Developing Akorros (part 2) – city layout

This is part 2 in a multi-part series developing the city of Akorros in Darokin from the skeleton outline in GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin to a full-fledged city which I can use as a campaign base. In this series of blog posts you will be able to follow along my research and thinking as I develop it into a rich adventure environment. Once sufficiently developed, it will also be available on WorldAnvil as part of my Melestrua’s Mystara campaign world. Subscribe to this blog to follow along.

In Developing Akorros (part 1) – setting the scene I reviewed the information in GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin, and extrapolated it to develop a first-pass rough city design. I finished with this map.

Now it’s time to explain the map and what I was thinking about while drawing it and talk about what is there. As I work through this it will almost certainly throw up changes…

Note on names: obviously a city like this would have names for all the streets, squares, islands, areas and buildings, but in order to do that I need to have a better idea of the people and groups that we have in it. So I am only giving a very few locations names at the moment and the rest are being left vague. Naming the rest will be an exercise for a future step.

With that caveat, here’s what I’ve done:

The centre of the city is the harbour area, and particularly a large street/plaza (marked Market on the map) – an open area about 100′ wide and 400′ long sloping down from the main palace (P) to the harbour (partly inspired by Las Ramblas in Barcelona). The view down from the palace and out onto the lake is impressive, looking out to the cathedral on the south end of an island and to the lake beyond. Since the Toney family are the largest in Akorros, I am calling these Toney Plaza and Toney Palace.

The town hall stands to the side of Toney Plaza at the upper end of Toney Plaza, and both sides of the Plaza are lined with official guild headquarters, mercantile main offices and other forms of headquarters, all imposing buildings. These are where the high-powered formal business takes place. Of course most of these organisations will have other buildings in other places of the city where the more mundane and less public business is carried out.

In the early years of Akorros, Toney Plaza was originally the main marketplace, with animals, fruit, veg, fish, meat, baking and everything, but such noisy, smelly stalls are no longer welcome on the stone-paved plaza, and the stalls which remain sell clothing, jewellery, ornaments, keepsakes and other more up-market goods. A couple of discreet stalls sell elegant knives, swords, rapiers and daggers, and if you know where to look you can also find remedies for personal issues (such as a potential amour not realising how much they love you, or an inconvenient rival being too alive…) as well as the more common healing tinctures. The cattle and chickens have long ago been banished to the outskirts of the city.

Islands dot the lake near the harbour, providing shelter and additional building space, and most of the area sheltered by the two largest islands has been covered with a network of walkways, buildings, and bridges which span the many waterways in and amongst the buildings. Originally these were wooden constructions, but now granite and marble dominate, supported by a network of great stone pillars built up from the lake bed. Most of this area is far too up-market to contain warehouses and the trade docks. This is the area of the rich and successful, the churches and cathedrals, and those who serve them, with the richest and most opulent palaces on the island itself.

At the northern end of this area, the inner city wall has been extended across the water to the island, providing extra protection to those houses within that section of the enclosed area, and coincidentally blocking off passage from the lake to the north…unless you happen to own one of the buildings there, of course. There are multiple discrete passages both above and below water if you know the right people.

By decree, the area of the lake near Toney Plaza is not covered over – no buildings may be erected on the lake in the direct line of sight down the Plaza to the imposing cathedral on the southern tip of the island. Instead it contains the most exclusive anchorages where the boats of the rich and famous dock. Another cathedral graces the promontory to the south of Toney Bay, and beyond that the character of the city changes.

South of the cathedral is the working docks area. Here the construction is practical, warehouses, cranes and derricks dominate, and carts, wagons and porters staggering under large loads are everywhere. This is the life-blood of trade, and large ships come and go at all times of day and night, loaded with trade goods. It is also where the many fishing boats which work Lake Amsorak come in to berth and offload their catch. Among the warehouses, there are also holding pens for livestock destined for trade and transport across the lake or down the Amsorak River.

The area between the harbour and the outlying islands is filled with moored boats and ships, sheltered by the islands from the vicious squalls and their associated high waves which can come up suddenly on Lake Amsorak and capsize or swamp the unwary.

The original city walls encompass these harbour areas, but Akorros has had a couple of extensions over the years. First to the north, where Umbarth and Pennydown Houses had established a rival settlement with its own harbour and marketplace to bypass the Toney House docking, storage and transport fees. Originally two separate settlements, the two grew over time and ended up merging about 150 years ago, although the northern portion still has its own character, and is known as the Spice Quarter due to the trade in spices and exotics from the lands beyond Akesoli.

The second extension to the city wall was to the east along the Darokin Road, bringing the joining point of the two routes inside the larger city. The joining point of the two roads is the site of the main livestock market, with cattle pens, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, geese, horses and other livestock bought and sold, providing a constant noise of animal sounds and a melange of odours which definitely lowers the prices of accommodation nearby.

(And here’s where I need to start amending the original map above to add the road from the Spice Quarter, through a gate to the Meat Market).

So here’s an updated version of the map. I’ve now reproduced it using Serif’s Affinity Designer so I can update it as I go. (I have licences both Worldographer and Inkwell Ideas’ Campaign Cartographer, but I found neither of them were easy enough to achieve what I wanted, so I returned to the drawing package I know).

I have a few questions outstanding from this. I think there should probably be one or more streams/rivers coming in/through the city. I think there is a very sculpted stream running down Toney Plaza from a fountain just in front of Toney Palace, but apart from that, not sure. A stream probably goes through the meat market, but I can’t see them wanting the water from that anywhere near the posh section.

I also need to work out the terrain. I feel there are hills in the town, also quite a bit of a hill to the south-east which forces the road to Darokin city to head north initially before bearing south east.

But I’ll park those for now in the interests of getting this out.

Next…the factions in town… Tune in next week for part 3.

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