Okay, this post is fairly lengthy, but should be helpful in building your backgrounds. I’ve included the genders and races of notable NPCs, as well as age where necessary, but I’ve intentionally kept alignment and class secret. If you want more information about an NPC you are building into your background please ask. If you want to create your own NPCs, that’s good too. The numbers under population I consider to be rough estimates and can absolutely change to accommodate other races. TORCH
N Large town
Corruption +0; Crime –1; Economy +0; Law –1; Lore +0; Society +4Rough DemographicsGovernment
: 4,320 (3,167 humans, 498 dwarves, 392 half-
orcs, 168 gnomes, 32 half-elves, 28 halflings, 25 elves,
South of the First Blade’s Path, nestled next to the Seven Tears River in the territory of the Black Horse tribe, Torch takes its name from the violet flame that burns atop its central hill. The fires ignited spontaneously in 4602 AR, and for nearly a year they lanced into the sky, forming a purple column of fire that could be seen for miles around. At the time, the Technic League was experiencing a period of upheaval in Starfall, and its agents were unable to investigate the rumors of the column of fire to the south. By 4604, the flames had died down to a man-sized bonfire, leaving the top of the hill blasted and blackened. Several industrious locals soon discovered the flame’s heat possessed two unusual qualities—it was hot enough to smelt skymetal ores and work with difficult materials like adamantine, and the fires themselves radiated a strangely directional heat. A chunk of wood thrown a dozen feet over the fires would instantly burst into flame, yet a piece of paper set a foot from the bonfire’s edge wouldn’t even smolder. This unique combination of traits made the fire a perfect forge. After a few sudden flare-ups resulted in the tragic incineration of several smiths and their partially completed forges, the townsfolk learned how to interpret the flares and flashes that presaged such an eruption. Rather than build permanent structures around the fire, they came to rely upon portable workshops transported up the hill via wagon or carriage, so that when the fire began one of its unpredictable surges, the smiths could retreat to safety to wait for the blast of fire to recede.
In this way, Torch has sustained itself. By the time the Technic League sorted its internal politics out and sent representatives to investigate in 4612, its agents found a burgeoning village growing around the base of the hill. After a cursory examination of the fire, representatives from the Technic League met with the village’s leaders and worked out a deal—as long as Torch sent a monthly tribute of gold north to Starfall, the Technic League would not maintain an official presence in the region. In this way, the League turned what could have been competition (since at the time it still lacked the resources to effectively manage a remote site) into a source of income. Over the decades that followed, Torch grew steadily, yet has never truly prospered, because the Technic League constantly revises the amount of the tribute it requires. Frustrations with and resentments against the Technic League rightly have grown in Torch, yet the League’s been careful to never tax the town to the point of rebellion, keeping them in an uncomfortable but relatively stable place between freedom and oppression.
Most of Torch’s buildings are constructed of stone, with the larger buildings being reinforced with metal. The rooftops are made of ceramic or stone tiles. Wood is rarely used as a building material in Torch, primarily to prevent fires. Torch has no underground sewer system—waste produced by the city is typically hauled up onto Black Hill and incinerated in the violet fires, but with the flames having recently gone out, filth is building up in the streets. Many have taken to disposing of refuse by dumping it in the Seven Tears River or Crowfeather Lake, something that’s already causing small outbreaks of sickness. The town council has just initiated a ban on disposal of waste in the water, and policing this ban and providing alternative solutions (mostly carting waste away to a small gorge east of town) is consuming an increasing amount of time for the city guard and workers alike.
1. Iven’s Livery Stable: Most travelers visiting town leave their mounts and pack animals in the care of Iven Lesky (male half-elf), a retired tracker who chose to settle in Torch after falling in love with a young Kellid woman named Annika (female human) whom he met when her tribe was overwhelmed by hill giants. Together, they buy and sell horses, doing frequent business with trade caravans drawn to the town’s marketplace.
2. General Store: Torch’s general store caters to scavengers, artisans, and metalworkers first and foremost, but also carries plenty of gear sought by adventurers traveling through Numeria. The town’s unique forge attracts plenty of traders to the local marketplace, some of whom bring rare items which storeowners like Inkrit Kollisun (female human) uses to stock their shelves. Most of the routine adventuring gear can be found here, but Inkrit typically leaves the sale of armor and weapons to the guildhouse artisans.
