Name: The Rivergate Community, residential enclave
Submitted by: Scott Bonner
Type of building: a circular series of buildings, all connected, around a central courtyard and well
Owners: privately owned residences
Number and types of persons: about 20 extended families, 3 halfling
As it currently stands, the Rivergate community is a dismal place. It consists of a central courtyard with a well, surrounded by a series of large residences with the spaces between filled in with ramshackle dwellings of wood and other low-cost materials.
About 300 years ago, after Amn became interested in Arylon and rebuilt it for its strategic trade location, it became important to establish the town's legal and social customs. During this time, numerous conflicts arose over various issues. Perhaps the most vitriolic was how to handle non-humans and the new influx of settlers. Arylon became divided, with most of the citizens subscribing to a policy of acceptance of new settlers and non-humans. On the western edge, however, centered the opposition, a disorganized mass of people arguing to establish Arylon as a human community with human customs. This movement was led from the residential area of Rivergate, a community of about 12 large houses surrounding a central courtyard and well, established by some wealthy owners and operators of growing dock businesses. After much conflict, Arylon adopted a policy of acceptance for non-humans and new settlers, which still strongly influences attitudes today. However, Rivergate remained a holdout.
The residents of Rivergate, wealthy and influential in west-end circles, continued to oppose the new accepted attitudes, and in 1085 DR declared themselves and the surrounding area independent of Arylon. Once again, debate ensued as the Amn-backed government attempted to pull these influential people back into the town. During this time, rumors circulated that Amn would send troops in to take the community by force and remove them from the city. Representatives of the government strongly protested they intended nothing of the sort, but rumors persisted. In 1086 the community constructed a series of walls between their residences and sealed the rear entrances, so that the large double gate on the south end could only access the community.
The alarmed town government increased its pressure on Rivergate to peaceably rejoin Arylon. In 1088, the homeowners signed a compromise declaration. It stated that they would succumb to the laws and taxes of Arylon and Amn, but included a provision whereby Rivergate would police itself in all matters not concerning other residents of Arylon. Therefore, no patrols were established in Rivergate, and officials only became involved if problems affected the surrounding town. Government officials accepted this agreement on the assumption that in time the community would become more a part of the town and would eventually accept the surrounding cultural views as their own.
The Rivergate community continued to be insular and xenophobic. They ran their businesses on the docks, but became more community-oriented and refused to let non-humans enter the gates. There was one notable exception to this rule: before the trouble had begun with race relations, a family of halflings had established one of the houses in the circle. Consequently, the community accepted humans and halflings but excluded others.
They continued in this way, with an increasing sense of interconnectedness and reliance on each other. However, as predicted, they became less xenophobic, though they never allowed non-humans and non-halflings to settle within or marry into the community, and were still openly suspicious of visitors.
The Coming of the Prophet:
In 1242 DR, as the town was rebuilding after the orc invasion of 1241, Rivergate was enjoying a new popularity after its walled community had served to save the lives of many. Though now poor, its defensive wall had proved sturdy enough to stop the ill-prepared orcs as the rest of the town fell. Xenophobia was also gaining in power as the humans of Arylon sought scapegoats to account for the unexpected invasion. Many on the west end of town irrationally thought that the non-humans were to blame, and the rest of the city tried to quell the growing anger.
Into this volatile mix stepped one Amil Holdstrum (hm, O lvl, self-proclaimed prophet of Tyr, NG, later LN). He was returning to his family in Rivergate after traveling to Amn to join the church of Tyr. He had failed in this endeavor, showing no propensity for clerical magic and holding near-heretical views against non-humans. He had gambled away the money given to him for passage home, and was forced to beg as he traveled on foot. Tired, hungry and feverish, he stumbled into Rivergate late one Elient night. Not recognizing his home, he fell asleep next to the community well.
It was here that he had his vision from Tyr in the midst of a fever dream. He envisioned the god standing before him to deliver a message for the people of Arylon. Tyr proclaimed that he was a human's god, that he valued human justice above the backward ways of elves and dwarves, and that humans should remain separate and aloof from these races so as not to spoil their divine imperative to create a just society.
In the morning, Amil was found by his family and nursed back to health. He immediately dictated the first version of his dream, and began proclaiming it as a sacred message. Most of Arylon rejected this would-be prophet, but the residents of Rivergate and the surrounding communities found in Amil a voice for their long held beliefs. Amil refined his message, learning to write and recording a more coherent tale of his vision, and began to develop a cult following in Rivergate.
Six elderly Tyrian clerics from Amn came to investigate this potential prophet. They carefully listened to Amil's story and investigated the corroborating evidence. They concluded unanimously from the teaching Amil proposed and other evidence that Amil was not a prophet, but only a poor man deluded by a fever dream. Most of Arylon accepted this as the final word on Amil the Prophet, and quickly forgot about him. The Tyrian clerics themselves thought the matter finished, and returned to Amn to record their judgment there instead of leaving a record in Arylon. However, the folk of Rivergate had formed a cult following, and took the judgment as evidence of shortsightedness and seeping corruption in the mainstream church of Tyr. The community again drew in on itself, with Amil as its leader. Amil continued to preach his message, growing more eloquent and charismatic with age, and slowly refining his worldview (alignment change to LN). He argued most strongly for Rivergate to police itself and establish its own code of law. This they did, providing a trial by elders in the community, usually Amil, and a rudimentary police force, Amil's Justice. Amil died of consumption at the age of sixty-two.
