Built over 1000 years ago to connect long forgotten kingdoms, this massive bridge is 2 miles wide and and 4 miles long. Named Bridgetown by its current citizens, a huge population has taken up residence on the bridge due to the readiness of work and the relative safety of the area. Bridgetown is located at a vital crossroads between several cities and nations, and as such has flourished due to trade. Due to this success, four trade houses were formed generations ago to control the trade routes in the region. It is said that everyone who works in Bridgetown works for one of these houses, whether they know it or not.
- Population: 114,000
- Size: 16 sq mi (8 sq mi per tier)
- Churches, temples, or religious idols: 108
- Inns, restaurants, or pubs: 37
- Local militia: The Tollmasters
- Noble familes of note: The Nolands, the Eldrens, the Sylvans, and the Wollens
Over 1000 years ago, a fledgling human nation sought to increase the number of lands under its dominion be connecting the two land masses separated by a massive river. Working in collaboration with the nearby mountain dwarves, the humans built a bridge over the canyon created by the river and connected the lands. Not to be satisfied with a simple bridge, it was built large enough to allow whole armies to march across, to set up camp on, and to establish barracks on its surface. This turned out to be their undoing, as now the humans violent neighbors, once separated by the canyon, now had the means to bring the armies to new parts of the world. However, though kingdoms would rise and fall around it, the bridge remained as a testament to dwarven craftsmanship.
As time passed, people began to take shelter in the lower tier of the bridge. The bridge offered protection for these settlers, and they thrived for generations and formed a squatter community on the bridge. Around this time, the Tollmasters were created to keep the peace and protect the inhabitants of the bridge. Slowly, other groups began moving to the bridge to begin new lives. Wealthier families could were able to build homes on the top level, as they could afford the protection necessary to live their safely. These families eventually became the nobles of the bridge and used their position to subjegate those on the lower level and expand their influence. As the bridge became increasingly settled and protected, more influential families and companies arrived to take advantage of the prime location of the bridge. As a mid-point between two landmasses and with easy access to the river flowing north to south, the bridge was a perfect intersection of trade routes. People continued to settle on the bridge due to this, always able to find work with a trade company that would have established itself, and within 400 years of its creation the bridge had transformed into a fully fledged city.
Within the last few generations, Bridgetown has changed considerably. The Tollmasters have shifted away from being a peace keeping force towards being puppets for the nobles on the top level. The four most powerful and wealthiest families purchased all mapped trade routes and established the Four Houses; trade guilds that either directly or indirectly control all business within Bridgetown. This control has caused the gap between the different classes to widen considerably and poverty to become widespread. The continually growing population grouped with growing poverty saw the creation of a third, bottom level to bridge. Comprised mainly of spare wood and flotsam, this bottom tier was created to house the poor and guildless.
Hundreds of years of social oppression had divided the citizens of Bridgetown into makeshift social classes, but with the creation of the Four Houses the caste system became an official part of the society. The top level of the caste are the nobles, the middle level are members of official guilds, and the bottom level were the guildless workers and the poor. These levels are then further divided into many sublevels and are all identified based on the color of the city ring they wear.
Slavery in Bridgetown
The owning of slaves is fairly common among the nobility, though members of the lower castes that can afford them will often purchase a slave or two. The main slave trade is run by the Eldrens, with slaves that they capture or purchase from the eastern lands. These slaves are put up for auction in the market center of the top tier. Of the different trades, the Eldren run slave auction is considered the most respectable as their slaves come far from the Bridgetown region and because they follow strict guidelines when choosing individuals to sell into slavery. Random mercernaries and smaller trade houses are less respectable, as they will kidnap their slaves from anywhere in the region.
When a traveller comes to Bridgetown, they are given a ring that designates their position in the societal hierarchy. A red jeweled ring identifies its wearer as a visitor, and only qualifies them for trade and entry on to the middle tier of Bridgetown. After three days, the red jewel loses its hue and the traveller must leave the city, or take refuge on the bottom tier as a guildless. Travellers who wish to become permanent residents, and have paid the proper fees, get rings with black jewels. These rings allow them to stay in Bridgetown, show that they are allowed to work, and that they are allowed to purchase property. However, a citizen with a black ring is known to be guildless, and thus is at the bottom caste.
