The Black Market
Ostap’s Oils- This is the original Snake Oil salesman. Ostap has attended every convention since the first one was held in Marsuth, over twenty years ago. Now pushing seventy, he is a staple at the annual event. Ostap has no pure thieving skills to speak of, but like many of the attendees, he is a specialist of the first order. Ostap sells oils. His original ‘snake oil’, derived from a rare species of serpent now nearly extinct, but slightly more common decades ago, was his original best seller. This oil, extracted from the Albino Grass-Cutter snake during its molting ritual, and magically enhanced by a process taught to Ostap by a now dead mage, caused the recipient of a full body rub, to be able to thermoregulate his or her body temperature, even in extreme cases of cold or heat. Alas, this species of snake and the oil itself are now nearly non-existent. That hasn’t stopped Ostap however, from trying himself, without the help of the deceased mage, to make magic oils again. He’s been trying for the last twenty years, in fact, without success. Regardless, Ostap’s reputation has allowed him to sell a dizzying array of fake oils in the years that followed, all the way up to the present day, to unsuspecting marks and hopeful thieves. Of course he also sells quite ordinary oils for various mundane uses. By the way, if you are a wizard, Ostap wants to speak with you privately.
Shaddock’s Den - Not selling anything, Shaddock is a rail of man who sets up a gambling parlor in the middle of the black market. Money flows freely as card tables and over tossed dice. Tall, and predatory, Shaddock haunts the tables, keeping a close eye on his employees and the patrons who are winning too muc, or who have lost too much. He doesnt like a set-up or a con. Aside from two muscle-bound toughs and half a dozen dealers, Shaddock keeps half a dozen scantily clad women on the payroll to distract clients, leaning their assets on shoulders and whispering in ears when the gambler should watch the cards.
Noble Harrods - This small stall is the workshop of the self-titled Noble Harrod of Vandegraff. Armed with a sharp quill and top notch paper making skills, Harrod has forged numerous patents of nobility, indeed passing himself off as the Earl of Lower Vandegraff, a place that does not exist. He sells fake patents of nobility, forged documents of license, allowing for possession of restricted weaponry, or even permits to conduct sorcery in civilized areas
Snuggly Jakes - Snuggly Jake sells clothes and apparel for the well-dressed rogue. His stalls feature jerkins, leggings, boots, cloaks, hats, gloves, vests, and anything else that would make sense based on the fashions of the times. Snuggly Jake is an expert tailor. He doesn’t settle down in any place for too long however, due to his ‘nomad heart’. Hence these events are a perfect way for him to indulge in his favorite past time of traveling, seeing new places, and selling his wares. Jake’s forte, and what makes his stall a staple at these conventions, is what his customers call his "pocket fetish". Having a predilection himself for losing small items, Jake has made it a point, throughout his career, to sew numerous pockets, both visible and hidden into all his clothing. Even his hats and gloves feature pockets! Socks and underwear too!
Ironbow’s - This druid, one Fabious Ironbow, seems much out of place in the machevellian world of the Convention, but he is quite at home. He represents no guild, but rather the banditry of the (insert forest) where he harasses the wealthy to give to himself. To be a further pain in the side of the lumberjacking and assarting nobles, he spends a week a year selling magically enchanted wooden weapons to thieves. Many a constable has been warded away with the line, No minds burke, it’s only a wooden jobber.
Billacopo’s Claws- Billacopo sells grappling hooks, or claws, as he calls them, as well as caltrops of every shape, size, and sort. He also sells a popular item, known as "puncture vine". This is a weed, which grows in the southern hemisphere. Once the small, starburst-like buds of this plant are snipped, they harden quickly, resembling actual man-made caltrops. What makes them unique, however, is that these starbursts, like the weed itself, are mildly poisonous. These not only cause considerable pain to unshod feet, but also slowly cause a sort of drunkenness effect in the individual who steps on one. Those who have already imbibed a considerable amount of alcohol, will be on the verge of a blackout, ten to twenty minutes after stepping on or being pricked by one, due to the strange chemistry involved between this plant and distilled spirits, within the bloodstream. In the southern lands, where puncture vines grow, murderers use them often in their killings.
