|Ruler||Lord Mayor Huebal Asimond|
|Demographics||Human (Southern) 70%, Grum 11%, Human (Northern) 8%, Dwarven 7%, Elven 3%, Other 1%|
|Languages||Southern 70%, Drakkellin 30%|
|Nationality||The Drakkellian Alliance|
|National Colors||Black, grey and red|
|Natural Resources||Bog iron, coal, stone, lumber, peat, fish, clay, flowers, herbs, wild boar, alligators|
|Manufactured Goods and Exports||Iron manufactured goods, charcoal, coal, dried peat, shale oil, lumber, quarried stone, pottery, leather|
|Crime Level||Above Average|
|Terrain||Forest and wetlands|
Grimstone is one of the five major cities which constitute the Drakkellian Alliance. It is the eastern most city that sits at the edge of the great marshlands known as the Stench Bog. It is charged with protecting the Alliance from monsters, bandits and orcish raiders coming from the Stench Bog.
Grimstone sits on top of a mesa-like hill of dark grey rock some 300 meters tall. This flat topped hill, now known as Grimstone Hill, has steep sides. The top is approximately 1.2 square km and is covered entirely by the city. This hill is a unique geological formation in the region and is likely why the site was chosen for the original Traxxian fortress upon which ruins the city was built. The combination of the sheer cliff hill sides and stout city walls make Grimstone virtually impregnable. A single road from the west, with several switchbacks, winds its way up to the city's single gate.
Grimstone is a militaristic town, with a large population of soldiers, guards, mercenaries and other warlike adventurers. War leaders often assemble mercenary groups here to head into the Stench Bog and Coalition territory for war, profit and glory.
Grimstone is a major producer of iron forged goods and exports those goods, along with peat, iron, coal, wood and quarried stone to the central cities in the Alliance. It is also home to several major mercenary companies and a popular war school.
To counteract the growing threat of the orcish clans and lawless raiders growing in numbers in the Sentinel Mountains region, the Alliance sent a group of militia soldiers and craftsmen to reclaim and rebuild a ruined Traxxian fort on a mesa-like hill at the edge of the Stench Bog in 1040 CY.
As various dangers in the Sentinel Mountains developed, so did Grimstone grow in strength. More craftsmen and soldiers were sent to expand the fortress and help patrol the border. The fort was expanded in 1190 CY and the first defensive wall was erected in 1342 CY. With abundant lumber, peat, coal and bog iron nearby, blacksmithing was profitable and metalworking began to flourish here. Quickly a town developed around the fortress.
Over the centuries, Grimstone has filled up the top of its mesa hill. Meanwhile, mining operations within the hill began to exploit the hill’s mineral resources. Iron and coal both were mined and a series of tunnels and chambers developed underneath the town.
A second outer wall matching the edges of the full hill top was completed in 1784 CY. Grimstone Hill has sheer, cliff-like sides all the way around and the city has both outer and inner walls, which are high and thick. This makes Grimstone an almost impregnable city. Over the course of its history and through multiple sieges, Grimstone has never fallen.
By the year 2040 CY, Grimstone was a formidable city. It was home to more than 30,000 people, including a standing army of more than 2,000 soldiers. By this time, the iron and coal within the hill had been exhausted. Begin in 2090CY, the mine tunnels and shafts were converted into a network of livable chambers. Over the following centuries, numerous residences and businesses established themselves within these subterranean levels inside the hill.
For several centuries, many buildings in Grimstone had been constructed of wood and insulated with dried peat. While being a good insulator, peat is also an excellent fuel source and extremely flammable. In the year 2107 CY, a careless cooking fire at a tavern caught several buildings on fire which grew into a firestorm that spread quickly through the city. The “great fire” as historians call it, burned for three days before it was finally put out. In the end, the conflagration incinerated more than two hundred buildings and damaged another two hundred (nearly one fifth of the entire surface city).
In 2108 CY, strict laws were passed that outlawed peat as insulation. Peat is still used as fuel to heat homes, cook meals and as a fuel for forges, but it is no longer used as insulation. Construction with wood has also notably declined since the fire and most buildings favor stone in their construction.
As of today, Grimstone now boasts a total population of 40,000 inhabitants. Three quarters of the population live in the hill top city. About 4,000 citizens dwell in the subterranean levels inside Grimstone Hill. And another 6,000 live in squalid and ramshackle buildings clustered at the base of the hill on the southwest side, along the banks of the river.
As with the other cities of the Drakkellian Alliance, the city of Grimstone is ruled over by a lord mayor and a High Council. The current ruler is Lord Mayor Huebal Asimond. A former battle field commander and once proud warrior, Lord Asimond has become increasingly despondent and reclusive with age. It is rumored that he now spends his days writing poetry and many believe that the Lord Mayor has gone mad. Thankfully, he is little more than a figure head now. The true power and authority in Grimstone is the Lord Marshall, commander of the Grimstone Guard, who has stepped in to fulfill the role left vacant by the rarely seen Lord Mayor. The High Council acquiesces to his wishes and, in many ways, the Lord Marshall runs the city.
The Old Fort
This small castle is built of dark grey stone and is five stories tall. It is built on a raised section of the hill top and has a commanding view of the city and the lands around the hill. Once a military fortress, it has, over the years, been modified for comfort. The castle now provides living quarters for the Lord Mayor, his family and various court officials. It has its own special division of the Grimstone Guard, it’s own guard rooms, armories, dungeon cells and so forth. It also has its own rainwater cistern and stocks enough provisions to withstand a long siege. The castle has no moat. All government functions are carried out here. The castle also houses the arbiters and their offices.
