Let’s take a look at the homebrew setting of Caldon that I created. If you’ll recall, Caldon is a continent made up of two countries – Vost and Qurn – which are divided by a large mountain range that splits the land mass in half, nearly. The two countries don’t really like each other, but they have a standing alliance so far.
The northern region is more stark and cold, and contains a huge forest known as the Bosk Forest – from the middle of which rises another mountain range called the Aldar Mountains. North of these mountains, at the edge of the northern border of Caldon, lies a cold, foggy, seaside port city called Levenstaal.
It sits at the throat of Statford Sound, a large bay consisting of low inward coastlines and high bluffs out toward sea. The winters of the north coast can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and sometimes high winds. The sound itself is typically calm, with very small swells on the shore. Ice floes can form during winter, and are a nuisance to navigate.
I really wanted a very bleak, gothic town that was nearly always overcast and mysterious, full of denizens that seemed shady — or, at the very least, knew of the dark secrets lying beneath the surface of the city. Not that these secrets exist, per se, just that that’s the look these people have, you know?
So yeah. I found some artwork by which I was seriously inspired, and started writing up my location file on the town.
The name comes from two root words: Leven and staal. “Staal” is a word I made up because I like the look and sound of it. But I wanted it to have meaning in this setting, so I started using it for a few different locations within Caldon: Levenstaal, Vorstaal, and Staalmount. I’m thinking “staal” will translate into “city” or something like that. “Leven,” then, actually comes from the ancestral family that owns the city – the Levennews.
The Levennew family lives in a gloriously gothic castle — called Levenshold (levens-hold) — that stands far from the city-proper, overlooking it from a high cliff near the beach at the tip of the Statford Sound. Levenshold has, of course, a reputation for being haunted and has inspired tales of horror among the average citizens. Surely these stories are unfounded…. The Levennews are a strange folk, and regarded throughout the city as “quite macabre,” though that’s probably due to their isolated nature, right? …Right?
Anyway, Levenstaal itself is divided in half by social class. You have the lower class and the upper class. The lower lives in the slums nearer the beach and the ports, while the upper class enjoys a higher elevation nearer the city’s center and southern edge. A very strong sense of class-warfare exists in Levenstaal – with the lower class having to fight and claw through each other in order to obtain any scraps that they can just to get by. The upper class citizens barely even glance at the disgusting impoverished folk.
The common villages nearer the shore, and forming the metropolitan neighborhoods of Levenstaal, are built in a German timber frame style and were constructed close together so as to accommodate a large population. The city’s elevation rises steadily landward, and housing among higher elevations is considered higher class.
A keep stands atop the highest point of the city, which is south of the city’s center. The keep is where the city’s elite hold court and conduct their business. The keep is well-guarded, and only those with special permission are able to enter. The city center consists of a very large square in which merchants can set up portable stands, or gatherings can be held.
Statford Sound is fed by the Feulan River, which drains from the volatile Aldar Mountains to the south. Being a port city, Levenstaal is busy, and always hosting traveling ships, whether merchant, leisure, or otherwise. Due to the vast population, they deal in all sorts of trade for various professions and goods. Levenstaal does not officially export any goods, but imports many. Certain craftsmen and traders within the city do sell their wares to traveling merchants, and have made a good living doing so.
The Feulan River is combed and processed through special filters that help collect ores and minerals that float down within the water from the mountains. Volcanic rocks and hardened magma make their way down, and the local smiths and smelters gather these materials through their machines. They are able to use this to craft special metals or even jewelry that often goes for high prices.
The Bosk Forest that surrounds Levenstaal is huge, covering several hundred square miles, and is a main resource for Levenstaal and the surrounding cities. The Bosk is home to various woodland creatures, and the flora within its borders is plentiful.
So that’s Levenstaal. I’m really excited to develop some of the characters that exist within it, and to see what any players make of it.
Of course there’s something mysterious about the Levennews, I just don’t feel like revealing what that is. I’m sure you all are thinking, “VAMPIRES! THEY’RE VAMPIRES!” But ah-ah-ah…not so fast…. Do you really think me so cliche?
Alright, here, I’ll give you a hint:
I haven’t yet developed much more of this city and its populace beyond what’s written above, so what do you think? What else should I add? What kind of secrets should Levenstaal hold dear? How should the city be run? By whom? What are their motives? What kind of tales are whispered throughout the city? Who’s vying for control?
Let me know what you think in the comments, and I may just incorporate your ideas!
Until next time – Well Met!