Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fenlock: Stuff Everyone Knows. The Map, NW Fenlock, Part 2.

31.  South Pumphouse. This building contains the machinery for the southern pump of the lock.

32. The Rusty Pumphandle: A Dive Bar with a few rooms

33. The Golden Loaf. An excellent bread and pastry bakery. Most of the bread and pastries served in the city’s inns and bars (as well as in the houses of the rich) come from here. They have a fleet of bakers and deliverymen. Clean, flat stones outside the bakery, as well as its porticoes, provide an excellent vista from which to watch the boats rise and sink. Meat and vegetable pies are baked all day and used to feed soldiers and sailors. They range from excellent to mystery meat. (The mystery meat is usually a mixture of chicken, boiled silkworms and spicy peppers, and quite delicious, unless you’ve skived out by eating silkworms.) The Golden Loaf is always buying meat, herbs, spices and vegetables.

34. The Captain’s Ugly Sister, an inn and bar. Some of the best meals in the city are served here, and the 10 suites of rooms on the second floor are the nicest places to stay in town (other than in the guest rooms of the rich.) It serves as a sort of informal “Officer’s Club” while boats are docked, in which the common rowers or mulemen might find themselves uncomfortable, although they aren’t kicked out by force. 

35. The Silver Saddle, A brothel. Not the largest brothel in town (that would be the Pink Pearl), or the best brothel (that might be the Pink Pearl, but there is dispute) but definitely one of the cleanest brothels around.  The Silver Saddle is more famous for the enormous stone unicorn in the foyer, rearing up on its hind legs with a look of fury in its eyes, its broken horn and split hoof testament to some great and epic battle. The statue wears some completely impractical barding, made of leather chased with silver, and the barding is clearly labeled with the maker’s mark of Campion Saddlery.  

36. The amusement hall. One of Fenlock’s few high-paying non-prostitution related businesses, the amusement hall is a concert venue, with gambling, magic, sleight-of-hand, fortune tellers and the like on the upper floors. They serve beer and mead, and have stands dishing out stews, pies, and hunks of meat on sticks.

37. The Dragon Fountain. A 20ft high roaring dragon soars above this fountain, crisp water pouring out of its mouth and plunging 18ft into a deep and cold pool of pure water. In extraordinary circumstances, it is used as a secondary ‘waterfall’ by the grove of Ordith.  It is also used by the local watersellers.

38. The Wet Wyvern: An inn. Four stories, with a thatched roof, its own bathhouse, a stable and paddock, a small common room and restaurant serving decent food (their pecan- and cherry-roasted smoked pork is excellent) and rooms and suites ranging from 1sp/night for a small bed and a room scarcely big enough to fit around it to 5gp for a small suite or 1cp to grab a mat on the floor in the attack. The Demon’s Dark Dozen (an LG mercenary company that kills fiends and undead) regularly can be contacted here.)

39-49: Small houses, primarily of serfs who work the city herds, as well as at least one dung collector. Most have gardens, wells (some with pumps), chickens and a goat or two.

50. The Lock.  Boats enter this man-made lake all day and are secured. At night, the water is pumped slowly from the pool, then the boats continue down the lower canal, to the south. This guarantee that barges will stay in Fenlock overnight is a common practice locally and part of how the city brings in so much money in taxes on whores and alcohol.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

By request: The Relationships of the PCs in Fenlock

A Family Tree would be too long. So here, I think, is the accurate 'flow-chart'

Friday, July 26, 2013

Growing up in Fenlock

That the Mistforge spawns clouds of beasts from the depths of the beyond is normal around here. Having to hide inside with shuttered windows while the militia and even farmers and barmaids run around with torches and pitchforks is no more scary to you than a snowday is here in Buffalo. Yeah, you all grew up knowing people who died during such an attack, but most of the death around you is from accidents (drowning, kicked by a horse, fell into a hay baler) or the occasional disease that sweeps through faster than the city's paladins, clerics, midwives and doctors can heal it.

You don't distinguish yourselves from the surrounding towns by how you deal with attacks from The Haze (also called The Miasma, The Mist, The Darkness and The Evil), instead people who live in the walled towns nearby distinguish themselves from the people who live in 'the countryside.'  The countryside is scary, dangerous and the people who live there are, from your point of view, uneducated scary hicks.

