The Edge Of Shadows
THE EDGE OF SHADOWS 1. CAMPAIGN BRIEFING A BRIEF HISTORY OF TARREN’S KEEP The Western Heartlands have always been in the middle of nowhere, an afterthought between the bustling cities of Waterdeep1, Baldur’s Gate and Suzail2. Just mile after mile of rolling hills and meadows, giving ample opportunity for any brave or foolish adventurer to carve out a petty kingdom of their own. One such man was Silvius Tarren, formerly of Arabel3, who together with a couple of fellow adventurers4 built a keep overlooking the Chionthar River. Most keeps were doomed to failure, all over the Western Heartlands there are ruins of long dead dreams of kingship, but Tarren’s Keep survived, even thrived, a small river port was established, catering to the needs of the great barges travelling up to Elturel and Scornubel. Figure 1 – The Western Heartlands, Tarren’s Keep is directly south of the first E in Elturel, north of the Chionthar River Then disaster struck, one hundred years ago, the mages of Faerun all went mad and nothing was the same again. While Tarren’s Keep was not directly affected, the cities upriver were effectively destroyed, all trade ceased for several years and the fledgling community was almost abandoned. But 1 Waterdeep is at the end of the road running northwest from Boareskyr Bridge 2 Suzail is the capital of the Kingdom of Cormyr, on the road running northeast from Proskur 3 Arabel is in the Kingdom of Cormyr, a half-week to the north of Suzail 4 Asar, a human from Westgate and Iramine, an elven sorceress from Myth Drannor Lord Tarren, Lady Iramine and their loyal companion Sir Asar defended the town from the monsters unleashed by the Spellplague5. Sometime later Lord Tarren died a natural death and although the Keep stumbled a little without his wise leadership, a new system of elected mayors kept everything running smoothly. The cities recovered as well, an order of Paladins devoted to Amaunator6 moved into Elturel and raised a second sun into the sky above their adopted city. Trade isn’t back to pre-Spellplague levels but is running along the river again particularly as Baldur’s Gate is now the largest city in the world. The Morninglord’s sun has had an effect on Tarren’s Keep, it’s visible from the Keep, though very low in the sky, casting a reddish light that is easily enough to see by even in the middle of the night. But only a few miles away, the sun is hidden by the horizon so night truly does fall. Because of that the Tarren’s Keep area is sometimes called the Edge of Shadows. That isn’t to say that everything is completely peaceful. The Western Heartlands is a productive and potentially wealthy region, what’s more tempting, whoever rules the area has a strong claim to rule the Sword Coast7, the Dragon Coast8, even the Dalelands9. The countryside around Tarren’s Keep will be interesting for any adventurer for many years to come. THE POWERS OF THE WESTERN HEARTLANDS THE KINGDOM OF ELTURGARD has been formed from the order of paladins that settled in Elturel after the Spellplague. They have annexed the cities of Triel and Scornabel, almost taking over in Tarren’s Keep too but being foiled by the independence of the Tarren’s Keep inhabitants. Elturgard provides the most visible sign of civilization in the area, the Riders of Justice10, often seen on white horses around the Tarren’s Keep region. Most new coinage in circulation11 is from Elturgard, the newest coins bearing the face of King Stefan Tresek “Just because they can put a sun up into the sky doesn’t mean they can tell Tarrenmen what to do” – Mayor Andrijan Lenar THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE GLORIOUS SUN started off by ruling Elturgard, but have left the leadership of the kingdom to others, remaining purely devoted to the campaign against evil. Their latest project is Fort Morninglord, said to be directly above a drow city12 and just across the river from Tarren’s Keep. Relations between the Keep and the Brotherhood are cordial, but no group of 5 Spellplague is the name for the madness, it has recurred since but less fiercely every time and not in recent years though it still occurs in the Plaguewrought Land far to the southeast. 6 Amaunator is the god of the sun, formerly known as Lathander the Morninglord. 7 The Sword Coast is the coastline up from Baldur’s Gate towards Waterdeep 8 The Dragon Coast is the coastline of the Dragonmere to the east of the campaign map 9 The Dalelands are a collection of wooded valleys to the north of Cormyr 10 The Riders of Justice are a semi-official police force operating in the lands that Elturgard claims 11 A lot of money circulating dates to before the Spellplague, see Currency section for more details 12 The Drow City in question is known as Vierfryn Figure 2 – The Symbol of Amaunator people are quite Good enough for the Glorious Sun and the Brotherhood allows no interference in their mission. Despite their name, they do admit members of both genders if they are truly devoted to fighting evil. “We shall rid the land of all evil, you can stand with us or not, but do not get in our way or we will consider you as evil as the drow” – High Sunbrother Ivan Strelkar THE LEAGUE OF INDEPENDENT TOWNS is a new creation, inspired by Tarren’s Keep. A lot of the hamlets and villages of the Western Heartlands were founded by people who liked the fact they were far away from any authority and the rise of Elturgard has disturbed them. Membership of the League brings no obligations and the League itself has no leadership13 so it is hard to see how they can make a difference, but it’s still early days for the League. “League of what? A few farming villages, a port and fifty miles of grass, that’s all. Hardly merits such a grand title” – Chancellor Vencel Kamler14 THE LUMBER CONSORTIUM are a new player in the Western Heartlands. They have been given a charter by Elturgard to cut wood from the Werewoods15 to the south of the Chionthar. They have hired the poor of Baldur’s Gate as cheap labour and are establishing a new port16 downriver from Tarren’s Keep (about where the a is in Chionthar on the map). Tales of the Consortium’s ruthless business practices have spread far. “I admit it, we’re in business to make money and we will make sure we make money for our investors17. What’s wrong with that?” – Director Marija Kovich The Woodcrafter’s Guild is the power most directly threatened by the rise in the Lumber Consortium. They have the monopoly on wood sold in Tarren’s Keep, a long standing agreement which as the town is almost solely made out of wood is useful. Although it’s not shown on the map, there are some small woods around Tarren’s Keep that the Woodcrafters get wood from but the camps are too small scale to compete with the Consortium on price. The Guild would like to step up their operations but the local druids are not happy with that plan. “Who cares what a mad woman wearing a tree thinks about anything, a prosperous guild is a good thing for Tarren’s Keep.” – Guildmaster Colbin Ventnar 13 In fact, the League has never even met, not being able to decide which village should hold such a meeting. About the only thing that the villages have agreed on is that Tarren’s Keep is not running the League just because they are the most populous of their membership. 