Saturday, 3 October 2020

Village Shops

 Brainstorm for 'Goose-Gold and Goblins'. Trying to think of interesting things for a village without getting too clever with it, just staying within the general assumed concepts, and also staying broadly child friendly, hopefully without being boring. The economy doesn't really work, these are places for a small town really. Given in the order of conception;


art by Varguy https://www.deviantart.com/varguy/art/Shop-716694541


BAKER

The smell of fresh bread, early in the morning. Flour everywhere, flour-covered arms, sacks of flour, puffs of flour, (bags of flour are handy for finding invisible people). Bakers get up early, they rise in the night when the stars are still bright and see by the moon. The smoke from their oven is in the sky before dawn. They are often the first to discover strange things that have happened in the night, they might see witches flying about, or bats, or ghosts, but never speak of them. Bakers also need to go to sleep very early and get very upset by noises in the afternoon and they tend to miss things that happen in the evening - so they like to hear gossip of what has gone on.


MILLER

A windmill must be on a hill, maybe outside the town, everyone can see it and see if it is moving with the wind, while a water mill must be by a river. A water mill will have a run or millrace, a specially cut stream of dangerous fast-flowing water. Either way, the miller is deeply concerned with the mill itself. It seems that at the mill either nothing is happening and the miller is asleep with a cloth over their face, or everything is happening and the miller is running around desperately adjusting things, greasing things especially. The miller always needs more grease, and soon. The mill causes enormous friction and its parts have to be oiled and greased, often while still in motion or they will set on fire.


PASTRY MAKER

"Its actually Pâtissier." 
Pastry Makers are very fine and are somewhat posh and precise. They do not want you touching the pastries. The pâtissier thinks of themselves as a kind of jeweller for food. They make art, in a way, art that you eat. 


DAIRY

The dairy has cows, who are called in from the fields going loooo, bells jangling. The cows insist on being milked in a particular order (they are intensely hierarchal). The cows are called by yodelling and some dairies will employ a sub-yodeller for this. The dairy also sells butter, which requires relentless churning, cheese, which needs careful storage and other dairy products. The Dairy manager can be seen having long conversations with the Innkeppers about things fermenting slowly. Much of their job is waiting, but not waiting too long.



MILKMAN

The Milkman, up not long after the Baker, travels from house to house each morning, bringing milk, very slowly, breath huffing in the cold air through their scarf, and very quietly; their donkeys hooves are muffled and silent on the cobbles. Is the milkman a force for order and reason, or a herald of the night? He carries a moon lamp for his pre-dawn work and treads the boundary between night and day.



BUTCHER

The Butcher has a Red shop, all strung with sausages and animal parts freshly hung each morning. Butchers are always large and red, with strong tattooed arms. They wield a cleaver with incredible skill and could probably kill everyone if they wished, (and dispose of them too). They have a mincing machine which the small-butcher is always turning the handle of, turning one kind of meat into another. Fundamentally, the Butcher cuts things, especially meat. They are an expert in cutting. The nature of the Butcher is life-from-death, and they have a stoic temperament when it comes to the sufferings of the world. They value life, but accept death perhaps more easily than others, though you might not realise it from their simple manner. "Life, is death, is life", they might say, illustrating this with a ring of sausages, a concept they share with the wheelwright.



PUB

We may consider here the Inn, the Pub, and the Rival Pub, though they are not the same they all have a great deal in common.

The Pub opens around mid-day for anyone who wants a small beer and gets busier and busier throughout the afternoon. In the evening it is full of people gathered round tables, telling stories. If you want a story that is a good place to go. Pubs have low ceilings, black beams, heavy iron furniture, a fire roaring, animal tack on the walls, (no one knows why they do this), a couple of animals around, a dog, a ghost etc, and an old fellah who seems always to be there and who tells tales of the Sea. Huge barrels of ale are brought to the in and lowered through its mysterious hatch, this is then piped up to the bar. The Pub has games also, darts and snooker, gurning, wrestling and a mystery night where teams have to answer increasingly complex questions. There are rivalries amidst the teams. As the night goes on, the Pub is meant to close but will sometimes just lock the doors so the regulars can keep drinking. Sometimes there are dramas and someone, or a group are ejected from the Pub and say they will only drink in the Rival Pub, or the Inn from now on, and visa versa.

