I ran an ill-fated Jade Regent campaign and before a TPK on the Crown of the World, I made the PCs journey more interesting by embellishing some of the places they passed on the way.
CN Small City
Corruption +0; Crime -6; Economy +3; Law +5; Lore +1; Society +1
Qualities Holy Site, Insular, Prosperous, Superstitious, Tourist Attraction
Danger +5; Disadvantages n/a
Population 7,830 (6,777 humans, 783 dwarves, 106 gnomes, 79 halflings, 53 elves, 32 others)
Jarl Morvinn ‘the Mad’ (CN hm ari 4/fighter 5)
War Priest Sigmar Bloodfist (CN hm cleric of Gorum 11)
Ulfen Guard Elder Yngvar Vroldenhammer (N venerable hm barb 10)
Base Value 6,000gp; Purchase Limit 37,500gp; Spellcasting 6th
Minor Items horn of goodness/evil; Medium Items greater bracers of archery, decanter of endless water, ring of chameleon power, ring of the ram, rope of entanglement, staff of frost; Major Items +3 morningstar, ring of protection +4, staff of necromancy
Trade Goods fish, wild boar, furs, animal parts
Irongold is the name of the large fortress-temple to the god of battle. The strongest structure in Ullerskad, it has walls that are 15 feet thick, and doors of iron decorated with spikes and blades. Golden flourishes decorate the iron and stone, and above the doors can be found golden writing that reads in Skald ‘he who has gold is rich, but he who has iron makes himself mighty’ – supposedly a thinly-veiled snipe at the growth of mercantilism in Ullerskad. The temple’s high priest, Sigmar Bloodfist, has fallen out with the War Priest of Kalsgard, and though the Jarl of Ullerskad is loyal to Sveinn Blood-Eagle, Sigvar openly taunts his opposite number – it helps his cause that she is a woman.
Gorum’s Grove (known to locals as ‘Gory Grove’ is a small wooded piece of land next to the temple. Hanging from every tree are sacrifices to Our Lord In Iron, whether favored hounds and horses, or defeated enemies. This grove originally abutted the burgeoning marketplace and was a source of regular complaints from wealthy merchants who found their business affected by the grisly sights. Eventually, the Jarl relented and had the Looking Wall (see below) built between the market and the grove. At the centre of the grove stands a massive yew tree that remains green no matter the season. Beside the tree is the source of a sacred blood-red stream (tinted by the presence of iron in the earth) where priests gather during the spring equinox to hold a great sacrificial ceremony.
Places to Relax:
The Dead Witch is a vast, sprawling longhouse with just one immense room. Great wooden columns support the ceiling high overhead, and the numerous cookfires spread throughout the place do little to provide enough heat to prevent one’s breath from misting. Popular with the Ulfen natives, you will always find warriors here drinking, eating, and making merry. They often huddle in groups around one of several favourite retired Ulfen Guardsmen – the Huscarls who protect the Emperor of Taldor. While they have no official political power, these aged warriors have seen the world beyond the Lands and survived. They hold much sway over the younger warriors and without their guidance, Ullerskad would be a much more dangerous and savage place. There are some who whisper that these men have been softened by civilization, but if it weren’t for their stabilizing influence, the city would be neither as prosperous nor as safe as it is.
The Broken Stag is the haunt most popular with out-of-towners, since it tries to ape many of the southern taverns and inns. The sign outside shows a naked maiden riding a saddled stag. Located in a cellar beneath a long-fallen section of stone wall that once guarded the center of the city, the Broken Stag has low ceilings and is proud to declare itself the home of “endless stew”[5cp] – a dish that has supposedly been kept simmering for 30 years, with new ingredients added every day. No two bowls are ever quite the same.
In addition to the temple and grove of Gorum (see above), Ullerskad boasts little in the way of attractions. Local children will offer to take visitors (for a price: 1cp) to The Looking Wall which separates the grisly sight of the hung cadavers in the grove of Gorum from the marketplace. One of the bricks that makes up the wall has an enormous eye at roughly head height, seemingly once part of an immense statue. The eye is hollow and allows a good view through the wall into the bloody grove on the other side.
Huscarl Teachings: I tell you this, child – forge your own destiny or you will live in another’s shadow for all time. High cunning or low, imagination and desire must be your destiny’s guides. Brave the icy wilds of these lands to gain the favor of its people. Survival is a game of wits with your life at stake. I have proven myself mighty, and so countless others, now dead, have tried to follow in my footsteps… but they forget that the mind is a weapon more powerful than any you might carry in your hand.
Linnorms: Would that we had dragons. Or, at least, dragons of the kinds they have in the south – things noble and awesome even in the dealing of devastation. Our land is not named for such things. Here, death is rarely beautiful or proud. Here grown men die of the cold and for want of food. Here beasts knock in our doors to make off with our children. Here our wyrms are not creatures of poems and songs – they are degenerates of a time past, disasters of the unnatural, cursebearers, rampagers, and corpse eaters. Is it any surprise, then, that our dragonslayers all lie dead?