Friday, October 28, 2016

Layout and notable NPCs of Queen's Landing

Disclaimer: when I started this post I was still under the influence of The Village of Hommlet. I should like to think I've shed that now, for the better (sorry Timrod), but you'll still see the influence in wordiness/stats/treasure write-ups for some of these NPCs. Frankly, that level of useless overproduction is most of the reason this post didn't get finished two years ago.

With that in mind, I give you:


Queen's Landing is that rarity of medieval settlements: a planned town. It was erected by penal labor and has orderly rows of streets and buildings, though the edges are a bit busy by now with the new population.

The town walls form a rough square on three sides, projecting into the bay to protect the harbor both as a seawall and from attack along the beach. The fourth side is open to the bay and comprises the harbor, with 1 quay large enough for blue-water shipping and several other piers for fishing vessels

A section of the palisade

The Law

Lord Otto Marchand, governor of Queen's Landing
AC 3 (chain and shield +1), F4, hp 27, D 1d8+1 (longsword +1) ML 10

At 67, Lord Marchand is getting on in years. In his youth he played a prominent part in the Saxonid Wars, but he's no longer as strong as he once was. As governor of Queen's Landing, his word is law. (Anyone of noble blood would be able to write a petition to the King to protest a decision of his, but no noble not of the Marchand family has ever set foot in Queen's Landing.) He spends as much time as possible in Albilonia, so is usually only in Queen's Landing for the summer months. On his person he always has his signet ring, a gold ring with an emerald worth ~1,000gp to the right buyer. (219gp if melted down with the emerald prised loose.)

When here, he takes up residence in the Governor's Quarters. This large log building is in the center of the town and has its own palisade, plus a garrison of 10 men (AC 6, F1, HP 6, D1d8, ML 11) led by a Sergeant (AC 4, F2, HP 11, D1d8, ML 11, silver pin of office worth 20gp) and a Lieutenant (AC 4, F3, HP 11, D1d10, ML 11, gold pin of office worth 110gp) wearing the green and gold crow livery of House Marchand. People come and go on official business a fair amount, and for an appointment you can just approach the gate. These men are men of House Marchand, not the guard of Queen's Landing.

With Lord Marchand are his wife and three daughters, along with his only son, Adam Marchand, 11, who will likely become Governor of Queen's Landing upon his father's death. He keeps them all in style appropriate to his station, and anyone ransacking the compound would come away with 10,000gp worth of miscellaneous loot, much of it recognizable.

Jordan Merriweather, steward
AC 9, hp 2, F0, D 1d4 (knife), ML 5

Jordan Merriweather, 54, is the chosen steward and castellain for the Marchand family. Matters too unimportant to bother Lord Otto come to him for resolution. The position has rather gone to his head, and he sees his purpose more as seeing that the Lord doesn't get bothered than resolving problems. He lives by himself in snug but nicely appointed apartments directly across from the Lord's Manor, and he doesn't go out much, feeling constantly buried under paperwork and minutiae, most of which he creates for himself (albeit unconsciously).

Merriweather is also in charge of the local 'bank' that pays in salt-cakes (or, more often, scrip representing salt-cakes), which are the only accepted currency in the town, by fiat of the Governor. 'Real' money or other valuables can be exchanged at fair and posted rates.

In practice Merriweather is seldom directly involved, leaving such things as the actual trading to a few clerks and scribes running an office attached to the inner wall. This also involves a rather large storage warehouse where goods brought in by the townsfolk and villagers in exchange for scrip wait until they are moved to the docks warehouse for shipping back to Albilonia or sold to others in the town.

The only thing of value he keeps on his person is his ring of office (silver, worth 44 gp) and a jeweled dagger (nonmagical, worth 233 gp). Were someone to break into his abode and ransack it, they could make off with 1,000 gp in rugs, tapestries, furniture, etc.

