Gloamhold: The Mottled Spire

This huge chunk of granite glowers over Hard Bay’s treacherous waters like an angry giant. Difficult to reach by land or sea, the Mottled Spire shelters Gloamhold deep within its bowels.

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A wind-blasted, desolate place it has stubbornly resisted the pernicious encroachment of human civilisation and remains untamed. The small town of Dunstone stands upon the Selka River’s western bank. Built to ward the villages to the west from attack by the Spire’s denizens it serves as civilisation’s final outpost and the base from which the few expeditions daring the Spire’s landward approaches are launched.

Beyond the river, the sharp-pointed hills huddle closely together as the land rises inexorably toward the Spire’s titanic bulk. Few folk ever visit these hard, rocky uplands. Hard Bay’s choppy waters and strong tides preclude casual waterborne exploration while the Spire’s own jagged and desolate valley-riven hills dissuade all but the most stubborn traveller from attempting the overland route. Here the thin top soil is stony and barren; little grows except sparse grass and small, sickly-looking wind-lashed thorn bushes that seem to catch and tear at travellers’ clothing.

In recent years, only one large-scale attempt has been made to settle upon the Spire, and that ended in disaster when Greystone was abandoned. No accurate, comprehensive map of the hills and canyons is known to exist and no trail has ever been forced all the way from the small town of Dunstone’s gates through to Greystone.

On occasion, bandits have taken refuge in the lower slopes of the Mottled Spire. Lairing in abandoned mines or the cellars of several old ruins – remnants of doomed attempts to carve out homes from the wilderness.

Dunstone

Dunstone is the nearest settlement to the Mottled Spire. Standing at the end of a wide, muddy and rutted track, Dunstone was built long ago when men feared what lurked in the tangle of dells and canyons hidden among the Spire’s foothills, but now that fear has faded from their minds.

Protected by a stout keep, thick stone walls of local granite fully 12 feet high encircled the old village. These defences are now crumbling, but remain formidable. The original dry moat dug around the old village has not been properly maintained for decades and what was once a formidable obstacle is now little more than a grassy slope upon which sheep and pigs graze.

Many homes and businesses have grown up outside the old village walls and Dunstone now sprawls across a low hill overlooking the fast-flowing Selka River. Occasionally cut off during the winter thaw, the folk of Dunstone are resilient folk.

A rickety, slowly decaying wooden bridge spans the Selka and it is across this the occasional hunter, thrillseeker or group of explorers begin their trek into the rugged uploads of the Mottled Spire. By tradition, a guard is mounted at the western end of the bridge to warn against monstrous incursions from the Spire, but such a watch is now rarely kept. Instead, such duty is reserved as a punishment for men-at-arms deemed to have failed in their other duties.

Other Locales of Note

  • Greystone (Ruined Village): A nameless aura of fear and decay smothers these crumbling, wind-blasted ruins. Persistent rumours of the inbred descendants of the original inhabitants lingering in the ruins are commonly held as truth among Languard’s populace.
  • The Shard (Ruined Lighthouse): Destroyed decades ago at the height of a particularly vicious and prolonged storm of unnatural virility, the Shard juts from the Mottled Spire like a jagged, broken tooth. Occasionally, faint lights are glimpsed in its vicinity.
  • Abandoned Mines: Explorers occassionally come upon the crumbling, rubble-choked mouths of ancient mines  sunk deep into the Spire. Who excavated the mines remain unknown, but some are of considerable depth and extent. All are obviously very old.
  • Varma’s Pit: This huge collapsed sinkhole penetrates deep into the Mottled Spireand reaches all the way down to the Twilight City.

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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