Basic Info Edit
This dark swamp gets its name from the blood red waters that run throughout, staining the soil and plant life a muddy red. Throughout the swamp, ancient sunken ruins can be found, some completely filled in with mud, others with just water, and still more with dangerous creatures that have taken shelter within. Most locals avoid the area for a number of reasons. The most obvious one, is superstition, people believe this blood red water to be cursed by some ancient and powerful being. The second reason people avoid this marsh, is the dangerous creatures that wander through the muddy waters. Strange unearthly sounds can be heard from outside the Blood Fens, sounds no sane person has attempted to identify. And lastly, there is a rumor that the ancestral home of the Syrellian crime family lies deep within the fens. Locals fear that to enter the fens is to risk angering the powerful crime family, something that tends to result in a person face down in the mud in a pool of their own blood.
Denizens of the Swamp Edit
While most people keep clear of the dark swamp, there are a few "villages" scattered around the outer rim of the swamp. These insular (and reputably inbred) communities do not trust outsiders and seem to be able to just barely get by with food they get from the swamp, with no interest in trading or interacting with anyone at all. Even these "natives" know better than to go too deep into the swamp, and it is not uncommon to come across the remains of a village clearly devastated by some monster that came from the swamp. Strangely enough, these small villages are almost always entirely human, and while lizard folk are known to sometimes reside in marshlands, none have been seen within the Blood Fens.
The only other humanoids one is likely to encounter in the swamp (aside from the Syrellian Family), are necromancers and others with magical abilities who seek to keep themselves hidden away from most of the world for one reason or another. Most often, these necromancers find residence in one of the dilapidated ruined castles and towers that dot the landscape, though sometimes a simple cave is sufficient. In most cases the necromancers do not remain for very long, either because they complete their research and return to the world hoping their newfound magic will allow them to conquer the land, or more often, because they delved too deeply into the swamp and were overcome by some danger therein. This often leaves their undead creations to wander the fens, masterless and directionless.
In addition to the normal creatures one might find dwelling in a swamp (crocodiles, stirges, snakes, etc), there are a plethora of more monstrous creatures, some similarly expected in a swamp (hydras, giant toads,shambling mounds, etc), and others less so (undead, unseelie fey, aberrations, etc). There have even been some reports of fiendish creatures stalking the swamp, but these are uncorroborated and told of by scared peasants, likely these "fiends" are simply larger versions of the animals one would expect in a swamp, or perhaps an illusion created by their fear or possibly some hidden spellcaster wanting to keep people away.
The Secret of the "Blood" Edit
As one travels deeper into the swamp, redish brown spikes protrude from the swamp. These strange "spikes" are actually crystal formations of a rare mineral known by many names, some call it blood crystal, some call it red salt, but those who work with it call it Syrelite. It is this same mineral that gives the swamp its signature red color, though it is in such low concentrations, to be almost useless in the swamp water. Syrelite is well documented by alchemists to have an almost magical effect of the mind of one who imbibes it (or something infused with it). Depending on the concentration and how it is mixed and refined, the syrelite can either strengthen one's mind against outside influence, or weaken it to resisting one's own desires.
The Keep of the Sunken God Edit
Deep within the swamp, deeper than anyone has gone and returned, there is one sunken castle that stands out among the rest. While like many others, only a single tower still rises above the brackish waters, the water inside is strangely clear, not reddened by the syrelite found elsewhere in the swamp. This surprisingly safe to drink water fills the initial tower, but subsequent rooms contain large pockets of air, enough that most people could walk through without issue (having only a few inches of water to walk through). This submerged castle is not without dangers, as many dangerous enemies make these rooms their home including various oozes, and other creatures that feel at home either in the water or the underdark. In the deepest part of this dungeon complex is a large room filled with water of various depths. It is here that a number of treasures can be seen, as well as the master of this ruined keep, an aboleth who has been trapped here for thousands of years. If this creatre is to be believed, it is the reason for the ruins that dot the landscape of the blood fens, and yet it is a prisoner here now. It seems that the syrelite that permeates teh swamp, while useless to most in its diluted state, blocks the powers of the aboleth, freeing any under its sway who step foot out of its flooded prison. In fact it seems that the crystals are almost poisonous to the creature, which is partly why it purifies the water within the castle. The Syrellian Family are aware of this creatures presence and would pay handsomely for anyone who could subdue and bring this creature to them for... research.
