Mysterious Places08/07/2007

Mysterious Places

Narwell and Woolly Bay
Area Map.

The lands along the western shores of Woolly Bay have long been known as the Wild Coast, and not without good reason. Neither the Great Kingdom of Aerdy nor the Kingdom of Keoland – the Flanaess’s two greatest empires – could tame the Coast’s fractious inhabitants. Instead, they have for centuries been havens for fugitives, outlaws, and free-spirited adventurers.

Narwell is the oldest of the Wild Coast cities. It was founded as the settlement of Naer’s Well some fourty years after the Rain of Colourless Fire by Naer, a wandering priest of Phyton, the Suel god of nature and farming. Almost immediately, Naer’s Well (or Narwell as it later became known) gained notoriety as a home to vicious bandits and highwaymen. Landlocked and far from the lucrative trade routes that saw upstart cities such as Greyhawk prosper and grow, Narwell relied as much on brigandage as it did on honest trade. Like the rest of the Wild Coast, it remained a lawless backwater for centuries, ruled over by petty tyrants and robber barons whose might alone secured their rights.

The Greyhawk Wars ended Narwell’s long independence. The town survived the wars intact, but only by submitting to the Domain of Greyhawk in return for the protection of the Greyhawk Militia. In the years after the wars, Narwell became an important military base for Greyhawk, anchoring the western end of the Domain’s defensive line against the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj.

Narwell’s new prominence proved its undoing, however, for it attracted the hostile gaze of Turrosh Mak. Early in 596 CY, the self-styled Emperor of the Pomarj unleashed a horde of some 6,000 orcs, gnolls, and ogres against the town. Passing undetected through the Suss Forest, the force fell upon Narwell with little warning, catching the town’s defenders completely off-guard. The attackers unleashed a firestorm of incendiary arrows upon the wooden palisade and the thatched roofs of the town, trapping the garrison between slaughter and inferno. A heroic last stand by the Greyhawk Militia and their commander, Captain Rubris Nenshen, allowed many townsfolk to escape with their lives. Nonetheless, by the day’s end, Nenshen’s head adorned an orc war banner, and Narwell was reduced to a field of ash and bone.

News of the fall of Narwell drew a swift response from the Domain of Greyhawk. Spurred on by the battlecry “For Nenshen and the dead of Narwell,” the Greyhawk Militia marched south in force, and in a swift and brutal campaign, encircled and annihilated the Pomarji raiders.

Narwell Today

With the orcs crushed, the Directing Oligarchy moved swiftly to begin rebuilding Narwell. The Oligarchs declared the town’s former ruler, the odious Baron Janstin (NE male human rogue 11), a traitor. The baron had fled with his personal guard before tidings of the orc attack even reached the ears of Captain Nenshen. Revoking his title and claims, the Oligarchs seized Janstin’s lands, placing Narwell and its territory under the direct rule of the Free City of Greyhawk.

The Greyhawk Militia now occupies the Baron’s Keep and the baron’s once opulent private demesne, now used to billet the 500 strong garrison. Mostly infantry, the force is bolstered by a squadron of 50 light cavalry and the 20 surviving members of the Narwell Headhunters, led by their new commander, Bladestorm (CG female half-elf ranger 8/cleric 7 [Tritherion]).

The Directing Oligarchy have made little secret of their plans for Narwell. They wish to rebuild the town, not as an independent entity, but as a colony of Greyhawk City. To this end, they have divided Narwell’s lands between the free city’s nobles, wealthy commoners (including themselves, of course) and powerful guilds, chief among them the Union of Merchants’ and Traders’. Though the town is administered by a military governor, Carrhis Palmirian (LN male human fighter 9), Greyhawk’s guilds wield great influence here.

Though many surviving natives have returned to pick up the pieces of their lives, a great number of newcomers now live in the rough and ready settlement rising from the ashes of old Narwell. Throughout Greyhawk City, notices have been posted offering land and tenancies in Narwell to labourers and craftsmen who aid in the reconstruction. The chance of a home and a new life has proven irresistible to many of Greyhawk’s poor and homeless, who have flocked south in droves.

Most of the new arrivals have been put to work on repairs to the Baron’s Keep and the stone walls surrounding the baron’s demesne. Outside the walls, the new Narwell is taking shape. Newly built shops housing artisans and merchants line old Market Street. Baron’s Way, lying as it does close to the gates to the Militia camp, has become a strip of boisterous ale houses, gambling dens and other shady dives catering to the needs of the Militiamen and labourers. Behind the street front businesses, a haphazard array of grubby labourer’s shacks and mud-streaked tents throng the back lots.

