Gloamhold: The Twilight City

Buried in an immense cavern at the very heart of the Mottled Spire, the Twilight City sprawls across a series of low islands struggling above the cold, dark waters of the Sunless Lake.

The Twilight City by Matt Morrow

The Twilight City by Matt Morrow

 

The city is one of the best-known locations within Gloamhold and is intermittently explored, claimed and fought over by dungeon denizens and adventurers alike.

An ancient place of stone ziggurats, fetid and twisted canals and cyclopean architecture, troglodytes built the city when the world was young and their great empire straddled much of the known world. A score or so of troglodyte tribes yet dwell amid the fallen glory of their forgotten heritage. A warlike, feral people they often squabble over the ruins and wage war against one another. Occasionally, a particularly charismatic or powerful leader arises among the tribes and leads a savage coalition of tribes to bloody war.

The cavern roof soars 1,200 feet above the city’s crumbling ziggurats and in places has collapsed allowing shafts of frail sunlight to pierce the gloom filling the cavern’s upper reaches. Sometimes, brave adventurers – not wishing to dare the dangers of Gloamhold’s outer halls – use these rents in the rock to reach the Twilight City. Without magic, most such attempts are doomed to failure.

The Sunless Lake is tidal, and much of the city sporadically floods during particularly high tides or the vicious winter storms battering the coast. Set upon the largest island, about the yawning black gulf of the Daimonic Maw, squat five huge ziggurats. The greatest of these, the 500-foot high Whispering Fane, dwarfs the others. Beyond the Twilight City lies the Screaming Gate and the Ebon Road.

Troglodyte Tribes of the Twilight City

Degenerate troglodyte tribes infest much of the Twilight City; their cloying stench rises above the tumbled ruins like an ancient miasma. The tribes constantly squabble and fight among themselves. Shadows of their race’s former glory, the tribes gaze upon the ancient ruins of their forbears with uncomprehending eyes.

Four of the more notable tribes include:

  • Bloody Spear: Well organised and numerous, the Bloody Spears benefit from the discovery decades ago of a cache of magical spears. Crafted from iron seemingly immune to corrosion and rust, the spears are carried into battle by the tribe’s champions and chieftain. The tribe goes to great lengths to stop the spears falling into enemy hands.
  • Splintered Bone: One of the most backward—but numerous—troglodyte tribes, the Splintered Bone is feared for the atavistic savagery of their warriors. The Splintered Bones gave up the use of weapons a long time ago; instead using their formidable natural weaponry. The tribe’s females are unusually fecund.
  • White Skulls: The White Skulls have dwelled in the same ziggurat for decades. The tribe is not numerous, but does boast several powerful shaman amongst its ranks. They have made many crude additions to their ziggurat’s defences—blocking off lower access points with rocks, destroying all but a few stairways leading to the upper levels and so on.
  • Yellow Eyes: The majority of the Yellow Eye tribe are in thrall to a unique semi-sentient yellow mould they cultivate in hidden nurseries below their crumbling ziggurat-lair. The mould releases spores that quickly burrow their way into the troglodytes’ brain enabling the “parent” mould to telepathically control its minions. Afflicted troglodytes have pale yellow eyes, and fearless in battle. Unique among the tribes of the Twilight City, the Yellow Eyes have several non-troglodytes among its ranks.

Below the Twilight City

Rumours persist of caverns buried deep below the Twilight City in which light has never – and indeed can never – shine. The few survivors of expeditions into this terrible, claustrophobic underworld heavy with the weight of untold aeons speak of a malevolent, inhuman and deathless sentience lurking in the darkness protecting the crumbling ruins of a civilisation so old even the elves have forgotten its existence.

The Whispering Fane

The immense, cyclopean bulk of the Whispering Fane towers over the surrounding ziggurats and city. A huge ziggurat of black, basaltic masonry it is dedicated to nameless, blasphemous gods of an elder epoch almost wholly unknown to man. Set hard against the maw of the Daimonic Maw – a gigantic sinkhole of unknown depths from which a disturbingly warm breeze redolent with unknown scents of terrible, otherworldly places issues – at its zenith, a magical-crafted span of dull green stone arches out over the Daimonic Maw. At its tip stands a stone altar stained black by the blood of countless sacrifices.

Within, the darkness itself seems to breathe and shadows press closely about explorers. Magical traps, sentient construct guardians and the deranged cultists of sinister inhuman powers all lurk within the fane.

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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