[Whiteleaf Reference] Locales (wip)

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COKESTONE

Post by willpell » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:59 pm

Large town which was originally built on solid ground in a region some distance away from the growing Empire. After a series of torrential floods, the ground under the then-village's main street split open, forming a broad river channel; the site became the focus of a power struggle among local druids and dwarves, and the interference of these groups broadened the gash until it became a canyon, then a chasm, and finally an outlet to the sea which left the two halves of the city separated by over a mile of water. Acrimonious efforts at punishing the responsible groups failed when both provided compelling evidence that the coke-mining industry, for which the town was named, had quarried out extensive landforms which otherwise would have kept the area tectonically stable.

Having been one town originally, the two halves of Cokestone remained very nearly a unit, with an awkward ferry service connecting them as the bay between them continued to widen. Finally, when it was determined certainly that the rift was through growing, talk began to fly of connecting the two halves of the town by a massive bridge or perhaps a tunnel. Quickly it became apparent that both proposals had passionate adherents, and no agreement could be reached between them; indeed, construction on both bridge and tunnel started, and they were close to halfway complete when the funding ran out. For a century, the "folly" of Cokestone remained obvious at a glance, with half a bridge sticking out uselessly into the bay, even while the subterranean tunnel on the other side became a notorious haven for gangsters, refugees, and other undesirables, and unpleasant political dynasties came to power on the promise of fixing the problem at any cost. Finally, a new Mayor came to power who brought in immense wealth, and he reinvented both the bridge and the tunnel as tourist attractions, while solving the original problem with a far more extravagant installation - a permanent pair of Teleportation Circles connecting both halves.

The half-bridge is still visible crossing what has become known as Coal Harbor (although ships seldom actually traverse it), but now it is gaudily painted and decorated and equipped with various devices to facilitate sight-seeing, and it serves as a destination for romantics and vacationers, complete with vendors who set up shop along its length. Indeed, its structural supports are beginning to sag under the constant weight, and require regular reinforcement. Meanwhile, the city government makes use of the tunnel for secure storage (and a few clandestine magical experiments which Imperial Intelligence is secretly monitoring). Along with the teleportation circle, which has become a fact of daily life to the locals of this prosperous urban area, the two installations bring in remarkable wealth, and Cokestone's economy is booming, so much that it rapidly approaches proper metropolitan status.

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REPROACH

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:02 am

The angels are always looking down on this small town.

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EM PIY

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:08 am

The name of the realm of “hundreds of hells” feared in the mythology of Tiger Island’s residents. Means “dirt coffin” in the singsong language of the locals. In truth it is a rather small and especially pathetic section of the Gray Waste, final destination of those souls who were too Chaotic to learn the names of all those Hells (each of which loosely resembles a particular area somewhere within the nine actual Hells), but too Lawful to entirely reject the notion of their soul being confined in a place of punishment. Their vague and noncommittal visualization of the punishment that the afterlife had in store for them is responsible for their arrival in a section of Hades; their destination is as nondescript as the rest of the Plane, but they presume it to be a particular location whose exact specifications they cannot quite recall.

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SCICZILLIA

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 15, 2016 8:33 pm

Gender relations have been turned on their head in this minor Outer Plane, the home of the six-limbed Xills. Prior to sealing the planar portals which once allowed free ingress and egress, these creatures raided other planes to capture humans for enslavement, and discovered that the creatures' reproductive systems dovetailed interestingly with their own. Originally the creatures bred by implanting their eggs in the bodies of ox-like beasts native to their homeworld, but after observing the way their captive laborers "grappled" with each other when left alone, and half of them later swelled in obvious fecundity, the Xills began to grow intensely curious about the process. Under the guidance of the god Ekaltomax, who originated as one of their own (or, according to some quasi-heretical sources, as several of their own, somehow fused or winnowed into a single being with all of the originals' powers - all this is particularly interesting given that a few other gods, such as the Orchestra, can indeed apparate as multiple creatures), the Xills began to study the "twoarms" which they had taken as mere beasts of burden, finding their reproductive systems fascinating...and then they began to experiment.

