Tull (3.5e Environment)

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History[edit]

Tull was not always the city it is today. When it was first established, between the rivers Dunein and Duntoi, it was little more than a lumber camp. Sure, it attracted people from many directions: its central position in the Midlands meant hunters from Dunas, pupils from the Spire, fishermen from the coast, even a few farmers from then-young Redford strayed to the area. But it never would have become a true city if it wasn't for the worst catastrophe in Pansaer history.

The Troubled Years, as the around-250-year age of near-constant strife was called, might have been one of the worst things to ever happen to practically anyone, but the fires of those wars made Tull the (relative) metropolis it is today. War was waged all over the east and the west, and Tull stood in between. Thanks to its strategic importance and the steadfast neutrality of its people, Tull became a trade center and a haven for those who would not fight - although they eventually did end up fighting those who would make them.

Nowadays the fires of those wars have been quenched, although perhaps temporarily, but Tull has lost neither its value nor its charm. Since the construction of the great bridge of Tull in the later decades of the Troubled Years, Tull has been the main passageway from one side of the continent to the other, at least south of the mountains. And it hasn't lost its original spirit, either: Tull is still a haven for dissidents and nonconformists, people who will not be trod on.

Inhabitants & Rulers[edit]

There are no estimates of the number of inhabitants in Tull, official or otherwise. The people of the city will not be counted, and in any case many of them arrive, spend a while in the city, then leave. The ownership of Tull houses is constantly changing, although many older buildings are still known by the surnames of people who lived in them hundreds of years ago. Tull craftsmanship stands the test of time.

As a trade city, and a haven of nomads, Tull contains people of all races (roughly in descending numbers): humans, goliaths, dwarves, dunners and goblins all live in the city, and it is perhaps the only major population center to allow even the more monstrous races to live within the city's sphere of influence - as long as they can behave themselves. Thus, Tull is unique in that it could be said to have a giant spider minority, although the emphasis is on minority, and none live in the city center.

There are no official rulers in Tull - the people wouldn't accept any. The Midlands firmly maintain that they are not a part of the western kingdoms and not under the rule of Fort Brunid, even if they do maintain close links in that direction, and are in fact proud of their anarchic existence. Nonetheless, someone has to maintain the invisible bureaucracy, the lax law, as well as relations with other cities, a duty that falls on the powerful guilds. There are many guilds in Tull. Some are great and powerful (like the Logger's Guild), some are small and insignificant (like the Confectioner's Guild), but together they form the "ruling elite" of Tull, although they shy away from implying they rule anyone.

Infrastructure[edit]

The city plan of Tull, with the locales marked.

Tull was built into the relative safety between the rivers Dunein and Duntoi, and is hedged by the southern reaches of Dunas forest in the north and extensive farmlands in the south. Far back, in the lumber camp days, Dunas was actually farther south, but years of logging has pushed the tree line towards the north, and the city has moved, and grown, with the development. Indeed, the northernmost building in Tull is still Carvagan's famed lumber mill, a building that has been torn down and rebuilt several times to align with the tree line - after all, building material is plenty.

The center of the city is dominated by the massive Guildcourt, base of operations to the leaders of the many guilds that run the behind-the-scenes in the city, and the only building in Tull that's made almost entirely of stone. There are no clear streets or larger roads in Tull, since no one would allow themselves to be told where to build, but general consensus states that the Moot, an ancient gathering place and contemporary marketplace, is left unbuilt. Similarly, a thick grove of trees and shrubs known as Coppercopse just northeast of the Moot is left alone, due to its current inhabitants, the giant spiders, liking the place as-is.

In the south of the city the cabins and cottages give way to vast fields of barley and rye, as well as root vegetables, rhubarb and of course hops. Just before them lies the manor of Willem Timber, formerly known as Willem von Timoroff, an inheritor from Fort Brunid who idolizes the city and has had zero success fitting in - for one, his house has a fence around it, a big no-no in Tull thinking. A far more well-liked building bordering the fields is the inventively-named Bridge Inn, a rustic, rowdy tavern near the great bridge.

