The West Kingdom, ruled by Berenger II, is a vast land, difficult to control. Its isolated towns are bastions of relative peace and order. The King's soldiers patrol the roads as best they can. But the woods, hills, ruins and caves remain untamed. From these regions, the minions of chaos come forth to menace the folk of Berenger's realm. With resources stretched, the King's men are fortunate to simply hold the settlements and byways. Only small companies of roving adventurers press the attack into the dark places where the enemies of the Kingdom abide. Fairbrook is where the story begins for one such band.
Emblem of the West Kingdom
Population Distribution of the West Kingdom
Most towns and villages are relatively integrated, though humans are the majority race. On average, in any given town or village the population distribution is approximately:
This, however, is just an average, and some towns or villages will have this distribution skewed somewhat toward one race or another.
Religion in the West Kingdom
The West Kingdom has only one major (and official) religion, and that is the "Church of the Light." The Church worships an all-encompassing natural "spirit" that is believed to be responsible for all things related to birth, growth, healing, comfort, simple moderate pleasures, community and productivity. Worshipers are both lawful and neutral in alignment. Having no competing lawful or neutral religions, the Church is extremely wealthy. The church's symbol is a shining four-pointed north-star, varying in color, typically white, silver, or gold.
Emblem of the Church of the Light
There are no officially accepted chaotic religions, though chaotic cults pop up from time to time.
Banking in the West Kingdom
There are two primary types of financial institutions in the West Kingdom, both of which cooperate extensively. These are the Royal Banking Houses, and the Church of the Light. Every reasonably sized town will have one or both of these institutions present, though sometimes smaller villages may not.
The Calendar of the West Kingdom
The West Kingdom calendar is quite regular, made up of twelve months (January through December) consisting of four weeks of seven days (Sunday through Saturday). There are therefore 28 days to each month, and 336 days in a year. Each week of the month is dominated by a segment of the lunar cycle:
Week One: Waxing Half
Week Two: Full
Week Three: Waning Half
Week Four: New
The "true" portion of each lunar phase occurs at mid-week, though for the purposes of most events requiring a particular lunar phase, the entirety of the week is "close enough" for the event to be triggered (e.g. for certain magic to work, for were-transformations to occur, etc.). Some subtler events may only occur at the "true" point of the phase at mid-week.
A General Description of Fairbrook
Fairbrook is a medium sized town, surrounded by a wooden palisade for protection. There are gates in the north, east and south walls, out of which run the roads to Woodfield, Stag Hollow and Ham's Fork Roads respectively. The bridge where the Woodfield Road crosses the Coldstream is wide enough for two carts to pass side by side, and is made of stone. The bridge where the Stag Hollow Road crosses the Coldstream is narrower and made of wood. Each town gate is protected by a wooden watchtower, and each watchtower is typically manned by two bow- and sword-armed guards. In addition, the palisade wall has an interior platform which is walked by individual guards on patrol. Several wells, in addition to fountains fed by underground pipes from the Coldstream, supply water to the town. The town's buildings are a mix of stone, wood, and half-timber designs. There is some moderate agricultural activity in the fields around Fairbrook, mostly vegetables, dairy cows, and sheep. However, the bulk of the economy of Fairbrook lies in trade. Goods come and go along the three roads, and there are barge landings near the two bridges (only low flat barges can pass beneath them).
A Map of The Region of Fairbrook
A Map of the Immediate Outskirts of Fairbrook
A Map of the Center of Fairbrook
A New Arrival's Guide To Fairbrook
Recent arrivals to Fairbrook will quickly become aware of the following key points.
The Mayor's residence is a large stone building with a gray slate roof. The building houses the mayor's office, a small administrative library and a conference room where the mayor meets with local notables on official business. Town notables are in and out all the time, so this place can be an excellent source of both official fact and official rumor.
The Temple has the typical architecture of an edifice devoted to the Light – a square white stone chapel with a domed roof, atop which stands a golden metal casting of the four-pointed North Star, symbol of the faith. The temple often offers healing services, for which a donation is customarily given (and indeed, expected). They also raise money by selling non-magical balms, holy symbols, and holy water.
The Red Tankard Inn is a large, half-timbered building with several floors and a dark brown slate roof. A swinging sign-board above the front door bears the emblem of a large scarlet mug and the inn's name. Meals and libations can be had here, as well as accommodations of varying – but reasonable – cost and comfort. The inn has an excellent reputation for its dishes made from local mutton, and the Red Tankard is known throughout the town – and indeed as far away as Woodfield, Stag Hollow and even Brewer's Mill – for its celebrated crimson ale which no establishment in the region has ever been able to duplicate. The inn is the town's most common haunt for adventurers and, as such, is the best all around location for acquiring both information and hirelings.
The General Store is a large half-timbered building with a black slate roof. The owner sells just about any kind of gear and equipment an adventurer could need except for steel weapons (other than daggers), metal armor, metal tools and religious items.
The Smithy consists of a store building and an open outbuilding workshop, and sells any and all standard metal goods, including weapons and armor.
