The Semolo Plateau is the setting for the first chapter of Dice Friends. It is on the island continent of Chult in the Forgotten Realms.
The plateau is the only place that the red semolo fern grows. This plant is favoured by the spotted melfanda lizard (which is common throughout Chult) and when one of those lizards eats this plant its skin starts to secrete a toxin that can be used to create a (valuable) poison.
The village is at the end of a long, treacherous trail through the jungle that connects it to Port Nyanzaru. Very few villagers make this trek, as it’s ridiculously dangerous. It usually takes a little more than a week each way, and the village has one group of heroes (loyal to the mayor) who make the trip periodically, providing the village with essential supplies. They never returned from their most recent excursion.
The previous mayor (Doti) kept insisting that his policy of reliance on trade was a good one, but the village Sage (Mauga) objected. She believes that the village should be self-sufficient and should spurn all outsiders from beyond Chult. She has convinced more and more of the population of this over time. She also enforces a “no arcane magic user” rule on the village (other than herself, of course). She has a basket of curse stones, and anyone who takes one from the basket is under a curse until the stone is returned to the basket.
The plateau is elevated several hundred feet from the jungle below, but there’s one raised area that has a hill where the village has connected a suspension bridge. There’s a quick-release mechanism on the village side in case they need to drop their end (which can be pulled up again later once there’s no weight on the bridge). The far side of the bridge is only manned in unusual circumstances.
About a third of the way down the plateau there’s a really big cave, which serves as a prison. A dumbwaiter sends food down, and occasionally brings up prisoners for work detail. The prison has no active guards, but escape from it is for all practical purposes impossible since the dumbwaiter is the only way to get from it to the top of the plateau, and the top of the dumbwaiter is within easy view of the plateau side of the bridge (which is always manned). Inmates are either there because they were sentenced by the mayor or else because the plateau accepted payment from a known nomad group to imprison the inmate for a set period.
Recently the bridge was cut, and simultaneously the prisoners all escaped. During the prisoner uprising Mayor Doti was murdered. The bridge has since been repaired. The poison master (Harimm) became the mayor, and Harimm's son took over as poison master.
At any given time there are two or three dozen full-time guards. Their chief serves as the head of the military, the chief of police, and the leader of the militia. (The militia is a group of a couple hundred people who can be summoned from their day jobs by a series of horn blasts when the situation is sufficiently dire.) Many people join the guard and serve for a few years before moving on to something else, but a dedicated few have made it their life's work. Guards don't typically wear uniforms; instead they carry distinctive purple equipment.
- Hoorook (chief guard)
- Toos (rules stickler guard with some seniority)
- Alzam (guard)
- Helbin (guard)
- Mintzy (guard)
- Narg (guard)
- Bebbo (sage's assistant)
- Chara (woman who likes cats)
- Doti (former mayor, deceased)
- Gantra (cleric of Waukeen)
- Harimm (mayor, former poison master)
- Mauga (sage)
- Pegleg (former chief prisoner, deceased)
- Senni (former bridge guard)
- Zektro (chief carpenter)