Well then, it appears I hit the character limit on a post. I was wondering when I'd hit that
ANYWAYS, bleh, November wreaked havoc on my writing. Too many irons in the fires. But fear not, I have not abandoned Winterspace. I've merely been busy as all getout. So here is Kettleton, one of the cities on Radole's few lakes. I imagine this to be a no frills working city with little to offer travelers aside from mutton and fish. To counter that, I added a few "dungeons" where PCs might be sent in to fight all manner of bizarre, alien constructs to keep them from escaping and thrashing the city above.
The Great Kettle Lake is the largest lake on Radole, fed by glacial meltwaters. Its waters are deathly cold at its depths and where the meltwaters drain into the lake, but balmy and warm at its sunward-coasts. The lake is deep and richly stocked with fish, many unique to Radole. Fishing is strictly regulated as the lake has been overfished in the past, requiring import of new stocks to replace the depleted schools at enormous expense.
Upon the shores of The Great Kettle Lake is the city of Kettleton. A backwater by Radole standards, Kettleton is a rustic city surrounded by enormous fields of cotton in the lowlands. The mountains are rocky, unsuitable for cultivation but ideal for vast herds of grazing sheep. The abundance of wool and cotton perhaps makes Kettleton the capital of textiles on Radole. Mutton is another prime export as sheep are rare elsewhere in the sphere.
Kettleton is a city of sheep corrals, looms, and weavers. The Nacle family runs Kettleton from their sprawling ranch overlooking the lake. They are major land-owners, their vast holdings including much of Kettleton’s prime real estate and a good portion of the closest farms. Do not let the rustic appearance of their city fool ye; their near-monopoly on the textile industry on Radole has made the Nacle family fabulously wealthy. They simply do not spend their wealth on audacious displays or competing with their neighboring cities in splendor. Instead, the Nacles invest in land, both on Radole and off. The family has holdings enough to be considered a modest kingdom.
Kettleton sports a fine harbor, perhaps the finest on Radole. Merchant ships visit the city frequently to load their holds with bolts of cloth, finished clothes, spools of thread, and live sheep for transport to every port in the sphere. The docks are surprisingly busy as water-landing craft often set down at Kettleton, and then have cargo shipped by means of dragonflies or canal-barges to other points on Radole. Some captains will even leave their ships at Kettleton for brief times so that they can conduct business in other ports, renting dragonflies as transports.
The Docks stretch around a protective bay, sheltering dozens of piers. The Docks more resemble an asteroid port rather than a groundling port in that most of the ships found will be spelljammer designs rather than traditional groundling vessels. Hammerships, squidships, lampreys, eels, and modified tradesmen are much more common than galleons and caravels. All of these vessels are visiting spelljammers; the Radolians do not use such craft to travel across the Great Kettle Lake. Radolians make use of coasters for such ventures; while they have the means to build more advanced ships, they prefer the simplier design of the coaster.
In addition to standard piers, the Docks have a section where ships can be “stored” for up to a month, kept away from normal dock traffic and protected by paid guards. This service is offered for captains who need to land at Kettleton and travel by dragonfly to another city. Any ship up to 250’ long can be stored in this fashion, for a fee of 100 g.p. per week. Although there are few problems with theft at The Docks, a wise captain still keeps a few trusted men aboard his ship to prevent accidents and keep things from disappearing.
The Nacle family residence is a huge ranch that occupies several acres at the edge of town. There is no one main structure; more than a dozen buildings are found on the ranch, linked by extensive underground complexes. The ranch teems with activity, all hours of the day. Sheep are herded from the highlands to be shorn, the wool collected into great bundles and shipped to Kettleton. Nacle family elders take careful record of shipments, arrange trade deals, and sell product to local weavers. Below the bunkhouses, mess halls, and kitchens are the Nacle family vaults. Great wealth is found in these vaults, particularly maps collected by the family. A finer collection of Winterspace starcharts and planetary maps ye will not find.
