This post will contain information about the starting backdrop for the adventure....the mining town of Diamond Lake. The post will grow over time, as more information gets revealed, so check back! For now, here's a little something to whet the appetite. (Now contained within spoiler boxes, for the sake of length.)
At the perfumed arcade known as the Emporium, Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff rubs shoulders with common laborers awaiting an appointment in the Veiled Corridor. In an adjoining antechamber, snakes and exotic dancers gyre to a sonorous weave of cymbals and seductive pipes. A floor below, a gaggle of grasping miners presses against the windowed door of a darkened cell, impatient for a glimpse of a two-headed calf.
Out in the street, a gang of rough miners screams obscenities at a crumpled halfling, kicking it as if scrambling for a ball. Their drunken laughter echoes off shuttered windows and bolted doors.
In a tower-flanked fortress across the shadowy square, filthy men with nothing to lose shout hymns to St. Cuthbert, clutching to their idealism and principles like cornered animals. Their wild-eyed chief minister smiles as he draws a cat-o-nine-tails across his bare back, awash in their adulation and the spirit of his god.
But it’s just another night in Diamond Lake.
The Age of Worms Adventure Path opens in the small mining town of Diamond Lake, where desperate folk toil in lightless depths for a pittance while corrupt mine managers live in relative largesse, ruthlessly scheming to undermine one another and protect their piece of the action. Most residents of Diamond Lake can be categorized into two groups: those with nowhere else to turn and those who have come to exploit them.
A garrison of sixty militia soldiers stands ready to defend the mines from bandits and rogue humanoids in the local forests. Rival cults share the same flock of potential converts only because the timing is not yet for outright warfare. They muster their forces for the coming battle. Things are not safe in Diamond Lake, and a right-thinking person would have every reason to want to get out of town as soon as possible.
Enter the player characters. In the Age of Worms Adventure Path, all of the players begin play as residents of Diamond Lake who share one common goal - escaping to a better life once certain financial obligations have been met. This motivation binds the party on its first all-important adventure, and the character of Diamond Lake, as well as the portentous events that will occur there, will resonate in the lives of the PCs throughout every stage of the campaign.[/sblock]
DIAMOND LAKE IN BRIEF
[sblock]Diamond Lake nestles in the rocky crags of the Cairn Hills, three days east of the Free City of Greyhawk to which it is subject. Iron and silver from Diamond Lake’s mines fuel the great city’s markets and support its soldiers and nobles with the raw materials necessary for weapons and finery. This trade draws hundreds of skilled and unskilled laborers and artisans, all hoping to strike it rich. In ages past, Diamond Lake boasted an export more valuable than metal in the form of treasure liberated from the numerous tombs and burial cairns crowding the hills around the town. These remnants of a half-dozen long-dead cultures commanded scandalous prices from the Free City elite, whose insatiable covetousness triggered a boom in the local economy. Those days are long gone, though. The last cairn in the region coughed up its treasure decades ago, and few locals pay much mind to stories of yet-undiscovered tombs and unplundered burial cairns. These days, only a handful of treasure seekers visit the town, and few return to the Free City with anything more valuable than a wall rubbing or an ancient tool fragment.
In the hills surrounding the town, hundreds of laborers spend weeks at a time underground, breathing recycled air pumped in via systems worth ten times their combined annual salary. The miners are the chattel of Diamond Lake, its seething, tainted blood. But they are also Diamond Lake’s foundation, their weekly pay cycling back into the community via a gaggle of gambling dens, bordellos, ale halls, and temples. Because work in the mines is so demanding and dangerous, most folk come to Diamond Lake because they have nowhere else to turn, seeking an honest trade of hard labor for subsistence-level pay simply because the system has allowed them no other option. Many are foreigners displaced from native lands by war or famine. Work in a Diamond Lake mine is the last honest step before utter destitution or crimes of desperation. For some it is the first step in the opposite direction: a careful work assignment to ease the burden of debtor-filled prisons, one last chance to make it in civil society.
Despite its squalor, Diamond Lake is crucial to the Free City's economy. The city’s directors thus take a keen interest in local affairs, noting the rise and fall of the managers, who run Diamond Lake’s mines in trust for the government. The city’s chief man in the region is Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff, a lecherous philanderer eager to solidify his power and keep the mine managers in line. Neff exerts his capricious will via the agency of the grandiloquent Sheriff Cubbin, a man so renowned for corruption that many citizens assumed the announcement of his commission was a joke until he started arresting people.
