Iron Gods: The Choking Tower
Torch takes its name from the violet f lame that burns atop its central hill. The fires ignited spontaneously in 4602 ar, and for nearly a year they lanced into the sky, forming a purple column of fire that could be seen for miles around. At the time, the Technic League was experiencing a period of upheaval in Starfall, and its agents were unable to investigate the rumors of the column of fire to the south. By 4604, the f lames had died down to a man-sized bonfire, leaving the top of the hill blasted and blackened. Several industrious locals soon discovered the f lame’s heat possessed two unusual qualities—it was hot enough to smelt skymetal ores and work with difficult materials like adamantine, and the fires themselves radiated a strangely directional heat. A chunk of wood thrown a dozen feet over the fires would instantly burst into f lame, yet a piece of paper set a foot from the bonfire’s edge wouldn’t even smolder. This unique combination of traits made the fire a perfect forge. After a few sudden flare-ups resulted in the tragic incineration of several smiths and their partially completed forges, the townsfolk learned how to interpret the flares and flashes that presaged such an eruption. Rather than build permanent structures around the fire, they came to rely upon portable workshops transported up the hill via wagon or carriage, so that when the fire
began one of its unpredictable surges, the smiths could retreat to safety to wait for the blast of fire to recede.
In this way, Torch has sustained itself. By the time the Technic League sorted its internal politics out and sent representatives to investigate in 4612, its agents found a burgeoning village growing around the base of the hill. After a cursory examination of the fire, representatives from the Technic League met with the village’s leaders and worked out a deal—as long as Torch sent a monthly tribute of gold north to Starfall, the Technic League would
not maintain an official presence in the region. In this way, the League turned what could have been competition (since at the time it still lacked the resources to effectively manage a remote site) into a source of income. Over the decades that followed, Torch grew steadily, yet has never truly prospered, because the Technic League constantly revises the amount of the tribute it requires. Frustrations with and resentments against the Technic League rightly have grown in Torch, yet the League’s been careful to never tax the town to the point of rebellion, keeping them in an uncomfortable but relatively stable place between freedom and oppression.
What neither the citizens of Torch nor the Technic League realizes is that the source of the town’s fame and prosperity is the malfunctioning reactor of a long-buried habitat module that broke free of the starship Divinity during the legendary Rain of Stars more than 9,000 years ago.
This article provides details on the most important locations in Torch. Unlabeled buildings represent private homes, minor businesses, and small warehouses, while a few farms and outposts also lie in the valley surrounding the town’s plateau. Most of Torch’s buildings
are constructed of stone, with the larger buildings being reinforced with metal. The rooftops are made of ceramic or stone tiles. Wood is rarely used as a building materialin Torch, primarily to prevent fires. Torch has no underground sewer system—waste produced by the city is typically hauled up onto Black Hill and incinerated in the violet fires, but with the f lames having recently gone out (see page 7), filth is building up in the streets. Many have taken to disposing of refuse by dumping it in the Seven Tears River or Crowfeather Lake, something that’s already causing small outbreaks of sickness. The town council has just initiated a ban on disposal of waste in the water, and policing this ban and providing alternative solutions
(mostly carting waste away to a small gorge east of town) is consuming an increasing amount of time for the city guard and workers alike.
1. Iven’s Livery Stable: Most travelers visiting town
leave their mounts and pack animals in the care of Iven
Lesky (CN male half-elf ranger 2), a retired tracker
who chose to settle in Torch after falling in love
with a young Kellid woman named Annika (N female
human barbarian 1) whom he met when her tribe was
overwhelmed by hill giants. Together, they buy and sell
horses, doing frequent business with trade caravans
drawn to the town’s marketplace.
2. General Store: Torch’s general store caters to scavengers,
artisans, and metalworkers first and foremost, but also
carries plenty of gear sought by adventurers traveling
through Numeria. The town’s unique forge attracts plenty
of traders to the local marketplace, some of whom bring
rare items which storeowners like Inkrit Kollisun
(N female human commoner 3) uses to stock their
shelves. Most of the routine adventuring gear listed
in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook can be found
here, but Inkrit leaves the sale of armor and
weapons to the guildhouse artisans (see area 21).
