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Rood

Map of Rood

  • Type: Small Town 
  • Inhabitants: 70% Dúnadan, 30% Mixed Mannish (later 100% Eriadoran)
  • Population: 280 
  • Origin: Grew around Baranduin river traffic in early Third Age
  • Purpose: A collecting point for area farms; a shipping station for freight on Baranduin and on the Fornost-Annúminas Road 

Rood in T.A. 1640

Rood (originally known as "Ruaduin"), once the largest town in the Nan Turnath, stands in stark contrast to the sturdy resilience of Bree and Fornost. For long a buzzing junction of cross-country trade where the old King's Road encountered the River Baranduin, it is suffering from the effects of plague and the general incompetence of its feudal master, Cristion o Nencar. Rood gives the appearance of a dying town. One of the few places in Arthedain to be hit hard by the plague, probably due to its river location and the timing of the epidemic's arrival (in mid-summer), many of its two hundred stone houses are abandoned and decaying. Rats and mice greatly outnumber mannish residents, and pest control is growing into a serious problem, particularly since a goodly portion of the surviving populace to fled to Fornost.

Rood is enclosed by a dike and hedge, but otherwise unprotected. The Elhiril (S. Star-stream") masks its western approach, and the Baranduin guards its southern edge. Nencar Keep, some two miles to the east, stands on an artificial island at the edge of marshland, the Nencar Bogs, where the Nin Erain flows into the Baranduin. Here the King's Road from Fornost (S. "Men Aran") and the Vale Road from Occum (S. "Men Nansern") cross the marsh and stream to merge at Rood. The King's Road then heads west, upriver to Annuminas and the Twilight Hills. In years past, Rood stretched all the way along the road between the two streams,. In the Second Northern War, the Angmarim came northwest like an avalanche from the direction of the Weather Hills and destroyed every work of Men they could find in the Nan Turnath. Only the core of Rood was rebuilt after the conflict, and the Nan Turnath has not recovered. In T.A. 1643, with the afflictions of war and plague, the population of Rood has fallen to three or four hundred, more than half of them making their living from the merchants passing through rather then being part of the commerce themselves. The King's Road, formerly the chief route from Fornost west to Annuminas and the Hills of Evendim, began to share its traffic with other roads to the north after Annuminas was destroyed. Rood's shopkeepers and moneylenders fled in droves. The lords of Nencar, instead of taking responsibility for rebuilding the town and attracting new trade, concentrated on their ventures in Fornost and let the area slide into corruption and poverty. Yet Rood hangs on. The exhausted traveler can feast on roast fowl and drink and smoke to surfeit at such overpriced establishments as the Silver Tree, the Great Bend, the seedy Sunset Inn, and the most ancient watering hole of the town, the Battered Cock. Outside the last flies a tattered banner" displaying a much-mistreated rooster, missing an eye and not-a-few of his feathers. With the exception of the well-kept and high class establishment called the King's Board, Rood's inns are well-known for watered-down ale, lumpy beds, and sinfully unpleasant barkeeps and barmaids, all of them married to greedy Rood innkeepers.

The Rivermen of the Brandywine, always bold in the river villages, now bully their way freely through the declining town of Rood. It is visited all too often by mysterious, wandering strangers—vagabond trappers and rowdy trappers and miners from northern Siragale. In the daytime, Rood seems a bustling if declining center of riverine trade, but under cover of night, it becomes in part a city of intrigue, rumor, threat—and worse. Rood is no place to stroll the streets after dark, alone, and unarmed.

In T.A. 1643, the town extends well beyond the hedge and dike, and its residents maintain only a desultory watch on the gates penetrating the hedge. Cristion of Barnencar is responsible for the protection of the sheltered vale surrounding Rood, and veterans of the frontier will notice that he does not maintain much of a guard.

In later Times

With the sack of Annúminas, Rood began to fall into a decline, becoming a den for thieves and bandits.The Rood militia takes turns standing guard over the approach roads. In T.A. 3018, there are only a few scatteted stone farm houses between Rood and the first slopes of the grassy hills at the edge of the river valley. Barnencar is a ruin, holding only a bandit camp.

