TYRANNY IN PHLAN

Map of Phlan
Map of Phlan from “Forgotten Realms: Ruins of Adventure” module, 1988

 It has been years since the city of Phlan was a small but growing city on the shores of the great MoonSea. Trade sailed into to Phlan, past the fortress of Sokal Keep where the watch scanned the sea for pirates, into the small harbor at the mouth of the Stojanow River. Galleys, pinks, cogs, and schooners came from the merchants to the south, braving the sea to this small northern port. Townsmen offloaded pungent spices, dark woods, reptilian leathers, filmy cloth, gnarled barks, hammered steel, veined marbles—the riches of the southern shores. [1]

Phlan is said to have been founded over 1,000 years ago, and throughout its history a series of destruction and rebuilding has led to the city being walled off into a destroyed, ruined Old Phlan and a rebuilt, shining Civilized Phlan. Phlan represents the perseverance of humans and their tenacity to bring civilization to the savage wilderness. Since its founding, it has been razed repeatedly by inhuman creatures from the north, but has continually risen from the ashes of its own destruction. Phlan is noteworthy not only for its stubbornness but also as the location of the fabled Pool of Radiance, a gathering of the Weave of Magic that contains great and mysterious power.

quiveringforest
Moonsea Region

Phlan was once ruled by the Council of Ten, with a half-orc fighter named Kella Voskorm serving as its High Councilor. The Council had a high turnover rate, as no-confidence elections were held regularly for even the smallest of mishaps. However, in the Year of the Blazing Hand (1380 DR), Zhentarim Hatemaster Cvaal Daoran dissolved the council, declaring himself as Lord Protector of Phlan. But now, in 1489, the town’s ruler, Lord Protector Anivar Daoran, is dead, and Phlan is in disorder. The Lord Reagent (Knight Commander Ector Brahms), greedy noble houses, and labor guilds vie for control of the town. From the shadows, a group of criminals-turned vigilantes called the Welcomers, a thieves’ guild who have always operated openly within the city, the members of which cut off their left ear as a sign of loyalty. As most residents of the town were aware of the guild, the guild earned its name by preying on visitors to the city. These thieves, murderers, and bandits strive to work against the other factions, but its members are hunted by the remnants of the Knights of the Black Fist—the militia that struggles in vain to keep the city’s peace. [2]

Phlan has grown rich from trade with the untamed wilds to the north of the Moonsea. Those seeking their fortunes flock to the town before venturing out into the enchanted Quivering Forest, the mysterious Sorcerer’s Isle, and the savage Dragonspine Mountains. But even the town has its share of dangers and secrets. Deep beneath Phan, the Pool of Radiance lies dormant—at least for now. The Cult of the Dragon and their allies, the exile Red Wizards of Thay, have sent agents far and wide in search of resources to assist them in their agenda. And somewhere within Phlan, the depths of the sleeping pool, and the surrounding wilderness, the cultists believe they will find what they need. [2]

phaln

Local points of interest include the ruins of Valjevo Castle, once one of the largest castles in Faerûn. Sokal Keep, a small fortress in the Bay of Phlan, is being rebuilt as a lighthouse. Kovla Mansion, the rumored base of operations of The Welcomers. Valhingen Graveyard, north of the city, is rumored to contain powerful undead, and most fear to go there at night. And finally, Kuto’s Well in the center of the city. One of the closet settlements to Phlan is Zhentil Keep which is the home of the Zhentarim.

Valjevo Castle

Valjevo Castle has fallen into ruins. For safety, the buildings surrounding the castle have been cleared. At the center, visible from a distance, is the central tower. This tower is clearly in bad repair, the roofs collapsing and the walls just beginning to crumble. There are only very narrow arrow slits in the walls of this tower. At the outer corners of the castle wall are smaller towers. Although these are only a single story, they are connected to each other by a guardwalk that runs the length of the wall.

The Castle is rumored to be under the control of the Cult of the Dragon, although this has not yet been confirmed by any reliable source. It is said to contain the meticulous records kept by the late villain Tyranthraxus. Apparently there are stacks and stacks of ledgers, scrolls, and books dedicated to information that focuses mainly on information which can be used for political blackmail. There are assessments on the strengths of enemies, reports of spies from the settlement and beyond, roster lists of the army, disciplinary records, account books, diplomatic papers, and reports on the character of various kings, dukes, counts, and other rulers. If recovered, this information may prove very useful to the Cult.

