This article contains spoilers for BroadSword Magazine #1. If you wish to wait until the release of the first issue in August-September to read this content, please leave now. You’ve been warned!
Locations in the Eastern Borderlands
This section describes the key locations in the Eastern Borderlands, which are presented in alphabetical order for ease of reference. The Eastern Borderlands can easily exist in the Sword and Sorcery World presented in this issue, or it can fit into any existing Fifth Edition campaign world or even a world of your own design. Feel free to modify any of the locations as you see fit.
This stronghold was once an operation center for the Chaosmen. Since the founding of the Castle of Chaos on the Forsaken Peak, it has been abandoned and left to ruin. Numerous bandit groups, adventuring parties, and even the odd cult have used this stronghold as a base of operations over the last few decades.
It’s said that everything west of the Greenstone River is best left to the druids and rangers. The ancient hills are no exception. Filled with all manner of strange and deadly beasts, these hills are home to ancient ruins, abandoned mines, and monstrous lairs. The mysterious Wizard’s Tomb is carved into the heart of the hills.
Powered the ancient magma tubes far beneath the surface of the western portion of the Eastern Borderlands, the Bonemist Geyser erupts scalding hot water 75 to 200 feet in the air once every 30 minutes to an hour. The elves of the Silverwood once called the Bonemist a place of worship. Now, it is the domain of foul undead and wicked forest spirits.
A rare material known as geyser glass collects around the bonemist geyser. Geyser glass looks like a cross between obsidian and quartz. When used to make weapons, it can punch through the defenses of creatures with resistance to fire damage. However, it is weak and hard to work with; attack and damage rolls made with geyser glass weapons are made with a -1 penalty.
Of course, getting a hold of the glass isn’t easy. Skeletons and scalded zombies rise from the acidic mud, dragging unsuspecting creatures to their deaths in the mud and boiling water.
Once, this route was a poorly maintained road that wound through the mountain pass east of Lantern Falls. Then, it was little more than a cart path that lead into the Central Borderlands. A few years ago, the merchant lords operating in the Harkwind Hills took control of the road. Now, these wealthy traders hire mercenaries to patrol the area and clear it over troublemakers.
Reasonable tolls (typically 2 sp) at 10-mile intervals pay for the operation. Some grumble about the cost but know that it’s a small price to pay for the safety of cargo transportation through the Borderlands. The merchant tolls are manned by 2d6 guards lead by a veteran at all hours. Most of the tolls’ guards are lawful neutral, although a corrupt official isn’t totally unheard of.
Castle of Chaos
The Castle of Chaos is described in the Castle of Chaos section.
The Forsaken Peak is described in the Forsaken Peak section.
Named for its nearly deafening chorus of frogs, the Frogmire grasps the bend in the Greenstone and Singing Stream. Rumors of massive frogs and lizardmen living in the swamps persist, but so far no proof has been seen. Of course, that could be because all who have witnessed such monstrosities are dead.
Thankfully, with the Knights of Lantern Falls making regular patrols along the Caravan routes, demihumans dare not push north beyond the river.
The ancient, coniferous Graywood Forest swallows the majority of the Eastern Borderlands. The forest provides ample resources for neighboring villages and farms. Naturally, lumber is its biggest offering. But the prickberries that dot the ground cover are necessary for antitoxins and other potent alchemical concoctions, too. Deer are common, as are rabbits and plenty of game fowl. And the ponds and lakes spread throughout the Graywood are fat with fish.
Unfortunately, bandits call the Graywood home, too, terrorizing, pillaging, and robbing the homesteaders living and working among the trees. Sadly, the Chaosmen aren’t much better in their attitude towards those who reside in the forest, either. Bored from their endless missions along the Forsaken Peak in their Castle of Chaos, these grimy warriors descend into the forest to raise hell on all they come across.
Some believe that the Forsaken Peak’s curse bleeds into the forestry; the closer one gets to the Peak, the darker the forest grows. Ghosts and other horrors stalk the woodlands, vanishing those unlucky enough to be lost after dark. Now, rumors persist of slugmen pouring from lost tunnels, emerging from the bowels of that horrible mountain.
As the longest river in the Eastern Borderlands, the Greenstone descends from the Mountains of Rime to the North and bleeds south towards the Ruined Sea. Along the way, it slinks past Lantern Falls, granting the city its moniker.
Travel by river is difficult, but not impossible. Guides are greatly recommended, as the river is known for its chaotic bent. Many unprepared adventurers have met their fates at the hands of steep waterfalls, jagged rocks, and other dangers of the swift and angry Greenstone.
When traveling by the Greenstone River or through the Singing Gorge by raft or canoe (larger boats can’t move through the waterways due to the rapids), have the characters make DC 12 Strength checks using their proficiency in vehicles (water). The greenstone requires checks once every 5 miles and the Singing Gorge requires checks once every 1 mile. A failed check results in the vessel capsizing in the water.
At the start of his or her turn, a character is pushed 30 feet downstream and must make a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check. On a failed check, the character is restrained, pulled underwater (and starts to drown), and takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage as they are dashed against the rocks. On a successful check, a character only takes half damage but isn’t restrained or drowning. A restrained character can use their action to make another DC 17 Strength (Athletics) check to surface the water, ending the restrained condition on a success.
Then Greenstone’s second major stop is the murky Halfmoon Lake at the edge of the Chaosmen’s Lands. Half-sunk by the black waters rests an old, nameless village. Anyone who sets about on raft via the Greenstone can see the old village peaking up from the mud, swarmed by mosquitos, biting flies, and disease-carrying rats.
