New Campaign Started – The Wardlands

   Posted by: Blackbird   in Wardlands

We’ve started up a new campaign for this summer.  This campaign will again feature a somewhat low magic/low level campaign and John K and I have been working on to release as a module.  Here’s the background for the setting:

The Wardlands are a wild terrain full of forested hills, swampy valleys, and big tracks of windswept rolling grasslands.  Steep hills, eroded valleys, thick vegetation and boggy swamps make travel outside the wagon trails very difficult.  There are a few rivers flowing east that are used as transportation.  Skiffs and barges make regular trips (once every couple of moons) down from the mining outposts in the mountains delivering silver and trading for supplies.  In the ward lands there are four main outposts, West Ward, Eddyton, Jacob’s Bench, and Sootrock camp, other notable locations include the former outpost of Delain, and the mining town of Delvin located on the eastern edge of the Grey Mountains.   West Ward is the largest of all of the settlements.  Eddyton is based off the Ein river which flows about 2 weeks ride to the south on the southwestern side of the Reaching Bog.  Jacob’s bench is about 20 days ride to the East and is little more than a collection or roadhouses, Inns, taverns, and shops.  It is the smallest settlement but a major vein of trade. Sootrock camp is north west of West ward only 10 days travel.  It is a military outpost housing a couple hindered soldiers as a means of protecting against the Orcs and Gnoll tribes in the mountains and serving as a strong arm for trade and territory negotiations with the drwarves who also have settlements in the Grey Mountains.

There are a few families here and there living out in the wilds making a living droving, hunting, or trying to farm the tough land.  Where the rivers and roads meet with each other a roadhouse can be found, but those that live outside the walls of a settlement must contend with bandits, thieves, isolation, and all the other trouble that comes with being alone in the wilds.   Even farmers and trappers who make their living trying to ply the land of goods don’t stray far from areas that they know.  The people speak of ghosts and wild spirits, others claim that the hills run wild with orcs, gnolls, trolls, and giants come down from the mountains in search of human blood.  Others say that the wind and weather themselves conspire to douse fires and bring chill deep to the bones of those foolish enough to try to survive without shelter.  This sort of attitude was common during America’s frontier and while many risked lengthy wagon crossings the safety and comfort of a town was nearly always preferable.

All of the settlements in the area would be considered filthy to modern standards, none of the areas has a sewer, and water is provided from wells or a river.  All of the towns have suffered from some form of sickness before and medicine is not commonly available.  A few clerics and enterprising wizards have scattered themselves across the frontier providing services.  Most are met with suspicion, and distrust as such services are not often cheap and wizards never fail to collect.

Humans are the newest residents to the Wardlands and easily the most populous.  With most of the humans coming from a sizable civilization in the East others have come from other lands and cultures but 90+% of the human residents in the Wardlands are “locals” settlers, pioneers, traders, miners etc.  Humans are attempting to settle this land to provide a reliable pathway for goods to flow out of the Grey Mountains.
History: The first human explorers first arrived in the Wardlands 100 years ago and began to settle about 40 years ago, and have had a hard fought time on the frontier.  First there was trouble with the nomadic elven tribes which razed early settlements until gold was discovered in the broken crown mountains and the army moved out to secure those holdings.  Now the elven tribes have been displaced to the cold southern Ghost Grass Plains well to the south of the Broken Hills.  For nearly 10 years there was unchecked expansion in the Wardlands until 20 years ago when the Orc tribes came down out of the mountains killing and burning anything they saw fit.  Some of the attacks were thwarted by winter, while others were turned back by local militias or elements of the army.  The orcs still remain a constant threat to human settlements and now in the Grey Mountains the relations with the Dwarfs are extremely strained.  The a mounted force under Captain Allanstar is in position at the Sootrock Camp to try and ensure security of the mining settlements.

Dwarves: Dwarves live hard and short lives while Dwarf civilization was at one point much more civilized and structured since the cataclysm the Dwarves have begun to become a barbaric and savage people.  Dwarves are beset by those at all sides of their territory, goblins and orcs have been raiding their mines and passages in ever increasing numbers and humans are now mining their lands as well without any regard for the structures that the Dwarves have underneath.  Many human interventions such as damming creeks, the use of blasting powder and magics to convert large quantities of rock to mud or dust have been costly to the Dwarves, flooding tunnels or collapsing them.  Most Dwarfs distrust humans as being shifty and impulsive and they hate the goblins and orcs with a righteous fury.  Most Dwarves are part of one working caste or another most being builders trying to find the lost tunnels which will reconnect their people with the rest of Dwarf society.  Most Dwarves live in abysmal conditions crowded into passageways and caves with little sanitation and work in grueling, dusty, noise filled dark places.  Few Dwarves outside the ranging caste ever see the surface and the Dwarves are wholly unequipped to live on the surface.  Most Dwarves are vegetarian and eat fungi, lichen and other plants that grow in the deep and dark places in the earth.

