This will be the Shackled City adventure path using the Pathfinder rule set. However, the existing deities (i.e. St. Cuthbert, Pelor, Wee Jas) will not be converted to similar Golarion gods. A guide to the region, information about the city, and rules for the campaign follows:
Feel free to email me at email@example.com
"Not a big deal converting this to Pathfinder," I thought to myself. "Just need to calculate some CMB's and CMD's, tweak a few things..." I was wrong! I started preparing for the first combat encounters and found myself sorely wrong. I've now embarked on the adventure of converting all NPC's and creatures not in the Bestiary to Pathfinder rules using the NPC creation guidelines. Additionally, I am adding/buffing encounters as necessary for a full, capabable party, with abilities not in existence when this story was written. As initially stated, my goal is to not alter the basic storyline and flavor of the adventure path, and definitely not to kill the party. If the book calls for a rat, there will be a rat. A zombie, there will be a zombie. I also won't alter the basics of a creature. While a zombie might be wearing an amulet and a couple rings or have some friends, he won't be breathing fire--such major modifications to counter metagaming by players ruins my sense of disbelief.
Reviews of this adventure path remark on the lack of connections and foreshadowing likely caused by this being written initially over the course of numerous magazine issues. As a soultion, many have written major revisions changing the characters, motivations, and even outcomes. While I share their concerns, I think this can be solved without changing the storyline so dramatically. There will be--and already have been--foreshadowing events so that you're not completely surprised by who/what/why in the world you are facing at climatic points in the story. I will also add flavor and tweak treasures so our newer base classes don't feel left out.
Game Master & Player Commitment:
Shackled City is an adventure path designed to take characters from level 1 to 20. This is not a small endeavor and will take years. Please be considerate of others when deciding whether or not to play in this campaign.
Posting: As the GM I will post at least once a day (likely a lot more). I also expect players to post once a day. If you are going to use abilities that interrupt the action (i.e. the feat Step Up), be prepared to post even more often. There will of course be exceptions caused by real life, but I will not hesitate to let your character get “left behind” or “lost” and “found” later if necessary—what occurs in the meantime will vary depending on the player’s attitude and consideration for others. If you know you are going to be gone, just let us know.
Role playing: I’ve enjoyed play-by-post for the great opportunity to role play. Characters can carry on long conversations on the side or between actions that would normally bog down a real life game. You also have time to collect your thoughts and think up witty responses before “speaking.” Experience is nice, but a willingness to engage in banter is essential. Don’t worry; it’s easy to do this from the anonymity of play-by-post.
Roll playing: Don’t be fooled. I also love the tactics and number crunching of combat. My goal is to challenge you and reward you for hard work. However, I can be unforgiving of stupidity and the dice have their own minds.
How it works and how to join:
This adventure will be done as play by post on the Paizo messageboards. Maps and other documents will uploaded to Google Docs. While not as fancy as other systems, they can be viewed from an i-Phone or other smart phones, which allows for more obsessive/compulsive gaming.
First, create a character (details below).
Next, go to “My Account” and “Create new messageboard alias” in the Messageboard Aliases section. Create an alias for your character in this campaign. Here is an example of one of my characters from another campaign: Sample Character
Finally, start posting to this forum as a customer or employee of the Drunken Morkoth Inn in Cauldron. A huge party is underway to celebrate completion of another civic project financed by Lord Vhalantru. He is also financing the party including food and drinks.
When posting, please use the following conventions:
You can be from the town of Cauldron, somewhere nearby, or just an adventurer who happens to be in town when the action kicks off. It’s up to you to develop a motivation for banding together with the party. I’ll do my best to help, but residents of Cauldron, do-gooder adventurers, other motivated adventurers, and those who don’t know to leave well enough alone will likely find it easier at first.
Please insert a description in your profile of any spells, feats, etc, that do not come from the Core Rulebook or Advanced Players Guide.
There will be a few exceptions.
Shackled City Campaign Traits
The City of Cauldron:
Population: 4,500 adults (large town).
Mixed (79% human, 9% halfling, 5% gnome, 3% dwarf, 2% elf, 1% half-elf, 1% half-orc).
Economy: (3,000 gp limit) Coffee, exotic woods, cut gemstones, obsidian, dyes, spices.
Authority Figures: Lord Mayor Severen Navalant, male human; Terseon Skellerang, male human (captain of the Town Guard).
Town Emblem: A watchful eye wreathed in blue flames.
