Throughout history, travelers often had to rely upon the kindness of strangers, but sometimes they found temporary shelter from the elements in inns, establishments designed especially for pilgrims and similarly transient visitors. Some inns offered little more than a dry piece of dirt to lie down upon (modern-day “fare-saver” motels seem to have embraced this lamentable tradition). A few inns provided for every comfort, but they charged increased fees for doing so. Thanks to Hollywood, many people think that inns were a fixture of ancient and medieval life, but the truth is that, throughout history, relatively few people have ever been permitted to travel very far from the place of their births, and inns weren’t as ubiquitous as mass-market fiction would lead people to believe. For example, the inns of the Roman cursus publicus, the famous system of imperial roads, could only be used by military personnel and government couriers with special permits. Conditions were not much different in medieval Europe, as travelers other than merchants (and sometimes even them) were looked upon with suspicion. Only when the world grew much safer did anything resembling the modern concept of inns, motels, and hotels come into being.
The forest and meadow might seem like an unusual place for adventure and danger. The words bring to mind the images of bucolic places ranging from the glens in Sleeping Beauty to the alpine meadows in The Sound of Music. But remember the forest and meadow (an interface wne between two vastly different kinds of terrain) is one of the most common areas in the natural world, and much possibility arises.
The family farm is one of the classic American settings in fiction depicted with sentimental aura of naivete, an iconic example of wholesome family values. This upright persona of clean living is precisely the reason the setting of the farm is excellent for twisting into the fabric of a good adventure. Whether it involves a busload of teenagers being stalked by a psychopathic killer or a facade masking the secret base of a super genius bent on world domination, the benign and deceivingly boring country farm can hold many surprises. Even in a more family-oriented adventure, it is a good stalking ground for a talking animal and its crime- fighting buddies.
The dock front emerged from a simple yet ancient problem: How do you connect ships and their stuff co dry land as efficiently as possible? The dock front provides a centralized location for ships to launch and land, load and unload cargo, and manage their legal and bureaucratic affairs.
Of the many modern structures in existence, few are as specialized yet utilitarian as the convention center. Even the earliest designs were enormous structures, sometimes created for one-use purposes such as a world’s fair. Designed to host commercial activity, the convention center often serves the same function as the trade fairs of ancient times, when merchant caravans would assemble in large fields outside a nearby city to trade among themselves and the inhabitants of surrounding areas. In size, the modern convention center (from the 1940s and onward) can range from a small facility of thousands of square meters to enormous “cities within cities” of multi-level structures miles across. Such behemoths have their own power plants, attached hotels, gigantic docking areas, and operations centers. Often, convention centers are divided into halls, each capable of hosting a trade show or convention simultaneously.
Convenience stores are small shops, usually positioned along busy roads or intersections. Most convenience stores also sell fuel for vehicles, and the convenience store sales supplement the primary income provided by gasoline. Convenience stores sell various goods and services, often unessential: newspapers and magazines; lottery tickets; drinks, such as soda, water, juices, and beer; light groceries, such as cereal, canned goods, eggs, and milk; money orders; toiletries and pharmaceuticals (painkillers, cold medicine, and so on); and car materials, such as maps and oil. They also offer junk food (chips, candy, and the like) and sometimes real food (hotdogs, wrapped sandwiches, or even a small deli or hot bar). One hallmark of modern convenience stores is the “slushie” machine – a rotating tumbler that freezes flavored water into a snow-like drink.
City streets include everything from a dirt road through a one-horse town all the way up to multiple lane highways filled with hundreds of pedestrians in a major metropolis.
In Western cultures, the dead are most often buried, but there are alternatives. Some undergo cremation, while others are enshrouded and placed in crypts. A relative few are left exposed to the elements, in obeisance to traditions spanning thousands of years, and fewer still are those who undergo preservation (or mummification in the Egyptian style) in order to be put on display, sometimes in the name of science, sometimes not. A very few are cryogenically frozen and sealed in large cylinders, awaiting the day that science might find a cure for their various conditions and revive them.
A cavern system is a series of interconnected caves formed from running water or lava flows, often reaching deep into the earth or side of a mountain. Cavern systems are the quintessential “dungeon,” seeing use by humanity over tens of thousands of years as shelters, places of worship, living quarters, refuges in time of war and storage areas.
Once considered the height of sin and shunned by so-called proper society, casinos are now seen as a lawful if not quite yet respectable source of revenue for many civic entities. They can be fow1d in many U.S. states, especially on Native American reservations, where the added income is (theoretically, at any rate) channeled into education and other social programs. Despite protests co the contrary by local law enforcement officials, organized crime has a connection (however distant) to every casino operated outside of the reservations (and probably has a hand in those, too). Some casinos are dark, dingy, rather depressing places full of cigarette smoke, noisy gaming machines, and desperate-looking, glassy-eyed patrons chat mechanically place bets as if they’ve never known another life. Ocher casinos are clean, relatively smoke-free, and achieve at least the illusion of energy and opportunity with bright lights and flashing and pinging machines.