It proved highly possible for the Xills to implant their embryos in the flesh of these "kine" (as mammals, humans are far more closely related to the domestic cattle of Sciczillia than to its upright-walking masters), but females had a higher mortality rate due to their greater sensitivity to traumatic insemination, and the deaths of a large proportion of the women caused the breeding rate of the slave pool to drop drastically. Realizing what was happening, the Xills annoyedly cut back on the labor exploitation of the humans, preventing death due to exhaustion and allowing their numbers to recover...and meanwhile, the surplus male population was culled by selection of its weakest members, then of its strongest ones after they had managed to knock up their "wives", leaving only the minimally competent to serve as fathers. The selected males were kept away from the women, and instead became "women" in the four grasping hands of their Xill "husbanders" - aside from general rough treatment, these men were more specifically emasculated by the implantation of Xill larvae into their abdomen, which then rearranged their viscera and began to infiltrate their digestive system with feeder tendrils. Sentient from a few hours after their conception, these grubs were natural masters of microsurgery, and after several consecutive generations they had learned a highly efficient technique for reshaping the human male intestines into a nursery for themselves.

Eventually the altered males were returned to the same population as the females and "fathers", and the latter began to be cherry-picked for implantation and transformation as well; for a short time there were functionally three genders among the slave race, but eventually all the males that survived had been reshaped into "host mothers" to the Xill. Such a man benefited from highly increased digestive efficiency, his colonic flora having been replaced with xill grafts that could convert almost 100% of the food he consumed into energy, removing the need for him to eliminate solid waste (a process that the Xills had always found repulsive, enough so that they nearly threw their original crop of slaves right back rather than put up with their foulness). These changes proved to be inheritable but recessive, and never affected women, so the result was that the men now found the women little more attractive than their Xill violators, while the women not only still required fathers for their children but now also saw the immaculate and reserved men as highly desirable. This state prevailed for only about another decade, after nearly a century of things getting to such a point, before the Empire's agents managed to finally learn about the disappearance of an entire minor human nation a hundred or so years earlier, study the ruins to collect forensic evidence, conduct magical divinations, put together what had happened, and decide on a response. The raiders were backtracked through the Ethereal Plane, and finally, after much effort, their homeworld was found.

With the recent reopening of the planar portals, several commando raids by Imperial forces have succeeded in rescuing some of the slave population, who have been resettled in underpopulated border provinces which require extra labor and defense. While good (not Good) old-fashioned sexism is alive and well in many parts of the Empire, few of the adherents of misogynist ideology remain so certain in their patriarchal beliefs after encountering some of the former Sciczillians. The liberation effort has proven expensive and unpopular, and the Emperor seethes at the knowledge that he can't spare the resources to make a decisive strike and win the war; meanwhile, the Xills have begun conducting their own stealth assaults against Material Plane targets (mostly located in the Hinterlands; they haven't had the patience or abilities necessary to learn the politics of the world they previously assumed was an uncivilized backwater, and so have no idea that their attackers come from a region thoroughly different from where they've been striking back).

(While the writeup of Xills in the Monster Manual indicates that their young devour the host from the inside, this reads as being more like flavor text than an actual rules mechanism, and so I've handwaved it away for the sake of my version; Xills otherwise function identically, and the victim of implantation still could die due to sepsis or something, but it's not inherently a consequence of the Implant ability anymore. On the flipside, Xill-transformed humans are still nearly human enough not to require game-mechanical distinction; not ever having to take a shit would be a pretty big deal in terms of your actual quality of life, but the rules are never going to need to model the effects in detail, at least not as long as I'm around to insist against it. If you want to play an attractive, slightly androgynous male character who doesn't especially like women and has feminine personality traits, it's probably safe to assume he's a member of this group, or a descendant thereof. Thusly, all of this is just flavor, but it's flavor that both heavily revises the Xills' function as monsters, and creates justification for an alternate style of human characters, for the benefit of players that are interested in that kind of thing.)