3. Silverdisk Hall: This busy gambling house features many card tables and dice games, all played with the local silverdisk currency in exchange for whatever money travelers bring with them. Proprietor Garmen Ulreth (male human) runs the place, and is not-so-secretly assisted
by a gang of Kellid thieves known as the Ropefists—a name derived from their practice of wrapping their knuckles with rope before using their fists to punish transgressors.
4. The Marrymaid: Given the frequent influxes of fortune-seeking scavengers and merchant caravans, the Marrymaid bordello opened its doors almost as soon as Torch established a successful economy. Wrennie Dalrorn (female half-elf) oversees the entertainments inside. Some say she’s the illegitimate daughter of an elven prince from Kyonin and a high priestess of Calistria.
5. The Copper Coin: One of the oldest taverns in Torch, the Copper Coin stands right on the western edge of town. This fixture nightspot fills up with patrons almost every evening, and it is especially popular with laborers and artisans looking to relax after a hard day’s work. Siblings Lawton (male human) and Katina Rimos (female human) run the Coin as a quality establishment with good food at reasonable prices. In fact, much like their father, who ran the tavern for 30 years before passing away, they pride themselves on claiming everything costs “just a few coppers.” Lawton runs the kitchen, cooking up signature dishes like spiced lamb and lentil soup with sourdough bread. Katina tends bar, serving up popular drinks like Rusty Ale, Wineberry Mead, Steelforged Stout, and Black Hill Whiskey.
6. Garrison and Armory: A crenelated 30-foot tower rises from this squat barracks housing the town’s active militia and guards. Approximately two dozen off-duty guards can be found here, with three times that number patrolling the marketplace and city streets during the day.
7. Olandir Estate: Serantha Olandir (female human), the charismatic, influential leader of Torch’s town council, lives in this large home. She lost her husband two years ago to a back alley mugging by the Ropefists near Silverdisk Hall. Since then, she’s made it her mission to ensure Torch doesn’t become a den of crime and corruption by taking a more direct hand in shaping its politics.
8. Otterbie Manor: One of the original founding families of Torch owns this expensive manor, built by an enterprising merchant and ex-crusader from Mendev named Orm Otterbie. He passed away several years ago and his granddaughter, Bazlundi Otterbie (female human), inherited his legacy, successfully organizing many of the town’s artisans and smithies into a powerhouse consortium.
9. Weeping Pond: This placid-looking pond is set off from the surrounding area by a crescent-shaped escarpment. No vegetation grows on the banks of this pond, and the waters carry a bitter stink of sulfur and other chemicals, enough to make the eyes water after spending too much time on the shore. A shallow stream runs southeast of the pond and finally empties into Crowfeather Lake.
10. Crowfeather Palace: The contaminated waters running from the Weeping Pond collect in Crowfeather Lake. Here the taint diffuses to the point where the water becomes drinkable, though it retains a brackish aftertaste. Until recently, long exposure to the water could still cause birth defects and strange afflictions, but since the creation of the strange-looking building here, these effects have been all but eradicated. Called Crowfeather Palace because of its proximity to the lake and its almost miniaturized palatial facade, the building is the brainchild of Khonnir Baine. With the aid of the local priesthood of Brigh, Khonnir built this facility to help purify the waters of Crowfeather Lake. Utilizing a combination of divine and arcane magic with scavenged technological elements, a pipe-like extension from the building constantly purifies the waters around itself as if via a continually running purify food and drink spell, giving the townsfolk a safe source of drinking water.
11. Market Square: The southern shore of Crowfeather Lake is the location of Torch’s largest marketplace. This location draws nearly as much attention and tourism as does the flame, for it’s here that the town’s skilled artisans put their wares on display.
12. Foundry Tavern: One of the more popular hangouts in Torch, the Foundry Tavern is aptly named. Its owner, Khonnir Baine, (middle-aged human male) makes frequent appearances to demonstrate new inventions here—whether mechanical or magical. The tavern itself is always packed, and Khonnir rents out space in his neighboring foundry for visiting smiths and metalworkers to use. With his disappearance, Khonnir’s adopted daughter Val (female human), who runs the tavern and forge with him, has closed the Foundry as a sign of solidarity, hoping that it will inspire someone to bring her father back to her.