The alliance between the governor-mayor and his pocket police might not be enough to cow Diamond Lake’s powerful mine managers, but Lanod Neff holds a subtle advantage thanks to the presence of his distinguished brother, the scrupulous Allustan, a wizard from Greyhawk who retired to Diamond Lake five years ago. None dare move against Neff so long as Allustan is around.
Instead of scheming against the government, Diamond Lake's six mine managers plot endlessly against one another, desperate to claim a weakened enemy’s assets while at the same time protecting their own. While they are not nobles, the mine managers exist in a strata above normal society. They consider themselves far above their employees, many of whom are indentured or effectively enslaved as part of a criminal sentence. The miners’ loyalty tends to map directly to the working conditions, pay, and respect offered to the miners by their wealthy masters.
The most ambitious and manipulative mine manager in Diamond Lake is Balabar Smenk, a disquieting schemer who hopes to gain a monopoly on the town's mining patents by forcing his enemies into bankruptcy and offering to buy their claims at the last minute for coppers on the gold piece.[/sblock]
[sblock]Diamond Lake crouches in the lowland between three hills and the lake itself, a splotch of mud, smoke, and blood smeared across uneven terrain marked by countless irregular mounds and massive rocks. The oldest buildings pack the lakeshore, where fishing vessels once docked and stored their impressive catches. That commerce has abandoned the town entirely, for the shining waters that once gave Diamond Lake its name are now so polluted as to make fishing impossible. Many old warehouses have been converted into cheap housing for miners and laborers, and no one is safe outdoors after dark. As one walks north along the streets of Diamond Lake, the buildings become sturdier and the spirits of their inhabitants likewise improve. A great earthen road called the Vein bisects the town. With few exceptions, those living north of the Vein enjoy a much better life than the wretches living below it.
All of the town's social classes congregate in the Vein's central square. Roughly every two weeks, someone in the town upsets someone else so greatly that the only recourse is a duel to the death at the center of a ring of cheering miners. The bookmakers of the Emporium and the Feral Dog do brisk business on such occasions, which tend to draw huge crowds. On less violent nights, the square is still home to a thousand pleasures and poisons; if Diamond Lake is a creature, the Vein's central square is its excitable, irregular heart.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Every week, hundreds of miners boil up from the depths, their pockets lined with freshly earned coin. The Emporium exists to separate the men from the money, and at this it is paramount among Diamond Lake's diverse businesses. Ten years ago it was simply Zalamandra's, one of a dozen vice dens along the Vein. Its ill fortunes changed the day its charismatic young madam seduced Professor Montague Marat, proprietor of a traveling sideshow and curiosity collection passing through Diamond Lake. The two soon joined forces, and a cavalcade of freaks and eccentrics moved into the building's lower floor. Thus was born Zalamandra's Emporium, and Diamond Lake has never been the same.
Upon entering, visitors encounter a small desk station manned by a grinning, businesslike attendant named Gaspar. The thin, balding man smiles wryly at all times, a gesture accentuated by his upcurled moustache. The house charges three coppers for access to the 'Gallery of Science' along the first floor's central corridor, and three silver for access to the lushly decorated upper floor, which features a large gaming hall, an exclusive entertainment club, and the infamous Veiled Corridor, where any pleasure may be obtained for the right price.
Those seeking a relatively cultured nightspot often congregate at Lazare's House, a cozy gaming parlor situtated on the Vein's central square. In contrast to the ostentatious banners and garish chipped paint on the Emporium across the street, Lazare's exudes a quiet sense of class with a stylish stone and timber construction and distinctive crooked-peaked roof. Inside, Diamond Lake's elite match wits over dragonchess, a popular game in which two sides of 42 pieces contest over three 96-square boards representing the sky, the earth, and the underworld. Pieces include the griffon, sylph, oliphant, basilisk, hero, thief, and paladin. Scholars claim that the game is a metaphor for the celestial struggles of fundamental law, chaos, good, and evil. In Diamond Lake, it's principally another justification for gambling.
A central hearth, constantly stoked by the courteous staff, serves as the hub of a roughly circular interior. Along the ring, eight alcoves offer an excllent location for private conversation or even romantic trysts. Each alcove is a half-moon of posh benches encircling a rectangular table bearing a special built-in dragonchess board. Visitors are expected to bring their own pieces, but may rent a house set for 2gp. This fee effectively keeps out the riff-raff, making Lazare's a haven for visiting dignitaries and Diamond Lake's upper class.
