Town of Diamond Lake
Situated on the north shore of a lake of the same name, Diamond Lake is a muddy smudge on the map of the Cairn hills three days ride east of the fabulous Free City of Greyhawk
Diamond Lake, where desperate folk toil in the lightless depths for a pittance while corrupt mine managers live in relative largesse, ruthlessly scheming to undermine one another and protect their piece of the action. Most residents of Diamond Lake can be categorized into two groups: those with nowhere else to turn, and those who have come to exploit them
Diamond Lake's inhabitants are mostly miners and laborers, serious folk who spend most of their lives toiling below ground. When not working, the miners celebrate along the Vein, a seedy road lined with ale-houses and brothels. Overall, the village is a sooty, sullen place prone to unpleasant bursts of violence and passion.
Things are not safe in Diamond Lake, and a right-thinking person would have every reason to want to get out of town as soon as possible.
Most of the PCs grew up here, and desperately want to escape.
This small mining town is full to the brim with desperate folks trying to scrape a meager living from working the mines of the great Free City of Greyhawk three days to the West. Diamond Lake resides in the Cairn Hills, rocky hills full of metals important to the Free City\x92s economy, important enough for them to directly control the mines via mine managers. The mine managers are constantly struggling against one another to gain more power and wealth for themselves, while the common folk try to distract themselves from their bleak situation.
As there are folks spending money, no matter how meager, there is a thriving business in supplying distraction. The Emporium is a large den of iniquity specializing in liquor, women and a freak show to rival any traveling circus, all for just enough money to draw the customers in. Games of chance abound, including the Rat Game, where rats race to the end of a small maze, and then the winner gets to fight jermlaines while spectators bet on every aspect of the game. For a more cultured taste, Lazare\x92s House is a cozy gaming parlor across the street, specializing in Dragonchess for those with the wits to play. Those too poor for the Emporium find themselves at the Feral Dog or similar dive. Dogfights are the height of entertainment at most other venues surpassed only by the bar fights.
The Cairn Hills get their name from the large number of ancient burial cairns and tombs that dot the region, evidence of a half dozen different, ancient cultures. The last known cairn was stripped dry decades ago though, and folks are always eager to find a new one, but the chances seem unlikely.
The Free City has appointed Governor-Mayor Neff to rule the town and insure the steady flow of material to the city. The mine managers (Smenk, Gansworth, Moonmeadow (elf), Tilgast, Parrin, and Dourstone (dwarf)) are more directly in charge of the mines they hold title to. Sheriff Cubbin maintains \x93law\x94 in the sense that he breaks up fights that get too big to ignore. Nearby, a garrison of troops only becomes involved when threats really escalate, but they are mostly to defend the mines from bandits and rogue lizardfold from the southern swamps.
Religion in the city centers on Heironeous (chapel in the garrison) and St Cuthbert (large, towered church on the city square) for the most part, with Obad-Hai worshippers centered in the surrounding hills, and a small group of followers of Wee Jas that protect the cemetery from interlopers and attend to death services. Other religions tend to be low key with a master/student relationship rather than official church indoctrination.
As previously mentioned, Diamond Lake nestles in the rocky crags of the Cairn Hills, three days east of the Free City to which it is subject. Iron and silver from Diamond Lake's mines fuel the capital's markets and support its soldiers and nobles with the raw materials necessary for weapons and finery. This trade draws hundreds of skilled and unskilled laborers and artisans, all hoping to strike it rich. In ages past, Diamond Lake boasted an export more valuable than metal in the form of treasure liberated from the numerous tombs and burial cairns crowding the hills around the town. These remnants of a half-dozen long-dead cultures commanded scandalous prices from the Free City elite, whose insatiable covetousness triggered a boom in the local economy. Those days are long gone, though. The last cairn in the region coughed up its treasure decades ago, and few locals pay much mind to stories of yet-undiscovered tombs and unplundered burial cairns. These days, only a handful of treasure seekers visit the town, and few return to Free City with anything more valuable than a wall rubbing or an ancient tool fragment.
In the hills surrounding the town, hundreds of laborers spend weeks at a time underground, breathing recycled air pumped in via systems worth ten times their combined annual salary. The miners are the chattel of Diamond Lake, its seething, tainted blood. But they are also Diamond Lake's foundation, their weekly pay cycling back into the community via a gaggle of gambling dens, bordellos, ale halls, and temples. Because work in the mines is so demanding and dangerous, most folk come to Diamond Lake because they have nowhere else to turn, seeking an honest trade of hard labor for subsistence-level pay simply because the system has allowed them no other option. Many are foreigners displaced from native lands by war or famine. Work in Diamond Lake is the last honest step before utter destitution or crimes of desperation. For some, it is the first step in the opposite direction: a careful work assignment to ease the burden on debtor-filled prisons, one last chance to make it in civil society.
Despite its squalor, Diamond Lake is crucial to Free City's economy. The city's directors thus take a keen interest in local affairs, noting the rise and fall of the managers who run Diamond Lake's mines in trust for the government. The city's chief man in the region is Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff, a lecherous philanderer eager to solidify his power and keep the mine managers in line. Neff exerts his capricious will via the agency of the pompous Sheriff Cubbin, a man so renowned for corruption that many citizens assumed the announcement of his commission was a joke until he started arresting people.
