Because the first humans settled themselves around what is now known as the Lyrian Gulf, Kingsport is likely to be the oldest human city in the Verdant Kingdoms. It is also the oldest trading port and the seat of the oldest monarchy.
As with all ancient things in modern day Lyria, Kingsport has a lot of features that its inhabitants take for granted, but whose existence can currently not be explained. Some of the masonry of the palace, the canalisation of the river, the walls, gates and bastions, the subterranean waterways; few of it could be reproduced with modern means. The levels of magic involved in their creation makes their reproduction virtually impossible.
The masonry of the castle, the city’s ramparts, streets, bridges, canals and most masonry buildings are built using Northshire limestone, a honey coloured stone, sprinkled evenly with colourful calcium deposits. It has resulted in a very distinct and harmonious appearance throughout the city. The smaller buildings are mostly half-timber framed buildings, with brick or wattle and daub infills, covered with a light plaster for a stark contrast against the dark timber. These buildings used to be covered with thatch, until the great fire of 1054, after which clay roof tiles became more popular.
While it’s not the largest city in the Verdant Kingdoms, it’s the largest city in Lyria. It has an estimated population of well over three hundred thousand people residing inside the city walls, while another hundred thousand are estimated to live in close proximity to the city. Its population tends to swell during the winter, as food scarcity drives people towards the city from the countryside, as well as during times of war, rebellion or uncertainty. All of this makes it one of the most densely populated cities in the Verdant Kingdoms, which is why priests of Pholtus have urged the Steward to maintain the ancient waterways underneath the city, in order to have access to clean water from the river, and to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Below is an overview of some of the landmarks and points of interest in Kingsport.
The River Lyn
The city is cut in two by the river Lyn, which enters the city from the north-west, and makes its way to the Kingsport Bay, which is part of the the Lyrian Gulf, in the south. The flow of the river was controlled by canalisation long ago. Intricate masonry, starting just outside of the city walls, has helped to keep the river from meandering, allowing for buildings and streets to be built right up until the river’s edge without worry.
Inside the city, the height of the river’s water sits significantly below the embankment. This is done to accommodate changing water levels and easy boarding of boats. The average flow of the river is not very high, which makes swimming across, or taking a boat up-river a possibility. Higher flows occasionally occur during periods of heavy runoff.
The river also provides the city with a source of fresh water, opportunities for fishing, and a mechanism to keep the underground waterways from stagnating. Both embankments of the river are enthusiastically used for all manner of purpose and as a result, it’s usually the busiest part of the city.
There are three bridges that cross the fifty meters of the river, from east to west; Knightsbridge, Queensbridge, and Lynbridge. Queensbridge is the widest of the three bridges, allowing for a procession to pass from the Silver Square directly across the river and up toward the palace. The other two bridges can easily accommodate two wide carts passing each other without a problem. Each bridge is about fifty meters from end to end, but in some places the river is less wide, due water-level walkways and embankments created for smaller riverboats.
In the winter the Lyn tends to freeze over but the people of Kingsport break the ice to keep access to the fresh water and to allow for transportation to continue.
Kingsport has evolved in different wards, all divided either by the river Lyn or the different large roads. Scholars from the Bournemouth Academy have concluded that the oldest remnants of the city can be found on top of Garamond Hill, the current location of the palace. The city expanded towards the river and later across the river, building ever eastward.
A ward is usually divisible in smaller districts. Most of the time the feel or purpose of a ward doesn’t change from one of it’s districts to another, but sometimes distinctly different districts are grouped together to form one ward. Each ward is represented by an elected alderman who represents the interests of their wards in front of the steward of Kingsport. All of the aldermen together form the Council of Aldermen. Unsurprisingly, many of the aldermen are accused of nepotism and corruption and there are constant feuds between different aldermen as they jockey for more power and influence. Because aldermen are elected the majority of them are commoners, and it is likely one of the highest positions a commoner can reach in Lyria without being uplifted into nobility.
The Kingsport Ramparts
Kingsport is surrounded by a thick city wall, about ten meters in width, reinforced at strategic places with fortified bastions and gates. The inside of the walls have narrow passages running along them, allowing troops to make their way from one bastion to another.
Each gate consists of two bastions and a double portcullis. The only exception is the River Gate, which doesn’t feature a portcullis, but instead has large, grated doors which can be closed from inside each bastion on either side of the river.
Each bastion is a large, tower connecting two ends of the wall. Each bastion differs in look and dimensions, most are diamond shaped, but some are round. They are all constructed in such a way that they stick out from the wall in a way to leave no blind spots, and each of them have thick parapets to hide behind. Each bastion also has a large fire in the middle which gets ignited at dusk and burns until dawn.
The most noticeable is the most easterly bastion, called the Bastion of Illumination, which sits on the shores of the Lyrian Gulf and functions as a light house. The fire burning on its roof is brighter by several orders and can sometimes be seen from Blue Harbour.