The Feral Dog
Since both Lazare's and the Emporium charge a small fee for entry, Diamond Lake's poorest laborers must turn to a collection of run-down ale halls with more sullied reputations. The busiest by far is The Feral Dog, a sleazy tavern on the Vein's central square. Every night and especially when the workforces of several local mines let out at the same time, cheering laborers within the bar scream obscenities and wave betting vouchers over two dogs in a lethal pit fight. No one savors the tinny ale, but the place is more about camaraderie, bravado, and desperation than about expecting exemplary quality or service.
A gang of criminals casts a broad shadow over The Feral Dog's squalid taproom. The patrons know from experience to respect the word of Kullen, the silently seething albino half-orc who leads the motley band with little tolerance for insolence and a powerful backhand.
Arguments commonly erupt at the Feral Dog, especially during the dogfights, when betting often grows contentious and even violent. About once a month, a drunk miner falls or is pushed into the thrashing dogpit, with predictably tragic results. During the worst brawls, someone usually gets knifed. A festering garbage pit in the sharp crags behind the building is said to hold the corpses of as many humans as dogs.
Church of St. Cuthbert
Each of the establishments along the Vein's central square trade in the exploitation of human vice or false hope, and the tower-flanked Church of St. Cuthbert is certainly no exception. Within this austere stucco structure, the poorest of Diamond Lake's poor huddle in a torch-lit sanctuary listening to the fiery sermons of Jierian Wierus, a bombastic orator whose populist rants appeal to the best virtues and values of the common man while at the same time preying upon their fears and superstitions. Wierus endlessly preaches a creed of common sense, honesty, and self-sacrifice, encouraging his faithful to give penance to St. Cuthbert by whipping themselves in repetitive acts of self-mortification. His growing cult, now some 150 strong, gives succor to the dregs of Diamond Lake society and is seen as a menace by the town's mine managers, government, and other religious figures. Many claim that the flagellants seem to follow Wierus as much as they do St. Cuthbert, and it is only because the charismatic firebrand somehow keeps his followers from breaking the law that his sect has been allowed to thrive.
Sooner or later, adventurers looking to sell loot will cross paths with Tidwoad, a cantankerous jeweler with a meticulously arranged shop located on the Vein's central square. Tidwoad's is as close to a bank as one can find in Diamond Lake, and the gnome keeps several small vaults in the crawlspace below his workshop. He maintains a collection of his finest gems in a showroom display case, boasting that his establishment is completely theft proof. A shield guardian named Festus helps to keep the gnome's theft-free streak alive with powerful stone fists and a constant focus on protecting the shop.
When a barroom brawl gets out of hand or when visitors threaten to upset the balance of power in Diamond Lake, Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff relies upon the discretion and agency of his private police force, assembled from a collection of corrupt watchmen gathered during Neff's youth as a watch captain in the Free City of Greyhawk. Nearly all of them were drummed out of service in the capital due to some indiscretion, but each maintained a hold over municipal authorities (often in the form of potential blackmail fodder) strong enough to ensure that they were not bounced from the service entirely, but instead reassigned to Diamond Lake.
Led by a boisterous alcoholic named Sheriff Cubbin, the six thugs who comprise the constabulary see to the general safety of the town and ensure that Neff's schemes go off without a hitch. They take a keen interest in unusual visitors and in the dealings of the town's mine managers, Balabar Smenk and Gelch Tilgast in particular. The police don't care one whit about crimes committed against the mine managers' agents, but decorum insists that they persecute overt crimes committed against the managers themselves to the full extent of the law.
The Sheriff's Office off the Vein's central square contains living quarters for all six constables and a twelve-cell jail filled with a motley assembly of drunks and maniacs.
Running a successful business in Diamond Lake means avoiding entanglements with the constantly manuevering mine managers and scrupulously avoiding favoritism (real or perceived). No merchant better understands this reality than Taggin, the amiable master of the town's largest general store. Tables line the walls within, stacked high with rope coils, lanterns, bottles, gloves, and gear. Wagon wheels rest against barrels filled with nails or candles. The inventory includes most common adventuring gear, and Taggin cheerfully offers to special order anything he does not have in stock from the Free City, a process that 'usually takes about a week.' Taggin is just shy of middle age, but dresses somewhat stylishly for his class. He has a handlebar mustache and full, receding blond hair. He treats women of any race with excetional politeness.
