Sunday, September 24, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 38

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 38

Compiling week 38 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the run of the Red River in the City-State of Taodeas:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #260 

September 18th, 2023 

  • Number: 260 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 1 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): Varies 

  • Brief: The Danthas River, as it makes its way from the Ulu Maug to the Sea of Hethichol, is bolstered by a half-dozen major tributaries, most notably the Saut River from the Wastelands. Perhaps second in size and length is the Red River of central Taodeas. The course of the river currently marks the border between lands claimed by the Gotasi Tribe to the northwest and the Danthas Tribe to the southeast. The banks of the Red are home to a wide range of peoples both allied with either tribe or preferring to stay neutral. The further upstream one travels; one discovers tribal influence wanes and thus the inhabitants are more indifferent to the tribes themselves and tribal politics in particular.   

  • Geography: The Red River source springs and brooks rise from the southwest Tuton Maug, northwest of Weatherton (#91) and west of Lake Natia Vai (#190). The river zigzags west and south down the foothills and across the plains before meeting the Danthas River east of Blackstone Fortress (#15) and across the river from the hidden Peacewalker Orphanage (#102). The Red River features 3 major waterfalls, stretches of rapids and forms Tuton Lake as it exists the hills. 

  • Next Article: Over the course of this week, we’ll present some of the notable peoples, happenings and plot threads of six notable sites along the Banks of the Red River’s Run. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #261 

September 19th, 2023 

  • Number: 261 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 2 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 830 (Brown Forest Kin) 

  • Brief: In the foothills of the Tuton Maug, runoff, snowmelt and rain feeds creeks, brooks and streams gathering to form the waterways of the plains of Taodeas like the Red and Danthas Rivers. The Red runs across and down the hillsides until reaching the first of the three waterfalls, the Cascade, concealed within the dense jungle of the Brown Forest that covers a wide swath of hillside. Below the Cascade fills a large shallow lake surrounded by and dotted with trees and brush. Unknown to most, the Brown Forest is home to a large community of rare and unique Kin living their lives concealed away and separate from the politics and structure of the Tribes of Taodeas. During this era the forest is currently ruled by the castes of the Grung, a race of short amphibious humanoids of unknown origin and rare occurrence.  

  • R'Leh,33, female Golden Grung (a froglike humanoid), is the leader of the Brown Forest Kin. She is three feet tall and has an imperial manner. She wears dresses that showcase the flowers that grow around the Cascade Waterfall near where the tribe lives. R'Leh commands respect not through weapons or magic but through the gift of rhetoric. 

  • R'Leh parents are both Golden Grung, and she knew she would be a leader when she was born. R'Leh learned how to be a leader from the other Golden Grung. When she was fifteen, her father died, which shook R'leh to her core. At twenty-five, R'leh took over the leadership of her tribe and settled down to making hard decisions for the Brown Forest Kin. Now, because of her leadership, all the Grungs are flourishing. The pool in which the Grungs lay their eggs has almost doubled. 

  • R'Leh lives in the trees near the Cascade Waterfall. Her treehouse is slightly bigger than most, and she decorates it with small rocks and bird feathers. R'Leh lives with her aunt, p'Doon, and grandfather, c'Noob. Both advise her on tribal matters and lead small groups within the Grung. 

  • Geography: The course of the Red River is over 80 miles from its sources in the foothills of the Tuton Maug until it merged with the Danthas River east of Blackstone Fortress (#15). Cascade Falls (location 1), the first of three major waterfalls upon the river, is about 20 miles southwest (downstream) from what ancient maps of the Cartographer’s Guild indicate is the source (no explorer, within recent memory, has backtracked the river to verify the maps) of the Red. The waterfall drops about 250 feet from a ridge into the tangle of the Brown Forest (location 2) to form an unnamed lake, home to the Grung 

  • The Grung Kin settlement, comprised of hollowed trees, raised tree houses and wooden huts, covers several hundred square yards of woods along the east side of the lake. The Brown Forest covers about 150 square miles of hillside evenly divided by the course of the river. The Red River exits the woods and turns westward toward the second waterfall of note. There are very few paths or trails in the hills above the 2nd falls. Some are even false hunting trails designed by the cunning Grung to lead the unwary into traps followed by servitude or death (depending on the size and nature of those captured). 


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #262 

September 20th, 2023 

  • Number: 262 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 3 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 467 (Forstford) 

  • Brief: As the Red River exits the Brown Forest, it turns westward down hillsides covered in thinning foliage. Centuries ago more mundane civilization found its way above the 2nd major waterfall of the the Red River. A scout, by the name of Edgar Forst, sought to find the uppermost fordable area on the watercourse. He discovered that just above that waterfall, now named Forst Falls, one could cross the river where it splits about an island near the falls. A small settlement, Forstford, was built upon that island and survives to this day. But that survival was not without cost as Forstford was constantly threatened by outside forces such as the Grung of the Brown Forest. Recently the village has been bolstered by the arrival of outsiders willing to support and protect Forstford such as members of the Adventurers Guild and the warrior monks of the Monastery of Forgiveness. 

