The County of Béroux is a system-neutral adventure setting inspired by continental Europe. It features rebellious peasants, a decaying noble house, and isolationist elves. Could your world feature a region like this? This article is designed to help you flesh it out.
Light fog creeps over the town, mingling with the smoke of cookfires.
Logs drift down the river that runs through the town, guided by strong and agile men.
In unassuming homes and the back rooms of shops, stockpiles of weapons sit, ready and waiting.
Welcome to Vercon, a medieval town split in three by a river. Near its center sits an oval-shaped castle, visible from all across town. Some see it as a symbol of security, protection of the peaceful status quo. Others see it as a symbol of a bygone age, run by useless nobles.
Vercon has been occupied in some form or another for nearly a thousand years. Just a few feet beneath it, the ruins of its former self sit, burnt or destroyed time and time again. Most recently, a band of orcs from the north across the nearby sea attempted to raid the town, but were repelled by the guards.
Vercon’s climate is mild most of the year, but the spring rains can be quite heavy. Just outside of town, rye fields grow in fields whose boundaries are marked by hedges. Beyond that, shepherds guide sheep through the wilderness, bringing them back to town periodically to sell their wool.
To the southwest, a crew of lumberjacks is dilligently felling trees and floating them along the river to their mill, to the east.
The Boisé River
A calm river, used by loggers to float logs down to the sawmills of Vercon. The river splits in two partway through town, right near Castle Ghent. In the spring, the river has so many logs in it that it looks like a forest on its side. Thus the name, which means “wooded.” Three bridges cross the river, one on the main inlet and one on each branch.
Near the center of Vercon is an oval-shaped castle. In its center is a tall keep. The court yard is split in half along the axis of the oval, with the west side relatively empty and the east side consisting of buildings and tunnels, covered with dirt and grass. The east side’s grass is roughly level with the walkways of the exterior walls.
To the west is a wide moat that surrounds the back half of the castle. The moat is fed by a canal branching off of the Boisé River to the north. The canal is protected by a steel grate that prevents logs from entering the moat. Well… most logs, anyway. A keen observer would see that the grate is slightly concave thanks to repeated impacts from the log drives.
Ghent’s Keep contains some old war trophies from past orcish raids. One of them is a very, very large axe called Owkbanok, which has a persistent, white glow. When blood is spilled in its presence, the light flares brightly and turns red.
Weapon (greataxe), Uncommon
You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.
Provides dim, white light in a 20-foot radius. If Owkbanok comes into contact with blood, it instead provides bright, red light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. This effect lasts for 1 hour.
House Smalllow has ruled over Béroux for centuries, after being the first people to settle it. Well, aside from the elves, but who cares about them, right? Every century or so, family machinations get a little out of hand, often leading to a few members of the family “dying in an accident” or being executed for treason, depending on which faction is victorious.
Recently, House Smalllow has been suffering a severe budget shortfall thanks to famine and strife. They have attempted to counter this by leveraging high taxes, but that has only made the strife worse without substantially increasing income. If this keeps up for much longer, they may not be able to pay the guards.
Count Lewis Smalllow: Count Lewis Smalllow is dead, assassinated by rebellious peasants roughly a year ago. He was a good father, as much as any royal can be. His ruling skills were mediocre, the sort of thing that would merit him nothing more than a footnote in history, had there not been a devastating famine in the county during his rule.
Count Léo Smalllow: Léo is a 14 year old nobleman with green eyes and black hair. His father was assassinated last year, leaving him in control of a failing county. He’s not handling it very well.
Tiffany Smalllow: Léo’s older sister. Tiffany was supposed to marry a noble from the next county over, but those plans have been put on hold due to the former count’s death. She currently handles most of the duties of the nobility, despite Léo technically holding the title of Count.
Matthieu Smalllow: Half-brother of the fallen Count, Matthieu schemes to take over the county. Fortunately or otherwise, the growing revolutionary sentiment has thrown a spanner in his plans. Now he focuses on guiding Léo and making him a decent Count. Can’t take over a county if the peasants are ruling it, after all.
Jean-Christophe Beauvau, loyal butler: The Beauveau family has served the Smalllows for generations, and Jean-Christophe is no different. Unfortunately for him, his time as butler has been unusually eventful.
Tomas Bourque, captain of the guard: Often found on the training grounds yelling at people, Tomas is a fit 30-something man who is missing a few fingers on his left hand.
The Local Faith
Most people worship Vogaris, a god of trial and triumph. Vogaris, it is said, rewards hard work and tenacity. This sort of belief helps people cope in the long, cold winter.
