With all the stuff lately about the Free Cities, such as those from the Firestorm campaign box, or about making our own cities, I started to think about a setting for my Order armies. I must say that I really love the idea of several races (humans, aelf, duardins, etc.) coexisting in a same army under the banner of their Free City.
So I cooked my own Free City: Port Stellis.
What is Port Stellis?
It is a harbour city located on the Coast of Fleeting Hopes, in one of the thirteen domains of Ulgu.
The Coast of Fleeting Hopes is a very dark region: the night lasts half of the year while the day is bleak and gray during the other half.
Port Stellis was originally an aelf corsair campment but it developped fast to become a fully fortified city thanks to human, duardin and aelf settlers. To this day, Port Stellis has become the home of nearly 100.000 people (humans, aelves, duardins and stormcast eternals) and the number is growing.
The city and the surrounding region possess many special and uniques features which make it a strategic place for the Order alliance.
What factions are there in Port Stellis?
Here is a list of some of the main Order factions in Port Stellis at the present time (more may come when the city gets bigger):
- Collegiate Arcane
- Free Peoples
- Order Serpentis
- Scourge Privateers
- Stormcast Eternals
The others Order Factions are not necessarily absent from Port Stellis, but they don't have enough people present in the city to be considered as "real factions".
Now, let's see the special features of Port Stellis!
The Star Ocean Gate and the Scourge Privateers
"I've sailed thousands of miles, thousands of miles, chasing the stars...♪" — excerpt from a popular song among the aelf sailors
The primary feature of Port Stellis is a huge Realmgate situated in the middle of the city bay. Its leads indirectly to the realm of Azyr. Since this gate is on the very surface of the water, a ship or a boat is required to pass through it. However crossing it is particularly dangerous because before you can arrive in Azyr, you need to sail through a mysterious interspace which separates the realms of shadows and heavens: the Star Ocean.
The Star Ocean is a magnificent and breathtaking vision: a starry night sky, without any cloud or any light pollution, and a perfectly still ocean which reflects the sky just like a mirror. When a boat passes through the gate and enters the Star Ocean, it is exactly as if it were floating through the cosmos. It is all quiet and silent with scintillating stars everywhere and beautiful clouds of interstellar dust. However the Star Ocean is seemingly infinite and thus dangerous: if a captain goes astray or simply doesn't know how to follow the secret path hidden in the stars, then there is no way back home. The ship will get lost and wander forever...
To this day, only the aelfs corsairs of the Coast of Fleeting Hopes know the path through the Star Ocean and to the realmgate at the other side. And even if they know the way, they still need the blessing of Sigmar to open the gate to Azyr. Note that those aelves worship Sigmar under the aspect of Silmaris, God of Cosmos, Lord of storms and Guardian of the Star Ocean.
Since the corsairs are the only sailors who can travel from Port Stellis to Azyr and thus transport passengers and/or merchandises, they have a huge importance in the city and they are one of the most influential factions. Among them, Captain Naritha Blackbird is the most powerful of all: she commands nearly all the aelf corsairs of the Coast of Fleeting Hopes.
The Scintillating Mines and the duardins miners
"Brothers, sisters, never forget that Port Stellis is flourishing thanks to us and our hardwork!" — Barik De Bier
Half a day's walk from Port Stellis are the Scintillating Mines. They are a network of underground galleries in which duardin miners extract precious gems called clariæ . It is an iridescent gemstone that emit a scintillating light, like a little star.
Clariæ gems are Port Stellis's first export merchandise but there are also a lot of jewelers in the city who specialize themselves in carving those gems and craft beautiful jewels out of them. The wizards of the Astromancer Guild are also very interested by those gemstones and they are actively studying them since they believe they may have magical properties.
The duardins of the Miners' Syndicate pride themselves on providing the city's primary source of wealth (the gemstones) and thus they have a lot of influence in Port Stellis. Although they wish they could do business without the aelf corsairs, they need them to export their gems in Azyr. The Miners' Syndicate is led by Barik De Bier, the richest duardin in town, who wears clariæ rings on each of his nine fingers. Rumors say that he became incredibly rich during his youth when he found a melon-sized gemstone while digging in the mine's deepest tunnels.
The Stormkeep of the Stellar Champions
"Sigmar's light shines eternal!" — motto of the Stellar Champions
A garrison of Stormcast Eternals is present in Port Stellis. They are the Stellar Champions, one of Sigmar's stormhosts. Their most striking feature is their dark armors adorned with stars. Their leader is the noble Lord Aquilor Andras Silverblade.
The Stellar Champions' mission is not only to protect Port Stellis and keept it clean from chaos corruption, but also to chart the region of the Coast of Fleeting Hopes and hunt the strange wild monsters who may become a threat should they get close to the city. Sometimes they are accompanied by the aelf corsairs who are always interested in hunting and capturing monsters.
The Order Serpentis
"I will take back what is mine and those barbarians will regret being born." — Sicath Somberheart
A detachment of the Order Serpentis is posted in Port Stellis. The knights are led by Sicath Somberheart, an old white haired dreadlord who aspires to take back his lost fiefdom from the hands of Chaos barbarians. When the Age of Chaos came, he had no choice but to flee with his soldiers in Azyrheim because the enemies were too numerous. But after several centuries he will finally have his revenge... In fact his lands are only a week's walk from the Port Stellis. So far his soldiers have been training and defending the city along with the regular army, waiting for the day they will be fully ready. New drakespawn riders regularly come through the Star Ocean Gate to join Sicath's cause and pledge fealty to him.
Sicath has the secret support of a few sorceresses of the Darkling Covens who are also waiting to take back their own lands in Ulgu. If Sicath is successful in his quest then they too will move in Ulgu and go to war with their chaotic enemies.
The Astromancer Guild
"The long dark night is coming. Sure it will be gloomy around here for half a year but this will also be ideal for studying the constellations!" — Caïus Lorentius
Port Stellis is the home of the renowned Astromancer Guild. It is a college of wizards who seek to master the magic of heavens (although a minority of them choose to learn the magic of shadows instead). The Guild is led by the grand master Caius Lorentius, a very stern scholar who possesses his own Celestial Hurricanum.
Here is a stormcast on which I tested a color scheme for my Stellar Champions Stormhost.
When the real army will come, I will probably do a few minor tweaks in the color scheme (like painting the halo around the helm in a different color, perhaps silver) but the idea is there. The vanguard stormcast from the blightwar set will be painted like that.
Meanwhile I ordered a gaming mat which will represent the typical terrain around Port Stellis and in the Coast of Fleeting Hopes:
I can't wait for it to be delivered at my home!