“I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list.”
– Susan Sontag
Even a small town is filled with distinctive locations and colorful people. Every corner or back street is populated by secrets, mysteries and the potential for adventure. Or at least that’s the hope when RPG players ride up to a strange, new location. But its not practical to detail every location in every town in your fantasy world. Its a lot simpler to choose a few representative places to give the flavor of a location, and fill in the gaps as needed as the characters explore the new location.
As an exercise, we detailed one location from each of the five boroughs of Falcons’ Reach with descriptions of the structure, the offerings, and the personalities that can be encountered there. Its far from a thorough sampling, but helps to give depth to the village, and can serve as a springboard to finding adventures there.
Bucklands: Sambal’s Stumps.
Working-class tavern run by Sambal Sweetbristle. The stumps is simply a covered kitchen and service area with the brewery equipment in the cellar. The rest is open-air covered by seasonal awnings. The furniture (such as it is) is all made form various finished stumps brought in by his customers. Many loggers are quite attached to ‘their’ seats and can get quite protective of them. Beyond the standard draws of a tavern among its hard-working patrons, Sambal is known for his rich, sweet brown ale and his ever-bubbling fish pot.
Sambal is a cheery, russet-haired halfling who favors well-made, simple clothes. He is prosperous, but he still lives in the Bucklands directly across from the Stumps with his wife Lottie and a herd of little Sweetbristles. Sambal is a terrible gossip, and will drop everything to hear a good story or a juicy rumor. He is also willing to overlook a lot of what he calls ‘rowdiness’ in his tavern, and will not call in the guard for anything short of bloodletting or outright theft.
Sambal Sweetbristle, halfling hero. ST8 / IQ13 / DX14 / MA10.
T: Charisma, Business Sense, Detect Lies, Knife, Thrown Weapons, Dagger expertise. D: Gossip (Minor Social).
Dunning: The Random Axe.
Just off the crossroads of the High and Amber Roads, its hard to miss the massive broad-bladed axe buried deep into the frame of three-story building. This serves as signpost for the travelers inn and tavern known as the Random Axe. Its common room is large, warm, and bustling, and travelers from across Almeri will attest to its hospitality. The upper floors of the main building have rooms for as many as 16 guests, and the bunkhouse above the stables can sleep 20 more, if they don’t require privacy.
Looming over all of it is the Axe’s proprietor, Gorim Thengarrin. Gorim stands nearly seven-feet-tall, and is rumored to share blood with giants. He is silent on that subject, and is also silent about how and why the oversized axe got buried in the wall. Truth be told, Gorim is silent on a broad range of topics. While he is often quiet, very little in his tavern escapes his attention, and Gorum is privy to most of the secrets of the Reach.
He is dark-skinned and has thick dark hair and beard, and is usually wearing a fresh apron over his homespun clothing. He is fastidious is his preparation and service, and demands his staff adhere to his standards. The severs, almost exclusively female, do not let this detract from their hospitality or the good times had by their customers. The common room is usually a mix of locals and travelers, and is one of the most welcoming places for strangers in town. Gorim keeps a small selection of specialty spirits from a wide range of races and locales for the differing tastes of clientele. He himself is partial to Vassa — a potent, clear liquor that burns like fire — that is distilled by the Einen in the far north.
Gorim Thengarrin, human hero. ST 18 / IQ 11 / DX 12 / MA10.
T: Business Sense, Cook (MT1), Brawling, Axe, Shield, Two weapons. D: Gigantism (Minor Physical).
Emperor’s Gate: Quills Guildhall.
Looking more like a temple or a noble’s hall, the headquarters of the Guild of Quills is a tall stone with a high clerestory leaded glass panes. Beyond the entry desk is a wide, open space lined with tables, and walls ringed with bookcases rising nearly 20 feet. The rear of the building is a warren of small cities for copying, paper-making and ink-crafting, as well as losing for visiting guilders. this chamber contains copies of official records, local histories and biographies of its leaders, as well as treatises on local flora and fauna. Guildmembers are free to reference this collection, and employ guild scribes to copy any needed information. Non-guildmembers have to go through Staveholder Leandra Bellcock.
Lady Bellcock is a sturdy woman of late middle-years, and tries to give an air of motherly affection. If treated respectfully, she will be doting and filled with kind words, but is very reluctant to give away access to her collection. She will demand full disclosure from anyone looking to see the archives, and usually gains far more information than she relinquishes. She may seem like a hidebound bureaucrat, but she seeks information to aid in her many plots and schemes throughput the village. She is a master manipulator, and uses her secrets and quickly wits to induce others do her bidding. And while so many need the knowledge she can offer, they continue to do so.
