Seeds of Corruption
Stromdorf is a small market town in the southern part of the Reikland, about one hundred and fifty miles from Altdorf as the raven flies. It is located near the confluence of three rivers, the Ober, Tranig, and Teufel, each flowing from the distant Grey Mountains into the shadows of the nearby Reikwald Forest. The area of marshy lowland and stony hills south of this confluence is known as the Fleuchtschussel, a wet land infamous and avoided as the stormiest place in Reikland; even in midsummer, grey clouds smother the sun in a sky angry with rain and lightning.
The town’s population numbers fewer than seven hundred people. Neighbouring folk are puzzled that the entire population has not moved on to less damp climes before now, but there has been a settlement here before even Sigmar’s time, and the people of Stromdorf have a profound sense of history and are proud of their town. They regard it as a mark of their tenacity that they survive in such an intemperate climate; however, other Reiklanders mock this outlook as proof of the townsfolks’ inbred imbecility.
Stromdorf’s inclement weather ensures few travellers tarry in the town, and hardly anyone settles there from elsewhere unless they have to. Thus, Stromdorf remains a backwater; it is an impoverished place when compared to the thriving settlements in the rest of the Reikland. It is no surprise that, like the sky that thunders above their heads, Stromdorfers are a stormy lot, quick to anger and difficult to placate. They complain bitterly about the smallest grievance, finding fault in everything except, oddly, the weather, which they habitually shrug off with heroic stoicism: “Come now, it’s only a bit of rain!”
The River Teufel is Stromdorf’s lifeline to the Ubersreik in the west and the Reik to the north, yet the town fails to capitalise on the river traffic that bypasses it. Travellers prefer to hurry past, eager to escape the drenching rain. It doesn’t help that Stromdorf does not produce many goods to trade. Its low-lying farms eke out subsistent crops from the sodden fields, and the wool and meat from the hardy sheep pastured in the hills is of poor quality. Just enough produce is generated each month to keep the town from starving. Stromdorf used to rely heavily on its upland flocks for revenue, but a hundred years ago, goblin tribes drove most farmers from the hills.
However, the marshy climate and muddy waters of the rivers are an ideal breeding ground for the Reik eel, a large, voracious snakelike fish with razor sharp teeth. Its sleek body is muscular, and the flesh is flavourful. Many Stromdorfers fish for the eels, dredging the river with large nets. The eels are skinned, smoked, and barrelled, comprising one of the few regular exports of the town.
Burgomeister Phillip Adler has been the administrative head of Stromdorf for nearly a decade. Adler was appointed to the position by the von Jungfreuds, the prominent aristocrats in the region, hoping new blood would invigorate Stromdorf’s negligible economy.
Phillip Adler is a self-made man, who made a fortune in the textile business in his native Ubersreik, and married a distant relative of the von Jungfreud noble family. From the start, the town council, a collection of older, gruff white beards, disapproved of an outsider managing their affairs – by tradition the burgomeister had always been one of their own.
Initially Adler proved popular, encouraging trade between Stromdorf and other parts of the Reikland. At the beginning of his tenure, revenue increased, but so did the taxes, now that the von Jungfreuds had their own man in charge.
However, Adler has become reclusive in recent months. He has shut himself away, barred visitors to the town hall, and has even dismissed his servants, living there alone. He conducts his affairs from behind closed doors, using the watch captain, Arno Kessler, as his intermediary. Kessler is a man of war, lacking the verbal finesse needed for politics, and his brusque manner has angered some of the locals he has to deal with. Recent events have made Adler unpopular – a few folk openly call for his replacement, arguing that his behavior is hurting business.
According to local gossip, Adler is in mourning for his wife, Else, who died shortly after he became burgomiester. Further enquiry reveals that this happened two years ago, long before he decided to shut himself away.
A Brief Resurgence
Stromdorf experienced a brief renaissance during the first few years of Burgomeister Adler’s tenure, as he used his influence with Ubersreik’s Mercer’s Guild to encourage more trade between the two towns. However, since Adler’s “retirement” from public view, most outside merchants have lost interest in these ventures. It seems the only remaining profitable enterprise for distant traders and merchants is the import of dry timber and coal for fuel to Stromdorf, commodities which the sodden climate ensures are scarce in this locality.
Despite the challenges faced, the local tannery is an example of one business that continues to thrive. The tannery is operated by Marcel Gerber, Stromdorf’s wealthiest burgher after Adler. Tanning is a filthy industry, and in many towns, tanneries are relegated to the outskirts. Not so in Stromdorf, whose people are eager for any employment, however noisome. The constant rain helps mitigate some of the stink produced by tanning procedures, but a foul aroma subtly pervades the town.
