Once upon a time, a powerful magical empire ruled the world, mostly the central continent. A few centuries ago, a cataclysm occurred that wiped out all sentient life on the central continent, and stirred up the seas to make passage impossible.
About 10 years ago, the storms lessened during the summer, enough for voyages to cross the Narrow Sea. Since then, towns and villages have sprung up along the coastline, and adventurers are always wanted to explore and conquer the dangerous interior.
Here on the west coast of the Continent, all people are from the Torren Commonwealth, a republic of various minor states that banded together against northern pirates and internal banditry.
Humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and orcs intermingle, with little cultural differences. Dwarves are not inherently miners and smiths, and elves are not necessarily naturists and gardeners.
Interbreeding is common, and tends to result in humans; the other races are fairly rare, except for halflings. Some scholars suggest that the five races all share a common ancestor.
Dwarves and elves each have their own language. Elvish sounds enough like bird-song to confuse the untrained ear. Dwarvish is simple and guttural, and carries well underground. Orcs once had a language, but the Common Tongue superseded it; it is now a dead language, used only by scholars and orcish priests.
In the New Lands, the goblin tongue is highly useful. Not only do goblins speak it, but the new bandits and thieves there tend to use it for secrecy. It is a difficult language to learn.
There are also traces of the script of the Ancients (of whom almost nothing is known). Sources disagree on the pronunciation: they are divided into the Vulgar (similar to the goblin tongue), Archaic (based on old Common), and Sibilant (because some scholars insist that the Ancients were snake people). Learning the script is hard, and each of the three pronunciations must be learned separately.
Major Locations in the New World
In the Bay of Dreams
- Lord’s Harbour: the only natural harbour known to the commonwealth. In summer, the town is booming, with travellers and traders coming and going at all times. In winter, it feels like a ghost town.
Lord Coniril passes heavy taxes on exports.
- Laketown: lies upriver from Lord’s Harbour, in the foothills of the Razors. Known to opportunists as the “Adventuring Gateway to the Unknown”. Many true and false maps of the area are for sale, several pointing out the locations of ancient ruins and supposed treasures.
- Redgate: located on the only known fertile land this side of the Razors. It is a profitable town (at least, for a New World town), but suffers heavily from banditry.
In the Bay of Teeth
- Coruvon: the ruins of an ancient city. Expeditions have set up several camps, both inside and outside the city walls. There is rumoured to be an Alabaster Oracle, who knows the future but does not speak.
- Mudport: a slimy little shanty town, with a few docks for dinghies. It only exists to facilitate trade up the Ruvon River. Plenty of people make it as far as Mudport, and can’t get enough money to go back or carry on.
- Frostwater: upriver from Coruvon, where snow-melt fills the river all year round.
On the headland
- Farmgrove: this is the only town with a road heading out of the headland. It is the trading hub of all settlements on the headland.
- Korl’s Folly: a tiny settlement right on the coast. It has to be abandoned every winter, when the storms get bad. Korl and his family persist in moving back and rebuilding every spring.
- What’s the deal with my cleric’s religion?
5 gods: Civilization, Wilderness, Home/Family, Outsiders, Neutral.
No structured religion.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Any of the major towns listed will sell most equipment, although anything you buy in Mudport will probably either shit or overpriced (or both).
- Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Tough ask – probably only Lord’s Harbour or Redgate. But it will be really expensive.
- Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
The only wizard of note is Shailandra, an elvish noblewoman who advises Lord Coniril in Lord’s Harbour. She once set a pirate ship in the harbour ablaze from the Lord’s manor.
- Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Morryn the Fierce, who killed the First Bandit King in single combat. He now lives decadently in Redgate.
- Who is the richest person in the land?
Lord Coniril, without question. He earns almost all of the taxes from the harbour, and throws lavish parties for his friends and hangers-on.
- Where can we go to get some magical healing?
In a pinch, any local cleric, priest, or shaman is good for cure light wounds. But they will usually ask for a donation.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Either Shailandra, or the Harbour Temple, in Lord’s Harbour. The Temple will insist that you pay a 10% tithe of income, and shuts you down hard if you try to lie to them. Shailandra can usually do more, but will ask for things other than coin.
- Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Not officially, but there’s a ‘club’ of petty magicians and sorcerers who follow Shailandra around.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Lord’s Harbour is your best bet for alchemy (even beyond Shailandra). Redgate has a few alchemists. Laketown is where you will find the best sages – they’re the closest to the action that the New World has to offer.
- Where can I hire mercenaries?
There’s plenty of people in Laketown or Mudport who are hungry for coin, and happy to commit violence to earn it.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Walking with open weapons in Redgate or Lord’s Harbour will get you slapped with fines (in Mudport and Laketown, it’s just common sense).
The guards at Coruvon will get upset if you use any magic near the city (at least if they can see it).
Flashing lots of coin in Lord’s Harbour will attract Lord Coniril’s tax collectors, or possibly the Temple if you haven’t tithed enough.
- Which way to the nearest tavern?
Any which way. Every town, village, and crossroads has a drinking hole that will take coin in exchange for food, cheap ale, and/or a night’s shelter.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
There are lots of goblin holes out on the headland, terrorizing farms. Go to Farmgrove if you want directions.
Anyone who can clear a safe path between Lord’s Harbour and Mudport will certainly get a lot of money – there are bandits, ogres, giant serpents, and worse in the swampland and woods.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Not really. The Commonwealth is pretty calm and peaceful, hence the recent expansion out west.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
Laketown has The Pit, where mercenaries prove themselves to employers, and people show off the strange monsters they’ve captured and brought back from the mountains.
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Shh! It’s a secret!
That said, it’s rumoured that some are trying to stir up the seas again, and bring back the ancient empire.
- What is there to eat around here?
Plenty of fish and potatoes. Wheat is only grown in Redgate, or imported, so bread is pricy. Iron rations are fish jerky and potato biscuits (yum!).
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Finding anything out about the ancient empire would be worth a lot to anyone. They were said to be able to control the weather, breed strange and dangerous creatures, and teleport across the continent in the blink of an eye.
In particular, there are supposedly stone rings forming a portal network across the continent. Shailandra is said to have found one, but can’t get it to work.
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
In the Hammer Peaks, north-east of Laketown. Something big and scaly ate an entire farm last winter, and left only footprints and shards of quartz behind.
Inland from Frostwater, there’s a cave from which screams can be heard. Occasionally, coins trickle down the stream from it.