Diamond Lake in Brief
- Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff (male human), a lecherous philanderer
- Allustan (human male), a wizard from the Free City who retired to Diamond Lake five years ago.
- grandiloquent Sheriff Cubbin (male human), a man so renowned for corruption that many citizens assumed the announcement of his commission was a joke until he started arresting people
- Small mining town where desperate folk toil in lightless depths for a pittance while corrupt mine managers live high on the hog.
- Most residents fall into two groups: those with nowhere else to turn and those who have come to exploit them.
- A garrison of sixty militia soldiers stands ready to defend the mines from bandits and rogue humanoids.
- Rival cults share the same flock of potential converts only because the timing is not yet right for outright warfare. They muster their forces in preparation for possible future conflicts.
- Things are not safe in Diamond Lake, and a right-thinking person would have every reason to want to get out of town as soon as possible.
This small mining town is full to the brim with desperate folks trying to scrape a meager
living from working the mines of the great Free City of Greyhawk three days to the West.
Diamond Lake resides in the Cairn Hills, rocky hills full of metals important
to the Free City’s economy, important enough for them to directly control the
mines via mine managers. The mine managers are constantly struggling against
one another to gain more power and wealth for themselves, while the common folk
try to distract themselves from their bleak situation.
As there are folks spending money, no matter how meager, there is a thriving
business in supplying distraction. The Emporium is a large den of iniquity
specializing in liquor, women and a freak show to rival any traveling circus,
all for just enough money to draw the customers in. Games of chance abound,
including the Rat Game, where rats race to the end of a small maze, and then
the winner gets to fight jermlaines while spectators bet on every aspect of the
game. For a more cultured taste, Lazare’s House is a cozy gaming parlor across
the street, specializing in Dragonchess for those with the wits to play. Those
too poor for the Emporium find themselves at the Feral Dog or similar dive.
Dogfights are the height of entertainment at most other venues surpassed only
by the bar fights.
The Cairn Hills get their name from the large number of ancient burial cairns and
tombs that dot the region, evidence of a half dozen different, ancient
cultures. The last known cairn was stripped dry decades ago though, and folks
are always eager to find a new one, but the chances seem unlikely.
The Free City has appointed Governor-Mayor Neff to rule the town and insure the
steady flow of material to the city. The mine managers (Smenk, Gansworth,
Moonmeadow (elf), Tilgast, Parrin, and Dourstone (dwarf)) are more directly in
charge of the mines they hold title to. Sheriff Cubbin maintains “law” in the
sense that he breaks up fights that get too big to ignore. Nearby, a garrison
of troops only becomes involved when threats really escalate.
Religion in the city centers on Heironeous (chapel in the garrison) and St Cuthbert
(large, towered church on the city square) for the most part, with Obad-Hai
worshippers centered in the surrounding hills, and a small group of followers
of Wee Jas that protect the cemetery from interlopers and attend to death
services. Other religions tend to be low key with a master/student relationship
rather than official church indoctrination.
As previously mentioned, Diamond Lake nestles in the rocky crags of the Cairn
Hills, three days east of the Free City to which it is subject. Iron and silver
from Diamond Lake’s mines fuel the capital’s markets and support its soldiers
and nobles with the raw materials necessary for weapons and finery. This trade
draws hundreds of skilled and unskilled laborers and artisans, all hoping to
strike it rich. In ages past, Diamond Lake boasted an export more valuable than
metal in the form of treasure liberated from the numerous tombs and burial
cairns crowding the hills around the town. These remnants of a half-dozen
long-dead cultures commanded scandalous prices from the Free City elite, whose
insatiable covetousness triggered a boom in the local economy. Those days are
long gone, though. The last cairn in the region coughed up its treasure decades
ago, and few locals pay much mind to stories of yet-undiscovered tombs and
unplundered burial cairns. These days, only a handful of treasure seekers visit
the town, and few return to Free City with anything more valuable than a wall
rubbing or an ancient tool fragment.
