page 188: "Gorand clan still actively trades with the humans in the isolated coastal town of Landfall, and up to 300 dwarves can be found in th ecity at any time. The clan also trades with the human freeriders of Erenland, though in well-guarded secret. Gnomes and humans run caravans into the foothills south of Bodrun, where they are met by dwarves that have come through hidden ways to the surface".
page 191: (about smuggler's ways) "A very few still host traffic, as gnome smugglers and spies, human resistance fighters, and a few stubborn dwarves use them for information, weapons and magic".
A few years ago, a very loose organization was created between Landfall, Bodrun, and the Freeriders of the Horse Plains of Erenland (and perhaps even the Asmadarin), in order to allow them to communicate with each other. There is no "real" military support per se, but rather trade and economic relationships fall within the scope ofsuch a loose alliance. It also allows for "free" passage into each others' lands, and the exchanging of informations.
This "confederation" has its capital in Landfall, where representatives of every involved party (human freeriders, dwarves of Bodrun, free people of Landfall, and of course gnome smugglers) gather in a secret council to decide of the course of action to be taken.
This allows a PC group to work for such an "alliance" in several southern "countries" for specific scenarios (spying, smuggling, etc. are all on-topic).
Since the beginning of the Last Age, Landfall is slowly declining due to lack of trade with what has become occupied countries and overseas. In an attempt to restore their grandeur, the denizens of Landfall now greet with open arms any smuggling operatives who come sailing from the Kasmael Coast. They have been more and more attracted to the lure of illicit trade (ie, smuggling) with other "free" people (Asmadarin, freeriders, Gorand clan of dwarves), and thus was born the Southern alliance. At first, it was merely a smugglers' alliance, but quickly the respective leaders of the free people decided to use the secret caravans to also spread news and intelligence to all members of the Alliance.
The Southern Alliance is meant as a "survival" alliance. Each member agrees on exchanging informations and goods (through smuggling) but all know they can't afford to fight large-scale battles against the Shadow and its armies.
It is a very effective counter-espionage league (trying to maintain the Shadow ignorant of its real forces and their current locations).
More importantly, the Alliance acts as a trade/smuggling hub (with diplomatic implications with other people they trade with, but are not part of the alliance: mainly Asmadarin & elves, possibly halfling tribes). Trade and smuggling also imply the exchange of information, which itself might sometimes be obtained through espionage or other illicit and risky activities.
Military actions:sometimes, when they feel the safety of one member of the Alliance is endangered, stealthy sabotage operations will be mounted, but that's the most one is likely to expect from such a group. There is also corsair activity towards the straight between Asmadar and Southern Erenland supplied through Landfall. Of course, no corsair acts openly; they alwayspretend they are pirates.That way the Shadow will not want to retaliate against the Alliance...
Illicit activities: in order to maintain some measure of "wealth" (in order to buy equipment for its troops and maintenance issues), the alliance makes extended trade activities (read: "black market") in the occupied lands (especially in Sharuun), which in turn provides it both privilegied information and boons. Unfortunately, such activities has given it some "immoral" edge.
Members of the Alliance
Landfall: The real people in charge in Landfall have become the smuggling crimebosses, and all sorts of illicit activities (gambling, drug/booze dealing, prostitution, etc.) have developed due to the fact that only smugglers and their criminal "friends" provide the city with much-needed resources. Of course, this still remains somewhat "hidden", in order for the city's sussar to save face, but it does not take a lot of trouble to find such activities in Landfall. Other Alliance members are not very happy with this, but better a shady ally than no ally at all. Given the fact that you can find people from many places in Landfall (quite a unique feature in modern-day Eredane), it has a little Mos Eisley feeling (after all, it's close to the White Desert). There is still an "official" government trying to keep things in order, but it is mostly corrupted and guards are easy to bribe in Landfall.
Landfall is also the only place where you can find and barter "rare" goods, since it is the smugglers' "capital". Many people will be attracted to it for such a reason (find a rare herb, etc.).
As this is one of the only places where magic is not restricted/forbidden, many human channelers settled in Landfall. And many have, in order to make a living, at least sometimes provided their services either to the alliance or to "freelance" smugglers (having a channeler on board of a ship can greatly help, and while they're at sea, their powers are not detectable by legates or astiraxes who operate on land).
So in the end, a declining trade city transformed itself into a "decadent" city in order to survive. It is still not very rich, and there are still not many inhabitants. Streets are not crowded like in Sharuun, and smugglers are by nature a discreet lot who won't show their activities openly, even in Landfall. Smuggled goods are not bartered in the street (like in a market), but rather in shady taverns' backrooms. There is still a feeling of decline that is very palpable in the city, but the port is still active (not very much) due to the smugglers' activities (otherwise it would be abandoned like in Sharuun).
