Sunday, December 3, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 48

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 48

Compiling week 48 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive into people of interest - a census of magicians by the Scholar, Mr. Zariya Savindy, as initiated by the Arcane Guild, of the City-State of Taodeas:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #330 

November 27th, 2023 

  • Number: 330 

  • Name: Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 1 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas 

  • Population (approx.): varies 

  • Brief: From the dawn of time on Aenwyld, unique individuals have possessed the ability to “magically” alter realityAs time passed, “magic-users” refined and defined the use of the essence from raw burst of changes to regular and teachable enchantments. As these early users encountered each other, they began to form communities of fellow practitioners of varying size, scope and complexity from simple ritual circles to the world and plane-spanning organization known today as the Arcane Guild. The Guild, like the traditional Artisan and Services Guilds, provides a supporting structure for training, regulation, research, communication and protection for magicians of all types and levels of skill. But to do this, the Arcane Guild needs to conduct a census of users of magics on a regular basis. This year, for the City-State of Taodeas, the Master Scholar, Mister Zariya Savindy has volunteered to conduct the census. Accompanied by his companion and bodyguard, the High Man warrior Jorgenson of Ketteridge, he will traverse the City-State seeking casters both old, to remake their acquaintance, and new, to introduce them to the Guild. 

  • Geography: Zariya, the last of the Savindy Tribes, has travelled extensively across the two continents. Based, currently, in the City-State of Carasta, he decides to depart by road eastward and then takes the combined river-lake-canal crossing of the Narrows to Taop Bay. From there a short sailing voyage brings him from Taosport (#17) to Matumouth (#120) where he will begin this period’s census.  

  • Next Article: Over the course of this week, we’ll present some of the notable peoples, locations, happenings and plot threads encountered by Zariya Savindy during his travels in service of the Arcane Guild. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #331 

November 28th, 2023 

  • Number: 331 

  • Name: Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 2 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas 

  • Population (approx.): 313 (Village of Cestle) 

  • Brief: Upon his arrival in Matumouth, Zariya checked in with the local chantry of the Arcane Guild, requesting a room if available, which fortunately it was for a man of his position and mission. The census of the chantry was completed quickly, little change recorded, and then he began to explore the town itself. Zariya was a skilled listener, good at sifting through rumors and stories to pick up bits and pieces of data of interest to his specific job. This time, in Matumouth, stories had reached this coastal town from points in the south of the Wastelands, below the Church-State of Earth and Water. The fragments appeared to concern a magician of some sort who experimented on people, tinkered with mechanical constructs and perhaps both at the same time in some perhaps unholy fashion. The next day, Zariya summons Jorgenson and announces they are to head south along the river for two days travel, to meet a Guild magician who knows a thing or two about tinkering and might be able to sift the wheat from the chaff of these stories. 

  • Josys (Jos) Fiddlebit, 173, Gnome, is an expert clockwork Mage. She is small and nimble. Her hair is green and curly, and she highlights it. Jos's eyes are indigo blue, and she wears horn-rimmed glasses. Her skin is a fantastic shade of gunmetal gray. Jos wears a leather skirt, a white undershirt, and a purple leather vest. She has a magical toolbelt with many pockets, which automatically summons one of the items contained within the pocket to her hand. Jos loves peace and refuses to carry weapons or let her creations have any. 

  • When she turned fifty, Jos learned clockwork magic from Panaxim Quietcraft, 230, Gnome. Always a quick learner, she soon surpassed Panaxim and ventured off alone. After wandering the world for fifty years, she settled in Cestle, a village on the Matui River. Jos rented a room and set up a shop, What a Piece of Work. Her specialty is in creating small clockwork workers who help with mundane chores.  

  • Once Jos began making money, she created a group of clockwork workers who built her a house and workshop near the edge of town. One day, Merpip Thundercrag, 160, male Gnome Lamplighter walked into her shop looking for a unique clockworker to help him light the town lights at night. The two fell in love and got married. Now they have two boys, Nesni, 10, and Kaslen,7. 

  • Jos's best friend is illusionist Renee Groz, 50, female Human. The two of them are avid readers of adventure stories and chat about them over tea. Jos is also interested in gardening and plants lots of herbs she can use to cook Gnome dishes she likes to make. 

