We’re at the top of week three of Facility23 and it’s going really well. Working with The Story Engine cards is massive fun and the setting is coming together really well. It’s so much fun in fact, I did one draw too many last week. Instead of ignoring it, I decided to do something different. Just two rules; it can’t be science fiction and if I used illustrations they needed to be Creative Commons and attributable. The result is for Dungeon23 and is below, along with the cards I drew to build it. So, if you’re a fantasy GM in need of a location, an NPC and some REALLY good doggos, might I suggest stopping off in Wetcliff?
- Region: River
- Landmark: Hub
- Namesake: Of Mines
- Origin: Birthplace of a famous political leader
- Attribute: Renowned dog breeders or trainers
- Advent: The state is launching new control measures on the population.
Welcome to Wetcliff
Wetcliff is not the most auspicious place to start your life. A two mile wide hole in the ground, the home of the largest mining operation in the kingdom, Wetcliff is a town perched on the side of it’s sole industry; mining. It’s geographical location is it’s political location; vital, underfunded, overlooked, on the edge, always a second away from collapsing. Or exploding.
The miners of Wetcliff do the most dangerous work in the Kingdom and do it with the fatalistically cheerful pride of people who know their lives will be short and glorious. They suffer no fools, take no prisoners and the Ashton Hounds are their pride and joy.
Bred to carry loads up from the mines, pull medical sleds and even guard babies while their parents are away, Ashtons are dogs the size of small horses. They’re intensely loyal, relentlessly hard-working and not quite impossible to kill. Much like the people who raise them.
There are rumours the Ashton Hounds were bred from the wolfpacks that used to infest the area. There are other rumours that the Ashton Hounds have not been bred at all and simply appeared one day, ready to work with the people of the region. The truth is, ultimately, irrelevant. What matters most to the people of Wetcliff is that they have fearsome allies, even in the dark. Especially in the dark.
Jonja Lopol was born with dirt under her fingernails, at the base of Tunnel 6. She lived and worked in the mines until she was 12, her parents lost to a cave-in. At 12 she was a linewoman. At 16 she was a line boss. At 18 she was in prison. A kingdom representative had beaten one of her workers in front of her for daring to take a break. Jonja beat the woman the exact way she had one of Jonja’s team and set her to work. When the King’s guard arrived, she surrendered peacefully, explained her case and was sentenced to death.
Wetcliff stopped. 250,000 workers downed tools. No one spoke. No one moved.
Inside a day, the king sent in strikebreakers. The Ashton Hounds killed ten of them.
Inside a week, the army were sent in. The tunnel collapse they caused trapped a division. The miners in the area stood up, worked to rescue the soldiers, tended to them and then sat back down. The army joined them.
The king sent a negotiator. Inside two weeks, Jonja was free, the miner’s working conditions had improved as had their pay and the king was working very hard to move on to the next crisis.
That was two years ago. In the intervening time, Jonja has become the universally elected governor of the new province of Wetcliff. She oversees improvements to miner’s housing and conditions and regularly works shifts herself. She is never without Borso and Arkus, her two Ashton hounds and bodyguards.
She is never called the Queen of Wetcliff to her face. But that’s the name she’s called in the King’s court. At least, the polite one…