Bloodright : Rise of the Border Princes
Central Garrison of the Army of the the Mark
Fort Bloodthorn is seen as the seat of government in Bloodthorn Vale, especially since the original fall of the castle and village at Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark during the Hateful Wars. Although larger than many new villages, it was the capital of the barony primarily because Baron Vartak raised his banner of The Army of the Dark Sun here. The Fierce Creatures captured this settlement in mid-1050 TR, and have made it their capital, as well.
A rough and ready community where outsiders were not especially welcome, but it is by far, the safest location in all of the valley, and is changing. A fortified small town of around 500 mostly evil humans and humanoids, it is the only open community in the northern Mark, and its citizens get along in an uneasy truce which is traditionally often broken by murders and other violence.
The Town :
A town of one- and two-story buildings made of rough-hewn timber, with shuttered windows to keep out the night chills. All doors are locked from within, and often guarded. The town is surrounded by an impressive 20’-high stone wall, pierced in four locations by Fort Gatehouses, and reinforced with six (6) Miletowers. The walls are patrolled by pairs of troopers assigned to this task, usually based from one of the Gatehouses, but are considered a large enough barrier in and of themselves to warrant little more attention.
The town is divided into four (4) distinct “quarters”: the Eastern (formerly Orcish) Quarter, the Western (formerly Goblin’s) Quarter, the Central (formerly Leader’s) Quarter, and the Promenade (formerly Human) Quarter outside the walls to the north. Travel between quarters is open and unrestricted, and the various quarters are closely watched by small four-man patrols of hobgoblins on duty. The exception is the Promenade, wherein access through the town is restricted at its gates, with direct passage into the market area or south of the town through the fort town’s main road. Passage of travellers and merchants is thus carefully watched by hobgoblin patrols along this road through the Central Quarter. Possession of a “Trade Token” is used as a means to control access through the town, and possibly skim taxes from visitors. Local citizens are issued such a token permanently, but generally avoid using them, or entering the town unless they must do business with the local garrison or its new overlords.
Politics : With the fall of the orcish rule of Fort Bloodthorn, the politics of the community became much cleaner and simple. The Fierce Creatures, something of a council, rule the town, and encourage independent trade and action. The result, is that the hobgoblins of The Band of the Red Hand have taken over the day-to-day protection of the town, guarding its walls and patrolling its streets. The areas outside the town are left largely to themselves, particularly the market areas of the Promenade.
The Fierce Creatures “Council” largely looks to Drew the Avaricious to deal with taxes and trade, while Lord Commander Thorin Brightshield has taken over actual command of the town defenses and control and training of its army. Argyle Ulfhræfen “Iron Beard” largely has organized the post-war clean-up of the community and looks after the town’s actual condition and craftsmen. The remaining members have their own support troops and interests that occupy their time, but are often consulted on matters of importance to the group and their future activities. They largely reside in the Palace in the Central Quarter, which also doubles as their center of government.
Law Enforcement : The town is firmly under the control of the hobgoblin patrols of The Band of the Red Hand, who have occupied the east and west barracks areas for their army. The central barracks house the miscellaneous forces that support the army, as well as its militia; although they reside here on a temporary basis, and support the army, they do not have any direct responsibility for the town’s defense. The area outside the walls, particularly the market areas around the Promenade, and the surrounding farmlands, are generally looked after by the visiting militia, though there is talk about establishing a presence in this area in the long-term.
Justice is swift in the community, laws are few, and the only real crime is getting caught. Punishment is meted out immediately by the guards patrols, and there is no court or trial for minor crimes. Formerly, slavery was a universal punishment suffered by anyone who was found guilty (usually because they lost the conflict), but this practice has been outlawed by the Fierce Creatures, but it is unclear what direction the laws of the new realm will take in the future.
So long as one does not make trouble in Fort Bloodthorn, most residents will leave them alone. Animals (giant rats, dogs, etc.) will attack if individuals are wounded and bloody, or otherwise appear weak, but generally leave large, noisy groups alone. Patrols, are generally looking for pickpockets, fights and general trouble. In the past, bribes could easily turn patrols away, but the hobgoblins of the Red Hand seem trying to impress a more orderly sense of law among criminals, and generally cannot be bribed, unless the amount is very substantial.
Eastern (formerly Orcish) Quarter :
Located along the eastern third of the town, the Eastern Quarter is well-organized and strongly patrolled. Hobgoblin guards sweep the quarter every ten minutes or so. Patrols tend to be units of four hobgoblins armed with scale mail, heavy shields, longswords and heavy crossbows. Sounds of conflict quickly raise several bands of troopers, until the entire Quarter is alerted. Prisoners are sent to the Quarter prison for a few days, until they are rounded together and dragged before the Fierce Creatures Council for judgement.
