Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jungles of Chult: Locales around Nyanzaru

Since the last session of the Chult game I've been busy populating the hex map with rules from the Welsh Piper's Hex-based Campaign Design posts. After the first session I'd already placed a few settlements around the north coast near the main port city of Nyanzaru, and several small encounter areas along the Tiryki River (since I knew that was my players' intended path), but I wanted more--so I redrew the map onto larger hex paper, added larger "atlas hexes" thirty miles across by drawing around the ten-mile hexes of the Chult map, and rolled some dice.

So here's a rough gazetteer of the human settlements along the north coast of Chult, around the main city of Nyanzaru, for the edification of my players, but also for anyone interested in seeing a different take on the Tomb of Annihilation: (the myriad monster lairs, ruins, and dungeons will have to be ferreted out through rumors or exploration, of course ...)


While Nyanzaru is the main port and destination for foreign traders coming to make it big in Chult, Dya serves as the port and warehouse center for local trade between the towns along the north coast of Chult. Goods from Binin and Moata to the west come across the mountain pass just south of Dya, are sold to merchants and warehoused there, and thence are sold to Ngana, Nyanzaru, Fort Beluarian (and through Beluarian to inland Wtunga); and the goods from the other settlements needed in Binin, Moata or beyond naturally pass through Dya going the other way.

The population of Dya is predominantly Ido; Chultan albino dwarves own and work the tin mines in the mountains above the town. Oloya Oliha is the local Oloya/chief, and he is a good friend of the merchant prince Ekene-Afa in Nyanzaru. The mines, meanwhile, are owned and administered separately from the town, and are run by Kwaroth, chief of the albino dwarves, who is jealous of the rights of his people.

Dya lies sixty miles northwest of Nyanzaru on the eastern coast of the mountainous peninsula that forms the western boundary of the Bay of Chult.

High in the mountains ten miles north of Dya, an ancient and abandoned monastery clings to the cliffsides. Men, dwarves, and aarakocra all shun it--the tales tell of the place being haunted by some demonic presence, and that all those who seek the riches forgotten behind its walls are killed--or worse, damned!--by the evil things that dwell within.

Kaaraa Eyrie
Further north from Kilik-Ik, high in the central mountains of the peninsula where the views stretch east over the Bay of Chult and west over the Shining Sea, a large tribe of aarakocra of the Kaaraa tribes make their eyries. They are guided by Old Kruaak, an aarakocra so old that he can no longer fly, and by the shamaness Pree'eet, who knows the ancient secrets of speaking with and summoning the winds.

The player-characters met Skir, daughter of Old Kruaak, during their brief stint as guards on a supply run to Fort Beluarian during the first session of the game, and received tokens of friendship from her for their efforts to cure her hurts, got from a skirmish with the lizardmen of Hssa Hsi.

Fana Sirroc
Due south of Dya, high over the east-west pass between Binin and Dya, the aarakocra are said to maintain a secret shrine to the fire winds of a god unknown to man's ken. Men--and even aarakocra who have not ritually purified themselves--are forbidden even to look upon the secret fane.

On the west coast of the peninsula some twenty miles southwest of Dya stands the fortress Iduna-So, tower of the sorceress Ekundaya and her consort-apprentice Ziba. Iduna-So protects the coast road leading from Dya and the mountain pass under Fana Sirroc to the north down to Ngana to the south by the Soshenstar River delta.

Ekundaya is an hereditary Oloya, responsible for seeing to the defense and maintenance of the coast; but though her castle is well-manned with over a hundred men-at-arms, she is herself preoccupied with her growing age and in seeking out magical means of increasing her own longevity. She was a rival of the Nyanzaran merchant prince Wakanga when the twain were younger, and will gladly recount tales of their magical spats (though she will conveniently forget that she was more often the loser ...). Moreover, Ekundaya owns a sizable hadrosaur ranch on the banks of the Soshenstar and so has a vested interest in the dinosaur races that take place on the streets of Nyanzaru and many other Chultan settlements--and the gambling that takes place around the races.

As for Ziba, it is generally thought that he is using his handsome youth to take advantage of Ekundaya, to study from her magical libraries for the price of flattering her and her self-image.

On the western coast of the peninsula, on the shore of an inlet at its base, stands the fishing-town of Binin. Or rather, a collection of fishing towns and villages that have sprawled together over the years, all overlooked by the Golden Hall of Binin ruled by the Oloya Igo.

