The Duchy of Ashlar
Ruler: Duke Armas Nenonen
Government: Feudal fief
Alignments: N, NG, LN
Important Religions: Conn, Darlen, Serat
Important Organisations: Order of the Watch Eternal (knightly order), Sagacious Masters of the Eldritch Nexus (wizard’s guild), Shadow Masks (thieves’ guild), Worshipful Company of Freetraders (merchant’s guild)
Languages: Common, Elven, Halfling
Towns & Cities: Languard (pop. 7,923), Dulwich (pop. 4,734), Dunstone (pop. 3,574)
Villages: Ashford (pop. 75), Coldwater (pop. 176), Hard Bay (pop. 138), Kingsfell (pop. 174), Longbridge (pop. 193), Underdell (pop. 152), Thornhill (pop. 157), Wellswood (pop. 192), White Moon Cove (pop. 328), Woodridge (pop. 138)
Fortifications: Black Tower, Languard, Tor Abbey
Resources: Fishing, timber, shipbuilding
Coinage: Platinum orb, gold crown, electrum noble, silver penny, copper bit
Dismissively called “Fenland” by outsiders for the broad swath of fetid, tidal saltmarsh almost cutting the duchy in twain, Ashlar sprawls along the appropriately named Hard Bay. Effectively isolated from the rest of the continent by a high plateau crowned by dark, silent woods clustering hard against a legion of fantastically shaped stone spires, Ashlar is an isolated realm of hard, resilient folk.
For centuries, the folk of Ashlar have dwelt in the shadow of ancient evils. Although it has stood for generations, the Duchy is not the first kingdom to claim the lands sprawling north of the Forest of Gray Spires. From his seat in Languard, Duke Armas Nenonen ever watches over his realm. Brooding upon the ancient shadows seemingly clustering ever closer about his land, he looks to the grim, towering bulk of the Mottled Spire as the source of the evil besetting his people. 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.
Notable Geographical Features
Several geographical features of note lie inside Ashlar or on its borders:
The Forest of Gray Spires: While not part of Ashlar, the Forest of Gray Spires forms its southern border. Deemed all but impenetrable, wild rumours cluster thickly about these brooding woodlands and the legion of strange, slender rock spires thrusting upwards from the plateau on which the forest stands.
Hard Bay: A wide and deep bay renowned for stormy weather and savage tides, Hard Bay is aptly named. Its bounds are a tangle of rivers, rocky headlands, vertiginous cliffs, wooded isles and isolated, stony beaches.
The Saltmire: This swath of dismal, low-lying saltmarsh sprawls outwards from the broad, muddy banks of the River Ost and its tributaries. It effectively sunders the duchy in twain.
Notable Adventure Sites
Several adventure sites of note lie inside or on Ashlar’s borders:
Cavern of Forbidden Dreams: Buried deep in the Shoalstone and only accessible via a precipitous, oft-flooded tunnel the Cavern of Forbidden Dreams is a place of pilgrimage for those seeking ancient forbidden knowledge.
Gloamhold: A vast dungeon complex of unknowable, but undoubtedly ancient, origin and unfathomable extent, dark rumours and terrible tales of adventure, death and betrayal hang over this forsaken site. It is a place of madness and death.
Tower of Woe: Standing deep in the Forest of Gray Spires, the Maddening Spire (as it sometime called) appears as if it has been twisted and melted. Those daring its interior are often driven mad by their experiences.
The Mottled Spire: This huge chunk of granite glowers over Hard Bay’s treacherous waters like an angry giant. Difficult to reach by land or sea, the Mottled Spire shelters Gloamhold deep within its bowels.
The Sunken Pyramid: Lying barely 30 ft. below the water, the Sunken Pyramid looms large in sailors’ lore. The surrounding water is cold and dark. Sharks are reported here in great numbers. Sea spirits, gigantic sharks and the ghosts of those drowned nearby are all said to haunt the surrounding waters.
Valentin’s Folly: This ruined keep stands upon a wooded bluff overlooking a steep-sided valley. Also known as Ironwolf Keep, or the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands, the fortress was built by Valentin Ironwolf. The fortress fell into disrepair shortly after Valentin—along with his family—were slain by his orc and goblin enemies.