Sunday, October 1, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 39

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 39

Compiling week 39 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the Sinking Lands west of the City-State of Carasta:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #267 

September 25th, 2023 

  • Number: 267 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 1 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): Varies 

  • Brief: The ancient geological processes slowly pulling the Narrows apart combined with the battles before, during and after the Ta’arnan Empire’s occupation of the region, left large stretches of the central plains changed beyond recognition, levelling settlements and churning the landscape. To add insult to injury, the residues of the magics used during the conflicts, such as the rituals and enchantments which created the Ashen Expanse to the northwest, are causing parts of the plains to slowly settle, collapsing in upon itself. Despite this, small communities continue to survive across these “sinking lands,” leveraging both ancient and newly found resources. The peoples one might encounter in the area are the scattered remnants of all the factions of Kin (both commonplace and unique) of both sides in the conflict. 

  • Geography: The Sinking Lands, being the local’s name but not a formal one, covers over 3,700 square miles of the southwestern Narrows. The area is bound by the Ashen Expanse (#25) to the northwest, the County of the Setting Sun (#128) to the southwest, the Taop Hills along Taop Bay to the southeast and the borderlands of the City-State of Carasta at West Rift Ventures (#197) to the northeast. The rift valley, The Furnace, beginning at Deep Mining Station 3A (#23) cuts westward through the middle of the region, ending at an oasis just north of the approximate center. 

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



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #268 

September 26th, 2023 

  • Number: 268 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 2 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 24 (Tutra’s Manor), 40 (Guildhall), 80 (Farmsteads) 

  • Brief: The County of the Setting Sun maintains a constant watch on the lands beyond the stone towers marking its border. Border watch, scouting and exploration were traditionally the province of the Setting Sun Legion. With the rise of the City-State of Carasta to the northeast, the associated Guilds have made their presence known to the populace of the County. The Adventurers Guild has influenced young warriors to take a different path than the tradition of joining the Legion and serving the CountyThis has led to the rise of successful and larger-than-life adventuring personalities such as Tutra. 

  • Tutra, 98, Loxodon (a tall humanoid with elephantine features), is a successful adventure novelist of the County of the Setting Sun. She is seven and a half feet tall and has a distinctive pattern of half-moons on her trunk. Tutra wears unique casual clothes that she has made for her by a famous local designer. She walks with a limp that she received from a fight with a rival. Tutra has studied martial arts through the years and uses it to calm herself before she writes. She has a pet dog, Aiwa, 5, a Basset Hound who accompanies her on her author's tours. 

  • Tutra writes novels about her time as an adventurer. She was part of several adventuring companies which explored the Narrows, the Wastelands and points beyond. She also had romances with some members of those companies. Her readers gobble up her books and ask for more. Some books have even become best sellers among Loxodons and other Kin of the County and the surrounding City-States. 

  • Tutra and Aiwa live in a small mansion she had specially built for someone her size. She has an assistant, Oriel Riken, 25, male Human, who does the writing that Tutra dictates. Tutra throws fabulous parties that are attended by everyone who is anyone. The parties last a week as people travel to get there and then stay for the actual party. Tutra's family is ashamed of her and wants nothing to do with her because of her outgoing personality. 

  • Geography: Tutra’s Manor (location 1 see below) can be found about 5 miles east of the easternmost flag-flying stone tower of the County of the Setting Sun (#128). There is no official road between the two, but most travelers to her manor are familiar with the route. Tutra’s fellow Adventures have blazed a trail that zigzags across the Sinking Lands to the oasis near the center. Her manor serves as both her home and a formal Guildhouse of the Adventurers Guild, Tutra being the Guildmistress 

  • The complex consists of 4 elegantly architected buildings (Tutra’s manor, the Guildhouse, a Guest House and the Grand Hall home to her parties of great renown) in the style of Tulagan (#132) to the southeast within a surrounding protective wall (festooned with wards and enchantments provided by magic-wielding colleagues) upon a low hill. The manor has a well in the central courtyard and is surrounded by about a thousand acres of farmland having attracted a dozen tenant farming families to move outside the borders of the County. Though Tutra does not treat them as vassals, her fellow adventurers do protect the locals as part of their training and in turn the farmers provide produce to the manor. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #269 

