Nereus - the Tale Begins
fey crossings – points where the barrier between the Feywild and the mortal world is thin
ancient standing stones, knee-high obelisks, groves in dense forest, circles of toadstools
specific conditions – right lunar cycle, ritual, sun right in the sky
legends about the city Shinaelestra (the City of the Night) who shifts in from the Feywild at dusk and shifts out at dawn
is usually found somewhere in the Howling Forest
the towers of Astrazalian, the City of Starlight, remains on the hillsides of a fair green island all spring and summer, but fades into the Feywild with the coming of autumn and winter
Cendriane, large ancient city, the site of a very large battle
very quiet place, almost no birds
Brokenstone Vale, legendary source of lycanthropes
This is a city of religious pilgrimage built on the site of the capital or an important city of the dragonborn Arkhosian empire. It was known as Stalvek then, now it is formally Stalberg, but most refer to it as Bell Town for the plethora of bell towers at temples for all of the non-evil 4e gods. Just north of the central plaza is a fortress-like temple of Bahamut and Moradin, honoring the dragonborn and their dwarf allies who fought an epic battle here. From northeast, around the perimeter there are temples of Kord, Pelor, Melora, Sehanine, Corellon (last three in the same complex), Ioun, the Raven Queen, and finally Erathis, which is connected to the manor of Lady Mayor Elsa Victrine and the Artificer’s Guild. Shrines to Avandra can be found everywhere and nowhere, hidden about the city with the only prominent one being the single empty bell tower, attached to a hostel serving poor travelers.
Tunnels following the roads of the ancient city criscross beneath the city, connecting many of the temples and housing sacred relics as well as a few lurking dangers.
The Blue Dunes of Cerdon
On the far side of a daunting expanse of blue sand is the walled city of Cerdon. Bulettes and roaming dragons discourage visitors, and those who manage the perilous trek across the dunes find it less than welcoming. There is barely enough arable land around the city to support the population, and what livelihood they can make is heavily taxed by the miserly Iron King Marlow. Prices for food, drink and supplies here are double those in other lands, with all wealth concentrated in a few landowner families dominated by the crown. This city could be a necessary stop in a difficult journey, or the PCs may wish to visit here to investigate the rumors that the Iron King has achieved immortality, as he has ruled for as long as any human residents of the city can remember.
The Orb Valley
Once the seat of a vast empire ruled by precognitive mystics, this region resembles a massive, spherical indentation in the Earth, like the bottom of a great ball. Once the seat of a collosal, arcane-constructed city built to allow the Seer-masters of the Empire of Aeon greater precognition. The Empire was cast down centuries ago, but a faint spark of power remains in the people that dwell in the villages in between the monster-haunted ruins of the cities.
The Demon Rake
A deep rift in the rocky earth, a massive chasm that drops from the surface to the depths of the Underdark, the Demon Rake has existed since primordial times. The site of many invasions by dark elves and elemental evils, the cliff-dwelling tribes are reknowned for violent independence and extreme individualism. The hostility and danger of the rift is seen as an opportunity for valor and reknown against underdark horrors and the occasional demon that rises from the pit to ravage the mortal world. Extremely stubborn dwarf-clans lair here and remain out of sheer defiance, and many Dragonborn heroes are attracted as well, eager to prove themselves.
The Nerath province of Garvenia was stable and prosperous in the last days of the Empire, but the governor in those days could not bear to release his grip on power, even his own death was not enough. Transformed into a Lich, governor Venwold denied his heirs a throne, and for this offense, the Pelor-worshipping realm fell into civil war for nearly a century. Venwold still has some human supporters, and he supplements his forces with undead legions. The living faction has put out a call for warriors and adventurers, and many Dragonborn and Tieflings have found ways to profit off the never-ending civil war. The two factions rely on trickery and espionage as much as war lately, and a glib tongue is as useful as a hidden dagger when trying to negotiate your survival in this divisive country.