  • Zariya and Jorgenson arrive in Cestle and meet with Jos at her clockwork workshop. Much discussion ensues over drinks and dinner until Jos has an inspiration. She asks whether Zariya would mind a short journey over the Matui River into the Church-State? He does not and so the next day the trio, accompanied by Renee the Illusionist, board Jos’ Clockwalker, a mechanical vehicle with legs tall enough to ford the river. Over a day later, they arrive at Stonefellow a small village built around a large stone creature seated upon a lump of earth. Jos explains she came here having heard rumor of the “Stonefellow” and wanted to ponder its magical workings. They dismount outside the settlement and Jos introduces them to a local priestess of Pala, God of Earth. The priestess has heard rumors of strange ruler, a “Tinkering Lord” south of the Lost Coast. Zariya notes this seems to match the stories he heard in Matumouth and something the Guild should consider investigating. Information gathered, they return to Cestle and eventually Zariya and Jorgenson are on their way again. 

  • Geography: The village of Cestle sits on the east bank of the Matui River about 30 miles due south of Matumouth (#120). It is a typical settlement built on a rise above the spring floodline, with wooden stairs down to the docks along the water. Jos’ clockworkshop and house are further inland on the outskirts. The journey by Jos’ Clockwalker takes them across the river and about 50 miles southwest to Stonefellow (#103) on the southern border of the Church-State of Earth and Water (#29). The rumors point to the Tinker King (#174) who rules a stretch of the Afale Maug hills south of the Lost Coast (#64).  



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #332 

November 29th, 2023 

  • Number: 332 

  • Name: Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 3 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas 

  • Population (approx.): 1279 (Tuton Labyrinth) 

  • Brief: Zariya’s duties as census-taker involve interacting with all manner of people of Kin both familiar and quite unfamiliar, from ordinary and extraordinary places with commonplace and unique magical abilities. Several hundred years ago, by magical methods unique to this Kin, a Maze (community) of Minotaurs, fleeing some from unspoken foe, navigated an extra-planar labyrinth between worlds to arrive on Aenwyld in the Tuton Maug. By other similar magical methods, the Minotaurs remained concealed within and under the hills until they chose to reveal themselves to the Arcane Guild about a hundred years agoAfter years of discussion and with the Guild at their side, the elders of the Maze finally revealed themselves to the authorities of the City-State five decades ago. A small number of members of the Maze have attempted to integrate into Taodean society with varying results. Upon Zariya’s arrival at the Crossroads, he is contacted by a local Minotaur magician, Loonas, who is concerned about pressure from the United Tribal Forces (UTF) to provide Taodeas with the secrets to magics of the Minotaurs. 

  • Loonas Rockhorn, 45, male Minotaur, is a mage with illusion and labyrinth magic. He is tall, around nine feet, and has a muscular, hairy body. His hair is dark brown with highlights and tips that are yellow. His piercing eyes are coal-black and just a bit mischievous. His horns range in color from dark brown to stark white. Loonas likes to wear long leather pants and a vest dyed dark green. Even though most minotaurs use axes, Loonas prefers broadswords and wields a pair of them.  

  • Loonas is a rarity in Minotaur society, a person who can fight well and use magic. He learned to fight from the time he could hold a dagger. At thirteen, his ability to use labyrinth magic manifested and his parents sent him away to the Arcane Guild to refine his ability to cast spells. The labyrinth magic allows him to create mazes on the fly. His current job is working for the Taodean government and figuring out the most productive way to use his ability. The government hopes to use the ability for war, but Loonas is still deciding. 

  • Loonas lives with his mate, Oesdra, 40, female Minotaur, in a large house in Crossroads. They have one child, Serou, 5, who is the apple of their eye. Oesdra spends time taking care of Serou, but she also works as a bank teller at the National Bank of the Guilds, Crossroads branch. Loonas and Oesdra do a double date night with their friends, Astebur and Erata Rockroar, Minotaurs. 

  • Zariya meets with Loonas and the local Guildmaster and enjoys a spirited and satisfactory discussion for all parties present. The Guildmaster agrees to help Loonas keep the UTF at arm’s length, leveraging the Guild’s long-standing neutrality with respect to politically driven uses of magic by nation-states, while Zariya will bring the matter to the attention of Guild liaison with the UTF when next at their headquarters. Intrigued by their nature, Zariya requests a boon of Loonas and, in thanks for his promise of assistance, receives unique directions enchanted on to a letter of introduction so that he might travel to the Maze and not find himself and Jorgenson back where they started. 