The Hungry Gar
Guld Tortikan, head chef at the Hungry Gar, claims to serve the finest meal on the Vein. He is mistaken.
When the lake turned foul, Diamond Lake's modest fishing industry fled the town, leaving a wake of empty warehouses and bankrupted fishers. Some of these warehouses became stockades for mine managers, packed with raw ore and letters of credit from the Free City and beyond. Others fell to ruin and became infested with squatters and addicts. Jalek's Flophouse, situated on Front Street within smelling distance of the lake, is the town's most famous warehouse, as it houses nearly a dozen pitiful indigents fighting off destitution with a handful of copper. A rotting wooden framework within supports a lurching, mazelike second floor, where every step brings an alarming creak and the walls thrum with muffled conversation. Lodging is 5 coppers a night, paid to a massive, helmeted half-orc mute named Golot. The brute pummels those who do not pay until they flee or die. No one has an address at Jalek's - the room you have is the one can keep. Most rooms lack doors, let alone locks, but the shifting inhabitants and the chaotic layout of the upper floor makes it one of the best places to disappear in all of Diamond Lake. The halfling landlord Jalek lives in a rooftop apartment and is seldom seen. The Cuthbertine flagellant Jieran Wierus frequently visits the flophouse, where he recruits a growing tide of converts.
A corpulent elemental of corruption and bad taste, Balabar Smenk lords his political clout over everyone in Diamond Lake save the governor-mayor and garrison commander, whom he privately mocks. Smenk has wrestled four mines into his possession in the last ten years, and has designs upon the rest. A coven of sycophants and hired goons suurounds him at all times. Rumors suggest that he has powerfully connected friends in the Free City of Greyhawk.
Smenk lives in a sodden old mansion a century past its prime. Three thugs patrol the streets around his home, warning anyone they see to go away with a sneer and the brandishing of a lead pipe. Despite these precautions, Smenk's front door is always wide open, fulfilling an old public promise that he would always be available to his miners.
Balabar Smenk uses this abandoned mine only for storage (and, rumor has it, occasionally to disappear the body of a slain enemy). It is protected by a padlock on an iron door.
Centuries ago, long before the foundation of the Free City, a petty lord commanded the shores of the lake and the nearby iron ore and silver mines from a sturdy hilltop keep. Today, the refurbished ruin of that keep serves as home to more than 60 members of the Free City Militia, soldiers tasked with patrolling the northern hills, keeping watch over the lizardfolk-infested Mistmarch to the south, and liaising with halfling, gnome, and dwarf communities in the region.
A third of the soldiers are always out on patrol, a wide circuit of nearby roadways and wildlands that takes them away from Diamond Lake for a week at a time. Remaining soldiers drill, maintain the garrison, hunt, and familiarize themselves with local terrain.
The bored soldiers present rich mining ground for a cadre of clerics and paladins of Heironeous, who provide spiritual and magical aid to the warriors from a stately chapel within the garrison fortress.
Captain Tolliver Trask, the garrison's aging commander, distinguished himself in a recent war and has the respect of his charges and of the community at large. He cares little about the day-to-day politics of Diamond Lake, and encourages his men to stay out of local business. He sees his job as critical to the defense of the Free City. Diamond Lake is just something that happens to be near his important work.
He supports Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff out of respect for the political process that put him in power, if not for the man himself. He trusts three advisors more closely than any of his other associates. The Heironean chief cleric Valkus Dun acts as Trask's spritual advisor and foil. Trask's best friend is Dietrik Cicaeda, the middle-aged Chief Cartographer of Diamond Lake. Cicaeda is the region's sole legal authority regarding issues of land ownership, making his journals and maps among the town's most valuable treasures. He and his work thus enjoy the oficial protection of the garrison's walls and soldiery, and remain safely locked away from the town's manipulative mine managers. Chief Scout Merris Sandovar, lately of the Bronzewood Lodge druidic community three hours northeast of Diamond Lake, rounds out Captain Trask's inner circle.
The complete garrison force consists of 60 soldiers. Militia members typically wear leather or chainmail armor and carry a longsword or shortbow. This force is divided into thirds, with each squad led by a lieutenant. These individuals have the ear of Captain Trask and the admiration of their charges.
Chapel of Heironeous
Most of the guards and soldiers serving in the Diamond Lake garrison honor Heironeous as the patron of justice and martial prowess. The Invincible One's temple is little more than a large high-ceilinged chamber within the garrison itself, but it boasts the second largest congregation in Diamond Lake, as well as one of the village's most dynamic personalities in the form of its high priest, Valkus Dun.
