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A Simple Venture

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From a broadsheet posted throughout the kingdom of Kaldor in the winter of 719 Tuzyn Reckoning:

HEAR YE, HEAR YE!

Let it be known that persons of various and needful skills and good character are being sought for an expedition to establish a new outpost in the name of King Miginath, to the glory of the crown. All persons accepted for this endeavor shall be paid a generous monthly stipend and rewarded handsomely upon its successful conclusion, in a manner commensurate with their service. The duration of the contract for this enterprise is expected to be not less than two nor more than four years. Any wishing to join this expedition are encouraged to present themselves at the Hall of the Mangai no later than the 14th day of this coming Nuzyael, along with such credentials and references as may be relevant for the position(s) for which they might apply.

As witnessed this 12th day of Ilvin,
Honelon of Udibis,
(his signature)
Master Litigant

(Or, in short: we’re going to found a new town…who wants in on the literal ground floor?)

I want weekly, but that’s flexible. I’d prefer players who are more mature, and who can handle a setting that’s a little rougher around the edges than your typical fantasy world. I also prefer players who put a high value on cooperative play.

So…what’s the point of a town-building campaign, anyhow?

Yes, I know…adventurers don’t want to be tied down, they want to wander freely, explore new and exciting places, and rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses! Who the hell wants to help build a stupid town? Well, there are actually several potential upsides to the situation. Here’s what the characters are aware of at the beginning of the campaign…

Rumors have been swirling in Kaldor for months about some major project being undertaken by the Mangai (the association of guilds) with additional support by Earl Hemisen Curo. Apparently, their intention is to construct a small fortification on the banks of Lake Myen, a large deep freshwater lake some 60 miles up the Hemurin River from currently settled lands. Part of the alleged reasoning behind this venture is the discovery of certain natural resources nearby; the lake is nestled in the foothills of the Felsha Mountains, and the region has never been especially developed so it is believed that there must be some fantastic deposits ripe for the picking. And indeed, given the heavy support of the Miners’ Guild, this story seems to carry a strong ring of truth to it.

Naturally, this means that there must be more to it all than that…because there are surely more easily obtained sources of ore and salt. First off, the land in that area is claimed by the semi-nomadic Taelda tribes who, while not exactly at war with Kaldor, aren’t exactly bosom buddies either. They tend to be neutral until their privacy and territory is invaded, at which point they display some very effective guerilla tactics that have been the frustration of generations of Kaldoric military officers. Their cooperation in the matter could probably be purchased…or at least rented…but there are many independent tribes and keeping them all on the payroll could be a bit pricey.

And then there are the Gargun (Harnic Orcs). There is a known Gargun colony at Gifuso, about 25 miles from the lake. As such, the entire area is subject to frequent Gargun patrols, and any planned site would require a strong military presence to dissuade attacks. Trying to bribe Gargun is about as useful as putting wheels on a castle…even if they stayed bribed (which they don’t), the constant power struggles inside a Gargun colony ensure that new leadership…and a new palm to be greased…is only a sword stab away.

And if those aren’t enough, the area is also known for Ivashu, the monstrous creations of the god Ilvir. While some Ivashu are harmless, most aren’t. Some very decidedly and aggressively aren’t, and since Ilvir is known for his love of experimenting with new forms, one could run into…well, anything out there. I mean, there are old wives’ tales of a sea dragon living in the lake itself, as if any self-respecting sea dragon would live in a freshwater lake a hundred miles and more from any ocean.

So the question is, with all that going against it, what in the name of Morgath’s left nut is there that would be worth all the time, manpower, and expense? On that point too, rumors abound.

Some of the tamer notions being floated include the construction of a small port on the shore of the lake, to bring goods downriver directly to the capital Tashal itself. The idea would likely be to siphon off part of the trade from the Fur Road, which currently runs to Olokand (home of the ambitious and wildly unpopular Sheriff Maldan Harabor, the eldest…and illegitimate…son of King Miginath). Such a shift in revenues could have a decided impact on the balance of power in the realm, which becomes increasingly important as Miginath, who was never in all that great a health to begin with, ages and refuses to designate an heir. On the other hand, Olokand also happens to be the seat of the royal family, who might take exception to the loss of coin.

Then of course, there are rumors of a find of an extremely rare metal, platinum. Such a thing sounds credible because the Khuzdul (Dwarves) were known to have mined the Felshas for platinum and even rarer metals in ancient ages; a deposit which might have seemed a trifle to them could still be large enough to be worth several kings’ ransoms. Since by decree all metal deposits are the property of the king, mined under license, royal approval and involvement would be a necessary step (and one which appears to have been taken).

There is also question of ecclesiastical interest, specifically from the Church of Ilvir. Since one of the major pilgrimage routes to Araka-Kalai, home of Ilvir on the shores of Lake Benath, runs somewhat through this area, a “forward base” of sorts from which pilgrims could launch their treks through this dangerous region would be quite welcome. Unfortunately, the church may be many things, but it is most assuredly not rich. On the other hand, Earl Curo…a known supporter of the church…most assuredly is.

Of course, even more fantastical rumors swirl about, including the possible discovery of a fabled Earthmaster site, Lahr-Darin. Mages have been hunting unsuccessfully for it for centuries, if for no other reason than that every Earthmaster site ever found to date has contained a trove of magical artifacts (many unfathomable) as well as clues to what happened to the mysterious race who built these indestructible monuments so many millenia ago. Any even vaguely serious information about the site would be enough to set wizards’ ears buzzing all the way to Melderyn.

So, with all of the above, it hardly seems unlikely that an enterprising group of free-minded individuals might desire to find some way to attach themselves to the endeavor and one or more of the major personages associated with it. Judging by the white-hot glow of the rumor mill, they’re likely to have quite a lot of competition for the opportunity.

Or they could just stay at home. Your call.

Want to know more? Click on the Wiki link to the left to go to the campaign main page, and start exploring! (And mind you, this is only a fraction of the information available to players…an actual reference book will be provided at the table, crammed with more details than you’re ever likely to need, and much of it true!)

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