Aug the Croc
A giant crocodile named Aug calls the village ruins home. Aug’s grown fat over the years thanks to countless, careless treasure seekers who dive into the ruins searching for lost loot and baubles. In addition to Aug, swarms of quippers hunt the ruins, eating anything the old croc misses.
Once, the Harkwind Hills north of Lantern Falls were abundant with iron. Of course, the wealthy merchants operating the caravan trails grew keen on this. Thousands of hard hands were put to work in the hills, stripping the land of its bounty. In time, the iron dried up. Only a few mines still operate in the Harkwind Hills, but most are long abandoned.
Named for the white eagles (large hawks) that live in the nearby hills and hunt in the valley. On one side of the Valley stands the Towering Mountains and on the other the Ancient Hills.
Centuries ago, the Church of Law took to the valley, attracted by the assets provided by the might Greenstone and the Harkwind Hills to the north. Soon, Lantern Falls sprung up and formed a major trade center.
These days, the natural geography of the valley is one of Lantern’s Falls greatest blessings, especially with the incursion of the Chaosmen to the north. With the assistance of the Merchant Lords’ mercenary companies, Lantern Falls knights keep the valley safe. Hundreds of farms and a handful of villages stay safe under their watched. Of course, the looming shadows and chill air sweeping off the Forsaken Peak have started to worry the Harkwinders.
One last iron mine dots the Harkwind Hills and its rights are fiercely contested. No less than three Merchant Lords have died laying claim to the operation, poisoned, stabbed, and drowned by “bandits.”
Currently, Marlowe the Rusted (LE male human noble) manages the mine and keeps a small mercenary company on hand to see that it stays that way. The mercenary company consists of 20 guards and 2 veterans.
The military seat of power for the Church of Law, Lantern Falls has been a staple of the Harkwind Valley for years.
Monastery of the Sacred Scroll
The old monastery is locally known, but seldom interacted with. This sect of the Church of Law is dedicated to Saint Merek of the Sacred Scroll. The monks continue the work Merek started, studying an obscure text from the ‘Book of Law and Light.’
Wrapped by 50-foot cliffs on all sides, Morgantha’s Well is a clear lake hidden among the foothills of the Towering Mountains. Water weirds live here. They are prone to drowning adventurers that ignore the warnings of local hunters.
Once, the elves of the Eastern Borderlands ruled the entire expanse. It is believed that the Silverleaf and the Graywood were also part of the same forest. Then, the curse of the Forsaken Peak swept over the land. The elves retreated from the Graywood and across the Greenstone, reestablishing their domain in the western woodlands. Now, the elves rarely emerge from their homes in the trees. And outsiders are quite unwelcome.
Those that brave this winding, cataract-filled gorge swear they hear the faint, alluring song of female voices over the tumbling of the stream that runs through it.
The voices are actually those of harpies. The harpies specifically target raft passengers attempting to navigate the falls. Using their song, they lure travelers from their boats and into the water. From there, the crushing rocks and swirling waters do the rest of the work for them (see Rapids above).
An extension of the Greenstone River, the singing stream takes its name from the famous Gorge it runs through.
Somerlake is a lake northeast of Lantern Falls. Somer Isle is an island at the heart of the lake on which the Monastery of the Sacred Scroll is built.
The dismal, black swamp that consumes the Halfmoon Lake is home to Zargol, the slug demon. There, he lives here with a collection of zealous cultists. Not even the Chaosmen dare set foot in the marsh, for fear of capture, torture, or possession (or all three) by the slug demon and its insane minions.
This snow-capped range juts from the landscape like a wolves’ teeth, separating the Eastern Borderlands from the remainder of the continent. Were it not for the Caravan Road that cuts through the mountains, travel would be nigh impossible.
The greatest danger of the mountains are the drakes whose eyries pock its peaks. The drakes are known to fly north towards the Harkwind Valley during the Cold Months, lifting livestock–and even the odd farmer–to return to their young. For this reason, Drakehunt is a popular festival, arriving the second week of autumn. Each year, young knights and thrillseekers from all over arrive to the mountains ready to test their new swords on the mighty lizards’ scales. Those who survive consider it a rite of passage.
The trap-laden tomb of a lich known as the Stargazer, who once terrorized the Southern Kingdoms, lies hidden within the crags of the Ancient Hills. Word ’round the Harkwind is that the lich’s second phylactery is kept within the hills.
Worse than all the bandits, Chaosmen, and wolves of the Graywood Forest are the malicious wyverns. These thorny, flying reptiles live in a sinkhole at the center of the wood. Thousands of skulls and bones–an equal mix of humanoid and animal–litter the surrounding area.
The wyverns of the Graywood forest are vicious and much more cunning than normal. They rarely hunt alone, preferring to travel in packs of three or four. Often, one will pretend to be feasting on a fresh kill in an open area, attracting hunters and would-be adventurers. Meanwhile, 2-3 more hide among the trees. The wyverns then cut off all exits, attacking hard and fast.
Five wyverns live in the burrows pocking the 60-foot deep sinkhole.
The matriarch of the wyverns is a heavily-scarred beast known as Shock, the smartest and deadliest of the group. She uses the normal wyvern stat block except with the following changes:
- Shock’s alignment is neutral evil.
- Shock has 247 hit points and her AC is 15 (natural armor).
- Her Dexterity score is 14 (+2) and her Intelligence score is 8 (-1)
- Shock has proficiency in Stealth checks (+6).
- Using her Multiattack, Shock can attack once with her bite and once with her claws. While flying, she can use her claws in place of one other attack.
- Shock’s CR is 10, increasing her proficiency bonus to +4 (this gives her a +1 bonus to her Perception skill and attack rolls).
Next: The Castle of Chaos
Cartography by Justin David Russell