Her special stock currently includes a cloak of the
hedge wizardUE (abjuration), five trauma packsTG, a
wand of technomancyTG (44 charges), a +1 f laming
warhammer, and a filter maskTG.
3. Silverdisk Hall: This busy gambling house
features many card tables and dice games,
all played with the local silverdisk currency in
exchange for whatever money travelers bring
with them. Proprietor Garmen Ulreth runs
the place, and is not-so-secretly assisted
by a gang of Kellid thieves known as the
Ropefists—a name derived from their
practice of wrapping their knuckles with
rope before using their fists
to punish transgressors.
Garmen has made a career
of f leecing scavengers of
their hard-earned profits,
bilking them of coin with
watered drinks, rigged games,
and staged altercations at the gambling tables while his
minions pick the pockets of particularly wealthy marks.
Amazingly proficient at disassociating himself from any
illicit activities, he’s quick to send the Ropefists to pressure
anyone who dares try to compete with him.
4. The Marrymaid: Given the frequent inf luxes of
fortune-seeking scavengers and merchant caravans, the
Marrymaid bordello opened its doors almost as soon as
Torch established a successful economy. Wrennie Dalrorn
(N female half-elf bard 2) oversees the entertainments
inside. Some say she’s the illegitimate daughter of an elven
prince from Kyonin and a high priestess of Calistria, but
her early years were actually spent in Daggermark learning
the poisoner’s craft before an altercation led her to f lee and
take up a less dangerous trade. Wrennie hasn’t fully escaped
her past, however. Garmen Ulreth rooted out her origins
with the help of some shady contacts, enabling him to
extort and control the bordello by proxy in exchange for not
sending word of Wrennie’s whereabouts to Daggermark.
5. The Copper Coin: One of the oldest taverns in
Torch, the Copper Coin stands right on the western edge
of town. This fixture nightspot fills up with patrons
almost every evening, and it is especially popular with
laborers and artisans looking to relax after a hard day’s
work. Siblings Lawton (NG male human commoner 3)
and Katina Rimos (NG female human expert 2) run
the Coin as a quality establishment with good food at
reasonable prices. In fact, much like their father, who
ran the tavern for 30 years before passing away, they
pride themselves on claiming everything costs “just
a few coppers.” Lawton runs the kitchen, cooking up
signature dishes like spiced lamb and lentil soup
with sourdough bread. Katina tends bar, serving up
popular drinks like Rusty Ale, Wineberry Mead,
Steelforged Stout, and Black Hill Whiskey.
6. Garrison and Armory: A crenelated 30-foot
tower rises from this squat barracks housing the
town’s active militia and guards. Approximately
two dozen off-duty guards can be found
here, with three times that number
patrolling the marketplace and city streets
during the day. The connecting armory
holds a selection of simple arms and
armor for outfitting these conscripts,
including crossbows, bolts, spears, and
short swords, as well as
a few suits of leather
armor, chain shirts,
and light steel shields.
7. Olandir Estate:
Serantha Olandir, the
charismatic, inf luential
leader of Torch’s town council,lives in this large home. She lost her husband 2 years ago to
a back alley mugging by the Ropefists near Silverdisk Hall
(see area 3). Since then, she’s made it her mission to ensure
Torch doesn’t become a den of crime and corruption by
taking a more direct hand in shaping its politics.
8. Otterbie Manor: One of the original founding
families of Torch owns this expensive manor, built by
an enterprising merchant and ex-crusader from Mendev
named Orm Otterbie. He passed away several years ago and
his granddaughter, Bazlundi Otterbie, inherited his legacy,
successfully organizing many of the town’s artisans and
smithies into a powerhouse consortium. By controlling
access to their services and coordinating a communal
profit-sharing scheme between them, the Otterbies have
become one of the more successful families in town.
