Tempest Haven
published: Sep 4, 2017 | last modified: Sep 4, 2017
estimated reading time 11 minutes

Tempest haven

Mt Girubaba and Girubaba Island

Formed millennium in the past by volcanic activity, Girubaba Island is named for the volcano – Mt Girubaba – and is set in the mouth of the Pathfinder River, which spills into the Atlantic Ocean. Freshwater from the river mixes with the saltwater from the ocean in the natural bay the island sits in, allowing for both freshwater and saltwater sea life depending upon where around the island one is looking.

The Pathfinder is a slow meandering river, shallow and very wide. The island is approximately 60 miles in diameter with an average of one mile of water between the island and the mainland. However, there is a point that narrows on the south side of the island that allows a two-lane (one each way) bridge spanning 1100 feet maintained for general access to the island. There is also a ferry capable of transporting automobiles from the mainland to the port on the north side. The ferry makes two trips a day, morning and evening. A small garbage scow also makes the trip as needed, usually once every 10 days.

The name Girubaba has origins from ancient Sumerian GIRRU BABA or FIRE GATE. The volcano is patterned after Mt Konocti in California. Like Mt Konocti, extensive underground areas below the volcano and extending to parts of the mainland are largely unmapped.

Though the caldera of the volcano has long since filled in, and in fact is home to the Girubaba Observatory, the areas below Girubaba proper are largely unmapped. However, it is known that the cavern beneath the volcano itself is the largest underground cavern in the world; this was determined with seismograph studies. No entrance has yet been found into this huge cavern. Stories passed down through Native American traditions in the area tell of the worst drought year; the water was so low that an entrance to a series of caves that eventually lead to the main cavern was uncovered. All attempts to date to find this entrance have come up with nothing.

Though there is only one large soil filled “bowl” in which Tempest Haven thrives, there are several tiny bowls, ravines, and valleys on the sides of Mt Girubaba that are home to small homesteads. These farms provide most of the produce that feeds the island.

Within the cavern beneath Mt Girubaba there exists a small viable civilization.

The roots of the small volcanic mountain divide the island itself into roughly four sections:

1 Tempest Haven community 2 Townsend Vineyard and Winery 3 Girubaba Vineyard and Black Barrel Winery 4 Mistrunner wood

The stuff found that powers the hidden civilization in the volcano cavern is the cause for mutations in the area. This stuff is pretty benign unless concentrated – bio-concentration through vegetation and animals; further concentrated through manufacturing processes such as winemaking

100-year storm – happened just 20 years ago and happens again. Allows for players to have their origins and grow up dealing with their abilities, or to have potential and get sparked by the storm that introduces the campaign.

Tempest Haven Community

A small community nestled in a natural bowl in the side of the volcano. Tempest Haven is a sleepy little town that enjoys just enough isolation to keep frivolous tourist traffic away. However, there is enough charm and uniqueness to the island in general, and Tempest Haven in specific, to attract those serious about “getting away from it all” for a bit.

The bowl Tempest Haven sits in is unique in that it is deep, high on the side of the volcano, and filled with rich volcanic soil. Though the other three root areas of the volcano also have this rich soil, the soil beneath Tempest Haven is literally captured within the bowl. Water for the town comes from either local area cisterns or the main well. The well had to be sunk over 3000 feet to reach a year-round steady supply of fresh water. The water is pumped to two different towers to supply the community.

As with many communities, the local high school annually refreshes the town’s initials on the rock face behind the town. The three-story-tall “TH” is locally made light of as representing “Toe Hold” rather than Tempest Haven.

An area on the generally uninhabited side of the volcano is perfect for seasonal hang gliding.

A large part of the community has a Japanese influence to it – architecture, cuisine, relaxed lifestyle.


An observatory exists on the edge of the community that is used by city university and the local small community college. This observatory is considered a satellite to the main Girubaba Observatory in the caldera and is here as a convenience for academic purposes rather than serious research.

A “big city” university tried to start a satellite campus in the community but closed it due to the high cost of operation (everything, including students and teachers, had to be imported, and there is just not that much room). Currently abandoned, though still owned by the “big city” university (town really wants to buy back that property for its own use but the university waffles between not selling and wanting ten times its worth).

The “big city” university rents a building on the community college campus – makes for quite a rivalry.

There is a background legal battle to grow the community “up” since there is no more space to grow out.

There is only one small emergency care unit with a six-bed ward; overflow cases and the more severe cases are transferred to the mainland to the “big city” hospital. There is a heliport and a single helicopter maintained by the small hospital for this purpose as well as life flight duties. There are also a couple of family doctors that practice in the community. There is also a local psychiatrist in the community.

There are two local newspaper outlets – one is all the news that is fit to be printed, done as a one or two-page spread and sent to the “big city” paper every night for inclusion as a separate section. Folks then buy the big city paper to get the local bit. There is also an Enquirer type rag that is printed here and has a circulation of several surrounding counties, even into other states. The circulation is this large only because of the unusual and bazaar stories in it. The price is high for the rag since few ever advertise in it. The rag doesn’t sell that much locally, but a big hit in the “big city,” which results in a lot of fun being made of the community.

Some areas that could be developed are either not for sale or government protected areas.

Superfund site?

The community is generally very “green” conscious. This attitude is more to maintain as much self-sustainability as possible from the mainland than a concern for the earth.

The water treatment plant for the community is smaller than needed for a community of this size. This is because, at the founding of the plant, the use of water pumped from beneath the volcano and aerated with an anaerobic “super” bacteria results in a super-cleansing of the water. Anything smaller than an M&M gets “eaten” by the super bacteria. The owner and his line have been trying for decades to export the bacteria and/or find out why it does what it does, but have failed because of reliance on local water.

