Adventure Hooks

A great many locales for traditional adventuring pursuits are available in the Sunset Isles and around the city of Xian. The following are a list of possible settings for player-run plots, or locations that might be useful as settings for other forms of Adventurous Deeds.

Abandoned Dwarfholds
In the Altgrimmr Mountains to the southwest of Xian, numerous abandoned dwarven holds dot the craggy peaks. Upon their first arrival in the Isles roughly a thousand years ago, the dwarves made their capital of Altgrimmr there and spread out in numerous smaller holdings. Some unknown catastrophe eventually drove them north approximately two centuries later, leaving behind a scattering of small dwarven holds and the empty halls of their former capital.
While Altgrimmr has since been recolonized by the dwarves, many of its deeper galleries remain only partially explored, and the small dwarven holds in the surrounding mountains have often been lost entirely. Most of them are now lairs coveted by goblinoid tribes, usually high mountain orcs who jealously guard their homes against intruders. A few are full of restless dwarven undead, and some have attracted even stranger occupants. The dwarves accept that strangers may come to plunder these fallen halls, and while they're not terribly pleased about it they raise no objection so long as dwarven remains are not mistreated and any historical information in the hold is brought to them.
What information exists in these holdings is rarely conclusive. Even the restless dead don't seem to remember much of what killed them. It seems likely the cause was swift, as many of the holds contain all the implements of daily life, and such wealth as the dwarves would surely have taken with them if there was time to flee. The holds themselves are generally in good condition, with few signs of great destruction. Those since taken by the orcs are often in worse repair, but every so often an adventuring group has the bad luck to stumble upon an orc den where the ancient dwarven defense systems still work just fine for their new masters.

Exploring Unknown Isles
The Sunset Isles have been a place of refuge and retreat for millenia, a wild and desolate land where those defeated in politics or war could retreat to lick their wounds. Precious few such exiles lasted long against the native dangers of the Isles, but they left behind their share of relics in the form of abandoned villages, toppled walls, and even whole cities swallowed up by the jungles and the highland snows. Even now, most islands are known only from cursory glances by passing ships, and many adventurers make a career out of fitting out expeditions to search out unknown lands. Even close to Xian, the jagged Mantle Peaks and the old hills of the Altgrimmr Mountains are but little-explored, and of the great western valley between the Godbarrow Mountains and the Northwall Range nothing more is known but that it is crawling with goblinoid tribes.

Goblinoid Tribes
The hatred that the goblinoids of the isles hold for the interloping refugees is endless and unquenchable. Only the more immediate threat of their quarrelsome neighbors distracts them from uniting to purge the isles of the human scum and their stunted and point-eared allies. Now and then, however, a goblinoid tribe is either confident enough or reckless enough to come down from the mountains or out of the forests and seek plunder in human lands. Orcs and bugbears harry villages from rocky hill lairs and goblins creep from the forests to steal cattle and knife villagers in their beds. These raids happen often enough that hunting down goblinoid war bands is a constant and never-ending duty for the soldiers of Xian.
Adventurers are often recruited in one of two cases. In the first, they're dispatched to take out small warbands that are too fast and elusive to be caught by the soldiers. In the second, they're hired to assault tribes that possess warriors or witch-priestesses too powerful to be overcome by ordinary troops. In neither case is the work remotely safe or adequately paid, but the law that gives goblin-killers untaxed possession of all the band's plunder still keeps adventurers signing up for the work.

Monstrous Evildoers
The refugees have been in the Sundered Isles for more than a century, and native villages and settlements have been here even longer. Despite that, much of the land remains a mystery, and from this terra incognita emerge terrible beasts on a regular basis. The army has difficulty finding single monsters without help from their always-overstretched scouting units, so "exterminator" duties are often subcontracted out to adventuring bands. They only get paid if they bring back the thing's head, and if they don't, well, there are always more adventurers. Magical beasts are particularly common in the wilder regions of the isles, and even the occasional aberration or dragonkin has been spotted far from the usual haunts of mankind.

Pirate Troubles
The Sunset Isles are just that- an archipelago of islands. Where there are islands there is shipborne trade, and where there is shipborne trade there are dirty, wretched pirates- not least the ruthless corsairs of Landfall Cay. The Unnumbered Waves Host of Xian works to keep piracy down to a minimum, but their efforts are never enough to quash the temptation of easy plunder. Compounding this is the quiet rivalry of Xian's neighbors, and their willingness to be somewhat lax about hunting pirates that show an inclination to take only Xianese ships.
In the relatively calm inner waters of the archipelago, light and agile craft have a distinct advantage over the slow, unwieldy cargo junks favored by merchants. Escape is all but impossible for merchantmen, and there is a constant temptation for the traders to crew their ships as lightly as possible to save coin. The cost savings of hiring a few adventurers in place of an entire squad of marines is considerable- although when the time comes to defend the ship, it also means that those adventurers have to fight as hard as a squad of marines. The Unnumbered Waves Host also occasionally hires adventurers to stiffen their squads in assaults on some pirate anchorage or particularly fierce crew.

Politics as Usual
For those adventurers given more to social and stealthy interaction, there's always work to be had among Xian's scholarly class. Stealing important papers, planting false evidence, checking the credentials of potential suitors, avenging political slights, and even the occasional outright assassination are all in a day's work for those who deal with the scholars of the city. Adventurers are commonly hired for work such as this, as they are eminently expendable in case of difficulty. Adventurers know this, and tend to demand payment in proportion. Those caught in pursuit of less than legal activities can expect no help from their employer, and even a Magistrate who knows full well that some scholar put them up to it will carefully overlook that fact in sentencing. Only in cases of severe missteps or assassination can the employer expect to suffer for it. The unlucky catspaw, on the other hand….

Tide Cult Lairs
The nefarious Tide cults are not unique to Xian. In the back country, away from the keen eyes of the Magistrates and the watchfulness of Xian's Mandarin, much can come to pass without coming to the attention of the authorities. When a Tide Cult forms in some backward village, the entire hamlet can eventually become ensnared in its coils without outsiders ever realizing the danger. More problematic still is when a small village is preyed upon by a coven hidden deep within the forests, hills, or mountains of the surrounding terrain. The Magistrate in Xian has no compunction about dispatching troopers to wipe out a heretical village, but it becomes more difficult to hunt down a cult that hides out of plain sight.
Tide cultists are often empowered by their demonic masters, with even ordinary peasants often gaining the berserk fury of a barbarian or the unholy blessings of a warlock. Even a shabby group of half-starved mountainfolk can prove a significant danger to an adventuring party when so 'graced' by their patron. Worse still is when the cult is large and strong enough to actually bring through the mist-born demons of the Red Tide. In such dire situations, the best that can be hoped for is that the demons will be so blood-maddened as to eat their worshippers and lose their link to the isle. When the patrons are of a more rational kind of evil, only their personal destruction or the complete slaughter of their cultists can banish them.
Within Xian itself, Tide cultists are often more subtle, and it can make for a more intrigue-oriented adventure to find the clues and evidence necessary to condemn some powerful individual of the scholar class. Such investigations are not only politically sensitive, but must also be conducted with great care not to alarm the populace. Should the commoners fall into a frenzy of panic over Tide cultists, the ensuing bloodshed could be ruinous to Xian's stability… and its ability to fend off the goblinoids.

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