Companions of Corralitos: Iron Gods
"The first time I seen that purple fire shoot up into the sky, it liked to scare all my damn goats. They started bleating something fierce and then they up and bolted straight through the pen, knocking down half the posts. It took me two days to get 'em all together again and back in the pen, and after that the nanny goats wouldn't give milk for a week. And the goats weren't the only ones frightened to hell! I shot up out of bed and darted to the window as the ground rumbled – I got tangled up in my blankets and damn near fell flat on my face! The sky was cloudy that night. And that purple flame lit up the whole thing in an eerie glow. I thought them demons from up north had attacked us for sure"
- Old Man Cogsburn, Local Farmer
Torch takes its name from the violet flame that burns atop its central hill. The fires ignited spontaneously in 4502 AR, and for nearly a year they lanced into the sky, forming a purple column of fire that could be seen for miles around. At the time, the Technic League was experiencing a period of upheaval in Starfall, and its agents were unable to investigate the rumors of the column of fire to the south. By 4604, the flames had died down to a man-sized bonfire, leaving the top of the hill blasted and blackened. Several industrious locals soon discovered the 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. After a few sudden flare-ups resulted in the tragic incineration of several smiths and their partially completed forge, 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.
In this way, Torch has sustained itself. By the time the Technic League sorted its internal politics out and sent representatives to investigate in 4612, its agents found a burgeoning village growing around the base of the hill. After a cursory examination of the fire, representatives from the Technic League 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.
What the Technic League doesn't know and the citizens of Torch only recently discovered is that the source of the town's fame and prosperity is the malfunctioning reactor of a long-buried habitat module that broke free of the starship Divinity during the Rain of Stars more than 9,000 years ago. This was recently found out when the violet torch that gives the town its name went out, and after numerous other expeditions were lost in the caves beneath Black Hill, it was finally reignited and its source discovered by the Companions when the entered caves and saved Khonnir Baine.
N Large Town
Corruption + 0; Crime – 1; Economy + 0; Law – 1; Lore + 0; Society + 4
Qualities insular, strategic location, tourist attraction
Disadvantage heavily taxed
Danger + 5
Population 4,320 (3,167 humans, 498 dwarves, 392 half-orcs, 168 gnomes, 32 half-elves, 28 halflings, 25 elves, 10 androids)
Base Value 2,400 gp; Purchase Limit 5,000 gp; Spellcasting 3rd
Minor Items 3d4; Medium Items 1d6
Heavily Taxed Torch is very heavily taxed by the Technic League, and has fewer resources available than a town of its size normally has. (Economy -2, reduce final base value by 10%, reduce purchase limit by 50%, spellcasting -2, available magic items as per settlement 1 category smaller)
This section provides details on the most important locations in Torch. Unlabeled buildings represent private homes, minor businesses, and small warehouses, while a few farms and outposts also lie in the valley surrounding the town's plateau. Most of Torch's buildings are constructed of stone, 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.
- Iven's Livery Stable: Most travelers visiting town leave their mounts and pack animals in the care of Iven Lesky (CN male half-elf ranger 2), a retired tracker who chose to settle in Torch after falling in love with a young Kellid woman named Annika (N female human barbarian 1) whom he met when her tribe was overwhelmed by hill giants. Together, they buy and sell horses, doing frequent business with trade caravans drawn to the town's marketplace.
- 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. The town's unique forge attracts plenty of traders to the local marketplace, some of whom bring rare items which storeowners like Inkrit Kollisun (N female human commoner 3) uses to stock their shelves. Most of the routine adventuring gear can be found here, but Inkrit leaves the sale of armor and weapons to the guildhouse artisans (see area 21). Her special stock currently includes a cloak of the hedge wizard (abjuration), five trauma packs, a wand of technomancy (44 charges), a +1 flaming warhammer, and a filter mask.
- 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. The recently deceased proprietor Garmen Ulreth ran the place, and was not-so-secretly assisted by a gang of Kellid thieves known as the Ropefists – a name derived from their practice of warapping their knuckles with rope before using their fists to punish transgressors. Garmen had made a career of fleecing scavengers of their hard-earned profits, bilking them of coin with watered drinks, rigged games, and staged altercations at the gambling tables while his minions pick the pockets of particularly wealthy marks. Amazingly proficient at disassociating himself from any illicit activities, he was quick to send the Ropefists to pressure anyone who dared try to compete with him. With his recent death and betrayal of the town of Torch, the town council has seized control of Silverdisk Hall and temporarily shut it down. Some on the council want to re-open it due to the economic boost it brings to the town, while others want to shut it down to rid Torch of the criminal element they accuse it of attracting. The council will have to make a decision soon.
