Mysterious Places04/24/2007

Mysterious Places


Pascorel (hamlet): Conventional; AL LE; 100 (3,000) gp limit; Assets 1,000 (30,000) gp; Population 200; non-standard (human 68%, orc 20%, half-orc 8%, ogre 2%, half-ogre 1%, other 1%).
Authority Figure(s): “Sir” Diarmeck Halkadon, male human fighter 11
Important Characters: Keraethus Selitae, female half-elf wizard (invoker) 10; Lorander Blackhands, male human cleric (Hextor) 7/fighter 2; Raerdin Shadowcloak, male gnome beguiler 9.
Note: The gp limit and assets for the village are often much higher than normal because Pascorel survives by banditry. For one week after a raid by the Cockatrice Riders, use the numbers in parentheses.

Pascorel is a small forest village hidden under the boughs of the Welkwood that survives primarily by the raiding conducted by the Cockatrice Riders (see below), supplemented by hunting and foraging. Although the villagers maintain small garden plots, the need to keep the place concealed limits the size of the fields they can tend, and they are dependant on raiding for grain supplies. Hidden as it is south of the buffer zone, the village has very few businesses, most people taking care of all tasks for themselves. They have a single watermill that provides power for the mill and the baking ovens, but most people do their own leatherwork and woodwork. The mill has been expanded since the wars to provide power for the forge of Lorander Blackhands, and a considerable effort is required to conceal the works. The village doesn’t have an inn, although it does have a hall maintained by Sir Diarmeck that serves as a combination tavern, town hall, and general store.

Pascorel is very well hidden, most paths to it being little more than glorified game trails. Only one trail usable by horses and wagons is maintained, and it is closely watched and heavily trapped. The defenses are supplemented by magic that is checked and renewed regularly and very few are able to find the village without assistance from a resident.

Pascorel has a long history of being independent of the various city-states of the Wild Coast (though most of them classified it as ‘unwanted’ rather than unincorporated), and it has done nothing to change that following the partition of the area between the Free City of Greyhawk and the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj, and that seems unlikely to change. They have given Turrosh Mak more than enough reason to reject any deal that doesn’t involve burning the place to the ground, the slow death of the Cockatrice Riders, and the enslavement of anyone who manages to survive. Any chance they might consider a deal with Greyhawk will have to deal with the rather significant bounty the Narwell Headhunters have placed on the Cockatrice, particularly Diarmeck and Keraethus. (Some suspect this has to do with the enigmatic half-elven woman known only as Bladestorm who works with the Headhunters.)

The orcs of Pascorel are as lawful as the humans they share their home with, and both races are extremely loyal to each other. Anyone expecting the orcs to attack in a disorganized manner, or hoping to exploit the racial differences will be sorely disappointed. If they had the proper training, orcs (and half-orcs) in Pascorel would be more likely to be knights or monks than barbarians. Often, they become rangers or scouts (Complete Adventurer, 10).

Most of the ogres of Pascorel are a trio of mercenaries that were hired after they surrendered during a raid a few years ago. They are relatively undisciplined, and are treated as little better than slaves, but they make excellent shock troops, and none would mourn their loss while providing a diversion. The last ogre is a long time resident whose manner and alignment is similar to that of the orcs. The half-ogres (Races of Destiny, 96) are his sons.

The Cockatrice Riders

The Cockatrice Riders are a small band of black-hearted brigands numbering around twenty-five strong that use Pascorel as a base for their raids into the buffer zone (and the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj). No lovers of Greyhawk, they also despise Turrosh Mak for the destruction wrought throughout the Wild Coast during the Greyhawk Wars.

The orcs of the Pomarj hate the Cockatrice Riders and the two groups have clashed many times. Their most well-known battle was fought over control of Castle Sulafrait, once home to a robber-baron and occupied by orcs during 584 CY. In Patchwall 585, the Cockatrice Riders assaulted the fortress slaying around 60 orcs and driving the remainder out. In turn, though, the Cockatrice Riders were forced out by a larger, better led band of orcs attacking under cover of a thunderstorm (but not before they plundered much loot from the castle).

Although they dwell in the Welkwood, the Cockatrice Riders have little or nothing to do with the elves that dwell within. While Sir Diarmeck and the others have little love for the elves, they also realize that fighting them would be pure folly. (That doesn’t mean they won’t set upon, kill, and loot any lone elves they encounter, however.) For their part, the elves ignore the Cockatrice Riders. Although they are fully aware of the depravity of the group, the elves would rather the Cockatrice Riders kill orcs then elves.

