The Swinging City of Axalalail

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Tattered Rags
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The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:36 pm

Pages 52 and 53 of the Serpent River (1E) briefly discuss the city. Any other books describe it? Why is it the Swinging City? How big is it? Etc.?

(Note: I still haven't read most of that book, so some answers may be obvious in light of T'skrang culture. Please share them anyway, because I am dense and ignorant.)
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Tattered Rags
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:22 pm

Very briefly mentioned on pages 38 and 39 of Kratas: City of Thieves ("riverboat passengers and merchants among the rope swings and platforms of the hanging city of Axalalail).

Anything else?

A little more reading and I'm finding another question: is there a bridge actually anywhere across the Serpent? Engineers of Tansiarda are attempting it (or, by now, succeeded or failed, as of 4E timeline). My guess, then, is that most places you have ferries? In my Barsaive, I'm stating that a road from Travar travels along the Thunder Mountains and heads to Axalalail where it joins the Theran Road. This would need to be slightly altered to say that it ends in an industrious ferry dock run by some boisterous T'skrang.
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Bonhumm
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:57 pm

I don't remember reading any more on Axalalail than what is in the Serpent River. It's a small settlement and the short description is enough to give a general feeling for the place and for any GM to develop.

As for bridges I'm pretty sure there are none. The River is wide except near the source (i.e. north of Iopos) so I would expect bridge of this magnitude to be above the engineering capabilities of that time (yeah yeah, I know; magic! but still...)

With the help of the t'skrang that would probably be much easier, but I can't think of any aropagoi that would think a bridge over the Serpent would be a good idea.

As for ferries, they are relatively common as stated in the Serpent River book and usually cheap (10-20 coppers).

Tattered Rags
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:34 am

Thanks. I reread the entry in Serpent and realized I skipped over most of it. There is a decent enough description.

That said, it isn't a small settlement. At the very least, Kratas calls it a "town [or] notable village". What that means I guess isn't perfectly clear, but Ardanyan and Haven are included.

I think I may have enough to populate it for my players!
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Sharkforce
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Sharkforce » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:29 pm

eh, the people of barsaive can make plate armour. the questors book mentions a variety of siege engines and towers in the upandal section, plus they're building a windmill in that section too.

this isn't to say that a bridge across the serpent river is definitely for 100% sure within their capabilities or anything, but... i wouldn't assume their engineering *isn't* up to the task either. it is also entirely possible that ferries get the job done well enough at a lower cost that a bridge would be an excessively expensive project that would not provide enough benefit to be worth it though. you may very well looking at something that would take 10 or even 20 years to finish, and in the meanwhile ferries seem to be doing the job just fine...

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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Bonhumm » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:36 pm

Tattered Rags wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:34 am
That said, it isn't a small settlement. At the very least, Kratas calls it a "town [or] notable village". What that means I guess isn't perfectly clear, but Ardanyan and Haven are included.
By 'small' I meant compared to the 'real' cities like Throal/Bartertown, Travar, Urupa, Jerris, Kratas, Iopos and the aropagoi capitals.
Sharkforce wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:29 pm
eh, the people of barsaive can make plate armour. the questors book mentions a variety of siege engines and towers in the upandal section, plus they're building a windmill in that section too.

this isn't to say that a bridge across the serpent river is definitely for 100% sure within their capabilities or anything, but... i wouldn't assume their engineering *isn't* up to the task either. it is also entirely possible that ferries get the job done well enough at a lower cost that a bridge would be an excessively expensive project that would not provide enough benefit to be worth it though. you may very well looking at something that would take 10 or even 20 years to finish, and in the meanwhile ferries seem to be doing the job just fine...

Well, there is engineering and engineering. Like you said, Barsaive/Earth is much more technologically advanced than it 'should' be at this time (and a LOT more populous) with things like steel and architectural achievements that would imply a knowledge of at least basic calculus so it's hard to say what could and could not be done by them so, as you said, its more a question of what would be WORTH doing for them.

First of all, it's important to understand that the Serpent River is NOT the typical river:
- It is navigable on it's entire length up to the northern border of Barsaive without major rapids, waterfall or sections too narrow and/or to shallow to affect the passage of ships; even the tributaries are mostly completely navigable with the possible exception of the pre-Westhrall Coil River. Even the Scourge did not seem to affect its navigability as I don't remember reading anything about any major dredging works following the opening of the kaers.
- Water travel, for both people and goods, is ALWAYS preferable to road travel so this very convenient River would seriously alter the dynamic of travel in Barsaive.
- Air travel is a big question mark here: there is (and was) not that many airships (with probably 50% of them used exclusively for military purposes) so we could assume that they are used only to transport very valuable cargo... but then again there is only (at best) a million people in Barsaive so MAYBE they would represent of bigger 'chunk' of trading that what I assume.

Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that road travel would be drastically less important for trading than we've seen in 'medieval' Europe and 'colonization' Americas, so this would have a huge influence on whether its 'worth' building a bridge anywhere on the River.

Reasons to have a bridge across a major river:

1- Link the 2 sides of a major city that is spread on both shores of the River (like Buda and Pest used to be).
The only 2 major cities directly connected to the River (beside the aropagoi capitals who are... well... IN the River) are Travar and Urupa and neither are described as being 'split' by the River and, in the case of Urupa, being at the mouth of the River, we could expect it to be so wide at that point to make pre-modern age bridge completely impractical.

2- Speed up travel on a major land trade route.
-Travar and Urupa are already on the shores of the Serpent River and therefore can engage in maritime trade with pretty much everyone else without need for a bridge. Even when/if they need to trade with settlements that are not on the River itself, it would still be faster and more economical for them to send their goods by ships as near as possible for their objective and they would therefore have the luxury to decide on which side of the river to land to transfer their goods to a land caravan.
- Throal/Bartertown are relatively near the River and can send/receive goods through a short caravan trip to nearby Coil River and/or the town of Darranis.
- Kratas is in a similar situation with the Tylon River/Daiche.
- Iopos, although not on the River itself, has a canal that serve as a connection to it.
- Jerris most likely trade partners would be Iopos and Cara Fadh. The Serpent River would be a major obstacle for a land route with Iopos but, since Jerris as a major airship builder, I would expect most trade to be done by air and/or that a small settlement like Daiche/Darranis exist on the shore of the River to serve as a port to transfer the trading goods from caravan to trading ships. If Jerris wanted to bypass House Ishkarat trade monopoly they could probably extend a land route up to Daiche. As for Cara Fahd, I would, again, expect a small port city of the shore of the Liaj River to serve as a 'gateway' to the ork lands and, possibly, Vivane.
- Cara Fahd trading would be.... complicated. Their only possible partner would be Jerris through the Liaj River as most orks would never accept to trade with Vivane and that the relatively nearby Travar would be completely inaccessible by land with 2 major river crossings and the Mist Swamps and/or the Badlands in the way. They would, just like Jerris, have the possibility to extend a long land route to Daiche for access to the Serpent River trade.


Downsides of building a bridge:

1- The Aropagois: The entire River is 'the property' of an t'skrang aropagoi or another; for them, a bridge anywhere on the River would have several drawbacks:
a- Improved land routes mean less business for their trade fleet. This would be even more of an issue on the tributaries as it would also affect their ability to collect baksheva.
b- Bridges would 'steal' revenues from their ferries fleet.
c- The River itself represent a major barrier in case of military conflict; a bridge would drastically change the tactical situation for them in case of war as it would allow swift movement of (hostile) troops near their territories (i.e. the River).

Therefore, if the 'local' aropagoi says 'no' to your bridge project, there will be NO bridge. The fleet of any aropagoi would be enough to take care of any defenses protecting the construction of a bridge. The only military forces that could objectively have a chance to resist them would be Throal and possibly Blood Wood and neither of them would consider the major (and permanent) military deployment to be worth it.


2- Technical issues: The near universal navigability of the Serpent River means two things: it's wide and it's deep!
a- The dept would mean the need to construct deep pillars that would be completely beyond the engineering capabilities of a pre-Renaissance culture (or even of a pre-Industrial one), but then magic might change things here.
b- Being wide and deep, the current can be expected to powerful; wooden bridges would be completely out of the question.
c- The pillars holding the bridge would not only need to go very deep but also very high: a bridge only a few feet over the river would block riverboats... and riverboats have fire cannons. Any bridge would have to be built high enough over the River high mark to let water traffic go through with space to spare; if house Syrtis ever decide that they need to send the Dreadnaught past your bridge, you better be sure that they can or they'll just take the bridge down.


Thus, I would say the only 2 places where a bridge might be considered 'worth' it would be:

1- Somewhere near kaer Eidolon IF the following conditions where met:
A- Blood Wood opened its borders to trading (unlikely)
B-If some kind of peace could be reached with House Ishkarat as Blood Wood, House Syrtis and House Ishkarat would look at a bridge there as a potential military threat if it were to fall into their enemy's hands.

But, even if those conditions were met, the question would still be whether a bridge would be more economical than ferry transport.

2- A bridge up the northern River, somewhere between Iopos and Jerris might also be worth it:

A- Although trade between those cities would more likely to be through airships, Iopos would be keen to have a direct link between the 2 cities for swift military deployment between them.
B- So far up north (and therefore near its source) the River is likely to be less wide and deep which would certainly help the construction.


The dwarf trying to build a bridge at Tansiarda have the advantage of bypassing one of the main technical issues (the dept) by using the towers of the abandoned t'skrang village as pillars for the bridge, but I'm pretty sure the Syrtis fleet would intervene if the project got seriously underway; the house of the Dragon Moon could not risk having a bridge this close to the Cliff City.

