Sample Setting: Stormsword's Rest


Here we're including a longer write-up of Stormsword's Rest. It makes an excellent starting city, as it includes a diverse population: it hosts markets and artisens, universities and military colleges; it has access to the West, through a pass through the Worldspine, and to Heartland, through the Northland Corridor; and outposts of both the Far Watch and the High Road. In short, nearly any kind of player-character could operate there.

Stormswor'd Rest is a small walled city straddling a narrow pass that leads west across the Worldspine. Well-fortified and highly-definsible, it guards the east against campaigns launched out of the independant territories of the northwest, or by unaligned Orcs and Dwarves; it also hosts some of the Dragonshire's premier war-colleges. Both controlling one of the rare passes through the Worldspine and sitting in the Northland Corridor, it is also a major trade hub. It is also a polyglot city, hosting populations from a dizzying array of races, many from outside the Commonwealth (possibly owing to being a major center of High Road activiy).

Population: varies; 90K permanent, plus stationed troops

Common Languages: Weal, Hartland Gnoll, more

Common Races: varies; Humans (20%), Gnolls (20%), Drakes (10%), Orcs(10%), Kobolds (5%), plus others and stationed troops

Location: In the northwest of Dragonshire Province, in the foothills of the Worldspine Mountains.

Industries: Soldiery, Command, Administration, Seigecraft, Masonry, Smithing, Farming

The Township

Stormsword’s Rest is a large walled township that sits in the northwest of the Dragonshire Province, in the lower peaks in the northeast fringe of the Worldspine Mountain. It covers a narrow pass through the Worldspine Mountains, which rises to the West; to the East, it looks down on rugged highlands, rolling foothills and river-run lowlands of the Northland Corridor. The region is known as the Worldspine Pass March; though small, it is strategically vital for the Dragonshire, as it sits at the nexus of two trade-routes, and in particular controlls access to the Dragonshire from north-west Northland Province. (In the taxonomy of the Dragonshire, a township is something larger than a village, but smaller than a city proper; a township typically has one or more temples, one or more market-ssquares, a noble leige and some form of garrison.)

Despite a lack of local material, the township is home to several stonemason, blacksmith and carpentry workshops; the apprentices of these shops are highly valued for their skills throughout the Dragonshire and Greater Commonwealth. To the east, the rough highlands lend themselves to herding sheep and goats, and fertile but hard land supports a few scattered orchards. To the west, in the pass proper, there are quarries that date back to the original construction of the town’s walls.

The township itself sits at the mouth of the pass, encircled by walls in concentric rings, the outer of which reach the sides of the valley itself. Dense structures fill the residential blocks, larger buildings straddling the streets with bridges. On the northern edge of the city, perched atop a retainer wall, there is a relatively large university, famous for it’s natural philosophy lectures. To the southern edge, a military academy sits atop its own wall, training Dragonshire officers for the Commonwealth Military.

The town's population is diverse. Topside, the town is dominated by Gnolls, Humans, and Drakes; tunnels in the northern valley-wall and southern retaining walls lead underground to a community of Kobolds, Dwarves, Ash Elves. Sitting on the passageway through the worldspine, Stormsword’s Rest is also often host to a large population of traders and wagoneers. The population of the town has exploded in recent times, with an oddly high number of escaped and former slaves taking up residence.

The town’s symbol, and the symbol of its ruling family, is a black image of an open gatehouse, overlaid on a fortified tower and sitting upon a red field. It is often joined by a smaller crest, of a black-blue and brown-green field, with a silver or white dragon skull and mangrove tree. The town is constructed largely of grey stone and imported woods, and the limited pallet of colours is offset by bright banners and pennants in the colours of the town, and the commonwealth as a whole. Large painted murals and colourful mosaics decorate where they can, and small, well-maintained window gardens are a source of pride in the densely-built blocks of the city.

Stormsword Manor itself sits at the centre of town. It is a single, fortified tower with an undying flame at it’s top, atop a slight rise that has been manicured into angular and refined gardens for public use. The manor-house is a later construction; it is slightly curved, and built into the foundations of the tower. It has a relatively plain frontage, and its doors are opened to all. The main floor is given over to the town council and administration, with the Marchess's home starting on the second floor.

To the western edge of the town is the main mustering-point of the Northwestern Levee, a powerful military division lead by the General Stormsword. Professional soldiery is housed and trained there, and volunteers, conscripts, and draftees will assemble there in times of war and strife.

On the outskirts of the farms to the east, there is a large, well-appointed Dancing Hawk stable, where the Marchess indulges in her hobby of breeding and training the animals.

The township is relatively orderly, but there is still a criminal underbelly, making use of deep shadows and alleyways. Smugglers and shady groups have a notable presence, as they do throughout the Northland Corridor. They dominate underworld dealings, and have an all-but-open relationship with the town council – despite the Stormswords' best efforts.

The town is also notable for its guilds and trade-unions. Bargaining blocks of tradespeople and farmers, establishing standards of practice and allowing for a unified front for bargaining against political interference in their businesses. They also ensure fair and even handling of apprenticeships, and oversee the relationship between wagoneers and local tradespeople and farmers.

