Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tolno - The sea is wide and the priests are far away

Big ups to C at Hack n' Slash for helping me organize the right stuff.

Tolno is a relatively large town on the southern tip of Choula Island. Its inhabitants rarely find themselves caught in schemes of emperors or decrees of high priests, so over the centuries they have had plenty of time to get caught in schemes against each other. The House Tir and the House Mordine are currently the town's most powerful merchant families. It's hard to find a part of town where they haven't stuck their fingers.
Like this, but with ships bearing the sails of countless nations.

Adventurers exploring the Damned City or plundering the Holy Mountain can spend their entire careers in this town. But anyone who makes a name for themselves is drawn into some family's intrigue, knowingly or unknowingly. They must also bear the scorn of common folk, who have tolerated their behavior for generations in order to profit from the all gold they carry back from adventures.

Tolno's citizens are almost entirely human, although a handful of gold-hungry dwarf clans have trickled in over the years. Members of other races rarely stay because most find the town's merchant culture distasteful and absurd. An exception is the elf philosopher Noom, who has spent a century composing a condescending treatise on the nature of humans. He may know more about the town than anyone alive, and offers information and the occasional magic lore in exchange for odd favors.

Pulcher the Vulture
The Fishwife's Lament is a common haunt for rough types. The hot braised fish is the best and cheapest in town, and there's always a good strip show on the weekends. The owner, a failed wizard named Pulcher the Vulture, is a member of an alchemy smuggling ring. His den lies beneath the tavern. It includes a few bizarrely altered creatures as well as typical traps and thugs. In his downtime, Pulcher tinkers with possible methods of communication with cuttlefish, creatures he believes to be highly intelligent.

Anyone staying long becomes familiar with the two big families. Clamath Tir heads the House Tir. He is missing his right arm at the shoulder because of a whale attack. He has a good sense of humor about it and doesn't bear a grudge against the whale at all. He is Tolno's most respected gourmand. His wife Marisole is astonishingly arrogant, and has, with a few careless words, undone her husband's best efforts more than once. They occupy the town's largest mansion and display the fabled armor of Prince Traan the Sharkbane in their parlor. Clamath regales guests with tales of how his great-great grandfather retrieved it from a sea dragon's horde. Noom will tell you his venerable ancestor liberated from the back of a dead comrade during a expedition into the Damned City.

Esmerelda Mordine
Anselma Mordine inherited the House Mordine from her late husband. Their blood is ancient, and is weathering bad fortunes now as well as it has in the past. Anselma is pragmatic and unforgiving in her personal and professional lives. It is rumored that she has a torture chamber in her cellar, which is false - it's beneath the garden. Neither of her twin children are business material. Her son, Emil, is an inoffensive lump who would rather be a cheesemaker. Her daughter, Esmeralda, is the baddest kid in town. Her expertise at dueling with tongue and rapier are beyond her seventeen years. She raises hell in Tolno's streets after dark, always accompanied by a posse of 3d4 hoodlums. It's rumored that Anselma's aging brother-in-laws are plotting to assassinate her and inherit the House by force.

Lizardfolk are not allowed behind the city walls. Still, the mutated traders from a degenerate jungle tribe meet with peddlers outside the gates every month. They dole out their relics for steel tools, weapons, liquor and opium. Adventurers hoping to reach the Damned City or Holy Mountain are advised to parley with these traders before striking out into the jungle. Local lizardfolk have no qualms about hunting and eating smooth-skinned, no-account interlopers.

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