"Rival Pub" is pretty similar to the Pub, but contains many of the people who have been kicked out of there, or those who have experienced various dramas. Rival Pub has a team who compete against Pubs team at various times. 

The Inn, is essentially like Pub, and Rival Pub, but larger and slightly posher. Travellers from far away can rent small rooms in the Inn. The downstairs is like a Pub but slightly larger, more expensive, emptier and higher class.



GROCER

The grocer has all the foods which the Baker and the Butcher don't. All the foods which will keep, anything you need, a shop full of stuff. What you need may be high up - the shelves are very tall and there is something different on each one, plus there is "round the back", a liminal and unknown space accessible only to the Grocer which might contain anything. If you ask for something in particular, the Grocer will purse their lips and look at a list; "we might have it, let me see.....". There is always more than one person in the Grocer and you are sure to meet someone there. The Grocers shop is a reassuringly normal and relatively drama-free environment.



TINKER

The great rival of the Milkman, the Tinker also travels throughout the village and even the wilderness. Unlike the Milkman, the Tinker even goes out into the farmlands and the waste lands, you never know where you will encounter them. The Tinker carries a great pack full of things, and hung with jangling objects. They have a little of everything, anything you might need, many things you didn't know you needed. It seems they can do almost anything, at least a little; cut a key, sharpen a knife, shoe a horse, play a card trick, cook a meal. The Tinker is small and stooped over beneath their pack and they have a long coat, when they open the coat, there are some "very special items" hanging within, often things you find you need. 

It is generally accepted that the Tinker is allied somewhat with the forces of magical strangeness and the unknown. Its never clear exactly where they live, where they are going or where they are, (they just turn up in places), or where they get all these things. At least some of the things are somewhat magical, sometimes extremely magical, and there is rarely a clear warning given for this, or any explanation given, and the Tinkers habit of having strange and unique things that someone needs quite that instant is very odd. And there are rumours of strange prices being asked for these things, services, locks of hair, breaths of air, spiderwebs etc, and of dark fates when these prices are not paid. And though the Tinker seems slow and loud, stooped beneath their heavy pack and jangling, it also seems that they can move pretty quickly and quietly when they wish.

The Milkman, who fundamentally divides day from night, dream from real, what is known from what is unknown, has a deep dislike and suspicion of the Tinker, who mixes all these things up. The Tinker may be allied with, or at least familiar with, the Bookseller and the Apothecary, and is almost always "in cahoots" with the Pawnbroker.



BLACKSMITH

The Blacksmith is, in some ways the small king of the village shopkeepers and craftspeople. Everyone needs the services of the Blacksmith for one thing or another, their forge is always burning, even a little at night, it can never be allowed to go out. When the smith is at work, the pounding of their hammer can be heard and gusts of black smoke come from their chimney. The smith is incredibly strong, with scorched, skilled hands and says little, but looks at you with a gleam or a glare, its hard to tell which. They have a spark in their eye (though not literally). Inside the forge is the pounding of the hammer, steam, smoke, sparks and an apprentice heaving on a bellows or fetching cups of tea. Often, gathered outside the forge, benefiting from its warmth and light, and close to it, )though not every crossing its boundary), groups of men gather, (its always men), often older men, sometimes even playing chess, the men discuss facts and argue over details, contesting their opinions at length. These arguments rarely break out into acrimony, and if they do a look from the smith quells such trouble. The smith speaks rarely and listens little to their talk, the words drift over them. If the smith does interrupt, their opinion always ends the argument, whatever it was, and the men gathered outside rapidly move to a new topic of discussion. Magical things do not love the Smith and rarely come there, fearing the iron, the fire and the Smiths strength and craft. The Tinker would not dare come near here.



CUTLER

The Cutler is simply a lighter, finer, slightly less glamorous Blacksmith who mainly makes cutlery and other small items. They rarely work with black iron. Their creations are more attractive, and less heavy, powerful and dangerous than those of the smith, yet they have their skills. No men come to gather outside their forge on a cold morning. Neither are they silent or strange as the Smith is.



CARPENTER

Other than the Blacksmith, almost no-one is in as much demand as the Carpenter. Their floor strewn with sawdust, the smell of the workshop is incredible. Like the blacksmith, there is usually a rhythmic sound coming from the carpenters, in this case, chiselling, sawing, carving or the planing of wood, and unlike the blacksmiths, this room is light. There are no fires here, and no oil lamps, except sometimes in winter, the carpenter must do everything by daylight, which is why they have large windows and big doors, and often leave the doors open, swing wide to let in more light, even if its cold. 

