Thursday, October 25, 2012
Tefplanz:This fertile floodplain is the exclusive domain of Innergild. Canals and dikes crisscross the landscape, controlling flooding and turning the marshy land into arable fields. The border between the Tefplanz and the Middurplanz is heavily fortified and humanoid threats are rare, but ankheg attacks are increasing.
Law and order in the Tefplanz is ostensibly under the control of the Council of Innergild, but in truth the council has ceded control to the local rulers of each settlement, with no central oversight. The Doredain heritage of the natives make them basically law-abiding and peaceful (if somewhat xenophobic), but there are many opportunities for graft and low-level corruption. The Tefplanzers consider themselves bound by a common culture and against a common foe (everything east and north of the Middurplanz), but each town and village manages its own affairs. The Rytteren patrol the roads under the badge of Innergild, but their mercenary status and foreign origins have prevent them from establishing effective relations with local authorities.
Sign of the Three Pigs: This massive, sprawling hostel lies on the Cilnoc-Narnigar road a short distance from the Middurplanz border, and is well known as a place of rest, refuge, and information. The owner, Odlef der Groot, brews his own ale, and has won numerous brewing competitions.
Unbeknownst to anyone in the Tefplanz, Odlef had a relatively successful (he didn't die) first career as a sellsword, looting and pillaging his way across foreign lands for coin before opting for anonymity and the quiet life back in his homeland. One result of this earlier profession, however, were several half-orc children. Their mother, also a mercenary, died several years ago, but the children have grown up big, strong, brutal, and nasty. At least two of them can pass for human, and they have located Odlef and hatched a plan to blackmail him at best, or rob and kill him at worse. Odlef's new (human) family will die in either case. The half-orcs don't really have deep personal grudges against Odlef, but they feel like they should make the motions of avenging their mother ( they're not sure for what exactly, but it sounds good and humanish); they have enough evidence to make things hard for Odlef; and it seems like a easy way to make some coin.
The Spectre of Ylg Bridge: The road from the Tefplanz to Narnigar is one of the most heavily traveled routes in the Near North, and the bridge here undergoes regular repairs to the damage from winter ice and spring floods. A death or two is not unknown during these repairs (victims lost to the river are referred to as Ylg's Toll), and this last year was no exception. Two laborers were dragged into the river and lost when a load of stone came loose. Rites were said, and work continued as usual and without disturbance.
Oda Floriswif was widow of one of the workers. A naturally spiteful and angry woman, she grew bitter, vile, and vengeful after the death of her husband, and followed him into death only a few months later. The cause of her passing is likely natural (she was well into middle age), but those who knew her attribute it to a personality overflowing with bile and venom. Ironically, her husband, whose corpse is entombed in mud at the bottom of the Ylg, beneath the stone block that swept him off the bridge to his death, rests peacefully. Oda, laid with full rites in sanctified ground, has just returned as a spectre.
Oda's haunting ground extends slightly beyond the bridge on either side. She killed both of the bridge keepers on the first night of her return, and several more since then. The bridge has become slippery and treacherous even during daylight hours, and animals refuse to cross it. Traffic has shriveled as a result, and tolls have declined. The only way to appease Oda is to exhume Floris's corpse from the river and inter it beside her, along with a payment of at least several hundred gold pieces (Oda thinks the weregild she received after Floris's death was woefully, insultingly insufficient, and her opinion of what is "rightfully hers" has only risen over time.) The money must be publicly acknowledged as hers, and laid in her grave, in common coinage (no jewels, fancy figurines, or other object d'art; Oda was a simple, albeit greedy, woman, and retains that simplicity in undeath). The public acknowledgement is as important to Oda as the payment itself.
Several factors make the matter even more complicated:
- The ferrymen who operate near the bridge are not exactly upset about the dramatic increase in their business. They won't openly admit to supporting the spectre, but they're not above a little sabotage to keep the bridge closed, and adventurers venturing underwater are obvious targets.
- Scrags, nixies, and a number of other aquatic monsters frequently travel along the Ylg.
- Oda's gravebound weregild will be a rich and easy target for thieves. Oda, in her typically perverse and misanthropic manner, will announce the loss of her weregild by haunting and killing on the bridge, leaving the thief to make his escape.
- And finally, there might be some real truth to the mention of Ylg's Toll. It's considered nothing more than an idle saying, and no one gives it much thought, but the consequences of taking Floris's body back from the river could be far worse than a single spectre, and far broader in scope.