The Riders are a diverse group. Some, like Diarmeck, are natives of the Wild Coast driven from their homes during the Greyhawk Wars. Others are opportunists who see loot for the taking in the lands of the orcs. Still others are natives of Pascorel simply fighting to keep their village independent. The Riders number nine orcs and six half-orcs among their number. To a “man” they are an evil, cruel bunch. When abroad, the Cockatrice Riders ride light warhorses, cover their faces with black masks, and wear wide-brimmed hats to which they affix a single cockatrice feather.

The average Cockatrice Rider is a human, orc, or half orc warrior 4. The notable members of the company are:

“Sir” Diarmeck Halkadon
LE male human fighter 11
Tall and muscular, Diarmeck wears his hair black extremely short. Clad in full plate he carries a plainly adorned longsword whose pommel is set with a single red stone that glows menacingly.

Sir Diarmeck is an energetic and cunning leader of men. A native of Elredd, Diarmeck spent much of his youth searching for the reputed lost city hidden deep within the Suss Forest and fighting the humanoids of the Pomarj with Keraethus and other companions (now long-dead or lost). He hates the orcs for destroying his home during the Greyhawk Wars and strikes at them whenever he can.

Diarmeck and Keraethus have a complex history but of all the Cockatrice Riders, he knows and trusts her the most. Companions for over twenty years, they have enjoyed an occasional romance that ebbs and flows with the seasons.

Keraethus Selitae
NE Female half-elven invoker 10
Fair of skin with long jet black hair, Keraethus wears the finery of a noblewoman.

Born in the Faerie Kingdom of Celene, Keraethus was expelled from that fair land when her lust for power and cruel nature became apparent. While evil to the core, she desires to someday return to the land of her birth for there she knew some small measure of peace. Keraethus has a great wealth of knowledge about the Wild Coast and the Pomarj. After her exile, she spent a decade living in Fax, Badwall, and finally Elredd (where she met Diarmeck).

It is Keraethus that keeps Diarmeck occasional impulses to strike at elven enclaves in the Welkwood in check. She knows well Celene’s power and realises that any confrontation between Celene and the Cockatrice Riders would be disastrous.

Keraethus has a fiery temper that she controls with great difficulty. She is infinitely patient, though, and never forgets a slight. She is often at odds with herself and is given to long periods of introspection during which her violent spirit (a gift from her human father) battles against the serenity bestowed upon her by her elven mother. A racist, she tolerates the orcs and half-orcs of the Cockatrice Riders but slaughters without mercy any such creatures opposing her.

Lorandar Blackhands
LE male human cleric (Hextor) 7/fighter 2
Short and broad, Lorander resembles a tall dwarf in many ways. He sports a well-groomed black beard and bears many scars upon his face and torso.

Lorander is a skilled warrior and able tactician, well versed in the arts of war. Schooled in the lands of the former Great Kingdom, Lorandar served on the Malachite, a warship of South Province patrolling Relmor Bay. In 574, his vessel fell prey to one of the most infamous pirates of the Gearnat - Blidg Fanger. Lorander was taken prisoner and spent several years as a slave in the port-city of Blue before escaping northwards in the aftermath of Fanger’s defeat at the hands of the Onnwalish navy in 578. Eventually, he reached Elredd (at the time a free city famed for its mercenaries) and fell in with Diarmeck and Keraethus.

Lorander gained the epithet “Blackhands” because of his skill as a weaponsmith and armorer. He maintains the Cockatrice Rider’s kit and even, on occasion, crafts magical equipment for them. He has an extensive forge and workshop in Pascorel.

Raerdin Shadowcloak
NE male gnome beguiler* 9
*Player’s Handbook II
Deeply tanned and fair haired, Raerdin has a short, carefully trimmed beard and often wears many trinkets and other pieces of finery seemingly scavenged from a variety of places.

A native of Greyhawk’s slum, Raerdin came south during the chaos of Turrosh Mak’s march northwards to “aid” fleeing refugees. He quickly fell in with the Cockatrice Riders and, since then, has been their primary scout and infiltrator. He is a charming fellow, when he wants to be and often takes advantage of people’s good opinion of gnomes. The concept of a fair fight is alien to Raerdin. He likes nothing better than to strike when his opponent is distracted or helpless.

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