September 27th, 2023 

  • Number: 269 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 3 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 107 (Eulid’s Rest and surrounds) 

  • Brief: Despite their isolated location and inhospitable reactions to outsiders, individuals of the County of the Setting Sun, for various usually business-related reasons, continue to travel beyond the borders of their lands. For those travelling on foot, the most direct way to reach the most prosperous lands, being the City-State of Carasta, is to travel northeast through the center of the Narrows. But the slowing changing nature of the terrain, notably the subsidence of parts of the Sinking Land, causes the main trail to be frequently blocked or rerouted around a previously usable stretch of land. The road now zigzags like a line of stitches about the panels of a quilt between the small settlements like Eulid’s Rest that dot the path separated by a day or two of travel. The lure of the far coast brings all manner of groups attempting the crossing. 

  • Grior Moonwind, 35, male Leonin (a tall humanoid with lionlike features) is a vocalist for the Spinal Chords, a troupe of singers traveling from inn to inn singing for supper. Grior is tall and wide and has a brown and golden mane. His brown eyes crinkle up when someone makes him laugh. He favors fancy clothing and the colors brown and yellow. Grior is a pacifist but knows unarmed strikes in case an inn patron gets rowdy.  

  • Grior is very talented; the rest of the group isn't. He isn't sure what to do about that, as the group has been together for years, and they are all his friends. He started singing in the local Church of Light and then literally sang for his supper when he couldn't pay his bar tab. He was an instant hit and then hired his friends to accompany him. Grior wants to go to a bigger town or city, hence they are on the road to the City-State of Carasta after a successful gig at Tutra’s Manor (#268) with a recommendation in hand, to reach more people but doesn't want to leave his family. 

  • Grior has a girlfriend, Corrette, 27, a female Human who he adores. He is not interested in marriage because he wants to be free to roam towns with the troupe. His family, who live in a house just outside of Sundown, a town in the County of the Setting Sun (#128), comprises his parents, Kegnor, 60, Leonin and Soce, 55, Leonin. He also has one brother, Zaros, 40, Leonin, who is a soldier. Zaros lives two blocks from his parents in a run-down home. 

  • Geography: The trail across the Narrows begins at Tutra’s Manor (#268) and zigzags northeast paralleling the Taop Hills. After about 25 miles, as the bird flies, but perhaps over 30 on the ground, a traveler arrives at Eulid’s Rest (location 2 see below). This small settlement is built around a so far never-ending natural spring. The legend of Eulid’s Rest, as learned by Grior from the locals, is that Eulid was a large person (perhaps Giantish or Trollish) stomping his way across the Narrows. One great thud from his feet caused the ground to split asunder, water erupting from underground almost drowning poor Eulid. Soaked, he spread his huge and heavy clothes on the ground about the spring to dry. This took so long, as he was large, the fabric thick and the sun sparse, that the clothes left dark patches on the ground that became the foundations of the first buildings of Eulid’s Rest. 

  • The Inn, currently owned and run by the Travellers Guild of Carasta, and other buildings, a shop, a tinker and six residences of the settlement form an irregular circle about the spring. A small temple to Vai sits next to the spring and visitors are encouraged to donate to the God to keep the water pure and flowing. 


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #270 

September 28th, 2023 

  • Number: 270 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 4 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 311 (Yarjenhome) 

  • Brief: Fifteen Centuries ago, in the aftermath of the battle that resulted in the formation of the Blasted Circle surrounded by the Ashen Expanse (#25), one of the Empire’s allies, the Brass Dragon YarJen grew tired of Ta’arnans, especially the overly subservient Clerics of Afi, and decided to withdraw their support of the Empire. The Dragon and his Dragonborn minions withdrew from the field and disappeared into the rift valley to the southeast, burrowing into the heart of the volcano, Lanumae, and beginning a long hibernation. 