Landfall is thought of as a sort of "retirement place" or sanctuary, bymany resistance fighters or outlaws. Perhaps it is only a dream most share, just to have something to hope for and not give in to despair. It is a comforting thought to know that such a place is still out of the Shadow’s grasp. However, none can tell how long this relative safety will last.
In this decadent city, many poor newcomers engage in gladiator fightings, a tradition inherited from the dwarven culture (there are 300 dwarves in Landfall, which have adopted this one special dwarven custom). It is a quick way to gather enough goods to get started in other business or simply to get hired as a caravan guard or bodyguard of a gnome smuggler, especially for human fighters, barbarians or wildlanders.
Dwarves: Fleeing the advancing orcish hordes, many Kurgun (ie, surface) dwarves are thinking about leaving their doomed holdfasts to settle the eastern coast and the white desert. Perhaps after all the white desert is too unforgiving, even for dwarves, and they are coming to Landfall in the hopes to find a brave sailor who will take them to Pelluria, far from this cursed continent?
A few sea-loving dwarves act as the much-reviled "corsairs" secretly working for the Alliance. So far, the Shadow's agents did not make the connection with the Southern Alliance...
The Gorand clan:this clan recently opened several “hidden” waystations like Kal Tharkas (see below) for the smugglers, and many old smuggler’s ways were re-opened in the last few months in order for the clan dwarves to be able to come and go between the city and Kal Tharkas to trade their wares and bring back some badly-needed resources (mainly food and medicine). Some dwarves whisper that this is becoming too ovious and might spell the doom of Bodrun, as this would draw the Shadow’s attention on the city. For this reason, no stranger is allowed in the smuggler’s ways, and guards are regularly posted with passwords to be given (which are changed every day). The Loremaster of Bodrun also made a heavy use of runes to protect all access to the city itself and the smuggler’s ways that lead to it.
Sharuun’s organized crime. Several criminal “families” still exist in Sharuun: each such “family” who control a part of the local black market also control lots of other illicit activities: gambling [a special favorite activity of lazy and bored occupation troops], booze/drug dealing [same here, plus any citizen rich enough to afford artificial paradise in order to escape this grim reality for a few hours], prostitution, etc. All those activities are not tolerated by the Shadow, but they generate a worthy profit for those who try to survive in an urban environment. These activities also allow unique espionage opportunities, either through blackmail, theft of important documents, etc.
And crime bosses often cooperate with the Alliance as long as it is profitable for them. So, in time, Alliance members have slowly become "corrupted" by their illicit activities, and they have quite a shady reputation in other resistance groups. They will do many things for the right "price" (or service in the Last Age), as long as they don't feel they are betraying their country or endangering the Alliance. Interestingly enough, the Shadow knows of this situation and is quite happy with it. So many opportunities to catch Alliance agents and turn them as double agents...
Hallisport’s organized crime: even though this southern haven is home to more and more orc troops staging a campaign in the Kaladruns, the docks are still the unclaimed territory of gangs of smugglers, drug dealers, thugs and other unrecommendable thieves who try to make a living in the big city. Of course, the presence of so many orcish troops who are asking for strong alcohol, drugs and other illicit activities only makes the criminal families’ business all the more juicy. It is no wonder then that smugglers find their way to this den of orcish vice to sell their wares. Gnomish beverages are very popular with orc troopers, and many agents of the Alliance have also extracted sensitive data about the Shadow’s war plans in the South from drunken orc commanders. Of course, the false sussar Castor Mardif knows of the Alliance’s activities, and constantly plays a subtle double game between the lucrative activities of the smugglers (who pay him a small stipend to make sure the city guards look the other way) and his Shadow masters (sometimes the city guard arrests a known criminal – preferably one who did not pay his share to the city guards - who is presented as a resistance fighter and executed without no further investigation). It really is a good thing that the legate in charge of the city fell desperately in love with a beautiful sarcosan courtesan named Shadira (who actually is paid by Mardif to “make the legate busy”). This prevents him from even wanting to lead investigations about the now-infamous illicit activities occurring in the docks of the city.
Gnome smugglers : the Gale family is known for its shady dealings with all sorts of crimebosses, and the Alliance merely provides them the necessary contacts for dealing with such people. Dishonest as they are, there is still one thing they can be trusted upon: they carry for free in their ships’s secret compartiment escaped slaves, and take their pride in allowing slave escapes each time they can do so with no risk.
Recently, another smuggling group joined the Alliance: the Hard Rain Trading Company, which is led by some Purlan Marrick (see Minions of Shadow page 55).
