Sunday, April 11, 2021

[Marklands Campaign] Player Rumors and Knowledge of the Marklands HEX 0703: Finmark Town and Environs


NCIENT RUINS: Ancient ruins, of glittering crystal and electric blue rusting metal, said to have been from the Uttermost War, can be seen on clear days on the floor of the deep Gloedenvik, between 800 and 1,000 feet down. Some of the twisted towers of crystal and rusting blue metal are hundreds of feet tall! It is said that these ruins are the source of the blue waters that flow out of the Gloedenvik into the Perlevik that create the Blue Pearls of the oysters in the Perlevik. Attempts to explore the strange ruins, even with the aid of wizards, have failed since time immemorial, and ancient Groenblad legends speak of attempts by wizards of greater power than today’s who also failed in these endeavors.

BLAUVIK: Blauvik is a hamlet and the home of the Blaukrone Clan, one of the Great Clans of Finmark, who claim to be descended from junior, cadet branches of the old Finnings Dynasty, which all others know to have died out more than a century ago. Nonetheless, the Blaukrone are given a point of prominence against the two other Great Clans, for even if they are not Finnings, they are definitely descended from the great champions and heroes of that dynasty. The Blaukrone command five longships out of the hamlet, all bearing a blue sea serpent as a figurehead, but these are used in modern days merely for defense of the Perlevik, and the Blaukrone Clan have not sponsored an official Viking raid in two generations. The Blaukrone keep watch on the ruins of the Finborg, but do not stop anyone from trying to delve into its depths; they do claim the right to collect a tax on anything found within, fully backed by the laws and force of the Town Council (they split the tax, a modest 30% on all coins, gems, and items by value, with the council).

BLUESKULL ISLE: In ancient times, when the Viridians first arrived, they discovered countless human skulls – and no other bones – piled on this island at the opening of the Gloedenvik. The skulls had been painted blue by the waters of the Gloedenvik, and many exhibited strange growths and deformation, such as horns or a third eye. The skulls are long since gone, no one knows where, and today the island is home to a breed of strange blue-feathered seagull, which lives in great numbers on the island. Some local youths go to the island to harvest the seagull eggs, which are blue through to the yolk, and are considered a delicacy in Finmark Town.

DRAGEHAUGEN: Once upon a time, before the arrival of the Markka in the Marklands, the region was settled by the Skandiks, an old southern branch of the Valonar, then allies of the Viridians against the Overlord, now found on the eastern shores of the Roglaras. Old Estvik was a Skandik town, destroyed by a red dragon; however, a great hero, whose name has been lost, slew the dragon even as it destroyed the town. The few survivors buried the dragon and the hero and their dead in a series of 13 barrows, along with such surviving treasures that they hoped would keep the draugr of the dead from rising. The survivors then rebuilt Estvik, which today is a Norkka settlement (though some families claim descent from those ancient Skandik lines). To them, the barrows are taboo, for if the dead are disturbed, or their treasure taken, they, perhaps even the dragon, would awake. They burn any would-be barrow-breakers at the stake.

ESTVIK: Estvik is a small hamlet, home to several Norkka clans beholden to the Jarl of Smitten. They are mostly notable for their zealous guarding of the Dragehaugen to the southeast.

FAIRY MOUND: The fairy mound is said to be home to a mixture of fey and sylvan folk of neutral to kindly sort, though they are no less mischievous than any other creatures of such ilk. They are said to be allies of the seeress of Omentorn, to the north. By legend, they provided Queen Griselda with the charm she needed to conceive at her advanced age and thus birth the Finnings Dynasty from King Fin the Great (now extinct since the Gnoll Times), and to have given the nameless hero who slew the Dragon of Estvik the shield that protected him from dragon-fire (but did little good against dragon-claw and dragon-fang).

