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The Corliss Guide to Northern Karameikosby Damon Brown
Hey all! This is a project I've been working on for a while and it's finally done(whew!). It's designed to be something of a traveller's guide (ala Fodor's, Lonely Planet, etc.) and was designed to be a handout for players. A couple of warnings: it is written pre-Wrath and has several things that entirely my own invention. Feel free to use and modify as necessary for your campaign if you wish. Just don't claim credit for writing it - I can't claim full authorship myself since there are several passages quoted from TSR material in there.
The Corliss Guide to Northern Karameikos
My name is Brendan Corliss & I am a merchant from The Republic of Darokin. In the course of my travels within the central regions of the Known World, I have had an opportunity to see many sights throughout Darokin, Karameikos, & even Alfheim. As I journeyed the land, I realised that many of my experiences might prove useful to other travellers.
What you are reading now is one in a series of pamphlets designed to take the inconvenience & difficulty out of your journey. Let my experience be your guide. I hope it serves you well! And if you are ever in Darokin City, stop in at 23 Tentrid & tell us what you think. Feedback is always welcome.
Until then, may all of your endeavours be Gold!
This publication will touch upon the 6 largest population centres in the northern regions of The Grand Duchy of Karameikos: Highforge, Kelvin, Penhaligon, Rifllian, Threshold, & Verge. The intention is to give at least a generalised view of the accommodations & services offered in these areas. Each entry for a city or town is divided into 3 sections: general overview, accommodations, & special interest. Whilst many accounts are first hand, some have been conveyed by reliable sources & have been verified for accuracy wherever possible.
Local currency is as follows: the Royal(r) - a gold coin, the Crona(c) - a silver coin & the Kopec(k) - a copper coin.
Unless otherwise noted, local laws conform to the Duke's Law which states that Assault, Endangerment, Escape (from Authorities), Fraud, Murder, Slander, Tax Avoidance, Theft & Treason are all crimes of varying degrees. A legal expert should be consulted if more detailed information is necessary.
The town of Highforge is a large community of Gnomes & Dwarves nestled in the Wulfholde Hills near the Hillfollow (Shutturga) River. There are a number of exterior stone buildings in the community, but the bulk of the settlement lies below ground. Highforge is governed by the Gnome-King Dorfus Hilltopper, although the town still owes its allegiance to the Grand Duchy.
As Highforge is a community of Gnomes & Dwarves, creature comforts for humans are scarce, although still present. Since a good deal of trade takes place here, the above-ground community has 2 notable inns: The Iron-Axe & The Highforge Hostelry.
The Iron-Axe is run by a Dwarf by the name of Konar Orc-Cleaver. Konar's establishment caters mainly to adventure-types & has somewhat of a rough reputation. Humans & Hin are welcome but Elves are discouraged. The tavern is frequently patronised by locals, so a visitor can often get a real sense of the 'local flavour' by staying here. Accommodations are adequate whilst the food & drink are quite satisfactory, if not altogether unique to the region; Konar's own Orc-Cleaver ale is highly regarded in the community. Room rates are quite reasonable ranging from 5k for the common room to 5c for a private room. Vacancy trends are inconsistent at best.
The Highforge Hostelry is owned by a Thyatian named Bern Galasso. Mr. Galasso's establishment caters primarily to middle-class merchants & traders. Whilst not a luxurious inn, The Highforge Hostelry maintains impeccable standards of tidiness & the accommodations are comfortable if not extravagant. The food & drink, however, are above-average. Room rates are average, ranging from 8c for a standard room to 1r for a 1st class room. Vacancies are more common during the winter months.
As a self-sufficient community, Highforge maintains most of the basic businesses that a typical human community would. Their real specialty, however, is the craftswork, particularly stone & metal working. Masons & smiths are so common in the town that it would be impossible to list even a small fraction of them. Interested parties are encouraged to seek out the appropriate Guild & inquire into commissioning expert services. All major Guilds maintain halls in the centre of the above-ground area. Visitors are strongly discouraged from attempting to enter the subterranean areas unaccompanied or from seeking 'free-lance' labour. One important note: humans, Elves, & Hin should be careful when visiting Highforge. Whilst all three races are welcome, or at least tolerated, it is still a Gnomish & Dwarvish community, both in population as well as custom. 'Outsiders' in violation of local laws often receive the strictest punishment for a given crime.
At over 20000, Kelvin is the second-largest city in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. It is located near the convergence of Windrush (Wulfholde), Hillfollow (Shutturga), & Highreach (Volaga) rivers. It is essentially a large walled encampment. Inside the walls are a large field for caravans to set up, whilst a secondary wall surrounds the city of Kelvin proper. Inside the city is a third walled area where the garrison fortress & Baronial Castle are located. The city & surrounding lands are governed by Baron Desmond Kelvin II, son of the founder of the city.
