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Ank'Harel[3] is a city in Marquet, the center of Rumedam Desert, and the center of culture, history, and power for the continent.[4] It is also known as the Jewel of Hope, the translation of its name from the northern Marquesian dialect,[2] and the Jewel of Marquet. As of 811 PD it had been ruled for its entire four-century existence by J'mon Sa Ord,[5] whose reign extended to at least 843 PD.[6]

Description[]

Ank'harel - Clara

Official art of Ank'Harel, by Clara.[art 2]

Ank'Harel was described by Jarett Howarth as being "comparable, a bit bigger" relative to Emon.[7] The city is ovular in shape, standing on differently leveled platforms[8][9], with enormous, 65-foot-tall outer walls that have tall guard towers decoratively shaped like hands cradling the walls from underneath. Within the city are around a hundred tall, multi-level spires. Many buildings have pointed rooftops and colorful murals. The city is draped in multicolored cloth that hang across the buildings and red cobblestone streets.[10][11]

The gates of the city close at night,[12] and many caravans camp outside.[13]

Ank'Harel is surrounded by a wide web of smaller villages.[4]

Alluvium District[]

Alluvium District Gardens by Kent Davis

Depiction of the Alluvium Gardens, by Kent Davis from Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep, p.86.[art 3]

Location of clay strip mining, dense residential areas, and large plazas for artisan markets and performances. Because of the dense construction, people customarily travel over rooftops rather than in the narrow streets.[14]

  • Alluvium Gardens: An arboretum where kurrak fruit is grown, along with apricot, fig, and pomegranate trees visitors can pick.[14]
  • Opalite Forum: Gathering space used to host oral performances, holy celebrations, and festivals.[14]
  • Sa'irah Mines: Clay strip mines; most of the clay is used for buildings, but artisans use some of it for ceramics.[14]

The Circlet Walk[]

Primarily a tightly packed residential district, but with taverns and other commerce too.[15]

  • Lyrean Linen: Apparently a cloth-dyeing business, run by half-elf twin sisters.[16]
  • Step Aside: Inn and tavern run by two former mercenaries.[17]

Guided District[]

Home to several temples of worship, which provide help for the downtrodden who come here. There is also a notable contingent of the Hands of Ord present.[17]

The Ridge[]

Industrial district with shipyards, warehouses, foundries, and smithies.[21]

  • Alsfarin Union Shipyard: Base of operations for the top producer of skyships in Exandria, where all skyships must return once a year for repairs and maintenance.[22]
  • Lord Percy Haberdashery (not endorsed by Percival de Rolo)[23]
  • Sunfire Forge: Top smithy and weapons manufacturer in Ank'Harel, powered by liquid sunlight.[23]

River District[]

A number of canals begin in the River District. The spring, the perpetual oasis that fuels the city, is located here. Many of the caravans of Marquet travel to and from this district in particular,[24] and set up cookpots there.[25] Most of the city's farming is done here.[23]

  • Old Man Kruuk's: A bakery used as a front for fencing illicit magical items.[23]

Sand-Herald District[]

Brandon Chang Ank'Harel

Fan art of Ank'Harel, by Brandon Chang.[art 4]

Located at the upper central platform of the city.[26]

  • Cerulean Palace: The seat of government and court in Ank'Harel.[27]
    • Tower of J'mon Sa Ord: A building adjacent to the palace, made for watching over the entire city.
    • Scarlet Prison, also known as the Scarlet Oubliette: Dungeon located beneath the Cerulean Palace. It is rumored that people are placed there to be tortured or to be part of various experiments.[28]
  • Bowl of Judgment: The site of duels sanctioned by the Hand of Ord. Nearby the Cerulean Palace.[29]
  • Indala Skyport
  • Ord Bastion: Headquarters of the Hand of Ord, built of sturdy mud bricks.[30]

Sigil District[]

Sigil District of Ank'harel - David Rene

Depiction of the Sigil District of Ank'Harel, by David René.[art 5]

A district on the south-eastern side of the city.[31] The streets here are paved with an opaline material, including a very faint trace of whitestone particles.[32]

