Shassamanse is a faded remnant of the ancient kingdom of Gondara which used to rules the crags of the Sidamo mountains. Indeed, the current city is built on the bones of a larger older city, as evidenced by the remains of the sewer system (marked in red, and now largely defunct) and the reuse of stone blocks with traces of script no-one can read. The local peasants still occasionally turn up interesting items from nearby hillsides - bits of coloured glass, a fragment of statue - after the rare storms.

Most of the buildings are one or two stories tall and built of mud brick, although the larger ones have walls built of stones from the old city. Likewisethe towers and the city walls are built from recycle stone. Th Fon's palace, set grandly in a large square is of stone, but the walls are plastered and pianted white with lime, then painted with ochre in geometric patterns around the windows and doors. Similar patterns are found in the inner courtyards of larger, wealthier houses.

The city sits in a dusty bowl in the mountains, surrounded by stark, dry peaks. It sees few travellers from outside the region, except a few daring merchants from Irilian but serves as a meeting place for the hill tribes. Sometimes they come to trade, sometimes to carouse and brawl, sometimes (in larger numbers) in an attempt to plunder.

Though a fairly sizable city (approximately 6000 people) Shassamanse is not well known in the outside world - indeed it is barely known at all outside Irilian and the surrounding area. Being out of the way and difficult to reach (over a week's journey through arid crags) it is essentially beyond the reach of Martic law and therefore hosts a continually shifting population of outlaws - some of whom have joined the Fon's guards.

Shassamanse is the personal fief of the Fon, His warriors provide the city's army and police and his personal retinue, made up of ruthless and deadly (if undisciplined) fighters enforces his law. Things are quiet enough in the city - although the current Fon has no wife or heir, he also has no living enemies - at least none brave enough to make any trouble and he is in robust health. He does have a number of illegitimate children scattered about thetown, but theoldest is barely 4, so they pose no threat for now. However, the current Fon came to power by catching his predecessor in an ambush while the latter was out hunting, so it's not what you would call a secure power structure.

Although the population is mixed, the locals are mostly Harrar. They tolerate and barter with - but do not like - the Keshite tribesmen who visit.

The local peasantry keep cattle, grow grain, make beer and like to sit on their doorsteps gossipping. They also do a reasonable trade with visiting tribesmen selling leathergoods and jewellery (often imported up from Irilian). Like their hill-tribe neighbours, the inhabitants of Shassamanse practice a religion that is a mixture of astrological calculation to determine good and bad times for activities and ancestor worship. Some locals also include the worship of Four Lords of the Cardinal Points - imported from far-off Kesh - in their rituals. While they are tolerant (more accurately, indifferent) to the religious practices of other people, they tend to be very intolerant of people interfering with their own relgious ceremonies.


Some points of interest are marked on the map:


Fon's Palace and market square


House of Bey-shaida, a slave trader. Three stories high, the lowest of dressed stone. His house has a secret connection to the old sewer which lets him enter and leave unseen, He has a guard of trained fighting slaves (well armed and equipped), and also arranges "parties" with trained courtesans. He is a force in local politics, but is originally (many years ago now) from Irilian.


Area approximately 20 metres wide around the town walls kept clear of buildings for purposes of military defence. Usually, however it is filled up with tents and temporary shanties erected by visitors, beggars and transients, many of whom are desperate, dangerous, or both.


Sewer outfall. This is open, but is heavily screened by bushes, which grow on the trickle of waste that still filters out. It requires a PER roll to find.


Large semi-fortified stone building. The home of a silversmith, he also rents rooms and space in his courtyard to those who can pay to avoid sleeping rough.


Large sprawling house - home of the Nitnec clan - a large and politically powerful family.


Mama Ka's house. She hates Bey-shaida bitterly, since they are in competition. She supplies girls, drugs and the occasional (low quality) muscle. She also takes in guests and often does not attempt to rob them.


House of Agulpa - a powerful Kanakil warrior. he was a friend of the previous Fon, but has somehow escaped execution, although he does not seem to like the current Fon much. Unbeknownst to most of the population he is also the leader of a local gang of bandits that prey of travellers and small groups of tribesmen coming to visit the city. His house also has a sewer entrance.


This small nondescript building serves as a meeting place and rents rooms to travellers. It is also a meeting place for the survivors of the old Fon's retinue, who have essentially become a small thieves guild. Since there are often members of this group staying here there is only a 30% chance that there will be space for other visitors. In the courtyard one can usually get a drink, or something to smoke if one does not mind sitting with a lot of loudly arguing hill-tribesmen.