Comprising the western portion of the Arch Duchy of Haracon, Vandergraff is a large and rapidly growing city located on the banks of the wide and deep Running Blood river. The river is so named for the deep murky color of its sediment rich waters. A confluence of trades and industry have spurred the growth of the township into a full grown city in less than a generation.
After with Vandergraff’s city council and the appointed steward of the city I find it a place in search of an identity. It lacks the old refinement of Powlgraff or the time tested traditions of Cilagros. Instead the merchant and craftsmen of the city vie with one another in sponsoring musicians and painters, sculptors and acting troupes, giving the industrious city a rather frivolous feel. Much of the city is new construction, a mix of wood and plaster and impressive buildings of stone all growing in a rather haphazard way.
The primary source of income for the city is the felling of tree and the lumber they produce. First and foremost is the rendering of the fine straight white barked trees into ship’s masts and spars. A close second comes in the realm of building lumber and fuel for the forge furnace. This wood is cut from the vast reserves of the Ganhojol forest, a region well known for its massive birch trees and the white-skinned dryads who haunt its deeper reaches. The locals have begun to lessen tension between themselves and the forest dwellers by removing fewer and fewer of the birches and instead focusing on the faster growing and nuisance pines, sweetgum, and elm trees.
The newest fad in the city is the creation of pulp wood sheets that while not as durable as vellum, are much cheaper to make and do not require the mess and smell of a tannery. This zettel, as they call it, makes for the creation of cheaper books as well as a whole new arena of artists who paint on the zettel and even fold the material into the likeness of flowers, and animals. The last innovation came as an act of desperation, a lumberman lost his pipe and desperate for some pipeweed, he rolled his pipeweed in a thin strip of the zettel and lit it, creating what the locals call the zettelette and it is all the rage among the elite.
The western portion of the Vandergraff province is dominated by wheat and cornfields. The grange guild known as the House of the Scythe maintains roughly half of these fields, the rest supported by country gentlemen and by a a goodly number of farming manors. yellowbread, made from corn is a common food item in the city as the loaves are heavy and resist spoilage well. Dark wheatbread is also very common.
Combined with the new charred oak barrels produced from Gahojol oak, the locals produce a stout variation of whiskey that they call bourbon. This liquor is amber in color and has a very pleasant almost honey like smoothness to it. To the gods on high, after each barrel is used only once, the barrels are smashed and burned. Milord I know brewers who will use the same barrels for generations!
Located south-east of Vandergraff proper, and downriver from the zettelworks, distilleries, and lumber mills, this is the seedy side of town. All of the buildings here are new and poorly built. Large block houses dominate with taverns and brothels dominating the ground floors while the rest of the building is filled with migrant workers and displaced rural folk looking to escape the plow life. This ward is best known for its high crime rate, and surprisingly for the quality of it’s folk and tavern music.
Conflicts and Plot Hooks
The Crown - The Arch Duchy of Haracon has long been dominated by the genteel society of Powlgraff, located to the east. In recent years, Vandergraff has eclipsed Powlgraff in both terms of population and income. Now the nobility of the city, themselves barely in control of their own city, vie for possession of the throne of Haracon. They wish to move the seat of Govt to the city and it could become ugly. Assassinations are possibly as well as plenty of thievery, and intrigue. If things go poorly, even a civil war between the two cities could erupt.
The People - For the last decade, the Nobles of Vandergraff have fallen behind. They have no influence in the merchant class, and have little understanding of the zettelworks, or the new shipping of bourbon to foreign markets. As such they are becoming estranged from the populace and in response their issuing of laws and charters is becoming more and more draconian as they try to retain what control they have before it all slips away. The PCs can come in on either side, trying to regain the base power of the nobility, especially if they are looking to become lesser nobility/knights or landowners of such a stripe. On the other side, they can be part of the burgeoning democracy that is growing in the wards of the new city.
The Wood - The growth of the city demands sacrifices. Woodlands are cleared to make room for new farmland or more space to build. The dryads and their tree-hugging druids are up in arms, and the city has to find a way to placate or eliminate the nature boys and girls before events escalate into a war between the woodsmen and the lumberjacks. The PCs can fight a guerilla campaign against a well equipped if disorganized city guard or try to marshall inexperienced city folk into a viable fighting force. Or, could there be a compromise?