The Guild of Quills is aligned with the Wizards’ Guild, but they are separate, and the wizards work to keep their secret knowledge from her archives. The new, young Staveholder of wizards has little trust for the lady, and the relationship between the two groups is currently strained.
Leandra Bellcock, human wizard, ST8 / DX 14 / IQ 12 / MA10. T: Charisma, Arcanist, Scholar, Diplomacy. S: Clearheadedness, Delete Writing, Image, Lock/Knock, Mage sight, Persuasiveness, Reveal/ Conceal, Staff II (Mana 8), Ward. D: weak eyes
Fingers: Brazen Wings.
Named for the wing-like notched V of his maker’s mark, the smithy run by the dwarf Vasara ‘Brazenbeard’ Partauch famous throughout the reach. This is because he is one of the weaponsmiths that has the skills and materials to work in the wizard-coveted bronze. The brazenbeard is a wizard himself, and is closely aligned to the guild. As such, his is reluctant to arm those not approved by its leadership.
Not all of his craft is dedicated to crafting arms for wizards, however. He works in iron and copper as well, and is known for infusing beauty in the function of his work. The front of his shop is cluttered with decorative metalwork, fine tools, and exquisite household goods carefully tended to by his sister Brita. She shares her brother’s honey-gold hair and is as effusive as he is grim.
Weapons and armor sales and commissions are all handled by Vasara himself. He is quite proud of his thick lustrous beard, and protects it in thick scarf when he is at work. He is a dwarf of very few words, and has little patience for chat beyond business. His work is typically 20-30% more than common rates, and is quick to raise prices higher for those who test his patience. One thing that he does indulge in is legends of weapons of power, and is quote curious about the details of their powers and last known locations.
He and Brita live in comfortable chambers on the second and third floors of the shop, and its rumored that he has a collection of magical weapons. It is also rumored that this collection is protected by insidious magical and mechanical traps, and those who attempt to rob the dwarf are never heard from again.
Vasara ‘Brazenbeard’ Partauch, dwarf wizard. ST13 / DX12 / IQ14 / MA8. T: Master Armourer, Assess Value, Lore. S: Fire3, Staff III (Mana 6) Repair, Stone flesh, Weapon/Armor enchantment. D: Obsessivev (minor psychological).
Notch: Kaiman’s Lines.
Even among the scaffolds and cables rising about the Notch, the rough-hewn hartwood spires of Kaiman’s stands above them all. Odder still, are the gargoyles flitting about their highest platform. Kaiman’s crew are some of the most sought-after lineman and riggers in the logging business. Her clan are native to the Arastavar, and know many of its secrets.
Persecuted and hunted by the elves, Kaiman and her flight hate the control that the elf-lords have over the hartwood stands, and its rumored that they have even assisted poachers’ logging operations. They care little more for humans, but will stand by their contracts and will do honest labor in exchange for their precious gemstones. Kaiman’s office is an open-roofed structure situated at the base of four massive posts, with several platforms rising above it. When not traveling, her flight next on these platforms and in chambers hollowed out from the huge spires.
Kaiman, timberland gargoyle hero. ST13 / DX12 / IQ10 ? MA 8 or 16. T: Logging (MT1), Rigging (MT2), Thrown Weapons, Axe, Business sense, Literacy, Common language. D: Loyal (to flight).
New creature : Timberland Gargoyles
ST12 / DX12 / IQ8 / MA8 or 16 / AD 2
These lighter cousins of mountain gargoyles make their lairs in the tops of tall trees. They have adapted to blend into this environment and it takes 4/IQ to spot a hidden gargoyle in forest canopy. The inner surface of their wings is mottled dark green, and they grow branching antlers as they age.Their grey-brown hides are not tough as their kin, and only stop 2 hits, and their claws do 2d-2 damage. They are more dextrous than the mountain varieties and are known to use tools, snares, and other tricks when hunting. In fact, their highly-flexible tails can hold and utilize tools or even daggers (-4DX to hit rear hexes).
They share the gargoyle’s love of gems and shiny objects, and have been known to accept short-term work with other races. However, their competition for territory and resources often puts them at odds with elves, who they look at as weak and untrustworthy.
Next up: Beyond the reach