A rarity among realms, Hullport is a kingdom built nearly by accident. It began as a ad-hoc base of operations for pirates in the Royal sea (so named for its purplish tint in deep water, similar to royal purple used to dye King’s robes) from grafting together damaged ships to form a small island-like structure. Thousands of years and shipwrecks later, the number of vessels sunk in the area grew, and many of them were grafted onto the construct, forming a city-like region with an expansive interior. The structure has graduated from pirate lair, to merchant outpost, to domain in its own right. It is an ugly, assymetrical sprawl of innumerable sunken ships fused to each other through creative carpentry. Mermaids and other aquatic races dwell here, but there is significant trade with land-dwellers and a large presence of common races. There exists also a mysterious species of jellyfish that forcibly enter the mouths of land-dwellers and lodge in their lungs, these ‘lungfish’ enable water-breathing (but at the cost of a healing surge as long as they are present) The strain of switching from air to water breathing both within and outside the city tends to make hardier residents over the years.
There was a province on the borders of Arkhosia that was once popular for its games and gladatorial contests, seen as a center of these activities for the vast, Dragonborn nation. Since the disintegration of Arkhosia, the small realm has become independent, but has retained this tradition. Now, the gladatorial contests have taken on religious significance. Strong in the worship of Kord, the people and governments resolve a wide variety of disputes through divine-enchanced gladiators that carry dreams and ideals along with each blade. The priests of the land have complex equations for decisions and policies based upon which champion defeated whom under which conditions following certain rituals. Every young Dragonborn, Human, and Dwarf in the land at one point dreams of the great colliseums, the great games, the magic-tinged duels to the death – but only an elite few are chosen as Gladatorial champions. But in the hopes of being selected, nearly all youths receive extensive training in physical challenges of strength and skill.
Lake of Tears
inhabited by halflings who build their houses on floating platforms of reeds.
In the center of a vast desert stands the ruins of what was once a great city. It looks to have been no more than a 100 years since the city fell into ruin, most of it is still intact. Xuthal used to be a great and prosperous city filled with all sorts of magic. The people their had long ago mastered a way to make an unlimited amount and variety of food with no effort as well as other powerful magics. One of the things they created was a powerful drug which put people in a dreamlike state were they could do anything they wished. Eventually the whole city became addicted. Now the few people still alive wander in a hallucegenic daze. More then citizens populate this city though. Long ago during the height of it’s power the city was attacked by an aberation of extreme power. While they were victorious they did not have the strength to kill the monster and instead trapped it under the city with powerful spells. When the city became addicted to their new drug though they stopped renewing the wards and the aberation is free once more.
Called “the City of Snakes”, Anoch’tiroch is a mysterious and near-legendary city of dark and dangerous aspect. It is a port located some three months southerly sailing from the port city best known by the PC’s, along the coast of the equally mysterious jungle known as the Emerald Forest.
It is rumored that the city is ruled by the priests of an unknown and terrible snake god, to whom virgins are sacrificed on a daily basis. Little of the truth is actually known about this place, but rumors, legends, and bard-tales abound in the hundreds. If something mysterious and foreign suddenly appears in the PC’s home base, its a good bet that Anoch’tiroch will be claimed as its point of origin.
The Valley of Bones
The Valley of Bones lies astride the Trade Road at the midpoint between the EasterSea Coast and the Heartlands, just west of The Hill of Sorrow. Travelers along the road know they have entered the valley when the land acquires a withered look, with a few stunted scrub trees. The soil has a dusty, chalky pallor. Everywhere along the valley, outcroppings of bone jut from the soil, until eventually the scattered bones outnumber the rocks themselves and the traveler is moving through a wasteland of remains.
Most travelers try to get through this region as quickly as possible because of the great numbers of undead creatures said to haunt it.
