The Book of Common Knowledge

Feel free to peruse the following tidbits. The following is generally known information around the city. They may or may not be of any interest/importance to your hero, so make of it what you will.

The dock area spans the Great River from west to east the entire length of the city. According to legend, it has sufficient docks to handle every boat on the river at any given time. The truth of this statement has never been tested. Despite the islands to the west, the water is still deep enough to handle many ocean-going vessels. As a result, Altamira sees trade ships from both the Vendel (who sail around Montaigne and up the Great River) and the Vodacce (who have just a short trip downriver). To avoid any misunderstandings, the dock area is split by nationality. The Vendel keep to the western side of the city, the Vodacce to the east, and everyone else takes up the middle.

Because of the vast amount of trade that goes on and a purely Castillian attitude about trade (all the goods are of high quality and are priced reasonably); Altamira sports a population of nearly 75,000 people at any given time. Two-thirds of the population are foreign traders, so it’s not unusual to hear a plethora of different languages in a very short time.

Despite its position as a trade hub, Altamira is known as "The Most Peaceful Place in Castille." That has a lot to do with the fact that it retains its small-town feeling despite its population. All of the roads remain unpaved and fortunately for the populace, rainfall is sufficiently low so as to keep the roads from becoming un-navigable (while still being sufficient to ensure the success of Altamira's many crops).

The people are noted for their friendliness and welcoming attitude. It's said that spending a day in Altamira is as good for one's health as spending a week anywhere else in Theah. As such, every one of the ruling families of Castille have at least one Rancho here. That includes Good King Sandoval, whose Rancho extends from La Selva de Fendes all the way to El Lago del Reyes.

The current gossip du jour is the increasing tensions between Altamira's two most successful merchant families, the de Cordobas and the de Silvas. It had been looking like the de Cordobas (under the command of Alfonzo Cortez de Cordoba and his wife Vivienne Ontiveros Cortez de Cordoba) were the hands-down winners. That is, until the untimely death of the de Silva patriarch. Rather than going with an obvious choice, they brought in a formerly unknown child, Santino Avilla de Siva, giving him complete control over the family's holdings. Immediately tensions rose, but how this will play out remains to be seen.

Even less rosy is the presence of the Inquisition. After several years of looking elsewhere for heresy, it seems Cardinal Verdugo once again has his sights set upon Altamira. Presently they are keeping a low profile (no doubt due to Altamira's commercial value), but the dark reminders of those days two years ago are never far from people's minds.

Speaking of, rumors continue to circulate about strange goings on at the University of Arciniega. Despite the Inquisition's ill-fated attempt on the former headmaster's life (they'd apparently underestimated not only Señor Arciniega's prowess with a blade but also the number and variety of friends willing to hide him from their prying eyes).

Finally, as any native can tell you, one of the most interesting neighborhoods to spend time is the Guild District. It is so named not because of the location of the city's many guilds but rather because of the Guild of San Marcos near the epicenter of the area. The place is simply crawling with swordsmen (and thus the best place in Altamira to hire one should you need to) making it one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Unfortunately, the sheer number of swordsmen means a lot of bumping and shoving (and trying to make a name for themselves), so dueling happens with alarming frequency in the area. Fortunately, serious injuries are rare (and fatalities, unheard of).