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Rum Town: slums of Ferris

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This ramshackle section of Freeport is effectively walled off from the rest of the city. No less than fourteen watchtowers and gatehouses monitor egress and entry to Rum Town. Within its narrow dark streets the seediest parts of Ferris operate. A small section of waterfront takes in various goods and people from sea travel. Rum Town was once a royal distillery that grew its rare crops within the protection of its walled fortifications. A fire was set by Krakmoor saboteurs, when the delta was being fought over, and it was ruined. After the battle for Ferris was won by the Iron Claw forces the area was sold off with subsidies for building tenements with more than a dozen living quarters. The poor and criminal moved in and were thus contained by the existing walls – as was planned all along. That was centuries ago and Rum Town has festered away to the point where the watch rarely enter its walls.

Trivia: “A Tale of Rum Town” is set almost entirely within the walls of this ward.

Rum Town is notorious around the Bay of Carnarvon as the seediest place in the Kingdom of Iron Claw but within its own confines are the infamous Warrens. An arcing mile on the west of Rum Town where the oldest and most run-down tenements lean over the narrow streets. Buildings here look threatening to fall and some are clearly propped against others or even the wall itself where the stone is within reach. The Warrens is a mix of abandoned buildings, squatters, and ruins that is an urban wilderness for the most dangerous. A gang that strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest Rum Towner, called The Shrikes, masses like a swarm against intruders after dark. Some say that there are even goblins in the Warrens but few believe the homeless that tell such tales.


Rum Town update

Designer notes: I put this map together as an experimental “grunge” style. It ain’t too bad.

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Quarry Town: ward of Ferris

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Almost a satellite of Ferris this town is like Picton but on a larger and more independent scale. Bordering Quarry Town are some of the finest wineries in all of Iron Claw. It is a peaceful place with a disproportionately large amount of watchmen and guards. Forestry reserves stretch for miles amidst the fertile farms. Hunting lodges and Inns are common here to cater for minor aristocrats passing through or getting away from their duties in the city.

The old quarries to the west of Quarry Town are the subject of strange rumours. Local hunters whisper over their ales that aristocrats bring in strange beasts, and even giants, for sport – using the old quarries to prevent their prey’s escape. Most people not in their cups simply laugh. As if no-one else would notice giants being brought into the area.


Quarry Town_Ferris


The Lateriders Inns are a collection of small inns and stables that cater for those who don’t make it to Ferris before the gates are locked for the night. Some are owned by the coaching lines in case of those times where a wheel breaks or the road is obstructed and their coaches are delayed. Guests usually stay for free, in such situations, if there is room but meals are pricey for what they are.


Old Gatehouse was once the northern portal into Ferris. It is almost a fortress in its own right and has now become a barracks and stable for the guard. They are often out riding about the city’s northern walls drilling their cavalry and footmen to keep them in excellent fighting condition. The hill fort nearby is on one of the many spires of old volcanic rock that penetrate the area. It is nearly 200 feet above the river and provides an excellent view for miles in all directions.

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Port Stricknish: whaling city

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A whaling city whose people are mixed blood northman and tundra people. Large hearty men with strong backs toil on ships and in dangerous long boats. They hunt sperm whales for meat but most of all the precious head oil & ambergris. Death and injury are common and many fall back to carving whalebone and trading their wares: needles, chests, combs, jewellery boxes, etc. The whales come to feed on the seemingly endless swarms of herring that mass in the bay a few leagues from the mouth of the Stricknish River. These herring also feed the populace, salted, smoked, rolled, spiced, and pickled. Some travellers call it Port Stinkfish, and visitors quickly find out why.


Port Stricknish and surrounds


Port Stricknish location



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Olstenbridge: Noble House

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Rigid and militaristic are the two strongest characteristics of the Olstenbridge nobility. The sons are all schooled in the knightly way and many members have won favour through acts of courage or chivalry. However many sons have fallen on the field of battle and Olstenbridge as a house is beginning to wane. Currying favour is not easy for one who expects just reward for just effort and it is now that the family come to the game of politics they have the realisation they are late studies. Duke Olstenbridge of Port Lenongard leads the catch up in the courtly game of wiles.


Trivia: in the novel, “A Tale of Rum Town” the Grissom Delvers completed a mission to recover an Olstenbridge family heirloom before wintering in the city.

