Saturday, 24 April 2021

Twenty Trade Towns

1. Tortopolis

Last of the Tortoise Towns. A pretty simple trading centre, has ancient cannon and those giant crossbow things to defend itself, tortoise is super ancient and pretty much does what it wants. On the shell a pretty standard market town where you can buy and dispose of most of the low-fantasy material you need, alchemists shop, wizards, a blacksmith etc. Look, it does what it says on the tin.

2. Gaggletown 

A Witch-Village! A big stalking Baba-Yaga hut has laid eggs and a bunch of smaller single-person huts with down for thatch  waggle after it on giant duck feet, a child-witch in each one. The little witches are all different and are kids so will sometimes trade things for geegaws and nonsense, but they are also witches so be careful. better do your deal before the flock wakes up and goes on the move again.

3. Snailopolis

Thinks itself superior to Tortopolis despite leaving a sticky trail everywhere. The slightly pretentious though still-beautiful Montreal to Tortopilis Toronto, or Paris to its London. More high end goods, a sharper aesthetic, they don’t talk about trade outright. You have to know someone to get in (or on).

4. Dawn, the fading city. 

Assembled from flowing beams of light - moves across the earth at the speed of the sun. Inside everything feels like glowing glass, streets and buildings assembled from smoked crystal with the sight of the world outside flowing like a river of blurred images, the rising sun is always in one direction and a world of eternal shadow always being revealed in the other. To get on you have to jump from specific mountaintops, precipices and waterfalls at exactly the right moment. To get off you need to leave at the precisely the right time in precisely the right place. If you miss your time you may end up on the wrong side of the world, or smeared across a mile of countryside. 

5. The Crawling Mountain

Full of savage shaman who keep the mountain rolling for whatever reason. Truthfully it’s more of a hill, though it does look very dramatic, a bit like Arthurs Mount in Edinburgh. The shaman sell all kinds of animals and strange animal products from the wilds and the north, furs, amber, honey, bones, bears narwhal tusks etc. Has a Kung Fu dojo on the top with white bearded masters who give you a lot of shit. Underneath the primitivist pretentions the whole thing is a bit nakedly capitalist.

6. The Spider Library

Not quite like this but honestly I'm impressed that someone even got close.

A huge semi-ruined Ornthanc deal walking around on obsidian legs. A classic mages market, inside the tower is a diagon alley/name of the rose/tumbledown maze/alchemists warren-type situation with lots of strange boutique places full of cackling old men who look at you with a gleaming eye.

7. The lichCrawler

At least one of the proto LichJammer captains was more into capitalism on this planet than eternal exploration beyond it. Now has a big tumbling bone city (more of a small town) thing made up of a gazillion skeletons that crawls across the earth on a thousand skeleton limbs. Always needs bones, has bone buildings, big skeleton trading house with gargantuan omni-abacuses endlessly clacking back and forth, plus skeleton coffee houses where they meet to discuss futures, (they get wired by inhaling the fumes through their skeleton heads).

8. Pleasure-barge of the Painted River 

A huge gaudy wheeled-steamboat-type deal, (actually the wheels are turned by debtors and golems). Music and merriment drifts from it like fat gas. Floats upon a lambent river painted endlessly into existence by artists at the prow and fading into imagination at the back. A creation of Narcissolis, full of gamblers and partiers, persists largely due its own inflated reputation. Hungers for talent and drama, needs to attract artists or it dies. The Great Gatsby on crack.

9. The Thermo-Hydraulic Chilopod of the Philosopher King. 

Giant steam-powered centipede and/or millipede depending on how you count it. Always needs coal and carbon, shits clinker, pollutes everywhere but is quickly gone. Full of dwarves, gnomes and stem graduates ready to trade contrivances for knowledge or raw materials. Philosopher King died ages ago but they continue in his name and in his on-the-spectrum manner.

10. The Blue Souk. 

Not sure of original

A classic floating island with iron hooks and chains hanging down grazing the earth in furrows as it drifts past. Atop is a magnificent pleasure-palace/mausoleum now somewhat decayed and re-purposed as a Bazaar. The result of a Wish from a long-dead trafficker with spirits.

