Thieves & Kings
The village stands in stark contrast to other towns of the Ambarin Valley; once a buzzing trade town at the junction of the river trade and forest routes into the northern depths of the Grandwood, Rood is in the slow process of dying. Most of its stone houses are abandoned and overgrown with vines and other plant life, and rats out-number the local population four-to-one. The ditch-and-hedge that surround the town is all that keeps its handful of remaining population safe. The population numbers barely thirty, half involved in the local inns, with the rest involved in numerous crafts guilds, almost all of which are dependent upon the adventurers from the nearby ruins. The only track through town, the “Gray Trail” is overgrown and worn down by the weather and time. The many local inns and taverns are known almost universally for their watered ales, horrid accommodations, and sinfully poor service. Many visitors, however, simply occupy one of the dozens of empty stone cottages around town, rather than risk a night in one of the inns. And Rood hangs on.
The town is now too-often visited by mysterious, wandering strangers, making Rood two towns. During the day, it tends to be a bustling, if declining, place with limited river trade, and where adventurers trade their loot for new weapons and supplies for their next expedition. At night, it becomes a town filled with intrigue, rumor, threat and murder. Rood is not the place for a midnight stroll, particularly alone, if you;re a stranger. The best asset one can have in Rood, is a friend who will stand and fight at your side, should the need arise. Failed adventurers are common, and just as rapacious as the worst of bandits, plus they tend to be very egotistical towards younger, apparently successful adventurers.
Rood’s decline and diminished state over the last decade, is directly in relation to the growth of Seville as the center of trade and power in Ambarin Vale. Ostensibly a river trade town, it was a market for furs from throughout the region of the upper Ambarin, especially during the later years of Mornhaven’s status under the pirate kings. When Seville was founded in TR 992, it laid the first solid nails in the town’s coffin, and today has surrendered any pretense of its being a profitable market town, and is now home to bandits and scoundrels of all sorts.
Fireblade Manor : The once stately manor for the village, the present manor is a worn, sagging stone building collapsing from neglect and age. Its two floors of furnishings are coated with layers of dust and grime, and remains home to the mysterious widow Letta Fireblade, last of her line. Many claim her ancient home is haunted and protects her from harm, though many also believe her family jewels and treasures are buried somewhere on the estates, and provide much of the local speculation and gossip regarding the family. She still gets visits from distant family members from the main clan in the Barony of Winewater, often forgetting who they are.
Letta is very old, and practically certifiably mad from the tragedy of her life. Her son and daughter both took up the life of an adventurer, and wandered into Eveningstar, to promptly vanish. Her husband marshaled his remaining allies and mounted an expedition to retrieve them, and they also vanished. Most figure she will not survive another winter, and take all her wealth with her to the grave.
Apothecary : ## $$ : Not so much a herbalist, as he is a poisoner, Zev Cote also uses this worn and filthy shop as his residence, dealing almost exclusively with Bomaris and his chosen few. He keeps a stock of Blue Whinnis on hand for select buyers, but remains only as long as Bomaris keeps him employed.
Apothecary : #### $$$ : Located on the east end of town, near the ford, Lencasse “the Mad” lives and works from this small shop. A dim, dusty place of shelves and racks stuffed with herbs and potions, he is known to talk long to himself about obscure topics no one else understands. He will often lapse into Sylvan, Elven and other languages like Draconic during conversations, confusing most conversations, without notice. His common herbs are fairly cheap at 3 sp per dose, but rarely stocks more than a Potion of Healing or two.
Chandler : ### $$$ : Erim Longshank is a local woodsman who developed the skills needed to become a passable, though unguilded, chandler. He is capable at his chosen craft, but has little drive to expand or increase his work load beyond what is required of his present operation. He produces rushlights, candles and lamp oils, importing simple iron lanterns from Seville, and provides nothing else of note.
Innkeeper (“The Battered Cock”) : ## $$$ : An ancient, if dilapidated inn, made all the more horrid since the collapse of the western roof of the inn. The large, sprawling place still has a large stable costing 1 sp per night, with an oat mash, and free fleas to all visitors. Stablemaster Kolvair Goldwater is a good ostler, just has very little to work with. The common room of the inn lies in the east half of the sprawling building, while the two-story set of inn rooms occupy the west, with a stair leading from the common room. The upper level is, however, no longer livable with the collapse of its roof. The few remaining rooms on the main level are often drafty, wet and poorly maintained, but are cheap, private affairs with blankets at 2 sp per night.