Baa’ka Suul: Mystery in the Desert
After days travel through the Searing Desert, as the damage from the Sun begins to wear down your defenses and your water supplies are running low, after battling or avoiding basilisks and blue dragons, the temperature, rising with every step, suddenly plummets to a frosty winter’s chill. You gaze upon Baa’ka Suul, a trading community here in the middle of the desert. Everyone wears bulky coats and pelts, you can see your own breath, and water is available and refreshingly chilled. Coats and blankets are for sale here at the edge of town, but they all seem to be priced at least fifty times what they are worth. No one is sure why the temperature here is so low, but everyone has their theories.
There is a large structure at Baa’ka Suul’s center, a temple to some forgotten God that was riven in twain by some shift in the World’s structure. A massive chasm extends deep into the World. The traders and businesses only get more concentrated as you move deeper into the chasm, and the temperature begins to rise as well. Any good or service imaginable is available here. As you delve deeper, humans and elven merchants give way to dwarven craftsmen and dragonborn artisans, and then tiefling mages and more unusual species of businessmen, and even deeper…
Rumor has it that Baa’ka Suul is built directly above a similar market in the Underdark, and if you ask the right people, traders are always looking to hire adventurers to protect them on their frequent trips into the depths.
Naturally, as one moves deeper into the chasm, the sort of goods and service one may purchase trend towards the unusual. Drugs are the most popular commodity, often used in place of gold for many types of transactions. Slaves, however, are the most valuable asset traded in Baa’ka Suul. Of course, the slavers take great pains to keep their business practice hidden from outsiders. Slaves are brought from the surface into the Underdark to be traded for drowmade weapons and armor and strange magical devices. Slaves are brought from the Underdark to be traded to wealthy surface merchants for platinum and gems.
A country that is so xenophobic that they have erected a wall all around their country (think Great Wall of China) and are resource rich enough that they don’t need to trade with other nations.
A country where when one dies the body becomes the propery of the state. Which will use necromancy to make an undead for some govermental use.
Noble families have to keep up the standard military options, plus one flying mount. (Wyvern, pegasus, Gryffin, something…)
A country where all weapons are registered and all magic users have to be licensed.
A country where mounts are taboo.
A country ruled by some race of monster and is percieved as the empire of evil by ousiders. Turns out the place isn’t bad and actually, the monsters aren’t any more evil than other people. Maybe the king and his court are vampires that feed on criminals or volontary donations.
A country that worships dragons is slowly transforming its population from human, elf and dwarf into dragonborn for use as an elite army.
This country has a hidden fey army. Although not an aggressive nation, it has called upon this army to defend its borders from all attackers. When this army is summoned, its opponents are eradicated.
Another country has abandoned a metallic currency. Instead, it has changed its currency to dragons’ teeth. The quest for new money has nearly driven dragons to extinction.
Hammerfast – merchant/guild run city, neutral, greedy and self serving.
Silvershield Hold – ties with the Deepgem Company, a small clan hold or group of independent traders
Zormundar – has famous artisans
the Court of Stars, guiding council of astrologers
the Asrai Wardancers
Guardians of the Sacred Flame
It is vital for a warrior to carry a burning flame upon his person at all times. Should your fire go out, you must relight it immediately, lest the Gods think you have abandoned them.
Most popular ways for tribesmen to carry their flame:
A burning torch, tied to the top of their pack acts as both a signal to their mates, as well as light and a heat source for traversing the dank bog, also is readily accessible for burning any trolls.
A bull’s-eye lantern, hanging from a belt acts as a less visible, more protected from the elements, method of transporting their flame. Less easily used in a troll-fight, but also attracts fewer trolls.
Candles are often borne by women and children, but a small group of male warriors have actually taken the step of having a candle’s base attached directly to the tops of their heads.
Flaming weapon enhancements are constantly sought, but rarely attained by tribesmen, only the King currently wields a Flaming Greatclub.
The Tribe of the Beholder
All glory to the Beholder. His might is the might of the righteous, for he is a God on Earth. Beware those who would stand against our Lord. His will is true, his every desire right. All glory to the Beholder. He is the Light, the Way, the Path. All glory to the Beholder. His crown of eyes see all. All glory to the Beholder. His central eye reveals all falsehood, cancels all illusion, removes all lies. All glory to the Beholder. He is our King, our God, our Love, our Friend, our Master. All glory to the Beholder.