Tattered Rags
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:44 am

Bonhumm wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:36 pm
The dwarf trying to build a bridge at Tansiarda have the advantage of bypassing one of the main technical issues (the dept) by using the towers of the abandoned t'skrang village as pillars for the bridge, but I'm pretty sure the Syrtis fleet would intervene if the project got seriously underway; the house of the Dragon Moon could not risk having a bridge this close to the Cliff City.
The Serpent River book basically says exactly that. It also gives the reason for the bridge in the first place: "a well-traveled dwarf caravan route passes near the river bank opposite Tansiarda".

Clearly land travel is profitable, or at least preferable. Perhaps dwarves dislike river travel, or the expense of riverboats is too high for very large trade when speed isn't a factor, or some other reason. Regardless, there exists a well-traveled road that some dwarves want to connect to another well-traveled road: the Old Theran Road.
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Tattered Rags
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:25 am

Need some crowdsourcing help with Axalalail, now. I've put together the following info regarding Axalalail. Sharing it both for suggestions, but also in case others wish to use it.
The trees thin out as you approach the west bank of the Coil River. The road runs directly into a busy dock. Several small buildings surround them, and people are loading and unloading small, flat boats. Three other boats travel across the river without anyone rowing, though you see a T'skrang on each holding a long pole. A rope rises at an angle from each boat, connecting to one of three ropes high up that traverse the river. These look to be tied off to large trees on either bank.
Your gaze follows those ropes to the trees on the opposite shore. Buildings, rope bridges, and all the signs of a bustling town sit there amidst the branches and limbs, like a Windling village made large. Some residents even eschew the walkways to swing from place to place on ropes suspended from higher in the branches.
This is Axalalail, the Swinging City
The ferries, by the way, are not powered. They are 'reaction ferries' which use the current of the river for propulsion, with cables suspended high enough to let riverboats move through.

That said, a couple place names I came up with: Heartwood (central marketplace) and Trunk and Bough (a popular inn in the Heartwood). Any other neat ideas people have would be great.

I also need a better name for what I'm currently calling "The Long Trial", which is the big fun-time activity of Axalalail. I figured a hanging city of T'skrang almost certainly has a place everyone goes to swing out over the water. The objective is to swing out over the river and end up at specific target trees with rope netting to grab. Every rope is tied to the same tree, but your launch tree depends on the length of rope you select. You take a running leap from the launch tree, swing out, and then release when close to the target tree, hopefully grabbing the rope cargo net. Rope selections range from 10 to 100 feet. Anything under 50 ft costs 1 cp to try. 50 ft and over costs 10 sp and net a prize worth 1 sp per foot of rope multiplied by the extra successes on your final dexterity roll.
The rolls:
Strength roll to see if you can hold on to the rope. DN is 2 for every 15 ft of rope. 3 extra successes to actually make it within reach of the netting.
Dexterity (or climbing?) to jump from the rope and grab the netting. DN is 2 for every 10 ft of rope. Each extra success gets you higher on the netting, with 3 being the maximum. Just succeeding means you just barely grabbed the net. You get no money for that (since the prize is multiplied by EXTRA successes), but you do get your Name carved into a piece of wood attached to the target tree!

The other part of The Long Trial is rope battling. Several people swing back and forth trying to knock each other off. 1 point for each successful strike, 5 points for knocking someone off, and -3 points for stalling out (having to climb back up the rope and reposition to swing again). I haven't made up any other rules. Alternatively, the winner is simply the last one left on the ropes.
Tethers are available for cowards.
10 sp entry, prize is half the total entries collected. Up to 10 people can participate. Large tournaments are organized annually, but there's usually at least 1 battle every day. Betting is very common.

I don't like the name 'The Long Trial', or at least not for the battling portion. Please, any ideas?
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Slimcreeper
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:02 am

What's the t'skrang word for spirit? jik'karah or something? maybe work that into the name? What about Flying Bind?

The Cordage Institute supervises all rope, line, and cord manufacture.

Axalaiail Trading Court - huge pole-built structure incorporating the trunks of living trees and various thatch and canvas roofs that houses the market.

Balen's Burrow - winding down through the roots of a massive tree, a cavern that houses an elementalist's guild. Legend is that their were originally two trees intertwined, slowly killing each other. Balen convinced one of the trees to just walk away - the cavern is the hollow left by its mighty roots.

Tattered Rags
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Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:19 am

Slimcreeper wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:02 am
Balen's Burrow - winding down through the roots of a massive tree, a cavern that houses an elementalist's guild. Legend is that their were originally two trees intertwined, slowly killing each other. Balen convinced one of the trees to just walk away - the cavern is the hollow left by its mighty roots.
Liked all of what you wrote, but I love this.
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