Monday, March 28, 2016

The Company of Fools: After the Lady

So, I've been running a 5e D&D game for the past two months.  It's set in a homebrew sword & sorcery world.  Think Conan the Barbarian meets Clash of the Titans, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what the setting is like.
I'm going to be lazy today and, instead of posting more about the Thornhold homebrew, I'm going to share with y'all, the first adventure of the Company of Fools in that world.

The Company of Fools:
After the Lady

14th of Truce, 1002 CI
Our story opens on a dark and stormy night in the city of Ator Aru, at a tavern called Strego’s.  Outside, the wind howled and the rain fell in cold, thick sheets.  Inside the tavern, there was light and warmth and comradery of a kind.
Seated around a table were four travelers: Joeber, a Human Rogue; Woodbridge, a Human Cleric of the god, Arcus; Paan-zi, an Elf Sorcerer with a static electricity issue and Korri, a Human Druid from the Greenwild.
As these four sit talking, the door to the tavern opens admitting a newcomer; a blonde man wearing a woolen cloak.  As he makes his way to the bar, his gaze drifts over the tavern’s customers and stops on Joeber.  Joeber thinks he recognizes the fellow, but can’t remember his name.
A moment later that situation is rectified when the stranger walks over to the table.  He addresses Joeber by name and, when Joeber admits that he doesn’t quite remember the man, the fellow identifies himself as Oryx.  He and Joeber fought side by side during Joeber’s days as a soldier.  Sitting with the party, Oryx reveals his right arm is missing. Joeber comments that this is new and Oryx touches his stump and remarks that he lost the arm in conflict with a champion.
As the group talks, they order more wine. A slave girl approaches with a clay wine jar, but trips and drops the jar.  Joeber tries to catch it but fails miserably, actually knocking the jar into the adjoining table.  It shatters, spilling wine across the tunic of a large man named Bartus.
Bartus rises from the table, incensed, and backhands the slave-girl across the face. Joeber steps up, claiming the fault was his and offering to make amends. He orders more wine but Bartus, egged on by his drunken friends, pours it out on the floor.  Joeber punches him and a fight breaks out.
It ends fairly quickly; the drunks dispatched, mainly, by Joeber.  One of the drunks, who had fled, returns with a pair of city watchmen.  They order Bartus and his pals home for the night, and caution Joeber and his associates about making any more trouble that evening.  As the watchmen leave, the group notices that they lock eyes with Oryx, nod in recognition and leave.
As things settle down in the tavern, Oryx tells Joeber that he might be able to offer him and his companions some work.  It would require discretion, though.  The party agrees that they might be interested and agree to meet with Oryx the next day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Words fail me. I go online and images of violence assault me.  On social media, people shriek and pray and condemn.  All the world is tumult and noise, when all it needs is silence and stillness.

Close your eyes. Take a breath. This is not the new normal. The events in Brussels will never be normal. They should never be considered normal.

Close your eyes. Say a prayer. Speak with your heart, not your mouth.  Let your mind go quiet and still. Take a breath. Offer up your pain and sorrow and sympathy to God. Exhale.

Close your eyes. Take a moment. Be silent and still and grateful.  Hug your loved ones.  Be strong and kind. Be patient.  Be truly human.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Thornhold: Districts of the Lonely City

Thornhold consists of seven Districts, which in turn, contain various neighborhoods.  The city Districts are Wolf, Sabre, Pines, Falcon, Faith, Grayhart and Key.

Wolf District is the northernmost of the city’s seven districts, bordered on the south by Blade Street and the east by Philoma Avenue.  Largely residential, Wolf District is the home to the city’s wealthy upper echelons, many of whom are the descendants of exiled nobles.  In recent decades, however, successful merchants have moved into the neighborhood, marrying into the noble bloodlines.
Notable sites include Wolf Hall, the home of the family who share their name with the district, and Ennis Green, a public park that is popular with residents from all over the Northside.
The most prominent resident of the district is Lord John Wolf, a direct descendent of one of Thornhold’s founding families.  A handsome, charismatic man, Lord Wolf is the oldest serving member of the current Septum Council and, according to some sources, he has his eye on the Eighth Chair.