Grimstone has nine arbiters, appointed by the Lord Mayor, who preside over disputes, legal matters and sentence criminals. These nine answer to the Lord Arbiter, who also handles appeals and so forth. Serious matters involving members of the Grimstone Guard are occasionally handled by the Lord Marshall himself.
As with any major city, Grimstone has trouble with thieves, corrupt officials, theft, murder, smuggling and so forth. There is plenty of crime here and the legal system is kept busy. Grimstone is more harsh that most cities. Minor offenses such as drunkeness, disorderly conduct, public disturbance and pickpocketing are often punished by time in the pillory. More serious crimes are dealt with in a variety of ways and the arbiters are given wide discretion. Some criminals are gibbeted in hanging cages in Bloodstone Square near the execution's block. Others are put in hanging cages that are suspended out over the city walls over the cliff steep hillsides and the criminals are left to die from exposure. Bloodstone Square, see below, is notorious as the city's execution site. Public beheadings are quite common and there is a public execution at least once a month.
Grimstone is officially charged with defending the Alliance against the dangers of the Stench Bog. It began with bandits and orc raids and saurians. But now it includes the Brotherhood of the Serpent Tongue and numerous monsters which sometimes wander out of the bog looking for prey.
To fulfill this mandate, the city maintains a standing army known as the Grimstone Guard. Currently it is home to 2,500 full time soldiers called “guardsmen”. This single, unified force patrols both the city streets and the countryside. The Grimstone Guard is divided up into various specialized regiments. There are footmen, archers, crossbowmen, shieldmen, bog scouts, light cavalry and knights.
There are few knights in Grimstone and only a small regiment of light cavalry. Since horses do not do well in the swamp, the light cavalry generally stay clear of the marshes and wetlands. Instead, they patrol the forests, farmlands and roads. Knights are reserved for major battles, escorting visiting dignitaries and other ceremonial duties. Knights are also sometimes called upon for special assignments by the Lord Marshall.
When orcs coming raiding or some other monster crawls out from the bog, the Grimson Guard assembles a force that heads out to meet them in battle. Since battles are often fought in the muck and mud of the bog, most guardsmen wear light armor and light weight boots. Short swords and small shields are most common. Staffs and polearms have proven to be useful in the swamp. Bows and crossbows do not fare well in the damp conditions in the bog and so archers take precautions to keep their bows dry and carry extra bowstrings.
Although horses do not do well in the bog, dogs are less hampered and able to move quickly through the swamp. Most patrols venturing into the bog take a trained war dog with them and guard dogs are used commonly in Grimstone and in the surrounding farms.
The Grimstone Guard keeps hundreds of barrels of shale oil (see below) at the ready. It is useful in battle. It can be used to make flaming arrows and other incendiary missiles. It can also be heated and poured from the battlements on to attackers and ignited.
The Grimstone Guard patrols the streets and alleys of the city. A typical city guard patrol squad consists of four soldiers and a squad leader. As the Grimstone Guard is well funded, city guards typically wear chainmail over leather and carry long swords and shields. The squad leader carries a glaive with a brightly colored banner tied to it. This makes a guard unit easy to spot over long distances and through crowds. As the members of the Grimstone Guard see a fair amount of action, they tend to be well trained and well paid, compared to city guards in other cities.
Stonefast Hall is an imposing building of dark stone blocks and a steeply sloped roof. It is home to the Grimstone Guard. Within its walls are housed numerous barracks, offices, armories, storage chambers and training facilities. Several hundred soldiers call this place home. The Stonefast Hall also houses the city dungeon beneath... a miserable twisting maze of dingy corridors and dank prison cells. The dungeon always seems to be damp and various molds and fungi grow everywhere. When heavy rainstorms come, water seeps in and floods cells and corridors with a foot of stagnant water.
As a member of the Drakkellian Alliance, the city of Grimstone officially worships Drenmoragin as its patron diety. However, in truth, the citizens of Grimstone worship Kael with the same esteem. Both deites have major temples here and both hold sway in city politics. Daramis, Kolo and Erylon are worshiped to a lesser degree here. Smaller churches and shrines to other elder gods and celestials can be found here and there in the city.
The economy of Grimstone is based upon the vast natural resources present at the edges of and within the great Stench Bog. Specifically, wood, peat, lignite coal, bog iron and stone are all abundant and harvested here. Anyone with a strong back and solid work ethic can find work here as there is always harvesting to be done. Those who don’t work on farms will often find work as common laborers digging and cutting up peat, mining coal, chopping wood or breaking stones in one of the quarries.
The production of charcoal is a major industry here as well and dozens of charcoal camps can be found along the river or its tributaries. Charcoal is used locally in forges and also exported to the Alliance along with other goods.
The soil is clay rich in this region, especially east of Grimstone toward the bog. This makes farming more difficult in this region. However, clay is dug up and used to fashion pottery and roof tiles. Pottery is one of the exports sent west into the Alliance.
Iron was once mined from within Grimstone Hill. However, since that iron ore was depleted centuries ago, most iron harvested today is bog iron. The bog iron is used by local smiths to produce armor, weapons, farm tools and so forth. Bog iron is generally inferior to mined ore and more prone to breakage. However, due to silicate impurities in the iron found in the bog, it is also highly resistant to rust.
Due to the inferior quality of bog iron, smiths tend to make tools, weapons and armor slightly thicker to compensate. Any metal item crafted here is likely to be 15% heavier and 5% more prone to breakage. However, metal items will also be 10-20% cheaper than normal.
