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[Adelfarn]
A Fantasy Town Setting

Copyright © 2001 by Bob Hall.

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This unusual town can be used in just about any fantasy setting. Feel free to adopt this town to your own role-playing campaign. To begin, please read the general overview below. Once you have the big picture, click on the links above for interesting details and maps of the town.

Description

Adelfarn (Small City): Magical; AL LG; 15,000-gp limit; Assets 5,040,000; Population 6,721; Isolated (human 94%, dwarf 4%, elf 1%, other races 1%).
Authority Figures: Talos Xinzytl (Archmage) Wiz21; Tol Valderson, LN male human (Mayor) Exp3; Council of Seven.
Important Characters: Axle-rod Kineath (engineer) Exp4; Bar Ajax (shield man) Ftr5; Beorrin Honecutt (Blacksmith) Exp5; Garret Stymes (Trader) Ari3; Gunder Highstead (Champion of Justice) Ftr8; Krythrenes (Wizard) Wiz6; Ling Po (Herbalist) Exp8; Lionel Harbringer (Trader) Rog4; Myranna Theusus (Priestess of Eilorria) Clr7; Radiant Faust (Mercenary) Ftr6; Rupert Simeon (Trader) Rog5; Teguin Salizar (Wizard) Wiz8; Thikur Bingwig (Priest of Bharkhamel) Clr6; Troy Benford (Judge) Exp6; Watchman (Spy) Rog6/Sor3; Gwyneth Xinzytl (Sorceress) Sor16
Other: Town Guards, Ftr9 (x2), Ftr6 (x3), Ftr5 (x6), Ftr4 (x12), Ftr3 (x18), Ftr2 (x41), Ftr1 (x89); Brb9 (x1); Brb8 (x1); Brb5 (x2); Brb4 (x3); Brb2 (x10); Brb1 (x18); Brd11 (x1); Brd8 (x1); Brd5 (x2); Brd4 (x2); Brd2 (x9); Brd1 (19); Com17 (x1); Com16 (x1); Com9 (x2); Com8 (x3); Com5 (x4); Com4 (x6); Com3 (x8); Com2 (x21); Com1 (x45); Clr11 (x1); Clr10 (x1); Clr 5 (x2); Clr3 (x4); Clr2 (x5); Clr1 (x21); Drd11 (x1); Exp7 (x1); Ftr14 (x1); Ftr12 (x1); Ftr7 (x2); Ftr6 (x2); Ftr4 (x5); Ftr3 (x4); Ftr2 (x11); Ftr1 (x36); Rgr6 (x2); Rgr3 (x4); Rgr1 (x7); Rog11 (x1); Rog8 (x1); Rog5 (x1); Rog4 (x1); Rog2 (x8); Rog1 (x17); Sor8 (x1); Sor7 (x1); Sor4 (x2); Sor3 (x4); Sor2 (x5); Sor1 (x18); War11 (x1); War10 (x1); War5 (x4); War3 (x5); War2 (x7); War1 (x18); Wiz10 (x1); Wiz5 (x3); War3 (x8); Wiz2 (x11); Wiz1 (x21).

This walled town is clustered at the base of a promontory, atop which stands the Tower of Ghaelwyth. The town, and the surrounding land for several miles thereabout, enjoys no permanent station. Instead, the land of Adelfarn is subject to magical teleportation according to the calculated whims of its immortal ruler, Talos Xinzytl. The entire community may be found at any location in the world, and even in entirely different realms, yet it somehow manages to always blend into the surrounding landscape without disturbing the native terrain.

Although directions are indeterminate in a town of this nature, for the sake of reference, north will be taken as the direction of the Tower of Ghaelwyth as seen from the market square in the center of town.

Adelfarn has long been home to many a societal outcast, who for one reason or another fled their native land and found a home in this cosmopolitan community. There is an unspoken code of tolerance and unity about the people of the town that have stood them well through many a dire crisis. Their almost fanatical us-versus-them attitude towards the outside world lends the place a dark edge that is in sharp contrast to the town's otherwise decent and kindly nature.

Within the town walls, the buildings are constructed in a variety of styles and made from differing materials, depending on the origin and wealth of the builder. The large majority are half-timber style with stucco inset and steeply piched slate rooves. However, many are made from some combination of brick, stone, timber, and marble. Despite these clashing styles, however, the entire community seems to blend into a comfortable whole.


