Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Visual Guide to Swallow

The town of Swallow sits at the top of the Argent Falls, more commonly known as Silver Falls, where the Xanthus River drops one thousand feet from the highland plateau of Uthu to the lowland jungles of the Sarthrana gorge below. A twenty-foot wide inclined ramp leads up the cliff-face of the gorge, connecting the city to the boat landing below the falls. This strategic location has given Swallow command of all trade and traffic between the highlands and the lowlands. As a result, the people of Swallow have become wealthy and decadent.

Swallow was named for the birds that nest in the cliff-face during the summer months. The flag of Swallow is the silver silhouette of a fork-tailed swallow against a blue field.

The town has a permanent population of 2500 though dozens and sometimes hundreds of travelers may enter and leave the town each week.

Swallow is ancient, constructed 1800 years ago during the early Imperial Age. It boasts an impressive tunnel system beneath its streets to deliver water from the river to underground cisterns and water wheels. The tunnels, passages, and chambers go deep below the city and are often suffer infestations of giant rats, slugs, and beetles, degenerate rat-men and kobolds, and other tunnel-dwelling creatures. The city guard offers a reward (1d6 copper each) for the carcasses of said vermin, with  bonuses for the destruction of an entire warren (1 gold per 20 carcasses delivered at one time).

1. The Argent Falls, aka Silver Falls. The golden waters of the Xanthus river take on a silvery hue as they cascade one thousand feet to the jungle gorge below.

2. The Castle of Archon Hrundinin, Lord of the Swallows. Archon Hrundinin is middle-aged but still athletic and energetic (Level 6 Warrior). He is a plain-speaking man who dislikes double-talk and innuendo. He is sensitive and quick to take offense. Although he is powerful and possesses a harem of 5 wives, he is secretly a profoundly lonely and isolated man with no friends or confidants.

3. The Silver Funicular. This long inclined ramp was cut from the rock face of the gorge by an army of dwarfish slaves during the Imperial age. The ramp is twenty feet wide and over 3800 feet long and features a pair of funicular rails. Each rail hosts a small train of four connected rail cars: first class, steerage, livestock, and freight. Each car is massive, the size of a modern rail car, and is able to carry several tons as long as the opposite train has a similar mass. The weight of water added to the descending car pulls the ascending car. The cars make regular trips, leaving every hour. Use of the funicular costs 1 copper per leg or 1 copper per 100 pounds estimated weight.

4. The Plaza of Horthactus. The large cobblestone plaza serves as a gathering place for townspeople. The amphitheater seats 800 and overlooks the vista beyond the falls. The town often gathers here for official pronouncements, performances, executions, and gladiatorial contests.

5. The Temple of Justica, Goddess of Justice and Mercy. Magistrate Orthat is an elderly priest of Justica (Level 5 Cleric). On the archon's authority, he oversees legal court proceedings within this temple once a week. He has a long beard and a bald head. He is completely devoted to the concept of proper justice. Unfortunately, his assistant, Zhamach, is untrustworthy and corrupt, often accepting bribes or favors. Many merchants and townspeople seek the aid of the temple of Justica to resolve disputes.

6. The Temple Choranus, the Seer Father, Lord of Creation. Father Cteg (Level 5 Cleric) oversees a staff of 10 acolytes and priests. The temple is favored by the craftsmen and farmers of the town.

7. The Temple of Shul, Goddess of the Moon. The temple has a staff of 12 acolytes and 3 priests overseen by Mother Sona (Level 5 Cleric). The temple is popular with hunters and travelers.

8. The Temple of Ulesh, God of Peace. 20 monks study in the monastery attached to this temple overseen by Lama Ulaca (Level 4 Cleric). The temple is popular with scholars and travelers.

9. Patricians Row. This area of the waterfront is comprised of seven walled compounds protecting the mansions and households of the patricians of Swallow.

10. Merchants Row. Common-born merchants who have found commercial success in their transactions have constructed palatial houses here overlooking the river.

11. Workers Row. This neighborhood is home to overcrowded tenements and shanties of the working class. The streets are narrow and clogged with makeshift hovels. The area is rife with crime and is home to the Path of Fear and Thunder, a criminal gang that controls this section of Swallow as a kind of institution.

12. Artisans Row. The craftsmen and artisans of Swallow live and work in this district.

13. Drovers Row. The men who herd the aurochs on the surrounding countryside live in this collection of buildings. The tannery and slaughterhouses can also be found here.

14. The Livestock Pens. Aurochs and mouflon are herded from the surrounding countryside and brought into these livestock pens for slaughter.

15. The Public Bath House and Street Market. The plaza around the public bath house is home to a lively street market covered by tents and awnings. Craftsmen and farmers from all over the valley gather here to sell their wares to traveling merchants.

16. The Barracks. This imposing structure is home to the town guard (level 0-1 men-at-arms), a force of 100 guards commanded by 20 sergeants (level 2 warriors) and Captain Yano (level 4 warrior). Captain Yano is a grizzled cynical veteran in his fifties. He is happily married with fifteen children and is looking forward to his retirement. He is laconic with a gruff exterior but is a keen observer of others with a preternatural sense of what someone is secretly thinking or planning, especially criminals.

17. The Titan's Face. This massive stone face is all that remains of an half-buried statue of an unknown titan. The face is ancient beyond measure. Many myths and legends are told about the mysterious origin of the statue.

18. Bald Knob of Leggach. This area is a large outcrop of bare rock at the top of a hill. The ruins of an ancient castle lie at its apex. The ruins are little more than foundations and tunnels.

19. The Forest of Ath-Bo. The forests of the highland plateau of Uthu are coniferous evergreens. The forests west of town cover the slopes of the mountain known as Ath-Bo, the peak of which is home to the ancient citadel known as the Fortress of the Exile.

20. Hospitality Row. The inns, hostelries, and public houses that cater to the many travelers and merchants that pass through Swallow are found in this small district. Notable institutions include: The Tavern of the Centaurs, The Laughing Auroch, The Silver Funicular, The Gory Sword, et al.