There is a center to every world, and a center to every universe… but what about the center of them all? This point, the supreme Nexus, had long lied dormant, but is now welcoming people from all realities and worlds…
There is a city built at the center of it all, a material place where travelers from many worlds and realities come to trade, learn, and live. This city is called Sanction, and it is literally the place everything else revolves around. Sanction is a cultural crossroads, a trading center that connects to many other planes but exists outside them all. It is a city that has few resources of its own, yet it thrives because its masters, the Merchant Union, wish it so. The mercanes have arranged circumstances so that any and all are welcome to visit and do business, so long as business is not disrupted. It is an ideal locale to acquire many beautiful, unusual, and rare things, to meet interesting travelers from across the multiverse, and to get somewhere else. It is often said that anyone going anywhere usually finds the going quicker when one passes through Sanction. Sanction is one of a few recognized planar metropolises, but of course in a near infinite multiverse, the true number may be likewise quite large.
The mercantile-minded mercanes have trading empires that stretch through many worlds and planes. The merchants are not a monopolistic group—the race is split into hundreds of competing cartels from various races, though commonly enough, people in Sanction refer to the merchants as a race themselves. Long ago one cartel known simply as the Azure Guild, wanted to maximize its business dealings without losing valuable time (or profits) physically traveling from place to place and plane to plane. In essence, the cartel members wanted the trade to come to them, rather than having to seek it out. And after decades of searching for just the right demiplanar location, plus decades more in construction and settlement, not to mention the millions spent on advertising and urban development, the city of Sanction was born.
The city has been in existence for almost one hundred years, so it is quite young by almost every standard, yet it has seen an unprecedented population explosion during that time. The mercanes are artists of trade, after all. Famous and infamous personalities have come and gone in Sanction, but the call of steep profits remains the heart of the city’s attraction.
The Merchant Union's Sanction Council
The merchants' most famous enterprise is the planar metropolis of Union, which they founded and continue to administer. Thirty-three merchants of various races sit on the Sanction Council, which orders all the affairs of the city. The organization known as the Sanction Sentinels has its charter of authority directly granted by the Sanction Council. Only merchants are ever allowed to take part in the administration of the city, and all are voted into their positions.
Headquarters: The central headquarters of the Sanction Council is in the Law Quarter, near the Sanction Sentinel headquarters. Usually, about half of the thirty-three can be found in the well-defended structure at any one time, though all gather monthly for council business. Other individuals who visit the structure usually only encounter lesser functionaries unless their need is great.
Hierarchy: Loose. Merchants may come and go in the Sanction Council, though the upper echelon of administrators doesn’t vary much except perhaps after each bicentennial vote, the first of which in the current city will be held in fifty years.
Secrecy: Special. Among members, secrecy is low (all the council knows most of the agenda and plans), but among non-council members, secrecy is quite high (most of the council members are not known, so it is common for city dwellers to mistake any merchant they see for a council member, which is a practice the merchants do not discourage).
Leadership: Any council member may command a lesser functionary of the city, or even a high-ranking Sanction Sentinel. But Chief Councilor Benicio D’Amico, by vote of the rest of the council, may always speak for the Sanction Council, and may countermand the edicts of other council members, as he desires.
This tall, swarthy Italian is 183 years old and barely looks a day past 45 (but he thinks he looks 35). He keeps his jet black hair trim and tidy and doesn’t bother to hide the few gray hairs around his ears and temples. His robes are worn only on very rare occasions such as directly dealing with the council, in which case they take on the form of long, elegant azure robes with gold embroidery and lined with thick, soft fur that is obviously visible around the cuffs and collar.
He takes a semi-formal and businesslike approach to everything he does and tries to keep calm and lighthearted around members of The TriMagus Council, often poking jokes at the fact that they don’t even want him but still need him.
In terms of magic, he is a highly competent enchanter and even more successful identifier. But his greatest strengths come from his capacity to negotiate, he has been known to go into hell to sell his soul to a demon and end up owning the demon’s soul instead. He is not to be underestimated in any way as several prominent mages owe favors to his intermediate helpers that he is yet to cash in on yet.
Benicio is a rarity even among his own people, the humans of prime-material Earth. One of the mages that lived beyond his Test, when Benicio was awarded his robe, the color became a dark blue, something unheard of and unexpected amongst the mages. Several divinations passed while Benicio was kept in one of the Towers under guard, though these only served to reveal his hearts desire, to use magic to fuel trade and make wealth. The TriMagus were wholly unprepared for any of this, their entire basis founded on the prime number of three, and couldn't fathom centuries of existence that would need to be rewritten if there was a fourth… and with a fourth, what if there was a fifth? This proved far too much for them to fathom, and so with this heavy revelation, they had to make a decision… one that would shape a course for things to come.
