|ostfest VIII(UPF1): Keoish Internal Security Report referencing the Viscounty
|Posted on Sat, November 03, 2007 by Dongul
|Osmund-Davizid writes "King’s Agent Lashton has recently ordered a thorough internal security check on the Kingdom of Keoland, citing various internal and external threats to the Lion Throne. Agent Verilydd Jordox, returning from his mission to reconnoiter the former lands of the Sea Princes, has provided the following report on the state of the Viscounty of Salinmoor.
Keoish Internal Security Report referencing the Viscounty of Salinmoor
Fellow Servants of the Lion Throne; now that what was lost has been reclaimed the task remains to see to the state of our rebuilding efforts in our southernmost provinces (Foot Note 1). The province of Salinmoor has always been regarded as the hinterlands of the kingdom. Recent events may force this backwater into prominence, or perhaps, infamy.
The Cities of Salinmoor
The erstwhile capital city of the Viscounty is Seaton. Economic depression, the occupation by the Scarlet Brotherhood, and external threats to the city has all contributed to the general lackluster state of the inhabitants. The Viscount, Cronin Secunforth, by orders of the Lion Throne, is attempting to revitalize his province. But the Viscount seems to be affected by the same sense of apathy and lethargy that has plagued the Secunforths for generations. Presently, an advisor, King’s Agent Newton Depoe, is fighting hard to keep the Viscount active in administering his lands (even offering a toast to his health with a bottle of blue Keoish brandy in honor of Secunforth’s birthday!). Hopefully, the new strategic importance of Salinmoor to the larger war against the Scarlet Brotherhood will bring more trade and attention to this land and break it out of its malaise.
This town has been threatened by incursions from the Azure Sea for years. Most recently, hordes of sea zombies have been rising from the depths to threaten the populace all across the coast from Saltmarsh to Gradsul. The famed sahuagin fighter, Admiral William Stoutheart, had his beginnings as a humble excise officer in this town. He maintains several warships out of the docks here and supports the covert activities of his brother, Tom. Tom Stoutly leads a group of agents who strike at the Scarlet Brotherhood presence in Monmurg. The brothers suspect that the attacks of the sea zombies must be guided by an intelligent source, most likely a priest of Nerull sponsored by the Brotherhood, but to date they have been able to find the location of this leader. Admiral Stoutheart theorizes that there may be a “ghost ship” carrying these foul undead creatures about, unloading them at night and vanishing by day. But there are no facts to support that theory.
Most of the lumber harvested in Salinmoor does not come from the Dreadwood. It is far too dangerous, as the Dreadwalkers and the elves do not often patrol this far south. Instead, most lumber is cut and milled in a smallish wood near this town. Burle also boasts some cattle and livestock raising.
But the biggest business in this area is administrating the grim royal prison just a day’s ride west of the town. This gloomy edifice is known to the criminal underworld as ‘The Tombs’. Its official name is The Penitentiary, as it was founded by a religious order dedicated to Pholtus centuries ago on the premise that criminals, if given enough time to reflect on their misdeeds and to give themselves to prayer, could be made into useful subjects again. Over the years (and after the Neheli Sacrilege), this aspect of the prison was abandoned and now it is simply a place for criminals to end their days, locked away as just revenge for their wrongs against the crown.
This prison, due to its isolation and dour reputation, is reserved for the worst of Keoish criminals, though the Viscount also sends a fair amount of his own offenders there as well. Most of the inmates that end up here are quickly forgotten by the bureaucracy at Niole Dra, leaving them to rot at the whims of the unfeeling warden and his bitter guards. The warden himself still operates a shrine to Pholtus within the castle grounds, in spite of official Keoish policy to not have church leaders as secular officials. The Penitentiary has been ignored by Keoish bureaucracy for so long that the Pholtans pretty much run the prison as they see fit (FN 2).