Most of the quarter is broken into long barracks, that have been further broken into separate little residences and shops for locals, although the unused barracks are largely empty.
Eastern Barracks : (4 Locations) : Each barracks has a common area, sleeping areas, garderobe, kitchen/pantry, servant’s quarters, and a section for leaders. Barracks have one floor, and space for about 120 troopers, but they also traditionally held the cohort’s females and young, making the occupied barracks a riotous, crowded and filthy place. At present, only the southern-most of the barracks are occupied, with the other three are empty and looted of anything useful. The future of these places is under discussion.
The single occupied barracks houses around fifty of the local hobgoblin troopers, several goblin servants and kobold scouts, and a handful of ogres used for heavy lifting and during siege warfare. The “Eastern Cohort” looks after patrols of the eastern and northern sections of the town, its walls and gates.
Eastern Commander’s Barracks : The southern-most of the barracks, the commander’s is heavily fortified and was surprisingly organized. This place is occupied by the commander of The Band of the Red Hand, Lupe, the Battlelord, a handful of his senior guards, and personal servants. He has gathered the bulk of the valuable supplies in this building, including his reserve weapons and munitions, along with the bulk of the mercenary treasures and coins.
Eastern Prison : Once a reeking hole of a building, where troublesome slaves, criminals and the insane all rubbed elbows, the facility is largely empty, but still rather noisome. The jailor is an aging hobgoblin veteran Largash, who has an easy assignment of holding the keys to the facility and ensuring any prisoners kept here are chained and watered before being taken before the local lords.
Military Stores : A large storehouse is kept here for use by the hobgoblins occupying the local Quarter barracks, though the most valuable goods have since been distributed to the troops. Remaining goods include some cured leather hides, grain from corn, wheat and oats, some salt and dried beans, and barrels of torches, nails and iron spikes, coils of rope, and wooden post and poles, as well as a collection of small sacks. The storehouse is largely unused, and only accessed once each day to replenish the local barracks supplies for the day.
Trash Pit : A noisome trash pit that was once over 60’-deep, but has since accumulated trash over the years making it only 35’-deep. The pit has become home to a colony of rats and giant rats, and is often the site of a smoldering fire, as the local hobgoblins attempt to keep the resident rodents in check.
Innkeeper (Tavern) (“Sickly Eagle Ale”) : # $ : Formerly a poor tavern under control of a lone half-orc, this facility was closed-down and remains empty.
Innkeeper (Tavern) (“Gabrod’s Place”) : # $ : A sign above the door identifies the place as “Gabrod’s Place”, and also bears the warning (in Giant) “Enter at your own risk”. Owned by a former orc raider veteran, named Gabrod, the facility was closed down with his and his fellow orcs deaths. Today, it remains empty.
Western (formerly Goblin) Quarter :
Similar to the Eastern Quarter in layout, the Western Quarter occupies the western portion of the town, it was far less organized and was even more filthy than the eastern section. It is now well-organized and strongly patrolled, though it bears the mark of years of neglect. Hobgoblin guards sweep the quarter every ten minutes or so. Patrols tend to be units of four hobgoblins armed with scale mail, heavy shields, longswords and heavy crossbows. Sounds of conflict quickly raise several bands of troopers, until the entire Quarter is alerted. Prisoners are sent to the Quarter prison for a few days, until they are rounded together and dragged before the Fierce Creatures Council for judgement.
Most of the quarter is broken into long barracks, that have been further broken into separate little residences and shops for locals, although the unused barracks are largely empty.
Western Barracks : (4 Locations) : Each of these barracks has a single floor, with a common area, several small areas for leaders, a kitchen and troop quarters. Each occupied barracks could hold around 120 troopers, and were squalid affairs stuffed with debris. The future of these facilities is presently under discussion.
At present, only the southern-most barracks is occupied by the “Western Cohort” of The Band of the Red Hand. This cohort is identical to the Eastern portion, with fifty (50) of the local hobgoblin troopers, several goblin servants and kobold scouts, and a handful of ogres used for heavy lifting and during siege warfare. This “Western Cohort” looks after patrols of the western and southern sections of the town, its walls and gates.
Western Prison : The goblins kept their unruly and criminal elements here, along with anyone from the other quarters they could capture. The facility is watched over by Pascar, a scarred but filthy bugbear warrior employed by the local cohort commander, and who was previously employed by Baron Vartak for the same task. There are few prisoners here, but Pascar’s job is to simply keep them alive, chained and watered until they go before the Council for judgement. His job is fairly easy.
