Since my last design diary I’ve made some good progress and the manuscript now stands at over 45,000 words. If I had to guess, it looks like the whole book could be around 70,000 words – as long as the Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition. Today I finished writing the first draft of the Imperial Quarter – this is the northern, Batiaran half of the city and includes locations such as the Great Palace, the Hippodrome, the Curia, the University and the homes of the great and the good. It’s been a lot of fun to write and, as I said in my last diary, most of it is new as neither group of PCs in my two Parsantium campaigns has spent much time there. I’ve also started coming up with some new gods for the Batiarans – the Batiaran gods in my own campaign were a mixture of the official D&D gods (Bahamut, Pelor) and the pantheon in Aaron Loeb’s superb Book of the Righteous. I’ve a lot more to do but I have at least nailed down Voltan, God of Fire and Smiths and his consort Dorna the Fire Keeper, Goddess of Hearth and Home – both much revered by dwarves – and Amphetia, Queen of the Sea. Overall, the Imperial Quarter has come in at over 11,000 words, with each ward covered in about 2,200 words. The Mercantile Quarter is much smaller – it’s only one ward – but I would imagine the Old Quarter will be a similar length so it’s probably going to make sense to divide the Gazetteer into three separate chapters.
Anyway, here’s one of the introductions to a ward, in this case the renamed Jewel Ward, now the Harbour Ward. Does this do enough give you an idea of what it’s like to wander around this part of the city? What else could be added?
Situated in the southern half of the Imperial Quarter, the busy Harbour Ward borders on the Emerald Ward to the north, the Grand Ward to the West, the Civic Ward to the east and the Dolphin Strait to the south. On the eastern side of the Conqueror’s Road is Parsantium’s dwarven neighbourhood, full of sturdily constructed stone homes, often built over or behind workshops, and replete with taverns and breweries. Many of the dwarves living here are craftsmen of one sort or another, but a sizeable percentage work in the Civic Ward’s financial district as bankers or bureaucrats, and some are employed as guards. Most of the city’s best beers are brewed in the dwarven district (see page XX) and celebrated in the popular Festival of Flagons every September (see page XX).
The Dwarven Forum is situated where Silver Street crosses the Conqueror’s Road. Here, fine dwarven goods can be purchased from the many stalls including weapons, armour, drinking horns and jewellery. There is no column in the centre of the square; instead a squat stone plinth holds an impressive marble statue of the forge god Voltan shaping a battle axe on his anvil. The food on sale includes rock hard dwarven bread, only really edible when washed down with a pint of Stalagmite Stout.
The western side of the ward is predominantly a middle class residential district – mostly insulae with shops on the ground floor and apartments above. The nicer blocks are north of Silver Street; to the south as you get near the waterfront and the Royal Docks, the building and streets are not in such good repair, and the atmosphere can feel somewhat edgy after dark. Most of the shipping arriving in Parsantium comes to these docks so the neighbouring streets are always busy with goods being moved to and from warehouses or loaded onto bullock carts to be taken to the forums and markets. This part of the ward is popular with halflings who fill whole insulae near the waterfront.
Home to hard-working folk, dwarven, halfling and human, this ward is filled with the sounds and smells of things being made or moved from place to place. An armorer noisily hammers out dents in a damaged breastplate in his workshop, as a loud argument starts up when a cartwheel breaks, causing a traffic jam on a packed Silver Street. Down at the docks, shouts from sailors and longshoremen peppered with colourful language and insults compete with the screeched cries of the seagulls as a large merchant ship is unloaded.
- Wergrim Barrelmeister is a short, rotund and jowly male dwarf brewer wearing a braided pony-tail and a grubby apron. He has been working on his latest beer for the past nine months and is convinced he is line to win this September’s Beer of the Year contest.
- Rafiqi Quddus is a well-dressed merchant, just arrived by ship from the Caliphate of Akhran, and he is very angry. One of the crates of valuable spices he has just had unloaded from his vessel has gone missing from the dockside.
- Barihild Ironshoulder is a female dwarf warrior in immaculate plate armour who works as a bodyguard for hire. Currently between jobs, she is touting for business in the Dwarven Forum. Her luxuriant beard makes it hard to determine her true gender.