Heroes of Hillsfar
Cundall’s Keep is owned by the druid Cundall, who obtained the deed from a Deck of Many Things. He was originally just using it as a base for the adventuring group The Heroes of Hillsfar, and then started allowing ships travelling the river to stop in (for a small fee) and it has grown into a community and business.
Cundall’s Keep was originally built as an outpost of Fort Dalton, following the standard layout of river keeps in many areas of Faerun, and survived the dragon attack that destroyed that fort. Later Cundall’s Keep became a military outpost owned by Mulmaster, but due to the recent devastation in that city caused by the Cult of Elemental Evil, they withdrew their troops and allowed the keep to fall into disrepair. The keep was sold to a merchant who has since disappeared. The deed to the keep was thought lost until it appeared in the possession of Cundall the druid.
Cundall and his adventuring companions The Heroes of Hillsfar came to inspect the keep, only to find it inhabited by members of the Cult of the Dragon as well as the adult black dragon Throstulgrael (more commonly known as “Velvet”), and a tribe of kobolds. The party, with some assistance in the form of two warriors provided by the Zhentarim, took on the dragon first, entering through it’s underwater lair, and defeated it. The dragon had already begun the ritual to turn into a dracolich, and it’s death triggered the change. However the Heroes of Hillsfar were able to defeat the dracolich as well. The Heroes of Hillsfar then moved up to the keep itself and attacked the Cult of the Dragon, who were preparing to leave after the death of the dracolich. Half of the dragon cultists fought a delaying action against the party, while the other half fled by boat or magic. Those cultists who remained were all killed.
Cundall struck a deal with the kobold tribe who had worshipped the dragon and who had been inhabiting the dead dragon’s cave. They wanted to stay, and agreed to protect the keep from any underwater incursions – the same way the party had gotten in. The kobolds were not above a little thievery from the keep itself, but as it was mostly foodstuffs (especially meat or sweets) Cundall at the time decided not to press the issue, however he was not happy about inherently evil creatures within his keep, especially as children were starting to arrive to live. When the opportunity presented itself in the form of five deep gnomes rescued from the Underdark, including a pair named Kulit and Mevin, whose profession was pest controllers, Cundall asked them to route out the kobolds, which they did with the assistance of the soldiers of the keep. The kobolds that survived fled. No one knows where they went, but they no doubt harbour a grudge against Cundall’s Keep.
Cundall is now in charge of the fort and has put much of his adventurer’s gold into upgrading the keep and the surrounding area, which has become a village named Thistlelock. Cundall has been actively recruiting for people to run the keep for him while he continues adventuring with the Heroes of Hillsfar as they help fight against the Demon Lord Graz’zt who has invaded the Underdark beneath the Moonsea. Some of the folk he has rescued from slavery in the Underdark have agreed to come live at the Keep. In addition people from the refugee camps around Elventree have started appearing at the keep looking for work and a more permanent home. Cundall is happy to have them as they provide services and he provides employment. However he has turned away the few drow that have turned up, as once again the druid feels uncomfortable with inherently evil creatures within his keep. This has caused some friction with others, notably his adventuring companion Zelda the elven ranger, as she believed they should be treated as individuals. However Cundall was adamant, and at this point there are no drow at Cundall’s Keep.
Due to the isolation of the Keep, Cundall bought a longship and hired crew to run it and provide a link to the rest of the world as the track to Mulmaster has become difficult through lack of maintenance, and the river crossing unreliable and difficult. Cundall found that merchants selling goods to Cundall’s Keep at Hillsfar and Lighthouse were happy to hire the Mackerel to transport their goods between, and so the longship has become a business in its own right. This has taken it away on occasion from the keep for many days, but so far this has not been a problem. Those needing to leave or come to the keep urgently have been able to book passage on other vessels.
Cundall’s Business Ventures
Longship "The Scavenging Mackerel”
- Purchased in Hillsfar for 9500 gold.
- Crew of 40 skilled hirelings, including the captain.
- Ship crew are paid 2gp per day, the captain 4gp per day.
- The ship is outfitted to carry 30 passengers and 10 tons of cargo, the passengers are all in private accommodation and the rate of passage is 2gp per day.
Tavern “The Velvet Underground”
- Named after the Dragon that was slain under the keep by the Heroes of Hillsfar.
- The tavern is (sometimes) a quiet, low-key bar that includes some accommodation and entertainment by Ziggy the Bard, who plays guitar on the last two nights of a tenday.
