The city of Hildebrande is a medium-sized city located on the shores of Pocket Bay, between the two forests just northwest of Gorogan’s Maw. Its primary source of wealth has traditionally been from its large shipyards, but in recent years commerce has dwindled in this are due to the oversized influence of the crime guild known as the Syndicate. Using means both mundane and magical, the Syndicate has a stranglehold over the wharves, and this has resulted in a lot of commerce that previously came to Hildebrande going elsewhere. The citizens of Hildebrande are suffering from a lack of resources, as a result, causing much turmoil throughout, and a small exodus to other cities.
Religiously, one faith has taken prominence over all others in Hildebrandee, the faith of Makaria, goddess of community. Itotia, the high priestess of Makaria, is beloved by all the citizens, and with good reason: during this time of economic depression, Itotia makes sure everyone coming to her temple (the only one in the city) gets what they need, whether it’s food (usually), or a cure for some disease or injury (more rarely). In fact, Itotia makes sure any adventurer who goes off to make their fortune with the promise of returning to Hildebrande gets several healing potions when they go. In fact, the temple of Makaria is known far and wide as being a provider of particularly potent healing potions.
Hildebrande is also known for its unnaturally tall buildings. There does not seem to be any written record as to why the buildings are so tall…and the people who are old enough that they might remember aren’t talking. The elite ruling class of gnomes in Hildebrande supposedly keep detailed records, but no one has access to them; the gnomes are too busy with their mechanical creations, automating important tasks within the city.
Hildebrande exists underground as well; the Undercity runs at least the length and breadth of the city above. The Undercity is largely run by dwarves; though they do not form a separate government, they do control the tunnels and wield an outsize influence on the city, largely due to their ability to procure resources the city needs. Rumours circulate that the dwarves are keeping some things for themselves, allowing citizens in the upper city to suffer…
The knighthood of the Great Gold Wyrm has a secret training ground for the Wyrm’s heroes in the city; everyone seems to know the facility exists, but only those who serve the Wyrm seem to know exactly where it is. Rumours amongst the populace is that there is a powerful magical artifact hidden in the facility; one that people hope the knights will use to expel the Syndicate once and for all.
Another claim to fame that Hildebrande has is that the city is home to what is considered the oldest tree in all of the Dragon Empire. While some contest this claim, the fact that the High Druid sent one of her most esteemed druids, Nakato, to the city for the sole purpose of guarding the tree lends the claim credence. Nakato herself takes her job very seriously, too seriously for some; people wonder why she doesn’t use her magic to care for the people as well as the tree…especially since the weather wards of the Archmage seem to be failing, creating random weather patterns in the area.
The populace of Hildebrande are somewhat unique in their own way: the citizens all seem to be virtually supernaturally talented musically. All kinds of music, too: singing, different instruments, musical writing…and no one is sure why. Every so often, a traveling bard known as Antoine will come by and recruit a citizen to come with him to a major city where he will apprentice them to a popular bardic college. They never return to Hildebrande though…and no one has ever seen one of their performances, though everyone has heard of them.
The musicality of Hildebrande was affected in another way in the past: A red dragon, presumably from the Red Wastes (unconfirmed), would come once a year and demand tribute from the city…but not for the last five years. No one knows why the dragon has stopped showing up; people hope that a group of courageous dragonslayers killed the beast, but on that anniversary of the last time the dragon showed up, people stay in their homes and board up the entrances.
Notable Persons of Hildebrande
Ursel is a paladin of the Great Gold Wyrm who runs the training facility in Hildebrande. Missing 3 fingers from her left hand from the slicing blade of a Marilith, Ursel remains excellent at dice games, though she always donates her winnings to the city temple. Always with a mint in her mouth, Ursel is honest to a fault, making her a great instructor. She believes deeply in the sanctity of life and honoring tradition; this last, combined with her honesty, sometimes makes her an easy mark to unscrupulous persons.
