Saturday, November 25, 2017

Some Local Color ... a Sketch of Brakeridge

The town of Brakeridge lies in the southern marches of the realm ruled by Vialar (self-styled "the Good," but colloquially known as "the Cruel"), a realm which is a remnant of the wider kingdom once ruled by the old Bronding Kings. To the east of Brakeridge by about three days' travel lies the Greyhame Mountain Dungeon, contained within the southern spur of Greyhame Mountain itself, and an object of much interest in the past few months as adventurers have once again begun expeditioning within its depths with some regularity, unearthing ancient treasures.

Despite its name, Brakeridge actually lies mostly beneath the Oak Ridge and to the south of it, a height that was anciently lined with ancient oaks and other trees, but which stands mostly naked of trees in these latter days. From atop the Oak Ridge, the aptly named Oakridge Castle overlooks the town, the castle being the seat of the local overlord.

To the south, across the Whetstone River (not the river fed by the Brokenbrand Falls, for those curious) and about two days' travel on foot, the village of Kallia and surrounding farmlands sprawl through the valleys, also subject to the local lord of Oakridge Castle. Meanwhile, north along the trade road, about a week away at most, the nearest neighbor of civilization is the walled town of Bardastead, a freetown with a charter, ruled over by a council of its own aldermen (still subject to Vialar, of course).

If one were to travel further north, one would cross through a pass and ultimately come into the personal demesne of Vialar under King's Mountain; or, taking the southern trade road beyond Kallia, one would ultimately end up in the southern city-state of Calpurnia (where my other game is "home-based"), or even ultimately find oneself in the original city-state with my first megadungeon, the Catacombs.

And to the east, across the wall of north-south mountains of which the Greyhame is a part, lies the vast and mysterious forest of the Dwimmerholt, wooded realm of Elfin queens, werewolves, and the semi-barbarous tribes of the Getae, who were driven thence by the victorious arms of the Brondings.


As of this writing, Morholt remains the local overlord in Oakridge Castle--and yet, he is a usurper, no legitimate heir to the seat of power. The rightful lord, one Albrecht, died some months before the renewed interest of adventurers in the Greyhame Mountain Dungeons; and in a surprise move, Morholt, who had heretofore been a trusted captain, with a small army of mercenaries seized both the castle and Albrecht's widow, the Lady Sonora.

Installing himself as lord, Morholt has made it known that he intends to marry Sonora and thus appropriate the lordship of the castle both physically and legally. However, Sonora continues to resist, and thus continues to be imprisoned in the keep; and it is said that Morholt is in seek of a philter of love, that he might arrange the marriage without the legal trouble of coercion.

Considering these events, the local populace is rather disgruntled, as they thought Albrecht a just lord and the lady Sonora a woman of excellent taste in the arranging of feasts. A delegation of villagers was sent to Vialar in the north to complain, but nothing has been heard back from them, and as Morholt continues to send tribute, there seems little hope that Vialar should care to intervene. Moreover, because Morholt is an avid hunter and an great carouser and feaster, the cost of his lordship has lain heavily on the people he taxes, and the people are suffering under his avaricious demands.


Within the town itself are a few places of interest:

the "Citadel" -- a watchtower, part of what was going to be a wall around Brakeridge to help better incorporate the township; the tower remains, but the walls were pulled down by Morholt's mercenaries, as he feared the rising of the locals against his usurpation. Moreover, Morholt has disbanded the local fyrd/militia, and stocked the watchtower with a company of his own mercenaries, who supposedly keep watch and keep the peace, but who more often abuse and fine townsfolk with little reason. The tower is called "the Citadel" as a kind of local joke, it being the only fortification within town, and yet still only a simple thing.

the Brokenoak Inn -- the oldest inn establishment in town, the Brokenoak is a long meadhall in imitation of the old Bronding halls, complete with an oak standing in the center as a support pillar for the center of the roof, and a dais with an honorseat (reserved for special occasions or special guests). The oak, as the name suggests, is broken--of old, a lightning bolt blasted off the top limbs, leaving a kind of pillar, around which the inn was subsequently built. Cheap fares net a guest a shut-bed in the hall; guests with more coin, however, can reserve a room in one of the outbuildings around the hall itself.

John's Place -- a simple watering hole for both locals and for the merchants and traders coming and going on the north-south trade road. There always seem to be men and women here looking for rough work, either mercenaries or laborers willing to port treasure out of a dungeon for a fee; also, the trade in war dogs along the north-south road is strangely constant, probably fed in part by Morholt's and other lords' obsession with hunting, so there are war dogs available for sale here weekly.

the Black Dragon's Meed -- (and note well the pun on "meed: reward/recompense"/"mead: alcohol from fermented honey"!) a new inn in town and a perfect place for adventurers to rent rooms and to carouse after their delves beneath the dungeon. The proprietors are Sten, a veteran halfling adventurer, and Henry, a magic-user of some repute. They may have information, advice, or perhaps even magic available for those with enough coin ...

the Shrine of Saint Ursula -- another new structure in town, built by the higher level cleric Lailith and dedicated to her Lawful Good cult of Saint Ursula, a kind of dual-deity by accident: because of the name and some of the imagery of the cult, the local people have taken Ursula to be a mother-bear goddess; which is not inappropriate, considering that the saint is one known for her especial protection of mothers and children. Lailith offers regular healing services to the local populace, and is also capable of raising dead characters back to life for the paltry sum of 300 gold (her fee as of this writing).

the Shrine of Adonai -- the newest (as of this writing) structure in town, right now a humble wooden image off to the side of the village green. This Adonai is another Lawful Good god, a god of justice, carved as a kingly figure with a sword in his lap, pouring out drink from a horn with his right hand. The image was raised by Aetheulwulf, a newly minted paladin and a delver into the Greyhame Mountain Dungeon.

the Shrine of Peoni -- (yes, I stole this goddess from Harn) the shrine of the local farmers and townsfolk, dedicated to Peoni, a goddess of growth, fertility, healing, and the simple life. Alas, the priesthood here is not capable of any great healing, other than ministering to wounds with mundane poultices; there is probably little of direct interest for adventurers here, other than the fact that local dissidents occasionally use the shrine as a kind of sanctuary place to meet in secret and discuss their hatred of Morholt ...

Thorgir's Smithy -- the local smithy and sometimes armory for the old fyrd; Thorgir and his apprentices, Aldir, Tess, and Freygir, are capable of seeing to the community's need for such mundanities as horseshoes and barrel-hoops, but also of forging simple arms like spearheads, arrowheads, shield-bosses, helms, etc. They once supplied the Brakeridge fyrd/militia; now they supply adventurers; and though they cannot make better swords and armors, they do buy them from passing merchants and resell them at their shop, meaning that adventurers can purchase anything from the B/X equipment lists in town.

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