The city of Strawberry Fields was once just a trackless, mosquito infested swamp, full of alligators, that was given to the Duke of Ranang after he saved the life of King Henry the Miser, who earned that name through imposing high taxes on everybody who lived in his kingdom, no matter what social class they belonged to. At first the Duke thought that it would always be useless to him, but then, after three famines in a row, a charismatic preacher of Mammon called Peter the Hermit had a dream that strawberries sprouted from the swamp, that he thought was a sign from his God. He got the Duke's permission to lead a band of craftsmen and peasants into the swamp to try and make his dream come true.
The first thing they did was to throw up windowless shacks of wood to keep out the mosquitoes at night. Then with only knives and farming tools they killed some of the alligators, turned their skins into bags and breastplates and sold them to the wealthy. They paid a quarter of the money that they earned to the Duke and brought strawberry seeds, which they planted in furrows that they dug.
And after a month the strawberries did indeed sprout from the swamp, and people came from miles around to buy them. For several years they grew them, paying a quarter of the money they made to the Duke and using the rest to improve their lives. Wooden duckboards were thrown up and proper houses were made, with nets to keep the insects out and small luxury items. And what had been just a poor shantytown become a thriving town in it's own right.
Then the King's tax collectors came and demanded that the townspeople pay a huge tax, which they refused as it would drive them back into poverty again. The King was furious and decided to come personally with three troops of horsemen to make an example of the troublesome town. When he heard that the soldiers were coming, Peter prayed to Mammon, not to let His Holy vision be destroyed. As soon as the soldiers got into to the swamp a swarm of insects flew up, stinging and biting the horses until they threw their riders into the mud. The Royal Crown sunk deep into the ooze and the King was furious, for the crown went back many centuries and for him to lose it would be seen as an ill omen indeed.
When his men continued the attack, the ground grew sticky and the heavily armoured knights sunk to their shoulders. Realizing that Mammon was angry with him, the King begged the Hermit to intercede with him and the Hermit told him that Mammon would release his knights and give him his Crown back if he swore on his soul to leave the town alone, which he did. At last the knights were set free from the slime that held them and the Crown raised itself magically from the mud and flew into the King's hands. The King kept his promise and the Hermit for his part allowed him to collect moderate taxes from the town since it was within his kingdom.
Then a vein of iron ore was discovered within the swamp, and many new people came to settle there to escape King Henry's extortionate taxes. The iron was crafted into tools, armour and weapons and the town grew richer, and then richer still when Peter opened a bank within the town with a good reputation. The more people settled there the more money was generated, for nobody who was unwilling to work was allowed to settle in the town. The Duke of Ranang, who was given a quarter of the town's wealth each year as he owned the land, became hugely rich. The profits from the strawberries, the tools, the banking, the arms trade and the taxes snowballed and the town became a major city-state in it's own right. As the numbers of people grew a Mammon Militia was created to keep law and order and a reasonably fair judge and jury system was set up, with strict but generally fair punishments for lawbreakers. Murderers are fed alive to the alligators.
On the outskirts of the town is a moat full of alligators and a wall of iron, ten feet tall with spikes at the top and a single gate, with a drawbridge that is raised at sunset and lowered at sunrise. The streets are duckboards with narrow mesh nets on both sides and above to keep out the insects. The houses are log cabins with mesh on the windows. From the outside they look rough and ready but on the inside they are full of ornate furniture and luxury items. There is an ornate temple to Mammon where Peter the Hermit lies buried and people leave offerings, and extensive strawberry fields and mineshafts in parts of the city. Most of the laws are the same as would be found in other cities. Weapons and wands must be left at the gatehouse, beggars, the lazy, and known criminals are not permitted to enter, and, after taxation, every citizen receives his or her equal share from the profits of the town. All have become rich and happy and keep to a strong work ethic by law with the exception of three days.
On Father Olaf's Day they celebrate, feast and enjoy the gifts which Father Olaf has brought them the night before in his Sleigh of the Storm. No non-essential work is done and they eat roast boar and Sunreturn pudding.
On New Year's Eve they make as much noise as they can to scare away spirits, jump off chairs into the New Year and cremate an effigy of the Old Year. There are fireworks, wild parties and much drinking to excess, the sort of things that are normally much frowned upon, but on this night of nights even the Militia joins in. Non-essential laws are relaxed so that people can really have fun.
On Peter's Day when the town was founded, there is a great parade led by a Bishop of Mammon, the current Duke of Ranang, and the current Mayor of the city, which goes to the tomb of Peter to thank his spirit for his founding of the city and to thank Mammon for protecting it.
A faulty firework on New Year's Eve has caused a fire, which threatens to set the whole town alight. The PC's must do their best to put out the flames.
The Great Escape
The PC's must rescue someone from the city prison before he or she becomes live gator food.
The PC's are trying to release a dangerous drug into the town's water supply, to turn its hardworking citizens into lazy bums.
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? Responses (11)-12
I like it very much. Sounds like it has a slight hint of socialist economy, but it sounds as though it works well for the town. My only question would be what they do when someone decides they don't want to work any more, and just collect their portion of the town's profits.
I would think it would depend on how long they have worked and if they were in good standing.Certainly the taxes outside the city are far higher then within.I would think unless it became a major problem, people could work for a season or so and go-the town is not a prison.The laws would change if such a thing damaged the town's ecomony.
Overall a very good post and wonderfuly well planned on the whole, However there is one glaring problem with it. Strawberries won't take root if the ground is too wet. So a strawberry grove from a swamp would be most improbable.
Maybe Mammon made the strawberries grow through His power?
Maybe cranberries would have been a better choice, since they thrive in bogs. Also not sure a fire in a swamp town is as dangerous due to all the muck and wet wood, which makes the plot hook a bit dubious for me. Although I'm not an expert on iron ore, I dont think a swamp is a realistic place to find a 'vein'.
Having said that, its an interesting place. I like how you incorporated your Sleigh of the Storm, and the concept of a preacher leading the poor into a swamp is cool! Glad the chats helped.
An interesting and well laid out sub Cheka! I enjoyed reading it and gave you a 4/5. I like the story behind the Hermit and Ranang.
Now for the pokey bits...
How do you plow furrows in a swamp?
How do you dig mine shafts in a swamp and keep water out of the mines? Modern technology and steam power technology can overcome this.
As to what Muro said above, iron isnt something generally found in swamps, since swamps tend to be thick layer upon layer of silt, compressed mud, and sand that eventually turns into sedementary stone.
All that being said, I'm going to head over to the tavern near the Temple and have one of Mammon's Strawberry Mai-Tai's.
really well laid out and thought out. Great idea. My only concerns have been voiced already regarding the setting and the connection to strawberries and mines.
Otherwise good stuff
They are right about the strawberries and the mine and the fire, the terrain makes it impossible (well improbable). Although, it could be a divine miracle that the strawberries grow.
The process they have outlines shows the basics of late feudal economics. The Lord owns the land and provides capital, others apply to the Lord for a grant/ charter to perform some action, they work, the money gets split between the people and the lord. Usually there is someone is overseeing the process for The Lord, their 'factor'. (The work place becomes the Factory.... ). Yes, the process is very socialistic - as everything is focused through the Lord through mutual benefits. The Lord does own everything, but grants gifts and shares of profits to the people to keep them working for him (so he can make more money).
Still a relatively nice post, some nice dramatic hooks.
Lennon was a socialist?
Nice work,Cheka. I like the way you made alligators a vital part of the town's first exports. :)
Not bad, agree with the comments on the berries.