Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fenlock I: Introduction to Fenlock's architecture

[Warning: Some of this is just copypasta from the DM's Info...]   
     Fenlock is a walled city in Southeast Ardentia along the Kierian Locks, with a 30ft high hewn-wood wall, made of treated oak half-logs. It is about one foot thick. The wall is ancient, but a maintenance system in place which treats it with locally grown oils and replaces damaged wood every spring or as needed makes it nearly as strong as an equivalent width of stone.   
     Druidic and mage enchantments have been placed on it over time, and the wall is said to be ‘alive.’ It radiates moderate abjuration and enchantment arcane dweomers, and very strong druidic magic. Extremely sensitive mages have claimed it also radiates mild necromantic magic, which correlates with the local legend that says the wall was raised from trees that were polymorphed druids who gave their life to protect the town. It is known to repel flame and believed to repel lightning strikes within the walls. 
     Grass and other plants grown within 50 feet of the wall are exceptionally lush. While nothing is allowed to grow on the outside of the wall, where the curved sides of the logs face, the flat interior face is covered with ivy, espaliered fruits and climbing flowers. These provide a bounty of produce for the town, and help to keep the wall cool and the town humid even during fire season. They stop about five feet below the top of the wall, where a 22-inch wide rope and wood ‘catwalk’ below the top of the wall is used by the city militia as a look out or for archers during the rare raid on the city. Archers have several well-concealed holes within lower levels of the wall, and as few as one man every 20 feet is enough to render the wall deadly to a semi-intelligent enemy. 
     The wall is not designed to repel a humanoid siege army, but the monstrous enemies and magical fogs that attack the city. The canal can be shut off via a system of double portcullises, and 6ft wide removable rope and lumber hanging bridges are used to cross the canal outside the wall during the day (primarily to move small herds to the eastern side of the dry-moat.  Approximately 20ft above the canal, three-rope ‘bridges’ offer crossing for the brave or stupid who wish to cross them. These can be fired from the town in the case of attackers attempting to use them to their benefit, but that rarely happens. There are at least three fairly high level druids in the town that help to maintain the wall.  
    As a Vassal State of Arden Vale, Southeast Ardentia is technically under the King of Arden Vale, but in practice the army never goes that far south, and the highest ranking members of the town are of the Chivalric class. Even the town leader (the Thane) is just a jumped-up knight. The nearest landed noble, should a problem requiring one arise, is in Carago. Detect Area Alignment says that Fenlock is Lawful Neutral. But, as any diviner knows, do not put too much stock in such a reading, as the presence of a high level paladin (The Thane) and several druids would easily affect such a reading. It is valuable to know, however, that the combined alignments of the citizenry/local monsters/elementals are not far enough from Lawful Neutral to outweigh the Paladin and the druids.
Fenlock elevation (not to scale)
    Fenlock sprung up a couple of hundred years ago at a turn and drop on the canal system. The entire city is raised approximately 30 ft from the surrounding countryside, with half of that rise occurring over the l00ft drymoat and the rest of it divided between a stone system of catacombs and retaining walls under the city and the rise up to the dry moat itself (see the elevation illustration. The land is cut away to show retaining wall. Only about 2ft of that retaining wall is visible, and it is planted with thorny brush.) At its north-eastern entrance to the city, the canal's surface sits just below level with the city (the canal itself is built up as it approaches Fenlock, where the land begins to fall away, in the titular fens of Southeast Ardentia) and as it leaves the city in the south, the canal is about 35ft feet below Fenlock (ending up below the level of the countryside immediately south of Fenlock, in a wide ditch, although about 10 miles from the city the descent of the land catches up with the water level. 
     Drawbridges and gates in the city allow boats as high as 30ft to pass through the lock and canals. In the rare event of a higher boat, the city can remove the portcullises at the entrances to the town (a process requiring a few hours of labor, but which is within the design of the system.) The draw bridges are mule-drawn 90 degree lifts, so they do not limit the height of barges at all. The city's process (except in emergencies) for lowering the water is to allow through traffic in during the day and pump the water out at night, forcing the barge crews to stay overnight, either on the barges or (more often) in the city's whorehouses, inns and various other service industries. In extreme conditions, the water can be safely lowered in less than an hour, raised in half that, and the entire city system can be flushed in about twenty minutes (although the whirlpool effect in the center of the lock makes it unsafe for boats in this condition). 
     Fenlock is the first of the inland towns on the canal system, and as a result tends to get a lot of fresh meat from upstream and sell a lot of produce and finished goods. The barge captains all know that their 'stop' in Fenlock is the result of the city's choices, not the technology, but the city is very nice to their traffic, so it is anticipated and even looked forward to. Barges are inspected in Fenlock for free by the Lockmaster (unless there are many at once) and he is very serious and non-bribable.  Drydocks in the south half of the city compete aggressively for boats needing repair and Fenlock is much cheaper than the other inland towns for these services. These docks can accommodate both the mule barges and the sea going vessels using the canals as a short cut around Desolation Point or The Mistforge.

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