The heart of the Burg of Volhof, the town itself is a small to medium sized settlement on the banks of the Black Water river, notable as one of the main safe havens along the Steppe Way trade route, and as the only place where one can cross the Black Water River by bridge to gain access to the Vampire nation of Ymeris to the east.
The town is surrounded on all sides by a stone curtain wall, including its eastern boundary which abuts the Black Water River, complete with battlements and four guard towers placed at the cardinal points of the compass. Access within the wall is provided by a gate set into the western tower, which exits onto the expanse of the Wyrm Steppes and in the eastern tower, which exits directly onto the bridge spanning the river into Ymeris on the opposite bank. One notable fact about the towns battlements, is that they are covered with a wooden roof and a wooden back wall, providing those manning them with protection from aerial attack from above and behind. Additional fortifications for the town are provided half way along the bridge spanning the Black Water, which connects the Burg of Volhof and the Wyrm Steppes to Ymeris and the Desolation of Hissh. This mid-point of the bridge, right on the middle supporting structure of the double arched bridge, has a barbican built into it, able to hold a garrison of thirty, from which the Burg’s soldiers can defend the bridge and try to deny any attackers from reaching the walls and the main gate of the town itself. In addition to being a defensive structure the gates of the barbican also act as a toll booth for trade and traffic coming either to or from Ymeris. Furthermore, in the town square there is a large, fortified tower that is intended to act as a place where the townsfolk and troops of Volhof can seek refuge should the barbican and the outer walls fall. This tower has a large, underground space in which stores can be kept to withstand a siege and where the Burghers can shelter whilst what remains of their troops can fight in the levels of the tower above them. As well as having a covered battlement atop the tower, access is provided by steps leading up to the first floor of the structure, rather than a gateway at ground level, to further inconvenience anyone attempting to storm it.
As a town whose mainstay is trade, Volhof is well provided with good quality, well maintained roads across the whole of the town, most of which are wide enough to allow for two carts to pass one another without incident. There are two main inns that cater to trade traffic, one at the town’s western gate, The Weary Wyrm, and one on the town’s eastern end, by the gate in the town wall that leads onto the bridge over the Black Water and to Ymeris beyond, the Last Call. Both of these inns have ample space for traders to park their wagons, but when large trading caravans are in town it is frequent to find the roads littered with parked carts left whilst their owners go off to find rest or sustenance. Many of the town’s businesses cater to the trading traffic, either providing stores and supplies for their journeys or acting as middle men to buy wares from one trader or caravan and sell them to another for a profit. However, there are many businesses that cater more towards the local population, most of which are set back from the main streets, and most of the town folk prefer to frequent the Boisterous Burgher Tavern for their liquid refreshment, rather than rub shoulders with the out of towners at the two inns. In addition to the above ground infrastructure, great care has been taken to create a sewer network beneath the town, which drains straight into the Black Water, and as the river’s waters are not considered to be palatable, a number of wells and public fountains have been constructed throughout the town to provide clean drinking water for the burghers.
Guilds and Factions
Volhof is too small to have guilds or professional associations, but there are a couple of factions within the community which do have an impact on life within the town. Whilst most of the town’s inhabitants are suspicious at best, and down right hostile at worst to anyone from or showing interest in their neighbour Ymeris, there is a growing political faction which has gained enough traction within the community to operate openly in public, which argues that closer relations with the Vampires should be fostered, to ensure the protection of the town from the outside world and the occasional destruction wrought on the Material Plane by the actions of the Divines in the Divine War. On occasion, this faction have even gone so far as to suggest that the town’s dedication to Gormallis may even make them a target, as the Divine fights for the Polephemites in the Divine War. In addition, the fear and nervousness within the town that expansion is moving higher up the agenda of the Midnight Court has meant that the town’s guard have become an increasingly powerful faction, with successive Captains of the Volhof Guard arguing for better pay, working conditions and leave allowances for their troops, with each noting that as the guard will be the ones laying down their lives should Ymeris ever decide to attack they should be treated accordingly. Indeed, the guard have even gone so far to make threats of strikes or even direct action on occasions when Burgomeisters or the Burgomeister’s Council have tried to push back against their demands.
The Burg’s situation on the Wyrm Steppes between the City-State of Ristan and its port to the north, Ymeris to the east and the trade route of the Steppe Way to the south leading to the southern nations of the steppes and eventually to the Empire of Turelion's Ferio Province via the Wyvern Pass means that it attracts a fair number of visitors, though few would be labelled as tourists. Those who journey to Volhof who are travelling with worldly curiosity and sight-seeing in mind are in reality only passing through the town, with their final destination being Ymeris to the east, and the many secrets kept hidden within the castles of its Vampiric overlords.
Despite not being located near an area of woodland, most of Volhof’s buildings are constructed out of wood though they are often constructed with stone or brick ground floors and wooden upper floors. Clay sourced from the banks of the Black Waterand made into ceramic tiles are the predominant roofing material, which gives a vista from the town walls of a sea of black roofed buildings. The occupants of most buildings have taken great pains to augment their homes by having decorative patterns carved into the wooden support beams of the exterior and interior of their houses, which are often picked out in red or white paint. These carvings depict all manner of subject matter, often with routes in myths and legends, but they predominantly show happy scenes rather than allegorical tales.
Volhof is a town that lives off trade and they have few natural resources within their environs at their disposal. The only resources that they produce locally is the produce farmed in the fields that surround the town, and they are almost exclusively destined for local consumption, though some makes its way up to be traded in Ristan to the north.