Singing Trail/Hilltown

From: Smith Harald C (smith.hc@mellon.com)
Date: Tue 17 Feb 1998 - 23:30:00 EET


Simon writes:
>I have had Tales #16 for quite some time now and have only just got round
to playing "The Singing Trail" by Harald Smith (and I illusrated the
scenario!). I am just writing to thank Harald for making a scenario which
caused my players to never draw a sword, never kill anyone and sing like
little choir boys. Hurrah for "Role Playing!"

Thanks and I'm glad you and your players enjoyed it. And I did enjoy the
illustrations, too.

>My party have just arrived in Hilltown, is there any details on this
other than what little is available in print? I am looking for stuff on the
Palace,
the Royal Family, the Temple distribution and any really interesting public
buildings.

There is some, though I will confess that I never fully fleshed out the
city. The
following is what I remember off the top of my head without digging through
piles
of old notes. And bear in mind that I've been actively working on fleshing
out
more of the history of Vanch and Imther (yes, they have a common heritage),
so there is a strong likelihood that some of this will change.

Hilltown was founded, I currently believe, in the post-Arkat period,
probably
between 450 and 500 ST. It is situated near one of the doorways to the
Mostali
complex in the Imther Mountains though not the main one (this doorway is
called Underhill by the locals). I think the founder was Ronon, who later
formed
a tribe centered on this site. Post-Arkat, 2nd Age Vanch and Imther saw a
number of new tribes form in the aftermath of the Arkati army's march north
and this was one of them.

The settlement is walled and is situated across a hill at the edge of the
Imther
Mountains. I'm sure the original wall was broken at several times--the
proximity
to the dwarf doorway made it a target of trolls raids in this early dark
period.
Later wars with the EWF probably made it a subject of attack, though it was
far enough out of the mainstream to be a common target.

One of the main trails into the Imther Mountains extends east from here. I
believe the layout and position of the city is such that all traffic
descending
from the mountains must come through Hilltown so it serves as a trade center
(though mainly of goods from the mountain herders plus the annual metal
quota delivered by the dwarfs).

Hilltown grew when Imthus and Aidea met and married and fashioned the
first dynasty (the Ingrin) that ruled the Imther Mountains. This and
subsequent
dynasties are noted for the Horned Helmet worn by the Imtherian tribal
kings.

The Royal Palace has had time to grow over the centuries and believe it has
only been sacked a couple of times (by Verenmars around 970 ST and probably
after the Dragonkill by refugees). I note that the Lunars under Hwarin did
not
sack Hilltown but made alliance with the Imtherians at that point. There
may
have been more conflicts with other Vanchite tribes that have not yet been
detailed (especially since many Vanchites view the Imtherian clans as
rebellious
offspring). The Royal Palace is noted for its King's Wing and its Queen's
Wing
joined in the center by an open court where the King and Queen (called the
Kharex in the local tongue) sit in judgment. I think the King's Wing is to
the north
and the Queen's Wing to the south of the court.

Other items of note in the city include: the Singing Trail which comes right
to the
city and merges with the city wall; the Pilgrim's Trail which is the road
into the
Imther Mountains and leads to the Valley of the Kings and Queens (which is
the
marriage site of Imthus and Aidea); the Lunar Provincial Embassy where the
local Lunar functionaries are housed (I think this is adjacent to the Royal
Palace
but on the west side); the Royal Counting House which is where all
dwarf-made
goods come (it is adjacent to the Royal Palace on the east side and connects
to the Pilgrim's Trail as well as the northeast running street that leads to
the
dwarf doorway at Underhill).

Hilltown is not a large city--it probably only has about 3000 residents.
This includes
the King's Guard and the Queen's Guard--each about 100 sworn warriors--who
dwell in barracks within the palace complex and serve to man the city walls
and the
palace walls and corridors. The revenues from the royal metal monopoly are
enough
to support the Treasury Guard--about 50 warriors who protect the Royal
Counting
House and help escort caravans coming from the Central Mine.

There are temples to Khelmal and Nealda and a temple to Imthus & Aidea. At
the
end of the Singing Trail, inside the city wall is a shrine to Hwarin
Dalthippa (which
includes a large statue of Hwarin standing victorious beside King Memnon in
the open marketplace here) and the other Lunar deities. There is a shrine
to Lokarma
which I think is inside the city wall but by the Pilgrim's Trail Gate (I
think there
are just the two main gates though I think all the citizens believe that
there is a
secret exit from the Royal Palace).

As for the Royal Family, King Margor and Queen Abastis are the last of their
line.
Margor and Abastis hold the secret of trade with the dwarfs, but have no
heirs.
The Queen is barren (probably from a Lunar curse of some vintage) and the
King
is constantly seeking cures for this. The King of Vanch is of course hoping
to
reclaim Imther for his own and has been working to secure this (though the
Queen
of Holay is pressing claims of her own to at least some of Imther) at
whatever
point the King and Queen die. One of my original campaigns was to recover
the
lost artifacts that would allow a new Imtherian king to emerge with rights
to trade
with the dwarfs (this right was established before the Dawn by the original
goat-
herding peoples of the mountains who were called the Sidarsi).

I never determined that there was much else interesting here, though I'd be
happy
to hear of any discoveries you make! My view on Hilltown was that it was
the
home of the Imtherian royalty, the Lunar embassy, and the start (if you
will) of
the Singing Trail and the road into the Empire. I'll probably discover
more, though,
as more of the Second Age history of Vanch and Imther is defined.

Hope that helps and I'd be happy to answer other questions as you come
across
them. If I find some other relevant pieces, I will try to post here.

>Also is there any chance that a new "New Lolin Gospel" will ever grace my
shelves?

Yes, though my work schedule (and home schedule now that I have a daughter
around) make it hard to find the time to do so. My current guess is later
1998,
but that remains to be seen. I certainly have plenty of material to draw
from
(the two volumes of the Imther pack run to about 300 edited pages alone),
but
I do need to spend time with it to get pieces changed to reflect changing
thoughts
on Vanch and Imther.

Harald

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