1. The Three Dancing Girls
Three dancing girls, by profession, are enjoying a trip into the near country. They might be heading out to a country estate as hired entertainment, or might just be dressed up because it is their nicest clothing and they are going to spend the day at a vineyard, where the master of the estate pays them well to stomp grapes in their semi-burlesque outfits. He might charge a bit of coin for others to watch. They could be heading home from any of these things, or they might have since been waylaid, relieved of gold, carriage, and horse, but not molested or assaulted. Vagabonds who unduly harass the dancing girls find themselves the subject of the ire of the local men at arms.
2. The Painter
The painter is an artist of local renown but not yet great fame. He has an easel and paint set and is working on a massive painting of the countryside. This would certainly be bucolic enough, with a basket of some bread, cheese, and some wine, but that's not all. The painting is a landscape, but a giant is painted into the middle of the city, wreaking havoc and tearing down an ornate tower with his bare hands.
A week later, there is a minor quake, and the tower collapses.
3. The Charioteeress
A dowdy looking woman in somber attire passes the party, driving a chariot of ornate wrought iron decoration, pulled by a pair of Nightmares. (Not really Nightmares, black horses with charms that make their manes and tails look like flames. She seems powerful and imperious. If they dare to speak to her, she vigorously insults them. She enjoys the word 'bastard, piss ant, and cuckold' and if there are women in the party, they are addressed as either wayward sex workers, or truculent house servants.
4. The Raised Tomb
A site of some local notoriety, the Raised Tomb is a marble prominence supporting a sarcophagus of large dimension, and there is evidence that the Tomb is regularly visited. If the party asks anyone about the Tomb, they become offended, how dare they not know who lies in that sacred shrine? How dare they not know what happened, and why the tomb was raised to hold their mortal remains.
5. The Healing Spring Man
There is a healing spring far from the city, but the Healing Spring Man has seen fit to gather the waters and bring them to the city. Most is carried in glass wine bottles, but he also has barrels he can dip out of for people he meets on the road. The water is cool and refreshing, and either gives the benefit of restoring a single hit point of healing or restoring the character as if they had had a short rest. This is a civilized place, so the Spring Man usually travels by himself, goading his oxen on and walking next to them. On rare occasions he has a huge water barrel he trundles into the town for when a well of merchant or noble decides they want to fill their bath with healing spring water. He gives half of what he earns to the local charity or clerical outfit as a tithe.
6. The County Cabaret
The Cabaret escapes the legal jurisdictions of the city by being a good hour's ride from the city walls. The building was once an inn and stable, well built of riverstone, with a broad and well-appointed plaza, supporting outbuildings, and a small village that supports it. The girls who work and perform typically live in this village, as do the grooms and other sundry people who would operate an inn. Men laugh and smoke pipes in the courtyard, some play at tiles or cards, and the common folk toss dice by the barn. Inside the Cabaret has good drinks, good food, and rather high prices, and the afternoon and evening performances are fabulous. This is no brothel or topless bar, though the girls can be had, and so are topless. Rather, it is a high-culture artistic venture, and it is gaining popularity and notoriety. Local brewers and vintners are finding their products in higher demand if they can get in the doors at the Cabaret. The more puritanical elements of the clergy and lay folk likewise find the place increasingly offensive. Look at them, drinking and dancing, carrying on, and not giving all their bawdy energy over to contemplation and praising the Lord/Gods/Great spirits.
7. A Troop of Shirtless Boys
There are a random number of pre-adolescent boys walking along the road, clad only in trousers and a variety of hats. A few carry packs and they have a few pieces of fruit, some bread, and rather suspiciously, a good number of pilfered pipes and poorly rolled cigars and cigarillos. The boys live in the city, but they run off to go work in the pipeweed and tobacco fields.