The owner, Master “The Glove” Immithar, is a fast-moving, energetic fellow capable of perfectly imitating every guest at his inn. He provides fast service, but also believes one’s tankard should always be full as long as they are in the common room; loitering is not tolerated. The common room is a maze of roughly-hewn pine tables and benches. He serves pickled garlic cloves, small wheels of local cheese, pork sausages, and biscuits roasted in hot butter, for 2 sp per serving. Drinks are “Taproom Ale” for 1 cp per tankard, imported “Bitter Ale” for 2 cp per tankard, and imported “Ambarin Wine” for 4 cp per tankard, though available in both white and red. They also sell cold provisions packed in a small scrap of worn cloth for 2 sp per day.
Innkeeper (“The Great Bend”) : ## $$$ : Once an inn of some renown, (formerly known as the “White Wolf” ), the Great Bend once served the rivermen, who prowled the waters and shores of the Ambarin River. Now faded and worn, it still has the marks of its glorious past etched in the woodwork and attractive frames. Rough and serving a rowdy crowd, it remains a cheap, though noisy venue, with numerous charcoal marks from fires dotting the walls and its furniture.
Despite the battered appearance of the place, and the constant brawls that inevitably erupt among its patrons, it is popular. The innkeeper is a former riverman, Kaevor Slakethirst, who earned the property through years of careful investments in his river boat, and is readily knowledgeable of the many twists and turns of the river above Seville. Despite its smoky and dim interior, with only the central hearth for light, it is a place where rivermen meet and conduct their business, often involving smuggling.
The common room serves one purpose; to drink. Though not exceptional, the local ale is passable at 1 cp per tankard, though the inn brews a hardier “Straw Beer” for 3 cp per tankard, often flavored with local spices. “Firewine”, a red wine that is also spiced with local herbs, has a cost of 3 sp per tankard, is a raw, special treat. The commons serves no food. There are usually a handful of rooms available, providing few luxuries beyond warmth, relative cleanliness and privacy for 3 sp per night. It provides no other services.
Innkeeper (“The Green Crown”) : ### $$$ : The inn is named for “…an elven king who once slept here…”, though no one knows the name or the date.Although faded from its glory days, the inn is the best in town, with a good reputation among guests for its accommodations and fair provender. The inn’s thick pillars and moldings are rife with ornate scroll work of a forest nature, with vines and leaves and trees, quite common. The entire second level of the place is private guest rooms,
Barrak Melonrind is the owner of the Green Crown, and both he and his wife, Gailyn are exceptionally proud of their inn, and it shows. Their clients, however, mean they can’t charge more than average for provisions or a room, and so have little opportunity to improve the building and its service. They are quiet and attentive to their guests and do their best to keep things maintained and clean.
Food at the Crown is warm broth and fresh baked bread loaves, supplemented with roast pork or fowl, when available. Costs are 1 cp per bowl or loaf, with a platter of roast meat for 1 sp per serving. The drinks are a fair ale 1 cp per tankard and a good honey mead 1 sp per tankard, with both brewed in the cellars. Wine (only in red) is also available on request for 2 sp per tankard. All are served in polished horn flagons or crystal tumblers for the wine. Rooms are simple enough private spaces, but often feature ornate four-poster beds and similar furnishings of an ancient nature, its walls covered in ancient tapestries and chairs marked with the crests of many unknown knights and lords. Rooms cost 5 sp per night, but are comfortable and safe. There is no finer place to stay in the village.
Innkeeper ("The Midge and Maggot:) : ## $$ : A once fine inn (formerly known as the “Silver Tree” ), is the center of “high society” in the town. The personal “court” of the local bandit chief, Bomaris, its furnishings are crowded together in the common room, bolted-down to resist damage, and is a crowded, dingy place smelling of old beer. The inn has interior jakes, located in the cellars, opening above an underground rivulet that flows away west from the river. The building has three “wings”, with one for the kitchens, another for the barracks-style housing offered to guests, and the third for Bomaris and his cronies, who pay handsomely for their privacy.
The owner is the Bullroarer, a former mercenary claiming no clan name, and given his complexion and mannerisms, must hail from the Border Kingdoms. Both he and his wife Ravenna are good enough people, but bow to the demands of their “guest” Bomaris, in all things. The bandit decides who can stay and who must leave, and Bullroarer reports all he hears and sees to the bandits, in order to curry their favor.
