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ID: 3476

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July 30, 2009, 10:40 am

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Local History

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The addition of “irrelevant” details adds local colour to a campaign world, giving the impression that the DM has thought very deeply about the history of even the smallest architectural feature.

1. The city walls were originally wooden, but burned down in a siege two hundred years ago. The current walls are built over the original ones, and though their foundations go deep beneath the elder walls, the idle watchman can still find chunks of centuries-old charcoal lying on the bare ground.

2. The flag flown above the city gate changes depending on the occasion. It consists of the basic city arms, but with appropriate devices superimposed, e.g. on a royal birthday a crown is added, on a market day a cockerel is added (they’re famed for their sumptuous cockerels), during a plague or time of illness the flag is replaced with a black cloth so that travellers know not to come near.

3. The market square was cobbled by the King’s order in 1302 in response to a popular uprising, when the torrential weather turned the marketplace into a mudbath for five weeks running.

4. The gargoyles on the cathedral are caricatures of the famous people who lived in the city at the time the cathedral was being built.



Additional Ideas (17)

5. The stained-glass windows of the Goddess of Light's Cathederal show images of people bowing to the Goddess's divine judgement. On closer examination, these people have the faces of famous thieves, robber-barons and corrupt rulers of the age of the windows' creation.

6. The bottoms of bridges are hung with small bells that jingle and ring when a person walks over them. They were set after the Flood Year of 775, in which the water rose so high that river dragons swam into the city and terrorized the shipping lane for years afterward. High, repeated sounds, like that of ringin bells, are intolerable to river dragons.

7. A city known for it's copper and bronzework has roofs made from beaten bronze. This tradition goes back to the year 529, when the bronze trade was so bad that the city bronzemen resorted to using the surplus bronze as building material.
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2006-12-21 08:05 AM » Link: [3476#23062|text]
8. The very oldest houses have windows made of translucent horn. With the onset of war in Aldabia it became impossible to import workable horn and an alternative, seemingly inferior substance came into use: glass. The earliest glass windows are very thick and dark and sag towards the bottom. The technology of glass-working was eventually improved and windows became thinner and more transparent. The real acceptance of glass as a building tool came when the library was built, using skilfully crafted glass in the windows.

9. There are two docks along Waterside Street. The first was built by Emando di Renne for the Guild of Merchants in 1602, but the second was built for a rival group of traders three years later by the architect Lorenzo di Butti. They have always been in competition with one another, to the point where dockers from the Renne docks are found dead, knifed in the alleys behind the Butti docks and vice versa.

10. To celebrate the beheading and deposing of the King after the civil war in 1207, the minters created coins without the King's head. Since the reinstatement of the monarchy seven years later these coins have become increasingly rare, and their possession is a capital offence (seen as treason).

11. The merchant palaces have large iron rings on the walls outside, ostensibly for the harnessing of horses. They have been used for other purposes throughout the years, such as for binding prisoners to, to ridicule them publicly (although this is technically an offence).

12. It was decided in 1384 to introduce some form of lighting in the dark streets. Torches were inserted into brackets on the walls, spaced every twenty feet along the road. The torches needed replenishing every few days, by "torchmen", usually tall men with black coats carrying baskets of torches. The brackets were sometimes carved into interesting shapes like the heads of creatures. The spaces of darkness which inevitably remained between consecutive torches were termed "shadow gaps" and they were the home of thieves and muggers. "Shadow gap" is now used to describe any dangerous place or situation.
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2006-12-21 08:06 AM » Link: [3476#23063|text]
13. Villages plant a certain kind of flower in different patterns in the outlying area. Different patterns are used for different things and different flowers bloom at different points symbolizing other things. Example. Weddings take place in a certain month inside a wedding pattern for a good life. Crop prayers take place at another time when a different type flower blooms, again, in its own pattern. Could be any number of different things going on. Different villages could also have the responsibilty for keeping up these patterns. Travel to different village for the wedding ceremony, another one holds the crop patters ( Wink ) etc. Forms a tight bond between the villages as well.
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2006-12-21 08:07 AM » Link: [3476#23064|text]
14. The city wall-builders employ two main techniques. The more traditional "herring-bone" method where bricks are laid thus:

/////////////
\\\\\\\\\\\\\
/////////////
\\\\\\\\\\\\\

and the more modern plastered walls, which have no visible brickwork. The plastering technique is cheaper (not as skilled) but does not last as long, and the plaster has a tendency to peel.

15. Lint Street and Narwhal Lane used to be on a level with one another, but the famous earthquake of 1671 (recorded by Riellis Magnot in his published diaries) shifted the land vertically so now there are steps down from Lint Street to the lower Lane. There are also large mended cracks in the walls of the houses on either side.

