Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crux: Urban Fantasy Campaign Seed (Part Six M-R)

The master of sea-borne trade in and out of Crux. He served as a Captain himself until a particularly vicious attack by the Lintha family left him and a handful of stragglers making their way back to port. Since then he has voyaged out a few times, usually on long term expeditions to secure contracts but in general he stays in Crux. He has a difficult task balancing the interests of the V’Neef family, An Teng’s fleets and the various nations of the West. His last voyage there in particular seems to have cost him dearly. Though he returned with impressive contracts his health suffered greatly. Since then, he has relied on his key Captains. He has also turned to the inimitable Modest Chain, who seems to have great influence upon him.

The Majestic Iron Road: The great central road of the kingdom. (Thing)
Menagerie of Perfection: Animal shop run by Chail. (Place)
The Merciful Company of Fletchers: Underguild run by Arexia Jadevine. (Person)
Mercy-of-Sky Passage: Major east-west passage through the mountains bordering Blossoming Pearl. (Place)
Meritous Draught: Tavern keep and owner of the Grievous Pit. (Person)
Mirrorstone Gap: Wall mine in the Dusk quarter. (Place)

Nellens Chenault Whispers, Satrap of Cascading Flowers
Each area in the Threshold that has full allegiance to the Blessed Isle and the Empress is considered a Satrapy. Many, if not most of these posts fall into the hands of the Dynast families and from these they draw resources and strength. The power of a satrap can be dictatorial, particularly in those places where the populace had to be subjugated, there have been threats of rebellion or valuable resources must be held. The Legions once were the great bargaining tool the Scarlet Empress held. Not only for conquest, but as an aid to allies in the Threshold to maintain civility, prevent invasion and keep back raids and supernatural foes. Now, however, many of the Imperial Legions have gone, absorbed into the various Great Houses and that which was both a carrot and a stick for places in the Threshold has vanished.

In the case of Cascade, the Satrap’s power lay mostly with the carrot. House Nellens, arguably one of the weaker of the Dynast families has acted here as a diplomatic embassy rather than as a controlling force in the country. In the past, Nellens could be counted on to provide some measure of military support to the area and in return the province handled their taxation and commerce duties in a timely manner. Those days may be behind them however and this has made the already ill-tempered Nellens Whispers a slowly burning powder keg. Whispers himself came from a particularly elegant and careful branch of his family. When he assumed this post ten years ago, it was to preserve the status quo and increase Nellens mercantile opportunities out of Arjuf. That worked well enough for a time, with Whispers contacts and cronies aiding him. However, with an empty throne, Nellens family as a whole has had to turn their forces, money and interest elsewhere. Whispers has been unable to gain much or provide support to the province as he would want.

Currently he is caught between three forces. The first is the Son of Wreaths, a ruler who can charitably be described as impractical. While the King grants great blessings and doesn.t ask much of the Satrap, when he does he expects it to be fulfilled. The second are two of the four neighboring kingdoms, Carta Mallus and Khedaal. Both have extensive resources, one in wood and the other in iron, both have strong Dragon Blooded family backing, and both share a long and abiding hatred for each other. Cascade has sat between them, protected by the treaties of the Empire for some time, but what will happen now is unclear. Certainly Whispers will have little say in that. Third within Crux and Cascade in general the question grows louder and louder, what Great Family will take the reins of power from Nellens. In the minds of many, this is a question not of if, but who and when. This has made the Satrap and unpleasant person to be around, particularly during his weekly reports.

Nellens Vadeeth, Satrapy Garrison Commander
Born of patrician family, Vadeeth became adopted the Nellens family when he exalted. Thrust into the complicated world of the highest nobility, he did his best to remain at the center- neither striving forward nor falling behind. As a result his time at the House of Bells, while formative, did little to earn him a place, contacts or a commission. He returned to his adoptive family where he served briefly in various roles until the disbanding and distribution of the Legions. The forces that came under Nellens command were quickly stripped of their former Exalted leadership. The only Exalts left in positions of power were those whose loyalty to the family remained unquestioned. Vadeeth took command of a small portion of the forces and eventually found himself assigned to the Cascading Flowers satrapy. These forces are not stationed at Crux, but rather split between Laurels of Ash and Keep of the Last Hour. Every six to eight months about half of the forces at each site rotate to the other, an overly complicated arrangement intend to keep the troops in marching order.