  • Crystal Chateau: A large multi-tiered structure made of a smoky quartz mixed with white marble.[33] There is a large white iron heavy gate that surrounds the building itself and a fairly well-kept garden grown around the chateau. A small stream runs through the trees with a bridge off the main path that leads to the chateau. The water seems to butt up against the chateau and vanish beneath it.[34]
  • Excavation pit: A 150-foot-wide pit whose excavation is overseen by the Allegiance of Allsight. At the bottom is an entrance to the drowned city of Cael Morrow.[35]
  • Omnival Library

Suncut Bazaar[]

The streeets of Ank'Harel - Lap Pun Cheung

Fan art of the streets of Ank'Harel, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 6]

Distinguished by strands of crimson flags that run across the street corners,[36] the Suncut Bazaar features a few shops that go indoors, but mostly open sky and hundreds of various tents, carts, pop-up stand-ups, and even the center of the street, blankets set out, with the various merchants there with their wares strewn across the ground, waiting for anybody to approach.[citation needed]

  • Luck's Run: A casino.
  • The Corner Cove: An inn within the Suncut Bazaar.
  • The Debt's Respite: A tavern in Ank'Harel run by Treev Bonebreaker. It is known for being the base of operations for the mercenary group known as the Scarbearers.
  • Oddities & Eccentricities: A curiosity stall managed by Nisaba.
  • The Shade: A lounge tavern with a distinctive, dark green tent steeple.
  • Bone Garden: Trades construction materials at the most northern side of the Suncut Bazaar.[37]

Unclear location[]

  • A Kingly Home: Appears as furniture store,[38] but inside is a secret hideout for Asharru with a hidden passage behind a basement cabinet, leading toward the Suncut Bazaar.[39]
  • Meatman Imports & Sexports: High-end trading business operated by Kaylie and Scanlan Shorthalt.[40]

Map[]

Ank'Harel - Deven Rue

Official map of Ank'Harel, by Deven Rue from Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep.[art 7]

Society[]

Ank'harel - Miloš Radojkić

Fan art of Ank'Harel, by Miloš Radojkić.[art 8]

Demographics[]

During their short travels to Ank'Harel, Vox Machina noted that it has a mostly human population with a wide variety of people living there, but everyone seemed to mesh together without prejudice. Notably, they noticed a number of dark-skinned halflings, a few half-elves, and some half-orcs. They also saw tieflings more frequently than would be found in Emon.

Vox Machina did not see or encounter a single dwarf or goliath, and only one elf.

Notable people[]

Name Type Description
Asharru NPC Deceased former owner of the Vestige, Cabal's Ruin. Killed by Anna Ripley.
Gameshega NPC Grand Maven of Ank'Harel.
Grymond Trog NPC Elderly gnome scholar at the Crystal Chateau.
J'mon Sa Ord NPC Ruler of Ank'Harel.
James Cryon NPC Headmaster of the Crystal Chateau.
Jarett Howarth NPC Captain of the guard at Vox Machina's Greyskull Keep. Hails from Ank'Harel.[41] Exiled from the city after committing a crime.
Kyme NPC Enchanter from the Omnival Library, works with the Scarbearers.
Lionel Gayheart PC Half-orc and former enforcer for "The Meat Man". Moved to Deastok to join the Darrington Brigade.
Rutur NPC Half-orc who sold fusaka to Scanlan Shorthalt.
Jamil A'alithiya NPC High Curator of the Temple of the Mentor.[42]
Iwo Zalarre NPC Half-orc monk of the Temple of the Mentor.[21]
Shubad NPC Fruit merchant in the Suncut Bazaar.
Treev Bonebreaker NPC Innkeeper in charge of the Debt's Respite.
Verdaven NPC Half-elf associate of Rutur.
Nisaba NPC Frazzled-looking young woman with long strands of curly dark brown hair. Red lips, dark eyeshadow. The owner of Oddities & Eccentricities.

Factions[]

Military[]

The Hand of Ord[]

Main article: The Hand of Ord.

