Gloamhold: The Village of Coldwater

Widely thought to be a haven for smugglers and other miscreants, rumours swirl as thickly about Coldwater as the persistent sea fogs that sometimes blanket the place for days at a time. Set at the head of a muddy cliff top path, Coldwater is an isolated, dismal place. Its folk are sullen, ugly people and even the village’s ruler hates the place. For all that, Coldwater can be a place of opportunity and adventure. Sometimes, pirates drop anchor off the coast to deal with the local smugglers while rumours of a sunken stair and a nearby cove of ill aspect bring a steady stream of adventurers to the village.

The Sunken Stair by Matt Morrow
The Sunken Stair by Matt Morrow



An isolated place, perched upon an inhospitable coast at the head of a muddy coastal path, Coldwater is not an easy, or pleasant, place to visit. The village huddles at the mouth of a steep-sided valley leading down to the sea. Here, the seabed quickly drops away and the waters are deep, dark and cold.

Widely thought to be a haven for smugglers and other miscreants, rumours swirl as thickly about the village as the persistent sea fogs that sometimes blanket the place for days at a time. Other rumours—whispered in taprooms up and down the coast—speak of darker things: of unwholesome practises carried out in worship of some ancient, depraved power, of travellers going missing near the village and of an ancient set of steps buried at the base of nearby cliffs and revealed only at particularly low tides.

Whatever the truth of Coldwater, its folk are sullen, distrustful of outsiders and some are said to suffer from horrible deformities. Even the village’s ruler—the aged Elina Vuolle—hates the place. Two families dominate day-to-day life in Coldwater: the Eerolas and the Purhos. Trapped in a low-grade, but nevertheless vicious, family feud the two families subtly work against one another and use the other villagers as pawns.

Notable Locations

Most of Coldwater comprises peasant homes. A few locations, however, are of interest to adventurers:

  1. Vuolle Manor: Perched on the side of the valley, Vuolle Manor overlooks the village. It’s battlemented walls give spectacular views of the surrounds.
  2. Waterside: The harbour is the busiest—and smelliest—place in the village. Here, a gallimaufry of fishing vessels and small merchant craft jostle for berths.
  3. Itkonen’s: Here Uzlen Itkonen builds and repairs fishing vessels and small merchant craft. The dockyard is always busy.
  4. Sauli’s Home: Here dwells the patriarch of the Eerola family.
  5. Crooked House: This partially sunken building is the home of Armas Hujanen. Part of the cellar’s foundations has collapsed, giving the house its name.
  6. Chapel of the Mistress: Dedicated to Serat (the uncaring mistress of the sea) this small chapel is one of the most substantial buildings in the village. On misty nights its bells toll endlessly to guide home those out on the water.
  7. The Stooped Man: Coldwater’s only inn and tavern, the Stooped Man is a bastion of cheap alcohol, surly service and draughty, flea-infested accommodation.
  8. Atro’s Home: Atro Purho dwells in this large, ramshackle building. Extensive cellars intersect with a sea cave; here much of the Purho’s clandestine business is conducted.
  9. Devil’s Cove: Strange goings on and several disappearances conspire to keep the populace from this nearby cove.
  10. The Sunken Stair: Only exposed at particularly low tides, these stairs lead to a chamber containing a seemingly unopenable pair of stone doors.

The Village of Coldwater is part of the Duchy of Ashlar mini-campaign setting and the upcoming backdrop for the adventure Fane of the Undying Sleeper.

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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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