A city as free-spirited as Tull is bound to have a notable seedy element, but the general atmosphere means that few people want to parade their lawless ways: they quickly find themselves at the end of a rope. Nonetheless, the criminal element concentrates itself mostly around Mary's Whorehouse, which is located on the west side of the city, and Jonathan's Crossing, a dangerous ford that was made moot by the bridges, and thus used only by those with something to hide.

Religion[edit]

People are free to practice any religion they wish in Tull, which means that no one faith has a leading position. Some pray to the titan pantheon, while many more pray to smaller religions, local divinities, animist gods or stranger things still. There are practically no churches in Tull, although the homes of particularly devout people tend to transform into makeshift places of worship. Altars, on the other hand, are quite common.

The only faith to have a notable foothold in Tull is the Eight Winds, an animist religion organized around worshiping the personifications of the wind as it blows from the compass points. It's a loose belief, however, and does little to affect the day-to-day life of Tullians: they are far too down-to-earth to let heavenly matters get in the way of their toil.

Threats & Strife[edit]

The Tumbling Fells, which lie only a scant 100 miles to the east, are a permanent if not constant threat to the city's safety. The children of the gods are mostly content with cursing the other races from the safety of the fells, but every now and then they raid the east-most farmsteads and villages. More than once over the long years they've bombarded Tull itself with boulders. The men of Tull give back as well: troll-hunts, a mad concept to any other culture, are a yearly practice in Tull.

An equally notable danger lies towards the north. The ancient woods of Dunas are friend to no mortal, much less those who constantly cleave at her trees. The men of Tull have raised the ire of the forest itself, and considering the things that dwell in the deep shade, this is a very bad thing. And the wood itself is not the only threat: whispers speak of a Green Devil dwelling in ancient halls lower still than the undergrowth.

Locales[edit]

A - Guildcourt[edit]

The guilds could be seen as Tull's figureheads, for lack of a better term. Certainly no one, even them, would claim they are rulers of any kind. Nonetheless, the guild hall is located at a central position in the city, and the building itself is lavish, especially compared to the rustic cabins that the rest of the city consists of. It's the only building in the city to be made almost entirely of stone; in this case, red granite.

B - Great Bridge of Tull[edit]

the_bridge_by_refiend-daxlskq.jpg
The great bridge has grown titanic in imaginations, but the truth is far more sensible.

Built in 2817, in the last century of the Troubled Years, the famed "great bridge" is the thing almost anyone anywhere on the continent would associated with Tull. In the imaginations of people it has become a goliath, an expanse of precious metals and polished wood spanning an abyssal ravine. The truth is far more boring: it is a simple bridge, although incredibly stout (it has stood for over 400 years and shows no great signs of wear), and the river it spans is merely wild.

C - Virgin Bridge[edit]

Before the great bridge was built, the people of Tull would go over the Rivers of Dunas using fords: Tull was specifically built into a place where the rivers were calming down, and the stepping-stone fords were built. The great bridge took care of Duntoi, but Dunein, the western river, had no bridge spanning it until some 50 years ago.

Many were opposed to building a bridge over Dunein: they considered the river a natural barricade against what they considered outsiders. Nonetheless, when the bridge was built, almost everyone started using it. The name Virgin Bridge, at first a mocking moniker ("no one's ever tried it"), became the more-or-less official name.

D - The Moot[edit]

People have lived between the Rivers of Dunas since the young races spread into the world. The oldest stones of the Moot, some of which still stick out of the packed earth, were laid there by these ancestral folk, when they used the area as a gathering place. The men of Tull, practical as ever, chose to use the place for similar gatherings when the need arises, and as a marketplace the rest of the time. All executions are also held here - the method of choice is always hanging.

E - Mary's Whorehouse[edit]

The straightforwardness of Tull shows wonderfully in the name of Mary Dermensbury's establishment: first-time visitors always get a little awkward when reading the massive sign. Mary's is a relatively new building, although brothels have always been common in Tull. As of late, it has become an unofficial gathering place for the seedier element of Tull. This has made the brothel an avoidable place for most, but since Mary still reaps in the money - and the criminals understand not to overdo it - this fits her just fine.

