**A/N: I'm leading my first ever D&D campaign (as the DM). This chapter started out as a description of a tavern that the players all met at before given their first ever quest. This evolved into creating the town the tavern was at. I just kept going from there, including a bit of the history of both the tavern and the town, and the surrounding environment. I just sort of winged it when it came to naming things. I understand there really isn't much consistency, but there isn't much consistency in the United States, either. Some names are British, some French, others Native American, etc. So, if Gyateara's continents - with the elves, humans, dwarves, etc - are just as diverse a culture, why can't the names be a bit inconsistent here too?
Anyway, this is the opening story I gave my players.**
In the Moon Shadow valley, a few leagues west from the Outaka Sea coast, lies the town of Ashitar. It is nestled between the thick forest Neergreve to the south and west, and the Razor Beast mountain range to the east and north. The small section of open plain seemed worthless at first, but it soon became a necessary way station for merchants traveling between the Outaka and the rest of the mainland. Weary travelers could spend the night before making the journey over the mountains, or resting up after conquering the range.
The Gringroso family, once thought slighted by their lord for gifting them such treacherous land, were now a proud line of barons keeping peace over the blossoming town. They ran Ashitar as the mayoral family, and most citizens loved the peace they established in the town. There were some, though, hungry for the Gringroso's power. Being a town established by merchants, Ashitar was profitable, and there were those who hated how the majority of power and money went to the Baron and his family.
The many plots and attempts on the Gringroso's lives caused them to spend a great deal of wealth on bodyguards, as well as a few assassins of their own, tasked to take out the mighty merchant leaders that may want the baronship of Ashitar. A small weapons war commenced in the shadows, making Ashitar simultaneously the safest, and most dangerous place to live within three-days travel from the town.
Dark alleyways filled with shady pubs, and crowded inns flooded with assassins guild branches, as well as thieves dens, hungry for the plentiful harvest of the prime merchant location. At the same time, the need for Gringroso family bodyguards, and guards for those families plotting against the baron, created heavy barracks and military schools. While nowhere near a perfect record against crime - mostly due to so many accepting bribes from the Thieves Guilds - Ashitar still has one of the greatest cityguard departments known to the Eastern Coast.
The residents of Ashitar are either blind or ignorant of the town's dark underbelly, proudly claiming their home to be one of the best in the land. Most citizens do know what parts of town to avoid, though. Ask the right people, or provide the right amount of money, and any knowledgeable traveler could find either the Assassins Guild or the Thieves Den of Ashitar.
Even with this dangerous underground, most of the town is as charming and peaceful as it seems. The assassins keep to the shadows and night. The thieves know exactly whose pockets to pick, and tend to not mess with humble citizens or travelers. If nothing else, because they don't want to keep paying bribes to the cityguard.
While there are always some guards that will allow the power and ability to accept bribes go to their heads, most are noble, honorable, and brave soldiers that truly believe they are both protecting the city and its citizens, as well as making a difference in attempting to do so. Most citizens of Ashitar believe this too, and gladly go to the local guard for any dispute - large or small - for an impartial opinion on the matter, or quick assistance when in trouble.
The center of the town houses a temple to Aldenor; patron deity of a town founded by travelers, and only capable of surviving thanks to them. A small man-made pond with a large weeping willow tree beside it wraps around three-quarters of the temple. A peaceful resting stop for the weary. The town spirals out from there, finally colliding with the steep rock face of the Razor Beast mountain range, creating one of the encasing walls that keep Ashitar safe from outsiders.
As the town expanded, the Gringrosos carved their new mansion into the mountain face that makes up Ashitar's eastern wall. There are rumors that they also carved a private pathway through the mountain, allowing them a private and quick escape should the city fall. Most laugh off the rumor, but others look hungrily upon the citadel-like estate, wondering who they would have to kill to make that private retreat theirs.
