This adventure is part of the Brukesian Duchy Hexcrawl. Find more about it here!
Some people call it the ruby in the north, others call it the grand bastion of crimson walls. But for most people, the name of the capital of the Brukesian Duchy is Crimsonwall. It is located south of the Misty forests, by the shores of the Dew River. Crimsonwall marks the border of the duchy’s territories; everything south of it is beyond its jurisdiction.
Two-thirds of the city hides behind the 30-foot-tall red-tinted walls. A few decades ago, only the poor and dispossessed would settle and live outside the walls. As time passed, however, the city grew and all kinds of people have settled in the outskirts of Crimsonwall.
To most citizens, an expansion of the walls is long overdue. It’s been a decade since the last time the Dewborn forces crashed against the city walls in an attempt at a large scale siege. Since then, the Dewborn employ guerrilla tactics and infiltration of a few individuals. The inhabitants of the external wards suffer the most from these confrontations.
The ruling class and the nobles have grown used to the relative peace they enjoy behind their tall walls. The city has grown exponentially as of late but a lot of the economic growth now occurs in the unprotected neighborhoods of Southward Burg, Mistside Ward, and Westshore Ward. If the Dewborn attacked with a large force again, the folks in those wards would lose everything. Even if the city repelled the attack, the economic costs of such confrontation would sink the local economy; a fact that the nobility seems to disregard.
Five out of the six noble families in the Duchy have a manor and other properties in the city (the Soto-Crag’s live apart in Brown Bog). The manors are all in the Inner Ward, protected by a second wall. The adults in these families enjoy a life of luxury and excesses. They drink the best wines and frequent the Blue Opera House as their place of choice for luxurious celebrations and parties. Their children are pampered, spoiled individuals who behave as if the whole world existed just to serve them. The city folks refer to them as the Brukesian Goldkids. They are nothing more than a gang of rich kids who do as they please around the city while their bodyguards and rich parents protect them from the consequences of their actions.
The locals have a love-hate relationship with these children and young boys and ladies. On one hand, they spend their silver coins like there is no tomorrow. On the other hand, their whims and improprieties have caused property damage and destruction all over the city.
Despite its size, Crimsonwall remains a close-knit society that gives importance to the responsibility of people’s actions. People are not only responsible for their deeds but also the ones of those around them. People are expected to report any crime, impropriety, or heresy they see to the chief tithing-man of their block.
Men of ages 7 to 60 are sworn subjects to Duke Crane. In their oath of loyalty, they swear to uphold the King’s Peace. In each block of Crimsonwall, all men are part of a tithing, and one of them is the chief tithing-man. They keep the peace, warn newcomers and visitors of the city laws, report any suspicious behavior, and arrest suspects or culprits when the occasion arises.
Any arrested individuals are brought before the ward constable. The constable has the authority to set bail or to imprison any individuals for a trial.
Some crimes are punishable by death if found guilty or if the suspect(s) is(are) caught red-handed by two or more witnesses. Such crimes are murder, robbery, arson, laying a hand on a member of the six noble families, and heresy. It’s important to note that in the case of aggression against a noble, no witnesses are necessary for judgment. In the case of heresy, the word of a priest of the Grand Solar Creator is enough to enact the punishment.
Population. Crimsonwall and the suburbs around it have a population of 14,000 people.
Ethnic Distribution. 90% humans, 3% elves, 3% dwarves, 2% halflings, 2% mixed (goblins, pigmen, gnomes)
Religion. The populace follows a monotheistic religion that worships the Grand Solar Creator. It is analogous to other southern religions that feature the sun as a prominent figure. Those who reject the Grand Solar Creator are branded heretics and may end up locked up or at the gallows.
Government. Duke Albert Crane rules the city with an iron fist. The city council has authority on some minor matters but the Duke always has the last word. He is a loyal subject to the king in the south but the duchy is so far from the capital that the crown has little to no influence in everyday affairs.