  • Redrok (Red), 41, male Haregon (a hare or rabbit like humanoid) is a monk who works at the Monastery of Forgiveness. He is small, quick, and given to deep thoughts. His fur is tawny brown, and he has a splotch of white around his middle. Red's eyes are light brown, and he has a quick wit. Red wears blessed monastic robes that help with empathy. His weapon of choice is a bo stick, which he practices daily. 

  • Red has been at the monastery for the past three years. He arrived during a period of uncharacteristic sadness for him. Through counsel and guidance, Red seeks to redeem himself. Red makes himself useful around the monastery in a variety of ways. He also busies himself with helping people experiencing poverty in the town of Forstford proper. 

  • Red likes monastic life but is pondering leaving the area soon. He plans to go on a walking tour along the riverbanks of Taodeas. Red's favorite person is Mig, 33, a female Human Barbarian of the local Adventurer’s Guild who loves to adventure all day and party at night. The two of them have found common ground in their love of poker. Bets are verbal only, with no plans for redemption. The joy of the game and who can come up with the most outlandish chance provide all the bragging rights they need. 

  • Geography: The Red River’s course is due west when it tumbles over the 400-foot drop of the Forst Falls. At the top the river splits about an island in the middle of its course about 200 yards long by at most 70 yards wide. Roughly tear-drop shaped, the bulk of Forstford sits at the eastern wide end of the island. The new Monastery of Forgiveness is a small cluster of buildings at the narrow end closest to the falls. The ford itself is well marked by the locals and connects the large end to the shores on each side. The village relies on the water and a low wall around the bulk of the village for protection. Forstford is ruled, in a casual way, by local elders and important folk such Guildmasters and the High Monk of the monastery. The village supports itself by fishing, foraging, some farming on the banks and a spot of trade with hunters and miners able to avoid the Grung and other ne'er-do-wells in the area. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #263 

September 21st, 2023 

  • Number: 263 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 4 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 350 (Red River Marketplace) 

  • Brief: The land below the Forst Falls, south of the river, has been bathed in the mists from the waterfall for centuries due to the favorable winds of the region. The hills and dales feature all manner of farms, from acres of grains to neat rows of fruit trees and vines. The land has been contested for many years since the formation of Taodeas, with the current ruling Tribe, the Feebra, having been at one time part of both the Gotasi (#155) and the Danthas (#156) by either force or marriage or both. About 50 years ago, the Feebra Tribe managed to extract itself from its most recent entanglement (with the Gotasi) to rule the lands about the Red River, from the 2nd falls (the Forst) to the junction with the Danthas River. Red Rivers Marketplace is the centerpiece of the upper Feebra lands, ruled by a council of Feebra elders including master vintners of Feebra Wines, a prized business of the tribe. 

  • Orirrea Foodbreaker Oatwhisk, 21, female Goliath (akin to High Men but with perhaps Giantish blood), is an apprentice vintner near the Red River. She is tall, trim, and athletic. She walks with a limp because of the club foot she was born with. Her black hair is short and worn loose unless she is working. Orirrea's eyes are golden brown, and she has skinny eyebrows. She wears black leggings and a serviceable green jerkin when she works with the vines. Otherwise, she loves to dress up.  

  • Orirrea is learning the craft of winemaking from her adopted parents, Brett Oatwhisk, 45, Human, and Kari Oatwhisk, 43, Human. Her parents own Feebra Wines. Orirrea has grown up around the vines but only took an interest in winemaking once she started drinking wine around age fourteen. Just a couple of years ago, Orirrea discovered she was a magician. She used her abilities on the grapes in the vineyard, and the results were terrific. But her parents found out and commanded her to stop. Orirrea is unsure whether she should stop or leave the vineyard and start her own winery. 

  • Orirrea was born up in the Tuton Maug to a tribe of Goliaths. When they discovered she had a club foot, they took her to a nearby forest and left her for the wolves. Somehow, she ended up floating down the Red River, surviving the Cascade Falls to be found on the shore of Forstford. Now Orirrea lives with her parents and her pet dog, Fitt. She has several friends who work at the vineyard and go out together after work at the marketplace. Her best friend is Tessa, 20, a female Human. She has known Tessa for years, and they have many things in common. 

