As you inherit this piece of land, here is some knowledge for the adventure ahead.
Notes on Craven’s Hollow by Vrede (Player’s Guide)
As you have found yourself in charge of the small community of Craven’s Hollow and the surrounding lands, I thought it best to give you a brief overview and history of the place you now own.
Craven’s Hollow was historically an ancient defensible tower for the protection of the city of Kowal. It is now a community of people outcast from other places, who found a home here. I have done my best to aid the people here and help lead them to create a real community. I am unsure if I have been successful, but that has always been my goal.
We are little more than a village with only around 40 people living within the lands that you have inherited. There are more who call the surrounding forest or farmlands home, but these a very few. There is little crime here as we do our best to respect each other, but the community faces many dangerous problems. Lack of income and food is a top issue, while the dangers of travel pose the second biggest reason for mortality. We do not fall under the jurisdiction of Kowal, so we felt no obligation to follow their strict rules and laws. With this land deeded to you through the authority, this may change.
I have done my best to open my meager library to all and spread knowledge and teaching to those interested, and while we are mostly of teran descent, we are open to those who may be different than the cultural standard.
The people of the Hollow come and go, but a few have put down roots and have stayed a while.
Me – Vrede
I, myself have been here for almost a decade. I escaped a hard life in the Empire of Ish and headed north when I was only a teenager. I found a few places of solace, but also many who would take advantage of a younger person. It was one such group that I had a disagreement with; when I no longer suited their needs, they ambushed me and left me to die. But, luckily, I did not. I made my way to Kowal, where I wallowed in pity. I spent my days in the taverns and my nights in rapture dens. One night, I had a moment of clarity. I decided my life would be more than that, and I left my vices and found my way here. Since then, helping guide this community has kept me happy and sober.
Vesson is another longstanding personality in the Hollow; he and his guardian Mahesh were already here when I arrived, though his small trading post has grown much in the last ten years. Vesson is a hard person to read. He doesn’t talk much about his past except that he was wronged in Kowal, and that one day he wishes he could return to his home country of Tiren. He does not socialize with the people here, but he has been known to help with food and resources when times are scarce.
Mahesh is never found too far away from his companion, Vesson. One day, when Mahesh had a few too many drinks, he mentioned that he owed Vesson a life debt. When I pressed, he seemed to sober up, and he asked for it to never be mentioned again. He is a large, muscular man and seems to go nowhere without his ornate armor on. He holds himself like a professional soldier.
Wez is a solid citizen of the Hollow. He suffered at the hands of the Red Guard in Kowal. He lost someone dear, but I will leave that up to him to talk about. He was a city guard before, and now he has helped me to keep the Hollow safe, though he seems to have some distaste for being viewed as a constable.
Grogrem is a dweran refugee from the city. He left right before the Red Night, when Kowal was put into martial law. His home was set afire by the “Children of the Light”. He was saved by some other citizens, but he had nothing left in the city and decided to leave and hope for a better life. He is a talented carpenter and often pitches in to help build or repair structures in town.
Di is an interesting person. I have never gotten them to open up, though we have shared a few brief encounters. I know they are of faun heritage, though they try to hide this by wearing an ever-present scarf wrapped around their head and face. They live along the southern border of the Hollow, but often spend long periods in the woods to the west. When they return, they almost always share a large portion of their hunt with those in the tents.
Esther is another citizen who spends most of her time in the woods. She comes back with gathered berries or game and sells them to Vesson. She will tell any about her old job of hunting for the Zadeku family and how she left their employment after she disagreed with their support of the old Red Guard. She lives in one of the small homes in the town square. She is also the caretaker for young Tolin.
Tolin is a young bard. He has only seen 12 cycles, but he can play the flute like no other. We have no real tavern here, but he will often set up outside of the Quick Trader in the evening to play to those who may come by. Vesson only takes a small cut of his tips. He is an orphan from Kowal. He says he ran away so he didn’t end up working in the forges or mines.
