This is part 5 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. Previous posts:
- Part 1 – Setting the Scene
- Part 2 – City Layout
- Part 3 – Factions
- Part 4 – Cirera, the Festival of Love
- Part 5 – the Place of the Silver Dragon
So it’s been a while, and I apologise. Since the last post, I have been focussing on the small area where my campaign has landed.
They arrived in the basement of Carlotta’s Curios, a shop in the Place of the Silver Dragon.
It’s a grandiose name, like so many others in Akorros, rather grander than the reality. It is a square on the southern side of the central hill, still far enough up that it’s on an appreciable slope. The housing in the area is fairly densely packed tenements, typically with three floors of living space above some sort of commercial establishment on the ground floor. When it was built, 120 years ago, it was the new, exciting area of town for the respectable middle classes taking advantage of a commercial boom, but in the years since, the centre has moved on, and the area has slipped downmarket.
The Place of the Silver Dragon itself is a rough square, maybe 100 feet across and 80 feet north/south, sloping up towards the north.
The square is lined with the classic tenement buildings, some of them (like Carlotta’s Curios) set up as townhouses which stretch the full height of the building, others with a shop on the ground floor, and separate living spaces on each floor above joined by a shared stairwell. The walls are plastered in earth tones, with and almost every flat has a miniature balcony (basically a railing outside an opening window or door), but the plaster is peeling and many railings are rusty, bent, or even have gaps.
The square has a fifteen-foot-wide cobbled strip around all four sides, surrounding a central dirt area with four cirera trees and, right in the middle, a pool with an ornate fountain shaped like the silver dragon of the square’s name, head pointing up and a jet of water playing out of its mouth and splashing down into the pool below. Though once gleaming, the metal has tarnished over the years to a dull gray, although the townsfolk around the square do clean off the worst of the algae with scrubbing brushes on a regular basis.
On the north side of the square, looking down towards the fountain, is the Silver Dragon Inn. Its frontage spreads across 50 feet of the square with a 10′ wide arch in the centre leading to a courtyard at the back, elaborate friezes above the ground floor windows, and carved dragons jut out of the walls from the floor above.
The Silver Dragon Inn has lodging above. These rooms once spread the full width of the block, back when it had sufficient trade to support this, but now the rooms to both sides have been converted into flats and lodgings leaving the just the core above the inn itself.
The inn is flanked on the ground floor with a restaurant on one side, and a bakery, a florist and a coffee shop on the other.
The shops around the square include a grocer, a cheesemonger, clothes shops, a general utility store, a dusty bookshop, a fishmonger, another couple of eateries, a wine-seller, a tobacconist, a barber, a butcher and charcuterie (renowned for their variety of spiced sausages, including the local delicacy Llonganissa de Payès Akorros), a curio shop, and other general shops. Further arches on both the east and west sides lead through to smaller courtyards surrounded by further tenements.
Either side of the block containing The Silver Dragon Inn, the hill becomes too steep for wheeled vehicles, and the road is replaced by steps. Doors open off these into yet more tenements. On the south side of the square, roads lead off to the east and west.
On the walls of the stairs, in the arches, and on the stone surrounding the pool are frequent renditions of a stylised D made to look like a dragon – silver with black and red detailing. There are also often young men (and occasionally women) hanging about wearing black lizard-skin jackets with the same logo on the back and with a pair of long knives hanging from their belts. They never seem to have a huge amount to do, but can periodically be seen going round the house and shops. Despite their obvious presence, people seem to give them a wide berth and, while not making it obvious, never actually look in their direction. A fly on the wall watching their procession around the houses would see them being given money, although it is always done furtively and as quickly as possible. Woe betide the person who doesn’t pay for “protection” from The Dragonets…
Next: Carlotta’s Curios
In case you haven’t worked it out, a lot of my inspiration for the old town of Akorros is Barcelona – that’s where these photos are actually from (my own photos).