Friday, April 3, 2015

Cold Nuggets


At the base of Big Eagle Mountain sits the ramshackle town of Cold Nuggets, populated by prospectors, mountaineers, and mercenaries who use the place as a home base while seeking their fortunes in the Snowdeeps.  The streets are covered in dirty snow most of the year, and dogsleds are as common as horses; the town's name refers to its climate, not its ore.

What to See
Cold Nuggets is, by nature, a stop along the way to somewhere else - whether it's the caverns beneath Big Eagle Mountain, or a further-flung city of the north like Doomhollow, Cold Nuggets is the town  you pass through, not the town in which you settle down.  However, while you're here, there are plenty of mundane amusements to assist you in passing the time and spending your coin.  The winding streets are lined with cheap saloons serving cheaper liquor.  The gambling in Cold Nuggets isn't as fancy as that at the casinos of River-Town, but it is ubiquitous; so too the prostitution, heavy drinking, and bawdy tale-telling.  Of note is the "bear pit" on Brass Monkey Street, which holds both animal bouts (bear-baiting is popular) and rather bloody pit fights.

Where to Stay
Unless you have a fondness for lice, avoid the many flophouses full of grizzled prospectors.  Instead, take a room at the Lead Dog Inn, a rather upscale establishment located at the east end of town which, not coincidentally, is the part of Cold Nuggets which does not feature an enormous midden.  You will spot the Lead Dog easily from several blocks away, as the roof of the three-story building features a gigantic dog's buttocks complete with waving tail.

Where to Pray
There is rarely a shortage of churches in a town full of men and women likely to get horribly disemboweled at any moment, and Cold Nuggets is no exception.  The town hosts a mid-sized Scorpion Temple, a Mysterian church, a shrine to the Horned Baron, a temple holding idols to several Freeholder godlings, and whatever dubious beliefs crawl in the shadowed alleys.  Rumors grow of a secret cult which pays homage to the dead gods of the Simian culture which are buried beneath Big Eagle Mountain in the so-called City of Mazes.

What to Eat
Most places offer various stews - usually a mix of venison, caribou, and horseflesh - as a standard.  However, the real treat is Cold Nuggets' variety of pemmican, particularly at a little jerky shop called Blue's.  The traveling-adventurer can avail him or herself of some sixty different flavors, depending on the season, each an interesting mixture of protein, berries, and even nuts or other fruits in some varietals, not to mention some dozen types of jerky.  The proprietor, a wild-bearded retired prospector called Blue, can often be seen out on the front porch with an out-of-tune guitar ad libbing off-color jingles about his delicious meat.

What to Buy
The sled dogs bred, raised, and trained by a huge Freeholder called Thurfinn Bjarda are considered exceptional for several reasons.  First, they are descended from both prime redhounds and wild wolves; and secondly, Thurfinn feeds them troll-meat when they're puppies, which makes them quite hardy and resistant to pain.

Who to Meet
Experienced wizardess Hazel Brandywine maintains a home in Cold Nuggets, from whence she plans and executes expeditions into Big Eagle Mountain.  Brandywine herself only delves occasionally; more often she bankrolls, trains, and advises others.  Her familiar, a stark white jackalope called Marshmallow, can often be seen running hither and thither through the streets on errands; locals know better than to molest the creature, for fear of Miss Brandywine's wrath.  The wizardess spends four or five months of the year in Cold Nuggets, and the rest in a handsome rowhome in River-Town, but she is never seen riding or taking a coach out of town; rumors of teleportation magic somewhere in her homes are rampant.  Brandywine herself is as cold as the Snowdeeps, but she knows more about the Mountain than perhaps anyone else these days, and her spellbook is considerable.  (Further notes on Miss Brandywine appear in the Arcane Abecediary.)

Thing to Avoid
The old "I have a treasure map" trick, and a thousand variations thereof.  Nearly every tale you will hear in Cold Nuggets - about lost mines, bandit treasure buried beneath the snow, the ruins of an ancient outpost - will be absolutely false.  Cold Nuggets residents and regulars can easily spot a newcomer or out-of-towner, and visitors with more money than sense positively radiate.


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