If you want anything wooden fixed, replaced or made anew; doors, house beams, chairs, cupboards, wooden floors and wooden panels, here is where you come. The carpenter has a huge warehouse full of beams and planks of different woods, they are stacked there in the dry room  hanging from its rafters, piled on stands, all awaiting some mysterious process of age and time until the Carpenter says; "now is the time for that tree to meet its business". 

Like the Butcher, the Carpenter deals in death, in this case, the death of trees, and like the Butcher, the Carpenter knows a great deal about, and has sympathy with, the object of the work. The Carpenter can tell how old a tree is, in what conditions it grew, what it suffered in life and how this might affect its grain and structure. The carpenter always needs help cleaning out the sawdust, unlike the Blacksmiths there are few dangerous things here, the sharp tools are all correctly stowed and nothing burns, but everything is sensitive, to time, weather, temperature and condition, and the Carpenter knows all this; which woods need less damp, which will suffer in the cold or heat, which to warp and which to hold. The Carpenter is always thinking about their wood, like a shepherd about their sheep, their mind ticking away with conditions and time, "this wood is no good".



WICKERWORKER

The wicker worker is to the Carpenter as the Cutler is to the Blacksmith, except more cheerful about it. All day they sit and weave, baskets, chairs, screens, whatever is needed, light and strong, fast and cheap, that is how they make it, stripping and weaving, building the structure in their mind before they build it with their hands, like other crafters. But with the Wickerworker you can sit and watch them work, chatting as they do so, weaving whatever it is out of thin air before your eyes.



BARBER 

(also dentist, also surgeon, also vet)
TEETH and HAIR, two things most people have, or at least they tend to have one of them, and either can be attended to in the same place! Even at the same time! What wonders! 

Pliers, scissors, some mouth mirrors and a strong but deft hand, true expertise! Not only that but the Barber can heal your animals and pets too! Or at least they will have a crack at it, the important thing, they think, is to have a try, no matter what it is, how else can anyone learn anything, except with PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE? Setting a broken limb? Sure, how hard can it be? Stitching someone up? Simple as! Pulling out a misfiring organ? "Now now", the Barber purses their lips, "that one might be tricky, money upfront for that one, and no promises, but I will attempt it!. After all, I have my skeleton here, and my diagram of the body here. Would you like a haircut at the same time?" (The Barber is a primary customer for the sawdust of the Carpenter).

Whatever happens at the Barbers, at the end, they hold up their mirror in the mirror, so you can have a good look and the customer says fine thank you, wonderful, great thanks fine goodbye. The Barber doesn't just pull teeth, they, you might say, recycle them. Teeth otherwise unused become fresh teeth for the old, a little mix and match, might be a few odd ones in there, but they work! The Barber also has a side-interest in Taxidermy, which they would be happy to show you, in the room at the back.....



POSSIBLE WITCH

She is not saying she IS a Witch. But neither will she say that she is not, if you get my meaning. The hat can come off or on, depending on your need. Baby delivered or fortune told? Uncomfortable abscess or love potion? A social dilemma or haunted by ghosts? (Could be the same thing). There is a lot of wiggle room in the description, by the way, would you help wind my yarn?

The Witch certainly knows the Tinker, may know the Apothecary and possibly the Bookseller, laughs at the Barber and won't go near the Smith. In turn, the men who gather by the Blackmiths forge scoff at the Possible Witch, while they are near the forge, then they turn silent and get home before dark, looking around for Black Cats. The Smith says nothing on the Subject.

The Possible Witch does have a lot of Cats around, though not all are black. Her cottage is small and low, with many things hanging from the rafters, and she has a hearth spirit which changes colour and winks suggestively. There might be a skull in there, who knows? No one is saying that the possible witch might possibly have poisoned anyone, (certainly not within earshot, of her, or her cats), but if anyone did get poisoned, well, she would be one to ask (politely). Herbs also, if you want to know about herbs, or want a Toadstool identified.



