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Friday, 27 August 2010

The town of Brymstone

A very rough-n-ready look here at Robert Dale's superb campaign setting, Brymstone. This barely gives you a taste of what it was like to walk those winding streets and be caught up in the intrigues being spun within the local lord's household and between him and the city guilds. And that's not to mention the return of the repressed, in the form of a very malevolent protean creature called the Brollachan.

Apologies for the scrappy maps, which I only intended as guides for our DW mapmaker, Geoff Wingate. You should still be able to make out the key, anyway - or see the much better version prepared by Lee Barklam of The Cobwebbed Forest website. What follows is Robert's description of the town, and although it is enough for any GM to flesh out some adventures there, it barely scratches the surface of his extensive campaign, which took in local landmarks such as the abbey at Inis Manistir. It would have been almost enough to fill DW Book 7 on its own - but that, alas, was not to be.

Map key and description of buildings

(1) Penda's Fort
This comprises the citadel (which commands the estuary and the entrance to the southern basin), associated barracks, storehouses, and workshops beside Military Way. All buildings between the Delf Stream and the sea are inside the military compound, and much of the southern basin is given over to the navy.

(2) Courthouse
The administrative centre of the town, including civic archives and library, and a small lock-up. Administration was moved from the much older Guildhall (53) because of lack of space.

(3) the Minster
In addition to the Church of All Saints itself, this complex includes a walled garden, school, large guest wing, and library. The permanent staff includes: Archdeacon Gothi; his secretary, Markun; six priests; four chaplains attached to the naval garrison and the court; sixteen choristers; eight clerks; a master and usher of the Minster school; fifteen scholars, and twelve servants. The Minster was founded just over three hundred years ago, following the conversion of Brymstone to the True Faith. It had become somewhat dilapidated, but restoration work has now begun.

(4) Custom House
The compound where one may find the offices of the customs authority, the house of the comptroller of customs, and a number of bond warehouses. Duty is mostly imposed on luxury goods - including silks and spices off ships out of Ferromaine or Crescentium. The comptroller also collects harbour dues and regulates the entry of strangers into the town.

(5) Post House
For the rapid delivery of important dispatches and the rapid (and safe) transport of dignitaries. Messengers and officials can obtain fresh horses or take lodgings here. Reputable adventurers may wish to hire on as guards.

(6) civic granaries
The town is obliged to maintain a store of corn to feed the people in the event of a seige or bad harvest. These granaries are used as a central clearing house for Brymstone's grain requirement.

(7) naval boatyard
This is a small repair yard attached to the citadel. There are two slipways, a sailmaker's loft and a timber store. It is not a construction yard, though light vessels could be built here in an emergency. (There are a number of professional boatbuilders in the town, but their yards and the ropewalk lie just beyond the walls to the east.)

(8) Lord Erek's townhouse
The home of the lord of the fiefdom outside the town walls, including a formal garden, stable block and servants' quarters.

(9) the Theatre
Seating up to two hundred (but not necessarily in spacious comfort), the theatre features mystery plays and other quasi-religious ceremonies. In theory it has strong connections with the Minster, but in practice many of the younger actors are not all that devout in their adherence to the True Faith. Elements of pagan belief creep into many of their performances, and it is not uncommon for them to satirise (insofar as the medieval state permits satire) the Guilds, the Church and the liege lord.

(10) the Gymnasium
One of the places where the cultural "mafia" hang out, the Gymnasium is used for more than just weapons practice. The senior instructor, a hot-tempered giant of a man called Torvald Woodcleaver, gives training in the use of two- and one handed axe and sword. In game-terms, a Knight or Barbarian of 6th rank or less will gain 1d4-1 experience points a month under Torvald's tutelage. He charges 21 Florins a week. Nevertheless his classes are not oversubscribed because of their high casualty rate: roughly one pupil in six goes out with a nasty wound each lesson.

(11) inn: The Whale Road
The town's best hotel - frequented by wealthy traders, recently enriched adventurers, or others who have no connections in Brymstone. Rooms cost 25 silvers a night.

