Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Greenwood: City of Fairy Magic

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood Map
Greenwood & Vicinity, map scale: 2 miles per hex
What is most striking about Greenwood is the city’s overall appearance.  From a distance, it seems more like a tall forest girdled by stone walls and stout bastions than a wizard-queen’s capital.  A few miles closer, light shining from windows betrays the presence of man-made structures within the woods.  In truth, entire city blocks support concentric glens topped with forests.  The largest buildings lie at the foot of immense trees, some almost 300 feet high.  Older trees stand at the center, with rows of shorter, younger growth surrounding them.  Altogether, Greenwood looks like a forested hillock.

These amazing trees result from the joint efforts of fairy folk, treants, forest giants, and Alphatian wizards wishing the capital city to feel as natural as possible.  Hollows in the walls and pillars supporting stone structures enable roots of the largest trees to reach the soil beneath Greenwood.  By the same token, water flows upward at night, distributing moisture to the endless stretches of suspended gardens adorning the city’s roofs.  Over time, when the trees reach maturity, segments of walls and pillars are removed or reshaped, leaving natural wood growth in their place.  As a result, much of the city features a blend of fancy stonework carved to look like organic material and enormous living roots.

Fairy folk dwell in this lofty realm, ensuring that the layers of soil remain healthy and bursting with nutrients and life.  Bridges at roof level connect most buildings, allowing visitors and citizens of this urban woodland to go as they please.  Above it all, an immense sylvan canopy arches over Greenwood, permanently shading its streets.  This semi-obscurity requires magical lights to shine permanently so townsfolk can go about their businesses down below despite the lack of sunlight.  Most streets in Greenwood are very narrow and flanked with buildings ranging three to five floors.  Balconies and overhangs are common, adding to the somewhat oppressive feeling in the darker passageways.  Water reservoirs lie beneath the city and, below them, a network of sewers.  The latter connects with the Eastfollow River through two underground gates.  An enchantment allows a relatively clean water supply upstream, and soiled discharge downstream from the canal.  Muck-thriving beasts need to be removed on occasion, especially in the summer when refuse emanates greater scents.

Mystara Foresthome Greenwood streetmap
Greenwood Street Map & Districts
 
 Royal District (1): the Queen’s palace, the Wizards’ Parliament, the Great Clan House, and all things royal lie in this area, centered around the Golden Pond.  City laborers work hardest here, especially in the fall when clearing cobblestone streets of giant fallen leaves and pine needles.  Some foliage is large enough to flop over heads and shoulders of unsuspecting passersby, to the amusement of observing children and pixies.  More than one clumsy merchant has slipped and fallen while attempting to tread too briskly upon pine needles as long as one’s arm.  Melon-sized nuts and acorns may come tumbling down as well, a peril that hasn’t quite yet been successfully addressed.  A royal edict was drafted decades ago, levying a special tax to keep the streets clean of leafy rotting piles or humus clogging sewer grates.

Middle Class Quarter (2): this area borders the south and east sides of the Royal District.  It is mostly residential, with many shops and inns welcoming travelers entering Greenwood’s Silkstone Gate.  Despite the prevailing dimness, large patches of moss, and creeping ivy carpeting the walls, it remains a lively, cosmopolitan, colorful area.

Red Light District (3): it is the seedier side of Greenwood.  Although not normally dangerous during the day, it should behoove visitors not to come alone or unarmed at night.  Streets aren’t quite as clean or well-paved as in the rest of the city.  Alleys are often muddy and strewn with refuse.  Cheap thrills come easiest here, between houses of ill-repute and sleazy cabarets with scantily-clad human, elven, and pixie dancers.  Performers of a far less human-like nature, fermented saps, enchanted resins, and forbidden narcotics aren’t rare if the price is right.

Artisans’ Quarter (4): most of the buildings here house workshops operated by the city guilds.  Leather goods, wood carvings, carts and wheels, barrels, furniture, stained glass, slate tiles, pottery, basket weaving, wool and cloth textiles, tin bottles and flatware, weapons, armor, tapestries, and porcelain wares are produced here.  Sprites have a hold on the messaging profession, darting from all corners of this quarter to the merchant district on the opposite side of the port, ferrying orders and messages.  An elf by the odd name of Tanglesnark operates such a messaging enterprise to purvey, for a fee, well wishes, birthday greetings, and such humorous tidings throughout the city.  During holidays, choirs of giddy sprites sometimes drive neighborhoods to the brink of rage with their cloying performances, usually when beneficiaries least expect them.