Alas for Igo and for the people of Binin, some evil has come over the land ... once proud with fine searovers and fighting-men, the land has been emptied of promising young men so that it seems the whole of Binin is filled only with children, women, and old men and crones. Only Igo remains in his palace, and his jalis sing him of the ancient deeds before the land was cursed.

And the nature of the curse is that an evil spirit seems to have come to dwell in Binin; it is widely said that the warriors who once dwelt with Igo in his halls perished in a series of bloody nights, killed in their sleep; and all their attempts to catch or to fight against the spirit were in vain, only leading to more death--and so all the warriors of Binin have fled elsewhere, leaving Igo to his empty memories ...

Twenty miles north of Binin, still on the western coast of the peninsula, the fortress of Moata rises above the waves of the Shining Sea on a high headland. Emeka is the Oloya there--or he claims to be an Oloya, despite lacking any official pedigree. He is an old seadog and sometime pirate, and he has taken in a number of Igo's former warriors who fled the evil in Binin. It is said that some wish to return to Binin, overthrow Igo, and with their young strength to cast off the evil that has befallen the land.

High along the seacliffs northwest of Moata live a tribe of aarakocra led by Kri'isa, who is friendly with Emeka. She and her fellows often fly over the ocean scouting out fish or ships for the galleys of Moata to chase. These aarakocra are related to the tribes of the Kaaraa Eyrie, but do not always see eye-to-eye with their kin.

Back on the eastern side of the peninsula, at its base and some twenty-five or so miles west of Nyanzaru, the town of Ngana stands on the north bank of the Soshenstar River's delta. Ngana is another Ido town like Binin and Dya, and a rich one at that--the hills are dug through with copper mines worked by slaves, mines owned not by dwarves but by the Oloya of Ngana and the merchant-princes of Nyanzaru. Combined with the tin from Dya, the copper is worked into the beautiful bronze sculptures and art that have made Ngana rich.

The Oloya of Ngana is Ogano, a wealthy Ido man who is popular with the local young men because of his liberality with palm wine and because of his jalis that sing the deed-songs of the Ido. Ogano looks back to the days before the coming of the Omuans with nostalgia, and he and his cohorts long for a return to independence from the Omuan suffetes and merchant-princes of Nyanzaru.

Ngana is the center of the Cult of Gu the Iron God (or the Bronze God as he is also known in Ngana), chief of smiths, hunters, magic-users, dogs, and rum.

Palm Orchards of Enogie Ishau
But Gu is not alone in Ngana--a religious order dedicated to the brewing of palm wine and the oracle of Enogie Ishau's head has its headquarters in the orchards just south of town along the north bank of the Soshenstar. Ikenna is the chief priestess of the Priests of the Palm and Gourd, which oversees production and distribution of palm-wine.

The tale is that Ishau, an Enogie of the spirit world, was walking the world in a destructive rage, burning towns and forests and slaughtering peoples, and his wrath was only ended when he stopped to drink of palm-wine from a gourd and became so drunk that he fell asleep. And while he slept, the warrior gods Gorm and Madarua came and cut up his body and scattered the pieces all around the world--but the head they kept beside the palm tree and the gourd, and fed it wine when it called out, and asked of its wisdom when they needed advice.

So the Order of the Palm and Gourd maintain the palms, and also enjoy the prestige of possessing the oracle of the demon Ishau's head which they can feed with wine and ask things of.

Iya Afa
About thirty-five miles west of Ngana and the Palm Orchards, following a road that runs through the thin jungle along the mountains' foothills, lies the town of Iya-Afa, yet another Ido mining-town. But the mines of Iya Afa provide rich silver, a royal metal, and so the lord of Iya-Afa, one Ijayo, is allowed to retain the ancient title of Enogie.

Ijayo is friends with many men in high places, especially outdoorsmen and hunters; he often invites Ogano of Ngana, or the merchant-princes Jobal and Ifan-Talro'a out to his estates near the jungle to hunt boar, leopard, shield-heads, or even the terrible mouth-dragons.

Iya-Afa is the center of the cult of Merikka, goddess of yams, grains, and growing things, but a curse seems to have fallen over the temple--the chief priestess fell ill, spoke of fevered dreams of rotting things, and has since disappeared; and now there are rumors spreading even unto Nyanzaru that strange new forms of worship are become common in Iya-Afa with the failing of the cult of Merikka.