- 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. Wrennie Dalrorn (N female half-elf bard 2) oversees the entertainments inside. Some say she's the illegitimate daughter of an elven prince from Kyonin and a high priestess of Calistria.
- The Copper Coin: ONe of the oldest taverns in Torch, the Copper Coin stands right on teh western edge of town. This fixture nightspot fills up with patrons almost every evening, and it is especially popular with laborers and artisans looking to relax after a hard day's work. Siblings Lawton (NG male human commoner 3) and Katina Rimos (NG female human expert 2) run the Coin as a quality establishment with good food at reasonable prices. In fact, much like their father, who ran the tavern for 30 years before passing away, they pride themselves on claiming everything costs "just a few coppers." Lawton runs the kitchen, cooking up signature dishes like spiced lamb and lentil soup with sourdough bread. Katina tends bar, serving up popular drinks like Rusty Ale, Wineberry Mead, Steelforged Stout, and Black Hill Whiskey.
- Garrison and Armory: A crenelated 30-foot tower rises from this squat barracks housing the town's active militia and guards. Approximately two dozen off-duty guards can be found here, with three times that number patrolling the marketplace and city streets during the day. The connecting armory holds a selection of simple arms and armor for outfitting these conscripts, including crossbows, bolts, spears, and short swords, as well as a few suits of leather armor, chain shirts, and light steel shields.
- Olandir Estate: Serantha Olandir (CG female human expert 3), the charismatic, influential leader of Torch's town council, lives in this large home. She lost her husband 2 years ago to a back alley mugging by the Ropefists near Silverdisk Hall (see area 3). Since then, she's made it her mission to ensure Torch doesn't become a den of crime and corruption by taking a more direct hand in shaping it politics.
- Otterbie Manor: One of the original founding families of Torch owns this expensive manor, built by an enterprising merchant and ex-crusader from Mendev named Orm Otterbie. He passed away several years ago and his granddaughter, Bazlundi Otterbie (N female human aristocrat 3/expert 2), inherited his legacy, successfully organizing many of the town's artisans and smithies into a powerhouse consortium. By controlling access to their services and coordinating a communal profit-sharing scheme between them, the Otterbies hae become one fo the more successful families in town.
- Weeping Pond: This placid-looking pond is set off from the surrounding area by a crescent-shaped escarpment. No vegetation grows on the banks of this 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. The pond is fed by an underwater spring from under Black Hill, but no fish live in these waters, for the pond is tainted by runoff from the buried ship under Black Hill. Until recently, the foulness of the water has prevented anyone from discovering that the underwater spring leads into a series of caves under Black Hill. A shallow stream runs southeast of the pond and finally empties into Crowfeather Lake.
- Crowfeather Palace: The contaminated waters running from the Weeping Pond collect in Crowfeather Lake. Here the taint diffuses to the point where the water becomes drinkable, though it retains a brackish aftertaste. Until recently, long exposure to the water could still cause birth defects and strange afflictions, but since the creation of the strange-looking building here, these effects have been all but eradicated. Called Crowfeather Palace because of its proximity to the lake and its almost miniaturized palatial facade, the building is the brainchild of Khonnir Baine. With the aid of the local priesthood of Brigh, Khonnir built this facility to help purify the waters of Crowfeather Lake. Utilizing a combination of divine and arcane magic with scavenged technological elements, a pipe-like extension from the building constantly purifies the waters around itself as if via a continually running purify food and drink spell, giving the townsfolk a safe source of drinking water.
- Market Square: The southern shore of Crowfeather Lake is the location of Torch's largest marketplace. This location draws nearly as much attention and tourism as does the flame, for it's here that the town's skilled artisansput their wares on display.
- Foundry Tavern: One of the more popular hangouts in Torch, the Foundry Tavern is aptly named. Its owner, Khonnir Baine, makes frequent appearances to demonstrate new inventions here – whether mechanical or magical. The tavern itself is always packed, and Khonnir rents out space in his neighboring foundry for visiting smiths and metalworkers to use.
