an unpleasant fate. The crisis of secession was turned on its head, as suddenly no one wanted the post. Instead, in an attempt to ward off the prophecy, a pig was chosen as prince.[2b]

Years passed and under the benevolent reign of Piggalo I, Tobaro enjoyed peace, free from the machinations and manoeuvrings of the Marcellis, who returned to what they did best: trade. Piggolo I died twelve years later when he fell over the cliff edge and into the sea as he was inspecting his guard. Rumours abounded of an assassination and a number of his courtiers were arrested on suspicion of treason. A new Human prince was elected and the court swiftly returned to politicking as before. Tradition now dictates that a pig must always be running as a candidate for the princeship and other candidates often adopt their own pigs as lucky mascots.[2b]  

GovernmentEdit

Tobaro steadfastly remains a monarchy despite countless attempts at social revolution, each firmly put down over the years. Tobaro has no single ruling family, however, but rather a collection of semi-royal merchant houses, all of which stake their claim on the throne and from which the prince is chosen. At the time of a prince’s death the dominant houses all jostle and vie for the throne, until one of them gains enough popular and political support for its patriarch to be successfully elected prince. The prince is elected by a council of peers made up of the most prominent merchant patriarchs and community leaders, as well as a single representative of the Navigator Families and the Engineering Guild.[2c]

The incumbent prince may well have named his heir and successor, but this counts for nought unless his house and his heir remain strong after the prince’s death. Being named heir gives the prince’s successor a definite edge, but unless he can move swiftly to claim the throne and secure his position, a more powerful house will brush him aside in the scramble for political dominance. The throne of Tobaro is sometimes referred to as the Fool’s Rock—more than one house has been broken upon it, and the turbulent political eddies surrounding it are said to be more dangerous than those surrounding the real Fool’s Rocks in the bay beneath the city. This being Tilea, where political assassination is practically the national pastime, it is rare that a powerful house has the patience to wait until the prince has succumbed to natural causes.[2c]

A comment often heard when discussing politics within the city, only half jokingly, is that, “’Tis a far quicker path to death to name yourself Prince than it is to throw yourself over Tobaro’s edge.” The current Prince of Tobaro is Prince Tibaldus Marsarius de Vela, youthful patriarch of the de Vela banking house. Prince Tibaldus has been prince for little over two years, having taken the throne from his late uncle who died on the blade of a spurned lover—an impressive death for a man in his nineties. Tibaldus’ election was surrounded with rumours of heavy bribery as he brought his family’s considerable financial resources to bear on his rivals. Political rivals have been unusually quiet in their opposition to the Prince, and will presumably remain so until their finances run low and Tibaldus is forced to issue a new round of “funding.”[2c]

Navigator FamiliesEdit

As in every Tilean city-state, no sooner had a ruling family been founded than another family had sprung up as rivals. It was not long after the founding of Tobaro that the first dissidents sprang up, but in a city so short of space they had little opportunity to establish their own territory, except for deeper into the tunnels or out onto the rocky islets that dot the channels to the city. Those who delved deeper were never seen again. Those who took to the Fool’s Rocks became the first of the Navigator Families. The Navigators hold the monopoly on sea trade to and from Tobaro’s great harbour, for only they and they alone know the safe channels between the deadly rocks.[2c]

Each family tightly controls its own routes—some more dangerous than others, but each just as deadly to anyone else—and their secrets are highly guarded, passed from father to son and never written on a chart. Many have died to protect their family secrets, for they are all that guarantees the Navigators their protected status and prevents them becoming a mere nuisance to be swatted by the Prince. There is a fierce rivalry between the families, each of them vying for the custom of passing ships and guarding their territorial waters ferociously. It is not unheard of for fighting to break out between pilots on the decks of ships as representatives from more than one family jump aboard to try and win the job, often by disparaging the reputation of the other pilots. Despite the hostility and rivalry, the families present a united front against their age-old enemies—the ruling family of Tobaro.[2c]

