Rise of the Runelords
Sandpoint’s History Millennia ago, before the fall of Thassilon, what is known today as the Lost Coast was not a coast at all. It was a series of rocky bluffs and cliff s that ran through a vast moor that stretched between the end of the Fogscar Mountains south to the Mushfens. Called the Rasp, this ridge of stony tors and limestone escarpments marked the boundary between the nations of Shalast and Bakrakhan. When Thassilon fell, the nation of Bakrakhan collapsed and slid into the sea, forming what is called today the Varisian Gulf—the Rasp became the region’s new coastline. Before these cataclysmic events, the Rasp was heavily patrolled by the armies of Shalast and Bakrakhan. Violent clashes between the two were common. Karzoug, leader of Shalast, used his impressive magic and giant slaves to erect immense statues in his image along the Rasp, granite sentinels that stood hundreds of feet in height and from whose stony eyes he could look out upon the nation of Bakrakhan from the safety of his throne in distant Xin-Shalast. In response, Alaznist, leader of Bakrakhan, built several destructive watchtowers called Hellstorm Flumes along the Rasp. Each of these towers housed a contingent of her soldiers, commanded by sorcerers and thaumaturges hand-picked from her personal guard. Atop each Flume burned a constant vortex of arcane ﬁre, one that its commander could direct to scorch intruding armies for miles around. The Flumes did a remarkable job at keeping Karzoug’s forces from effectively invading Bakrakhan, while his own Sentinel Statues prevented Alaznist from launching any surprise invasions of her own. And so the two nations existed in tenuous balance until the cataclysmic fall of their world. After Thassilon’s fall and Bakrakhan’s destruction, the Rasp became the new coastline. Karzoug’s Sentinel Statues collapsed, although here and there fragments of these once mighty guardians still stand. Bakrakhan’s Hellstorm Flumes fared no better—most of these watch towers fell into the sea during the cataclysm. Only one remained above the waves, and even it crumbled to less than a quarter of its original height. Varisian travelers preserved in their oral traditions stories of how ruined towers once cast ﬁre down upon the surrounding lands, but over the generations, these tales evolved. The ruin’s location at the edge of the sea seemed to indicate that it was once a lighthouse, and in time, beams of ﬁre became beams of light. Today, the Varisians view the last Hellstorm Flume as nothing more than an ancient ruined lighthouse, a landmark they call the Old Light. No record of the tower’s destructive purpose remains in the modern mind, yet clues to its violent legacy remain unsuspected in catacombs that once connected to the tower’s dungeons. More recently, settlers from the southern nation of Cheliax have come to Varisia. The city of Magnimar was settled by colonists dissatisﬁed with the strong reliance on Chelish support in Eastern Varisia, and before long the need for additional farmland grew apparent. To the south, the sloppy expanse of the Mushfens made farming diffcult, so the settlers turned their eyes northward along the Lost Coast. For much of its length, the coast offered little shelter, with one exception—a perfect cove about 50 miles away. A cove overlooked by a curious stone ruin. The foundation of a new town is not a matter to be taken lightly, nor one to be funded by one man. Four powerful families from Magnimar had designs on the region, and rather than work against each other, they consolidated their eﬀ orts and formed the Sandpoint Mercantile League. These four families, the Kaijitsus (glassmakers and jewelers), the Valdemars (shipbuilders), the Scarnettis (loggers), and the Deverins (farmers and brewers), sailed north to claim their land after securing the rights from the Charterhouse in Magnimar. Yet when they arrived, they found the place already settled by a large tribe of Varisians. Refusing to be set back, the Sandpoint Mercantile League began a series of talks with the Varisians, promising them an important place in the new township. Unfortunately, after a week of talks that seemed to be going nowhere, an impatient man named Alamon Scarnetti took matters into his own hands. Rounding up a group of his brothers and cousins, the Scarnettis mounted a murderous raid on the Varisian camp, intent on killing them all and leaving evidence to blame local goblins for the deed. Yet the Scarnettis, too drunk and overconﬁ dent, managed to kill only ﬁ ve Varisians before they were themselves forced to ﬂ ee, leaving behind three of their own. The Sandpoint Mercantile League ﬂ ed back to Magnimar, and in the months to follow were embroiled in the repercussions of Alamon’s assault. Magnimar’s Varisian Council demanded punishment for all four families, but the High Court arbitrated a peace between them, in no small thanks to the remarkable diplomatic skills of a young bard and member of one of the families accused— Almah Deverin. Not only did she manage to assuage the Varisians’ call for blood payment, she also managed to salvage the plans for Sandpoint by promising not only to incorporate the worship of Desna into the new town’s cathedral, but to pay the Varisian Council a generous share of any proﬁ ts made by Sandpoint businesses over the course of the next 40 years. One year later, the Sandpoint Mercantile League began construction on several buildings with the full cooperation of the Varisian people. In the 42 years since Sandpoint’s foundation, it has ﬂourished. Although the initial term of the compact with the Varisian Council has passed, Sandpoint’s government has elected to extend the compact another 20 years, much to the consternation of a few locals. Today, Sandpoint is a thriving community. Many industries, including ﬁshing, lumber, farming, hunting, brewing, tanning, shipbuilding, and Kaijitsu’s own legacy of glassmaking, have ﬂourished, luring skilled laborers from as far as Korvosa and Riddleport to relocate here. Yet Sandpoint’s location on the Lost Coast has also recently drawn settlers of another bent. As explorers and adventurers begin to piece together the fragments of ancient Thassilon’s inﬂuence over the region so long ago, the presence of Thassilonian ruins have acted as a magnet. The Old Light is no exception, and a few of Sandpoint’s recent arrivals are more interested in this ruin than anything else.
