Sunday, November 5, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 44

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 44

Compiling week 44 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the Gateway Complex in the Gold Mountains west of the City-State of Carasta:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #302 

October 30th, 2023 

  • Number: 302 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 1 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 83 (The Gatehouse) 

  • Brief: When imagined, conjured and shaped into existence, Aenwyld was a wondrous world of beautiful environments from pole to pole. But the descent into madness and destruction that was the wars of the First Ones shook the world to its core and threatened to unmake what had been in made. In the aftermath, those who survived discovered that the fabric of Aenwyld’s reality was weak in places. Places where other realms, times and realities might intrude upon this world with sometimes devastating effects. One such location exists in the Gold Mountains of Norgorfel. In the distant past, ancient writings spoke of strange occurrences such as lights in the heights and the usually brief appearances of inconceivable creatures. The Arcane Guild explored the mountains and found a wide crevasse on the slopes of a peak, the opening leading into a great chamber where the veils between realms were especially thin. Wayfinders attempted to use it as a site for a Waygate with no success. The Guild, encountering aliens who accidentally or rarely deliberately transited into the cavern, determined a permanent installation was warranted. The Gatehouse was constructed to fill the crevasse and contain the chamber of the Gateway. A chantry of magicians, with their companions and guards, remains here to this day. 

  • Geography: The Gatehouse is built on the western slope of Nuan Malie, a peak of the Gold Mountains of the continent of Norgorfel. It is about 50 miles north of the Firbolg realm of Tenmala (#57), about 100 miles north of west of Orvusiv (#168), and about 80 miles east of the furthest reach of the Ironwall Territories (#61). The Arcane Guild rarely makes the locals aware of the Gateway Complex unless there is a dire emergency caused by something transiting the veil to Aenwyld and escaping the complex. 

  • Next Article: Over the course of this week, we’ll present some of the notable people, happenings and plot threads of the events of the Gateway Complex. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #303 

October 31st, 2023 

  • Number: 303 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 2 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 83 (The Gatehouse) 

  • Brief: The written records and oral histories of the first Kin of the region, mostly Elves and other Faeries, tell of strange happenings about the base of Nuan Malie. Bursts of multi-colored lights during the day or night, accompanied by almost musical tones and notes. Strange creatures subsequently wandering the woods or found dead on the slopes. As the Arcane Guild extended its reach across Aenwyld, scholars and bards heard the tales and sent explorers to investigate. The great crevasse on the flank of Nuan Malie was discovered but not of note until the lights and sounds within announced the arrival of an extra-planar horror. It took time and resources, but eventually magicians tracked down the thing and defeated it. The Guild built the Complex and handled future transits through the Gateway. It was but a few years ago, as events began to suggest one of the ancient great powers greedily eyed Aenwyld for their own, that a single unique traveler, more akin to the First Ones and the Gods than the mortal Kin, made a spectacular but peaceful arrival in the chamber. The angelic creature says she is here but to help but some are not so sure. 

  • Iysel (appears to be in her 20s but her true age is unknown) a female Deva, is a planeswalker. She is a Movanic Deva (an angelic extraplanar humanoid) and has white skin and silver eyes. Her wings are glorious, with white and gold tipped feathers. Iysel's hair is silver and worn pageboy style. She wears a one-piece dress in silver or gold with ties for the shoulders so they can get around her wings. Iysel carries a large magical mace with a golden handle. She wears it strapped to her back in a special harness that she had made. 

  • Iysel's geas is to wander the planes and look for people that need help. She happened upon the Gateway and decided that it would make a good base of operations. Most people who work and live around the Gateway know of Iysel and trust her to do what's right. Iysel goes to the Gateway first when something is wrong, or someone arrives. 

  • Iysel lives in a lovely house near the Gateway and rarely spends much time there. She is very active and has made friends with most people in the area. Her best friend is Lea Whitward, 26, female Human. The two of them love to have afternoon tea together. Iysel also loves to fly and practices diving and swooping the skies in the afternoon. 