9. Weeping Pond: This placid-looking pond is set off
from the surrounding area by a crescent-shaped escarpment.
No vegetation grows on the banks of this pond, and the
waters carry a bitter stink of sulfur and other chemicals,
enough to make the eyes water after spending too much
time on the shore. The pond is fed by an underwater spring
from under Black Hill, but no fish live in these waters, for
the pond is tainted by runoff from the buried ship under
Black Hill. A character who is fully immersed in the waters
must make a successful DC 11 Fortitude save to avoid being
sickened for 1 minute after emerging from the water.
Drinking water from the Weeping Pond has the same
effect but the drinker takes a –4 penalty on the saving
throw. This is a poison effect. Until recently, the foulness
of the water has prevented anyone from discovering that
the underwater spring leads into a series of caves under
Black Hill. A shallow stream runs southeast of the pond
and finally empties into Crowfeather Lake.
10. Crowfeather Palace: The contaminated waters
running from the Weeping Pond collect in Crowfeather
Lake. Here the taint diffuses to the point where the
water becomes drinkable, though it retains a brackish
aftertaste. Until recently, long exposure to the water
could still cause birth defects and strange aff lictions,
but since the creation of the strange-looking building
here, these effects have been all but eradicated. Called
Crowfeather Palace because of its proximity to the lake
and its almost miniaturized palatial facade, the building
is the brainchild of Khonnir Baine. With the aid of the
local priesthood of Brigh, Khonnir built this facility to
help purify the waters of Crowfeather Lake. Utilizing a
combination of divine and arcane magic with scavenged
technological elements, a pipe-like extension from the
building constantly purifies the waters around itself as
if via a continually running purify food and drink spell,
giving the townsfolk a safe source of drinking water.
11. Market Square: The southern shore of Crowfeather
Lake is the location of Torch’s largest marketplace. This
location draws nearly as much attention and tourism as
does the f lame, for it’s here that the town’s skilled artisans
put their wares on display.
12. Foundry Tavern: One of the more popular hangouts
in Torch, the Foundry Tavern is aptly named. Its
owner, Khonnir Baine, makes frequent appearances to
demonstrate new inventions here—whether mechanical
or magical. The tavern itself is always packed, and
Khonnir rents out space in his neighboring foundry for
visiting smiths and metalworkers to use.
13. Tempting Tonics: This building is home to Jhestine
Imierin, the town’s apothecary and healer. Jhestine’s father
was a Snowcaster elf and her mother a Kellid chieftain’s
daughter. She moved south during a particularly harsh
winter and opened her apothecary shop to help the
people of Torch deal with the tainted water from the
Weeping Pond. Jhestine sells a variety of herbs and special
substances, and now that Crowfeather Palace has made
the waters of the lake drinkable, she’s been able to turn
her attention away from her original purpose to crafting
all manner of other potions and elixirs for sale. Among
numerous other concoctions, she currently offers a wide
range of poisons, antitoxin, healing potions, and even a
few technological pharmaceuticals (such as cureallTG, all
four grades of hemochemTG, and two doses of cardioampTG)
along with a half-dozen medlancesTG.
14. Seven Tears Farms: Fertile fields and orchards line
the stream near the southern side of town here. Before
Crowfeather Palace, these farms had to rely upon the
generosity of local churches for water purification, but now
the fields are f lourishing. The produce grown here feeds
most of Torch, thanks to the owner of the farms, a matronly
woman named Celda Veed (LN female human expert 5).
15. Town Hall: One of the grander buildings in Torch,
the town hall doubles as a second garrison and lookout
tower watching over the eastern roads. Council meetings
take place in the hall every week on Oathday, but the hall
sees frequent use for social gatherings as well, including
many dances held in the neighboring square.
16. Chapel of the Wanderer: A somber man named Mylan
Radli retired here after the town’s previous gravekeeper
passed away. Along with the blessings he administers to
those passing through Torch, he also conducts funerals
and looks after the town’s cemetery.