Rood about T.A. 3018

Cairmach the Dunman, the bandit leader, is the Thegn of Rood. He normally resides in a large farmhouse outside of town, surrounded by two or three dozen of his men; he permits a quartet of "constables" to protect his "subjects" in Rood. When he is in town, Cairmach takes the best rooms in the King's Board, accompanied by only a half dozen guards. Few people in Rood understand just how many black-hearted Men, Orcs, and Hobbits are crawling around the farm, which is how Cairmach likes it.

I. The Battered Cock. Large, disreputable and airy, especially since the collapse of the roof. The old inn serves as a corral for horses—fleas for all.

2. Nalorn's Farmhouse. A good but simple man, Nalorn is a widower who tends his sheep and minds his own business. He is said to prefer the company of his animals to that of men and women.

3. Squatters Shacks. Abandoned and falling apart, these two houses sheltered families when Rood was a safer place. Nalorn, the owner of the shacks, has been obliged to "permit" some of Cairmach's men to stay without charge. They keep company with several Dunnish women—treated virtually as slaves—and the women badger and torment the bashful farmer incessantly.

4-7. Warehouses and Docks. Located along a gende bend in the Brandywine, these abandoned buildings once held furs and foodstuffs. Hundreds of rodents now claim these structures as their own. The slate-roofed warehouse (#6) possesses a basement with a tunnel outlet to the Brandywine, once used to float barrels out to the river under the adjoining dock. The barrels were filled with legal goods in daylight and illegal ones at night, so knowledge of the tunnel was not bandied about freely. Someone in the village who knew of the tunnel has dumped the body of a murdered man in the basement. The evil miasma produced by the crime and the general corruption in Rood has attracted a Feadagnir, a spirit bane. Possessing the essence of a warped rodent, the bane is one of the Nyanoraughoth—the Rat Demon-folk The vindictive, magical creature is capable of animating a giant, rat-like form composed of the squirming bodies of several hundred living rodents. The corpse of the murdered man is draped half on, half over the edge of the ledge separating the flooded tunnel from the dry part of the basement. The Nyanoraug slithers forth from the basement through the river exit each dark, quiet night to slay a mannish victim unless and until the murdered man is buried or all the rats forming the body of the Feadagnir are destroyed. Three camp-followers from Cairmach's band of bandits have been brutally murdered and dumped in the basement. Cairmach does not normally tolerate behavior so evil; it will be difficult to use the corpses to publicly embarrass him. To solve the mystery, amateur sleuths will need to piece together the following facts: a. Only six men in Rood knew all three murdered women. They are all followers of Cairmach. b. Only three of the six knew which buildings possess a basement. The three are all of local origin. Beul, servant to Elotiel Eketta, will cheerfully point out one who was born in Rood. c. Only one of the three suspects wears a saw-edged flint knife at his belt. Determining the significance of this fact—by examining the bodies—will be difficult, since the residual evil in the building has transformed the corpses into ghouls. They will arise from their positions on the basement floor and attack any intruders. They also hunt at night and return to their death locations in daylight, if their murderer comes into town with Cairmach to prepare for an attack on the Eketta house

8. Hedge and Ditch. The gates are supposed to be guarded, but the guards are not enthusiastic.

9. Guardhouse. Abandoned since the plague. Restored somewhat and used by Cairmach's thugs. They charge a penny toll for the Elsiril bridge, but will retreat if bullied.

10-13. Homes. All are in bad shape. Squatters have claimed #11 and #12.

14. Crafts Shop and General Store. Run by the Silentoes, a diminutive couple said to be as much Hobbit as anything else. The store tends to carry too much moldy bread and grains, spoiled wine and beer, soiled cloth and worn clothing.

15. The Great Bend. Once an inn of some quality (known as the White Wolf), it now caters to the Rivermen and other rowdies who prowl the country.

16. The Sunset. This inn takes those who can't afford the Great Bend. Meals are so bad that Rood's residents claim Olmkan's pigs won't eat the scraps.

17. Stables. Run by Bolog, a blustery scoundrel, these stables deal in stolen stock. Bolog is known to be in the service ofthe local bandits.