Western Commander’s Barracks : Once a virtual palace, the facilities here have a nice barracks including a kitchen, dining chamber, a guest chamber, and the private quarters of the local cohort commander, “Nameless”. Formerly the commander of this quarter over the goblins cohort, he was given command over the Western Cohort" of the Red Hand after a lengthy meeting with Lupe, and hosts his new commander on a regular basis, who has free access to the guest chambers whenever he likes.
Military Stores : A smaller assortment of goods similar to that found in the Eastern Military Stores warehouse is kept here, though the quality tends to be very shoddy, most taken from the fallen during the assault on the fort itself, and stored here for the western contingent. They access it daily for the unit’s needs. They also, however, have a selection of trade goods (mostly raw wool and salted fish) stored here from prior to the attack.
Innkeeper (Tavern) (“Brule’s Ale”) : ## $$ : Owned by a former goblin soldier, this tavern was closed-down before the arrival of the Fierce Creature’s armies, and remains empty.
Central (formerly Leader’s) Quarter :
This area occupies the center of the town itself, and is the area of the town where visitors must travel through to pass either north or south of the community.
Central Barracks : A single barracks here formerly held the ogre contingent of the town. The facility presently houses the Fierce Creatures “auxiliary” troops; about twenty gnoll archers from Tribe of the Iron Shackle, and thirty Roseblood Sprites. The building is one large, open bay, with a curtained area where Fangrik dwells with his griffon mount.
Central Prison : The central prison of Fort Bloodthorn is a solid stone structure used to house the worst criminals in the town. Once run by the human Harm, a cruel lazy man who was turned-out, allowing the facility to be used to store captured war materiel, primarily extra hide armor, great axes and throwing axes taken from the various fallen orc raider tribes. A large collection of spare backpacks, small sacks, coils of rope, various tools and two disassembled medium mangonels, along with a collection of lamp oil stored in barrels and breakable crockery jugs. This equipment is being held in anticipation of a larger army being raised in the future.
The Dragon Temple (formerly “The Fane of Tiamat”) : A solid stone building with two levels, it appears to be a fortress unto itself. The temple has 6"-wide iron-shuttered embrasures along the walls, and two massive iron doors open at all times. Public services are no longer held for any specific cult. No one looks after the place.
Today, the temple is a fallen relic of its former self. The rot of the dead remains to smell up the place, and the main dragon altar in the fore-chamber has been torn down and shattered, though its stone pews are untouched. It has also been further desecrated during the orcish occupation and “dedicated” to Gruumsh and Agrik – The Harbinger, when they stormed the edifice. The actual altar and fonts have been looted and disposed of as rough silver ingots.
The Palace : Baron Vartak once lived in this sprawling, two-story stone structure, along with his servants, slaves, select hobgoblin guards and guests. His death and those of his lieutenants, led to Lurg (a large, cruel orc warrior who seized control of Vartak’s army) and his cohorts storming the palace and claiming it for himself.
When the Fierce Creatures captured the town, they took up residence in the Palace, claiming it as the center of their government. Most reside within its walls. Never having suffered looting and being looked after by numerous resident servants, the Palace is still in good shape, and quite comfortable. In addition to a separate dining area, there is also suite of rooms for guards to reside and train, and another for servants. The main chambers are a series of small guest chambers and a large suite for the local lord.
The Well : Located just outside the entrance to the Palace is a small square with a well in it. A natural spring that came from the hill beneath the town, once provided the local nearby village with its drinking water, before the engineers rebuilt it into this well. The overflow travels through a stone pipe to drain west into the Upper Ox River, and thence into Lake Longbow.
With the return of some semblance of order to the community, this central area is becoming popular as a meeting place where locals gather water and discuss rumors about the future of the region. Soldiers are often found spending time practicing in the shadow of the temple.
The Promenade :
The Promenade is home to the bulk of the human citizens of Fort Bloodthorn, who also provide the town with the most of its business and craft guilds. A chaotic area of ramshackle buildings laid-out on the main approach to the town along the north road, it was busy 24-hours a day, with humanoids frequenting the shops at night. The area is swept by a band of ten (10) human militia from the Fierce Creatures armed bands of human warriors, who are based from this Quarter. If an alarm is sounded, they can summon the remainder of their cohort in about 10 minutes. Prisoners captured here are sent to the Central Quarter.
