Friday, November 30, 2012

D&D Nerdery: Winterthur

The city of Winterthur is the last sign of civilization in the north.  Sure there are some villages further north that house and serve those that live out even closer to the wilderness, but none are very large nor visited by much beyond farmers, soldiers and tax collectors.

The fact that civilization is slowly crumbling is very evident on the roads surrounding Winterthur.  To the more civilized south the roads are evidently still heavily used, but not the strong straight concrete that it once was.  To the north the road is even more heavily ruined, but it still makes it to the villages in what could be generously described as 'one-piece.'  To the east, into the mountains where once trade was handled with the industrious Dwarves, the roads are long neglected and extend not much further than the final village.  And to the west the roads disappear into the ravenous forest, which is encroaching further and further upon lands claimed by the settlement every year.

Soldier patrols are stronger every year to combat the wildness and desperation taking hold.  Of course with increased patrols comes increased taxes, which adds to the desperation.  Bandits along the southern road, wild goblins and orcs hounding the eastern parts of the settlement, raiders pillaging the north and creatures that reek of magic haunting the western.

Inside the high and thick walls that surround the city (Ignoring for the moment the densely-populated Vorstadt which are surrounded by smaller walls and house the trades) things are less desperate, at least they are on the surface.  The Markets are often packed, and the guildhalls are well maintained.  The houses of the noble families form an inner ring that surrounds the center of the city where the hall of government sits.


The ruler of the city is Margrave Zanne of the family Kyburg.  She is a young woman who has been the ceremonial ruler since she was six years old, and actual ruler for the past 4 years.  She is advised by the heads of the guilds, the noble families and occasionally the mayors of the nearby villages.  

The official religion of Winterthur, as in many former imperial cities, is Erathis.  The head of the church is the ruler of the city.  Given Zanne was Margrave at the age of 6 she was given the charge of running the church at that young age.  This has led her to be more pious than many past rulers.


Given the cost of the Linked Portal ritual, only magical items travel via portals, though occasionally higher end artistic craftsmanship will as well.  The trade goods all travel the old fashioned way, either by boat or road, and thus are prey to the bandits to the south and north.

The guildhalls inside the city are a strong part of the city politics, and thus can be truly said to no longer represent their guilds interests properly.  As the power of the Empire waned and finally collapsed, the families of the city saw the guilds as a way to increase their own money.  So most of these guilds are now ran by various noble families and the Guildmaster has become a hereditary one.

The mages guild is the major exception to this rule.  The Mages guild, due to their teleportation circles, is in constant contact with the other Mage guilds throughout the old lands of the empire.  There is a clear structure that runs through the various guilds.


The Vorstadt mostly lies along the southern and western walls, sandwiched between the city and the river.  It is a densely populated area where most of the city’s trades are done, and so the smell is..unpleasant to say the least.  The people of the Vorstadt are of a variety of races (Unlike the mostly human interior of the city).  

The population of the Vorstadt is rapidly increasing.  As raids increase on the farms and villages surrounding Winterthur, not to mention the forest claiming an ever increasing amount of land, people flee to the city of their liege for help.  Most of those people end up in the Vorstadt, some joining an honest trade.  Many others resorting to begging, or worse.

The guildhalls in the interior of the city claim to control their respective trades that are done out in the Vorstadt, but they hold little true control.  All the smiths still pay their ever-increasing dues, they have to of course by city fiat, but many of them have a closer influence they must answer to.  

Crime has always been an issue in the Vorstadt, but it’s gotten increasingly worse as more bodies press inside.  The old Vorstadt ‘Guild’, a mockery on the other guilds, that kept overt crime at a low to prevent the soldiers from intervening has splintered into competing factions.  Now to too many tradesman one does not pay protection money to just one organized guild, but to many different gangs.  And woe to the smith who decides to gamble and only pay to select gangs.  Too often they choose poorly.

Other Lands / Races

Southern Lands

Things up in the north sound dire, but they are no better in the south.  As the empire withdrew into its core lands, petty kings began to pop up in their old lands.  And once the empire finally collapsed, the various cities in its core all declared themselves strong states of their own.  And as is often in a place of many kingdoms and city-states, war is common.


The elves have always been more aloof and distant to the old empire, but they often had ambassadors and traders interacting.  Since the fall they’ve turned more inward and are rather rare to come across.  Though some do live in human lands.


The Dwarves turned inward before the empire collapsed, about the same time as Orcs began to threaten the boundaries.  Traders are rarely seen, though some cities have dwarven enclaves.

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