11. The Scarab Travellers

Giant scarab beetle caravan crossed with 19thC-Novel style Gypsies. - I know its basic but its a weird fantasy classic come on. Fortune telling for ye master?

12. The Perpetual Gyre

A huge wheel, as if from a divine chariot of cyclopean cart, rolling endlessly, but very slowly, across the land in looping ellipses the size of continents. The huts and homes hang from its spokes on swings so they are always the right way up. Prices depend on where things are in the wheel at the time. Shops that are easier to access at the bottom have high prices. If you want to try the difficulty of climbing to the top you might get a better deal.

13. The Nowhere Bridge. 

A suspension bridge or half of one. One end disappears into a nebulous unseeable vagueness while the other end has iron hawk claws which pin it to the earth as it stalks forwards. Traders live in the bridge or in its girders for a while before dropping off - no-one knows where the bridge leads to but its rumoured some of the older traders know something and can trade you services and items from there.

14. The Caravan of Dreams. 

Howdahs on top of huge soft-blue stem-limbed cloudstepping dromedaries. Goods are lowered up and down in baskets and messages transmitted by softly droning bees. The howdahs are built with springs and bounce-suspension on their bottoms. The beasts are dreamed into being by the Mage who's caravan this is, they only exist while she is in REM sleep. She does not react well to being unexpectedly woken up.

15. The Wild Exchange. 

A flying caravan of deranged anarchocapitalist magic-users. Each caravan different and all pulled through the air by a bedlam of crazed carnivorous and dangerous flying creatures. Swoops through the air cackling and lands for a few hours to trade in anything, yes ANYTHING!!!! - Free trade for all!

16. The Somnulent Docks. 

Encountered only when lost in mountainous or broken terrain and only by those half waking from nightmare on the borders of sleep. A narrow path leads to a deep fjord on a black sea. There many silent ships are docked and the soft-robed and bemasked traders silently make sign to trade in pearls and promises. 

17. The Tinker-Ouroboros.

Seems to be a hunched figure stooped under a heavy pack hung with jangling doodads. When their hood and cloak is pulled back, it reveals that no person lies beneath. An automata, golem or spirit made up of animated junk and geegaws, walking in the shape of a man. The Tinker will trade pieces of themself for other parts that take its fancy. Then the creature moves on in a state of permanent exchange.

18. The Slow, Stumbling man. 

A truly ancient, wizened and thin stooped man who shuffles forwards - he wears a hat and the brim of the hat is the width of a village and there is a village market on it. Actually if you saw it from a distance it would be hard to tell the man is there at all, the village is just four or five feet off the ground and the radius of the brim is a 1/4 mile - magic means he never sinks into the ground but it’s hard for him to manage an incline so the hat-town is mainly encountered on the plains. In the village everyone wears silks and furs and makes deals lying on couches while smoking hookahs, if asked how this came about the townspeople will only say that the man is "suffering for his sins". They complain constantly if the man stumbles or judders. One set of naked footprints in the earth is all that is left behind.

19. Mammoth-Town. 

A large wheeled bog-oak contrivance pulled forwards slowly by hairy mammoths. Encountered largely in northern latitudes, ruled by expatriate bog elves who, on the election of a long-distant king publicly announced "if XX becomes King I am moving to the far north!" and then actually fulfilled that promise. They do not want to hear about the successes of the Bog Elves left behind.

20. The town of Hidden Giants. 

Is actually a whole bunch of giants crammed into hollow houses pretending to be a village - blindingly obvious to everyone as you can't actually enter any of the houses and the giants put on giant booming voices pretending to be the baker, Mrs ... door, "I CAN'T COME TO THE DOOR RIGHT NOW DEARY!". But you can sometimes trade for things they have in their pockets, if you are willing to shout through the doors or windows, they push small items out through cracks or pop them out of the chimney.

(Idea based on that Warhammer kitbash guy - SORRY)


  1. Can't wait to meet the Dr Rotwang of Tortopolis.

  2. Found the source on the sick floating castle under The Blue Souk: It's "Sunset Castle" by Mai Ahn Tran on Deviantart