F - Bridge Inn[edit]

Taverns come and go in Tull: many of the inhabitants make their own moonshine, and the presence of many Brewer's Guild -maintained stills means spirits are always available. The Bridge Inn, however, has already stood for a respectable number of years. Perhaps it's the atmosphere (calm, unlike most back room taverns), or the interior (the drinking hall is in two levels, with a literal bridge spanning the upper platforms), but Bridge Inn seems to be staying in business at least for a while.

G - Timber Manor[edit]

Willem von Timoroff, a fairly affluent if not particularly influential nobleman from Fort Brunid, became the last living member of his lineage and the inheritor of a fortune after his elderly mother died. Willem had always idolized Tull, or at least the simplified image that it was often given outside the Midlands. Thus his course was clear: he changed his name to what he thought was a rustic, farmerly name - Timber - and moved to Tull, where he financed the building of a manor in an exaggerated Tullian fashion.

The response of the natives has been less than stellar. A man who stays afloat solely due to his riches, who adopts a clearly fake name, and most direly of all doesn't build his own house, is not someone most in the city want to associate with. True, Willem's fortune lures a number of sycophants and bootlickers, but the once-noble is not stupid: he knows he's not well-received. This has dampened his spirits somewhat, but he's currently trying to warm the people to himself, the only way he knows how: financing every institution in sight, especially the guilds.

H - Coppercopse[edit]

In the early days of Tull the large thicket of fir trees and heavy undergrowth was the base of operations of a large number of moonshiners, and their copper stills gave name to the place. Now that the city's become more urbanized and the Brewer's Guild looks unkindly on private entrepreneurs, the thicket has instead become a haven for the roughly hundred giant spiders that call the city their home.

Other citizens don't want the monstrous creatures in the city proper. Indeed, most wouldn't want them in the city at all, but the spidersilk wares (such as rope and clothes) they make are beyond compare. There are even a few young humanoids who have moved to Coppercopse, both to work as contacts between the spiders and other inhabitants as well as to learn the rudiments of silk-spinning. Compared to the spiders they're blundering amateurs, but everywhere else they are masters of their craft.

I - Carvagan's Lumber Mill[edit]

blackwall_lumberjack_by_ynorka-d8siit1.jpg
Few human lumberjacks are left,
and most of them work alone.

Carvagan is a dwarf who, as he himself puts it, has no need of a last name. Carvagan is the very image of a self-made man: as a youngster he worked as a novice lumberjack, and toiled his way into the good graces of Giwa, the elderly owner of the largest lumber mill in Tull. When Giwa died, she bequeathed the lumber mill to Carvagan, who runs it with an iron fist. Carvagan's preference for lumberjacks of his own race is the sole reason the lumber business in Tull is currently almost entirely dwarf-operated, a fact that has made quite a few people bitter.

J - Jonathan's Crossing[edit]

Before the bridges werebuilt, Tull was accessible only from the dangerous northern woodlands, from the southern coast, and from the two fords that spanned Dunein and Duntoi. Once the two bridges had been built, there was no need to continue using the dangerous crossing. So naturally it was found by those who didn't wish for their movement to be noticed: bootleggers, criminals, murderers. As for the name, no one knows.

Surroundings[edit]

Just north of Tull are the outermost reaches of the great woodlands of Dunas. This close to civilization the forest is not yet quite as wild as it is in the heart, but wild animals (and wild people: not everyone finds Tull to their liking) make the area dangerous nonetheless. Towards the south lie vast fields, which continue for quite a while from the city. Many people live in farms along the rivers, or in smaller villages closer to the coast.

A word could be said about the Rivers of Dunas as well. Although they are all-important to the city, as they bring much-needed water, they are nonetheless not greatly loved by the citizens. The rivers are prone to sudden, seemingly unexplained floods, and history recounts times when the water suddenly became undrinkable and sickened many people.

Skills & Professionals[edit]

Tull's location as a gateway between the realms of the east and the kingdoms of the west means that it is something of a center of trade, even though naval travel between the two is much more common. However, the folk of Tull are not merchants by heart, but more by position, and thus even though the demand is there, the supply might not always be.