The town’s one true luxury export, and the one thing it is known for apart from its wet weather, is its Thunderwater Ale, brewed by the Brenner family for generations, and sold to connoisseurs Empire-wide. Even dwarfs from nearby Karak Azgaraz have been known to make the pilgrimage to Stromdorf to tap a keg of the stuff, a potent brew with a distinctive peaty aftertaste.
Other Notable Locations
- Market Square
- The Unused Well
- Shallya’s Shrine
- The Town Hall
- Temple of Sigmar
- The Crypt (closed to the public)
- Thunderwater Inn & Brewery
- Kessler’s House
- Crumbling Walls and Gates have guardhouses and a 2 brass toll.
- Barracks at the ReiklandGate (West to the Ubersreik road)
- The Gaol House in the Barracks
- Gerber Tannery near the Altdorf gate (North)
- Stockyards & Grainaries near the Wissenland Gate (East to Nuln road)
- The Stewpot Hostelry
The majority of buildings in Stromdorf are nondescript dwellings and shops, ranging from dilapidated wooden huts to modest, half-timbered buildings, one or two stories high. Roofs have a steep pitch, to allow the rain to quickly roll off, making the buildings look taller than they are. The buildings are spaced out, and have enough room for small vegetable gardens or chicken and pig pens.
- Burgomeister Adler
- Watch Captain Arno Kessler
- Marcel Gerber (Tanner’s Guild)
- Sebastien Brenner & family (Brewer)
- Heironymus Kopfchen, elder retired professor from Altdorf
- Dr. Hartlieb Schneider, Physician
- Niklas Schulman, Celestial Wizard
- Franz Bieber, Wilderness Scout (Helped the party deal with the undead at the Garden of Morr)
- Keila Cobblepot, Halfling Proprietress of the Stewpot Tavern (Deceased. Hung for murder and heresy)
- Gert Dreigo, Tanner
- Waltrout Glockner, town drunk (Deceased, murdered by Franz Bieber and the party)
- Lukas Kaltenback, Ferryman
- Hildette Krass, Midwife
- Rolf Messer, Barber-Surgeon
- Hanko Mucke, Merchant
- Kaspar Myer (Captain Kessler’s scribe)
- Eduardo Castillo Rodriguez, Estalian drunk
- Reinhard the Rooster, Minstrel and Poet
- Hugo Spitz, Philospher Jailer
- Sargent Balthus Thalberg, Sargent of the Watch
- Fridrik UIlfsson, Town Miller
- Lector Magnus Gottschalk, Priest of Sigmar
- Initiate Chlodwig Fromm of Sigmar
- Brother Theoderic Grabbe, Priest of Morr (Currently bedridden)
Most people in Stromdorf are common folk trying to earn a few crusts. Because of the weather, they always seem to be in a hurry, rushing here and there, huddled under long cloaks. They are known for black, moods, and are quick to take offense. Suspicious of strangers, they only respect outsiders who possess ‘Stromdorf mettle.’
Many of the townsfolk are traders and craftsmen, but the largest employer is the tannery, with more than a hundred workers. Women are slightly less visible, tending to stay at home, bringing up their families – except on market days, when they brave the weather to flit from stall to stall.
Children play in the streets, oblivious to the rain. Many earn a few pennies collecting dung and urine for the tannery. The farmers in the lowland areas are a dour breed, dressed in muddy garments, with rain-capes and wide-brimmed hats to keep themselves somewhat dry. Most plod stoically through life. The herdsmen of the uplands are physically tougher, ever watchful for goblin raiders. It is they who cause most trouble in town on market days, usually picking fights with the lowlanders, whom they regard as both soft in body and head.
North of Stromdorf lies the Reikwald, a wall of forest on the horizon. To the south lies the Fleuchtschussel, where farmers scratch a living from waterlogged lowlands and bleak hills, the Grey Mountains glowering in the distance. The closest towns are Ubersreik, forty miles west, and Auerswald, twenty five miles north, which can both be reached by road or along the River Teufel. Nuln lies about a hundred and forty miles east along a dangerous overland route.
The road from Ubersreik follows the Teufel north to Auerswald and beyond, bypassing Stormdorf. Given the unreliability of the roads, no coaching lines have regularly scheduled runs to Stromdorf. There is little traffic eastwards; the lonely road to Nuln skirts the Reikwald,
stretching through the haunts of bandits, beastmen, and goblins. Few roadwardens patrol this road. South of Stromdorf, farmers are sometimes forced to use pack animals to carry their produce into market rather than wagons when the rains have turned the dirt roads to little more than muddy strips.