Tiandra the Summer Queen
Scamander, the spirit guardian of the river with the same name
Senaliesse, the Maiden of the Moon
Kannoth, vampire lord, master of a bloodthirsty cult, has packs of displacer beasts
Master Vandheer Lorde, famous blacksmith that crafted a number of powerful magical atrifacts
could infuse items with the souls and abilities of diffrent beasts and monsters
The green spiders of Nexwood
sentient female giant spiders, small normal intelligence males and subjugated insectile goblin tribe, select female goblins swell up to ogre size and burst into swarms of tiny spiders.
Decrepit Skeleton – Level 1 Minion Soldier
When a decrepit skeleton is reduced to 0 hit points, it makes a saving throw. Success: the decrepit skeleton stands up at the beginning of its next turn with 1 hit point as a free action. Failure: the decrepit skeleton is destroyed.
Giant Rat – Level 1 Minion Skirmisher
Bite (standard; at-will)
+6 vs. AC; 3 damage, and the target takes a cumulative -1 penalty to saving throws to avoid contracting disease at the end of the encounter.
Scurry (move; at-will)
The giant rat shifts 3 squares.
Zombie Rotter – Level 3 Minion Brute
Make a saving throw for a zombie rotter when it is reduced to 0 HP. On a success, it rises again (as a move action) on its next turn.
drop the init, defenses and ATKs by 2
damage is equal to 2 + ½ monster level or use average damage for the dice + the damage bonus
more info about the general tech level
more info about the general accessability of magical items
Mayahuel, Paynal, Ehecatl, Acamapichtli, Cuauhtémoc, Hueyi Tlatoani, Azcapotzalco, Culhuacan, Maxtla, Tezozomoc, Chimalpopoca, Itzcoatl, Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl, Tlacaelel, Tlaxcala, pipiltin, macehualtin, tlachtli, ollamaliztli, huehuetlàtolli, Zumpango, Xaltocan, Teotihuacan, Xochimilco, Camaxtli, Huitzilopochtli, Toltecayotl, Acolmiztli, Atlacoya, Chalchiuhtlicue, Mayahuel
Green is a sacred color to a group of people, and emeralds are their totem stone. It is ill-advised to carry emeralds when dealing with members, unless you plan to part with them. Possible link to green dragons?
The person who acts as if another’s property is his own, without the consent of the true owner, must return that property twice over.
cultural quirk: physical contact is considered rude, you should respect the personal space
When designing such a city remember to ask yourself the standard logistics questions:
Where does the clean/drinkable water come from?
Where does the food come from?
Where does the cooking/heating fuel come from?
What about other supplies?
Where does the waste go?
How are the dead disposed of?
Is disease a major problem?
How do they track their years? Nereusian common years? Do they have a common calendar?
some kind of animal zodiac? year of the red dragon, year of the black dragon, etc…
some kind of star constellation zodiac?
An ancient monument of gigantic floating stones in the middle of the woods.
An otherwise innocuous arm band that detected as magical, glowed slightly, and could not be removed after it was put on.
A group of mysterious strangers that gather every new moon at the heroes’ favorite inn to play in a private, back- room dice game.
A mundane animal (such as a dog, cat, or raven) that is frequently spotted by the party outside an inn, at the city gates, on the road, near an ancient ruin, etc.
A crumpled-up piece of parchment that resembles a wanted poster. There is a portrait of one of the heroes on the poster.
A small shrine along an infrequently traveled trail dedicated to some god or deity the heroes have never heard of. On the ground in front of the shrine is a brass bowl of semi-coagulated blood.
A bunch of dead cows in a field. They don’t appear to be injured, just dead.
When the heroes arrive in a new town and check into an inn they’ve never been to before, the innkeeper tells one of them he has a package for the character. The dust covered box has been here for months, maybe years, and contains a few mundane items.