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ID: 2426


October 30, 2006, 2:29 pm

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Powlgraff, The Fowl City.

On the western lip of the Archduchy, separated by the great birch and oak forest of Ganhojol, lie the two Graffs, cities built by rival brothers over two hundred years ago. Never had two brothers hated one another as these two had. No sooner had Powl decided to build his metropolis on the northern boundary of Ganjohol, so immediately did Vander gather his hired architects and masons and begin construction on his version of “civil paradise”, on the southern bawn of the forest, beside the Running Blood River. The two cities have been natural rivals ever since, leapfrogging and replacing each other in style, fashion, and industry, in the mind of the Archduchy’s zeitgeist. Though Powlgraff became an official city only six years prior to Vandergraff, that is all the difference the nobles of the former required in order to consider themselves the more superior of the two cities.

The following is an excerpt from the traveling journal of Pyuss the Second, ambassador to the One-King of Haracon. Observations on his return journey to the capital coming north from The Great Grass Sea, as he passed through the Archduchy.

Powlgraff the Fowl City is pleasant enough to behold as you approach it, certainly. The spires that have been built in its center over the years grow more numerous, as well as taller, thinner and closer together. The noble’s trend of separating themselves from the “rabble” continues as before. The spires and towers crowd the center, while the sprawl of the city, the factories, tanneries, and the houses of the common folk, spread out from the heart of Powlgraff. While more genteel than its more industrious rival Vandergraff, Powlgraff is in somewhat of a decline both commercially and in prestige. Folks are flocking to Vandergraff, while the only thing “flocking” to Powlgraff are maddening hordes of chickens.

Yes, I’m afraid this city is truly still fowl. Ever since the duke and duchess both choked on those chicken bones sixty years ago, that bizarre new law still stands. Kill a chicken, and you will be fined, and off to the gaol for a brief but agonizing stay. What is truly disturbing is that the nobles of Powlgraff think this law shows their refinement and enlightened thought. The truth, I’m afraid, is that strolling along the main avenues and plazas while being hounded by hundreds of fat flightless birds is a truly maddening experience, and does little more than exhibit the folly and cynical hubris of Powlgraff’s lazing bureaucracy. Chickens, partridges, and ducks, no doubt attracted by the city’s lunatic laws, roam the city undisturbed, clucking, pecking, and preening, in a mirrored personification of the very nobility that protects them. I will put this thought to rest for now, but in closing, suffice it to say that I have never seen more feathers and droppings in one place in all my years! Of course as any would, the populace has adapted, and life goes on in Polwlgraff.

Unlike its neighbor to the south and west, Powlgraff has eschewed assarting the Ganhojol forest, and prefers to make use of the limestone karsts north of the city. Almost every building worth its salt is built of stone. This limestone, which is used for almost all new construction, has a peculiar pinkish tinge, no doubt for similar reasons from which the Running Blood River derives its name. It is this unique color, which leads to the prized limestone being Powlgraff’s main export. It is truly comical, I must mention, watching these blocks of stone being transported to and fro, occasionally squashing the sacred chickens of the city, as fearful workers and masons, stop and glance around immediately to see if anyone noticed the poultrycide they have just committed!

As for the Duke and Duchess what can be said. Duke Glimpone is still as anemic and languid as he was during my last visit, his only claim to fame being his uncanny resemblance to his ancestor Powl. The Duchess Oswella on the other hand, seemingly has a hand in every aspect of Powlgraff’s daily existence. Whether setting the fashion trends for the nobility, or vexing the quarry masters and masons of the city with her ever-rising taxes, Oswella is at least quite active in the city’s affairs. Her balls and masquerades are as always, popular events, the exclusive invitations being highly prized among the nobles. Recently, in a fit of rage, Oswella has banned the novel and popular Zettelettes from Vandergraff, and this has caused an outrage among the commoners. Ironically, Oswella herself has become completely addicted to the rolled-paper tobacco sticks, smoking countless Zettelettes a day in private. 