The Nacle family is very business-minded. The best members to deal with are Lady Hildra or Lord Gorvin. Lady Hildra is young and adventurous, making frequent travels to other worlds and spheres to negotiate trade deals. She looks favorably on spelljammers and lacks the normal Radolian attitude towards off-worlders. Her uncle Gorvin Nacle is a patron of the arts, often hiring captains to bring him curiosities from other worlds. Avoid Matron Yorilla, as she has a distinct distrust of anyone not born on Radole. Fortunately the rest of the Nacle family generally keep her out-of-sight when doing business with off-worlders.
Radole Fleet Yard
At the far end of the Great Kettle Lake, beyond Kettleton’s boundaries is the Radole Fleet Yard. Built into the side of a cliff, the Fleet Yard is an extensive complex with two pairs of great iron doors at the waterline, sheltering an inner harbor that is rumored to hold half a dozen hammerships. The facilities on the outside are extensive as well. Security at the Fleet Yard is probably some of the tightest on Radole. Rumors abound as to what else lies within the inner harbor, with some claiming that the Radole Defense Fleet is building secret weapons and vessels as well as hoarding magic weapons for the inevitable war with Armistice when the orcs finally break the elven blockade. Such rumors are flotsam, although ye cannot dismiss them entirely. The Fleet is real testy when any ship comes any closer than a mile to their Yard, and are quick to impound any offending vessel. Steer clear.
Ruins of Ranch Toraul
On the outskirts of Kettleton is the ruin of this extensive manor house. The ranch has been abandoned for generations; it once was the ancestral home of the Toraul family, who formerly dominated the lands around Kettleton. The family fell from dominance many generations ago, for reasons not entirely known. Rumors abound of inbreeding, vile ceremonies, bizarre magical experiments, and a wing filled with Torauls driven to insanity. All that is known is that the Torauls fell upon financial hardships, allowing the Nacle family to purchase land cheaply. Over the course of a century, the Torauls grew ever more isolationist, dismissing their servants and rarely leaving the ranch. The ranch is thought abandoned, now, as none have seen a Toraul in over two centuries. Visitors and explorers keep their distance, as the ranch is haunted by the ghosts of insane Toraul family members.
Statue of Saint Nora Nacle
This bronze statue celebrates the legendary founder of the Nacle house. The statue is a popular spot for people to meet and discuss business. Popular legend has it that business ventures begun under Nora’s watchful eyes will experience good luck. The statue is also a popular place for lovers to be married.
Many water-landing craft prefer to land at Kettleton, and contract out a dragonfly to transport goods or passengers to their final destination. Naiad Shipping provides such services. The compound has twelve pads for its dragonflies. The dragonflies are equipped with minor helms but never leave Radole’s atmosphere. At any given time about half of the ships will be out making deliveries to one of Radole’s other ports. Prices are fair: 5 g.p. per passenger, and 2 s.p. per ton of cargo, shipped anywhere on Radole. Typically it takes only a day or two to reach the destination. Each ship can take up to twenty passengers, with no worries about air, food, or water, as the dragonfly will set down for the night, if necessary, at predesignated landing spots where passengers can stay at local inns. Rykor Naiad is the patriarch of the Naiad family, a noted businessman who is eyeing expanding the fleet to include a pair of wasps as well, last I spoke to him.
A Suit of Threads
The finest tailor in all of Kettleton runs this shop. The proprietor of the shop is Katheen Spindleweaver, a charming widow with three sons and two daughters, all having taken up the family business. The shop is extensive, occupying two structures with a basement that links the two together. A Suit of Threads is always busy and orders can take two or even three weeks to be fulfilled. The quality of their garments is very high, comfortable, and stylish. It is said that Madam Spindleweaver determines the latest fashion trends for the entire sphere, drawing inspiration from visiting adventurers, trips to other cities and worlds, and even occasional trips to distant spheres.
