Communities of strong-hearted heroes banded together long ago to cast of the yoke of cruel ancient dragons, and the world has gradually become safer for the humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, and the other peaceful folk of Nexia. The mainland remains a dangerous place, however. Still more of a frontier than cartographers would like to admit, the land is fraught with wild beasts, terrifying monsters, and despotic tyrants. To this day, Nexia is very much in need of heroes.
The wars between Camria and her neighbors, especially Zaragannon, dominate politics at this point in time. Bandits have easy pickings on the outskirts of many communities. Refugees carry disease and famine on their bowed shoulders. A league of enlightened councilors governs a handful of cities throughout the continent, but cunning tyrants of all races carve out the rest.
Until recently, the town of Cliffhaven was one of such domains. The steward and his subjects lived in relative comfort and kept to their perch on the Prosper Mountains of the Hornwood Forest. Surely enough, Huerny the White Eye, a depraved servant of Shar, gathered a small army of humans, goblinoids, and undead that occupied both the town and the legendary keep nearby. Huerny and his Twisted Horn Legion were driven from the keep by a small band of Zaragannian heroes, but the craven priest escaped with his life and now plots his revenge. But as the Zaragannians have moved on, it falls to a new generation of heroes to keep Cliffhaven free and alive.
THE TOWN OF CLIFFHAVEN
Population: roughly 800 (Village)
Demographics: 79% human, 9% halfling, 5% dwarf, 3% gnome, 2% half elf, 1% elf, 1% other
Power Center Alignment: Chaotic Good
Key Organizations: House of the Lady (Tymoran pilgrims), Order of the Laughing Monk (informal
village council open to all), Sydney’s Ring (merchants, mages, guides), Halfling Caravan (performers and craftsmen), Cyricist Cell (cultists)
Economy: Trade is very important to Cliffhaven’s survival as they have extensive natural resources but little farmland. They export all kinds of minerals, wood, furs, and worked items in exchange for grain and fabric.
Military: 20% of population (160) are lvl 1 warriors (or higher), armed with handaxes, shortbows, chain shirts, and heavy wooden shields. 20 militiamen are on duty per night, plus four full-time officers that work 12h on/ 12h off.
Religion: Varied, but many worship Lathander, Waukeen, Meilikki, and Tymora. Some have also turned to Cyric.
Special: Citizens of Cliffhaven celebrate midsummer with a full night of storytelling, keeping with Zaragannian tradition. Superstitious villagers avoid walking outdoors on moonless nights. Parents arrange marriages for their children. It is unlawful for a person to lie to his or her family or speak falsely to the steward. Citizens meet regularly at the Laughing Monk Tavern to discuss business, politics, and community decisions in addition to swapping rumors and stories. Gambling is legal, but frowned upon. Most people are illiterate, but they are rarely startled by minor magical effects. Most folk have a level or two of warrior or expert, as only the most hardy and ambitious of townsfolk have survived Huerny’s rule and continue to earn a living.
1. The Laughing Monk Tavern
Daggorly Fellstone (NG m. Dwarf Expert 3) owns this profitable property, but his niece Ingrid (NG f. Dwarf Rogue 2) manages the staff and interacts with patrons the most. Daggorly built the tavern himself, brewed his own beer, and personally attended to each of his customers. As the tavern grew in prominence, his outgoing and personable niece began working with the staff and customers as Daggorly handled the business end. Lubey was overjoyed to see this establishment prosper and offered to place a few wards and enchantments in exchange for a lifetime supply of drink from the Laughing Monk. The innkeeper wisely agreed, and Lubey strengthened the dwarf-built structure, summoned a permanent unseen servant, enchanted a set of keys that arcane lock each customer’s room, imbued Daggorly with a permanent see invisibility effect, and enacted a minor illusion of a bald monk at the corner table of the common room. The monk wears weathered robes and quietly laughs to himself; if addressed, it simply makes funny faces at the patron. Lubey’s supernatural image is not frightening in the least, and Daggorly can dismiss or recall it as he pleases. He has taken a liking to it, though. The Laughing Monk can be accessed through the courtyard or the first level of refined caves that constitutes the town proper.
2. Rinso’s Smithy
Rinso (CN m. Wild Elf Sorcerer 8/ Expert 3) is a fearsome and vulgar wild elf who crafts magnificent weapons and armor. He had been commissioned to produce large amounts of common quality weapons and armor after Cliffhaven’s rescue, but refused to etch his brand on any of the pieces. He sells nothing less than masterwork weapons in his shop and tells PCs to “go loot a goblin” if they desire anything less. Proud, stubborn, and fickle as he is, Rinso’s mood changes abruptly if they have important work for him, like crafting a unique item, repairing magical armor, or asking about the histories of various legendary pieces. He sells a few unique items to trustworthy PCs as well: a +2 giant bane longbow, +3 battleaxe, +1 spellstoring short sword, +1 ghost touch longsword, +2 light metal shield of blinding, +1 chainmail of fire resistance, +2 studded leather of silent moves, and a suit of +1 full plate are currently in his inventory. He has set up shop in the Maskarran shrine that few local would approach- he had no trouble banishing the undead shadows that haunted the back rooms and, unbeknownst to the townsfolk, he guards a secret entrance into Cliffhaven’s lower levels.