The true power in Powlgraff I fear however is Ossidra, guild mistress of the nefarious Cocks and Peckers thieves. Beautiful, wise and quite the political animal, Ossidra has the love and respect of the populace, unlike the mildly despised duke and duchess. She is very protective of her ‘birds’ as she calls them, and is always looking to further Powlgraff’s causes, despite her own guilds shady dealings. In fact there are whispers that she is secretly looking to make alliances in Vandergraff and possibly plans on toppling Powlgraff’s nobility altogether, while assuming the title of Archduchess herself. This new development certainly bears some watching.

What review of Powlgraff would be complete without mentioning The Beefery. While birds are never on the menu here, the cattle certainly are. In fact, Powlgraffians have made beef-eating into an art-form, and every imaginable recipe for beef is available here. The Beefery itself, still run by the Sisters Torraine, is an imposing three-story limestone and granite structure. The cattle go in on all fours, as they say, but come out on silver platters.

Not much left to say I’m afraid. A peculiar city with peculiar people, it is only a matter of time, in this ambassador’s humble estimation, before Vandergraff usurps the reigns of power in Haracon’s Archduchy. The incestuous noble family’s influence is in decline. The middle class is in decline as well, as hordes of enterprising merchants and craftsman move to Vandergraff to participate in its booming economy, and as yet unknown to the general populace, the limestone quarries north of Powlgraff are running out of rock, leaving porcelain vases and urns as the city’s seemingly last export product of note. The brothels and cathouses of Powlgraff remain somewhat well spoken of among visitors naturally. I personally wouldn’t know.

Plot Hooks

Decline- Powlgraff teeters on economic collapse. This infuriates Oswella, and she is looking to hire some outsiders to help her gauge how to bring the city back to the forefront and its former glory! If the pc’s have any interest in “city-planning”, economics, or engineering, they may very well be the consultants Oswella hires. Just don’t tell her to get rid of the chickens(!), unless you enjoy spending time in the gaol, or worse, the gibbet.

Bird-Flu (!)- A strange new disease has been affecting the chickens of Polwgraff. Birds can often be seen acting crazy in the squares and plazas, often dying a short-while later. There have even been a few human deaths associated with this mysterious virus. Can the pc’s (particularly the clerics) stem the tide, before an epidemic rages!

Dinner with Ossidra- Ossidra will seek out accomplished adventurers to speak with them, in order to determine if they can be trusted, and whether or not they would be interested in joining her revolution! Ossidra should be role-played as the extremely charismatic leader she in fact is.

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Comments ( 15 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
March 18, 2006, 18:11
Now this would be a great city to rp in.
Voted Scrasamax
March 18, 2006, 18:47
Excellent, you said karst!!! I do like it and it's slow but inevitable decline.
Voted MoonHunter
March 19, 2006, 0:51
I like this submission better than its linked twin. While the other is more artistic in its delivery, this one shows more thought and more detail. I am not always fond of the travel diary type of story/ submission, but this one works for me.

The city is just odd enough to feel real. You could see some quirkly law being enforced in the real world, thus making this one seem more real. I like the cultural ramifications here. I like all the extra little details, plus the dramatic potential. In short, two paws and a tail up.
Voted Roack
March 19, 2006, 2:31
The most beautiful idea for a city I have EVER set eyes on.
Voted Pariah
March 19, 2006, 21:35
Yeah, chicken city. Who woulda thunk it.
Voted Ria Hawk
April 1, 2006, 19:18
Wow. Just... wow. I like this; the image of a city being overrun by poultry is just priceless. I'd imagine that the Duke and Duchess don't go to the capital much; this sort of thing probably makes them the laughingstock of the region. Particularly in Vandergraff.

... Additionally, now I'm having flashbacks to Legend of Zelda.
July 21, 2006, 5:04
Those were cuckoos.
Voted Strolen
April 29, 2006, 9:03
Chicken city. I find that those cities that have a single, well defined and memorable theme are my favorite. You can adventure around and see many places but you usually always remember them by one fact. This one will be the chickens and everytime you think of it you can't help but smile.