8. The Watering Station
A hand pump sticks out of the ground, shaped of stone and metal in the form of a gargoyle. Pumping the handle a few times draws water up from the well and fills a carved stone basin large enough to water a team or horses or oxen. These are relatively common around the main cities, and along the roads between them. A few have become comfortable places to rest, and given a little time, someone will set up an inn.
9. A Sleeping Man
A lone horse passes the party going in the opposite direction. There is a man lying along the back of the horse, sound asleep.
10. The Duck Man and his Grandchildren
An old man travels with a good-sized group of children. He has a casual air but carries a fine sword. The children are going to the local duck pond where they are doing to fish, maybe collect duck eggs, and so what else mischief they can get into. Their parents are gone (out of town, slain by monsters, on crusade, etc) and he, the long retired former guildsman, has become their caretaker.
11. The Traveling Manservant
The Traveling Manservant is a proper noble's manservant, but he goes about with a large Tinker type wagon drawn by oxen. Inside he has all the tools of his trade, and the ability to make clothing to order, repair garments, produce new boots and shoes, as well as offering services such as cutting hair, shaving, and minor medical services. He makes his money by intercepting nobles returning from rough rides, or long times away from the creature comforts of the familial estate or manor, so they arrive looking fresh and clean. He's also sold his service to jumped up commoners who had the money to afford new clothes, boots, and a hot lather shave.
12. The Boules Club Duel
A number of older and elderly gentlemen are very seriously playing at a bowling/curling type game, rolling heavy stone balls to see who can get closest to the center of a circle, bonus points for knocking the other player's balls out of the ring. This seems perfectly normal, aside from the attendants and retainers following the old men all seem very tense. If questioned they are polite but make it apparent that the players need to sod off down the road and mind their own business.
What's really going on? There is a feud in the city, and these old men are the casually dressed leaders of noble houses, powerful guilds, and the heads of crime families. Rather than starting into a new generational war, they are attempting to settle things by a tournament of Boules.
13. The Fountain of Innocents
Commemorating a tragic massacre centuries ago, the fountain is a large multi-tiered marvel, complete with a stone pavilion at the top. Water pours down the concentric rings until filling a large pool, that drains through a series of pipes buried into the ground. during daytime hours, children are almost constantly present, as are a good number of women. Many of these women are either pregnant or carrying their infants, visiting the fountain as a sort of good luck ritual. Nudity is a bit more common than the women would like, but there is something about the fountain and young children that causes them to shed their clothing to play in the water, plus there are more than a few women who are breastfeeding their babes.
14. Garrison and Gaol
The garrison looks like little more than a former temple that has been fortified, and a watch tower added. A half-score of soldiers are posted to the garrison, where they spend most of their time patrolling around the area on foot, playing cards in the common area, and complaining about how shite and boring the post is. The garrison also has a holding cell, once used for the temple stores, and when the soldiers find troublemakers, they rough them up and put them in the gaol overnight to cool off. If it seems serious, they can send a signal and in a few days an officer or magistrate will show up to see what is going on.
15. The Arch
The Arch is made of cut stone, and the road goes under it. More than one group of travelers have seen the crenelated top of the arch and been excited they were almost at the gates of the city, only to find it is just a stone memorial to a battle that happened on that site many years before.
Bonus - maybe no one knows who built the arch, and what the carvings on it mean?
16. Spa du Princesses
Appearing as a well-made and walled stone manor home, the Spa du Princesses is notable for the large number of women present, and the prominent signage that men of any race or species are not welcome inside. The Spa is built over a series of thermal springs noted for their mineral content, age-repelling mud banks, and known healing properties. Well-to-do women of the city travel to the walled villa to lounge in the hot waters, drink wine, and engage in everything from lesbian bacchanals to standard high-end spa fare, to housing noble women in bad situations, to working as a way station for some underground faction women support, to being where the women of station and power go to attend their business away from the eyes and ears of men.
17. The Child and Her Racing Dog
The child is a young girl, 8-9 years old, reclining in a single seat, child sized carriage, pulled by a long lean dog. She passes them at a great pace, and if they are afoot, she will circle them making sure they know she is fast and they are slow.
