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NuJel’m (The Golden City)

“A curse on this virtue-less city, where rich men toss pennies to the poor, and rogues walk without fear, and gamble their ill gains of honest folk away in games of chance….”

Location: Desert island southeast of Vesper, west of Verity Isle.

Virtue: None

Government: Has varied over the years, but almost always ruled by one autocrat. Usually corrupt. Frequent change of rule is common. Currently ruled by a Sultan, who is aided in governing by a council of Viziers, whose numbers vary.

Imports: Basic necessities, stolen goods

Exports: Slaves, luxuries


A golden snake on a pearl white background.


The island upon which NuJel’m was built was formed shortly after the Cataclysm. Lava flows from the main continent flowed from one of the mountain ranges before it fused into the ranges around Minoc, forming its rough shape. Continuing tectonic plate shifts moved it to its current location. At one time, it had a greater amount of jungle upon the southern and western portions, but merchant ships from Vesper deforested the isle in the 1st century.

Most of the island today is low rolling sand dunes, with remnants of the jungle that once existed scattered about. There are two rivers on the island, which provide some fresh water. The sea breezes bring the occasional cool tropical rain to the island, but for the most part, it is quite dry.


NuJel’m is an arid subtropical climate, lacking any mountains to catch clouds or rainfall. “As likely as rain in NuJel’m” is a popular phrase denoting disbelief. At one time the island was dense with jungle, but most of it was cut down by Vesper merchants, rendering most of the island desert.


The island that would become NuJel’m remained unpopulated for nearly two centuries after it’s creation. A small outpost was built by a Vesper merchant guild in 125 A.C. to give their ships a port to replenish their water and do minor repairs on the way to Moonglow and points south, but the guild showed no interest in a permanent settlement. Much of the lumber on the island was logged and exported to Vesper, but the island was barren and filled with several hostile creatures, giant scorpions and poisonous serpents to name a few. After too many workers died of scorpion stings, Vesper left the island alone.

All this changed in 198 A.C., however. Nesha, Lord of Jhelom, had a plan in mind for the island. It’s ideal location between Moonglow and Vesper made it a prime spot for a trading port, and would give Jhelom a foothold in the east/south sea area, one that Serpent’s Hold would not find easy to block. (See entry on Serpent’s Hold for more information.) The first ship contained surveyors and architects, who mapped and outlined the design of the colony. The second ship was filled with Jhelom mercenaries, who cleaned the island out of the hostile creatures, so that building could continue without interference. The third ship was the first to bring stone, quarried from the Fire Mountains where Destard lay, to begin building.

The original city proper took two years to build to a state where they were self-sufficient. The island soil proved inefficient to grow enough crops, so New Jhelom (As it was called) was forced to buy most of their food through Vesper and Moonglow. The colonists was forced to sign several contracts with Vesper, destroying most of the profit they would make as a port for several years, in order to get the supplies they needed to survive.

Trinsic and Serpent’s Hold also proved to be trouble. Both saw Jhelom’s ambitions as a threat to Lord British’s plan to unite the city/states under one rule, and hampered the Jhelom shipping efforts to keep their colony alive.

In 201 A.C., Nesha proclaimed that all acts of piracy by Jhelom ships and men were no longer legal in the kingdom. Not all the Jhelom captains agreed, and many went rogue as privateers, becoming a nuisance in the arena of diplomacy for Jhelom for many years to come, while others sailed to the struggling New Jhelom, where Nesha’s control was less secure.

Finally, in 203 A.C., Nesha was fed up. Faced with a constant drain of money to feed New Jhelom, with no profit and constant interference from Trinsic and Serpent’s Hold in shipping, Nesha officially declared the colony a failure, and recalled all men there. About 60% of those who had been eking out a living on the island returned to Jhelom. The rest, who were the stubborn, the obstinate, and the criminal, stayed, deciding to take their chances.

After Jhelom withdrew its support, the colonists actually fared better. Much of the prejudice evaporated, and Vesper eased the prices for supplies, giving them a much-needed break. The city survived fairly well for several years. Several businesses arose on the island catering to the sailors of the frequent ships, including gambling and other ‘services’. From 212-221 A.C. as the war between the alliance of Trinsic, Serpent’s Hold, and Britain against the pirate clans of the Den was fought, NuJel’m was a frequent resting place for both sides. (The former often without mention in official records.) After Jhelom joined the alliance in 221 A.C., however, the pirates began to avoid the city, fearing capture.