17. Temple of Brigh: Bronze wind chimes and clockwork
statues decorate the domed portico of this compound
dedicated to the goddess of invention. The oldest faith in
Torch, Brigh’s temple sees regular worship from many
of the town’s citizens, and also includes a meticulously
organized workshop managed by the town’s religious leader,
Joram Kyte. His friendly demeanor, active interest in the
metal trade, and innovative crafting skills helped land him
a seat on the town council many years ago. Joram’s temple includes a small shopfront selling magic items and gear.
In addition to many objects under the town’s base value,
the shop currently offers for sale a f lare gunTG, a scroll of
find traps (CL 10th), three scrolls of restoration, a scroll of raise
dead, and a wand of rebuke technologyTG (11 charges).
18. Evercandle Inn: The name of this establishment
refers to the strange alchemical candles used to light
its rooms. These showpieces, which never diminish, are
arrayed among multiple chandeliers in the common room
as well as smaller, portable candlesticks by each bed in
the individual chambers. Soceal Murgrave (N old female
human commoner 2) serves as the inn’s proprietor, aided
by her ever-present attendant Erlmon Reverstoudt (LN
middle-aged male human transmuter 3).
19. Boarding House: The nine buildings surrounding
this small park provide temporary housing for larger
parties not wishing to stay at the more expensive inns in
town. They see frequent use during the warmer seasons
when their owner, Agren Maust (N male human expert 3),
rents out rooms to scavengers, adventurers, and merchants
seeking to do business in Torch for weeks at a time.
20. Warehouse District: The majority of the buildings
in the northeast portion of town act as storehouses for
trade goods designed by the town’s artisans.
21. Torch Guildhouse: This large building is home to
the guild of metallurgists and artisans established by
Bazlundi Otterbie. The guild was founded to support
craftspeople in the skymetal trade, and the experts
under its banner include several skilled armorers,
blacksmiths, and weaponsmiths. The group always
keeps a few weapons for sale in their shop, including
a +1 cold siccatiteTG longsword, a masterwork mithral-inlaid
heavy crossbow with a metal tension string (worth 500 gp),
a large supply of adamantine bolts (worth 60 gp each), a +1
construct bane adamantine dagger, a +2 breastplate, a +1 mithral
chain shirt, and a +2 spiked light steel shield.
22. Dolga’s Foundry: The sounds of ringing hammers
and dwarven songs frequently rise from this busy foundry,
which is owned and operated by Dolga Feddert and her
team of veteran crafters. An odd transplant from the Five
Kings Mountains, Dolga helped found Torch and became
the first to test the unique properties of the f lame erupting
from the hilltop. She also constructed many of the first
buildings in town, and is Torch’s oldest councilor.
23. Junkyard: Unprofitable components and debris
smelted for skymetal invariably find their way to Torch’s
junkyard on the east side of town. An eerie bleachling
gnome named Garritt Burrwaddle received the honorary
title of Junkmaster after several decades of obsessively
collecting and cataloging the items left here. Aside from
hauling away junk no one wants, he provides an invaluable
service to those searching for spare parts among the
debris in his care.
24. Black Hill: Easily the most recognizable landmark
in Torch, this bald escarpment rises at a steep slope in the
middle of town. Until recently, the town’s namesake torch
burned at the hill’s peak, emerging from a 5-foot-wide hole
in the ground. Today, the f lame is out, the hole caved in
and filled with bubbling, foul-smelling sludge. The four
specially-designed adamantine carts used to ferry ore to
and from the fire now stand a short distance down the
hill near the Black Hill Craneworks—a building run by
Smeltrunner Oskah Unteret. She coordinates access to the
f lame and ensures merchants pay the appropriate tribute
to the town’s treasury. She bears no love for the Technic
League, but holds the Black Sovereign in high regard, and
loudly shares tales of his uniting of Numeria’s tribes in
every tavern she visits.