Work has begun on restoring several of the town’s temples and shrines. Before the sack, the people of Narwell favoured mainly Suel gods, especially chaotic deities, such as Kord and Norebo. Joramy, Olidammara, and Tritherion also had strong followings, as did less boisterous faiths such as Pelor, Wee Jas, and Phyton, who is revered as the patron of the town. The temple to Phyton, which stood over the site of Naer’s Well in the Baron’s Demesne, is now a blackened ruin. Despite the petitions from native Narwallers, Captain Palmirian has more pressing tasks to attend to than its restoration.

The influx of Greyhawkers has brought with it a number of new faiths – chief among them St Cuthbert, Zilchus, and Pholtus. Along with priests of Pelor, the Pholtines have been active in cleansing the ruins of undead created during the town’s destruction. Nonetheless, some unreclaimed areas remain haunted and dangerous, especially after dark. Despite repeated visits by priests of light, a sinister chill still hangs over the gutted temple of Joramy, and both locals and newcomers give it a wide berth.

The arrival of the Greyhawkers has been something of a mixed blessing for the natives. While many were grateful at first for the defeat of the orcs, some Narwallers returned to find their land occupied by settlers. Then native traders and craftsmen found that, by decree of the Directing Oligarchy, they had to either join one of the Greyhawk Guilds or pay a stiff tariff to ply their trade.

Unsurprisingly, this treatment outraged the natives. Disputes and brawls broke out regularly between Narwellers and Greyhawkers in the first few months of the resettlement, until several prominent Narweller "troublemakers" were imprisoned under the Baron’s Keep. Since then a sullen, but tense peace has settled over the town punctuated by a string of tit-for-tat beatings and stabbings. A company of the Guild of Mercenaries serve as the Town Watch, protecting Greyhawker interests and quashing Narwaller unrest under the pretence of maintaining law and order.

The pretence of law enforcement is underlined by impunity with which members of Greyhawk’s Guild of Thieves operate in Narwell. Captain Palmirian is a creature of Org Nenshen, Greyhawk’s Guildmaster of Thieves. So Nenshen’s minions have little to fear from the authorities. They have moved quickly to set up and control Narwell’s vice and gambling rackets. The thieves also extort protection money from local businesses, whether legitimate or otherwise.

However, unlike their home turf, the thieves have opposition in Narwell. With few legitimate means of resisting the new regime, many Narwellers have turned to crime – an easy step for some. Baron Janstin remains at large on the plains, the leader now of a band of black-hearted brigands and highwaymen who style themselves as heroic freedom fighters. They regularly raid caravans heading to Narwell and intimidate or kill any who cooperate with Narwell’s new rulers. While a few Narwellers have joined Janstin’s Riders, most natives despise their former ruler as much as their new masters.

In Narwell itself, a charming, but ruthless gangster called Arbram Shaen (LE male human rogue 10) has won the respect of many natives. His gang of thugs offer protection to Narweller businesses in return for modest cuts of any profits. Though he tolerates no dissent, Shaen looks out for his people; in recent months, several particularly hated Watchmen have "vanished". There have also been clashes with the Thieves Guild, with the result that most Narwellers now pay protection to Shaen. Shaen has gladly accepted bribe money from the authorities, but they have seen no return on their investment. This has outraged Tyrem Harvis (N male human rogue 9), Org Nenshen’s man in Narwell. A violent reckoning seems unavoidable.

Locales of Interest

There are many places of interest and opportunity for adventurers (particularly those of questionable morals) in Narwell.

The Wainyard

The Union of Merchants and Traders has built a large, walled at the old crossroads of Market Street and Baron’s Way. Housing agents for all the Greyhawk guilds, the Wainyard is the hub of the efforts to rebuild Narwell. Every few days, wagon trains roll into town bearing lumber, stone, and essential supplies for the Militia. Acting as supply depot and general store, the Wainyard is also the headquarters of the Watch, who take great care to look after the interests of their paymasters among the Greyhawk guilds.

