The city of Merida
is the shining jewel of the Eastern Sea. A vast trade metropolis built across the delta of the great river. Its advantageous position, allowing for easy access to both inland trade along the river as well as oceangoing vessels, made it one of the richest kingdoms in the world and a haven for prosperous merchants and talented craftsmen.
Centuries ago, several devastating earthquakes followed by an outbreak of the Red Death left the city in ruins. The townsfolk clustered onto the densely populated islands near the harbor while the outskirts were left empty and fallow. The portions of the city which were built upon the mainland have been overtaken by wilderness and exist as shadows amongst the greenery, hazy reminders of the past.
And then unto Meridia came Rojukan
. Warrior, way-finder, hero; fifty years ago he came from beyond the Endless Sea. In his time, he defeated monsters and wizards, drove pirates and smugglers from the shores, and fought back the armies of savages who would pillage the city and make its riches their own. With each life he saved through the strength of his arms ten more would be inspired to follow in his image. He was free with his money, and every treasure hoard that he pulled from the ancient ruins quickly found its way into the city’s economy, bringing back the trade that had long been absent from the region. He disappeared into the wilderness twenty years ago, and has not been seen since, but his contribution to Meridia endures, and Rojukan’s legend will never die.
Meridia is currently undergoing something of a Renaissance. After the appearance Rojukan, the people have been emboldened to recapture their former glory. The city has become crowded, and its inhabitants are eager to reoccupy the ruins and even form colonies further inland. Furthermore, stories of lost treasure have inspired adventurous young treasure hunters to mount expeditions across the river, and no few enterprising individuals have taken to outfitting such doomed expeditions.
The ruins are not empty, they are home to all manner of outlaws, wild beasts, and inhuman natives who are not eager to relinquish their homes and hunting grounds. And at the same time the warlike Duke Redborne has decided that the city of Meridia would make the perfect addition to his domain.SettingArmed Forces
The city has a town watch as well as a small standing army and navy. The army is currently deployed in several fortified outposts on the southern side of the river working to hold off the advance of Duke Redborne’s armies. Mercenaries and bodyguards are common in the city, and most wealthy families maintain their own household guards.
The Troubadour Society is an elite group of soldiers who coordinate the actions of the various security forces, sharing information and allowing them to work more efficiently than they could on their own. Membership in this society is by invitation only and those who make the cut are very proud of their membership, most displaying their panache openly.
There is also a secret police force that works directly for the lord of the city for the purposes of rooting out treason. Membership is confidential, and in reality, they are more spies than actual law enforcement. The secret police can be found in every walk of life and have no responsibilities save for keeping their ears to the ground in exchange for a monthly stipend.Climate
Meridia has a warm Mediterranean climate. The weather is usually mild and the region is generally snow free year-round save for a few spots in the highlands. The environs around the city itself consist mostly of clear-water estuaries, mangrove swamps, and arboreal forests.Crime
The legal system of Meridia is built around civil action. Those are convicted of crimes are forced to pay fines to those whom they have wronged or their families. Those who can’t or won’t pay their fines are forced into slavery to work off their debt. Those who are too violent or unstable to be of any use to a slaver and are quickly and quietly hanged.Government
Meridia is a plutocracy. Positions within the cities’ government are bid on by members of the wealthy merchant families, the winner occupying the position for a period of time (usually ten years) and the proceeds going to fund public works.
The current lord of the city is Andover Starspool
, a portly middle-aged man he is by far the wealthiest person in Meridia. His ancestor was a tailor of nearly divine skill who moved into the city when it was still a fractious state controlled by squabbling merchant houses and petty warlords. So great was his talent that each of the city's lords wanted to be his patron, and he skillfully played them against each other, allowing his contracts to be bought out for greater and greater sums until he was the richest man in town, and soon his former patrons would become his servants. He has long since passed from this world, as have his talents, but his estate endures.
Andover is primarily concerned with the running of his business operations and uses his position for the influence it grants him over the other houses and the opportunities that it provides. He leaves most of the actual civic affairs to his ministers.