Inevitable and obvious. Equate no chickens to America's prohibition and you see what I immediately thought of. Imagine the underground network of illegal chicken trade and cooking. Speak-easies for eating chicken. Illegal trade routes to the sister city. Because you KNOW the rival city could charge premium for Powlgraff chicken. It would be an ultimate insult yet couldn't be proven. So Powlgraff now starts marking their chickens in some way so they know if it is their chickens that are being eaten and can punish those accordingly. But what the markings actually do is raise the blackmarket price even higher since now you can prove you are buying Powlgraff poultry.
May 1, 2006, 0:11
black market chicken...I would have never thought of that. Man that is gold!
May 1, 2006, 0:48
PFC and illegal cock-fights!

Strolen, I give your comment 5/5!!
October 13, 2006, 10:33
Fowlgraff, I mean Powlgraff, a city with a bird-brained set of laws. I love this insane city!

Plot Ideas:
The PCs need to get information from the venerable sage Sohndres, but the man has snapped, going on a chicken slaying rampage! As he's the only living expert on the Lost Dingus of Axelrod, the PCs will have to smuggle him out of the city before he commits any more acts of avicide!

A wizard, Pogott Glommer, has begun an evil scheme to avenge himself against the city's nobles. He has found a magical item that exchanges minds from body to body and has begun switching the nobles out with chickens. If the PCs don't stop him, he'll make them pay dearly for the humiliation he went through when he was arrested for eating a chicken!

Dark rumors have surfaced of a sinister cult hidden in the City of Poultry, a cult dedicated to Mrrrrorw, the little-known Demon Lord of Rabid Housecats. This group must be stopped before they can summon their vile patron and unleash a fowl bloodbath unlike anything the world has ever seen.
October 13, 2006, 21:21
thanks Wulf!

Plot Hook #1 is ok. Plot Hooks #2 (how appropriate!) and #3 (oy, the bloodshed and feathers!) are hysterical! :D

what are you waiting for? right up Mrrrrorw already!
Voted axlerowes
February 13, 2012, 10:13

I would enjoy this idea regardless, it is fun one, what I love here is the travel log approach to it.  Thus type of write up focuses on players interactions with the setting, and thus make the setting more accessable and something the player would like to visit.  


Plot Idea:  A young thief, brash creative and lucky he may be, but he is not smart, talented or careful. He has, amazingly stolen the hen that lays golden eggs from a Fae queen.  Born in Vandergraff he thought what better place to hide the bird than Powlgraff. "I'll just tie white string about one of her feet so she is easy to find."  Then he goes about his buissness bragging and longing for the agents of the mytiscal queen to catch him so he can say "I don't have your bird, search me you will see, where could I hide a bird like that."  Ah..the hubris of youth.  Of course the Fae aren't fooled, and golden eggs are being found around the city and all of sudden their is an explosinon of activity.   

Ossidra didn't like the boy, but his uncle's den of thieves did pay their protection money monthly, and he may some potential if he could hiest the Fae queen's palace.  She best get him back.

Tourists are flocking (heh) to Powlgraff for the golden egg search, and the Duchess in thrilled.  She wants that chicken.  

With a Fae bird in their midst the chickens of Powlgraff begin to commune with the great oversoul of poultry.  A bird hive mind is emerging, with the Fae chicken as it lynch pin. (there is reason you don't you breed these birds unless you  are a Fae Queen and know how to handle these things.  Think The Birds with Chickens.

Finally the agents of the Fae want this bird back, they want the boys soul and they want to make sure what the boy learned about Fae Queen's palace in forgotten.  The Boy saw something he didn't understand or recognize, but it could mean a great deal of trouble for the entire realm if that information gets out.  The boy has a bomb he thinks is a toy. 

February 15, 2012, 4:17
A interesting city, I doubt whether I would want to visit it...

Certainly not a place to mention my family's recipe for chicken ragout!
Voted Kassy
May 24, 2014, 6:54

Chicken City? Just when I think that nothing will surprise me, I'm proven wrong.

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