What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
Religion on the Inner Sea is much like that of ancient Earth or the Wilderlands of High Fantasy - there are a number of pantheons, all of which think the others are wrong, and which all grant spells to their followers. There are even localized minor deities who only have power within certain areas (the frog-god of the marshes, for example). Pick pretty much any ancient historical deity and you're good to go. In addition, the following deities have been established:
- Iana - Kind of an Athena-meets-Artemis type Myrmidian deity of planning, strategy, knowledge, and hunting. Favored weapons are bow and spear. While primarily worshiped by Myrmidian amazons, there are evidently a few male knightly orders dedicated to her outside of Myrmidia (probably based out of Talas, primarily). Myrmidian males think that said knights are sissies who should be worshiping...
- Myr - Ares meets Pan; deity of war and male fertility. Actually a deified warrior-king, ancestor of all modern Myrmidians.
- Harmakhis - A Sorosi mercantile deity with something of a dark side; he has several orders of assassins dedicated to his service under the motto "Even death can be bought and sold."
- Ashtar - Urdukhar female fertility deity with many bladedancers dedicated to her service. Rival of Iana.
- Ammonar - Elven sun god, from whom the elves claim their imperial lineage is directly descended. (Simple guide to elves: nightblades are ninjas, spellswords are samurai wizards, and Ammonar is Amaterasu).
Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Any town of reasonable size can cover you for most weapons. Armor can be a bit tricky, and finding horses or war dogs in any number will likely require a trip to Freeport.
Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
That's actually well-covered under the combined "prices for large armor" and "commissioning an item" rules. It might take a couple days, but most large towns should be able to do it. Whether or not they'll be willing to deal in monstrous armor is another question...
Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Across the entire Inner Sea, it could be any of the Talasi archmages or whatever mysterious force rules Dardantus. Within the Shieldlands, it's likely a high warlock of some chaos cult or other. In either case, it's not well known.
Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Within the Shieldlands, it's likely the lord of the Myrmidian outpost of Pike. There's some speculation that the Dirk of Dirk Hill could give him a run for his money, but since the position of Dirk changes hands so often, and since they're on the other end of the trade road, this speculation has never been tested. Redjack of Freeport is also a renowned swordsman, and there are a lot of old tales about the toughness of the Judge of Deal. Finally, there are any number of small-time bandit chieftains out in the badlands who manage to keep control of their cronies and not get eaten by monsters, which takes a fair amount of skill.
Who is the richest person in the land?
The merchant factors of the Caravaners and the Boatmen are no doubt quite wealthy, and it is believed that Redjack has a large stash of hidden treasure from his pirate days.
Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Temples, naturally. Even in Deal, there are 17 castings of Cure Light Wounds available per day from the temple of Ashtar at 10gp a shot for worshippers, or twice that for those who worship other gods. Non-magical doctors are also available for hire, and while less reliable than magical healing, they're also much less expensive.
Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Again with the temples. Well, poison will generally kill you straightaway, but disease and curse can both be taken care of at temples. Level drain isn't a thing; I'm trying out the rule that undead which would drain levels instead apply aging. Lycanthropy is curable with Cure Disease or belladonna. Polymorph can be fixed via Dispel Magic, alignment change by Remove Curse, and death or maiming by Restore Life and Limb (incidentally, there is one casting per day of Restore Life and Limb available from the temple of Ashtar in Deal for 500gp for worshipers, twice that else). The solution to undeath, naturally, is redeath followed by RL&L. Non-magical healers can also cure disease much more cheaply than clerics, but again with a much higher rate of failure.
Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There's no large, regional guild in the Shieldlands, no. There are a few wizards about in large towns like Deal, and while they may form small local organizations, their level caps out around 4th and they don't have access to long-range resources or high-level spells. Might still be worth making contact with for help finding sages, getting items identified, and having books translated if you plan to be in one particular town a lot.
Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Alchemists and sages are much more likely to be found in Freeport than anywhere else in the Shieldlands, but mage's guild connections might let you find amateurs out in the sticks.
Where can I hire mercenaries?
Ha! Where can't you hire mercenaries is a better question. Even the smallest villages are likely to have a few down-on-their-luck guys with spears looking for easy money. Now, if you want good mercenaries in quantity, you're going to have to head to Dirk Hill, Pike, or Freeport.
Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Not in the Shieldlands, no. Hell, even murder won't get you in all that much trouble most places. The common folk fear magic, and might not feel particularly kind towards those who use it, but it's more of a "pitchforks and torches" type response than orderly law enforcement.
Which way to the nearest tavern?
Down towards the docks, generally.
What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
There aren't really any of regional scale presently. The towns of the Shieldlands are relatively independent, and each is plagued by their own troubles. Solving those would earn you heroic status in a particular town, and you might be heard of elsewhere, but 'famous' would take some doing.
Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Well, there's some rumbling of a bandit lord south of Deal gathering an army...
How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
There are some small-scale back-room type operations in Freeport and Dirk Hill, but if you want serious gladiatorial action you'll have to head to Dardantus and fight your way up the ladder.
Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Yes, yes there are. No, I will not tell you who they are, what they want, or where to find them.
What is there to eat around here?
Roast goat and dates if you're feeling fancy, rat jerky and beans if you're not.
Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
They're out there, but I don't know what they are yet. Fortunately, until you go do research on them, I don't need to.
Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
Legend has it that in elder days, when the dwarves lived in the Shieldlands, they had a veritable mountainhome here which fell to a dragon. The location of the city has been lost, but there's likely a dragon there if you can find it.