The region is also notable for having large quantities of oil-rich shale. These black rocks are harvested from the edge of the great bog and carted into the city, where they are broken into smaller pieces with hammers. When the shale is cooked in huge copper retorts, a dark and viscous oil can be obtained. This oil is not good for cooking or forges as the fumes are quite foul. However, it is commonly burned in the city’s street lamps and sometimes in hand held lanterns. The oil is also used for waterproofing, as an adhesive and as a wood preservative. Grimstone exports shale oil to other cities.
Gregor's Holding House
Gregor's Holding House, more commonly known simply as Gregor's, is a financial instituation. It functions as both a money changer and a bank for the noble's and merchants. It also mint's official Drakkellian coins and buys and sells jewelry, gemstones and other valuables. Any time a particularly valuable gemstone or hunk of ore is dug up, it is usually taken to Gregor's for sale. Gregor's loans money to various guilds and other groups and also has some influence on setting prices within the city. The Holding House has its own privately employed group of guards that handle all security. The Holding House is run by Gregor Drazan, who holds the title of Lord Treasurer like his father before him. Gregor himself dwells in a finely appointment apartment on the top floor and is, himself, one of the wealthiest men in the city.
The Black Guild
The Black Guild is named so because all of the trades it encompasses are dirty in some way – blacksmiths, miners, bog iron collectors, shale harvesters, oil cooks, smelters and so forth. Almost all are stained from their work with soot, smoke, tar, oil and dust. The Black Guild is the largest and wealthiest guild in Grimstone, boasting over 500 members. Membership involves a yearly fee, but also grants reduced prices, licenses to work, community connections, access to tools, raw materials, training and so forth.
The War Guild
The War Guild is a brotherhood of warriors... a club for all those who make their living by their sword. Mercenaries, bounty hunters, adventurers, soldiers and city guards are all counted in the ranks of the War Guild. This guild is not only a fighters' guild, but also a taven, a barracks hall, a serious war school and a training ground. This is a place for mercenaries to find jobs, make connections, have a drink, find a bed, purchase weapons, socialize, train and so forth. One must be a member of the guild to utilize its services and membership costs 1 gold piece per month. The main hall for this guild is known as the "Hall of Arms". The guild has close connections with the Grimstone Guard and many are members of both.
The Far Rangers
This small guild began as a private club formed from members of the bog scout regiment. It has grown and changed over the years. It now includes a diverse mix of those who make their living from the deep bog - rangers, scouts, furriers, trappers, woodsmen and explorers are all here. The elite far rangers are specialists in venturing deep into the Stench Bog. They go further, faster and deeper than most. They are experts in swamp survival. Far rangers typically wear light armor, carry bows, wear cloaks and specialize in moving quickly and quietly through the worst terrain that the bog has. Very few have the skills and experience necessary to join the ranks of the elite far rangers. The group has numerous initiates that serve them that hold the rank of "tenderfoot". However, only the best attain the rank of "far ranger". Promotion to this rank involves a grueling test of swamp survival. Several members of this guild are also members of the bog scouts in the Grimstone Guard. The far rangers are often called upon to help find lost dogs, lost children, wayward patrols and help scout out deep bog territory and keep an eye on known orc camps and so forth.
Lord Mayor Huebal Asimond
Lord Mayor Huebal Asimond is the current political ruler of the city of Grimstone. Many years ago he was a popular and successful field commander with numerous wins on the battle field. He rose through the ranks and made numerous political connections. He was elected Lord Mayor by the High Council in 2701 CY and has ruled for 16 years. Now older, he has softened and greyed. He is an unassuming man of average height and lean build. He has a short cropped grey beard and blue eyes. Lord Asimond has become increasingly withdrawn, despondent and reclusive the past few years. He is rarely seen now except by servants and certain High Council members. It is rumored that he spends his days writing poetry, speaking in rhyme and talking with his cat. Many believe that the Lord Mayor has gone mad. Thankfully, he is little more than a figure head now.
Lord Marshall Hogan Vankar
The true power and authority in Grimstone is Lord Marshall Vankar who has stepped in to fulfill the role left vacant by the rarely seen Lord Mayor. The Lord Marshall is the commander of the Grimstone Guard and, as such, the supreme military authority in the region. He is also a member of the High Council. Too often, the High Council members acquiesces to his wishes. Lord Vankar is a hulking man with a broad chest and thick arms. His head is shaved and his iron grey beard is cropped to a point. He is a brutal disciplinarian and will whip men for failure in their duty. He divides his time between running the military and running the city. There are whispered fears among the common folk that Lord Vankar might one day disband the High Council and usurp total control of the city or even declare himself King. If that day ever comes, the citizens hope that the Drakkellian Alliance would save them from a would be dictator.
Lord Arbitar Marril Troak
Lord Troak is the chief legal authority of Grimstone. He rules over the other nine arbiters and holds court himself on serious matters. He is a tall and lean man with short cropped greyish white hair, a perpetual scowl and a steely gaze. His oddly square face is kept cleanly shaved. Troak is an egotistical, arrogant and genuinely unlikeable man. He is impatient and unnecessarily short tempered with servants and underlings. He loves nothing more than to find fault and criticize. He is seen, by many, as overly harsh in his sentencing and seems fanatical about punishing criminals.