Joining or creating a guild is only open to Bridgetown citizens who at least have black rings. With guild membership, the color of the jewel changes to blue to represent they are in one of the many guilds in Bridgetown, and therefore are a member of the middle caste. However, even within the caste there are different levels of social standing. Members of trade guilds are considered higher than craft guilds, which in turn are considered higher than vocational guilds (mercernary guilds, guilds of adventurers, fighter and mage guilds). These different levels are identified by the markings that appear on the jewel itself and the powers that members of different levels wield, such as more voting rights, different taxes, and more freedom to trade and expand. Notable guilds in Bridgetown are the Consortium, the Elemental World, the Order of Fists, the Heroes of Legend, the Brotherhood of Mithril, and Passover. Blue ringed citizens are allowed free reign on the bottom two levels of the bridge, but are not allowed on the top level except at market and the city entrances.
Members of the nobility are identified by yellow jeweled rings. Noble blood is inherited and as such, most of the nobility are citizens who have been born into their life at Bridgetown, but sometimes wealthy nobles from other nations due choose to move to the city. As a member of the nobility, yellow ringed citizens are free to go anywhere in the city, but seldom go anywhere other than the top level of the bridge. Additionally, the family crest of the noble is magically etched into the jewel, to further identify them to their peers.
In addition to the rings worn by the common members of the caste, there are other more unique rings. A grey ring identifies the wearer as a member of the Noland family, a orange the Eldrens, a purple the Sylvans, and a green the Wollens. Members of these families are considered above any caste and are essentially the royalty of Bridgetown. The Tollmasters are recognized by their white rings, in addition to the black chainmail uniforms, and are stationed all over the top two levels of Bridgetown.
Slaves in Bridgetown can also be identified by the rings that they were. When a slave is purchased, two sets of rings (one set for each hand) are placed on the slave. Each set has five metal rings, linked together by thin chains, and are attuned to the purchaser. These rings are magical in nature, and prevent the slaves from escaping and cause intense pain if the slave disobeys any orders from their masters.
Areas of Interest
The Market District
Located on the top level of the bridge, the only area on the level (aside from the entrances) that are accessible to blue ringed citizens. Entrance to the market is found at ramps from the lower levels, or across the moat on the top level that separates the market from the noble housing. The market district is the best place in the city to get household items such as furniture and tools, food, and clothing. Weapons and armor can also be found in the market for those who do not have a good enough relationship with the smiths to get them elsewhere.
Slave and job auctions occur in the market district daily. The slave auctions are formal gatherings where the Eldrens sell any of the slaves they have gathered in the eastern kingdoms. The job auctions are less formal, and arose from the abundance of guilds fighting over work in Bridgetown. When someone needs work done and does not really care who does it, they head to the job auction and announce the parameters of the job. Then, any guilds gathered there can present an offer for the job (detail their guild, how much they’d want for the work, how long they’d expect it to take, etc.). The person offering the job then chooses who they want to take it based on these factors. Well established guilds don’t normally go to job market, as they will be sought out for work, but it is a good way for new guilds to build a reputation or earn some gold.
The Four Towers
The Four Towers are homes of the Four Houses, the trade guilds that essentially run Bridgetown. When the bridge was built, the towers were each a barracks for the guards stationed on the bridge. Repurposed after 1000 years, the towers now each house one of the four families, as well as the offices for the guilds.
There is only one bank in Bridgetown; a multilevel building, built by dwarves, that extends from the top floor of the bridge down past the water from the river underneath. While most individuals don’t have the wealth needed to make use of the bank, most organizations and guilds keep their earnings there. The bank is considered the most well guarded building in Bridgetown, and despite the vast amount of gold and treasures available there it has never been broken in to.
To use the bank, one must pay 1% of the value of the goods being deposited. However, this fee is not necessarly due at the time of deposit or withdrawl, and can be paid at a later date. While seemingly a good deal, this method intentionally causes many bank patrons to become indebted to the bank and after that it is hard to free yourself from the bank’s hold.
The Arena fights are gladiatorial battles that take place on the bottom level of the bridge. Spectators watch from the second level at a hole in the bridge. Famous arena fighters often attract the attention of mercenary or fighter guilds, and sometimes can become bodyguards to noble families, offering a better lie for themselves than they could normally hope to achieve.