There is a huge brain drain on the local community. The local youth tend to grow up and move away. Some few make their way back eventually, but the population generally does not grow. However, there is a micro brain spike in the area of astronomy and astrophysics (and some maths for support) because of the sophisticated astronomy program and the observatory.

Use Manitoulin Island as a template (Wikipedia).

Townsend Vineyard and Townsend Winery

The stewardship of the vineyard and winery is a side venture for the Townsend family, historically given over to members of the family that were either black-sheep or considered under-achievers. The business provides a steady though small income source for the Townsend estate. The current stewardship, Michael Townsend, is looking to change this.

The soil on the sides of the extinct volcano is exceptional for plant growth. The Townsend estate has taken advantage of this by producing some of the highest quality grapes on the North American continent. Water, however, is a problem for the Townsend vineyard. A large area has been set aside further up the side of the volcano for several large cisterns to supplement rainfall and provide enough water for the entire growing season.

Girubaba Vineyard and Black Barrel Winery

The only grapes that may be arguably better on the North American continent than the Townsend grapes would be the grapes grown in the adjoining Girubaba Vineyard. It is difficult to compare, as the Girubaba Vineyard does not sell their grapes in bulk off the island; 95% of the grapes are used by the Black Barrel Winery. The remaining grapes are sold in town for the local markets.

Unlike the Townsend vineyard, the Girubaba vineyard has the good fortune of a natural spring that begins high on the side of Mt Girubaba. The water tends to collect in small natural bowls as it makes its way down the side of the mountain. This source, when managed carefully, provides for the entire growing season of Girubaba Vineyard.

The Black Barrel Winery is owned and ran by the Stone family.

Mistrunner Wood

The last foot of the volcano is an old growth forest that is protected by federal regulation. The rich volcanic soil and unique environment have resulted in a well-protected piece of wilderness. Only restricted access is allowed to the area. The access is controlled by very high priced entertainment (camping, hiking, etc.) permits and a local ranger station manned year-round. However, the Stone family have hereditary, though limited, rights for the light collection of lumber for the purpose of making barrels for their winery. The wood is composed mainly of eastern black oak.

Plot feelers

Though the 100-year storm just occurred 20 years ago, it happens again. This event will allow for the players to have their origins and either grow up dealing with their abilities or get sparked into their abilities by the storm. The storm would also be a good introduction to begin the campaign.

Something going on in abandoned university satellite campus.

Strong-arming of the local city council to get legislation passed to allow buildings higher than three stories and deeper than minus one.

Oral and ancient writings talking about a drought that was so bad some 150 years ago that the lake level was low enough to expose a new cave entrance into the volcano mountain. The Indians at the time said a huge lake existed within that had “fish with no eyes.”

Indian myths and legends come to life – pattern from Manitoulin Island and religious PDFs.

An entire civilization exists in the volcano cavern, distantly related to Japanese influence, and somewhat Jules Vernian in flavor – unusual high tech powered by something found in the bowels of the extinct volcano. On occasion, someone from below comes above.

Wine-stomping for those already highly concentrated.

A young upstart vineyard is trying to increase the quantity of their crop by experimenting with hydroponics – leaching all of the seasonal stream runoff by damming it high up the mountain face and redirecting to their facility. This is directly affecting the Girubaba Vineyard.

Huge natural disaster, washing out the bridge, trapping tourists on the island for a bit, and causing a huge disturbance of the stuff resulting in an outbreak of mutants – origins for some as this is a repeat of a past disaster (torrential rains, thunder, lightning, high winds, a regular tempest)

A local doctor has discovered (because of stuff) a preserving agent, that if a body is immersed in the goo, they are preserved and may be brought back. He does this to those that are terminally ill or with incurable ailments in the hopes of finding solutions and bringing them back to full health. A bit deranged as he has done this for decades with those from newborns to famous / founding elderly. Mostly unbeknown to the community.

An astronomy instructor has gone off the deep end. His beliefs are on a fast track to astrology, he is seeing things in the stars, started a cult, and the patterns and alignments are just about right for the big sacrifice in the volcano caldera.

A manure mound is pulled into a sudden sink-hole of concentrated water/stuff. His boy, interested in carnivorous plants, has started a small garden in the marsh that replaced the mound. The garden grows out of control – use the little shop of horrors as a template. During investigation/recovery, an NPC falls into the sink-hole and is (hopefully) rescued by our heroes. Unfortunately, this leads to another villain in the future.

A genuine healer mutant is born. Once his ability gets out, the island is flooded with those wanting healing and those wanting to capitalize on the ability. The local community is completely disrupted by more than just overcrowding.

A local serial killer is using the water treatment plant to “eliminate” the evidence of the bodies.

The mainland landfill has received some unusual concentrations of stuff from the garbage tug for the island recently. This has caused some unusual effects on the landfill (garbage monster?).

A tie-dye business goes bad when the water is used to make the dies.

A pseudo-pod man from the cavern.

How did the XXX family get the rights to collect lumber from Mistrunner?

This is a post in the "settings-and-snippets" series.
Other posts in this series:

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  • Toe Hold
    published: Apr 2, 2018 | last modified: Apr 2, 2018
  • Rhythm World
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  • Shards
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  • Tempest Haven
    published: Sep 4, 2017 | last modified: Sep 4, 2017
  • The Storms of Ice
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tags:  setting 
series:  settings-and-snippets 
categories:  geek