Ghosts of Fallen Stars (Iron Gods)
Torch: Blacksmithing town of Numeria
Torch is an unusual town in central Numeria that sits around a bizarre, black hillock known as Black Hill. Atop the hill is the town’s namesake: a brilliant purple bonfire that has been burning for 61 years.
On an unknown day of 4650 AR, a big pillar of violet flame spontaneously erupted from a desolate hillock in the middle of Numeria, today known as Black Hill. There was no town around the hill before then. For nearly a year the fires lanced into the sky, forming a purple column of fire that could be seen for miles around.
At that time, the Technic League of Numeria, responsible for controlling the access and usage of strange technology, was experiencing a period of upheaval in the capital of Starfall, and its agents were unable to investigate the rumors of the column of fire to the south.
But by 4652, the flames had died down to a man-sized bonfire, leaving the top of the hill blasted and blackened. The people that have gathered around for weeks studied this fire and discovered unique properties apt for the blacksmithing industry. They were convinced at last to begin a settlement and name it Torch, after the eponymous violet flame. By the time the Technic League sorted its internal politics out and sent representatives to investigate in 4660, its agents found a burgeoning village growing around the base of the hill and the flame.
On The Violet Flame
The violet flame burning and dancing on top of Black Hill is normally the size of an adult human and requires no fuel to maintain, burning for 61 years.
The first settlers of Torch discovered that the violet 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.
The violet flame occasionally bursts into a devastating miles-high pillar of flame. 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.
Torch is a center of smithing and metalworking thanks to the Black Hill fire’s unique properties. Anything that disrupts the flame also disrupts the town’s economy. Smiths and artisans have gathered in this town for decades now, using the fire to experiment as well as for melting the strongest materials with ease. Torch is also somewhat of a tourist attraction, with nobles, merchants, mages, and academics visiting it to see such curiosity (and hoping that the violet flame will burst into a sky-high pillar while they are in town).
Because Torch was founded by artisans with a common interest, the economy revolves a lot on cooperativism.
Torch pays a monthly tax or tribute of gold to the Technic League in exchange for autonomy. The League’s ever-changing demands have limited the town’s growth and fomented increasing resentment, but the tribute remains low enough to avoid an uprising.
Relationship with the Technic League
When agents of the Technic League arrived to Torch on 4660, they did a cursory examination of the fire and 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.
Government and Security
Torch does not have much of a strong government and instead relies a lot on models of responsible anarchism and cooperativism. There is a council that takes the difficult, urgent, or contested decisions and is composed of five members which are elected every several years (when the town feels the need).
The rest of the government functions are carried out by capable professionals in the respective fields. For example, matters of security are overseen by the guard’s captain, while matters of economy are attended by the guild of artisans with the help of the council.
Notes on Infrastructure
- A few farms and outposts lie in the valley surrounding the town’s plateau.
- Most of Torch’s buildings are constructed of stone or bricks, 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.
- These are the nearby bodies of water: Seven Tears River, Crowfeather Lake (formed by waters that emanate from the Weeping Pond but are purified in the Crownfeather Palace).
These are the most prominent locations in Torch. The number before each location is the legend that indicates where in the Torch map it is found. Some minor NPCs mentioned here have a brief description in the next section: Notable NPCs.
1. Iven’s Livery Stable: This is a stable near the entrance of Torch for buying and selling animals or leaving them in the care of the owners: Iven and Annika.
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. Most of the routine adventuring gear listed in the Core Rulebook can be found here, but owner Ingrid leaves the sale of armor and weapons to Torch’s guildhouse artisans. Her special stock currently includes a cloak of protection +1, five trauma packs, a wand of identify (10 charges), a +1 flaming warhammer, and a filter mask.
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 Garmeth Ulrich runs the place, and is not-so-secretly assisted by a gang of Kellid thieves known as the Ropefists.
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. It is run by Wenny Dalrom, although some say that Garmeth Ulrich secretly controls it.
5. The Copper Coin: One of Torch’s tavern; a quality establishment with good food at reasonable prices. Owned by siblings Lawton Rimos (runs the kitchen) and Katina Rimos (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.
