The cramped and tightly knit Palestra -- the University district of the City -- is a law unto itself. It is dominated by the great University, and by the thousands of students, scholars and hangers-on attached to the school. The University has no dormitories, and many of the buildings and businesses in the district have upper stories crammed with any who do not commute from other areas of the City.
Here are five locations which can add some spice to your city's university district.
Temple of the Goddess of the Dawn: A small church, one of the oldest in the City, the exterior is rose granite faced with many carved friezes of various devotional scenes by noted sculptors. The interior is fabulously rich (though less so after an organized Thieves' Guild theft a few years back), with gold-leaf statuary, jewels, silk tapestries, finely carved mistwood pews and fittings, thick embroidered imported carpets and runners, rich stained glass windows and much more.
Long the Dawngoddess' church in the city, the temple has a longstanding connection with the University. The curate is Mother Kathralynn Melisseni, a southerner with elven blood. Still not quite comfortable with the local language - after her unexplained reassignment here - and carrying a thick accent, she's not yet settled into preaching or to the lecturing duties expected of curates at the great University. There are two acolytes as well as an attached monastery, where six monastics and an abbess work diligently at research and copying tasks. The usual assortment of clerical spells are available, although Mother Kathralynn is a better theologian than healer.
Barracks, Town Guard, 8th Company: Town-gown rioting is a regular thing, and the Eighth - traditionally named the 'Sword Point' - is the most beleaguered Guard company in the City. To stem the onslaught, the Eighth has three watches of three eight-man squads apiece, completely inadequate for the task; a fourth squad is added to the night time watch, and is used as a flying squad to bust up the inevitable nighttime tavern brawls.
Captain Nordo Brassboot, whose byname comes from a tale he refuses to reveal, was a once harsh but effective mercenary leader, and thinks longingly back upon the days where all he had to worry about were a thousand barbarian tribesmen thirsting to sacrifice his entire command to dark gods. He took this job thinking it'd be a soft retirement post, but is nervous and paranoid about the consequences of arresting student scions of the aristocracy ... and the consequences if he doesn't. Meanwhile, the Watchmen are sullen and really want to bust some student heads.
Masterful Order of Clerks and Scriveners: Shara val Mekion (the last living scion of the once noble clan to retain the name), is the Master of this guild, in this fire-blackened brownstone with the Guild emblem - a book with a four-pointed star on its binding - embossed on the lintels to door and window. There used to be extensive warehouses behind this building which held much of the stock ink, parchment, and vellum used by the printing trades, but they helped fuel the 4481 fire that saw nearly a fifth of the Palestra aflame before wizards and volunteers doused it.
The Seal and Quill: Bekker and his three scribes handle notary work and legal servicing, as well as moonlighting as scribes for university students when there are gaps in more legal-oriented paying gigs. Superficially cheerful, in fact he hates all students since his favorite daughter ran off with one a few years back - against his wishes - and came to a bad end. His hatred has twisted his reason: pledging himself to a goddess of Chaos, he walks the streets one random night a month, hiring prostitutes to lure male students away for castration ... or even worse sexual mutilation. He's done this for five straight months now, provoking the rumor mill into a frenzy and the Guard with grim jokes about the 'monthlies.'
Goodfellow's House of Words: This used bookstore is very cramped. Shelves and bookcases, all with locking doors, crowd the room on all sides. In fact, there is only a narrow path from the door into the middle of the room, where even more space is taken up by a desk and chair. The glass filling the doors to the shelves is largely too thick and grimy to discern what is housed inside. There is, however, an open chest on the floor behind the desk filled with blank rolls of parchment, quills and a small number of blank books. Nodgen Goodfellow is an aging wannabe professor who seems to have stooped over his desk so long as to have developed a hunch. Wispy, white hair circles his head, having long ago retreated from his crown. He is extremely old-fashioned (greatly preferring illuminated tomes and scrolls over more modern printed books) and gives off the air of a skilled and fanatic researcher ... which is half-right, anyway. Master Goodfellow is a night owl, and his bookstore is open from dusk until dawn.
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? Responses (4)
I am always a fan of these color type submissions. You can instantly deposit one or all into any world or location to give it some personality that makes 'you enter another town' type scenarios memorable. Great additions!
What I like about this one is how laser focused it is on the specifics of these five locations. Via these referential details, we learn much about the world. Great visuals and compact histories throughout. Every location really pops! Except for Masterful Order of Clerks and Scriveners that one really fell flat, but 4 out of 5 ain't bad.
Oh and thanks Patrick Rothfuss for adding anachronistic university cultures to our list of anachronism aof in medieval inspired fantasy settings.
Nice work! Thank you for sharing.
Very good - as Strolen said, lots that can be readily used.