Sunday, September 10, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 36

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 36

Compiling week 36 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the town of Cerdmouth and the nearby Harbwater Isle in the City-State of Noldrune:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #246 

September 4th, 2023 

  • Number: 246 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 1 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 1413 

  • Brief: The four City-States region is home to hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of small thorps, hamlets and villages. Cerdmouth, at the mouth of its namesake Cerd River, is one of those such settlements. Founded perhaps 16 centuries ago as the Houses of Noldrune came down from the far north to make a new home in the Narrows, Cerdmouth began as a pair of small manors on either side of the Cerd River. The ruling knights feuded over fishing rights and trading routes from the shared inlet onto the Staplefish Bay, until the greater powers of the time put an end to the squabbles by merging the two settlements into one village, Cerdmouth. It has slowly grown over the years, managing to survive the occupation of the Ta’arnan Empire with a spot of notoriety for 7 centuries ago, Emperor Gregorus Trixtus of Ta’arna chose to winter in Cerdmouth for several winters until he was deposed by his sister, Empress Elebeth 

  • Geography: Cerdmouth (location 1) can be found in the northwest corner of Noldrune in County Claid about a day’s travel east of Port Lostfort (#2). The village is ruled by a Lord Mayor whose liege is the Viscount Dorch, a vassal of Count Claid. Cerdmouth sits where the Cerd River turns east to a small inlet (location 2) on Staplefish bay. That inlet features a harbor on the north side of the river and a long beach and boardwalk to the south. It is enclosed by a breakwater slowly expanded by generations of residents. Just to the north of Cerdmouth, the land narrows to a point and a channel separates the mainland from Harbwater Isle to the north. Connected by a stone bridge, Harbwater is about 4 miles long (south to north) and a couple wide, with a fortress (location 3) on the south side, on the harbor, and an Old Decree lighthouse (location 4) on the northernmost point.  

  • Next Article: Over the course of this week, we’ll present some of the notable peoples, happenings and plot threads of six notable sites of the Cerdmouth. 


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #247 

September 5th, 2023 

  • Number: 247 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 2 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 152 (Harbwater Castle) 

  • Brief: Harbwater Castle rises over the southern half of Harbwater Isle, providing a clear and wondrous view of Cerdmouth Harbor, the river, beaches and the bay beyond. The original foundations of the central keep were built when the site was originally settled and one of the knights sought a site for her manor house. When the two manors were merged into one, the keep was converted and expanded into a castle to protect the harbor from coastal raiders. The Lord Mayor of the now combined settlements moved to a new manor on a rise south of the Cerd river. Harbwater Castle was usually home to the local military contingent and their commander until about 150 years ago when the young, at the time, Hasslewaith the Viscount of Dorch visited Cerdmouth and, like Emperor Gregorus Trixtus before him, decided to stay for a while. That “while” has turned the castle into the permanent residence of the Viscount. The noble is a gregarious sort, known for his love of spectacles and amusements. Thus, Viscount Dorch has recently opened the ancient catacombs under the castle to visitors, who are in for a surprise. 

  • Bernar Stonechain, 140, male Duergar (Underdark Dwarf), is a dungeon organizer for Viscount Dorch, 203, male Drow (Night Elf). Bernar is short and has a bit of a gut and a peg leg. He has no hair on his head or a beard, which is quite unusual for a Duergar. His bright blue eyes sparkle with mischief, and he enjoys practical jokes. Bernar wears leather pants and colorful jerkins. He occasionally wears a hat with feathers on the side. He carries a pair of axes held to his back by a bandolier. 

  • Bernar's job is to populate the dungeon of Viscount Dorch under Harbwater Keep with tamed but intimidating creatures that would provide people with a mild scare. The dungeon is below the fortress (location 3 below) and has a separate entrance. Many people enjoy visiting the dungeon, and Bernar takes great pleasure in creating interesting traps and a small amount of treasure for each person who gets through his work.  

  • Bernar lives with the other Duergar in a part of the dungeon set aside for their use. He is married to Katmura, 135, Duergar, and they have three children: Tornia, 15, Lesthiel, 11, and Emnick,8. Katmura stays home with the children and has an active social life. She sometimes works for the Viscount if he requires extra people in the fortress. Bernar likes to carve little stone animals out of spare bits he finds when he works. His children adore them. 