Sarcosan freeriders: the Alliance works also with sussar Krishar’s forces. Krishar is a one-eyed giant of a Sarcosan who loks more like a bandit than a noble resistance fighter. He actually has little sense of honesty, and is quick to forget his promises if that can save his life. Of course, he is a notorious thief, raiding Shadow-led caravans filled with loot and tribute to the Sahdow, taken by pillaging orc hordes. Leading swift mounted attacks, his men kill as many orc guards as possible before taking the wagons’ most precious items and leaving the place. Those “stolen” items are in turn exchanged to the gnomish caravans operating for the Alliance. When times are hard, Krishar simply exchanges some of his men’s time for badly-needed items (food, medicine, weapons, etc.). Those men he lends to tha Alliance work for a determined time as guards for caravans or bodyguards for gnome smugglers. Krishar likes to think of himself as some sort of Robin Hood, although he never redistributes his stolen goods to villagers, only to his men or other trusty freerider bands. Other smaller sarcosan resistance bands also act with the Alliance, but this is more a matter of opportunity rather than really close ties.
Places of note
Kal Tharkas, the Meeting Place
Dry craggy hills jut like broken teeth in this part of the Kaladrun foothills. In the winding wadi’s and narrow valleys some tough, khaki grass yet survives, but as you ascend the slopes it thins under the savage wind and sheer desolation of the landscape. At one point, 214 miles due-west of Landfall a half-dozen ridges all converge in what looks like the stump of a mountain that never quite formed. If a traveler climbed the cluster of hills, he or she had better be expected: three dozen humans of various ethnicities guard the area at all times, living in low tunnels, burrows and foxholes that are camouflaged with leaning rocks and grit-covered flax mats, and are constantly on the look out for intruders.
At the centre of the hills a steep depression that resembles a crater can be found. It is dominated by a complex of dwarven-made terraces, low rooms and a wide, circular platform in t he centre. This amphitheatre is a millennia old, and though untended the dwarven architecture and craftsmanship is sturdy and undamaged after all this time. Kal Tharkas (Old Blood Spilled, in a local Kurgun dialect) serves as the great trade centre for the Southern Alliance. It is here that freeriders, gnomish smugglers, dwarven traders and human merchants meet and barter for the goods that will keep them alive and able to fight the Shadow. Fruit, gathered from mountain plateau orchards and the fields near Landfall is traded for mithril and steel weapons of exceptional quality from the dwarves. Halfling leather and thread is brought by the gnomes along with precious books and traded for smoked fish and Asmadarin bone carvings. Traders set up small stalls on the gladiatorial arena or in the terraces and hawk their wares quietly and cautiously, always ready to bolt if the deadly dragon Thaanos Skybreaker, terror of the White Desert should wing overhead, or an orcish patrol find its way over the mountains and stumble across Kal Tharkas.
Goods from a breathtaking variety of lands and markets can be found in the Alliance's meeting place, but strangers will find a cold and suspicious welcome at best; none of the parties involved in the trades here can afford to let saboteurs or Shadow spies interfere with the essential bartering. Charms, weapons and armour from the continent of Pelluria and beyond, herbal concoctions, rare materials and other oddities attract resistance fighters and adventurers alike from distant parts of Eredane.
The Kasmael Coast
The Kasmael Coast is the perfect base of operations for a smuggling or pirate group.It is a remote place, and it is easy to hide in the marshes. It is conveniently located near the sea, which the Orcs fear. It allows for some measure of trade/smuggling by sea lanes with elven lands (especially Miransil ports such as Alloduan), up to the free lands of Asmadar or even Landfall. Of course, it is a favorite region forthe Southern Alliance smugglers, spies and traders, where they can discreetly load or unload their cargo without attracting undue attention. The local humans also take their share from this negoce, exchanging freshly fished seafood for vital commodities or for a few luxuries. All this happens far from the eyes of any occupation troops. Of course, a few enterprising human thieves have decided to take a larger share for themselves, and built a “false lighthouse” to attract vessels on the reefs and plunder its riches. So far, the Alliance lost three vessels loaded with precious goods and notably rare medicinal herbs, and decided to investigate the matter: were the vessels raided by the Shadow navy and sunk? Or are there wreckers at work in the Kasmael swamps? It is time to act before the thieves attract undue attention on themselves by trying to sell their stolen wares in Sharuun…
Allies of the Alliance
Asmadarin: The Alliance’s correspondant in Asmadar is the power-hungry Slu Carlon, the wealthiest man of Asmadar and also the one Councilor specifically in charge of foreign affairs. Fearing for his contacts in Sharuun, he still could not resist the lure of smuggling activities, which made him so rich, and thus he is one of the best customers of the Alliance, tranding rare Asmadarin goods for medicinal herbs and other precious items sold by the Alliance. (for more information about Slu Carlon and Asmadar, just check my thread “Warlords of the Desert”).