Itotia is the head cleric of Hildebrande’s only temple. Stunningly attractive, Itotia’s personality is just as beautiful; everyone loves Itotia for her generosity, compassion, and skill at diplomacy. Like many of Hildebrande’s citizens, Itotia has a special talent for a musical instrument; it seems to be some type of harp, though she will not confirm what it is, exactly. As part of her diplomatic nature, Itotia tends to enunciate overly clearly; citizens know she is not condescending, but outsiders are not sure. She is quiet, but it seems to be a quiet born of confidence. She sees the whole of Hildebrande as one big community and sees the Syndicate as eroding that.
Jocelyn is the gardener the city has assigned to the Oldest Tree, and he takes his role very seriously. Highly intelligent, though failing in health as his age increases, Jocelyn was intimidated by Nakato at first but now is quite in awe of her. Sometimes Jocelyn likes to just sit against the tree and draw, something he is quite good at. He once tried to make a gift of one of his drawings to Nakato…no one knows how this gift was received and Jocelyn isn’t talking. Jocelyn is coming around to the philosophy of the High Druid, and no one had better threaten the tree when he is around.
Mayor Wesley has been the head of government for over ten years, but has been reduced in status severely over the last five. Pulled in all directions by the various factions in Hildebrande, Wesley has become obsequious, stressed, and somewhat pathetic…a fact not unnoticed by his wife Patricia and their three children. Rumours circulate that Patricia has taken a lover; other rumours say that Wesley knows and cannot do anything about it.
Saelorn, preferring the name ‘Sally,’ is a local celebrity. Intensely charismatic, people seem addicted to him; everyone seems to love being in his company. Sally possesses an eidetic memory, and uses it to entertain, but not commercially; he does manual labour instead, and isn’t very good at it. His charm keeps getting him work opportunities, enough to support his wife, Rhea. Sally is a functional alcoholic, who can often be found in the taverns of Hildebrande, having drinks bought for him.
Condon runs the Freighter Pub with his wife, Aife, and their three children. The Freighter used to specialize in service to the mercantile ships that would frequent Hildebrandee, but with the recent plummet in traffic to the city, he’s had to become creative…and he is experiencing more success than ever by specializing in dwarven cuisine, or more precisely, his interpretation of dwarven cuisine. The dwarves of the Undercity have graced the Freighter with so much business that Condon is considering changing the name of the long-standing pub. The dwarves have named Condon an ‘honourary dwarf’ and he is known to offer the Freighter as a place to negotiate business between the city and the Undercity.
The sheriff of Hildebrand is named David. No last name, and never, ever, refer to him as ‘Dave,’ ‘Davey,’ or anything of the sort. David won’t tolerate it…not that he ever reacts with any great emotion. Any emotion at all, really…but misfortunes tend to happen to those who disrupt order, which, to David, is paramount. David has no lieutenants, no deputees, no standing militia…it’s just David. Astonishingly, he remains quite effective and maintaining law in Hildebrande, though no one is quite sure how. What everyone is sure of, from the Syndicate to Sally, to Itotia…is that David is frightening. Terribly, terribly frightening. No one feels at ease in David’s presence. Is it supernatural? His mannerisms? Both? Something else altogether? No one knows…and no one is going to ask.
‘Nasty Nate’ runs a gambling den and bar ‘The Loaded Die’. A typical breeding ground for thieves and other neer-do-wells, the Loaded Die is the place to find someone to do something you don’t want known. Nate keeps the business running well, despite tough economic times, by taking a finder’s fee for any deal brokered within the confines of the Die. Of course, the Loaded Die has long been rumoured to be a front for Syndicate, but bar was torched only two years ago, also presumably by the Syndicate, so no one is entirely sure where Nate’s allegiances lie. Assuming he has any.
Branda Tulles has lived her whole life in Hildebrandee as a community worker, volunteer, and do-gooder. What she wants most is to make peace here, and as such openly opposes the Syndicate in some very public ways. More than once, the Syndicate has attempted to silence Branda, but she has, thus far, resisted all attempts to at control or on her life.
Judith is the madam of Hildebrande’s one brothel, and as a result is one of the most knowledgeable people in the city. She often operates as a broker of secrets and other information. While some believe she is firmly in the pocket of the Syndicate, most believe she is an independent agent, though how she operates without Syndicate protection is unknown. Her courtesans are always unfailingly polite but also dangerous; there are no visible bouncers at Judith’s brothel because all the workers can take care of themselves…and then some.