Description: Cauldron is obvioulsy not the first city to inhabit this region. Surabar Spellmason arrived 700 years ago to drive out the demons and yuan-ti, but what came before their evil is unknown. What civilizations might lie buried beneath Cauldron or in the surrounding jungles is the topic of much speculation by scholars and treasure hunting by adventurers. Some evidence speaks to great wizards and their research into all aspects of magic and alchemy. Other evidence suggests epic battles between unknown forces.
Nearby villages include Redgorge, Kingfisher Hollow, and Hollowsky. The Cauldron region is in a subtropical jungle The town’s buildings, tightly packed and built from volcanic rock and wood, line the inner bowl of a nameless, dormant volcano. The elevation keeps Cauldron’s temperatures below that of the surrounding jungle, giving Cauldron a roughly temperate climate. Cobblestone roads form concentric circles around a small lake of cold water, which fills the volcano’s basin. Although the town’s sewage seeps into the lake, local clerics routinely purify the water for the citizens in exchange for charitable donations to their temples.
A 50-foot-tall fortified wall of black malachite encircles the city, tracing the outer rim of the volcano, becoming major thoroughfares that lead to other towns and distant realms. The districts nearer the rim of the city tend to be occupied by upper class families and elite merchants. The closer one gets to the centre of town (and the closer to the pungent odours of the central lake), the shoddier the construction and the more dangerous the dark alleys. Houses directly on the lake are often built with stilts to protect against flooding during the rainy season in winter. Smaller avenues connect the four main roadways (from outer to inner, the avenues are named Obsidian, Magma, Lava, and Ash), which form concentric terraces down to the lake in the centre of the town.
Cauldron is ruled by a Lord Mayor, elected to his position every two years. The post is currently held by Severen Navalant, whose term expires in roughly 20 months. Other important individuals in the city include Terseon Skellerang, captain of the guard, the members of the noble families, and Cauldron’s few wealthy merchant interests.
Cauldron's major exports come from two sources: mines and plantations. Both industries are based in the hills surrounding the city, and are managed by the various noble families who live in the area. Obsidian and diamonds are the primary products mined in the region. Plantations usually produce sugarcane and coffee. Most of those who dwell in the city itself are either merchants, scholars, or workers in the mines and plantations in the lowlands. Water is never scarce in town, but most of the city's food must be imported from Sasserine since the local fishing and farming enterprises are meager at best. Citizens have historically paid a modest yearly flat tax of 1 gp, while merchants and nobles pay a 5% income tax each year. In addition, a 1sp gate tax is charged for noncitizens who enter the city by any of its four gates. All inhabitants of Cauldron that own a building, or are
Currency in Cauldron
Specific locations in Cauldron:
Town Hall: Cauldron’s town hall is a single-story building and one of the oldest structures in the city. The building serves as a place for the lord mayor and his advisors to hold meetings with the nobles and other movers and shakers of the city, but they don’t actually live there. Records of ownership, historical documents, and similar archives can be found here
Town Guard Barracks: These buildings house the bulk of the town guard, which consists of about 750 warriors.
Church of St. Cuthbert: The two-story Church of St. Cuthbert, its white marble walls suffused with veins of vivid blue, stands in stark contrast to the buildings of bare black stone that flank it on the north end of Obsidian Avenue. A pair of white marble statues depicting armored warriors stands on either side of the temple’s heavy oaken door. Each of the statues raises a great mace to the sky. Above the door’s marble architrave are boldly inscribed the following words: “Within law lives hope.”
Since the church’s high priest, Sarcem Delasharn, is on an extended visit to the port city of Sasserine, the day-to-day tasks of tending to the church have fallen to a cleric name Jenya Urikas.
Maavu Warehouses: Local merchant Maavu Arlintal keeps several warehouses in the city.
Slippery Eel Tavern: The Slippery Eel is a favorite tavern for the city’s miners, plantation workers, and other working-class citizens. The food and drink is cheap, and the town guard tends to ignore the place, making it a handy site for illicit deals and clandestine meetings.
Cusp of Sunrise: This high-society club is a favorite place for Cauldron’s rich and powerful to meet and relax. Owned and operated by Lady Ophella Knowlern.
Tygot’s Old Things: Tygot Mispas, a 120-year-old male Halfling retired from adventuring for two decades owns a small but well-stocked antiquity shop on Lava Avenue.
Maavu Imports: The modest two-story building has several meeting rooms and a bookshop on the ground floor, and a small apartment on the upper floor.
Drunken Morkoth Inn: This is perhaps the most popular inn in the city. A regular stop for many merchants and traveling adventurers, the combination of comfortable beds, good food, and reasonable prices make it a favorite among the city’s returning vistitors. Each of the rooms here is decorated with a humorous painting of Cauldron’s legendary lake monster, a large morkoth. The paintings depict the morkoth in any number of embarrassing and ridiculous scenes, always with the morkoth drunk and confused, and often in incongruous locations.
