Sunday, November 20, 2005

Way Inns - The Travellers' Resting Place

In the sparsely populated Valley of Baryn, a traveler can often find himself cut off from any civilization for days, perhaps even weeks at a time. In answer to this, the people of Vale have established an institution known as the Way Inn. Way Inns are large inns, far beyond your local rest spot. Nearly a settlement in their own rite they offer accommodations beyond simple room and board, often keeping at least a blacksmith and often a tailor and/or outfitter or other services on hand. Though many of these Way Inns are family establishments, some are cooperative ventures between local craftsmen and traders.

Though each Way Inn is different and varies in size from a single large building, to several buildings standing in a cluster, and all the way to a full enclosed collection of building, protected by a defensive wall (mainly in troubled spots and near the mountains' edge), they all have a few things in common. Catering to weary travelers, they all make an attempt to satisfy the needs of travelers who may have been away from home for a long time. To this end, simple things such as baths, good food, comfortable beds, strong drink and friendly service are a must. Most Way Inns have a staff of dozens including many cooks, servants, a talented hunter (responsible for finding the finest game) and no small number of armed wardens.

As has been mentioned, other services are often available, either by specific intent by the inn's owner or as a proxy business or cooperative venture developed in partnership with the inn. One constant among these services is blacksmiths who know that such inns are a sure place to find work repairing wheels, armor, weapons and other common wares. Bower and fletching services are also commonly available as most way inns have a huntsman on hand or retainer who is glad to earn the extra coin. Less common but by no means infrequent are such services as healers, apothecaries, even scribes or map makers. Also available, mostly near the mountains, are assayers and money changers. In some cases a chapel will be attached to the Way Inn which may provide any of these services through the clergy there.

Way Inns can be vulnerable at times, due to their isolation and the small number of people living at their locations. Even the best defended Way Inn is no match for anything greater than a small raiding force. Most Way Inns greatly rely on hired help or the assistance of local wardens or wandering rangers, but such assistance is sporadic. As such, a Way Inn usually keeps a good network of informants and scouts on retainer to help them predict when a threat may be nearing and so take appropriate action. Such tasks are a good source of income for wandering warriors, sell-swords or adventurers between quests.

Way Inns are an institution in Vale and there are some that have reached a certain level of renown through reputation or in some cases, such as the Willow Brook Inn, through song and tale. Such inns are usually much more frequented than others due to their fame and can rely on more aid than others.

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