Monday, July 16, 2012

Things you should know about Wintoncester

So I'm starting to gear up for a new Wessex-based D&D outing.  This time I'm going to set the game and the dungeon in/under Wintoncester, the biggest and oldest city on the map.  Here are some initial notes on the city.

  • No one knows how many people live there, even though everyone generally agrees Wintoncester is second only to London as far as English cities go.  When the Domesday Book was being prepared Wintoncester and its environs were one of the many places not included in the census.
  • There are no good maps of the place.  Non-natives should expect to be lost much of the time.  Even natives sometimes get lost in the maze of twisted streets, as the medieval and Roman streets are laid out in contradictory grids.  The problem is further exacerbated by by the unpleasantry of 1141 AD, when the forces of King Stephen and Empress Matilda fought within the city and much of it was burned down.  Rebuilding has been haphazard and without much central planning, while many blocks still feature one or more burned-out ruins.
  • The city has been continuously occupied going back to the Anglish, for whom it served as the capitol of the kingdom of Wessex, to the Romans, to the Belgae and the prehistoric Celts.  This being a D&D type campaign, all those people built tunnels of various sorts under the city.
  • The foremost lure for the adventurers are the underground Tombs of the Wessex Kings, where gold and magic await the daring.
  • One of the biggest buildings in the campaign is St. Swithun's Cathedral, right in the heart of the city.  The cathedral is the nominal headquarters of the ruler of the city, the Bishop of Winton, Henry of Blois.  Do not mess with this cat.  He is often call the King Without A Throne and is reputedly the richest man in England.  You don't achieve accolades like that by being a nice guy.
  • Wintoncester has services and institutions not found elsewhere on the campaign hexmap: a hospital, skilled craftsmen, an alchemist or two, a grumpy old sage, an Assassin's Guild and even a semi-secret order of magic-users one can attempt to join.  It's not quite Waterdeep or the Free City of Greyhawk, but for crapsack 12th century fake England it has a lot of possibilities.
  • There are nineteen different establishments that will sell you as many drinks as you can afford.