Crystal Palace


The castle and the lands surrounding it are in a remote mountain wilderness area relatively free of civilization. Ogre, orc, kobold and goblin tribes roam the area immediately around it. The forests of Crystal Palace are generally regrowth, so the trees are not as old or as tall as those in other similarly isolated areas. The Wood Wards keep the animal populations in balance, allowing the three ogre tribes to hunt within a 50-mile radius of Crystal Palace as long they do not exceed certain quotas. The ogres comply for the most part, as the rangers otherwise leave them to their own devices, which is quite unusual. Beyond the 50-mile border of the Wood Wards’ territory, one encounters dense clusters of orc and hobgoblin tribes, the descendants of military units from a war all but forgotten these days.

Demographics

Ogres, orcs, kobolds and goblins.

Defences

Gatehouse

This gap between the two guard towers once contained the guardhouse and barbican. Now, just a pile of rubble remains. On warm, sunny days, King Freesifoot likes to picnic here with his two handmaidens and watch the goings-on in the forest below, such as they are.

North Guard Tower

This tower once housed Lord Dunaven’s gatehouse guards. It used to have three floors joined by a narrow timber staircase, and it accommodated 15 men. Now, just a hollow shell remains. The tower roof is gone, exposing the interior to the sky above, and bird and squirrel nests fill the arrow-loops. A single, recently cut wooden beam crosses the roof gap. Thick hemp rope dangles from the beam. Goblins use it for a lookout post when they remember to post lookouts.

South guard tower

Much like the north guard tower, this one housed some of the gatehouse guards, namely the officers. It, too, once had three floors, though now only the ground floor and the uppermost floor remain. The stairs disintegrated into dust centuries ago. A wooden ladder ascends to the top floor.

Watchtower

Lord Dunaven’s men used these two watchtowers to keep an eye out for enemies. Each tower stands 45 feet tall. The north tower is half- collapsed and completely uninhabitable, its stones constantly shifting and its walls on the cusp of falling over completely. The Wood Wards use the south tower. Inside, a string of ladders ascending through trapdoors links together four sturdy wooden floors. If threatened, the Wood Wards can pull the ladders up and seal the trapdoors with stone weights. At any given time, two Wood Wards have watch duty, taking station on the roof or the fourth floor when the weather turns foul. The first three floors are uninhabited, used instead for storing weapons found in the forest on the bodies of those unfortunates waylaid by Sara’s bandits or by woodland beasts.

Tourism

While the land about Crystal Palace is heavily forested and lightly inhabited by the four races, the hill the castle sits upon — called The Motte by the Wood Wards — is mostly devoid of trees, though more appear at its base. From atop the hill, the denizens of the ruins have an excellent view of the forest in all directions, especially from the top of The Quintain’s Tower, the crown of which rises higher than the tallest tree. Despite the presence of so many ogres and goblins, deer run freely through the wood, as do numerous other mundane animals. The Wood Wards allow limited hunting by the humanoid tribes, in part to keep the animal populations stabilized but primarily because they recognize the need for the others to eat. When they can manage it, the Wood Wards hunt animals in more remote territories and bring their dressed carcasses back to the castle to supplement the tribal hunting. They also donate fruits and vegetables grown in the solar of The Quintain’s Tower to Brazzer’s gigantic stew pots.

Architecture

The castle walls, of course, no longer stand as high as they once did. Nevertheless, the portion that remains offers quite a formidable barrier to overcome. Standing 20 feet tall at its highest and a mere 5 feet at its lowest, the walls are built out of roughhewn stone and earthen mortar. In places where they have not collapsed, the walls are hollow with tight walkways. A few sections have flared arrow loops set into the wall 15 feet up, the wooden planks that once allowed archers to fire through them rotted away. The top of the wall is broad, almost 25 feet across and large enough to allow for carts, catapults, and ballistae. It is serrated along the outer face with toothy battlements.

PrIson

Brazzer imprisons those who break the castle peace here, as well as orc prisoners taken by the three ogre tribes. The tower has two stone floors above the ground floor and stairs strong enough to allow the massive ogres to ascend. The second and third floors have six stone cells each. The cell doors are made from three black iron plates and locked with heavy chains and padlocks. Inside each cell are a brass chamber pot, a stone sleeping tablet, and hay. Prisoners must empty their own chamber pots and rid their cell of food waste and other detritus, usually by tossing it through the narrow square windows of their cell. The ground floor contains fresh hay, crates of iron rations, and barrels of semi-stagnant water. An ogre guard from one of the three tribes stands watch only when prisoners are held upstairs.

East Baiely

In the castle’s glory days, this was a pleasant grassy courtyard. The grass is long gone, however, replaced by dirt and mud. In the spring, the trade-meet sets up camp here, sometimes spilling over into the West Bailey (only as a last resort owing to the stench) or into the motte if more caravans than usual show up during a given year.