3. House of the Lady
A small temple to Tymora is under construction in the courtyard of the keep. The small band of pilgrims came with plenty of coin and casually arrived one week after Cliffhaven’s liberation. Their chance arrival has been nothing but a blessing to the locals. There is plenty of well-paying, honest construction work to be done (greatly reducing panic and crime), and the clerics have tended the physical and emotional wounds that the townsfolk have suffered. Golden Seeker Lawftell leads five initiates (lvl 1 clerics) and thirty pilgrims in worship. PCs will probably ask for his services if a party member is killed, in which case he describes a quest from The Lady that is suitable for the PCs after he casts raise dead. He is happy to give PCs as much holy water as they can carry, too. Lawftell is willing to cast a few restorative spells per day (most of his daily spells are used for construction), but avoids invoking divinations on the PCs behalf, arguing that The Lady’s Luck is more reliable than such spells.
4. Militia Barracks
Twenty militiamen and one officer are on duty for twelve hours at a time. The four officers, Rurhild (LN f. Dwarf Fighter 3), Oskur (LG m. Dwarf Fighter 3), Julanna (NG f. Halfling Fighter 3), and Thariil (NG m. Elf Fighter 2/ Wizard 2) are polished warriors with some leadership experience who command two twenty-man patrols and report to Captain Ketticus (LN m. Human Fighter 5). The barracks, located on the first floor of the keep, is comfortable but not lavish by any standard. The militia mans the walls of the keep and patrols the Mountain Road, the Deaf Mule Trail, and the homes and shops of the First Level once every two hours. This is the most battle-ready Cliffhaven has been in a long while, and the strength of each patrol will be decreased if PCs make Cliffhaven more secure over time. Julanna is on duty when the PCs first arrive; she treats them warmly but it takes Rurhild and Ketticus a while to do the same.
5. Sydney’s Lodge
Sydney sells all kinds of extraordinary items from her lodge and is willing to cast 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells from the Bard spell list. She can also serve as a sage by identifying items, translating runes, and invoking bardic magic. Some low level potions are in stock, as are all scrolls for Druid spells (1st through 5th level) and all Bard spells (1st through 3rd level). Gems, wands, and rings are also at the DMs discretion. Finally, she is willing to part with her pearl of power II, cloak of the manta ray, rope of climbing, chime of opening, amulet of health +4, and headband of intellect +2 at reasonable prices.
Jemby the Alchemist (LG m. Human Expert 2/ Transmuter 3) is shy but very smart and quite perceptive. He keeps all kinds of medicine, healing kits, and low-level potions in stock, often tending to others without profit. He can also identify toxins and mix batches of acid and alchemist’s fire upon request, but he refuses to concoct poisons or keep volatile substances in his home. Before the halflings and pilgrims arrived, Jemby served as the town’s singular healer and surgeon while his wife Nadine (NG f. Human Commoner 2) assisted him and doubled as the village midwife. He is on excellent terms with Aynette, the visiting halfling priestess who now tends to the injuries that are beyond his skills to mend.
7. Quiltwood General Store
Restocked by the halflings, Martha Quiltwood (LG f. Gnome Commoner 2) carries most reasonably priced items in the player’s handbook, exceptions being weapons and armor. She has a few daggers, spears, and suits of leather armor for sale, but she leaves the rest to Rinso. She also cares for four riding (light) horses and two work (heavy) horses that remain in excellent health. She can stable up to six other mounts for a small fee and is willing to loan or sell her beasts at fair prices. Her husband, teenage son, and young daughter were put to work on the top floor of the Keep by Stoker but were soon rescued by the heroes from Zaragannon. She counts her blessings and treats other good-natured adventurers very kindly.
8. Halfling Wagon Circle
Flyweather Markwell, Aynette, and fifty other halfling nomads have made their way to Cliffhaven en route to Barrel Mountain, but are waiting for Sydney to smooth over troubles with stone giants before continuing their journey. Like the Tymoran pilgrimage, the halfling caravan has blessed the people of Cliffhaven with high spirits, sufficient food, and a stimulated economy.
9. Vin Wexnor’s Keep
This is the main entrance to the vast multilevel complex that extends one hundred feet and fifty above the mountain, commanding a wide view of the Hornwood Forest. Laborers clear rubble out of the keep daily, and militiamen occupy the ground floor as a base of operations when on duty.