From the marshy roads leading to the main city gates in the northeast and southeast, to the wharf district down at the ocean’s edge, Stormfare is wet. Moist, sloshy, damp, soggy. Wet. Due to its location on the southern half of a large atoll, the currents and clouds of the ocean tend to get sort of “stuck” over Stormfare, and, lacking any better enterprise with which to busy themselves while in this interminable holding position, they rain.
A typical day in Stormfare begins with a clear, bright sunrise. The extreme angles of light allow the first rays of morning to sneak under the cloud cover, baffling the city’s residents with their blinding glow. The confusion doesn’t last, however, as the sun soon climbs above the cloudline, leaving the city bathed in its usual wash of grey.
The clouds begin misting early on, and this fine mist gives way to actual rain around morning tea-time. Sometime after lunch a real downpour usually begins, settling quickly into a cold, drenching rain that goes until dinner time. There is sometimes a second brief appearance of the sun as it sets behind the hills in the west.
Because of the constant presence of precipitation, the entire city of Stormfare has been built up in such a way that it resembles a man in a coat and rain cloak, with his hood pulled up over his head and his shoulders hunched up against the spray of cold water issuing forth from the sky. Buildings are mostly stout and round, with good, thick roof tiles and generous gutters and downspouts leading to gutters on the ground that are so wide and well-fortified they may as well be called trenches. Most are made of high-qaulity dwarven stonework. Windows tend to be small and round and thick, and every building has a wide and warm mud room inside the front door with plenty of places to hang dripping coats.
The interiors of most buildings are painted subdued but cheery colors, and have many paintings, artifacts, books, boardgames and pets scattered about the place, anything to help keep people’s minds focused, calm, and active. The citizens of Stormfare are a varied lot; all races are welcome and present in remarkably equal amounts, with halflings having perhaps a slight edge in total numbers, but only a slight one. It is this excellent blending of all peoples’ perspectives that many say has led to the extraordinary quality of life in Stormfare, especially in the face of such constantly gloomy weather.
The hot beverages of Stormfare deserve special and particular mention. Stews, soups, tea, coffee and klah are all made and brewed for maximum impact, and are delicious beyond compare; they warm the body and soul alike, and in the case of the caffeinated beverages are quite bracing, elevating and enervating the mind. Klah brewed in Stormfare has been known to have actual medicinal properties, it’s so good.
Geographically, the city starts down by the oceanside at the wharf, through ramshackle and weatherbeaten warehouses and inns, itinerant taverns and docks, all seemingly carved from the same giant husk of greyish driftwood. The back alleys are dirt or cobbled, whatever is most convenient for those who use them most. The alleys expand into streets heading up University Hill to the North, leading to the massive and sprawling University of Stormfare itself, its buildings indistinguishable from the civilian structures around it, homes and bookstores and theatres and coffeeshops. SO MANY coffeeshops. Going from the wharf straight east leads one up Swallow Hill to the tree-lined streets of the more residential neighborhoods. South, Traitor’s Hill leads to the market district, a riot of colliding shops and storefronts, each doing its gaudy best to get attention from the inevitably ducking and rushing passersby all eager to get in from the rain, or get on to where they’re going.