In the hills surrounding the town, hundreds of laborers spend weeks at a time
underground, breathing recycled air pumped in via systems worth ten times their
combined annual salary. The miners are the chattel of Diamond Lake, its
seething, tainted blood. But they are also Diamond Lake’s foundation, their
weekly pay cycling back into the community via a gaggle of gambling dens,
bordellos, ale halls, and temples. Because work in the mines is so demanding
and dangerous, most folk come to Diamond Lake because they have nowhere else to
turn, seeking an honest trade of hard labor for subsistence-level pay simply
because the system has allowed them no other option. Many are foreigners
displaced from native lands by war or famine. Work in Diamond Lake is the last
honest step before utter destitution or crimes of desperation. For some, it is
the first step in the opposite direction: a careful work assignment to ease the
burden on debtor-filled prisons, one last chance to make it in civil society.
Despite its squalor, Diamond Lake is crucial to Free City’s economy. The city’s
directors thus take a keen interest in local affairs, noting the rise and fall
of the managers who run Diamond Lake’s mines in trust for the government. The
city’s chief man in the region is Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff.
Neff exerts his capricious will via the agency of the pompous and harsh Sheriff Cubbin.
While they are not nobles, the mine managers exist in a level above normal society. They consider themselves
far above their employees, many of whom are indentured or effectively enslaved
as part of a criminal sentence. The miners’ loyalty tends to map directly to
working conditions, pay, and respect offered to the miners by their wealthy
The Nature of the Town
Diamond Lake crouches in the lowland between three hills and the lake itself, a splotch
of mud, smoke, and blood smeared across uneven terrain marked by countless
irregular mounds and massive rocks. The oldest buildings line the lakeshore, where
fishing vessels once docked and stored their impressive catches. That commerce
has abandoned the town entirely, for the shining waters that once gave Diamond
Lake its name are now so polluted as to make fishing impossible. Many old
warehouses have been converted into cheap housing for miners and laborers, and
no one is safe outdoors after dark. As one walks north along the streets of
Diamond Lake, the buildings become sturdier and the spirits of their
inhabitants likewise improves. A great earthen road called the Vein bisects the
town. With few exceptions, those living north of the Vein enjoy a much better
life than the wretches living below it.
All of the town’s social classes congregate in the Vein’s central square. Roughly
every two weeks, someone in the town upsets someone else so greatly that the
only recourse is a duel to the death at the center of a ring of cheering
miners. The bookmakers of the Emporium and the Feral Dog do brisk business on
such occasions, which tend to draw huge crowds. On less violent nights, the
square is still home to a thousand pleasures and poisons; if Diamond Lake is a
creature, the Vein’s central square is its excitable, irregular heart.
There are four major religions worshipped in Diamond Lake: Saint Cuthbert, Heironeous,
Wee Jas, and Obad-Hai. This is not to say other religions aren’t present, but they are not nearly as prominent.
The leader of the church of St. Cuthbert is Jierian Wierus, a bombastic orator
whose populist rants appeal to the best virtues and values of the common man
while at the same time preying upon theirs fears and superstitions. Wierus
endlessly preaches a creed of common sense, honesty, and self-sacrifice,
encouraging his faithful to give penance to St. Cuthbert by whipping themselves
in repetitive acts of self-mortification. His growing cult, now some 150
strong, gives succor to the dregs of Diamond Lake society and is seen as a
menace by the town’s mine managers, government, and other religious figures.
Many claim that the flagellants seem to follow Wierus as much as they do St.
Cuthbert, and it is only because the charismatic firebrand somehow keeps his
followers from breaking the law that his sect has been allowed to thrive.
