As always, you can find all of the posts in this series here.
Where the Story Is
My players have been inhabiting the town of Lostant since the beginning of the campaign, and by now they have uncovered sufficient information about the place that I feel I can write a full blog post about it without either spoiling anything for them or being so irritatingly vague that the post is useless as both reference and reading material. I’ve actually been looking forward to being able to write this one.
Small but Thriving
Lostant is located in the Yuthi Desert, which was unanimously selected by my players as the area they wanted to start in. It’s not a big town by any stretch of the imagination; in fact the population is only about 3500. It sits at the intersection of a pair of large highways that lead through the Yuthi about halfway between Laraloch-Thistivuel and Alchova to the west and east and Highflats and Giant’s Hall to the north and south. Despite the small size, its economy is healthy both due to its role as a crossroads city, but also because the town’s largest employer, Lithlien’s Greenhouse Farm, is able to supply food to most of the other towns in the region. There are a number of other local businesses and institutions as well – and they’re busy enough to support some wealthy “town families” but the greenhouse farm is definitely the crown jewel of the town.
Demographically, the town is mostly made up of humans and half-orcs, but there is a good mix of elves and half-elves, dwarves, and a smattering of other races (kenku, naga, and gnomes are all present).
Law and justice are fairly rudimentary. There is a Sheriff (the lazy and useless Coram Wallstone) with three deputies. One of the deputies is the sheriff’s younger brother Alberic Wallstone and the other two are much more honest and competent than their boss. One (Satifa Nightfeather) is actually running against Coram in the upcoming election. The town has three poorly-maintained holding cells at the sheriff’s office and a 5-cell jail that is currently vacant.
City government is limited to the mayor (currently Horace Platch, also one of the co-owners of the local car dealership), a few administrative staff and some city workers. Most of the work done by the city government is related to upkeep of the roads, power, water, and sewer systems, and other infrastructure. There’s a sales tax on everything sold in town, and an income tax that supports the schools.
The town has a small newspaper called the Lostant Gazette that is staffed by only three people, but that manages much higher standards of journalistic integrity and courage than could reasonably be expected of it, thanks in large part to the owner and lead writer, Kristoff Whelen. An attack on this newspaper was the inciting event of the whole campaign.
The local church is run by a new priest, Mother Kaddasha Grathorn, an imposing half-orc woman with a lot of tattoos and an unnatural hair color. While she initially got some strange looks, her genuine, vulnerable demeanor and passionate focus on charity has endeared her to a lot of the church-going folks in town. It is an open secret that she helps supply some resistance groups operating in Alchova when she can. (Mother Grathorn is also my shameless in-world nod to Nadia Bolz-Weber.)
Commerce and Industry
As previously mentioned, the largest business in town is Lathlien’s Greenhouse farm, and it is huge. The farm is row upon row of meticulously-maintained greenhouses that grow a huge variety of produce and other beneficial plants across a massive chunk of what would otherwise be un-farmable land. Thanks to a carefully-maintained combination of magic and industrial production, Lathlien’s is able to grow plants from a huge variety of different climate types, and the ability to sell things that only grow in vastly different climates under normal circumstances in the desert has turned out to be spectacularly profitable. The owner, Moira Lathlien, a middle-aged half-elf, is the epitome of a smart and fair business owner. She employs about 100 people all told on the farm, and they are well-treated, well-compensated, and given a good work-life balance. Moira is wealthy, but significantly less so than she could be, preferring to invest in her staff or her business rather than her lifestyle and savings. She was quick to hire the PCs to help her after a manticore attack left the two useful town deputies injured and several of her staff more than a little scared.
Abrams Kendrick runs Kendrick’s General Store, and employs a small staff of about ten. He pays less well than Moira does, but most of his staff are younger and all but two of them are part-time and they seem to mostly be there so he has someone to talk to. He is a kind-hearted, warm, and very extroverted old human and has forged a deep friendship with the local priest and supports her charitable efforts with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Dolgan Wallstone, the older brother of the sheriff, runs Dolgan’s Guns, and he is an unpleasant person, greedy and racist. At the moment, he is the primary local villain, if unintentionally so. His botched attempt to quash an exposé of his family’s lazy and somewhat parasitic influence on the town lead to a bunch of violence and other unintended consequences that he has been unable to walk back. The store itself is beautifully-appointed and exceptionally well-stocked, but despite the frequent business from travelers through a region that can be very unsafe giving him more than enough to hire a substantial staff, he relies mostly on a couple of delivery drivers, his younger brother Alberic (who works “security” on the night shift) and a handfull of constructs.
Harv’s Cafe is the premiere local eatery and is one of only two local businesses open 24/7 (the other is the gas station). During the day (6am – 2pm) and evening (2pm-10pm) shifts, the food and service are excellent. The night cook (10pm-6am) is not nearly as skilled, but the service stays good. The PCs have made the diner their primary “office,” meeting with clients and conducting planning options there.
The Sunrise Motel, where the PCs have been staying, is owned and operated by a kindly (if slightly nosy) middle-aged human woman named Agnes Guinefort who (on word from the town doctor) figured out that the PCs are a net positive in town and slightly undercharges them for their rooms. She has a serious crossword puzzle obsession and a tendency to call the doctor if the PCs look banged-up, whether they want her to or not.
Speaking of the doctor, Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Larkin is a former (and decorated) member of the Solemn Order of St. Argan the Reverent and even has a white rose sword hanging in her office to show for it. She is a very kind and soft-spoken person, but she’s also trained as a paladin and a doctor and as such is no fool. She operates a clinic that is half of a business called “Man or Beast” with a gnome veterinarian the PCs haven’t met yet. (Both practices share a parking lot and some land, but not the same building.)
There is also a local car dealership, a bar, a second hotel, and a few other local businesses, but the PCs haven’t visited them yet.
Movers and Shakers
Lostant has three major “town families.”
The town’s only major dwarven family, the Wallstones own the gun shop and The Griffon Inn, as well as a bunch of small storefronts around town. In addition, Coram is the sheriff. There are four brothers – Dolgan, Coram, Herman, and Alberic and none of them are particularly great people. Unusual for dwarves, they tend to be lazy and selfish, but they’ve carved out a sizeable chunk of influence all the same.
The Platches, a well-established human family, own the car dealership and also hold the mayor’s office. They aren’t evil, but they aren’t particularly good, either. The family tends to be nepotistic, snobby, and lacking in empathy, but they’re a pretty large group and there is some granularity there.
A third local family, the Larkins (also human) is smaller but has a much more benign influence on the community. Two living generations (Cassie and her father, Clifford, now retired) of Larkins have served the town as doctors and have done so with kindness, fairness, and a very caring and patient bedside manner. And there were three prior generations before that, they’re just deceased. Clifford’s wife, Helen, is very involved in the local church, singing and playing the organ. She also organizes a bunch of local clubs that do various charitable things.
Moira Lathlien could easily be seen as a fourth, but she’s a family of one as far as the town is concerned. She has an adult daughter, but the daughter isn’t particularly influential.
Now Leaving Lostant
…at least for this post. I have a feeling that the PCs will be back here from time to time even as the campaign takes them to other places. I’ve generally been happy with the town, but I feel like it could have used a bit more fantasy stirred in with the mid-twentieth-century town tropes. Fortunately, I have some ideas for fixing that in future towns, but until my PCs visit them, I’m going to leave them un-detailed.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post.