Dun came to Diamond Lake two years ago, after the previous high priest vanished under mysterious circumstances. Local gossip holds that Dun once had great prospects in the Free City's immense Sanctum of Heironeous, but that politics saw him exiled to an assignment in squalid Diamond Lake. Nevertheless, Dun took to his assignment with zeal, and the weekly services have taken on an activist spirit. While the garrison commander urges his charges to stay out of local affairs, Dun instills in them a duty to the villagers and urges them to make a difference in the community. the resulting tension, between the garrison commander and Valkus Dun as well as between the Heironean soldiers and the disreptuable elements of Diamond Lake (which is to say nearly all of them), is palpable.
A massive wall fresco of a mythic battle between perfect Heironeous and his traitorous half-brother Hextor looms over the chapel's bronzewood altar. The holy image is lit by dozens of guttering torches at night and by several stained-glass windows during the day. Weekly services exhibit a great deal of fraternity and sober, harmonic hymns. The are open to the public, but are dominated by soldiers and guards.
While the common folk of Diamond Lake have plenty of reason to despair of their living conditions, they remain several times more fortunate than the community's horses, who predominantly dwell in the run-down Lakeside Stables under the careful watch of the brutal Lanch Faraday, a portly ostler prone to distressing mood swings. Customers commonly complain of mysterious bruises on their horses, evidence of Faraday's uncontrollable rages. Still, the price is right, and the walls around back keep the horses relatively safe from theft, so no one has yet pressed the issue.
The Midnight Salute
This by-the-numbers house of ill-repute caters to the garrison crowd and anyone seeking a less exotic (and less expensive) experience than that offered by the Emporium's legendary Veiled Corridor. Its proprietess, the ravishing Purple Prose, stresses discretion and decorum with her workforce.
The Spinning Giant
When not drilling, sleeping, or on patrol, garrison soldiers flock to this raucous two-story tavern to meet with friends, chant drinking songs, and drown themselves in ale and good cheer. A blue-shingled roof tops filthy white plaster walls. A faded fresco painted on the building's face depicts a dancing imbecilic hill giant in a yellow dress. Patrons must enter and exit via a door positioned between the giant's legs. This is Flailing Felanore, a dim-witted young giantess captured by the garrison militia 40 years ago and 'granted' to the proprietor of a favorite watering hole to serve as a mascot. The attraction worked, drawing visitors from as far as the Free City to gawk and stare at Felanore's awkward gyrations. Though Felanore died from an outbreak of the Red Death plague, nearly 20 years ago, the free-standing circular center stage on which she once pranced remains the most prestigious musical venue in town, if not nearly the most titilating.
Garrison soldiers make up most of the Spinning Giant's regular patrons, with a handful of mine overseers and merchants rounding out the crowd. Most who come here consider themselves honorable, and expect similar conduct from others. They do not tolerate pickpockets, and respond harshly when confronted with a crime in progress. They hold a similar disdain for Diamond Lake's constabulary, and have made it known on many occasions that Sheriff Cubbin and his boys are not welcome on the premises. Nor do they welcome Diamond Lake's poor, including most miners. Regular patrons routinely "suggest" that riffraff instead visit one of Diamond Lake's other fine establishments. Soldiers act with bravado in these encounters, knowing that most of the Spinning Giant's other customers will have their backs should a fight break out.
The Captain's Blade
Tyrol Ebberly, a severe-looking man who claims to have once been a watch captain in the Free City, runs this small shop with efficiency. He's an absolute fanatic about weapons, always showing off his masterwork items with enthusiasm. He's also an inveterate gossip, and asks endless questions about peoples' affairs, trying to learn more about how they were wounded or why they're looking for money. Ebberly has any melee weapon up to 900 gp in stock, but must send away for more expensive items, a process that takes several days. He specializes in masterwork melee weapons, and keeps his surprisingly wide selection displayed on the walls. He does not offer any masterwork ranged weapons, and sends anyone looking for them to Venelle's, across town. "Don't forget your coin purse," he sniffs indignantly. "You're sure to need it there."
