Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 8
Compiling week 8 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 settlements and/or sites of the City-State of Taodeas as shown below.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #50
Feb 19th 2023
Name: Clan Ironback
Location: Ulu Maug mountains south of Blackstone Fortress (#15) in Taodeas
Population (approx.): 5,400
Brief: Dwarven Clan Ironback has claimed the northern half of the Ulu Maug range since the dawn of time. Their historians claim a traceable linear to the earliest Dwarven communities on Aenwyld as the Kin developed and spread. Dwarves have watched the rise and fall of many nations including the Ta’arnan Empire, carefully establishing usually lucrative trading relationships with the surface world. Those funds are being used to delve into the depths further expanding the Clan’s holdings. Currently the Clan maintains a business office in Blackstone Fortress, being members in good standing of the Miners, Gemcrafters and other related Guilds. Clan Ironback is very secretive about their business as legend suggests the Dwarves also deal with darker underground entities who the surface world would fear.
Geography: The main underground settlement of the Clan is a citadel about 25 miles south of Blackstone Fortress. Tunnels and chambers radiate outward from the citadel throughout the mountains, connecting mines, natural sites, surface settlements like the capital and natural features like the underground source of the Danthas River. An underground avenue leads to the capital but it is rumored the Dwarves created other tunnels into Blackstone unknown to the Tribes of Taodeas.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #51
Feb 20th 2023
Name: Matui Riverwardens
Location: Operating out of various settlements along the Matui River
Population (approx.): 600 wardens and a dozen vessels
Brief: The western third of Taodeas is a relatively pastoral population of most halflings and humans. Once their tribal leaders decided to become part of the Unified Taodeas, the locals became quite diligent (some say obsessed) with maintaining the borders of their portion of the City-State. To that end, the Matui Riverwardens were formed to patrol the length of the Matui River from ocean to source to keep raiders from the Wastelands from crossing onto their lands. The tribes are on good terms with the Church-State of Earth and Water across the border to the west hence the Riverwardens have been known to render aid to caravans and vessels of the Churches if under attack. The Riverwardens operate oar and sail powered riverboats with crews of 20-30. They are known to be skilled archers, fighters and hunters supported by priests of Water and Earth (hence friendly relations with their religious brethren to the west).
Geography: The Matui River flows from its source in the southern Lanu Maug west about 200 miles to the ocean. A large town can be found at its delta and numerous settlements on both sides of the border every 10-15 miles along its path. Matui Riverwarden docks, ships and watchtowers can be spotted by their bright blue and green banners (the bottom is river blue and top grass green, split by the silhouette of a riverboat). The Riverwardens typically wear tabards of the same design.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #52
Feb 21st 2023
Name: Caverns of the Gray Skulls
Location: Depths of the central Lanu Maug mountains of Taodeas
Population (approx.): Unknown but estimated to be 8-10,000 minimum
Brief: In the center of the Lanu Maug is the territory of an Orc Warren known to outsiders as the Gray Skulls. Historians recount that these Orcs were first encountered as the Ta’arnan Empire expanded northward to either side of the range. Fierce battles were fought in the foothills, but the Ta’arnans could not dislodge the Orcs from their ancestral home. In the years that followed the Orcs generally kept to the mountains, farming the flora, hunting the local fauna and the few humanoids unlucky enough to stray onto their territory (usually marked by skulls on rocks or trees in ash, paint or dried blood). Once or twice an aggressive petty Orc warlord led raids into the plains to west and east with varying success. It is rumored that once Ta’arna fell, the Orcs sheltered some fleeing the revolt who were of a similar bent (dark priests, evil mages and the like).
Geography: The Gray Skull Orcs claim a stretch of Lanu Maug covering about 2,500 square miles (25 miles west to east and about 100 miles north to south) but live mostly in the center of the territory in several deep ravines, perforated with caves and caverns, connected by tunnels, defended by strongly built fortifications.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #53
Feb 22nd 2023
Name: Orcwatch Spire
Location: Southern end of the Dwarven-controlled portion of the Lanu Maug
Population (approx.): 400-500 (normal garrison) up to 1,500 (times of threat)
Brief: It is unknown whether the Four Dwarven Clans of the Lanu Maug settled the mountains before or after the Gray Skull Orcs (#52) to the southeast, but it matters little to the usually mortal enemies. Orcwatch Spire marks the southernmost point of the 4 Cantons of Dwarf claimed territory and contains a mix of physical and magical means to keep watch on their foes. The garrison is continually manned, their numbers divided equally over all four Clans with command rotating every 16 years. Despite the numbers present, the Dwarven Clan Lord of the southernmost Canton can usually be overhead complaining that his Clan faces the direst threat from the Orcs and despite assurances from the other 3 Lords, he is likely correct.