There are no specific worship sites of Vogaris, but most people keep a small idol of him somewhere in their house. He is generally depicted as a one-armed man holding the severed head of a bull.
Followers of Vogaris typically hold raucous festivals in the spring and fall, celebrating survival and the harvest, respectively.
The Lunar Theater
A theater that only employs men for cultural reasons. Currently putting on a production of The Eagle’s Mate, a historical tale about an infamous bandit from Béroux’s history.
José Montgomery, owner. José is an older man with white hair and severe nearsightedness. He’s very passionate about the plays he puts on.
Sylvain Ancel, actor. Sylvain is a tall, willowy man with short, black hair. He’s been acting at the Lunar for nearly 10 years, despite being only 18. He considers his gaunt face and pronounced cheekbones his most important assets, and he knows just how to tilt his face to make sinister shadows or highlight a warm smile.
Marthe “Marty” Gouin, “actor.” Marthe Gouin is a woman masquerading as a man, to live out her dream of stage acting, despite this traditionally being a male profession.
The Smooth Shrub Pub
Marked by an impressively spherical shrub, the Smooth Shrub is the primary drinking establishment in Vercon.
The tables are made of fine oak. The chairs are carved well enough, but have obviously been repaired repeatedly. A “Medusa” head hangs above the bar, but it is actually a fake, made from a shaved and taxidermied wolf’s head and 13 taxidermied snakes.
- Dragées: Hard chunks of sugar mixed with spices, enough to share amongst the party. A traditional dessert in the region. 3 SP.
- Quiche: A hot pastry filled with bacon and cheese. It looks like an open pie. 5 SP.
- Flammekueche: A rectangle of dough with cheese, onions and mushrooms, baked. Looks like what you or I would call a pizza. 3 SP.
- Absinthe: A local spirit made from wyrmwood, amongst other things. It’s traditionally served in a glass, with a slotted spoon, some ice water and a sugar cube off to the side. It’s up to the drinker to figure out what to do with that. According to the locals, you can become closer to the fey when drinking absinthe. These rumors are mostly baseless, but some arcane rituals can be improved with absinthe. 1 GP per glass.
- Cider: An alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice. In this region, cinnamon is often added for taste. 5 SP per pitcher, enough for the whole party to have one mug each.
The Tazon Mill
A few kilometers south of Vercon, just before Boisé flows into Lake Blanche sits the Tazon Mill. The Tazon Mill’s sawing operations are powered by a watermill. In the spring and early summer, a line of chained-together logs are dragged across the river to catch the logs from upriver.
The Tazon Mill has been in its namesake family for four generations, slowly expanding decade by decade. Up in the rafters of the sawmill proper, many workers’ names are carved into the ceiling.
The log yard outside the mill proper is filled with rows of stacked logs.
Adrien Tazon, mill owner. Adrien is a fourth generation logger who has recently taken over the family mill. He takes great pride in his work, both in what he produces and how he takes care of his employees. His voice is deep, and he can often be heard yelling across the mill’s yard. Unlike everybody who works for him, he never uses profanity. He has black hair and subtly pointed ears.
Pierre Tazon, lumberjack. The middle brother, Pierre, is a huge man with large muscles and a deep, booming laugh. He runs the lumberjack crew for the mill, surveying sites and chopping alongside the other employees. He has a very keen sense of which areas they can log without damaging the area unduly, something that he’s tried to pass down to other employees. Unfortunately, it seems to be a knack unique to him. He has black hair and subtly pointed ears.
Lucas Tazon, log driver. The youngest of the three Tazon brothers, Lucas, is skinny and agile. His voice cracks regularly, much to his embarrassment. He has a minor aptitude for magic, which allows him to manipulate and shape water by waving his hand. This is very handy for his job. He has brown hair and large, rounded ears. Though none of the brothers know it, Lucas’ father is not the same as Pierre and Adrien’s father.
The Logging Site
West of Vercon, a team of loggers works to clear a patch of woods just off the riverside road. A wooden ramp into the water has been built, and they periodically roll logs down it. The closer part of the woods has already been cleared, and now the loggers use their horses to drag logs to the ramp while their coworkers chop wood further out. When the party passes, they may be trying to move a particularly large log that they could use a few extra hands with. The trees are primarily birch.
The Freedom League
The Freedom League is a group of rebels, mostly from the former town of Carenonne. Years of famine, compounded by high taxes, have left these people destitute and angry. They have sympathizers across the county, people willing to shelter Freedom League members or hold supplies for them.
