Category Archives: The World and its People

The World and its People: The Bright Cliffs

I took a few weeks off for personal reasons, but I should be back to my regular update schedule for a few weeks.

This week I’m happy to present a deeper dive into the material I posted as my last update.


The Bright Cliffs is a region of colonies many miles apart and treated as a single city. Covering almost twenty square miles, both at the feet and the top of the cliffs that provide its name, the Bright Cliffs is the westernmost settlement of the Starspire Forest. With a constantly fluctuating population and the closet of the Starspire colonies to the great Ozark Desert, the Bright Cliffs is home to a great many people, both forest folk and not.

At its heart, the Bright Cliffs is a trade centre and is one of the main points of contact with the world outside of the Starspire Forest. A regularly travelled off-shoot of the Ashen Way joins with the Desert Way about three miles from the Bright Cliffs’ borders and provides a steady stream of trade goods and other imports to the forest not suitable for Star-reach or Deephaven. For their part, the people of the Bright Cliffs are able farmers and carvers, providing many raw materials and hand-carved goods for the desert folk to make use of. Alongside the physical trade, the monks of the Dawn Rivers monastery have long been associated with the sun god and many pilgrims contribute to the local economy every year.

The Dawn Rivers monastery, built atop the Golden Falls at the confluence of both the Rising Light and the Rushing Wind (to give the rivers their names in the common language of the area), is a centre of learning and philosophy. Its archives hold records dating back millennia, preserved through carefully guarded techniques and revealed only to a select few. The monks themselves farm in several small clearings below the temple, sharing the land with the people of the village of Golden Falls, some two miles below them at the feet of the Bright Cliffs. Golden Falls, due in no small part to the monks on the cliff above, has been kept small and agricultural. Where many of the towns in the Bright Cliffs area are trade focussed and sprawling, Golden Falls is compact and continues to exist only through its people’s ability to grow and harvest rare crops.

The centre of the Bright Cliffs, if it can be said to have a central point in terms of commerce and administrative power, is the forest-folk town of Juriel’s Roost. Named for a mythical figure, Juriel’s Roost is a treetop enclave nearly three miles across and home to many artisans and scholars, as well as the region’s standing army. As the ‘city’s’ unique geographic layout presents a tempting target for many of the outlaws who call the Starspire Forest home, the Bright Shield (as the standing military force is known) maintains an active presence along the roads connecting the towns and villages that make up the Bright Cliffs and all its members are either veterans of the conflicts of years past, or recruits from other colonies within the forest seeking glory or experience.

The other town of note, the Shadowfort, is a fortified emplacement built to provide a last line of defence against the horrors that lurked within the forest centuries ago. Now, it is manned only by a skeleton guard and is host to a permanent caravanserai, its walls protecting traders and locals alike. Many of the goods traded from the Bright Cliffs come here to be sent on to the outside world, with the administrators of Juriel’s Roost maintaining a careful watch over all the trade that takes place here.



Greeter of the Dawn is the aged abbot of the Dawn Rivers monastery. One of the forest-folk, he gave up his birth name when he joined the order and has seen the monastery through many troubles. While many of his brothers whisper that he is due to step down soon and begin retirement, he remains full of energy and is an active figure in the local community.

Gerain Oakheart is the head of the Bright Shield, a veteran of the Thousand Glade War and a realist. He knows that his life has been spent in the defence of his people and that they will not reward him for his sacrifices. World-weary and tired, he wants nothing more than to lay down his arms and set up a small farm in one of the innumerable glades of the Starspire Forest, but there is always another matter that requires his attention.

Thalia Brasseye is a trader from the desert-folk who arrived in the Shadowfort one day and never left. She is currently an envoy for the administrators of Juriel’s Roost and has excelled in that position for many years, but there are whispers that she moonlights as an architect and has been helping to the build new fortifications and defensive measures to face an enemy no-one else believes is coming.

Merrick is a mystery. No-one knows who he is or where he came from. He simply appeared in the town of Shattered Glade one day and saved the town Elder’s life. Since then, he has risen to prominence within the town and has led many successful sorties against the outlaws who plague it. A few of the locals insist that he is a magic user, but no-one has seen proof of this.