Geography: Orcwatch Spire is built into a large mountain with three peaks overlooking a wide-open canyon to the south. Numerous windows and balconies provide views of and firing angles towards most of the open area marking the northernmost land of the Gray Skulls. Thick reinforced battlement-topped walls connect adjacent peaks and ridges forming a 40-to-50-mile perimeter. Tunnels and underground avenues connect Orcwatch to nearby Clanholds providing rapid reinforcement as required.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #54
Feb 23rd 2023
Location: Middle of the Taodean meadows between the Lanu Maug and Tuton Maug ranges, north of Blackstone Fortress
Population (approx.): 4,500
Brief: Crossroads, as it is suitably named, sits at the junction between the main trading routes from Noldrune to Taodeas and now, to a lesser extent, points further south. The site has featured settlements of various sizes over the past centuries and has been the scene of numerous battles between various factions, tribes, Kin and creatures. The Unified Tribes of Taodeas established a cavalry force, the Highway Patrol, to protect Crossroads and other settlements up to a day or two’s journey from the roads. They see the most action in the foothills of the Lanu Maug against the Gray Skull Orcs (#52) and to a lesser extent versus the more distant foes in the dark ravines of the larger Tuton Maug range. Crossroads hosts the headquarters of the Highway Patrol.
Geography: Crossroads is a sprawling town featuring more than a dozen wards surrounded by circular intersecting walls of wood and stone, the strongest toward the center of town and along the highways that exit the town to the north, southwest and southeast. The outer walls feature more than two dozen watchtowers and a dry moat which fills during the spring rains. The highways cross the moats on stone bridges, entering Crossroads via iron gates (a gift from the Dwarves of the Lanu Maug (#4 and #53)).
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #55
Feb 24th 2023
Location: North bank of the Danthas River south of the Tuton Maug range.
Population (approx.): 3,200
Brief: The stretch of land between the Tuton Maug mountains and the north bank of the Danthas River is some of the most well-travelled land of the City-State, featuring a major highway connecting Blackstone Fortress (#15) to Aai Lau (#21). Canyonview is the largest of a number of “North Bank” settlements on the ridges created as the Danthas below carves its way eastward to the ocean. The town hosts a large open-air market, supplied by farms and ranches in the surrounding hills, numerous industries and a fair number of businesses that cater to travelers who visit for the views into Danthas Canyon.
Geography: Canyonview fills the long rectangular space between the highway and the canyon, spilling over in places to the north side of the road. The center of town is wide open square that hosts daily markets with both permanent and transient vendors selling prepared foodstuffs, crafted goods and local meats, fruits and vegetables. Stores and residences surround the market square. The large town hall sits across the road, which hosts both events (dances and feasts) and local government functions. There are no walls or defenses as the canyon to the south cannot be easily climbed and the famed Highway Patrol keeps watch on the hills to the north.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #56
Feb 25th 2023
Name: The Vanishing Stones
Location: A mesa in the western Tuton Maug south of the border with Noldrune
Population (approx.): None known
Brief: Several days hike into the Tuton Maug mountains, a narrow path climbs a defile between two peaks to reveal a view of a mysterious grass-covered mesa. Most explorers relate that the roughly flat mountaintop is featureless except for single standing stone about 2 meters tall standing about 100 meters from the path. However, others have reported seeing two stones, a distance apart, and histories record sightings of three or more. The stone(s) are a roughly cone shaped, about 1.5 m across at the base, speckled gray rock with a single line of runes, in no locally known language, carved into one side from top to bottom. If one were to stay longer than the typical several hours, a strange progression would begin. The single stone vanishes. Then after a time, two stones appear and then after a number of hours vanish. A shorter time later, three stones appear and then disappear. The numbers increase and the times shorten until for a brief moment the entire mesa is filled with these identical stones, potentially crushing anyone nearby, which vanish en masse. The grass, unmarked by the coming and going of the rocks, is left alone, waving in the mountain winds, until a day or two later, when the single stone re-appears, and the cycle begins anew.
Geography: About 100 miles (160 km) east of Crossroads (#54), the last 30-35 miles being an ascent of the slopes of Tuton Maug, a path leads between two mountains and reaches the mesa. The mesa is about 500 meters long and 200-300 meters wide and featureless except for the grassy covering and variable number of mysterious stones. Anyone sensitive to or able to detect magic will find some present at the site, but the scope and nature requires further investigation.