Glowering amid dark rumours and terrible stories of desperate adventure, death, betrayal and glimmering treasures squat the unutterably ancient halls of Gloamhold. This crumbling, benighted, haunted dungeon complex of unknown, but undeniably vast, extent is buried deep within the grim and brooding spray-drenched headland of the Mottled Spire.
It is a place of legends, madness and death. Within this towering, wave-lashed shard of limestone lies the labyrinthine passageways and chambers of Gloamhold’s outer reaches and, beyond them, the benighted precincts and canals of the legend-shrouded Twilight City.
Even reaching Gloamhold is difficult. By land, adventurers must negotiate miles of trackless, jagged crags and sullen, dark gorges, chasms and valleys. Those approaching by sea have it no better. They must brave over a mile of savage, foam-flecked waves. Tides about the headland are notoriously treacherous; wrecks of ships large and small driven to destruction on the rocks litter the seabed. Winter storms render Gloamhold all but inaccessible by sea for several months every year.
A harsh chunk of limestone rearing hundreds of feet into the perpetually cloudy sky the Mottled Spire looms over the turbulent waters of Hard Bay like a malevolent giant. Attempts to colonise the barren headland have all ended in failure and death. Surrounded by crumbled outbuildings, a now ruined lighthouse—now colloquially known as simply “The Shard”— stands atop the promontory’s highest, most wind lashed bluff. Elsewhere, on the spire’s landward side, languish the weed choked, tumbled ruins of Greystone—a fishing village abandoned decades ago. Occasionally, redoubtable bands of adventurers poke around both sets of ruins. Some return, while others simply disappear—perhaps finding certain secret connections rumoured to lead into the upper levels of Rivengate and from thence deeper into Gloamhold’s lightless depths.
Although much of Gloamhold remains unknown—nothing more than the subject of wild whispers and rumours—knowledge of a few major locations has come to light through the explorations of brave (or foolhardy) adventurers.
Of dark and forbidding aspect, the lower portions of once mighty Rivengate collapsed into the sea long ago. Built by unknown hands remnants of the citadel yet cling to the cliffs. The Splintered Stair links Rivengate to the cellars buried below the Shard. The following facts about Rivengate are generally accepted as true:
Rivengate rambles over five levels. Bands of smugglers are reputed to use the lower levels, although they often clash with the monstrous inhabitants of the place.
The Landings lie close to the cavern mouth through which the Murkwater flows into Hard Bay. Here those daring the Murkwater can dock their boats.
The Echoes is a huge vaulted chamber infested with giant spiders. It comprises much of Rivengate’s lowest level and is the scene of ferocious battles between the smugglers and the eight-legged predators lurking among the many pillars holding the place’s high ceiling aloft.
Only skilled or lucky captains dare to sail into the gloom of Rivengate’s gaping maw. Within flows the dark and treacherous Murkwater; the seething, foam-flecked waters below Rivengate are particularly hazardous because of the jagged rocks fallen from above. The following facts about the Murkwater are generally accepted as true:
Vicious tides, and hidden rocks, make travel along the Murkwater perilous in the extreme without a skilled sailor.
Many vessels—crewed by adventurers or smugglers—have come to grief on the Murkwater; more than a few sunk with holds laden with treasure or contraband.
If the fickle tide is right, explorers can sail deep into Gloamhold’s bowels. Such a journey inevitably takes adventurers into the Faneof Bones —a ziggurat-studded cavern filled with the uncountable remains of literally thousands upon thousands of creatures. Many remains are clearly human. Others are something else entirely.
The Twisted Warrens
Honeycombing the rock above the Murkwater, the Twisted Warrens are a confused and convoluted network of natural caverns and passageways. The following facts about the Twisted Warrens are generally accepted as true:
The Twisted Warrens are a confused network of natural passages inhabited by feral troglodytes, derro and worse.
In several places, great rifts intersect with the Twisted Warrens. Unknowably deep, these rifts are thought to reach the Ebon Realm far below.
The Twisted Warrens enable explorers to travel from Rivengate to the Sunless Lake and the Twilight City without daring the Murkwater’s treacherous waters.
The Breathless Narrows
A network of flooded, fractured caverns radiate outwards from beneath the Murkwater. The water therein is only fractionally above freezing and explorers need magic to survive for any length of time in this airless, lightless world. The following facts about the Breathless Narrows are generally accepted as true:
The Breathless Narrows are a network of flooded caverns under the Murkwater. Survival in the Narrows without powerful magic is all but impossible.
Undead along with ferocious giant eels inhabit the Breathless Narrows. Both are always hungry.
A sunken shrine to some terrible and ancient sea god is hidden somewhere deep within the Breathless Narrows in some forgotten, bone-filled cavern.
The Twilight City
Buried in an immense cavern, the Twilight City sprawls across a series of low islands struggling above the cold, dark waters of the Sunless Lake. An ancient place of stone ziggurats, fetid and twisted canals and cyclopean architecture, troglodytes fleeing the ruin of their ancient mighty empire built the city aeons ago. At the city’s heart stands the titanic Whispering Fane built about the Daemonic Maw. A wide passageway—The Ebon Road—links Gloamhold to the Ebon Realm. The following facts about the Twilight City are generally accepted as true:
Sprawling across several low islands rising from the Sunless Lake’s frigid waters the Twilight City lies at Gloamhold’s shadowed heart.
Once home to an ancient civilisation, the place is now infested with warring troglodyte tribes (and worse).
The Sunless Lake is tidal. Sometimes, the city floods and those dwelling therein must retreat to the many ziggurats dotted about the ruins until the waters subside.