Fenlock has compulsory juvenile education. Everyone who lives in Fenlock (and within a few miles of the city) who is over the age of five and under the age of 10 has to attend school, where they learn the basics of reading, writing, math, some life skills and the history of Fenlock. This compulsory education puts Fenlock ahead of the game on Selection Day, and helps secure really good apprenticeships to its people, which in turn brings in money.

Fenlock is part of the City-State of Arden Vale and follows the Ardentian Labor Laws, which means that every even numbered year, on a designated day, human (and part-human) youths between the ages of 13 and 21 who are not gainfully employed (as well as some who wish/have permission to change professions) are lined up in the city center, where they are picked over for five year engagements in professions (apprenticeships.)

Selection Day is harrowing. You are asked questions, you show off your skills (if you have any), and your parents (or guardians) and the city's leaders haggle over you. Being picked last (or passed over for a year) is the worst, being picked first is an honor. Your parents and the thane have the right to veto an apprenticeship, but rarely do. If you are of sound body and can pass a physical, you can volunteer for Arden Vale's professional army and get out of the whole thing. The army pays a flat 100gp advance to your family, and 10gp to the city, with a larger bonus if you complete your training. The "finder's fees" for other careers can be very high. Mages, jewelers and even courtesans have paid thousands of gold for the right to train highly-qualified students. Selection Day in Fenlock is on the Spring Equinox (it varies for other cities, allowing caravans to hit multiple locations in the same year)

These fees are a form of indenture. If you leave before the five years are up, your teacher/master/trainer has the right to demand the money back from your family or from you. If you are mistreated, you have the right to leave, but proving mistreatment is sometimes difficult. If you flee or escape and your teacher doesn't report you to the thane before the five years are up, the teacher forfeits any claim to the money. The money covers all eventualities, including your death, although most teachers do arrange to pay an additional fee if you die. Children trained in a trade by their parents are exempted.

After five years have elapsed, the chosen kids (now hopefully adults, with a trade) make their way back to the city on or around the Spring Equinox, where they have a brief meeting with the Thane and are thrown a party by the city. After the meeting, you are generally expected to settle down in the city (and take up a trade) or move to a place where you can ply your trade better. This helps keep the cities smaller in size, and tends to keep social class in the cities at Tradesman or higher.

These two festivals, Selection Day (on Even Years) and Return Day (on Odd years) are very big deals in Fenlock.

The characters in the party all were trained in what we might call "adventuring trades," and are expected to make themselves useful to the town or move out. As adventurers, you fully expect the Thane's meeting to end with you seeking your fortune by putting an end to (or at least reducing) the evil that threatens the city. It's what you were trained for, and it's the right thing to do- plus, if you ever want to purchase land in the city, you'll need the Thane's blessing, and this is how you earn it.

You've all been provided with information on what happened during your training (or its equivalent.) Some of you left town for big cities or far-off schools, and some of you traveled. This stuff (which was beyond your control) is either not known to your peers, or known only partially. Information such as your character's disposition and basic mannerisms are up to you. Ask yourself how you responded to these events, and what they mean now that you're a free person.

You're already heroes in the eyes of many in the town. You weren't sent off to learn how to mine coal or farm peaches, you were sent off to be heroes...and the city is sort of running short of heroes right now. There have only been three or four in the last several Return Day festivals, and many of them have died or decided to go be somewhere other than Fenlock. The exhausted city guard and the people of the city are incredibly excited for the class of 993....especially since it contains a "real bard" and a "powerful mage." Having gone to your respective schools is a rare accomplishment ON THE PLANET, and here are two in this one little town.

Oh, yeah, and that guy on the cow is back.    

Northwest Fenlock: Stuff everybody knows

North-West Fenlock: Barns, the commons, the silkworks, several large and medium houses.

