Vasselheim is the capital of human civilization on the continent of Issylra. It is predominantly a religious city with several districts, each dedicated to a patron deity. Vasselheim is sometimes called the Dawn City or the Cradle of Faith, as it is considered the origin of civilization and various religions.
Appearance and Location
Vasselheim takes some influence from real-world Norse culture. Located in the region of Othanzia, the city itself is built around a massive mountain called the Heaven's Stair approximately 20–30 miles inland from the Ozmit Sea. Vasselheim has many walls, varying in age and composition, armed with dragon-headed ballistae. The streets are unpaved and made mostly of packed mud. The only conventional way to enter the city is by foot, as the journey to Vasselheim is considered a religious pilgrimage. In the case of an emergency, a haphazard airship platform has been constructed on top of a mill.
Vasselheim has a large mining operation for cobalt in the mountain. Many of the stores tend to sell supplies for miners and workers that operate in the mountain.
The city of Vasselheim is the only city to have survived every catastrophe that has destroyed Exandria: from the elemental chaos of its Founding to the wars between gods during the Calamity. As the oldest civilization and center of religion in the world, Vasselheim is functionally the spiritual center of the world.
The Battle of Vasselheim
When Vecna ascended to godhood, he made Vasselheim his primary target. His "miracle" to prove his divinity and recruit more worshipers would be to destroy the spiritual center of the Prime Deities and literally place his own city (Thar Amphala) on top of the rubble. The council of Vasselheim sent word across Exandria, requesting aid. J'mon Sa Ord eagerly offered aid from Ank'Harel (bringing all the Hands of Ord to Vasselheim), and Tal'Dorei pledged their support as well. However, King Bertrand Dwendal refused to mobilize against Vecna until the threat was confirmed to have reached Wildemount and the borders of the Dwendalian Empire.
Vecna had reanimated a deceased Earth Titan and placed Thar Amphala atop it. While Vox Machina stealthily made their way up through the Crypts of Thomara (inside the titan), the allied forces fought against Vecna's forces. An arcane barrier guarded Thar Amphala from exterior assault, so Vox Machina's mission to banish Vecna with the Tome of Isolation became imperative.
As Vox Machina battled the Whispered One atop the ruined Tower of Entropis, the Earth Titan had reached the outskirts of Vasselheim and had begun smashing the Braving Grounds district. When Vecna was banished beyond the Divine Gate, the Earth Titan ceased to be reanimated. It fell to its knees and remained motionless where it had been standing: at the base of the Heaven's Stair.
With the defeat of Vecna, the city rejoiced and Vox Machina were hailed as the saviors of Vasselheim...if not all of Exandria.
The people of Vasselheim are generally rugged and stern. Many wear patchwork furs and have unkempt hair. The pious lifestyles and brutal environment of the Northwest make for hard living. Vasselheim has many guards, collectively called "the Bastion", that consist of volunteers from the various religions. The Bastions primarily operate within their respective districts but also serve as the militia if the city were to be attacked.
- Silver Talon's Reach: A district dedicated to the worship of Bahamut. The priesthood for this district are the Scalebearers.
- The Braving Grounds District: The district dedicated to the worship of Kord. Its priesthood is the warriors of the Dawn Fist. The Glasswalk Road leads into the Braving Grounds. It runs north from the city into the Vesper Timberlands.
- The Quadroads District: A district dedicated to the veneration of Erathis. Its priesthood is known as the Holy Paramours. The Slayer's Take Guild is located here.
- The Abundant Terrace: The agricultural district, dedicated to the worship of Melora, goddess of the wilderness and the sea. The priesthood for this district are the Gladekeepers.
- The Dusk Meadow District: The district dedicated to the worship of the goddess of death, Raven Queen. Its priesthood is the leaderless order of dark-veiled women known as the Maidens of the Raven Queen.
- Temple to Sarenrae: A recently discovered ancient temple of Sarenrae within the Braving Grounds. Pike led this temple's restoration efforts after arriving at Vasselheim and before returning to Emon. Though Sarenrae's followers and priesthood in the city are much smaller than the other districts, Pike is still afforded the same respect as any other Dawn Marshal.
Arcane Magic is largely frowned upon in Vasselheim. Mages aren't trusted, due to the fallout after the Age of Arcanum, so any public display of semi-powerful magic that isn't divine in nature will draw attention and require an explanation by the keepers of order. Small fines and minor jail time may ensue.
The city's government is a theocracy. Each district of the city (and more importantly, the gods they represent) have equal status. As one Bastion put it, "Vasselheim is a divided and united city, as one." Each district is self-governed by the highest lord of its priesthood: the "Dawn Marshal". In matters concerning the city as a whole, the Dawn Marshals meet in council to debate and decide on the matter (i.e. when the representatives of the various priesthoods met in the Platinum Sanctuary when Vecna threatened Vasselheim).
The current Dawn Marshals of Vasselheim are:
- Vord the Silver-Touched: Highbearer of the Scalebearers (Bahamut)
- Groon: Earthbreaker of the Dawn Fist (Kord)
- Curtis Uleas: Holy Curator of the Paramours (Erathis)
- Ophera: High Hierophant of the Gladekeepers (Melora)
- Pike Trickfoot: Chosen of Sarenrae
The Maidens of the Raven Queen are technically leaderless (as is the way of their order), but two nameless twins speak on behalf of the goddess. Thus, they are considered to jointly be the de facto Dawn Marshal.
- ↑ The city's influence was revealed by Matthew Mercer on Twitter.
- ↑ See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 2:00:42. The Heaven's Stair was mentioned again at 2:02:05.
- ↑ See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 2:02:46.
- ↑ https://www.reddit.com/r/criticalrole/comments/6q59bj/spoilers_e106_taldorei_campaign_setting_ama/dkv9tgz/?context=3
- ↑ See "The Ominous March" (1x109) from 1:23:42 through 1:24:30.