Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 18
Compiling week 18 of the project, comprised of an additional 7sites, this week site-adjacent/related settlements of the City-State of Taodeas as shown below.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #120
April 30th, 2023
Location: At the mouth of the Matui River on Taop Bay.
Population (approx.): 2200
Brief: Matumouth was established as a fishing village on the Matui River centuries ago, about the same time as Taosport (#17) to the north when the Matui and Taos Tribes settled the region west of the Lanu Maug hills. Like Taosport, it was expanded into a town during the Ta’arnan conquest and retains features constructed by the Empire and a mixed population of Tribesfolk and the Ta’arnan expats. Unlike Taosport, Matumouth conducts a great deal of trade with the Ta’arnans of the Church-State of Earth and Water (#29) to the west across the delta. The town is the headquarters of the Matui Riverwardens (#51) who patrol the shallow waters in conjunction with the Baywardens (#88) who watch the deep waters of the bay. Despite tensions that remain in the background resulting from Taodeas’ independence and the attempts of reconquest that followed, relations between local and nearby factions are generally good.
Geography: Matumouth was built on the north bank of the Matui River where it enters the Taop Bay. The original docks were expanded into a typical Imperial harbor with stone wharves, heavy wooden piers and overlooking fortifications. That keep is now home to the Lord Mayor and leaders of the Matui Tribe. Within the walls of the keep are residences, a Church to the Waters, barracks and granaries. The bulk of the town hugs the walls of the keep and spreads east along the river, featuring typical tenements and business. A main road departs east along the river and north along the coast. The Riverwardens and Sailors’ Guild manage a ferry to support travel across the border.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #121
May 1st, 2023
Location: South side of the mouth of the Tauoi River
Population (approx.): 2700
Brief: Nation building is messy, especially when drawing the borders between City-States. Centuries ago, Noldrune and Taodeas, after much negotiation and some skirmishing, drew a line down the Tauoi River and split Southbank from Far Harbor (#36). In the years that followed, as Far Harbor flourished, so Southbank decayed. Those of House Macad south of the border moved north, leaving manors empty and taking wealth and businesses with them. Southbank was an afterthought to the tribes of Taodeas, except for a few minor tribal leaders eager to occupy the vacant mansions, as trade mainly went from the Greatwood (#21) to Eastwatch Harbor (#90) to the south. Southbank’s population turned to lesser pursuits oriented at thumbing their collective nose across the border, including harassing their northern brethren and supporting smugglers in the west.
Geography: When established centuries ago, Far Harbor and Southbank were designed as mirror images of each other. Like Far Harbor, Southbank is arrayed in a semi-circle around the edge of a large natural harbor well-shielded from the ocean by a large natural breakwater of stone. Since then, the southern half is cracked and stained. The wharves and piers are worn and mostly empty. Struggling businesses and packed tenements line the riverbanks. The Town Hall meetings of the ruling council are raucous affairs where petty lords and ladies squabble and fight and electing a mayor is an exhibition of bribery and ballot box stuffing. Far Harbor, over the years, has closed most of the river crossings to Southbank but for one well-guarded bridge.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #122
May 2nd, 2023
Name: Saut Falls
Location: Where the Saut River meets the Danthas River
Population (approx.): 2300
Brief: The town of Saut Falls sits at the base of the waterfall where the Saut River cascades into the lower Danthas River. The sight is spectacular and attracts visitors from all parts of the City-State. The waterfall varies in width depending on the strength of the Saut River when it reaches the Danthas, but the cascade has only ceased once or twice during recorded history of the City-State and the Ta’arnan Empire. The Danthas is wide enough at the town such that barges and ferries can avoid the effects of the waterfall by hewing to the north bank of the river. The small amount of traffic from the Wastelands stops upstream of the falls and then is hauled overland to switchback paths cut into the cliffs next to the falls.
Geography: Saut Falls sits on a low rise above the north bank of the Danthas River across from the waterfall. Wharves and quays line the riverbank with piers jutting into the river at the north end of town. The docks are lined with hotels, taverns and restaurants competing to offer the best views of the river and squeezing other businesses further inland. Businessfolk used to complain about the practice, but most realize visitors bring vital revenue into city coffers. Saut Falls celebrates the culture of the River Tribes of Danthas and Saut with a grand yearly festival when the waterfall reaches full strength after spring rains and snowmelt fill the southern source of the Saut to the limit of its banks.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #123
May 3rd, 2023
Name: Smuggler’s Rest
Location: Northeast corner of Taodeas between Greatwood and the Tauoi River.
Population (approx.): 550
Brief: Smuggler’s Rest, the unofficial name of the ramshackle village, is just what the name implies, a place for travelers making the passage along Smuggler’s Way (#5) to stop for a night and grab a drink, some grub and a patch of dry straw with likeminded ne'er-do-wells. From there, either a hike to the shore and perhaps a friendly face in Southbank (#122) or sneak into the backwoods of the Greatwood (#21) and the city of Aai Lau. At the tavern of the Rest, one might meet with agents of the Thieves Guild or the lesser Tribes and Kins of Taodeas and none are the wiser. The Baron’s Bastards run the town with a silk-covered iron fist as it is in everyone’s best monetary interest to keep the spies and rangers of the United Tribes at arm’s length. Aside from the carefully marked smuggling trails, the surrounds are full of traps and wards causing misdirection and confusion.
