This is based on and extended from a description I wrote for a new campaign starting in Akorros in the Republic of Darokin. It has extended my development of Akorros, so I thought it was worth sharing.
It’s a cold, grey autumn day in mid Sviftmont, about mid-morning, and you’re in Redcliffe Market on the south side of Toney Hill. In summer, the sun picks out the pink in the granite cliff of the hill which gives the market its name, but on this grey day the stone is as dull as the sky, and the buildings around the rest of the square seem to huddle down as if they wished for blankets.
Despite the chill it’s busy, with women in their characteristic black headscarves and black woollen shawls over white cotton blouses and brown, grey or green woollen skirts, men in their bright waistcoats over loose-fitting white linen shirts and baggy black trousers, daggers stuck into the broad cummerbunds wrapped around their waists. A few dwarves push their way through the throng, bushy beards brushing their leather jerkins, and halflings in bright colours wearing felt hats adorned with feathers which add a foot or more to their height take advantage of their small statue to squeeze between gaps.
The stalls hold the usual mixture of offerings – baskets of vegetables and piles of fruit, cheeses of different sorts, racks of scarves and headdresses, a stall of knives of all sorts from vegetable knives to wicked-looking daggers. The rich smells of their wares helps a couple of bakers do a good trade in bread loaves, rolls, sweet pasties and pies, and butchers sell sliced and smoked meats, and sausages of all sorts from the white bread sausages flecked with herbs to the bright red spicy episseries to the hard, shrivelled cured pinostas and colourful salamis.
Several stalls sell wine from the vineyards on the southern slopes of the Dragon’s Spine range of hills which shelters the main road to the East, along bottles of with the ubiquitous “Guindametlla” cherry brandy. Not many people are drinking this early in the day but the stall selling mugs of hot mulled wine is still doing a steady trade, and the sharp smell of the wine and the spices mixed in drifts in the air.
The chill weather reduces the pungency of the stalls of fish from Lake Amsorak to the west of Akorros – red snapper, Amsorak trout, the ugly paladinfish with its domed head like a knight’s helmet, the white-flesh of the sohar flatfish, vats of octopus and crab, freshwater mussels and oysters, and more.
A pair of youths in blood-red leather jackets and black leather trousers swagger past, the large turtle emblems picked out on their backs in green identifying them as members of the Yenot Turtles – the gang “owning” this area. no-one meets their eyes or looks at them, but somehow a gap seems to open up around them which moves with them. They stop at various stalls, and each time the stallholder hurriedly hands over a purse in a furtive manner.
Despite the apparently normality of the piled goods on the stalls and the crowds of shoppers, there’s a slightly run-down air of hardship. The harvests are not long in, but already the piles of fruits and vegetables are smaller and more wizened than you might expect, and while clothing is always scrupulously clean, there are patches and darns in evidence and the styles are definitely not the first flush of fashion that would be worn by those walking the marble paving of Toney Plaza or the wide walkways over the lake in Cormyra District, “The Glantri of the South”.
A beggar stumps along through the market, his wooden leg clonking in time with the stick he uses to balance, and another calls plaintively from a worn rug in a corner, holding out an imploring arm with a strapped-on cup instead of a hand; a few passems rattle forlornly inside. You feel another person brush against you, and you instinctively keep a good grip on your money pouch.
There are a few street entertainers plying their trade. A couple in voluminous robes patched in many colours strum their guitars and sing a lively folk melody; one person has obviously been enjoying the mulled wine and dances energetically in front of them, twisting and turning and stomping while others look on and clap encouragement. A man in a jester’s suit quartered in red and green juggles clubs, and a group of three in leather jerkins with a red dc logo toss lighted brands between them. All of them have caps in front, hoping for donations, but there is clearly little money to go round – they just have copper passems and silver tendrids, with none of the gold daros.
A chill gust off the lake sets cloaks fluttering, and you pull yours a little tighter. It’s not quite winter yet when the waters of Cormyra District freeze over, but you can feel the bite in the air. The cherry trees dotted about the square, which in the spring are covered with pink blossom which falls and swirls almost like warm soft pink snowdrifts, are now skeletal and bare with a final few leaves still clinging on tenaciously. It won’t be long before the snowdrifts fill the corners of the square for real.
Background to this description
This is based on and extended from a description I wrote for a new campaign starting in Akorros in the Republic of Darokin. In previous posts, I have talked about the general city layout and factions. I have covered Cirera, the Festival of Love, which discusses Toney Plaza, the harbour, and guindametlla, the local sour cherry brandy, and The Place of the Silver Dragon, a tenement square where a previous campaign set up in Carlotta’s Curios. As I mentioned there, my concept of the look of Akorros has been inspired by Barcelona. I have also talked about the delights of The Tanneries and the Temple of Khoronus and the Chardastes Wing.
The Republic of Darokin was developed as part of the set of Gazetteers for “The Known World”, now known as Mystara, for the Basic set of D&D. Mystara is still my favourite setting, with a collection of different realms, each with very different characters. Darokin is the land of merchants, where money rules. Akorros is a lively port town slightly to the west of centre in Darokin where the trade across Lake Amsorak from Akesoli comes into Darokin. It is controlled by the “families” to whom laws are guidelines to beat other people with but can be broken if you can get away with it, whose foot soldiers (whether they realise it or not) are the gangs who have partitioned the streets between themselves – as described above, the Yenot Turtles are the local gang in Redcliffe. I see Redcliffe Market as being slightly east of The Place of the Silver Dragon.
My descriptions of Akorros are a mixture of Mystara gazetteer canon with my additional interpretation and colour layered on top. As you can see in the initial post, there isn’t actually much detail on Akorros in the canon, so I’ve had plenty of scope to embellish…
Given which, a note on money and the calendar, since I refer to them above.
Money in Darokin
It has taken me a surprising amount of digging, but I am basing the Darokin currency on Greg Weatherup’s proposal:
- (copper) passem – copper piece, 1/60lb
- (silver) tendrid – silver piece, 1/60lb; 10 passems = 1 tendrid
- (gold) daro – gold piece, 1/60 lb; 10 tendrid = 1 daro
- (silver) half-daro – equivalent to electrum elsewhere; as the name suggests, 1/12lb; 2 half-daro = 1 daro
- (gold) scudi [rare] – 1/30lb; 1 scudi = 2 daro
- (gold) piaster – 1/15lb; 1 piaster = 4 daro
So 1/4 piaster = 1/2 scudi = 1 daro = 2 half-daros = 10 tendrids = 100 passems.
The Thyatian calendar is used across the Known World. It is 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, which means that a particular day of the month is the same every month and every year.
Days: Lunadain, Gromdain, Tserdain, Moldain, Nytdain, Loshdain, Soladain
Months (starting midwinter, c.f. January): Nuwmont, Vatermont, Thaumont, Flaurmont, Yarthmont, Klarmont, Felmong, Fyrmont, Ambyrmont, Sviftmont, Eirmont, Kaldmont