The majority charau-ka city of Usaro is the former domain of the Gorilla King who served Angazhan, demon lord of beasts.1 The city is located on the Blood River where it flows into Lake Ocota from its southern shoreline.2 Its inhabitants are feared throughout the Mwangi Expanse, and the former king's treasure vaults are reputed to contain priceless riches, including the mighty bombard Worldbreaker, but the ominous sound of human-skin drums carrying across the lake deters all but the bravest or most foolhardy of treasure hunters.3
Some believe that the city was built hundreds of years ago by cultists of Angazhan.4 An alternative theory is that the city was abandoned by its original builders—possibly because of the deadly Tik Taan.2
The local Zenj tribes have always kept away from the city, but their warnings about ferocious, intelligent apes were initially dismissed as primitive superstitions by foreigners. Taldor's Sixth Army of Exploration found to their cost that the stories were all too true. The Gorilla King's forces massacred them at the Battle of Nagisa, and the few who survived ensured that outsiders would heed the warnings in the future.2
In 4710 AR, adventurers who had uncovered the city of Saventh-Yhi, killed the Gorilla King Ruthazek. Chaos ensued as his now-leaderless minions (that included his derhii lieutenants, gigantopithecus advisors, and charau-ka common soldiers) turned on each other to fill the power vacuum. After several months of strife, Kallijae elves took advantage of the disorder to invade Usaro and free many of the captives. The populace was further splintered when orcs raided the city and seized its totem of Angazhan, and many survivors claimed that Usaro had thus lost Angazhan's blessing.71
The city consists of ancient ziggurats made of white stone that meld into the jungle; only the tallest buildings appear over the forest canopy.2 The buildings are decorated with the grotesque remains of the nation's foes, and countless prisoners and slaves walk its streets.1 The High Throne of the Gorilla King is located on the top of an ancient temple crowned with a massive granite sculpture of an ape's head. There are also circles of ape head totems throughout the city that are used for bloodthirsty rituals.2
The domed Angazhan's Oracle is beside the river. Here, prisoners are prepared for sacrifice and Angazhani oracles attempt to predict the future. Captives are kept in the nearby Bridge of Cages, dangling across the river. Sometimes, the cages are lowered slowly into the river. The water is infested with piranhas, and the oracles believe the screams of the prisoners can help them in their prophesying.2
Beneath the temple is a seemingly bottomless pit, known as the Chasm of Screams, which houses a deadly mist known as the Tik Taan. Some feel that the Tik Taan may be the reason the city was originally abandoned.2
The Gorilla King was long the absolute ruler of the city. Below him, status was awarded to those strong enough or cunning enough to seize it. Competition was encouraged, as it removed the weaker members from society. Those individuals with the highest status were sometimes called the Court of Hateful Smiles.2
In the chaos following the Gorilla King's death, the Mwangi warrior and Angazhan worshipper Shosenbe has promised to exact revenge on the elves and orcs. His faction, called the Chosen, has deflected further raids and seeks to unite Usaro against its enemies. However, Shosenbe is tight-lipped about his motives and allegiances, and it is suspected that he does not actually worship Angazhan and is only following his own ends.1
Due to the city-state's weakened condition, numerous entrepreneurs have been flooding into the area, hoping to lay claim to the fens, groves, and shorelines around Lake Ocota. What is left of Usaro's military has been attempting to re-establish its dominance, but it is an ongoing battle.8
- “Mwangi Expanse” in World Guide, 90–91. Paizo Inc., .
- “Mwangi Campaigns” in Heart of the Jungle, 47. Paizo Inc., .
- “Chapter 2: The Inner Sea” in Campaign Setting, 107. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- Mists of Mwangi, 4. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Impossible Lands” in World Guide, 75. Paizo Inc., .
- “Chapter 5: The World” in Campaign Setting, 203. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Mwangi Expanse” in World Guide, 86–87. Paizo Inc., .
- “Mwangi Expanse” in World Guide, 88. Paizo Inc., .
- “Ecology of the Charau-Ka” in Vaults of Madness, 61. Paizo Inc., .