Almost two centuries ago, when the circumstances of the world created conditions for mass migration, some hardy souls among the self-aware species of all the states journeyed in small groups to the “Great Ruin” of the Northlands and renamed it “Port Rufio”. In reality, the port appears to have been a suburb of the Ruin. However, even in those desperate times, no one wanted to settle in that mass of abandonment. Given that tendency toward prudence, the area around Port Rufio made practical sense and—if the rumors are true—that act of modest caution, has rewarded them with their survival.
Today that is the name of a slightly over-crowded city—an autonomous collective—settled within the decaying remains of some unknown but once powerful civilization. The residents of the city are not alone, of course, but they serve as the conduit for most trade and cultural attractions in the area. It is a port (hence the name), trading finished works with the Wilders to the west, and south while sending raw materials (fish, furs, wood, farm products, etc) and occasional artifacts out to the world beyond its waters. The winters are cold—so cold the port freezes for about 4 weeks of the year—therefore the various beings that crowd its streets have found ways to live together...
The city is broken into neighborhoods, each controlled by a “Guild” which is half cop, half robber. It depends on how you like their rules. The “Council of Guilds” meets regularly for business and parties.
“Sheaves” Platinum Pieces
“Plows” Gold Pieces
“Hunters” Silver Pieces (most common)
“Gobs” Copper pieces
The Living Docks (Nieghborhood):
This neighborhood exists in the southeast corner of the city, bordered by the wall, central street, and Farley's Run. It's guild (dominated by the Goblins) is housed in a local inn, the Almordzar. The area is a busy, hectic place where business is done and deals (large, small “legal” and “illegal”) are made regularly in backrooms and common rooms. The denizens of this neighborhood have a healthy rivalry with the “Dead Docks” on the other side of the Curious River. That area has only recently been turned from a ruin to an ongoing concern and the “Livers” resent the “Deadheads” terribly.
When the first settlers arrived at Port Rufio they commenced to beach one of their larger ships and use it as a base of operations for reclaiming this part of the ruins. That ship—the Almordzar—subsequently formed the central element in a local inn. The inn is owned and operated by a Dwarf named Dungen Ness. He is a sometimes crabby but usually fair taskmaster to his staff. His facility also houses the “Liver Guild” and its “marshals” who are responsible for law enforcement (and just plain enforcement) in the area.
A sometimes-harrowing week’s ride away from Port Rufio is the keep, located on the very borderlands of the tiny “city-state” that sees Port Rufio as its capital. Travel between the two locations is safer than one might think--at least for the first few days--as various holders are obligated to feed and house weary travelers up to a point. However, there is a gap between the relative civilization of the city and the relative security the keep’s patrols provide. One must plan their itinerary carefully and keep to their schedules as the holdings become more scarce and hence farther apart. The wilds are not a good place to be in after dark.
The keep, itself was raised up on an ancient foundation While it’s current name indicates the affiliation of its inhabitants, it is known by others, etched on the rocks that make up its walls. The inhabitants of the keep are, for the most part, law-abiding. They expect the same from visitors and new residents. They do not tolerate boorishness within the walls. The community is too small for that.
Partly it is a military establishment, housing the people who make up the guard of this area. However, there are also merchants and others that liven up the community. Adventurers and others can make a solid if somewhat circumscribed life here. However, most folk make sure to schedule at least a couple of weeks in “The Port”, staying at the Almorzar or other similar establishment just to blow off steam in a relatively safer and less close-knit location.
The Tentacular Spectacular:
Slightly over two generations ago there was an event that is the cause of much pride and much confusion in the community. Simply put, people’s roasts grew great tentacles and began attacking the living. At the same time ghosts from some as of yet undiscovered hellscape began to suck the life out of the local citizenry. While the reason for the end of this scourge is unclear--a number of self-styled heroes claim responsibility--it has appeared to indeed have ended. Those who remember it have mostly died off now much to the relief of the current populace who have grown a tad tired of the stories.
That said the “Tent Speck” (as people now call it) has obviously had it’s impact, particularly in and around the keep. It is an even wilder place. The landscape has changed somewhat. Old icons and ruins have appeared on lonely hills when the mist parts, only to vanish again upon close investigation. Trade is stronger. The local Orcs have established peaceful if somewhat tense relations with the goblins and humans who populate the cities. Still, there are darker and more dangerous beings in the woods now. Most stay on the roads, which are dangerous enough.
The Party of Friends
So...what brings you to the keep? Presumably you have grown bored either with life in Port Rufio or in even more boring places far from this place. Whatever the case, you are here now. The only question is...how are you going to pay for this dinner?
A few years ago my intern and I began a D&D game for our church youth group. I wanted to get back into Tabletop Roleplaying games that I had played extensively as a kid and then off and on (eventually with my own kids) over the years. Anyway, fast-forward to now, I am gaming a lot and have become interested in the spiritual dimensions of the game as well as it's ability to spark the imagination about this world and other worlds.