Together, the entire city’s defences are referred to as the Kingsport Ramparts. Below are a list of the bastions and gates that make up the ramparts, starting at the palace, but not counting the bastions around the palace itself.
Bastion of Strength
Bastion of Will
Bastion of Clarity
Bastion of Patience
Bastion of Humility
Bastion of Diligence
Bastion of Focus
Bastion of Restraint
Bastion of Modesty
Bastion of Generosity
Bastion of Compassion
Bastion of Forgiveness
Bastion of Bravery
Bastion of Resilience
Bastion of Illumination
There are several bastions outside of the city, along the major roads which are garrisoned by crownsguard. These bastions are equipped with a rooftop bonfire which can be seen from the city’s ramparts and each have their own rookery which can send reports back to Kingsport.
At the very top of Garamond Hill lies the royal palace. It is simultaneously a bustling place, with servants, diplomats and nobility coming and going, as well as a secluded place, when compared to the rest of Kingsport. The castle isn’t open unless you can produce a letter of pedigree, you have an official invitation, or it is one of the few days a year where the royal family opens up the castle grounds to the public. The current dynastic family, house Valois, is extensive and many of them stay at the palace when in the capital.
Besides a lot of smaller buildings, the palace exists of two large, sprawling structures; the manor and the dépendance.
The royal manor overlooks the terrace, a sprawling, immaculately kept park, filled with ponds, marble statues, rose gardens and the like. It also has a prominent shrine to Chauntea. The entire space is meant to impress any visitor who makes it from the gate to the manor’s entrance. The terrace is where official ceremonies and celebrations are held, but the royal family is rarely seen there.
The manor’s facade consists of a rusticated limestone base from which rise impossibly tall, white granite columns, framing the windows of the three main floors. The top floor is hidden by a decorated cornice, which encircles the manor and is capped with a large balustrade, richly adorned with statues of kings, queens and saints of Paladine. It gives the sprawling manor an almost fairy tale beauty. The inside of the manor is the subject of much speculation by the peasantry, and it said to be richly adorned. It is said to have 342 rooms, not counting any of the multitude of cellars.
The dépendance is a much simpler looking building, designed specifically for that purpose. A much plainer facade overlooking the terrace, but made from the same limestone masonry as the palace. It houses the servants, the barracks, the armoury the stables, most of the stores and larders.
Between the manor and the dépendance sit the water gardens, a secluded and private garden, designed by renowned Arroyan architect Francesca Sabatini, where the queen is rumoured to spend time on hot days.
The peace keepers in Kingsport are the crownsguard, a force of roughly two thousand trained militia men and women who regularly patrol the streets, man the gates, walk the ramparts, garrison the forward bastions, support the harbour master and accompany tax collectors.
They are uniformed in half plate armour, adorned with the engravings of the three Valois lilies on their breast plate, angels on their pauldrons and crimson cloaks.
The commander of the guard is Lord Miranda Ravensbourne, youngest sister to Lady Olivia Ravensbourne, first of her name, head of House Ravensbourne. She is a Lyrian knight, formerly of the Order of the Gryphon, zealous follower of Paladine and completely dedicated to the monarchy. She can often be seen patrolling the skies on her griffon Frostfeather.
An elite group of 250 veteran crownsguard guard the palace under the leadership of another Lyrian knight, formerly of the Order of the Shield. His name is lieutenant William of Eastwarren a handsome and charismatic folk hero who made a name for himself on the Plains of Strife when a large host of orcs descended down the valley.
The Steady Hand
A city the size of Kingsport attracts all manner of opportunists, thieves and crooks. There are several active gangs, the largest of which is The Steady Hand, who specialises in bribery, theft, smuggling, extortion and prostitution. It considers itself a proper guild in which apprentices are taken in to learn the trade of racketeering. They have a very large network of connected people, like pickpockets, beggars, prostitutes and smugglers, which makes them very well connected with what is happening in and around Kingsport at all time.
It is rumoured that there are two competing factions within the guild. The Daymaster runs all the business between dawn and dusk, while the Nightmaster takes over for all operations that take place from dusk until dawn. Another rumour is that they have been able to map the ancient waterways underneath the city and use it to get around.
The Sunken Knuckles
While the Steady Hand is the largest underworld organisation in Kingsport, the Sunken Knuckles – Knuckles or Knuckleheads, for short – are the most violent. They run a protection rackets, fighting rings and gambling dens, and they are known be violent when it comes to collecting their coin. They are often employed to intimidate, harm and sometimes murder people.
A large group of Szygani stay just outside of Kingsport in a camp of wagons, which they call vardo. They are musicians, beggars, pickpockets and fortune tellers. The Ravnos is a family within this group of Szygani who are rumoured to be bandits and thieves. They supposedly use curses and magic in order to steal from people and caravans.