- The Tavern cost 2500 gp to set up and was designed to entice more ships to use the port attached to the keep bringing more traffic and income through the keep.
- The cost to maintain Tavern is 5 gp per day and requires a skilled tavern manager and five untrained hirelings (barstaff).
- Barney Thaken the dwarf wine taster has been hired as manager of the tavern as he has knowledge of wine, beer and spirits and has merchant connections in this area.
- Contains a gambling den in the cellar, as well as a fighting cage that aggressive drunks can be put into to either cool off, or fight each other if they have a mind to.
- Cost to run per day 100gp
- Requires 50 skilled hirelings and 50 untrained hirelings
- 40 of the skilled hirelings are made up of veterans and guards at the keep who are sorted in to squads of 10 comprising 9 guards led by a sergeant (veteran).
- Sandor Bron Xanten is in charge of the Keep’s defences and warriors with Aretheya being second in command.
- Aretheya is in charge of patrols outside of the keep, which the guard squads.
Cundall’s Keep River Port
- 10 gp per day to run
- Four skilled hirelings and two untrained see to the allocation of berthing, collection of fees, delivery of supplies and any requests from ship’s captains.
- Ships docking at the keep pay 2gp to berth here (Zhentarim ships do not pay this fee).
- Harry Grey the shipwright has been hired as harbour master in charge of this section of the keep.
Other Businesses Running in the Keep or in Thistlelock
- Stonemasonry run by Giles and the dwarf Samlock Battlehammer, providing construction and repair services to the keep and Thistlelock.
- Dipplesprocket the gnome and priest of Chauntea is the village and keep priest and healer. Works closely with Mileena the herbalist.
- Accountant and book keeping run by the dwarf Makin Stonemark, provides services to the Keep, assistance to businesses in the Keep and Thistlelock, as well as the occasional ship’s captain who might want to check on the ship’s quartermaster and purser’s book keeping to keep them honest.
- Mileena the herbalist.
- Graxx’s Blacksmithery – run by the fire giant Graxx Fireforge. Has taken on an apprentice.
Allies and Enemies of Cundall’s Keep
- The Zhentarim have an agreement with Cundall that their operatives and ships/boats may call in at his keep at any time and do not pay the usual fee.
- Emerald Enclave faction.
- Harpers faction.
- Town of Elventree.
- Community of Lighthouse.
- Cult of the Dragon
- Marie Pusriver the hag. Could be either, will depend how she is treated. Cundall is unlikely to welcome her due to his stance on evil creatures.
NPCs at the Keep
- Sandor Bron Xanten – half elf ex-gladiator, in charge of the soldiers of the keep and responsible for its security. Sandor has been given magical splint armour and a greataxe that radiates cold. Should the keep come under attack expect Sandor to be in the line of attackers. Acts as Seneschal of the keep, in charge when Cundall is away.
- Aretheya – ogre veteran, leads patrols from the keep into the surrounding area, second in charge of the soldiers and security of the keep. Is the commander of all patrols outside the keep.
- Mallee – farmer, building a farm outside the keep, intending to grow crops with his family and extended family.
- Giles – stonemason. Has brought his family to stay. Runs a stonemasonry business with the dwarf Salmock Battlehammer.
- Dipplesproket – forest gnome acolyte, converted to worship of Chauntea (with a water aspect). Was once a kuo-toa but was reincarnated by Cundall. Acts as priest for keep personnel when Cundall away.
- Allarn – mercenary, goes on patrol with Aretheya.
- Danny “Kingpin” – ex Zhentarim member, criminal – now keep administrator with Tania Orr.
- Mileena – herbalist, single mother with two children.
- Simon – carpenter.
- Erkin and Fodin – twin dwarves who are bakers. Agreed to come to the keep to pay debt to Cundall for rescuing them. Have brought their families with them.
- Makin Stonemark – dwarven merchant and businessman. Agreed to work as book keeper in charge of accounts as a debt for rescuing him in the Underdark.
- Barnabus “Barney” Thakin – dwarf wine-taster who agreed to work for Cundall in gratitude for being rescued. Barney orders beer and wine from other towns for the Scavenging Mackeral. He is on the lookout for a brewer or vintner among the refugees to start making local beer, wine and spirits.
- Drystan and Tegan – farmers from the Dalelands, captured by orcs and spent five years in the Underdark as slaves. Escaped and rescued by the Heroes of Hillsfar. Work as farmers.