A redolence of fresh pine suffuses this handsome establishment, a distinctive structure that incorporates intricate carved patterns and upright logs. The proprietor, a curious woman named Venelle, makes masterwork bows and arrows, and also deals in other weapons and armor imported from the Free City in exchange for items of her own design. The shop is a bit chaotic, with various items piled on tables. Armor sits loosely on too-small dummies. Venelle has a touch of elven blood about her, and is pleased to entertain guests who appreciate arrowcraft and elven culture. She has friends among the Bronzewood Lodge, and greets other characters from that nearby community with smiles. Venele carries most weapons and armor priced up to 900gp, but must send away for more expensive items.
The "smartest man in town," a friendly wizard named Allustan, dwells within a charming red and deep blue house on one of the rare stretches of healthy grass in all of Diamond Lake. A small meditation garden abuts the face of the house, incorporating vertical stones and small pools of concentric circles. The fresh paint and well-tended yard contrasts sharply with the rest of the seedy town, a testament to the locals' respect for (or fear of) a man whose prowess is known as far as the Free City.
Allustan grew up in Diamond Lake with his brother, Lanod Neff. The sons of the town's powerful and efficient governor-mayor, they abused their influence and shamed the mine managers with social indiscretions. When finally they went too far, their father sent them both to the Free City, urging Allustan to seek an education and placing Lanod in a plum assignment with the city watch. Allustan soon found himself in the prestigious University of Magical Arts, where his apt scholarship and bravado caught the attention of a powerful master wizard named Manzorian, a dynamic figure who traveled with some of the most renowned heroes of the day.
Manzorian offered to take on Allustan as his apprentice, assuring him a life of thrills and discovery. What Allustan got was a window into a world of manipulative chessmasters willing to backstab trusted friends to honor abstract principles of balance and neutrality. Though he thrived in the company of Manzorian and his ilk, the politics proved too much to handle, and he split with the group more than a decade ago after a bitter ethical dispute. He retired to Diamond Lake only to find his inept brother in charge and facing challenges from all sides. So he remains, knowing that his presence supports a corrupt leader but unwilling to leave his family to the wolves. The same political disinterest that got him into trouble with Manzorian keeps him from seeing the worst of his brother's offenses.
Allustan offers his library and considerable intelligence to the citizens of Diamond Lake as a sage, although few miners have reason to seek his services. Allustan charges a standard rate of 20 gp per question. He does this more to sate his curiosity than for the money; gains from his adventuring days easily cover his modest lifestyle.
Ten years ago, the aging Gelch Tilgast held the reins of Diamond Lake's ore trade, a position he'd enjoyed most of his life. Then Balabar Smenk and his boundless ambition came to town. In his youth, Tilgast would have relished the challenge, but he didn't move fast enough to block Smenk's ascent, which has led directly to his own decline. Tilgast currently fuels enormous energy into building an alliance against Smenk that includes Luzane Parrin and a handful of weak mine managers from the neighboring towns of Steaming Springs and Blackstone.
The grandeur of Gelch Tilgast's stylish estate far outstrips its owner's current influence, which has been in free fall since Balabar Smenk first infested Diamond Lake. Tilgast maintains a family of seven fine thoroughbred horses within a well-managed stable enclosed in a stockade wall. Wealthy visitors and a few residents of the town pay 1 gp per day to stable a favorite horse within the compound, where a clutch of meticulous grooms tends to the animal's every need.
In decades past, nobles from the Free City flocked to Diamond Lake to sail upon its crystal clear waters. Mine tailings, waste runoff, and other pollution ended the practice almost a century ago, but the rotting carcasses of once elaborate piers still jut into the lake's murky waters. A few masts peek out from the surface, tombstones of abandoned fishing vessels from more recent times. Regular fish cannot survive in the tainted waters, leaving only dangerous, hardy predators like the ravenous, toothy gar that have become such a problem in recent years. Those who venture across Diamond Lake do so at their own risk.
For a piece of silver, a retired marine named Durskin will ferry up to six passengers across the lake in his sloop, a dingy vessel called the Autumn Runner. The destitute boatman lives on the deck of his boat, which smells of urine and teems with fleas and sea mites. Those seeking a safer passage must rely upon the Harkness, a ten-man sailboat maintained by the shadowy cult of the Green Lady, who use the vessel to cross back and forth between Diamond Lake and the cairn in which their order holds its services to Wee Jas, goddess of magic and death. Passage on the Harkness costs 3 sp, and passengers must endure bothersome sermons on the exquisite beauty of death and the arcane prowess of the Dark-Eyed Lady. In either case, it takes about 30 minutes to cross from one shore of the lake to the other.
(The following still to come....)
Able Carter Coaching Inn
The Rusty Bucket
Diamond Lake Boneyard