Survey Team 4 the Search for the Sundered Realm
Scenario 1/Setting/Vassa FAQ
Vassa Metro (rust cult village)
Population: 3,500 souls (Halflings, Hivers, Myconids)
Assemblies are called when necessary to settle lawsuits, judge criminals, levy duties on trade, etc.
Pagan tribalism; formal worship of the fertility goddess Cerus.
Economy (in order of importance):
silk trade; beast mastery (trained hunting animals),slave trade and livestock trade, commercial shipping (timber, oil, trade goods including those from the exclusive Embassy with the City), overland trade (trade goods such as finished textiles, driven livestock), hunting, and manufacturing (weaving, dying, ceramics).
Priesthood, Herbalists and Witch Doctors, Blacksmiths, Shipwrights, Slavers, Cavers (Silk Harvester), Navigator of the Sunless Sea, Drover, Hunter (Master of the Hounds, Master of the Rookery and Wingrider) of the Veldt, Fisher of the Shallow Sea, Timber or Oil Merchant.
Note on Extinct Occupations:
For generations the Vassa made the difficult and dangerous journey to the Midden Pile area for the Salvage Trade. Before the caravan trades and various industries provided a safer living, adventurous souls could make good coin selling artifacts recovered from the haunted wreckage known as the Midden Pile. This tradition has decayed and few living has made the trip. The Tenbraun family followed this trade for many generations, until quite recently. The horrific death of Hal Tenbraun’s beloved wife Daphnine following the last expedition six months ago has ended the practice for all intents and purposes.
Everyday commerce is transacted in Thalers, crude copper coins issued by the city-state of Tantala, or in kind.
Including Dendilli, Gynelotrum, Rakox, Snok-Trux, and the City Slime. The area is also infested with rarely seen flying things (bats and caverays) and tame rust monsters (thus the informal name of the area: Halls of the Rust Cult).
The town of Vassa lies on the eastern tip of the arrowhead-shaped Lesser Estuary draining the River Running, Tom River, Plate River and the Moth Rivers. Sited athwart major game paths, and enjoying a protected sea level harbor, the town has been settled for millennia. The town is back to the wall and commands the only dry shoreline route between the uplands of the Veldt and the trackless Lesser Caverns.
The locality was carved over millennia by outflow and channel migrations of the Great Torrent River; and thus the cavern ceilings are much lower than normal. In many places huge rocks, columns of hard stone, stalactites and stalagmites connect ground (or sea level) to the vault of the roof in a band of gradually decreasing frequency as one moves away from the Eastern Wall.
The entire region is fantastically fertile, with deep and richly organic soil deposited from the uplands of the Veldt over geological periods. Air rolling down from the upland creates significant humidity and condensation. The several rivers, in particular the Great Torrent River collectively dump a monumental volume into the Great Estuary. The waters of the estuary remain fresh far into the Sunless Sea, which only becomes brackish many kilometers beyond the Lesser Estuary.
A Note on Differences in Illumination:
In the City, copious artificial light is everywhere. Day and night cycles are simulated, particularly in the larger public spaces. Much of the light is full spectrum; equivalent to natural sunlight. The natural caverns beyond the City are unlit. It’s always unvarying twilight. Because no one can see far into the gloom, inhabitants here rely on hearing to a greater extent than sight to alert them of danger. A form of weak illumination throughout the Eastern Wall region is provided by several species of bioluminescent lichens and fungal forms. The caverns are lit up with a ghostly ambience, and counter-intuitively sections of the Endless Cavern’s roof that are lower are in fact much better lit. As the cavern opens up, the giant columns supporting it fewer between and the ribs of the roof marching off, one quickly forgets enclosure as the ceiling is lost in the darkness, feeling much like a starless and moonless night sky. Agricultural laborers and foragers may come home well covered with the softly glowing spores; and brighter than their surroundings make a spectacle as clothes, boots and hair shine like a ghost.
Artificial Light in Vassa Town:
Although wood must be imported from far away, and is therefore not burned for heat or light, crude oil and rendered fats are in wide use for lighting. In houses, oil lamps are built right into the walls inside and out. Decorated lanterns of all sizes are a specialty product and the art of their decoration and of the keeping of fire are traditions at the core of society here. Lanterns are seen hanging on boats, on carts, and the use of sputtering torches is commonplace. Torches, lanterns and their fuel are everyday items at the marketplace. As noted, the Citizens of Alpha Complex are shocked and repelled by the casual combustion of the toxic fossil fuel, at last that is the official reaction. At festival, huge bonfires are kindled at ground level, and at elevated ceremonial urns all about the amphitheater and the backdrop of the nearby Eastern Wall.
Over the next few days, the unfertilized eggs of the Corn Moth float by, high in the upper airs. Wispy with a gossamer sheen, they have built up a considerable static charge. Huge electrical discharges may be seen for a time, as blue bolts arc to the closest surface, illuminating the distant gloom of the great caverns. As the Citizens look on, they get their first good impression of the immensity of the space before them. Beyond the harbor and off in the distance, there is a vast sheet of water, studded with islands and wreathed in mist. To the North, a long verdant shoreline extends as far as the eye can see. From it rolling hills of grassland rise up into the gloom. Here and there the immense columns of stalactites extend down from the roof or stalagmites upward from the land, sometimes meeting in vast monoliths as large as the entire town. For the split-second the lightning illuminates, it reveals a domain of gigantic shadow, and impossible volume. All Citizens must check for latent agoraphobia.
Vassa Town Areas of Interest:
1. Commercial Building, Rail Terminus, and Bartertown
2. Vassa Metro (dwellings, warehouses, the agora or marketplace, animal pens, cottage industries, longhouses, ceremonial circle, amphitheater and festival ground, circle of Government assembly)
3. Protected Farmland (communal farmland; three smallholdings within the fortified shoreline belonging to: Tenbraun, Longbottom, and Bondi families)
4. Sacred Place, Animal Pens, Slave Pens, Rookery
5. Fortified Wall, South or Silk Gate, Shell mound and Midden Piles
6. Fortified Harbor, Warehouses, Lumberyard, Shipwright, Smithy and Oil Dump
7. Fortified Massifs, Archery Range
8. Bridge on the River Running (2), Chitin Dog Pits, North Shore/the Edge of the Veldt(fortified Villas, smallholder farms, longhouses: (2) of the Master of Hounds and the Master of Caravans)
9. Burial Place: Townsfolk with families are interred separately from outlanders; who aren’t ‘spoken for’. Bodies are carried in procession and delivered to waiting clergy. A ceremony is preformed honoring Cerus and the cycle of fertility. The flesh is dissolved from the bones in a sunken chamber: small vents near the floor open onto another chamber. The body is laid out and left to be carefully cleaned of flesh by the town’s captive gelatinous cube. The Halflings and their Myconid fungal leadership has placed the dreadful taboo object (the disintegrator rifle) here for safekeeping.
10. Beyond the municipal sepulcher, the southern caravan route extends. There is a fortified camp about 500 yards outside of town limits, back to the Great East Wall. Athwart the caravan route, or ‘silk road’ it is maintained and used by the silk trade merchants. Similar camps lie at one day intervals along the road to the harvest place on the shores of the Great Torrent River, about two weeks trip.