Sabre District lies directly south of Wolf District and is bounded on the west by the city walls and on the east by Domnia Avenue. Domnia Avenue acts as the official border between Sabre and Pine Districts.  On the south, Sabre District is bordered by the River Cassiel.
Although mostly residential, along Riverside Way are several shops, restaurants and cafes.  Popular destinations include Remus Sochik’s bookshop, near the Brides’ Bridge, and the fashion boutique of Madame Grinna Illery.
One of the district’s best known residents is Andara Desirae, a Tiefling woman who hosts a weekly salon above her tea shop.  The cream of the city’s social set vie for invitations to Mistress Desirae’s, where topics of conversation range from fashion to politics and philosophy.

Sandwiched between the other Northside Districts is Pine District.  Lying at the heart of the Northside, Pine District is bounded on the north by Ennis Green and on the south by the River Cassiel. In addition to its Human majority, Pine District is also the home to a significant number of Thornhold’s Dwarves.
Pine District is the commercial and industrial heart of Thornhold. Most of the city’s manufactories and workshops are here, owned and run by mercantile dwarves. The Ardelart Family, the wealthiest Dwarf family in Thornhold, makes their home in the Pine District. The Dwarven Bank of Ardelart, the only other bank in Thornhold, also has its offices and vaults in Pine District.
Hyatt Niche is the Halfling butler to the Ardelart Family. Impeccably groomed and immaculately dressed, Niche started as an orphan in Faith District. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Ardelarts business holdings and social relationships, and could be a useful source of information if approached properly. On the other hand, if antagonized or threatened, he could prove a dangerous enemy.

Bounded on the north and east by the city walls, on the west by St. Marianica Avenue and on the south by the River Cassiel, the Falcon District is home to a large number of Thornhold’s Tieflings.  With a significant industrial base, second only to that of Pine District, Falcon District’s residents are predominantly poor and middle class.  Many of the properties north of the river have been abandoned, taken over by squatters and criminals.  Despite this crime isn’t really a problem in Falcon District. This is due to the presence of vigilante groups like the Crook and the Orcson’s Fist.
Notable places in Falcon District include The Devil’s Lantern, a popular inn on Riverside Way, and the Church of St. Ajadette the Hospitalier.
A familiar sight in the district is Father Takani, of St. Ajadette’s, taking his morning constitutional along the River Cassiel.

South of the River Cassiel is the Grayhart District. Bounded on the east and south by the city walls, and on the west by Velusa’s Way, Grayhart is dominated by the Monastery of St. Xinquist the Pure.  Grayhart is also the home to Thornhold’s elderly Orc population.
St. Xinquist dominates Grayhart, practically a city within the city.  It stands behind stout stone walls and strong wooden gates.  Many of its lay brothers are Orcs.
Another place of interest in Grayhart is the Orillian Ossuarium. Generations of the bones of Thornhold’s dead reside within the depths of the Ossuarium and on some nights people claim to see strange lights floating around the building. The Ossuarium is tended by the brothers from St. Xinquist.

West of Grayhart, on the other side of Velusa’s Way, is the Faith District. Bordered on the north by the River Cassiel and on the south and west by the city walls, the Faith District is a mishmash of farmers’ fields, mostly abandoned temples, repurposed warehouses and apartment buildings. Most of the district’s farm workers are Halflings, who make their homes around Korsae Square and along River’s Edge.
Notable landmarks in the district include Empty Street, where most of the city’s temples to the old gods were built.  Most of these temples have long been abandoned, their worshipers embracing the Divine Child or freethinking philosophies. Still, not all the old temples have been abandoned; the Temple of Lythander still has devotees who attend, as well as the Temple of Torm.

East of Faith District and south of Grayhart, lies the Key District.  Thornhold’s southernmost district, it is bounded on the south and east by the city walls.  The original site of the city’s government, today the Key District is the site of Hunt College, the only school of higher learning in the city.  Not far away from Hunt College is the Beggars’ Yard, where the city’s indigent and homeless receive alms, and Executioner’s Square where convicted criminals are put to death.
The current Executioner is a human man named Kears Mormu who lives in a small house near Executioner’s Square with his wife, Rynella.  To a stranger they might appear as a pleasant older couple, but Kears has executed hundreds of criminals in his time and is an expert with noose, knife and axe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thornhold: Races of the Lonely City

To be honest, Thornhold is not a large city. With a population of just over seven thousand many Easterners  would barely consider it a city at all.  Nevertheless, it is the largest community west of the Trollhammers.  However, Thornhold’s demographics do not entirely reflect those of the wider world.

