Sunday 8 March 2020

Arrival In Kambyra Town

This is an update of an earlier post, edited (gradually) to include stats for a couple of NPCs for Blood & Treasure

Were it not for the fact that the Imperial traveller has just completed a six-week sojourn on rough and unfriendly seas, avoiding pirates, riding out storms and fleeing from the unwholesome denizens of the Great Deeps, there would be little enough in that first sight of Kambyra Town to commend itself to the new arrival. The ramshackle huts of the wretched native populace cluster like carelessly-strewn bones around the rocky shores of the harbour, with they themselves hooting and jeering in their heathen tongues as the ship makes its way to the always-overful wharves. Birds of the ocean brawl and bawl like drunkards at a banquet, and often welcome the unwary or negligent visitor who comes abovedecks without a parasol in a most unsavoury and elemental manner.

Once one has run the gauntlet of the customs officers and the panhandlers who throng the quaysides, one is left with the dismal prospect of the town itself, rough dusty streets flanked by poorly-constructed wooden tenements that lean crazily towards one another, as if sharing secrets. On these streets, one guards one’s purse with even greater care than in the poorer quarters of the homeland. And over it all, louring down over the restless yet listless town is the duff grey mass of Kambyra Rock: four hundred feet of exposed rock, the detritus, one surmises, of a volcano long lost to the endless admonition of the waves.

There are consolations here and there, however: the Basilica of the Blessed Throne rises like a touch of grace above the seething sinful mass, a reminder of where true power and glory reside. A sentimental fellow might be moved to feelings of both noble humility and certain pathos, for the brilliance of that fine building serves principally to remind the gentleman traveller of how far from home – in every sense – one truly is.

But it is always a pleasure to see the uniforms of our mighty navy, to see our doughty sailors stride the rough streets under the watchful – and welcome – eye of the local regiment of the Fourfooted. Even here, their lances are sharp and their attention to their duty faultless. How lawless and ungovernable would this dismal town be without their silent vigilance?

Also, certain successful merchants have built for themselves fine, if pretentious villas in the later Caelvorian style. Although such ostentation would not be – quite rightly – permitted to such low-born strivers in the homeland, here they provide a welcome touch.

But that is all the discerning gentleman can find to like in Kambyra Town: one is best to hire appropriate transport and leave this benighted – though dynamic – place behind, and head inland to the estates of the nobility and the delightful lakeside town of Dylaro.
            An excerpt from the Earl of Zastenuto’s “The Empire Abroad: An Exile’s Travels Throughout The Colonies”

About Kambyra Town, there’s not much to’s a necessary evil, and folk dwell and do business there because they must. That it is the most important settlement on the Island is a fact the highborn try to ignore, and they don’t go there often, preferring to act through their agents. Pallid and corrupt, these folk ghost through the town, pinching their noses, averting their eyes, but their hands are as dirty as anyone’s. I’ve read Zastenuto, and he’s both right and wrong. There’s order, of sorts, good folk and bad. The Harbourmaster, now, there’s a good man and a strong one. Such a position is ambrosia to the corrupt, but the Harbourmaster is unbribeable. That, of course, makes some find him unbearable. 
            Calvid Rhoak, the Wandering Scrimshander

If arriving in Kambyra Town by sea, there are four places where ships more and passengers disembark. One of these is closed to all but diplomats, nobility and the navy: this is the naval base at North Point, where two great piers thrust fearlessly – and perhaps foolishly – out from the foot of Kambyra Rock into the unsheltered sea there. The maintenance of these constantly degrading piers is the single biggest item in the local naval budget. However, it is unlikely that an adventurer will arrive here.

It is also uncommon for voyagers to arrive on the long wide beaches to the east of the naval base, although in the hour before dawn and just before dusk this is the busiest ‘port’ in Kambyra Town. Here, many dozens of Tavarawan outriggers are drawn up on the sand by night, but by day they ply the surging waters north of the island in search of fish, which is, unsurprisingly the staple food of the underclass. It is often dangerous work: the seas around Kambyra Island are notoriously difficult, but this in part compensated by the richness and variety of fish available (which brings its own drawbacks in the form of monstrous predators).

It should be noted at this point that some folk do arrive here – although more leave – but such arrivals and departures are usually driven by the requirement for secrecy and urgency, a not uncommon need for smugglers, scofflaws and thieves. The canny Tavarawans are more than happy to profit from the colonist’s odd desire to steal from themselves.