Geography: Smuggler’s Rest is concealed on the north slope of a hill of the Tuton Maug north of the Greatwood, and south of a long ridge, on the north side is the Tauoi River. The land in between is filled with scrub, trees, rocks and ravines providing copious cover for the village and the trails. Smuggler’s Rest has a single large wooden two-story inn with tavern across from the stone-walled blockhouse of the Bastards. Nearby is another dive bar, a merchant, a pawn shop, an herbalist-doctor (of dubious quality) and a stables for pack mules and donkeys.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #124
May 4th, 2023
Name: Haldwen’s Gift
Location: Western slopes of the Tuton Maug near the border with Noldrune
Population (approx.): 370 (including surrounding farmsteads)
Brief: Centuries ago, Taodean cavalry destroyed most of House Haldwen’s ill-advised settlements (#6) on Taodeas’ land and drove the survivors north across the border into Noldrune. The eastern-most milefort of the chain was abandoned and left relatively intact. A small group of tribesfolk moved into the stone building and turned it into the village center of a new settlement named Haldwen’s Gift. The milefort, set upon a small hilltop, was quickly surrounded by wooden and stone buildings, and those were surrounded by a wooden palisade pierced by 2 gates. Haldwen’s Gift has persisted, through plenty and famine, to this very day, supporting hunters and miners in the hills and protecting farmers on the slopes below.
Geography: Haldwen’s Gift sits on a small hilltop in the western foothills of Tuton Maug about 10 miles south of the border with Noldrune. The village hall, once a Haldwen fort, has a good view of the plains to the west and on a clear day one can see the highway connecting the 2 City-States. Typical of local settlements, the village is ruled by a collection of Tribal elders from local Tribes. A small chapel to the local Gods sits nearby. Two Inns, a tavern, a general store, a tinker, a leatherworker and a blacksmith surround the hall and church. Outside of the wooden wall is a boarding house, residences, two stables and a caravan field. Trade is mundane except for the rare times a hunter or miner finds something unusual in the hills or a travelling merchant arrives from Crossroads (#54) to the south.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #125
May 5th, 2023
Name: The Diabas Cathedral
Location: Southern Lanu Maug range between the Gap and the Grey Skull territories
Population (approx.): 1560 (Kin and servitor constructs and elementals)
Brief: As the Ta’arnan Empire collapsed, notable dark powers scattered and went into hiding. The Grey Skull Orcs (#52) sheltered the remains of the Church of Gabbalt, a Demi-God of Fire and Earth, whose priest-smiths had armed the Orcs for hundreds of years. The Gabbaltians went into hiding eventually moving south through the underdark to the edges of Skull lands. There they found a singular spire with deep roots below ground. The priest-smiths hollowed the interior, from top to bottom, forming a vaulted cathedral to Gabbalt within the stone. Their servant elementals and golems carved tunnels reaching back north to the Orc lands and south to the edges of the Gap (#19), a holy site they believed was defiled by Pala Stonecrusher’s worshippers years ago. An outpost looks out on to the gap, where soldiers of Gabbalt’s Dark Regiment guard the priest-smiths as they conduct their rituals. The bishops of the church bide their time and gather magical strength, for they have too little resources to strike against the “occupiers” of their fallen Empire and still fewer allies (even the Grey Skull Orcs are not committed to their cause). Their seers and astrologers view the fires and cast the rocks for opportunity and omens. Spies move through the region, contacting other remnant Ta’arnan groups.
Geography: The Diabas Cathedral occupies a single mountain peak about 30 miles north of the gap and 10 miles south of Grey Skull Orc lands in the Lanu Maug. Over the past 600 years, worshippers have carved and furnished numerous levels, from residences with views of the surrounding peaks to great factories in the depths. Although the numbers of the church are small, their devotion and dark rituals grant them extremely long lives rivalling those of the Elves. The Gabbaltians are very careful to avoid contact with the occupiers, particularly the skilled and pernicious Hillwardens of Orchunter’s Lodge (#86) to the west.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #126
May 6th, 2023
Location: Southeast foothills of the Tuton Maug
Population (approx.): 280 (settlement and surrounding farms and ranches)
Brief: As the Ta’arnan conquest surged north through the plains and hills of what is now Taodeas, the Legions encountered numerous regions that the troops could not easily pacify without great and continuing losses. One such area was about 2,000 square miles of the southeast Tuton Maug home to the Wosen, a nation of Wildfolk. The natives knew the terrain far too well and inflicted horrific losses on the Legions before vanishing into the tree-choked valleys and ravines. Ta’arnan arcanologists had only one solution, a border of cold iron through the foothills of the Tuton Maug to keep the Wosen out of the plains. That was fine with the Wildfolk, who obliged by vanishing for hundreds of years, their lands becoming places of legend haunted by silent spirits. Later, as Ta’arnan fell and shrank back to the south, magicians of Taodeas broke the iron fence in a single spot and the Guilds of Travellers and Merchants established a small settlement known today as Gate-in-iron. Years later the first curious Wosen hunter appeared at the gate. Infrequent appearances and trade ensued.
Geography: The iron border is a mix of rods connected by aboveground and underground wire embedded with a variety of wards, many of which are now inactive. The “gate” of Gate-in-iron is a 50 m gap in that border. The settlement sits just outside, a market square being the first structure a Wosen might encounter. Beyond the settlement has an inn, a general store, a smithy, a woodworker, an herbalist and a small chapel to the nature aspects of the Six Gods which also serves as the village hall.