Built on the coast between a lush forest and calm waters, the village of Craobh Agus’tur is an old settlement home to a few hundred people, consisting of farmers, shipwrights and mages going about their daily lives in peace. Here, the weather is pleasant, the waters calm and the people productive.
Although none would consider it a wealthy place, the people are well-clothed and few go hungry.
It wasn’t long ago when war cast its long shadow over the town, leading to the death of dozens of people and the destruction of many homes.
The population was predominantly human, until gnomish refugees fled the strife further inland and made their stand with the people of Craobh Agus’tur against their attackers. Now, in the aftermath, they’re building new homes here after losing everything but their lives. All of the residents of this village work together and look out for each other, a community forged in the fires of war which only grows stronger by the day.
Travelers are generally welcome, though some who walk the streets will cast a nervous eye at any newcomers, still wary of those from outside the town after recent dark events. Craobh Agus’tur is loosely governed by prominent members in town, such as the wizard Ichorath, the Dockmaster Corin Blackwell, and the Guard Captain Mothus Barkton, but the unlikely person everyone defers to is Meadmaster Fuzzington, who offers wise counsel and general good advice to those running the town, even if he deplores the role.
This is a vast, blackened stump towering over the southern part of town, the charred remains of the beloved First Tree, which had been planted here centuries ago when the town was founded. It was one of the first casualties of the recent war, it’s massive bulk absorbing flaming arrows and catapult barrages aimed at the town. In a way, the sacrifice of this great tree was instrumental in the town’s survival, buying the defenders time to counterattack and disable the enemy.
The stump now stands here as a solemn reminder of what was lost. Small shrines can be seen dotted around its base, or carved into the blackened wood to remember those who were lost during the fight, and fresh flowers are frequently left here to commemorate their lives.
Following the winding coast road into town reveals a small community nestled around what the locals call the Second Tree, magically grown from a seed recovered from the smoking stump of the First Tree. Even with the application of magic to speed its growth, it stands less than half the height of the original, but it is healthy, green and vibrant, embodying the hope for a better future the people of Craobh Agus’tur share in the wake of the war.
The Party Hall
While times have been grim of late, festivities are never in short supply as The Party Hall usually has some kind of celebration going on. A big place with lots of public and private rooms, it was known for drinking, dancing and debauchery long before the war descended upon the town.
Operated by the vivacious Celeste Del Tara, she and her staff enjoy life and encourage people to revel in it, and to get on with living after the darkness that came to Craobh Agus’tur. This often results in rather boisterous affairs, and a few select days a year are devoted to public days of celebration, where the party spills out of the hall and into the streets, for all to enjoy. Such affairs are rarely well remembered, since most of the town becomes roaring drunk and the following day is spent cleaning up the mess they made.
Far from being a simple rural village, Craobh Agus’tur is also home to the College of Mages, where young aspirants showing a spark of magical skill are taught by the venerable wizard Ichorath in the ways of the arcane arts. The size of the place suggests that in times past, there were several dozen students here at any given time, but recently only a handful have been studying the arcane arts, at least until the injection of new, inquisitive minds with the arrival of the gnomes.
Now, the place is packed with people eagerly experimenting with magic, under the tutelage of Ichorath and a few other trusted teachers. Thought to be close to retirement, the wizard has been given purpose anew with the influx of students.
The Second Tree is home to a nest of wyverns, bred and trained by the talented Nadia Vesper who’s steely demeanor reflects her iron will. Although the community was initially cautious about the prospect of homing such powerful beasts, Nadia has proven their worth and the locals consider these creatures to be a useful addition to Craobh Agus’tur’s character, not to mention a powerful new defense.
Not far from the College is Meadmaster Fuzzington’s Meadery, a rustic and homely old building where the owner’s home brews are served to eager customers. There is accommodation out the back for travelers to rest, and although the rooms aren’t large, they are cozy and exquisitely furnished. The beverages served here are of such quality and flavor that travelers come from miles around to sample Fuzzington’s legendary brews.
This cave opens into a large cavern, which is used to grown mushrooms for an assortment of applications. Some are grown for general consumption, while other varieties provide “interesting” effects, often used in The Party Hall to provide the celebrants with a little extra kick. It is known that the cavern is connected to a series of tunnels that descend into the earth, though nobody alive today has explored them completely.
Unceremoniously placed along the road into town, this patch of land is littered with the broken equipment from those who were fought back by Craobh Agus’tur’s tireless defenders. Nothing here is intact, but the pieces of magic items, weapons and armor can be seen rusting away in the pile, along with other refuse from the town. The smell is what people would expect from a pile of junk, but there are a few brave souls in town who pick over the discarded refuse looking for valuable trinkets.