APOTHICARY

A member of the Village intelligentsia, often to be found with the bookseller, the Draper, the Cutler and tolerating the presence of the Barber. The Apothecary is a creature of science and system, weight and measure. The Apothecaries shop is wonderous, filled floor to ceiling with bottles and cases of rare and unknown substances, all carefully weighed and recorded precisely in the Apothecaries great book, only ever sold and prescribed with the most precise instructions as to their preparation and use. Whatever ails the body (serious ailments only please, for broken bones and bleeding veins, busy yourself with the Barber), the Apothecary considers themselves something of a detective of the body, that dark and mysterious fluidic space, which no eye may penetrate, but the steady lance of knowledge might. 
The Apothecary wishes to know absolutely everything about the ailment; times and temperatures
family history, blotches and marks, sweats and fevers, "a hot sweat or a cold sweat?" stools and urine, no laughing please, medicine is a serious business. The Apothecary takes in all this precise knowledge, and within their own dark body, they compare and match it with the great storehouse of knowledge recorded by Apothecaries past. There the secret must be, and there the secret is, lodged in line and letter, hiding in some book. Once a diagnosis is made, "take two of these twice a day, heat this oil gently and smear it on with fresh beeswax, drip this into your eye, but do not look up for a day, then all will be well".



DRAPER

The Draper stands at the head of the enclave of interrelated cloth-based trades. If they were a gang, the Draper would be the one in charge. Below them are the Tailor, the Haberdasher the Milliner and, somewhat adjacent, the Cobbler, (and beyond the pale, but connected due to the selling of old clothes, the Pawnbroker). 

The Draper is a creature of business, and of Quality. It would wound them to sell the wrong cloth to the wrong person. "One can always tell when someone is in the wrong cloth", they might say. This is unsurprising as, in a way, the Draper directly sells social status. Nothing indicates the differences in wealth, role and position, more than cloth, and the Draper is the source of cloth, so in a way, they order society, arranging the boundaries between groups and classes. For society to be out of joint, disordered or upturned, if the Tinker was seen in a suit like the Bookseller, or the Apothecary wore a heavy leather apron like the Blacksmith, ... horribe! too horrible, a world gone mad! In a way, the Draper exists to make sure this never happens, that the world never goes mad.



TAILOR

The tailor is a sympathetic creature, quiet, demure, deeply knowledgeable about everybodies bodies, about how they wish to be seen, and how they are seen. Their customers have never made a bad choice, "Splendid, simply splendid, though have you considered this?" The tailor comments very little on the doings of others, whether at work or in society, they always seem to be agreeing with whomever they speak, or at least, being sympathetic, and they are very pleasing to speak to, in a light way. Old ladies love to speak to them at length, the Tailor, and an old lady with her dogs, can stand and speak on a corner for upwards of half an hour, yet at the end of that, not a fact may have passed between them, or even a strong opinion, "Isn't it lovely though, just lovely..".

the Tailor is never dirty and is always precise. Their hands are cleaner than the Barbers (and their stitching better), though you will never get the Tailor to aid you in stitching up flesh, 
that would be absolutely impossible, not the done thing, no not at all. Though the Tailor has no prejudice against anyone, spending time even with the Tinker, they are very much a creature of the "done thing", their own standards, are high, and remain so, though they have nothing but compassion with those who cannot reach so high.



HABADASHER

Small fabrics. We may find the Haberdasher with the cutler, the wickerworker and the pâtissier. On the lower rank of slightly-less vital services. The Haberdasher is an essentially a bright and pleasing individual, they live in a world of "little extras" and "finishing touches". Everything around them is a pleasing addition, a superfluous ornamentation, and occasionally a vital forgotten element. Their purpose in life is to please and fulfil, to garnish and ornament the lives of others and sometimes to save the day with a particular kind of thread or a rare needle type. The Haberdasher seems to float a little, at least in the Haberdashery, moving between shelves like a lost balloon, emerging silently and smiling behind you at strange times, sometimes trotting through the village at speed carrying a wicker basket packed with oddements and trailing ribbon, on their way to a Haberdashery Emergency.