13. Tempting Tonics: This building is home to Jhestine Imierin (female half-elf), the town’s apothecary and healer. Jhestine’s father was a Snowcaster elf and her mother a Kellid chieftain’s
daughter. She moved south during a particularly harshwinter and opened her apothecary shop to help the people of Torch deal with the tainted water from the Weeping Pond. Jhestine sells a variety of herbs and special substances, and now that Crowfeather Palace has made the waters of the lake drinkable, she’s been able to turn her attention away from her original purpose to crafting all manner of other potions and elixirs for sale.
14. Seven Tears Farms: Fertile fields and orchards line the stream near the southern side of town here. Before Crowfeather Palace, these farms had to rely upon the generosity of local churches for water purification, but now the fields are flourishing. The produce grown here feeds most of Torch, thanks to the owner of the farms, a matronly woman named Celda Veed (female human).
15. Town Hall: One of the grander buildings in Torch, the town hall doubles as a second garrison and lookout tower watching over the eastern roads. Council meetings take place in the hall every week on Oathday, but the hall sees frequent use for social gatherings as well, including many dances held in the neighboring square.
16. Chapel of the Wanderer: A somber man named Mylan Radli (male human worshiper of Pharasma) retired here after the town’s previous gravekeeper passed away. Along with the blessings he administers to those passing through Torch, he also conducts funerals and looks after the town’s cemetery.
17. Temple of Brigh: Bronze wind chimes and clockwork statues decorate the domed portico of this compound dedicated to the goddess of invention. The oldest faith in Torch, Brigh’s temple sees regular worship from many of the town’s citizens, and also includes a meticulously organized workshop managed by the town’s religious leader, Joram Kyte (old male human worshiper of Brigh). His friendly demeanor, active interest in the metal trade, and innovative crafting skills helped land him a seat on the town council many years ago. Joram’s temple includes a small shopfront selling magic items and gear.
18. Evercandle Inn: The name of this establishment refers to the strange alchemical candles used to light its rooms. These showpieces, which never diminish, are arrayed among multiple chandeliers in the common room as well as smaller, portable candlesticks by each bed in the individual chambers. Soceal Murgrave (old female human) serves as the inn’s proprietor, aided by her ever-present attendant Erlmon Reverstoudt (middle-aged male human).
19. Boarding House: The nine buildings surrounding this small park provide temporary housing for larger parties not wishing to stay at the more expensive inns in town. They see frequent use during the warmer seasons when their owner, Agren Maust (male human), rents out rooms to scavengers, adventurers, and merchants seeking to do business in Torch for weeks at a time.
20. Warehouse District: The majority of the buildings in the northeast portion of town act as storehouses for trade goods designed by the town’s artisans.
21. Torch Guildhouse: This large building is home to the guild of metallurgists and artisans established by Bazlundi Otterbie. The guild was founded to support craftspeople in the skymetal trade, and the experts under its banner include several skilled armorers, blacksmiths, and weaponsmiths.
22. Dolga’s Foundry: The sounds of ringing hammers and dwarven songs frequently rise from this busy foundry, which is owned and operated by Dolga Feddert (old female dwarf) and her team of veteran crafters. An odd transplant from the Five Kings Mountains, Dolga helped found Torch and became the first to test the unique properties of the flame erupting from the hilltop. She also constructed many of the first buildings in town, and is Torch’s oldest councilor.
23. Junkyard: Unprofitable components and debris smelted for skymetal invariably find their way to Torch’s junkyard on the east side of town. An eerie bleachling gnome named Garritt Burrwaddle (middle-aged male gnome) received the honorary title of Junkmaster after several decades of obsessively collecting and cataloging the items left here. Aside from hauling away junk no one wants, he provides an invaluable service to those searching for spare parts among the debris in his care.
24. Black Hill: Easily the most recognizable landmark in Torch, this bald escarpment rises at a steep slope in the middle of town. Until recently, the town’s namesake torch burned at the hill’s peak, emerging from a 5-foot-wide hole in the ground. Today, the flame is out, the hole caved in and filled with bubbling, foul-smelling sludge. The four specially-designed adamantine carts used to ferry ore to and from the fire now stand a short distance down the hill near the Black Hill Craneworks—a building run by Smeltrunner Oskah Unteret (female half-orc). She coordinates access to the flame and ensures merchants pay the appropriate tribute to the town’s treasury. She bears no love for the Technic League, but holds the Black Sovereign in high regard, and loudly shares tales of his uniting of Numeria’s tribes in every tavern she visits.