Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
Safeton is closest to the expanded Orc Empire, and has a population of 5,500.
Fishing, trade, laboring, quarrying, and mercantile seamanship are the sources of income here, but life is hard for most.
Safeton has an atmosphere of paranoia and fear. It is subject to military rule by the 550
Greyhawk militiamen, with nighttime curfews outside the notorious Dock District (where the
militia do not patrol).
Three war galleys are stationed at Safeton, and Hardby Marines are training Safeton men in the hard military duties expected of them under the new conscription law. Life is tough and bloody here; many of the native folk are of evil alignments and some of them are as brutal as any orc bandit pillaging and slaying farmsteads.
Safeton’s defenses are being strengthened as a matter of priority. A complete wooden stockade
wall has been erected, and within that, a stone wall is being built with two massive entry gates.
Sea defenses are strong, but the land threat is the greatest, so slave labor is being used ’round the clock to construct the walls. Slaves always existed in Safeton, and many used to be sold to the Pomarj, a horrible irony. Greyhawk law does not allow slavery, but the slaves have been appropriated as workhouse-billeted people for this essential construction work.
Safeton’s climate is that of typical temperate seaboard, with one notable exception. During Goodmonth and Harvester each year, a powerful southeasterly wind blows in from the sea. The “Safeton Physic,” as the gale is known, begins to blow just after noon and continues until late in the night. It takes its name from the belief that the wind blows away disease and detritus from the poorer parts of the city. It makes piloting and sailing out of port somewhat more hazardous.
Turin Deathstalker, late of Greyhawk itself, looks over this city with a cold eye. He is
determined that, when the battle for Safeton comes, he will send thousands of humanoids to their
deaths. He gains resources as he can; his tax revenues may be owing to Greyhawk, but Safeton
receives more moneys in aid than it generates in taxes. Turin is not beyond coercing any adventurers useful to the construction work, or in Safeton’s militia, into service through trumped-up legal charges if the need arises.
Strike forces of 30-80 militia foray into the “buffer zone“ to attack orcish settlements there. Safeton has four resident mages on Greyhawk‘s payroll who spy out the borderlands with fly spells from a safe height, and if the humanoids therein show signs of assembling large warbands or building important defenses, the militia is sent to effect a pre-emptive strike, with the support of wizards and priests of martial deities. Patrols of 15-25 men also operate within the southern area of the plains, visiting farmsteads and manors, advising on defenses, co-opting any young men of conscriptable age, and acquiring information.
Turin is also the man who devised the Penal Militias. These are forces of convicted criminals that serve one of two roles. The most hardened of them are shackled to lookout posts and sea defenses, where they will be given arms only if the need is desperate. As lookouts, they know their fate will be the same as everyone else’s if Safeton is overwhelmed, so they perform their duties. A handful have actually been released into conscription into the Hardby Marines, so this gives them something to look forward to. Others are given as (virtual) slaves to communities within the Wild Plains, where they serve as (shackled and manacled) guards and border lookouts. Many die there if raiders attack the communities, but they’re considered expendable. Life in the Penal Militias is often brutish and short, but the men within them are usually black-hearted brigands.
About half a century after the Suel Imperium was burned to ash by the Rain of Colorless Fire, a band of Suloise wanderers settled atop a low ridge overlooking an inlet of Woolly Bay. Exiles and vagabonds all their lives, they were determined to claim a new home for themselves and in some small way live up to the dimly remembered glories of their grandsires. Quarrying the abundant local stone, the Suel fortified the settlement against the unnumbered bands of marauders that roamed the lands. The settlers were fierce in the defense of their new home and after several attempts to storm the high stone walls came to bloody grief, the place came to be known as Safe Town (later shortened to Safeton).
From the very beginning, many doubted how well the name suited the place. Certainly, the loose alliance of families that came to form the town’s nobility ensured that it remained safe from attack from without. However, the haphazard attitude of the Old Families (as the nobles are called) to lawmaking meant that walking the streets of Safeton could be anything but safe. Might made right and the Old Families had might to spare. So, along with fishing, quarrying and trade, brigandage and, later, piracy filled Safeton’s coffers. Like their forefathers, the Suel of Safeton used slaves to work their quarries and their fields
Down the long centuries, though two-bit strongmen and petty despots have risen and fallen, no tyrant has established himself long in Safeton. A decree by the founders of the city forbidding dynastic succession is regarded as sacred and would-be dynasts have time and again found their ambitions (and their line of succession) cut short by an assassin’s blade.
The last of Safeton’s strongmen met a slightly different end, however. Styling himself the Szek of Safeton, his small private army of brigands terrorized the northern Wild Coast in the middle years of the current century. The szek’s fatal error was to kidnap a gynarch of Hardby and then murder her when her family refused to pay ransom. Retribution was swift and bloody. Two of the dead gynarch’s grandchildren – Deirdre and Oscar Longland – rode into Safeton alone and rode out with the szek’s head, which they mounted on a pike over the gates of Hardby.
The szek’s untimely (and extremely violent) death left Safeton without a single strong leader until one was imposed on the city by outside circumstances. In early 584 CY, the half-orc warlord Turrosh Mak united the monstrous tribes of the Pomarj. The cities of Eldredd and Badwall were stormed and sacked in quick succession. As refugees flooded into Safeton with tales of the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Pomarji horde, the Old Families quickly saw that their ancient home could not weather such a storm unaided. So in Coldeven 584 CY, they signed a Pact of Association with the Free City of Greyhawk that placed Safeton under Greyhavian rule in return for military support.
This did little to reassure Safeton’s population. When news came of the fall of Fax, panic gripped the city. Rumors spread like wildfire – Safetons’s small population of orcs, hobgoblins and half-orcs were in league with the Mak. Angry mobs took to the streets and, in what is known as the Night of Terror, killed every orc, half-orc and goblinkin that they could lay hands on. Order was only fully restored when a force of 550 Greyhawk Militia and three fully crewed war galleys of the Hardby Marines arrived nearly a week later. They were led by Safeton’s new military governor, Turin Deathstalker, whose reputation as an orcslayer and goblinkin is exceeded only by his infamy as a cold-blooded assassin.
Turin set about fortifying Safeton with characteristic pragmatism. All men of fighting age were immediately conscripted into the city levy and given arms and amour. Safeton’s practice of slavery was outlawed under Greyhawk law. However, the freed slaves were immediately put to work as indentured laborers to pay off their purchase prices building a stockade (and later a stone wall) to enclose those parts of the city that spilled beyond the original town wall. Imprisoned convicts were pressed into the Penal Militia. Many were chained to watchtowers and sea defenses as sentinels, their cooperation ensured by the knowledge that they would share the same fate as the rest of Safeton should the city fall.
City of Safeton Index
Safeton comprises four districts – the Marine Quarter, the Dock Quarter, the Freeman’s Quarter and the Low Quarter.