Miransil: the Miransil gladly trade the rare items found in the City of the Sea for more useful items brought to them by the gnomish sea smugglers, coming from as far as Landfall. Dwarven mithral items are particularly researched, as this metal is both extremely resistant and light, which makes it useful while at sea.
Aradil’s eyes: unknown to most, there is a secret bond between Aradil’s eyes and the Alliance, in the form of exchange of precious informations. As soon as one organization hears of anything that might be of interest to the other, this information is shared. This goes of course both ways, for the profit of all.
Sussar Gomarr, Lord of Landfall
Old and wily, Gomarr has been the sussar of his coastal free city for over twenty five years. Gray -haired and liver-spotted, he is skinny and stoop-shouldered, giving him an appearance that causes many to dismiss him as too infirm and foolish to be bothered with. Gomarr's mind is as sharp as ever, though, and he balances out the many strange and chaotic factions and dangers of Landfall excellently, with an agile tongue and light touch that leaves everyone feeling satisfied and the lid firmly on the ever-simmering pot of crime and resistance. He is literate and a well-read scholar, very rare in the Last Age.
Gomarr is no warrior, and leaves the defense of the city up to his sworn riders. His chief representative to the other members of the Alliance is his young niece Cinyara, an athletic firebrand of a girl who spends her time seeking out gnomish smugglers and dwarven miners to draw into the network of trade and information. She chafes a little under Gomarr's slow, careful planning; what she would like to do is gather the Alliance's strength and lead a daring raid into Occupied Erenland and achieve something legendary. But for now, she waits and obeys her uncle.
A man of great prestige in Landfall, Zimal is the only elf in the city. A lanky, ebon-skinned Danisil, he resides in a circular building near the heart of the city that he has decorated to his tastes; inside it is very gloomy, and smells of fresh earth and growing things, but very few people ever see in his living space-come-greenhouse, as he conducts all of his trade on the street outside. Zimal's potions, elixirs and medicines are famous in the city and out as far as Kal Tharkas; they are used beyond that, but his name, at least, goes no further. He is quirky in nature, often seen shuffling around the city mumbling to himself as he gathers fertilizer and gardening equipment, shading himself from t he sun with a hood and shawl made of gingko leaves.
Zimal has a great and deadly secret. He is not, in fact, a Danisil, and only gets away with this deception due to the fact most residents and visitors to Landfall have never seen any elves at all. His real name is Khortus, and he is a drow from the subcontinent of Pashiva. Sent as a spy by the priestesses of the dark elves' "goddess", the Queen of Venoms, he is gathering information on Eredane and Landfall as part of an unknown plot by his insidious race. Whether they serve or oppose Izrador is unknown.
His current plan involves the distribution of a potent drug, Lotus Powder, manufactured in Pashiva. He arranges though the smuggling networks for this narcotic to be sold to human and orcish soldiers alike, and thanks to his herbalist skill it contain a deadly surprise. Lotus Powder is strongly addictive and gives users a potent, hallucinogenic high; prolonged use allows a mixed-in poison to build up in the body which eventually triggers brain haemorhagging and rapid death after a few months. Zimal wants to get as many people addicted as he can, in preparation for the next step in his mistresses' plans.
Khortus (male drow expert 7 / herbalist 3, LE).
Thrarn Boldrin, Corsair
Thrarn is a rarity amongst dwarves: he is deeply in love with the sea. He is tall for his race and wears a short beard with a long braid down his back. Thrarn is considered astonishingly handsome by dwarves and gnomes, with his hard, smooth-lined features, twinkling dark eyes and infections, roguish grin, and is seldom without a dwarvish, dwarrow or gnome lady friend or two at his side. He dresses in flamboyant, quality clothing; a brightly dyed halfling leather vest, white ruffled shirt and metal-sewn trousers. A trained toucan perches on his shoulder, taken from the jungles of tropical Pelluria. He wields a cutlass and a small warhammer with great skill.
Thrarn is captain of the Relentless Hammer, a well-known smuggling and pirate vessel that has proved the scourge of Hallisport, Sharuun and all Shadow-controlled shipping in the southern waters. The Hammer is of mixed human, gnomish and dwarvish design and crew, so benefits from a wide variety of skilled hands. Though it looks large, burly and ungainly, it is one of the deadliest ships in the sea.
Lately Thrarn lost his brother Kruhn in a sea-raid. Attacking a fat and slow ship he realized too late that this actually was a trap , as it was filled bystrange-looking orcs who did not seem to fear water. The battle was fierce, and at last the Hammer managed to flee from its attackers, but not until Kruhn fell overboard, struck by an orcish arrow. The last he saw of him was the bpdy dragged on board of the enemy ship. Not knowing if his brother is alive and captive or if he was executed, Thrarn is now obsessed by the strange orcs and their black ship. He wanders the sea in search of them, and no quarter will be given to them this time.