The anchor of civilization in the wilds of western Morrain, the City of Falsestar, commonly referred to as Soulgrave, has long carried an importance not only in Morrain but even the outside world - but the last two years have brought dramatic changes to the renowned city.

The city received it's unofficial title in recent memory after the latest attack on the city 60 years prior - the city had been the forefront of so much death and destruction in the last 1500 years travels aptly named it for the one function it can always carry out, a grave of souls.

The looming Dominor Peaks range, to the south, have always hidden mineral treasures, but the discovery of rich placer veins has brought a surge of new wealth and foreign treasure seekers, and the motley train of gambling dens, bawdy houses, and rogues that must inevitably follow.

Add to this mix the influx of desperate refugees from the conflicts of the Warlands, and adventurers looking to make a quick fortune—the result is a Soulgrave that none of its founders could have predicted: a chaotic, old city, drenched in scares from the battles of centuries, at the forefront of one of the larges economic booms in history, where the quick and courageous can become wealthy overnight, and where sharp knives and longswords solve disputes as frequently as the City Watch.

Soulgrave’s busy streets are packed with foreign merchant- lords, hardened war veterans, stone masons rushing to meet the demand for new shops and homes, foreign princes and their companies of stern knights, and eager-eyed adventurers. Dwarf traders from the Dominor Mountains hawk their wares beside stalls of dried fruit imported from the Southlands, gamblers win and lose fortunes with the toss of a die, and grubby urchins beg for coppers and pick through the piles of trash in the alleys and byways.

The number of true “natives” remains around 2,000 souls, but the flood of traders, adventures and refugees has pressed the town’s population closer to 6000, and even higher during the late spring, summer, and early fall.

Soulgrave bears scars of its violent past. Founded in CE 2572, the settlement was sacked by the red dragon Ator 1319 years ago. Today, over half of the original Lord’s Gate Citadel is still in ruins, and the City’s western wall has yet to be repaired. The remains of old Soulgrave loom above the town, a constant reminder. Only in the last century has Soulgrave begun to recover, once again luring merchants and adventurers alike with the promise of wealth in the nearby mountains. Just two years ago, the neighborhood of shacks, warehouses, and tents referred to as the Warrens was merely a collection of burnt and sodden ruins - in light of the latest economic boom a recent movement is pushing to raise the quality of living in the warren - but the idea faces opposition.

The town is ruled by the wise Patriarch Franz Mentzer, a solemn, one-eyed warrior-priest referred to by his subjects as the Unseeing Regent. The city also seats the Lord of Morrain, Lord Rayseon.

The good Patriarch spent his youth ranging across northern Morrain and much of the Northlands in the defense of the weak, but his days as a wild rover ended when Draighoch, the fell umbra drake, began its campaign of terror above Soulgrave. Mentzer and his band of dragonslayers finally ran the dragon to ground, and in the ensuing epic battle, the drake’s shadow magic slew five of the heroes, including Mentzer’s sister, then Lady Mayor of Soulgrave. Whether or not Draighoch itself was slain, only Mentzer can say, and the priest refuses to speak of the conflict. Regardless, the depredations of the dragon have ended, and Mentzer reluctantly assumed his sister’s place, becoming Lord Mayor of Soulgrave.

The Lord Mayor is advised by a council of nobles. Every member of the Soulgrave aristocracy has the right to advise their lord, but in practice most families assign a single delegate to attend the court. During times of strife, the family patriarchs turn out, filling the Lord’s great hall with their raucous demands. The Patriarch also has the right to demand Lord’s Quietude, ejecting the nobles from his halls, silencing his detractors and exacting martial law over Soulgrave, but when the Quietude is lifted, the nobles are permitted a vote of confidence. A majority vote from the nobles in attendance is sufficient to depose the Lord of Morrain, with the title falling to the next in line. The Lord’s Quietude has been executed only once in the city’s history, when Soulgrave was fighting off the attacks of the dragon Draighoch.