7. Olandir Estate: house of Seranna Olandir.
8. Oterby Manor: The traditional house of the Oterby family (and Barlundi).
9. Weeping Pond: No vegetation grows on the banks of this contaminated 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 character who is fully immersed in the waters must make a successful DC 11 Fortitude save to avoid being sickened for 1 minute after emerging from the water. Drinking water from the Weeping Pond has the same effect but the drinker takes a –4 penalty on the saving throw.
A shallow stream runs southeast of the pond and finally empties into Crowfeather Lake (see below).
10. Crowfeather Palace: This is a palace-resembling building that is used really for purifying the waters that emanate from the Weeping Pond and from the Crownfeather Lake. The water-purifying mechanism was invented by Konir Blaine with the help of the local priesthood of Brigh.
It also houses some basic prison.
11. Market Square: 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: This is a tavern and foundry owned by Konir Blaine and her daughter, Valaris Blaine.
13. Tempting Tonics: Originally opened for dealing with the tainted water from the Weeping Pond. Owned by Jelinne. Offers poisons, antitoxin, healing potions, and even a few technological pharmaceuticals.
14. Seven Tears Farms: The produce grown here feeds most of Torch, thanks to the owner of the farms, a matronly woman named Cecilia Vreed.
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 priest of Pharasma named Mylan attends this minor chapel, and also attends the graveyard.
17. Temple of Brigh: Bronze wind chimes and clockwork statues decorate the domed portico of this compound dedicated to the goddess of invention, Brigh, the oldest and main faith in Torch. The town’s religious leader, Joram Kester manages it and its small workshop, which also sells magic items and gear.
18. Evercandle Inn: Sianna owns and runs this inn, which has candles that never diminish.
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. Owned by Agren Faust.
20. Warehouse District
21. Torch Guildhouse: This large building is home to the Wildfire guild of skilled armorers, blacksmiths, weaponsmiths, and artisans. Established by Barlundi Oterby. It has some expensive magic items for sale.
22. Dolga’s Foundry: A busy foundry owned and operated by Dolga Feder and her team of veteran crafters.
23. Junkyard: Unprofitable components and debris smelted for skymetal invariably find their way to Torch’s junkyard. A gnome called Garin organizes it. 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: This bald escarpment rises at a steep slope in the middle of town. The town’s namesake torch burns at the hill’s peak, emerging from a 5-foot-wide hole in the ground.
A nearby building hosts Black Hill Craneworks: an enterprise run by Smeltrunner Onah Unter to coordinate access to the hill’s flame and ensure merchants pay the appropriate tribute to the town’s treasury. Four specially-designed adamantine carts are used to ferry ore to and from the fire.
Here are several popular persons of Torch:
1. Iven Lesky (male half-elf): owner of Iven’s Livery Stable. A retired tracker who chose to settle in Torch after falling in love and marrying a young Kellid woman named Annika.
2. Ingrid Kollisun (female human): owner of the General Store.
3. Garmeth Ulrich (male human): owner of gambling den Silverdisk Hall.
4. Wenny Dalrom (female half-elf): owner of the Merrymaid bordello. Some say she’s the illegitimate daughter of an elven prince from Kyonin and a high priestess of Calistria.
5. Lawton and Katina Rimos (male and female humans): siblings that own the Copper Coin tavern.
6. Seranna Olandir (female human): charismatic, influential leader of Torch’s town council.
7. Barlundi Oterby (male human): leader of the Wildfire guild of crafters in Torch.
8. Konir Blaine and Valaris ‘Val’ Blaine (male and female humans): Owners of the Foundry Tavern.
9. Jelinne Imarien (female half-elf): the town’s apothecary and healer.
10. Cecilia Vreed (female human): owner of the Seven Tears Farms.
11. Mylan Radi (male human): cleric of Pharasma; not the main religious figure.
12. Joram Kester (male human): temple keeper of Brigh and council member.
13. Sianna Mulgrave (old female human): Evercandle’s proprietor.
14. Agren Faust (male human): owner of Boarding House.
15. Dolga Feder (female dwarf): Torch’s oldest councilor.
16. Garin Burwadle (male gnome): bleachling gnome who is the Junkmaster of the Junkyard.
17. Smeltrunner Onah Unter (female half-orc): she coordinates access to the violet flame. 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.
18. Captain Arialu Langer (female human): captain of the guard.