Boris Borisson, Captain of the Guard
AC 4 (chain + shield), hp 14, F2, D 1d8 (longsword) or 1d6 (xbow), ML 9

Boris is the Guard Captain of Queen's Landing, in charge both of defense of the walls and keeping the peace. He answers directly to either Lord Marchand or Mr Merriweather and has a decent working relationship with both. Folks on his good side can hear stories about his veteran days in wars down south before he took the King's Commission for Queen's Landing. Under him are twenty men of the Guard, including his Lieutenant, two Sergeants, and twenty-two Guardsmen. Usually busy, unless the PCs have something really pressing, and relies on his LT and sergeants for most grunt-work.
Gold pin of office worth 100gp

Mikhael Gunderssen, Lieutenant of the Guard
AC 4 (chain + shield), hp 7, F1, D 1d8 (longsword) or 1d6 (xbow), ML 9

Boris' right-hand man from waaaaay back. The two are old campaign buddies, and when in their cups will regale listeners with war stories from the south. Otherwise, Mikhael is an accomodating but no-nonsense guardsman who just wants to see things flow along with little trouble and an eye toward the security of the established townsfolk.
Silver pin of office worth 25gp

Sergeants (2)
AC 7 (leather), hp 5 each, F0, D 1d6, ML 8

One is usually on gate duty, the other patrolling or dealing with things in town. Usually with 1-2 other guardsmen. Spear, shortsword, and xbow. Will also carry truncheons (1d4) for breaking up disputes.

Guardsmen (22)
AC 6 (leather + shield), HD 1d4+1, F0, D 1d6, ML 8

Usually 7 on the walls (1 @ each corner, 1 along the length), another 3 at the gate, 2 on patrol through the town (w/ a sergeant), and the rest off duty.

Night shift has 6 on the walls, one watching the docks, and the gate is closed.


Tully Kivversen, ostler of the Mermaid and Mouse and shopkeep of the Seal's Knees

Tully and his wife Anna run the Mermaid and Mouse, Queen's Landing's only licensed tavern. During the day, they also staff the general store, the Seal's Knees. Tully closes it up by drinking time, usually around three or four o'clock.

Tully is an influential citizen in Queen's Landing, and well-liked by just about everyone. He's taken to his role as a kind of peacekeeper and facilitator. For many people with a problem, Tully is the first and last stop. He came to Queen's Landing 10 years ago after a fairly long career in the southern border wars Albilonia fights perenially with the Qynarate, one of Queen's Landing's few voluntary colonists.

The Seal's Knees provides pretty much everything an adventurer could want for general goods, but since most of the wares are imported, they cost 20% more than the listed price. Notably lacking are any forms of arms or armor, but if you want tents, rope, rations, lanterns, etc. this is the right place.

The Mermaid and Mouse is a fairly large building on the two-story log-house plan. Downstairs is all one large common room, capable of comfortably holding upwards of fifty people. As such, it's not only a good place to pick up rumours if you're willing to buy drinks, but an adventuring party can usually find 1-4 non-combat supporters in any given week for about 10 gold each per day. On a 1-2 on a six-sided die, a man-at-arms may also be found if you're willing to part with 50 gp per day. Doubling the offered amount doubles the prospects and/or number of potential followers.

Upstairs are five rooms to let, one of which is occupied on a long term basis. Rooms can be had for 2 gp per night. Also available is a common sleeping area, mostly used to house drunks who can't walk home or who live outside the gates after they've already been closed for the night; a pallet here costs about a silver piece.

Tully, Anna, and their two children live upstairs as well in private apartments; during tavern hours, Tully keeps everyone else upstairs out of the way of the customers and hires serving boys to wait on tables and pot-boys to run the kitchen. Three or so can usually be found after hours sleeping in the common dorm.

The Mermaid and Mouse serves decent fare at decent prices; a home-brewed ale can be had for 5 coppers and is the most common drink. Imported ale (of the hoppy variety) costs a silver, and a bottle of Albilonian wine will run you anywhere from 1-5 gp, depending on quality. Harder spirits are usually only available during the summer, and can get fairly expensive. Fish stew is the main victual, and a bowl can be gotten for standard meal prices, with more exotic food involving a commensurate increase in price.

(See? This right here? This is what I meant by the Hommlet influence. Moving swiftly along...)

A nearby street in the summer

Delightful Meg

Meg is the forty-something proprietress of Kissing Nelly, Queen's Landing's licensed whorehouse. If you want to have some fun or just take the pressure off, Meg's your girl. Or rather, one of her thirty girls is. Kissing Nelly also serves drinks, but everyone agrees they're inferior to the Mermaid and Mouse's stuff. Even Meg, who doesn't want to step on Tully's business. She's in good standing with the guard and most of the men in town have visited at least once.

Delightful Meg is the woman to talk to if you want to know the rumours around town; as the town's madam she knows all the news.

