Monday, April 29, 2013

Ruined Halls of Esterfay Sneak Peek: The City of Loris

The City of Esterfay was once the seat of a mighty empire; one that dominated the country that is now known as the Forlorn Lands. For countless years the city has set quiet, crumbling away forgotten by history. One hundred and fifty years ago a group of explorers and historians from the southern kingdoms discovered the ruined city and began exploring. The artifacts they discovered made their way south to the stabilizing kingdoms, who desired more of these ancient riches. Soon, the town of Loris was built upon the bank of the River Black. A whole economy sprung up around the exploration and study of this ancient city and the secrets it held. The Ruined Halls were discovered early on, carved into the bluffs beyond the city proper. Believed to be where the final citizens of Esterfay fled after their empire crumbled and when some final great disaster struck the city. Initial exploration confirmed this, and that the ruined halls predate even the ancient Empire of Esterfay. Doom struck those who entered, however. The danger of the Ruined Halls was too great for all but the most cunning and courageous of adventurers, so even after the last century and a half only the upper most levels have been explored.

What secrets lie within the ancient halls of the forgotten kingdom? What treasures await those with the skill and strength to take it?

The Ruined Halls of Esterfay is a megadungeon that I have been working on for a while now. Last year I ran a weekly campaign for several months using the DCC RPG system to explore this massive complex. The megadungeon is set in the wild north. Once the seat of a sprawling empire that seemingly vanished overnight. The City of Esterfay is just a ruin, nestled against the mountains and the great pine forests.

A Brief History of the City of Loris

Around two hundred years ago, explorers discovered the ruins of the once great city Esterfay. From the destroyed city, rare treasures and rarer magics were recovered by explores, treasure seekers and adventurers. Various camps grew into a semi-permanent settlement along the shores of the river. As these treasures made their way through the southern kingdoms, so too did the stories of the bounty of riches that was waiting in the north. More fortune hunters arrived, and with them a community built up seemingly overnight. Sages from the Isle of Salara to the south established a college to study the historical artifacts. Soon the camp had become a large village, and then a city within a few years. Inns, taverns, blacksmiths and anything else you could imagine. The Gold Rush of the north was not for a mine, but for the wealth hidden away in the sprawling ruins.

With the bountiful natural resources, and the constant stream of valuable treasure, the burgeoning city became a target of raids and piracy on the river. A knight from the southern lands of Salara was named Duke of the Northern Reaches. Sir Loris Endaris became the first Duke, and the city took his name soon after. Bringing a small army and navy, he secured the city from external threats and oversaw the expansion of the city proper.

Since then, much of the old city ruins have been picked clean. Loris has expanded to cover most of the old city, and dozens of smaller villages lay within a week or less from the jewel of the north. Loris boasts one of the largest libraries in the world, and most certainly the largest in the north. The history of ancient Esterfay is a topic debated among the scholars and sages of Loris College. Still, adventure and treasure seeking is the cities' primary attraction to outsiders. Even though the old city ruins of Esterfay have been picked clean, there are other ruins of the great empire within a days travel, including the terrifying Ruined Halls.
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