  • Geography: The lands of the Feebra Tribe are divided by the lowest and largest waterfall on the Red River. The eastern half is called the Upper Lands centered about Red River Marketplace (location 4 see below). The village is 6 miles south of the river, on a road that crosses the river to the northwest and continues toward Crossroads (#54) and Gotasi lands. The road also heads a bit east of south toward the Danthas River, meeting the main highway to Canyonview (#55) and Danthas lands. As its name suggests, Red River Marketplace is centered around a year-round market for the produce of the area. At harvest season, there can be as many as fifty vendors about the central circle, attracting visitors from up to a week’s travel away. The upper Tribal Circle of the Feebra, a three-story circular building with a ceremonial space on the roof, overlooks the market circle. Permanent businesses stretch in an arc encompassing half of the circumference. The rest of the space is set aside for wagons, carts and horses. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #264 

September 22nd, 2023 

  • Number: 264 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 5 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 863 (Itusisifo) and 762 (Itusasae) 

  • Brief:  The southern half of the lands of the Feebra Tribe surround the Red River between the last and greatest of the river waterfalls, the Crystal Falls, and the junction with the Danthas River. Settlements dot either side of the river along its length. As the Red River is too deep to be forded south of Crystal Falls, Ferrymasters of the Travellers Guild provide an essential “bridge” for the locals. But their monopoly on travel across the river is being threatened by a Builders Guild proposal to build a bridge across the Red River between the sister towns of Itusisifo and Itusasae. 

  • Netina Undercreek, 45, female Halfling, is the proud owner of Undercreek Ferry and Water Tours. She is short and has a muscular upper body. Her auburn hair and green eyes turn many heads, even those that aren't Halfling. Netina wears green leggings and a blue tunic with the name of her business embroidered on it. She wears a belt around her waist that holds her daggers and a pocket or two for a snack. 

  • Netina's family has owned the Ferry for several generations. Once Netina took over, she got the idea to add water tours up and down the Red River. They have become quite popular as part of the tour now encompasses Crystal Falls (planning ahead for a potential shortfall in business once the bridge is completed). Netina's family all work for the business, keeping them busy.  

  • With business booming, Netina is considering moving her husband, Tarner, 47, Halfling, and two sons, Finlos, 15, and Osner, 13, to a larger house. Their current home is near the river but comprises a single level and is cramped. Netina is president of the local chantry of the Merchants Guild and proudly hosts meetings in Itusasae. The proposed bridge over the river is a very contentious topic. Her best friend, Samita Cinderwillow, 38, female Halfling, joins her for a weekly book club. They enjoy meeting to discuss books whenever they can. 

  • Geography: The western half of Feebra tribal lands stretch from the Crystal Falls (location 5 see below) to the Danthas River. The Crystal Falls although only about 150 feet tall, stretches for several hundred yards along a ridgeline. It is named for the sparkle of the stones revealed by the grinding action of the water of the falls. A small community of Dwarven miners has worked the ridge for years with some success, there being gold in and about the ordinary crystal deposits. 

  • The Lower Tribal Circle of the Feebra, their capital, is about a day's travel west of the major ford over the Red River at the highway between Blackstone Fortress (#15) and Aai Lau (#21). The river covers about 27 miles from the falls, mostly directly southward except for a brief jaunt to the west at the beginning. The twin towns of Itusisifo and Itusasae (location 6 see below) sit astride the main road and the river about midway downstream of the falls. The towns are remarkably similar, circular in shape, truncated on one side by the water and centered about a main town hall.  

  • The Red River is quite busy with all sizes of ferries crossing between the two towns at all times of the day and some number headed up or downstream to other settlements of the Feebra. Barges drift downstream toward stops along the Danthas or perhaps even a major voyage to ports on the Sea of Hethichol 


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #265 

September 23rd, 2023 

  • Number: 265 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 6 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 350 (Red River Marketplace) and 472 (Kolosau) 

  • Brief: The road departing Red River Marketplace covers about 30 miles of quiet pastoral farmland and pastures before reaching the main highway from Blackstone to Aai Lau. As one draws closer to that crossroads, the heritage of the population changes from mostly Feebra to mainly that of the greater Danthas Tribes to the southeast. The village of Kolosau at the intersection currently marks the westernmost influence of the Danthas. The background history of the Feebra leads some locals to travel further to Red River Markerplace rather than sell their goods at Kolosau. Others, with ties to both peoples, don’t let history influence the present day. 

  • Barxian, 52, male Half-Elf, owns the Elementary Apple Mill and Bakery just north of Kolosau. He is of average height and slouches, giving him a slightly extended belly. His jade green eyes and silver hair drew immediate attention. Barxian has a tattoo of a cinnamon roll on his right arm. He likes to wear comfortable clothes in his favorite colors, midnight blue and aqua green. He carries a utility dagger on a belt around his waist. 