Aksar the Omnipotent (or Aksar the Egghead, or Akshorty, or Aksar the Bastard, etc.)
Sage. Major area: Dwarven history.
Minor areas: Elvish legends, Underground agriculture/husbandry
Consultations are 100gp, 1/week

Aksar is a bespectacled, ink-stained dwarven sage. He specialized in ancient and obscure dwarven archaelogical history and coming off mad as a loon. He's convinced - convinced - that there was once a dwarven civilization in the Spine of the World before what he calls the 'Great Opposition' that 'created all the ice and snow.' His theories have earned him a reputation as a cook and a laughingstock, and he's in Queen's Landing because there's just no place for him in Albilonia anymore. (He tells himself he's out here on an indefinite-length expedition to prove his theories.)

He's cranky and obsessive, and prone to be brusque or downright rude to someone boring him and taking up his time, but he'll light up like Christmas and talk your ear off if you get him started on his pet subject.

His Excellency of the Sub-bishopric Tertiary of Queen's Landing Terrence Grayling

Generally venal and more interested in the world than God, though he puts on a good face on Lordsday. Not evil per se, but definitely not a good priest, either. Not a Cleric, and technically a Bishop of the Church, Bishop Grayling is hyper-conscious of his rank, not the least because the 'cathedral' is really more like an oversized parish church and he only has two other priests in his diocese. Likes to eat and drink. Has even gone to Meg's on occasion, when he thinks he can get away with it.

Nevertheless, he takes his job seriously; he just thinks of it as a job, instead of a calling. He will also gladly sell holy water, though of course it's not being sold, the PCs are just generous with donations!

Robert Crae

Robert, looking about thirty, runs the one and only smithy in Queen's Landing that will deal with arms and armor. He doesn't make swords, or plate, but he'll turn out or repair most anything else. He's shy enough to be almost mute, so anyone doing business here is probably going to deal with his apprentice Timothy instead.

Harbormaster Gerald Fitz

Gerald is a rail-thin man of about 70 with scraggly hair and a huge beak nose. He's an officious busybody, full of his own (actually rather minor) importance as THE harbormaster of Queen's Landing, which means he's THE man all the stuff to and from Albilonia goes through. A penny-pinching, sour-faced and sour-minded wheezy git who has a soft spot for Tully's wife Anna.

Rounding up and out

In total, Queen's Landing has about 1,000 souls, of whom 200 or so live and pursue trades inside the walls, with the rest being hetmen, farmer, hunters, a fair number of fishermen, and so forth comprising roughly eight square miles of settled land.

About four miles away (within sight from the walls) sits the salt mine and its compound consisting of about a hundred workers (half of them guards) and two thousand indentured criminals working off their sentences. They're fairly self-contained, with on site bunkhouses, mess halls, a farm, chapel, and so forth. Once a quarter Merriweather's men collect a shipment of around 100 tons of rock salt.

A view over the town in winter

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


A Skelastodon perusing a natural philosophy collection
Hot on the heels of +Chris Kutalik 's seminal paper in the Hill Cantons periodical opening the field of necromammutology, adventurers and chroniclers here at Renovating the Temple have braved the wilds (and the peer review process), tracked down another specimen and risked life and limb to bring this account back for the glory and furtherance of Thanatotaxonomy. Behold:

 The Skelastodon

No. Enc.: 1-6
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 15
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 2 tusks, 1 front trample
Damage: 2d6 (tusk), 1d10 (trample)
Save: 9
Special: Immune to piercing weapons
Morale: 12
Due to the mass of such creatures and the cold of the Desolate North, where they roam, it takes a long, long time for a Zombastodon's flesh to rot. Many never make it to that point, succumbing either to environmental hazards (like bands of hexcrawling adventurers) or to the unraveling of their animating necromantic energies.

Those that endure become specimens of Mammut Ossifer, though we couldn't keep the coolies and other such hangers-on in the expedition from settling on the vulgar and unenlightened term 'Skelastadons'.

Opinion is divided as to the mechanism, but over the long, long time that it takes for Morbidium to mature into Ossifer, these creatures gain a surprising intelligence and the capacity for speech. While still malevolent and driven by a hatred of the living, their intellects are invariably also keen on metaphysical or scientific pursuits, such that on a roll of 7 or greater on 2d6 they will attempt to engage any sentient newcomer in argument. Indeed, it is invariable that whenever more than one is encountered the herd will be discussing some subtle point of philosophy in their nasally, trumpeting tones.

One report by Professor Emeritus Algernon Finneaus Merici is worth mentioning. The good Professor was leading a secondary foray from base camp to investigate sightings of an old ruin in the Smoking Valley when they were ambushed at night by a pair of Skelastodons who proceeded to engage the Professor in disputations on the nature of the transubstantiation of souls while slaughtering every other member of the expedition. Eventually, after the initial massacre and hours of scholastic exchange, the pair allowed the Professor to leave unharmed.