Elves: Elves have lived a nomadic life in the Wardlands for an unknown amount of time, elves have little written history, but their stories suggest that they have lived on the Wardlands for several hundred years.  Various clans and factions exist in elven society but all retain a nomadic nature.  Elves are openly hostile or standoffish among humans who they see as being usurpers of their land.  Elves are greatly skilled arches but possess little to no metallurgy skills making the armored knights and footmen of the human armies challenging foes.  Elves are fantastic horsemen or skilled trackers depending on what tribes they come from.  Few speak common but some have learned to read and write.  Some enterprising human traders will strike south into the cold Ghost Grass Plains to the south of the ward lands to trade with the various tribes.


West Ward –
History: West Ward is the most populous settlement but not the largest in terms of area.  Set between 3 rises the town started as a logging camp, harvesting trees from the Hardwood Forest and sending them down the Ein river towards Eddyton.  The town was originally based around a bridge over the Ein river, which was destroyed in an attempt to keep Zal Urgroth and his tribe of Black Back orcs from wiping out the settlement 11 years ago.  A former adventurer Westen (Wes) Culling, organized the community into a passable milita and managed to hold back the orcs.  Afterwards, he was appointed Mayor and set about creating a defensible township.  The town now has a full wall around it with a reinforced watchtower on each of the three rises around town.
People: The residents of West Ward or Warders as they call themselves view themselves as hard working folk who are frequently taken advantage of by outsiders.  They feel that Eddyton does not pay enough for their timber and merchants bringing goods to West Ward inflate their prices.  They frequently fail to see themselves doing the same thing to the residents of Delvin, the mining camp in the Grey Mountains.  Warders honor self-sufficiency and most know at least 3 trades.  All visitors who want to enter the city walls must pay a tax.  While physical violence is looked down upon thievery is punished more severely, a bar fight which results in a death is likely to earn the guilty party 1-2 years of hard labor, while burglary can see a man sentenced to death in a cage or hung in the Looter’s Square.  Most male residents are lumberjacks, carpenters, hunters, or drovers.  The poorer residents hunt for bog iron in the marshes near the Ein river, or make charcoal.  The men work hard, drink dangerously strong alcohol called “The Sap”, and have a strong sense of pride.

Eddyton – Eddyton sits on the southern edge of the Flatwater lake.  Eddyton looks very disorganized and typically 1/3 to half of the simple stone buildings are vacant.  Since the lake floods regularly every year with spring/summer melt from the Grey Moutains the buildings closest to the shore flood, half a mile to the south there is a small rise that another collection of buildings are on that serve as the summer housing for most of the residents.  Eddyton is a muddy, cold place with most of the residents making a living off the lake or by farming.  The Mud Road runs between the two settlements of Eddyton, and provides the main avenue for trade for the region.  Most goods are exported directly from Eddyton, fewer traders make the extra journey up to West Ward on the less traveled Grey Road.
History: With no central government there’s no way to fully tell who orginally founded the town.  Some claim that it was settled by escaped prisoners, others claim that the original settlers were members of West Ward who got tired of the uptight attitude up there.  No matter what the story is, most residents agree that Eddyton has always been a town for rebels.  The area is fairly rich in natural resources with ample fish in the Flatwater lake, game in the Reaching Marsh, and plains that flood seasonally nearby.  Despite all of this it is a cold region seeing more snow than West Ward does to the north.  Fierce winds howl across the plains, the water is shockingly cold and ices over in the winter.
People: Eddyton has no central government and has far more petty crime than West Ward.  Thieving is commonplace, and multiple gangs run various factions within the town, but most physical violence is contained, crimes against property such as vandalism, , and pointless destruction are the most serious.  Trials for such a crime are simple, the accused is taken out to the middle of the lake and thrown in.  If they can swim back to shore in the freezing water they are innocent.  If not, the situation resolves itself.  To date most residents can think of only 2 or 3 people proved innocent in a trial in Eddyton.   The purpose of the multiple gangs that run the town typically isn’t to create crime but rather to control resources.  For example, the Wet Boots control the docks charging fees to use them, while the Muck Rakers claim the edges of the Reaching Marsh and forbid anyone from hunting there who does not belong to them.  All aggressively barter and haggle over goods and services.  With no militia there’s no walls or defense measures in the town, instead if the town is threatened the residents pack up and put their long boats out into the lake.  Having to move seasonally ensures that there’s little that can’t be grabbed quickly.  Most male residents are territorial, social, and aggressive salesmen.  There are more people in Eddyton than there is work to do typically so most of the men spend their time selling the services of their gang, ensuring that others have paid for services, or buying and trading goods from merchants.  The women of Eddyton clean fish, cook, manage households, and farm.  Most farming is done for beans, lentils, and other high starch crops. The women of Eddyton are seen as possessions by most of the men even being used as a form of high value currency in some transactions.

