Hexographer Campaign Map

Compendium of the Lands Surrounding Blackwater Lake

Compiled for Lord Beckett

by Talvion Tulossa

of Clan Cormallen

in the Year 614

by Frangian Reckoning


Preface

The enclosed notes are for the use of Lord Winchester and his kin. The author hopes that they may provide some aid in his quest to locate his family’s ancestral lands, to reestablish the Winchester family, and to restore it to prosperity.

Introduction

Blackwater Lake and its environs lie within a vast region that most people simply call Northumbria. This region, which stretches for hundreds of miles, is comprised mainly of forested hills and mountains, brimming with mineral resources, towering trees, and wildlife. The primary inhabitants of this rugged land seem to be either primitive human savages that dominate the lowlands, or wicked goblyn tribes that swarm over and under the hills and mountains. However, just over a century ago, explorers and adventurers arrived from the Kingdom of Frangia, perhaps the most powerful kingdom across the Great Sea. The Crown first established an agricultural colony called Southumbria, and, a few years later, it explored and claimed the vast tract of virgin wilderness to the north.

The Frangian Crown’s claim to ownership of Northumbria seemed ludicrous at first—and still does—given the sheer size of the region and the scarcity of royal settlers here. Settlement has been steady, but it will take decades before any semblance of control is established. Perhaps because of this uncertainty, daring Frangian settlers and freebooters have flocked northward, seeking opportunity and adventure.

Nestled between several ranges of hills, Blackwater Lake is a narrow body of water that stretches for about 30 miles from north to south. The cold, deep waters of the lake, though only a few miles wide, allow for easy transportation of valuable goods. The lake drains northward and forms the source of the Blackrun River, which flows northward about 100 miles to the ruined capital of the old Northern Realm of the Varangians. Just south of Blackwater Lake are the headwaters to the Blackwater River, which flows southward for roughly 250 miles and leads to the chief Frangian city in Northumbria, the port of Yarrvik.

Lying directly between these two great waterways is the tiny hamlet of Lakesend. Realizing long ago that the site was perfectly suited to control the waterways, royal agents established a keep at the southern tip of the lake, not far from the hamlet. Over the years, the inhospitable nature of the region, coupled with its distant frontier location, has kept the village’s population to just a few hundred souls. Currently, new arrivals are common, but so are disappearances. Explorers, settlers, missionaries, prospectors, mercenaries, prostitutes, and outlaws routinely flock to the region, looking for fortune, fame, and freedom.

Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope, United States Forest Service, 1908

Trees of the Lake Region

Those Found Mainly North of Blackwater Lake

Alder, Balsam, Beech, Birch, Black Cherry, Fir, Maple, Oak, Pine, Poplar, Sablewood, Spruce

Those Found Mainly South of Blackwater Lake

Apple/Crabapple, Beech, Briar, Bronzewood, Black Cherry, Chestnut, Elder, Elm, Hawthorn, Hickory, Hornwood, Larch, Locust, Maple, Mulberry, Oak, Pear, Plum, Poplar, Thorn Walnut, Willow

Trees Unique to Northumbria

Bronzewood

These trees are slender until after many years of growth. The average size is 40’ tall, with branches growing at forty-five-degree angles from the trunk. The bark is reddish brown and hard. Leaves are narrow and toothed, from eight to ten inches long. The wood is heavy and hard so that only experts can work it properly. If carefully seasoned and dried, the outer part will become almost as hard as metal, while the overall weight of the wood is unchanged.

Hornwood

This beautiful hardwood has roughly the size and shape of an elm tree. Its trunk and branches are usually very straight with black bark. Leaves are long and pointed, resembling abroad blade of a spear. If properly treated and seasoned, hornwood becomes especially strong and resilient. Hornwood weapons, especially bows, are very valuable.

Sablewood

These evergreen trees are most common in the northernmost part of Northumbria. They are short with thick trunks for their size. The branches make excellent arrow shafts. The trees forested in the cold months have the finest grain, and if treated with oil, the wood becomes lustrous black.

Barony of Blackwater

On a Field Sable, a Wyrm Argent Passant

The Frangian Crown designated the keep near Lakesend to be a staging point for its conquest and settlement of the northernmost parts of Northumbria. For over a decade, it devoted many resources to the keep’s construction, until boastful Frangian merchants claimed that the large fortress was ‘a bone stuck in the throat of the Picts’, the savage barbarians of the region. Yet, less than twenty years after Frangian engineers laid the cornerstone of the keep, Crown policy shifted. Royal forces in Northumbria, spread far too thin, withdrew from the northernmost areas to consolidate around the port of Yarrvik.