(12) watermills and windmill
There are three mills within the town walls (and many more outside). Two of the three are under civic control, but the third - built against the wall close by the South Gate - is owned by the town's brewery and provides malt for it.

(13) Lighterman's Wharf
This building, a clubhouse where food, drink and other services may be obtained, is the meeting place of the powerful Guild of Fishermen and Lightermen.

(14) warehouses and dockside equipment
There are seven major warehouses which deal in a variety of imported goods. They are mostly owned by the shipping firms (opportunities for profiteering abound), but individuals can sometimes obtain storage space in the Citadel or in Lord Erek's storehouse - at commercial rates, of course!

(15) bakeries
There is one bakery in Lord's Walk and another in Bakery Lane. These provide bread for the Citadel, stores of biscuit for shipping, and quality bread for the wealthy as well as rye for the not-so-wealthy.

(16) brewery
Supplies all the ale consumed within the town, selling to private individuals, ships, inns and taverns.

(17) smiths/armourers
There are three such, and since all cater to the needs of an urban clientele these are not places to buy blades of exquisite craftsmanship! The most that can be said is that their weapons are of workmanlike quality, their armour not unduly ill fitting. The workshops of Master Drenck, just off Black Horse Street, are perhaps a discerning adventurer's best bet. In addition to a variety of weapons and armour, the smithies perform the more mundane tasks of shoeing horses, mending agricultural implements, casting and forging a selection of hardware (domestic and "industrial") and supplying the town's shipbuilders with nails, spikes, cramps and anchors. These jobs usually get priority, so one must be prepared to wait for one's weapon/armour - or "induce" the smiths to speed their work (ie, add 20% or so when paying them). Better-quality weapons can of course be obtained by trading with merchants. For a scimitar of Crescentium Steel you would be talking about something in the region of 500 silvers, however. One of the exquisite kiriha swords of Yamato, if it were made available on the open market, would sell for 2,000 silvers or more. Such choice items are usually offered direct to a private individual.
[Note that it is to Master Trinton, the armourer in Cheapstreet, that one should go for crossbows (he sells but does not make them) - if you go to the bowyer's (51) for a crossbow you will get a very chilly reception.]

(18) banker
With Brymstone being such an important commercial centre, a trustworthy financier is a necessity. Guidon of Ashdown is a former Crusader of impeccable honesty. An elderly man, he retains the powerful stature of his youth and is also widely rumoured to have learned strange magic from the Marijah Assassins. All in all, thieves leave him alone. Very large sums of gold and silver are usually deposited in the strongrooms of the Citadel under official seal, but many people bring their letters of credit for Guidon to honour. He will also hold small valuables and can evaluate trinkets (magical and otherwise). Guidon's fees range from 3% to 10% per year, depending on the size and value of the item.

(19) inn: Wotan's Eye
Limited accomodation (ten rooms) of moderate quality (few rats) at reasonable rates (around 5 silvers a night). The food is good but unimaginative, complemented by a fine selection of wines imported from Kurland, Algandy and Chaubrette. There is no particular clientele, although less well-to-do youths tend to meet at the inn of an evening.

(20) inn: The First and Last
There are seven private rooms here, and stabling is available. The tariff is 5 silvers a night. The food is excellent - seafood is the speciality. The clientele is again varied. Farmers particularly favour this inn on market day, and you will often hear lively bargaining going on over a lunchtime pint.

(21) inn: The Cause is Altered
The odd name may be explained by a story that cattle would proverbially stop as they were brought through Cowgate; "The cows's 'alted," their herders would say with a glance at the pub, "so we may as well." The ten rooms offered are of low quality and price (3 silvers a night), and there is stabling. This inn is frequented by carters and drovers bringing cattle to the slaughterhouse next door. Food is cheap and cheerful, and the customers friendly. If you buy the landlord a drink he will bend your ear with various tall tales (including the apochryphal story about the inn's name). All is not necessarily as it seems, however, as strangers have from time to time disappeared mysteriously - probably to end up on southbound trading ships.
Presently in residence at The Cause is Altered is Makrof, a stooped fellow with a pot-belly who enjoys a nightly drink and a game of knucklebones in the taproom. He purports to be an antique collector, but in fact is a member of the Clan of Harbingers assigned to eliminate Cenncaradh the Painted Man.