The Ruling Family

The local noble family is known as ‘Valley Storm’ In Commonwealth Standard, and have been Lords and leaders in Stormsword’s Rest for generations. The city is named for the current Marchess’s grandfather, who was a skilled blacksmith and powerful campaigner.

The Marchess herself, Xhosra Quillion-Durandal, Stormsmaiden in common, is approximately 80 to 90 years of age, slightly older than her husband. She is a local-born Drake, with a complex and muddled lineage. She has a sleight build – at least by Drake standards – with a long tail, brilliant blue plumage, and prominent wings with brilliant yellows and reds on the trailing edge. (Her sleight build and prominent wings may be down to her clan's Dragon progenitor, an Amphiptere Dragon, who was serpentine in gross layout, and winged.) In any case, she also possesses a keen analytical mind, and has made a powerful stateswoman.

Her husband is a member of the Stormsword line, the General Chandra Durandal, known originally (if unflatteringly) as Pukescale due to his uncomfortable yellow-green scales (and his ancestry). The Durandal line is a hybrid of several Clans, whose Dragon progenitors where swamp-swimmers and "death-walkers" from the East. Though his ranks was originally a social title, received when he married the Marchess, he has since proved himself worthy of it. He has been a highly effective campaigner, known for his powerful build, for the mighty golem limb on his left side, and for his mastery of Dragonshire sword-craft – he is considered perhaps the greatest master of the Wyrmblade in the Dragonshire. He is also notable for a surprising understanding of architecture and construction, and a talent for seigecraft. (His manner is far more blunt than his wife's, and so negotiations are often left to her.)

The couple have several children: there is a daughter just coming into adulthood, Xoshara Quillion-Durandal, and twin sons. Xoshara herself has dedicated herself to learning her father’s trade in combat, and learning swordsmanship to her fullest; also, much like her father, she is determined to earn her rank, and so has begun her career with the town guard, where she wears a simple uniform to downplay her social rank. The sons are encouraged to make friends and explore through the town, and are well known throughout the parks and market-squares. All three are being tutored and educated by their parent’s staff.

Notable People

The Marchess' staff also take advisory and leadership roles in the town. The family's accountant, a Herder by the name of "Coinhammer", also serves as an accountant and treasury officer for the township. Coinhammer eschews the garb and style of Herd-and-Pack Province; he decorates his antlers in ribbons, and wears fine, colorful clothing, suitable for his station, in a modern Commonwealth style. Besides serving as an accountant and treasurer, he also teaches mathematics and natural philosophy to the local children, and serves as a personal assistant to the Marchess in matters of law and contract.

The master of assassins, a master swordsman and former slave with a vast collection of swords. Dressed far more simply, but never unarmed. Named Silver in common; Mercurio is a dark-haired, and olive-skinned human. A gladiator of some renown in the kingdoms of men, and bearer of an aged and worn gladius sword that was once an artefact of the cult of the one. He is steadfast in his dedication to the ruling family, though, and a favoured sparring partner of Chandra.

The local leader of the High Road is an older goblin woman. Living underground in the kobold sections of town, she makes her daily coin by working as a brewer. Having apprenticed under master brewers in the town proper, she works on making alchemical potions of all kinds of uses. She has a good relationship with the local criminal bodies from her ability to disguise acids and poisons as more legitimate and helpful mixtures. She calls herself WesternGate, as a reference to her position as a gateway to freedom for many slaves

ShackleKey the Gnoll is the head officer of the town guard. From his office in the tower in the centre of town, he administrates the town guards people, and works to obtain equipment and uniforms for those under his stewardship. Old for a gnoll, and covered in a patchwork of scars, his traditionalism occasionally clashes with the town council, and his dedication to law and order has him conflict with local underworld figures.

Tuskbreak is a refined, well-groomed orcish gentleman. He is reserved and quiet, bringing little attention to himself. Never seen without darkly-hued magesight glasses and simple, but refined linens. Earthy tones that blend almost into invisibility with how plain they are. He insists that his interests are legitimate, but his relationship with WesternGate and other para-legal and criminal groups imply something less than legal.

While not a resident of Stormsword’s Rest, Broken Axe is another Orc who frequents the settlement, as a personal guest of General Stormsword. A liason between Commonwealth and Orcish armies, and former seperatist leader. He is advanced in age, and has a great deal of knowledge and experience he willingly shares at the military academy. The two have a history of conflict. He dresses in the fashion of a pre-commonwealth orcish leader, wearing white hair and scars proudly.

Notable Locations

Naturally, the Manor in the centre of town is a prominent location. Sitting on the top of the slight rise in the township, it stands three stories tall, the first story’s walls made of smoothly worked stone, merging seamlessly into the walls of the tower it’s built into. The tower itself is nearly five floors tall, a prominent elevation that allows the flame at it’s top to be viewed and used for navigation through the mountain pass. A cellar with openings into the subterranean sections of the town is hewn into the earth and stone, used for storage and kitchens for the manor above. The ground floor is dominated by council chambers and administrative offices of the town.