Haarton Keep is the Freedom League’s name for a cave network east of the Keahlythas Woods, and thus east of Vercon as well. The cave is generally unremarkable from the outside, save from the large patch of bare dirt near its entrance, where constant foot traffic has killed the grass. Inside, after a few twists and turns, is the Freedom League’s main base.
The interior is lit by candles carried by the soldiers, with only the central “mess hall” having permanent lighting. Soldiers sleep wherever they find a spot in the caves to claim as their own.
Eugene Pinchon, charismatic leader. Until recently, Eugene was a simple merchant, buying and selling in the area around Carenonne. Now, he runs the Freedom League, fighting the government with the aide of old friends and business contacts.
Jean Pascal, violence enthusiast. Jean cares not for politics or divine right. Jean is simply here to light things on fire and hurt people. He is, luckily, very good at those things. Jean does not talk if at all possible, preferring to communicate in grunts and gestures.
Philippe Boudon, hunter. Philippe grew up alongside Eugene in Carenonne, and made a living as a hunter. Most years, he brought back more meat than anybody else. Now he works as Eugene’s right hand man and tactician, using his years of hunting experience to predict enemy actions.
Clovis Jaubert, former farmer. Until recently, Clovis was a farmer. Last year’s meager harvest left him unable to pay his taxes, and his land was seized by the county. He’s the primary woodworker for the keep. This is not a life he would have chose, but he sees no other option beyond begging or starvation.
Just a few kilometers from Haarton Keep sits the blackened ashes of the town of Carenonne. Surrounding it are barren fields, drenched in saltwater by its former inhabitants.
The Revolution Clock
The Revolution Clock tracks general revolutionary sentiment in the County. It starts at 6/12, and it moves depending on who the players help. If they help the Freedom League, it goes up. If they help the nobility, it goes down. If it hits 12, the the Freedom League launches a major assault on Castle Ghent. If it hits 1, the revolution is successfully snuffed… for a while, at least.
If the players choose not to work with either side, the clock ticks up once every week.
Freedom League quests
Quests for the Freedom League revolve around disrupting the supply lines of the nobility, finding weaknesses and sowing discontent. Here’s some examples:
The guardsmen in Vercon have a stockpile of flour, but there are only two people guarding it at night. Destroying or looting it will be a severe blow to the morale of the guards.
During a recent drought, a sympathizer noticed a strange stone arch near the Castle Ghent moat. It’s under water again now, but it might provide a back way into the castle. Unfortunately, the Freedom League has nobody with the skills to scout it out, so it’s down to the weird outsiders (that is to say, the party.)
House Smalllow quests
House Smalllow’s quests are focused on rooting out sympathizers and supplies from the Freedom League. Here are some examples:
According to a double agent, the Freedom League is planning to ambush a supply wagon soon. Wouldn’t it be lovely if instead of goods and money, they found well-armed adventurers?
A local shopkeeper is suspected of being a Freedom League member. The party needs to go over for a casual interview and see if they can find anything suspicious in his shop.
In the Keahlythas Forest, known to the humans as the “Baudet Woods,” a reclusive group of elves lives. Led by the collective minds of all their former leaders, these isolated elves practice arcane rituals beyond the prying eyes of outsiders. They are very protective of their territory.
Until recently, the elves and the humans had lived peacefully, keeping their distance from each other. However, the Freedom League has begun hiding in the forest, or cutting through it on the way back to Haarton Keep. Unfortunately, the elves do not care about the humans’ political divisions, and will make reprisals against either side.
In the heart of Keahlythas is a small village of treehouses, centered on a gigantic tree with a throne carved out of it. On that throne is Thaze Le’Thal, grafted in place.
Thaze La’Thal, “king.” Thaze La’Thal is an elf permanently seated in the Living Throne, a tree that several parts of his body have been grafted to. The collective mind of the previous leaders speaks through him.
Issoc Kenmeg, priest: Issoc is a dedicated follower of Phoias, a local deity of plants. Issoc is responsible for the upkeep of the King and his Living Throne.
Enyen Lo’Vot, guard. Enyen is a burly elven woman who is a crack shot with a bow. When it comes to outsiders she, like many elves in the area, prefers to shoot first and ask questions in a year or two.
Thodrilidi Lal’Dril, Weapon Forager: Thordrilidi maintains an orchard of bizarre trees, each of which has been bred and magically modified to produce weapons like they were fruit. Indeed, the weapons grow with fruit-like flesh covering them, and each carries seeds of its progenitor tree.
And that wraps up The County of Béroux. I hope you and your group find this place useful and fun!
Map & Asset Downloads
Below are a collection of maps and assets that may approximate Garm’s vision for Béroux…
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