(22) tavern: The Northern Cog
A quayside drinking-house used by fishermen and sailors off ships moored in the southern basin. Very much a nautical tavern.

(23) tavern: The Flying Horse
Provides food on market days, when it is usually crowded.

(24) tavern: The Painted Toenail
Frequented by the artistic (or arty) community, this small drinking establishment is viewed with suspicion by the authorities as a melting-pot for malcontents - political or otherwise.

(25) tavern: The Friend in Need
A quiet and expensive drinking house. It has links with The House of Pleasant Accomplishments across the road. It is the haunt of the sons and daughters of the guildsmen, and the owner, Fastalio Gunbratti (an expatriate of Ferromaine), has tried to recreate the atmosphere of plush eating-rooms such as one finds in the ports around the Coradian Sea.

(26) tavern: The Silver Net
Another haunt of sailors and fishermen. A bit seedy, but very popular with those who like that sort of thing. A "locals' pub" which does not welcome strangers.

(27) potters
Leaving aside the market traders, here are two major potters in the town. Ifran the Grey specializes in fine quality tableware, while Shimbek Wisphair (on New Row) concentrates upon specialist ceramics. The naval base draws most of its supplies from these two. Local clay is plentiful, and there are many tile-kilns situated along the river valley.

(28) stonemason
Drusin Rocksmith is the only true stonemason for miles, and gets a lot of business. He has close links with the lord, Erek Longsword, who has provided many commissions in the past - including the refurbishment of his local stronghold (two miles north of Brymstone, see map) and the renovation of the Minster.

(29) tavern: The Old City Arms
Another popular market tavern, the landlord is a keen musician and this is often the scene of impromptu musical gatherings.

(30) ships' chandlers
The two chandlers in the town are Kaltrak of Glissom and Borvul Shortbeard. They sell goods to trading vessels and also supply building materials and hardware. Despite the constant bickering that goes on between these two, they are in fact old friends in their own way, and jointly own the ropewalk beyond the walls. Characters who visit one of these places to buy candles will probably be disappointed. Borvul does in fact supply candles, but only by the crate. You will also have to listen to some nonsensical claptrap about cerumancy, Borvul's sideline-cum hobby and something that many ship-owners plan their schedules by.

(31) carpenters/wheelwrights
Within the walls there are three carpenters not associated with the Shipbuilders' Guild. They provide fittings and furniture for domestic use. Rospian the Red, the carpenter in Lord's Walk, acts also as a wheelwright and wood-turner. Fachor Birnath, in the New Cut, provides furniture of the very highest quality and there is a long waiting-list for his work. His style has the heavy practicality demanded by Elleslandic and Mercanian tastes, but often elaborately decorated with carvings of beasts, old deities and abstract designs. Show him a sketch of some bizarre demon from Marazid or Cosh Goyope and he will likely drag you down to the Wotan's Eye pub for a drink.

(32) music shop
Katani Goldentongue is a handsome woman who sells and repairs various musical instruments, dealing mostly with merchants and naval officers. She also stocks sheet music for part singing or consort playing. Lord Erek keeps his own consort of musicians - mostly at his wife's behest - and (for all the animosity that exists) most guilders try to emulate him. There are occasional musical events held at the theatre, formerly under the patronage of Erek or Alyne but increasing financed now by merchants who are more interested in the status of the occasion than in the quality of the musicianship.

(33) bookshops
The two bookshops deal principally in manuscripts by there are also some printed books (see 36). Literacy within the town stands at about 20% so there is a reasonable market. These are not walk-in-and-browse shops, of course; unless you have an appointment you will simply find a locked door.