18. Blacksmith. Navir the smith lives and works here. A huge powerhouse of man, Navir is honest, but very private.

19. Smokehouse. Operated by Olmkan and his wife and daughter.

20-22. Shops. A general store, a boat and barge shop for river-travelers, and an abandoned distillery, all owned by Grandon the Riverman.

23-24. Abandoned Warehouses. The smaller could be a useful hiding or meeting place.

25. Pig Farm. Run by Olmkan and his family, the farm is renowned for its succulent pork and sausage and its corpulent but kind owners.

26. The Silver Tree. This is the spot to meet in Rood. Everyone who's anyone shows up sometime, if only to get drunk or plot some foul deed. Cairmach openly boasts of his accomplishments in the taproom. The owners, Gara and Rost Stigmuld, report all they hear to him for a regular fee.

27. Metal Shop. Inferior weapons and tool work is done by the drunken owner, Aldan, a former wine-taster from Caras Celairnen.

28. Arms Shop. The crazed Dwarf Begli runs this operation by himself. Begli stays clear of trouble and lives in the cellar beneath his store.

29. The King's Board. Once a King of Arthedain rested here, the rumor goes, but none can agree on the name of the King or the year of his visit. This inn holds twenty and is Rood's best and most expensive. Formerly a favorite of the soldiers and Rangers who patrolled the Nan Turnath, the King's Board is now dusty and worn.

30. Servants' Quarters. The young men and women who work at the King's Board live here.

31. Belechul's House. The healer and physician lives here in squalor, surrounded by shelves full of dusty, dim potions and herbs drying on racks. Many think Belechulul mad; others find him amusing if difficult to understand, for he sometimes speaks two languages at once. A friend of Aragorn II when both men were much younger, Belechul is the only man in town who knows what the Rangers actually do in Eriador. Belechul suffered a severe head injury that leaves him incapable of handling most crises. He has a good heart, nonetheless, and an amazing knowledge of herbs and poisons.

32. Apothecary Shop. Sisebuth's filthy shop and residence. Poisons are stored in the cellar, behind a curtain. Sisebuth is collaborating with Cairmach, the town boss, and will deceive and abuse anyone except him.

33. The Eketta House. Once a mansion of stately proportions, at least for Rood, this building is obviously decaying; its two floors of elegant art and furniture are covered by a layer of dust and grime. Only the wealthy and secretive widow, Elotiel Eketta, and her overworked and brash Dunnish housekeeper, Beul, still live in the house. The widow, silver-haired, tall, and stately on the rare occasions when she is seen in public, is said to have gold and jewels on the premises, although no one knows where. Many believe the house haunted, protected by the martial spirits of long-dead Arnorian warriors. Actually, its reputation dates back only two generations, when Elotiel's Dunadan grandfather bought the house and called upon friends serving as Rangers to visit in the night to deal brutally with some brigands. Elotiel herself keeps her store of treasure in her kitchen, hidden in the back of the fireplace behind an Illusion of caked soot and a Rune of Avoidance. Anyone who receives money from her taken directly from this supply will have a small chance of noticing a smoky smell. Note that the various dusty and tarnished weapons on the walls would clean up into a fine collection of swords, daggers, and arrows. Elotiel has some superior weaponr in her attic. More surprisingly, she knows how to use it, because she was brought up (and raised her children) in a Ranger haven.

34. Stables. Abandoned but usable to anyone who cares to clean them up.

35. Warehouse. Abandoned, but might serve as shelter.

36. Bridge. Crosses the Elsiril. Guarded closely at night, less so by day. The ruffians from the guardhouse , if they are not asleep, drunk, or simply slacking off , will try to collect a one copper toll from travellers crossing the bridge.

37. Storehouse. Abandoned, but the roof and floor are intact.

38. The Mayor's House. A fine, respectable stone building.

Inhabitants

1640: Cristion o Nencar

3019: Aldan Aragorn II Begli Belechul Beul Bolog Cairmach the Dunman Elotiel Eketta Gara Stigmuld Grandon the Riverman Nalorn Navir the smith Olmkan Rost Stigmuld

References

  • MERP:Arthedain - Rangers of the North
  • MERP:Arnor

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