His son, Lemuel Starspool
, is a young man who is will one day succeed his father but is currently more concerned with living a life of luxury. The Starspool estate has recently been approached by Teresa Mackrakken in an effort to begin arranging a marriage between Lemuel and Lucia.Magic
The wizard Corrigan Geomanthus
has the final authority over all magic in Meridia. He does not permit any save for his apprentices to practice sorcery within city limits, and any renegade mages who defy him are driven out in magical duels. It is said that those who refuse to yield are taken to the lighthouse where their souls are removed from their bodies and turned into magical wind-chimes from which Corrigan draws his power.
Geomanthus dwells in the Great Lighthouse
. A wonder of the ancient world, the lighthouse stands at the center of the harbor, impossibly tall, and throughout Meridia one can tell time by its shadow. It is said that the lighthouse is enchanted, and that its balconies are far higher than they have any right to be, offering an unparalleled view of the heavens and the far corners of the land.
Soulless children who are born within the city are taken by Corrigan’s elite guard and trained to assist in the hunting down of illegal magic. These soldiers are all well-trained, rarely speak, and personally loyal to Geomanthus. They wear stark black and white robes and heavy iron masks which disguise their own faces with those of beasts and demons.
Corrigan’s position is the only one in the city which is permanent. He has served the lords of the city for fifty years, but he does so at his own pleasure, for none have the courage to force the issue should the wizard ever shirk his duty and openly defy his orders.
Geomanthus is approximately seventy years old. He is tall and thin, with a round face, a silver beard that is long and straight, a bald head, and pale grey eyes. He typically dresses in pale blue robes and wields a slender staff.Origins
Little is known about Meridia’s early history. It was once part of a larger empire, but the ancient king, Donnatrius the Vile, was overthrown by a coalition of common folk from many different towns who stormed his castle and ended his totalitarian rule before establishing an egalitarian society lacking a congenital aristocracy. Meridia’s golden ago soon followed, born of the economic freedom that resulted from the abolition of the old ways. Religion
Meridia is the land of ten million gods. Though shrines and smalls chapels dot its streets, there are few temples and no great cathedral from which to start an official state religion. People worship each of the Olympians under dozens of different names, often combining faiths from multiple cultures into a single pantheon haphazardly.
Others venerate the primordials, the Norns, the twin goddesses of magic, or the Tao. There are cults and family shrines devoted to kami, demons, devils, celestials, angels, manitou, titans, djinn; even outsiders and their worshippers face no prejudice or censure. There are also many esoteric philosophies and those who worship ascended heroes or the spirits of their ancestors. This is in addition to the thousands of minor gods and spirits to whom people offer minor prayers to each day heedless of their origins or existence.
The city also has its fair share of atheists and philosophers, although these are in the minority as the people of Meridia tend to be a superstitious lot.Slavery
Slavery is nominally legal in Meridia. It is not, however, chattel slavery, but more similar to indentured servitude. Those who cannot pay off their debts or who cannot care for themselves, such as orphans or the handicapped, are sold into slavery. Slaves are paid minimal wages and do have legal rights to own property, family, and to their own health and wellbeing, though the courts are unlikely to intervene in the case of excessive discipline imposed by a cruel master or upon an unruly slave.Duke Redborne
Duke Redborne was once a small-time warlord who ruled a walled port city far to the south. Some say that he is a descendant of Donnatrius the Vile or one of his lackey’s, although such a claim might be pure humbug made to either besmirch his reputation or perhaps make his claim seem more legitimate. After a series of extremely lucky victories he was able to conquer several nearby lands and has since been steadily increasing his power and influence. Some say that he has made a pact with a dark power, but this cannot be verified.
Duke Redborne’s forces have taken all the lands south of the great river and have even made a few landings on the north bank. Currently he has his sights set on adding Meridia to his domain, and most believe that it is only a matter of time before the city falls.
