Thursday, November 7, 2013

East Fenlock: Everyone knows

106. The Basilica of Palladian. The MacIntyre clan (and a few other prominent cavalier families) have contributed over the past fifty years to the creation of this incredible 150ft high marble temple, with high-peaked terracotta roof and with 30ft high caryatid columns around the entire edifice, which is planted with enormous oaks on three sides. The rear of the temple has a large sand ‘pit,’ where there are regularly warriors training (and showing off.) The temple itself contains three large areas, one with an enormous statue clad in semi-precious stones, one (in the rear) where rituals and high-level healing occurs and a third area, accessible by a partially hidden stairway in the rear area, which is divided into small rooms used by traveling clergy, as storage and ritual areas and as the offices and homes of several clerics of Palladian, including Mother Hope, a very old and very high level priestess who ‘runs’ the temple. (She is a distant relation of the thane’s as well.) The temple is rumored to also house an extensive catacomb which keeps many dangerous items (and perhaps creatures) in check. While the items is a possibility, the religion of Palladian (who is a goddess of justice and also of fire) is not shy of executing villains, especially demons and undead, although one of the teachings of her priesthood is that humans (and humanoids) can always be redeemed. The Basilica (and the 140ft statue of Palladian the Fire-Haired) is rapidly becoming a tourist attraction, and Mother Hope sells blessed holy symbols, which are used to fund the temple’s large orphanage.

107. The Temple of Ardentia. The official state religion of the country of Arden Vale is that of the demi-goddess Ardentia, who outside of Arden Vale is generally regarded as a variation on the goddess Palladian, and this temple, made from white marble with pale orange veins, is very much a reflection of the (much larger) Temple of Palladian that sits beside it, when viewed from outside. Ardentia is often portrayed as a ‘faceless’ deity, with her followers using iconography (usually of maple trees) that does not involve humanoid forms. (Old temples of Ardentia sometimes have a statue of a laughing maple nymph, a figure similar to a dryad but usually portrayed as younger and having flaming fall maple leaves for hair.) This temple (whose outside columns are covered in incredibly detailed bas-relief of maple leaves) is much different on the inside, appearing ‘empty,’ especially compared to the main room of the Temple of Palladian, (which is designed for observing the statue of Palladian), a cavernous inside space with five columns made of agate (and carved to resemble the trunks of trees) with the domed ceiling of the chamber (the center of which is glass) adorned with hundreds of shining copper leaves which move and tinkle as the air is stirred in the room. The living area of the five priests who are in residence (one is a low-level paladin) is above this common room, and the priests keep a sacred flame which lights the downstairs area. This light is green in the summer, orange in the fall and very pale and white in the winter, seeming to change the color of the leaves below. During weddings (even the devout members of other religions in the city tend to be married in ‘the maple temple’) the priests bring out many deeply carved maple pews, and one of the effects of the marriage ceremony when performed by these priests is that the leaves appear to fall, but vanish just before hitting the heads of the participants. (Depending on the time of year, this can be falling autumn leaves, green seed ‘helicopters,’ snow, rain and even gold dust.) Between the incredible special effects of the ceremonies (including the four ‘seasonal’ ceremonies), the temple’s free-flowing maple mead (made from honey and syrup from a top-secret grove nearby) and the tacit approval of the king for ceremonies (Ardentia is the civil religion of the country), the temple does very wel economically, despite having far less money or members than other faiths.

108. Temple of Ordith complex. This temple and bathhouse complex consists of two indoor bathing facilities (a, c) a large outdoor pool (d) at the foot of a spring-fed fan waterfall (it falls about 50 feet, into a steep valley that the bathhouses stick out into (streams pour over the ‘tops’ of the main, tepid pools of the bathhouses (each has a large tepid pool and a smaller hot room and cold room) into the pool as well, through a series of channels, resulting in a C-shaped fan waterfall that pours over rocks (the waterfall itself is similar in appearance to Tinago Falls in the Phillipines)), a temple structure made of huge blocks of limestone that hide the spring-fed source of the falls and is only allowed to be entered by the faithful (b), a very narrow white sand beach under a ‘shelf’ of rock with a stone stairway leading to the surface level (e) surrounded by oak trees (Swamp White Oaks) that nearly completely shield the plunge basin, leaning slightly inward and having branches that almost interlace. The plunge basin itself flows into a small system of caves, but this area (and indeed, the plunge basin itself) is only accessible to the faithful (or those being healed or cured by the faithful.) Persons attempting to climb the iron fence surrounding the complex without permission regularly end up entangled by the moss hanging from the tree, and people have seen dryads and nymphs in the area. Ordith’s clergy have an incredibly busy schedule of rites, ceremonies and sacred days, and clerics aligned with this complex spend (on average) a week per month engaged in religious observance. The bathhouses themselves are open to the public, and the city’s main social meeting place. The plunge basin can be viewed (barely) from windows in the bathouses. The Temple of Ordith here (at what is called ‘hidden falls’ is very, very old and is assumed to predate the city.

