One of the main things that keeps me coming back to world building is the creativity it allows me. One of the things I really loved about the Ryoko Owari boxed set from L5R, is the way that specific elements of the city stood out. Even though the boxed set detailed a great many things about the city, it seemed like only the really memorable pieces stood out. Lover’s Gate, the Dragon Bridge, the Temple of the Sun, Teardrop Island, the Green Walls, etc. I didn’t need to know where everyone stood, and nor did my players. What they remembered was some of the key elements of the city that were brought forth for them.
So, here’s Laketown.
Provincial capital Inland Sea, Baron Inland Sea
Population:30,000+ (city and surrounding hamlets)
Mixed race, Majority human.
Lakefolk (Halflings) 10% city elves 15% (half elves and city elves), Iron Dwarves 5%
Primary industry: Fishing, forestry, trade
MIlitary: 500 (2nd level fighter) city guardsmen, 2500 (1st level fighters/1st level rogues) part time guardsmen, peacekeepers,1000 militia reserves. (0 level fighters)
Defenses -Composite: Outer walls Earthen berms with wooden walls/archer walks set into quickstone bases.Stone/quickstone towers Inner walls stone palisades, small inner stone keep.
Heraldry: Carp or, upon a field of azure.
Laketown itself sits on the shores of the Inland Sea. At first glance it is a walled city with tenements built on the interior walls of both the inner and outer fortifications. On the lakeshore, there’s a great number of buildings built up against the wall and it continues on out onto the lake itself. The city is split into several districts, each walled off from the others. Originally this was to provide defense in depth in case of a siege. There is a small motte and bailey fortification with the Barony’s keep on the Western side of the city. This is a little over a mile from the shoreline. There is a smaller district filled with houses for the wealthiest members of Laketown, as well as the main Sept west of the keep. To the north and east of the keep, there are more housing, again mostly for the affluent. South of the keep is the military quarter, and contains a small parade ground, as well as the barracks and armory for the city guards. The parade grounds are usually very active as the militia and city guard are on a rigorous training schedule. These quarters make up the inner city.
Midtown makes up the majority of the outer ring, with housing, banking, merchants, skilled tradesmen, and Inns & taverns mostly located in this section. Midtown is the largest quarter by far, and where freeman and affluent halflings and dwarves tend to live. Midtown itself is broken up into the trade district, the lesser holies, Traveller’s row, and the Coin district.
East of the trade district is the cramped Alienage, which serves as a buffer between midtown and Fishtown. Sandwiched between the outer walls and the docks of Fishtown, it’s effectively walled off by a maze of buildings, walkways, and terrain. On the Inland sea itself, is the docks and wharfs that make up Fishtown, an ever growing maze of wharves, boats, warehouses, and docks where the fishing industry prospers.
North of Laketown is a small halfling community often jokingly called Halftown. This small borough has no defenses and the majority of the houses are built far above the ground in the giant redwoods. Halflings and Elves live here, with few visitors welcome.
It is a hub of activity year round, with a strong watch and city guard present.
Fishtown: The location of the Fisheries, and smokehouses. Most fish is processed here, and the stench is unbearable for those arriving to the city for the first time. This occupies large portions of the waterfront, and has a high percentage of halflings and city-elves who live and work in this cramped quarter
The Laughing Carp: Is one of the many taverns in this quarter. It is a dive amongst dives. A place that most honest folks avoid… unless you’re looking for something no-one wants to talk about. It is said that more gold passes through the Laughing Carp than any other building in the empire, save perhaps the Temple Treasury. While much of it is undoubtedly hyperbole, there is an element of truth to it. The city guard has investigated the tavern many times, though has never made more than a few arrests. The reality is that the Laughing Carp is one of many fronts for the Benevolent Brotherhood Society
Alienage: Bordering Fishtown is the cramped/walled quarter called the alienage. Most city elves /half elves and poorer halflings live here. The housing is cheap, and prone to fires. Butted up to the outer walls of Laketown, it’s effectively walled off from the rest of the city by walkways, warehouses and haphazard construction. The Alienage is prone to flooding, so the best buildings are built upon stilts. It’s a twisted maze of buildings and back alley’s.
Beggar’s Bridge: The raised bridge that runs from the Trade District of Midtown to Fishtown. It’s called Beggar’s bridge as it cuts through the Alienage. During the winter months, nobles and the affluent like to show their generosity by coming out on seventh day after services, and toss a few coins off of the bridge as they make their way to the waterfront and back. This practice is most evident on the Yule festival, where gifts and coins are tossed to those who live in the Alienage.
Midtown: Laketown boasts a boisterous trade district, where shops cater to most needs. There are several inns, and a hot springs Soakhouse, as well as standard things you can find in most areas. Laketown also boasts several bowyers/fletchers as well as a thriving wagon building industry. There’s a strong human only sentiment in the residential areas where most of the townsfolk subtly pressure non-humans to move out. Midtown is broken up into four main districts.
Traveller’s District: Located on the south side of Midtown adjacent to the main gates, the majority of the city’s inn’s and stables are located here.
Small Holies: Located on the northern side of Midtown, there is an actual park in this quarter, as well as several small shrines to the Divines. The residents of this district often boast they have the most desirable homes outside of uptown, a distinction that members of the neighboring coin district dispute. The templars maintain a small outpost here, typically staffed by 10-20 Templars.
Coin District: Located to the West of Uptown, the Coin district is heavily guarded and patrolled. Here some of the wealthiest freemen live, and it is where the Imperial Trading Company maintains a bank. Also located in the coin district is the Guild Hall and registry. Unusually there are a larger number of Halflings who live here. Most work for the Imperial Trading Company, and are rather affluent.
Uptown: This part of town surrounds the Central Motte and Bailey. The roads are well patrolled, with watchmen walking rounds every hour. The nobles live to the West of the keep, and there are only about a dozen houses and families there. The majority of the manors there are fortified in case of a siege. To the North and East of the keep are more housing, for lesser officials and nobles, as well as the most affluent residents. South of the keep is the Military quarter, and is where the city guard and armory are located.
Parade Grounds: Every morning just after sunrise, midday, and just before dusk the guard assembles. First those going on watch assemble for their orders, then disperse to their stations for the day. Then those coming off shift assemble at the field and are dismissed. The Militia also trains here for a few hours three times a week when their units are rotated in for training.
Temple of the Divines: The main temple in Laketown, it is a work of art with spires reaching high into the skies. There are a multitude of stained glass windows, and the temple is positioned to capture the morning and evening light which appear to make the building glow. Music is played throughout the day, and the children’s choir sings three times a day at sunrise, midday, and sunset. The court of the Lightbringer is celebrated here, and the various deities of his court are shown in their resplendent natures. This wood and stone edifice is the perhaps the grandest outside of the capital.