Beyond the towering arch of the main gate the clean, cobbled streets of the town of Adelfarn greet ones eyes. The buildings form a garrish clash of styles and colors that lean somewhat cockeyed over the narrow, bustling alleys. The people are equally diverse, with a strange mix of peoples and fashions from parts unknown. Newcomers often sense a certain about the place as if all who enter are welcome. The implicit message of the town is that of a place of sanctuary, as much accepting of new ideas and diverse peoples as most places are intolerant of the same. One find this aspect momentarily disorienting, as the place is so utterly different from past experience. Still the main road clearly beckons visitors on toward the bustling heart of the town.

Most of the narrow streets of Adelfarn are cobbled and well maintained, with most interconnecting without apparent design in the medieval manner. Every night at dusk, a lamp lighter places spheres of magically-flaming bronze in the posts located at most of the street intersections. These spheres are then collected immediately following sunrise.

Because many of the visitors to Adelfarn are illiterate, the merchants of the town follow the old custom of hanging a sign outside their establishment to advertise their presence. These are typically a simple painting of a person, creature, or object, and the name of the establishment matches the images on the sign. Thus a picture of a rooster and a bull would indicate the Cock and Bull Inn.

Many heated community greenhouses throughout the town provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the market. However, as there is little room for farming in the surrounding lands, the people must trade for most of their food. Fortunately, their constant travels have given the folk of Adelfarn an unrivaled opportunity to collect and trade rare goods from foreign lands. As a result, there are several warehouses in town that contain scores of unusual and valuable items suitable for barter. The town has done well over the years with their trading skills, and it shows in the general affluence of the folk. Prices in town are somewhat higher than normal, in part due to the difficult trading conditions.

[Saga Tower] Much storied Saga Tower in the SW corner of the town wall

Due to the varying climates to which the town is subject, the most common attire worn is a robe. White robes or a simple shift is worn in warm to hot conditions, then exchanged for heavier woolen robes when the weather grows cool. The footwear consists of elevated cogs, worn over leg coverings. A rimmed hat made from felt is often worn to ward off the rain, or provide shade. Apart from gaudy bead necklaces bearing charms or religious icons, jewelry is rare among the townfolk.

The lands about the town are primarily dedicated to grazing horses as well as a few hardy breeds of sheep and goat that can withstand the constant changes in climate. A stone wall about the outer perimeter of the land serves to keep the livestock from wandering outside the teleportation radius. To the west of the town lies a copse of shrivelled Oak trees, known as the Dells. A nearly impenetrable wall of thorns surrounds the Dells, making it a difficult staging point for an attack on the town.

The average duration that the town stays at any one location is roughly one year. Of course this can vary depending on the needs of Talos, ranging from as little as a month to one period lasting over a decade about two centuries ago. Talos tries to let the town folk know well in advance when the town will be leaving, allowing visitors to depart and the traders to return home. However such is not always possible and any number of residents have been lost when they were two far away to return in time.

If the town has spent a period of time in heavy conflict, Talos will attempt to locate Adelfarn in a peaceful location to allow the town folk to recuperate. During times of extensive conflict, however, the town can jump from one dangerous location to another, resulting in heavy loss of life.

Government

The town is run by Mayor Tol Valderson, with the backing of the town council. Council members consist of four prominent local citizens, two members of the clergy, a representative from the guard, and a guild scribe. They meet at least one day each week in the great hall of Valder Manor. Membership on the council is rotated once every two years among the prominent town citizens, although acceptance is voluntary. It is expected that council members will contribute more than their share of taxes to the city coffers, a practice that has often limited membership to town merchants with a thriving business.

Taxation within the town of Adelfarn is fairly low, since most of the council income is gained from fees on luxury goods sold to visitors and traders. Certain selected goods have a tariff that must be paid upon entry into the town, but most goods are passed without comment. There is also a modest dwelling tax paid by the head of each household or the owner of the business. The dwelling tax is based on the number of large rooms in the building, so some stingy merchants get around this by constructing a number of small storage chambers. Finally there is a tithe to pay for the upkeep of the temples and shrines within the town, which is supplemented by contributions from the laity.

The finances of the council are managed by an exchequer and a scribe assistant. The actual collection of taxes and fees is handled by members of the guard and a representative of the council.

