Recently featured in our The Dagger Dice of Bismuth adventure, this coastal town is home to many sailors, myths and strong winds. This post is designed as an asset that can be used while running games. It provides baseline information, power structures, societal values and general geographical information on the town so that you can use it if need be. It won’t have any quests or information on NPCs, it is designed simply as a board upon which to set your players.
Bismuth is set in a small cove, hardly a nick out of the eastern coastline. The small bay is not significant enough to provide significant tactical advantages, but it is enough to keep the worst of the storms off of the boats that make anchor here. There are no nearby fortifications or competing ports, Bismuth arose because of the necessity for a break between two points. To the south along the coast is dense jungle, populated by some wild elvish families and many beasts of varying nature. An out-jut of rock to the south holds a lighthouse that is long abandoned, being too far from town to be of any real use. To the north the terrain begins to get rocky at the base of a set of mountains, preventing a port for a few hundred miles. To the west is a wide stretch of unsettled marshlands, further isolating the small port. The ground rises enough before the sea that Bismuth is in no danger of sinking into wetland. Bismuth has no walls, and the buildings are low and made of the thick, dark wood of the nearby forest.
This town has few permanent residents. The main business is building and fixing ships, as well as providing food and entertainment for the sailors that frequent town. Sailors and seafolk make up the vast majority of the population of Bismuth, and as such most people in town know very little about its history or power structures. Because sailors are such a dominant force, much of Bismuth culture revolves around traditions that sailors have brought to shore. Primarily, this means a lot of gambling, drinking and promiscuous behaviour. Many of the permanent residents are in fact ladies of the night who make a decent living off of the many sailors that pass through. The stories and tales that come through on the ships leaves Bismuth in a strange mythological view for some. They claim that the town was built by a lord who killed his family, and made a deal with demons to survive out in the middle of nowhere. Others claim Bismuth is an ancient town that has remained relatively untouched since civilization began sailing along the coast. The transient nature of the town, along with the fact that the only records kept are by the Shipyards, makes disputing either of these claims nearly impossible.
The Shipyards are the most profitable part of town, with so many ships coming and going. It is a decently run organization, with a foreman to head it picked from the workers when the last retires or moves on. Often the Bismuth shipyards will be low on supplies because of their isolation, which makes most of the craftsmen excellent at fixing ships based on limited tools and resources. Other than the ships, liquor, gambling and knick-knacks do a steady trade. The previous two as entertainment for the sailors that come through, the last simply because many men and women of the sea want items to remember their travels by. Policing the streets is another way a resident can earn a wage in Bismuth, though the pay is poor (relying mainly off of donations collected by the officers themselves) and the work is dangerous, what with drunken brawls being common in the streets, along with back-alley stabbings over dice games.
This town works great as a stop-over while the party is on their way somewhere else. It is incredibly easy to rent a boat, or perhaps even buy one, should the party be travelling somewhere by sea. Additionally, because so many people pass through Bismuth, it is a great place for the party to meet an important NPC, whether they are on the run on a ship, hiding out in the isolated village, or simply travelling. Because Bismuth is so isolated, it can also work as a final stopping point before the party journeys into the wilds in search of adventure. The constant travellers mean the town is well-equipped to aid the party in preparing for a long journey.