I've managed to write an entry every day, even if it's only been a rushed 5 or 10 minutes. The process has been enjoyable, rewarding and actually very surprising. Apparently The Gift holds an annual football match, has a band of close-knit Border Troopers with their own slang, and is home to a very eccentric rancher. I didn't know any of these things a week ago, and this is my campaign!
|All good campaigns need a Standing Stone or two!|
The First and Last Inn
Nestled in the protective shadow of the Borderlands Keep stands The First and Last Inn; named for being the first or last taste of comfort and good cheer depending on your direction of travel in relation to the Deadlands. However, Ostler Gundigoot the proprietor of the Inn of the Welcome Wench within the village of Hommlett often claims that such a title now rightly belongs to *his* establishment, on account of being further East and set well within The Gift.
Such boasts have not been taken lightly by the Osgoods, the owners of the First and Last who in turn claim their serving wenches are of much better humour and cheer. Friendly competition is continuous between the two Inns; much stock is made as to who stocks the best beer and serves the tastiest roasts. This culminates in the annual foteball match on which the betting stakes are large and the bragging rights larger still.
Bail Barliman spent many years in faithful service to the Lords of the Shield Lands, using his almost magic-like skill to rear and train horses for their needs. Now in his sixties he has retired; taken a Land Grant within The Gift and set himself up in business as the owner of Barliwine Ranch. Here he raises horses of the finest pedigree and training as well as training the next generation of horsemen.
The demand for Barliman’s beasts is high, and surprisingly he does not always sell his horses to the highest bidder or most prestigious customer. Barliman has grown more eccentric as the years has passed, and this includes the criteria by which he judges potential clients
The Well of Foresight has stood in the dark woods of the Deadlands for as long as people have been abroad in the lands. An artefact of a long forgotten civilisation or perhaps a gift of the fey, the Well has survived the war of Elemental Evil and the barren years since. Legend has it that should a brave soul drink water drawn from within they will receive a vision of the future; some weal or woe that will inevitably come to pass.
The tallest mountain to the east of the Deadlands is known in the Common Tongue as Moradin’s Crest, named for the Dwarven God and the highest point of his realm. Here stands the entrance from the surface to the Dwarven Kingdom Below. It was from this point that the Dwarven forces marched forth to battle the Elemental Evil, but since the Alliance was broken the great gates of the Crest have stood closed, and no sign of the Army Below have been seen.
The right to free worship in The Gift is enjoyed by many faithful of Pelor the Sun God. Churches and temples of stone and timber are not required to celebrate the Sun Father; his worshippers pray outside at both dawn and dusk.
At sites of particular significance to the faith standing stones will be raised. Such a site has been marked outside the village of Hommlet; called Jozan’s Stone, named for Pelor’s foremost Saint. Here the faithful gather on the Sun Father’s High Holy days, such as the Summer Solstice and the Harvest Festival, in thankful worship.
Patrols have been regularly sent out into the Deadlands from the Keep to watch for goblinoids, bandits and other threats. These patrols can last for many days and at key points through the land rough but sturdy, defensible stone and timber structures have been built where the patrols can rest.
In Trooper slang these camps are known simply as “Home”. Resupplied with firewood and fresh water before the patrols leave, the Homes have been known to be used by other travellers whose presence is welcome provided they obey the unwritten but well known laws of hospitality that apply.
The House of the Black Spiral
The Black Spiral is a small order of monks who practice a form of spiritual contemplation and connection to the creatures of the natural world. The most obvious manifestation of their practice is their animal form martial arts. However it is said that the masters of their order take on physical aspects or attributes of the creatures. In the Shield Lands this has led to rumours of the Black Spiral being a cult of Lycanthropy or Were Forms; and the Church of St. Cuthbert has suppressed them for many years.
It should be no surprise to learn that the Black Spiral have taken a land grant in The Gift, near the Deadlands forest where they have built a training centre and home for their order. Here they can both hone their skills and commune with nature free from obvious persecution, but still treated with some suspicion by their neighbours.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these notes as much as I've enjoyed writing them. The next theme for Fifty Word Fiction will be some of the residents of The Gift my players may encounter.