You've been in and out of Garamond for most of your life. Baron Velden et Ritler has, for as long as anyone remembers, been the tyrannical ruler of the town. Rumour has it that he fought in the war as a young man, and magical assistance from the Feyfolk has given him a lifespan longer than any normal human. The people have grown hard under his rule; he runs a tight ship, with curfews carefully maintained and races other than humans and half-orcs traditionally unwelcome (though not technically forbidden) within the village limits.
In the past 10 years, however, he has become more..."tolerant" suggests kindness, whereas most simply consider it weakness and a decreasing interest in Garamond. As a result, the town has obtained a small goliath population, though they mostly live in the slums and are looked down upon by all tax-paying citizens. (taxes are collected by the corrupt and greedy soldiers, who don't consider the broke area of town worth the potential risk.)
Over the past decade the Baron has moved his focus away from the racial purity of Garamond, and focused on the forest. No one is quite sure why, but he has seemingly become obsessed with clearing the forest of bandits, sending groups of soldiers in there monthly. At the same time, rumours of deals between local bandits and the Baron are plentiful, as well as the more malicious rumour that he has been selling his political enemies (and even his own men) to the slavers known to operate from within the forest.
For as long as the Baron has been ruling the town, the resistance has been opposed to him. They have not, however, done much other than the occasional public protest, which is quickly met with imprisonment or death for anyone seen and caught...typically minutes after the protest begins. In the early days of his reign, the Baron was known to hunt and publically execute leaders of the resistance. For the past 50 years, however, he has mostly ignored them, but this hasn't changed the result of the efforts at all.
Over the past few years, despite their acceptance as equal citizens most everywhere in Greenhammer, Half-orcs have found themselves more and more looked down upon by humans in Garamond. (Goliaths already tend to hate them, as a rule.)
Taxes used to be strictly scheduled, but now? It's "whenever they want some coins". They make sure to have enough to pass onto the Baron, so the numbers always add up, but since he stopped being interested in the town it's started to get out of control.
Regions of the town:
- The Slums: home of the Goliath population of Garamond, this is a rough area under gang rule. Even the Taxmen (high-ranking soldiers) avoid this area. It contains about 30% of the population, and the roughest tavern in town: Goliath House.
- Mill's Corner: populated by half-orcs and humans in a roughly even split, this is where the bulk of the population live. Also known as 'Tax-town', this area is under Taxmen rule, with a strict curfew (sundown) and rough street patrols. The bulk of the resistance are located here, as well as the town jails, and all the big stores: Fiery Armour (Blacksmith), Zymboly's Barrel (General Store).
There are several taverns (Fortune's Ale, Traveller's Rest, the Shining Coin) and two Inns in the town. Ritler's Rein is the larger Inn, populated by Taxmen and most citizens. Resistance meetings are typically kept here because it's large (and easy to blend in) and the Taxmen who are in the building tend to be drunk. Half-orcs can sometimes face trouble in here, and Goliaths are never seen.
The Chalice of Cheer is much smaller, and tends to be the automatic choice of Inn for half-orcs, which has, with increasing frequency, led to regular "surprise inspections" by the Taxmen.
- Gaton: Home of Garamond's upper-class (including the Baron), this is a fenced-off community where the citizens enjoy a much less oppressive existence than the rest of Garamond...provided they stay on the Baron's good side. The town hall and courthouse are both in Gaton, and the entire region is well-protected by the town guard.
It contains only one tavern, The Illustrious Tankard. Also in Gaton is the Glimmering Pearl, a jewellery store, and Unending Fancy, a magic store. The local Mage Guild office is rumoured to be located in Gaton, but (being a secret society) no one knows exactly where they are...and, being a Mage's Guild, the location is not necessarily stationary.
- The Barracks are just outside of town, a large building which houses and trains the town guards. It is also used to store any valuables; an ex-castle, it's near-impossible to penetrate and used to house any particularly dangerous prisoners, as well as accommodate visiting dignitaries or royals. During the Drow War, it was the central planning hub for the entire region.
Other key figures:
- Red Grimmshank is the owner of Ritler's Rein - a snivelling, sicophantic Human, he named the pub after Ritler to curry favour. He has little real power outside his tavern, but due to significant discounts holds great sway over any Taxmen while they're between his establishment's walls. He is also privvy to more governmental gossip than most anyone else in town.
- Gobar is the Baron's head guard, a female Half-orc of exceptional strength and skill. The Baron's rule rewards corruption, and she got to her position of power using her talents in that area.
- Bae Zymboly runs the general store and is the citizen most beloved by the population. If the town were a mayorship, he would certainly win the popular vote. He is human and married to a half-orc. You know Bae Zymboly - everyone does. And he knows you; he knows everyone in the town. You have a recurring joke - whenever you come into the shop, he tosses you an apple (you hate apples!). He's just a lovely guy, always with a twinkle in his eye.
- Trilana Shawspear is your main contact within the resistance. She's the daughter of a noble family, and is extremely in tune with the population, both noble and common which serves you well when she's finding you jobs, but also means she's acutely aware of your unpopular Half-orc origins. She is a Human with Eladrin blood in her family four or five generations back, a fact she is inordinately proud of.
- Pogar is the large and bombastic Half-orc owner of the Chalice of Cheer. He's always been friendly to you when you've needed to stay in town, and his half-daughter Corg seems to have a crush on you.
- Hork is the Half-orc who runs the temple. He is kind and generous and has been completely unable to comprehend the recent anti-Orc sentiments of the population. He hates Orcs as much as anyone, but sees half-Orcs as a completely different race, and can't understand how easily people equate them.
- Jet Adderlin, a portly Human, is the town jailer. His corruption is matched only by his extreme laziness.
The town is not overly religious - it's currently considered quite "trendy" to worship Avandra, so there is a small temple in Gaton. The Slums contain a large and busy Roknar temple, for the Goliath population, and there is a largish Gruumsh temple in Tax-town, though the recent increase in xenophobia has resulted in fewer and fewer worshippers willing to publically flaunt their Orcish heritage. A tiny Corellon temple is also located in Tax-town, though it is only open once every week.
Culture and customs:
- In Garamond, no one eats or drinks while wearing armour, even the guards. All taverns and food halls will have special armour racks, and not even the most corrupt Taxmen would think of leaving with armour that isn't theirs.
- The curfew has led to most citizens being extremely early risers, with lunch being eaten well before noon, and most stores closing by 3 pm.
- Long hair is considered a sign of fertility. Unclean hair is taken as a symbol of disinterest in procreation; conversely, clean hair is a sign of availability. Touching hair is considered extremely forward and flirtatious.
Adventuring parties are rarely seen in Garamond, although every few years a wizard or two will drop by to visit the forest. One Elf comes into town every few months for supplies and disappears into the forest again; little is known about her. A visiting party of Humans and Half-Orcs wouldn't turn any heads; an Elf or a Dwarf would be discussed for a few weeks afterwards, and a Deva, Eladrin or Dragonborn would probably draw the attention of even the Baron himself. Carnival folk are common, travelling merchants or teachers are expected every few months at least, and
The biggest events of the year are the Day of Harvest, which is a townwide celebration (and the first day of the year) - all the babies born in the last twelve months are named, and officially blessed as Garamond citizens by the Baron.