Finally, with this 18th map in the “My Private Jakalla” undercity map set, we arrive at one of the physical borders of the city itself – the as yet unnamed river.
Along the river we have a sewer outlet, a secret exit of the thieve’s guild, and one of the city’s cistern systems (which are all upriver of the sewer outlets). One of the benefits of the Ditlana system in Tekumel (where cities or portions of cities are torn down and rebuilt ever 500-1000 years) is that you can correct for infrastructure mistakes like building water storage downriver from the sewers.
As a border map along the river, there are a lot of access points to this particular map – the secret access that the thieves use along the river proper and the sewer outlet (if you don’t mind opening the grate and slogging through the mess), sewer and passage connections to map 1O and a passage to the isolated sections of map 1P. Another sewer link feeds to this map from the east and a passage cuts in from the west where it breaks into an old basement connected to the sewer-linked passage.
Over on the right, there is a secret door from the cisterns maintenance area that links to the isolated parts of the map on the lower right. Just to the left of that secret door is a door to the basement of a building used by a group of ne’er-do-wells (thieves and worse!).
With all the weirdness and rushing around this month between Patreon and Christmas, I didn’t put up the usual poll to decide on what old maps would be re-released under the Release the Kraken process this month.
So instead I’m releasing one every day (except the days I normally release maps) for this week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday). These have all been drawn from amongst the oldest maps on the blog – chosen both for style and for those that I am able to clean up into usable releases.
From my “Ancient Kings” campaign back in 2012 (now known as the Fisher Kings of Sabre Lake), this is Javelin Hill, the small city that is the centre of one of the character’s holdings. For those nearby it is best known for the two dwarves in charge of the place – one the height of a hill giant, and the other of more typical dwarven scale.
Javelin Hill isn’t a great place for a city – its primary water source is the swamp just north of the hill and outside of the city walls. However, it’s the tallest hill in the area, offering a clear view over the forests and swamps nearby. That’s why the fortress was originally built here, but the ancillary structures of a larger town are somewhat overwhelming for the limited infrastructure of the area.
The Cove of Coals is one of the last points of interest before reaching the Darkling Lake. At a confluence of the Darkling River and the Goblin Rill are ruins reminding travellers that these underground waterways have been in use for untold ages.
The structures here are of an imported (or transformed) volcanic stone, a glass-like black stone that reflects and distorts light, giving the place its name from the red glints and reflections of explorers’ and travellers’ torches.
Voyagers and adventurers who lack allies along the Darkling often set camp on the northern of the three portions of the Cove of Coals, using the raised section of stone as a fort and spot to watch other river traffic. Few remain for more than a day, moving on to places where food can be found and that aren’t thought to be “haunted” or perhaps worse, hunted. Because of course, something foul lives in the secret passages on the west side of the cove, and travellers are tasty.
“We saw the thief grab the map but he was away and out the window before anyone had a moment to react. The chase after him went from rooftop to rooftop and even across Thunder Lane before we forced him down into a courtyard where Ehrik repeatedly dunked his head into a small fountain to try to find out where along the way he had managed to ditch the map.”
After a few too many games of Assassin’s Creed, or just lovely flashbacks to the starter adventure scene in the original Warhammer Fantasy RPG chasing Bertoldo Vasari across the rooftops of Nuln, sooner or later you are going to want to run a rooftop chase scene.
This map assumes a society and climate where moderately pitched roofing is the norm – with an average of about a 30 degree slope. Dashing on a 30 degree slope can be difficult, might take a few rolls. And the general rule of thumb for a snowy climate is that roofs slope up six to nine inches for every foot they cover, so assume that the peak of a roof is 1/4 to 1/3 the total width of the building above the level of the edge of the roof. So on a 20 foot wide building, the roof slopes up to 5-7 feet in the centre. This allows for easy transfer from a 3 story building to a 4 story building as long as the peak of the lower building approaches the side of the taller.
The buildings have numbers on them to indicate how many stories above street level they reach so you can figure out where jumping and climbing will come into play, and below is a sample routing along the rooftops for a would-be thief to attempt an escape before the party almost inevitably runs them down.
Home to several extensive lineages of half elves, Carran Keep has become known as “half-elf city” to many living in other towns and cities in the region. The master of the keep’s lineage goes back to the days of the elven empire and the family has modified the slave tattoos of their elven clan lineage to a mark of pride (and made them significantly fancier and larger in the process). Family tattoos have become a fashion in the town, with about half the adult population now having their blood affiliation inked somewhere visibly upon them.
While the Carran clan maintains the walls and towers of the keep, the curtain walls for the town are not as well kept and rely upon the goodwill of the townfolk to maintain them. So far it hasn’t been a problem, but wooden floors are starting to rot out on a few of the guard towers and gates and are badly in need of replacing.
Carran’s economy is driven by three nearby silver mines and a few good horse-breeders. The Carran clan maintains itself through taxation of the residents, farmers and merchants, but also maintains a small treasury of goods and coins from adventuring members of the family.
A number of hooks can drawn characters to Carran Keep such as
the small selection of elven grimoires that the Carrans have in their library,
traditional problems with monsters in the silver mines,
a young adventurer of the Carran clan needing companions on their quests,
tracking down a lead about a half-elf thief who has gone to ground somewhere in the region
The ruins of an old temple of the Lord who Listens to the Winds has become a nest for a family of manticores. But of course all clues point to this being where the Tauvec ritual Censer of Controlling Air Elementals was left.
Some people put a lot of effort into their tombs. Others get left in a niche, sometimes still in the same clothes they died in. In the case of one matriarch of the elven line of Tehnadi a tomb in the form of the hold of her favourite ship was cut out of the stone in her honour.
The care involved in the decoration of this tomb is remarkable, with the stone cut to look and feel like petrified wood boards and beams. On the same level as the great ship-tomb are a number of lesser tombs and niches for members of the line and favoured servants of that generation.