All weapons (especially bows) as well as some armor, shields and pieces of adventuring gear are available in masterwork quality, but this must be mentioned to the merchant beforehand, since few keep such items in stock.

Skills[edit]

As a middle point between the east and the west, Tull caters to a myriad crowd. Buying a skill check costs DC x 5 gp (rounded down) or 50 gp, whichever is higher. Skills that cannot be used untrained cost twice this amount. Skills that have to do with hunting or woodworking can be found for +5 DC higher. These skills can be "bought" from Tull, although for check DCs of 20 and above, a Gather Information check of the same DC is required to locate a proper professional.

Weapons[edit]

If there's something the people of Tull do have in stock, it's weapons. They live in dangerous lands, after all, and inhabitants often consider it a point of pride to showcase their arms. The multiracial city has weapons in Medium and Small sizes, and masterwork versions are always available.

Armor[edit]

While trade and some meager mining activity does mean Tull has access to metal, it is more expensive than elsewhere, and the availability (and indeed quality) of Tull armor is often low. What little they have is mostly made of leather or hide, and is available in both Medium and Small sizes.

Goods and Services[edit]

Rarities[edit]

A DC 15 Gather Information check makes the following items available:

A DC 25 Gather Information further makes the following items available:

Examples of Townsfolk[edit]

What follows is a list of random personalities and characters that one can bump into and associate with in and around Tull. No stat blocks are given, since for the most part they're not meant to be notable NPCs: that's what the fleshed-out NPCs are for. If you need to play the characters, either wing it or use simple, premade stats (appropriately-leveled, of course).