Humans comprise the largest percentage of Thornhold’s population.  They dominate the cultural, political and social landscape of the city.  Given the nature of Thornhold’s founding, it’s ironic that most of the contemporary Humans would be considered politically conservative. Spiritually, the majority of Thornhold’s Humans are freethinkers, however the Church of the Divine Child has a strong presence in the city.  There are even followers of the old gods in the city, although most view them as backwards and out-of-step with the times.  Although Humans are scattered through Thornhold, the largest numbers of them can be found in the Wolf and Pine Districts.

Dwarves are the second most populous race in Thornhold.  There are large Dwarf communities in the Pine and Key Districts.  Most of Thornhold’s Dwarves are descended from miners who worked the Trollhammer Mountains. These days, however, Thornhold’s Dwarves are involved in more mercantile pursuits.  Their workshops produce the finest goods in the city which are sold almost exclusively through Dwarf-owned shops. The Dwarves also control one of the two banks in Thornhold, giving them considerable financial influence. As a race, most Dwarves remain conservative and pragmatic.  They cling to the forms of the past, many continuing to worship the old dwarven gods. However, there is a streak of radicalism running through the race. Younger Dwarves are embracing freethinker philosophies and many young Dwarf women are eschewing their traditional roles to pursue careers outside the home.

Visitors to Thornhold are often shocked to discover that Orcs are the third largest ethnic group in the city.  Most of the Orcs in Thornhold are older, born just before or shortly after the Regent’s Curse fell upon the race.  That means the average Thornhold Orc is going to be close to sixty years old. There are more female Orcs in the city than male, with the ratio being three to one. Many female Orcs work as day laborers around the city. Most of the male Orcs, strangely enough, have joined the Monastery of St. Xinqist the Pure as lay brothers. The race has congregated in the Grayhart District and there is even an Orc serving on the Septem Council. That said, most Orcs have no interest in politics. Spiritually, Orcs no longer even pay lip service to their old gods. In Thornhold, many have become agnostic, while others have sought the comfort of other deities. A cult, the Daughters of the Lash, has sprung up among some Orc and Half-Orc women.  Devoted to the Divine Child, the cultists perform acts of self-flagellation in hopes of someday abating the Regent’s Curse and restoring the Orcish people through their Half-Orc offspring.

Halflings comprise a small, but visible segment of Thornhold’s population.  Scattered throughout the city, most Halflings work as domestic servants or in food production.  The former can be a dangerous occupation, as working outside the city walls exposes workers to the caprices of the Fey as well as dangerous monster attacks. Because of this Halfling farmers have moved into the city, settling in the Faith District and developing new agricultural techniques.  Halflings take an interest in city politics, with most considering themselves politically moderate.  Spiritually, most of Thornhold’s Halflings belong to the Church of the Divine Child.  Some still worship the old gods, while a handful have embraced freethinker philosophies.

Nowhere else in the world will Tieflings find the level of acceptance that they do in Thornhold. Barely two centuries old, reviled and distrusted in the East, many Tieflings found a refuge among the early exiles of Thornhold. In a city full of people condemned for the deliberate choices they’d made, the Tieflings, marked by mere circumstances of birth, were regarded more with pity than distrust. As such, Thornhold became a haven for the fledgeling race.  Over time, Tieflings have congregated in the Falcon District, but they can be spotted everywhere in the city, in every sort of occupation.  Politically, in Thornhold, most Tieflings are either conservatives or moderates. Spiritually, the majority of Tieflings are freethinkers.  A minority are fierce adherants to the Divine Child, and even smaller numbers embrace ascetic and libertine lifestyles.

In addition, there are representatives from nineteen other races that call the Lonely City home. Most only have a few members present in Thornhold, but larger groups include: the Gith, descendents of Githyanki and Githzerai, marooned four hundred years ago; the Court of Dusk, a group of Elves who have chosen to remain neutral in the conflict between the Court of Shadows and the Court of Stars, and a group of Darklanders (Drow, Duergar and Deep Gnomes) from the distant south.