16. Another subsidence story: the soft ground in the Meral district means that the houses lean. Their lintels are quite obviously awry and one gets the disconcerting feeling up entry that one is leaning to the East.

17. The Castle Inn is right by the riverside. It floods invariably every year, leaving stain-marks on the walls. The locals have wagers on how high the water will reach each year.

18. The King's mappers surveyed the land a decade ago, and left benchmarks wherever they went. These can be seen everywhere, from city walls to stones in the wilderness:

_|_
/--\
(badly-drawn benchmark)

19. The Todd family have long been the blacksmiths of the Dale, and most large items made of iron (waterwheels, joists, etc) are imprinted with a "T".
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2006-12-21 08:07 AM » Link: [3476#23065|text]
20. In front of the city of Siylvii, there are row after row of trenches, lined with sleepers (Buried spears), discarded weapons, armor, bones, and a single tattered black banner emblazoned with the Siylviian crest. This battlefield, spanned with a stone and mortar bridge for traveller convenience, was left untidied by the Siylviians as a memorial to the noble last stand of the Siylviian Black Guard against the Maltasian army as it advance upon the city.
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2006-12-21 08:08 AM » Link: [3476#23066|text]
21. A well-known seamstress or tailor (or even guild) always embroiders a rose somewhere on any garments they make. This stems from an old superstition about roses being harmful to evil beings. Due to this same superstition, it is customary for newly wed couples to be given a pair of rosebushes (usually one from each family). One is planted by the front door, and the other is planted by the back door if there is one. If there isn't, both bushes are planted by the front door.
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2006-12-21 08:11 AM » Link: [3476#23069|text]
22. In the high mountain city of Lakpa, small alcoves are dug in the streets. A tiny clay figurine of the Lakpali god, the Bodhisattvah, are placed inside and then bricked over. This commemorates the Bodhisattvah's death (He was once mortal), burial, and descent to the Underworld.
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2006-12-21 08:11 AM » Link: [3476#23070|text]
23. Every year, the city state of Antioch has its own holiday. Two hundred and seventy six years ago, the city of Antioch managed to stop "The Great Goblin Horde". Before that time, the Goblin Horde would sweep down every 12 to 24 years, usually sacking or nearly sacking the city and looting everything between The Northern Mountains and Antioch.

Two hundred and seventy six years ago, while the horde managed to breach the city and destroy a good part of it, the militia managed to hold them off from reaching the plyon in the central plaza and killed their leader. The goblins broke rank and left. They have not been back since.

The city has been completely rebuilt since then along "magikal/ scientific" lines. Antioch is the most modern city in all the Eleven Imperium. It has inner walls for defense, a well laid out civic plan, waterways/ sewers, and many other features that other people marvel at.

Every year since then, there is a parade of current and retired militia and guard (the last Elventi vetran is the grand marshall of the parade in his wheeled chair). The last battle is re-ennacted. The goblins are ex-guardsmen in paper mache goblin masks.

There is a street fair (since the central plaza is being used for the re-creation). Those who are goblins, get to "disturb the peace" in the fair, while they are in costume. Most of it is clowning around, but there are mock fights (and a few non-mock fights), chases, and some less savory activity. This is usually done between late morning and the late afternoon recreation. Being a goblin is supposed to be good luck, so many vie for the chance.

note: The real reason the Goblins have not attacked since then is that a temple of monks was blue misted into the pass the Goblins need to boil through to get to Antioch (and Avalon and all parts south). These Shaolin monks defeat these little scourges every few seasons they come down. Otherwise they would of been back 12-24 years later.
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2006-12-21 08:12 AM » Link: [3476#23071|text]
24. In Weckylais, capitol of Woron, it is common to look over one's left shoulder when one greets another, as a sign that you are looking out for them. This tradition began in Imperial Year 234, when Czeckhi barbarians breached Tibor's Wall and invaded Woron. Most of the Czeckhi were slain by the Imperial Army (At that time, Woron was a province of Imperial Arcturus) soon after, but a few managed to hide, and a series of murders began as Czeckhis began to slay people on the streets at night.

25. It is common for a Glorianan and an Arcturan to spit at each other's feet upon meeting. This tradition began in Imperial Year 476, after the Glorianan War, when Gloriano broke away from the Empire.

26. Along the Black River, which separates the Durmalgish Marches from the barbarian territory of Eregard, the Eregardian barbarians erect large poles from which they hang fetishes of Durmalgians stuffed with crow feathers which they then pincushion with arrows. The Eregardians and the Durmalgians have long history of violence and hatred.