1. Lower (southern) edge of the Rhovamben family complex, a peach orchard that is heavily patrolled by trained animals and the traps and alarms of low-level mages and clerics. The family keeps three watch platforms that can be seen from town. The complex is larger than the town itself, with at least ten such platforms.
2.   The Dry-Moat. 100 feet wide, with barbed wire and gates, the dry moat is planted and managed grass which is grazed during the day by the city’s sheep, goats and cows. These animals are driven out in the early morning from the city barns, and driven back in as soon as the sun begins to set. A complex set of arrangements by the city’s official herdsman organizes which herds go where on each day, keeping the grass very short but not dead. During drought, the dry moat is ‘watered’ (more like splashed on) by a pumping system that diverts water from the lock to the outer wall. This water trickles down the wall itself, keeping the wall damp and helping maintain its fireproofing. The herds are kept out of each field for three days in a row, when that field is ‘dry,’ professional dung collectors do their duty and collect the materials used for various industries and for fuel at the smithy. The city common and the ‘goat common’ are part of the system of fields, and the city’s sheep are also grazed on the lawns and parks of the city on a constant rotation. The city charter states that in addition to the mandatory emergency housing for all people who pay taxes to it within a 100 mile wide circle, the city is responsible for sheltering the herd animals and horses of the farms within the first twenty miles, and as a result the barns and commons actually can hold about three times the number of animals currently maintained for at least three months. Dried fodder for feeding such a flock for three months is maintained in the catacombs beneath the northern section of the city. The most recent ‘use’ of these facilities were the floods of 986-987, when several hundred cattle were kept on the common from nearby dairy farms. Local herds of eland, elk, deer and water buffalo have been ‘sheltered’ by druids on the dry moat and the corn fields surrounding the city in severe weather, flocks of geese use the dry moat during migrations, and cattlemen and horse buyers driving large herds have used the dry moat during the dry season when stopping in Fenlock. During the wet season, nothing uses the dry moat at night, as they would quickly become food for the muck creatures and bog wights. In the event of an attack, the dry moat offers no cover to attackers, allowing archers on the walls and druids on the city’s towers to rain down arrows and lightning. Trained cavalry can ride down the dry moat with deadly efficiency. A man-sized monster standing in the dry moat versus an armored knight on a heavy horse armed with a lance is pretty much toast. A common autumn event involves a horse race twice around the dry moat, with barges parked at the crossing. When the thane was a young man, he was said to have ridden a warhorse that could jump the 25ft of the canal with room to spare, but not landing all four of the horse’s feet on the barge is a disqualifying error during this race (which is called ‘The Fenlock Laps.’)   The dry moat is raised 20ft at the minimum around the surrounding lands, but sits below the city itself. The edges of the dry moat are planted with low growing thorny brush, including roses and citrus. 
3. The Goat Gate. 10ft wide,20ft long and only 6ft high, the goat gate (more of a goat tunnel, really) is a dark murder-hole bearing passage through the wall specifically designed to discourage its use by wagons and horsemen. The gates on the end are designed to be swung into the dry moat, making it impossible for the livestock to escape (in theory.) The road from here continues to the Rhovamben place, where it ends.
4. The Narrow Tower. An irregular stone tower set at the curved edge of the wall, the narrow tower (so called because it is narrower than the others) is technically a grain silo with a crank-driven ‘elevator’ that deposits bushels of grain into the tower from the top down, a large winding stair at the outside provides easy access to the flat stone roof, which is 4ft below the level of the wall. This platform provides an excellent vista of the Rhovamben complex, and historically has been used to defend the wall. There is often a rope (or two) strung between the top of the wall and one of the Rhovamben complex’s watchtowers (about 80 feet), and it is used to hang banners, flags and, occasionally, used for tightrope exhibitions.
5. The goat common. Strangely, goats are not common guests of this fenced in area. In general, it is restricted to anything that is not a cow. It is planted with tough, thorny brush on the edges, and has thicker and higher fence than the city common and is used to keep animals that are more aggressive and agitated from cows and horses that might spook. It is also used to isolate animals that may be ill. Escaped mules, lost horses and angry rams are common guests of the goat common, and it is sometimes called ‘Horse Jail.’
