A Traveler’s Guide to the Island of Salzinwuun

The new campaign begins! A group of unconnected individuals have been enslaved and transported to a distant island. They escape from their master’s compound, but find the island is not quite the freedom they had hoped for…

The island of Salzinwuun contains the city of Salzinwuun, which is built around the god-beast Salzinwuun. This can be confusing for outsiders (and highlights that people are rarely original when it comes to naming things), but to the locals the city is the beast, and the island is no more than the overgrown continuation of the city.

The Beast

Before the Tarrasque, and founding of the city, the small island in the middle of the Trackless Sea was all but ignored by the rest of the realms. There is some evidence of habitation by dwarven clans (the descendants of whom are still around, but in much smaller numbers), and other ruins which cannot be attributed to any currently existing civilization. But the history of the island as it is now begins 157 years ago, with the rampage of the beast.

tarrasque_by_jasonengle_dbyoldt-preNo-one knows where the beast came from, or what caused its attack on civilization, but the rampage lasted for months, and laid waste to much of Southwest Faerun. It is also unknown how the creature was transported or lured to the island, but it is known that a great alliance known as the Seven Armies was formed to battle it. Its regeneration made killing it impossible with conventional weapons, but a plan was formed to trap and hold the beast until some means to kill it was found. After great loss of life the Tarrasque was eventually subdued, and pierced with massive javelins, magically enchanted to be immovable and hold the creature in place.

No means to permanently kill the monster was found, but it could not be left unguarded. Far from home, and with supplies running dangerously low, the decision was made for the armies to begin butchery of the Tarrasque. Over time this evolved into full-scale mining of its flesh, bones and skin for food, building materials, and eventually trade goods. It was found that many of the tissues and fluids of the magical creature were useful, and there was a great deal of money to be made in harvesting and refining these goods.

By now the encamped armies had become a town. Many soldiers had left and returned home, but were more than replaced by the influx of traders and craftsmen. Permanent docks were built, and a market sprang up, soon followed by inns, shops, and all other manner of urban buildings, as the city began to take shape.

The City

Salzinwuun today is a full-fledged city, rivaling the likes of Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep in population. However the city sprawls over several miles, from the citadel holding the Tarrasque down to the docks at the coast, and so feels more like a series of loosely-connected towns and villages than a true city.

The city is ruled by the Meridian Guilds, each one responsible for the butchery (and containment) of a different part of the beast. The guilds are primarily concerned with their own upkeep (and profit) however, and so the city is a free and lawless place, where almost all things are permitted.

slavemarket_by_hamsterfly-d3682w0

Continual butchery of the Tarrasque is the primary source of the city’s income, and creates a very different economy to anywhere else. Meat is effectively a byproduct of the ‘mining’ operation, and so it’s very hard for a person to starve in the city. A few farms and smallholdings on the island provide the city with staples like wheat, but most other non-Tarrasque food is imported and so is prohibitively expensive. Water too is in short supply: there is only one small river that serves the city, and the constant stream of the beast’s blood into it poisons the water downstream.

For those in the cities lower classes, life is hard and unforgiving. Many work either harvesting the Tarrasque, or processing the ‘goods’ that are collected. The constant exposure to the beast’s tainted blood and humours (not to mention eating its meat) shows in the people, and many born in the city are mutated or marked in some way. The people of the city are also not particularly religious; generally through apathy, but also perhaps due to the proximity of what they call the ‘god-beast’.

Iron and steel are rare in the city – the indigenous dwarven tribes are rumoured to have a source of metal, but they do not trade. Instead the Tarrasque’s bones, teeth and/or shell are used: alchemically treated to produce substances that fill the same role, although are little more brittle and harder to work with. A ‘typical’ steel sword or suit of chainmail is striking in the city, and generally a show of wealth (or of being an outsider, new to the island).

salzinwuun

The Island

As all trade comes into and out of the port, and is focused on the Tarrasque, the island is generally unexplored, and most citizens stay in the (relative) safety of the city.

Only rough maps exist, but it is known that the island is roughly circular, around 40 miles in diameter, and edged with an almost-continuous ring of mountains. The peak at the centre of the island is known to be a volcano, which periodically spews ash and smoke. The northern half of the island is covered in dense jungle, while the south is mostly dry grasslands. The river that the city sits on is also its sewer, and the constant flow of Tarrasque blood into it leads to its name: the Red River. This river spreads as it flows southwest before meeting the sea, creating the region known as the Blackmarsh.

The island is rumoured to contain all manner of creatures. Axe-Beaks were native to the southern plains, and are now used as beasts of burden in the city. Ferocious lizard-like beasts roam the jungles, and some of these (the smaller ones) have also been domesticated. However many adventurers have gone missing while exploring the island, and those that do return talk of ancient ruins and treasure, fueling further doomed expeditions.

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