Sargava is a land being pulled apart at its seams by multiple agendas. As Sargava’s ruler, Baron Utilinus has come to discover that none of these agendas are his own.
The lush plains of Sargava carve a swath of civilization out of the western coast of the dense jungles of the Mwangi Expanse. Once dominated by Mwangi tribesmen, Sargava was first settled by Chelish colonials in 4138 ar, under the ambitious whims of the mad prince Haliad I. A jewel of the empire, distant Sargava stood as a symbol of Cheliax’s sheer might at the height of its power.
With the sudden death of the god Aroden, Cheliax collapsed into civil war and Sargava was isolated from the empire, no longer cut off by just its distance, but also by the addition of the newly formed perpetual hurricane, the Eye of Abendego. Desperate to remain in the empire’s favor rather than be left adrift, Sargava’s appointed ruler, Baron Grallus, gathered much of the colony’s treasury. He then sent it in several shipments, sailing wide around the Eye and then north to Cheliax to finance House Davian, a leading contender in the war, hoping to secure Davian’s bid for the fallen throne. Grallus, however, backed the wrong house – as the war progressed, the House of Thrune and its allies ripped apart House Davian in the Battle of a Hundred Kings near Corentyn.
Once word of House Thrune’s ascension reached Sargava, Baron Grallus, with the support of his lesser earls, turned to the notorious Free Captains of the Shackles for help, knowing that the colony was in danger. And in fact, once Thrune firmly secured its hold over Cheliax and the throne, Her Majestrix Queen Abrogail I turned her attention to her more distant colonies, dispatching a flotilla of Chelish galleons to Sargava, loaded with diabolic missionaries and sadistic governors loyal to the House of Thrune’s new regime. For the second time in its history, Sargava faced resettlement. As soon as Thrune’s imperial fleet sailed into Desperation Bay and had Sargava’s shores in sight, however, the Free Captains struck a decisive blow that would become the colony’s defining moment. Flying their infamous black flags, the Free Captains ambushed the Chelish fleet and demonstrated their naval supremacy. Cheliax’s defeat was total, their galleons wrecked on desolate shores or left resting on the ocean f loor, but the price for the Free Captains’ cooperation was far from cheap. Baron Grallus promised Port Peril not only Sargava’s remaining coffers, but a significant portion of its future bounty as well. As such, in exchange for the continued protection of the Free Captains, Sargava pays a continual if not exhaustive flow of tribute to the pirates. Rarely a day goes by that the steep price of Sargava’s autonomy is not called into question, yet the prevailing view remains that no cost is too high.
In the meantime, Sargava rots from within. With empty coffers and no support from the motherland, the colonists’ ability to control the native population continues to degrade. With the death of Aroden and the loss of the powers he granted the colonial clerics, the Mwangi tribesmen have stepped up their efforts to reclaim their ancient lands. The Sargavan military has so far managed to suppress the native revolts, but each time the threat grows a little greater.
Eleder (Small City): Eleder is the capital of Sargava and the country’s only deepwater port. Eleder’s economy is divided between its shipping industry and the trafficking, and processing of gemstones, gold, silver, and salt brought in from miners in the Bandu Hills. The city is showing signs of decay caused by the country’s perilous financial position. This decay does not extend to the docks, however, which claim to employ some of Garund’s best shipwrights. Merchants and Free Captains alike use the facilities, and their maintenance is given top priority.
Countless job opportunities await those who seek work in Eleder, but perhaps the two most lucrative are those of caravan guard and merchant marine — goods always need protecting, however they travel. For those who prefer to stay in or around Eleder, however, the Sargavan Guard is always interested in more soldiers and “deputized freelancers”—though the Grand Custodian can’t pay as well for mercenaries as he could in the past. A better choice would be employment as a personal guard for any of the city’s wealthier colonials, while they can still afford such luxuries as bodyguards.
Environs around Sargava
The following is a list of different locations and the job opportunities found for adventurers in those locations.
Fort Bandu (Village): Created to protect dwarf and gnome miners in the Bandu Hills from hostile Mwangi, Fort Bandu has suffered in the last hundred years — much to the consternation of its commander, Praetor Sylien. Though the aging Sylien rarely ventures outside anymore, he is a skilled commander of his 150-soldier legion, and it is largely thanks to him that miners and explorers are able to operate in the area at all. Fort Bandu nevertheless still has tremendous difficulties with local tribes, particularly the Bandu, who take every opportunity to attack the work crews Sylien has sent to build a bridge over the River of Tears.