Though technically in the Hool Marsh Protectorate, the small district of Ffenargh is the westernmost settled area in this corner of Keoland (the Hools cut off the Viscounty of Nume Eor from Salinmoor). The area was colonized several centuries ago by a splinter group of the Knights of the Watch; strong Pholtus worshippers that saw the threats to Keoland coming mainly from the south, not the west. A castle, Eylea, was erected in the northern Hools to defend the civilized lands. But this land has a long sleeping evil in it as well, the site of the blasphemous library of the wizard Makhrazt is said to be nearby. It is told in legends that the wizard could cheat death by stealing the life force of others, literally draining the youth out of them! Perhaps these stories are true, as the populace of the Ffenargh has a reputation of aging long before their time, suggesting that somehow the legacy of Makhrazt has seeped into the very land itself (FN 3).
: Keoland lays claim to a few small, uncharted islands in the Azure Sea, nominally administered by the Viscount. These small lands are often threatened with blockades, pirates, sahuagin and natural disasters. Most islets just have a small pier, garrison and perhaps a place to unload cargo and take in fresh water. The principle island is Angler Island, as it is the only island large enough to be able to support a small town (FN 4).
Shadows Over Salinmoor:
Most disturbing is the persistent tales of the degradation of the local population into strange cults. Perhaps this is due to the depressed example of their leaders, but the fact remains that the simple fisherfolk can be swayed by a strong personality. I have witnessed strange occurrences connected with a rising splinter sect of some obscure sea deity – known as the Deep Master. This sect is led by a charismatic sea captain known as Obedd, who travels up and down the coast, attempting to sway the locals to cast off their worship of Procan and Xerbo and embrace his patron. What can not be denied is that his followers have become quite prosperous, catching much fish and recovering great objects from the sea. But I swear that I have noticed that there are many in the cities of Seaton and Saltmarsh who share odd characteristics after joining the sect – hunched stance, waddling gait, damp skin. I fear that this may be the result of some sort of curse or that some sort of unholy artifact was dredged up from the ocean that was never meant to be disturbed. With the horrid economic state of this province, many desperate fishermen listen to this proselytizing demagogue, risking their sanity and perhaps even their humanity (FN 5)!
The “Hammer and Anvil” – The Dreadwood and the Hools
Locals refer to their precarious position as being caught betwixt the hammer and the anvil – alluding to the twin terrors of the Dreadwood Forest to the north and the Hools to the south. Add in the aforementioned Azure Sea, and the province of Salinmoor is entirely surrounded by hazards. The Dreadwood and Hool Marshes are hives of evil and disease. These unhealthy regions nevertheless has resources that are worth exploiting (FN 6). We must be careful that in our need to utilize the resources of these regions, we do not disturb things which are better left alone.
The Sleeping Evil:
During the Scarlet Brotherhood’s occupation of the province, their malign wizards and monks engaged in programs of exploration and experimentation on long forgotten sites of early Suel settlers in the region, particularly the doomed House Malhel. The House was swallowed up in the Dreadwood Forest, following their wars with the local elves. The tower of Valadis was the Malhel stronghold, but several other locations in the Dreadwood were also founded by this Suel house, and were likewise destroyed when that House began their war with the ovlenfolk (FN 7).
Apparently, the Scarlet Brotherhood was successful in tracking down a few sites of lost Malhel. What can be gained by divination, intelligence, and mundane research is that the Brotherhood found a malign site of a long dead Malhel church, and in doing so, released a horrid curse. At a profane section of woods deep within the forest lies a series of caves, housing a crude temple complex. The Brotherhood party who entered it were all stricken with lycanthropy and a horrible bloodlust. To the folk of Salinmoor who dwell too close to the fringes of the Dreadwood, attacks be werewolves has become all too common, leading me to believe that the curse is spreading. Local rumor in Seaton is that an extended family of werewolves has now sprung up near the lost site, and is driven to spread their curse to any and all of Suel decent that they happen upon (FN 8).