Innkeeper (Inn) (“Dewdrop Inn”) : ## $$ : The commoner’s inn, frequented by mercenaries and poor travellers. The place has four (4) communal rooms that can hold up to a dozen individuals, and rent for 3cp per person per night (meals included). A real dump, its owner was Broy, an insane dwarf who was famed for his brutality towards troublemakers. When the Fierce Creatures took control of the town, Fangrik took captured his two gnoll guards as his own, slew Broy and freed his slaves. Today, the slaves have taken control over the inn, and it continues to serve the community.
Innkeeper (Inn) (“The Dark Dawn”) : ### $$$ : The town’s premier inn, the Dark Dawn costs 2sp per person per night, with several ten-person suites, and a handful of single-person rooms. A sprawling three-story affair, it has over forty (40) rooms for rent, and remains untidy, but remarkably free of vermin. The common room is constantly busy, and the place is notorious as a rumor mill. It serves typical fare for an inn, with passable mead, wines and ales. The place is owned by Misty Paramour, a pretty former courtesan who has dubious moral fiber, but is bright enough to keep six (6) hobgoblin mercenaries as guards and bouncers. The guards answer to Misty’s lover, a half-orc named Guril, who is known for bluster, but quickly submits if in danger of being beaten. Today, this inn’s ownership remains unchanged.
Innkeeper (Inn) (“Cuthbert’s Tavern”) : ## $$ : Popular as a stopping place for merchant’s guards and local farmers, Cuthbert’s is always packed with a couple dozen locals from all walks of life. There is a large stock barn and a finely appointed stable. Cuthbert is a quiet human male that was once a mercenary and now supplements his income by travelling as a merchant, often north to Silverthane and south to Gallorna – City of the Iron Dragon. Ostensibly to acquire ales and wines for his own larder, he also gathers produce and rare goods for select customers and contacts he has made over the years. Rumors persist he is also an assassin. When not present, his two sons, Nasen and Darth run the place. They keep several mercenaries on retainer (for free room and board) as protection, along with several war mastiffs, and a handful of former slaves to keep up the place.
Clothier (Tailor) : ### $$$ : Able to make almost any kind of clothing, Lana Lightpool is still only a middling clothier, though her woolens tend to be heavy and her usual colors of dark green, grey and black. She has often suffered from theft of her stock.
Clothier (Tailor) : ### $$$ : Specializing in repairs, but also making new clothing, Hal Collar is an older eccentric man, whose work can be good, but he takes his time.
Hideworker (Cobbler) : ### $$$ : A retired mercenary soldier, Dahr Rubble makes his living in this small, non-descript shop. He lives a quiet life, mostly doing simple repairs.
Hideworker (Furrier) : ### $$$ : Yolann Longbow is a grizzled hunter who lives in this dusty shop when not wandering the ranges. He prepares his catch here, making it a smelly hole, before bringing his goods to the market.
Hideworker (Leather Goods) : #### $$$ : Doing leather repairs and often studding leather and hide armors, Erika Yellowhide also makes hide and leather armor for clients when asked. She is very good at her trade.
Mercantyler (Moneychanger) : ### $$$ : A small strong-house reinforced with iron, this shop is run by Master Haathor Brewman, the resident leader of The Mangai. A typical-looking clerk, he does very little business beyond collecting large sums of coppers and silver for exchange into gold for the local government. Virtually all his currency has been replaced by coins minted out of The Kingdom of Tjalf, with a handful from Gallorna – City of the Iron Dragon.
Metalworker (Blacksmith) : ### $$$ : The only metalsmith in the community, Cyrilla Ironmaster is a female dwarf who keeps up a brisk business producing simple iron tools with very little artistry. She has little time for anything more.
Timberwright (Lumber) : ### $$$ : Five journeymen work under Almon Winesalt, a strong ex-soldier who spends days in the field carving timber from the nearby forests. All work is done by hand with rough iron tools, resulting in slow, but simple work.
Weaponcrafter (Armorer) : ## $$$$ : Known as “Boar’s Shield Shop” to locals, the owner of this smithy was a huge, ill-tempered northern man known as Boar, who was famed for his rage as a berserker, which led to his death at the hands of the local hobgoblins during the sacking and capture of the town. He did have a guild certificate.
Weaponcrafter (Armorer) : #### $$$$ : Krog the Ogre is a greedy slob, but the armor he makes and sells is excellent, and he knows it. He produces ring, scale, chain and banded mails, but rarely does repair work. Although his future seemed a little questionable at first, his skills were appreciated by the mercenary hobgoblins, and he was quickly accepted, despite his race. He does not hold a guild certificate.