Tipped Tankard Tavern: This tavern is generally regarded as the best place in the city for common folk to get a drink (the Coy Nixie and the Cusp of Sunrise both hold better reputations but are generally out of the price range for the working citizen). It’s a favorite for off-duty city guards, and as such, brawls are fairly rare.
Garthun Imports: This well-kept building houses the offices of Adrick Garthun, a prominent merchant whose import of alcohol, tobacco, exotic sweet, and seafood has catapulted him to the height of success.
Skie’s Treasury: Numerous stores in Cauldron sell magic items and gear, but only one of them makes its sole business buying and selling magic items to adventures: Skie’s Treasury. Skie Aldersu, a female gnome sorcerer, is a retired adventure who spent much of her youth exploring the catacombs and chambers below Cauldron.
Coy Nixie: The Coy Nixie is a high-class tavern and dancehall owned and operated by the Aslaxins. Although prices here tend to be nearly double the normal asking price, the food and drink are rivaled only by the Cusp of Sunrise. These two locations have a healthy competition—while the Cusp is generally held to have better food, drink, and entertainment, there are no membership fees at the Coy Nixie.
Lakeside Pavilion: This open pavilion is one of the oldest structures in Cauldron. Said to have been formed via magic cast by Surabar Spellmason himself, the pavilion is traditionally where the lord mayor issues announcements and decrees.
Vanderboren Manor: This large manor houses the members and servants of the Vanderboren family, Cauldron’s newest nobles. The Vanderborens are the equivalent of real estate tycoons.
Minuta’s Boards:This low-cost flophouse caters to anyone who can’t afford to stay at Cauldron’s better inns. Prices here are 75% of normal, but the owners make no guarantee against theft or loss of property.
Sure Foot Livery: Sure Foot Livery is the largest (and only) livestock and livestock accessory business in town. The business is run by a no-nonsense woman named Tippys Surefoot.
Gurnezarn’s Smithy: This smithy is generally regarded as the finest such establishment in the city. It’s owner, Pahlian Gurnezarn (human male), has long held his own against the relentless acquisition and domination of his trade by the Lathenmires.
Temple of Lordly Might: The church of Kord is nearly as powerful and popular in Cauldron as the church of St. Cuthbert, if only because they sponsor numerous sporting events and demonstrations for the people of Cauldron throught the year. This church is currently headed by a male half-orc cleric of Kord named Asfelkir Hranleurt.
Lord Mayor’s Residence: This large walled compound is the oldest structure in the city. The traditional seat of power for the town, the estate’s ownership has been held by the Navalant family for the past 200 years. The current lord mayor, Severen Navalant (male human) is well-liked.
Weer’s Elixirs: Owned and operated by Vortimax Weer (male human wizard), a retired adventurer, this cramped shop is the go-to place in town for alchemical items and potions.
Cathederal of Wee Jas: This towering structure is one of the most impressive and beautiful in Cauldron. The church of Wee Jas has always been powerful in Cauldron, but not as well liked as the churches of Kord or St. Cuthbert, since the clerics of this church tend to be standoffish, curt, and even creepy. The clerics of Wee Jas are responsible for dealing with the unclaimed dead of Cauldron, and maintain vast catacombs for anyone who’s rich enough to afford the burial but doesn’t have a personal crypt. Most of the dead of Cauldron are cremated. The cathedral is run by Embril Aloustinai, although she rarely sees visitors and leaves the day-to-day operations to a cleric named Calmus Vel.
Ghelve’s Locks: Most of the locks in the city of Cauldron were created by the proprietor of this small shop.
Orak’s Bathhouse: Orak’s Bathhouse is a squat, windowless building of dark stone. The baths are open from noon to midnight every day.
Bluecrater Academy: One of the tallest buildings in Cauldron, Bluecrater Academy is also the primary place of learning here. The building has five stories, each of which is dedicated to an increasing level of education. Financed partially by tuition fees (but also by the support of nobles like Lady Ophellha Knowlern, the Aslaxins, and the Taskerhills) Bluecrater Academy is where the lucky you th of Cauldron go to learn a trade.
Church of Pelor: This small yellow tower is tended by a single male human cleric of Pelor named Kristof Jurgensen.
House of Vhalantru: Home to Cauldron’s newest noble, a generous human named Vhalantru. He donated huge sums of money to fund the rebuilding of the Town Hall and several other ancient structures that were starting to fall apart.