The Road to Fort Bulwark: Just on the southern shore of the Javan, Fort Bulwark has been erected to handle river traffic to resupply our forces in Westkeep. The military has been attempting to create a more or less permanent track through the Hools that will link the fort with Keoland proper. Presently, some trees have been felled to create a corduroy road through the first few miles of the Hools, starting west of the town of Burle. This winding, torturous track eventually ends at a rude garrison, simply known as Ferrypoint. There troops and materials are moved several miles west on the Javan to Fort Bulwark (FN 9). Recently, some river traffic from Cryllor and Millen have made their way to this ferry point as well, so this may hopefully be a sign that trade from Keoland’s interior will soon be flowing in to both Westkeep and Salinmoor.
The Ferrypoint garrison consists of simple mud walls surrounding several crude buildings. The primary defenses consist of a squad of Feldjager dragoons detailed here from the garrison at Westkeep, supplemented by hired swamp traders and even a few mercenaries. The local commander is always looking for more personnel to bolster his paltry troop strength to fight off Hool monsters and patrol the trail.
The Rise of the Monks of the Swamp:
As mentioned elsewhere (FN 10), there is a bizarre sect of amphibian worshippers who have built a grand temple deep in the Hools. Their leader is rumored to be a charismatic and powerful spellcaster, with incredible new magic. This ruler has revitalized the order and has made many improvements to the grand temple. A small community of slavers, swamp rats, and traders has sprung up in the shadow of the temple. Using this new magic, the monks have become more aggressive in conducting raids for slaves, and have expanded their sphere of influence in the deep Hools (FN 11).
So fellow agents of the Lion Throne, we see that our fair kingdom is threatened with dangers from without and within. This report makes it clear that we must redouble our efforts to make sure that not one more mile of land fall under sway of some evil occupying power.
For the Lion Throne!
1: The Viscounties of Salinmoor and Nume Eor were both occupied by the Scarlet Brotherhood during the latter stages of the Greyhawk Wars. This report was made after the liberation of these two provinces in CY 587, but can be adjusted to reflect any time period, as necessary.
2: The Penitentiary is also one of the most haunted castles in all Keoland, with several cells of the prison deemed too dangerous to even allow a prisoner to be quartered there. Whole wings of the prison have been sealed off, to prevent more inmates from joining the ranks of the undead. Perhaps all the vile actions of the condemned over the years has created some sort of unholy resonance within the walls of the prison. Slain undead have risen up again to haunt the dark corridors and cells of the prison, in spite of (or perhaps because of…) the chapel to Pholtus located within the grounds. The warden is a follower of Pholtus, and refuses to allow rival priests and religions to attempt to cleanse the castle of its undead.
Some notable apparitions include: the ghost of the pirate captain ‘Black Edward’, who deliberately sank his slave ship with all hands still on board rather then surrender to the Keoish navy; ‘Old Wet Bones’, a figure that appears as a bloody skeleton that is highly resistant to all clerical attempts to destroy; and ‘Crying Eloie’ a groaning spirit of an elf maid that died of a broken heart after her half-elf son was incarcerated and left to die within the prison.
But the worst of the lot is the restless spirit of a fallen priest of Pholtus, a hypocritical and corrupt beast who once administered the prison. The priest would secretly execute his own punishments on the prisoners, horrible tortures and murders in a mockery of justice. Eventually, he condemned his own soul to forever haunt the prison. Due to the church of Pholtus’ efforts to cover up his crimes, the Pholtans can not permanently destroy the undead of this castle. Their fanatical intolerance of other faiths is thus allowing the undead population to slowly get out of control.
3: The details of this land and the legacy of the life draining force is detailed in the module I8: Ravager of Time. I place this region at about hex X4-124 on the FtA Darlene map.
4: I have retrofit the adventures Evil Tide, Night of the Shark, and Sea of Blood, to the Azure Sea. Angler Island is only about eight miles long, so it is easily overlooked on the larger scale maps and charts. I would place it north of the Sea Prince Islands, hex P4-120 on the FtA Darlene map.