Sootrock Camp – This camp is situated up next to Queen’s Eye Lake in the Broken Crown Mountains.  This high camp is located on a stark stretch of dark earth dotted by obsidian boulders.  The camp is commanded by Captain Allanstar who has a full compliment of 300 soliders and 40 heavy horse Calvary.  They have been deployed at Sootrock for 8 months now and are expected to winter back at one of the other settlements.

Delain Ruins –
These ruins located upstream of the Flatwater lake and in the Broken Hills are the remains of a settlement destroyed a year ago by Orc raiders.  Delain was supposedly well defended and situated in Tragedy Canyon just downstream of Dancer Falls.  Delain was once the jewel of the Wardlands, a fortified town in an beautiful setting, it’s fall has only hardened the resolve of the men of the Wardlands against the orc tribes.  It is unknown how the settlement fell.  Few have been to the ruins save for the soliders.  Most stay well away from them for fear that they are haunted or still inhabited by orc raiders.
Jacob’s Bench – This settlement is little more than a collection of road houses, taverns and inns loacted well to the east of the Wardlands.  It is at a major crossroads and a principle point of traffic to the region.  Most merchants come through Jacob’s Bench.  This far east of the Wardlands most travelers have little to fear from Orcs but bandits work the roads before vanishing into the plains.  A group of rangers have setup outposts along or off the road tying to enforce the peace.

Delvin – This hugely successful mining colony sits at the base of a bowl in the Grey mountains beneath Sunlight Peak.   Multiple claims have yielded huge fortunes in the area.  However the Karrak Clan of Dwarves also has claim to the area.  The Dwarves are natives to the mountains and view all the riches within them to be theirs, they also view the human mining efforts to be dangerous to them and have launched attacks against mines that have collapsed or flooded Dwarven tunnels.  The Dwarven clan attacked the settlement of Delvin and were only turned away when the residents of Delvin turned over much of their material wealth in exchange for a few year’s rights to mine the nearby area.  Since then heated disputes between the two as to the actual length of the treaty and what rights were conveyed have become commonplace.

People: Delvin has since grown into a stone and mortar fortress with miner’s leaving the settlement to go out and work their claims at great risk to themselves.  More than a few fortunes have been made in Delvin and as a result most of the residents are keen on making their own.  Some are simply looking to get as much money out of the miners as possible before the entire operation collapses, others are trying to extract their fortune directly from the mountains themselves.  The town is effectively lawless with a loose collection of miners and business owners performing any negotiations with the Dwarves.  One common trait among all of the residents is that everything is done in a rush.  There is a great sense of urgency among everyone here, people talk fast, make deals quickly, fall in love, get rich, go bust, and start anew all in the span of a fortnight.

Terrain types:

The Reaching Marshes: This deep moor stretches from the eastern end of the Flatwater Lake almost all the way to the Grey Road leading to West Ward on the far south eastern edge of the marshes the Fie river begins and flows east into the plains.  The marshes have been continuously growing and over the years have claimed several settlements that were based on the edges of them.  Strange creatures have been sighted in the marshes and the sound of those that used to live in the area still haunts the bogs.  Only brave hunters will seek out their quarry here and no travelers pass through the area.  Some of those outcast from West Ward and Eddyton have been seen at the edges of the bog trying to eek out a life in exile.

The Broken Hills: These western hills have the Sine river running through them towards the basin that holds Flatwater lake.  This is a rough land dotted with rocky outcroppings and covered in tall pinewood forests.  Many wild animals make their homes here, including many packs of wolves, and savage great bears.  There used to be a few settlements such as Delain in the area but they were all razed when Zal Urgroth came down out of the Grey Mountains with his Black Back Orcs 12 years ago.  It’s said that the orcs failed to loot the ruins effectively and that great riches can be found in the ruins for those brave enough to look.

Hardwood Forest: This great forest stretches from West Ward down to the northern edge of The Reaching Marshes.  The Hardwood forest used to be a home to the nomadic elven tribes before they were driven out by the human settlers.  Some of their blazes and charms can be seen on trees deep in the woods.  The Hardwood forest is the principal resource for West Ward, and many loggers have camps on the edge of the wood or cabins deeper in it.

Flatwater Lake: This large lake towards the south is deep and still with the Sine river flowing in from the west and the Ein from the north.  The lake spills out towards the Reaching Marshes in a number of tributaries, a number of which eventually combine to form the Fie river to the east.  Flatwater Lake is home to the settlement of Eddyton.  The lake floods annually during the spring melt which consumes the buildings closest to the water’s edge, forcing the residents to move to buildings further away during the spring.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 13th, 2010 at 5:33 pm and is filed under Wardlands. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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