Lord Treasurer Gregor Drazan
Lord Gregor Drazan is a tall, lean man. His black hair falls about his shoulders in long greasy tangles. He has pale skin, a homely face and a thin moustache. Born into a wealthy family, he inherited his position and title along with the family business. His father, Athius Drazan, was Grimstone’s previous Lord Treasurer. Athius Drazan and Gregor’s elder brother, Johanus, were killed in a roadside orcish attack while returning by caravan from the city of Garrison. Gregor’s mother had died many years previous from swamp fever. Thus, the entire family fortune fell suddenly upon Gregor’s shoulders. Despite a tendency toward laziness and apathy, Gregor did inherit his father’s business skills. He is a miserly, scheming trickster who is always looking for ways to maximize profits. He relentlessly badgers those who owe him money while, at the same time, going to great lengths to avoid having to pay for anything himself. He has no family and few friends. He tends to keep to himself in the upper floor of the Holding House. He does not like crowds or social events, but does try to curry favor with the nobles. Both his looks and demeanor ensure he will forever be a bachelor. Which is fine with Gregor. He has no desire to marry. Instead, he prefers the company of whores.
Bolaryn, the Master of the Black Guild
Bolaryn is a fat man with curly brown hair, a bushy beard and a devilish grin. His booming baritone voice and loud laugh are heard often over the noise of the tavern. His joviality and good nature have won him many friends. He is well liked by nobles and commoners alike. Bolaryn commands the Black Guild and considers the welfare of all guild members as his chief concern. He knows most people in the city and has many friends. He has a knack for making good business deals and getting others, even sworn enemies, to sit down to the bargaining table and come to agreeable terms. Bolaryn is always working on behalf of the workers of the city, no matter their rank or position. He believes that a hard day’s work deserves a fair wage. He also believes that when the work is done, all those who labor should go to the tavern and drink as brothers. If Bolaryn has a fault, it is that he pursues the latter with too much gusto. He is quite the drinker and prides himself on his ability to outdrink any of his men. He is, however, quite generous and frequently buys food and drinks for others, especially those in need.
Hallam, Master of the War Guild
At over six feet tall and with broad shoulders, Hallam is a commanding figure. He has a long lean face, a short shaggy beard and a mane of thick curly brown hair which is starting to turn grey. It is his gaze, however, that most unnerves. He has a steady, unflinching gaze which has been likened to "a predator sizing up prey". Hallam is a highly skilled warrior who is a veteran of dozens of battles. Over the decades, he has served as a soldier in various mercenary groups, militias and armies. He retired from the Grimstone Guard seven years ago and now rules the War Guild. Despite his age, he is still a dangerous foe. Pitiless and cruel, he has no compassion for the weak. He only respects fellow warriors and even then, judges them by their strength and martial skill. He has been known to intentionally injure younger warriors in sparring if they annoy him. He considers politicians useless and mocks the Lord Mayor behind closed doors. He despises anyone who uses magic and is especially prejudice against elves, though this is not known why. Despite his brutality, he is respected by his men and many young soldiers in the Grimstone Guard. His reputation as a fighter is widely known. Hallam likes combat and will often travel out into the Stench Bog with a dozen of his best men to hunt orcs. He is fond of strong drink and, when not out fighting or training, he enjoys drinking with his men and swapping war stories.
Drayd Mawler, Master of the Far Rangers
Drayd is the grandson of Idrian Mawler, one of the three founders of the Far Rangers and its current leader. He is a tall and well built man with sharp features and a mane of black hair. His beard is cropped short. He is a skilled swordsman and fighter. However, is renowned as a highly skilled tracker and ranger. He has spent more time in the Stench Bog than any man alive and is survival skills in the wild are unequalled. His skill and accuracy with the long bow are also impressive. His own bow is an enormous black bow that few other men can draw. Drayd is a honest and honorable man. He himself is a minor noble, but dislikes the plotting and intrigue of court life. He is much more at home in the wilds or among common folk. He leaves the financial matters of the Far Rangers in the hands of more capable men and serves more as a role model for the rangers. He leads groups and expeditions into the Stench Bog frequently, but sometimes ventures off alone and is gone for many days.
Gallimor Harene, High Priestess of Drenmoragin
Gallimor is the current ruling High Priestess of Drenmoragin in the city of Grimstone. She commands the Temple of Drenmoragin and all of the journeymen, apprentices and initiates that call it home. Gallimor is a large woman with thick limbs and a husky voice. She wears her platinum hair in a long braid down her back with sparkling gems and jewelry woven into the braid. Gallimor does not suffer fools and will reprimand a subordinate loudly and publicly. She is arrogant about her skills and position, convinced in her superiority. When reviewing the work of others, she is pedantic and will always find some tiny flaw to criticize. At the same time, she will not accept any critique of her own work. Her position grants her potent spell ability. Ironically, the clockwork golems she has crafted are flawed and use up their power crystals more quickly than they should. She often goes to great ends to acquire power crystals and replace them in the golems to hide this flaw. This is both a blessing and a curse. She craves power and will use spells to impress, but at the same time realizes she is in a city that generally dislikes spell casters. The nobles and authority figures of the city look down upon her magic use and this irritates her endlessly. She is, however, proud of her position, her temple and her faith. She and her subordinates are on good terms with the Black Guild. There is some friction between the Temple of Drenmoragin and the War Guild. Gallinor and Hallam openly dislike each other.
Tyriluk, High Priest of Kael
Tyriluk is a broad and powerfully built half ogre with long curly black hair and a pair of yellow tusks. He wears black robes embroidered with various symbols and runes over plate armor. He rose rapidly through the ranks of the temple and defeated the previous high priest in single combat and has ruled for the last six years, defeating several challengers. Unknown to everyone, Tyriluk is an abberant. His particular aberration involves a form of short-range, limited telepathy. He is aware of the most rudiment surface thoughts of those close to him. It allows him to foresee a melee attack and dodge out of the way, giving him the appearance of lightning quick reflexes. He took an arrow to the throat years ago which damaged his vocal cords. He now speaks in a raspy, gravelly voice. In addition to his throat wound, he has many scars. The most prominent is a long, jagged scar down his chest. It got it in battle with a scythe lizard. Consequently he hates scythe lizards and has hunted them for several years. He has the heads of three scythe lizards mounted on the wall of his private chambers. Tyriluk is a divisive figure within the ranks of the temple. He has many supporters, but just as many enemies as well.