Since it was designed as a way-stop for caravans, the outer encampment is often bustling with merchant activity. Staying in this area is free of charge as long as you can prove to the local guard that you have legitimate 'business' to attend to - not just loitering. Of course, quality of accommodations depends on what you bring with you, but the opportunities & contacts present for those seeking mercantile business is unparalleled in the region. The cross-section of accommodations for the city of Kelvin proper is represented by the following 3 inns: The Star of Machetos, The Karameikan Road Lodge, & Alexander's. The hospitality of the Baronial Castle is, of course, by invitation only.
The Star of Machetos is a luxurious inn located in the merchant district near the castle. The proprietor, Tiberius Logan, named the establishment after his former home in Thyatis. The Star of Machetos caters exclusively to wealthy travellers, especially merchants. The accommodations, as well as the dining, are exquisite. The rates, as expected, are quite high, ranging from 5r for a standard room to 10r for the suite. Vacancies are rare as 'The Star' is a highly sought-after lodging.
The Karameikan Road Lodge is actually one in a "chain" of inns under the ownership of a young entrepreneur by the name of Nikolai Caledon. The Karameikan Road Lodge has developed a reputation for consistency at all of its 5 locations*. Accommodations are as expected: satisfactory if unremarkable. Rates are a standard 1r for a private room. There is no food or beverage served. Vacancies are most common during winter months. *Also located in Specularum, Threshold, Penhaligon, & Vorloi.
Alexander's is a typical example of a basic roadside hostel. Essentially a warehouse divided between a tavern & sleeping room, this establishment offers shelter from the elements when the weather might make staying on the caravan grounds less than pleasant. Accommodations are modest yet tolerable. Rates are a standard 1c for the common room. The tavern serves a basic menu from dawn till dusk & beverages at all hours. Vacancies usually depend upon the weather.
Kelvin's location on the Duke's Road, as well as near 3 converging rivers, makes it an ideal stopover for those travelling the Karameikan countryside. This, combined with the strict order maintained by the Baron, makes the city somewhat of a sanctuary for travelling merchants. On the subject of order, also note that noble men-at-arms are especially welcome in the community. The Baron, in fact, is a member of the Order of the Griffon, the knightly organisation affiliated with the Church of Karameikos & is favourably disposed toward Knights & Paladins. One final note: No wizard magic may be cast within the city walls, period. Violation is a Class 3 offence - or worse, if the magic results in a greater crime.
Penhaligon is a fortified town half-way between Kelvin & the border pass leading to Darokin. Penhaligon Village acts as a way-station for folk travelling to & from Selenica. It suffers its share of non-human attacks, but trade & travel revenues are brisk. Lady Arteris Penhaligon has ruled the area since her father's death in AC 996.
Like Kelvin, Penhaligon is situated on the Duke's Road, benefiting greatly from the travel in & out of Darokin. Whilst not as large & prestigious as its neighbour to the south, Penhaligon does manage to maintain something of a haven for the weary traveller. Three representative lodgings are House of the Three Suns, The Adler, & Malakov's Inn.
The House of the Three Suns is owned by Sir Barton Midvale, a retired Knight. It is named after Sir Barton's knightly order. More of a guest-house than a traditional inn, three rooms of this elegant manor are available. Each room is spacious & luxuriant with a rate of 3r per night. Breakfast is included, but no other meals are served. Vacancies are unpredictable.
The Adler is a boisterous establishment located in the heart of Penhaligon. Run by Hans Kurtzweg, a Heldann immigrant, the Adler is a popular destination for adventurers and other travellers seeking a "memorable experience". When things get too far out of hand, Hans and his staff are well equipped to handle any rowdiness. A hearty menu is served during daylight hours whilst the strong, yet palatable, beverages are served anytime. Individual rooms are 1r, whilst the common room is 2k. Vacancies for private rooms are seasonal while there is always at least a bunk or two available in the common room.
Malakov's Inn is located several miles north of Penhaligon on the Duke's Road. This quaint stopover, run by Vlad & Simona Malakov, provides an alternative to staying in one of the larger population centres. One of the very special highlights of this charming pension is the outstanding traditional-Traladaran menu. Meals are included in the 8c rate. Vacancies are strictly seasonal.
With its location on the Duke's Road and its proximity to the Wulfholde Hills, Penhaligon is full of opportunity for the travelling sell-sword or wandering mage. Lady Ateris regularly employs free-lance adventurers to help keep the peace in the area and has a reputation for reasonable pay & decent treatment.
Rifllian is a small Elven village of nearly 200 inhabitants on the western bank of the Windrush River. The village is an outpost for the Callarii Elves and serves as a trading post for those wishing to do business with the Callarii, or simply as a stopping place for travellers.
