Prisoners of Ashtower
History Formerly a high-class neighborhood called Whitetower. Whitetower’s namesake tower was built by the wizard Nacerial, who started his career fifty years ago adventuring in and around Renlar during the first war fought with the savage humanoids there (the one that established New Krydia, the frontier). Returning from his exploits there after things had quieted down, he returned to Skarn City and began hiring himself out as a wizard, gladly performing any task that an arcane spellcaster could perform. Many people in power had become even richer after the war, and his skills soon rose in price as petty nobles “bid” for his time and effort. In the end, he was the most well-known spellcaster in Skarn, and having an item enchanted by Nacerial was akin to owning an Armani suit.
After about ten years of amassing wealth and fame, Nacerial built his tower. Paying top dollar for a plot in the center of a wealthy neighborhood, he erected a 330 ft. spire of gleaming white marble. The construction was magically aided, but still expensive and difficult. It was amazing that it was completed in only 5 years.
Visitors flocked to see the tower. Dozens were employed in its upkeep and even more made a living off the attention it attracted (not a few of them canny pickpockets and con-men). Nacerial was a Skarn City icon.
He still performed the occasional job, but charged even higher prices due to his status. He spent most of his time in study in the tower, amassing a library rumored to rival both Skarn Arcane Institute and Krydian Central University’s libraries put together.
And then, 18 years ago, the tower came down.
It didn’t collapse in on itself. It didn’t fall over. It didn’t even dissapear.
Suddenly one muggy autumn afternoon, Nacerial’s White Tower blew itself apart. Enormous chunks of stone flew for almost a mile, crushing entire buildings. A great cloud of smoke choked the neighborhood, and rubble rained down like hail.
When the smoke cleared and the survivors viewed their soot-blackened ruins, they were quite surprised. Partial Thaumaturgic circles, previously used to bind fiends and other outsiders, lay scattered about the area on still-complete sections of flooring, their once-bound prisoners now stalkling the streets. Portals and Gates, some working and some malfunctioning, dotted the landscape, zapping unwary survivors across continents, to strange planes, or simply turning them inside out. Elementals swarmed through strange dimensional rifts from their home planes, and myriad other strange creatures prowled the still-smoking ruins.
City Master Vincent Coravelli immediately organized soldiers to evacuate the survivors and placed a bounty for closing the rogue portals and slaying the strange creatures, and much was done to make the area safe again, but many of the new threats remained hidden, and the area was simply abandoned by the former inhabitants.
Thirteen years later Ashtower was known as one of the greatest, or worst, of slums. Scavengers, squatters, and gangs all holed up in the area; this, combined with the frequency of outsider and abberation attacks prevented all attempts to rebuild the former district.
Then began “The Reclamation Project”. Inspired by the frustrations with the area and the general rise in crime that was aggravating his rule Vincent Coravelli hired the assistance of a number of mages to erect great stone walls around the district, and in a matter of months it was converted from slum, to open-air prison. 45 ft walls surround the district on all sides, with guards alert for escape attempts but otherwise rarely interfering with what happens inside. A few buildings were reclaimed and set up as offices and barracks, for the warden, guards, and other officials of the prison. City legal codes were changed, most crimes now earning a stay on Ashtower Work Detail with durations ranging based on the crime. Work details are divided into two categories, hazard and non-hazard duty. Non-hazard duty generally consists of rubble removal, masonry, and other heavy labor, though can occasionally include craftswork in remodeling buildings. Hazard duty frequently means dealing with the “oldtimers” the walled-in residents of Ashtower that have made no attempt to conform with the prison or shown any desire to leave, or with the many abberant and otherworldly beings that are seemingly still drawn to the wreckage of Nacerial’s tower.