Weather. Crimsonwall is in a rainy area of the duchy. The humidity from the Dew River amplifies the effects of heat and cold throughout the year.
1. Roaring Griffin
Well-traveled dirt road (humanoid and horse footprints and cart tracks). Two-story wooden building (wooden beams and clay tiles roof). Packed with clientele (mostly human farmers and laborers). Slow service (indifferent if not rude servers).
- Inn and Tavern: A good place to lodge when looking for a low profile presence in Crimsonwall. The staff gladly take an extra silver coin for their silence and indifference toward the law.
- Innkeeper Griff: Rude and dirty individual. Feels upper-class because he owns the place. Always defers to the nobility.
2. Jirlund Trading House
Well-traveled highway (stone-paved and clear, heavy traffic). Large three-story wooden building (wooden beams and clay tiles roof). Numerous laborers (they carry cargo and pack caravan carts).
- Imports and Exports: The Jirlund family manages an army of merchants, caravans, barges, and stores. They profit greatly from moving wares south to other duchies.
- Business Opportunity: Representatives of the Jirlund Trading House often hire bodyguards to escort them to Barrowstream or Harrisen for business. Hiring adventurers to rescue delayed shipments or recover stolen goods is commonplace too.
3. Stagson’s Hunting Club
Well-traveled road (humanoid and horse footprints and cart tracks). Two-story wooden building (wooden beams and wooden shingle roof). Stuffed dire-deer head (looking down, over the entrance). 2d6 patrons within (half human, half elves, and halflings).
- Tavern: The hunting club is a great place to get acquainted with hunters, adventurers, and guides.
- Stuffed Trophies: Hunting trophies (stuffed heads) line the walls of the hunting club’s den. One of them is a large lizard that some people claim is a dragon.
- Bounty Contracts: Denny Stagson manages bounty rewards that come from rich individuals in Crimsonwall. They often involve the hunting of a savage beast, Dewborn spies, or a particularly dangerous individual or spellcaster.
4. Crimson Perfumes
Lonely city street (flowery smells unlike the rest of the city). One-story stone building (clay tiles roof). Rows of packed shelves (bottles and vials of essences and ingredients). Overwhelming fragrances (numbs the nose and causes headaches).
- Perfumes: Master Tucksmith is an expert at crafting original perfumes and lotions. The nobles in Crimsonwall are his primary clients. Some of them pay fortunes for him to develop a new original perfume to impress their peers.
- Business Opportunity: Master Tucksmith has an unending need for rare ingredients. Some of them require flowers that only grow in the depths of the Misty Forests. Others require slaying dangerous beasts.
5. Barracks Offices
Well-maintained city street (stone-paved and opulent). Two-story stone building (wooden beams and flat roof). Guarded by soldiers (mostly human, maroon uniforms). Duke Crane’s oil painting (4-foot-tall, in the lobby).
- Headquarters: Lord Villard commands the armed forces that protect Crimsonwall. He is in close contact with Duke Crane. The army is loyal to Lord Villard.
- Conscription: All men in the duchy must serve in the armed forces for two years when they are 18. More than half the army is composed of these young men. The penalty for desertion is death.
- Outsourced Hires: Lord Villard understands that the strength of their forces is their sheer numbers. But individually, his soldiers are lackluster at best. He often hires mercenaries and professional adventurers for specialized operations.
6. Kak’s Blacksmithing
Packed city street (scores of people looking for deals). One-story stone building (flat roof and large forge exhaust). Greasy and dusty (a layer of black grime on everything). Heat and smoke (from the roaring forge).
- Blacksmith: Kak’s Blacksmithing employs nine dwarf laborers from Grudt Kak. They offer the best forging services in the duchy. Many claim they possess hidden smithing arts from the dwarven holds. All that is false: they use the same tools and techniques, but they are simply better; they are master workers.
- Master Farkin (dwarf): He owns the forge and is said to be the best blacksmith in the city. He is obsessed with finishing a longsword that he has reforged six times. It is the work of his life but it needs to be perfect. He needs a rare ore from the Grudt Mountains.