  • Geography: The Tuton Labyrinth is somewhere in the western Tuton Maug. Current Guild intelligence suggests it is east of the Crossroads (#54), north of the source of the Red River (#260) and near the Vanishing Stones (#56). Overflights by the Airwardens of the UTF have been unable to spot their community which the Arcane Guild believes, and Zariya later confirms, numbers over 1,000 inhabitants. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #333 

November 30th, 2023 

  • Number: 333 

  • Name:  Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 4 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas  

  • Population (approx.): 2700 (Southbank) 

  • Brief: As Zariya made his way across Taodeas, he had some time to ponder the tools of magicians, specifically and most importantly, the power that fueled their enchantments. Ancient casters simply and coarsely forced what mana they could collect into effects by force of will. As magic became more structured, casters developed processes, aka rituals, that allowed them to repeat the magical effects they previously created. Eventually the rituals were refined, compacted, grouped into schools or Ways and codified into repeatable spells taught to every apprentice across Aenwyld. With spells came items developed to support the magician, whether devices to hold spells via rune or inscription, devices to cast spells or devices to provide power to the caster for their own enchantments. Usually these devices were physical items; rings, runes, staves and wands, but Zariya had read about rarer methods to craft items that brought them “closer to home” as it were. Thus, after several days in Far Harbor and Southport, Zariya is surprised to receive a note from a man, concerned that his wife, a notable illusionist, is dabbling in a unique and potentially dangerous form of personal enchantment. 

  • Vayeira (Vay), 217, female Eladrin of Winter, is a powerful illusionist and a secret ink mage. She is of average height and painfully thin. Her long black hair has silver streaks and is worn in a bun most days. Vay's eyes are sea blue and have a sparkle about them. She wears elaborate robes that have exciting patterns woven into the fabric. She also wears a toolbelt that carries all the supplies she needs for her spells. Vay uses a sturdy, oaken staff that aids her magical abilities. Her magical familiar is a pure white cat named Marwel. 

  • Vay uses her illusions as an entertainer for the city of Southbank. She makes up weekly stories and crafts her illusions based on the story. Her husband, Jorreth, 225, male Eladrin of Spring, creates puppets to supplement the illusions. Their show is very popular, and people travel miles to see it.  

  • Vay is also a secret ink mage, and her entire body is full of tattoos that provide her power. Vay collects books and scrolls about ink magic but has only shared her unique abilities with a few people. Jorreth worries about the deals that Vay makes to secure more spells. Vay has dealt with some shady people to get her powerful magic. 

  • Vay and Jorreth live in a house in what passes for an upscale neighborhood in Southbank. They are wealthy enough to have a few servants. Vay has a secret room for practicing her ink magic. Vay and Jorreth have several children and grandchildren. Jorreth visits them regularly, and Vay used to. The more Vay uses ink magic, the less she wants to be with anyone who might accidentally see her tattoos. 

  • Zariya secretly meets with Jorreth, the latter describing Vay’s ink magic and his concerns. Zariya diplomatically explains that each magician’s methods are their own to choose, but, if there is a potential of a threat of Corruption, then the Guild would indeed have a concern. He agrees to assist Jorreth and they contrive to allow Zariya access to her secret study while the couple performs their weekly shows. With a device borrowed from the local chantry, Zariya fortunately determines no signs of Corruption but bites his tongue at what he sees otherwise. He offers Jorreth some notes, from his research, on potentially signs and symptoms and the name of a trusted confidant in the Far Harbor Arcane Guild across the river. 

  • Geography: Vay and Jorreth live in Southbank (#121) on the south side of the Tauoi River opposite the larger city of Far Harbor (#36) on the northern bank in the City-State of Noldrune. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #334 

December 1st, 2023 

  • Number: 334 

  • Name:  Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 5 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas  

  • Population (approx.): 278 (Northbend) 

  • Brief: Zariya’s introduction to the Stonefellow by Josys Fiddlebit was intriguing to the scholar. Since magic was codified, magicians have been able to summon creatures from either their surroundings or from other realms whether spiritual, elemental or physical. The creatures usually returned whence they came upon expiration of the enchantment. The next evolution of the spells was to allow the caster to attach the creature to themselves so that they would serve as a servant, companion or usually bodyguard. That attachment was usually permanent until either served by decision of the magician or their untimely demise. So how has the Stonefellow remained in place all these years? Several days of pondering brought the answer to Zariya. He speculates that the summoner is indeed dead, but his spirit has not departed Aenwyld hence maintaining the link to the Stonefellow. But where might the spirit be? To answer this question, Zariya continues along the Matui river to the village of Northbend to meet a pair of adventurers and their daughter all with recent experience with undead of the region. 

  • Gatty Havenshaper, 23, female Human, is a bard and sound Mage. She is short and full-figured. She wears her auburn hair long in waves that cascade down her back. Her jade-green eyes are warm and friendly. Gatty wears glasses and has a large selection of them. Her favorite outfit is a long skirt and a blouse with ruffles. She uses a specialized leather strap to attach her lute to her back. She also plays the recorder and a harmonica and wears those about her person.  