The Navigators have not forgotten their origins, nor are they ignorant to the threats that still exist to their livelihoods. This is no idle suspicion or paranoia, for the Prince and the city’s merchants would dearly love to be rid of the Navigator Families and control the access to the city themselves; but so long as the families keep their secrets to themselves, there is little chance of that. Many families supplement the income from piloting ships to and from Tobaro by salvaging the remains of unlucky or foolish ships that are wrecked on the Fool’s Rocks. This often leads to accusations that the pilots take unnecessary risks with their charges, knowing that they can make a tidy profit either way. If asked, the pilots just shrug and smile, remarking that business is business.[2c]

The most infamous of the Navigator Families is the de Naufragios family, a family with a notorious—if hard to prove—reputation for piracy and shipwrecking. The de Naufragios are led by their ancient matriarch, Nanna 82 Chapter VIII: Tobaro de Naufragios, and despite being one of the older and wealthier families, still live in relative squalor on their craggy outcropping. The de Naufragios’ territory is easily spotted, especially at night, for there are an extraordinarily large number of lanterns and torches burning around their islands—almost too many, one could say, and more than a few hapless captains have mistaken the bright lights for Tobaro itself, with disastrous consequences.[2c]

Tobaron Engineering GuildEdit

The Tobaran Engineering Guild is one of the most powerful organisations in the city, responsible for the construction, expansion and maintenance of its network of tunnels and caverns, as well as its mining equipment and lift mechanisms. The city’s sizeable Dwarf population dominates the guild, utilising their people’s expertise to guide the growing number of Human engineers. Thanks to the power the guild holds within the city, the guild master is the only non-mercantile member of the Tobaran council. Although no one would ever seriously consider the guild master to be a contender for prince, there are no laws against it and the guild often jests about how an engineerprince would keep the city in order.[2f]

One example of an engineer is Sorrio de Stonehelm, a senior Engineer in the guild. Sorrio’s name amply demonstrates the mixed cultural influences at work within the dwarves of the city. Sorrio has a deal with some of the shadier members of the Deepwatch, helping them find long forgotten tunnels and caverns in exchange for a share of any treasure they might happen upon along the way. Such dubious dealings are all too common beneath Tobaro.[2f]

InhabitantsEdit

The people of Tobaro are a gruff folk, weathered by the harsh coastal storms and their stony homes. Tobarans are inevitably great sailors, for the rough waters of the Abasko coast quickly weed out the weak from the strong. Those who do not sail or trade for a living work in the tunnels, either as miners, engineers, or warriors hired to keep the tunnels clear of monsters. The Tobarans are an embittered and stubborn people, with a demeanour and outlook more in common with Dwarfs than their fellow Tileans. In appearance they are somewhat shorter and stockier, with paler skin than other Tileans.[2a]

ReligionEdit

As in the rest of Tilea the dominant gods of Tobaro are Myrmidia and Ranald, and their shrines can be found scattered throughout the city. There are several churches to Myrmidia in each of the districts, and some of the rock-grottoes fashioned into churches are amongst the most stunning buildings in the whole of the city, despite their innocuous outward appearance. Manann is worshipped widely in the Porto district, where many fishermen and sailors make their homes. A large temple of Manann is situated on the dockside right by the customs house. The Navigator Families also venerate Manann, although the temple has taken a keen interest in their worship of late after rumours surfaced that the Cult of Stromfels has a heavy presence on the Fool’s Rocks. The Dwarf god Grungni is worshipped in parts of the city—and not just by the Tobaran Dwarfs—especially in the tunnels and streets of Trafuro. Within the city Grungni goes by the Tileanised version of his name, il Grungnio, although his strictures and doctrines remain the same.[2a]

LayoutEdit

Tobaro is roughly divided into four broad districts, each of which has its own unique personality and atmosphere. The four districts are: Altezza, which is the wealthy area built on the clifftops; Scogliera, which encompasses the streets and houses built on the cliff face itself; Traforo, which is the underground district built in the city’s tunnel network; and Porto, which is the trade town built up around the harbour in the cavern at the base of the cliffs. Each of the districts has a separate watch house and garrison that maintains law and order on their own patch, although each reports to the main watch barracks in Altezza.[2f]

