How I Set Up My New PF2 Game, “Gatekeepers.” Part 4: Quickstart Kheyus Gazetteer
When doing a homebrew campaign (such as my upcoming Gatekeepers game for PF2), I have long since given up having everything mapped out in advance. I want a few key things defined (and, if possible, graphed to maps), but only at the lightest level of detail. I do this for a few reasons. First, not every campaign I plan actually launches, and I don’t have time to spend months plotting out all the details of a world I may never run. Second, I like to see what early elements interest the players the most, and build on those in greater detail. Third, I’m really good at coming up with neat stuff extemporaneously, I I have learned to leave room to do that.
So, this is just a quickstart gazetteer, enough information on the starting region, and greater world events to let players namedrop stuff and decide where they are from, or to know they want to request/suggest elements not yet in existence for their characters.
The campaign will begin in the town of Tidegate, the third-largest settlement on the Island of Kheyus, a major but distant holding of the Continental Empire (which will eventually get a name).
Isle of Kheyus
The Isle of Kheyus, roughly the size of Kansas, is divided into east and west by the Keystone Mountains. The island was home to two independent kingdoms in Ye Olde Days: Eirsyus on the west side, and Khetonnia and the eat side. The two kingdoms were both very Northern European-themed lose confederations of allied nobles, with Eirsyus having a major focus on magic and runes and rituals, and Khetonnia on crafting, engineering, and smithing. They were rivals and often had border skirmishes and occasionally brush wars, but were not hateful toward each other.
The entire island was conquered by the Continental Empire (final name tbd) a couple of centuries ago. It was obvious early in the conflict that Eirsyus and Khetonnia could not defeat the Empire, even if they combined forces. Khetonnia responded to this reality by suing for peace under lenient terms, allowing them to become imperials vassals and keep much of their local laws and nobility. Eirsyus turned to a path of darker and darker magic to grasp for victory at any cost, and their kingdom collapsed.
Khetonnia became part of the Empire, though nowadays that mostly just means the Dutchess of Tides (local ruler over the island) sends a shipfull of taxes back to the Continent once a year.
More recently The Bloodletter Wars, about a century ago, involved a lot of fighting on Kheyus and in and around Tidegate. The Bloodletter Dominion was an expansionist eldritch force that used rituals blood sacrifices of sapient creatures to gain permanent magic powers, and intended to conquer the world to serve as endless cattle. The Band of Bloodletters is the last, sad remnant of that force, and they lack the rituals that impowered the original Dominion. Almost everyone agrees defeating the Bloodletter Dominion was a war of necessity.
Current State of Affairs
Since the Bloodletter Wars, it’s been pretty quiet around Tidegate. There are wolves and even wargs in the woods, ogres and trolls in the mountains, drakes in the wilds, and smugglers, thieves, and pirates in the streets and waters, and sometimes a more powerful creature comes over the Keystone Mountains, but actual attacks are rare.
In general, areas within bowshot of a major settlement are considered reasonable safe day and night, and minor settlements and even farmsteads are considered safe within sight of a building during the day, and within a structure at night. Roads are lightly patrolled, but don’t need much more than that, and groups of travelers who are big enough to maintain a campfire and at least one person on watch (or who have dogs or similar guard animals) are generally able to safely travel. The closer to the coast and roads you are the safer you are, and the closer to the mountains or deeper into the woods you are, the more dangerous it is.
Cities and Towns
Seagrace: The capitol of Kheyus is Seagrace, located in the middle of the southern shore where the Sweetwater River flows into the ocean. This is the home of the Duchess of Tides, current lady of Kheyus, vassal of the Continental Empire, and scion of the princes of old Khetonnia. It is the only true city on the island, the only place locally with drydocks and shipyards able to handle big ships, has the deepest harbor, and is an Imperial Fleet naval base in addition to being a major trade port.
Fishport: The second largest settlement on the island is Fishport, located on the northeastern shore of Tempest Bay. Fishport is a major fishing town, and the boats there can bring in much more than enough to feed all of Kheyus’s population, and export a tremendous amount of salt fish, kelp, shellfish, and a small volume of pearls to Tidegate, much of which then go by land to Seagrace. The tides in Tempest Bay can turn nasty even when the weather is nice, and trading ships avoid it though the locals seem to have a sixth sense for what days to not go on the water.
Tidegate: Tidegate is the third largest settlement on the island, a fair-sized town that was once an independent city-state before the Bloodletter Wars. It’s long since demilitarized, with its town walls dilapidated and in some cases converted to businesses, and farms growing up right up to its borders. Tidegate is a much more convenient (and less expensive) port of call for ships traveling along the circle Trade Route, but it’s a shallow harbor that can only handle mid-sized ships and lacks full shipyards and such. The combination of tradewinds and regular, calm currents allows ships to maneuver in and out of Tidegate in less than an hour, while any seatrip to Seagrace takes at least a day to get in, and a day to get out. Those smaller ships that can manage Tidegates waters and don’t need greater services stop here for fresh water and supplies, often leaving the same day they arrive but the volume of trade remains far below what is found at Seagrace.
There is a massive Circle Trade between the five Great Powers of the world, the timing and direction of which is heavily influenced by the Tradewinds. The Empire on the Continent is one major leg of this Circle Trade, and four even-more-distant kingdoms represent four other major segments. Each leg is an area rich in a major, strategic resource that is rare in the other regions. Beginning with Iron on the Continental Empire, the trade goods are then Firestone (needed to make explosives and gunpowder), Steelweave (silken cloth that is resistant to fire, tears, and wear, making the best clothes, sails, and rope), Black Sugar (an alchemical material that can be processed into sweeteners, spices, and drugs), and finally Spell Salt (able to be used to fulfill any consumable crafting or spell component cost). This means there’s a regular influx of Spell Salt into the Continental Empire, including Khesus, making mastercraft materials, toolkits, medicinals, and consumable magic items fairly common. However, since Firestone has to go all round the world before coming the the Continental Empire, bombs and firearms are much rarer on Khesus (though not unknown).
Modeled New England/Northern Europe. Cold winters, storms not uncommon, hurricanes rare but known, tornadoes extremely rare, warm-to-hit summers but rarely dangerously hot, lovely springs, wet autumns. Storms can be serious.
TOMORROW: TIDEGATE GAZETTEER
Much like this quick look at the island of Khesus, tomorrow I present a quickstart gazetteer of Tidegate, the town the player characters all begin in.
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Posted on September 29, 2022, in Adventure Design, Microsetting, Pathfinder 2nd Ed and tagged gaming, Gatekeeper Campaign, Geekery, Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook., Worldbuilding. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.