In 223 A.C., The two fleets clashed south of Ocllo in 223 A.C., where a tremendous battle occurred, with the alliance the victor and the pirate’s forces shattered between anvil and hammer. (For more information, see the entry on Buccaneer’s Den.) This climactic battle became known as the Battle of Ocllo. The surviving pirates of it fled, some melting into the jungles of Buccaneer’s Den, others seeking refuge in NuJel’m, Vesper, and on uninhabited isles. Vesper closed it’s port to refugees in 224 A.C., forcing most to flee to NuJel’m, the surge in rogues causing a few years of chaos, until one of the former pirates, a brooding but powerful man named Kahz “The Ravager”, took control, slaying any who opposed him.

Kahz was a different sort of tyrant than most of his brethren. Although cruel and brutal when necessary, Kahz had different plans. He saw the isle as a way to establish a more permanent form of power, beyond a few ships running from British’s fleets. He quietly assumed power of the island, and lay low during the few years that the alliance fleet hunted down the remaining pirates.

Kahz’s first order of business was establishing a permanent trade agreement with Magincia, the richest city in the world. He approached the Nine with an offer in 228 A.C. They would have complete immunity from pirate raids, in return for sizable “investments” in NuJel’m’s real estate. The Magincians agreed, relieved to find an easy way out of defending themselves from piracy, and Kahz set about on a campaign to bring all remaining pirates under his control. They were offered a choice, serve Kahz and NuJel’m, or be sunk. Most complied, and joined Kahz’s forces. By the time of his death in 236 A.C., NuJel’m had become the center of an underground network of pirates, operating beneath a gilded facade of a pleasure city. Kahz’s family still rules the city today, typically assassination and poisoning are the methods for ascension into power.

The other cities, Trinsic in particular, were not happy with how the colony had evolved, and NuJel’m was a hot topic in 250 A.C. at the signing of the Unification Treaty. Trinsic voted that the city should be invaded and the despots overthrown. They were overruled, however, Lord Blackthorn noting that the many could not ethically enforce their viewpoints upon the few, no matter the justification, and that the Kingdom had no right to involve itself in the affairs of cities not part of it. The death of Tasiz, who was the most effective argument against this, settled the matter.

In 292 A.C. the Sultan came to power. Educated in Vesper, he seemed a refreshing change from prior rulers, despots and decadents most of them. One of his first acts was to ban gambling on the island, which greatly improved diplomatic relations with the Kingdom. His acts since, including free bread for the poor, construction projects to improve the slums, and schooling for children, have brought an era of decency and improvement to the island. Although the more jaded, including the Lord General of Trinsic, wait for signs of degradation to fester once again…


The People

NuJel’mites tend to dark complexions and hair, although there is still a sizable range of other combinations. The richer families emulate Magincia and Ocllo in venerating ancestors, but they are more open-minded when it comes to marriage. Many NuJel’mites are very sea going, in the tradition of their Jhelomite heritage, and they are a frequent sight at all Britannian ports.

The Clothing

Clothing depends on the social class, in NuJel’m there is only two, rich and poor. The rich wear fine silk, so fine to be nearly translucent, the poor dirty and undyed linen and wool. Both classes prefer sandals to shoes. Jewelry is common with both genders, gold being favored as it matches their dark complexions, the more jewelry the better.

Crafts and Trades

The organization Kahz built is known as the Underground, the largest crime syndicate in Britannia. It is not known that the center of this organization is in NuJel’m, although it is not a far jump to that conclusion. Piracy being somewhat risky in the new era, it has diversified, including slaves, smuggling, and theft. The pirates also served as an effective political force. Magincian nobles who disagreed with the Parliament often found their children or loved ones kidnapped by pirates in the night, and would be forced to pay a hefty ransom to regain them. This form of “warning” is a very common occurrence in NuJel’m at all levels.

Slavery is legal in NuJel’m, to the abhorrence of most Britannians. Most of the ruling families keep them as personal servants, but they are not born into slavery. Typically it is considered a form of business arrangement, that a slave can buy his freedom with so many years of service. While this is true, what is not typically known is that many of the slaves sold are in fact captured prisoners of pirates, who auction them off, typically using blackmail and extortion to keep the slave from rebelling or confessing his true nature. Many are executed as criminals after a few years service, if they prove to be too risky to keep. This has the potential of becoming a major issue in future politics, if not kept quiet.

Arts and Entertainment

NuJel’m is the entertainment capital of Britannia. All forms of theatre, music, dancing, and artistry are welcome here. The rulers of NuJel’m were always careful to allow free reign in this area, removing troublemakers quietly and without announcement. NuJel’m is noted for many colorful and strange festivals, including the Festival of the Masks (see below). At one time in the past, gambling and games of chance were common, but the Sultan closed them down for political reasons some years ago. (In actuality, he simply moved them to the Underground.)