Taskerville Manor: This massive manor is four stories in height, and is easily the most ostentatious of Cauldron’s noble homes (with the possible exception of House Rhiavadi). The manor is home to the fantastically rich Taskerhill family. They own several mines in the nearby mountains, as well as a prominent workship that ships exquisitely crafted obsidian furniture and knick-knacks to the indolent cities of the north.
Zanathor’s Provisions: While to the untrained eye there may seem to be nothing unusual going on at this general store, its owner, Bjellkir Zanathor (male human) has the unique honor of being the only living citizen in Cauldron who has seen the Crater Lake Monster.
Lathenire Manor: Given another few years, the Lathemires could be inducted into Cauldron’s nobility. As it stands, the family is as rich as most of the other nobles, having effectively cornered the local arms and armor trade. The manor is a sprawling structure with several training rooms and trophy halls on its ground floor.
Areas around Cauldron:
Sasserine: Sasserine is the capital city of the area, and is 200 miles south of the Cauldron Region. It has a 40,000 gp spending limit. Sassarine is not on the island that Cauldron rests upon and a few days of sea travel is necessary to get there.
There are two ocean-side "dock towns", they are simply referred to as East Town and West Town. These coastal communities were built after the Dark Times, by the richer merchant families in Cauldron, looking to reestablish their fleet of trade ships. These small towns are nothing more than warehouses, docks and a fortified wall. A few people have settled in these areas, even naming them as towns, but Cauldron refers to them as east and west town, regardless of a few locals.
Hollowsky: The village of Hollowsky is the smallest of the four human settlements in the Cauldron Region. With a population of 460, it barely qualifies as a village. The halfelven community of Starforest can be found here.
Redgorge: This village was the first human settlement in the area. Founded about 700 years ago, Redgorge was at one time a much larger settlement, but it never fully recovered from a demonic assault long ago. Redgorge sits in a narrow strip of flat ground between a cliff and an immense quarry of red pebble gravel. West of the village, a prodigious line of fortifications known as the Basalt Bastions protect the land, their massive walls unguarded and draped with vines. These fortifications, as impressive as
Cauldron’s outer walls, tower over the village itself. They were built ages ago by Surabar Spellmason’s powerful spells in a single week, to aid in the defense of Redgorge
against the denizens of the Demonskar. Today, Redgorge is afarming and mining village. The old Stonemasons District, where Surabar Spellmason once dwelt, is visibly depopulated and most its buildings lie empty and in ruin.
Kingfisher Hollow: The town of Kingfisher Hollow, with its population of 2,100 souls, is the second largest settlement in the Cauldron Region. It’s also the primary location for the region’s plantations - the town is surrounded by fields of coffee, cotton and sugarcane.
Lucky Monkey: This is a popular roadside tavern on the northwest road. It houses a shrine to Cayden Cailean. It sits to the east of the road, partially surrounded by the dense jungle. The building is old and well used - the chimneys stained with soot, the roof sagging, the wood siding weathered and stained with from last year's mildew. A smaller stable stands to the building's side in a similar condition. The building’s facade sports numerous carved wooden monkeys, many of whom are engaged in risky, death-defying stunts. In one, a wooden monkey balances on a narrow tree branch to get a banana hanging over a sleeping tiger; in another, a monkey sits on a boulder completely unaware that a poacher sneaking up behind him was suddenly attacked and eaten by an ankheg, finally a monkey sitting stretched back with his arms over his head receives pleasure from a female monkey.
Malachite Fortress:A stronghold built by dwarves and gnomes to guard against incursions from the Underdark. Zenith Splintershield led an army of dwarves into the Underdark a decade ago and has not been seen since. He left behind a meager number of defenders who have not been heard from in over a year.
Elves: Elves form 2% of Cauldron’s population, but also hail from the city of Elvenhome.
Elvenhome lies 40 miles due east of Cauldron, and is allied with Sasserine. As such it welcomes other races inside its borders, mostly for friendship, but sometimes for
Gnomes: Gnomes form 5% of Cauldron’s population. They don’t tend to live in the wilderness, but do have small communities in the other settlements. Gnome architects and artisans designed and built much of Cauldron.
Dwarves: Dwarves form 3% of Cauldron’s population, but also hail from various mines and citadels along the mountain range that Cauldron’s volcano is part of. Dwarves inside the city generally work as traders, selling goods their relatives have mined. Dwarves are considered to be good, courageous and trustworthy people. Within the last decade, a dwarf named Zenith Splintershield marched into the Underdark with a small army to save the vast caverns from evil. Zenith was never heard from again, but the dwarves of Cauldron take that as a sign that his quest was successful, and he is moving through the Underdark, clearing out the evil things, and creating bastions of good. They think of him as a hero. Of late, a new vein of obsidian has been discovered by the Clan Arduun, who have begun mining it and sending it to Cauldron to be sold.
