World:Hobbes FR Campaign/Campaign Info/The World/The Desolation/The Crossroads
Two sunken roads meet here in a depression in the center of the desolate plain. West lie the Black Gates of Tsar, east unknown hills rumored to occupied by goblinoids, orcs, and worse. South leads back to the Camp and Bard’s Gate, and to the north are the fabled lands of spice and riches which have drawn so many to brave these deadly lands in search of their fortune. Surely any who make it this far find their enthusiasm curbed by the sobering scene. Great scaffolds of heavy wooden beams rise at each corner of this intersection. Suspended from their many yardarms are heavy iron cages like malignant fruit on an infernal tree. These cages hold the picked clean bones and dangling tatters of the unfortunates who have been imprisoned in them and left for the crows. Several of the bones have fallen to the ground beneath the cages and a couple of the cages have fallen to the ground themselves, their heavy chains rusted through and no longer able to support their great weight.
The Crossroads is 12.5 miles from the Camp.
Once long ago, the plains outside the walls of Tsar were an important crossroads for the civilized world. A great trade road ran between the southern kingdoms and the exotic lands of the north, seeing a constant stream of traffic. From behind the mighty walls of Tsar itself, great trade caravans emerged to travel in either direction. Likewise the road from the Black Gates of Tsar ran east to the far distant sea coast where a great port city likewise carried trade to points throughout the known world. Taxes on the goods traveling these two roads made Tsar rich and gave the city leaders great international influence.
Then a shadow fell upon the city. The priesthood of Orcus came to power and slowly gained sway over the city. Harsher tariffs and city sponsored marauders harassed traffic along the roads. Eventually the far distant coastal city shriveled and died as its only major land route for goods was choked off. The southern kingdoms and northern lands became more distant and estranged from each other as travel between the two became a chancy thing. Eventually the first caravan to brave the route for some time discovered that the city of Tsar had grown into a massive citadel and temple-city devoted solely to the foul worship of the Demon Prince of Undead — a blight upon the land. Trade all but ceased save for the slave caravans and bandit companies brave or foolish enough to do business with the decadent disciples of Orcus.
Now the east-west road tapers into nothing only a few miles beyond the edge of the Desolation where it enters the broken, goblin-ridden hills. The north-south road still sees some traffic, supported by the ignoble trade community known as the Camp, and still runs from Bard’s Gate to the now-unknown northern lands. The road itself is a bare hardpan sunken at least a foot below the surrounding ground from the centuries if not millennia of travel it has seen. Tracks do not linger long on this hard surface as windblown dust quickly erases them.