This butcher specializes in selling salted mutton. Properly prepared, the mutton lasts as long as any salted meats, and the Mutton Shoppe uses a particular blend of spices to flavor the meat. Barrels of salted mutton can be purchased to feed a whole ship at a time. The Shoppe has two storefronts, one for local, everyday purchases, and another for selling large quantities of mutton to ship captains and merchants. At the rear of the Shoppe is a loading dock where barrels are rolled onto wagons for delivery to awaiting ships. Ask for Jothar if you patronize the Shoppe; he can provide ye with the best cuts of mutton this side of the Radiant Triangle.
The Grand Loom
A low, long structure, the Grand Loom is active at all hours. Wool and cotton are brought here in huge bales to be spun into thread and then into bolts of cloth. The Great Loom employs hundreds of workers to operate the spinning wheels, spell-powered looms, and dye vats. Bolts of colorful cloth are packed into sturdy crates for transport. Some bolts are shipped to local weavers while others are loaded onto ships for destinations across the sphere.
The Grand Loom was built atop older ruins, dating back many thousands of years. Explorers are often sent into these ruins, reporting back strange arcane machines of unknown purpose and design, of alien creatures that wander the halls, and their secretions give rise to a host of monstrous oozes, slimes, and jellies that, on rare occasion, find their way into the Grand Loom above. The halls below shift and change; no two expeditions return with quite the same map. Destructive magic has little effect, as damage is swiftly repaired by the time the next expedition plunges into the halls.
The Hungry Dragon
The Hungry Dragon is a large establishment where a guest can get well-fed on mutton and throw back a few mugs of mead. The large taproom seats a hundred guests, with spare chairs that can be brought in to accommodate another thirty on crowded occasions. The Hungry Dragon serves fish dishes in addition to mutton, but these are much more expensive. Portions are generous but the crowd often subdued, with many dining and then leaving as soon as possible to conduct business elsewhere.
The Wild Faun
A true gem in the rough that is Kettleton, The Wild Faun is a smallish establishment, only able to seat two dozen or so. It stands on the nightside of Shepherd Street four blocks down from the Great Loom. It is a noisy, rowdy place catering to farmhands with a few coins in their pouch looking for a good time.
The Wild Faun is a cozy place, with a taproom that holds three round tables, two small booths that seat four each, and a bar with six stools. A kitchen is found in the cellar, with meals sent to the taproom by means of a dumbwaiter. A hall at the back of the taproom leads to the six rooms the Wild Faun has for rent, each large enough to sleep four in bunked beds. It is not uncommon for parties to rent out the entire establishment. Ceilings are low with skylights to provide light. A set of large ram horns, far larger than what any normal ram could create, hang over the mantle.
The Wild Faun is favored by young farmhands and is considered “Kettleton’s best kept secret” by such folk. Here they can get drunk on cheap ale and still have enough coin in their pouch to afford a hearty meal. They tend to get loud and rowdy, with lasses dancing on tables to cheering men.
Mutton plays a part in perhaps any meal served at the Wild Faun. A local favorite is mutton chops with a side of carrots and spiced potatoes. Another specialty is mutton stew, served by the bowl with a loaf of bread and cheese wedge.
Ale is served in tankards for 4 c.p., small beers for 5 c.p., and mead for 1 s.p. Mutton chops are 1 s.p. and mutton stew is 6 c.p. A bunk can be rented for 5 s.p. per “night”.
Legend holds that the original bartender of the Wild Faun was a faun, or female satyr, of questionable parentage. Mary Lamb, as she was known, was a local sight for years, attracting all manner of guests and attention for the tavern. Eventually Mary married and disappeared from public life.
A visiting wizard out of Eskiir once stayed at the Wild Faun, but was so annoyed by the rowdy crowd that she polymorphed everyone in the taproom into lemur monkeys. Fortunately the curse lifted a few hours later, after she had gotten her night’s rest, and the patrons returned to normal, with hangovers and a wild story to share.
A Dozing Shepherd
Reputed as the finest establishment in Kettleton, A Dozen Shepherd is found at the corner of Mutton Road and Shepherd Street. The structure is unfathomably ancient, yet in remarkably good repair. A sign with a slumbering shepherd on a hill hangs over the door. It is a two-story structure, a rarity on Radole.