  • Geography: The gateway (location 1 see below) hangs in the middle of a roughly spherical cavern about 60 feet in diameter. The first magicians on site raised the ground under the rift to form a platform providing a soft landing instead of a 30-foot fall to the stone below. The western edge of the chamber is open originally with a short walk to the outside world which has since been blocked by the buildings of the Gateway Complex. Several other tunnels exit the chamber to other cave complexes, a mix of natural and Kin-made. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #304 

November 1st, 2023 

  • Number: 304 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 3 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 155 (Downslope aka The Lower Levels) 

  • Brief: The Gateway Complex began as a simple wooden, then stone, barrier across the mouth of the crevasse. Passive defenses and simple observation proved insufficient when, as the ancient archives of the Arcanist’s Guild (a subset of the Arcane Guild devoted to pure research on magical structure and phenomena) related, a rather large and unhappy herbivore transited the Gateway and plowed through the walls and ran amuck downslope for several weeks until caught. The Builders Guild was hired to fill the crevasse with a massive, reinforced gatehouse with guard posts on either side. This was the first portion of the Main Level. In the years to follow, structures have been crafted into the sides of Nuan Malie, above and below the gates. Above the gate, looking inward, is a lookout which, as the main observers present are Arcanists, appears more like a luxurious lounge. Present, preternaturally it appears, to observe most recent transits of note, including the Deva Iysel, was Vakas Firfate. 

  • Vakas Firfate, 275, male High Elf, is a powerful Mage and a member of the Arcanist's Guild. He is tall and slightly stooped from bending down to Human's level. He wears his brown hair short and has dark blue eyes. Vakas wears long green robes with a collar and the mark of the Arcanist's Guild on it. He uses a birch staff that has runes engraved all over it, a present from his grandfather. Vakas is aloof with others unless you get him talking about portal magic, and then he is pretty effusive. 

  • Vakas came to the Gateway on an order from the Arcanist's Guild. He is very proud to be chosen. The Complex contains a vast library of portal magic, and Vakas is studying it fervently. Vakas was born with the unique gift of sensing extra-planar entities. He uses this gift to alert the Guild when something new arrives through the gate. 

  • Vakas lives at the Bored Librarian Inn. Every afternoon at 4 pm, he meets his best friend, Keaven Gemgift, 280, male High Elf, for ale and the daily special. The two of them talk over the day's events and play a round of chess or go for a walk. Vakas just started dating Enrie Oakheart, 172, female High Elf. She works as a librarian and has helped him find books and scrolls that he needs. 

  • Geography: The Gatehouse of the Gateway Complex (location 2 see below) is the largest and oldest building of the main level. It has been rebuilt several times and is continuous enhanced by the onsite Builders and Arcanists as the Gateway can have some unusual effects on its surrounds. It features 2 massive vault-like doors with a trap and portcullis laden passageway in between. Guard positions are built on each side with the Arcanists Lookout above on Up 1 (the 1st level above). Vakas’ residence, the Bored Librarian Inn (location 3 see below) is 2 levels below the main level (sometimes called Lower Level 2, Downslope 2 or simply Down 2) and just a bit north. There are two main elevators (locations E) and a half-dozen staircases that connect the lower, main and upper levels. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #305 

November 2nd, 2023 

  • Number: 305 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 4 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): Varies (The Reception Areas) 

  • Brief: As the Complex grew and expanded, so did the process for handling the unexpected arrivals in the chamber through the veil. Transits could rarely be predicted or foreseen, so the magicians were usually surprised and reacted with great force. This tended to lead to casualties for both the visitors and the staff of the Complex. The Arcanists developed a variety of triggered wards to enclose the chamber upon arrival to allow those on watch to observe and respond. The arriving beings needed to be assessed for dangerous intent, unique and potentially harmful physiologies and simply whether they could survive the potential differences in the physical natures of their worlds and Aenwyld. The evaluations were harsh until the Guild brought in support from the Diplomats and Hospitality Guilds to provide a better reception experience. Seers continued to try to predict transits but presently usually only the sensitive or unique, like Iysel and Vakas, are the first to arrive. Visitors reside in chambers off the Gateway while being evaluated and once accepted and approved, like a recent feathered visitor from a world like Aenwyld, moves to guest quarters in the upper levels. 

  • Rustling Leaves (Rust), 25, female Kenku (a flightless birdlike humanoid) is a wandering monk in the Society for the Secret of Truth. She is short, has yellow eyes and long black hair. Her wings are black with dark blue tips. Rust wears dark green robes with various runes and shapes on them. Her favorite weapon is a kynac (a long single-edge guardless knife) but she also keeps many tiny daggers on her person. 

  • Rust is a curious person and has always longed to travel. After she joined the order, she was presented with a wand that casts a detect portal spell. She arrived through the Gateway last week and, having been cleared by “Reception,” has decided to spend a short while investigating the area. Rust is always studying people and has become very good at detecting lies. She plans to earn some coin by offering her services to any local justice system. 

  • Rust lost her parents shortly after she was born. Her extended family raised her until she was ten and sent her on her way. Rust has trouble making friends because most people on her world don’t trust Kenku. She is very lonely and will latch on to the closest person who talks to her. One day, she hopes to return to her flock, but she wants to make her fortune first. 