The docks on the shore are always bustling with activity, as new supplies are brought in to continue the rebuilding effort, and produce from the town’s farms and mushroom caves are exported to hungry customers abroad. The hammering and sawing of shipwrights assembling a new vessel are often heard, and the town does a lively business constructing new ships to take its wares to places near and far.
At the far end of town, more serious activities are pursued. A large field called the Battleground is used for new recruits and traveling mercenaries to train in weapons and tactics, and to prepare for the time when the town must defend itself again. There has been a surge of interest lately, especially from the gnomish refugees who wish to learn how to defend themselves and their loved ones, should they be called to fight once more.
The thirty soldiers of Craobh Agus’tur are led by Captain Mothus Barkton, a grumpy, unshaven lout who was a common soldier during the war, but has now found himself in charge of the town’s defenses. He’s a decent trainer and fierce fighter, but he lacks the social grace and magnetic personality required for a true leader. Thus, when hard pressed, he will defer to the judgment of others in town rather than risk his own skin.
Large fields of crops are grown in this area, with farmers producing a wide assortment of grains and vegetables, such as wheat, corn, pumpkin and potatoes. Pigs and goats are also grown here, providing a steady source of food for the town, and for export to other places along the coast.
The old mage Ichorath lives in this tower, made with transparent walls on the eastern side of the Second Tree. The magic he used to build this wondrous design allows him to sit and gaze for hours upon the green hills and blue waters around Craobh Agus’tur, or turn them opaque with a gesture to grant him some privacy now and then.
It is understood he has a large collection of books and magical paraphernalia locked within his magical tower, and while reluctant to share power, he would likely share knowledge with those in need.
The College of Mages
“We must always ensure the absolute best education for our students. If that means we must step in to protect the town, as loathsome dabbling in politics is, I say we do what must be done to preserve our esteemed College.”–Icorath, Grand Wizard of the College of Mages
Teachers and scholars all, the men and women who impart magical knowledge to a new generation of arcane students have little interest in manipulating affairs to their advantage.
Indeed, if they put their minds and collective will to the task, they could easily dominate the day-to-day operations of Craobh Agus’tur, but to these middle-aged scholars, that sounds like an awful lot of work.
The College Dean is Kalist Edin, a kindly a respected woman who is effectively the second in charge, after the wizard Ichorath.
The Dockers Guild
“Whatever we do to maximize our profits, we must not–under any circumstances–incur the wrath of the community. To best achieve this I propose we rebuild the town’s fleet, so we have control of the flow of goods to and from Craobh Agus’tur…”–Corin Blackwell, Merchant and Black Marketeer
The continued operation of the docks is paramount to the rebuilding of town, and those who operate the docks know this very well.
Led by Corin Blackwell, his shipwrights work hard to build and repair ships, as well as ensure the loading and unloading of merchant vessels is undertaken efficiently.
Sometimes goods go missing without a trace, and the dockers are quick to charge a recovery fee if the owner is desperate enough to want it back.
“I refuse to roll over and let us be treated as if we are on uneven footing with the other members of this town. We must be firm in asserting ourselves for our continued survival!”–Brialla, Spokeswoman of the Gnomes
Led by the strong-willed Brialla, the gnomish survivors have formed a strong bond with each other, and they tend to act as one with Brialla as their spokeswoman. Though grateful for the shelter and help they have received in town, they’re unwilling to be pushed around and thus, strongly negotiate any agreements to make sure their needs are met.
Beyond mere survival, these industrious and inquisitive people look for ways to contribute to the town’s recovery, and provide a wide variety of trade skills from carpentry to stone-masonry, and everything in-between. Thus, they negotiate from a position of surprising strength in the community.
At first glance, this individual appears to be a brown bear, albeit one dressed in a large apron and wearing spectacles that have seen better days. He is, in reality, a sapient and articulate fellow who, in spite of his huge, imposing form, is beloved by the townsfolk and is the proprietor of Meadmaster Fuzzington’s Meadery, the fanciest place in town.
When he isn’t hosting functions or weddings at his magnificent and highly successful establishment, Fuzzington is a professional apiarist who cares for his bees, who in turn provide the honey he uses to make the finest mead in the region.
His personality is as sweet as the mead he brews, and he has a reputation for helping adventurers and travelers in need. But troublemakers who mistake his easy-going nature for weakness soon find themselves being literally tossed from his establishment in short order.
Easily the most popular person in town, Fuzzington is thought of as something of a leader in the community, and it is a poorly kept secret that he’s actually running the place, even though he holds no official position. Repeated attempts to get him into any sort of official job are repeatedly rebuffed, as the brewer has no love for the tedium and weight of responsibility that comes with high office.
