Friday, September 10, 2010

Neighborhoods: The Rat's Nest

Home to the children of those merchant princes and guildsmen who found their fortune on the docks of the Driftdowns, the Rat’s Nest is bustling warrens of affluent ne’er do wells and jaded debutantes, amusing themselves with endless parties and inconsequential intrigues. On the whole the Rat’s Nest is an insular community, little concerned with the day to day business of Stormhaven. More than half of its residents are the grand or great-grandchildren of merchant traders. Removed by several generations from the need to work, they occupy their days attending or hosting lavish parties, gossiping, carousing, flirting, fighting and bedding in streets, taverns, and gardens. The rest are lower tier members of the guild hierarchy or wealthy independent merchants and Driftdown slumlords, who revel in the Rat’s Nest debauched lifestyle.

The city guard maintains a strong presence in the Rat’s Nest, though they ignore all but the most depraved acts of the dandies. The guards concentrate their efforts on the pickpockets, thugs and streetwalkers that swarm into the Nest each night. The guard operates here in roving patrols of eight and maintains a permanent watch station in the Nest’s center. The district’s name comes from both its meandering, narrow streets and the scorn the old noble families heap upon its residents; those who cal it home use the name with ironic pride.

The Rat’s Nest is dominated by blocks of two and three storey row-houses, extravagantly ornamented with gargoyles, stained glass window gardens, ornate carvings, banners and wrought-iron fences. The center of most row-house blocks is a shared open courtyard, usually taking the form of a manicured, decorative garden. In addition to the row-houses, there are numerous small taverns and villas scattered about, as well as several public carriage houses and shops. These are as ostentatiously decorated as the rest but more dilapidated, subjected as they are to the daily abuse of drunken, noble ruffians.

The cobblestone streets of the Rat’s Nest are narrow and haphazardly traced, branching off into blind alleys and lopping back upon themselves without any semblance of logic. At some points, the streets are wide enough for two carriages to pass each other, but too narrow at others for even one. The streets have no formal names; residents give directions as a catalogue of landmarks and mansion names that mean little to non-residents. Stable boys, guards and lamplighters earn some pocket money by hiring themselves out as guides, charging a sliver a head. At night, the lamps dissipate into darkness every 30 feet. The Rat’s Nest is bordered to the east by VanFleet Manor, to the north by the Government District, to the south by Stairway Keep’s outer wall and to the west by the edges of the noble estates.


harrygoblin said...

These pictures conjure such ancient european cities as London and Paris.

Gordzilla said...

I'm particularly enamored with the picture for The Lifts. I love the pictures on the blog, I think they do a ton for our in game imagining and help to clarify things.