Vargo, The Under Master, Lord of the Tunnels
Vargo is the leader of the Porters Guild and the unofficial ruler of Underward. He is often referred to as the “Lord of the Tunnels”. Although he holds no official title, Vargo rules over the lower gates, the tunnel port and the deepest levels of Underward. The Lord Mayor and the Lord Marshall seem content to let him rule the lower levels. Vargo rarely ventures out from his underground realm. He is a thin, wizened man of great age. His bald head is surrounded by a fringe of dangling grey hair and he wears a perpetual scowl. Vargo is shrewd, intelligent and paranoid. He has a gift for reading people and manipulating them. He has connections with criminal elements throughout the city, both above and below. Virtually nothing happens in the Underward without him being aware of it. Vargo grew up in extreme poverty. He worked his way up through the ranks of the porters through hard work and sheer will. He despises the wealthy and nobility. He often works discreetly against the nobles in the upper city. Likewise, he despises laziness and apathy. Vargo has no wife or children. Instead he views the porter guild as his family and all porters as his children. He is very protective of the guild, right down to the lowliest porter. Vargo is widely respected in the criminal underworld of Grimstone. While not a member of any gang, most gangs of thieves show him respect and defer to his word.
Pogwar the Ugly, Leader of the Bogstone Bandits
Pogwar the Ugly is a heavily deformed org warrior. (Half orc, half ogre). His impressive height is matched only by his enormous girth. His face is deformed as are other parts of him. He has unusually short, stubby fingers. His spine is slightly mishappen. Despite these deformities, he is immensely strong and a skilled fighter. His abnormally thick and wart covered hide acts as a natural armor. He still wears armor and shrugs off blows that would kill a lesser man. Pogwar is the leader of the Bogstone Bandits, a group of criminals that live in the Stench Bog and prey on caravans, travelers and woodsmen. Though they are a small group, they have proven troublesome for the authorities. Pogwar has them move their camp every few weeks. Pogwar grew up in the Underward an orphan, beaten daily and living on scraps. He hates the city of Grimstone and those who live there. He wants to punish Grimstone, to take all that is owed him. He feels no remorse in his banditry. In his view, anyone who willingly travels to or trades with Grimstone is the enemy. The men in his gang are very loyal to him.
The people of Grimstone have a rough and brash reputation. They are known for speaking their mind and being extroverted, open and direct. They are not shy and often quite stubborn. They are less formal here than in many other places. The people of this city put directness before diplomacy and can sometimes come across as blunt.
Grimstone is somewhat notorious as a muddy, grimy and lawless frontier city. Many of the professions conducted here - peat harvesting, charcoaling, mining, stone cutting and metalworking - are all sweaty and dirty work and contribute to this reputation. The general environment of the region, including the mud, the bog and the general dampness of the air, only exacerbates the city’s character.
By much of the rest of the Alliance, the people of Grimstone are looked down upon as poor, uncouth and uncivilized brutes. They are, however, also seen as good fighters and stalwart defenders of the border. Both of these descriptions are accurate. Many have called the people of this city “grim” and joke that this is the origin of the city’s name.
Duels are a common thing in Grimstone and there are laws governing duels here. Personal honor here means that any insult be repaid with steel and blood. While it may be a stretch to say that the warriors of Grimstone are honorable, they do have a certain code of conduct and one’s reputation is important.
Everyone is expected to put in a hard day’s work here. Laziness is looked down upon as are pursuits that produce no tangible product. Academics, literature, poetry, painting and the like are considered frivolous and regarded with contempt. The only music and dance to be found here is the rhythmic war chants of the soldiers and drunken revelry in the taverns. As one can imagine, Grimstone and Vogue could not be more different and they are mutual rivals.
There is very little magic in Grimstone. Wizards are rare here and magic of any kind is generally regarded with suspicion.
The Grimstone Gathering
The largest and most well-known celebration of Grimstone is a three day faire known as the Grimstone Gathering. It is held in the early summer. The highlight of the faire are a series of sporting events including jousting, sword fighting, archery and various contests of strength. The second largest attraction is a formal dance held on the eve of the second day. The fair is held through the city in various plazas. This celebration, and especially the dance, is the social highlight of the year and is attended by most of the nobles and wealthier citizens. Even knights, nobles and merchants from other cities will come to attend.
The Bogfest is a wild three day celebration held a couple of miles east of the city in the wooded stretches of the bog itself. It is filled with food, art, crafts, music and dancing. Many make and sell crafted items here. Crude wooden platforms and small houses have been built in the trees and are reused each year. The Bogfest is known for jesters, face painting, drum circles and puppet shows. Women will braid flowers into their hair. Colorful clothes and fanciful costumes are common. It is a wild and raucous affair. Everyone is welcome to this festival – commoners, beggars, travelers, strangers and so forth. No one is turned away. This festival is held in the early autumn and coincides with the harvest. Farmers will bring huge amounts of food and food is shared communally. This event lasts three days also. The Grimstone Guard increases patrols during the Bogfest to dissuade bandits and orcs and other unpleasantness.