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THE HOLY WOODS

Post by willpell » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:35 pm

Part of the ancient elven confederacy until just 500 years ago, this forest-slash-principality has become a sobering lesson in the fact that the already-fading dominance of the elves is crumbling even further on a daily basis. Known today by a Common translation of its proper name (which was a great deal less generic-sounding, given how layered with nuance the sethar tongue is), the formerly independent nation once welcomed a small army of human entrepreneurs, with grandiose ideas and a talent for flattery. Over the course of what seemed like mere moments to the nigh-immortal aristocrats who inhabited the Woods, the newcomers went from solicitous visitors to manipulative allies, then influential nuisances, then inextricable neighbors, and finally domineering landlords. Without quite understanding how or why, elves who still remember a childhood in which they never saw a single human are now economically and legally bound to them in virtual slavery, forced to play insulting stereotypes of themselves in bardic pageantry which fuels a massive influx of tourism, and the supporting industries thereto which are slowly destroying the natural beauty of the forest. Though outraged at the fate which has befallen their cousins, the masters of the nearby Elvenwood are loath to involve themselves in the scandalous business, and while they debate the comparative ethics of the matter, the slow encroachment of the human powerbase continues. Already, any attempt at ousting these meddlers from the Holy Woods would be spectacularly costly - and worse, they would sell the spectacle of it.

The lot of elves in the Holy Wood is a bittersweet one at best; while they are treasured for their beauty and nigh-immortality, their celebrity comes at a severe cost in freedom, reducing them to little more than fashion models or even mobile artistic "sculptures". Some choose to embrace the power they wield, such as it is, and console themselves about the indignity by affecting an absurdly mercurial, entitled persona; so long as their earning power survives, they can get away with making ridiculous demands of their handlers, and the ones who hold their contract are content to permit these little tantrums anywhere outside their immediate presence. Other "star" elves are compelled to constantly indulge themselves in drugs, sexual affairs (either with fellow celebrity elves, or with humans that they either wish to manipulate for their own benefit, or take a fancy to and decide to "slum" with), dabbling in black magic, and other forms of self-destructive compulsion - all of which the salesmen encourage, because the tourist experience they offer to visitors includes the ability to stare and point at these burned-out wrecks. A handful of the elves manage to gain some degree of actual influence within the system, but their ability to change how it operates is limited at best; the more determined they are to better their own day-to-day situation, the more specifically they are prohibited from trying to affect the system as a whole, and certainly there is little hope they can stop the exploitation of their kindred. As far as the human magnates are concerned, the elves agreed to this treatment, and a deal's a deal; if they don't like it, they can pay a usurious buyout fee and then go back to their ordinary, meaningless lives - somewhere else, of course, since every scrap of real estate in the Holy Wood is owned, and carries incredibly high rents, which nobody who's given up such a lucrative job can hope to afford.

The human aristocrats who created the "Holy Woods Phenomenon" now hold incredible wealth and power, and form a semi-autonomous economic state which partners with the Empire for trade essentials. The Emperor is somewhat unamused by the liberties these plutocrats take, but also thinks that the Elvenwood's rulers could stand to have a proximate demonstration of what happens when their arrogance gets the better of them, so he tolerates the situation for now.

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OAKLEAFHOLM

Post by willpell » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:35 pm

Pronounced "Oakley Home" in the folksy dialect of the locals, this province's name is meant to honor a legendary culture-hero, Baragon Oakleaf, who once chose this then-wilderness site to build the fortified manor where his descendants still dwell. However, the Oakleaf dynasty has seen better days, and the province (along with its namesake city, usually referred to with the inclusion of that word) is increasingly becoming a hodgepodge assortment of displaced populations, where resentment about the Empire's steady expansionist efforts tends to fester. While the Imperium tries to make its expansion painless, such efforts are never entirely successful; there's always someone who can manage to nurture a grudge, and agents of the Web of Lies or various other maleficent organizations are always working to fan the flames of these resentments.

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ARSLAN CITY

Post by willpell » Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:18 pm

While the province of Arslan does also contain a city by that name, it has long since been surpassed by an identically-named municipality on the other side of the Barrier Chasm that marks the provincial boundary.

Home of the world-famous Unknown Number of Moons Inn.

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ABBEY OF KHOSTEL

Post by willpell » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:55 pm

A small cloister of learning maintained by two clerics, the dwarven abbot who presides over the collection of tomes, and the elf warrior-sage for whom the temple is named. Both have guarded the site for over 500 years, well past the abbot's natural lifespan, and the secret of his longevity is part of the knowledge they seek to protect against improper access.