Rumours persist among the natives of Skelastodons capable of casting spells, but no example has ever been witnessed.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Magic Users: Federation engineers.

This is why only humans can be high-level Magic Users, and why all Magic Users are Chaotic.
(I think this is now canon for the Desolate North.)

Not all humans are like this. I want a slightly more serious game than that. But despite the fact that they're all squirreled away in towers doing research and pretending to be hermetic and wise, this is how magic works. Which explains why not everyone of a certain IQ can grasp magic - you have to be born with the particular reality-bending "Fuck it, maybe this'll work" twist in your soul - and it explains how so many ill-adjusted magical nerds end up in adventuring parties. You certainly don't see the more well-adjusted and academically-grounded sages bumming across the world with murder-hobos.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Grad school and inspiration

Just dropping a quick line here to say that I'm still working on my house setting, one bit at a time. Grad school is just taking all my time, so I haven't been here in a good long while.

I'm looking for a kind of Siberia or Alaska feel; still habitable, especially during the summer months, and travel is possible year-round (albeit not over mountains), but anyone sane will want to be by a warm stove on any night from October to May.

In the mean while, have some more inspiration:


The Naen Vormak are a savage elvish tribe who live in far undiscovered territory in the Desolate North. They are a small tribe, pushed to the brink by other bigger, stronger tribes. Their blood-magic is thin, and they have few sons, so they have no choice but to squat at the edge of the World Glacier, scrabbling and scavenging for what scraps they can get in that truly inhospitable place.

The Naen Vormak are not popular people. They're nasty, dirty, and brutish. If there are fewer of them than there are of you, they're servile and obsequious, but useless; they lie, cheat, and steal whenever they think they can get away with it. If there are more of them than there are of you, they'll turn violent, kill you or enslave you, and pillage your camp.

Some of the other elvish nomad tribes have stories of a time before the coming of the cold and the advancement of the wastes, when the Desolate North was a place of plenty. In these legends, they lived in forests and caves, shaped to their pleasure and housing many elves. Game abounded, the cold did not bite so much, their magics were stronger, and they had time for arts and pursuits which have since been lost.

The Naen Vormak also have such stories, but theirs take a different turn. Back in the time of legends, their forefather found something. Something deep, dark, underground. Something he dared not share with his friends, but that demanded his allegiance and that of his family, and that still does.

Every ten years a small party of the Naen Vormak head south. They dodge through lands claimed by other, bigger tribes bringing children to sacrifice to their god.

If their god is pleased with the sacrifice (the children disappear without a trace), his rantings commence. Pouring into their minds come secrets. Sometimes they learn of the future, sometimes of the past. Sometimes (the most precious and secret times), they learn of their god.

Their god was wounded long ago in a forgotten battle with mighty forces. He cannot leave his lair, and rests simply on the floor in a little nest of gifts and cast-offs made for him by the Naen Vormak. His huge spherical bulk rarely moves, and then only shifts a little across the floor. Sometimes he blesses or curses them with his gaze, settling his great milky eye or one of his many smaller roving eyes upon them.

A man knowledgeable about such things would call him a Beholder. A man more knowledgeable about such things would note that this is the oldest and largest Beholder ever chronicled.

From their god, the Naen Vormak have learned some little about Beholders. Sometimes, they have even caught glimpses of the sights of other gods.

Or, perhaps they are right: these are all manifestations of one God.

According to the Naen Vormak, in the Beginning Times before the World-Egg cracked and spilled Reality across the cosmos, this God had no name, and he blindly groped his way through the unformed chaos. As such He is older and stranger than the other gods, many of whom spilt out of the World-Egg with everything else. But when He blundered into Reality, in His blindness He smelt it, felt it, tasted it. He pushed against it, stretched it. Eventually He pressed through it, in places, and in those places His being became enfleshed, in an act of cosmic irony, as eyes. Eyes of the Blind God. The Blind God could now see.

Whatever a Beholder sees, all other Beholders also see. Whenever one is killed, all know who, where, and when. As manifestations of the Blind God they all have their own minds, unhinged and unfathomable.

Fortunately Beholders are usually not much for vengeance. Usually.

A particularly daring or desperate man might find a way to obtain information from a Beholder about the doings or surroundings of its brethren. If the legends are true, the forefather of the Naen Vormak may have been just such a man.

Still the best