18. The High Rock Distillery
Sitting atop a stone outcropping, the distillery is locally infamous for it's potent herbal liquor. Drinkers become very quickly drunk, some suffer waking nightmares, and others have profound breakthroughs in their lives. The stuff is favored by local artists for its ability to remove inhibitions and self-doubts. Alcoholics also favor it for its potency. The greatest danger posed by the distillery and its fiery brew is that it can only be reached by several series of switchback stairs. They lower the product down the steep side with ropes and pulleys, but patrons must climb and descend stairs to get the stuff from the source.
19. The Muralist
The Muralist goes about painting grand murals on any vertical surface he can find. The players encounter the man with his obviously dangerous and poorly made scaffolding as he paints a crude mural on a rock outcropping. Locals consider him a vandal, mostly because his work isn't good, and he isn't getting better. Alternately, the players encounter the muralist getting a good roadside beating, as a group of passing locals found him in the act of painting a giant-sized likeness of a favored local noblewoman in an unfavorable act, exposed, as it were.
20. A Manor Under Construction
There is a great deal of work going on, as cellars and such are being dug from the earth. Heavy wagons are bringing rough cut stone to a yard where stone masons are shaping said stone and guiding its setting in making castle-like walls for the new building. The place is going to be impressive when it is done, and given the number of workmen on the site, a number of unsavory operators have set up a few paces away, ramshackle taverns, pop-up tent brothels, and the like. There is a good deal of black market business going on here, and no one is really sure who is paying for all this work, and even the master stone cutters and masons don't know the full extent of the plans for the building.
21. Gentlemen and the Dogs
A large group of well dressed gentlemen are strolling down the road, each accompanied by a single dog. Like the men, these animals seem to be the product of refined breeding, pampering, and preening. Further behind there is a retinue of wagons, carriages, and retainers.
This is the annual Canine Competition, and among the men are the judges who inspect the dogs, and their handlers, and they are heading out to a manor house, or perhaps one of the previously mentioned locations, like the roadside cabaret. The winner gains a good deal of money and local fame for their well-bred animal.
22. The Red Millhouse
The Red Millhouse is either astoundingly busy or almost abandoned. Formerly a grist mill, it is now a place where decadenti meet. It is closer to the city, so most people can walk to it on foot, or easily find a ride with a wagoneer or carriage driver looking to make coin. Inside there is loud music, lascivious dancing, a spectacle of a floor show, and much public drunkenness and vigorous use of questionable tonics and potions. The place is heavily involved in the criminal underworld of the city, and a popular place for slumming nobles, artists, and the like.
23. The Manor Stop
The Manor Stop is a well known and visited place on the road near the capitol. The manor itself is the home of one of the middle-tier noble families, and as far as manor homes go, it is unremarkable. What is remarkable is that the worker's shanty town that popped up while the manor was being built wasn't torn down and is now a roadside place of interest. The brothels and taverns are gone, but now there is a cake bakery, a pastry shop, and most avant-garde, an open air tea garden. Dirty road-worn travelers might not find a warm welcome at the counter or among the staff, but a bit of coin at the side door to the garden can net a band of travelers food and drink enough for a short rest. Guests of the noble family find prime access to the goods of the Manor Stop, getting the first slices of cake, and beverages more exotic than tea offered to them.
24. A Road Work Crew
A section of the road, or a small bridge, has fallen into disrepair. A work gang is present, pulling up the damaged part of the road and tearing out the ruined substrate. They have stone, tools for heavy lifting, and more skill than would seem possible, being dirty commoners. They are polite, but have a schedule to keep, no good trying to fix the road if they can't have it patched up before the rains come and ruin all their work.
What is not obvious is that the road construction workers are very well off, and are skilled men. They can cut and set stone, and move it with ease. Should things turn ugly, they can turn their stone-moving scaffolding and equipment into catapults and trebuchets with ease.
