Wednesday, November 6, 2013

East Fenlock: Stuff Everyone knows

Since the party detoured to Arden Vale and St. Rose, I haven't posted some Fenlock data in a while. So, here you go.

86. Lockmaster’s Office. This small brick building houses the lockmaster’s home, his office, and the controls for the bells and horns that raise the bridges or water levels.  The 3ft diameter brightly marked viewing hole in his office which allows him to detect the exact height of the water is also a famously excellent place to fish for dark water fish, both because he tosses bread down that attracts them and because the long, cool stone pool, with its still water and deep seaweed, is much more pleasant for them than the lock’s pool. Hilaire Fabron is the Lockmaster. He’s known for being of the opinion that animals are better than people…especially young people. He also never met a problem he didn’t think a machine could fix.

87. Northern Mule barn. The city’s liftbridges, except in emergencies, are raised by large coils of chains, which are wound around a spindle turned by mules. They are lowered by a water-filled device that limits the speed they can come down with (but they still come down fast enough to remove a limb or kill a child), and the locking mechanisms stop them from shifting direction when in motion. This barn holds five to ten mules, and it is common for two to be in the harness during the day.

88. Southern Mule Barn. The southern bridge is much lighter, and the spindle may be turned by only one heavy mule. This barn holds two to seven mules, usually two are harnessed during the day.  The counterweights for the bridge are partially attached to this building.

89. Northern Lift Bridge. The Northern lift bridge is much heavier than the southern lift bridge. It sits atop the gate for the locks, and when the heavy chain is passed between them, they are impossible to move or open.  The bridge is a single leaf bascule bridge (both bridges are this type, but the cut stone and steel counterweights of the Northern Lift bridge swing above the road when it is open, whereas the southern lift bridge uses submerged lead weights to keep it up, so the Northern bridge’s counterweight is a landmark.  (also because a much younger Sir Four lifted the bridge into position with his bare hands (and a magical girdle.) The bridge is iron grid with a wood panel bed, and if not oiled properly or handled gently will stick at about 1/3 up. This happens about twice a month.

90. Northern Lift Bridge counterweights. Enormous concrete filled metal weights are connected by gears and cables and welded to the end of the Northern Lift Bridge. When the bridge is down, these weights are high in the air, and the largest must be passed under to access the bridge. There are only a few inches between the front of the Thane’s house and these weights when the bridge is closed. 

91. The fortified manor house of the Thane. Four stories, stone with a high pitched slate roof and a large attic and basement, the thane’s house is part mansion, part city hall and occasional temple to Palladian. The Thane’s large collection of trophies of various slain evil beings lines the enormous dining room, where there is nearly always a crowd. Food is plentiful (if plain), and each of the thane’s children has their own room in the building. The northernmost third of the building houses a stable on the lowest that can house as many as 10 enormous horses, and the building also includes indoor access to a hotspring.

92. The Thane’s Paddock. The stockade fencing of the paddock gives way to handwoven wire at the northernmost boundary, and barges coming through are often treated to the disapproving glares of warhorses who look at the crews as if they might fancy some manflesh in addition to their oats. It is not uncommon for people training for the Joust to be running around here.  A manmade pond in the center of the paddock is full of crisp, clean and frigid water even on hot days.

93. The festival stands. Above one of the best jousting tiltyards in the country stands a stone and steel set of bleachers and a covered box with more amenities than much larger such yards in much larger cities. The high stands can fit about 3000 people with space to spare. The deep, soft sand of the yard is both a benefit and a problem when jousting. It slows horses down a lot, but has greatly reduced the number of serious injuries taken when jousters are knocked to the ground. A small group of orphans has the job of raking this sand daily, in all seasons. It is said the thane had these built to put an end to the pas d'armes that kept going on at the Northern Lift Bridge, but the Thane himself was always the worst offender in that regard. Indeed, people say his house sits inches from the bridge because he technically still has a challenge to take on anyone who crosses it.

94. The festival grounds. Originally planned as a place to pitch tents, the grounds (sometimes called the Eastern Commons) is a short, flat lawn regularly used as a monthly market and sort of mini-fair. It is also camped upon by several local nomad groups, including the mysterious ‘Caperers’ (so named for their dancing and elaborate goat carts,) Tinkers, and Circuses. During large tournaments, it is used as additional (and free) seating. Since tourney participants still need a place to camp, it’s typical for the town to close off the roads (especially the road along the wall, between building 95 and 105 on the map; and the road behind the festival grounds from 97 to 103) and use that for the large tourney tents. Horses are often kept at the Thane’s Paddock

95. The North Armory Another building associated with the defense of the city, this building is largely used as a storage shed for weapons and armor. During festivals, the lower floors (which are kept empty) are used as communal sleeping areas for squires and hirelings. The fireplace on the lowest floor is large enough for three big men to stand erect within, but it is very rarely cold enough in sub-tropical Fenlock to justify using it.

96. Thrice in the Sand, a bar: The Thrice (as it is called) makes most of its money from the prestigious concessions arrangements with the tiltyard. Its common room is small, crowded and dingy, but the selection of ales, wines, spirits and snacks (mostly dried fruit and nuts, popped grains, and fried crunchy things) is extensive, and the storeroom is known to extend at least two floors beneath the bar.

