As part of the D&D campaign I'm running, I've typed up a description of South Porton. The players have now left South Porton and are unlikely to return there in the near future; with that in mind I've decided to put the description of South Porton up on the blog. To be honest the majority of these things are either already-discovered by the players or things they could find out by asking a passer-by.
South Porton stands a mere 50 miles from the beginning of the Lyria/Koru mountain range and a similar distance to the Mildwood. Nestled on a peninsula of the country, it is the main port town and centre of the fishing trade. Within a hundred miles of the city are several smaller towns and villages, including Ridge, Oakedge, Cliffbreeze, Limn and Morton’s Farm. Several farmers, traders and woodsfolk live in these areas.
South Porton’s exports mainly centre on fish, though the Science and Industry College have a large centre of learning there. The clockwork steamship prototyping industry provides jobs for hundreds of people who are not bothered by the heat and hardship, and people with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, dockworkers or performing other civic duties.
South Porton manufactures most of its metal, but imports a lot of wood from nearby Westerwatch, and fresh food, fruit and stone from Easton.
History of the city
Originally a tiny fishing town, South Porton became a thriving centre of trade through simple accretion. The easy access to the plentiful seas of Lyria meant that more and more entrepreneurs were able to come and set up shop; the influx of money drew more people to the area, and eventually the shanty towns became permanent structures, spreading into the surrounding countryside. As a result, South Porton has no city walls; the borders of the town have never been stable enough for long enough to warrant building them, and the area is peaceful. Unfortunately it has also become a home to a syndicated gang, the Porton Pirates, who all-but run the city from its underbelly. They extort local businesses and are responsible for several crimes of note in the area, though the South Porton Constabulary cannot find the evidence to make any charges stick.
Population: Approximately 8,000; the figure fluctuates constantly due to students at the College and to ships currently in harbour. The residents of South Porton are mainly human, though the city is in reality a melting-pot of races thanks to the thriving shipping industry.
Government: Governor Marcus Haybridge is nominally in charge of the city, ruling with the support of a council made up of leading figures in the city. In reality most of those leading figures have paid for their role on the council through bribery to the Porton Pirates.
Defense: Due to its defensible location and the peaceful times, South Porton’s defensive capabilities are limited to a Constabulary of about 300. That said, if any external force were to threaten the Porton Pirates’ position of power they would find significant numbers of the populace picking up arms to defend their interests. The Pirates do not back down.
Food and drink: South Porton has many inns and taverns. Nearer the docklands are the Scubber’s Rat, Jakes’, Ritter’s Demise and The Cutter, all of which are Pirates territory. Further into the city more salubrious drinking-houses can be found such as the Silver Unicorn, Candelabra and The World’s End. The latter is a coffee-house with two floors where most of the city’s businessmen can be found. Trade is often negotiated here; a strict two-tier system is in operation, with the upstairs balcony being restricted to clientele of the deepest wallet. The World’s End is a place to visit for those new in town looking for honest work, though it may well be only security on a wagon train. Newcomers looking for coin who are not fussy should try The Cutter. The cheapest beds in town can be found upstairs at Ritter’s Demise (fleas included in the price) while the softest beds and choice of companions can be obtained at the Silver Unicorn.
Supplies: Most innkeepers have found it useful to stock a small supply of adventuring gear. The College has a shop that caters mostly to engineers. For specifics, adventurers should try Rickon’s Arms, Sanders General Goods or Armourer Street Armour.
Religion: Lyria, like all of Ehrian, is monotheistic. Although outside gods are respected, all residents are either atheists or worship the One Tree. There is a small temple dedicated to the One Tree, complete with its own small offshoot, but there are no regular services or collections.
The Docks: The thriving fishing district of the city is home to many warehouses, brothels, doss-houses, taverns and the occasional honest business. The Porton Pirates operate out of a series of caves hewn into the rock nearby, accessed from several safe warehouses. Adventurers looking to talk to the Pirates should, carefully, make their intentions known in Jakes’ tavern.
