The Frozen City
If Ptolus has a heart (though most would say that it doesn’t), it is Midtown. This is the crossroads of Ptolus, where
common folks rub shoulders with the not-so-common, where everyone goes in order to get anywhere else, and
where all newcomers to the city inevitably end up first. Midtown is the most cosmopolitan area of what is
almost certainly the most cosmopolitan city in the world.
Population: About 14,000 Primary
Primary Social Class: Low to Middle
The Flavor of Midtown
Midtown may be the most purely “Ptolus” section of town. This is where adventurers come, where a lot of nonhumans live—in essence, this is the hub of the city. “Everything passes through Midtown,” the saying goes.
The streets are about ten feet wide—fifteen feet wide in a few places, and Center Street, which traverses the entire district on a diagonal, is a full twenty feet wide. Regardless of their width, the streets are almost always crowded with locals going about their business and others just passing through to get to one of the Market wards, the Temple District, the Guildsman District, or Oldtown. This district was one of the first to adopt etheric street lighting, giving it a lively glow and good illumination even at night.
The smell of cooked meals mixes with the odor of garbage and sewage at times, but often the rainwater clears away the nastier refuse. A dog tethered to a hook in the door of a house barks at passersby. Children kick a ball around in front of the adjacent house. The streets are full of people carrying things: their washing, a child or two, their trash to dump into the river, or a stack of newly printed broadsheets for distribution. And that’s just for starters.
Unlike most other districts in the city, one can break down Midtown into different neighborhoods, each with its own name and distinctive feel. None of theses neighborhoods are districts unto themselves, although some of them are larger than the Warrens.
EMERALD HILL Named for its greater than normal volume of trees, shrubbery, and grassy lawns, the Emerald Hill neighborhood is a favorite among the elves. It is generally considered one of the nicer, safer neighborhoods in Midtown, if not in all of Ptolus. Unlike the rest of the city, here the buildings are almost all uniformly made only of wood (no stone). Most are built in the elven style, with sloping span roofs and an angular or curved rather than rectangular layout. Tree-lined boulevards are common in the area, as are small but verdant parks.
As the city has a total elf population of about seventy-five hundred, all local elves by no means live in this one neighborhood. That said, most of the thousand or so people who do live in Emerald Hill are elves and half-elves.
At the heart of Emerald Hill (at the literal top of the hill) lies a walled compound known as Iridithil’s Home. The compound has a small temple, a number of gardens, and other services, but it primarily offers elves an elaborate inn and restaurant. Here, some of the city’s more prominent and influential elves congregate in surroundings free of other races.
FAIRBRIAR Once the Fairbriar neighborhood was a community devoted to gnomes and, to a lesser extent, halflings. In the last twenty years, however, enough humans and elves have moved into the neighborhood to change the tenor of the place. Now Fairbriar, located just south of Emerald Hill, is home to about two hundredfifty gnomes, one hundred halflings, two hundred humans, and around one hundred elves.
About half the houses and tenements in this primarily residential area are sized for short folk: The doorways are only four to five feet high, and the windows stand only two feet from the floor.
Fairbriar gets its name for the street that runs through the neighborhood, known for a number of good restaurants and a handful of shops that cater to the needs of smaller folk (Small-size clothing, furniture, tools, and so on). Humans and elves have moved into the neighborhood in recent years because of the area’s proximity to an excellent school and a number of good eateries. Some of the finest musical instrument shops are found in Fairbriar.
KATTERWOOD A few thousand halflings reside all over Ptolus. Of all the nonhuman races, halflings seem least interested in keeping to themselves. They enjoy mixing with other races—particularly elves and humans, whom they quite like. The more clannish halflings, however, live either in Fairbriar or Katterwood. Populated almost exclusively by halflings and humans, Katterwood is a friendly and welcoming place, often filled with music.
The central square of Katterwood, known as Jurrin’s Plaza, is filled with the traditional nomadic pony-wagons that halflings employ as they travel. Most are very old and haven’t moved in decades.
LONGBOTTOM The southern strip of Midtown is named after the neighborhood’s longtime nickname. Mostly an extension of the Guildsman District, the Longbottom area is filled with a strange hodgepodge of warehouses and tenements, with a few private homes. In this rough neighborhood, many of the older buildings stand empty and abandoned today.