No, the newcomer to the Island – or the returning inhabitant, come to that – will generally disembark at the Big Harbour or the Little Harbour. The Big Harbour (also known as Noriklo, a corruption of ‘North of the Claw’) is the main anchorage for merchant ships. Wealthier passengers will usually make landfall here, under the watchful eye of Kenlan Bayamo, Kambyra’s genial but no-nonsense Harbourmaster. Bayamo runs his stevedores with great efficiency and is notoriously incorruptible. He tends to ignore any hints of improper practice, and outright bribes are politely declined. If the offending individual persists, Bayamo will have them thrown in the Harbour and summon the local militia (who are, of course, much more susceptible to bribes).

The Little Harbour (more popularly referred to as Sudaklo, ‘South of the Claw’) is primarily a fishing port, although smaller merchant vessels will, on occasion, land there. It is run by a small – and wholly avaricious – committee of merchants and fish barons. Bribery is encouraged, and the brawny dockers are little more than thugs, happy to threaten and intimidate new arrivals in order to gain their ‘fair share’ of the proceeds of corruption. Should any particularly well-armed (or obviously ‘wizardy’) newcomers arrive in Sudaklo, they will be unmolested until the head docker feels there is enough support to successfully intimidate them (often including off-duty militia). Sometimes as many as ten goons can be mustered.

Between the Big and Little Harbours is one of Kambyra’s more prominent local features: this is ‘The Claw’, a ragged ridge of old rock that rears up one hundred feet above the town, topped by a ruined lighthouse. The Claw and Kambyra Rock are, ultimately responsible for the existence of the town itself. These old volcanic outliers have, with their stubborn defiance, provided a place for land to build up over millenia. Kambyran oral histories describe this area as once being two islands joined by a treacherous and sandy bog, haunted by the spirits of dead fisherfolk and home to crocodiles and taniwha, all of whom answered to the command of Ikaira the Storm-Hag.

Whether that be true, Imperial explorers – and later, settlers – found no trace of hag or taniwha when they reached Kambyra, and the brackish marsh had shrunk to a stinking tarn in the centre of a low-lying plain. The last crocodile that dwelt there terrorised the settlers for a while, but a great Tavarawan hunter slew it in an attempt to bring about reconciliation between the hostile colonists and the increasingly alarmed Tavarawans. This was only briefly successful, and Konaro the Hunter died just five years later, leading a revolt against the increasingly brutal colonial administration. The story of her brave deed is commemorated – somewhat to the chagrin of the local well-to-do – in a magnificent whalebone sculpture by the famous carver, Calvid Rhoak, on the very spot the crocodile was said to be slain. To add insult to injury, Rhoak has also created a sculpture of the Death of Konaro at the old battle site, near the ruins of Old Vastroy, in the interior. The official line is that Konaro, Ikaira and the crocodile are nothing but legends. Nonetheless, local legend insists that the spirit of the Hag haunts the heights of the Claw, and the mana created by Konaro’s mighty feats remains, strengthening her people and animating their spirit of resistance.

Although most colonists loathed Kambyra Town, and the settlement was in constant danger of failure, it endured. And as Imperial explorers searched the interior and settlers advanced the frontier the town boomed as the only viable harbour for their imported finery and the goods they produced. Thus it remains, dynamic, vicious and haunting, a scar on the conscience of the colonists, but indispensable to their economic and political survival.

Kenlan Bayamo
Aquatic Elf Mariner 8
Lawful Good
STR 14 INT 11 WIS 13
DEX 13 CON 16 CHA 13
AC 14 HP 66
Saving Throw: 13
Spadroon +2 ATK: +9; DMG: 1d6+3 (+1 to save vs. disarm)
Net ATK: +7; DMG: 0 + entangle
Spear ATK: +7; DMG 1d8+1 (1d8+2 w/ 2 hands); Range 15/30
DMG (ranged): 1d8
Trident ATK: +7; DMG 1d6+1  (1d6+2 w/ 2 hands)
Height 5'11" MV 40' (Swim 40')
Feats: Disarm, Dodge, Grapple
Skills: Climb Walls +9
Handle Animal +9
Hear Noise +9
Move Silently +11
Navigation +9
Survival         +9
Languages: Common, Elven
Surprised 1 on 1d6
+8 DMG vs aquatic humanoids & monsters
+1 to attack with elven weapons
Immunity to ghoul paralysis
Darkvision 60'
MR 90% sleep and charm
Find Secret Doors (1-2 on d6)
Alertness (surprised 1 on 1d6)
Spells Prepared: speak with animals
Shagreen (+1), Spadroon +2, potion of stoneskin, scroll of protection from
elementals, bottle of air, hand of the mage.

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