Port Area (5): This deep water pool is an artificial structure built long ago and enlarged over time.  Wooden piers enable visiting vessels to dock.  Although many warehouses and granaries surround the port, additional facilities are found outside Greenwood, along the banks of the Eastfollow River, about two miles away.  Port laborers under druidical supervision, as in many other areas of Greenwood, are mainly concerned with organic material falling from the trees into the port’s waters.  Except during winter months, dredging silt and rotting leafy remains are constant activities, often disturbing whatever wildlife thrives beneath the surface.


Eastfollow Canal (6): this artificial waterway connects the river with Greenwood.  The capital, in its early years, was a village on a branch of this river.  Since then, the riverbed shifted, leaving the village dry.  At first, a small canal was built to bring water to the growing town.  When it became Foresthome’s capital city, muddy banks were shored up, the port enlarged, and the canal widened.  Future expansion is likely to follow the canal up to the river banks.  Very little of the traffic along the river fails to make a stop here, for demand is great and wealth plentiful in the city.


Heraldry coat of arms Mystara Foresthome
Municipal Quarter (7): this section of Greenwood overlooks the port’s center.  It includes City Hall, the court house, the prison, and all official buildings controlling construction, repair, sanitation, and in particular the wellbeing of giant trees.  It is said that the prison was designed to be suitable for the incarceration of woodland beings, should any transgress royal laws.  Its chambers are as diverse as the natures of enchanted forest dwellers.  The Royal Horticultural Institute stands near City Hall, where all that is known about the care of forests is taught under the purview of druids.  The school’s reputation is such that students and sages from faraway Shiye Lawr and Alfheim attend.

Merchant & Upper Class District (8): manors and private palaces dominate the streets on the north side, just past a row of warehouses. The rich and wizardly dwell here.  Care must be taken not to disturb those who demand peace and quiet.  Banks and guild houses stand closest to the port.  This part of town also includes the Merchants’ Council, where guild leaders discuss affairs and events affecting their businesses, place grievances, and resolve disputes.  Several landing platforms built on top of stone columns allow private airships a shorter flight between giant branches before reaching the open sky.  Magically powered lifts enable travelers to reach the buildings below.  Military airships land on the bastions surrounding the city, often on the larger one in the southwest corner.

Theater Row (9): if Greenwood features a more wholesome entertainment quarter, it centers in this part of town.  Theaters, posh gambling houses, operas, libraries, museums, luxury guest houses, a jousting field, and, curiously, several minor universities (as a result of the local libraries) are most common here.  An inventor, a mage by the name of Narlindrath, invented a printing press capable of producing an unending scroll that continually reports the news.  The document rolls off the press which Narlindrath’s workers slice into large page-sized documents to be sold in the streets.  It was quickly dubbed the Greenwood Gazette, complete with stylish headers and animated pictures.  The druids do demand, however, that pages be returned to the Narlindrath House, to be pulped and reformed into new scrolls.  The “news-mage” also produces spell-book-quality grimoires and inks suitable for enchantments.  Largely as the result of Nalindrath’s work, many other wizardly shops have open their doors in this quarter, conveniently close to the upper class district.

Little Sylvania (10): woodland beings residing in Greenwood favor this corner of town.  Opened to anyone who wishes to visit, it can easily be recognized from a sort of natural bark covering all structures, grasses and bushes growing in the corners, and roots bulging from the walls.  Visiting fairies often stay in this quarter, preferring its wholly woodsy feel.  Some of the dwellings are sized appropriately, such as housing for pixies and other miniature creatures.  Rare forest giants and treants that happen to be in Greenwood usually remain on the roofs.  Sylvan magic is very strong in this spot, which explains the curious look of its streets.  It led to a dispute between wizards and fairy folk a century past, when both wanted to keep it to themselves.  In the end, it was made available to both, but the caretaking was left to woodland beings and druids.  Normal law enforcement holds no jurisdiction in this district, and peace keeping is entrusted wholly to royal rangers.  Magic in this area causes residing woodland creatures to gain a temporary HD, so long as they remain within the district.  The benefit also extends to spellcasters and other people who enjoy a strong bond with nature, such as druids, certain mages and clerics, rangers, etc.  The memories of woodland beings who died in this area are collected within the oldest trees and can be accessed by those with the right magic.  Outsiders who die here are reincarnated within a fortnight as a woodland beings with the appropriate HD.  With magical help, they may remember their former existences, save for fallen evil beings whose former psyches are irremediably erased.

Space in Greenwood comes at a premium since battlements prevent easy and safe expansion.  Furthermore, city ordinances demand that structures be strong enough to support substantial hanging gardens and trees, making the cost of new buildings nearly prohibitive, let alone hiring the services of wizards and woodland beings to ensure proper growth conditions.  The military also objects to having trees grown outside their walls, obstructing sight.  Thus, as population grows, inhabitants make use of space sparingly until new battlements are erected, allowing new housing.

To be continued.