The laws of Soulgrave are enforced by the warriors of the Lantern Watch, known by the distinctive silver-painted lanterns they carry on poles during their night watches, and by the Magn’gard, the Patriarch’s personal company of elite soldiers.

Those in the Lantern Watch gird themselves in studded leather and carry spears and crossbows, with officers wearing shirts of chain and fight with longsword and shield. The Magn’gard wear suits of chainmail and plate, and typically fight with bastard swords. The Magn’gard is augmented by the Anseur-lyth, a company of elven master archers serving at the pleasure of the fae Queen of the Anseur Forest.

Finally, no analysis of Soulgrave would be complete without relating the events that brought an awareness of the greater world to frontier settlement. Over the last few years, refugees from the Warland conflicts have flocked to Soulgrave, driving down the price of manual labor and flooding the town’s slums. This influx also brought an increase in crime, as Soulgrave’s poor have been forced into ever more desperate straits. The resultant tension has driven a wedge between Soulgrave natives and the Warland refugees. Gangs of unemployed youths roam the slums, the town watch has seen an upsurge in guild thievery, and Soulgrave’s wealthy natives disdain the plight of the refugees … except when looking for cheap labor.

The town is split into four districts, each roughly demarcated by streets and natural boundaries:

  • The Common Quarter, the economic heart of Soulgrave and home to its traders, artisans, and craftsfolk
  • The Warrens, a maze of desperate, violent slums, home to Soulgrave’s poor and refugees of the Warlands
  • The High Quarter, a neighborhood of wide, well-lit streets, where the jewelers and gem dealers of Soulgrave ply their trade, and the aristocracy of the town call home
  • The Lord’s Gate Citadel, the military heart of Morrain, and residence of the Patriarch and Lord himself.

A few notes about Soulgrave’s most common features:
Towers: The smaller towers circling the town are 60 feet in diameter at their base and 40 feet high. Each tower is fitted with a catapult, cauldrons of flaming oil, and a pair of ballistae to defend against giants and the goblinoid invaders that swarm out of the Ul Dominor Mountains every spring. A team of 15 soldiers and a commanding officer occupy each tower, rotating duty every 12 hours. Grisly trophies, won from monsters that died attacking a particular tower, hang on bloody chains from the battlements, and the teams take colorful names from beasts slain in the defense of Morrain. The more notable companies include the Giantslayers, Tompkin’s Ogreboys, and the Hounds of Northtower.

Heroes looking for quick (if dangerous work) can always join a tower’s garrisons. The pay is poor, the hours onerous, but every tower guard has a swagger born of the knowledge that he stands ready to put down whatever grim beasts would dare to threaten the townsfolk of Morrain.

The Town Wall: Soulgrave is surrounded by a 30-foot high wall topped with battlements and murder holes. Built of heavy granite blocks sealed with mortar, the wall is 20 feet wide at the base, tapering to 15 feet at the peak. Regular Lantern Watch patrols tour the walls after dark, maintaining the flaming braziers that impair those who would slip over the wall under cover of darkness.

The Ruined Wall: Not all the towers destroyed by the red dragon have been repaired. The surviving walls and towers of that age are slowly crumbling into ruin, the fallen remains scavenged by Soulgrave’s underclass to be used as building materials. It is commonly believed that ghouls—or foul humans that engage in the same practice of eating human flesh—make their lairs in the ruined walls and collapsed towers.

Roads, Streets and Alleys: The King’s March, Temple Street, and the approach to the Lord’s Gate Citadel are the only true roads in Soulgrave, paved with rough cobblestones and passable in all seasons. The streets of High Quarter are raised and well maintained. They easily shed water to storm drains and sewers, though during the spring months they can grow muddy, much to the consternation of many a lady-in-waiting. The streets and alleys of the Common Quarter are either rutted during the dry months or muddy during the wet seasons, and the temperaments of the merchants and their drovers suffer accordingly. The alleys and byways of the Warrens are neglected and repugnant—sewage flows down the center of alleys and paths, rats and wild dogs run openly in the streets, and bodies of last night’s dead (slain by exposure, disease or foul play) are often found lying cold in the street.

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