The judge of all civil and criminal cases within Adelfarn is Troy Benford, Talos' legal deputy within the town. He has complete freedom in sentencing criminals, although in extreme cases his judgement is subject to countermanding by Talos. Sentences within Adelfarn can sometimes be quite extreme, ranging from a fine to a public flogging, a number of hours in the stocks, confinement to gaol, loss of a hand or foot, banishment, and various forms of execution. Slavery is not permitted within Adelfarn, so permanent servitude can not be given as a sentence.

Trader Hall serves as the official mint of the town. The standard coins used within Adelfarn are flattened spheroids of almost pure silver with a straight hole drilled through the center and a decorative band around the waist. These coins, known as the Aknos, are regular in weight and more difficult to successfully shave than disk-shaped silver coins.

The hole through the sphere allows the coins to be threaded as beads or mounted on a pin. A widely circulated bronze coin, known as a Dipra, is slightly larger in diameter and is worth one eighth of an Aknos. For accounting purposes, fifty Aknos are known as a Hoven while a thousand Aknos are called a Talost. However, no such large denomination coins are actually minted.

The black on gold pennant of Adelfarn consists of three vertical stripes, with the center longer than the outer two, all capped by a bar, above which dances a triple flame. The flag is hung vertically with the side attached to a pole.

Defenses

The military forces of the Adelfarn consist of 145 regular guards, 26 officers, and about 360 militia. During times of siege, these are joined by the elite Red Guards and the deadly Ruby Talon Company. Several regular guard patrols, consisting of eight to ten guards and an officer, travel through the town streets both day and night, keeping an eye out for troublemakers or foreign incursions. There is also a rotating watch of thirty to forty guards who patrol the walls and man the towers.

Those who would join the town watch must have resided within the walls of Adelfarn for at least a year and a day. Initiation requires a test by the officers to determine if the candidate can handle himself in combat. The fight consists of two long rounds of unarmored mock combat followed by a round in armor, each round ending after a sand glass has expired or the initiate lands a proper blow. If the initiate can strike the officer during each round then he has passed the test. Should the initiate prove ready then he is sworn in with an oath of allegiance and given a permanent bunk within the Iron Hall.

Members of the watch serve five days on and two days off. Each shift lasts ten hours and the guards spend six months each on the day and night shifts for the first year. Thereafter the guard is given more flexibility about choosing his watch, although as an incentive the night watch or perimeter patrols can earn the guard a modest improvement in his wages. If the guard serves the town loyally for at least five years then he becomes eligible to be an officer, although achieving rank usually requires proof of valor and demonstration of superior skill and leadership.

Due to the high risk situations into which the town is frequently placed, the guards are very alert. Indeed, the penalty for a lapse of attention on a watch is unusually severe. The garotte post in front of the Iron Hall is used for the infrequent floggings required to maintain discipline.

The regular guards wear a fine mail hauberk with a nasal helm, leather leggings, and a short black and gold surcoat bearing the town symbol. They are armed with sword staff, falchion, and dagger. Officers carry a long sword with a kite shield hung from their back. During a siege, the guard will be equipped with either a crossbow or spear and kite shield. Depending on their origins and training, the militia use a variety of equipment, including boiled leather and woven cord armor, various pole arms, long knives, crossbows, short bows, some shields, and the occasional helm.

The outer stone walls of the town are unusually high and thick for such a modest community, having been tested many times by siege from both ground and air. A number of defensive missile towers are located throughout the town, allowing the defenders to protect all parts of the community from airborne attack. All citizens of the town are expected to participate in the defense of Adelfarn, and even the weakest residents must be respected for their skill at arms. The militia is well armed, trained, and led by the disgraced former knight Gunder Highstead, who also serves as Talos' champion of law.

The original wall around Adelfarn was built in haste, a sign of the fair desperation of the early inhabitants. The barrier consisted of a one meter high, solid stone base base laid in a fairly regular circle about the town. On top of the base an inner and outer brickwork face was added to bring the height to almost three half meters. Rubble was used to fill in the gap, using whatever material lay at hand.

The wall has been rebuilt several times over the centuries, and each time the height has been increased by building around and on top of the previous wall. The masonry has been improved considerably with time and now the wall is a solid four meters thick and rises seven to eight meters in height above the current ground level.