  • Geography: The northern half of Harbwater Isle slopes gently toward Staplefish Bay. The southern half features sharper rises and cliffs along the coastline. The highest point is about 500 feet above the water, just south of the island’s center. Harbwater Castle is perched on the cliffs overlooking Cerdmouth Harbor. It is connected to the mainland by a combined bridge and causeway crossing the tidal flats and the narrow channel from the harbor to the east to the narrow tidal lagoon between the barrier beaches and the coast on the western side. Centuries ago, builders discovered a natural source of limestone on Harbwater Isle. Stone quarried from the source was used to build Harbwater Castle, Harbwater Light, the causeway bridge, most of the harbor and many buildings in Cerdmouth. The castle features a central keep with four corner towers, surrounded by a curtain wall with six additional towers, the main gate between the front twoThe entrance to the “dungeon” can be found on the east side below the outer walls, above a staircase leading up to the outer courtyard and down to the harbor below. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #248 

September 6th, 2023 

  • Number: 248 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 3 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 1413 

  • Brief: Despite being merged into a single settlement, Cerdmouth struggled to prosper with its mix of fishing and trade. This persisted until during the reign of the Tarnan Emperor Gregorus Trixtus, when the mercurial despot made a grand journey from his capital in the far south (beyond the current Wastelands) across his empire until he hit Staplefish Bay at Cerdmouth. Astonishingly, the Emperor halted at this sleepy harbor and remained for several weeks before preparing to return south. But before he departed, the Emperor addressed all the village, thanking them for their (hastily assembled) hospitality and vowed to return.  

  • Taking him at his word, which fortunately he kept, the local elders and notable merchants at that moment hastily expanded and beautified Cerdmouth beginning by adding a promenade along the beach south of where the Cerd River emptied into the bay. That boardwalk, full of attractions and entertainments, backed by hotels, theaters, bars and restaurants, succeeded and became the core of Cerdmouth at the present day. 

  • Celxis Broadpocket, 241, Gnome, is the proud owner of Boardwalk Amusements. She is beautiful and knows it. Celxis keeps herself in shape by dancing with a local troupe every weekend. Her deep black hair is long and luxurious, and her eyes show the intelligence and thought she brings to everything she does. She wears long skirts and puffy blouses in subtle colors that allow her to move freely. Celxis has several hidden pockets in her clothes that contain small throwing knives.  

  • Boardwalk Amusements consists of several booths on the boardwalk. They are all games of chance and all slightly rigged in Celxis's favor. She also runs a protection racket for the local Thieves' Guild. Celxis is very ambitious and hopes to add more stalls as the boardwalk grows in popularity. She adores making children happy and occasionally hands out prizes to little ones for no reason. 

  • Celxis lives with a group of friends who own most of the attractions at the boardwalk. They could all easily each afford their own place but enjoy each other's company. The group got together and purchased a manor in town, and each took a section to live in. Her friends don't know she works for the Thieves' Guild and would be quite upset if they found out. 

  • Geography: The Cerdmouth Boardwalk is a wide promenade paralleling the beach along the harbor for several hundred yards. Down the center are all manner of stalls featuring various attractions such as games of chance, momento & collectible shops and food & drink vendors. Hotels, entertainment venues and other businesses rise over the stalls across the walkway. In the center of the boardwalk is the now almost 800-year-old statue of Gregorus Trixtus, a monument which, despite the general dislike of his, now fallen, Empire, is revered and maintained by the town elders. CelxisBroadwalk Amusements, having been operating for well over 150 years, now occupies a place of prominence and seniority next to the monument. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #249 

September 7th, 2023 

  • Number: 249 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 4 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 1413 

  • Brief: The boardwalk of Cerdmouth features a row of vendor stalls down the middle, featuring a mix of amusements, mostly games of chance, food and drink vendors and souvenir shops. The latter is a mix of local merchants selling all manner of normal goods and local crafters presenting handmade items unique to the region, hoping to catch the eye of tourists. The crafters’ wares run the gamut from jewelry and clothing to beach and water themed ceramics, polished driftwood or beach stones and artwork. Unbeknownst to most, Staplefish Bay is home to a variety of aquatic settlements and a small number of trusted land dwellers serve as their “fronts” or representatives to sell wares to the local populace. The “powers that be” generally turn a blind eye to such relationships if applicable fees, bribes and taxes are paid. 

  • Zural, 22, male Locathah (a semi-amphibious undersea humanoid) 32, is a jeweler of some renown. He is ochre and has all-black eyes. Zural is of average height and athletic. He doesn't wear any clothes and avoids conflict for various reasons 

  • Zural is an excellent jeweler who uses pieces of the coral reef he lives in to make intricate jewelry. He enjoys making necklaces and interweaves bits of silver from a small silver vein in the depths near the reef. Zural has made a deal with a Human, Alvan Autumnvalor, male 40. Zural makes the jewelry, and Alvan sells it at his shop on the boardwalk. The jewelry has proven quite lucrative for both men. 

