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What would be at a Waystation?

Discussion in 'Research' started by troynos, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. troynos

    troynos Minstrel

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    In my world there are Waystations across the land. These are places of safety and resupply for travelers going from city to city and town to town. Each station has a garrison of soldiers called Warders of the Way that patrol the roads, protect and aid travelers, etc..

    The first book I didn't need to really describe a Station, but the next ones I will. So I figured it was time to design one.

    Each Station is almost a tiny town and meant to have everything a traveling caravan or lone adventurer would need.

    Inn/Tavern
    Blacksmith
    General Goods Store
    Wainwright/Carter
    Temple to one of the gods
    Stable

    A station near water would have services catering to those needs: docks, boatwrights, etc..

    What else would a typical station have?
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Storehouses. Granaries. Shipments coming in to restock the supplies they're passing out.

    Depending on the location, it could be a big meeting place, so there will probably be merchants using it for their goods or as a trading point. I'll bring the spices from the north, you bring the iron from the south, we'll swap at the way station. Then of course there's people who sell to those merchants, and people who sell to those people, and that's how cities are born.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    The local Law and thereby a Jail
    Whatever passes for a postal service.
    A Bank/Factor House
    A Theatre/Burlesque house [somewhere to go for "entertainment" rather than food, drink or a place to sleep]
    A House of ill repute
    Specialist shops [Magic, Herbs, Fine metals etc]
    A Pawn shop
    Doctor
    Barber
    Dentist
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Waystations kind of naturally become towns, unless there is a specific reason for them not to be... Such as a waystation on a little used road, or the location is stupid dangerous. That's my guess anyhow. This assumes civilian use, being a purely military setup, where the gov't doesn want a town could change things.
     
  5. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Or you could just keep it super simple (Millie's Haberdashery comes to mind from the Hateful 8). Terrintino was able to pack a lot of story into one tiny WayStation lol.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Sounds like a caravanserai
     
  7. johnsonjoshuak

    johnsonjoshuak Troubadour

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    And of course, all of the merchants and travelers will bring bandits, cutpurses, etc
     
  8. Alile

    Alile Scribe

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    Maybe some are located on rivers, offering travel by boat for a bit, instead of on roads? Just a thought. Roads and rivers can cross eachother or run alongside eachother. I know this isn't the question, but I just thought of it. Especially near the coast this could be a solution.
    At least some places the roads needs to cross a river and will there be a ferry or a bridge? I have seen photos of old bridges where they had guard towers on each side of the bridge. Such a location needing defence may merit more guards and a larger population.
    There would need to be a well or watersource at any waystation, and they would need food from somewhere as well. Think local food from farmers or fishermen vs. a smaller or more remote waystation that would need shipments of food and the cost for either for the Warders of the Way. You need civilian homes for all the people living close to the Waystation.
    Will your Warders live in a garrison, or work at a Station in their home area and live at home, or do they have other housing arrangements? And what are they like?
    You would need somewhere to buy clothes and shoes, horses, maybe even donkeys or mules and carriages or carts. I imagine a wheelwright would have a lot to do.
     
  9. troynos

    troynos Minstrel

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    The Warders are garrisoned. Some Stations are built at crossroads, some are along rivers, etc..

    The idea is to not become towns, but serve as a brief stop on the way from town to town, city to city. They are independent of any local governments. They are built in locations that are not natural for building a town but travelers have to pass through. Places to resupply and for protection. Neutral, safe havens for travelers.

    Silvern Station, on the banks of Loch Silvern, is the last place of "civilization" before entering the northern plains, home of the barbarian tribes who do not like outsiders. East Station is at the start of the mountain pass that leads into the Twenty Kingdoms, a no man's land between kingdoms.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Who pays for all this? What function does a Waystation serve? Not its function for travelers, what is its purpose for the central authority (I presume some sort of national or imperial power is maintaining these)?

    For, what you describe is horrifically expensive. Even castles had lands attached; that is to say, they had local income, along with the power to enforce law. I'm hard pressed to figure out what kind of central authority would have either the money, the man-power or, well, the authority to create and maintain such a network. The Waystations would have to be generating big bucks.

    Assuming you've addressed (or successfully dodged!) these questions, the other model that comes to mind is medieval monasteries. Not all of them, but certain monasteries along important routes--I'm thinking of the Alpine passes here, but there are other examples--had responsibility (taken upon themselves) to provide services to travelers. Some even maintained bridges. But again, those were local, each independent of the other.
     
  11. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    skip.knox has [more than] a point...
    At the very least the prices at such a Waystation will be exorbitant.
    In all likelihood they'd have to levy a tax on all trade that went through or control the trade of those going through.
    It sounds more along the lines of something like the Hudson Bay Company, trading and exploring for profit.
     
  12. johnsonjoshuak

    johnsonjoshuak Troubadour

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    The thing is, while these places might not be established initially as towns, they'll likely be placed in locations that make towns perfect. Travel access, fresh water, enough arable land to support crops. They might start out as simple waystations, but eventually they will evolve into towns.
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Not necessarily. Caravanserai were often in remote locations and had to do more with access to water, plus distance between. And those monasteries I mentioned were sometimes placed at or near a choke point--a bridge or a pass, for example. Here again, though, I have to emphasize these were set up largely on local rather than central authority.

    A good example of central authority waystations would be post houses (think Pony Express). Starting in the 17th century, these were established in Europe by kings to facilitate important high-speed communication along royal roads. Definitely an operating loss, but the benefit was believed to be worth the expense.
     
    troynos likes this.
  14. troynos

    troynos Minstrel

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    The post houses is where the idea started.

    They would purposely be built at locations that would not make good locations for towns but people need to pass through in order to get from one location to another. A place of safety in a wild world, a place to restock some supplies, repair wagons that came under orc or bandit attack, etc..

    Prices would be high, just like today with the last gas station before you hit that 20 mile stretch without any.
     

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