27. Each year, the Free City of Malsheg, which lies on the border between the Kingdom of Marcosa and Imperial Arcturus, holds a ceremony in which one country extends its border around the city. The next year, the other country extends its border around the city. This tradition began in Imperial Year 629, when the Imperial Army invaded Malsheg, and the Marcosan Royal Army invaded to prevent the Imperials from taking the city. The Malsheg Ruling Council decided that it was through with being fought over by Marcosa and Arcturus, and thus instituted the border-extension edict.
0xp

2006-12-21 08:13 AM » Link: [3476#23072|text]
28. Every street in Elioza, in Zinaldia, has one silver brick at the intersection between streets. These were placed when the city was built in Imperal Year 353 to protect the streets from evil, and there is a great superstition against stealing them.
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2006-12-21 08:14 AM » Link: [3476#23073|text]
History is always a great part of any setting. Unless there is a thought out history behind something, it won't have that 'feel' of bieng part of a world. Even a local tavern could have survived a town fire, or once been visited by (insert local hero here).


29. In the very center of a town, is a pulled-down statue. The statue is now little more than a pile of rubble, but a discernable feature within it is a large, demonic head which has survived the ages, in the midst of the stone. The statue used to be of a particuarly cruel demon which had once claimed the inhabitants of this town as her slaves. This statue rose some thirty feet in height, and depicted this demon holding the head of a human in its hand, separated from the humans body. Once each week, the demon chose one person at random, and removed their heads, devouring the body and keeping the skull as 'count'. One day, after 20 years of torment however, a small band of the townsfolk grouped together, and managed to drive this demon from their town, to the hills a bit away. The statue was promptly torn down, but the rubble kept there to commemorate the demise of the evil. Hundreds of years had passed, but the statue remained, and the story of the demon is hesitantly told, though only beneath townsfolks breath, for fear of superstition: that speaking of the demon might somehow call her back. Should passing adventurers ask at a tavern, where the drunken townsfolks tongues are slightly looser, they might hear tell of a demon which now lives in the hills which the party was going to head through. This information may save their lives.
1xp

2006-12-21 08:14 AM » Link: [3476#23074|text]
30. The streets of L'e'e are slabs of cracked stone carved with ancient markings that are slowly wearing away. The streets are constructed from great slabs of stone that were originally the walls of an ancient city that lay nearby, but when the Imperial Legions came to conquer the region (East Coast), they hauled up the slabs to use as the walls of their stronghold and command point, which became L'e'e.
Due to the desecration of the city, the ghosts of the people who once lived there cannot sleep, so it is common to see hungry ghosts rising from the streets at night, and, consequentially, nobody goes out at night in L'e'e.
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2006-12-21 08:14 AM » Link: [3476#23075|text]
31. When a person passes one of a higher rank, they bow their head. When one passes one of equal rank they both bow their head. Only those that are of the highest rank walk without bowing their head.

32. Any new establishment built must be christened by a local priest. This is a time of great celebration and a large picnic with games always takes place. Once the celebration is finished a mark is put above the door to the new place marking it as accepted. All buildings have this. There is a burnt down building on the outskirts that did not get the blessings and the town destroyed it. (house of ill repute? gambling?)

33. Every night a group of volunteers rakes the dirt road of the main street. Nobody is allowed to mar the newly raked ground until an animal walks along it first. Most days the local authorities have Blue, the horse, walk ahead of a parade like group that breaks ground and allows everybody to start using the street. Businesses do not open until Blue makes his walk. It is bad luck and punishable to walk on the road prior to Blue leading the way.
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2006-12-21 08:15 AM » Link: [3476#23076|text]
34. Once a year the nomads of the Bushlands celebrate Dragon Day, where they put on ornate dragon masks, give each other gifts and feast on roast River Wrapper, a delacacy amongst them.

Five hundered years ago they began feeding a Brass Dragon which lived in the mountians to the West with a tenth of their herds every six months, as "rent" to stay in the Bushlands unmolested. Twice a year he would appear, eat, then go. Centuries passed and the people who lived in the quartz city of Walkabout Creek decided to send an army to force the nomads off their land so they could throw it open to farmers, miners, hunters and tourists.

A young nomad named Marka risked her life to travel into the mountians, that belonged to the dragon and tell him what was happening. When he found her, he opened his jaws to eat her but she told him why she was there.

He was angry.He did not want to have to hunt for his food again and he certainly did not want to have his Bushlands taken over by any army. Apart from anything else, it could threaten him. So he flew over to see what he could do. Rather then directly attack the army or Walkabout Creek itself, he burned the ships who came to trade with the city, and ate traders trying to reach the city by land.