  • Three centuries ago, a massive earthquake rippled across the Narrows. The central rift, The Furnace, expanded westward almost 25 miles in an instant, tearing through the heart of dormant Lanumae. The volcano exploded and erupted for two months spewing ash and smoke into the skies. YarJen now ancient, unfortunately, did not survive the event, but over a hundred of his Dragonborn Kin did. Now awake, they recovered and once the eruptions subsided (perhaps due to Dragonish magics) evaluated their situation, deciding to turn YarJen’s lair into a settlement they named Yarjenhome. The Dragonborn are cunningly growing their numbers, skills and powers, keeping their existence hidden from the local populace. Mysterious raids, with no survivors, on the road just north of their home, have pushed some caravan masters to take a longer path across the Narrows (passing near West Rift Ventures (#197)). 

  • Tornad (Faithful (Fait)) Korish, 27, female Dragonborn, is a scout for the Yarjenjit clan who live on and in the Lanumae (Red Rift) volcano. She is of average height and has a lean body. Her Draconic ancestry is from a Brass dragon; she can breathe fire. Her long, fiery red hair cascades down her back when she is at home. As a scout, she keeps it tied up and out of the way. Her eyes are like hawks as she scouts for enemies. Fait wears light leather armor dyed red and favors a bow and arrow for weapons. She wears a dagger with intricate carving on the handle she received as a present. 

  • Fait scouts the Sinking Lands around the volcano for many things, including enemies. She also has some foraging knowledge and is always interested in finding new fauna and flora. Fait started working for her uncle Celthan as a teen, who was part of the lair guard. When she turned eighteen, she focused on scouting and protecting Yarjenhome. Now, she leads a wing of three scouts and has never been happier. 

  • Fait is happily married to Yuxal, 30, male Dragonborn, and they have a son, Lerdaak, 10. They live in modest quarters near the center of Yarjenhome. Fait and Yuxal have date nights every Tuesday to celebrate their meeting day. Yuxal is an advisor to the Hearthmaster (mayor equivalent) and is the primary caretaker for Lerdaak. 

  • Geography: The Furnace (#23) is the longest (about 75 to 80 miles) and most volcanically active site of the rift valley of the Narrows. It begins at Deep Mining Station 3A and cuts westward through the middle of the region, ending at an oasis just north of the approximate center of the Sinking Lands. Two mountains rise about the rift, the western peak being Lanumae (location 3 see below), home to the Dragonborn. The other, Masag, is rumored to be home to other Deep Mining Stations. 

  • Lanumae sits astride the Furnace, its southeastern slopes split by the great quake. The mountain, topping 8000 feet tall, is riddled with tunnels, either dormant lava tubes or tremor created rifts and cervices. The Dragonborn settlement is concealed within the northwest flank of the mountain, accessible only through well-guarded or trapped tunnels. Each Dragonborn nesting (family) carves their own cave into the walls of the chamber which was the ancient Dragon’s lair and is now the central “square” of Yarjenhome. Dragonborn constantly gather in the square; working, training or eating together. Other caves are used for storage, crafting, treasure vaults and prison cells. Yarjenhome’s Hearthmaster frequently gathers everyone in the “square” to conduct ceremonies or settlement business. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #271 

September 29th, 2023 

  • Number: 271 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 5 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 311 (Xynarr and South Ashen Watch) 

  • Brief: Having resided in the Feystone Woods of southwest Norgorfel for countless centuries, the Elves have established an effective and comprehensive border consisting of the Watches, mystical guard towers, and the Ranges, Elf-marked trails patrolled by the scouts of the Watches. Most of the Watches focus outward, wary of the Kin of surrounding nations and territories. But due to the nature of the Ashen Expanse, especially the undead who manifest and wander beyond the dead trees, the surrounding Watches must also look inward. 

