Along the western edge of the Black Riage mountain range lies Deathwater Canyon. A distinguishing characteristic of the canyon system is the network of huge ceramic pipes that run through it, exiting from the solid rock for a time and disappearing back into a canyon wall. The pipes are 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 m) in diameter and sometimes split into two or three conduits at key junctures. No one has ever determined where the pipeline originates or terminates, but the pipes are said to be empty now, or mostly so.
The large city of Uxphon sits at the heart of Deathwater Canyon, amid a central core of the pipe system where something still flows. The 25,000 people that call Uxphon home use the pipes in two ways: the empty conduits have become thoroughfares, and the others radiate heat. The homes of the wealthy abut the warm pipes, which also provide hot and cold running water thanks to some recent ingenious engineering of small pipes.
Uxphon is a very old city. Seven families that have lived there the longest claim noble status and dwell in ancestral manors. Rumors say that some or all of the buildings have hidden chambers and subterranean levels where the nobles hide their debaucheries, treasures, and greatest secrets. Local thieves claim to have broken into the manors and seen some of these secret places, but most such boasts are probably lies. Of course, that doesn’t mean the hidden chambers don’t exist.
Uxphon has a large slave population, and the city’s slave market is renowned. It’s fueled by the gladiatorial arena, where well-trained slave combatants fight each other as well as captive beasts. Successful gladiators not only win their freedom but can also become wealthy in their own right.
Uxphon is an oligarchy and a true aristocracy—a place where the noble class, as a whole, are the only rulers. In effect, the nobles own the city, all of its businesses, and to some degree even the citizens of the lower classes. The city has no military of its own, and the town guards are employed by the nobility. In effect, a person of one of the many noble families can do no wrong in Uxphon, and only the other nobles (who see order as good for the city and thus for themselves) keep them in check.