The Mayor of Walkabout Creek begged the dragon not to starve his city, and the Dragon made him withdraw his army from the Bushlands and promise not to invade the Bushlands again. By trying to harm his people they had harmed him.

Ever since then the nomads have celebrated that day. Never since then has an army invaded their land, as all the cities to the east know how dangerous an angry Brass Dragon can be.
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2006-12-21 08:16 AM » Link: [3476#23077|text]
35. In the Temple of the Light, they pray not with hands clasped, but with their hands on their shoulders & arms crossed. If reading from the Book of the Cannon, it is permissible to hold the book with one hand while the other rests on the shoulder. This practice derives from the passage, "and lay your hands on your shoulders in reverence." Mixed metaphors and bad translations can be blamed for this. It is a combination of the concept "love thy neighbour as thyself" with a metaphor from Olde Anglan for "put your hand on your brother's shoulder" meaning to help, comfort, support, etc. It is uncertain whether the error was originally the Prophet's or due to mistranslations after the fact.
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2006-12-21 08:16 AM » Link: [3476#23078|text]
36. A medium sized fishing and merchant port has a local legend about a princess that came through there once.

It is said that Princess Humil cursed her cousin for some forgotten (you may hear many different reasons) reason and predicted his death. She then sailed out later that day.

Well, her cousin did die, whether it be curse or coincidence, but so did Princess Humil. The day she sailed, not too long after she broke harbor, a freak strom blew in. The ship she sailed was never seen again.

A year afterward her ship was seen sailing just outside the harbor. It glided past in the heavy breeze and disappeared into a fog. A couple ships went out to find the Princess' ship. They never did find anything but the next day at the same time a huge storm boiled up and 3 merchant ships that left the previous day were lost.

The ship has appeared dozens of times since then and each time it has exactly predicted a huge storm one day before it hit.

Whenever the ship is sighted, all shipping is suspended and an attempt is made to reach any ship that has just recently left. No ship has been lost leaving this harbor since they learned of Princess Humil's warning, a fact the town is quite proud of.

Because of her deeds, the town's people now call her Queen Humil in respect and thanks.
0xp

2006-12-21 08:17 AM » Link: [3476#23079|text]
37. In Tsauru (the most famed city of the Holy Land beyond Meru the Holy City itself, and known in the Holy Book as the "Whore of Lekku" for it's sinful, decadent ways), every succeeding wave of rulers and invaders has added on to the monument which stands in the Plaza of Jade Souls. This conglomerate symbol represents the melting-pot nature of the city. The base of the monument is a pillar of black basalt from the most ancient days, clad in writing no man can now decipher; surmounting it are the legendary Automata of Tsauru, created by the Yastare when they ruled this land (the Automata no longer speak as they were reputed to do in ancient days, but they are still impressive to look upon). Looming above the Automata is the grand sculpture of the Emperor Xigetas Groapaktore, crafted when the Empire of Tekne held sway over Tsauru. The latest monument is a great marble Hand-and-Eye, the symbol of the city's new Qoruxi rulers.
0xp

2006-12-21 08:17 AM » Link: [3476#23080|text]
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Comments ( 7 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

manfred
December 21, 2006, 8:10
0xp
10. To celebrate the beheading and deposing of the King after the civil war in 1207, the minters created coins without the King's head. Since the reinstatement of the monarchy seven years later these coins have become increasingly rare, and their possession is a capital offence (seen as treason).


...coins without the King's head...

Could it mean a neck and a crown, but with the head missing? Would make some irony instead of a blank coin. Warning: this is not just some irrelevant detail: adventurers better know this before spending treasure or getting their reward!
Mourngrymn
December 21, 2006, 10:54
0xp
That is perfect manfred. A great way to cause problems for the characters. Why are the shop keepers not wanting their business? Why are everyone in the market place look at them funny as they pass by? Why are the soldiers holding them at sword point for treason when they just arrived in town?
Voted Murometz
December 21, 2006, 8:53
0xp
great scroll! Nice deep diving salvage job! (whoever ressurected it)
Voted valadaar
December 21, 2006, 9:00
0xp
Really good idea for a scroll, and the entries already on it are top notch!

Kudos one and all!
Voted Strolen
December 21, 2006, 10:40
0xp
A solid scroll with lots of ideas and room for more. Some of my favorite submissions are quick tidbits like this that you can throw into any game to make it more immersive.
Voted manfred
December 21, 2006, 12:04
0xp
Yay for the resurrection of this old scroll! Time to extend it some more.
Voted RGTraynor
March 25, 2011, 1:12
Only voted

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