They are also well-known herbalists who trade in all manor of rare and illicit substances like Fadeleaf, Blindweed and the incredibly toxic Purple Lotus or Nightmare Vine. Fadeleaf is a popular herb among the peasantry for its intoxicating effect, but it’s illegal in Kingsport, and most of the lands of the nobility because it makes people dim-witted and unconcerned with work.
It is rumoured that a powerful noble house is using a loosely connected group of people within Kingsport to manipulate markets and gain financial influence. They are referred to as the penumbra, because of the cross over between what is supposed to be the side of light and the side of dark. Oftentimes people operate in the interests of the penumbra and the house which is pulling the strings without knowing it.
The crownsguard have been working for years to find out who the puppet-masters behind the penumbra are, but have yet to find any conclusive evidence pointing to one particular house. They started to suspect that occasionally the group does things that is to the detriment of the guilty noble house in order to deflect suspicion.
A predominantly non-human group of burglars and brigands the Procyon are known to operate in Kingsport mostly due to its harbour. The majority is elven, but they have offered membership to dwarves, half-elves, halflings and sometimes humans. Politically, they believe that humans have become too dominant in the Verdant Kingdoms and as a result they are radically anti-nobility, because they have come to believe that to be the source of true human dominance.
A special character in the Kingsport underworld is the person they call The Guv’nor, a title reserved for the champion bare knuckle boxer. With the title of Guv’nor comes the deed to The Hoxton, a Lewisham tavern which is considered neutral ground by the gangs operating in Kingsport.
The current Guv’nor is a popular and lovable man by the name of Lenny who has held the title for over a decade now. He is a legend in Kingsport and an easy to approach man who is always willing to listen to your problems and see if he can facilitate a solution.
Underneath the streets of Kingsport lies an array of tunnels that function as aqueducts and sewers. Their extent is such that they have never been fully mapped and explored. For most people in Kingsport they’re presence is so axiomatic that they hardly ever think of them.
The crownsguard, however, worry about them extensively, due to some of the tunnels running so far and so deep that it forms a gap in the defence of the city. They have explored some of them and barred them off with heavy iron gates, hoping that to be enough to keep possible invaders out.
Many of the estates inside the city use the waterways to provide them with fresh water. Even some of the estates outside of the city walls have dug wells that tap into the aqueducts, something that the crownsguard is very concerned about.
The easiest ways to access the waterways is along the embankment of the river. Half a dozen entrances are built into the lower landings along the embankment walls. They are gated and locked and the crownsguard keeps a close eye on them. Otherwise, there are several hundred metal, grated manhole covers found throughout the streets of the city, all designed to carry rain water into the waterways.
Who built the waterways, and why they are so incredibly extensive has been lost to time. There are rumours that some of the tunnels lead to fantastic, submerged estates which used to be above ground. Several scholars and engineers from Bournemouth Academy spend time studying the waterways and each year new techniques and engineering principles are gleaned from them.
All along the southern coast of Kingsport, between Garamond Hill and Quayhill, there are quays, wharfs, piers and anchorages designed to facilitate the embarking and disembarking of passengers and the loading and unloading of good from and onto ships and riverboats.
Harbour fees are steep and as a results few boats and ships remain in the harbour for long, preferring to quickly disembark what they came to deliver and take on board what they plan on returning. As a result, the bay in front of Kingsport is usually crowded with boats whose crews row ashore to make arrangements before they sail into the harbour and start paying harbour fees.
Where there are plenty of dock hands available, but because each ship is on such a tight schedule it is not uncommon for ships to bribe dockworkers with extras in order for them to drop what they are doing for one ship and go and help another. This leads to friction between captains and sailors, which in turn leads to violence.
The harbour master, Master Albert Coehoorn, is a veteran who grew up on the streets of The Salt and started working at the harbour as a dockworker at an early age. He knows everyone who works at the dock and has a great working relationship with most captains who frequent Kingsport. He also knows his way around a knife fight, should his experience prevent him from talking two rivalling groups from violence.
There is a group of fifty crownsguard permanently garrisoned at the docks in order to support Master Albert in his task of maintaining the peace. He hand picked the fifty crownsguard, and it came as no surprise that most of them are lifelong Salters.
Shops, Taverns, Crafters, Temples, etc.
Sacred Baths of Sedna
Fast Feathers Rookery
The Silver Cross
House of the Raven Queen
Cathedral of the Platinum Father
Temple of Light
Temple of the Mother Creatrix
Tomb of Saint Catherine of Dunagore
Shrine to Lady Luck
Church of Deus
Library of Ioun
Circle of Mages
College of Bards
The Kingsport Carceratum
Adria’s Novel Idea
Herbs, Salves and Ointments
Heartseeker’s Strings and Fletchings