The city walls divide the city into clearly defined districts. Generally speaking, the wealth of residents decreases as one moves outward from the central fortress. The poorest folk live in either the subterranean levels in Grimstone Hill or at the base of the hill in the River Ward.
The Old Ward
This is the oldest part of the city which houses the original fortress and the oldest walls. It is sectioned off from the rest of the city by the first city wall. It is home to the Lord Mayor, the Lord Marshall and various nobles and high council members.
The Guard Ward
The second oldest section of the city. The Grimstone Guard rules this ward and maintains a number of barracks, offices, armories and supply depots in this ward. Stonefast Hall is located here.
The Tower Ward
The Tower Ward is a wealthy district. It is home to several council members and other government officials and a few wealthy merchants. It is named for the tall stone homes here which are often peaked by central towers. This ward also has several gardens and a few impressive statues. Finally, it is home to a major temple to Drenmoragin and several smaller shrines to other deities.
The Shale Ward
A middle class, mostly residential area. Named for the houses, many of which are built with local shale. This ward has a small community park.
The Ash Ward
The ash ward is the section of the city that suffered the most during the great fire. It was completely wiped out. After the fire, it was rebuilt and renamed. It is a middle class ward home to many craftsmen. Some of the older walls and structures here still bear scars from the fire. A large monument here filled with over 300 names commemorates the citizens who died in the great fire.
The Trade Ward
The trade ward is a middle class section which is home to numerous merchants, businesses, shops and guild offices. This ward has a few nice taverns and inns and is also home to the city's main market plaza known as Bloodstone Square (see below).
The Iron Ward
The iron ward is home to ore warehouses, black smiths, metal workers, smelters and other craftsmen. The Black Guild has it's offices here. As peat is the primary source of fuel used to heat the forges, this city area has a rather pleasant smell.
Underward refers to "the under ward"... that is the ward under the city. Underward refers to the tunnels and chambers within Grimstone Hill. Once a flourishing mining operation, it is now the poorest region of Grimstone. It is a vast labyrinth of narrow corridors, winding tunnels, stairs, shafts and flickering torchlight. It is easy for newcomers to get lost in here. Underward is also home to some of the poorest folk. Anyone who can’t afford to live in the city above can usually find some place to sleep down here. And, as the locals say, at least they don’t have to worry about the rain. Underward is a mix of residential and business. It is home to several thousand who dwell in either private chambers, apartment complexes or communal sleeping chambers. But Underward is also home to several businesses, seedy taverns and low quality inns. Most things here are very cheap. Many porters live in Underward. Cargo from the tunnel (see below) and water from the river need to be carried up to the city manually. Water, especially, is constantly needed in the city above. It's back breaking work, but it is a continuous source of income for many in Underward. Crime is common in here as are beggars, thieves and gangs. The Grimstone Guard conducts patrols in Underward. This is more to protect the flow of cargo and water than for any concern for those who live here.
The River Ward
The river ward is a cluster of small huts, ramshackle hovels and shanties that lie clustered between the cliffwall of Grimstone Hill and the banks of the river. This area is home to fishermen, dock workers, porters, farmhands, gamblers, prostitutes, thieves and smugglers. River boats stop by here to drop off or pick up cargo and passengers. The river ward has a few seedy taverns and warehouses. Like Underward, this area is extremely poor. Beggars and homeless here sleep in pigsties or under the stairs, clustered around communal cook pots. When truly bad storms come, most seek shelter indoors or in Underward.
Bloodstone Square is the name of the largest plaza in the city. It is located at the very center of the hill top and is the largest open space in the city. Bloodstone Square is named for the fact that executions are done here and blood has been spilled on the flagstones of this plaza many times throughout the city’s history. Besides public executions, this place is often the site of criers yelling out the daily news, important announcements from the High Council and so forth. It is also sometimes the site of major events, dances, outdoor banquets and such. It has several statues lining the perimeter walkway representing heroes and leaders from the city’s past. The square is often filled with merchants, traders and vendors hawking their wares. Crowds of hundreds will come to shop. Numerous taverns and businesses line the edges of this market square. At one edge of the square is the public execution platform and beside it a frequently used pillory.
The West Road and Gate House
The main road to Grimstone approaches from the west. It connects Grimstone to the town of Highbridge. The road rises up as it approaches Grimstone Hill. It goes through several switchbacks as it climbs the steep hillside. The road ends at the top at an impressively large gate house. A drawbridge spanning a deep chasm connects to the city's west gate. This is the main entrance to the city. Most visitors, pilgrims, nobles and so forth enter the city through this gate. Large caravans tend to enter through the River Gate (see below). South, west and north of Grimstone Hill are farms, fields, orchards and vineyards.
The River Gate, the Bog Gate and the Tunnel
There is a tunnel that runs from east to west through the base of Grimstone Hill. This tunnel connects to Underward within the hill. The tunnel is sealed by immense iron gates at each end which can be closed during an attack or siege. The gate facing west is called the River Gate, because of its proximity to the river and the River Ward. The other gate, facing east, is called the Bog Gate for the great Stench Bog which it faces. Most of the time the River Gate is open. Large caravans and merchant traders coming from the Drakkellian Alliance will enter the River Gate, proceed into the great tunnel and unload their cargo. The tunnel is very much a "port of entry". It is usually filled with caravans, traders and government officials checking cargos. Porters carry the cargo up an immense spiral stone staircase through Underward to the hill top city high above. Porters are also constantly carrying water from the river up the same stairs.