Over its four decade history, Sandpoint has been thankfully free of major disasters. Every winter brings its share of strong storms, yet the natural harbor, sandbars, and cliffs do a remarkable job of blunting the force of wind and wave, leaving the town relatively untouched. Elders in town spin yarns of a few really big storms, but apart from the town’s somewhat rocky beginning with the Varisians, only two events have really qualiﬁed as disasters: the Sandpoint Fire and Chopper. These two events, occurring in such close and recent proximity as they have, are generally lumped together as the “Late Unpleasantness,” even though the two events didn’t have any obvious links. Natives of Sandpoint are reluctant to talk about either event, preferring to look ahead to brighter times
The Late Unpleasantness
When Jervis Stoot made clear his intentions to build a home on the island just north of the Old Light, locals paid him no mind. Jervis had already garnered something of a reputation for eccentricity when he began his one-man crusade to carve depictions of birds on every building in town. Stoot never made a carving without securing permission, but his incredible skill at woodcarving made it a given that, if Stoot picked your building as the site of his latest project, you seized the opportunity. “Sporting a Stoot” soon grew to be something of a bragging point, and Jervis eventually extended his gift to include ship ﬁgureheads and carriages. Those who asked or tried to pay him for his skill were rebuffed—Stoot told them, “There ain’t no birds in that wood for me t’set free,” and went on his way, often wandering the streets for days before noticing a hidden bird in a fencepost, lintel, steeple, or doorframe, which he’d then secure permission to “release” with his trusty hatchets and carving knives. Stoot’s excuse for wanting to move onto the isle seemed innocent enough—the place was a haven for local birdlife, and his claim of “Wantin’ ta be with th’ birds” seemed to make sense. So much so, in fact, that the guild of carpenters (with whom Stoot had maintained a friendly competition for several years) volunteered to build a staircase, free of charge, along the southern cliff face so that Stoot could come and go from his new home with ease. For 15 years, Stoot lived on the island. His trips into town grew less and less frequent, making it something of an event when he chose a building to host a new Stoot. Sandpoint was no stranger to crime, or even to murder. Once or twice a year, passions ﬂared, robberies went bad, jealousy grew too much to bear, or one too many drinks were drunk, and someone would end up dead. But when the bodies began to mount ﬁve years ago, the town initially had no idea how to react. Sandpoint’s sheriff at the time was a no-nonsense man named Casp Avertin, a retired city watch officer from Magnimar. Yet even he was ill-prepared for the murderer who came to be known as Chopper. Over the course of one long winter month, it seemed that every day brought a new victim to light. Each was found in the same terrible state: bodies bearing deep cuts to the neck and torso, hands and feet severed and stacked nearby, and the eyes and tongue plucked crudely from the head and missing entirely. Over the course of that terrible month, Chopper claimed 25 victims. His uncanny knack at eluding traps and pursuit quickly wore on the town guard, taking particular toll on Sherrif Avertin, who increasingly took to drinking. In any event, Sherrif Avertin himself became Chopper’s last victim, slain upon catching the murderer in a narrow lane—known now as Chopper’s Alley—as he was mutilating his latest victim. Yet in the battle that followed, Avertin managed a telling blow against the killer. When the town guard found both bodies several minutes later, they were able to follow the killer’s bloody trail. A trail that led straight to the stairs of Stoot’s Rock. At ﬁrst, the town guard refused to believe the implications, and feared that Chopper had come to claim poor Jervis Stoot as his 26th victim. Yet what the guards found in the modest home atop the isle, and in the larger complex of rooms that had been carved into the bedrock below, left no room for doubt. Jervis Stoot and Chopper were the same, and the eyes and tongues of all 25 victims were found upon a horriﬁc altar to a birdlike demon whose name none dared speak aloud. Stoot himself was found dead at the base of the altar, having plucked his own eyes and tongue loose in a ﬁnal offering. The guards collapsed the entrance to the chambers, burned Stoot’s house, tore down the stairs, and did their best to forget. Stoot himself was burned on the beach in a pyre, his ashes blessed and then scattered in an attempt to stave off an unholy return of his evil spirit. As fate would have it, the people of Sandpoint would soon have a new tragedy to bear, one that almost eclipsed Chopper’s rampage. A month after the murderer was slain, a terrible ﬁre struck Sandpoint. The ﬁre started in the Sandpoint Chapel and spread quickly. As the town rallied to save the church, the ﬁre spread, consuming the North Coast Stables, the White Deer Inn, and three homes. In the end, the church burnt to the ground, leaving the town’s beloved priest Ezakien Tobyn dead. All that remains today of the once-loved Stoot carvings are ragged scars on buildings and ﬁgureheads where owners used hatchets to remove what had become a haunting reminder of a wolf in their fold. The homes and businesses ravaged by the ﬁre have been reconstructed, and the Sandpoint Chapel has ﬁnally been rebuilt as well. With the consecration of this new cathedral, Sandpoint can ﬁnally put the dark times of the Late Unpleasantness in the past.