14 Vencel Kamler is the Chancellor of Elturgard, he is usually that sarcastic. 15 Despite its fell reputation the Werewoods seem to be no problem for the Consortium 16 Falconport population 350 (half as populous as Tarren’s Keep already) 17 The investors seem to be major merchant houses from Baldur’s Gate. Figure 3 – The guildmark of the Lumber Consortium THE RIVERMEN’S GUILD doesn’t control the Chionthar River trade, but their rates set the benchmark for all trade on the river. Their wide, flat bottomed barges with their red and white pennants are a common sight on the river. The Guild employs guards18 on every barge as only hiring them for very valuable cargoes would inform everyone that they had a very valuable cargo on board. “The Guild’s been good to me and to the folk on the river, I’ve got a regular route up to Berdusk and enough money to retire on, not that I’ll ever do that, being on land is not for me.” – Bargemaster Nil Basanovich ABOUT TARREN’S KEEP The population of Tarren’s Keep is around 750, though the area that Tarren’s Keep serves totals around 4,000 in farming hamlets and isolated farmsteads. The townfolk (known as Tarrenmen) are fiercely independent and stand up for one another. The ruler of the town is Mayor Lenar, a fair but rather grim man just about to complete his third term as mayor. PLACES IN TARREN’S KEEP THE KEEP that the town is named after is on a small bluff at a bend in the Chionthar River. The Keep is more akin to a fortified manor house than a castle with no curtain wall. It is well defended due to the steepness of the hill that it’s on. At the riverside the cliffs are sixty feet high, and even on the landside most people need to hold onto a guiderope in order to climb the hill. The mayor should live there, but the last few have preferred to reside in their houses in the town, so the only people who make the Keep their home are members of the small full-time garrison. Because the Keep is to the east of the town, it casts a shadow over the southeastern part of the town. THE SEVEN SISTERS INN is by the Castle Gate, as far away from the docks as possible, but still visitors make their way to this comfortable two-story inn and tavern. The prices are modest19, the food decent and the taproom lively, especially with Jocelyn Elmaren being the bard in residence. There are only four rooms for guests with two of them rented out long term20 meaning that most bargemen enjoy the evening here and then sleep on the river. The three storey GREATHALL is in the middle of town and was originally built as a cattle market until they set up outside the town. It’s not used for much nowadays, just for great ceremonies such as the election of the mayor and the Ceremony of the Flame21 THE WOODCRAFTER’S GUILDHALL is by the river to the east of the docks. From the two storey building the Guildmaster Colbin Ventnar makes sure that no wood enters or leaves the town without someone paying the guild fees. 18 If you are interested in guarding barges, contact Dockmaster Gregor Hammersek in Tarren’s Keep, the pay isn’t great though, 5 silvers per day for a guard, 8 if you cast magic but it’s often used by adventurers who want to go up or down river anyway. 19 Current prices, 4 silver for bed and breakfast, 3 silver for an evening meal. 20 Jocelyn has one room with another rented by Cygnar the Mysterious. 21 The Ceremony of the Flame is a blessing on the town that is repeated every few years, it involves a group of young people from the town. Figure 4 – The guildmark of the Rivermen’s Guild THE TEMPLE OF MIELIKKI22 is directly opposite the Greathall. It is staffed by one priest Avmet Prasst, newly arrived in town to serve the Lady of the Hunt. A giant set of deer antlers is above the front door to the temple and the temple itself has small shrines to the other deities, Chauntea23, Sune24, Torm25 and Ishtishia26 THE TOWN WATCH is based in a small building just beside the Greathall. Guard Captain Wisslo does have a house by the Crypt Gate, but spends most of his time here. The Watch27 themselves can be identified by their green uniforms and wooden cudgels and are fairly relaxed in their law enforcement duties. THE SMITHIES are two competing blacksmiths in the middle of town, Renet is a competent smith and works rather speedily but everyone admits that Braggar28, the dwarven smith, is a far superior smith. Braggar is patient with his work so if you need something in a hurry, give it to Renet. “You can’t hurry quality” – Smith Braggar THE TOWN GATES are left open and unpatrolled but can be shut if needed. None of them lead to long distance roads, the river is the only trade route here, but River Gate leads to the western farms and logging camps, Castle Gate to the Keep, the eastern farmsteads and Elturel if you don’t like to take a barge, Crypt Gate to the less populated north and to Tarren’s Crypt. 22 Lady of the Hunt, Goddess of Forests, Dryads and Autumn 23 Lady of the Earth, Goddess of Agriculture, Farmers and Summer 24 Lady Firehair, Goddess of Beauty, Love and Passion 25 Lord of the Oath, God of Duty, Loyalty and Obedience 26 Lady of the Waters, Goddess of Water, Purification and Spring 27 The Watch consists of Wisslo, 2 Sergeants and 10 Guardsmen, pay is good at 12 gold per month for a guardsman and 18 gold per month for a sergeant. 28 If Braggar’s not at his shop, he can be usually found savouring some fine dwarven mead at the Seven Stars.