The alliance between the governor-mayor and his pocket police might not be enough to cow Diamond Lake's powerful mine managers, but Lanod Neff holds a subtle advantage thanks to the presence of his distinguished brother, the scrupulous Allustan, a wizard from Free City who retired to Diamond Lake five years ago. None dare move against Neff so long as Allustan is around.
Instead of scheming against the government, Diamond Lake's six mine managers plot endlessly against one another, desperate to claim a weakened enemy's assets while at the same time protecting their own. While they are not nobles, the mine managers exist in a level above normal society. They consider themselves far above their employees, many of whom are indentured or effectively enslaved as part of a criminal sentence. The miners' loyalty tends to map directly to working conditions, pay, and respect offered to the miners by their wealthy masters.
The most ambitious and manipulative mine manager in Diamond Lake is Balabar Smenk, a disquieting schemer who hopes to gain a monopoly on the town's mining patents by forcing his enemies into bankruptcy and offering to buy their claims at the last minute for coppers on the gold piece.
The Nature of the Town
Diamond Lake crouches in the lowland between three hills and the lake itself, a splotch of mud, smoke, and blood smeared across uneven terrain marked by countless irregular mounds and massive rocks. The oldest buildings line the lakeshore, where fishing vessels once docked and stored their impressive catches. That commerce has abandoned the town entirely, for the shining waters that once gave Diamond Lake its name are now so polluted as to make fishing impossible. Many old warehouses have been converted into cheap housing for miners and laborers, and no one is safe outdoors after dark. As one walks north along the streets of Diamond Lake, the buildings become sturdier and the spirits of their inhabitants likewise improves. A great earthen road called the Vein bisects the town. With few exceptions, those living north of the Vein enjoy a much better life than the wretches living below it.
All of the town's social classes congregate in the Vein's central square. Roughly every two weeks, someone in the town upsets someone else so greatly that the only recourse is a duel to the death at the center of a ring of cheering miners. The bookmakers of the Emporium and the Feral Dog do brisk business on such occasions, which tend to draw huge crowds. On less violent nights, the square is still home to a thousand pleasures and poisons; if Diamond Lake is a creature, the Vein's central square is its excitable, irregular heart.
There are four major religions worshipped in Diamond Lake: Saint Cuthbert, Heironeous, Wee Jas, and Obad-Hai.
The leader of the church of St. Cuthbert is Jierian Wierus, a bombastic orator whose populist rants appeal to the best virtues and values of the common man while at the same time preying upon theirs fears and superstitions. Wierus endlessly preaches a creed of common sense, honesty, and self-sacrifice, encouraging his faithful to give penance to St. Cuthbert by whipping themselves in repetitive acts of self-mortification. His growing cult, now some 150 strong, gives succor to the dregs of Diamond Lake society and is seen as a menace by the town's mine managers, government, and other religious figures. Many claim that the flagellants seem to follow Wierus as much as they do St. Cuthbert, and it is only because the charismatic firebrand somehow keeps his followers from breaking the law that his sect has been allowed to thrive.
Most of the guards and soldiers serving in the Diamond Lake garrison honor Heironeous as the patron of justice and martial prowess. The Invincible One's temple is little more than a large high-ceilinged chamber whithin the garrison itself, but it boasts the second largest congregation in Diamond Lake, as well as one of the village's most dynamic personalities in the form of its high priest, Valkus Dun.
Dun came to Diamond Lake two years ago after the previous high priest vanished under mysterious circumstances. Local gossip holds that Dun once had great prospects in Free City's immense Sanctum of Heironeous, but that politics saw him exiled to an assignment in squalid Diamond Lake. Nevertheless, Dun took to his assignment with zeal, and the weekly services have taken on an activist spirit. While the garrison commander urges his charges to stay out of local affairs, Dun instills in them a duty to the villagers and urges them to make a difference in the community. The resulting tension between the garrison commander and Valkus Dun as well as between the Heironean soldiers and the disreputable elements of Diamond Lake (which is to say nearly everyone else) is palpable.
The town's overcrowded cemetery used to be a great source of bodies for medical students in Free City and unscrupulous necromancers, but the Cult of the Green Lady (Wee Jas) has put a stop to that. Throughout the day, a few green-robed acolytes from a temple of Wee Jas just outside of town across the lake wander through the cemetery chanting songs holy to Wee Jas while tending graves and clearing vines and mud from stone markers dating back hundreds of years. Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff finds the cultists distasteful but appreciates their vigilance.
The nearby druidic community of Bronzewood Lodge sports a temple to Obad-Hai. Many followers venture to Diamond Lake to espouse the tenets of the faith.
