So years later, I'm finally getting around to GMing a game. The town I'm writing up is for a homebrew setting of mine, with custom races, gods, etc., but I think I should post it here anyway for critiquing purposes. The campaign(and possibly the setting) is called Fiends of the Heathen Key, and it's(very loosely) based on the Byzantine Empire. I'm starting it off at level 1, but I want to lay groundwork for future higher-level adventures set in the same locale. Right now I'm done giving the place stats and I'm in the process of writing its history. I'm going for a grimdark feel, but trying not to rob my players of fun in the process.
A fishing and trade town on the northern coast of the Eonates. For the most part, it consists of a large, shallow bay, but the land rises to the west, dropping off sharply into a limestone cliff and shading the waters to the west of the town. The rest of the town is hot, humid, noisy, and bright by day and night alike, and the stink of dead fish is masked only by the sting of salt, the smell of good food, and the various fragrant wares of merchants. The overcrowded cyan shallows are webbed with ramshackle docks, and somehow, amid the frantic roil of daily activity, fishermen and merchants are able to function in relative harmony. Still, it's a port town like any other, and rumor has it that you can find anything you're looking for in a town like this, for the right price...
Type: Large Town(2,001-5,000)
Government: Secret Syndicate
Corruption: 2 Crime: 4 Economy: 3 Law: -6 Lore: 1 Society: -1
Danger: 15 Base Value: 3,200gp Purchase Limit: 20,000gp Spellcasting: 5th
Qualities: Notorious, Prosperous, Rumormongering Citizens
Towns like Roivos have been around since the beginning of history. People gather where the fishing is good, deplete their stocks, and return generations later, ignorant of their predecessors' mistakes. Roivos is only the latest in a long line of fishing towns built on the same foundations. However, Roivos has found a foothold this time around as a minor hub of trade, and merchants freely mingle with the fishermen. This iteration was founded in 3P 78, but you could hardly call it a founding. A survey team was doing some mapping, they found some rotted old shelters, and the fishing stocks were good. Within the decade, it was a functioning settlement, and it's flourished in the centuries since. But with success comes corruption and vice, and rumours circulate that Roivos is home to a thriving criminal underbelly.
This year, 3P 815, a new kephale has been appointed following the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor. The kephale, Theophilus Ignatius Mauricius Florian Honoratus, appears well-intentioned, but young and naive.
Roivos, like many other coastal fishing towns, was once a place of worship for the old sea god Cthogan. In the Third Great Purge, Cthogan was erased with the rest of the pagan gods, but its memory remains. Over the eons, coastal villagers have lived and died at the whims of the ancient colossus, and the Purge brought an end to the old cycle. This is why Roivos has remained when so many of its predecessors have come and gone.
When the surveyors found the remnants of the previous village, there were still some holy symbols and various other minor trinkets lying around. A member of the team, Zeno Pelagius Symeon, brought back one of these trinkets as a keepsake, but it proved to be in incredibly bad judgment. The Third Purge was still in fairly recent memory, and the Ecclesiarchy was in a heretic-burning frenzy. They learned of his souvenir, took him in for questioning, and tortured him to death, dumping his body in the sea. Years later, he washed ashore in the very bay he'd helped discover, face to face with a symbol of Cthogan. His eyes opened, ruined by the saltwater, and he realized that the mad god of the sea had granted him an awful gift: The gift of a second life. Ever since, he's been dwelling in the sea caves under Roivos, driven half-mad by his own undead existence and plotting his revenge on the Ecclesiarchy.
Zeno isn't alone, however. Cthogan's been pulling strings in high places, and there's been an unusual number of freak births in Roivos. The Innocents, undersized half-dead progeny of the cursed, are typically thrown in the sea when their parents discover their nature... and they wash right up in the caves with Zeno. He's become something of a twisted father figure to these creatures, and he regards them with genuine affection. He mourns for their deaths, and with each one to pass on, he curses his immortal fate again. Occasionally, he plays at being a fortune teller in town, but he knows that he can't afford to be seen for the immortal he is. Luckily for Zeno, his adopted kin are just as small as children, and he can maintain the appearance of a line of succession by employing them as apprentices. In this fashion, he's manipulated events in Roivos, slowly corrupting it into a hotbed of criminal activity. Today, Roivos is functionally ruled by an uneasy network of perpetually feuding gangs.
(I'll expand on this later)