Introduction to Woolwich
by Eowyn W. Cenek, Birthright GM
Woolwich is a small but thriving town that lies on the crossroads of two major trade routes, the Eltern Road and Citadel Trail.
The local industry is dominated by the Clothmaker's Guild, controlled by House Porthos, which imports wool and flax, and spins and weaves the raw materials into cloth of varying qualities. Other thriving industries include the smithies, the Brewer's Guild, and the Potter's Guild.
The town is spread out around the central Cloth Maker's Guild Hall, an immense fortified building that houses looms, spinning, carding, and store rooms, and the apartments of the Guild Leader Porthos. The building abuts onto both trails, and looms over every passing traveler. Many of the inhabitants are either guild members or servants of guild members -- including, so rumor has it, Mayor Mikhail.
At the crossroads of the trade routes is a large open area -- the Green. It is home to all the town's wanderers -- the young romantics, the strolling minstrels, the annual Faire, and the lolling guards when a caravan is in town. One side of the Green is dominated by the Guild, but others have claimed the rest of the prime real estate. The home of the Guard is there, as are the caravanserai, the inn known as "Mother's Oak" (which can comfortably house two caravans), and the large marble temple honoring Muirwen, the god of trade and travel. Beside the caravanserai the fires are stoked high and the hammers fall with regularity, in Gerrold's compound, home of Gerrold & Sons & Nephews & Grandsons, Smiths to the World. Artisans and the market have claimed the southern edge of the Green, and they encroach further on the Green with every passing year.
The town's layout varies between the highly compacted slums of the Middens, to the far-flung estates of the Merchants' quarters. In the far corner of the Middens, where the smell will offend few, the tanner Bran has established a small factory, providing leather for the town and surrounding farms. The artisans have established themselves in the area between the Middens and the Guild, their buildings rising around the central Market Square. Those guildmembers and servants either too poor or too proud to live in the Guild Hall itself live behind and around the Hall. The merchants, separating themselves consciously from the artisans, have built their own street of prosperity, where their factors trade goods in larger quantities and organize caravans as required.
So You Think You Need a Drink?
Woolwich regularly increases and decreases in size with the arrival and departure of each caravan. There is a thriving hospitality sector, ranging from mulled cider and fried sausage vendors at the market, to the exquisitely appointed "White Swan."
"Mother's Oak," the largest of the inns, caters to any traveler with coin in his pocket. Being of a size to rival Muirwen's temple, the inn can accommodate most travelers for a variety of prices. The "Stuffed Codpiece," by contrast, caters to a more specific audience and provides moderate lodgings and entertainment at a reasonable cost.
The "Blue Jug" caters to the artisans in their quarter, offering plain, simple, and relatively inexpensive food. The "White Swan," on the other hand, is located near the Center of Merchant's Street and caters only to those people who expect to eat excellent food in pleasant surroundings, and pay handsomely for the privilege.
The "Bleeding Liver" and the "Misplaced Virtues" can both be found deep in the Middens, where sullen men gather in sullen rooms to drink (purportedly) alcoholic swill.
Anyone For the Shops?
Catering as it does to the trading caravans, Woolwich offers a variety of shops. In the artisans' quarter, Maia is slowly becoming renown for her excellent mead, whilst Jane Gerroldsdottir is developing an excellent reputation as a weaponsmith. She also offers a discount to those who vow not to patronize Gerrold's & Sons & Nephews & Grandsons.
Serena the Seamstress runs a small business in the artisans quarter, and offers both ready made and custom fitted clothes. She employs a small group of young female seamstresses, and sells sewing supplies on the side. Her husband, Sam, runs a very successful bakery.
Can You Have A Fun, Roistering, Boisterous Evening -- Without Bleeding A Little?
Having spent the evening boisterously roistering, the young men and women of Woolwich often wake up the worse for wear. The older adults, especially the ones not related to these irritating little vandals, generally smile and insist that young people must be foolish before they become wise.
Parents tend to grit their teeth and ensure the local herbmistress stays well funded... primarily by spending money on salves, potions, bandages, and the like to heal their youngsters back up. Some of the more irate parents have begun hiring their children out as caravan guards, on the premise that someone else will have to pick up the healer's tab.
There is of course the large temple, where the well-to-do go for aid in their illnesses, but the temple is generally above the touch of all but the richest guild members and merchants. Several smaller and more reasonably priced temples are scattered throughout the town. These include a temple to Ungfallen, father of the Ghost, in the Middens; and a young monk who maintains the large Oak tree behind "Mother's Oak."
Copyright 2001, 2002 © Eowyn W. Cenek
Last modified: 2002-Apr-04 23:45:53
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