East of Grimstone is a no man's land of small forests, muddy fields, fens and marshes that grow wetter and more swamp-like the further one goes east into the great Stench Bog. The road leading east of Grimstone's Bog Gate is a dirt road that runs to mud in the rain. It meanders through the swamp eventually crossing the river over a stone bridge and veering south toward the town of Battle Mound. The Grimstone Guard routinely sends small units out through the Bog Gate to patrol the east road and bog. The Bog Gate is kept closed. The gate opens for guard patrols and the occasional caravan or traveler from Battle Mound or Garrison. But generally speaking, there is much less traffic through the Bog Gate than there is through the River Gate.
To supplement the city's water needs, there are dozens of huge cisterns in the upper city. These collect rain water during the frequent storms that lash the city in the late autumn and winter. The water is then filtered by means of charcoal and made potable. These cisterns provide water for important buildings of the city and some fill public water troughs. However, the cisterns do not provide enough water for the city's needs and so porters are still needed to carry water up from the river. This is especially true during the summer.
Grimstone has no proper sewer system. Bedpans and other sources of waste water are flung into the streets. Most streets have gutters that carry rainwater and waste water to channels that lead to spouts at the city's edge where the waste water simply falls down the steep sides of Grimstone Hill.
Grimstone streets are illuminated by street lights which consist of an oil lantern with a large oil reservoir. The street lights burn shale oil, which Grimstone has in abundance. The fumes from shale oil are foul which contribute to Grimstone's noxious atmosphere.
The City Crypts
It has long been tradition to burn the dead in Grimstone. This is sometimes done on outdoor pyres and sometimes in huge stone furnaces within the city. Afterward, the ashes are interned in the city crypt. Cremation is done here because the hill top city has limited space for cemetaries and the ground in this region is swampy, prone to flooding and not good for burials.
There are several small gangs of thieves and smugglers that operate in the city of Grimstone, though none have managed to organize themselves into a wealthy and powerful criminal guild as of yet. This is, perhaps, because of the efficiency and strength of the Grimstone Guard and the ruthlessness with which the city deals with criminals.
Known criminal gangs operating within Grimstone and the surrounding area include: the Forsaken, the Bogstone Bandits, the Mudders, Ramsay's Renegades, the Fen Guard, Praezar's Pirates, the Revenants, the Penniless, the Stonehearts and the Iron Princes. Most of these groups are involved in a variety of thievery, burglary, banditry and smuggling. None of them have more than 50 members. These various groups occasionally cooperate, but more often clash with each other over territorial disputes and so forth.
|Name and Proprietor||Description|
|Home of the Lost Dog
|Inn/Tavern - The largest and most popular inn/tavern in the city of Grimstone. The establishment is named after the owner's lost dog that has been missing for years. So distraught was Rasko over the loss of his dog, that he renamed his inn. Over the years, a number of dishes, drinks, special events, promises and declarations have developed around the legend of this missing dog.|
|The Greasy Spoon Tavern
|Tavern - Run by Jomas, a skinny and short human male with a forked beard and a balding head. He is very talkative and friendy, to the point of annoying the customers. The ale here is watered down and the food is bland, but both are cheap. The roof leaks and rats scurry under foot. An old dog named Critter sleeps in the corner, snoring blissfully. A half elf bard who goes by the name Twig, who seems to be a permanent resident here, often sits on a corner by the bar, strumming out tunes on an old, out-of-tune lyre. The typical meal here is a “bowl of brown and a crust of bread”. The “brown” is a stew of some sort which seems to be a mix of burnt vegetables, questionable meat and grease. For those with very little money, this place can provide a warm fire and a cheap meal.|
|The Bandit's Blade
|Brewery/Pub - Krayger is a former bandit turned barkeep and business man. He professes frequently on the virtures of hard work and an honest day’s labor. He received aid from the church of Drenmoragin and is now one of their most vocal supporters. Priests of Drenmoragin get their food and drinks at half price. The food and drinks here are average quality and price. The tavern is named for the sword that hangs over the bar, a reminder of his ill spent youth “wasted on banditry, thievery and whoring”. The ironic truth is that he did not retire, but is in fact a member of a local thieves guild and they hold weekly meetings in the back. Right under the nose of the priests of Drenmoragin. This is a good tavern for thieves to make contact with the local underworld.|
|The Ornery Orc
|Tavern - Located in the River Ward, this tavern is run by a half orc named Krajath. He has a perpetual scowl on his face and a demeanor to match. The Grimstone Guard soldiers avoid this place and do most decent folks. The few half orcs and half ogres in town tend to congregate here along with a motley assortment of ruffians, mercenaries, thugs and thieves. The food and ale are average quality. This is a good place to make contact with the underworld, or get your pocket picked. An enormous stone hearth dominates one end of the drinking room.|
|The Rolling Coin
|Inn - An inn for travelers and merchants located in the River Ward, just outside the town's west gate. Rooms are small and sparsely furnished and the food is mediocre at best. However, the prices are cheap. This inn, located in the River Ward just outside the West Gate, caters to travelers, pilgrims and merchant caravans. The usual clientele is a mix of travelers, merchants and caravan guards. The rooms here are small and sparsely furnished and the food is mediocre at best. However, the prices are cheap and the doors have good locks on them. Boldan, the innkeeper, is a fat man with curly red hair and a thick moustache. He has a gravelly voice and a sour disposition. He always seems to be complaining about something – the rats, the leaky roof, etc. He claims to have once run an inn in the upper city, but was forced out of business by an unscrupulous business partner. Boldan has a fear of ogres and a hatred of elves, although he won’t say why. Boldan is unmarried and has no children. He runs the inn with the help of a stable boy, a house maid, a serving wench and a cook.|