  • Zural lives with the rest of his tribe in a large coral reef in the depths of Staplefish Bay. He is considered an outsider because everyone else is more interested in hunting for food or plundering other settlements underwater and surface traffic on the bay above. Zural wishes for a family, but few females will talk to him. His cousin, Kivil, 40, female Locathah, will visit a few times yearly to check on him. Zural has a pet fish, Otoombah, who communicates with him telepathically. They are the best of friends. 

  • Geography: Alvan is relatively new to Cerdmouth so his jewelry and oddities vendor stall is toward the south end of the boardwalk. The quality of Zural’s work has brought him some success but he is actively seeking a patron with the hopes of moving into a permanent storefront near the boardwalk. The south end of town is convenient for Zural lives in the bay just beyond the southeast corner of the breakwater. Zural’s tribe lives in the depths of the bay just beyond the edge of the coastal shelf, about a half mile offshore. Alvan and Zural meet once or twice a month at a cluster of rocks on the shores two miles east of where the breakwater comes ashore. Celxis Broadpocket (#248) and the Thieves Guild recently became aware of the relationship.   



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #250 

September 8th, 2023 

  • Number: 250 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 5 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.):  345 (Castle, settlement of Harben and scattered farmsteads) 

  • BriefHarbwater Isle was the first site in the area settled by Kin exploring the region. Ruins of an ancient village were found under the foundations of the first Keep built on the south end of the island. Present day Harbwater is lightly populated, most of the locals living in a southern half village called Harben (location 5) on the path between the Castle and the quarry (location 6). The wind-swept slopes of the north half of the island feature farmsteads connected by trails and cart paths eventually reaching the central road. That road continues the quarry northward to the “Old Decree” Lighthouse (Harbwater Light) constructed by the Ta’arnan Empire soon after it conquered the area on top of an older smaller signal tower. As with most Lighthouses of the region, it is a collaborative effort by the Lamplighters and Sailors Guild. The Nolrune Naval Service (NNS) supports the Lighthouse from the harbor at Harbwater Castle. 

  • Olyra, 45, female Half-Elf, is the lighthouse caretaker, of the Lamplighters Guild, on Harbwater Isle. She is tall and plump. She wears her golden hair long and in braids. She has jade-colored eyes and a winning smile. Olyra wears long skirts and blouses and always has an apron on. She loves to bake and makes lots of pastries and bread. The only weapons she uses are kitchen knives. 

  • Olyra lost her ten-year-old son, Rikas, in a drowning accident several years ago. The accident occurred when she was swimming, and when she went to look for Rikas, he was nowhere to be found. Olyra blames herself and convinced the old lighthouse caretaker to let her take over. Now, Olyra is incredibly diligent about keeping the lighthouse going. Since that doesn't take much time, she also bakes and sells her goods to a restaurant in town. 

  • Olyra is married and has a brand-new baby girl, Aroros. Her husband is Sarros, 50, Half-Elf, who works in Cerdmouth as a chef at the restaurant that sells Olyra’s baked goods. Olyra is part of a group of people who have lost young children. They meet once a week in Harben and have helped Olyra deal with her grief. Her best friend, Arleta Dumzugi, 43, female Human, is also part of the group. 

  • Geography: Harbwater Light can be found at the northernmost point of Harbwater Isle on the Staplefish Bay (location 4). The lighthouse is a standard six-story tower, containing the lamp, its mechanism and some living quarters on the levels below, with a large two-story annex, containing more living quarters, storage, and the mess hall. Two underground levels include workshops, further storage and two cells for captured intruders (currently empty). Olyra and her staff continue the tradition of maintaining a garden next to the annex. In particular, she likes to grow various types of fruit that she incorporates into her baked goods. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #251 

September 9th, 2023 

  • Number: 251 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 6 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 52 (Quarry workers) 

  • Brief: Several centuries after the founding of the settlements at the mouth of the Cerd River, miners discovered a large deposit of limestone formed the bulk of the southern half of Harbwater Isle. A small quarry was started and provided a small amount of cut stone to support early constructions such as the first keep where Harbwater Castle now stands and the foundations of the early Harbwater Signal Tower.  

  • After the Ta’arnan Empire swept up from the south and conquered the region, Legion Engineers convinced the local Ta’arnan rulers to greatly expand the cutting of stone at the quarry. This led to the construction of many of the current larger buildings of Cerdmouth, surrounding manor houses, creation of the boardwalk flagstones, and the Castle and Lighthouse of Harbwater. After the fall of the Empire, the Mining Guild took over the Harbwater Quarry under license from the City-State. Harbwater limestone has been cut from the quarry walls for over 8 centuries, hauled to the coast and loaded aboard ships and barges to be sold up and down the Guild Coast. 

