Fort Nimbus is a small fortified settlement located by the border of two kingdoms. It has a bloody history of victories and defeats over the centuries. The fort has fallen to enemy forces four times since it was built. It was later recovered all times. As of now, the fort has had no major encounter for the past six years. But the fragile peace treaties threaten to fail once more.
The fort features 40-feet-tall walls, a fortified gatehouse, three watchtowers, and a large fort tower with four scorpions. It is large enough for a maximum garrison of 70-80 soldiers.
1. Entrance Gate
The main gate features wooden double doors. The doors are half a feet thick and reinforced with iron bars. When under attack, the soldiers can also place three wooden bars behind the doors to make it more resilient to attacks. The only way to force open these doors is with a ram or similar siege equipment. The gate is open throughout the day under peaceful circumstances and closed at sunset. When open, the entrance is wide enough to let most carriages and carts in.
This permanent one-story building in the courtyard is used to house soldiers. Inside, there are eight triple bunk beds, a few chests, and some storage. The thatch roof of the barracks is a few feet below the outer wall crenellations.
A well-supplied armory. A few swords, scores of spears, bows, and arrows. Most of them arranged on the walls for easy access. There are enough weapons and leather armors for thirty or so soldiers. An open gate on the east wall leads to a stairway to the second floor to an extension of the armory (Area 7) and access to the wall tops.
The double doors on the west wall are the only ones with carved motifs of nobility and a family crest. This is the only entrance to the tower proper. As an added defense measure, soldiers can drop an iron bar portcullis behind the double doors. This measure is also present in the two single doors to Area 6.
This narrow chamber is the main storage room. Crates, barrels, tables, and shelves with food and water supplies. There are also a few extra weapons that did not fit in the armories. This room features a standard lock but also a masterwork padlock to prevent people from stealing food or wine.
5. Captain’s War Room
The person in charge of Fort Nimbus must be an appointed lord by law. The Lord Captain sits in a throne-like chair on top of a raised dais when performing official audiences to locals or even his men. When in war, a large rectangular table with a map is placed in front of the chair. Other officers must stand around the table while the Lord Captain is the only one who attends meetings sitting down.
6. Storage and Exit
The area behind the war room is used for general storage, especially tools and construction material to perform wall repairs or to prepare extra fortifications. A long circling stairway hugs the wall and leads to the second floor. There is a wooden trapdoor in the middle. It features a masterwork padlock only the Lord Captain has a door for. This trapdoor leads down to the only secret exit (Area 13). Only in cases of extreme need, when an opposing force storms the wall and there is no chance for victory, should the Lord Captain use the trapdoor to attempt to escape with his officers and/or any civilians currently in the fort.
7. Wall Armory
A second armory on the second floor is supposed to supply weapons to soldiers moving from the common room to the wall tops.
8. Fort Barracks
This room is an extension of the barracks. The best soldiers and any officers are the only ones worthy of this location. The accommodations inside are similar in quality to those of the outside barracks. It has enough room to house up to 12 men.
9. Captain’s Quarters
The Lord Captain of Fort Nimbus is the only person serving who has a single room. The room features a large single bed, a desk, a wardrobe, and a chest. There is a map, letters, parchments, and ink bottles on the desk. Under normal circumstances, only the Lord Captain and one or two officers know how to read and write. Illiteracy is rampant among soldiers and militiamen. Because of this, the Lord Captain does not need to hide or protect his written messages from snooping eyes.
10. Common Room
The whole second level of the fort’s tower is one large chamber. It features two long tables and an improvised but practical communal kitchen. Plenty of crates and barrels from storage are usually in the common room temporarily while they run out of supplies. All soldiers are responsible for kitchen labors but they have rotating schedules. Usually, two or three men are on kitchen duty every day. The whole garrison meets here twice a day to eat. Only the Lord Captain is allowed to eat in his chamber.
11. Wall Tops
The outer wall that surrounds most of the fort features a 5-feet-thick hallway connected by three watchtowers and the gatehouse. The crenellations that surround the wall provide good cover to defending troops on top.
12. Fort Roof
The roof of the fort tower is 40-feet in diameter. A single circling stairway connects this area to the common room below (Area 10). Four wooden scorpions rest on the crenellations of the tower. Each of them overlooking a 90-degree area around the fort. The scorpions cannot be removed from the walls but their bases allow the users to rotate them up to forty degrees in any direction. In times of war, boxes of scorpion bolts rest beside each war machine. The scorpions require a crew of two people to shoot at maximum speed. Use the ballista description in the DMG p. 255.
13. Secret Exit
The secret exit is 30-feet under the main level of Fort Nimbus. The walls and floor are untreated rough stone and soil but the way is cleared of any major obstacles. A small chamber next to the ladder features a table and several crates. There are some weapons on the table and food and travel supplies on the crates. The tunnel leads east for two miles and exits under think bushes and vegetation. The secret exit is seldom used so the exit is well hidden as nature has reclaimed the area. The secret exit is meant to be a last resort measure when all hope is lost. According to law, only the Lord Captain, officers, and any civilians are allowed to escape. Any other soldiers fighting must hold back any opposing forces for as long as they can.
These are the general features of Fort Nimbus. It is located a few hours from the nearest large settlement.
Terrain. Fort Nimbus is located by the border between two powerful kingdoms. The area around the fort is well cleared of trees and forest for at least a mile. The fort is located on top of a hill. The area is a mix of cleared soil and rolling hills.
Doors. The main entrance, facing south, points towards the inside of the kingdom. It features double iron-reinforced wooden doors at the gate. Inside the fortified settlement, all doors are wooden and feature standard locks. An adventurer can bypass an average lock with a successful DC 14 Dexterity (Thieves Tools) check. The front gate can only be opened with siege equipment.
Walls. The fort features 40-feet-tall stone walls. They are 5-feet-thick with a hallway on top to allow for defenders to move around the wall and defend the fort. The corners on the outer walls feature small towers.
Garrison. The fort has enough space for a permanent garrison of 30 soldiers and one captain. In difficult times, the inner courtyard is used for military tents and allows a maximum garrison of 70 soldiers.