The Hand of Ord is the primary guard protecting the city of Ank'Harel and nearby townships and villages.[4]

Culture[]

"Be pleased" is a common expression of politeness, accompanied with a small bow, preferably with the hand down towards the stomach.[45]

There are several foods distinctive to Ank'Harel, including:

  • Fusaka: a cooking spice used to season meat.[46]
  • Kurrak fruit: a fruit that looks like a mango with a spiny, rough exterior. Difficult to hold, but has a delightful flavor comparable to a sweet water experience.[47]
  • Sandkheg's Hide, an extremely intoxicating beverage[48][49]
  • A hearty semolina porridge topped with fig compote is a popular breakfast among the merchants of the Suncut Bazaar.[50]

History[]

BlackSalander Ank'Harel

Fan art of Ank'Harel, by BlackSalander.[art 9]

Background[]

The city is built atop the ruin of a city Gruumsh wiped out in the Calamity. The ruins, which the Allegiance of Allsight call Cael Morrow ("Drowned City"), remain intact.[51][52]

The scattered survivors of Marquet responded to the destruction of their civilization and staple food sources, and to the newly more dangerous wilderness, by setting out on various kinds of exploration. Those who crossed the new Rumedam Desert found, in the place Gruumsh had struck, an oasis, and there they dug wells and created a stop for caravans. In time a thriving settlement formed, and though it soon began to descend into banditry, a mysterious figure named J'mon Sa Ord appeared and brought order. At this time, around the early fifth century PD, the city was officially founded under the rule of J'mon Sa Ord, and was named Ank'Harel.[53][54]

At the time, the red dragon Thordak tyrannically ruled over half of Marquet[55] from his base in the Scaldwind Sands.[56] Thordak, with his feral armies of kobolds and other serpentine followers,[57] attacked the city when it was perhaps 100 or 150 years old,[58] but after a two-week battle, Thordak's armies were defeated and he was wounded, and as he fled north over the ocean he was struck down and fell into the sea.[59]

As of 810 PD, Ank'Harel had been ruled by J'mon Sa Ord for the entirety of its approximately 400-year history.[60]

Campaign One: Vox Machina[]

"Echoes of the Past" (1x38)[]

When Riskel Daxio attempted to flee Emon before being captured by Vox Machina,[61] a leader of the Clasp stated that Daxio was heading to Ank'Harel.[62][63]

"The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) through "The Chase to Glintshore" (1x67)[]

Before Vox Machina travelled to Ank'Harel in search of the vestige Cabal's Ruin, Jarett told them to greet people with the phrase "Be pleased", and that water was as valuable as coin. Once they arrived at Ank'Harel, the gates were closed for the night so the group camped inside Scanlan's Magnificent Mansion. Guards from the Hand of Ord expressed concern about the 'strange magic' of the mansion, and advised them not to use it within the city.

Once inside the city, the guards advised them to keep their weapons sheathed. The party visited several areas, including the Suncut Bazaar, noting the similarity to Emon and the range of races of the inhabitants. They next visited two taverns: The Shade, a lounge tavern with a hookah bar, and the Debt's Respite. While at these taverns, they tried Sandkheg's Hide, an extremely strong local beverage.

They visited the Cerulean Palace to seek an audience with J'mon Sa Ord, the ruler of the city. Once inside the palace, they traveled up a tower to a central chamber that looked upon the majority of the desert.

After their audience with J'mon Sa Ord, Vox Machina visited the Luck's Run casino where Scanlan completed his spice deal. After getting kicked out of the casino, the group went back to their rooms at the Debt's Respite.

The next day, the group visited the Crystal Chateau on the upper-class side of the city, where Percy noticed traces of whitestone in the cobblestone. They also noticed the Allegiance of Allsight's excavation site (at the time a square-shaped hole) that would lead to the Drowned City of Cael Morrow. They spoke with headmaster James Cryon about their Vestiges of Divergence, about reestablishing trade in whitestone crystals, and about the Den of Druja.

The party then visited the home of Mistress Asharru, but found evidence that Ripley had killed her a week earlier. They discovered Ripley had been spying on them, and they decided to scry on her, learning that she was sailing to Glintshore seeking another Vestige. They split up: Scanlan and Grog went to charter a skyship to chase Ripley, and the others went to the Scarbearers to disclose what they had discovered about Asharru. The Scarbearers brought in an enchanter to help lift the spying magic from Percy's gun.