(34) slaughterhouse
Virtually all the meat consumed within the walls passes through the slaughterhouse, along with most of that supplied to trading ships. Meat can be purchased direct or through an intermediary (usually a market trader). Hides are sent to the tannery, which is situated outside the town walls near the shipyards, and there the raw hides are processed for use by saddlers and other leather workers.

(35) the House of Pleasant Accomplishments
A large "floating" community of traders and sailors ensures that this establishment thrives. It is more than a brothel - not just sex is for sale within, but rather all the pleasurable adjuncts of civilization: conversation, music, wine and food, an appreciation of the fine arts, and simple companionship.

(36) printer
Kodo, erstwhile member of Bisley Abbey, has been operating as the town's printer for some years. This is not a movable-type press, of course: that technology will not come for centuries yet! Kodo makes his living from woodblock prints of sea charts, maps, and pornographic or religious icons. He still puts the skills he learned in the scriptorium at Bisley to good use, copying manuscripts as a sideline. He charges highly for his work (partly at the insistence of his former colleagues, who are not best pleased at the competition): between 100 and 300 silvers for copying a manuscript, and anything up to 1000 silvers for a map, depending on its rarity.

(37) jeweller-goldsmiths
There are two such professionals in the town: Iandor Longtooth on the New Cut, and Pangus Deepdraught on Bridge Street near the gate. Their work sometimes goes to the local market, but is more often intended for trade. Gold is mined about twenty miles west of the town.

(38) clothier/dressmaker/tailors
The larger of the town's two rag trade suppliers is on Strand Street, and deals in high quality garments - silk brocades, velvet, and furs. Few can afford such luxurious goods, which are usually shipped to the continent. The other supplier, Tracmanius Gloo, has two outlets - in the New Cut and the Crossway - and deals in more workaday garments. Characters are likely to go to him for their fustian robes, cloth hats and woollen breeks. Clothes may also be obtained from sempstresses, of whom there is an abundance in the town's poorer quarters.

(39) bootmakers
Strong boots and shoes are important to all walks of society, so it is no surprise to find three high quality cobblers in Brymstone. They get leather from the tannery beyond the walls. The shop most favoured by the wealthier merchants and gentry is that situated on the Backs, close to the Post House. Cobblers work to order only; there is no such thing as an "off the peg" boot.

(40) fine glass dealer
A specialist importer, dealing exclusively with the gentry and the Citadel. Glassware, exceptionally hard to come by, is as prized as silver.

(41) antiquary
There is a particular interest in antiques among the well-born naval officers, so although most citizens have little use for such things this shop continues to prosper. Magnus of Chorazin sells all manner of things: battered bronze spearheads, glassware and pottery from the days of the legions, small stone idols and pendants depicting forgotten gods, belt buckles and rings, even ancient furniture. Many adventurers snap up his wares eagerly, spending whole afternnons in the dusty interior of the shop, hoping they will one day be lucky enough to purchase a magic item. (But it is unlikely that Magnus - an accomplished mage despite his unprepossessing appearance - would allow a choice article to slip through his fingers.) He also buys any old trinkets that characters may salvage from ruins or burial-mound, of course.

(42) vintner
Although the owner, Sefrassit of Lagunne, would prefer to restrict his clientele to the merchants and gentry, this shop is patronized by all classes. He has a particular distaste for travellers (including adventurers) and will treat them to a strong dose of sarcastic Chaubrettian humour. He stocks fine imported wines and some locally-distilled spirits and liquors. He will deal in bulk as well as by the bottle, supplying Lord Erek's cellar on the one hand and a rough tipple for a carousing sailor on the other.

(43) furrier
Krafthal Axelugger employs his own trappers to hunt in the foothils of the Pagan Mountains. Many furs go to the southern trade route, where demand is high, but the local market (given the harsh winters!) is no less profitable. Furs are not cheap; a typical cloak will sell for 600 silvers or more.

