Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Location: Castle von Stieglitz: Front Grounds

The Castle von Stieglitz is located in a broad valley deep within the Cyrűk Mountains along the northeast shore of the Old Bay. Its isolated location has provided Baron von Stieglitz and his militia of seventy-five men an outpost for their nefarious operations for decades. Despite being universally feared, the citizens of neighboring towns joyously attend the annual St. Zyekni's Day festivities.

The enormous Castle von Stieglitz offers an impressive counterpoint to the distant mountains surrounding this broad valley. Atop a slightly inclining hill, its stonework glows in the afternoon sun. Normally a festive occasion, the castle grounds are abnormally quiet for this St. Zyekni's Day. The trees within the complex are early in their barrenness, despite the planned celebration of autumn harvest season. There is no welcoming party, save a flock of ravens perched by the hundreds in the defoiled arbors. Other ravens pirouette about the main steps, rending pieces of cloth from one another's beaks.

If the characters approach the ravens, they fly off, landing on the multi-stepped rooftops of the giant stone structure, calling out to their brethren. The players should feel a sense of approaching horror in this scene. If the characters examine the cloth, they notice that it was once a tunic, but there is no sign of the disrobed.

Map update to follow...

The front door is locked and barricaded from the other side, so the characters will most likely attempt to explore the grounds at the rear of the castle.

Behind the scenes: In his isolation, Baron von Stieglitz has allowed himself to become corrupted by dark, sinister, undead forces. His greed led him down a path of self ruin until he himself became a Wight. He has no plans to trap the party, or even the townspeople, otherwise he would hold the annual celebration as usual. He is so currupted, he has not left his bed chamber in months. The allegiances of his men have splintered, and the rival factions have set up their own mini-baronies within his lands. The party will most likely have enountered at least two of these factions, both claiming dominance over the lands, and requiring tariffs on all things traversing the road the parallels the Rychlý (Rapid) River from the lands to the northeast of the Cyrűk Mountains to the port town of Onuago. This will lead the characters to wonder who holds dominion. The answer is, it's up for grabs, much like Russia after the Cold War.

Faction leaders include:
  • Karl Underharl, an ex-knight turned robber baron when his wife left him for a more famous knight, who is followed by men similarly cuckolded.
  • Yevgeny Divoký the Fierce, an ethnic Wyndm-folk, whose followers mostly include other Wyndm-folk.
  • Petry Pokrm the Dish-eater, a man of unknown origin who fought himself out of the slums of Onuago when he was brought to the town to work as a slave as a young boy, whose followers are mostly of thug origin.
  • Anna červená, a tall, hardy woman who has fought her way up through the ranks to be the second-in-command in the Baron's militia, often called "the Baronness" in jest by men whose respect she hadn't earned. All those men are dead now. Her closest followers are those who were most loyal to the Baron himself.
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