The tavern ale is cheap enough at 1 cp per tankard. Food is limited to standard pottage from the hearth’s cauldron, with whatever game or other provisions they can find – usually pork rinds, local grains, and vegetables. Sometimes there’s actually pork. The pottage is plentiful, and at 1 cp per bowl is quite popular. The inn’s rooms are well enough, though travellers often use their own bedrolls, rather than the questionable blankets, for a simple 1 sp per night, rather than the standard fare of 2 sp per night. There is no stabling available.
Innkeeper (“The Sunset”) : ## $$ : The Sunset is a notorious dive, and a good case study of how low the town has fallen. Positioned right next to the “Great Bend”, it tends to attract those who can’t afford fair prices, such as out-of-work mercenaries and bandits. Repeated brawls over the years have resulted in heavily chained tables surrounded with scarred barrel-stools and wall benches made of cheap greenwood pine. The bar is also of pine, and wooden mugs have long since replaced iron or pottery tankards.
Visitors to the tavern herd together like sheep around the bar, snarling and belching, and fights are common. The regulars come here to pick fights with the unwary, and later to rob them blind. Behind the bar lies a makeshift shrine to the Gray Slayer; a battered suit of plate armor covered in grime and blood from a hundred fights, with the bronze sword of that god painted on its breastplate. Various mangled weapons have been placed around it, spiked to the wall. The owner, Uillean Cowl has provided a space for the local enigmatic shrine priest, who provides local medicine services, and performs healings in the name of his bloody god. Of an ancient local Ninn clan, he is also a great contact for dependable mercenaries, and is known to employ Serpent Venom on his orc-forged greataxe as an equalizer against haughty adventurers.
The “Gristle Ale” brewed here is coarse, but cheap at 1 cp per tankard, plus it is the only drink offered in the taproom. Food is usually whatever is roasting over the central hearth, typically roast pork from a local farmer. Such provender costs 2 cp per serving, and consists of platters of roast pork, mixed with onions and cabbage. Despite its greasy sauce, it is remarkably tasty and popular. The inn offers no rooms.
Mercantyler : # $ : Owned and operated by the Silverfeet, a diminuative halfling family. Located by the well of the central market, they sell rotten grain packed with sawdust, spoiled wine, and sometimes better items “salvaged” from local merchant caravans and homesteads. They are both completely in Bomaris’ pockets, and also quietly provide a market for goods taken by Bomaris’ bandits. If Bomaris and his protection were to disappear, the couple would quietly move on.
Mercantyler : ### $$$ : Positioned near the stone docks and usually empty warehouses, and the abandoned brewery, it deals almost exclusively with the handful of rivermen who still visit the town. Cynyr Granite, a retired riverman himself, owns and runs the shop, bartering local furs, hides and other forest products from the region for his water-proofed cloth, rope and lamp oils. He remains outside the control of Bomaris, since the bandit chief has his own provisioner and market salesman, and the riverman is effectively a local “lord” in his own right, with enough control over the other rivermen in town to keep his thugs at bay. He is possibly the only remaining honest merchant in the region.
Metalsmith : #### $$$$ : Navir Blackhammer is a superb craftsmen, but also an extremely paranoid bear of a man, who lives in the cellars of his small shop. Somewhat deranged from a war injury, Navir retired to the care of his simple work, though he is chiefly employed by the local bandits to do repair work and little else beyond tool repair and smelting scrap iron into basic iron stock for his forge. He spends some time each month wandering the nearby Swamplight Fens, securing peat for his forge.
Navir talks to his tools and weapons, and claims they all speak to him regarding their health and nature, as though they all had souls. To him, a fine weapon is a like a fine woman and his tools are like old friends. One does not discard an old friend, nor mistreat their mistress and expect good service in return; he takes a dim view of people unable to take basic care of their own tools of the trade. Despite these quirks, he quite sociable and friendly.
Ostler : ## $$ : A simple stable owned by Bolok, a blustering flunky of Bomaris. He openly peddles stolen horses, often cart animals with the harness marks still on their flanks. He specializes best in pack ponies, and is always keeping a handful around for sale to visiting travelers or merchants.
Woodcrafter : ## $$ : Inferior tools and furnishings are the trade of this craftsman, mostly due to his near-constant drunkenness. Alasdair “WInebreath” is a former cooper from Mornhaven, who avoided troubles with his wife’s family, being charged with her murder. He spent a few months working in prisoner’s chains along the Forest Walk, before he escaped and then disappeared into the northern forests. “Winebreath’s” work suffers, not from lack of skill, but because he has little concern about the tasks he does complete. His wife’s family still want him for the deed.