At that time, Sir Beren Blackwater, a Frangian knight-errant in the region, slew a pale wyrm near the lake. In the creature’s lair, he supposedly found the Serenstone, an enchanted jewel of great significance to the local druids. He returned this gem to the grateful Great Druid Myrrdin, who in turn gave to Beren the Serensword, an enchanted blade of great power that drew its energy from the verdant light of the stone. They declared the sword to be a symbol of his lawful authority in the region.

Sir Beren found the word of the druids to be more significant than he realized, and the locals quickly recognized him as an independent lord. A few years later, after driving bandits from the abandoned keep, he assumed the title of Baron Blackwater, renamed the keep as Blackwater Keep, and made it the seat of his new independent freehold. For his arms, he took a black field to represent the lake, and he placed on this an argent wyrm to memorialize his victory.

The Blackwater Family

First Baron of Blackwater, Lord Beren Blackwater
Baroness Ygraine of Blackwater

Second Baron, Lord Tristan Blackwater
Baroness Avelina Blackwater

Third Baron, Lord Berold Blackwater (died recently)
Baroness Elaine (died years ago in childbirth with Morgon)

Lord Bors Blackwater, Castellan of the Keep (missing)
His wife, Lady Matilda

Lord Balin Blackwater, Greater Bailiff of the Keep,
His wife, Lady Isabella
Their three daughters, Emma, Agnes, and Alice

Lord Melias Blackwater, Reeve of the Village of Lakesend
His wife, Lady Giselle
Their young daughter, Corra.

Lord Morgan Blackwater, Magus and Resident Sage

Lady Matilda Blackwater

Baronial Taxes and Fees

Coinage in the Barony of Blackwater

Coins of the Frangian Realm include Platinum Stars (1ppv), Gold Suns (1 gpv), Electrum Comets (1 epv), Silver Moons (1 spv), and Copper Wheels (1 cpv). In addition, the Barony of Blackwater issues three of its own items:

Trade Bars of blackened silver, preferred by merchants, which come in three sizes: 10 gpv, 25 gpv, and 50 gpv.

Silver Drakes, made of a unique alloy called Lake Silver that is comprised mainly of iron, silver, and nickel (the contents of a meteorite found near the lake years ago) are worth 2 gpv inside the Barony and very little elsewhere. Thus, most silver drakes never leave the Barony. The silvery coin features a writhing serpent on the obverse and interwoven rings (as with chainmail, on the reverse. The metal seems highly resistant to corrosion (largely due to the nickel content).

Trolls, small square brass coins, are worth 2 cpv in the Barony and very little elsewhere.

Taxes and Such in the Village of Lakesend

Bridge Tolls: Crossing the West Bridge requires a toll of 1 troll per person and 1 troll per beast of burden. A soldier collects the coins, which go to Lord Melias. A moneychanger is on hand to deal with other coins, and he will sell a string of 10 trolls for 22 copper wheels. For 40 copper wheels, residents of the village or Keep can buy a special square brass token called a Torch, which allows unlimited crossings for one month.

Temple Tithe: The Baron permits the Temple of St. Cuthbert to collect a tithe on the sale of all items save food, clothing, and religious items. Each day, a priest collects the tithe from vendors and deposits them in the Temple.

Head Tax: Each resident of the village pays 1 copper wheel/month as a head tax.

Feudal Dues: Residents of the village need not perform any feudal labor if they are enrolled and active in the village militia. Otherwise, they must pay 10% of the fruits of their labor each month to Lord Melias.

Justice Tax: Anyone convicted of a crime must pay a fee of 1 silver moon (above and beyond any fines imposed).

Import Duty: Every would-be merchant entering the village or Keep must pay an import duty on any salable goods that he intends to sell (guild members are exempt). Anyone found selling undeclared items must pay a fine equal to 300% of the item’s value. The import duty assessed is 5% of the presumed retail value. A guild official and a baronial soldier vigorously collect this duty and turn it over to the Baron.

Guild Tariff: All local vendors add a tariff of 20% to any item sold by non-guild members. The tariff is added to the cost of the item and paid to Keep officials each day. As a result, almost every vendor the PCs will meet is a guild member, so the DM need not worry about this.