- Tempting Tonics: This building is home to Jhestine Imierin (N female half-elf witch 4), the town's apothecary and healer. Jhestine's father was a Snowcaster elf and her mother a Kellid chieftain's daughter. She moved south during a particularly harsh winter and opened her apothecary shop to help the people of Torch deal with the tainted water from the Weeping Pond. Jhestine sells a variety of herbs and special substances, and now that Crowfeather Palace has made the waters of the lake drinkable, she's been able to turn her attention away from her original purpose to crafting all manner of other potions and elixirs for sale. Among numerous other concoctions, she currently offers a wide range of poisons, antitoxin, healing potions, and even a few technological pharmaceuticals (such as cureall, all four grades of hemochem, and two doses of cardioamp) along with a half-dozen medlances.
- Seven Tears Farms: Fertile fields and orchards line the stream near the southern side of town here. Before Crowfeather Palace, these farms had to rely upon the generosity of local churches for water purification, but now the fields are flourishing. The produce grown here feeds most of Torch, thanks to the owner of the farms, a matronly woman named Celda Veed (LN female human expert 5).
- Town Hall: One of the grander building 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.
- Chapel of the Wanderer: A somber man named Mylan Radli (N male human cleric of Pharasma 3) retired here after the town's previous gravekeeper passed away. Along with the blessings he administers to those passing through Torch, he also conducts funerals and looks after the town's cemetery.
- Temple of Brigh: Bronze wind chimes and clockwork statues decorate the domed portico of this compound dedicated to the goddess of invention. The oldest faith in Torch, Brigh's temple sees regular worship from many of the town's citizens, and also includes a meticulously organized workshop managed by the town's religious leader, Joram Kyte (N old male human cleric of Brigh 6). His friendly demeanor, active interest in the metal trade, and innovative crafting skills helped land him a seat on the town council many years ago. Joram's temple includes a small shopfront selling magic items and gear. In addition to many objects under the town's base value, the shop currently offers for sale a flare gun, a scroll of find traps (CL 10th), three scrolls of restoration, a scroll of raise dead, and a wand of rebuke technology (11 charges).
- Evercandle Inn: The name of this establishment refers to the strange alchemical candles used to light its rooms. These showpieces, which never diminish, are arrayed among multiple chandeliers in the common room as well as smaller, portable candlesticks by each bed in the individual chambers. Soceal Murgrave (N old female human commoner 2) serves as the inn's proprietor, aided by her ever-present attendant Erlmon Reverstoudt (LN middle-aged male human transmuter 3).
- 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. They see frequent use during the warmer seasons when their owner, Agren Maust (N male human expert 3), rents out rooms to scavengers, adventurers, and merchants seeking to do business in Torch for weeks at a time.
- Warehouse District: The majority of the buildings in the northeast portion of town act as storehouses for trade goods designed by the town's artisans.
- Torch Guildhouse: This large building is home to the guild of metallurgists and artisans established by Bazlundi Otterbie. The guild was founded to support craftspeople in the skymetal trade, and the experts under its banner include several skilled armorers, blacksmiths, and weaponsmiths. This group always keeps a few weapons for sale in their shop, including a + 1 cold siccatite longsword, a masterwork mithral-inlaid heavy crossbow with a metal tension string (worth 500 gp), a large supply of adamantine bolts (worth 60 gp each), a + 1 construct bane adamantine dagger, a + 2 breastplate, a + 1 mithral chain shirt, and a + 2 spiked light steel shield.
- Dolga's Foundry: The sounds of ringing hammers and dwarven songs frequently rise form this busy foundry, which is owned and operated by Dolga Feddert (LN old female dwarf aristocrat 2/fighter 3) and her team of veteran crafters. An odd transplant from the Five Kings Mountains, Dolga helped found Torch and became the first to test the unique porperties of the flame erupting from the hilltop. She also constructed many of the first buildings in town, and is Torch's oldest councilor.
- Junkyard: Unprofitable components and debris smelted for skymetal invariably find their way to Torch's junkyard on the east side of town. An eerie bleachling gnome named Garritt Burrwaddle (N middle-aged male gnome rogue 3) received the honorary title of Junkmaster after several decades of obsessively collecting and cataloging the items left here. 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.
- Black hill: Easily the most recognizable landmark in Torch, this bald escarpment rises a a steep slop 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. The four specially-designed adamantine carts used to ferry ore to and from the fire stand a short distance down the hill near the Black Hill Craneworks – a building run by Smeltrunner Oskah Unteret (NE female half-orc barbarian 2/expert 3). She coordinates access to the flame and ensures merchants pay the appropriate tribute to the town's treasury. 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.