Orashar of the Shar Collective
The Head of the Shar
Orashar is a city located within the Maerdes Desert consisting of approximately 90,000 inhabitants. Boasting an efficient system of job delineation and collective communities within the racial groups present, the city operates on a function of right people, right place. Each individual has a role to fulfil and doing so guarantees a life of productivity and satisfaction.
The population of Orashar primarily consists of humans, followed by a high ratio of half elves in around a 2:1 ratio. A sizable collective of duergar, around also inhabit the city underground, followed by a much smaller cabal of Psionidari as they call themselves, otherwise known as Illithids or Mindflayers. The large number of half elves are the result of drow ancestry when the city was predominantly a drow settlement before the duergar showed up and practically wiped them out.
The humans and half elves life in the parts of the city above ground and the first two subterranean levels which spread out further than the city above. The duergar live in sub levels 3 and 4 with the Psionidari residing in the last two sub levels, 5 and 6.
Orashar is ruled by dual councils much like Rook. The membership however differs a fair amount. Each area, or district, of Orashar nominates a human or half elf to represent it, provide feedback to the council and administer to the needs of their district. The duergar do similar though with less elected due to the smaller duergar population and larger communities. The Psionidari elect only a handful to act as liasons with all the other elected persons and this overall group is the lower council whose primary concerns are the running of the city such as production, taxes and so forth. The humans, half elves and duergar also nominate a single representative from all the elected district members to serve on the ruling council, along with a quintet or Psionidari. This ruling council decides matters of state such as foreign policy, overall city relations and alliances with other settlements and Psionidari propagation.
Orashar itself is allied with 3 close city-states by the names of Absolshar the militaristic Drow city, Hrolkshar the relaxed and mostly halfling and human enclave and Feddinshar the hyper-aggressive, brutal and daemon worshipping orc city. Each of these 3 city-states has an aspect of Psionidari influence from either splinter factions or aspects of the Orashar collective. Absolshar is ruled largely as a dictatorship by a distinguished Psionidari cleric of Lolth who has largely split from Orashar's control and generally plans to take dominion of the overall aliiance. Hrolkshar claims protection from the other cities and in return supplies excellent trade goods and skilled workers when needed, as well as stonework and glass. Feddinshar chafes at the bit against Orashar but enough of their ruling caste have succumbed enough to maintain control over them, albeit preferably with a long leash.
Various smaller villages are also aligned with Orashar due to the residents usually coming from there. Due to the somewhat unstable megafauna in the region however such villages may have shorter life spans than usual, causing them to have an almost nomadic existence as a village is wiped out only to be rebuilt elsewhere by the survivors.
Orashar prides itself on learning and hosts multiple libraries, both public and private owned, as well as The Grand Library which is administered by the Psionidari themselves. There are multitudes of text, all non-fictional, with a penchant for philosophy. The Grand Library is freely accessible though books are not loaned out - interested parties must read them within the walls or scribe a copy themselves.
Overall the citizens of Orashar are fairly friendly and approachable though the duergar still retain a sterner approach and the Psionidari largely keep to themselves. Outsiders are regularly welcomed and treated to free local food in exchange for tales of where they're from or knowledge of the outside world. There is no great hidden secret in this - the citizens generally lead quite happy lives without much interference from the outside world so tend to trust people until shown otherwise, largely in part to most citizens working together as groups. Teamwork isn't just advised, it's a way of life.
In a similar vein apprehended criminals are taken to level 5 where the Psionidari reside and given extensive rehabilitative training and teaching until they understand the ramifications of their actions as a whole. Should they show appreciation for the society and remorse for their actions they are given a community role to not only help their self esteem but to reintegrate them into society as a figure of trust once more and thus restore citizen faith in them. Thanks to this care given to them on an almost individual level the reoffending rate is extremely low though not unheard of.
Much of the diet in Orashar is based on grains and easily cultivable grasses as well as a healthy staple of oxen. This of course only realistically applies to the humans, half elves and duergar. The Psionidari characteristically require brains to eat but the collective in Orashar deemed this too ineffective at maintaining a population and thus came up with a workable compromise.
The Illithids consume the brains of the cattle, supplementing the lack of real nutrition provided by skimming the thoughts and knowledge from the minds of the other citizens who are chosen on a voluntary basis. Though this results in some memory loss and the degradations of skills and knowledge for those fed upon, they are given larger perks and library access within the city to compensate as well as a financial incentive. Indeed there are many in Orashar who are professional Thought-skimmed, subsisting on good monetary earnings and spending much of their time constantly studying and learning in a fairly relaxed and quiet environment.
It is rumored that the main ruling council of 5 Psionidari partially feed upon the brains of the other Psionidari as a means to render them more easily controllable and placid within the collective and thus ensure their own power base is unchallenged, but as of yet no substantial evidence of this has emerged.
Orashar used to be a drow city called Orazzed allied with the other drow city Absolmek and was largely without peer when it came to the arcane and divine arts. Humans slowly integrated into the city and flourished there, their shorter and more frenetic life spans amusing the drow and endearing them to the longer lived race. All was well in the world for the city. Then the duergar nation attacked.
In a war that lasted several years, the duergar undermined the city and almost brought it down. Hunting the drow in their own habitat with guerrilla tactics and prolific usage of ingenious traps and generally chuckling as the poisons the drow were fond of using, the duergar whittled down their enemies who had taken their position of superiority for granted. Once the last soldier had been exterminated after the whole protracted war the drow civilians were allowed to freely go but definitely not allowed to remain. Nearly all went over to Absolmek who had tried, and failed, to prevent the hostile takeover of their ally.
The humans and half elves were remarkably well tolerated by the duergar, who had no real issue with them. Those with drow ancestry were allowed to stay as they had no say over who their parents were and were readily happy to coincide with the duergar as they largely lived above ground anyway. The humans were generally treated as curiosities by the duergar and left alone.
Making the city into their new home, the duergar mined out the drow settlement underground and robustly repaired and improved upon it till there was a sizable living area of 4 levels underneath the city. In this time contact was made with other dwellers of the dark with the main trade agreements occurring with the desert kobold tribes who would readily trade materials and mining labour for a measure of protection and craftsmanship.
This seemingly stable status quo would not last long for the city. Frequent forays from Absolmek were common and Orashar was not well fortified enough to prevent attack at all times. It was then the first Illithids turned up, identifying themselves as Psionidari. They made first contact with the duergar who responded with hostility but it was futile. Within weeks the Psionidari were entrenched and, beset from both below and above, the duergar decided to accede to the Psionidari's requests for living space and a mediated compartmentalized government.
In the space of only weeks yet again Absolmek was rebuffed and firmly shown its place whilst the duergar concentrated fully on making labyrinthine living quarters for the Psionidari underneath their own homes. Once this was accomplished, a great conclave was held with large numbers of each race within Orashar to outline how the city would operate going forward. Though there was some resistance, the Psionidari persisted in explaining the reasoning and benefits to convince those present. With mercifully few casualties, the accord was signed by the race representative and Orashar began shoring up its defences in earnest as the Psionidari prepared to introduce themselves to, and ally themselves with, the neighbouring cities. Willingly or not.