Upstairs, the manor is divided much like any normal manor would be, the first floor serving as a meeting hall, with access to a large dining chamber and library and study for the Marchess’es use. The third floor has bedrooms and personal chambers, and then the attic where the family’s assistants find their own chambers. The tower serves as a guard’s barracks, as well as a seperated cellar used to house criminals and drunks brought in by the guardsmen. ShackleKey’s office is on the ground floor, as is much of the administrative space the guard needs. Storage for town guard equipment is further upstairs. The town square is built on the main road through the town. In front of the gatehouse in the wall seperating the manor and it’s lush gardens from the rest of the town. It is surrounded by the workers’ union halls, and beyond those, the workshops and warehouses of the inner walls, wide streets allowing the easy transport of goods.

The university is an older attachment, built atop a retaining wall as tall as the inner circle of walls, it’s wide, planned grid of walkways and streets between stately and finely-worked buildings. A mountain path leads up the steep valley wall to the top of the valley lip, to find an observatory, built up deliberately to protect the vulnerable telescopes. The thin, treacherous path is difficult for elder lecturers to traverse, but telepresence magics allow them to teach astrology and astronomy in the early mornings.

A large university library and taxonomical collection allows for a wide body of reference for study, and proximity to the workshops in the town below means that metallurgy and geology can be studied and developed by students and natural philosophers alike. The university is somewhat limited in studies of theology, though it still offers such courses, it is more known for it’s physical and philosophical studies.

The military academy to the south is more developed on it’s own artificial landing. More recently constructed, to modern design and architecture. Theorycrafting and developing new magic and technological methods of warfare, while teaching the new generations of drake officers historic campaigns and allowing them to study and reference the generals of old.

On the far eastern edge of the town’s holdings, the very outer layer of orchards and farms, is the Stormsmaiden Stables, A prominent breeder and dealer of Dancing Hawks, administrated by the Marchess herself as a business interest and investment. Known for supplying Hawks to the commonwealth military, the stables are large and well appointed, with a variety of harsh, rocky and uneven terrains for the hawks to mimic, as much as possible, their native terrain. There is a small population of prey animals for the hawks to naturally chase and attack, encouraging play and natural activity.

In the town proper, in a tangle of buildings and alleyways, is a suprisingly large inn. A bustling set of detached rooms behind a small garden nearly built-over by it’s neighbours. It’s often busy, and notably never visited by the town guard, except in the most dire of situations. It is kept clean, well-maintained. Colourful decorations and brightly painted tables and cups. It’s relatively safe, thanks to the watchful eye of the [northern pass crime family], and is a guaranteed place to reach their representative in town. The Burrow is also open for business to house adventurers and travellers, if they find the place. But more reputable inns dot the market square and town square.

Local Spirits

Likely the most notable local Spirit, and certainly the most bizarre, is Child-Of-The-Fallen-Star. The spirit is of roughly humanoid appearance, but confusing nature. Its features are elongated and stretched, far out of Human proportion, with its digits being particularly long and thick; it also lacks a nose and ears. Despite its presumed deafness and alien nature, it has a quick wit and keen, almost preternatural insight; and its subtle and inhuman expressions betray a vast, alien intelligence. It is a patron of knowledge and exploration: it is propitiated by the people of the city learning new lessons, methods, and sciences; it encourages learning, effort, and investigation; and it often whispers of discoveries yet to come. It will say almost nothing of its origin; it is noted that it frequents the university and its attached observatory, although it doesn't seem terribly focused on any particular science.

The Brothers are sibling spirits whose Bassins are the two main mountain peaks to the north and south of the pass, with each spirit being tied to a particular peak. There is a strong sibling rivalry between them, over whose mountain is the greater; they throw rocks and cause landslides down the slopes of their respective mountain, in order to widen the bases and make their realms appear larger. They are celebrated yearly in a festival that merely asks them to be careful, and not destroy the township between them, or block the road.

Howl-of-The-Earth is a spirit of the winds that carry through the valley. They are a gracious spirit, associated with safe travel; they often help those who propitiate them by providing guidance through the narrow, winding pass, and have been known to lead rescue parties through the pass to those who have met trouble. They are also thought to bring good luck, especially in winter; in particular, shephards in the highlands around the town also make offerings to them, hoping for advanced warnings of threats and favorable weather.


Drahrat have been seen frequenting the town. There are no known drahrat caverns broaching the Northland Corridor, but this is not unusual for the secretive deep-explorer dwarves.

The Northland Corridor leads to what can be considered almost a ‘sister’ city on the orcish end of the Corridor. They have their own undying flame, and the halfway point of the Corridor can see both flames from a prominence off to one side of the path, aiding in navigation.

To the east, the Dragonshire stretches out, with smaller farming villages tens of demarc along the roads. More fertile, softer ground allowing more variety of farmed plants, feeding Stormsword’s Rest with both food, and plant matter for brewing into potions and alcohol. A large proportion of these villages are populated by Gnolls and Drakes.