  • Brycaron (Bry) Crimsonspark, 112, female Elf, is an Undead Hunter stationed at South Ashen Watch near the Ashen Expanse. She is very tall and gaunt, with slick-backed white hair. Her eyes are black and deep-set from many sleepless nights. Bry loves to play up the theatrical part of her business and wears a long black cape while hunting. Under that, she wears leather pants and a chain shirt. Her favorite weapon is a mace with protection from the undead built into it. 

  • When Bry was only five, a wight slew her mother in front of her. Later, her father became a ghost after bandits killed him. These two things caused Bry to seek a master hunter of the undead and have him train her. Bry had to destroy her father's ghost as one of her first acts as an independent Undead Hunter. Bry has since dedicated herself to ridding the Ashen Expanse of the undead.  

  • Bry lives in a small hut in Xynarr, a small village hopefully just far enough away from the Ashen Expanse. She never thought of having a partner because of her gloomy disposition. Then she met Fadi Wildkind, female 115, Elf, and fell in love. Fadi is a potter and makes most of the dinnerware that Xynarr uses. The two live happily together and are thinking of adopting a dog soon. 

  • Geography: Like Feystone Watch (#129), South Ashen Watch (location 4 see below) is typical of Elven Watches, consisting of a single great tree magically expanded and reinforced, with platforms at varying heights providing residences, meeting rooms, storage and at the top, lookouts across the lands to the north much like the crow’s nests of ships. The Watch garrison is comprised of the usual complement of ranger/scouts, archers and warriors, druids and seers, plus healers and crafters. They are usually of one or two extended Elven families bringing both positives (years of training together, instinctual knowledge of reactions and seamless teamwork) and negatives (tendencies to overprotectiveness and subject to long-standing feuds). 

  • The Watch sits on the west slope of a hillside overlooking the Ashen Expanse about 20 miles to the west. It is also about 20 miles west of north to the Arcane Guild’s Ashen Observatory (#92) but communication between the 2 sites is rare for the Elves of Feystone and the Guilds of the Coast rarely see eye to eye where the Expanse is concerned. The small village of Xynarr, which supports the Watch, sits on the south slope of the hill nearby. Elf-marked trails radiate outward marking areas to avoid and areas safe to travel. Xynarr consists of a cluster of tree houses, fruit trees and gardens surrounded by a thick hedgerow of thorny vines and spine-laden bushes.  



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #272 

September 30th, 2023 

  • Number: 272 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 6 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 267 (Glistening Lake Villas) 

  • Brief: In the distant past, a great geological event brought a spring to the surface in the center of the Sinking Lands. The body of water that formed was later named the Glistening Lake due to effect of the sun reflecting off of crystals and minerals on the lake bed brought up from underground. Glistening Lake’s borders have varied over the years due to tectonic action raising and lowering surrounding ground combined with local rains and the strength of the underground river feeding the lake’s source. That source also brought to the surface unusual fish such as the Red-lipped Batfish. Small settlements dotted the shores of the lake until the great earthquake of 3 centuries ago, that split the dormant volcano Lanumae to the east, flattened most structures and damaged others due to movement of both earth and water. Once the Glistening Lake settled and a new shoreline defined, the locals decided to live upon the lake rather than around it, fearing another catastrophe. 

  • Tarnan (Tar) Keenfeet, 25, male Halfling, is an angler on the Glistening Lake in the Rift's valley. He is short and squat and has light brown hair. He keeps his beard trimmed but lets the hair on his feet grow wild. Tar has a tattoo of a golden fish on his right arm. His hazel eyes are bright and can get very wide when he reels in a 'big one.' Tar likes to wear long hosiery and bright yellow and orange tunics. When he goes to church on the weekend, he changes the tunic for a crisp white shirt with a bow tie. His only weapon is a utility knife he uses daily for work.  

