The sprawling metropolis of Quivarra has a long and unsavory history. First established as a pirate bay, due to it’s sheltered natural harbor a good distance inland, the influx of wealth and stolen goods jump-started a thriving city economy. One is said to be able to find anything you could desire in Quivarra, for good or ill, if one knew where to look and had enough gold to acquire it.
The middle and upper class citizens share the typical city streets with wealthy merchants, prominent temples, and other influential guild houses. Street performers entertain passersby for a coin or two, and members of the city watch can be seen lazily patrolling during daylight hours. An atmosphere of untroubled aristocracy prevails, where you can ply an honest trade, window shop, or simply enjoy your time at a public park or favorite cafe’. The streets are regularly repaired and cleaned, often by any minor troublemakers the city sentences to community service.
At the center of town, however, is a gaping pit that shows the true nature of Quivarra. Muscled laborers and slaves work gargantuan cranes and elevators which move goods between the cultured surface and the dark harbor hundreds of feet below. Dots of light from thousands of rooms span the inner wall of this underground cavern, where members of the lower class spend much of their entire life. Laced with a network of connected caverns and mine shafts, it’s all too easy to lose yourself within the twists and turns. The city watch does not often patrol below the surface, leaving ‘justice’ and ‘law’ to be interpreted by numerous illicit organizations.
The city watch and the major crime families have a long standing, unspoken truce. Criminals caught on the surface are tried to the fullest extent of the law, as befitting whatever crime they committed. The most horrid criminals, those who commit murder, arson, or other hostile and unsavory acts against the city and its surface inhabitants, are dealt with harshly and publicly. However, these horrific cases are exceedingly rare, for few serial killers, assassins, or cultists choose to ply their trade on the surface. To the traveler, Quivarran guardsmen are best known for their patience and their, paradoxically, carefree vigilance.
Below the sunlit surface, the rules are completely different. Patrols of the city watch sometimes do not return from forays down below, and only the top-most tunnels are part of their routes. Nobles and the titled aristocracy publicly lament the rampant crime below while secretly funding business ventures in their interests, such as slavery, black markets, or religious cults. Crime families rule with iron fists, each with their own idea of justice, and it is not uncommon for a dock worker to be caught dead between feuding clans or hostile takeovers. This destructive turmoil leaves a lot of open positions available, which only fuels Quivarra’s already aggressive economy into overdrive. There’s always someone else to fill your shoes.
Mining operations continuously widen the circumference of the harbor, attempting to keep up with the rapid population growth of this prosperous metropolis while also looking for pockets of gemstones or rare metals. To date, most mining ventures have eventually bankrupted, but at least the crime families are always paying to expand their territories. Rumors of great underground networks filled with precious stones persist, despite the fact that nothing of the sort has ever been documented or discovered.
It is better to treat Quivarra as two cities; the bright surface world, and the literal dark underbelly.