Rooms at A Dozing Shepherd are spacious, with plenty of room for one large bed or two smaller ones. Light filters into the rooms by means of skylights and wide windows. Heavy curtains can be drawn to darken rooms to near-complete darkness. Furnishings include a bedside table, a wardrobe, and a table with a comfortable reading chair.
A Dozing Shepherd has a large dining hall, where meals are served. There is no bar, only tables, booths, and a large circular banquet table that can seat thirty people. Meals are served around the clock both for guests who stay at the inn and those that just come for a good meal and the conversation. The dining hall serves as a communal meeting hall for wealthier residents of Kettleton. It is not uncommon to see many members of the Nacle family and their employees here, chatting it up with other residents and visitors.
The folk that favor A Dozing Shepherd tend to be the wealthier travelers as well as locals stopping in for meals. The clean rooms and hearty meals are famous around Radole making it the preferred watering hole for merchants.
Meals served at A Dozing Shepherd are hearty and rich. Mutton, fish, and more exotic meats are heavily used, served with sides of vegetables, beans, or fruit. Meats are heavily spiced with exotic herbs from other spheres. Platters are heaped with a choice of roasted meats, steamed fish, or battered and fried chicken. The stew is thick and filling while the vegetable and bean soups offer a lighter fare. Meals are served with either hot bark tea or, upon request, wine. Both red and white wines are available, for a price.
Platters are generally 4 s.p. while bowls of soup or stew are 3 s.p. A serving of vegetables, fruit, or bread runs 2 c.p. A tall glass of wine runs 1 g.p. while a bottle costs 3 g.p. Rooms can be rented for 1 g.p. per night.
A Dozing Shepherd is as old as Kettleton, older, if some stories are to be believed. Some claim that the architecture of A Dozing Shepherd is off, that in no way could humans or their kin build structures of this nature. Some guests claim to have chipped away at the plaster to reveal material underneath that is neither metal nor stone nor wood, but amazingly resilient to damage and wear (the staff hates it when guests do this). Wilder legends hold that the Shepherd connects to some ancient subterranean complex, perhaps even the same complex that the Great Loom is said to sit atop of. If such passages exist, they are well hidden and undisturbed, despite centuries of curious guests poking around the cellars when the staff are not looking. Of course, that is not to say more than a few disappearances haven’t happened over the years, so perhaps the curious found what they were looking for.
The Lazy Wolf
The Lazy Wolf is one of the newer structures in Kettleton, less than two centuries old, and it shows. An observant viewer will note that the stone and brickwork do not show as much fading as surrounding buildings. A bit more obvious is that the architecture of the Wolf is different than that of the neighborhood, resembling no other structure in the city. The combination makes the Lazy Wolf stand out. It is located at the junction of Glacier Street and Lake Avenue.
The Lazy Wolf is a single-story structure with a small taproom at the sun-side of the structure, behind which is a long row of rooms for rent in the taproom’s shadow. The roof is flat with a stair leading up to it. There are hammocks strung in several places, both in the sunlight and shade. These hammocks can be rented cheaply for travelers looking to save money.
Rooms at the Wolf are best described as “cozy”. A cot, or if ye are lucky, a bed, occupies a small room. A bench sits at the foot of the bed, which serves double duty as the only place to stow yer belongings. A skylight can be opened to offer light but there is otherwise no light. Be forewarned that the roof is occupied, so any skylights offer little in way of privacy. Doors have only simple locks that even the most novice footpad can defeat with but the simplest of tools.
The Wolf is not renowned for its cuisine. It offers two types of meals – a simple meal and the “feast”. Both vary depending on the shift and mood of the cook, but follow a pattern. Simple meals are an uninspired mix of soups and stews common across the Known Spheres, while the “feast” is often mutton chops served with vegetables and potatoes.
The Wolf serves a limited selection of watered down ale, beer, and wine.