  • Tar owns The Clever Fish, a floating shop which provides fresh fish to the locals who live around and on the lake. He brings in the usual variety of fish but is always on the lookout for the Red-lipped Batfish. Halflings and Dwarves adore the taste of the Batfish and will pay extra when he snags one. Tar inherited the business from his grandfather and has big plans. 

  • Tar lives with his grandmother, Rijen Nimbleflow, 73, Halfling. The two of them have a houseboat part of the Glistening Lake “Villas.” Rijen likes to cook fish stew and sells it to the locals weekly. Tar's best friend since childhood is Joret Glassfollow, 23, male Halfling. They both want to run marathons and participate in the yearly Glistening Lake Run. 

  • Geography: The Glistening Lake (location 5 see below) covers about 25 square miles of the center of the Sinking Lands roughly equidistant between the Ashen Expanse (#25) to the northwest and the Taop Hills to the southeast. It is thought to only be several hundred feet deep at most except for several tubes into the underdark. The trail across the lands, from Eulid’s Rest (#269) headed northeast, passes about the land. The path has changed over the years as the Lake’s shore changes from time to time. Several clusters of houseboats (the “Villas” of the lake) can be found on the eastern shore, ready to trade with land-born locals or host travelers and caravans passing through. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #273 

October 1st, 2023 

  • Number: 273 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: The Sinking Lands of the Narrows – Part 7 

  • Location: Central Narrows southwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 153 (Hunter’s Beach) 

  • Brief: The southeastern portion of the Sinking Lands slowly rises and forms the foothills of the Taop Hills that enclose Taop Bay. The rolling hills are covered with small woods, old and new farmsteads and a dozen or more small settlements, usually a half-day to a day’s travel apart, typically centered about manor houses once ruled by landed Knights and lesser Nobles of old. Over the centuries the population has ebbed and flowed with events of the area both environmental (disease, monsters, storms and the like) and Kinmade (raids and consolidation). The folk of the hills, mostly hunters, foragers and herders, are an independent sort and don’t take kindly to the attempts at nation-building by up-and-coming local minor Lordlings. Once such group of families lives their quiet lives on the slopes that overlook the pebble beaches of the Taop Bay. 

  • Anvia Broadfeast, 75, female Dwarf, is the proud owner of Hunter's Choice Butchery. She has short purple hair and green eyes. She exercises every day to have a toned body. Anvia wears old clothes to work and a full-body apron. When she goes out in the evening, she dresses in slick skirts and beautiful tops. Her favorite weapon is the bow and arrow, which she practices daily. 

  • Hunter's Choice specializes in cuts of meat from unusual animals. Anvia got the plan to sell this meat when one of her hunter friends, Perar Mandred, 55, male Human, had venison left at the end of the season. Anvia talked with Perar and others and started the business. She now buys various fish and game and sells them at her store. 

  • Anvia is married to Torrim, 86, Dwarf. Torrim creates unique dishes from butchered meat and fish and sells them to the local dive, Hunter’s Rest. The two of them live in a lovely house in Taop Hills above the settlement. They have no desire for children but like taking care of their various nieces and nephews. Their favorite vacation is to go hiking along trails in the local area. They also enjoy playing board games together. 

  • Geography: Hunter’s Beach (location 6 see below) is a small fishing and hunting settlement on Taop Bay about 20 miles north of Reaver’s Rock (#22). It is about 30 miles southwest of the growing realm of Antus “The Gatherer” Peregrine (#28) but he has yet to take interest in their corner of the bay. Several hunting trails connect the coast to the Sinking Plains to the northwest. Hunter’s Beach is an irregular collection of wooden cabins of various shapes and sizes on the slopes above a narrow pebble-covered beach on the bay. The largest building, the local dive “Hunter’s Rest,” was built upon the stone foundations of an ancient, ruined manor house of some long unknown Knight or Lord. The inhabitants are a mix of hunters, shepherds and fisherfolk (a small “fleet” of 4 boats) collaborating to survive. The various “businesses” are named by the locals, but barter is the coin of the realm. 


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