The Daughters of Rojukan have been warned to never venture to the south side of the river, for having the grandchildren of the city’s general as his hostages would give the Duke incredible leverage over the defenders, perhaps enough to cause them to shirk their duty and allow his armies to pass into the city unmolested.Player Characters:Liam
Liam is a respected craftsman, a tinkerer and metal-worker. He works hard, and though he is not overly gifted in his craft he is more dependable and hardworking than almost anyone in town, and his works are a staple of nearly every house-guard and fighting force in Meridia. He is tough, both mentally and physically, made hard by long hours in the forge, and he is rather handsome when he takes a break from working long enough to groom himself.
Liam doesn’t care much for other people and finds objects much more interesting, he takes great pride in understanding the inner workings of everything he comes across. Recently he has come into possession of a rifle, a legitimate wonder of a lost age, and works tirelessly to figure how to use it, and hopes to one day learn to make his own.
Liam has recently begun courting Liquide, and though he has some reservations about a relationship with someone who is less than half is age he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her.
Liam is loyal to a fault, and though he finds magic to be a lazy shortcut to one’s goals and thinks that the idea of traipsing around the wilderness looking for ancient treasures to be pure folly, he can’t bring himself to let any harm come to the girls. This he has chosen to outfit them with his best goods and accompany them into the wild, donning his sturdiest armor and pledging to keep them safe.
He often acts as the voice of reason, working hard to keep them grounded and not to bite off more than they can chew, and often finds himself in opposition to Lucia’s more reckless tendencies and almost suicidal overconfidence.
Skills: Business, Fortitude, Metal Working, Stone Working, Technology
Traits: Honest, Loyal, Naïve, Strong Back
Equipment: Heavy Armor, Mason’s Tools, Maul, Pocket Watch, Rope, Shield, Shotgun, Smith’s Tools, Tinker’s Tools Lina
Lina is the youngest child of Reynard and Teresa. She is the most intellectual of her sisters and also the most responsible. As she is younger and less beautiful than either of her sisters she is not expected to inherit or marry into a position of luxury, and thus her parents paid to keep her well educated, hiring expensive tutors who have trained her as both a scholar and a nurse.
She is short and boyish, with eyes the color of flame and hair the color of blood.
Unusual things have always happened around Lina, particularly involving heat and fire, and there were times when she thought herself capable of controlling the flames. This strange phenomenon would come to a head one night shortly after returning from the Smuggler’s Den, and would soon come to shape her own destiny as well as that of all who dwell in Meridia.
Skills: Academics, Gaming, Medical, Pyromancy, Reason, Social
Traits: Born of Flame, Eerie, Empathic, Enlightened, Medium, Poltergeist
Equipment: Doctor’s Bag, Gaming Pieces, Grimoire, Library, Seer’s Crystals, Silk ClothingLiquade
Liquide is the eldest of Reynard and Teresa’s three children. She is of average height and with the slender but toned build of a gymnast. She is an attractive girl with shoulder length turquoise hair and lavender eyes, signs of the supernatural bloodline that Rojukan brought with him from across the sea, hinting that his status as a demi-god might not be purely honorific.
She trained as a dancer in childhood and her mother and grandmother hoped she would be a great socialite, but instead she snuck away from the city at every opportunity, preferring to climb trees and explore ruins while wandering the wilderness over the endless games that masquerade as high society. She always dressed for comfort rather than to impress.
Her parents often fought with her, trying to get her to be a respectable member of society and focus more on ladylike pursuits, and her youth was a constant state of conflict with her parents as well as with her willful younger sisters.
Liquade’s relationship with her parents has eased somewhat in recent years, when it became apparent that she was barren and that Lucia was the true beauty of the family, her mother’s ambitions for a political marriage were transferred onto the middle daughter
Liquade was always friendly and had an almost supernatural ability to influence people, though she is often impatient with those who talk in circles or refuse to say what they mean.
She has recently begun dating Liam, fascinated by the isolated blacksmith and her ability to draw him out of his shell.