Weaponcrafter (Swords) : ### $$$ : Known locally as “Scimitars”, for the matched pair hanging above her guild mark, Djinn is a solid, middle-aged woman of Hepekerian descent, who talks far too loudly about nothing at all, telling many tall tales of adventures in her youth. She provides good work for a reasonable wage, but has an artistry behind everything she does. She specializes (Quality ####) in foreign armors and weapons, chiefly scimitars for her orcish customers, though she has made the more popular orc mangs and mankars at need.
Woodcrafter (Cartwright) : ### $$$ : Although he generally makes carts and does wagon repairs for visiting merchants, Lyre Startooth is a grizzled woodcarver who also makes parts for almost any wooden mechanism at need.
The Market (formerly the Slave Auction) Hall : Ursal and Glorin Bluegold once ran this facility with the help of their ogre guards, but the Fierce Creatures forced them to abandon the auction and they left with their guards for the south. Today, it is an open hall with an adjacent “stockyard”, that has been taken over as the local “Market”.
A couple dozen stalls and tables are set up in this hall, used by local human and humanoid alike. A densely-packed place despite the weather or season, this is where most trade goods and fresh food in town can be acquired, and the area where the local militia patrol can always be found. Food has become increasingly dear, and supplies of fresh meat are difficult to come by. Rumors persist the origins of any meat in the market should be suspect, unless you see it actually come directly from a recently butchered animal… The future of trade from outside the town remains questionable.
Items purchased here were likely obtained second-hand or in a nefarious way, though all are sold as the genuine item, if inferior in quality. Vendors sell items ranging from torn tunics and leather belts, daggers, knives and short bows, dried fruit and raw leather, chickens and rabbits, to bronze jewellery and spices. Many have regular customers that they come to trade with directly.
Promenande Barracks : This heavily fortified barracks is very similar to its mates in the Eastern and Western Quarters, although there are no other barracks outside the town. It contains an extensive series of chambers for a single cohort of militia troops under the Fierce Creature’s command. A second level has been recently added to one side of the barracks, and serves as the unit commander’s private chambers, including a washing room, space for servants, a dining room, kitchen and pantry, garderobe, arming chamber and sleeping chambers for the commander, Lord Commander Thorin Brightshield.
Ostler’s Commons : The grand pasture used by the town, the Commons are located east of the Promenande buildings and are used to secure cattle, goats and sheep for the evening, and for general slaughter. Due to the constant demands of the local garrison for fresh meat, there was always an issue with keeping food in the pastures. Of late, supplies of fresh cattle or sheep have not been seen in the valley, making the appearance of any sort of animal in these pens rare.
The Land :
Supporting the fortress town of Fort Bloodthorn, is a filthy, ramshackle, and still fairly active collection of farms. Built of turf, mud brick, and crudely hewn logs, they all have fieldstone foundations and a few have proper boards, but even these are in need of repair. The inhabitants of the surrounding lands are hunters, herdsmen, farmers, and the like. It is apparent that no one manages to make much of a living here, it has generally been ignored by the armies and bandits of The Army of the Dark Sun alike. A small amount of commerce moves among them, as well as into the Promenade, but nothing much that would interest adventurers or visiting merchants. The local population of crofters numbers around 120 rough and independent clansmen.
A rough hall built for the local chieftain and abandoned prior to the Fierce Creatures’ take-over of the town, was occupied by Durale Silverthorn, formerly the commander of the Promenade. A noted alchemist, she is also rumored to be a talented mage, though she keeps very much to herself, acting as the representative of the local clans. She holds a great deal of respect among most commoners, and has quickly adapted to the new situation. Durale seems like a simple person.
Founded in 1046 TR, Fort Bloodthorn was built as a military post and fortification, but has developed into the new capital of Bloodthorn Vale. While the town has grown to be the primary community of the valley, and the northern fastness of The Kingdom of Tjalf. It has attracted an unsavory crowd, but remains a bustling community of orcs, goblins and humans found nowhere else in the region. It is also the place where anyone fleeing servitude under the giants to the south, can find a place among their own kind.
In mid-1049 Baron Vartak lost control of this town with his death, and the subsequent year led it to be ruled by a coalition of the surviving orc cohorts with their goblin and ogre auxiliaries. On the 15th of Azura, 1050 TR the combined army of the Fierce Creatures, captured the town in a sharp fight inside the gates that eliminated the remaining forces of Baron Vartak and The Army of the Dark Sun.
Today, the town has become the administrative center of the Fierce Creature’s realm, and houses its armies and a large number of refugees. It will likely have a prominent role in the developing nature of The Mark – Land of the Iron Dragon.