Half-orcs: Half-orcs make up 1% of the population of Cauldron. The environs around Cauldron are generally troubled by other sorts of creatures, so goblinoids don’t
quite have the bad reputation they do in other places. As such, half-orcs are accepted as normal members of society. South along the mountain range from Cauldron is a
half-orc settlement named Dogash-Ber. Many barbarians, fighters and rangers come from this settlement as mercenaries. It is rumoured that a lair of metallic dragons lies
somewhere close to Dogash-Ber, and that they have taken to reproducing with the villagers, as there is an increasing number of half-orcs being born with natural magical
Halflings: Halflings make up 9% of the population of Cauldron, making them the largest group of non-humans in the city. Outside of Cauldron, there are large numbers of halflings in Kingfisher Hollow working as farmers. The halflings that dwell in Cauldron run the gamut of trades and professions, and are generally well respected folk. However, as halflings have a natural talent for sneaking and hiding, there are a fair number who work for the various thieves guilds in town.
Half-Elves: Half-elves make up 1% of the population of Cauldron, making them as rare as half-orcs. Half-elves can also be found in two other places—Elvenhome and
Hollowsky, in a small settlement known as Starforest. The half-elves of Starforest are especially skilled at magic, and count many sorcerers and wizards among their numbers. All of the various types of half-elves are welcomed, and each becomes a member of the Starforest family. As such there are many varied skills and professions in the mix, making Starforest a great place to learn.
Calendar of Cauldron:
Days of the week: Starday, Sunday, Moonday, Godsday, Watersday, Earthday, Freeday. Godsday is a day of worship, and Freeday is a day of rest.
Following are the months, in the format
Month (days in the month) Season:
Needfest (7) Mid-Winter.
Fireseek (28) Winter
Readying (28) Spring
Coldeven (28) spring
Planting (28) low Summer
Flocktime (28) low Summer
Wealsun (28) low Summer
Richfest (7) Mid-Summer.
Reaping (28) high Summer
Goldmonth (28) high Summer
Harvester (28) high Summer
Patchwall (28) Autumn
Ready'reat (28) Autumn
Sunsebb (28) Winter
Culture of Cauldron:
The isolated tropical city-states of Sasserine and Cauldron were colonized by the Hold of Sea Princes from CY 480-584. The piratical leaders of the Hold of Sea Princes kept the existence of these distant, jungle-bound cities a secret, to maintain their monopoly on the export of tropical fruits not found anywhere else in the Flanaess -- specifically, bananas, cacao (used to make chocolate), and durian. When the Hold of the Sea Princes was conquered by the Scarlet Brotherhood, its colonies reasserted their independence. The Hold is now embroiled in a many sided, anarchistic civil war, leaving Sasserine and Cauldron to their own devices.
The city of Cauldron is located in the caldera of a dormant volcano, at the eastern edge of the Hellfurnaces range of volcanoes. The Hellfurnaces separate the blasted, empty desert called the Sea of Dust (the former heartland of the Suel Imperium) to the west from the Amedio Jungle in the east. Cauldron is nicknamed the Shackled City for the source of its wealth -- tropical cash crops produced by slave labor on the surrounding plantations.
Cauldron's nearest important neighbor is the port city of Sasserine, about 20 miles away on Jeklea Bay of the Azure Sea.
Most of the founders of Cauldron and the majority of its population came from the north across Jeklea Bay, from the Kingdom of Keoland or the Hold of Sea Princes. Keoland is a large, powerful, feudal kingdom, which along with its possessions or former possessions, holds most of the Sheldomar Valley, the largest settled region of the western Flanaess continent. The Hold is -- or perhaps was would be more accurate -- a nation of pirates who broke off from Keoland ~CY 450. It is located at the southwest periphery of the Sheldomar Valley, separated from Keoland by the fetid Hool Marshes.
The largest race in Cauldron are Suel (think: Northern European). The Suel originally migrated to the Flanaess from across the Hellfurnace range of volcanoes, as refugees from the ancient (1000 years ago) magical Rain of Colorless Fire that ended a great war. Today, Suel form the bulk of the population in both Keoland and the Hold, and in a few other harsh, isolated regions where they long ago found refuge, like the Amedio Jungle, the Viking-dominated petty kingdoms of the Thillronian Peninsula of the far northeast (north of the Great Kingdom), and the totalitarian racist regime of the Scarlet Brotherhood that began on a rocky peninsula south of the Great Kingdom.