Most of the guards and soldiers serving in the Diamond Lake garrison honor
Heironeous as the patron of justice and martial prowess. The Invincible One’s temple
is little more than a large high-ceilinged chamber whithin the garrison itself,
but it boasts the second largest congregation in Diamond Lake, as well as one
of the village’s most dynamic personalities in the form of its high priest,
Dun came to Diamond Lake two years ago after the previous high priest vanished
under mysterious circumstances. Local gossip holds that Dun once had great
prospects in Free City’s immense Sanctum of Heironeous, but that politics saw
him exiled to an assignment in squalid Diamond Lake. Nevertheless, Dun took to
his assignment with zeal, and the weekly services have taken on an activist
spirit. While the garrison commander urges his charges to stay out of local
affairs, Dun instills in them a duty to the villagers and urges them to make a
difference in the community. The resulting tension between the garrison
commander and Valkus Dun as well as between the Heironean soldiers and the
disreputable elements of Diamond Lake (which is to say nearly everyone else) is
The town’s overcrowded cemetery used to be a great source of bodies for medical
students in Free City and unscrupulous necromancers, but the Cult of the Green
Lady (Wee Jas) has put a stop to that. Throughout the day, a few
green-robed acolytes from a temple of Wee Jas just outside of town across the
lake wander through the cemetery chanting songs holy to Wee Jas while tending
graves and clearing vines and mud from stone markers dating back hundreds of
years. Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff finds the cultists distasteful but appreciates
The nearby druidic community of Bronzewood Lodge sports a temple to Obad-Hai. Many
followers venture to Diamond Lake to espouse the tenets of the faith.
Places of Interest
The Emporium: Every week, hundreds of
miners boil up from the depths, their pockets lined with freshly earned coin.
The Emporium exists to separate the men from the money, and at this it is
paramount among Diamond Lake’s diverse businesses. Ten years ago, it was simply
Zalamandra’s, one of a dozen vice dens along the Vein. Its ill fortunes changed
the day its charismatic young madam seduced Professor Montague Marat,
proprietor of a traveling sideshow and “curiosity collection” (freak show)
passing through Diamond Lake. The two soon joined forces, and a cavalcade of
freaks and eccentrics moved into the building’s lower floor. Thus was born
Zalamandra’s Emporium, and Diamond Lake has never been the same.
The house charges three coppers for access to the "Gallery of Science"
along the first floor’s central corridor, and three silver for access to the
lushly decorated upper floor, which features a large gaming hall, an exclusive
entertainment club, and the infamous Veiled Corridor, where any pleasure may be
obtained for the right price.
Lazare’s House: Those seeking a relatively
cultured nightspot often congregate at Lazare’s House, a cozy gambling parlor
situated on the Vein’s central square. In contrast to the ostentatious banners
and garish chipped paint of the Emporium across the street, Lazare’s exudes a
quiet sense of class with a stylish stone and timber construction and
distinctive crooked-peak roof. Inside, Diamond Lake’s elite match wits over
dragonchess, a popular game in which two sides of 42 pieces contest over three
96-square boards representing the sky, the earth, and the underworld. Pieces
include the griffon, sylph, oliphant, basilisk, hero, thief, and paladin.
Scholars claim that the game is a metaphor for the celestial struggles of
fundamental law, chaos, good, and evil. In Diamond Lake, it’s principally
another justification for gambling.
The Feral Dog: Since both Lazare’s and
the Emporium charge a small fee for entry, Diamond Lake’s poorest laborers must
turn to a collection of run-down ale halls with more sullied reputations. The
busiest by far is the Feral Dog, a sleazy tavern on the Vein’s central square.
Every night and especially when the workforces of several local mines let out
at the same time, cheering laborers within the bar scream obscenities and wave
betting vouchers over two dogs in a lethal pit fight. No one savors the tinny
ale, but the place is more about camaraderie, bravado, and desperation than
about expecting exemplary quality or service.
Arguments commonly erupt at the Feral Dog, especially during the dogfights, when betting
often grows contentious and even violent. About once a month, a drunk miner
falls or is pushed into the thrashing dog pit, with predictably tragic results.