Beyond that, the Castle holds several interesting legends that may have lured the Cult into its crumbling walls. First, it is thought to hold a legendary Pool of Radiance from which Tyranthraxus was able to acquire mighty and mysterious powers. Second, it is said that a Medusa who has been trapped there for ages and seeks release. And last of all, the castle is thought to hold ancient portals and teleporters that can be used to travel throughout Faerûn.

Sokol Keep

Decades have passed since Sokol Keep was reclaimed, and a small garrison placed there along with a beacon to help guide ships. Now, that beacon has gone dark, and the garrison has disappeared. In Phlan, rumors circulate that something ancient was discovered in the grounds beneath the keep, dating to before the clerics of Tyr built the small fortress.

Sokol Keep was the strongest stronghold of Phlan. Thus, it has an abundance of weapons and armor hidden away within its walls. Although normal items have long since corroded in the sea air, and the victors looted the place after its fall, the keep’s isolated position has allowed it to escape the worst of the ravagers. Old magic items can still be found there, carefully concealed and hidden away. Most of these retain all their old potency and can be very useful to The Cult of the Dragon. The old stronghold has been rebuilt as a lighthouse. Now, as with most buildings in Phlan, it is in serious disrepair. Moreso here than elsewhere, the walls are heavily covered with slimes, molds, and crusted dried salts. Few vines grow, most unable to withstand the corrosive sea water that mists up from the shore. The grounds are covered with a thin growth of reeds, rushes and salt grass. The area of the keep is fairly windy.

Although few know of it, Sokol Keep holds a great secret. As part of its last defense, a Tyr cleric of Sokol Keep placed a mighty enchantment on the tower before he died. Ever since the tower has been defended by a corps of skeletons. Indeed, those who are slain within its walls (and left there) will join this undead watch, as skeletons, zombies or whatever. However, there are a series of passwords that will allow people to move around freely without arousing these undead. These are scattered throughout the keep and can be used if found and deduced. There is also a legend about the Horn of Doom being the only thing that can break the enchantment and return its undead guardians to their well deserved rest.

Kovel Mansion

Kovel mansion is headquarters for a group of thieves. Some believe that these thieves are the group known as The Welcomers. After looting the mansion, they converted it into a thieves’ fortress full of secret passageways, traps, and treasure rooms. The secret passages in the building are unusable by anyone except the thieves; they are too well hidden. Rumor has it that it is filled with traps, and unseen assailants. Many have tried to break into the Mansion, and they have all ended up laying in the streets of Phlan with a poisoned dagger sticking out of their back. Yet, the lure of the legendary treasures within the Mansion continues to lure the foolish and greedy within its walls.

Valhingen Graveyard

For years, the Most Solemn Order of the Silent Shroud has tended the dead at Valinghen graveyard, providing them a peaceful eternal rest. Now, that rest has been disturbed by a wicked necromancer seeking out a key to re-activate the Pool of Radiance. The graveyard features a large fence completely surrounding it. There are gates on the west and east sides, and they have been burst open from the inside.  All of the vegetation is withered and broken and there are hundreds of grave stones that have been turned over. Several large stone structures can be seen about the graveyard. When anyone first steps into the graveyard, the sky suddenly becomes black as night. Lightning and thunder can be heard in the distance. It becomes so dim that torches and lanterns are needed to make sure the way is clear. Adventurers who have been lucky enough to return from the graveyard and its crypts have reported that it is ripe with skeletons, zombies, wraiths, wights, and vampires. Legend has it that the Master Vampire resides within a huge, dark pit at the center of the crypts who has collected several powerful magic items, including an assortment of ioun stones.

Kuto’s Well

Kuto’s well is a fresh-water well located in the heart of old Phlan. The well itself is simple. Four stone walls, about waist high, encircle the shaft. Four buckets on stout ropes, one on each wall, allow water to be drawn up. Rungs have been cemented to the sides of the well to allow people to climb down the shaft to retrieve things that have been dropped into it. Rumor has it that the well is a secret entrance to a complex of catacombs below the city which conceals a powerful magic artifact lost centuries ago, the Horn of Doom. Although many adventurers have tried to recover the horn over the years, none have returned and their bodies have never been recovered.

Phlan-Monument-800x575

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[1] Ruins of Adventure, page 2

[2]  Adventurer’s League Player’s Guide, page 8.]

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