Still, when times are tough, there is no-one better to count upon than this quiet and unassuming bear-man.
A mage of substantial skill and power, Ichorath resides in the transparent tower near the Second Tree. Elderly and wise, he appears very much like the classical wizard, with a short, white beard and round spectacles adding a kindly aspect to his features. Comfortable robes drape around his thin frame, and he is often seen walking with a tall staff, which he leans on for support.
In spite of his frail appearance, it is widely understood that his magical power is the main reason the town still stands. Though the First Tree was lost and many buildings burned, Ichorath led his students and helped turn back the tide of war that threatened to overwhelm Craobh Agus’tur.
Slow and ponderous in conversation, Ichorath is content to let everyone speak their mind and reveal their true intentions, before making his own thoughts known. He has little patience for outsiders coming to him with trivial concerns, but if there is genuine need, he will set aside time to sort out problems both mundane and magical.
Wary of the other factions within town, Ichorath prefers to ignore the politics and focus on teaching his students the wonders of magic, a task he has endless patience for. He possesses vast sums of knowledge, some of which is stored at his personal tower, and some at the college, but he keeps many secrets that he has never put to parchment.
His past is largely unknown, but it is thought he has traveled far and wide in his youth, and only settled here a few decades ago to teach. Rumor has it that there are other reasons he chose to settle in Craobh Agus’tur, but for now, the ghosts of his past remain buried.
Elvira and Mr. BugBugs
A recent arrival in town, this orphaned young tiefling girl is dressed in little more than rags, and goes by the name Elvira. She carries with her a slightly disheveled teddy bear called Mister Bugbugs, whom she keeps close at all times. Elvira can sometimes be heard talking to the teddy bear as if he were listening.
Those who have approached the wandering girl have learned that Elvira can’t recall where she came from, only that she escaped from some “bad men” and that “Mister Bugbugs looks after her.”
Elvira is often seen wandering around town or sitting around the docks, watching the people go about their work and enjoying the fresh seaside air. She cheerfully offers her help to anyone who needs it, and although still a child, she has remarkable insights and sees things as they truly are, exhibiting some innate magical abilities she barely seems aware of.
Any adult tiefling she meets is asked the slightly awkward question of “are you my mommy (or daddy)?”
Anyone who threatens Elvira, or if she faces danger will quickly discover the true nature of Mister Bugbugs, who transforms into an 8ft tall bugbear who will fight to protect her. Even without the transformation, when hugged, the magical teddy bear appears to speed healing and offers other less tangible protections against attack.
Spending any time talking to Elvira about her past gives a strong indication that the “bad men” she refers to aren’t quite done with her yet, and sooner or later they will come for her. Although she never asks for help directly, Elvira will often look up at people with her big, round eyes that implore someone to step up and protect her against those who would return her to captivity.
The junkyard is usually avoided by most people in town, but those who look closely might spot this green-scaled kobold scurrying around, searching the mound of discarded waste for broken magic items left behind after the war. Going by the name Snatch, he’s obsessed with fixing and rebuilding magical items out of the broken pieces he finds.
Tolerated by the community, Snatch is considered an odd fellow by any measure. His little shack near the junkyard is sort of a temple to a “Clockwork Goddess”, for whom he creates his little gizmos.
Although usually left to his own devices, Snatch is happy to trade bits and pieces for the parts he needs to repair his broken items. The quality of his repair work varies greatly, and townsfolk caution anyone thinking of purchasing such magical artifice that you can expect anything from barely functional, to better results than the original.
Snatch can talk for hours about his work, but if a visitor can make it through all of that, he actually has some interesting insights on the people in town. He views the interactions of those within the community like cogs in a machine, with each one performing a unique task, and without everyone doing their thing, the whole place would fall apart.
To this end, he will sometimes assist others in town on their tasks, often for reasons that seem unfathomable to the casual onlooker, but those who know Snatch understand he’s working to improve the lives of everyone in town.
• It is known there are shipwrecks in the shallow waters off the coast, the remains of the small defensive fleet that fought the invaders. Scavenging from these wrecks is considered a foul act, yet there are treasures ripe for the picking for the unscrupulous.
• The junkyard is thought to contain the broken remnants of some dangerous and powerful magical items. In the wrong hands, these could prove disastrous to the town, and Snatch the kobold is probably not the best person to be playing with all this stuff.
• Ichorath’s choice to settle here is a curious one, given he could have chosen a more populous area to teach magic. Rumors abound that he has another purpose for settling in Craobh Agus’tur, where he can watch the surrounding land from his transparent tower.
• The mushroom caves are connected to a series of tunnels, and while they have never been fully explored, the guards of the town keep a wary eye on them in case something wicked this way comes.
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