Changer Fee: By Baronial decree, officials and vendors will accept only recognized coinage of the Realm or those items minted by the Barony. A mining rush a decade ago led to the proliferation of strange coins or bars, few of which had any consistency. The Baron’s decree, which prompted miners and peddlers to trade in their strange coins, facilitated local trade by restoring confidence in the local coinage. The local changer charges 10% when changing strange money to accepted ones (so buying 40 copper wheels will cost the equivalent to 44 copper wheels).

Taxes and Such in Blackwater Keep

Gate Tax: Anyone (save Baronial officers) entering the Keep must pay a gate tax of 1 silver moon. A scribe and a Baronial guard collects this and delivers it to the Baron each day.

Dock Fee: Anyone docking a ship or large boat at the wharves outside the Keep must pay a docking fee of 1 platinum star (boats smaller than 10’ may only dock with permission or be confiscated). The fee covers a stay of one week, provided the vessel does not leave and return during that time, which would end the stay and begin a new one. The fee covers patrols, dock space, rubble ballast supplied if desired, fresh water, and the right to dump ballast or spoiled cargos in agreed-upon areas under the supervision of the guards. A scribe and baronial soldier collect this and deliver it each day to the Baron.

Guild Membership Fee: The Guild charges a seasonal membership fee of 500 gold suns (members need not be residents—in fact, most are not). Minor guild officials collect this fee when a merchant first does business in the Barony each season.

Shrine Tithe: The Baron permits the Temple of St. Cuthbert to collect a tithe on the sale of all items save food, clothing, and religious items. Each day, a priest collects the tithe from vendors and deposits them in the Temple.

Head Tax: Residents of the Keep pay no head tax.

Justice Tax: Anyone convicted of a crime must pay a fee of 1 silver moon (above and beyond any fines imposed).

Import Duty: Every would-be merchant entering the village or Keep must pay an import duty on any salable goods that he intends to sell (guild members are exempt). Anyone found selling undeclared items must pay a fine equal to 300% of the item’s value. The import duty assessed is 5% of the presumed retail value. A guild official and a baronial soldier vigorously collect this duty and turn it over to the Baron.

Guild Tariff: All local vendors add a tariff of 5% to any item sold by non-guild members. The tariff is added to the cost of the item and paid to Keep officials each day. As a result, almost every vendor the PCs will meet is a guild member, so the DM need not worry about this.

Changer Fee: By Baronial decree, officials and vendors will accept only recognized coinage of the Realm or those items minted by the Barony. A mining rush a decade ago led to the proliferation of strange coins or bars, few of which had any consistency. The Baron’s decree, which prompted miners and peddlers to trade in their strange coins, facilitated local trade by restoring confidence in the local coinage. The local changer charges 10% when changing strange money to accepted ones (so buying 40 copper wheels will cost the equivalent to 44 copper wheels).

Emergency Levies

In times of trouble, the Baron might levy any of the following, as needed (these are rare occurrences):

Wall Tax: Each resident of the Keep or Village must pay for repairs or expansion of fortifications.

Harbor Tax: Each resident of the Keep or Village must pay for repairs or expansion of harbor facilities.

Fire Tax: Each resident of the Keep or Village must pay for repairs after a major fire destroys a portion of the village or Keep.

Lance Tax: Each resident of the Keep or Village must pay for the hiring of mercenaries to defend the Barony (often 1 silver moon per ‘household’/week until the crisis subsides).

Abnormal Prices are Normal in Blackwater

The Barony has been awash in coin, largely due to a proliferation in mining in the last decade, but also due to a few lucrative victories over pirates and Pictish war bands. Furthermore, the Barony’s distance from civilization make many goods difficult to get, so many prices are high compared to those in the Realm. However, the Barony has issued price controls on unprepared food and clothing (easy to do in such a small area) to prevent abuse of the common people. Herb prices are normal because they grow locally and are easy to obtain. Fur prices remain inflated, as they are luxuries, but most locals have a few fur garments to keep off the cold (many obtain these themselves).

Type of Good/Service Cost Multiplier Due to Inflation and Fees
Arms x3 + 10% tithe
Armor x3 + 10% tithe
Clothing/Textiles x1
Herbs x1 + 10% tithe
Livestock x3 + 10% tithe
Equipment x3 + 10% tithe
Provisions x1
Religious Items x3
Spices x3 + 10% tithe
Tack & Harness x3 + 10% tithe
Transport (No ships or galleys are available) x3 + 10% tithe

‘Manuscript’, John White Alexander (1856-1915) — Clerics of St. Cuthbert

Social Classes in the Barony

Upper Upper Class

Royalty, sovereign nobility, and great nobles.
No one currently in the Barony fits this description.