Before the party left town in the skyship, Scanlan learned more about who had duped him on the "spice" deal.

"A Bard's Lament" (1x85) and "Daring Days" (1x86)[]

Vox Machina teleported to the Suncut Bazaar to deliver Ripley's hand to the Scarbearers. There they met Taryon Darrington, who joined the party. The party left a request for J'mon Sa Ord to reconsider Jarett's exile from the city before teleporting out.

"Unfinished Business" (1x100)[]

In Misuthar 812 PD, acting on intelligence from Lionel Gayheart, Vox Machina again teleported to Ank'Harel on their way to the Smouldercrown Mountains, where Lionel indicated another ziggurat was located.

"The Ominous March" (1x109)[]

Following the ascension of Vecna, the skies over the Rumedam Desert became ominously clouded, and J'mon Sa Ord decided the threat could not be ignored, and traveled to Vasselheim with their warriors to aid in the common fight against the new god.

Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep[]

The Call of the Netherdeep adventure module takes characters on a quest, set in or shortly after 836 PD, that runs through Ank'Harel and beneath it into Cael Morrow.

Campaign Three: Bells Hells[]

"Chasing Nightmares" (3x11)[]

Ariks Eshteross suggested he would reach out to contacts in Ank'Harel, particularly at the Temple of the Mentor.

"A Path of Vengeance" (3x65)[]

According to Ajit Dayal, during the apogee solstice of 843 PD J'mon Sa Ord left Ank'Harel for a few days to visit Jrusar, in the Oderan Wilds, presumably as part of the negotiations to create a Marquesian alliance to deal with the problems caused by the solstice.

Around the same period of time, foreign recruits of the Ruby Vanguard (such as Petrov Godo and Verdo) began arriving in Ank'Harel before being sent to the Tishtan excavation site.[64]

"A Gathering of Heroes" (3x76)[]

During the crisis caused by the Ruby Vanguard after the apogee solstice and the activation of the Malleus Key, several international forces began working together to form alliances against this threat. Vilya of the Air Ashari, mother of the Voice of the Tempest, collaborated with the Grim Verity to gain support, including that of Ank'Harel.[65]

Behind the scenes[]

According to Matthew Mercer, Ank'Harel is distinctly influenced by real-world Arab culture.[66] Ahead of Campaign Three, Matt wrote in a blog post on the official Critical Role website that the city of Ank'Harel was "deeply realized and fleshed out" with the help of others on the Call of the Netherdeep adventure module from Wizards of the Coast.[67] Makenzie De Armas, a Wizards of the Coast writer on Call of the Netherdeep, stated that the writing team wished to make Ank'Harel cosmopolitan without creating a monolith of any culture and that there are people in Ank'Harel from southern and western Marquet, which are regions inspired by her Filipino heritage.[68] She described seeing the setting reflecting her Southeast Asian identity as "important and cathartic".[69]

References[]