  • Barxian inherited the Mill and Bakery from his parents. His father, Rokas Woodcrest, 103, Elf, used to do the baking, and his mother, Dana Silenor, 60, Human, ran the wind and oxen powered mill. They retired about five years ago and moved to Kolosau. Barxian had an excellent idea when he was twenty. He would combine apples from the nearby Blue River Orchard and Farm with flour from the mill and create an incredible apple cinnamon roll. The idea took off, and he regularly sells out of the delectable pastries.  

  • Barxian is married to the love of his life, Venrila, 48, Half-Elf. She took over running the mill and enjoys the satisfying work. They have three children, Barros, 17, Alunoa, 15, and Faeona, 10. They all live in a large house near the mill. Barxian loves to go fishing with his friend, Kurt Levet, 46, Human. Barxian owns a fishing boat, and they go fishing at least once a week on a nearby lake. 

  • Geography: Kolosau (location 7 see below) can be found at the intersection of the main highway arriving from the west, by way of the ferry at Itusasae (#264), and the lesser highway arriving from the northwest by way of the Forst Ferry (#262) and Red River Marketplace (#263). Kolo pond, a small lake, sits between the roads about 3 miles west of the large village. Having been the bone of contention between tribes in the past, Kolosau is now surrounded by a stone-fronted and timber-backed earthen rampart surmounted by a wooden wall. The road is interrupted by a roundabout with a park in the middle serving as the village center used for ceremonies, events and market days. The home to local Danthas Elders, effectively the town hall, overlooks the park.  

  • The outer wall is pierced at two points to allow the highway to pass through the village. Danthas Roadwardens guard the gates and the town working with Hillwardens who patrol the border of tribal lands to the southwest and northeast. Feebra Tribe has a much smaller contingent of Hillwardens who patrol their border but keep north or west of Kolo pond. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #266 

September 24th, 2023 

  • Number: 266 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Banks of the Red River’s Run of Taodeas  – Part 7 

  • Location: Central Taodeas between the Tuton Maug and the Danthas River 

  • Population (approx.): 233 (Red Hills Citadel) 

  • Brief:  There’s an old giantish expression, “If ya hungry, lift a hill, ya find Dwarf!” Certainly not true everywhere but one might be surprised to find small Dwarven settlements scattered throughout the Tuton Maug. South of the Brown Forest, east of the Red River, there’s a trio of hills nicknamed the Three Brothers. At the foot of the southernmost point on the middle brother is a small Dwarven citadel, the home of the Red Hills Canton. The resident population, 90% Dwarves, is a surprisingly harmonious mix of Dwarves from all 3 Clans of the Tuton Maug to the northeast and two families from the Clans of the Lanu Maug in the northwest corner of Taodeas. They make their living through typical underground (mining, gemcrafting, smelting) and above ground (farms, ranches, orchards) occupations. 

  • Gerlyn Stronggift, 23, female Dwarf, owns Red Hills Orchard and Farm. She is tall and trim and has a heart of gold. Gerlyn has short black hair, which she wears in a pixie cut. Her deep blue eyes sparkle over everything apple. Gerlyn wears serviceable work clothes but then changes into lacy dresses for the rest. Gerlyn has a scar on the left side of her face from a fencing accident. Her favorite weapon is a short sword. 

  • Gerlyn's family recently purchased the Orchard and Farm. Her parents were going to run the business but died in a fire. Gerlyn is not ready to run everything but is prepared to do her best. The orchard part of the business is thriving, so she will focus on the farm. She has experimented with growing new types of vegetables, and the results seem positive so far. 

  • Gerlyn is currently dating Grandan Wildhold, 30, male Dwarf. Right now, they have a lot of fun together. Gerlyn's house seems empty with her parents gone, but she can't bring herself to leave. She has several friends from school and loves to party on the weekend. Her best friend is Katri Stormfinder, 23, female Dwarf. They spend lots of time knitting and chatting about their friends and family. 

  • Geography: The range of hills containing the Three Brothers rises about 5 miles east of Forstford and runs east for about 20 miles. Red Hills Citadel (location 8 see below) was founded midway up the slopes of the “middle” Brother. A cart path runs a touch south of west about 12 miles to meet the road from Red River Marketplace (#263) to Kolosau (#265). As expected, Red Hill is built at the mouth of an ancient mining complex delved under the hills. A tall circular tower rises over a main gate built astride the main tunnel mouth. A curtain wall, pierced by an outer gate, encompasses a large courtyard, featuring stables with space for carts and riding animals, which doubles as a market square. The businesses of the settlement are underground in the main gallery beyond the gate. Red Hills Orchard and Farm is about two miles down the road on a stretch of open land between the hills and the ridge south of Forst Falls (#262). 


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