This past Monday, I posted an image to my Twitter timeline that I hoped would serve as an inspirational “starter idea” for everyone’s campaigns, but it quickly grew into so much more! Here is the campaign setting that a single image inspired!
Within minutes of posting the image, some lovely folks decided that they wanted to explore the city right then and there. We quickly settled into an awesome impromptu D&D game session and had a very enjoyable afternoon of role playing!
The three awesome people that decided to participate in Monday’s impromptu adventure with myself as Dungeon Mistress were:
P.R. the D.M. (@CowboyCentaur) – Carillon Tintinnabulum, Male Dwarven Bell Wizard (and Demon Hunter), very over-confident at times and more than willing to take big risks.
The Tiny GM (@thetinyDM) – Inara MoonShadow, Female Halfling Rogue, sassy yet cautious.
Art is… gaming (@badsosgaming) – Callas, Male Half-Elf Sorcerer, tall, yet slight in stature, his eyes dart around and he is constantly checking for potential threats, prefers to rely on his wits rather than magic to get him out of trouble [dirty from travelling, wearing dark robes, pouches at his waist alongside a sword (which is for show), his pack looks heavy due to the large book it holds and has seen better days].
This intrepid and brave band of adventurers each made their way into the city individually and had varying levels of success in carrying out their plans during the course of the day.
Special Note: This is far from being an extensively detailed setting, but it does include all of the NPCs and elements encountered during the course of game play the other day. There is one new city location that did not get to see game play, but makes a nice addition…The Garden of Pain.
Now on to the setting…
The City Of Pain
The City of Pain is a walled city located in a desolate area of wilderness. There is some light to moderate vegetation in the area, but no large stands of trees or large flows of water.
While it does tend to be a dry environment at times, it is not a desert area. There are also some small areas of rocky badlands nearby that can, and do serve as occasional lairs for monsters and/or bandits from time to time.
The nearest towns and villages are some distance away along the travel route that passes near the city.
The gatehouse in the front city wall has two special features:
- The tower on each side of the main gate has a face carved/built into it. These faces will randomly animate at different times of the day or night and emit eerie moans of pain for 1 – 10 minutes (referred to as singing praises to Nevaeh).
- The main split gate itself has a large face carved/built into it that will also become animated at random times, but rather than make noise, the eyes will stare at people and the face will display a disturbing/unsettling smile.
The City of Pain is well protected and boasts a high number of guards who can and will double as soldiers if needed. The guards are well-trained, serious, and on edge with regard to potential threats. Some of the guards are open to bribery, but it is not advisable to test the theory too much.
There is a toll that must be paid by all who would enter the City of Pain, 3 Copper Pieces per person or a few drops of fresh blood from a cut finger. Obviously, not many are willing to give of their own blood and there are stories of those who did give blood being “claimed” by the city’s goddess.
Nevaeh is demi-goddess who draws energy from the worship of those in the city and from the pain that is offered up to her in tribute. Pain is a key component of the religion, whether it is offered up willingly or unwillingly.
Overall, the people of the city tend to be highly devoted to Nevaeh regardless of the price in pain that she demands as her rightful due.
The Garden Of Pain
The Garden of Pain is a special walled off area located exactly halfway between Nevaeh’s palace and the main temple. Most people are unsure of what lies behind the walls beyond the stand of trees that are visible from the outside.
Nevaeh likes to come here to relax or to engage in special ceremonies known only to her and the top Clerical/Priestess echelon from the temple.
It is rumoured that there is a special garden area in the centre with strategically placed stone pillars that serves as a focus for the various magics that she performs from time to time. Some even say that Nevaeh travels to other planes of existence through a portal located there!
Any who dare to trespass in the garden pay for their crime with their very lives. Justice is swift, certain, and the outcome is always the same…guilty individuals disappear and are never seen or heard from again. Citizens witnessing any attempts to trespass into the garden will always seek to find and notify the nearest town guards as quickly as possible.
City Locations Of Notable Interest
The Dragon’s Rest: A nice, popular tavern and inn combination. It is located near the city gates and turns a brisk business every day.
The Scaly Claw: A disreputable tavern and a place where trouble is more likely to find you rather than you finding it! It is located near the city gates.
The Central Library: A somewhat well-known repository for rare and/or darker knowledge that will not be found elsewhere. As with the city gates, there is a toll collected from all who would enter and slake their thirst for knowledge (1 SP or a few drops of fresh blood from a cut finger).
The Temple Of Nevaeh: Located near the city’s central area, it is usually a hive of activity nearly round the clock. The citizens are so used to the constant activity that they pay little mind to it.
The Temple’s Hierarchy
- At the temple, a female Cleric, Valeria Stormwind, is the head priestess.
- There is a very strong (dominant) female/priestess presence in the temple ranks.
- There are some males, but they usually hold lower positions in the temple hierarchy.
- The Chief Inquisitor, Guerin Ironbreaker, is a male Fighter who is very skilled at inflicting pain and getting answers to questions. A Cleric/Priestess will always be present to pray and offer up the pain of those being questioned to Nevaeh.
- The temple also has its own special set of guards who have authority above, and over the city’s regular guards.
Popular Religious Sayings
- Will you give your pain to the goddess?
- Will you share your pain with the goddess?
- Pain is love.
- Give your pain to the goddess.
- Show your love for the goddess by giving her your pain.
NPCs Of Interest
Valeria Stormwind: Head Priestess at the Temple of Navaeh. She is stern, practical, and very efficient, but has a limited amount of patience and a rather short temper at times.
Guerin Ironbreaker: Chief Inquisitor at the Temple of Nevaeh. He truly enjoys his work and is ready to seek answers any time of the day or night.
Elisha Brightstone: Head Librarian at the Central Library. She is sharp, inquisitive, and acts as a spy for the temple, informing them of any unusual and/or questionable individuals that come to the library. To patrons, she appears as little more than a kind, helpful, and sometimes slightly scatter-brained individual who is harmless. It is a ruse/cover that has served her well in her work.
Emeric Rockforge: Owner/proprietor of The Dragon’s Rest Inn & Tavern. He tends to be a very friendly and talkative sort overall, but is a fervent supporter of Nevaeh. He has a wife and two sons who help him run The Dragon’s Rest.
Cristina Dawnstorm: Works as a waitress at The Dragon’s Rest Inn & Tavern. She is well liked, friendly, and a very good source for rumours (she will gladly share them if she likes the person). She has a younger sister (Alisan Dawnstorm, Age: 11) that she looks after.
Cael Stonehammer: Owner/proprietor of The Scaly Claw Tavern. Cael is an untrustworthy fellow suspected of dabbling in many illegal activities, but somehow always managing to stay clear of trouble in the end since he covers his tracks very well. If an individual is looking for a particular service or item via less than reputable means, there is a good chance that Cael can help…for the right price.
As you stand before the Gates of the City of Pain, will you dare to enter this “wicked and twisted” place or flee in fear?