Wandering Brook found her way to the reclusive village of Shadowed Ford and has been instrumental in protecting it from the monsters of the forest. An entertainer by nature, and a skilled swordswoman by experience, children of the village love to watch her regale them with tales of her derring-do and many of them have asked her to train them in the ways of the blade so they can better protect their village when they come of age.



The attacks on Shadowed Ford have been increasing rapidly and many of the villagers have begun to speak of abandoning their homes. The village council is willing to pay people to investigate the source of the attacks.

There are rumours of a demon worshipping cult in Juriel’s Roost. While they wouldn’t act against the city directly, they might move against one of the smaller settlements.

Thalia Brasseye claims to have spoken with a prophet who warned her of the monsters approaching the Bright Cliffs from the tunnels and mines in the area. While no-one yet believes her, a few miners have gone missing in recent months.

The Riven Stone, a local landmark, has started vibrating for no apparent reason. Locals who live near it speak of a voice that calls to them in their dreams. No-one has looked into this phenomenon, but several people insist something is hunting them while they sleep.

A monster from the dawn of time has been seen stalking through the gloom beneath the trees near some of the outlying villages. A call has gone out throughout the entirety of the Bright Cliffs for experienced warriors to track it down and dissuade it from approaching the colony.




Funeral Songs

Unplanned hiatus + Christmas break = tumbleweeds.

Hopefully, I can get back into my update schedule, so for today, we have a selection of funeral songs to inspire your world-building or to add flavour to a ceremony.

I will probably write more in the future, but for now, enjoy!

A Daughter’s Lament

You, who made me
You, who taught me
You, who helped me,
I weep for you

I weep for our past
I weep for our family
I weep for our loss
For a future not to be

A future of loss
A future of darkness
A future of hope diminished
A world with one less life

One less ember burning
One less breath of wind
One less smile to brighten a day
One less parent to raise a child


From the Stone

From the Stone, to the Stone
From the fire, to the forge.

As our hearts are made of iron,
So are our spirits made of steel.

There is nothing we cannot endure,
No struggle too great or small.

We are the Children of the Stone,
The world is our canvas.

Our life is granted to us by the Earthfather,
And it is taken by the Skymother.

Upon our death, we find peace,
An end to the struggle of life.

Where there is death, there is sadness,
There is pain and there is grief.

But turn this pain inwards,
Use it to temper your steel.

Grow stronger from it,
Become more of who you are.

This world will not mourn them,
It will not mourn you.

We are Children of the Stone,
From the Stone we come,
To the Stone we go.


Walk In Their Sight

We mourn you, you who have gone,
We are the many who knew the one,
A bright star passing through the night,
Burning strong in Ivellios’ esteemed sight.

You graced our lives with your love,
Given form by Her Grace above.
A light in the darkness burning strong,
A note on the wind from an unknown song.

As Vaella showed us the mercy of the Divine,
A golden nectar sweeter than any wine,
You brought a smile to our lips and hearts,
As pure as that of any lovers’ arts.

We mourn you, you have gone,
We are the many, who knew the one,
We thank you for teaching us of death,
And we remember you with every breath.

Walk in their light with our blessings, friend.


The village of Rustwell is small, barely 200 strong. Its population is a mixture of hunters, miners and guides for the local pilgrimage route.

Situated in the foothills at the base of the Wyvern Crags, the village takes its name from the rust coloured waters of the well it was built around. The iron rich countryside nearby has provided mining opportunities for generations of villagers and has attracted newcomers to the area for the last fifty years.

The village itself is roughly semi-circular, built against the base of the roaring waterfall that pours down from Iron Rock, the tallest mountain for miles. A large pool at the base of the waterfall provides a secondary source of water and a defence for the village’s valuables and stores, hidden in a cave behind the torrent of water that falls endlessly into the pool and drains away into the cave system beneath the village.

A few farms on the edge of Rustwell provide most of the food the village requires from their fertile fields, but every few weeks, some of the villagers travel to the nearby market town of Shepherd’s Hollow to trade for more.


Marshall Yannick – the village leader. A retired military officer, Yannick moved his family to Rustwell in attempt to escape the memories that haunt him. Confident and proud, he is an honourable man who has led the village through some tough times.