FINBORG RUINS: The mighty ramparts of the old castle of King Fin the Great are now but moss-covered ruins since the fall of the Finnings Dynasty during the Gnoll Times. Built upon the ruins of an ancient Viridian castle (which was built atop the ruins of an even more ancient castle, and so on), there are said to be more than a dozen dungeon levels beneath the ruined castle, home to ancient lost treasures of the Finnings, the Viridians, the Elves, the Giants, and other strange and eldritch beings said to have once occupied the great ruined pile. Every once in a while, a group of would-be heroes ventures down into the dungeons; once every blue moon, a few return with both great treasure and body and soul intact.

FINHAUGEN: This series of six barrows is home to the remains of the lesser Finnings; the great line was buried (with their treasures) in the catacombs of the Finborg. The descendants of the lesser sons and daughters of Fin and Griselda are buried here, in the barrows of their ancestors. The last that could truly claim descent from any of the six lines was buried more than a century ago. An honor guard from Finmark guards the barrows at all times, lest barrow-breakers open a barrow and give rise to a draugr or, worse, destroy the luck of the town and its people. Would-be barrow-breakers are drowned in the Perlevik in the inlet to the west, their bodies and souls given to Hel directly.

FINMARK TOWN: Finmark Town is the largest settlement in the Marklands, mostly Markka and descendants of mixed Markka, Roglaran, Viridian, Tharbrian and Aelphen clans. The town is founded on the ruins of an old Viridian town, which by legend was itself founded on the ruins of an even more ancient town, and so forth, back to the beginning. It is famous as the main source of the infamous Blue Pearls, both rare and magical, found only in the Perlevik. The town is ruled by a council made up of the elected leaders of each of the three Great Clans, five Middling Clans, and some score of Lesser Clans, organized into the Blue, Red, and Green Factions. The current ruler is Royal Mayor Barlatarn of Roedhalle, whose recently-ascendant Red Faction pushes for closer relations with the Invincible Overlord and cooler relations with the World Emperor. He is opposed by Earl Glauketil Groenblad, leader of the Green Faction, who pushes for the opposite terms. Earl Fingolf Blaukrone, leader of the Blue Faction, remains neutral between the two factions, hoping they will expend their power and best warriors in opposition to each other. With the current deadlock in the factions, little is being done about the recent rise in Sverkka Viking raids in the region, nor the emergence of the Minotaurs in the Hornholt whose bandit-soldiers have conquered the entire western peninsula and now threaten the central Markvald.

FISH ISLE: Even during the height of the Finnings, Fish Isle and its strange Fisher-Folk were left to their own devices, and even raid and trade was rare except in the most difficult of times.

FISHER-FOLK: The Fisher-Folk are an ancient people who live in small thorps and steadings all along the seacoasts. As they are generally very poor, having little more than fish, they have neither been raided nor traded with the Markka who settled the region. They are known for their greenish skin, perhaps a remnant of old Viridian bloodlines; their large, bulbous eyes; webbed fingers and toes; and their wide, ugly mouths filled with sharp teeth. They are generally avoided if at all possible, as they are said to count witches among their number.

GIANT’S FURROW: This great gouge in the earth is three-quarters of a mile long, 300 feet wide, and 500 feet deep. Some say it was carved by Ymir’s axe during the Uttermost War; others say it was a defensive structure built by ancient giants. Sages believe it was an ancient canal used by the people of the ruined city now found at the bottom of the Gloedenvik. Whatever it truly is, today it is home to outcasts and outlaws, who make a miserable home in its deeper environs, which are now riddled with many caves, natural and otherwise, and which are said to go on throughout the peninsula, home to strange subterranean life and giant mushrooms. Their presence makes the overland trip to Estvik and points east and south of Finmark Town dangerous.

GLOEDENVIK: The Gloedenvik is a small, mostly round bay at the heart of the area, north of Finmark. It is known for it strange, glittering, glowing blue waters, which flow out of the bay into the Perlevik, and are said to cause the Blue Pearls of the Perlevik. Attempts to use the blue waters, even distilled down, for other magical endeavors have had mixed success; the most prominent use for the blue water thus far has been in the creation of very fine and long-lasting blue paint and inks. There are Ancient Ruins (see above) at the bottom of the deep bay, which are believed to be the ultimate source of the blue waters.