Stromdorf lies near the confluence of three rivers, the wide Teufel, the angry Ober, and the lazy Tranig.
Some say the Teufel’s reddish tint is caused by blood flowing from a never-ending battle between dwarfs and goblins, fought at its source in the mountains near Ubersreik. It flows north passing Auerswald and Grunburg, until it hits the Reik at Castle Reikguard a little more than 100 miles from Stromdorf.
A rickety bridge spans the river about a mile west of Stromdorf. A half mile to the south, the Tranig meets the Teufel near Stromdorf’s Garden of Morr. The Tranig winds lazily from the foothills of the Grey Mountains. No fish live in its black depths, and it is known as Morr’s Stream. Its only crossing point is at a cascade known as Frothing Ford, where boulders behind the waterfall provide stepping stones. Here the local town hero Stichelm won a famous victory against invaders. The Ober roars from a lake high in the Grey Mountains. It disappears into swampland before re-emerging as a gushing torrent a few miles east of Stromdorf, where an old wooden bridge crosses it.
Most journeys from Ubersreik are done by river, and inns dot every dozen miles or so along the Teufel. Roadwardens patrol the banks, guarding against bandits.
Within Stromdorf’s immediate vicinity are the mill and wharfs, the Stromdorf ferry, and the town’s cemetery.
The Stromdorf Ferry
On the west bank of the churning Ober, just north of Stromdorf, a large raft is tethered to a wooden quay, an iron bell hanging from a post nearby. Another quay and bell are on the opposite bank. An empty ramshackle hut stands on the west bank, a rook squatting on a perch by the door, appraising visitors with beady eyes. The ferryman can usually be found drinking at the Thunderwater Inn in Stromdorf.
The Mill & Wharf
The mill is situated a mile north of Stromdorf, where the Ober meets the Teufel. A waterwheel turns lazily alongside an old thatched building of wood and plaster. Nearby is a stable for the mill’s donkeys and a barn to store flour sacks. Eel nets hang in the water. Near the mill is a
rundown wharf, which is rarely used.
To the south of Stromdorf, a large, low-lying flood plain nestles between the Teufel and the Ober, with the Tranig flowing slowly in-between. During the winter, the rivers regularly burst their banks, covering this plain in rich, peaty sediment. As a consequence, farmers take advantage of fertile soil throughout the rest of the year. Farmsteads dot this heavily cultivated region. East of the Tranig are fields of vegetables and cereal crops, as well as hops destined for the town’s brewery.
Much of the land around the Ober is unfarmable – an eerie landscape of sucking slough and twisted trees known as the Oberslecht. To the west of the Tranig, cattle graze in watermeadows, a hardy,
short-horned breed inured to the wet summers and biting winters. The land rises dramatically to form the Blitzfelsen Hills, but before then, the only piece of high ground is Tempest Knap, a high mound topped by ancient ruins.
A great, brown morass of sharp rushes and peat moss extends for many miles southeast of Stromdorf. Clumps of stunted trees and twisted thickets rise from the swampland. The clouds gather blackly over the marshes, rain spattering the mud and lightning splitting the sky.
In those rare moments when the storms abate, it is eerily quiet – no birdsong; only the low drone of the ravenous midges that swarm over the quagmire. Sometimes, at night, the silence is broken by the bark of a mysterious creature, and maybe an answering howl. There are stories of a race of wild half-men living deep in the marsh, but no one dares enter the Oberslecht to corroborate the tales.
The fringes of the Oberslecht provide those living nearby with a few meagre opportunities. Peat is cut from the bog and used as fertilizer and fuel for fires. Some impoverished folk search the edge of the mire for meagre lumps of bog iron which bring in a few extra pennies at Stromdorf market. A brave few head into the Oberslecht to collect eels and other animals that live in the bog, such as frogs, snails, crayfish, and catfish, or to harvest cloudberries. Thunderwater ale
includes these delicious berries in its brewing process.
However, even traipsing around the fringes of the Oberslecht is not without its dangers. Areas of deep mud have sucked victims to their doom, and the mire is home to many wild animals and poisonous plants. If a person goes inexplicably missing in Stromdorf, he or she is said to have ‘Married Mistress Oberslecht.’
This lonely hill dominates the flat landscape all around it. About 150 feet high, crumbling stone walls and a broken pillar crown its summit. The hill seems to be a frequent target of lightning, and the hillside is slick and muddy from the unrelenting rain.
Local lore speaks of the anger of the gods destroying the once-proud tower that stood on the hill, divine vengeance for the hubris of the evil sorcerer who once dwelt there. It is said that the gods still vent their fury on the ruins, hence the constant storms. The ruins have a haunted reputation, and no one dares explore them.