The military fort may be garrisoned entirely by Sargavan Guard soldiers, but they can ill afford to send troops to guard every mapping excursion or mining expedition that passes through the Bandu Hills — they can barely cover the wagons that keep them in supplies. Independent explorers and miners are always looking to hire on the odd hand or two, though not necessarily as guards. Expeditions hiring at Fort Bandu usually do so because they have lost one or more members of their team, and they are usually looking for specific skill sets to replace them. The only reliable work here is as a member of the garrison, which involves a 2-year minimum term of service.
The Bandu Hills: The Bandu Hills stretch from Desperation Bay on the coast of Sargava eastwards into the heart of the Mwangi Expanse. The hills have a bad reputation, being rumoured to be inhabited by restless spirits and angry undead, as well as the warped descendants of forgotten peoples. However, the veins of gold, emeralds and sapphires that lie beneath the hills attract prospectors.
Beset by the Bandu tribes and underground monsters, the dwarf and gnome mining operations in the Bandu Hills are always looking for more tunnel guards — particularly guards with darkvision. Goblins and kobolds are known to occupy some of the caverns where the miners work, and they are frequently drawn to the sound of dwarves and gnomes chipping away at the walls of nearby tunnels and caves. Raids are sporadic but sudden and brutal, occurring without warning and often leaving scores of miners dead, with no gold or gems left to show for their sacrifice. Things are not much better on the surface.
The Bandu resent the intrusions by the various mining companies, and in return, not all of the entrepreneurs in the hills are respectful of the native population — meaning that the foremen often hire mercenaries not just to protect the caves from the tribes, but to actively drive out or even slaughter troublesome natives. With several companies operating this callously in an area already known for its hostility to outsiders, less aggressive mining concerns are forced to take more and more defensive measures, if only to weather the wrath of Mwangi who cannot tell one group of miners from another.
The Stasis Fields: In one of the most monumental discoveries in Sargava’s history, adventurers looking for the Mines of Deeptreasure in 4516 ar uncovered what appears to be a vast underground prison populated entirely by armored warriors magically frozen in place. Dubbed “the Stasis Fields,” this mysterious cavern complex is a veritable siren call to explorers and adventurers, who must first brave the dangerous mountains in search of the entrance — for though the Fields’ existence has been confirmed repeatedly, few part easily with the secret of its exact location. Even once explorers have located the entrance, the prison’s lethal warding spells deter all but the most careful attempts to examine the “cells” up close—let alone explorers’ attempts to steal the prisoners’ equipment without awakening any of them.
Kalabuto (Large City): Mistakenly named after the natives whom Chelish colonists encountered when they discovered the crumbling city in 4140 ar, Kalabuto was built in the caldera of a dormant volcano by an unknown tribe long ago, and was already in ruins when the Kalabuta migrated into the area uncounted generations ago. It is now the largest city in Sargava, populated mainly by the partially assimilated Kalabuta and a tiny minority of colonists which rules the city. As the closest colonial settlement to the city of Mzali, Kalabuto suffers the brunt of Mwangi attacks; it has been sacked by that city’s warriors three times in the last 30 years. There was a pathfinder lodge in the city, but it has recently been closed in the face of native unrest.
If Sargava has a primary hot spot for adventure, it is Kalabuto. In addition to its problem with Mzali, Kalabuto is the jumping-off point for countless expeditions into Yemba territory and points eastward, and the Praetor is always interested in hiring more troops for the border patrols. Perhaps more interestingly to the traditional adventurer, modern Kalabuto is but a facade built over the top of a magnificent ruin that predates the arrival of both the Kalabuta tribe and the Chelish settlers, and it’s still only just begun to be explored properly. Subterranean chambers are unearthed on a regular basis, some exposing ancient mysteries and long-lost treasures—and others providing an easy route by which underground horrors can invade the city and threaten its citizenry. Everything from ancient undead to titanic anacondas have risen up from the unknown depths under Kalabuto, and General Alban regularly posts respectable rewards for anyone able to deal with the latest underground menace. Other wealthy patrons are eager to send teams into the city’s depths on missions of looting and exploration.
The Mzali Problem: Kalabuto’s ongoing skirmishes with the nearby city of Mzali have created a demand for mercenaries willing to defend the Sargavan city from attacks — or to enter Mzali itself to learn what the mummified Mwangi child-god Walkena is plotting. Although the Kalabuto Regulars guard the city and patrol the river — keeping an eye out for Mzali incursions, inspecting merchant vessels, and arresting the occasional smuggler — it is not in their job description to venture beyond the borders of Sargava, particularly when it comes to infiltrating a city in the heart of enemy territory.