Altezza DistrictEdit

Altezza is the wealthiest part of the city, sitting atop the cliffs overlooking the sea. From Altezza the rocky foothills of the Abasko Mountains rise sharply and although there is more space in Altezza than in the rest of Tobaro, and hence the houses are much bigger than elsewhere in the city, conditions are still cramped compared to the wealthy quarters in other Tilean city-states. In Altezza the residencies of the Tobaran merchant houses can be found, as far removed from the rest of the city as they can manage to get. Each of the merchant houses maintains “estates” that are in reality little more than houses and towers huddled together within walled compounds.[2f]

To compensate for the lack of horizontal space, many of the residents of Altezza build vertically, and the houses atop Tobaro are more like towers than traditional Tilean villas. On the highest point of Altezza, built on a rocky promontory overlooking the rest of the district, is the Palazzo del Vento— literally, the Palace of the Wind, named for the harsh wind that constantly blows through the streets from the sea, or the mountains, or both. The palace was originally built to act as the city’s citadel, but its defensibility has long since been neglected since the last of the Skaven were driven from the city. The palace is the official residence of the Prince of Tobaro. As a result of the ever-changing nature of Tobaran politics, it has seen a lot of different inhabitants, each of which has imposed their own unique style and taste, with hideous results.[2f]

Although Tobaro is far removed from the corruption prevalent in the north of the Old World, it is by no means immune, and shadows lurk in the corners of the city. Ironically, it is not in the dank darkness beneath the city that the greatest corruption lurks, but in the decadent palazzos of Altezza. One consequence of the Skaven invasion was increased vigilance in the depths and the creation of the Deepwatch, and whilst all eyes are turned to the darkened tunnels of Trafuro, no one is watching the courts of Altezza. Here greed and jealousy turns the minds of men to dark cults and the worship of the Chaos Gods.[2f]

Scogliera DistrictEdit

The district of Scogliera is built into the cliff face, with streets cut into ledges and tunnels that wind up and down the cliff, and houses clustered on outcroppings or cut into the rock face itself. Wooden lifts and cranes allow rapid travel between parts of the district, and winding stairs and ramps provide slower but steadier access to the rest. In many parts there is nothing to stop a careless or unlucky person from falling over the edge and into the sea far below. In places where this has happened more than a few times a stern warning or crude railings are erected, although this rarely prevents accidents.[2g]

Scogliera is where those wealthy enough to avoid living in Trafuro live—predominantly the professional classes such as merchants, physicians, and scholars, but also many of the city’s well-to-do traders and craftsman. Scogliera has a number of distinct areas, such as Faccia, an affluent street of artisans and merchants; or the precariously balanced houses clustered along Sporgenza, built on ledges enlarged by scaffoldings so that they jut out at strange angles, hanging over nothing. The buildings of Scogliera are mainly small two-storey terraced houses or squat cottages, built atop one another and hewn from the rock face so that the back rooms are little more than caves. In true Tilean fashion, the houses are brightly painted in yellows and pinks and whites, although the sea air takes its toll, leaving many of them looking faded and decayed.[2g]

Trafuro DistrictEdit

Those Tobarans unable to afford housing in Scogliera must live in the warren of tunnels that make up the Trafuro district. There are countless miles of tunnels beneath Tobaro, most of them uncharted and unexplored. The Engineering Guild only maintains the tunnels near the surface, for there are too many to maintain them all. The Trafuro district was once much bigger, sprawling far underground, but in the aftermath of the Skaven invasion most of it was razed and its boundaries officially pulled back and restricted so that it can be defended more effectively. The furthest limits of Tobaro are demarcated by the Deepwatch barracks and the numerous mines and tombs beyond. The mines and the surrounding tunnels are patrolled regularly by the Deepwatch, which maintains a heavy presence in Trafuro itself.[2g]

The poorer members of Tobaran society inhabit Trafuro, and housing there is the cheapest in the city, but also the worst. The majority of residents work as miners in the ore mines, or engineers responsible for the upkeep of the tunnels. Conditions in Trafuro are unpleasant at best. The tunnels are damp and dark, with natural light only illuminating the tunnel entrances. The rest of Trafuro is perpetually gloomy, lit only by torches and lamps placed at irregular intervals. Housing in Trafuro mainly consists of single storey cottages carved from the tunnel walls or built on the cavern floors. The style is reminiscent of tombs, and no matter what colour the owners paint the houses, they invariably end up grey in a short space of time. Before the Skaven invasion, the inhabitants of Trafuro had nearly unlimited space to build, and their houses were large and spacious. Since the city limits were restricted to allow the Deepwatch to better provide protection, Trafuro’s extent has been vastly curtailed and it is now just as cramped as the rest of the city. At the centre of Trafuro is a large cavern dotted with stalactites and stalagmites, each ornately carved into a beautiful statue by the Elves who once inhabited the city of Tolarie.[2h]