As Amil pushed for an established policing organization, one of his followers, Jani Corvel (hf, f5, LN), took up the task as her own. She formed a sort of citizen's watch of volunteers to work in shifts patrolling the courtyard. Rivergate relied on this group for its justice, and became less inclined to call on the surrounding town for help in legal matters. Amil's Justice was an open and well-organized group, lasting well past Jani's death in 1292. The city tolerated it, as Rivergate became, apparently, a crime free area despite its continual economic decline, and Rivergate citizens continued to refuse to associate with the city's police.
During the Dragonspear Campaign and the Time of Troubles, Amil's Justice changed. The city had decided they could no longer afford to have a rival policing organization in the city, and ordered it disbanded. Instead, it went underground. For matters concerning only members of the Rivergate community, its citizens continued to hold their own trials and simply not inform Arylon of any crimes.
Amil's Justice became a vigilante group, righting perceived wrongs done to Rivergate citizens and enforcing Rivergate's xenophobic stance. They now work by night, using intimidation and threats, and in some instances violence, to warn those they consider undesirable away from Rivergate and its residents. They are careful to conceal their identity behind black masks, and will use misdirection when possible by claiming they are from some other part of the city. This, combined with the refusal of Rivergate citizens to help the Silver Crescents, has left Amil's Justice free to continue their vigilante activities. A few officials in the Crescents believe they know who currently leads the group (Jent Forst, see below), but find themselves unable to act without hard evidence or catching the vigilantes in the act.
Rivergate as it Currently Stands:
Time has not been kind to the community. With its xenophobic stance and isolationist policy, it has fallen economically. Now it is a poor community, with most of its working citizens serving as dock laborers, street cleaners, or tavern workers. Its homes now form a continuous ring of ramshackle buildings, with the walled spaces between the original fine homes long since filled in with haphazard and mismatched construction. The main gate is rusted open. The well has soured with continuous use, and the residents now consider it normal to boil their water and pray to the gods to avoid disease in the late summer months (when neither winter cold nor new spring flows keep disease in check). There is a strong sense of community loyalty in Rivergate, and families will often pool resources to help those suffering the most in the hard months.
Despite these pressures, or perhaps because of them, Rivergate has remained isolated and self-oriented. They continue to be vocally racist against elves, dwarves and others, and allow only humans and halflings in the gate. Some Rivergate residents no longer hold these racist attitudes, but they have long ago learned not to oppose the community standards and will move away before trying to fight the racism. Amil's Justice continues to thrive as a force to right perceived wrongs, and has directed more of its energy toward non-human antagonists.
The community sees itself as being a gathering of good, honest people, committed to helping one another and maintaining its independence from Arylon's impositions. Indeed, they are good and honest with each other, and exceedingly loyal. However, collectively they are none of these things outside their gate, and have become a source of fear and contempt for the rest of Arylon.
The Crescents still cannot patrol the commons, and attempts to infiltrate the community with spies to learn of Amil's Justice have failed, as the citizens remain wary of newcomers. Friends quickly warn non-human, non-halfling visitors to Arylon and associates to not got to Rivergate or deal with its people. Rivergate continues to decline in its relative isolation, and inbreeding has recently begun to be a problem. The city council, though disturbed by Rivergate's situation, has refused to act. It assumes, like its forebears, that in time, with economic and cultural pressure, the community will become more a part of the town and will eventually accept the surrounding cultural views as their own.
Amil Holdstrum (1215-1277 DR, hm, o lvl, reputed prophet of Tyr, LN)
Having received a vision of Tyr in a fever dream in 1242 DR, Amil became a cult leader of the Rivergate community, despite his dream being pronounced not divine by visiting clerics of Tyr. He preached a message of xenophobia; community independence and identity, helping Rivergate's poor, and establishing an independent policing force with great charisma.
Jani Corvel (1231-1292 DR, hf, f5, LN)
Born and raised in Rivergate, Jani was an early convert to Amil's faith. She left the community at 16, and became a guard on riverboats for the next 10 years. She returned at 26 and immediately became a devout follower of Amil. In 1258 she formed Amil's Justice at Amil's urging, and gave it a clear code of conduct to follow. She became its leader and weapons trainer, and commanded an organized though small policing force when she died.
Jent Forst (hm, f4, CN)
Forst currently leads the vigilante group Amil's Justice. He was born and raised in Rivergate. As a child, he was mean spirited, often doing cruel things to others and to animals, and refusing to interact with his peers. As he got older, he learned to fit in to the community, though he never has had close relations with anyone. He married Maylene, a local girl, as arranged by a town elder at age 22, and now has 3 children ages 2 to 12. He is now a respected (and feared) figure in the community.
Much of Forst's childhood anger seems to have been re-directed toward non-humans. He is tolerant of halflings, but openly contemptuous of other non-human races. The intensity of his hate has resulted in him gaining leadership of Amil's Justice, and now he has directed that group more and more toward persecution of non-humans as the first step of establishing "Tyr's New Law" as described by the now mythical Amil Holdstrum.