The town of Loudwater sits at the confluence of the Delimbiyr and Grayflow rivers. The forested shoulders of the Star Mounts rise above the town in the northwestern sky. These cloud-veiled peaks remind the townspeople that beyond the town’s walls stretch wild lands, where deadly monsters threaten the unwary.
Merchants, caravan guards, local craftsfolk, hunters, farmers, and retired adventurers treat the Green Tankard Tavern in Loudwater as a second home. In the tavern’s common room, talk turns to tales of hostile tribes and barrows glimpsed through mists; folk speak warily of goblins in the Southwood, and of ancient, ruined kingdoms.
The tavern attracts young and old with its warm company and tall tales. But before buying an ale for one of the inn’s regulars, a visitor should think carefully. Many adventures have started from stories exchanged over cheap ale and greasy food, but not all have ended with the glorious exploits of which bards sing. An old story or a wrinkled map could be the doorway to adventure—or the path to a quick death.
Loudwater offers a well-defended rest stop for caravans and riverboats. Nearby communities such as Llorkh and Zelbross lie in ruins, yet Loudwater survives, albeit with a diminished population, which holds steady at about 2,000. To the north stand the brooding trees of the High Forest. To the south is the High Moor, infamous for monsters that lurk in the mists, guarding the ruins of bygone kingdoms. Loudwater feels like a frontier town despite having once boasted a greater population. Its days of boundless prosperity are a century gone, and most of the town’s current residents, which include primarily humans and half-elves, are not old enough to recall them. Loudwater never fully recovered from the disruption of trade brought about in the wake of the disastrous Spell-plague, yet unlike many towns, it at least still stands.
1. Town Gates: A large gateway leads under a tall wall and opens onto the streets of Loudwater. Several bored-looking guards stand watch at the entrance.
2. South Square: Carts and tents surround a large communal well in the center of this plaza. The citizens of Loudwater bustle about the area, shopping for food, clothing, and crafts.
3. Garwan’s Curiosities: A sign bearing the image of a unicorn horn, an hourglass, and the words “Garwan’s Curiosities” hangs at the front of this store. Windows provide a view of bizarre items, including a shrunken head, candy wrapped in colorful leaves, playing cards, smoking accessories, fancifully decorated tankards, and more.
4. Starra’s Knives: This dimly lit shop smells of oil and steel. The southern wall has a large display containing hundreds of different knives and daggers.
5. Green Tankard Tavern: A sign with a green-painted tankard of ale proclaims the nature of this establishment. The tavern’s large common room holds a gregarious group that includes townspeople, riverboat folk, merchants, farmers, and one or two individuals wearing the badges of the Loudwater Patrol.
6. Loudwater General: A hanging sign shows this large building to be Loudwater General. From other signs on the storefront, the place appears to carry everyday goods necessary to those living on the frontier.
7. Stables: The earthy scent of hay and manure is strong in this wide building. The whinny of horses and the snort of oxen indicates that the building houses many beasts of burden. Carts, wagons, and other transports are also parked nearby.
8. Loudwater Smithy: The clank of metal on metal, the hiss of steam, and the roar of flames issues through the open door of this establishment. A hammer and anvil decorate a sign hanging over the door.
9. Loudwater Apothecary: A sign displaying several oddly shaped bottles hangs over the door of this shop. A dozen different scents waft through the doorway, including tangy musk, cinnamon spice, orange peel, baking bread, and gunpowder.
10. Patrol Headquarters: The symbol of a crossed sword and axe is blazoned high on this building. The clangs of metal and shouts from within indicate a fight might be underway.
11. Tenements and Homes: These dwellings crowd together within the walls, taking advantage of all available space. The buildings vary in quality; some appear well kept and house only one family, while others contain many families that have squeezed in together.
12. Temple: A temple is separated from the shops, homes, and tenements of Loudwater by a small hedge. The vine-covered walls of the temple rise high above the walls of Loudwater, and the spire’s tip appears to reach a full 100 feet above the ground. The symbol of an oak leaf gleams with its own emerald light above the grand archway leading into the temple.
13. Docks Gate: An inner wall, smaller than the walls surrounding Loudwater, separates the town’s northern dock district from the rest of the town. The gate between the two areas stands open and unguarded.
14. Docks: Several large log structures in the northeast section of Loudwater store the goods of merchants doing business in the town. By day, people bustle about the area, transferring barrels and crates between the storehouses and trade ships. The docks are small and allow only a limited number of ships to moor. Several small fishing boats vie with larger ships for space along the docks. By night, raucous noises issue from the pub situated along the west wall.
15. Fisher’s Friend Pub: The overwhelming odor of spirits and smoke wreathes this tavern. Calloused dockworkers and fishers drink and gamble away their pay. Wizened old men and women sip their ale in silence, waiting for an opportunity to tell a tale of the river.
16. Manor House: This grand manor house is a jewel of dwarven craftsmanship. The building includes its own stable, buttery, and servants’ home. The manor appears to be over two hundred years old, and it looks as though it might weather another two hundred.
17. Run-Down Tenement: This decrepit, abandoned tenement building sits dejectedly in Loudwater’s northwestern corner. No doors or windows keep out the elements or the squatters.