This is the Plaza in Profondita—the plaza of the deep—and it is here that the Engineering Guild is situated, based in a huge, hollowedout limestone column in the centre. The tunnels surrounding the plaza are known as Profondita and comprise larger and more well off housing, inhabited by and large by engineers and their families. The Deepwatch barracks are located right at the edge of Trafuro in the area of Scuro, where the tunnels are at their narrowest and most burrow-like. The Deepwatch guard the narrow tunnel that leads from Scuro and Trafuro into the deeper tunnels and mines, and only authorised miners and Deepwatchers are permitted to pass. The site is a natural bottleneck that can be defended easily should the city be attacked, and although it is not the only entrance to Trafuro from the deep, it is the largest entranceway. The Engineering Guild has rigged this area of Trafuro to cave in should the defences be overwhelmed during an attack, sealing the city off from below.[2h]

Harbour & Porto DistrictEdit

Seven mighty sea-gates lead from the base of the cliff into the harbour of Tobaro. The Elf-made harbour was built within a huge domed cavern hollowed out by millennia of erosion and sheltered from the sea by the gates. The point where the natural and the Elven section of the cavern meet is all but undetectable, but what surely can be no act of nature are the shards of quartz and diamond that stud the roof of the dome, glittering in a breathtaking recreation of the night sky. Docks and wharves ring the cavern and the bustling trade district of Porto has grown up here, connected to Tobaro above by tunnels which spiral up through the rock. Porto is filled with a mixture of markets, warehouses, inns, and brothels, where both goods and sailors can be attended. Few of the crewmen who sail into Tobaro take the steep road up into the city proper, so those Tobarans who rely on the passing trade of outsiders are forced to come to them, selling their wares and services from makeshift stalls set up on the wharves.[2h]

MilitaryEdit

Warhammer Tobaro Deepwatcher

A Deepwatcher of Tobaro

The Deepwatchers are both the first and last line of defence between Tobaro and the threats it faces from below. The city authorities paint service in the Deepwatch as glamorous, a life of heroics and adventure in the tunnels beneath the city. In truth it is anything but—service in the Deepwatch is distinctly unglamorous, with long days spent in the dark, damp, and cramped conditions. It is hazardous work with risks from natural hazards such as gas explosions, getting lost in the dark, or caught in cave-ins. Not to forget, of course, that the fairy tales about monsters in the depths are in fact true. The potential rewards are substantial; a well kept secret amongst the Deepwatch are the occasional hoards of ancient treasure to be found in the deeper caves, all of which goes straight into the pockets of the finders.[2e]

It is this that has earned them the nickname “the Deep-pockets,” and not the characteristic over-generosity exhibited by a Deepwatcher upon surviving long enough to collect his next pay check. The Deepwatch Commander is a Middenheim ex-patriot named Oldar Wulfberg, a seemingly gruff and cheerless authority figure at first encounter, but proves to have a razor sharp sense of humour once he lets down his guard. Their leader, Olio Contano, a typical Deepwatcher, having joined the Deepwatch as a teenager attempting to avoid the life of crime into which his older brothers had fallen. Contano takes his job and his responsibilities seriously, truly believing it is his duty to keep the populace above protected from threats they cannot begin to comprehend. Contano has encountered Skaven only once, in deep and flooded mines, but once was more than enough, and he still has nightmares about their chittering.[2e]

Sources Edit

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Dogs of War (5th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 81
  • 2: The WFRP Companion (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 2a: pg. 79
    • 2b: pg. 80
    • 2c: pg. 81
    • 2d: pg. 82
    • 2e: pg. 83
    • 2f: pg. 84
    • 2g: pg. 85
    • 2h: pg. 86

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