At the Docks:
Knockdown Lighthouse: The lighthouse once shone to guide ships safely around the headland. Operated by the Orin family, it was tended night and day so that all traffic could pass safely. No-one liked to disturb the Orins; they tended towards xenophobia and were untrusting of outsiders, keeping their children away from other locals children. Some said that they were incestuous, others that they courted devils through human sacrifices, drawing ships on to the rocks rather than warding them away. Whatever the case, one night several months ago the light burned blood-red for half an hour before going out. When members of the Constabulary finally investigated, the place was empty; meals were half-finished, books and clothing discarded as though people had been engaged in their lives before being whisked away. The lighthouse was closed up and none dared use it. Chancy thieves who have gone there have either reported that it was empty and unused or have never returned.
Jakes’: Boarded-over windows, candles dimly lighting the interior and planks stained by beer, boots and blood. Jakes, the landlord, has a glass eye that never looks in the right place and a large axe under the counter that he calls the Ender. Plenty of trouble starts there, but he ends it. Most of the clientele is bearded sailors, cutthroats, mercenaries and down-and-outs, but the downstairs room is reserved for the Porton Pirates. They hold the occasional public meeting there, and adventurers looking for illegal work should enquire within.
The Dockmaster’s Office: All information about the comings and goings of ships at the harbour can be found here. The Dockmaster, Kinnen McAllister is known throughout the city as a corrupt man who will happily hide any amount of smuggling for the right amount; conversely, he’ll also shop in smugglers for more money. If the city could ever afford it, the Constabulary could lock up every smuggler in one go.
In the main city:
The residential quarter: Most people live here. The houses are terraced at the poorest end, detached towards the Council House. Most streets are straight thanks to the talents of a Town Architect from the city’s infancy.
Armourer Street: All of the weaponry and armoury shops operate from here, and none are better or cheaper than Armourer Street Armourers. Simple in name and in stock, they have a price and quality bar that cannot be beaten. Rickon’s Arms can also be found here; Albert Rickon lives in one of the two small rooms there, the other being a four-sided room literally covered in weapons of every sort. Stumbling in here would cause loss of a finger at the very least.
Council House: A large building, white marble with columns, built in a time of plenty. The interior is richly carpeted and smells of varnish thanks to the plethora of antique furniture in every room. Incorporating the Temple of the One Tree, the Council operates from here. A small bureaucracy keeps the affairs of the city tied up and ensures that the Porton Pirates are able to run things to their satisfaction. Ironically, if the Council ever did manage to wrest control of the city’s working from the Pirates it would run in a significantly worse fashion.
The Oracular Sanctuary of Sholtar: A large tower rising from the northernmost reaches of the town, made of granite blocks covered in moss and lichen. The tower is in a small walled garden next to the city’s graveyard; several trees have grown in the garden over the years but they have all died, leaving decaying skeletons behind. The tower is empty.
Science and Industry College: The College is melee of workshops and foundries, small shops and occasional explosions. The college has been looking for security guards recently working protection for shipments of steam harvesters which are due to leave for Fennica and the surrounding towns. All of their supply runs are under threat from the Growth Movement. This is a very thinly-spread resistance to the rise of steam and clockwork who are based in Fennica, and who want to return to a simpler form of life free from the trappings of metal. ‘From soil we came and to soil we will return’ is their motto, and they operate under the control of the mysterious LeMagra, a masked man.
The World's End: A coffee bar and restaurant with two floors. The lower floor is a high-class dining establishment, nothing more. The upstairs is where most of the city's high-finance deals are made. Visitors are not encouraged; one must either be invited by a member, or must have enough money to buy a theoretical membership, were such a thing to exist. Upstairs, large leather armchairs are roughly arranged around tables, cigar fumes fug the air and the waiters are tipped based on how discrete they can be rather than their actual service.