A room costs 1 s.p. per night, while renting a rooftop hammock is but 1 c.p. Meals run 2 s.p. for a simple meal, while a more elaborate meal runs about 5 s.p. Ale and beer are both 1 s.p. per mug-full, while wine is 3 s.p. per tall glass.
The Lazy Wolf is built on the ruins of an older inn, which was burned to the ground two centuries ago. That inn, the Restful Light, was destroyed when authorities discovered that the innkeeper, Arune Sunmantle, had murdered dozens of his guests and buried their bones in his cellar. The crime was so ghastly, so hideous that it shocked all of Radole. Arune was not taken alive; he was an accomplished warrior and had an impressive collection of magic stolen from his victims. He died in pitched battle, his inn burning down around him. His body was never recovered, and to this day, it is said that his spirit stalks Kettleton, looking to claim yet another victim.
The Wolf’s poor reputation means that it sees fewer guests than typical. Many consider it haunted. Thus it attracts a particular cliental, one that is short on coin and needing a place to stay.
The Leaping Trout
Overlooking The Great Kettle Lake, the Leaping Trout offers a lake-view with every room. The Leaping Trout is built into a low cliff that allows it to have a second level of rooms at what would ordinarily be the cellar-level. At one time, many centuries ago, the Trout was one of the premiere inns in the city. Age and proximity to the damp air of the Great Kettle Lake has worn away the Trout’s former greatness. Every few centuries, the owners have to hire workers to renovate the whole inn. The last time this happened was at least four centuries ago. The Leaping Trout can be found at the end of Kettle Lake Street.
The Trout is shabby. Daddy longlegs are found everywhere, with nests of the beasties huddling in the corners of every privy. Parts of the inn suffer from visible water damage, particularly its lower floor. The floorboards creak with every step, and often creak when nobody is around.
Far from the center of activity in Kettleton, the Trout has a lazy, laid-back feel to it. When not cleaning rooms or preparing meals, the staff is often found at a dock below the Trout, fishing poles in hand. They catch some of the fish served in the inn.
The rooms are on the small side, many in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint, new furnishings, and new floors. The linens are always clean, washed daily in the lake and hung out to dry. Beds are old and tend to sag more than is me preference. Every room comes with a spectacular view, of both the Great Kettle Lake and of the mountains beyond. The cool breeze off the lake keeps the rooms quite comfortable.
The usual fare is available at the Trout. However the house specialty is fish. Trout, lake salmon, and catfish are all served in all manner of creative ways, from battered and fried to oven-roasted to raw. Chips of fried potatoes and spiced, diced lettuce are served with the fish meals, along with cornbread and a mug of ale. On rare occasion, giant crawfish, as big as lobsters, are caught and boiled, served with a side of honeyed butter sauce.
Rooms can be rented out at 3 g.p. per night, a price that seems high save for the claim that the Trout has the best view in all of Kettleton. Meals run about 1 g.p. for a fish dinner, 5 s.p. for lamb chops. Giant crawfish, when available, cost 5 g.p. for that rare delicacy. A mug of ale will set ye back 2 s.p.
There are always rumors about smuggling activities at the Trout. Small rowboats constantly pass by the windows of the cellar-floor rooms, and on occasion small objects can be seen tossed from a window down to the rowboats below. Sometimes people needing to get out of the city fast will use the Trout on their escape route, climbing down from a balcony above to an awaiting rowboat below. More than one rowboat has had to cast smuggled goods overboard, consigning a great deal of treasure to the depths. Explorers, armed with potions of water breathing, have dived into the lake near the Trout in search of these treasures. Few return; many are claimed by the icy-cold deeps.
Lake-dwelling scrags have been spotted swimming near the Trout, looking for an unwary human or elf to drag to their doom. Brave members of the Trout’s staff drive them off with fire arrows and oil-filled tankards. Only one or two guests have fallen victim to the scrags in recent memory. Despite the best efforts of the Radole Defense Fleet to eradicate the creatures, they have been unable to locate their underwater lair.