  • Grandal Stoneboots, 153, Dwarf is a stone sniffer for the quarry on Harbwater Island. He is unusually short and strokes his chestnut beard when pondering things. His eyes are dark brown, almost black. He wears his hair short and likes to flex his muscles at the ladies. Grandal wears leather armor with a miner's hat and pack. His favorite tool is a tuning rod, which he claims helps him find veins of minerals. He wears a war hammer strapped to his back for 'emergencies.' 

  • Grandal has an unusual ability to “sniff out” veins of different stones and minerals, avoiding flaws and inclusions that might weaken a quarried slab of limestone. He was much sought after in his youth until a horrible mining accident deep underground almost killed him and many others. Fleeing the area and fearing the depths, he landed on Harbwater Island and quickly found a job at the open-air above ground quarry. He has been happy here ever since.  

  • Grandal is happily married to Belledeth, 160, Dwarf. They have three children: Bonrin, 18, Blynis, 11, and Ragron, 8. They all live in a house in Harben that Grandal built for them. Grandal enjoys going to the Unusual Husband Inn in Harben after work for a pint or two. Belledeth takes care of the children and creates beautiful sculptures from stone remnants from the quarry. 

  • Geography: Harbwater Quarry currently consists of four “open pit” mining sites across central and eastern parts of the island. The south pit, near Harben, is the oldest and largest. The west pit is the newest. They cover a range of 1 to 6 acres in area and are from 50 feet to 200 feet deep. The south pit is large enough to include underground galleries connected by a series of traditional tunnels. Grandal only works the west pit and the north pit, neither of which has any underground mining. Each pit has an office and several shacks or sheds for storing tools and cut stone blocks. Between the road and the south pit is the Mining Guild headquarters for the operation, plus two dormitories and a mess hall. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #252 

September 10th, 2023 

  • Number: 252 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Cerdmouth in Noldrune – Part 7 

  • Location: North coast of Noldrune along Staplefish Bay 

  • Population (approx.): 1413 

  • Brief: Although the boardwalk has now become the central point of attraction in Cerdmouth, the town features a wide variety of interesting and unusual businesses in the streets beyond the promenade. Some are represented by stalls during the tourist season while others only maintain a traditional storefront year-round. Immediately visible, from the promenade, are the luxurious hotels that tower over the stalls. Packed during summer and sparsely occupied off-season, they provide all manner of services and accommodations. The ground floor of more than half are home to either fine dining establishments, coffee shops, upscale bars or high-end boutiques. One street inland from the boardwalk is home to many of the shops of Cerdmouth, featuring top of the market tailors, jewelers and other artisans. 

  • Sylna Flowercloud, 163, female Elf, is a gifted toy maker who owns The Spinning Top. She is tall and has long lavender hair. Her eyes are crystal blue and light up when she has an idea for a toy. She walks with a limp because of an accident as a young child where she fell downstairs. Sylna uses a beautiful walking stick that she carved out of birch with a top that spins. She likes to wear loose pants and shirts with flowers on them. She carries a small dagger with her if she encounters any difficulties. 

  • Sylna has operated The Spinning Top for 75 years. The shop occupies an active area in the middle of Cerdmouth. Many people who bought toys as children here are now bringing their grandchildren to the shop. Sylna's favorite medium to make toys is the stone from the quarry. She sculpts fantastic miniatures with exacting detail, and her specialty is toy figures for children and chess sets and other gaming pieces for all ages. 

  • Sylna owns a large manor on the outskirts of Cerdmouth and lives there with her partner, Magbella Windlight, 153, female Elf. Together, they adopted four children and are now great grandmas many times over. They love their family; someone always visits and plays with the toys. Magbella is the Lord Mayor of Cerdmouth but despite that responsibility she often helps babysit the grandbabies. 

  • Geography: Sylna’s store, The Spinning Top, can be found in a four-story building on the street behind The Emperor’s Repose, one of Cerdmouth’s largest hotels. The store occupies the ground floor with Sylna’s workshop on the 2nd floor above. The top two floors are apartments, Sylna being the landlord, and the basement is used for storage. 

  • Sylna and Magbella’s manor is on a hillside overlooking the village to the northeast. It is comprised of a main building, with a great hall, bedrooms, library, kitchen and dining room, and several outbuildings for close relations, servants, stables and a small contingent of Cerdmouth Town Guard. The manor, Grandview, is now enclosed in a stone wall added when Magbella was appointed Lord Mayor (about 50 years ago with the influence of her distant relation, Hasslewaith the Viscount of House Dorch). 


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