109. Anne Dubois, bookbinder. This lovely two-story wood house, painted in a bright green and covered in honeysuckle and ivy, is the home of the city’s premier bookbinder, whose work is primarily sold to the local temples. She specializes in the creation of very large custom works, and works with an illuminator and several scribes. Often her work is ‘booked’ months in advance, but she is available as a sage of written works to identify scrolls, books and the occasional rune. (Her abilities are limited to identifying low-level spells and books in Eastern, Western and Ancient Common, Modern Elven, Dwarven (including runes), Gnome, Kobold, Goblin, Angelic and several ciphers.

110. Enameller’s Shop. Pierre Legrange is one of the city’s finest enamellers, having done much of the work on the landmark statue of Palladian and preparing many of the more intricate holy symbols of Palladian sold there. He regularly will purchase agates and semi-precious stones at their book values, and is available for custom work. The bulk of his work is in traditional glass enamels, but he also manufactures pietra dura (multicolored stone inlay), hardstore carving and cameo work. His enamel portrait miniatures are particularly exceptional, and nearly photorealistic. He also works in oil and charcoal, but the durability of enamel in the humid region keeps him very busy. His 3 inch diameter portrait miniatures, usually set in gold, require a 3 hour sitting and another week to complete. He will also purchase inlaid and enameled works of art both to resell and to refine his techniques.

111. Mule Barn and Seller. Lamar Babineaux runs this large operation, which sells barge-mules, donkeys and draft horses.
112. Drydock. Fenlock turns a large trade in barge repair and barge building. This drydock is owned by Lamar Babineaux, who also owns a large mule operation.

113. Fenlock Orphanage Run by the temple of Palladian, this orphanage houses a couple of dozen kids orphaned by war and undead attacks in the area.

114. Paul Demonde’s House. This two story manor house and large landscaped land is occupied by the head of the Demon’s Dark Dozen, a mercenary guild that considers Fenlock its home.

115. The Demon’s Dark Dozen Guildhouse. The DDD are a local mercenary organization, primarily hired by caravans. Contrary to their name, there are actually hundreds in the organization, and this army-for-hire can practically name their price for their services. The DDD was last known to be helping the town of Green Vale put down a goblin invasion.

116-119. Modest Houses: These large wooden structures with thatched roofs are owned by the city’s middle class.

120. Temple of Yara. This log cabin, with a porch made of twisted willow and a mossy slate roof is one of the city’s less traveled temples, housing two permanent clerics who provide healing services (including free healing for those in desparate need

121. Fenlock Library This members-only library (50gp/year membership) is primarily a collection of books on languages, religion and local history.

122. Fortified Manor House. A large manor house, owned by a wealthy townsperson.

123. Ship captain’s barn/stable. This large barn and attached stable/carriage house is owned by the residents of building 124.

124.Ship captain’s house. A large manor house, owned by a local ship captain. The captain himself is rarely home.

125. Lamar Babineaux’s house: This slate-roofed 2-story house is constructed from deeply mortared natural limestone, with a white-painted large porch. An enormous planting of jasmine vine has swamped the side of the house, hanging over the porch and covering 2/3 of the building in green foliage and deeply scented white flowers.

126. Rest home. This large complex is maintained by the Temple of Palladian and is both a place for people to recover from injuries and a hospice.

127. South Lift Bridge. A drawbridge across the canal (see 89)

128. Fenlock Courthouse. Arden Vale law requires all cities that receive tax revenue from the government to have a Courthouse, a Public School and a Temple to Ardentia. The court house, while largely unused (The Thane is allowed to ‘be’ the law) is a work of art, with a large, green copper roof.

129. The Pixie Fountain. This small fountain is a source of civic water, and features a statue that is a steel trellis arch with 10 pixies hanging from it. The arch is planted thickly with moonflowers and dragonfruit, and the fountain itself has night-blooming water lilies in the top of its three tiers. Its fragrant night-blooming garden has earned it the name “the night fountain.” A faint continuous faerie fire makes the water of the fountain glow deep, pale purple at night.

130. Large house (Dubois Family estate) The Thane’s recently retired right hand man (Marcus Dubois) spent a great deal of his wages to make his gorgeous three-story brick building with a slate roof into a home for his 3rd level mage wife and his many children. He recently turned the attic from a storage area into a large peaked room that is a ‘lab’ entered into from a hallway with bookshelves (these hold Jeanne Delmar Dubois’ spellbooks, and a number of books on magic technique) that has doorways to large bedrooms with empty bookshelves and built-in desks and folding beds  These two bedrooms, the entrance area and the workshop take up the while top floor.

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.