Many other Cauldron folk came from the eastern reaches of the Azure Sea. Oeridians (think: Southern Europeans) are the second largest group in Cauldron, mostly coming from the city-states of the Wild Coast (including the City of Greyhawk) or the Great Kingdom (now collapsed and divided among several successor states). Touv (think: Africans) from the tropical island continent of Hepmonaland are more common here than in other parts of the Flanaess; some were among the founding families, while others arrived later as traders or mercenaries.
When profitable diamond and obsidian deposits were discovered in the region, gnomes and dwarves from the Sheldomar Valley (Keoland and environs) flocked to Cauldron, and halflings came with them, at first mostly as cooks and washers. Later, gnomes, dwarves, and halfling became established as merchants and master artisans in the City.
Elves, half-elves, and half-orcs are relatively uncommon in Cauldron, and often are visitors from Sasserine.
The city proper has about 7500 adults, making a medium-sized city by medieval standards. The outlying areas -- mostly plantations but some smaller towns for freemen like the mining community of Redgorge and the waystation between Cauldron and Sasserine at the Lucky Monkey Inn -- have perhaps twice again that population.
The indentured servants who work the plantations that provide Cauldron's wealth are descendants of slaves captured generations ago in the Amedio Jungle -- they are Amedi (Suel tribesmen who degenerated to a Stone Age culture after fleeing the fall of the Suel Imperium) and Olman (think: Aztec) tribesmen, whose jungle city-states mostly crumbled long ago. The lowland plantations around Sasserine and in the river valley in between grow sugarcane (which is processed into rum), bananas, and rice (mostly for local consumption, but also exported in bulk, mostly to the City of Greyhawk). The highland plantations around Cauldron grow coffee, cacao (for chocolate), and durian fruit.
The climate in the Cauldron region is humid and tropical, and the jungles and lowlands are plagued by malaria, dysentary, and wild animals including lions, tigers, and even dinosaurs. For this reason, few slaves attempted to escape into the jungle, but those who did -- mostly Amedi -- formed "hill folk" tribes that occasionally waylay travelers or even raid a settlement.
The city-dwellers, on their mountain top, escape the oppressive heat, disease, and other dangers of the jungles, and their water, from the caldera's lake, is magically kept free of disease. While some slavery still exists in the regions surrounding Cauldron, slaves are not allowed in the city proper.
The major religions in Cauldron are Kord (Suloise god of strength), Wee Jas (Suloise goddess of magic and death, former patroness of the Suel Imperium), St. Cuthbert (Oeridian god of common sense and righteousness), and Pelor (Oeridian god of the sun and healing). The Church of Kord, arguing might makes right, loudly supports slavery, while the Church of Wee Jas quietly argues that the civilizing tradition of the "peculiar institution" is misunderstood by the outsiders who condemn it. The Churches of St. Cuthbert and Pelor discourage their members from owning slaves, but have a "gradualist" approach, calling for slave owners to do manumission in their wills, or to declare the children of slaves to be born free. Worshippers of Fharlanghn (Oeridian god of travel and the open road), who are mostly elves or half-elves, call for immediate abolition and are rumored to be involved in helping escaped slaves make it out of the region. For that reason, the clergy of Fharlanghn has been denied permission to build a temple.
The local cuisine is primarily rice and beans plus sweet potatoes for the lower classes, with pork and chicken -- particularly satay, cooked on sticks with spicy peanut sauce -- as a treat for the poor and a staple for the middle class. The rich of Cauldron prefer seafood imported from Sasserine, the exotic sweets that Cauldron exports in bulk (chocolate, bananas, and durian), and food imported from Keoland or other overseas locales, like wine and cheese.
Cauldron is ruled by a mayor, who is chosen by consensus among the local nobles. As in the Hold of Sea Princes, nobility in Cauldron is more matter of being rich -- typically by owning plantations -- rather than inheritance and subservience to a liege lord. Feudalism does not exist here.
Sasserine was founded in CY -124 by a group of pilgrims led by a priestess of Wee Jas named Sasserine, who was inspired to found the town after receiving a vision. After her death, the town gradually grew and expanded until it encompassed not merely the area inside the city walls, but a number of plantations lying on the outskirts. The success of the city made it a target for raids from pirates as well as attempts of subversion by the Scarlet Brotherhood, who first raided the city in CY 30.