  • Antoine Gree: Tull has no official city guard or militia: every man and woman is expected to carry their weight should things come to blows, and they almost invariably do. Nonetheless, some sort of organization is needed, and this is where Antoine Gree steps in. A disgraced knight from the court of Carag Vorn, Antoine (often called General Gree by the populace) is a dwarf of exceptional tactical mind and an eye for warfare. Indeed, he has a habit of using war lingo even in mundane conversation, and gets violently excited all too easily - which is probably why he's no longer welcome in Carag Vorn. Physically Antoine is imposing: he wears his armor and wields his hammer constantly (jokers say even in the bath), and yells everything he has to say. Mechanically: as 5th-level fighter/3rd-level hammerer with a greathammer of icicles.
  • "Big Man" Havoz-Kerr: There's little in the way of a criminal underworld in Tull, since the people mostly stick to themselves and there are few laws to break in the first place. Nonetheless, a few gangs have sprung up, consisting mostly of thieves and extortionists. One of the gangs, an especially nasty group called the Tooth Fairies, kidnap or con children from their parents and sell them to slavery in other villages. The gang would have long been wiped out if not for the leadership of "Big Man" Havoz-Kerr, a water mephit from Carag Ka'thull, whose criminal genius and pure audacity have worked this far. Havoz-Kerr is a slimy character, constantly twitching and sniggering to himself, and shows a worrying interest in the kidnapped children. Mechanically: as 6th-level monk water mephit.
  • Cuckoo: Goblin tradition states that no one has the right to name a sentient being except the being itself. Thus, for most of his life, Cuckoo was known only as Maga, which means girl in the goblin tongue. Usually a nickname springs up, but in Tull, where goblins are less common, the name was unique enough to stick. Cuckoo finally chose to name herself after she became an official artisan of the Clockmaker's Guild - three guesses as to what her favorite type of clock is. Cuckoo is reaching the end of her long life, and the years have made her straightforward, to-the-point and even rude. She doesn't mean to be unkind, but often is, or appears as such. Her quick hands constantly fiddle with thin air, as if she's always fashioning another cuckoo clock in her mind. Mechanically: as 4th-level expert.
  • Dorian Starcounter: Dorian is the go-to man in Tull if you require magical services. He lives in a small cabin in the eastern part of town. It's hard to miss: the logs are scarred with mystical runes and the windows are tinted with a mess of colors. Dorian himself wears extravagant robes and tons of jewelery, which highlight his wiry dunner frame, and must be uncomfortable for someone so hairy. Dorian's most outstanding feature is his need to constantly remind people that he's a wizard. Sure, his spells seem a little wild for a scholar, and he doesn't seem quite bright enough to be a student of the Spire, but he's a wizard, damn it! Mechanically: as 14th-level sorcerer with a lot to hide.
  • Fylla Fernsdaughter: Some guilds, like the Confectioner's Guild, are small. Some guilds, like the Gemcutter's Guild, are tiny. But there's one guild that only has a single member. That guild is the Cartographer's Guild, and Donna is its only member. In a tightly-knit community surrounded by dangerous wilderness, there's little need for extensive maps. Donna gets a pittance from selling maps, but makes most of her money showing newcomers around town and introducing them to important townsfolk. Donna is a considerably beautiful woman, with long red hair and just the right amount of freckles on her nose and cheeks. She's also quick with a joke and flirts openly. Maybe that's why she earns show much. Mechanically: as 2nd-level ranger.
  • Hank "Spirits" Dolyn: At just 14 years of age, Hank has thoroughly mastered the art of making spirits: there's no type of alcohol Hank couldn't fashion with just rudimentary equipment. The only reason he isn't a brewermaster yet is his habit of experimenting with recipes, which leaves him with an exploded still more often than not. Hank is cocksure and annoying, and his youthful grace is somewhat diminished by a constant, painful-looking rash. He never drinks alcohol himself, except the spoonful he takes to ascertain himself of a successful batch. Mechanically: as 3rd-level expert.
barb_by_mr__jack-d4k17yp.jpg
A bear of a woman.
  • Jaenni Bearborn: Dunas is nasty in an obvious way; Tull is nasty in a vaguer way. Given a choice between the two, Jaenni, a goliath woman born to a well-to-do logger family, chose the forest. Jaenni maintains a large, hardy cabin in the deeper part of the wood, where the constant chop of axes can't be heard. She built the house herself with some like-minded goliaths, and they live as a sort-of commune: perhaps to feel closer to their roots. They venerate the animist spirit Bear, and indeed bears both black, brown and grizzly flock around the cabin. Jaenni has something of the bear in her looks too: she's massive in a muscular way, she's easily amused by the simplest of things, and absolutely detest people barging into her territory uninvited. Her brown hair is matted but clean, and runs to well below her waist. Mechanically: as 5th-level barbarian living with around a dozen 2nd-level barbarians and druids.
  • Markov Dorn: Markov is as close to unassuming as a man of his considerable stature can be. Markov is close to seven feet tall, although he attempts to look half that. Yet everyone steers clear of Markov. This is because the unassuming man who dresses in simple clothes and speaks in a soft voice is also a mass murderer. In his youth, Markov killed six men and wounded twice that many with his broadaxe when he assaulted a marriage celebration. He wasn't executed due to the groom, one of the slain, having raped Markov's sister and in Tull thinking that meant he had cause. Instead, he sat twenty-two years in a dank prison, and exited it a wholly different man. Mechanically: as 3rd-level fighter with a masterwork greataxe who can't turn the other way when people are hurt.
  • "Pomace" Furi: The giant spiders who live within the city limits invariably dwell in Coppercopse, except for a single exception. Daughter Furi, a spider on the smaller side and considered dumb even by her peers, occasionally wanders into the northernmost parts of the city in search of one thing: alcohol. Furi is perhaps the only alcoholic spider in the history of the world. She's dense to the point of mental retardation, and the people of Tull mostly leave her alone or pour a little brandy (her favorite, and the source of her nickname) for her out of pity. Still, she's a heart-stopping sight in the dark of night: a spider the size of a dog, lapping up a plateful of drink. Mechanically: as Small monstrous spider with Intelligence 4.
  • The Mutt: The Mutt is a piece of Tull folklore from years and years back. Everyone knows the tale: there is a hound, a vicious black beast, who only comes out when the night is at its darkest. A being so evil it has become one with its shadow: the shade that stretches from its leg can move of its own volition, and hunts the flesh of man with all the enthusiasm of the creature itself. Like a blob of living darkness, the half-formed beast lashes out at the lonely and those who carry no light. Not everyone believes in the story, but during an eclipse you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on the streets. Mechanically: as two displacer beastsMM1.

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