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THE ISLE OF LOVE'S EYES

Post by willpell » Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:57 pm

Self-explanatory.

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ENTERPRIZE

Post by willpell » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:12 pm

A city founded on the site of a ruins site which featured as the "trophy" in a contest among draconic overlords from the Eyes of Apzhuh-Tyamot. Since having developed into a bustling seaport, it forms the de facto point of contact between the continental nations - distinctly NOT favoring the somewhat distant Empire, and the regional duchies aim to keep it that way - and the hybrid nation of the Eyes.

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THE PEACEFUL SEA

Post by willpell » Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:30 pm

Expanse of ocean stretching from the Inland Sound to the open waters of Panthalassa, though usually not thought of as including the Exotic Isles and their environs. While there are islands in the Peaceful Sea, the defining distinction (albeit that it's a fine one, with an extensive gradient and much arbitrary line-drawing) is that the inhabitants of those islands mostly just want to be left alone, while the Exotics are considered to be those islands with a great interest in commerce and cultural intercourse - and frequently actual intercourse, given that population stagnation is a concern in small genepools. Pacificans are less likely to avail themselves of such opportunities, and thus there's a distinct possibility that a given island's inhabitants are rather inbred, and almost certainly quite backward. Tales of cannibalism and other barbarities are usually false and stigmatizing, but every once in a while the legends prove true; the Sea is often only Peaceful while you remain away from land.

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THE NO-MAN'S LAND

Post by willpell » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:35 pm

Former enclave of of a group of zealots opposed to the rapidly rising human race, who littered the area with traps and curses, many of which survive to this day. The xenophobe group fell apart, and the area is now regarded as a wilderness preserve. Though lush and fertile, the area lies squarely in human territory, and settlers refuse to inhabit it, due to the danger and stigma. An eccentric hermit who calls himself "the No-Man" resides here, but it's presumed he took his name from the area rather than vice versa, although a few individuals whisper to the contrary. Several prophecies suggest that some figure of importance is destined to arise in this region, a famous wraith-slayer or something, but likely this is all peasant rumor rather than any reliable divination.
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WOODFRIENDS

Post by willpell » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:40 pm

"Town" in Susquas constructed by an elf druidess who had gone permanently around the bend, convinced that the local wildlife wanted her to build a civilization for them to inhabit (which she often raved would eventually grow to replace the proto-industrial society built by humanity). Every one of the several dozen houses was custom-built with the intention of a particular animal taking up residence there; most of the larger ones, designed for bear or deer or the like, were never completed before she succumbed permanently to her madness. The rabbit- and badger- and cat-sized houses were quicker to complete, and a few of them have since been inhabited by Permanently-Reduced gnomes, liberated familiars, and similar eccentrics, but more than three-fourths of the substantial number still stand empty, since individuals who both find them properly-sized and have any interest in living in a house, with doors and a fireplace and beds and everything, are vanishingly rare. Mostly, the site is overgrown by weeds and colonized only by spiders; even a few modest-sized monsters have taken up residence and periodically threaten the handful of inhabitants. But there are few economic incentives to helping protect such a "community", so traveling adventurers that have stopped in the area usually haven't tried especially hard, or taken any long-term interest in the situation (past perhaps repeating the anecdote in travelers further down the road, as proof of how fundamentally bizarre their lifestyle is).

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HOBO GAP

Post by willpell » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:59 pm

Previously known as "Pressbottom".

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AETHE RIDGE

Post by willpell » Tue Feb 16, 2016 4:16 pm

Lightly forested hill country, ostensibly commonly visited by extraterrestran and/or extraplanar beings. Settled and trafficked enough that such rumors are probably nothing more than supposition. Rich with honeybees.
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BELTAINE ISLAND