Middle Upper Class

Landed nobles, petty landed nobles, landed knight bannerets, and great clerics

Notable Examples:

Lord Bors Blackwater, Castellan/Baron-Apparent (missing)
Lady Matilda, Castellan’s Wife (Keep)
Lord Gaheris of Goldmont (Goldmont)
Lord Balin Blackwater, Greater Bailiff (Keep)
Lady Isabella, Greater Bailiff’s Wife (Keep)
Lady Emma, Greater Bailiff’s Daughter (Keep)
Lady Agnes, Greater Bailiff’s Daughter (Keep)
Lady Alice, Greater Bailiff’s Daughter (Keep)
Lord Melias Blackwater, Village Reeve (Lakesend)
Lady Giselle, Village Reeve’s Wife (Lakesend)
Lady Corra, Village Reeve’s Daughter (Lakesend)
Lord Morgon Blackwater (Keep)
Lady Matilda Blackwater

Lower Upper Class

Landed knights, landless nobles (landless barons—rare), landless knight bannerets (rare), landless knights, and famous wizards.

Notable Examples:

Father Godfrey, Vicar of the Shrine of the Saint (Keep)
Father Talbot, Curate of the Temple of the St. (Lakesend)
Sir Uriens, Lesser Bailiff (Keep)
Sir Darras of Goldmont (wandering)
Sir Agravaine the Porter (Keep)
Sir Raynald of Setmoor (wandering)
Sir Aglovale of Kolkirk (wandering)
Master Lamorak the Mysterious (in his lair)

Upper Middle Class

Landed gentry (landed sergeants), non-noble generals, non-noble greater officials, great merchants, non-noble officials, lesser clerics, and established wizards.

Notable Examples:

Master Edern, Master of the Guild (Keep)
Adelard the Steward (Keep)
Sorlons the Castellan’s Secretary (Keep)
Heinrich, Baronial Chamberlain (Keep)
Edmund, Baronial Treasurer (Keep)
Master Smauragdus, Alchemist (Keep)
Master Percard, Secretary to Lord Morgon (Keep)
Clerics of St. Cuthbert at the Shrine or Temple

Middle Middle Class

Petty officials, Guild officials, merchants, senior military officers, and fledgling wizards.

Notable Examples:

Simon, Baronial Butler/Cellarer (Keep)
Edern, Head Baker (Keep)
Ferand, Baronial Dairyman (Keep)
Herlen, Baronial Poultryman (Keep)
Gunter, Baronial Kennelman (Keep)
Guy, Baronial Falconer (Keep)
Hammond, Baronial Chief Gardener (Keep)
Kevan, Baronial Provost (Lakesend—missing)
Roger, Baronial Game Warden (Lakesend)
Bran, Baronial Forester (Lakesend)
Captain Gaufred of the Lakesend Militia (Lakesend)
Sergeant Berenger, Senior Sergeant (Keep)
Master Holgrim the Swordsman (Keep)
Hugh, Baronial Herald (Keep)
Master Gavin of the Guild (Keep)
Most guild merchants
Emery and Margery Innsman, Innkeepers (Lakesend)
Brom Butterman, Tavern Keeper (Lakesend)

Lower Middle Class

Accomplished artisans, accomplished craftsmen, petty merchants, junior military officers, druids, and rangers.

Notable Examples:

Cynric, Druid of the Grove
Galien, Chief Physician (Keep)
Master Landovale, Armorer at the Keep
Master Gervaise, Weaponer at the Keep
Master Sager, Blacksmith at the Keep
Liam Wainwright, Provisioner at the Keep
Hugh Redoak, Huntsman
Hardwin the Barber at the Keep
Masters Arnauld and Dagonet, Traders (Lakesend)

Upper Lower Class

Freemen, lesser craftsmen, lesser artisans, petty military officers, moneychangers, fences, and infamous thieves.

Notable Examples:

Master Cedric, Moneychanger at the Keep
Yeoman Sergeants-of-the-Guard
Sergeants-of-the Guard

Middle Lower Class

Herdsmen, unskilled laborers, peddlers, actors, jugglers, soldiers, mercenary soldiers, most thieves, infamous assassins, fledgling bards, and fledgling jesters.

Notable Examples:

Yeomen of the Guard
Guardsmen at the Keep

Lower Lower Class

Criminals, freed slaves, vagabonds, beggars, peasants, tinkers, petty thieves, and petty assassins.


This is part one of the Northumbrian Campaign’s Gazetteer. 

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