Another oddity of the isle is the gigantic chessboard, built by Tasiz the Terrible, one of NuJel’m’s rulers, in 248 A.C., such boards not being uncommon in the elder days of Sosaria. Tasiz was known for his wasteful and sadistic pleasures, and he especially enjoyed games of living chess, where slaves and criminals would move and fight one another in long, brutal chessmatches. Tasiz was assassinated, thankfully, in 256 A.C., and the chessboard was used more passively, without blood frequently being mopped off the marble tiles. To date, the Sultan has shown little interest in utilizing the board, it is rumored he finds Chess ‘too simple’.


Magic is viewed casually in NuJel’m, they view it as interesting, and theatrical, but all in all very little practical use is made of it. Magic to keep the city clean and shining is useful, as it means fewer beggars scrubbing the walls in plain sight. The rulers of NuJel’m, though, also see it as a useful tool in keeping power, it is rumored that many powerful magical artifacts come to NuJel’m and never leave.


The people of NuJel’m are not evil, or without ethics, as many Britannians would like to believe. They have lived long under tyrants and secretive organizations, though. NuJel’mites are masters of not acknowledging the actions of their rulers, they “see no evil, hear no evil.” It is simply accepted, and nothing can be done. No NuJel’mite from the lowest beggar to the richest merchant would even think to question the actions of a ruler, and would simply not notice any wrongdoing. They are easy-going and open-minded, tending to smile and welcome first, and take the consequences later.

Beyond the city walls, the tenement quarters, where the poor eke out a living as best they can. The buildings built of stone, due to the lack of wood on the isle, and the poor manage to get the money they need begging and a small amount of farming. Many sons become sailors, bringing money back to their families from other ports, the daughters best not be mentioned. Some poor can rise above their humble status, though, and become part of the Golden City, the rich of NuJel’m do not consider themselves wealthy by heredity, but by guile and wit, inheriting this ideal from Vesper. Thus, it is possible for a NuJel’mite to make his fortune and become a noble, but the road is very difficult.

Government and Politics

The government of NuJel’m is an autocracy, ruled by one, who alone dictates policy. Most NuJel’mite rulers maintain a cabinet of advisors, their official title is Vizier, and their numbers can vary from administration to administration. Punishment in NuJel’m in the past was quite brutal, the guillotine was in frequent use during it’s early years. Although the Sultan has proclaimed himself of a more enlightened philosophy, most NuJel’mites know that the only difference is that the executions are no longer public.

The current ruler of NuJel’m is the Sultan. He came to power shortly after his predecessor died under mysterious circumstances in 292 A.C. He appears rarely, but seems to be a likable, easy-going ruler who’s content to let the city run itself. He instituted a program by which the numerous poor in NuJel’m are fed on bread baked at his own expense, making him more popular than past leaders. He also has made a point of funding civic improvement, to raise the quality of life for the less fortunate in NuJel’m His reasons for doing so, though, are likely more out of politics than of personal kindness. Much of his behavior is a facade, much like the city is claimed to be. His nickname, whispered in back alleys, is “the Golden Asp”, and it is quite fitting. He trusts when it suits him, and backstabs seemingly at will. If the victim survives, he may even hire him again for the same job! While working for him is a dangerous and risky proposition, and his jobs are never pleasant, one can make a sizable fortune doing so.

NuJel’m’s allies are Magincia and Vesper. All three are united in a net of mercantile treaties, which greatly benefits all three and also makes each other watch the other’s interests. Magincian nobles visit frequently for pleasure and entertainment, and consider the city a useful tool. Vesper merchants do good business in NuJel’m, and view the city’s favor with Magincia with envy.

NuJel’m’s enemies include Trinsic and Jhelom. Trinsic despises NuJel’m as a vile source of corruption where slavery is allowed. Jhelom dislikes NuJel’m officially as a source of revenue that got away, but as individuals the mercenaries of Jhelom enjoy what the city has to offer. Neither has enough justification or animosity to consider a military solution.


Some NuJel’mite holidays include:

The Festival of Masks: An enigmatic festival in the mid-month of June. Aside from feasting and revelry, all participants buy and wear masks of various types, and pretend not to recognize one another. The Festival is also noted for the Game, one of the revelers carries a strongbox, locked, which has the Prize inside. The person to steal the box and open it wins a Prize. In past years the Eye of Dahsk, a rare gemstone belonging to the Sultan, was the Prize but recently proxy items have been used in its place. It is considered poor form to call the guards on any thieves at the festival.

The Founding: A simple celebration of the founding of the colony, at the end of the second month of winter. Because of the nature of NuJel’m history, though, little detail is divulged about the isle. Typically the day is marked with tables lined with free food for all the isle’s inhabitants, a short speech by the Sultan (Or one of his Viziers, more typically), and as a tip to their heritage, warriors are honored that day, and bestowed with simple gifts.

Last modified: December 30, 2011

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