Post by willpell » Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:45 pm

The Imperial Board of Tourism carefully avoids any mention of this Exotic Isle, which has gained a degree of infamy among traveling chuckleheads in spite of the efforts to hush it up. Some long-vanished culture saw fit to decorate the island's hilly terrain with gigantic carven stone buttocks, each featuring its own lovingly detailed vulva or scrotum; a handful of thoroughly embarrassed archaeologists have come up with no explanation for why the sculptures were created, but cannot help but be fascinated by the question of how. The entire island is an Anti-Magic Zone, and the locals show no evidence of psionic talent, nor of the mechanical sophistication needed to quarry massive stone blocks and transport them over a mile away to the sites where the carven rumps now tower above the countryside. (And even more concerning, some experts have speculated that the bottoms are in fact only parts of the statues, which may continue underground as full figures, inexplicably poised head-down and arse-up.) Whether these creators were ancestors of the simple tribal folk who now live there remains unclear, but if so, no oral tradition has carried forward any mention of the massive bifurcated domes being anything other than a feature of the terrain.

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THE GREAT WAILING WALL

Post by willpell » Wed Mar 02, 2016 2:36 pm

Not only is this a rare example of an entirely aboveground dungeon (the underlaying bedrock is too brittle to excavate safely into), but it is also unusual in its nearly one-dimensional design; a single corridor runs its entire length as it wends back and forth across the rolling countryside for several miles, with a few side chambers flanking it but the entirety confined to the width of the wall itself. The eerie, whistling howls which ululate through the snaking stone structure can be heard for a thousand yards on either side (or above, for that matter; below the sound carries less well and has more competition from still deeper); sometimes they may just be the wind, but other times they are said to originate from the consecrated builders who mortared themselves into the masonry as a final act of devotion, and whose spirits likely still haunt the slowly-crumbling landmark.

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THE DREADMILL

Post by willpell » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:07 pm

An abandoned water-driven wheelhouse, said to be inhabited by fearsome creatures.

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NEWBURG

Post by willpell » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:26 pm

Town famous for its lobster fisheries. The frequent attacks by giant monstrous crabs are probably just coincidence... Locals are called "newbies" or just "noobs", and are infamous for setting out to become singularly bad adventurers, seemingly more often than they remain at home within their simple lives. Every house in the town is roofed with shingles, and its main street is called Yoon Alley for reasons nobody remembers.
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THE AIRWORKS

Post by willpell » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:09 pm

This mysterious artifact of a past civilization towers eerily over an otherwise nondescript region of broad, rolling meadows and shallow ravines, somewhere in the back country of the Heather Plains Alliance. The chime-festooned spires and winding flutes constantly produce haunting music in even the slightest wind; local peasant superstition once credited the array with actually creating all the winds of the world, although this has long since been debunked (as if it needed to be). The structure was attacked by the local-farmboy-turned-Omnicide-archcleric Hiram Blodgett about five years ago, but suffered only slight damage from the tornadoes he unleashed upon it; since then, however, it has been vigilantly protected by an Empire-funded archaeological team, consisting mostly of clerical spellcasters with ties to the Temple of the Shifting Winds, the five-fold clerical fellowship dedicated to the Rightful Masters of the Four-Cornered Sky.

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THE BLOOD WOOD

Post by willpell » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:30 pm

The River Brauch emerges from this grim forest and wends out across a miserable desert area. The trees have been retreating steadily over thousands of years, in spite of the efforts of local druids; a single petrified oak bole stands like a sentinel deep inside the current wasteland, but otherwise all vegetable life has withdrawn to its current steading, where it fights desperately to survive the arid conditions. The monsters referred to elsewhere as "Blights" originate from this area, having developed their thirst for blood simply to survive the harsh conditions.

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BLUE HARBOR

Post by willpell » Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:23 pm

Once the hideaway of a crew of sea-raiders manning a nondescript vessel named the Electric Midnight, this settlement grew over the course of decades as the buccaneers won the respect of their foes in the Imperial Navy, and eventually were recruited as privateers under the bureaucracy's "White Hats" program, helping to thwart their fellow pirate "nations" and protect merchant shipping. The first citizens of the port were prostitutes and kidnap victims who chose to become the Midnight crew's domestic partners, rather than being marooned to await rescue; looking back on the situation, the oldest surviving pirates realize that these women "tamed" them over time, and were most of the reason they eventually became civilized enough for the Empire to tolerate a partnership of them. Far from condemning their captors, the last of the town's female leadership now hold both themselves and their wandering "husbands" up as examples of how the two sexes bring out the best in each other; with the village's opening to the public, it has become one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the empire, with a thriving sex-tourism industry being the single largest cornerstone of its trade fortunes.