The only inn in Rifllian to cater to non-Elves is The Silver Swan. Run by a personable Hin by the name of Stubbs Plattermann, The Silver Swan is very clean & homey and is patronised by local Elves as well as passing traders. Stubbs prides himself on the range of his menu and meals are available throughout the day. The rooms are all private & cosy and run 12c per night.
Rifllian is the only location for outsiders to safely make unsolicited contact with the Callarii. The Elves of the village are all accustomed to dealing with strangers and are kindly disposed toward humans. Also of note is the Elves fondness for horses. A horse-trader with fine mounts can expect to receive a warm welcome in the area. Any transaction larger than 500r, however, must be handled through Prestelle, the towne-master. Prestelle has a well-deserved reputation for driving a hard-bargain yet she is said to always be fair.
Threshold is a frontier community on the Windrush(Wulfholde) River near Lake Windrush. Originally a simple logging community, it has grown into sprawling settlement of nearly 5000 since the coming of the Thyatians. Despite its large population, Threshold is not a squalid, crowded town due mainly to a law passed by Baron Sherlane Halaran that forbids any building to be built within 50' of each other.
Threshold has a full range of services, as one would expect from a community of this size. A wide range of accommodations are available in the town represented by the following: The Volk, The Rose of Valerias, and The Black Jug.
The Volk is the oldest and most prestigious hotel in Threshold. Currently owned by Yuri Ilyov, this local landmark has been in the Ilyov family for over 100 years. The Volk is noted for its understated elegance and impeccable service. The finest cuisine in the region is served during supper hours. Rates for a standard room are 3r while the suites range from 8-10r. Vacancies trends tend to be somewhat unpredictable.
The Rose of Valerias is a comfortable, informal establishment catering to both Thyatians and Traladarans. The tavern is a favourite destination for younger crowds, especially from The Threshold Academy. Owner Monika Chronus, a devout member of The Church of Karameikos, views her establishment as a symbol of unity in the Grand Duchy. Food & beverages are served at all hours yet the atmosphere remains peaceful due to the typical patronage. Rooms are small but only run 1c per night. There is no common room. Vacancies are rare when the Academy is in session but common during the summer months.
The Black Jug is a rough and tumble tavern on Fogor's Isle, the tenement section of Threshold built before the Baron's law. Accommodations are less than refined as is most of the clientele. Adventuring opportunities, however, are numerous here and the proprietors often overlook certain ordinances pertaining to weapons and magic. There are no private rooms and the common room is 5k per night. Vacancies depend on the sobriety, or lack thereof, of the evening's revellers.
Located near the foot of the Black Peak Mountains in the extreme north of Karameikos, Threshold offers many opportunities for wilderness expeditions. Adventurers can find employment ranging from simple exploration to taming the local wilds of monsters.
In addition to the many employment opportunities, Threshold is developing a reputation as a burgeoning intellectual centre. As part of his ongoing attempt to transform the town into a modern community, Baron Halaran has established The Threshold Academy. Whilst still a small school (100 students), the Academy boasts a curriculum that includes Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, Local & International History, Astronomy, and Mathematics. Enrolment has steadily increased during its 5 year history and the school has attracted students from as far as Selenica.
There are also 2 local laws worthy of note. First, casting of wizard magic within town limits is a minimum of a Class 1 crime. Second, only daggers, swords, & staffs may be carried. Prohibited weapons are confiscated by the town guard. Also, keep in mind that though wearing armour is not illegal, citizens will be highly suspicious of armoured persons wandering the streets.
Verge is a small village located on the road between Rifllian & Threshold. Originally a sleepy farming community, Verge has more than doubled in size since the arrival of Duke Stefan. Sir Retameron Antonic & his wife, Halia, rule the village and surrounding countryside from their tower on an overlooking hill. Sir Retameron is of mixed parentage and is a great proponent of an integrated Karameikos without distinction of Traladaran or Thyatian. Verge, in fact, is a remarkably diverse community for its size.
Verge's lone inn, The Boar's Head, is a comfortable hostel run by a Thyatian named Sebastian Tullus. It is a full service establishment, offering hearty meals and strong drink but does not offer anything extravagant. The rooms are somewhat utilitarian yet well maintained. Private rooms are 1r and the common room is 1c. The inn tends to be full during the winter months as the road between Verge & Threshold is often impassable due to snow.
In the last ten years, Verge has become an important regional community, boasting most of the services that one might find in a much larger town. The village also has a friendly & tolerant atmosphere that is somewhat unique for a smaller community in Karameikos. Travelling adventurers can often endear themselves to the local population, especially Sir Retameron & Halia, by sharing exploits of their travels. Be warned, however, the locals have heard many a tale and are adept at distinguishing fact from fiction.