The City of Assassins was founded 300 years ago by the tattered remnants of the assassin army of His Supreme Highness Afanasy Athanasius, from the destroyed city-state of Yenchabur deep inside the interior of Casmaron. As his people f led the firestorm that destroyed their beloved home, Athanasius vowed to found a new city, one that kept his people safe through the Three Precepts of his assassins: Life, Death, and the Vessel Between. After battling his way through the nations of Casmaron, shrugging off
skirmishes in Brevoy, and leading his people through the banditinfested River Kingdoms, Athanasius finally came to a small town on a hill overlooking the Sellen River. It had everything heneeded: ample farmland, river access to the sea, and a defensible position.
He gave the residents of the small town (then called Rivermark) the choice to f lee, join, or die. Most chose to join. Over the centuries, Athanasius and his progeny built Daggermark into a fortress town with double curtain walls, a fortified dock, and a heavily patrolled road system that fed farm and free range goods into the city. They established a school for assassins, plainly called the Daggermark Assassins’ Guild, that trained anyone willing to be taught in the methods of the Yenchabur warriors. This nearly lost art was a rare
fighting style comprised of stealth, agility, and secrecy that turned a man or woman into a holy warrior called the Vessel Between (so named because the Yenchabur quietly escort their targets from the kingdom of the living to the kingdom of the dead). The citizens of Daggermark, under the leadership of the Yenchabur, rid every inch of the nearby plains and woods of bandits, and for a while life in Daggermark was ordinary.
Everything changed 90 years ago when a Chelish poisoner settled in Daggermark. Count Ambras Imre was escaping the turmoil of his homeland, seeking a place to practice his illegal art. In no time after arriving, he’d established the Daggermark Poisoners’ Guild, allied himself with the Yenchabur at the Daggermark Assassins’ Guild (after agreeing to teach them his methods), and possibly killed the last King of Daggermark—for within a few months of Imre’s arrival, His Supreme Highness Athanasius XIII choked to death at
dinner and was unresurrectable.
During the ensuing upheaval, the two guilds organized things a great deal from their end. They sent emissaries to all of the regions of the River Kingdoms, suggesting a council be
formed to address larger issues that affect multiple kingdoms.
They dubbed this the Outlaw Council, and the year after Athanasius’s death, despite the chaos of the City of Assassins, the Outlaw Council met for the first time and officially codified the Six River Freedoms (which had already held informal sway for generations). Specifically, the representatives of Daggermark championed the Fourth Freedom (“Courts are for Kings”), showing that a deep rift had been building for some time between the nobility of Daggermark and the common citizens, oddly represented by the Yenchabur assassins and the newly formed poisoners’ guild.
Thereafter, Daggermark fell into anarchy, led by no one but occasionally organized through mob rule, or at least widespread consent. This allowed Daggermark to function for a while, but stagnated the city’s growth, and the lack of an organized military in the city led to the rise of banditry. When thousands nearly starved to death in the winter of 4657–
4658, the people started to grumble that maybe bringing back authoritarian rule wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
On hearing these grumblings, the assassins’ guild made a strange and city-shaping decision: it announced that student assassins needed work to practice their art. Though the masters were still available for more daring or discreet endeavors, Daggermark citizens could now, for a fair price, hire one of these students to “send a message” to anyone. There were two rules: you could only hire a student assassin once per year from
the guild, and you couldn’t target a member of the military for assassination. As the city lacked an official military, the people immediately realized that forming one and joining it
would be a good idea, if only to prevent some angry neighbors from ordering their deaths. It was about this time that a man proclaimed himself king—and was killed in half a day. After that, no one tried to use the title “king,” but there were several lords, a few dukes, and even a prime minister. Most were assassinated before the next new moon, leading to the joking title of “lord of the new moon.” While few of these lords lasted
long, some of them left enough of an impression to help form a stalwart militia, crush the rising banditry, or reestablish trade relations with neighbors. Others simply rose to power,
stole what they could, and f led the city. Still others bucked the odds and reigned for a number of years, helping to build and maintain the anarchic peace of Daggermark.
Over time, this odd system of assassination-ruledchaos resulted in a stable society. In a given month, five citizens of the Daggermark region die from assassination or poisoning,
but murder and similar violent crimes are rare and property crimes are nearly unheard of within the city walls. Daggermark maintains a 1,500-person army of heavy footmen and cavalry; the footmen are commanded by the charismatic dwarf Jallor Clovesh, while the cavalry is controlled by the city’s current ruler, Martro Livondar, a shady man who many suspect is only running the city to make money off the endeavor. To prove this
rumor, the citizens have tried five times to kill him, three in his first week. These attempts on his life stopped when he declared he was now also the lord captain of the city’s cavalry, making him exempt from assassination. So long as he keeps the city running and isn’t too obvious about his thievery, it’s likely the assassins’ guild will maintain its neutrality. If he gets too obvious, however, the citizens may agitate for a change in the guild’s rules.