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Nihles Reach

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Nihles Reach

A large narrow bay, from two to thirty miles wide, reaches into the eastwards into the continent. From the Bay of Carnarvon it stretches for over two hundred miles to the sand bank that is the mouth of Lake Nihles. Here freshwater meets salt and many fish feed on the great wealth of plankton and nutrients. Lake Nihles is nearly always fresh, fed by the Nihles River that drains a catchment of mountain ranges to the east and south. This area has a much milder climate than the rest of the Kingdom of Iron Claw. Warmer summers and winters with little snow support long cropping seasons. Combined with the vast resources of fish in the murky water of the Reach it is a naturally rich area that brings a wealth of food for the cities of Nihles and Van Olaf, and exports to many others.


 Nihles Reach


Nihles Reach_location



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Mercenary Units

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Mighty Griffons

Overview: This company of giant-hunters is kept on permanent retainer to the Duke of Krakmoor. They are stationed in Krank, a town in the Berretain Hills south of Krakmoor City. Troopers work closely with Krakmoor rangers and soldiers in hunting down rogue bands of giants, ogres or bandits of any description. Attrition is quite high but recruits come from many lands to join.
Weapons: sabre guisarme, arbalest, flamberge
Hallmarks: movement discipline, flanking, fake retreats

Fenloch’s Bane

Overview: A Hrostic company famed for city-fighting and breaking sieges. Fenloch was an apparently immortal warlord who was trying to expand into the southern reaches of the Krin territories. The company, at the time under a different name, routed the forces of Fenloch, pursued and slew the warlord, achieving what was once thought impossible and henceforth gained this name in memory.
Weapons: heavy short bows, blowguns, leather-covered chain armour
Hallmarks: all members carry coils of rope, skill in ambush and trap-setting

Eighth Regiment of Marn

Overview: A Hrostic company of heavy infantry known for siege breaking, tackling cavalry, and general discipline. There are no other regiments, the number being the iteration of the company’s form and leadership.
Weapons: goat’s foot crossbows, leaf-bladed long spears, flanged flails
Hallmarks: quality steel heavy infantry plate armour

Gunnar Brashahari’s Mercenary Company

Overview: a tightly knit group of men and half-castes under the leadership of a frighteningly capable half-ogre. They are said to have never lost a battle and are thought of as the most effective mercenaries available. The premium of their audience is 100gp with contract costs to be added to that.
Weapons: bisento, falchion, bronze wall shields, horseman’ s bows
Hallmarks: sallet helms with a ridge from nasal to nape, heavy mail armour, Shentar warhorses

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Where it all began. (aka. My oldest RPG material)

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The first adventures in Khara Thel took place in the Kingdom of Ferromaine. They were off to the east of the island around a small town called Barton. Adventurers would buy supplies after their long journey to the edge of the tundra. Then they would head into the Orancarx Deathtrap. A relic from the Age of Magi where they’d construct elaborate tombs as challenges to the inevitable tomb-robbers. At least those who stole from them would be worthy of the loot.


Ferromaine_first adventures

The trip to Barton was mostly from the capital, Excelsior: itself a large city full of intrigue with ancient noble houses plotting against each other for control of the various merchant houses. Underneath it all the various guilds, and organized crime gangs who masquerade as guilds, vie for the patronage of the rich in their dirty schemes. Its location on a delta of marshy islands, the confluence of the Great River and the Silverweb River, make it full of little canals, bridges, and high-walkways for the noble-classes to walk above the hoi-poloi and their stench.

Travelling to Barton was most often done along the coast. The mountains called the Fangharad Peaks are a harsh barrier and it doesn’t help that the pilgrim’s trail to Lake Chinata passes the chasm. Tales blame the chasm as the source of monsters that hunt the Fangharad Peaks and spread into the old forests.

The coast road is much safer. It passes through many villages and a few large towns. Badonium is a city in decline. It once rivalled the capital, Excelsior, but has fallen into despair. Its people seem unable to improve their lot, or even keep it from getting worse, a malaise is in the spirit of Badonium.

The road turns to a muddy trail that passes through the great swamps between Windemere and Promontory Point. It is as if the lake is growing, slowly claiming more of the land, turning it to swamp, and then submerging it. For this reason traders have been using ships instead of the wagons between Shoreton & Windemere and Promontory Point.