Places of Interest
Every week, hundreds of miners boil up from the depths, their pockets lined with freshly earned coin. The Emporium exists to separate the men from the money, and at this it is paramount among Diamond Lake's diverse businesses. Ten years ago, it was simply Zalamandra's, one of a dozen vice dens along the Vein. Its ill fortunes changed the day its charismatic young madam seduced Professor Montague Marat, proprietor of a traveling sideshow and \x93curiosity collection\x94 (freak show) passing through Diamond Lake. The two soon joined forces, and a cavalcade of freaks and eccentrics moved into the building's lower floor. Thus was born Zalamandra's Emporium, and Diamond Lake has never been the same.
The house charges three coppers for access to the "Gallery of Science" along the first floor's central corridor, and three silver for access to the lushly decorated upper floor. There are many rumors about what happens up there.
: Those seeking a relatively cultured nightspot often congregate at Lazare's House, a cozy gambling parlor situated on the Vein's central square. In contrast to the ostentatious banners and garish chipped paint of the Emporium across the street, Lazare's exudes a quiet sense of class with a stylish stone and timber construction and distinctive crooked-peak roof. Inside, Diamond Lake's elite match wits over dragonchess.
The Feral Dog:
Since both Lazare's and the Emporium charge a small fee for entry, Diamond Lake's poorest laborers must turn to a collection of run-down ale halls with more sullied reputations. The busiest by far is the Feral Dog, a sleazy tavern on the Vein's central square. Every night and especially when the workforces of several local mines let out at the same time, cheering laborers within the bar scream obscenities and wave betting vouchers over two dogs in a lethal pit fight. No one savors the tinny ale, but the place is more about camaraderie, bravado, and desperation than about expecting exemplary quality or service.
Arguments commonly erupt at the Feral Dog, especially during the dogfights, when betting often grows contentious and even violent. About once a month, a drunk miner falls or is pushed into the thrashing dog pit, with predictably tragic results. During the worst brawls, someone usually gets knifed. A festering garbage pit in the sharp crags behind the building is said to hold the corpses of as many humans as dogs.
Tidwoad is a cantankerous jeweler with a meticulously arranged shop located on the Vein's central square. Tidwoad's is the place to buy, sell, and trade gems, jewelry, and precious metals. It is as close to a bank as one can find in Diamond Lake.
Tables line the walls within, stacked high with rope coils, lanterns, bottles, gloves, and gear. Wagon wheels rest against barrels filled with nails and candles.
When the lake turned foul, Diamond Lake's modest fishing industry fled the town, leaving a wake of empty warehouses and bankrupted fishers. Some of these warehouses became stockades for mine managers, packed with raw ore and letters of credit from Free City and beyond. Others fell to ruin and became infested with squatters and addicts. Jalek's Flophouse, situated on Front Street within smelling distance of the lake is the town's most famous warehouse as it houses nearly a hundred pitiful indigents fighting off destitution with a handful of copper. Lodging is 5 coppers a night.
A refurbished keep ruin on the hilltop serves as home to more than 60 members of the Free City Militia, soldiers tasked with patrolling the northern hills, keeping watch over the lizardfolk-infested Mistmarsh to the south, and liaising with halfling, gnome, and dwarf communities in the region.
The Spinning Giant:
When not drilling, sleeping, or on patrol, garrison soldiers flock to this raucous two-story tavern to meet with friends, chant drinking songs, and drown themselves in ale and good cheer. A blue-shingled roof tops filthy white plaster walls. A faded fresco painted on the building's face depicts a dancing imbecilic hill giant in a yellow dress. Patrons must enter and exit via a door positioned between the giant's legs.
The "smartest man in town," a friendly wizard named Allustan dwells within a charming red and deep blue house on one of the rare stretches of healthy grass in all of Diamond Lake. The brother of Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff, Allustan offers his library and considerable intelligence to the citizens of Diamond Lake as a sage, although few miners have reason to seek his services.
Able Carter Coaching Inn:
The Able Carter Coaching Company connects Free City to its satellite towns via a fleet of horse-drawn coaches and an inn positioned at every leg of the journey. Diamond Lake's hostelry offers rooms for let at a rate of 1 gp per day, and stable services are available for a fee of 5 sp per day.
Local Blacksmith. The distinctive "O" maker's mark of Manlin Osgood is a regional sign of quality powerful enough that lesser blacksmiths in neighboring communities often forge it to maintain competitive parity.
The Captain's Blade:
A weapon shop.
A weapon & armor shop.
The Bronzewood Lodge
Up on the bluff there is some sort of lodge where druids and rangers occasionally perform strange rituals.
The Twilight Monastery
About two hours north of Diamond Lake, a towering crag called the Griffon\x92s Roost casts a dark shadow over the muddy road to Elmshire. From a perch hundreds of feet above looms the three-towered Twilight Monastery.
Although the monks of the Twilight Monastery keep mostly to themselves and desire only to lead lives of undisturbed contemplation, they frequently appear on the streets of Diamond Lake to re-provision or to engage in the trade of kalamanthis, a rare psychotropic plant grown regionally only on the slopes of the Griffon\x92s Roost.
Occasionally someone will come to town seeking Izenfen the Occluded, a monk residing in the Monastery, thought to be one of the wisest figures in the area, but they seldom are able to gain audience.
- 03 Sep 2009