Of course, Commander Ursel, the Praetor of Kalabuto, is not interested in sending inexperienced and unprepared adventurers to their deaths in the Mzali jungles, nor in provoking Walkena via obvious attempts at espionage, and thus he has a rigorous series of questions and tests meant to establish mercenaries’ competence in both jungle fighting and infiltration. At the very least, those who wish to venture into Mzali for missions of espionage and sabotage should be prepared to demonstrate that they are capable of either blending in with the locals (by either magical or conventional disguises, if they are not themselves Mwangi), or of remaining undetected during the journey there, the duration of the mission in Mzali, and the journey back. Rogues, rangers, and sorcerers are preferred, and, unless their magical disguises are particularly good, nonhumans— especially dwarves, gnomes, and halflings — need not apply.
Crown’s End (Small Town): Crown’s End nestles at the edge of the Bandu Hills and the northern coast of Desperation Bay, three days north of Eleder to which it is subject. Despite its squalor, Crown’s End is crucial to Eleder’s economy. The Grand Custodian thus takes a keen interest in local affairs, noting the rise and fall of the mining companies who run the Bandu Hill mines in trust for the government.
Nearly anything goes in Crown’s End, so work is always available to those who aren’t concerned with the morality of their income. Slave-raiding is dangerous and dishonorable work, but it pays reasonably well, and the mine managers are always looking for enforcers — burly men and women who would be known as “town guards” anywhere else. Anyone willing to crack a few skulls or “disappear” a few troublesome rivals is well advised to seek out employment with one of the mine managers or any of their lieutenants. With a proper cruel streak, ambition, and a bit of a survival instinct, the right candidate can go far in Crown’s End.
Freehold (Small Town): Freehold started as a cattle ranch in central Sargava, a vacation estate for one of the colony’s earliest Grand Praetors, Olgran Macini. The Macinis have expanded and developed their family holdings to the extent that the original ranch is now the center of a small town consisting of Olgran’s descendants and the native Mwangi who help them run the spacious ranch in exchange for homes — and a share of the ranch’s profits.
Of all the places in Sargava run by descendants of the original Chelish colonists, Freehold is the most racially integrated; Mwangi are just as welcome to work here as colonials and are treated just the same. Those with a problem with this arrangement are not welcome, but those who don’t judge people by the color of their skin — and who don’t mind hard but rewarding work— can always find a place in this ranching community. While Mindra Macini is hands down the boss of the ranch, she not only recognizes when someone knows more about a given subject than she does, but she goes out of her way to get such people working for her.
Freehold may be primarily a cattle ranch, but it is also the only major center of civilization for 50 miles in any direction, meaning that when trouble strikes the M’neri Plains, it ultimately comes to Freehold. Mindra likes to be prepared to handle any variety of difficulty that comes along — and if that means having a few seasoned adventurers on hand, she’ll pay them well to stick around.
Port Freedom (Small Town): Eleder may be the only deepwater port in Sargava capable of receiving the massive ships required to circumnavigate the Eye of Abendego, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only port in the nation. Situated farther to the south, along the banks of the Korir River delta, Port Freedom may not be able to accommodate oceangoing vessels due to its extensive maze of sandbars, but neither can cargos of any significant size make their way upriver without enlisting the services of its rivermen and bargemasters. Though a few brave captains risk running the marshes without help, the people of Port Freedom have a chokehold on river trade with Kalabuto — and they aren’t afraid to protect that arrangement with violence when necessary. While Port Freedom is technically ruled by the Grand Custodian, it also has its own local governors: a council of representatives from the various shipping concerns who do business along the river. It’s an open secret that the council is controlled by the Rivermen’s Guild.
While Port Freedom offers numerous opportunities for anyone wanting to make a living the honest, old-fashioned way, its numerous guilds and less savory organizations — particularly the Rivermen’s Guild, which holds most of the real power in the town — are on the lookout for employees, particularly the type who aren’t too ambitious, can follow orders, and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the legality of their actions.
Stark Point (Small Town): Consisting of a large inn, stable, and general store surrounded by a mud-brick wall, Stark Point is a gathering point for explorers, adventurers, and soldiers from Fort Bandu. Stark Point was originally meant to be a mining community, but when mining dropped off in the area, most colonials moved to Kalabuto, and Stark Point became little more than a general store. Two decades ago, the Sclerizi brothers — Arno, Carlo, Gudo, and Ikhaia — bought the dilapidated store and converted it into a trading post.
An outpost far from any other significant settlement or supply depot, Stark Point caters almost exclusively to adventurers and other bold risk-takers, and as a result its common spaces are hotbeds of potential adventure. Rumors flow fast and furious here — someone recently discovered a lost city on par with Kalabuto, a ring of standing stones that grant eerie powers, or a grove of trees that grow brilliant amber crystals the size of a human — and there’s always someone around looking to hire on colleagues or throw in their lot with an existing expedition.