After a time, a family named Teraknian, descended from Sasserine's lover, came to rule the city as lord mayors, taking advice from the clergy of Wee Jas and Kord. In CY 480, Orren Teraknian, the last of the lord mayors, began a reign of terror and launched a persecution of the church of Wee Jas in the city. Orren was deposed soon after the city was conquered by the Sea Princes, who also conquered neighboring Cauldron. The Sea Princes kept the existence of Sasserine and Cauldron a secret from the rest of the Flanaess to guard their monopoly trades in chocolate and tropical fruit. The subjugation would last for a century, until the Sea Princes were forced to abandon Sasserine and Cauldron due to internal turmoil in their own lands as a result of the invasion by the Scarlet Brotherhood. The city-states are still recovering from its century-long domination and isolation.
Sasserine lies on the coast of the Amedio Jungle, close to the Hellfurnaces mountain range, and about 20 miles north of Cauldron. Its nearest neighbor across Jeklea Bay is the Hold of the Sea Princes. Sasserine is built on a series of islands which make water travel through the town a vital link for intra-city trade (like Venice).
Sasserine's economy is primarily based on sea trade, but some of the nobles own lowland plantations much like those of Cauldron, producing sugarcane and rice. The sea trade involves exporting rum, chocolate, and tropical fruits (bananas and durian) across the Azure Sea, and importing finished goods like clothing and arms & armor from more temperate lands, such as Keoland, the Wild Coast, Nyrond, and Ahlissa (the most important successor kingdom in the southern part of what was once the Great Kingdom). Piracy by ships of the Scarlet Brotherhood, their allies the Lordship of the Isles, and freebooters from the Hold, the Wild Coast, and Onnwall is a serious problem for Sasserine, but payoffs to Onnwall and the Holders, and occasional anti-piracy patrols by Keoland and to a lesser extent Nyrond and Ahlissa, keep the problem from shutting down the lucrative port.
The climate is generally tropical, with high temperatures and high humidity. Sea breezes attenuate the oppressive climate to some extent.
The city of Sasserine’s population is 15,650, with over three-quarters of the population being human. There is a small but sizable population of half-elves and halflings, with the rest of the population composed of minor amounts of dwarves, gnomes, elves, and other races.
Each districts of the city has a different patron deity: Wee Jas in the Noble District, Kord in the Champion's District, Saint Cuthbert in the Cudgel District, Fharlanghn in the Merchant's District, Olidammara (under an alias) in Shadowshore, and a syncretic religion composed of the worshippers of sea gods Procan, Xerbo, and Osprem in the Azure District. Religious toleration is prevalent throughout the city, although the churches of Wee Jas and Kord are in a state of cold war that has persisted since the persecution of the Jasadin by Orrin Teraknian.
The governance of Sasserine is a mix of oligarchy and direct democracy. The people are allowed to originate proposals and vote on them in great public meetings. Any resolutions passed by the people are sent to the seven-member Dawn Council, an oligarchy of noble aristocrats, which then decides whether or not to enact them. Law and order are for the most part relaxed in the town (partly in reaction against the somewhat harsh rule of the Sea Princes), and only the more egregious crimes such as murder and theft are actively pursued. Prostitution and the sale of exotic and potentially dangerous substances or creatures goes on more or less legally within the city limits (although the exact lassitude varies from district to district).
The Hold of the Sea Princes is a realm south of Keoland. The region that would become the Hold of the Sea Princes was heavily settled by Suel during the Great Migrations. Eventually it came under the control of the Kingdom of Keoland. In the mid-fifth century CY, a pirate captain of noble Keoish blood led a rebellion against the Throne of the Lion. Distracted as they were by their northern wars, the Keoish could do little to prevent them from conquering the isles off the coast. In CY 453, King Tavish III of Keoland led an army through the hot, diseased Hool Marsh and to the city of Westkeep, where they lay siege. In the conflict that followed, Tavish III died, and his legendary family sword, Vilharian, was lost.
After the pirates lost (somewhat indecisively) the Battle of Jetsom Island to Keoland in CY 464, the pirate captains decided to settle down and be princes rather than brigands. The Hold of the Sea Princes began to flourish, with an economy based on vast plantations and the trade of slaves captured from the Amedio Jungle to the south.
More recently, however, Jeon II became the ruling prince of the land (in CY 577). Jeon II, along with the rulers of the Duchy of Berghof and Sybarate, began campaigning for slavery to be outlawed within the land. Perhaps their efforts would have met with some success if the Hold of the Sea Princes were not invaded by the Scarlet Brotherhood shortly thereafter.
In CY 584, an ambassador from the "Kingdom of Shar," resplendent in his red-hooded robe, arrived at the court of Jeon II, and demanded the Sea Princes submit to his government or be destroyed. When the assembled lords mocked him, he presented them with a list of 30 petty nobles, who were all (save three) assassinated before the following morning. Within a fortnight, the Hold of the Sea Princes belonged to the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood, as red sailed galleys unloaded the cargos of Amedi, Olman, Touv, and humanoid slave-warriors up and down the coast.
