Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dreadful Wilderness: Ramhorns of the Unvald

Aldsburg is carved from the stone of the Ramhorn Mountains (which are the southern branch of the expansive Unvald Mountain range). They are rugged and very difficult to travel, the eastern faces tend to have sudden and often quite violent storms, and the temperatures in the winter (let alone the snowfall) can freeze a man's eyeballs solid right in his head. In addition to the physical hardships, the inhabitants are none too friendly either. The slate-scaled wyvren circle cloud-covered spires, serpentine dragons with black iron teeth hunt among the avalanches they cause, endless hordes of savages (orcs and other beastmen) come down all too often in the north to try and lay waste to Frantis Keep, and the Ramhorn Ogres (led by the one-armed half-ogre Swissgar the BoneShredder wielding a fearsome giant axe looted from the Storm Giant Durthrandar) are a constant and unfortunately intelligent threat.

The good stuff? The mountains are LOADED with gold, silver, other precious metals, gems, and a whole variety of minerals that folks tend to want. The two passes through the Ramhorns can (assuming they don't run afoul of monsters or bandits) save a merchant months of travel and avoid traversing Discontent the Sea of Woe. Aldsburg is rich from mining, Frantis Keep exists to guard the northlands from ravaging beastfolk, and the few villages that dot the landscape tend to exist as mining or logging camps and the occasional weird cult village. The foothills are also rich and fertile from all of the mountain streams and filled with vibrant life.  The moutnains are still mad dangerous.

The one other saving grace is Xinheart, a dwarfin fortress city in the souther mountains near Aldsburg.  The dwarfs tend to keep most of the more dangerous elements in check and have recently re-opened trade and communication with Aldsburg (thanks to the new Patrician).  Unvald dwarfs are not know for being friendly.  Xinheart may be the last of the dwarfin strongholds since they lost their underworld war.  It is a final bastion of the Grand Kingdom that once existed.  Outsiders - even dwarfs from other lands - are not allowed in and only a select few dwarfs will travel outside (except for the war patrols).

Random Hex Locations
1) The Black Spire: visible from any adjacent hex, the Black Spire is an absurdly tall and thin tower of stone reaching half again as high as any nearby mountain.  It seems to constantly weep a thick black goo.  Ramhorn Ogres worship at this site and are rather protective.

2) Bestial Canton: sitting low and snug in a valley between peaks, a "settlement" of orcs and their associates grunt and squak and generally make a mess of things.  The village is centered around their birthing puddle (a mucky pit that goes deep into the earth).  Pretty big chance of patrols and guards.  They like to eat adventurers.

3) Craggy Nest: a sheer cliff face that is riddled with shallow caves, making it quite easy to climb for those skilled in such things.  The only problem is the number of goatbirds (eagle-like except for their gnashing flat teeth and curled butting horns) that nest here.  They can be distracted with raw meat and tend to collect shiny baubles.

4) Bone Cairn: a huge pile of symmetrically stacked bones of all manner of creature, including mountain troll, giant, and some sort of enormous mountain cat.

5) Dust Mines of Gthaith: A group of Yauni have come all the way from the southlands to set up a mine.  They are all dead now - apparently succumb to the cold and or some sort of plague.  They were keeping barrels of a strange fine dust (bluish in hue) recovered from the mine.  Enter the dark dust pits ... I'm sure it will not contain a terrible beast or long forgotten dwarfin stronghold overrun by slime demons from the bowels of the underworld.

6) Shangrila: a peacful secluded valley with monks in safron robes that chant and seem perfectly happy.  Delicious fruit, clean water, and no monsters.  Of course, attempt to leave and things will get hairy.  The Monks of the Outward Fist have a Black Lyndwyrm they venerate (and have trained) they will unleash if things get too bad.