Hera Yannick – Marshall’s daughter and the village’s physician. As confident in her abilities as her father is in his, Hera serves as the village’s main source of medicine and is also the head of the village guard. Bandits in the nearby mountains have pushed against her forces more than once and have been beaten soundly every time.

Artur Helmsson – the owner of the Cracked Anvil and the village blacksmith. Artur originally settled in Rustwell as a spy for the largest of the local bandit groups but has recently begun to question where his loyalties lie. Many in the village consider him a good friend and a skilled bartender and craftsman.

Aria Larain – the village’s priestess. Few know that Aria turned down a senior position within her church’s hierarchy to follow her love to Rustwell. Even fewer know that she has eyes only for Hera, who she met briefly when Marshall brought his family through the city she was working in on his way to Rustwell. All, however, know of her endless patience and compassion. (Please note; Aria’s sexuality is not her sole defining feature, it is merely a highlighted facet of her character intended to create an interesting plot hook.)

Brand Eront – the head miner. Brand is a blunt, but wise, man of middle age and is well respected among the community. Under his careful leadership, the mines have prospered in recent years and there are rumours that he is considering opening a new working.

Plot Hooks

Rusthold, the abandoned keep further up the cliff, has recently been claimed by an unknown group of people. The village has sent a representative to begin friendly communications but are waiting for an answer.

The local bandit gangs haven’t been seen in a while. The villagers hope they have been driven off, but there are rumours they are simply massing for something large.

Marshall Yannick has been receiving reports of strange occurrences on the outskirts of the village, so far his investigations have found nothing. A few of the farmers think that something supernatural is occurring.

A few of the children playing near the waterfall have told their parents about voices calling to them from the water. No-one is sure if this is youthful imagination, or something more sinister.

A recent cave-in caused several deaths and many injuries. A few of the miners believe that it was not a tragic accident but the work of a saboteur.



The World and its People: The Radford House

I realised that my Atlas Inspirare articles lend themselves more to historical/traditional fantasy themes so I’ve decided to do a series with a more modern/darker twist. Articles concerning ‘The World and its People’ will usually contain some sort of folklore about a specific location and a handful of people interested in that location.

As ever, if you want to re-skin the things described to suit a different theme, feel free to.


Bubbles / Ryan

The house isn’t haunted, all the stories agree on that. No. The house is possessed.

The Stafford boys say that they spent the night there and the walls themselves spoke, ordering them to leave. Neighbours often report strange liquids pouring from the windows and the eaves at night and it isn’t unknown for the doors to slam open suddenly, as if thrown wide with great force.

It’s been there since the town was founded and records indicate it was one of the first buildings erected. Folk memory claims that the first of the town’s mayors lived in the ornate house until his death. After that, they say, a string of criminals and politicians lived there until it was abandoned after the last war.

The years since then haven’t been kind. Most of the glass in its windows is missing, the doors remain intact but seem to be visibly rotted and the roof has patches of exposed framework where the slate tiles have fallen off. Decades of unruly children have scratched, painted and otherwise marked a wide variety of expressions onto the outside ranging from names all the way to song lyrics and declarations of love.

No two recollections of the inside of the house match, however. The Stafford boys claim that it was full of mouldy furniture and broken walls. Mavis Clifford, the nearest neighbour, says that when she followed her dog inside after it escaped, the house was in perfect repair. She says that had she not lived next to it for ten years, she would not have known it was empty.

Then, of course, there are the other stories. Young couples breaking in for a moment of passion report relaxed inhibitions and the sensation of being watched. A thief, hiding there over night, was found the next day whispering to himself about the arms that reached out of the walls and grabbed him. Wilder, more lurid, tales tell of the floors bleeding and the furniture animating to trap intruders.

The truth of these stories is not known and for now, that is all that they must remain. Stories.



Nigel Harrow – the latest owner of the Radford House. Rumour has it that he bought it on a whim and intends to demolish it in order to build a bigger property on the site.

Tabitha Radford – the last of the Radfords and a permanent patient of the local psychiatric institute. Whispers abound concerning the unnatural deaths of her brother and her husband.

Clark Engel – an infamous ghost hunter in town to investigate the Radford House.

Alice Thrush – a local girl obsessed with the supernatural. She is convinced she can use the power she believes to exist in the house for her own purposes.