MILLINER

Close ally to the Draper in the protection of social order and social roles, does anyone ever really need a hat? The Milliner certainly thinks they do, and several of them, some for daily wear, formal wear, weddings, funerals, specialist work wear, outdoor hats and indoor caps (it would be rude to wear a hat indoors). The Milliner lives for EVENTS, (and is therefore a good calendar for them), for at these times, everybody wants a hat and everyone wants a unique hat. Often people compete against each other for social precedence. Hat wars break out, with the Milliner carefully playing both sides, casually mentioning "the peacock feathers? of those are for so and so-s hat". The Milliner is only distantly aware of the existence of the rest of the human body below the head, they know the skull shape and haircut of everyone in the village, but could not always swear to their clothes, age, or gender. Though consumed with the human need for status, the Milliner is slightly connected to the lunar underworld of the village, something they try to keep quiet. Their need for extra bits and pieces gives them contact with the Haberdasher (who is always happy to help), but the extreme desire for some for a hat element beyond the normal or known means the Milliner must fare far to both provoke and fulfil such desires. They may enter secret negotiations with the Pawnbroker, the Tinker and even the Possible Witch. As well as this, hats, like shoes, often contain some residual magic, simply by virtue of being hats, and the milliner may play a secret role in guarding these prized fashion devices. (They would rather you didn't mention it, really, at all....).



COBBLER

Somewhat more magical than the other clothiers, sometimes seen with the Pawner and the Tinker, hanging around. It’s not clear what it is about shoes exactly that leaves the Cobbler a strange being, crabbed and small, deft and quick, open to dreams and tales, wise and crafty, indifferent to social status, unconscious of coin, but extremely obsessed with being paid what they are owed. Like many of the more magically inclined community members, the Cobbler will often make trades for strange services or unusual, even intangible things, and like those other trades, more so than with gold and coin, you better pay up, down to the letter and down to the date. The cobbler, oddly, is willing to make shoes for anything, they consider it a matter of pride (except horses, they leave that to the Blacksmith as a matter of ancient law), but anything else, birds, ladybugs, sycamore seeds, boats, bridges, bibles, they will attempt it. The cobbler judges everyone by their feet, and tut tuts when they see a poor wear pattern on a pair of shoes. They do not mind ugly feet, or old feet, wide feet or flat feet, "its all in the game", the cobbler might say, but every so often, they will see some feet that put them off, and no one ever knows why.



BOOKSELLER 

The bookseller is often also a bookbinder, a scribe and sometimes a publisher and editor, combining all roles in one. Bookshops are commonly more cold than one would wish and this is because they are secretly infinite. However the shop starts out, it always ends up as a warren of strange little corridors, odd turnings, forgotten stairways, unlocked doors where you are not quite sure if they are meant to be unlocked. By long defined physics, bookshops all burrow infinitely into space (L-Space as the Sage has defined), and link up with other shops in other places and times. The Bookseller stands guard over all of this, making sure that no-one goes too deep into the shop, or that if they do that they get lost in such a way that they come right back out again.

Few places are as quiet as a bookshop, and the booksellers eyes follow you around the room from behind owl-like glasses. As a guardian of written knowledge, it is the Booksellers duty to bring people into contact with the knowledge they desire, or think they desire, so long as they can afford it and don't damage the books, but the Bookseller really generally does not want to surrender any books. Reducing their store displeases them, they are perhaps the most sceptical form of shopkeeper, slightly troubled by the presence of customers, why are they even here, to cause trouble? Yes, by buying books. A curious quality of the bookshop is that the seller almost never has exactly the thing you are looking for, but they always have something close to it, or quite close, or not at all close, but useful none the less. And yes, the bookseller is quiet and thin fingered. Imagine them and you are probably right.



PAWNBROKER 

Ally to the Tinker, and known by the Cobbler and Possible Witch, the Pawnbroker is rarely visited openly. They have everything, like the Tinker, except the have more of it; odds and ends, you know, clothes, books, tools, jewels, kitchenware, walking sticks, cigarette lighter? fancy a meerschaum pipe? 

If anyone is criminal in the village, its the Pawnbroker, they are always under suspicion. Like the Bookseller their shop is small and dark and there is rarely anyone else inside. You can see oddments through the glass. The Pawnbroker is always ready to help somebody out, by taking things off your hands - things you don't need of course, and you can get it back, certainly, "when your luck improves, fortunes wheel and all that". They also have cheap versions of whatever you need right now, especially clothes, though the clothes the Pawnbroker sells are always slightly ... odd, a strange fit, an unknown material, foreign label or incomprehensible smell, almost always a foreign coin left in a pocket, or a desperate note sewn into the seams.

