Wednesday, January 8, 2014

[Urbis] Locations of the Cold Frontier - The Trade Outpost, Part I

As the "home base" of the wilderness exploration arc and the seed of their later colony, the Trade Outpost - officially "Nardhome Company Outpost #5", though commonly known as "The Hole" - requires extra detail. At this stage, it is also very much a work in progress, and ideas for fleshing it out are highly welcome - I need "complete" this location by the 18th of January, when our campaign starts.

The Trade Outpost is built on the site of an Old Native settlement at the mouth of the river. As this settlement was already at the coast, it was simply reoccupied by the Coastal Tribes when they returned from the ocean, though at much diminuished numbers. For a while, Green Seal Village was the largest and most prosperous of the Coastal Tribe settlements in this part of the Cold Frontier, although their prosperity and better access to the northern plains meant that they had to deal with frequent raids by Inland Tribe raiders, leading to a series of fortifications and lookouts along the river. Several generations ago, most of the villagers were killed by entitites coming out of the oceans. The survivors' tales that circulate among the other villages are contradictory, but currently I am envisioning something like the story The Horror At Martin's Beach by H.P. Lovecraft. As a result, the Coastal Tribes were unwilling to resettle the area, leaving this prime real estate open to the construction of the Trade Depot by the Far Shores Trading Company.

A number of NPCs live in the outpost itself, in addition to the prospectors, trappers, and native visitors who frequently visit. The following is an incomplete list, and suggestions for further NPCs will be greatly appreciated.
  • Factor Richard Byrne (male, human, middle aged): The official leader of the Trade Outpost drinks himself into a stupor regularly because he resents having been sent to this post in the middle of nowhere. In fact, he is drunk when the PCs arrive, stumbling around the pier when they get off the ship and likely vomiting on the first character to confront him. He has a wife and three children back home in Dartmouth who refused to follow him to Nardhome and he frequently writes letters to headquarters in which he begs to be recalled. Whenever he is drunk he makes frequent allusions to various "scandals" which allegedly triggered his transferral to this outpost, but his stories will vary and he will refuse to comment on them when sober.
  • Madug Kobrog (male, hobgoblin, mid-twenties): The bouncer of the pub, doubling as guard and general laborer. He had to leave the Flannish Cities in a hurry due to some "misunderstanding". He misses genuine goblin food, the kind that you can only get back home.
  • Gorog Khordukr (dwarf, male, middle-aged): Raised as a member of the lowly farmer caste in the dwarven realm of Gol Grungor, he escaped by boat to the Flannish Cities to search for a better life. He has worked odd jobs ever since, and he never discusses his past. Eventually, he ended up in Nardhome, where he works as a cook (ask for his "house specials"...) and general repairman at the Trade Outpost. He has a side business of distilling whiskey... made from special dwarven mushrooms which he grows in an abandoned kiva in the ruins outside the Outpost. He his deeply paranoid about his mushrooms and his distilling process, believing others want to steal his recipes, and keeps both his distillery and the kiva under lock. The spirits of the kiva are talking to him in his dreams, but as he doesn't speak the native language Inquat he doesn't understand them.
  • Tessa (human, female, late twenties): One of the two prostitutes working the inn. She grew up on a farm in the Dartmouth Protectorate, but her parents died while she was still young and the farm was taken over by a rich plantation owner, leaving her destitute. She left for Dartmouth and drifted into a life of prostitution. There she befriended a young man who dreamed of making his fortune as a gold digger in Nardhome, and used her meager savings to get the two of them there - but he vanished into the wilderness before striking it rich, so she returned to prostitution to make ends meet. She found that she actually makes decent money here (prospectors and trappers tend to spend a lot after a long time in the wilderness) and plans to save up until she can buy a small farm - which might be in the new Colony, once it gets established. She also maintains a small herb garden as a source of side income.
  • Jacob Krol (human, male, middle aged): An immigrant from Torburg, Jacob is also secretly a cannibal who preyed on the poor and destitute of his city. Eventually he felt that staying in Torburg would be too risky, and somehow he felt drawn to Nardhome and moved there. Upon arrival, he quickly came across the Wendigo cult and was inducted as a member. He regularly partakes in their rites at the cult site to the west of the Trade Outpost, disgusing his absences as one of his frequent hunting trips, and he spies on all the coming and goings at the outpost, informing his fellow cult members via minor magics on which lone trappers and prospectors they might prey upon. His presence is what triggers the first major event of the campaign - one of his victims reanimates as a zuvembie and sends its undead minions to attack the outpost. If Jacob survives the assault, he will become a recurring villain. Until then, he plays the role of the affable, simple-minded hunter and laborer to the hilt. He is also in charge of preparing all the furs for export.
I'm also trying to figure out all the individual locations of the Trade Outpost. Again, this is an incomplete list and any help with fleshing out the details would be greatly appreciated.

The main building:
  • Entrance hall: There is a "notice wall" to which people can glue their own notes (the outpost charges 1 silver for each notice, paper included). Many are on the lines of "You owe me money, you bastard!", "Have you seen XY?", "Tessa, I love you! Marry me!" and so forth, but others should be genuine adventure seeds. I could use some suggestions here - ideally I want to present the notice wall as a printed handout.
  • Pub: There is a wall with the stuffed heads of various animals the hunters brought in, the strangest-looking being probably that of a snallygaster. There are also all sorts of carved figurines and other wood carvings tucked into the various corners of the pub - the prospectors and trappers who stay during the long winter frequently take up carving as a hobby. Finally, there are three chess sets lying around - one of which was manufactured by professionals back in the Flannish Cities, but two are hand-made. All three have seen heavy use - again, something the trappers and prospectors occupy themselves with during the evenings.
  • The Factor's office, filled with a lot of paperwork. There is also a safe which contains money (partially in the form of bank notes), gold nuggets, and particularly sensitive papers. Only the Factor has the keys to the office and knows the combination.
  • Several guest rooms upstairs, as well as living rooms and the two rooms used by the prostitutes.
  • Supply store run by the Factor which also takes in furs and finds of precious metals. Behind it is a warehouse storing the furs as well as other supplies sold here. The Factor, Madug, and Jacob all have keys.
Outside:
  • A distillery shed run by Gorog, who has the only key and won't let anyone in.
  • An outhouse, where the Weirdness Magnet will first encounter the Mothman (after having just used it).
  • A stable, for prospectors' ponies, as well as the goats and pigs kept by the Outpost.
  • A guard tower, used for spotting approaching enemies as well as sniping at them. Only staffed when danger is suspected - there just aren't enough people here, normally.
  • Wooden palisades surrounding the compound.
  • Gorog's mushroom kiva - outside of the actual compound, and secured by a newly installed, padlocked door.
  • Tessa's herb garden.
Any other suggestions?

Continued in Part II. Note: A full list of Urbis-related posts can be found here.