  1. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:03:18.  J'mon brought peace in Ank'Harel about 400 years prior to the 811 PD
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 80. Chapter 4: The Jewel of Hope. "Ank'Harel Gazetteer".
  3. From Matthew Mercer's Reddit comment showing the official spellings of Marquet and Ank'Harel.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 98.
  5. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:03:18.
  6. See "A Path of Vengeance" (3x65) at 1:35:29.
  7. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:05:46.
  8. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:39:08.  Chasing the messenger, Vax climbed down to the lower platform of Ank'Harel.
  9. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:55:40.  The palace is perched on the upper central platform.
  10. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:41:35.
  11. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 2:18:32.
  12. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:43:34.
  13. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:41:16.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 85.
  15. See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 86.
  16. See Call of the Netherdeep, pp. 86–87.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 87.
  18. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 59.
  19. See "Chasing Nightmares" (3x11) at 3:34:02.
  20. See Call of the Netherdeep, pp. 87–88.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 88.
  22. See Call of the Netherdeep, pp. 88–89.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 89.
  24. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:07:09.
  25. Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role, p. 124.
  26. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:55:40.
  27. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:01:10.
  28. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) from 1:00:50 through 1:01:53.
  29. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:32:57.
  30. See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 91.
  31. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 3:00:57.
  32. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 3:04:05.
  33. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 3:03:49.
  34. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 3:09:58.
  35. See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 92.
  36. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 2:22:58.
  37. See "The Chase to Glintshore" (1x67) at 2:00:25.
  38. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:39:50.
  39. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 4:04:33.
  40. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 270.
  41. Marquet was introduced in Campaign One.  See "Echoes of the Past" (1x38) from 2:24:19 through 2:28:25.
  42. See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 83.
  43. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:02:15.
  44. See "A Name Is Earned" (1x49) at 4:45:43.
  45. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:07:45.
  46. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 1:08:38.
  47. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 2:32:14.
  48. See "The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65) at 3:08:28.
  49. "Sandkheg" is a desert variant of an ankheg designed by Matthew Mercer, as he explained in a tweet).
  50. Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role, p. 104.
  51. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 146. See also p. 16.
  52. See Call of the Netherdeep, p. 122.
  53. In 810 PD, the party recalled that Ank'Harel had existed for "about 400 years" and had always been run by J'mon Sa Ord.  See "Echoes of the Past" (1x38) at 2:26:40.
  54. Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role, pp. 101–102.
  55. See "Desperate Measures" (1x40) at 2:36:36.  Thordak had ruled half of Marquet for centuries before attacking the city; see also the reference from "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) about the city being 100 or 150 years old when he attacked.
  56. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 0:14:46.
  57. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 0:20:19.
  58. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) from 0:16:20 through 0:16:41.
  59. See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 0:21:00.
  60. See "Echoes of the Past" (1x38) from 2:24:19 through 2:28:25.
  61. See "Echoes of the Past" (1x38) at 2:25:56.
  62. A leader of the Clasp stated that that Riskel Daxio was heading for Ank'Harel.  See "A Musician's Nostalgia" (1x37) at 3:26:01.
  63. See "Echoes of the Past" (1x38) at 2:26:29.
  64. See "Intense Interrogations" (3x85) at 1:19:44.
  65. See "A Gathering of Heroes" (3x76) at 2:01:09.
  66. From Matthew Mercer's tweet on Ank'Harel's design influence.
  67. Critical Role Logo A Warm Welcome to Marquet and Campaign 3! on CritRole.com
  68. Twitter logo Makenzie De Armas (@MakenzieLaneDA) on Twitter: "For clarification: I'm Southeast Asian. When writing Ank'Harel content for #Netherdeep, we wanted the city to feel cosmopolitan without monolithizing any cultures. So, there are folks in Ank'Harel who hail from south/west Marquet—areas inspired by my Filipino heritage." (2021-10-19).
  69. Twitter logo Makenzie De Armas (@MakenzieLaneDA) on Twitter: "It's hinted at in this article, but I'm very proud to say— I helped flesh out parts of Ank'Harel and Marquet. Matt was gracious enough to trust me with part of his world, and I'm beyond thrilled to have gotten the chance to include facets of my identity in this setting." (2021-10-18). See also, the follow-up tweet: You'll see more once Call of the #Netherdeep is released, but all I can say for now is that I legitimately cried a little while writing this stuff. Seeing my Southeast Asian identity reflected in such a major fantasy setting is so important and cathartic. I'm so damn grateful.

Art:

  1. Depiction of Ank'Harel, by Kieran Yanner from Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep. This page contains unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  2. Official art of Ank'Harel, by Clara (source). Used with permission.
  3. Depiction of the Alluvium Gardens, by Kent Davis from Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep, p.86. Used with permission. This page contains unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  4. Fan art of Ank'Harel, by Brandon Chang (source). Used with permission.
  5. Depiction of the Sigil District of Ank'Harel, by David René (source). Used with permission. This page contains unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  6. Fan art of the streets of Ank'Harel, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
  7. Official map of Ank'Harel, by Deven Rue from Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep. This page contains unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  8. Fan art of Ank'Harel, by Miloš Radojkić (source). Used with permission.
  9. Fan art of Ank'Harel, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
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