No place is more likely to begin or end an adventure than the Pawnbrokers, and like the Bookseller, the Pawnbrokers shop has a tendency towards infinity. A maze of shelves and hidden rooms which they keep safely locked away, and which you will likely never see. Magic also the Pawnbroker is familiar with, they know the value of anything and the history of almost all that falls into their hands. Are they good or evil? Whichever it is, they are certainly not lawful, (though no-one can prove anything). A jewellers glass in their eye and a cricket bat beneath their bench.

39 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Gosh,this absolutely oozes flavor. It paints such a lovely tapestry of the town and it's fine, it's great.


    Two small notes:
    The list might be a bit long to use in play- if I used it, I'd probably end up combining a few of the more similar characters (the herbedasher and the milliner stand out as perhaps the easiest two to meld)
    B) Isn't tinker (as a noun) a vaugely offensive term? Maybe wanderer or traveller would work better as a title.

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    1. *meant vibe instead of fine, this is what I get for writing on mobile

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    2. It's meant to be used more as a 'monster manual' or range of options for generation.

      I hae never heard of Tinker being an insult, except maybe in the 19th century.

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    3. Tinker (and the glorious Shepherd) were classes in Ultima, the first time I heard of Tinkers I think.

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    4. It's one of those things I half remember hearing about from my European cousins, so you're probably in the right on that one then

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    5. (Ak I meant to send this as one comment)
      The monster manual aspect makes sense! I do love the interconnected nature of them, though: as impractical as it would be, I itch to run them as a complete set of relationships and characters...

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    6. You can call a travelling vendor a chapman from 'ceap' Old English for selling, gives is names like Chipping Norton and Cheapside and Kobnhavn (chipping-haven ie 'port with a market') but there isn't a word for an itinerant mender of pots and pans but tinker.

      'Tink' is definitely a slur.

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    7. I am not changing Tinker and thats that.

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  3. I'm getting a strong Diana Wynne-Jones vibe here.

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    1. I have never got through one of her books but thank you anyway!

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  4. This is great - I am running a menagerie world, Pratchett inspired city and this is exactly the kind of 'what distinguishes the small-folk' detail that I need to manage the cast of thousands in the city. Many thanks!

    Fie to that 'not useful' hashtag...

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  5. A few other key people:

    The Cooper -- makes barrels. As obsessed with wood as the carpenter, but the barrels he makes are mostly temporary things, destined to be emptied and broken up for firewood. Can chat and gossip while he cuts staves.

    The Woodcutter -- half-wild, spends lots of time out in the woods. Strong, quiet, carries an axe which he cares for like a child. Likely a friend of the carpenter and the cooper. Knows the forest better than almost anyone.

    The Stonemason: a very posh person indeed, who knows all sorts of things, but is also very strong and precise. His opinions are as respected as the smith's.

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    1. The Cooper is a good one, Weeleight also, combine them with the Potter in the "turns things into circles" club.

      Woodcutter definitely an essential

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  6. Potter? Like Blacksmith they transmute the chthonic matter through the fire into understandable forms; even if those are softer, more pliable aspects of the earth they deal with, the kiln is fed and in the final stage a touch of colour glazes adorns the end result.

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    1. Also maybe a glassblower, although a simple village is probably not big enough to support this (glass production was usually for bigger cities, from what I recall)

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    2. Potter is a definite necessity, good one K. Glassblower can be a possibility

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  7. Not typo trolling but, a Milkman who is

    > brining milk...

    I can see this as being an Anti-Milkman saboteur, trailing in the wake of the One True Milkman, salting the unguarded milk pails upon which he happens.

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    1. Why can't I spell. It's literally part of my job.

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  8. I absolutely love this, and you have alerted me of some medieval trades I wasn’t aware of. Also since I don’t wanna comment on two separate posts the Beowulf-era bestiary was incredible, how had I missed that one?? Makes Edward Topsell look like a boring science book!!

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  9. I take it the Inn also has a Saloon Bar and snob-screens.

    A Potter might be an interesting addition - you always need vessels - unless we are looking the 19th Century and industrial production of ceramic, i.e, Stoke on Trent. Same with a Chandler.

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    1. Potter and Chandler are both good. A 'Snuggery' is a must.

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  10. This is great - although as someone who just about remembers the tail end of old-style British shop culture, butchers and milkmen and weird little bookshops and all, I found that reading it filled me a largely irrational but still deeply-felt sense of loss. All the tradesmen's shops where I grew up turned into cafes and estate agents decades ago.

