Okay, here is the background for your starting area. Your group is really diverse, and I have not decided exactly how to write your back story. Character bios might help (hint). For the moment, you are starting in the town of Westwall where you will have been living for the last 3 months in an empty farmhouse owned by a relative of the human in your party. you will have become acquainted with Sheriff Gil Balder, and some members of the Farmer's Council. You may form your own opinion on the growth in Westwall, but due to your party's connection to some of the older townsfolk, you are not insensitive to their opinions.
Westwall is built around one of the last standing remains of the Great Western Wall of Brest, the ancient seat of commerce for the Avernian Confederation. A small portion of the once formidable wall, 30 feet thick, roughly 45 feet tall and 400 feet long, is all that remains of the fabled defenses in the area. Razed at the beginning of the Sundering War over 1400 years ago, the remnants of Brest were long considered haunted, unholy lands, scourged by the ravages of Anavions Armies. Time heals most wounds, and when humans finally returned to the lands around Brest some 300 years ago, they found a fertile frontier land seemingly unhaunted by anything but the stones of the past. The remnants of Brest itself are still considered taboo by most, but a few intrepid adventurers are rumored to have investigated first hand.
Westwall is situated roughly 9 miles north of the ruins of Brest proper. The surviving section of the Great Western Wall stands near the eastern bank of the Saystan River, 35 miles south of its source, Green Lake. The river continues south, flowing past the ruins of Brest and the remnants of the Stoneborn Bridge. Across the river, several miles to the west, the foothills of the Sayan Mountains begin to rise. The land to the east of Westwall is fertile farmland, a patchwork of family fields and dotted with farmhouses. Farther east the meadowlands give way to the sparse scrub of the Sistal Forest. The forest thickens within miles, becoming the impenetrable wood that ignites the fears of the excitable.
Westwall was a loose community of roughly 100 families. The town was run by the Farmers Council, a group of community members selected by their peers. A sheriff managed a local militia, which would muster to deal with small raids by feral halfmen, poaching by lowland bandits, wolves attacking the flocks, and even small group of orc raiders from the Sayan Mountains. Most years were uneventful, and in some years the full militia never mustered. Taxes were collected to see to the meager needs of the town, and a reserve was kept on hand for those years that the human Kingdom of Trier actually remembered to send collectors. Life in Westwall was simple and usually quiet.
Things began to change 9 years ago. A party of 40 Sayani Underlanders, dwarves from the depths of the Sayan mountains, appeared across the river from Westwall, searching for a fordable point. The Underlanders were resplendently attired, clad in full armor adorned with precious metals and gemstones. They carried exquisite weapons of the finest craftsmanship, and pulled with them 10 heavily laden carts. Such wealth had not been seen in the area of Brest for 1400 years, and the Underlanders themselves were believed to have been exterminated in the Sundering War. The citizens of Westwall began to panic as the dwarves set up camp across the Saystan.
The militia was mustered, and for three days it watched the dwarves in their camp, followed up and down river as Underlander scouts searched for safe crossings, and strained to hear shouts from the dwarves as they were drowned in the din from the river. On the fourth day, the apparent leader of the Underlanders attached a small coffer to the ferry line and indicated that it should be drawn across the river. The ferry was untethered and the coffer was drawn across. Inside, the citizens of Westwall found finely cut gemstones, several ingots of a fine silvered metal, a large medallion bearing the image of a dwarven lord, and a letter written in very poor common. It read:
Good morrow, men. I be great friend, I bring great things. You have great things and I be friends. I have peace. I make peace great friend. Arkham Coldforge.
The ferry was tethered and the Sayani Underlander leader, Arkham Coldforge, came across. After several hours, and some divine assistance from Brother Lee of Dell, Arkham and Sheriff Gil Balder reached an accord. The remaining Sayani were ferried across, the best livestock was slaughtered, and the dwarves and men feasted for two days. On the third day, the Sayani left, hitching their carts (which were a bit lighter for the gifts they had left) to their newly acquired mules and followed Sheriff Gils eager son, Sten, toward the Kingdom of Trier.
Sten returned six weeks later, bringing even more gifts from the dwarves and from the King of Trier himself. The harvest came, the weather cooled, and winter set upon the land. The exiting encounter with the Sayani continued to dominate comversation, and the tales for which everyone was present began to grow a bit longer and more ornate. Late spring brought with it a return of the dwarves, 30 of them, headed back to the mountains, carts heavily laden with human cargo. They were accompanied by 40 men of rank from Trier, 50 men-at-arms, and a pack train of 100 mules and 25 carts. Westwall was poised to become a center of commerce, picking up the ancient mantle of Brest.
And that is exactly what has happened. Half of the men of rank and half of the met-at-arms never left Westwall. When the Sayani Underlanders and kings men from Trier crossed the Saystan to head into the mountains, those left behind began immediate construction of a small outpost just south of the West Wall, overlooking the ferry. Trier would never again forget Westwall.
Today, 9 years after the reacquaintance with the Underlanders, Westwall is a comparative metropolis. Where once 100 human families farmed and lived in peace and quiet, now 1300 inhabitants scurry to keep pace with immigaration and growth. A small number of dwarves now live alongside the mostly human population. Several families of gnomes have been drawn to the opportunity in Westwall, and last year two elves, claiming to be from the Sistal Forest (though no one believes elves still live in this part of the world) bought a small farmhouse from the Wickerwell family. The small outpost of 25 men-at-arms is now a small garrison, with 8 stone walls, inhabited by 100 men-at-arms and 30 calvary. The loose collection of common buildings that once comprised the town center is now crowded with two commercial halls, 4 inns, 3 taverns, a dozen plus small shops, a small temple, the Sayani Consulate, and the foundation for the new administrative building for the County of Brest, Kingdom of Trier. Trade caravans between the Sayani Underlands and Trier pass through Westwall on an almost weekly basis during warmer seasons. The Sayani recently have gained permission to build a small community on the western bank of the Saystan River, and that news has been the source of much talk. A permanent wooden bridge now spans the river, and there is talk of building a wider, stone structure.
A few of the original citizens live in the town itself, but most have retreated to their farms or moved farther out in the country. Sheriff Gil Balder has been reelected for his 15th year in service, but spends most of his time trying to keep peace between the Farmers Council, which is wrestling with its dimished role in the community, and the County Administrator, Captain Armin Longstadt. The garrison regularly patrols the area and deals with serious threats to trade. The militia still reports to Sheriff Gil, but has been reduced to dealing with drunks, brawls, and issues with the original farmers of Westwall who are primarily ignored by the County Administrator. When the feral halfmen raided Widow Hansens farm, stealing her livestock, the militia was left to deal with it. When a small party of orcs killed two mules in a Sayani packtrain, half of the garrison mustered to track down and destroy the responsible orcs.
Priorities in Westwall are changing with the town. It is a place of frustration and opportunity. Many come seeking to make a fortune, and many leave in despair. The interests of the farmers of Westwall may no longer take priority, but there are many who seek to preserve those interests amidst the growth that burns through the community.
Westwall is where you find yourselves. You are a diverse group human, halfling, elf and xeph brought together by chance and held together by friendship and common purpose. The human has roots in Westwall before the Sayani rediscovery, and the halfling among his feral kinsman to the north. The elf and the xeph are odd, even in a busy trade center like Westwall, but only the xeph is unique. You are an unusual group as you walk down the street, but the unusual rarely draws much attention in Westwall anymore.
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- Lazlo Hollyfeld
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Mess, great start last night...it was fun!
"you see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. you're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. where can you go from there? where?"