Tanza is a city on the south-eastern border of the nation of Imber. It was originally settled to expand the borders of Imber into the wilderness. It also gave Imber an outpost closer to the nations of the east, improving caravan trade over the Worldspine Mountains. The city prospered and Imber pushed its frontier further south of Tanza.
Tanza’s golden age ended thirty years ago. From out of the wild, the undead forces of the Shadowfell swept north through Imber’s borders to the walls of the city itself. Tanza suffered six weeks of siege before the armies of Imber were able to relieve it. The same assault happened the following winter. The Shadowfell’s armies of walking dead seemed endless. The city would surely have fallen were it not for the intervention of the priest’s of Avandra.
Avandra, also called the lady of light, is the patron goddess of Imber. Her priests performed a powerful ritual extending the blessing of the lady over the city, preventing the undead from entering its walls.
This gave Imber an unassailable military fortress from which it could harry the Shadowfell and keep them from moving further north. The walking dead still periodically attack the city, but the blessing of Avandra keeps them at bay. The surviving settlers moved north behind the protection of the city. Some semblance of normalcy and trade have resumed. The heroes of Imber regularly sally forth into the southlands held by the forces of the Shadowfell, hoping to find a way to end its threat forever, so far without success.
Unfortunately, the protection of Avandra is not perfect. Only the upper city, on the bluffs of Tanza, is fully secure. The lower city is protected from the most powerful undead, but lesser evils are still able to slip past the weaker outer barriers. This divides the city. The wealthy and privileged citizens of the upper city are able to live without fear, while the lower city suffers regular undead incursions.
One major conflict between the upper and lower city is the location of the military. The poor of the lower city wanted the army to be housed there, on the “front lines” so to speak. The leaders of Avandra fear this would make the army too vulnerable to sneak attack. They put the barracks in the upper city instead. The lower city feels abandoned, and their resentment continues to grow.
All who can afford it have moved to the upper city. Poverty and crime are now a serious problem in the lower city. The city guard does its best to fight the problem, but since the guard is also based in the upper city, they get little help or sympathy from the locals of the lower districts. Unscrupulous eastern traders work with smugglers in the lower city to circumvent the trade tariffs and slip proscribed items past the borders of Imber.
There has been a recent outbreak of burglary in the upper city and the city council is in an uproar to have the thieves brought to justice. The gate between the upper and lower city is well guarded, so the only explanation is that someone in the lower city has found a hidden path to the top of the bluff. Perhaps someone has discovered a path through the ancient catacombs under the city. The city guard is out on the streets, rounding up the usual suspects for questioning. And outside, the forces of Shadowfell watch, waiting for a moment of weakness…