Author's Note: I'll change the format as needed, add things, correct things, so on, so on--again, as needed. If you have any suggestions for NPCs or what not, feel free to post them here. I'll also add a plothook section later on. This is the basic first draft; subject to change, blah blah blah. Questions? Problems? Raging, relentless, flesh-scorching criticism? UNLEASH THEM HERE. D:
City of Mirrors and Secrets
-Arcadia Snips, when asked what to expect in Mirage
The city of Mirage is never the same place twice.
For the penitent priest, it may be a place where the Powers are shown for what they are--petty, bickering, squabbling children. For the fanatical Athar, it may be a place where the Gods are shown for what they represent--the hopes and dreams of people made manifest. For the ruthless killer, it may be where kindness can be rekindled; for the compassionate heart, it may be where everything they love will be washed away.
It's said that Mirage is, by nature, reflective. A visitor will find only what they have brought with them--the city reflects their inner turmoil back upon them, often inspiring change. The city's chief exports are self-doubt and personal epiphanies (and mirrors--but more on that later).
Despite it's spiritual slant, Mirage is often seen as overtly materialistic by its critics; the doppelgangers (who function as the city's administrators) treat personal epiphany and self-doubt as if they were products to be packaged and sold. Nevertheless, no one can question their unceasing dedication to the task of attacking the preconceptions of anyone who arrives--even those who don't pay to have their core beliefs put under assault rarely leave the city without some new awareness of self or some other subtle change.
Located within the first ring of the Outlands, Mirage was at one time a Kamerel city, but was abandoned during the offensive of the rilmani. Since then, a large group of doppelgangers moved into the city, learned the Kamerel language, and began studying the relics and books that the race left behind. It wasn't long before the band of doppelgangers found a way to turn the city into something both profitable and interesting--and adapted a portion of the Kamerel mirror-magic for their own in the process.
Mirage functions as a hub connecting the Rilmani city (Sum-of-All) and the Athar encampment (Refuge) to the rest of the Multiverse. Both Rilmani and Athar will visit the city regularly, purchasing supplies and information that flow into the city by means of its many functioning mirror-portals.
In addition to the trade with the Rilmani and Athar, Mirage has become a general trade-hub for several different hard-to-reach places in the Multiverse thanks to its reliance upon the ancient Kamerel mirror-portals. As doppelganger mirror-mages work to reactivate some of the more difficult portals, Mirage becomes connected to even more remote locations in the Planes. Because of this, Mirage has gained notoriety as a place where one can buy very extravagant and rare items; its markets are said to be unrivaled both in quality and price.
But Mirage's biggest market (aside from self-doubt and epiphanies) is for its mirrors. During their desperate retreat, the Kamerel left behind many relics, including several different types of magical and non-magical mirrors of exceptional quality. The doppelgangers have recovered many of these mirrors and rediscovered the process used in their creation. By putting these techniques into use, the mirror-makers in Mirage have established themselves as some of the best throughout the Planes.
Built in, around, and on top of an ancient Kamerel city, Mirage is a compilation of elegant gothic structures with clumsy additions tacked on. Many of the streets are crowded by recent arrivals and vendors trying to hock their wares, with most of the original Kamerel buildings all ready taken up by rich merchants, craftsmen, or doppelgangers. The city is relatively clean and surprisingly orderly; someone will try to make trouble every so often, but the mercenary force (full of ill-bred bashers) makes short work of them. The fact that it's so close to the Spire that high-end magic is all but impossible just makes the mercenaries' job all that easier.
Portions of the city are still buried beneath rubble and ash left over from the previous Rilmani attack. Tents filled with doppelgangers sorting through the wreckage for useful artifacts, relics, and books is a fairly common sight; in addition, the doppelgangers have blocked off portions of the city that might contain potent Kamerel magic ("for the safety of the citizens," they claim), paying mercenaries to regularly patrol and keep the area abandoned until they can move in and thoroughly search it.
The city of Mirage is run informally by a group of several dozen doppelgangers, most of whom have taken the Lesser Change Shape feat (see below) and Mind Reader feat (see below). Several are also Mirror-Mages, and avidly pursue any information concerning the magic of the Kamerel.
The doppelgangers have a fairly open-door policy in the city, with few laws on the books and order maintained chiefly by an ad-hoc mercenary force funded by a tax on all goods that travel through and out of the mirrors. However, despite their light grip on the citizenry, the doppelgangers are the unquestioned rulers of Mirage--only they know how to operate the mirror-portals, and they will not abide by any competition in their realm of influence. The doppelgangers guard the secrets of mirror-magic with an almost zealous fanaticism.