  • Gatty has always been musical and loves to play and sing. While adventuring with her parents, a ghost attacked. Gatty was so scared that she vocalized an attack that damaged the ghost. Ever since then, Gatty has been experimenting with her sonic abilities, and she has discovered they are pretty powerful. Gatty's family has also tried to find her a mentor and hasn't had any luck. Sonic magic seems to be very rare 

  • Gatty lives in a mid-size cottage with her parents, Ronan, 43, and Nikki, 42. When not adventuring, Gatty entertains people by playing her music at the Jaded Book Inn. She also dates Axel, 24, male Human, a Barbarian who writes poetry. Her best friend is Gilla Autumnfall, 22, female Human, a barmaid at the Jaded Book Inn. The two of them enjoy gardening and talking about men. 

  • Zariya met the Havenshaper family several years ago when Gatty’s secondary powers manifested, and they sought further instruction. They welcome his return and are intrigued by his theory. Zariya produces a rough map of the area about the Church-State of Earth and Water so that Nikki and Ronan can indicate their encounters with the undead (a specialty of their Adventuring Company). The site that best fits the bill for the current home of Stonefellow’s binder would appear to be Old Ghost Lake, to the southeast over the border in the Wastelands. Zariya takes copious notes and says that when the census is complete, he plans to return to the area and explore the lake. The Havenshapers, if present at the time, would be interested in accompaning them. 

  • Geography: The village of Northbend sits on the north bank of the Matui River about 30 miles due east (longer if one follows the river) of Cestle (#331). Like Cestle, it is a typical riverbank settlement built on a rise above the spring floodline, with wooden stairs down to the docks along the water. The village is centered about the Jaded Book Inn, a large establishment catering to local hunters, forages, miners, the southernmost contingents of the Orchunters (#86) and eastern vessels of the Riverwardens (#51). Old Ghost Lake (#66) is another 40 miles upstream, being the source of the Matui River. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #335 

December 2nd, 2023 

  • Number: 335 

  • Name:  Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 6 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas  

  • Population (approx.): 411 (Crossways) 

  • Brief: As Zariya crosses the countryside having visited Old Ghost Lake, he muses on the magical phenomena, both natural and Kin-made, that he has witnessed on his journeys. Interestingly, although magicians must draw, contain and then expell magicks as part of their spellcrafting, many prefer to do their casting away from areas of notable magical natural phenomena such as two-dimensional Ley Lines or three-dimensional Essence Pools for fear of unpredictable affects that might spoil a ritual or ruin an item. Similar Kin-made magical residue like Change Storms, which swirl across ancient battlefields powered by the magics of war, are avoided. Others, such as the magicians in the City-State of Ceannar along the Gata Tele (“Great Snake”) Ley Line, take the risk so that they can use the enhanced source of essence at their fingertips or even revel in the possibilities that unusual effects might occur. And then, as Zariya ascends the steps to a lone tower in the southern Lanu Maug, there is one magician whose abilities rely upon nay demand the unexpected. 

  • Normaer (Norm) Featherbell, 245, male Elf is a wonder mage. He is tall and fine-boned. He has short gray hair with spiky ends. His violet eyes are bright and alluring. Norm wears black leggings and a teal jerkin. He uses a wooden cane with a metal top shaped like a tiger. The cane is necessary due to an accident with a tiger that cost him his left leg.  

  • Norm discovered his wonder magic when he was ninety-eight years old. Norm loves alchemy and experimenting with chemicals. One night, after a long day of research, an explosion was about to occur. Norm would have died; instead, he uttered what he thought was nonsense, and a magical shield appeared to protect him. Norm researched what happened to him and discovered that wondrous magic occurs in rare cases, and very few spells are actually known 

  • Norm's life is chaotic, and he has chosen not to settle down with a partner. Instead, he makes friends with a few carefully selected people and lets them know about his abilities after he has known them for a few years. His closest friend is Virlen Stonebreath, 260, female Elf, who helps with his research. 

  • Virlen greets Zariya at the door to Normaer’s manor. They exchange hugs, being old friends given their parallel scholarly pursuits. After a brief respite and the required formalities, Normaer insists on showing Zariya the site of his latest experiments. The next morning the pair, Jorgenson in the van, head north to the ravine known as The Crack in the World (or to locals simply The Gap). Normaer eagerly explains the seemingly bottomless crevasse is rarely the source of untethered raw chaotic essence literally burped into the skies from the depths. He uses that to fuel his wonder magic. Although nothing of note happens during their visit, Zariya does find the site of note and eagerly records his notes for the archives of the Guild. 