(44) "coffee" house
The drink sold in these three establishments is not, of course, coffee, though that is the nearest cultural equivalent. In fact it is an infusion of berries and herbs from Asmuly, which produces a sharp-flavoured stimulating drink called betch. The "coffee" shops are known by the names of their proprietors - Oslaf's, Weoxtan's and Big Ursula's - and flourish as meeting places for the poorer sort of merchant out to make deals, for rustics wanting a glimpse of "high society", for young bravoes, and for all kinds of faintly disreputable types (adventurers included). The most fashionable of the three is Big Ursula's, in Flying Horse Lane, but Ursula's flirtatious behaviour is not for the faint-hearted!

(45) perfumier & spice merchant
A luxury import house, dealing in spices, essences, perfumed oils and so on.

(46) shipping agents
There are six shipping agents. They act as brokers, hiring merchant ships or freight space to traders who do not own their own vessels. Such agents usually have connections with trading companies, so that ships are kept in continual use either by clients or by the owning company.

(47) surgeons
There are two surgeons who deal with any ailment from 'flu to broken bones. Most of the time their medecines are worthless, but they are fully competent in setting fractures and even manage a few simple operations. This is just as well, as there are some ailments - such as appendicitis and gallstones - that cannot be cured any other way. Their services are expensive and usually painful: anaesthetics range from a slug on the jaw to (if you can afford the full fee) a bottle of whiskey.

(48) horse hirers
Apart from the Post House, two agencies hire horses. These are agents for the large livery stables situated by Cowgate. Horses can be hired, bought outright, or stabled for short periods.

(49) game & poultry dealer
Other than the slaughterhouse, this is the only additional source of fresh meat in the town.

(50) timberyard
The source of seasoned wood used in carpentry and small-scale woodwork in the town. The timber is local, coming from the extensive forests around Brymstone.

(51) bowyer/fletcher
Quite a specialised craft, this, but on a small scale. The bowyer, One-eyed Archos, does not make short bows (they are beneath his notice) and can be fussy about customers. He will occasionally refuse to make a bow for one he considers unworthy of the distinction. He is a freeman (middle to upper-middle class, in modern terms) of Erek's demesne who has moved to the town. He is consequently courteous, quietly proud, and thinks that Erek can do no wrong and that most merchants are scum. If you are a merchant, he will not be so rude as to say this to your face, but you will surely be left in no doubt of it! Archos is a former Master Bowman (before the loss of his eye), and is thus worth cultivating as a friend. He gives free archery instruction to a few devoted pupils twice a week.

(52) waggon parks
Large waggons are not allowed on the town streets during the day, so there are two large parks where carts wishing to collect from or deliver to the docks can be marshalled. The parks are also convenient customs inspection points for incoming carts. A number of semi-permanent dwellings - flimsy shacks and tents - have mushroomed up around the parks, where one will find the motley crew of doxies and pedlars who cater to the waggon drivers' needs.

(53) the Guildhall
Meeting place of the guildsmen, of course, and another of the town's administrative centres. Many records are kept in this building, and the civic treasury lies below it.

(54) architect
A tall, broad-shouldered man with a bluff demeanour, Bosel of Erincester is a business associate of Drusin the stonemason, above whose workshops he has his rooms and office.

(55) saddler
Pacto the Cornumbrian will make saddles, leather bags, purses, halters, bridles and many other items.

(56) fishmongers
It comes as no surprise to find three thriving fishmongeries in a seaport such as Brymstone. Fish is considerably cheaper than meat, of course, and for the poorer townsfolk it is the most substantial item of their diet.

(57) apothecary
Lugdor the Stammerer produces an astounding array of brightly coloured and noxious smelling potions. The astounding thing is that they are almost all useless, and yet that people flock to buy them. The answer to this may lie in the fact that the vast majority of people could never dream of being cured of diseases by magic (even if player-characters expect it), so faith - or superstition - is really all they have. (Players should naturally not be told that Lugdor's brews are worthless. They may or may not discover this for themselves, and there is no recourse in law anyway; Lugdor displays a placard disclaiming responsibility for his potions' effects.)

Brymstone is copyright © Robert Dale 1985

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled upon this... great stuff! I'll have to adapt this for my campaign. Thank you for sharing.