Worldbuilding: Races of the World of Thornhold

Although the four common races of D&D (Dwarves, Elves, Halflings & Humans) are present in the World of Thornhold, as well as the more exotic races (Dragonborn, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs and Tieflings), they don’t exist in the same numbers as in other D&D worlds.  There are also 21 other playable races in the World of Thornhold, but for brevity’s sake we will only focus on the ones listed above.

Humans are the most widespread and populous race in the World of Thornhold. They can be found everywhere, from cold Hartun to sweltering Valoria.  The majority of humans, however, exist in the Republic of Sangara.  Because Sangara founded Thornhold, humans comprise the largest percentage of the Lonely City’s population.

Dragonborn are the next most numerous race in the World of Thornhold.  Although originating in the north, Dragonborn can be found scattered across the width and breadth of the East. Dragonborn were created by a wizard named Galentein, during the Century of Ash. Silver and Blue Dragonborn are the most common varieties.  The race had a well-deserved reputation for producing warriors, but these days you’re more likely to encounter a Dragonborn bard rather than a fighter.  Dragonborn exist in the Lonely City, but they do not comprise a major segment of the population.

Dwarves comprise the third largest racial demographic in the World of Thornhold.  In the East, the majority of dwarves reside in the Clarentine Confederacy, living contentedly under the Iron Peace.  The race is probably the most well educated, with many of its members embracing alchemy, chemistry and engineering. Dwarf miners still exist but it isn’t an occupation, or a lifestyle, most dwarves want for themselves or their children.

Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, Tieflings, Orcs, Half-Elves and Half-Orcs combined comprise the next largest segment of the population.

The Elves are a divided people, separated by ideology and belief as much as geography. Many, unable to adjust to the rapid changes in the East, fled west and fully embraced their Fey nature, joining the Court of Stars or the Court of Shadows.  Of those left in the East, many have embraced the Church of the Divine Child. Smaller numbers have turned toward the Deep God of the Fisherman’s Church.  Elves do not make up a majority in the Lonely City and, given the presence of the Thornwood and Darkwood, many in Thornhold view them with suspicion.

Gnomes are not a majority in Thornhold, and have a very minor presence in the East. Although many are fascinated by the technological wonders of the Iron Peace, the Clarentine Confederacy finds the race, in general, too disruptive.  As a race, they are barred from traveling through the Confederacy or living within its borders. Most gnomes in the East live in the south, in Irmalind, Valoria and the Republic of Sangara.

Halflings do comprise a small majority in Thornhold, and in the East can be found living in the lands bordering the Panphillian Sea: the Clarentine Confederacy, Darja and Orsion.  Their lifestyle has remained largely unchanged for centuries.  Most Halflings still pursue agrarian careers, but in the Confederacy a growing number of Halflings are joining the bureaucracy that serves the Iron Peace.

Tieflings are a fairly new race in the World of Thornhold.  They can trace their origin to the Traitor Empress, Elynor the Damned, who brought down the First Republic of Sangara when she seized the Imperial Throne from her husband, Benedict the First. Unfortunately, Elynor was unable to hold onto the throne. Besieged by an army, Elynor made a deal with the Devil, serving him in exchange for eternal youth and beauty.  The Traitor Empress got what she wanted but her descendants bear the mark of her sin.  Tieflings are reviled in the Republic and viewed with deep distrust throughout the East. Many fled west and some found a haven of sorts in the Lonely City.

The Orcs are dying.  Sixty years ago, the Orc Horde attacked and looted the Cathedral of the Divine Child. They butchered the Regent of the Church who, with her dying breath, cursed the race.  Since that day, Orcs cannot breed among themselves; they must find mates from other races. The Regent’s Curse shattered the Orc Horde.  Some embraced the very Church that cursed them, others saw the Curse as a justification for the most vile and despicable acts. Today, the Orcs are a shattered, scattered, elderly race on the verge of extinction.

Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are almost flip sides of the same coin.  Neither faction enjoys a majority in Thornhold, and the same holds true for the nations of the East.
Half-Orcs are more common than Half-Elves, and, in the East, most are the result of rape. They are most common in Valoria, which has a sizable Orc slave population, and Aldrich. Given the nature of their conception and parentage, Half-Orcs are stigmatized in the East. Many journey into the West, hoping to find a place among their Orc cousins. Half-Orcs are welcome among Orcs begrudgingly, serving as a living reminder that the pureblood race is doomed.
Half-Elves are less common than Half-Orcs, and face a stigma of a different sort. Usually begot on willing partners, either through seduction or arcane trickery, Half-Elves are often viewed as the product of sinful lust. Viewed with pity and scorn by most humans, Half-Elves are viewed with derision by their full-blooded kinsmen.  Many Half-Elves spend their lives traveling, in search of a place that will accept them.