- Salmock Battlehammer – mountain dwarf, rescued as a slave from Den of the Whispered Word, profession – miner. Works at the keep assisting Giles the stone mason.
- Wurnock Greyforged – mountain dwarf fisherman – worked in underdark and mountain rivers and lakes. Rescued as a slave from the Den of the Whispered Word. Works as a fisherman on the river Lis.
- Harry Grey – human shipwright, rescued by the heroes from the Den of the Whispered Word, started out working maintenance on The Scavenging Mackerel when it was back at the keep. Helps Graxx forge metal spare parts that the boat will need when it’s away. Also helps Simon the carpenter.
- Tania Orr – human spy, rescued by the heroes from the Den of the Whispered Word. Worked as a spy first for government of Waterdeep in Luskan, then was captured by drow. At the keep works as an administrator with Danny “Kingpin”. They have also created a money lending business to assist construction and businesses.
- Graxx Fireforge – fire giant blacksmith, rescued from the Den of the Whispered Word. Graxx is slender for a fire giant, and considers himself as a poet first and a blacksmith second. Is learning to speak common. Large sized blacksmith tools was purchased for him, although he still finds the castle rather small and is building a large house in the town being constructed outside the keep.
- Kulit and Mevin – deep gnome pest controllers. In their home town in the Underdark Kulit and Mevin found and got rid of rats, oozes, large insects, kobolds and worse. When their town was attacked by demons the two fled only to be captured by a raiding party sent out by a beholder. The heroes rescued them and three other deep gnomes, but only Kulit and Mevin decided to stay at the keep, the other three deciding that the surface life wasn’t for them and heading for the closest deep gnome settlement.
- The village is named after Cundall’s friend Thistlelock, an awakened tree that died fighting with the Heroes of Hillsfar against allies of the demon lord Graz’zt.
- Thistlelock started with one farmhouse built for Mallee the farmer and her family.
- Cundall has nurtured the farm land around the keep with a plant growth spell to ensure it is fertile for one year.
- Cundall has also built 10 more houses in the town to accommodate the families, shop owners and farmers that are moving here. This seems to have been enough to given life to the town, as more houses are being built.
- Stone for construction is being taken from the ruins of the old town surrounding the keep.
- A large barracks for the crew of The Scavenging Mackerel has been built near Thistlelock but closer to the river and away from the main town and the families that live there.
- Some shops and businesses have also started to spring up in the town along with a small village green and a shrine to Chauntea.
- Blacksmithery run by Graxx Fireforged, the fire giant.
- Bakery run by Erkin and Forkin, twin dwarves.
- Moneylending run by Danny Kingpin and Tania Orr. This has been a big help for fledgling businesses starting in Thistlelock.
- Herbalist shop run by Mileena.
- Fish Stall/Dried Meats run by Wurnock Greyforged the dwarf fisherman.
- Carpenter business run by Simon.
Just about all of these businesses have hired at least one person to assist them with their trade or business.
- Drystan – potatoes, carrots, peas & beans.
- Tegan – onions, tomatoes and raspberries.
- Mallee – apples and pears.
Areas around the Keep
- The area around Cundall’s Keep is sparsely wooded and partly swamp. There is a track in poor repair leading from Mulmaster to the Keep which needs constant attention or becomes overgrown in places. The track crosses the River Dalton at a shallow part of the river, but it cannot be crossed in Spring or after heavy rains.
- The swamp area close to Cundall’s Keep is home to the Three Trees tribe of lizardfolk who are on good terms with Cundall, as they had been forced to ally themselves with the black dragon against their will. As lizardfolk are not inherently evil, Cundall is happy to have a good relationship with them, and is willing to trade.
- Ruins of Lis – This pitiful pile of rubble is all thats left of the last and southernmost Moonsea city to be destroyed. The city was supposed to be a gateway to the River Lis, but it was reduced to ruins 200 years ago by the Flying Plague (a horde of perytons, harpies, and manticores).
- Fort Dalton – During one of the many dragon migrations, Fort Dalton was blasted into rubble. A cult of some forbidden god or other now dwells there, or so the story goes.
- River Lis – a wide, shallow, slow moving river, providing a link between the Moonsea and the Sea of Fallen Stars. The river runs southwards.
- River Dalton – The River Dalton comes from its source in the Flooded Forest to the southeast. No traffic comes this way, but occasionally dead trees, logs, or snarls of branches float along this river, causing a boating hazard when it empties into the River Lis.