|Name and Proprietor||Description|
|The Five Hammers Plaza
|Blacksmith - The Five Hammers Plaza is a small collection of five shops all built around a central plaza between them. These five shops are home to various blacksmiths and metal workers. The group is lead by Othgar the armorer, but also includes Udo the shieldsmith, Rynhal the bladesmith, Volgus the blacksmith and Arrik the hilt maker. Between the five of them, there is no metal craft they cannot accomplish. They claim to be the best smiths in the city and frequently taken custom jobs. Othgar himself produces armor for the officers of the Grimstone Guard.|
|Waldemar's Fine Pelts
|Tailor - Waldemar and his wife, Celuna, opened this small shop years ago as a simple clothing shop. Waldemar is a master tailor and Celuna is a seamstress. The shop has since expanded by adding a furrier, a second seamstress and a cordwainer. The shop now sells all manner of fine furs and pelts, fur lined clothing, cloaks, dresses, tunics, surcoats and so forth. But it sells fur lined boots, fancy shoes, slippers and other footwear. Its usual clientele tends to be merchants, priests, noble and other members of the upper class. Waldemar enjoys mingling with the upper class and wants to join them. He curries favor with the nobles where he can and is not above lying, deceit and backstabbing. He dreams of one day obtaining a title of nobility for himself and his wife. He is not above scheming and plotting to make it happen.|
|Samakar's Stone Shoppe
|Stone Mason and Pottery - Samakar is the only urta in the city of Grimstone. He is a master stone mason who runs a small shop in the Ash Ward along with Marruk, a potter. The shop is filled with finely carved statuettes, glazed bowls, marble figurines, crystal encrusted vases and other stoneware. Samakar, like all urtas, is a tall and spindly fellow with knobby growths on his skin. Maruk is a very short and pot-bellied human with greasy black hair who tends to be quiet. They are an odd pair, but fast friends. Both men are quite skilled in their respective crafts. Because of his appearance, Samakar is feared and distrusted by many. Rumors whispered in taverns talk of a curse on Samakar for consorting with dark spirits. Years ago, Samakar was the object of scorn, ridicule and bullying. That changed a few years ago when Sixfinger Sam took over the Stoneheart thieves gang. For unknown reasons, Sixfinger Sam has declared the shop off limits. None of the Stoneheart thieves are allowed to rob this shop. Furthermore, Sixfinger has intimidated most of the rival gangs to do the same. Six months ago, a drunken merchant harassed and attacked Samakar. The merchant was found dead the next morning, his chest split open and a stone lodged where his missing heart should have been. These days, when doing business with Samakar, people tend to be very polite..|
|The Stout and Tight Barrel Shoppe
|Cooper/Carpenter - This large shop in the trade ward is filled with every kind of container imaginable – barrels, casks, boxes, crates, baskets and so forth. Dresler is chiefly a cooper, a maker of barrels, but has branched out over the years. He is an exceptional carpentry and can make just about anything with wood. He will gladly take on custom carpentry projects and lends his skills to the city employed carpenters who maintain the fortress and city. Dresler purchases wood from local foresters on market day, but is especially interested in obtaining certain rarer woods from trees deep in the bog and will pay highly for such wood. His wife, Muryl, weaves elaborate baskets from various bog reeds and weeds. Dresler is a drinker and a gambler and both of these habits have landed him in debt to the Iron Princes, one of the local thieves guilds. He is now working off his debt by manufacturing boxes and crates with hidden boxes, part of an elaborate smuggling scheme for the guild. He is desperate to pay off his debt before he becomes too entangled with criminals.|
|Sorganya's Herbals and Aromatics
|Apothacarist and Herbal Remedies - This small dank shop sells a wide range of plants, flowers and a wide variety of plant derived goods. Everything from soap and perfume to poultices, liniments, salves, healing herbs, potions and so forth. The shop is run by Sorganya and Brethel, a pair of aging half orc sisters.|
|The Hunter's Bazarr
|Meat and Fish Market - This establishment is located in the River Ward and is run by a branch of the Far Rangers. Hunters, far rangers and other woodsmen will bring back kills for processing. They place skins and butchers the animals, prepares the pelts, mounts the heads and so forth. Feral pigs are common in the swamp and are the most common animal processed here. The bazarr sells furs, pelts, leather, meat, teeth, claws and other parts of the animals. They also sell rendered animal fat to the local candlemakers for making tallow candles. Finally, several of the men here specialize in catching, dressing and selling a local species of swamp catfish. These monstrosites are vaguely eel-like and can grow up to 20 feet long. They have a strongly flavored oily meat. The work that takes place here causes a horrid stench. The place always smells terrible. This is one reason why it is in the River Ward and a good distance from other buildings.|
|The Public Baths
|Bath house/Club - This establishment is located in the upper city in the Tower Ward. It is a large stone building that holds dozens of huge wooden tubs. A huge resevoir on the roof provides water for the different rooms through a network of pipes. Large cauldrons heat the water. Baths are quite expensive here due to the cost of bringing water to the upper city and a single bath uses much more water than cooking. A bath here comes with servants, hots water, soaps, perfumres, warm towels and so forth. It is an experience. Hence a bath here is a gold piece. Only those upper elite can afford to bathe here. This makes the entire establishment more of a private social club. One does not need bathe alone. For a few coins more, a client can have a prostitute with the bath.|
Rumors commonly circulate in Grimstone as they do in any major city. Common rumors that frequently make the rounds here include:
This page last updated Wednesday, January 15, 2020 . Copyright 1990-2009 David M. Roomes.