The races listed above are the most numerous in the World of Thornhold, but there are several others available to player characters including:  Aarakocra, Bugbears, Bullywugs, Deep Gnomes, Drow, Duergar, Githyanki, Githzerai, Gnolls, Goblins, Grimlocks, Hobgoblins, Kenku, Kobolds, Kuo-Toa, Lizardfolk, Merfolk, Quaggoth, Sahuagin, Thri-Kreen and Troglodytes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Worldbuilding: Thornhold - Part 2

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Now the devil gets to creep into the details.
We've got our city, Thornhold. The Lonely City. But what about the rest of the world?  Who founded Thornhold?
The Saragan Empire founded Thornhold, 200 years ago, as a placeholder for them to lay formal claim to a region north of the Trollhammer Mountains. But that wasn't feasible because of the Flux, so Thornhold became a city of exile where the Empire sent its troublemakers. This lasted for 50 years before the Empire was caught up in the Butcher's Revolution.  The Revolution lasted a decade before it ended and the Republic of Saragan, sometimes called the Diamond Republic, came into existence. 
By this point, Thornhold was a name on old paperwork, a frontier city the Republic didn't care about. If it was even still around. 
Thornhold still existed and people still came to live there, but the newcomers were not political agitators but refugees fleeing persecution or the frequent wars erupting among the Eastern nations. Most of the people who fled west, seeking Thornhold did not find it. Most of them died. Some did make it though and found a new life in the Lonely City.
Over the next century, Thornhold would see the trickle of refugees slowly replaced by asylum seekers. In the East, the nation of Clarentine collapsed into anarchy and was only restored when an alliance of wizards, alchemists and engineers created an autonomous mechanical army to restore the peace.  This Iron Peace continues today, the Confederacy of Clarentine now a nation ruled with clockwork efficiency and cold logic. Anarchists, protesters and free-thinkers are executed with mechanical precision. Most flee if given the opportunity and some make it to distant Thornhold.
The other source of asylum seekers is the Fisherman's Church.  The Fisherman's Church had existed as a modest cult in the East for centuries, but had risen to power over the past 50 years. Today the nation of Bracha is practically run by the Fisherman's Church and their influence extends throughout the north. Their Fisher Knights enforce Church doctrine from chilly Hartun to the sun-kissed shores of the Panphillion Sea. Princes and paupers alike pray to the Deep God of the Fisherman's Church if they don't want to be drowned as a blasphemer and heretic.
A different sort of newcomer arrives from the southern nations. Runaway princes from noble Valorian houses, opportunistic smugglers from Irmalind, arcane researchers from Aldrich and Valdis, mountebanks and criminal scum from the latest version of the Diamond Republic. They all find their way to Thornhold, for one reason or another, and the city welcomes them with open arms and the promise of the headsman's axe if they get out of line.