Reluctant to kill him, the TriMagus decided to cover it up with a 'beneficial banishment'. As long as Benicio didn't make a ruckus, and kept his public appearances to the Towers secret, they would allow him to ply his trade. Leveled with a strict geas powered by the heads of the three orders and the Grand Master himself, Benicio was allowed to build his influence quietly, as long as he made no direct statements as to his own nature or the upset in the balance. After only a few short years, Benicio felt he had built his influence upon a stable base, the head of a very long and secretive pyramid of traders, each only knowing those directly above and below them. Feeling the need to now establish a base of power for himself and his 'people', he asked the TriMagus for help. A month of solid divination found one point Benicio especially desired, and the roots for the building of Sanction began to grow.
Any further 'Blue' Mages were informed that they must sever all ties to their previous life, and swear the oaths Benicio followed. This served to add gradually to his power as well, and allowed the Magi to keep their secret.
Indeed, this served to help spread the influence of magic, something the mages were in favor of for several reasons. Primarily, it helped reveal those with Talent. Also, the more widespread reach allowed the mages to watch for those who wielded power for good or ill, which also served them well. And admittedly, the extra kickbacks from the trade of such items helped line the TriMagus coffers quite well. Quite well indeed.
The city of Sanction exists on a demiplane all its own, a strange, limitless, twilight void. This demiplane has up and down directions, with the pull of normal gravity working in a constant direction. Likewise, time passes normally in the demiplane. Magic functions normally. The demiplane is neither coexistent with (doesn’t overlap) nor coterminous to (doesn’t naturally touch) any other plane. However, the demiplane holds a great number of artificial gates and portals that connect to several extradimensional locations.
Within this twilight void drifts a collection of floating islands, gently hovering umbrellas of rock that coast through the twilight carried on gentle air currents. Huge reefs of cloud sometimes move like armadas through the high or low sky, glowing with ambient light. The rocky formations and the cloud banks are the two main features in this void, and they are surrounded on all sides, above and below, with an indirect purplish orange glow, reminiscent of the most fabled of sunsets. The temperature remains pleasantly warm, like an early summer evening, and a constant slight breeze blows, seemingly from a randomly fluctuating direction, keeping the air fresh. No other weather of any kind has ever disturbed this peaceful demiplane or the city that floats within it (some have altered the weather magically, though only until caught and dealt with by the Sanction Sentinels).
The city itself is built on a small cluster of these floating islands, a full dozen of them bound together in a group, with bridges and stairs crossing between them. The twelve islands are roughly level with one another, though stairways may stretch up or down between islands by one or two hundred feet. Each island is very slightly convex. Lamplighters keep all the major thoroughfares well lit through the use of evenly spaced, magically illuminated lamps. Many of the buildings built on the islands also benefit from magical illumination, while the common marketplace of Sanction literally twinkles like a festival tree due to all the various decorative lighting. Seen from a slight distance, the community is a tranquil vision, a faerie land adrift in glowing spaces.
Sanction possesses a number of amenities that make the place not just inhabitable, but quite comfortable for most of its residents and visitors. Each of the individual rock formations has a subterranean planar portal connected to the Elemental Plane of Water just large enough to allow for a steady flow. Most often, this flow bubbles to the surface in the form of fountains, but in a few of the more affluent quarters of the city an actual plumbing system exists, piping water directly into many of the buildings. Overflow off the side of a city island from a fountain or a small lake is common. Even the smallest quarter of the city sports a spectacular waterfall that plummets into the low sky. The city’s sewage system ensures a filth-free environment, with grate-covered drains along all the streets leading to vertical chutes that empty to subterranean gates, which transfer the refuse to a location far into the low sky, out of sight. In some cases—again, in the more upscale neighborhoods—the buildings are equipped with full indoor sewage systems that connect to the city system. Refuse is magically transferred deep into the void, to disappear conveniently forever.
The architecture of the city is a hodgepodge of styles and building materials, since everything needed for construction has to come from elsewhere. Many structures are made of stone, while only smatterings are of wood. Many windows have actual glass, even stained glass in some districts, and quite a few of the buildings are decorated with brightly pigmented paints. All in all, Sanction is a bright, cheery place, and that is by design. Nothing nurtures commerce like a heightened sense of well-being, and the merchants take very deliberate steps to ensure that everyone who visits their city feels safe and happy.
Population: about 5,000 in the city proper, though with the outlaying islands and general travelers passing though, this has easily approached 100,000, making it a certifiable metropolis.
Portals: Many, hundreds of portals exist throughout the city, all clearly marked and defined, with more on the outlying islands. As more travelers and merchants gathered, they too saw the advantages of such a place, and called for portals opened to their own worlds. Most of the safest, civilized and 'approved' world portals exist within the city proper, usually in the outer ring. More dangerous portals, and those leading to hazardous worlds, are erected upon the outlying islands, general categorized by where they are placed. As such, it is as easy to travel to Sanction as it is to anywhere else.