While the assassins and thieves within the town walls may not pose too much of a threat among the people, there is an ever growing fear of the encroaching nature outside. The Razor Beast mountains contain many terrifying beasts, and some claim to still see the shadows of dragons darken Ashitar as the beasts fly from the mountains to hunt. Only the toughest creatures could survive on the mountain with such intimidating predators, and Ashitar's citizens have been known to lose sleep wondering when those beasts will flood the town. Especially when the mountains make up part of their "protective" walls.
In the other direction, the Neergreve forest teems with flesh-hungry monsters. Large beasts, tribal goblinoids, and minor draconic creatures. Their numbers have swelled in recent years, perhaps the result of easily feasting on merchants trying to travel farther inland from the Outaka. Each passing day these once forest-dwelling beasts creep closer and closer to the clammed town of Ashitar.
Roughly two decades ago, the town was in grave danger, both physically and economically. The monsters surrounding the land invaded inward; forcing the need for the walls to be built in the first place. The citizens were scared, as were travelers who would normally pass through the town. Although their journeys would take nearly a fortnight longer, many merchants opted to travel around the ridge of the Razor Beast, and skip both Neergreve and Ashitar all together. Without the merchants bringing in new product and coin, the town began to fall into poverty. Most of the assassination attempts against the Gringroso family was concentrated on this dark time of the town's history.
After three years, and the near collapse of the town, a call finally went out to the whole nation that Ashitar was looking for professional adventurers to help both protect the city, as well as escort merchants and other travelers to and from the town. Mikhail Gringroso, the grandson of the original land baron, and then-current baron of Ashitar, begged their lord Count Keenhale for a loan in order to help pay the adventurers' fees. Begrudgingly, the lord assisted his servant.
It kept nearly half the year, but the influx of adventurers helped restore the town to the great way station it was renowned as. It also brought in new business as the merchants adjusted their wares for a new adventuring city.
One such new business is the Boar's Tusk tavern and inn. Ashitar bulged inside it's walls, and so Jahan ventured outside his town, and built the tavern a quarter-mile down the road. His establishment became a home for brave adventurers until they find something more permanent. Even then, the Boar's Tusk is beloved by all that once resided there. Jahan and his barkeep Rodel are both fair, but tough as iron. Thievery and bar fights are only tolerated in small doses, and even then, the offender always pays.
The tavern is also very appropriately named. Jahan became an infamous chef with all things pork. Due to this, and the extreme overpopulation in Neergreve, virtually every dish made in the Boar's Tusk somehow consists of the mighty beast. From pulled pork to chops, from boar burgers to pickled feet, from jerky to pork-based Sheppard's Pie, both wild and dire boar can be found in nearly every bite. Even the bones and marrow are used for broth bases, and the side dishes are routinely made up of truffles, mushrooms, and other such root plants and berries that are typical of a boar's diet.
The true signature of the Boar's Tusk are their namesake mugs. Dire boar tusks hollowed out and cleaned before being served as the mug for their house ales and meads. They also gladly cater to the smaller races by hollowing out regular wild boar tusks, as well as providing smaller tables and chairs for their shorter patrons.
Being so beloved by the many passing adventurers proves enticing for the Ashitar natives, and the bravest venture out to the tavern. This could make Rodel one of the greatest masters of whispers outside the Assassin's Guild or Thieves Den. He generally keeps the knowledge to himself, but has no qualms with passing on some info for the right cause, or the right coin.
**A/N: I focus a bit too unproportionately on the tavern, but as I stated, that's what I started with and just sort of worked outwards from there. I still need to work a bit more on the actual town of Ashitar: the businesses, the people, the Assassin's Guild and Theives Den. For now it will have to work. Just to get the basic culture down. Much like a character, new placed in world building also need to be worked with a bit before they become what they're supposed to be.
Also, the god Aldenor was originally the Oerth (world of Greyhawk-based D&D) god Fharlanghn, the Dweller on the Horizon: the god of Horizons, Distance, Travel, and Roads. The campaign I'm running is Greyhawk-based, but I wanted to use Ashitar in Gyateara. So, I needed a new god. It was a pain to come up with his name, but he's basically in charge of the same realms as Fharlanghn. His name is actually a strange amalgamation of Eternal Nomadic Wanderer (redundant, I know).**