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Worldbuilding: Thornhold

I was talking with someone at my job the other day about the D&D campaign I'm running. They were surprised I wasn't using a module or setting it in one of the pre-generated worlds associated with the game.  Then they asked how I went about creating a campaign setting from scratch?
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I usually start with a name.
Names are important. Knowing someone's name was once thought to give you power over them. In many ways, names continue to define us.
So,if I was going to start a new campaign, I'd find a name to anchor it too.
For this example, let's use the name Thornhold.
When I think of the name, Thornhold, it immediately conjures up something out of a dark fairytale. The ruins of a once-great castle, surrounded by a forest of thorn trees.  Haunted thorn trees.
Immediately, elements of story are starting to present themselves: a fairy tale setting where 'happily ever after' never happened or happened so long ago it's no longer relevant. And a spooky, haunted forest. Except, it's not haunted by ghosts. Or just by ghosts.  It's haunted by the Fey.
We could totally build a whole new setting just out of the description above; a D&D campaign set in a dark fairy tale world.  It would work.  That would totally work.
But what about Thornhold? It's the name of a city, obviously. An isolated city with a mysterious past? Maybe. It's isolated by the Thornwood. Why is it isolated? How was it founded? What was it's purpose? Is it still fulfilling that purpose or has it gone in a totally different direction?
First things first. Let's figure out how old Thornhold is.  Roll a die. Get a 2.  
So, Thornhold is about two hundred years old.  Is it a proper city? Or a large town? Maybe a city with the population of a large town? So there would be lots of empty buildings and abandoned, decaying houses?  Gothic and spooky.
But let's not get distracted.  Thornhold is 200 years old.  It's isolated. There are no other cities or towns near it and the Thornwood is difficult to get through. Why build a community there? Maybe it started as a military outpost? Maybe it was a place-holder for an expanding empire which wanted to harvest the resources of the region.  That would work.
Only there were difficulties.  Economic troubles. Political unrest back home. In the East. Exploitation wasn't feasible but an isolated community would be an ideal place to exile people you couldn't risk martyring.  Political exiles. Social agitators. People you'd want out of the way but not necessarily dead.
Yes, that sounds good. Thornhold became a city of exiles and rejects.  But how do they get there? Overland? Too slow. Too dangerous.  There could be a river passing through the city. It would make sense to build a community near a source of water.  So, there's a river.  What to call it? Names have power. Do we want to give it a fairy tale name? No. Let's go further abroad. Instead of fairies lets look at angels.
A quick Google search gives me a good name.  Cassiel. The River Cassiel. The Cassiel River. It flows through Thornhold and the Thornwood. Bisecting both. Rolling east through the woods and maybe some mountains? Mountains would be good. Just to reenforce Thornhold's isolation. Yes, we'll have mountains.
The Trollhammer Mountains. The Trollhammers.  Heh. Back to the fairy tale stuff.
So, people get to Thornhold via the river. Just the river? What about other ways? Magic? No. Thornhold is isolated. There's got to be a reason teleportation spells don't work.  Maybe it's in a low magic area? Maybe spells above, say, level three don't work in the city? Is it natural? The effects of a curse? An enchantment? Is it like that everywhere? Or does magic work differently in different parts of the world? That might be interesting.  We'll make that cannon.
Magic in the world is in flux.  Maybe because science is on the rise? We'll decide later. But high level spells don't work in Thornhold.
Back to the city. Exiles arrive by boat. Just boat? Maybe airships. Gaily colored blimbs? Rigid zeppelins? Tech here is maybe more 18th century than Medieval? That could be interesting.
Ooh! There would be firearms! Sold!
So, back to air ships. Why not literal air-ships? Ships made of wood. Magic wood. Wood that's lighter than air. Light as a feather. Featherwood.  Air-ships made of featherwood, expanding the Empire's reach! I like! So, people arrive in Thornhold via the River Cassiel and the occasional air-ship.
But what sort of city do they arrive in?  It's got walls. With a name like Thornhold, it's going to have walls. Serious walls. Thick and tall. Gothic walls. Gray stone walls enveloping a city, bisected by a river. Bisected north and south.
How many neighborhoods does Thornhold have? Time to open PhotoShop! Open a Hex Map file, fill in some hexes to represent the walls. Okay. Got an outline of the city. Now we add the river and then we start breaking it down into neighborhoods/districts.
Seven. Seven districts and seven is a magic number. It's a lucky number. So, seven districts. What to name them? More fairy tale stuff? Eh. Maybe something more rustic. Things start to pop into place.
Wolf District in the north, then Sabre, Pine and Falcon. The River Cassiel splitting the city. The south districts: Faith, Greyhart and Key.  Named for the city's seven founding families.
Hmm. If the city is separated why not the Thornwood. Maybe there's two forests. The Thornwood to the south of the River Cassiel and something worse to the north. Something darker. 
The Darkwood.
Oooh! Fey are sometimes divided into opposing courts! I'll put the Seelie Court in the Thornwood and the sinister Unseelie Court in the Darkwood!  And Thornhold in the middle between these two warring factions!
Okay, so what we've got so far: Thornhold is an isolated city, established 200 years ago and used as a dumping ground for Imperial troublemakers. The city has high stone walls and seven districts. High level magics don't work there and, just outside of the city walls, are the Thornwood and the Darkwood.
What next? Probably more history. ^_^