5: This is the beginning stage of a “Shadows Over Innsmouth” scenario. A follower of a vile sea demon converts a small population away from its former churches and to the worship of the demon. Then the sea demon’s minions begin to cross breed with the populace, eventually creating a race of hybrids and expanding the control of the evil god. Suggested deities would include the demon Demogorgon, or the outcast god of the sea, Panzuriel (see Monster Mythology Accessory). Perhaps a kraken or aboleth is the real power behind Obedd, using charming magic to gain followers…
6: Resources of the Hools includes the usual swamp hay, shrimping and fishing from the Javan and its estuaries, catching fowl and small game, several unusual spices and other plant products, peat, and a strange rubbery substance that certain adventurers have used to create inflatable amusements (see a Book of Wondrous Inventions). The Dreadwood yields little in useable wood, plus meat and furs, but in this portion of the forest, very little regular work is done (most of the forestry is at the very northern and western fringes of the Dreadwood – it is too dangerous in the south).
7: One of these locations was the site of a group of the Malhel who worshipped Beltar. They were driven further and further away from the rest of their kin, due to their obscene practices and the fact that many of the cult were lycanthropes. They eventually discovered a series of sunken caves in the southern Dreadwood. From this location, they founded a church to Beltar and attempted to placate their evil patron with bizarre ceremonies and by offering sacrifices of the local elves. The elves waged war on the church, and after a hard siege, they succeeded in driving the head of the evil church and her followers into the deep caverns and sealed them alive in the depths. The followers of Beltar then turned on each other in the lightless gloom, killing themselves off with horrific intensity. Upon his death, the high priestess cursed any who would breach the unholy nave of the underground church with a portion of her own bloodlust. Thanks to Scarlet Brotherhood meddling, this curse has escaped to the outside world.
8: The truth is far more sinister then that. The curse the Brotherhood awoke in the forest sent a vision of violence and bloodlust to a fanatical high priest of Erythnul. This priest, goaded on by omens from his vile deity, managed to travel across the civilized lands from the Pomarj to the southern Dreadwood. There he found the fell sunken ruin of the ancient Suel hidden deep in the forest. He now has taken command of several of the indigenous humanoid tribes and has whipped them up into a frenzy. The ruin itself spreads a curse of lycanthropy and madness, but to Erythnul’s cult, these are boons rather then detriments.
The priest, Lhorgar the Wolfshead, is incredibly violent and sociopathic. During his pilgrimage across southern Keoland, he left a trail of bodies whenever his lust for killing overcame his need for secrecy. But among the humanoids of the forest, he has tremendous charisma and brilliant tactical sense. He is presently focusing his followers on slaying other humanoid tribes in the forest who will not convert or submit to his rule. He has also attracted a band of desperate bandits to his cause. Once he feels his position is secure, he will release his crazed forces upon the lands of Salinmoor. Lhorgar possesses a great unholy mace he dubs ‘Headcrusher’ and is always armed to the teeth and ready for combat, in addition to being a werewolf himself.
9: Some politicians and military analysts question the strategic value of Ferrypoint, as it is still several miles downstream of Westkeep. The argument goes that Fort Bulwark and Westkeep can be resupplied without a midpoint garrison on the north side of the Javan. But trading vessels traveling up and down the Javan need safe points to supply themselves, and Ferrypoint is intended to be the one place between Westkeep and the Azure Sea that ships can repair and restock. Additionally, it is Keoish policy to continue to push back the uncivilized areas and tame the dangerous lands. In the Hools, this may be more of a journey then a destination.
10: See “Keoish Intelligence Report From the Hold of the Sea Princes” for more details.
11: Using a retro fit module DA2, Temple of the Frog, the cult can be modified to reflect the church of Wastri, making them even more powerful and dangerous in this region.
SOURCES: Living Greyhawk Gazetteer
, From the Ashes
, The Scarlet Brotherhood
, Monster Mythology
, Living Greyhawk's official Keoland Web site, TSR Modules U1, U2, U3, I2, DA2, I7, I8, GA1, Evil Tide
, Night of the Shark, Sea of Blood
Canonfire Articles – Grand Sheldomar Timeline
by Samwise, Keoish Brandy
by OldManReaver, Shadows over Keoland
by Jesse Dean, Sahuagin of the Azure Sea, Keoish Intelligence Report from the Hold of the Sea Princes
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
||Average Score: 5