    There should definitely be a fishmonger's shop. I was always OK with the matter-of-fact violence of butcher's shops, pig's heads and all, but fishmongers used to weird me right out as a kid. I was never sure whether or not the crabs and lobsters were still alive.

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    1. A fishmongers requires the sea, but I should add one in as I am basically making a 'monster manual' but for normal people.

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    2. Fish can be transported a long way in barrels of salt water - it's perfectly possible to have fish (and other seafood) inland. I live in Leicester, at least 3 days journey from the sea in Roman times, and the Roman layers of the city are littered with oyster shells.

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  11. I like how each one of these characters has something magical about them, even in a mundane way. It's like each one is the high priest/ess or great magician of their own little domain.

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    1. To look to other examples of this sort of thing - Chesterton does something quite similar with a lot of his fiction; the shopkeepers in The Napoleon of Notting Hill spring to mind. It's more whimsical than the above, but worthy of comparison.

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  12. This is great. I'm running Lost Mine of Phandelver and rolling it into a homebrew adventure. I'm going to use Strongholds and Followers (MCDM Productions) to give my players a home base, so that hopefully, they will take some pride and "ownership" of the town of Phandalin. I plan on growing the town every so often and this list will help a lot. I'm going to take each shop and put them in order of "things a small town might have" to "things a large city might have". When I want to add a shop, I'll roll a d6 and take one of the first six things, which will be replaced by the seventh shop on the list for the next roll.

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  13. You said "The pâtissier thinks of themselves as a kind of jeweller for food." but you left Jeweler off the list!

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  14. I was recently reading Richard Scarry’s “Busy Busy Town” series and, though it is not set in the Middle Ages, there is something there very resonant with this

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  15. Something like a very small but very wide gazetteer and something like a tarot card and business directory

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  16. What wonderful, evocative writing. A Veins of the Earth for the mundane surface world! Thank you.

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  17. This is really cool. I just wanted to throw in an extra thing. Milliners would create a lot of dust, too much dust and then all it takes is something to shake some off an upper ledge and then add a static spark and the whole millinery can explode thanks to a dust explosion.
    Which feels like the perfect thing to drop on the players while in town at some point.

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  18. Don't forget the Confectioner! A really good confectioner might also be an alchemist. Or the possible witch might be a Confectioner. Historical precedent for both. :)

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  19. Very good mood-work.

    The baker could keep sacks of flour in the rafters which can be cut and cascade down over everything

    Hearing of a grease fire at the mill could make it seem like a very dark place, particularly if the miller was inside and too slippery to escape. The run, the grinding machinery, the potential for fire, the desperate miller, the grease and its potential to spill; pretty ripe spot for an adventure’s climax

    Just as a pastry maker’s like a jeweler for food, their wares could be one hell of a trade good among the children

    Obvious idea for setpiece: something has suddenly damaged/impacted the cheese shed, and the children/protagonists are caught on the hillside when enormous truckles of cheese come bounding down at them. Extra saucy if it happens during an earthquake, or it’s flaming gjetost and will probably burn down the village (and burn for a week) if not quenched

    The fear of cannibalism always hangs around butchers among children

    Great work on the grocer and his shelves/storage. Great work on the smith and his cohort, he feels like a Kurosawa character. Very good work on the carpenter, the possible witch, the apothecary. The tailor’s very interesting and the haberdasher is very funny. Great development of the milliner

    “Bookshops are commonly more cold than one would wish and this is because they are secretly infinite.” Great line
    “However the shop starts out, it always ends up as a warren of strange little corridors, odd turnings, forgotten stairways, unlocked doors where you are not quite sure if they are meant to be unlocked.” Why are bookshops like this in our minds? Several months ago I made an adventure where the intelligentsia of a city whose economy depended on bookbinding and candle wax were disappearing into a kind of Ways from the depths of the city’s bookshops; gathering on a walkway around a tree in a vast black expanse. There were hostile researchers trying to bottle up the intellectuals in that realm but they kept getting lost in the in-between as well, so both the adventure’s objectives and foes were wandering in these ways while the city was falling apart. It should seem bizarre and arbitrary but any child would understand why things were arranged that way

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    1. Thanks Knight.

      Sorry your comments keep getting temporarily lost, blogger is being odd as usual, probably it is dying.

      The infinite bookshop thing is something I think Terry Prachett was the first to directly make a thing in fiction ('L-Space') but its verifiably true, especially in old bookshops.

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