Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder | Starfinder

Deities | Systems & Settlements


Nightarch

Source Pact Worlds pg. 135
CE metropolis
System Apostae
Population 1,238,050 (85% drow, 6% half-orc, 6% orc, 2% human, 1% other)
Government oligarchy (drow houses)
Qualities financial center, notorious, technologically advanced
Maximum Item Level 20

Nightarch is the largest and most powerful city on Apostae. As the Apostae is mostly an airless rock, Nightarch is a sealed city, its hundreds of towers and compounds built with the same environmental systems (and durability) as starships. In the center of the city lies the massive, eponymous Nightarch Gate, while the Great Door, which grants access to the ancient chambers in the planet’s interior, stands in the southernmost quarter of the city. Both sites are heavily guarded, and expeditions into the planet’s interior are normally restricted to groups with the approval of a major drow house.

Nightarch is a major starport and trade hub. Most drow houses have businesses and strongholds here, with shops selling everything from starship weapons to nanite poisons and arranging for nearly any service imaginable. While much of the business done in Nightarch would be considered illegal or immoral elsewhere, as long as customers are accurately informed of the drawbacks and risks of each purchase, procedure, or hireling arranged for, the details are largely considered local matters beyond the Pact Worlds’ purview.

Great halls and pressurized towers that offer breathable air, comfortable temperatures, and often even artificial gravity systems make up the entirety of the surface city. The largest and wealthiest drow houses own enormous towers that contain their own atmosphere plants and power sources, and these buildings can be sealed off from the rest of the city to operate independently for months. Other buildings and domes are dependent on Nightarch Air and Water, a corporation owned and run by House Zeizerer, which charges small fees for the most basic needs of life and can embargo smaller buildings, poorer domes and halls, and nearly any of the cavern-boroughs. While the towers of other major houses are self-sufficient, the tunnels and commercial districts connecting them to the rest of Nightarch are not. House Zeizerer can’t suffocate its major competitors, but it can force them to enter and leave their homes in environment suits.

While the tremendous house towers generally offer opulence and security, such conditions are limited to the powerful scions and managers of each house, along with their handpicked aides. The smaller domes and towers of Nightarch, where rank-andfile drow and a few successful citizens of other races dwell, are significantly less upscale. Lesser spires are generally secure, if uninspired in design and not as spacious, but Nightarch’s domes and block halls are often actively dangerous. These large environmentally sealed chambers house entire slum neighborhoods, and though they’re officially owned by various drow houses, their maintenance is often haphazard at best. Gas leaks, gravity outages, tainted water, and unreliable power makes life in these regions difficult, and security measures are geared toward preventing insurrection against the drow houses rather than protecting the local citizens. Crime in these warrens is largely ignored as long as it doesn’t impact a drow noble, and local gangs or minor mercenary groups are often the closest things to police forces.

Even worse than the slum domes are the cavern-boroughs, stretching out for miles in all directions beneath Nightarch. These enormous, largely artificial caverns were hollowed out during the Gap. They now serve as the cheapest, and most dangerous, long-term housing on Apostae. Most residents are half-orcs, humans, and orcs, though some minor mongrelmen and troglodyte communities also dwell there. Life in the cavernboroughs is one of constant struggle, as each community must make weekly payments to ensure the flow of air and water from the surface city, and various house-owned companies rule most boroughs as corporate fiefdoms. Blood sports, facilities that perform the horrific genetic mutilation known as fleshwarping, brutal mercenary training camps, and secret labs conducting appalling experiments and weapon tests are the main sources of opportunity within the caverns. Residents who fail to find a way into such endeavors often end up synthesizing, dealing in, or using transdimensional pesh, which can be made from traditional drugs combined with viscous purple fluids that sometimes seep through the walls of the lowest caverns.

The Nightarch Gate is known to have existed before the Gap, long before the drow found their way here. Occasionally, a portal to various alien landscapes appears within the tall structure. No detectable pattern or forewarning precedes the formation of a portal, which remains open for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours before abruptly vanishing. Portals have formed as often as every few months, but yearlong stretches have also passed without one of them appearing. Explorers and settlers often spend months at a time in Nightarch hoping for a portal to open so they might travel to entirely new worlds, but more expeditions leave the city disappointed than find an opportunity to travel, and no expedition that has passed through a portal has ever been heard from again. All efforts to find ways to control the Nightarch Gate have failed. It is unknown if the structure is related to the aiudara that connect various locations within other Pact Worlds, a part of the original function of Apostae, or an artifact left behind by some ancient spacefaring culture that visited the planetoid.