Skills: Acrobatics, Alertness, Animal Handling, Dancing, Marksmanship, Survival, Woodworking
Traits: Hypnotic Gaze, Limber, Sterile
Equipment: Bow, Fletcher’s Tools, Investigator’s Kit, Leather Armor, Rope, Spear, Sunglasses, Survival Tools Lucia
Lucia is Reynard’s middle daughter. She is tall, muscular, and voluptuous; almost unanimously thought to be the most beautiful maiden in Meridia. She is also vain, stubborn, overconfident to a fault, and not nearly as charming or clever as she believes herself to be. Still, her tenacity and sheer willpower are often enough to carry her through when her other abilities fail.
Lucia’s mother and grandmother are working hard to arrange her marriage to Lemuel Starspool, but she has no mind for it, she loves no one but herself. She is determined to reignite her family legacy, to live up to her grandfather’s legend and one day eclipse it with her own.
She has been training in secret with Lone-Wolf Lancaster, and her skill with the blade almost rivals his own, and she is eager for a chance to put her skills to the test in the real world, and thus she eagerly jumped on the opportunity to protect Liquade as she explored the wild, although she isn’t doing it for any grand cause beyond her own glory. Her overwhelming pride and reckless overconfidence are sure to get her into trouble, but she is sure she can handle it.
Lucia has few friends, but she is extremely overprotective of those whom she does care for, and any who wrong them will be sure to feel her wrath.
Lucia suffers from terrible nightmares. She dreams of endless torments and degradations, and in her dreams, she doesn’t know why she is being punished or even who she is. The feelings of guilt and shame when she wakes are even worse.
Skills: Alchemy, Athletics, Expression, Melee, Resolve, Throwing
Traits: Absent Minded, Beauty of Legends, Chi Mastery, Eerie, Fast Metabolism, Obstinate, Ward
Equipment: Alchemy Lab, Lighter, Longsword, Mail Armor, Shield, Throwing KnivesFriends and FamilyAnya
Anya is a small and exotically beautiful girl. She is quiet and submissive, but also loyal to a fault and with a streak of inner steel. Her parents were travelers from a distant land who disappeared under mysterious circumstances when she was a very small child. As with many orphans she was to be sold at a slave auction when Lucia spotted her and insisted that Anya be hers, putting the entirety of her considerable will into coercing her parents into purchasing the girl. Anya has been Lucia’s maid-servant ever since, although in many ways she is treated more like a favored pet. Anya is skilled in domestics, cosmetology, and massage, and is a talented harpist.Firiona
Firiona is the proprietor of the Ostentatious Otter
, a small bar and restaurant located near the docks. She has been friends with the Daughters of Rojukan since childhood and the girls spend many evenings at her establishment. She is good natured and easy going, with a soothing voice and inquisitive nature. Firiona is pretty, but not beautiful, with an average build, straight auburn hair, and bright brown eyes.
Firiona’s parents own the tavern, although they are mostly retired at his point. Her only help is Tita, a large woman with dark skin, thick lips, and a fiery temper who dominates the kitchen like a bull in a pen. She is nominally the chef, but also serves as a bouncer should any of the clients overstep their bounds or get lost in their drink.Gustave Tommerson
Gus Tommerson is another childhood friend of the companions. A jovial young man with cherubic features and boundless enthusiasm. When his merchant parents died and left him their sole heir to their fortune, he decided to purchase a massive warehouse on the docks and renovate it into a store. The Dockside Imports
is amongst the largest businesses in town, with polished marble floors, two levels, and numerous statues, tapestries, decorative suits of armor, and works of art lining the walls.
He also employs Lola, a buxom blonde woman, to serve as his maid and keep the place in working order, paying her more than he can afford both because he doesn’t want to get his own hands dirty and enjoys watching the beautiful girl work.