The Stable will house travelers' horses or other beasts. Additionally, the stablemaster always has a few horses and/or mules for sale. In addition to the actual stable itself, there is also a fenced-in exercise area where the animals are kept and allowed to walk freely during the daytime whenever the weather permits.
Cosmo's Curiosities is located just west of the stable. The shop buys and sells all variety of antiques, nick-nacks, bric-a-brac, books, jewelry and personal items, etc. Rumor has it that for certain discriminating customers, Cosmo may also keep a few "special" items of a less mundane nature for sale in a secret back room.
The Settlements Near Fairbrook
The Villages: The villages have mixed populations of humans and demi-humans. By and large the villages themselves are fairly secure, though often are menaced by monsters and villains in the wilderness areas nearby. The most notable villages are...
Woodfield: Land around the town consists mainly of open fields broken up by small woods, hence the name. The town itself is protected by a wooden fence with ornately carved gates in a vine motif. The woodcarvers and cabinet makers of Woodfield are well reputed.
Ham's Fork: A tiny village, known only for its production of pork products. Once, while touring the region around Fairbrook, King Horace V, father of the present king, was heard to remark "Very good pig country." He briefly considered marrying his youngest son, Herbert, to the mayor's daughter, but then thought better of it.
Brewer's Mill: The main agricultural product of this village is grain. The village is known for its bakers, and especially for its highly reputed local beer and ale brewers, who make the finest brews of the region (second only to the Crimson Ale brewed at the Red Tankard Inn at Fairbrook). There are slightly more halflings here than in most towns.
Stag Hollow: A small town that grew up serving the needs of the hunting parties of the court of Berenger I, grandfather to the current king Berenger II. In its heyday, the town was far larger than it is now. The town has no pallisade, only a ditch and a low stone wall. Many of the inhabitants are hunters, who sell skins and preserved meat to nearby Fairbrook. They are, obviously, excellent archers, and the town has a slightly larger-than-average population of elves.
The Wilderness Near Fairbrook
Cloudhead: There is a dwarven mining camp on this small mountain situated between two smaller hills known as "the shoulders." The mine is a rich source of iron, supplying Fairbrook with the materials to make tools and weapons. It's said the miners keep giant snakes as pets, to deal with the giant spiders with which the hill is infested.
Cobb's Hill: Named for a famous bandit chieftain who is said to have been the first to establish his camp here, bandits have often set up camp here on and off over the centuries. It is suspected that the area is currently home to a group of bandits whose camp is on the wooded hilltop.
Roundtop: This tall hill is named for is unusually rounded summit. It is inhabited by giant boars, who feed on all manner of small mammals (and even some larger ones such as deer). The boars have a symbiotic relationship with an unusual variety of stirge that eats the giant ticks with which the boars are plagued. At times, hunting parties from Stag Hollow, mostly skilled elven archers, track and kill the boars, and then sell the tusks, skins and bristles to merchants in Fairbrook.
The Blackleaf Forest: The forest has a generally unwholesome air about it. The air inside is stale and stuffy and smells vaguely of rot. Even the leaves on the trees have a blackened color to them. A small population of werewolves lives in this forest. They keep normal wolves as pets, and the werewolves often lead packs of them when they themselves are in wolf form. The only real enemy the werewolves have is a cleric of the Light from Ham's Fork, who, monthly, lays wolf traps at the western edge of Blackleaf forest just before each full moon.
North Stagwood: The Stagwood (north and south) was once the favorite hunting ground of the king's grandfather, Berenger I. Bergener I's son, Horace V, and the current king, Berenger II, preferred other hunting grounds and neither ever came here. The small ruined castle in the north Stagwood once served Berenger I as a hunting lodge. But now it is overgrown and almost lost to the forest.
South Stagwood: Once connected to North Stagwood. However the building of Stag Hollow caused enough land to be cleared to split the Stagwood at its narrowest point into the North and South woods that exist today. Few people actually go into Stagwood, as there are rumors that a dragon lives there, though no one has seen it for years, and some even doubt its existence.
Blackwell Keep (The North Road Ruins): There is a an old ruined keep, known as Blackwell, overlooking the North Road on the way to Woodfield. The keep is made of dark stone, and draped with thick, scraggly vines. It is so old, that there is no record of who built it, or for what purpose. Many say it is as old as the road itself, and was originally built to keep watch over the highway, but no one is certain. There are rumors upon rumors of foul monsters and buried treasures in the dungeons beneath the keep.
The Scarlet Forest: The trees of the forest are quite ordinary, but frequent morning and evening mists affect the light coming through the trees, such that many times, after dawn and just before dusk, the whole forest seems to glow with a red light. The forest is home to a variety of animals, the most notable of which is the brown bear. Some of them even allow themselves to become more or less domesticated pets of the occasional ogre that lives here and there in the forest, getting themselves well fed in exchange for acting as guard animals.
Evermarsh: Evermarsh is a damp, muddy, fetid, swamp, as unpleasant as can be imagined. People steer away from it, since it is rumored to be the source of all sorts of diseases, as well as nasty, creeping, crawling creatures of all sorts – for example, giant snakes, who feed off of giant centipedes and spiders. There are trolls living there as well, who live primarily off the snakes.