During the worst brawls, someone usually gets knifed. A festering garbage pit
in the sharp crags behind the building is said to hold the corpses of as many
humans as dogs.
Tidwoad’s:Tidwoad is a cantankerous jeweler with a meticulously
arranged shop located on the Vein’s central square. Tidwoad’s is the place to
buy, sell, and trade gems, jewelry, and precious metals. It is as close to a
bank as one can find in Diamond Lake, and the gnome keeps several small vaults
in the crawlspace below his workshop. A shield guardian named Festus helps to
keep the gnome’s theft-free streak alive with powerful stone fists and a
constant focus on protecting the shop.
Tidwoad hails from Grossetgrottel, a gnome warren several days to the northwest. He
looks more favorably upon gnomes than upon members of other races and usually
hosts a few gnomish lodgers in the apartments above his workshop.
General Store: Running a successful business
in Diamond Lake means avoiding entanglements with the constantly maneuvering
mine managers and scrupulously avoiding favoritism (real or perceived). No
merchant better understands this reality than Taggin, the amiable master of the
town’s largest general store. Tables line the walls within, stacked high with
rope coils, lanterns, bottles, gloves, and gear. Wagon wheels rest against
barrels filled with nails and candles. The inventory includes most common
adventuring gear, and Taggin cheerfully offers to special order anything he
does not have in stock from Free City, a process that "usually takes about
a week." He’s even willing to procure especially rare items such as spell
components for a 15% markup on the standard price.
Jalek’s Flophouse: When the lake turned foul,
Diamond Lake’s modest fishing industry fled the town, leaving a wake of empty
warehouses and bankrupted fishers. Some of these warehouses became stockades
for mine managers, packed with raw ore and letters of credit from Free City and
beyond. Others fell to ruin and became infested with squatters and addicts.
Jalek’s Flophouse, situated on Front Street within smelling distance of the
lake is the town’s most famous warehouse as it houses nearly a hundred pitiful
indigents fighting off destitution with a handful of copper. A rotting wooden
framework within supports a lurching, maze-like second floor, where every step
brings an alarming creak and the walls thrum with muffled conversation. Lodging
is 5 coppers a night. No one has an address at Jalek’s – the room you have is
the room you can keep. Most rooms lack doors, let alone locks, but the shifting
inhabitants and the chaotic layout of the upper floor makes it one of the best
places to disappear in all of Diamond Lake. The Cuthbertine flagellant Jierian
Wierus frequently visits the flophouse, where he recruits a growing tide of
Garrison: Centuries ago, long before the founding of Free City,
a petty lord commanded the shores of the lake and the nearby iron ore and
silver mines from a sturdy hilltop keep. Today, the refurbished ruin of that
keep serves as home to more than 60 members of the Free City Militia, soldiers
tasked with patrolling the northern hills, keeping watch over the
lizardfolk-infested Mistmarsh to the south, and liaising with halfling, gnome,
and dwarf communities in the region.
A third of the soldiers are always on patrol, a wide circuit of nearby roadways
and wildlands that takes them away from Diamond Lake for a week at a time.
Remaining soldiers drill, maintain the garrison, hunt, and familiarize
themselves with local terrain. The bored soldiers present rich mining ground
for a cadre of clerics and paladins of Heironeous, who provide spiritual and
magical aid to the warriors from a stately chapel within the garrison.