However, the rule of the Scarlet Brotherhood has always been unstable, as discord among its own ranks and revolts by slaves, slave-warriors, and former freemen and nobles of the Hold sprang up everywhere. Sasserine and Cauldron took advantage of the chaos to quickly seize their own independence before the Scarlet Brotherhood even arrived as these secret colonies of the Hold.
Today the Hold of the Sea Princes is in chaos, ruled by a number of petty warlords and savage tribal leaders drawn from the ranks of escaped slaves. The Scarlet Brotherhood still controls the capital of Monmurg, as well as the islands of Flotsom, Jetsom, and Fairwind, but most of the mainland has slipped through its grasping fingers.
Combat & Dice Rolling:
Initiative: When combat begins I will roll initiative for all combatants including PC's. Actions will be resolved in order. Players are free to wait their turn or post ahead of time (including options if they'd like). If a player has posted before their initiative and things change before their actual initiative comes up, they are free to change their action with a new post.
Cover: Soft cover applies for ranged attacks. Cover is calculated drawing a line from one corner of your square to all 4 corners of the defender's square without passing through any objects/people.
Hard corners: Provide cover and cannot be bypassed with a 5' step.
Attack modifiers: PC's should modify their die rolls as appropriate for cover, shooting into melee, flanking, attacking from prone, etc. While being prone is technically an AC modifier, feel free to calculate it in as long as you advise me.
Format for posts:
Dice rolling: Dice rolling is done via the message board dice roller (see BBCode tags below the text box when you post. Feel free to roll dice for a skill, attack, etc, anytime you think is appropriate. I appreciate it if you explain any situational modifiers that alter what the roll would be from your profile. Including at least situational modifiers keeps things like cover from being counted twice or not at all. I go overboard, but understand if it's too much for everyone. For example:
+1 BAB, +4 Dex, +1 Point Blank, -4 cover
Aside from initiative, I will typically not make rolls for you unless it is necessary to keep things moving. I will also frequently let you make rolls that are supposed to be done by the GM. I trust people to not metagame around it and find it helps with my sense of immersion. If you're the opposite and knowing you rolled a 1 is going to distract you on searches, traps, etc, just let me know.
End of turn: Once you post and your initiative comes up, your turn is done. As a friend of mine says, "I play the villians perfectly and I expect you to play your characters perfectly." I won't go back in time adding damage/effects and won't accept them.
Play your character: Have fun! Enjoy your creation. Listen to the advice of others, but do what you want. However, be sure to play your character as built. The 8 Int/Wis fighter should probably not be figuring out the puzzles. The 7 Charisma dwarf should not be the lead diplomat. Feel free to assist (especially out of character), but remember who your PC is.
Play your own character: It's fine to make general requests, ask for a flank, suggest a tactic, beg for healing, but refrain from "Next turn you should cast bless, pull out your mace, and take a 5' step to the north to give me a flank."
Let people play their characters: Just because the PC is an ignorant clueless snob doesn't mean the player is. Their motivations might not be the same as yours. They might not care at all about the law and/or the greater good.
Don't play NPC's or other characters: You only control your own actions. You might think your diplomacy roll of 20 will make the lady swoon, but maybe it won't. (i.e. Doctor Wonderful walks into the room with his 20 charisma and uses prestigitation to spin beautiful colors around the barmaid's head. She swoons before me and I embrace her.)
NPC's lie: I know this might be a shocker, but it's true. I will be honest with you as the GM, but NPC's might actually deceive you.
Four local adventurers who are also all members of various noble families in Cauldron. These four young aristocrats formed an adventuring party several months ago, and have spent those months exploring some of the less dangerous catacombs and lava tubes below the city. In particular, they recently wiped out a large tribe of pesky kobolds that had taken up residence in some old lava tubes below the southern section of Cauldron. Members include Annah Taskerhill, Cora Lathenmire, Todd Vanderboren, and Zachary Aslaxin II.
Striders of Fharlanghn:
A loosely run organization of adventurers and explorers who watch the horizons for signs of great evil and strive to preserve the balance of power in the realm.
I just don't get it. There are no real world rewards or prizes for winning. I'd much prefer to stab Dyrant in the heart with my sharp wit then kill him with a dragon. If your character dies, then he has more character. He'll make it back to the world somehow. If you're not having fun, don't cheat to fix it. Talk to us. If you disagree with me, you're probably in the wrong adventure.
Treasure spreadsheet Ideally, this link will always be good even as I update the spreadsheet.