Barton is still a few days away from Promontory Port by land but at least the journey is near the sea and there are a few hamlets of fisherfolk who brave the cold winds of Barren Sound.

Once in Barton, the Orancarx Deathtrap is a full day’s hard ride to the west, on the edge of the Orancarx Range. There is a small trader out the front who has built a store out of his gypsy wagon. They say he has the protection of all his ancestral grandmothers, each of them gypsy witches, and none dare bother him. He trades items from those who delve the depths and what he does with them is a mystery; but he always has currency. Yet he seems lonely, or very friendly, and is always willing to talk and offer recipes for making tasty meals out of mundane trail provisions.

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Lugzhul, race

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Hybrids of Orc and Trolls are known as Lugzhul. They are more common than surface dwellers would think possible. Lugzhul are large, hulking Goblinoids with thick resilient hides. Bright light can cause paralysis or stun a Lugzhul. In communities dominated by Hobgoblins they are often slain at birth to be eaten by the rulers. Lugzhul are lacking in higher intellect but are smart enough to learn a spoken language better than a troll. In some citadels Lugzhul are raised as Tharkhor heavy infantry and in this role they excel.

Height: 7’4” to 9’6”

Average lifespan: unknown but a few Sages’ studies of corpses suggests 80 years


d20: Large creatures (+8 Str), +4 Str

Base hit dice: 6

-2 Wis, –3 Int, –5 Cha

daylight dazes
-4 to saves involving light-based attacks

Skin is DR:3, physical, cold and fire

Natural armour: AC +6
Unconsciousness at -5 hit points
Perfect darkvision (see as human in daylight)

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What has been explored in play?


Jensan from Rustfoot asked what areas have been played in, within Khara Thel. So I’ve made up a map to show those places. Most gaming has occurred in the kingdom of Iron Claw & its protectorates – the various borderlands, city-state of Phrad, and all along the Nihles Reach.

The overview looks like this:



When we zoom in on Iron Claw we see a bit more detail:

Iron Claw Gaming Areas

Lots of overland journeys and sea-travels.

The cities most visited are:

Phrad in the SW of the map

Ferris, near the centre – which is also the setting of my novel “A Tale of Rum Town“.

If you want more information about these places download the Khara Thel – Worldbook System Neutral Draft. It contains details on all the towns and cities as well as information about their environs – as well as armour, weapons, magic, items, people and the rest of the world.

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Khara Hrost, the greatest city

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Official Title: Sovereign City-State of Khara Hrost

A small but very influential island in the middle of the Hrostic Ocean is the source of the greatest architects, masons, scholars and mercenary companies of great repute and ability. The island is nearly one quarter built up citadel of stone in which live almost all the inhabitants. Labyrinthine and reaching high the buildings are sprawled above, around and through each other to create a cityscape unlike any other. Flying buttresses carry avenues a hundred feet from the ground through the arch of an aqueduct that runs from a cistern above a university.


khara hrost

Other such vistas are the gift of those that can visit Khara Hrost to walk about and marvel at the engineering and masonry. The west of the island is farming lands, rich and dark volcanic loams grow excellent produce all year round in the warm-moist climate. A common occurrence in farming on Khara Hrost is the growth of giant produce from normal seed. The explanation is earthnodes that appear in the subsurface soil of the island and affect young plants. Farmers have since bred giant varieties of some vegetables that are now a stable strain.

Khara Hrost is a sovereign city-state ruled by a council of elite known as the Cerra. The Cerra is composed of 21 councillors, all of whom are experts in one particular field. Candidate members of the Cerra are tested in a protected chamber within the Grey Ziggurat; the central administration building of Khara Hrost. Candidates who pass are reviewed by the existing member or, should there be no existing member, panel reviewed by the other Cerra. Two candidates are then put to testing in a second chamber within the Grey Ziggurat and the one who walks out is given the membership. The one who doesn’t is usually hospitalised for a number of days and cannot remember the testing.

The 22 fields of the Cerra: architecture, art, farming, logistics, plumbing, military strategy, naval strategy, food storage, medicine, information gathering, libraries, quarrying, tunnelling, tax & tolls, banking, education, welfare, sewerage & works, transportation, mortal magic, alchemy and dark arts.

Hrostic exports are bulk exotic plant materials, healing herbs & preparations, skilled personnel, Hrostic steel (high steel) and many other highly-produced goods.

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