The Spinning Giant: When not drilling,
sleeping, or on patrol, garrison soldiers flock to this raucous two-story
tavern to meet with friends, chant drinking songs, and drown themselves in ale
and good cheer. A blue-shingled roof tops filthy white plaster walls. A faded
fresco painted on the building’s face depicts a dancing imbecilic hill giant in
a yellow dress. Patrons must enter and exit via a door positioned between the
giant’s legs. This is Flailing Felanore, a dim-witted young giantess captured
by the garrison militia 40 years ago and "granted" to the proprietor
of a favorite watering hole to serve as a mascot. The attraction worked,
drawing visitors from as far as Free City to gawk and stare at Felanore’s
awkward gyrations. Though Felanore died from an outbreak of the Red Death
plague nearly 20 years ago, the free-standing circular center stage on which
she once pranced remains the most prestigious musical venue in town, if not the
Allustan’s Residence: The "smartest man in
town," a friendly wizard named Allustan dwells within a charming red and
deep blue house on one of the rare stretches of healthy grass in all of Diamond
Lake. The brother of Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff, Allustan offers his library and
considerable intelligence to the citizens of Diamond Lake as a sage, although
few miners have reason to seek his services. Allustan charges a standard rate
of 20 gp per question.
Able Carter Coaching Inn: The Able Carter
Coaching Company connects Free City to its satellite towns via a fleet of
horse-drawn coaches and an inn positioned at every leg of the journey. Diamond
Lake’s hostelry offers 20 rooms for let at a rate of 1 gp per day. Stable
services are available for a fee of 5 sp per day. Four guards keep watch on the
place throughout the day and night and can be hired to ride with a coach for an
additional 5 gp per day. Most non-natives of Diamond Lake are lodgers at the
Osgood Smithy: The distinctive "O" maker’s mark of Manlin Osgood is a regional sign of quality powerful enough
that lesser blacksmiths in neighboring communities often forge it to maintain
competitive parity. Osgood and his team of seven apprentices and journeyman
smiths specialize in masterwork armor and household items like canteens,
canisters, tools, and the like.
The Captain’s Blade: Tyrol Ebberly, a
severe-looking man who claims to have once been a watch captain in Free City,
runs this small shop with efficiency. He’s an absolute fanatic about weapons,
always showing off his masterwork items with enthusiasm. Ebberly has any melee
weapon up to 900 gp in stock but must send away for more expensive items, a
process that takes 7-10 days. He specializes in masterwork melee weapons and
keeps his surprisingly wide selection displayed on the walls.
Venelle’s: A redolence of fresh pine suffuses this handsome
establishment, a distinctive structure that incorporates intricate carved
patterns and upright logs. The proprietor, a curious woman named Venelle makes
masterwork bows and arrows and also deals in other weapons and armor imported
from Free City in exchange for items of her own design. The shop is a bit
chaotic with various items piled on tables. Armor sits loosely on too-small
dummies. Venelle carries most weapons and armor priced up to 900 gp, but must
send away for more expensive items, a process that takes 9-12 days.
The Bronzewood Lodge
The ring of crumbling menhirs on the bluff overlooking Diamond Lake is a remnant of
an ancient human druidic culture that once inhabited the region. They too came
to the hills for the ancient cairns, seeing them as monuments to great
ancestors of the invisible past. Although modern humans displaced the native
druids during great migrations over a thousand years ago, pockets of indigenous
architecture and culture remain. Foremost among these near-forgotten practices
is veneration of Obad-Hai, the Shalm, the brooding patron of wilderness and
Druids and rangers who honor the Shalm and a host of minor nature deities and fey
spirits (the so-called Old Faith) routinely congregate in great moots three
hours northeast of Diamond Lake, at an ancient megalithic structure called the
Bronzewood Lodge. Devotees of Ehlonna or the elven pantheon are welcome at
these meetings, if a bit gruffly, but all other attendees must be invited
personally by someone already within the circle of trust. At these great moots,
the woodsfolk observe rituals from long ago, celebrate with great contests of
strength and wit, and debate policy regarding the natural affairs of the region.
A small permanent community inhabits the Lodge itself and the wooded copse
surrounding it. Perhaps 30 assorted druids, rangers, and scouts protect the
sacred site and keep watch on the nearby roads and valleys.
