The Five Cities alliance straddles the land bridge between the heavily forested continent of Grinshada to the south, the warm, sandy sparse lands of Infitemza (Lit. ‘Land of Fire and Water’) to the north and the Wild Plains to the east, this area has seen most of the greatest events, changes and upheavals of the history of the Triple Continent and thus serves as the perfect backdrop for new adventurers. The only neighbouring major civilisation is the Armillian Empire, an ancient realm based around the delta of the River Tem in the southern part of Infitemza, directly north of the Five Cities. The Alliance formed after the old Empire retreated and the scattered cities of the region found themselves without allies - thus the Alliance is chiefly one of convenience of both trade and mutual protection rather than any similarity of outlook or worship, and indeed the Five Cities each have very different characters.
A great and ancient dwarven city built into the lower slopes of the mountain known as the Hammer of Kodir. This city enjoys a strictly regimented existence and is constantly being rebuilt and redesigned, mainly because the Hammer of Kodir is actively volcanic. The city is heavily geared toward metalworking and some of the best arms and armour in the known world flows from its forges. Unfortunately the strict laws of the city make it very difficult for visitors to gain access and so most trade is done in the neighbouring market town known as Armoury. Because it is situated at the heart of the Alliance and because of its strict and unbending rule of law, but mainly because they are dwarves, Anvilites consider their city to be the chief among the five cities.
The Easternmost of the five cities, Sentinel is on the edge of the Wild Plains – home to many tribes of orcs. Sentinel is, unsurprisingly, a heavily military city as well as a deeply religious one, with Lupus the Protector the natural patron deity. The military troops of the city are the best trained soldiers in the five cities. Backed by Clerics and Paladins of Lupus they are a formidable fighting force. The city is built from the yellow sandstone coastal cliffs and the yellow-white marble of Mount Sentinel itself and glows gold on a clear day. The streets are clear and clean and the architecture grand and glorious. For its beauty, might and piety, Sentinel City holds itself chief among the five cities.
At the heart of the White Valleys – an area known for its lingering mists – lies Blackvale, once the southernmost outpost and jewel of the Armillian Empire. Blackvale broke from the Empire 150 years ago and was instrumental in the formation of the alliance soon afterward. However, Blackvale is proud of its roots and the citizens consider the place far more civilised than their allies. The strong aristocracy of Blackvale are known for their sophisticated entertainments and lavish parties, but also for their funding of libraries, schools and the powerful Blackvale College of Magics. For their sophistication, knowledge and magic, Blackvalens know themselves to be chief among the five cities.
At the mouth of the Warmspring River that flows through the fertile Gold Sea Plains, between the peaks known as Alpha and Omega and host to an almost unbelievably bounteous fishing trade, Ghalii’s Gate is by far the largest of the five cities. With Ghalii Undivided as their patron deity the people of the city embrace life and death with equal joy and celebration (indeed there’s an old saying in the Five Cities area - when describing a particularly wild night out the phrase is ‘Like a funeral in Ghalii’s Gate’). The city’s calendar includes a number of public holidays that are celebrated with wild and colourful street carnivals. The town is also a dangerous one – with an understaffed city guard and a population with a somewhat laissez-faire approach to personal safety it is unsurprising that there is a strong criminal element in the city. Due to its size, natural bounty, joyful spirit and deep understanding of human mortality, Ghaliians celebrate their city as chief among the five cities.
The mysterious city of GiXor lies at the edge of the Unending Forest. Much of the city is built into the slopes of the coastal Mount Xor and it is widely believed that many of the tunnels and chambers that make up the oldest parts of the city predate human occupation of these lands. Many GiXorians have travelled deep into the Unending Forest; those that come back with their sanity intact bring back wondrous tales of abandoned cities and equally wondrous treasures. The merchant classes, the ruling classes and the Priesthood of Olich are almost indistinguishable in the city and the complex Byzantine and Machiavellian political structure has become so indecipherable that the shifting planes of political influence are now the chief obsession of almost everyone in the city – either as players or in a bizarre kind of spectator sport. Assassination, espionage and backstabbing are common themes of conversation in the taverns and markets of the city. The mystery, treasures, age and political mastery of GiXor make it obvious, at least to GiXorians, that theirs is the chief among the five cities.