GROENSTAAT: This hamlet is the home of the Groenblad Clan, one of the three Great Clans of Finmark Town. They are descended from Markka retainers of King Fin the Great and surviving nobles of the old Viridian town which Fin and Griselda and their people conquered after the Orc-Wars. They have four longships at their disposal, all bearing a greens-scaled and skinned mermaid as the figurehead; the Groenblad still sponsored Viking Raids until the recent rise in Sverkka raids, and so have kept their longships at home to perform patrols of the Perlevik.

ISLE OF BONES: Once a processing site for whaling and sealing decades ago, the arrival in the region of large swarms of sharks decades ago killed off much of that trade, and the whalers and sealers either moved on or became pearl divers (who use a special stink to keep away the sharks). The broken and useless bones of centuries of whaling and sealing are piled all over the small island and its beaches.  

ISLE OF SMOKE: This island is used as a smoking ground for local herring and kipper fishermen; it is not used by the Fisher-Folk, who do not smoke their fish for sale or preservation. From time to time anywhere up to two dozen men and boys can be found here smoking their catch and filling barrels.

NORDVIK: This hamlet is the home of the Hajtand Clan, the least of the Middling Clans of Finmark Town. They are descended from a mix of Markka and Norkka clans, and are said to have conquered and absorbed a settlement of Fisher-Folk to found their hamlet. Thus, some Hajtand exhibit the greenish skin, bulbous eyes, sharp teeth, and webbed fingers and toes of the Fisher-Folk. They take it as a matter of pride; after all, their clan name means “Shark-Toothed,” and clan members who do not have the sharp teeth often file theirs to be more like their totem. They have three longships, all with shark figureheads, and care little for the recent rise in Sverkka raids save that it means more competition, so their ships and many of their men are often out a-Viking all summer long (raiding and slaving far more often than trading).

NYMPH SPRING: The eastern tributary of the Eststrom rises from a large, fresh spring at this point, which is home to a powerful nymph. Some say that when Fin the Last was brought low by the Gnoll-King, bringing an end to his line, his squire was told to take the sword Kongensblad, “King’s Blade,” to the nymph for safekeeping until a new King of the Marklands arose. As far any anyone knows, she still keeps it for that day. All who visit her who wish even so much as a question be answered must first complete a quest; it is said that only two have completed a quest and returned, but did not ask the right question, and were never heard from since.

PERLEVIK: The Perlevik is a large, kidney-shaped bay at the inside point of which is found Finmark Town. The Perlevik is home to one of the few major northern pearl fields in the Wilderlands, and is the only place where the famous Blue Pearls can be found. The pearl trade in the area is mostly in the hands of the magnates of Finmark Town, but there are independent pearl diving hamlets and thorps around the vik; as they have not felt the need to obey the Royal Mayor and the dictates of the Council of Finmark, they are not directly provided with the protection of the town, where once they were, prior to the fall of the Finnings in the Gnoll-Times, all part of one realm. In the last few years, the growing success of the pearl harvests and trade have brought with them the scourge of eve more raids of Sverkka Vikings, with the dragon-prowed, purple-sailed longships raiding hamlets, thorps, and even the ships of Finmark Town (though they have not yet gathered in such numbers as to raid the town itself). Raiders from other lands, including pirates from the Wine-Dark sea, are also not unknown, due to the rich trade Finmark Town makes with the City State and other realms. The vik is also home to sharks, sea serpents, giant octopi, giant water termites, and other sea-based monsters, who usually lair in deeper trenches near the heart of the vik. Fortunately, the pearl-divers know a special blend of materials they can slather on themselves that cause a stink that the sharks and other monsters usually avoid… usually.

RUINED HAMLET (NORTH): The hamlet of Roegenby was destroyed several decades ago during a battle between Finmark Town and Smitten over control of the peninsula. Smitten lost the battle, but ensured that no one would settle here again, as their wizards cursed the ruins, which even to this day are home to wandering skeletons and zombies, and perhaps even draugr, ghosts, and other undead. They were wise enough to confine the creatures to the environs of the ruined hamlet, lest they spread like a plague. But the treasures of the hamlet and the warriors who died therein remain untouched by looters due to the haunting of the undead.