  • Geography: Passageways (locations C see below) lead from the Gateway chamber to caves modified as temporary Reception (aka holding) areas for new arrivals. They are designed so that they can be blocked with heavy doors, like the main gate, and then sealed and filled with conjured elements as needed. This has included water for aquatic creatures and one recorded instance of a dragon or snake-like group of entities that could only breathe swamp gas (methane). Once evaluated and received by Reception, visitors may stay for a while in rooms available on upper levels 3 and 4 (see location 4 below) known as the Visitors’ Lodge. Stays vary in length for the Arcanists have few means to successfully return someone to the realm from whence they came, so they must eventually accept some location on Aenwyld as their “forever” home. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #306 

November 3rd, 2023 

  • Number: 306 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 5 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): Varies (The Containment Cells) 

  • Brief:  As the Complex slowly developed its process for handling arrivals, it was also forced to determine how to keep and care for the visitors who could not survive on Aenwyld or, worse yet, were determined, by vision or detection, to be a threat to Aenwyld. So unfortunately, below Reception on the main level, the Arcanist Guild had to essentially build a prison. Originally additional caves connected by tunnels, it evolved to include minimal creature comforts, special construction for unusual visitors and various wards, defensive constructions and other protective measures. Now known now as the Gateway Holding Center, it is staffed by guards, provided by the Mercenaries Guild, willing to handle unusual and potentially dangerous humanoids and creatures for as long as necessary until the Arcanists could either return them to when they came (infrequently), find them a home on Aenwyld (rarely) or unfortunately they passed away due to age, illness or misfortune. The guards are supported by a quick reaction force of magicians. 

  • Isk, 47, Changeling is the prison warden for the Gateway Holding Center. His current form is a hulking Human with a muscular body and a tiny waist. His hair is jet-black and worn afro styled. Isk is ebony-complected and has gray eyes. He wears leather pants and a chain mail hauberk. His weapon of choice is a battleaxe, which he wears strapped to his back. Isk is usually a friendly guy but can become intimidating when things get nasty.  

  • Isk's job is to keep long-term visitors from other planes safely in their cells in the Holding Center. The prison takes up a large area on the lower levels and has various holding cells to support the visitor's needs. Isk ensures that his guards treat everyone fairly and that no one can escape until it's decided what to do with them. One unique challenge was for a visitor only visible on nights with a quarter moon. 

  • Isk lives in the Bleating Goat Boarding House, a short distance from the prison. His partner is Moosk,40, Changeling, whose current form is that of an average Human male. Moosk is the prison chef and enjoys the challenge of feeding people from different planes. They adopted twin Human boys, Telford, 15, and Pascal, 15. One day, the whole family wants to own a home, but they never seem able to afford it. 

  • Geography: The Gateway Holding Center sits underneath the Gateway on levels Down 1 and 2. For safety, it can only be accessed via a single large elevator (location 5 see below) in the Gateway chamber which is guarded 24 hours a day. The elevator stops at a large central hub where the guards and supporting magicians are headquartered. Tunnels to the various long-term living quarters, behind reinforced doors, branch out in all directions but westward (keeping the Holding Center separate from residences of the Complex). Isk’s office is near the elevator in the hub. Isk and Moosk’s current home, the Bleating Goat Boarding House (location 6 see below) is on Down 2 on the outside of the mountain. The name refers to the first landlord of the apartment building, a visitor whose laugh resembled the cries of the local mountain goats common to the slopes of Nuan Malie. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #307 

November 4th, 2023 

  • Number: 307 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 6 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): Unknown (The Hidden) 

  • Brief: As the name implies the Gold Mountains contain numerous deposits of precious metals in the depths. The entire range, from Orvusiv in the south to beyond Amthor in the north, is riddled with numerous mines, mostly abandoned, connecting to caverns, chambers and tunnels of the underdark. Before the Gateway Complex was established in Nuan Malie, Dwarves and Gnomes delved through her flanks into the depths. After several transits lead to visitors fleeing into the depths, requiring frantic chase and recovery, the Arcanist Guild, with the help of the Miners Guild, did what they could to seal any natural passages between what eventually became the Containment Cells and the ancient workings underneath. In case those precautions fail, the Complex keeps several Spelunkers of the Travellers Guild on retainer in case of emergencies. 