6. City livestock barns. Designed to hold thrice the city’s own herds, these barns are made of very solid stone, with slate roofs and concrete floors. Upper stories hold fodder, rushes and minimal housing for 12-24 individuals (who are charged with keeping the barns safe.) A pump system delivers a large quantity of water from the northern half of the canal in the evening, and this is used to wash the muck of the floors of the barns into the Muckhouse (near the tannery) where it is separated into liquids and solids or pumped down into the main sewage line and out into Black Fen.
7. The City Common. Any person in or visiting the city has the right to graze an animal on The City Common, but the city’s official herdsman directs where, when, and how. More importantly, if your animal is doing damage or eating ‘more than its share,’ he assesses fines and sends runners to complain. The common is also a frequent ‘campground’ during festivals and fairs. There are swinging gates every 30 feet or so, and these are locked at night. The fence (as in many places in the city) is planted thickly with thorny and fragrant roses, and these roses can get out of control on the ‘outside’ of the fence. People needing rose petals for spells or other personal uses are encouraged to come down and lop off sections of plant. Overnight camping is permitted on the Common, but no fires are allowed. The common’s fence is easily leapt by most horses, although startling a flock grazing there carries a very hefty fine.
8. City Herdmaster’s office and home [Roger Bellegarde].
9. Jeweler’s Residence and Shop [Mírdan the Jewelsmith].
10. Single family house, two stories.. [Babineaux family.]
11. Single family house, one and a half story. Owned by a ship’s captain [Cpt. Willett], his wife and young kids, as well as his grandfather, are present. It is a huge house for such a small family, with a lot of art and souvenirs available. Some of the rumors are that the captain is a pirate and that his house contains large amounts of gold. There is a large guard dog.
12. Single family house, two stories.
13. House and shop of Leather workers. [Norman family] Three story, slate roof. Workers in small leather. Good place to buy harnesses, belts, woven straps, or order custom work. Most of their stuff is actually made for local stores.
14. Single family house, two stories 
15. Single family house, two stories
16. Single family house and attached stable, horse trainers
17. Danton’s Feed Store and Saddlers. [Danton Family]; Small fortified manor house, 3 stories, flat roof, bottom story is converted into a shop, storage in basements and subbasements. While they regularly have saddles, bridles, bits and harnesses in stock, their primary business is in arranging grain deliveries. Most of the grain in the store itself (while available for sale) is in less than 50lb bags, for display of type and  quality.
18. Fenlock Hostel. Bunk, board and indoor plumbing for 1sp/week. Three stories, flat roof, often used by crews of barges in repair or traveling groups. 
19. The Goat’s Head, an inn. Although the bar on the first floor is one of the city’s filthiest dives, the Goat’s Head is actually famous for its quiet, large and clean rooms. 
20. Fortified Manor House of Robert Bellegarde, major land owner of agricultural land.
21. Fortified manor house, 2 story. Owned by the owner of the Silken Pillow.
22. Mulberry Forest. These trees form a tight forest of tall, deeply shaped trees, with a rope-bridge grid separating them and running between them. The blandly flavored white berries are primarily used for animal feeds, but the trees were planted for their leaves, which feed an army of silkworms. The sericulture operation was established by a grey elf named Lhédor.
23. Lhédor’s house.
24. Fenlock Silkworks
25. Fenlock Clinic and Shrine to Rantilar.
26. Fenlock Silk emporium. Run by the Coury family, this place is a great place to purchase fabric, thread, silk rope, etc. The family lives in a small apartment above the shop.
27. The Silken Pillow, a brothel. Appointment only.
 28. Greengrocer.  Pavilion, where fresh produce as well as hot and cold daily meals are served.
29. Hot spring. This sulfurous pool, with multicolored slimy rocks, is hotter than boiling. The north end of it has a regularly ‘firing’ geyser.
30. The new forest.  The section of mulberry trees are more recently planted, and denser. They have red berries, which are sweeter, and the weeping branches are espaliered into tight lines. Lhédor uses these trees for a special, larger variety of silkworms.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fenlock: Map w/out labels

This is posted more here for just hosting purposes than anything else. I'll try to post at least parts of the labeled map. Remember that as a small town, you know pretty much what every building contains (or is alleged to contain,) although not in detail. I have to divide up the maps into stuff EVERYBODY knows versus the stuff individuals know, although hopefully we won't get a repeat of the Balco the Fence incident. ("Hey, let's take this to Balco! He's a fence!" says the thief IN FRONT OF A PALADIN.)
So, here, without further comment:

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.