The Trade-Meet

Originally, the trade-meet took place every spring when ogre tribes returned to the castle to gather and exchange the spoils of their war against the orcs and hobgoblins. Over the years, it has changed considerably, becoming the largest mercantile rendezvous in the region. Caravans from all over show up for the four-week event, carrying people of all races — elves, halflings, humans, goblins, lizardfolk, and so on. Everyone is welcome, even very limited numbers of orcs and hobgoblins despite their tensions with the ogres. (The trade-meet is the only truce the ogres ever honor with their enemies.) Most merchants use the trade-meet for the opportunity to move their goods to other countries without going to those places themselves, working out complex but highly profitable trade agreements with trusted merchants who come from such countries, and vice versa. The trade-meet has become a midway distribution center for exotic goods.

During this time, the Wood Wards and the ogre tribes are especially quick to enforce the laws set down by Brazzer and Oakborn. Violators receive no mercy whatsoever. As a lesson to any who would copy their crimes, their bodies are strung from the Red Crown inside the great tower. The most common crime, naturally, is highway robbery. Fortunately, those keeping the peace are exceptionally good at what they do, and so the castle and its surrounding lands are probably safer during the trade-meet than at any other time of year. Yet because tensions run high (they are bound to when so many races from so many conflicting alignments get together), the Black Iron ogres hold Brazzer-sanctioned “death matches” down the hill, near the sapper’s tunnel entrance. Grievances are worked out in fights or duels to the death.

West Balley

This area appears the same as the East Bailey, except that it was not so much a courtyard as a training ground for Lord Dunaven’s knights. Its most notable feature is the massive hole at the center of the yard, the exit of the sapper’s tunnel winding through the interior of the castle hill. Considerable foot traffic passes between the tunnel mouth and other parts of Crystal Palace because everyone dumps their garbage here. The smell coming from the tunnel is nauseating at best.

Freesifoot’s goblins often sit along the rim of the hole and “fish” for rats. Rat fishing involves one goblin rubbing a length of hemp rope with especially rancid bits of cattle fat, dipping it in the hole, and carefully drawing it back up when a giant rat climbs aboard for a sniff and a lick. A second goblin then clubs the rat to death as soon as it clears the hole. The goblins typically go rat fishing late at night when the filthy vermin are most active.

Great Hall

This is the shattered remnants of the castle’s Great Hall where Lord and Lady Dunaven took their meals, received guests, heard reports from the village reeves, sat in judgment over the affairs of their vassals, and generally conducted their business. All that stands now are rotten timbers, crumbling masonry, and shards of the wall that once buffered it from the outside world.

Lesser Halls

Like the Great Hall, the Lesser Hall lies in ruin. It once contained Utrec Dunaven’s private quarters, dining rooms, parlors, and a private chapel. The Wood Wards assigned to duty in the south watchtower use the Lesser Hall for their horses now, tying them to timbers and letting them graze on the grass growing between the rubble.

Barracks

Rubble from the old castle barracks that housed Lord Dunaven’s knights, squires, and men-at-arms litters the ground here. While the ruins have long been picked clean of valuables, rusty weapons and armor may still be found here. A 30-foot-tall spruce-wood pole bearing Brazzer’s standard — a rook and a broken lance — rises from the center of the barracks.

Siege Yard

Even less remains of this part of the castle than the barracks. The most notable feature is a skeleton that appears to be crawling from the debris. Otherwise, nothing is left except for aging wall stones and petrified timbers.

Jutting from the siege weapon’s heart is a 30-foot-tall spruce-wood pole bearing the Wood Wards’ standard: a tree mounted atop a rook.

Sapper's Tunnel

A remnant of the last real battle at the castle, this tunnel begins at the base of the motte and terminates inside the west bailey. It was originally tall and wide enough for two or three ogres to stand comfortably upright within, shoulder-to-shoulder. Much of it has collapsed, while rock debris and all manner of humanoid garbage fill the portions still intact. An unusual number of cattle carcasses fill the tunnel’s southern end, deposited there by Brazzer. Hordes of vermin and other scavengers infest the tunnel, ranging from Tiny to Large. Bears often rustle around in the tunnel’s south exit, feeding on putrefying cow flesh.

The stench of rot is so awful that any non-goblin or non-ogre standing within 20 feet of either opening must make a save against the poisoned condition until they reach clear air.

Late at night, an unearthly, spine-chilling lowing can be heard drifting out of the tunnel’s darkest depths. This is the castle’s great tower, which once rose nearly 100 feet tall. Currently, it stands approximately 70 feet high, 100 feet wide, and no longer has a roof. Instead, a 60-foot-tall tree grows from its upper floor

Founding Date
1/1/1
Type
Village
Population
755
Location under
Included Locations
Owner/Ruler
Ruling/Owning Rank
Owning Organization
Characters in Location

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