Hssa Hsi
North of Nyanzaru are three fingers of land that jut into the Bay of Chult; somewhere in the mangroves and estuaries and saltwater marshes of these tidelands is rumored to be Hssa Hsi, the village of the lizardmen. Several tribes of lizardmen are known to haunt the mangroves and swamps; they are allowed to remain because they offer semi-regular tribute to the suffetes and merchant-princes of Nyanzaru (and because actually hunting them down through the swamps would be a fool's errand), but rogue lizardmen and brigandage are fairly common in the swamps of the Three Fingers.

When the lizardmen get too uppity, the merchant-princes are wont to offer a small bounty for every lizardman tail brought in, until the creatures remember to send adequate tribute of pearls and woven feather cloaks ...

Fort Beluarian
A Flaming Fist outpost some sixty or so miles northeast of Nyanzaru, Beluarian was built to protect the Flaming Fists' rights to the Wtunga Mine. These rights were purchased for a large sum from the merchant-princes, and the charter is allowed to remain in the hands of the Flaming Fist Company only as long as the merchant-princes deem the relationship profitable. Supplies are run to the Fort from Nyanzaru by boat around the Three Fingers, and ingots from the mines are shipped back to Nyanzaru the same way.

Giant saltwater crocodiles have recently begun disrupting these supply-runs, and Liara Portyr, commander of Beluarian, has spread word that she is willing to offer substantial bounties for proof of these crocodiles' demise.

Wtunga Mine
Just twenty miles southeast of Fort Beluarian, the Wtunga Mines are worked by slaves purchased by the Flaming Fist. The mine had lain abandoned for a time, thought to be tapped out, when the Flaming Fist purchased rights to explore and mine it. Now it's a thriving iron mine, after Thrain Throrson a dwarf from the north explored it.

The mine head is protected by another small fort, ruled by Lady Ibasha, an Ido woman with a keen sense of tactics whom Liara Portyr sponsored to be their head-woman at the mine itself.

Not all is well at Wtunga--encounters with boars and leopards have increased in recent weeks, and rumors have begun to spread the the forest and mountain spirits are angry with the reopening of the mine--and that maybe the closing of the mine to begin with was because of a curse laid down by the forest itself.

Iya Ifa
On the coast northeast of Beluarian and Wtunga Mine lie a collection of fishing towns and villages collectively known as Iya-Ifa, ruled over by the Oloya Eweka from his coastal towers.

The fishermen of Iya-Ifa are known to be especially good sailors and well-attuned to the fickle moods of the sea--and many are the tales of them taking sea-brides, or of the women of the village seeking out octopus-husbands beneath the waves. What is certain is that the people of Iya-Ifa, though they eat scaled and finned fish in every variety and in many excellent dishes, they consider shellfish, octopus, and squid all taboo and will not eat of them, or even touch a dead specimen.

Iya-Ifa is also a main cult center for Olokuna, the hermaphroditic water god/dess sometimes counted as a consort of Ubtao, or as the spouse of warrior goddess Madarua.

Wadi Suchos
Southeast of Nyanzaru some thirty to forty miles, in the thick of the jungle, lies the settlement of Wadi Suchos. Not quite a town in the traditional sense, Wadi Suchos is a permanent waypoint for the bands of Turkana herdsman that move through the jungles and along the northern coasts of Chult, trading in all the major towns and then moving on in their nomadic way.

There is a permanent bazaar, including many Omuans and Ido who dwell there to turn a profit from the continual flow of people through the streets of the Wadi. And moreover, there are a number of saurians that live there as well, intelligent enough to live at peace among men--shield-heads, hadrasaurs, club-tails, all living in semi-partnership.

Wadi Suchos, as one might guess from the name, is also the center of the old cult of Suchos, a saurian god variously depicted with a crocodile head, a sail-back head, or even a mouth-dragon head. The temple of Suchos sits in the center of the bazaar, and the bazaar itself is surrounded by stone colossi shaped like mouth-dragons with gems for eyes. Any attack against the town or temple (be it from undead, Batiri, pterrafolk, etc.) causes the eyes to flash and a deep roar to sound over the jungle, and within minutes, a tribe of mouth-dragons arrives from their lair in the jungle nearby to wreck whatever attackers they find ...

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