Unfortunately, he purchases far more than he sells, and it is only a matter of time before this overly ambitious venture leaves Gustave penniless.Isabella Lathien
The wife of Otto Mackrakken, she serves as the matriarch of the entire clan and head of its estate. Even when her husband isn’t away on one of his military sorties, she still commands the servants with an iron fist. She is proud and confident in her position and does not need to throw her weight around or leverage threats to see her will done. She is a talented seamstress in her own right and her wiry frame belies the powerful spirit within. Lancaster
He is known as Lone-Wolf Lancaster to most, and when they are sure he is out of earshot most people fail to meet even this level of decency and simply call him Loony. Lancaster was once the most promising young recruit in a generation, a true prodigy at battle and a virtuoso with his sword.
Years ago, he was fast tracked through the military academy and given his own command, but in his first battle he let his pride get the better of him and decided to attack an entire enemy regiment single-handedly. He lost an eye for his trouble, and without him to lead them the men under his command lost their lives. He was drummed out of the service in disgrace.
Lancaster has spent the years since as a near penniless vagrant, taking work where he can as a bodyguard or enforcer to those few people who aren’t put off by his reputation. Recently he has begun training Lucia in secret, taking her family’s coin and honing her skill with the blade until it is nearly as great as his own. It has yet to be seen if she will put it to better use than he did.
Lancaster is a tall man with a flowing mustache and a single eye. He is lean and greying and tends to wear what remains of his armor and the broad hat that was once a symbol of his status as a Troubadour.Otto Mackrakken
Otto Mackrakken is the general of Meridia’s armies, one of the few positions that is earned through merit rather money. Otto is a powerful man, with a large muscular belly and broad shoulders. He has severe features, with short gray hair and beard cut in a curt military style. He is wealthy and maintains a large estate, but he is rarely in Meridia, instead spending most of his time on the front. With the threat of Duke Redborne looming ever-present he is more or less a hazy memory in the minds of his grandchildren.
Otto tolerates his granddaughter’s adventures, but only so long as they keep the good of Meridia and their family line first and foremost in their minds. He thinks Lina’s older sisters have been bad influences on the sweet and bookish little girl.Reynard
Reynard is the son of Rojukan. Nobody knows which of the Meridia’s prostitutes was his mother, for his father visited them all in his day. Indeed, he spent his childhood moving from bawdy house to bawdy house, living with whatever woman his father had last shacked up with before moving on to his next great adventure. Still, the boy was well cared for, Rojukan was generous with his wealth and his son wanted for nothing except perhaps a stable home.
When he was an adolescent, his father disappeared and the young man found himself in charge of a vast legacy. He was a celebrated bon vivant and a legendary ladies’ man, and though he lacked his father’s courage or muscular physique he exceeded the demi-god in both good looks and charm.
Just as his fortunes started to run low, he became enraptured by the young Teresa Mackrakken, daughter of the city’s general, and he made a game of seducing her, and eventually sneaking into her window at night. When she came down pregnant, the jig was up, and he attempted to slip away, but his soon to be parent’s in-law tracked him down and explained the facts to him, that his fortune was nearly gone and that his drinking and gambling debts would soon catch up with him, and he could either let Teresa make an honest man out of him or find himself on the block at the slave auction.
He eventually grew bored with married life and has been spending more and more time trying to find an excuse to be away from the palatial estate that is starting to feel ever more like a prison. Teresa Mackrakken
Daughter to Otto and Isabella, wife of Reynard, and mother to Lina, Lucia, and Liquade. She was widely considered a great beauty, short and perky, with plump curves, lightly freckled skin, soulful green-brown eyes, long lashes, short dark hair, and full lips. She is just now starting to show her age, with the weight of her life starting to darken his spirits and the worry lines starting to find their way about the edges of her face.
Her daughters think her cruel and overbearing, but in truth she merely worries deeply. She wants them to be safe and provided for, but they want to seek out their fortune in the wider world, where she knows they will only find death and disappointment. Likewise, she is working hard to maintain some connection with a husband whom she fears no longer loves her as much as he once did, or she still does.
She is working hard to arrange a marriage between Lucia and Lemuel Starspool before the former gets herself killed or worse. She spends a great deal of time actively denying the strange things going on around her, instead focusing on more pragmatic affairs.