The sins of the Father
This campaign sets out from Netherdam, a port city on the southern most coast of the Duchy of Mahraine. The place is a melting pot of cultures and trade. Adventurers are common here and their presence is not only tolerated but useful to the businesses and notables of the city.
The actual city itself sprawls upward and outward along the hilly coast and into the bay onto 3 adjoining islands by bridge and ferry. Netherdam straddles a natural port in the Bay of Beraphor and receives fair weather a little over half the year. Yet despite all of these natural advantages it is often a place of much darker portent.
Originally this place was a city-state of ancient and natural people who worshiped dark gods of the earth and sky. The built temples both above and below ground making use of natural sea caves on the islands and mainland. When the empire arrived and overtook the natives they seiged the city and scoured much of their pagan symbols but a surprising amount of their structures remained. Upon these ruins the modern city of Netherdam grew.
Netherdam has been seiged twice since the time of its founding. It has also suffered a major fire, floods and sea storms. As a result the architecture and structure of the city is disjointed and confusing with some of the smaller ways and alleys dead ending into newer buildings. Many sections of the city are dense, claustrophobic.
There is an under-city here. Not just figuratively but literally as well. The once used sea caves were combined and finished by the empire when it once settled here. This network of tunnels and caverns were harvested for water and space as well as natural minerals and when they were of no other use served to drain waste away from the surface and out to sea. After the empire faded and dark times fell upon the land these fell into disrepair. Many of the opulent baths and water plazas were built over and leveled to make way for the needs of new citizens. Now, nearly a hundred years later the under-city is being rediscovered and re-purposed for all manner of need.
There are many faiths represented in the Netherdam, but two major centers of worship. When the ancient pagans were evicted from this place the one thing that was left more or less intact was an island necropolis which housed their more revered dead. As the empire’s elite worshiped Wee Jas the place was spared though it was re-consecrated to the Witch Goddess and many Jasidan structures were added to the site. The process was resisted by those angry dead interred here and they have revolted a few times in plagues of undeath but such an event has not been seen in the city for over a century.
Wee Jas was then the first deity to gain a foothold here. As a result hers is the oldest and most established faith in Netherdam. The Stern Lady boasts an island stronghold consisting of a gothic cathedral, a massive arcane tower called the Ruby Spire, several libraries both above and below ground and housing for those in residence here. The matrons here not only train priestesses in the faith but also lead the faithful in prayer, preside over the funerary rites of most citizens and see to the care and expansion of the necropolis and crypts throughout the area. The libraries and study halls adjoining the ‘Spire are referred to as the Acadamie Macabre and used by the small cabals for training. The facilities continue below ground where the beloved dead of the faith are allowed to serve the church eternally as the custodians and guardians to the vaults of knowledge and artifacts restricted to only the elite of the congregation.
A living police force serves the faith as well. Known as the Stern Hand they are the keepers of law among the faithful as well as being used by many elite citizens as private enforcers. The Hand works closely with the Council of Netherdam and often lends their wisdom in the training of Justicars for their work at the rail. The highest ranked among the hand have been known to employ arcane powers to augment their preternatural martial skills to devastating effect.
The younger faiths in town cluster along the shore around an ancient stone plaza known to the citizens as the Dawntide. The Dawntide Temple on the hilltop above is dedicated to Pelor. It was a once brilliant structure of white-steaked marble and soaring leaded glass but over the past century has fallen into disrepair and the arcades and porticos are faded and overgrown with creeping ivy and weeds. Still the temple at its height boasted many facilities for caring not only to the faithful but to the forgotten as well. The facilities include dormitories and an infirmary for housing the sick and less fortunate, several blocks of open air green space for convalescence and an arcade along the plaza for shops and vendors to cater to the needy distributing alms and donations for the poor.
Over time this arcade has been added to; it is now incorporated into the Neverdawn Arena. It is called the Neverdawn because despite being open to the sky above a partial roof meant to shade the occupants means that only the most direct sunlight ever bears down on the events below. This place is devoted to the god Kord and serves not only to entertain the masses but also as a shrine of worship to those faithful to the Brawler. Adventurers often congregate here and the gladiators here from time to time may have very unique skills or professions useful to continued training to those notables. As well they find this place a much finer alternative for settling disputes than a back alley or a court rail.
The once manicured gardens and parks surrounding this place have been allowed to grow as wild as the citizens of Netherdam will allow. Among the new groves and weeds has sprung up yet another faith; Ehlonna, the Woodland Queen. A fountain topped by a pair of rampant unicorns at play has been consecrated to the goddess and the area is watched over by a handful of congregants who come and go from time to time. It is said that a young dryad has made her lair here but no one will confirm this as fact.
The first of these faiths to establish itself in Netherdam was of course Pelor; the once neutral stance of the church was favorable to the commoners too long oppressed by the unyielding law of the Jasidan. What once was a homespun cult among the rabble inherited from the fields of the coastal villages became a full blown faith during one of plagues of undeath that ravaged the city. At that time a Pelorite priest named Arden Whitecloak went toe to toe with a pack of ancient ghouls and drove them back into the sea despite Jasidan efforts to contain them. Over time Reverend Whitecloak was allowed to build a modest stone church on the rubble of an older structure badly damaged in the chaos of the time. After his death the clergy pooled their resources, as well as donations from some very anonymous benefactors later revealed to be the reverend’s former adventuring band and the “modest church” became the sprawling facilities witnessed today.
The church invited like-minded faiths to create shrines among the Dawntide and the clergy of Kord readily accepted eventually resulting in the Neverdawn. Of course this brought a rowdier crowd to the area and the downtrodden the Pelorites were so dedicated to aid were quickly becoming victimized leading the priests to incentivize a band of rangers to act as peacekeepers to the area. Of course the Jasidan chafed at all of this; they considered these others a nuisance at best but when the citizens were infringed upon they demanded that the Stern Hand be installed instead of an upstart rabble of tree-loving hunters. Unfortunately for them the Pelorite claim to the plaza was ironclad and they had no choice but to concede.
It is whispered by many that the horde of undead that suddenly sprung up in the countryside surrounding Netherdam was the retribution of the Hand. Others denounce this as impossible; the Jasidan consider it heresy to condone or create sentient undead and when it was revealed the Wight Horde that terrorized the area for nearly a year could never have been their handiwork. Regardless of the cause, the effect was the same. The three “young” faiths joined forces to hunt these creatures down to the last while the Jasidan held fast to their mission to protect the city from within.
The Undead Hunters of the time were comprised of Ehlonnan Hunters with the brutish might of Kord and righteous powers of Pelor at their behest. The skirmishes became a fullblown campaign and nearly drained every last resource from the 3 faiths. For over a century now, while the faithful have not entirely strayed, a scant few have been willing or capable of stepping up and undertaking the arduous trials of the calling to these churches. As a result the Neverdawn is more ruthless races and bloody trials than true contests of Kordish Honor; the wilds of the Ehlonnan Hornfont while beautiful to the clergy is largely ignored and resented by the common folk; the walls of the Dawntide Temple continue to fade and the once brilliant hues cast by the glass windows seem dull and lifeless.