  • Geography: Zariya and Jorgenson's walk from Old Ghost Lake (#66) takes them northeast to meet an approximately 60 mile long mountain road, maintained by the Orchunters (#86) of Taodeas, that connects Northbend (#334) to the large village of Crossways on the eastern slopes of the Lanu Maug. It sits on a hillside looking down at the main north-south highway through Taodeas. Crossway features a large tower ajoining barracks manned by Borderwardens in support of Bloodview Fortress (#89). An unremarkable path runs north from Crossways to Normaer’s tower which is concealed in a dead-end canyon halfway between the village and the Gap (#19). 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #336 

December 3rd, 2023 

  • Number: 336 

  • Name:  Deep Dive of Subjects of Interest: Of the Accounting by Mister Zariya Savindy, Scholar, as Requested by the Arcane Guild - Part 7 

  • Location: Across the hills and dales of the City-State of Taodeas  

  • Population (approx.): 378 (Upper Orcwatch) 

  • Brief: The latter half of Zariya’s journey takes him across the northern holdings of the City-State of Taodeas. This brings him to the borders of the Orc-held portion of the Lanu Maug, a land of constant skirmishes between the underground hives and the local authorities. His thoughts turn to the use of magic in warfare. Since the dawn of Kin on Aenwyld, people used any tool available to wage war upon their perceived enemies. Magic, raw as it was in pre-history, dealt brief but very destructive effects (blasts of flame, bolts of lightning and the like). As time passed and magic became more codified and sophisticated, vast numbers of offensive spells were created. This drove defenders to research and develop equal numbers of protective spells in response. Crossing the plains, Zariya and Jorgenson approach the border watch village of Upper Orcwatch, where the Order of the Fiery Omen, a Dwarven fighting company, in conjunction with the Lanu Hillwardens defends the lands of the Dwarves to the north and the lands of the Taodean Tribes to the east. After a couple of days of working through the politics with the local commander, Belrak Mountainsong, Zariya is rewarded with a chance to meet one of his defensive spellcasting specialists. 

  • Gwynthiel (Gwyn) Darkbuster, 103, female Dwarf, is a shieldmaiden for The Order of the Fiery Omen. She is short, muscular, and beautiful. Her blonde hair hangs down her back in a long braid. Her nickel-gray eyes are fierce, and her smile is formidable. Gwyn has a scar over her left eyebrow from a previous battle. She wears chain armor with a large metal helmet. Her shield bears the picture of a shieldmaiden wielding a giant shield as a large fireball arcs through the sky. Her primary weapon and protection is the giant shield. Her backup weapon is a pair of short swords. 

  • Gwyn's mother was a shieldmaiden and trained her daughter in the ways of the shield. When she was fifty-one, Gwyn had a falling out with her mother and joined The Order of the Fiery Omen. The Order welcomed her and taught her various spells that few dwarves know. A few years later, Gwyn participated in several battles and distinguished herself. Her current duty is to protect a government official, Belrak Mountainsong, 300, male Dwarf.  

  • Gwyn lives with her new husband, Tyrim Darkbuster, 110, male Dwarf. They have purchased a small house and hope to have children shortly. Gwyn loves to sew and helps to keep her fellow shieldmaiden's armor in good condition. Gwyn loves to observe people and maintains a daily journal. Her best friend is Mistvia Everhammer, 97, female Dwarf. The two love to go to taverns where they can sing with the local band. 

  • Required inquiries complete, Gwyn offers to show Zariya about the fortifications and the adjacent village. They discuss protective magics for people, places and things. As well as the more specific mechanics of using magic with various forms of armor, a topic near and dear to Gwyn’s heart. Zariya finds the countryside is quite pretty despite the monsters concealed benearth the surface to the west in the heights.  

  • Geography: Upper Orcwatch was built in the foothills of the Lanu Maug just beyond the northeast corner of the territory of the Gray Skull Orcs (#52). It is part of the northern line of fortifications along with Orcwatch Spire (#53) to the west. The Dwarven fighting Orders patrol the underdark and the lands to the west while the Taodean Hillwardens patrol the surface and the hills to the south. Two roads lead out from the village, one east to the main highway and one north to a hill route connecting the highway to the Four Dwarven Clans (Lakeforge, Redgorge, Steelsons and Orccutters) of the Lanu Maug (#161). The centerpiece of Upper Orcwatch is the tall stone watch tower, complete with a top-level landing platform for the rare visit of Airwardens of the High Plains Drifters (#91). An adjacent curtain wall encloses barracks, stables, officer’s quarters and warehouses. Outside the wall are a variety of Inns, residences and businesses in the “V” formed by the 2 roads. 


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