97. The Virgin’s Fountain: An exceptionally deep pressurized spring feeds a very old marble fountain here, which takes the form of a young woman in wet clothing that barely maintains her dignity, pouring an enormous amphora (from which water falls) which rests on her shoulder into the cold pool at her feet. Small woodland creatures and birds are perched on and against her, and she smiles infectiously. The water in the fountain is cold and naturally sparkling (carbonated), and very high in minerals, including enough calcium and salt that it’s not ideal for cooking or watering animals, and if bottled it will develop a very stale flavor very quickly. It both pours from the statue’s amphora and seeps up from geometric ‘cracks’ in the pool. A 5ft high fence with many narrow entrances surrounds it to keep horses and other animals out. Just to the west of the fountain, a deep horse trough is fed by a well and filled by pumping from the same water source as the city’s other water sources to keep animals out of the sparkling mineral waters, which are supposed to bring luck and prevent diseases. Nearly every child in the city is dunked under the near-freezing shower of water during their naming ceremony, and knights pour the waters over their head in purification ceremonies in a show of humility. Throwing money into the fountain is supposed to bring luck, and the coins deposited within are cleaned out regularly by city staff and placed in the city’s ‘widows and orphans’ fund, which is dispensed to the needy when needed. The fountain pre-dates the city of Fenlock itself, and the iconography is generally believed to portray a nymph or minor forgotten goddess.

98. James Diane, glass maker: The brick and slate house and laboratory of the Diane family is one of the few places locally to get exceptionally made blown and poured glass, including bottles, small glass mirrors, flasks, glass panes (especially small colored glass panels) and similar things. James Diane himself is a low-level (<9th) elementalist mage, who uses bound low-level fire and air spirits (which have been in his family for years) in his work, his knowledge of magic that isn’t related to glassmaking is very limited. The Diane family regularly imports large quantities of sands from the coast, as well as mining the fossil sand deposit at 102.

99. LaJoie Stables. The LaJoie family are traveling horse sellers, specializing in draft horses and trading from farm to farm. Occasionally they will have war horses or riding horses to sell, but they are primarily resellers, moving stock twice a year in a caravan that goes in large circles around and across Ardentia. This stable is not used for stock, but their own mounts and horses, although it is used to house some of their purchases between caravans. The LaJoie clan regularly hire clerics or The Demon’s Dark Dozen (a mercenary group) to help guard the caravan.

100. Lucie and Leon Lupien, Farriers. This small stone slate-roofed cottage is the home base of a traveling farrier. When he’s at home, his brightly painted wagon and large draft horse sit to the side, offering services. Even if he’s not home, Lucie is often manning the forge, making horseshoes. 

101. Horseheart Blake’s House. This 1½ story A frame cottage has a roof made of lovingly hand-hewn greenish slate, with the log outer walls of the cottage deeply carved with patterns of leaves and leaf-faces (green men) and animals. At twilight and when hit with light from torches at night, the eyes of these figures, which are inset with shell and polished stones, seem to watch people who pass by. Several enormous wolf-like dogs prowl the property, but do not bark or growl at normal passers by. It is not uncommon for there to be very large birds of prey hanging out on the building’s stovepipe, and a large flock of chickens prowl the grounds around the building, staying very close to the house and running into a crawlspace beneath it if there is danger. A precarious-appearing stack of cages holds fat, happy pigeons, and Blake can send messages to Arden Vale or Carago with them if needed. The birds of prey never seem to bother the chickens or the pigeons. A painfully shy woman (she’s called Violet, but no one knows if that’s a nickname or her name) lives here with Blake, but she’s unlikely to strike up a conversation. If Blake’s not at home, a sign on the door directs people to the stable. (103)

102. Fossil Sand deposit/Manmade reservoir. A deposit of exceptionally pure white silica sand which has been compressed into light sandstone breaks the surface of the topsoil here, the remains of an ancient beach. It has been removed over the years in bricks, and the center of the deposit has filled in with rainwater, which is about 1ft below the level of the topsoil. This rainwater is used as a water supply for many of the small businesses around it, although it has been known to dry out during the summer. The LaJoie family and the tiltyard both use the sand deposit as a source for sand.

103. Blake Desmarais’ Stable. Desmarais is a human ranger of significant level, nicknamed ‘Horseheart Blake,’ with his talents focused on animal healing (the man is well known for casting ‘Revitalize Animal,’ a spell that heals non-humanoid animals at the expense of his own hit points.) His stable is largely an infirmary for animals, although he also is known to take in animal ‘boarders.’ (10gp/week for a large war horse or special needs mount.) There have been several instances of injured animals (bears, deer, moose) and intelligent monsters (unicorn, Pegasus, centaurs, giant eagles) coming right through the town gates and right to the stable for healing. Horseheart Blake is known to be able to speak to these animals. Based on his holy symbol, and the fact that he originally appeared in town as one of the thane’s henchmen, it’s assumed Blake is one of the (very rare) human rangers dedicated to Palladian.

104. LaJoie Wagon Works: Not really a shop, although you can usually purchase ropes, harnesses and wheels here, the Wagon Works is the LaJoie family’s garage and warehouse for their carts and wagons, used in their horse selling business. It is not uncommon for them to leave town with horses and return with goods for sale, and if not sold to businesses directly, they may have those goods for sale here.

105. LaJoie home. (See 99) This modest stone three story cottage with a wrap around porch and a slate roof is the place where the LaJoie family raises its kids and stays between caravans. There are at least seven LaJoies between the age of 20 and 40 and at least 2 of them are usually here, with a passel of youngsters.

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