Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hell-Town


Signs on the side of the lonely, cracked roadways leading into Char Hill warn away would-be visitors. Even from the outskirts, the stench of burning is in the air, and there are faint tendrils of smoke. Char Hill is a ghost town, but was once a prosperous Steel League mining village built atop rich coal deposits. That was before the fire.

There is still argument over how the fire that made Char Hill uninhabitable got started. Whatever the cause, the coal seam fire that began a decade ago still smolders. As with previous such fires, the combustion of coal deposits either released (or spawned) mephiti--creatures sometimes called “imps”, but which are actually para-elementals of smoke (“airy fire”). Mephiti are cruel creatures, who delight in causing harm. They rose into the unsuspecting town on plumes of toxic gas.


Though some died with the emergence of the mephiti, rising temperatures, and clouds of poison gas, the fire grew slowly enough so that most townsfolk had ample warning. The town of Char Hill was quickly abandoned, and officially unincorporated.

Rumors persist, however, that some townspeople remain. Some are perhaps bootlegging alchemists seeking to derive valuable substances from the toxic vapors rising from underground. Others are cultists who believe an ancient god-thing was trapped in the coal-veins beneath the town and the fire is the means of the thing's phoenix-like resurrection. Experts dismiss this belief as baseless, and the product of brains perhaps already damaged by toxic inhalation.

Still, no thorough investigation of the town has been made since the fire began.

7 comments:

Brutorz Bill said...

Love what your doing with this setting!

jgbrowning said...

Things like Centralia have all sorts of cool possibilities. Like what you're doing with it.

satyre said...

A great example of how a mining town can go very wrong. Like the mephiti - a fire-themed part of a megadungeon could follow the seam...

Trey said...

Thanks guys.

@Satyre - I had thought about making the town a mini-dungeon locale, but time constraints kept me from doing it here--of course, that doesn't mean it can't be done. Or as you point out, a coal seam fire could be added to any dungeon.

Risus Monkey said...

Wow, I love it. What a great setting for a site-based adventure. I can totally see this working in a post-apocalyptic game (which is what's been on my brain as of late).

Trey said...

Yeah, it could easily work post-apocalyptic. Maybe the fumes rising from the underground are some mutagen, then?

Tim Shorts said...

Bootlegging Alchemists. How can anyone not want to get Weird Adventures when you come up with stuff like that. Rural poetry with a benzedrine drip.