Though not especially religious, the Harborites have allowed several appropriate cults to move into the area; tithes to the Wayfarer, the Navigator and the Pirate account for a significant slice of the economy, as do sacrifices intended to appease the Sea Enraged. The second-largest temple in the burgeoning city (after the brothel-church of the Mistress, which prospers despite having originally come to the city as an unwelcome competitor for the secular flesh trade) is a syncretic faith devoted to the Angelic Legions, rather than to any god; these often point to the town's rise as proof of why the Celestines do not always intervene in a situation that may appear atrocious at first. Had the city mothers been rescued from their captors, they would have returned to lives that most of them now regard as significantly worse than the ones they have since built themselves. A common truism in the Harbor is "your life contains many tomorrows, but only one today." The church of the Legacy (and his treasure-loving subordinate, the Finder) is beginning to rise to prominence in the area as a result; a typically avaricious temple to the Ekounomene and Commerkindren rounds out the town's religious landscape, along with a small but steadily growing parish devoted to Velgyrine.

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THE PROBLEM ATTIC

Post by willpell » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:56 pm

Historic site of one of the first-ever-founded "professional adventuring companies", or PACs (since largely displaced by the more profitable "Super-PAC" model, in spite of frequent allegations of corruption in the latter), a group of freebooters and specialists organized under a single charter for the purpose of "solving problems". This objective, combined with the fact that they were originally headquartered in the unfinished top-floor garret of their favorite inn, gave the initial six-member group the name that they would operate under for nearly 100 years. Although their original leader, the marshal known as Red Filligree, was eventually found to dabble in hate crimes on the side and ended her career in disgrace, the legacy she helped to found endures and remains prestigious; her companions were mostly dwarves and elves, with the only other human being a wizard who eventually turned to lichdom to preserve himself, and these long-lived heroes remained united and active in the trade well after Red died in prison. Eventually they expanded enough to require their own headquarters, and chose a new name for themselves at about the same time, but the original Problem Attic itself is now preserved by the Imperial Heritage Commission, which regards it as a highly culturally-significant landmark of the modern "expeditionist" lifestyle.

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ADZECOURT

Post by willpell » Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:41 pm

Clanhold of the Axelrod dwarves, located inside a cliffside in a mountainous region populated by numerous fire and frost giants. Constant warfare between these two elemental foes made the lives of the indigenous dwarves nightmarish in the distant past, but the Axelrods weren't about to stand for it; the techniques of giant-slaying that are commonplace among dwarves and gnomes everywhere were first developed here, and are constantly being refined by Axelrod's slow-working innovators. Originally the giants ignored the "little people" who fled from their skirmishes, but when the dwarves began to cut their larger foes down on a regular basis, both breeds of evil giants suspended their rivalries (mostly) in order to focus on exterminating the upstarts. As a result, Adzecourt is attacked on a very regular basis, and its mighty walls have been reinforced after every assault, until today the clanhold may be the single most fortified location on Terrestra. The guardians of Adzecourt are stern and unflinching defenders of unparalleled martial skill; they know that they have nowhere to retreat to if their vigil should fail (tunneling deeper into the earth was never an option for Clan Axelrod, due to a particularly thick concentration of slaver fish and their derro catspaws in the lower tunnels, which were sealed off to ensure the safety of the entire surface world).

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GHEIBLEY

Post by willpell » Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:00 pm

Province characterized by an atypically high rate of precocious children entering the adventuring lifestyle, often under the auspices of guardian spirits or celestial protectors who ensure their physical and emotional safety as they explore the local wilderness and its ancient ruin sites. Theorists believe that a hyper-sorcerous past civilization extensively "terraformed" the region to create favorable conditions for Celestine conservatorship, which have endured to the present day; while adventurers are still a tiny minority of the populace here, they are several times more common than elsewhere, and are more thoroughly woven into the area's domestic fabric. (If playing Pathfinder, the Eidolon class should feature heavily in this region.)

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