Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Werberin Island

Whereas Klantorr is a very lawful realm, Werberin is quite the opposite - mostly neutral, with some very chaotic aspects.
During the Wars between the Empires, numerous levels of government disappeared - the Duke of Varreshiss and the Senechal of Werberin were killed by invading Bursian troops and assassins, while later on the Empire collapsed with the Summoning. This has left a power vacuum that has not been filled in Werberin in the way the clerics took over Klantorr. The result is that Werberin is now a collection of independent towns and villages living in an uneasy anarchy.

Geographical features:
Gaelaron Forest is on the south-eastern tip. There are relatively few dangerous creatures - the Senechal of Werberin saw that the forest was kept under control until the wars between the Empires. There are some stags, wild boar, giant ferrets and giant shrews that threaten the unwary, but nothing that an armed adventurer couldn't deal with.
The Sorrowflow river runs from Vander's Silvermine past Westlier Keep, through the Oystercatcher Marshes and into the sea. It was previously named the Sarrinflow but its name changed during the Bursian attack on Werberin when there was a major battle on the banks as Varreshiss troops held one side and Bursian troops tried a frontal attack. For days the river ran red and corpses were washed downstream, and the river was nicknamed the Sorrowflow.
The Oystercatcher Marshes surround the estuary of the Sorrowflow, and are mostly salt-water or brackish water. Giant crabs and scarlet crabs are known to crawl around in the marshes, and giant hawks sometimes compete with the giant seagulls, each looking for easy scavenging, or maybe weakened and lost prey.
The Bertrach Ridges run along the southern coast of the island, and are rugged hills rising to a few mountainous peaks in the middle. Unlike most of Werberin Island the Bertrach ridges were never completely cleared of monsters, and a few very dangerous creatures can be found - there is at least one nest of wyverns, giant eagles and hill giants have also been sighted. More commonly there are giant goats (3HD herd animals), wild ibexes (2HD herd animals), giant hawks, mountain lions and black bears. 

Principle Settlements:
Cornaxville (population 20,000) is the largest settlement in Werberin. It is run by supposedly a town council but this is really just a front for the thieves guild. The whole town is dangerous and lawless, and muggings, pick-pocketing, burglary and swindling are all common activities.
Endorell (population 15,000) is a fishing town with a large farming community attached. The town is sort of lucky in that the most powerful inhabitant is a crotchety old mage called Varshild (16th level mage, neutral, male) who prefers to be undisturbed while he studies. He has hired a band of 240 mercenaries called the Purple Chevrons to act as peace-keepers, primarily so he can continue his research, but with the side benefit of some sort of order kept in the town. This should not be construed as any sort of benevolence - the Purple Chevrons are paid to make sure the town stays quiet, not necessarily charitable or just. There is an active thieves' guild here, but it stays discrete.
Hastlin (population 13,000) is known for its shipwrights and carpenters of exceptional skill. However, it has seen better times. At the moment the council who run the town are in league with both pirates and the Red Hand organisation. There is a well-developed and busy port where ships can offload cargo and passengers but unless you are on good terms with the harbour-master, there is a good chance that some mishap (usually theft of some sort) will happen. Whole ships have gone missing from the quay when the owners weren't looking.
Shepherdshelter (population 5,000) has grown rapidly since its early days as a farming village. It currently has a military government - when the duchy collapsed a contingent of soldiers retreated here and set themselves up as the de facto government. They have recruited replacements and the company is still in charge. These days they have several advisors - a merchant-trader, a head cleric and a mage. Shepherdshelter is on the shore, and a quay and port are being constructed slowly when money and materials can be spared. The local fishermen simply pull their boats up onto the beach, but this is not good for larger ships.
Vander's Silvermine (population 4500) is, as the name suggests, based around a silver mine. The mine itself is relatively peaceful - a few mindless vermin but nothing the miners can't handle. However, wyvern attacks on travellers and shepherds outside of town is becoming a serious problem. The town is run by an alliance of merchants and headed by an appointed mayor. The mayor is primarily interested in keeping the merchants happy, which means keeping the mine open and money flowing. The town is recovering from a period when a mad cleric of Storshin dominated the town, demanding human sacrifices to keep his goddess appeased. For five years the people of Vanders Silvermine obeyed, cowed by his clerical magic, until a popular uprising saw him thrown off a cliff. Nonetheless, it is thought he had acolytes hidden among the population and they might still try to restart the insane cult of Storshin.
Westlier Keep (population 2200) used to be the administrative heart of Werberin, but it was sacked and most of the officials and officers killed in the Bursian attack during the wars. These days it is a shadow of its former glory, with most inhabitants being beggars, bandits and outcasts from other settlements. 

Smaller settlements include farming hamlets and small villages of less than 500 people are dotted over Werberin but are not shown on the map. 

Economy and Trade:
Because it is a collection of now-independent towns and villages, Werberin has no structured economy - it is as laissez-faire as it gets. Even laws don't really stop the flow of production and demand as far as moonshine liquor, hired thugs and fenced goods go. Theft is common, particularly in Cornaxville and Hastlin, and there crime is almost an accepted part of the economy. Mercenaries, private bodyguards and security consultants are in good demand. Although the government of Werberin was destroyed during the wars, a lot of the means of production were not badly affected - the farms and small villages around Cornaxville, Shepherdshelter and Endorell were ignored by the Bursian troops, so crops and livestock are still farmed, though bandits (mostly human but a few humanoids) can ruin a farmer's whole year. 
Trade outside of Werberin is possible, but not reliable. The main problem is that a lot of merchants simply don't feel safe doing business in Werberin, so those who want to sell stuff need to export it to the buyers themselves (this is one of the reasons Shepherdshelter wants its own port). Nonetheless, there is some trade with Klantorr, the cities of the Walrus Freehold and Teiglin. 

Military Situation:
Werberin no longer has a proper military force - after the wars and the collapse of the Empire and Duchy, the remaining forces either disbanded or became mercenaries (or in Shepherdshelter, the local rulers). Settlements have to provide their own defences and law-keepers, either recruiting within their own population or hiring from outside. As such the quality of troops or town watch varies wildly from the professional (the Purple Chevrons of Endorell and the military rulers of Shepherdshelter) to the ineffectual (the "town watch" of Cornaxville who never interfere with Thieves' Guild business) to the negligible (the occasional angry mob that forms in Westlier Keep when a scapegoat is found). 
The problems that face Werberin are not massive but they are many-fold. 
The Undead of Narvellis occasionally raid - they are not after money or food, but people, either dead or alive. This is rare but quite terrifying when it happens, when one of the dreaded ghost ships of the Drowners of Sorrow arrives on the shore. 
The human barbarians of Cortacus have developed raiding ships, like rougher, cruder versions of viking longships. They are not interested in large-scale invasion, but can take on a large village if they are motivated enough. 
Disputes and raids between settlements on Werberin are common enough and the archmage of Endorell gets annoyed enough with bandits linked to Cornaxville that he will order the Purple Chevrons to punish the offenders or at least the town that sponsors them. Such tit-for-tat squabbles might escalate into something more serious. 

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