The walls are said to be reinforced by permanent magical wards that strenghten the masonry and inhibit the bypassing of the defenses through the use of magic. A wide, crenelated walkway runs completely around the wall, and towers have been added at regular intervals. These towers reinforce the wall and serve as a fortress that can stand alone against enemy attack. Like the wall these towers have been improved and enlarged over time.

In past centuries the ground directly in front of the wall was dug out to form a great moat with a depth of over five meters. The inner wall of the moat was lined with great stone blocks about a meter in thickness. The town had difficulty maintaining the water level in the moat, however, so it was filled in at a later date. Now the stone barrier lies deep beneath the ground to serve as an obstacle to any sappers. A number of stone-buttressed sally tunnels were also left in place that allow the town defenders to punch through the ground behind a besieging enemy in a surprise attack.

[Town of Adelfarn] Town of Adelfarn as seen from the east at a great height

Religion

Thanks to the manner in which the residents were introduced into this place, the number of gods worshipped in Adelfarn is perhaps the most diverse of any town or city in the lands. Many shrines are to be found throughout the residence, ranging from small monuments in niches to prayer benches and hidden prayer rooms. In fact there are so many such scattered here and there about the town that in many cases the locals have forgotten which god the shrine was intended to honor.

It is not uncommon for Adelfarn to appear in a new location and for the locals to discover a long abandoned shrine to their patron deity. Most of the streets within the town are named after a prominent shrine at that location, and the locals are used to finding their way about the town by locating the nearest shrines.

A number of such religious shrines are also to be found beneath the town in the underwarrens, where the denizens who dwell in those dark tunnels worship unknown gods. The nature of these gods and the locations of their shrines and temples are a complete mystery to the town surface dwellers. Indeed many would prefer it that way, and tales of the dark practices in these temples are used to scare children away from venturing into the hazardous places below the town. Whether there is any truth to such superstitions or not, they are often the subject of lively rumors within the town.

As people go, the residents of the town are unusually devout to their chosen deity, although not fanatically so. (The exception being the Society of Unbelievers described elsewhere at this site.) The past difficulties and the many harrowing events that mark the lives of the town folk have increased their faithfulness and it is very unusual for any temple or a significant shrine to be found empty for long periods.

There have been three particular gods worshipped by the residents of Adelfarn, and each of these has a developed a significant temple, priesthood, and following of their own. Two of these temples are located beside the Adel Springs and were originally founded in this town due to the presence of this magical water supply.

Located to the north and west of the Adel Springs is the Sanctum of Eilorria, run by the High Priestess Myranna Theusus. This is the temple of Silvera, the patron goddess of the town and the deity whom Talos serves in his travels. By long tradition she is known within the town as the Lady of Light and is much revered due to the many times her will has saved the town folk.

Silvera is the patron goddess of all forms of defense, including fortifications, walls, barriers, shields, and armor. Her name is invoked as a blessing during the reconstruction of walls about the town and she sees to the needs of the people during sieges. She especially favors guardians and her blessing keeps the guard watch alert and ready.

Along the southwest banks of the Adel Springs is the abandoned Cailwyrth Temple. Prior to the curse that forced this temple to close this was the place of worship of La'ahl, a Goddess of Comradery, Marriage, and Healing. Since the closure, however, worship of this once popular goddess has diminished among the residents of the town due to the lack of priests. She is still followed by a few of the devout, however. A new shrine has been built to this goddess near the gate of returning.

Just to the south of the Iron Hall is the Church of Eternal Victory, a temple dedicated to the Bharkhamel, the God of War. This god has developed a strong following among the locals due to the many perilous conflicts into which the town has been placed. In turn all of the priests of Bharkhamel, including their High Priest Thikur Bingwig, are members of the local militia and have bravely defended the town many times.

This god favors the side of a battle most prepared for war, and so his followers encourage a constant martial spirit in the town. When the people grow war weary, as they often will, the priests work to buttress morale and sharpen the edge of the guards. They also see to the stocking of armaments and siege provisions, provide advanced training for new militia members, and scout out the neighborhood whenever Adelfarn teleports to a new location. As is traditional with the worship of Bharkhamel, doors to the temple of this god remain closed to the public during times of peace. Such episodes are rare in Adelfarn, however, and the halls of the temple are normally open.