Places of Note
The Brothel of Infinite Delights: Run by several irrepressible doppelganger actors, this specialty brothel panders to any taste a visitor may have--happily acting out the role of a lost love, a hated adversary, or even the client themselves. It's become immeasurably popular among several Athar, who have taken the opportunity of the Spire's proximity and the doppelgangers' willingness to take up any role to play out some racy fantasies with a God or Goddess they particularly despise.
Eye of the Looking Glass: A notable mirror-shop run by a doppelganger who calls himself (or herself) Mortimer. The mirrors produced by Mortimer are of unsurpassed quality--some even claim that they reflect things too well, and on occasion a person who peeks into one may see something that they were never meant to see at all. Mortimer produces various magical mirrors and ships them out all across the planes; his client-list reads like a regular who's-who of the various Bloods across the Multiverse. However, his true masterpiece is not for sale--he has recently produced a mirror that he refuses to allow anyone to look into, keeping it locked away in the privacy of his room. It's rumored that the mirror has a way of reflecting the dark of a person--a dark so deep that it can easily drive the poor berk barmy. Many of his mirrors were destroyed during the Shattering, but--according to the stories, anyway--not that one.
The Market Quarter: Located on the spireward side of the city, it's here that extravagant and expensive products from all around the Multiverse meet and collide in an open-air market. Vendors from various corners of the Planes arrive in Mirage through the mirror-portals, coming here to sell their wares. The mercenary presence is heavy here, keeping an eye out for clever thieves; there are no protections for unwary buyers, however.
Hall of Reflection: A githzerai monastery located in an isolated portion of the city. Renowned for its study of the self, the inside of the monastery is built entirely of polished steel mirrors--all of which survived the Shattering. Anyone standing inside finds themselves surrounded by countless reflections upon reflections, lost in an indecipherable maze of mirrors. The githzerai believe that by successfully traversing the labyrinth and it's various challenges, one may gain knowledge of the self.
Palace of Broken Glass: Once known as only the Palace, the Palace of Broken Glass attained its 'new' moniker after the events of the Shattering. Owned by an eccentric wealthy wizard who retreated to Mirage after contracting an incurable magical illness that could only be repressed by the Spire's dampening effects, the Palace is filled with a collection of magical artifacts and mirrors, most of which have had their various effects suppressed. Directly before the events of the Shattering, the wizard disappeared and the Palace locked down.
Forbidden Quarter: This wide swathe of rubble is regularly patrolled by doppelganger-funded mercenaries with direct orders to forcibly remove any non-authorized parties from the area. Many Kamerel artifacts and relics remain buried here, with doppelgangers regularly setting up camp to sort through the ruins.
People of Note
Morimin (Doppelganger, CN Wizard 5): A brilliantly deceptive member of the Anarchists who reportedly has gone so deep undercover that he had the Harmonium thinking he was a triple-crossing spy--secretly working for the Harmonium while pretending to be an Anarchist spy working for the Hardheads--when actually he was a quadruple spy. Confused? Don't worry--most of Morimin's deceits are so complex that people need a flow chart to understand them. He's one of the major bloods of Mirage, and regularly oversees access to the mirror-portals and the excavation of Kamerel mirror-magic. He's also still got loose ties to the Anarchists, which explains why he's shipped off to the one place in the Multiverse where divination magics are nearly worth squat--scarcely anyone knows he's here, and he prefers to keep it that way. Morimin's primary joy in life is running the Game: a Plane-spanning role-playing game involving countless numbers of doppelgangers and shapeshifters who all work in concert to manipulate a paying client's sense of reality until they don't know which way is up. Only the most wealthy of clients can afford Morimin's rates, but his success rate is unusually high (he considers completely driving his clients barmy a success). He usually communicates with his various contacts by means of a magic mirror, but since the events of the Shattering, he's in desperate need of a new one.
-Morimin, Mirage Official
Arcanum Blackmantle (Human, TN, Wizard 13/Archmage 5): Infected by a terrible curse that's caused his skin to all but rot away, Arcanum Blackmantle has fled to Mirage, where the proximity of the Spire nullifies the flesh-rotting enchantment. Constrained to a wheelchair and wrapped from head to toe in antiseptic-soaked bandages, Arcanum relies upon 1st-level spells (several of his own design) to oversee his day-to-day affairs. He resides in the Palace, an incredibly expensive mansion built with his own considerable funds, where he collects various magical trinkets and thousands of mirrors. Directly before the events of the Shattering, Arcanum disappeared and the Palace went into lockdown. Since the Shattering, all the mirrors in the Palace simultaneously exploded--and no one dared to venture inside for fear of what might have been unleashed.
-Arcanum Blackmantle, Archmage of Mirage