The Sundered Spear

Staying at the Sundered Spear
PC worshipers of Trithereon can stay at the Sundered Spear while in Narwell. Such PCs gain free standard lifestyle while staying at the tavern

This tavern – one of the better ones in Narwell – stands close to the Wainyard and mainly caters to merchants, wealthy visiting guildsmen and adventurers flush with coin from their latest exploits. Named after the Shining Spears, a group of adventurers dedicated to Trithereon, and owned by Falarah (CG female half-elf fighter 2/cleric 7 [Trithereon]) that group’s only surviving member, the tavern is one of the safest places in Narwell. Shaen’s gang does not trespass here and even the Guild of Thieves accepts minimal protection money to leave the Sundered Spear well alone.

A score or so lay worshippers of The Summoner work here, worshipping at a small shrine within the tavern’s walled compound. Fellow Trithereonites receive free board and lodge at the Sundered Spear. Falarah is very active around Narwell, assisting with the defence, organising patrols and so forth. She is extremely dubious of Turrosh Mak’s recent offer of peace and very interested in any news from the south. Talk in the Sundered Spear’s common room is of Falarah’s desire to once again journey into the Pomarj to wreak her revenge on those responsible for her companions’ deaths. (The Shining Spears met their doom deep within the Pomarj last winter while searching for a particularly notorious orc chieftain). All she lacks is a resourceful and skilled band of adventurers to aid her.

Keridor’s Trading Post

Handling Buying and Selling
This is a legal method of purchasing an item for use in the Living Greyhawk campaign. If a PC wishes to purchase one of the items above, list the item and its price in the Items Bought box of the adventure’s AR, noting that the PC purchased the item at Keridor’s Trading Post. The PC must pay for the item immediately and only one of each item is available on a given day. Purchasing the item does not give the new owner the ability to craft the item. The item’s price cannot be reduced through haggling.

Bustling and busy (but a riot of disorganisation) Keridor’s is well known among the populace as a place to buy and sell almost any portable item no questions asked. It stands on Market Street near where it meets Baron’s Way. Within the dingy two-storey building, the unscrupulous Keridor (CN male human rogue 5) presides over chaos along with his six mercenary guards who vigilantly patrol the premises. Sprawling across the entire first floor and much of the second the clutter is without rhyme or reason. Shelves, bins, and cupboards all overflow with an ever-changing array of knickknacks, bric-a-brac and oddments. Keridor is happy to trade with almost anyone and enjoys engaging in long, convoluted conversations with potential customers; knowledge is power and Keridor lusts after anything that will give him an advantage.

Keridor pays protection money to both the Guild of Thieves’ and Shaen’s gang. Additionally, both organizations use him as a fence for items too distinctive or hot to sell in Narwell. It is rumoured that such items often go south; Keridor is said to have extensive contacts in the former lands of the Wild Coast, but this remains unsubstantiated.

Searching for a desired item at Keridor’s can take hours but, occasionally, random browsing pays off. If a PC spends two hours browsing in the half-gloom of the trading post and succeeds on a DC 20 Search check they find one of the following items:

  1. Sleep arrow (DMG, 132 gp)
  2. Elixir of truth (DMG; 500 gp)
  3. Screaming bolt (DMG; 267 gp)
  4. Wand of detect secret doors (10 charges) (DMG; 150 gp)
  5. Wand of delay poison (5 charges) (DMG; 450 gp)
  6. Silversheen (DMG; 250 gp)

Rumours and Whispers

Many old cellars and tunnels have been discovered beneath the ruins in the course of the reclamation effort. Some industrious folk have begun exploring these passages in the hope of discovering items of value lost in the sack. A small number of objects of considerable age and value have come to light recently. These lucky strikes have overshadowed the disappearance of several treasure hunters in the deeper tunnels. Thus, the frenzied exploration of the dank passages beneath the town goes unabated.

Org Nenshen is offering a considerable reward for the recovery of the head of his brother, Rubris. The brave captain's head was set upon an orc standard after the fall of Narwell. However, the standard was not recovered from the orcs after their defeat and its whereabouts is currently unknown.

The legend of the Zardancar, the “First Sword”, circulates among the native Narwallers. The Zardancar is said to be an ancient warrior who warded the town in times past. He slumbers beneath the earth, waiting to wake and rise when a great peril threatens Narwell, or so the old wives would have it. Cynics scoff at the tale, saying that if ever the Zardancar had opportunity to appear it would surely have been as the orcs of the Pomarj were storming the city walls.

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