7. Gia’s Suits and Clothing
High-end city street (constantly guarded, well-kept). One-story wooden building (wooden beams and clay tiles roof). Opulent and pretentious (decorated like a manor’s dining room). Costly (few people in the duchy can afford it).
- Selective Clients: Seamstress Gia is the most highly regarded clothing manufacturer for the nobles. All new fashion trends involve Gia’s creations in one way or another. She only makes clothing for the ruling class and the nobles. All other patrons are rejected.
8. Blue Opera House
High-class city square (marble-paved, wealthy citizens and their guards stroll about). Three-story stone building (exquisite stone architecture with engraved pillars). Packed with rich clientele (nobles and merchant lords).
- Theater and opera: Entertainment for the wealthy. There are plays or concerts four nights a week and the opportunity to get acquainted with the performers, for a steep price.
- Famous Artists: Talented and handsome performers are often targeted by unsavory individuals. Bodyguarding services are a common need.
9. Otto’s Market and Fencing
Low-end city square (packed with people of all social status). Stores and stalls (buy, sell, and barter all kinds of goods and services).
- The Crime Syndicate: A nameless gang of criminals has a foothold in Otto’s Market. All vendors pay a percentage of their profits to the syndicate to avoid problems. Locals are aware of this but choose not to report crimes to the constables out of fear or because they take bribes. The syndicate may also hire outsiders for illegal operations.
- Fencing: Some goods are difficult or illegal to sell: poisons, jewelry and clothing stolen from the nobles, and relics recovered from the Misty Forests. The syndicate helps by fencing these goods for an appropriate price.
10. Crimsonwall Library
Well-traveled city street (stone-paved, high traffic). Two-story stone building (high stone pillars and a large statue of a Crane in the facade). Scholars and students (they move silently through the halls).
- Library: The collection in Crimsonwall Library is the largest in the duchy. No other place has better access to books, scrolls, stone tablets, journal records, and city records.
- Chief Librarian: The library is in charge of Sir Chelser, an old, frail man who has devoted his life to managing and keeping the library.
11. The Dewstill Maggot
Well-traveled dirt road (humanoid and horse footprints and cart tracks). Two-story wooden building (wooden beams and clay tiles roof). Packed with clientele (mostly human fishermen and laborers).
- Inn and Tavern: The cheapest place to lodge while in the city. It is located in the poor River Ward and has fast access to the ferry services to cross the Dew River.
- Innkeeper Shalanda: An efficient and hardworking woman. Shalanda is an experienced barkeep who knows how to handle impertinent clients. She is well connected and knows the ins-and-outs of the city.
12. Hargen’s Imports
Well-traveled dirt road (humanoid and horse footprints and cart tracks). Two-story stone building (wooden beams and flat roof). Packed storehouse (crates, barrels, and shipments from Barrowstream).
- Barrowstream Goods: The Hargen family is based in Barrowstream. From there, they ship weekly shipments to Crimsonwall. Some crates stay in the city while others are sent south to the other duchies.
- Recovery Rewards: The shipments are often stolen or robbed in the Dew River. All crates are marked with the Hargen family sigil. They pay a reward of 10% of the shipment’s value to mercenaries who recover lost or stolen cargo.
13. Wetshore Adventuring
Well-traveled dirt road (humanoid and horse footprints and cart tracks). Two-story wooden building (wooden beams and wooden shingle roof). Large colorful wooden sign (two crossed swords dripping blood).
- Adventurer’s Guild: Newcomers in the city and would-be adventurers frequent this hall looking for work. The guild is one-year-old and doesn’t have much popularity yet. Most contracts go to known adventurers who consistently succeed. A bribe of 50 gp is a good way to climb the charts and get more contracts.
- Chief Gardon: He is a former adventurer and owns the place. He dresses like a noble and frequents the opera house to get acquainted with wealthy patrons.