The forces granted to the satrapy are rather thin. In the past, more might have been given to ensure security of the area. Now they are token: enough to deal with bandits, small insurgencies, and riots perhaps but not much more. Vadeeth seems aware of this and unlike other garrison commanders does not press his power. Instead he tries to make sure that his organization keeps its leakage to a minimum. static forces such as these often have a high attrition of goods and troops. Vadeeth reports to Crux and Nellens Whispers once every three to four months. There are some reports concerning his most recent visit that suggest some tension between the two men which had not previously existed. Certainly, Vadeeth seemed to come away from the meeting with thunderclouds hanging above him.

Nihlus Means
The senior member of the Guild Council of Crux and the face of most transactions with the Guild. Nihlus has maintained his position by virtue of his great wealth and his contribution to trade from the Kingdom. It was his family that discovered a set of relatively cheap and effective preservatives for flowers that have allowed them to become a trade good in their own right. However, Nihlus has not aged well and has become known for strange outbursts and fits. The death of his granddaughter and daughter three years ago affected him deeply. However, no one has yet taken the step of openly speaking of replacing him.

Not: Town in Blossoming Pearl (Place)
Numina Gate: District in the western section of Day encompassing the schools, administrative buildings and sites of other higher matters. (Place)
Oaksaint Vross: Outcaste Dragon Blooded of Air and major sorcerer in Crux. (Person)

The Painter Families of Crux
Cascading Flowers Kingdom lacks in a great wealth of trade goods. Instead, it has a diversity of what could be generously called luxury goods: the specialty rices, unusual alcohols and a few rare gems. Its greatest resource, however, lies in its abundant and vibrant fields of flowers and herbs. Over generations, the artisans of the Kingdom have worked to develop unique uses for these materials. Floral perfumes, paper, dyes, inks, spices, and so on have been developed from their rich bounty. Unfortunately, as with all of the other goods produced by the kingdom they are produced in small quantities and are often subject to the vagaries of taste and fashion.
One notable product distilled from the flowers of the kingdom are the magnificent paints they.ve created. Developing vibrant colors which will both blend and sustain remains an art held with greatest secrecy among its peoples. Other places have to resort to cruder paints, made from char, minerals and ores. The flower based paints however, have never been duplicated anywhere else except by the most costly and intensive magical creations. The secrets of this art remain in the hands of the Son of Wreaths, a few select experts at Blossoming Pearl and those who developed them originally, the Painter Families of Crux.

Descending from a native people now vanished or intermarried into the population, these five (now four) families have dedicated themselves to the creation of paintings of exquisite quality and form. While related originally, these families have evolved into powerful rivals.fighting to create new techniques, gain clients and patrons, and assert influence over those who determine fashion. These battles can be brutal and nasty. Paintings such as those produced by the families of Crux have been used to commemorate occasions, seal agreements, conclude marriages and a host of other uses. The symbolic art of flowers, a language perfected in the kingdom, finds one of its highest expressions in the art of these painters.

  • Daykane: The painter family most currently in favor both with the Son of Wreaths and Dragon Blooded collectors
  • Castlight: The smallest of the painter families, barely more than a single line and some cousins.
  • Akias:  The Akias is the family that bears most strongly the marks of the heritage of the painter families
  • Wailingsong: Originally a house of some wonder but has become more conventional
  • Idomatu:  The lost family of the painters of Cascading Flowers Kingdom.
Piercing Heart: Retried Thorn of Day Quarter. (Person)

The Ricelands
The heart of Cascading Flowers Kingdom, the Ricelands are a wide range of semi-wetlands, kept moist by low ranging foothills, terrace farming and a complex network of irrigation channels and aqueducts. Rice is the primary food staple of the area and several varieties are grown. Much as they do with their complex and labyrinthine system for identifying flower species for collection and market, rice has become a complicated issue. Some argue about the beauty of the sweet short grains of the Kaffodo families, others applaud the long grain stickiness produced by the villages of Transhy. Certain rice grains have become luxury goods and on occasion, nobles and travelers tour the areas, crossing the wetlands and sampling rice and rice products at various well known locales. The sprawling and elaborate network of farms and paddies make travel through the heart of the area more difficult, especially without a guide. Strangers, depending on their appearance, make be seriously questioned. Most passing through instead choose to skirt the area, through the Weedlands, a region circling the Ricelands where the lowest quality rice is grown and farmers desperately try to stabilize the flats and marshes.