RUINED HAMLET (SOUTH): The hamlet of Jaeklaby was destroyed 10 years ago by eldritch forces from the Serpent Mound. A single child was allowed to survive to tell the tale of how foolish barrow-breakers from Jaeklaby sought the treasures of the Serpent Mound, and for their perfidy they and their people were destroyed. The child went mad after telling the tale to a Finmark Town patrol, and died frothing in her madness. She was buried at the outskirts of the empty hamlet, her grave later covered with a stone carved with the tale and a warming not to enter the hamlet – or to disturb the powers of the Serpent Mound! What can be found in the ruined hamlet none can say, as no one who has entered in the last 10 years has ever returned. 

SERPENT MOUND: The serpent Mound is an ancient, giant barrow in the shape of a long serpent that twists in upon itself like a labyrinth. It is a single structure the size of more than two-dozen more common barrows, with 13 stone circle entrances at various points along the structure, the 13th of giant-size, in the “mouth” of the serpent at the center of the labyrinth. It is surrounded by deep forest, though the mound itself is covered only in tall green grasses (nary a shrub or bush to be found). The round stone doors to the complex are covered in bas-relief of intertwining snakes, all eating each other, Ouroboros-style; no writing of any kind is evident. Stone pillars, which were old even before the arrival of the Viridians, stand at the four cardinal points of the structure; a warning can be found not to disturb the mound, written upon the pillars in Ancient Elven. Beside each pillar to the left stands a stone obelisk of more recent vintage, yet still ancient, with the same warning carven in Auld Viridian, and to the right of each a standing-stone upon which is carved a similar warning in Valonar.

ULFHAUGEN: The Ulfhaugen are a series of three barrow mounds, the home of the bones of the Markka ancestors of the Groenblad Clan, founded by Ulf, the half-brother of King Fin the Great; the Viridian ancestors, and all modern Groenblad, are buried in the catacombs of the Temple of Armadad Bog in Finmark Town. The Groenblad are not as attached to their Markka ancestors as other clans, and thus are somewhat remiss in their duties to guard the barrows. By rumor, however, the previous successes of barrow-breakers have awakened guardians within the barrows, who now not only guard the barrows themselves, but also haunt their Groenblad descendants. The priests of Armadad Bog have had little success in putting these draugr down, and now the clan quietly seeks some other source of power to return their ancestors to the repose of the grave.

UTHER PENTWEGERN SEA: The Great Northern Sea which touches upon the Roglaras, the Elephas, Valon, Tarsh, and part of Tarantis. It is a cold sea, with many terrible dangers, home to giant whales, krakens, sharks, sea serpents, and all manner of other sea monsters of myth and legend. The Isles of Pokrantil at the heart of the sea are home to the infamous Sverkka, a Valonar tribe that in ancient days mixed their bloodline with that of exiled Orichalan Dragon Lords, giving rise to the Dragonborn and Dragonblood line of Sorcerer-Vikings who terrorize the northlands to this day. They are opposed by the forces of Valon, the great City of the Ice-Lords, who themselves are of eldritch blood, but of Goodly sort, their Great King Artarias the Bear and his people being allied against all forms of Evil.

WATCHTOWER: Finmark Town maintains a watchtower on top of the highest point in the area, Watchtower Hill. In the event of sighting purple sails or other obvious enemies, the permanent garrison of guardsmen light a beacon that can be seen for many miles to warn of the danger.

WIZARDS: The Wizards Guild of Finmark has a tower here upon the cliff overlooking the Gloedenvik. The wizards and their apprentices study the blue waters of the vik, and the ruins therein, seeking the plumb the secrets of its history and magic. They do not like being disturbed for any reason.

1 comment:

  1. these really are incredible. I've been taking a black and white players map of Roglaras and using color pencil to outline areas that have write-ups (Modron, spies of lightelf etc). Your additions have been so helpful with me getting my head around how to flesh out a hex.

    somewhat relatedly, do you adhere to the sub-hex (0.2 mile) travel procedure of character movement rate-modified by terrain, hexes explored per hour?