The Syrellian Crime Family Edit
This criminal organization stretches across multiple cities and towns even as far as (insert farthest town here), threatening to strangle the life out of any city without an elite city watch to root out their illicit activities.
The rank and file members are not all blood relatives, but have sworn a blood oath and been inducted as honorary members, with all privileges and responsibilities that comes with it. Most members are elves, humans, and half-elves, a representative group of the family's genetic makeup. But they do not discriminate when it comes to recruiting talented young (or old) individuals. Included among their ranks are half-orcs, tieflings, and there are even rumors of gnomes having entered the fold. Attacking any member of the family is seen as an attack against the family itself, and met with quick and bloody retribution. The worst crime a member of the family can commit is betrayal, so harsh is the punishment, that the fear of this punishment has prevented a betrayal for over 100 years. Though those who work for the family, but have not officially joined are generally seen as expendable, their loyalty is not expected to the same degree and as such their betrayal is not as heinous a crime (punishments range from beatings to murders depending on severity and who deals out the punishment).
Criminal Activities Edit
The Syrellian family focuses mainly on the selling (and required smuggling) of illegal goods. Their primary focus is selling highly addictive alchemical goods with various effects (AKA drugs). These alchemical concoctions are produced using the Syrelite Crystals found in the deeper parts of the swamp, which enhances both the desired properties and the addictive properties.
Patrons of Alchemy Edit
Due to their need for capable alchemists to create their "products", the family will often fund the research or even schooling of promising alchemists in exchange for their expertise. Obviously, they are expected to keep their connections a secret, as well as any work they do for the family. Those foolish enough (or not careful enough) to keep these secrets, have a tendency to disappear only to be found months or even years later dead from a drug overdose showing clear signs of drug addiction and malnourishment.
Family Home Edit
This ancient manor house sits deep within the swamp, far from the prying eyes of any non-members. But even those who do make it that far into the swamp are likely to be surprised to find it a simple manse run by a butler for a family of nobles whose ancestry stretches back farther than most kingdoms. One thing of note, is that in the immediate area surrounding the mansion, there are no monsters or other animals of any kind, they seem to keep away from this place, even turning back when chasing would be prey into the area. The house itself seems to be built atop the ruins of a castle that sunk into the swamp thousands of years ago (one of the many that can be found in this marsh). Inside the house (for those welcomed inside) is a beautiful mansion, with an extensive library, possibly rivaling the collection found within The Forgotten Library (area 91). Beneath the mansion is the remains of the castle, somehow still dry and surprisingly well kept. It is here in the castle beneath the mansion, that most of the criminal activity is performed, from refining the syrelite crystals, to infusing them into the illicit goods for distribution across the world (though some of this is done off site). All records of the criminal activities of the family are kept hidden here in the castle below the mansion.
Prominent Members Edit
Lady Nylia Syrel is the current leader and matron of the house of The Syrellian Crime Family, an imposing and ambitious half-elven woman intent on spreading her family's influence throughout the land... by any means necessary. While she spends most of her time working out the logistics of keeping the organization running smoothly, she does occasionally make time to mingle with high society, though she tends to arrive late and leave early, and is never seen traveling along the roads or within the cities.
Malzen Syrel is the younger brother of Nylia and middle child of his siblings. Of all his family, Xellos is the most "well-known". He tends to avoid dealing with the matters of the family business unless it directly affects him. Malzen is more interested in living his life to the fullest, much to the chagrin of his older sister, as he tends to get himself in trouble that family resources must then be spent to get him out of.
Leran Syrel is the youngest brother of the current generation of Syrels. Little is known of Leran, save that he is married and has children, unlike his older siblings. Some believe that he has decided to live a more normal life away from the family business, but ohters claim that the secrecy surrounding him is a result of him manipulating things from the shadows. Only the upper ranks of the Syrellian family know the truth.
Joaquin is the butler and personal manservant of the Syrellian family, he has served them faithfully for many generations. He appears to be an aging half-elven man (from his looks most would assume him to be in his late 60's) always dressed prim and proper with a small well trimmed mustache (see every butler in a movie ever). In reality, Joaquin is an arcanoloth bound into service with the family through an ancient contract made with the family's ancestors. In conversation, Joaquin tends to rely on sarcasm and a dry sense of humor both to annoy and confound any inquiries he is unable or unwilling to answer.