25. The Lone Fisherman
An old man fishing from a small creek, pond, or river. He is unremarkable but polite.
The old fisherman can be used as a person of interest for giving information, he sees the road traffic, and many people talk to him, and pay him no mind.
26. The Grand Coachhouse
Coaches, carriages, and wagons have to be made somewhere, and this large building well outside the city is where the Teamster's Guild plies their trade. (they likely have a better and more fitting name, but they're teamsters). It is part sawmill, part carpenter's shop, part painters and wood carving hall, and blacksmithing for the creation of their vehicles.
27. Members of the Standard Guild
The Standard Guild is a small guild that creates, archives and displays standards, pennants, and banners for the people of the city. What started as a way to tell what group of soldiers were on what side, or what specific guild a group of adventurers belongs to has turned into something of an advertising campaign. Musicians and playwrights have their works painted on standards and the guild walks around town telling people about the point of interest. Nobles will do the same, sometimes to draw a crowd for an event like a duel or execution, or to drum up support for some local cause of theirs. The guilds do the same. With all the places of interest close to the city, the Standard Guild is busy, with lots of standards to paint, and lots of flags to carry around for people to see.
This specific group is carrying standards painted to show the support of a local lord and his followers and their interest in getting the local Mage's Guild to relocate their chapterhouse outside of the city. There are only so many random explosions and misfired summoning spells that city folk feel they should have to put up with.
28. The Tobacco Shop
Tobacco has fallen a long way from where it was once held in high esteem in fantasy fiction. It might have gone by other names, some silly abbreviations like we don't know what tabac from the Two Rivers is, or what sort of plant Longbottom Leaf was. The Tobacco Shop is functionally a tavern, but the primary offering is tobacco. Cured and dried in a variety of methods, and cuttings from different varieties of the plant. It can be hand-crumbled for pipes, rolled into cigars, or the long thin cigarillos favored by women, gamblers, and child laborers. The shop also serves alcohol, but this is not a draft house, they offer cognacs, armagnacs, and other potent spirits similar to whiskey, absinthe, and other herbaceous distillates. The clientele of the shop is high brow and well heeled. More rustic and common stock folk purchase their tobacco from the drying sheds, where they are NOT getting the first and best cuttings.
29. Earthworks Crew
The city is always growing, and despite the luxurious and peaceful times that are flourishing, the masters of the city remember that war, famine, and pestilence are but a season away, a generation away, and cities that become lax in their defense and planning are swept away and forgotten. The capitol has no intention of letting this happen, so there are generally earthworks and construction going on around Winter, planting time, and harvest time. New walls are raised, new drainage canals are cut, roads are repaired and new roads are laid. Bridges are built where needed. The players encounter a major work. Part of a low hill is being cut away, and the pilings are being sunk for a new tower. This isn't just some watch post, it is planned to be the next ring of the great wall around the city, but they aren't expecting it to be done for another century or two. Lots of stone to cut, lots of earth to move.
Unlike many of the other construction efforts, this is mass labor. Most of the laborers are prisoners and convicts who have been sentenced to hard labor, supported and controlled by the city guard and the lord's officers. There is no pop-up of taverns, brothels, or food vendors, just the grunt and smack of hard work.
30. The Shell
The Shell was once a large and thriving manor house, complete with its contingent of buildings for making wine, cheese, a small mill for grinding flour, and a chapel made entirely of stone. It has been blasted to piles of broken stone and charred timbers. There is a small shrine at the broken gate, where flowers and small statues relevant to the local faith, have been put on display. Locals consider the place cursed and haunted, and its destruction was sudden, violent, and unexpected. Magic is suspected, but there are also stories that some members of the family were involved in worship of the Dark Powers.
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It's great that you are still here and I'm not all alone on this site.
My latest submission, 7 Builders, is showing up in my submissions but not showing up in the site itself for some reason.