Occasionally, they step in to rescue a traveler from some natural menace, but just as often
they warn explorers to stay on the roads and let the wilderness take care of
itself. Their leader is Nogwier, an aged proponent of the Old Faith who strives
to keep the focus of his community on preservation of a near-extinct way off
life and away from anger at the Free City and its operatives in Diamond Lake,
whose avariciousness continually rapes the land. Nogwier urges cautious
cooperation with Lanod Neff via a former Bronzewood man named Merris Sandovar,
who now works as the garrison’s chief scout, but he wishes that the Free City
would have given him a more reasonable governor-mayor than Neff, and knows he
won’t outlive him.
The Lodge itself is a twelve-chambered structure composed of piled megaliths
covered by earth. The cairn’s central gallery contains a huge uprooted
petrified oak tree planted upside down so that its roots are exposed. Nogwier
and his three servitors use the tree as a massive altar. Other chambers contain
the sorted, commingled bones of generations of druids as well as priceless
natural treasures accumulated over the course of centuries.
The Twilight Monastery
About two hours north of Diamond Lake, a towering crag called the Griffon’s Roost
casts a dark shadow over the muddy road to Elmshire. From a perch hundreds of
feet above looms the cat-infested Twilight Monastery, a three-towered monument
to an obscure philosophy of the Distant West (Xan Yae, Baklunish goddess of Twilight, Shadows, Stealth, Mental and Physical Mastery of Mind over Matter) . Two score monks dwell within the
monastery, dedicating themselves to a litany of exercises meant to perfect the
body and spirit. The secretive monks hold dusk as the holiest of hours, and
sonorous chants emit from the Twilight Monastery’s central courtyard when the
night sky appears in the heavens.
Foremost among the monks is Izenfen the Occluded, a peerless masked combatant thought to
be one of the wisest figures in the hills. Travelers frequently seek her
council, but most leave Diamond Lake without ever having gained access to the
Twilight Monastery, for Izenfen deigns to speak with only a handful of pilgrims
foretold to her via the agency of the night sky and an immense mirrored lens
called the Censer of Symmetry. Junior monks polish its smooth surface
throughout the day, and the whole of the order is prepared to defend it with
When word of the Censer’s predictive prowess spread to the miners of Diamond Lake 20 years ago, a desperate contingent petitioned Izenfen to predict the location of the richest unclaimed local ore deposits, appealing to her compassion with tales of starving children and dangerously unpaid debts. The masked mistress of the Twilight Monastery rebuffed their pleas, triggering the miners’ contingency plan—an ill-fated invasion of the monks’ compound that left seven miners dead. Only a single member of the order perished—Imonoth, Izenfen’s beloved daughter.
Immediately thereafter, Izenfen gathered a cadre of stealth assassins from the ranks of her best warriors and silently set them upon the surviving invaders who still milked wounds in the petty shacks along Diamond Lake’s waterfront.
At an annual celebration called Darkstar’s Kiss, the monks of the Twilight Monastery recite from memory the names of all fifteen miners murdered on that night, reminding themselves to always remain vigilant to the encroachment of outsiders. Rumors suggest that Izenfen’s masked silent killers remain active to this day, citing the disappearance or mysterious deaths of nearly a dozen political enemies within the town.
Although the monks of the Twilight Monastery keep mostly to themselves and desire only
to lead lives of undisturbed contemplation, they frequently appear on the
streets of Diamond Lake to re-provision or to engage in the trade of
kalamanthis, a rare psychotropic plant grown regionally only on the slopes of
the Griffon’s Roost. Proceeds from this trade account for all of the
monastery’s activities, but initiates of the order are forbidden from taking it
in all but the most controlled ritual circumstances. Kalamanthis is popular
among all classes of Diamond Lake, but the real business is centered in the
nearby Free City. Potential buyers frequently meet with elder monks in a
secluded corner of Lazare’s House along the Vein’s central square to arrange
payment and distribution to the neighboring metropolis. Both the wagons loaded
with kalamanthis and the returning coaches loaded with city coin go unmolested
in Diamond Lake, for all fear Izenfen’s relentless invisible killers.