There is a new set of ruffians in the tents. They are some sort of mercenary group, but all I see them doing is drink and telling tall tales. They are led by a man named Face. He and his minions don’t cause trouble in the Hollow, but who knows what they get into outside of this valley.
Dagmara is an older lady who lives deep in the woods. She comes into the village to sell her poltices and antidotes, but then heads back into the woods. She has healed a few who have caught the Red Cough or kept a limb from succumbing to a recluse spider bite, but I am unsure if her skills lie in alchemy or some mystic arts. In general, the Hollow seems to be tolerant of magics, though no one outright uses or claims the ability here. Dagmara is closest, and she feels safer hidden out somewhere in the woods.
There are rumors of a horned elfling living in the woods. She is sometimes seen, especially at night when it is storming. The people here call her Raine because of that. One night, I thought I saw her, outlined by the light of the two moons, hopping from tree to tree. She seems not to mean any harm, but someone you should be aware of since we don’t know her intentions.
The tower and its connected rooms have been my home since I came here. It is comfortable enough, though the roof may need a few leaks fixed. And now it is also your home and property.
The shop that Vesson owns it is one part general store, one part gossip haven, and one part tavern. It is one of the largest buildings in Craven’s Hollow, but yet it feels so cramped inside.
When the villagers talk of the “town”, they are referencing this area. It is the main gathering of buildings, rough as they may be.
All the trash that can not be given back to the land ends up at the junkpile. Old wagons, barrels, rusty blades, and more rot slowly in that heap. As a rule, we try not to put anything that will spoil there; we don’t want to risk contaminating Sinkhole Pond.
Newcomers often find themselves with nowhere to lay their head, so we created the Tents. Some of our people come and go, and this gives them a place to rest without worry of rain or snow coming down on them. I wish one day to get rid of the tents and offer some sort of communal housing, but that is beyond us for monetary or labor means to build.
Most of those here make their money elsewhere. Whether that be working as a farmhand at the nearby farms or making their way down to Kowal to work for months in the forges and factories before returning. Overall, the community is pretty poor. We have no sources of income or work in the Hollow itself.
The Quick Trader may generate income as it sells a random assortment of things we may need, but that money stays with Vesson. He is a fair vendor, but he does not invest any of his income into the community.
The city of Kowal, the grime covered gem of the east. The largest settlement for miles, it was long a city-state ruled by the Baron Zadeku. Some odd thing happened a few years back, and the whole power system was threatened. The Red Guard, known for their hatred of mages and magics, was utterly destroyed. Then the kingdom of Uthgard came in, and the Baron just gave the city-state back into the control of the kingdom. Zadeku was named a Duke, the dragon banner began to fly over the walls. With that, we were welcomed into the war machine that is Uthgard. All roads around here lead to Kowal, and the city is big enough that even the Uthgardians can not control every bit of it.
Secton was once Tower Six, our neighbor in northern defense. It is now a small town run by the Ellebeths, a good family that has served their community well. Whats goods and services we can not provide here, we can find in Section.
Elmhearth was Tower Three, and has long been an outpost of the Wanderers, a guild for adventurers, thrills seekers, and long-distance messengers. Since the turmoil in Kowal, and Uthgard’s distaste for organizations that don’t conform to their standards, the guild has left the city and set up shop at this hidden base. Some say it has also become a place for refugees.
The Northguard Inn is actually a little south of Secton, but it is a large hub for travelers. There are other smaller inns and taverns along the roads, but that three-story building can hold half an army. It supposedly has some connections to the Companions, a less than reputable merchant guild in Kowal, but I have never heard anything beyond plain rumor.
Uthgard’s presence is felt everywhere. The factories and forges supply their war machine. Their Ministry provides security but also surveillance. While they are better than the Red Guard and do not burn witches at the stake, they do strictly enforce their own magic laws. Those who are not conscripted into their “school” are licensed and taxed. They are building a large building in Secton, its purpose currently unknown.
The Ministry has yet to come here, but many refugees, looking to escape the fear of servitude, have come and gone in the tents.