  • Kaitberra (Kait) Trollbelch, 154, female Dwarf, is a famous spelunker at the Gateway on call to investigate the depths below. She is short and has rosy cheeks. She wears her auburn hair in thin braids down her back. Kait sees humor in most things and has a big smile. She arrives at the Gateway in a patterned dress with a pretty necklace and little hammer earrings. When she prepares to climb, she changes into leather work pants and a serviceable top. She straps her war hammer to her back, "In case anything shows up!" 

  • The Arcanist Guild noticed a flash of someone coming through the Gateway early this morning. The mages and guards search the area and the Containment Cells below and turn up nothing. The mages bring Virric Gimbell, 320, male Elf, who can cast Detect Invisibility. Virric reveals images of an entity passing through the stone to the depths below the prison. The Guild calls in Kait to plumb the depths and find the entity.  

  • Kait is excited to investigate the tunnels; usually, only miners are allowed there. She brings her climbing toolkit, and the mages provide her with a wand of Detect Person. She also brings several days' worth of food and water. Who knows what lies beneath? 

  • Kait lives with her best friend, Gwen Frostpride, 134, female Dwarf. Divorced from their husbands, they keep each other company. They live in a small house on Down 3 and make it a point to have several meals together each week. Kait loves helping people and volunteers her time at a senior Dwarven facility on Down 2. 

  • Geography: Like other nearby mountains, Nuan Malie has a half-dozen mineheads driven into her flanks. Kait heads downslope and a bit north to the last operating mine (closed about 150 years ago, location 7 see below). Old records from the Miners Guild in hand, she plans to ascend as close to the Containment Cells level as she can and begin her search from there. The Old Miners Hall (location 8) can be found on Down 2 across the main hall from the Bleating Goat Boarding House. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #308 

November 5th, 2023 

  • Number: 308 

  • Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest:  The Gateway Complex – Part 7 

  • Location: Western Gold Mountains northwest of the City-State of Carasta 

  • Population (approx.): 51 (Administration) 

  • Brief: As the Gateway Complex aged and grew, so did the complexity of managing the increasing day-to-day population (of both staff, visitors and detainees) and the politics of the number of Guilds involved. In addition, some Guildmasters pushed for the site to contribute more to the economy than simply knowledge, perhaps by reopening the mines underneath or somehow exploiting the visitors passing through or currently detained. Two centuries ago, the participating Guilds met and decided to create the position of Administrator, usually an appointed scholar, diplomat or politician. As well as internal matters, as the region becomes more aware of the Complex, they must deal with eternal concerns as well. Most recently, word has reached the administration that a specific faction of the old Ta’arnan Legions of the Ironwall Territories has taken an interest in Nuan Malie, specifically assigning some sort of religious significance to the Gateway and those who transited the portal in the past. No overt action against the site is expected but farmers and foragers on the downslopes have spotted Ironwall Legionnaires scouting the area. Seers also suggest that the Sentinel (#127) is now aware of the Complex. 

  • Petquen (Quen) Stonepetal, 260, male Firbolg is the Administrator for the Gateway Complex. His build is like an oak tree, tall and majestic. He is into grooming and keeps his gray and light blue fur trimmed and brushed. Quen wears business outfits most days but then changes into overalls and colorful shirts for downtime. Quen doesn't believe in using weapons to settle disputes. He believes in using martial arts to protect himself and others. 

  • Quen is a thoughtful administrator and keeps people happy in disputes. He loves to talk and uses his hands to gesture and help make his point. He has an efficient staff that helps him get to the heart of the various problems. Every Friday, Quen hosts a meeting where anyone can come and discuss their issues. His Doom is to be “consumed by his work” in some unknown fashion, but Quen enjoys his position and has come to terms with the pronouncement. 

  • Quen lives with his wife, Keytris, 250, female Firbolg. She works as his assistant most days. She also loves to play with their many grandchildren (when visiting family in the south). Her Doom is to “fall to the shimmering darkness” but neither have any inkling what that might mean. Quen and Keytris live in a large cave with many smaller rooms. They also have a vacation home several days away in Tenmala. Twice a week, Quen meets up with Farcan Farflower, 173, male Firbolg, to get an ale at the Bronze Tiger Inn. 

  • Geography: The offices of the Administrator and his staff can be found on the upper levels (Up 2) just south of the main gate and the overlook (location 9 see below). Meeting rooms and the Complex library are on the main level below, connected by the elevator. Quen and Keytris’ quarters are on the topmost upper level (Up 4) in an area of caves retaining most of their natural appearance (location 10 see below). The new outpost of the Ironwall Teritorries (#61 location 11) is only 30 miles downslope and west of the Gateway Complex. Quen’s home of Tenmale (#57) is about 50 miles due south. 


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