Bigknee’s Barter Bigknee’s knees are quite ordinary, so no one knows how he got his name. If asked, the grumpy man tells you to mind your own business. Bigknee’s booth looks like an antique shop that exploded. Any and every chochtka you can think of…he has! Bigknee takes no coin however. Instead he will trade your stuff for his. Or a "knick for a knack", as he can often be heard squawking. Barter is his game, Bigknees is his name. Bigknee usually gets in league with the guidmasters of the yearly event, and holds one of the items, which is to be found during the infamous and often times comical (at least to any onlookers) scavanger hunt. Thieves can be seen emptying their pockets in desperation as they fumble to give Bigknee something he will actually accept in return for that special item, needed for the hunt.
Soft Foots’ Secrets- Soft Foot is the most despicable, revolting man one can encounter in their lifetime, despite being a quiet, unassuming man. He prides himself on his physical characteristics, as he is quite average in appearance and would not stand out in any crowd. This helps Soft Foot perpetrate his many crimes. Soft Foot is a serial rapist, and is wanted in almost every city in the realm for countless assaults on unsuspecting women. The worse kind of psychotic, one you would never recognize, if he was chatting with you over some ale in a tavern, Soft Foot sells his peculiar wares only at these conventions, and no where else. Soft Foot sells wares for the sexually deviant criminal. What these items might be is left to the imagination of the reader. In fact, the less that is said about Soft Foot and his stall, the better.
Grigno’s Fruits and Vegetables- Actual fruits and veggies, but with a surprise in every gourd or pear. Kind of like a cracker-jack box for thieves, or fortune cookies so to speak. Grigno’s peculiar tradition stems from those times when law enforcement prevented him from selling thieves nick-nacks out in the open. So he started stuffing items into fruits and veggies. Most of these surprise items are quite mundane but often useful. He also is known for putting one Gold Dragon every year into a random fruit or vegetable. The lucky thief who finds it, gets a prize form Grigno. His profits from the all of the thieves buying his produce just to get to the Gold Dragon, more than makes up for the prize he gives out. This is usually a minor scroll of protection, usable by thieves, which Grigno gets from a mage friend of his, in return for delicious and rare hoarberries, which the wizard cant get enough of.
Blackie’s Black (and Back)- a shop for weapon accessories. Blackie is a rather devious woman, her face marred by a knife-fighting scar. She is a leatherworker and tooler by trade and deals mostly in scabbards with hidden compartments, and the like. she also sells the oils and uguents required for the maintenance of leather and metal goods. She is most famous for her secret recipe weapon black, a polish that renders even the brightest silver to a matte black. No flash of steel to alert those pesky city guards here. Whne not tending the both, she frequents Shaddocks where the blandishments of the working girls do little to distract her.
Elbows Archery - Elbows Murphey is a slight man, one frequently accussed of being a gnome given his skill with intricate devices and his modest height of five feet even. His claim to fame is the folding crossbow, an elegant weapon that can fold up small enough to be hidden under a cloak and used in assassinations and in cities where weapons are strictly controlled. It is a beacon of his pride that the number of important personages slain by his weapons is only rivaled by poisonings and hunting accidents’. His a small and down to earth man who has a very large bone of contention with the nobility and the clergy.
The Ghost’s Raven - An elderly man works at this humble shop, providing one of the secret weapons of the thieves guild, a spell that creates a spectral raven, only visible under the light of the cresent moon. The nameless wizard was once a thief, but had to abandon the rakespath after a career ending injury sustained in a fall. Since then, he has peddled his modest spell talent to the guild in exchange for membership, and an eventual retirement. He loaths the wizard and mage guilds and as such will generally avoid predominantly magic using PCs.
Additional Ideas (14)
Their booth is fairly low key. It is mostly two low tables sitting pillows, a few chairs, and a serving table with some cheese, wine, and a metallic contraption that makes the best tea and klah you have ever tasted. A few members are dressed in fairly bland looking local clothing, and some odd dark glass eyeshades that they Family tends to wear. They are polite and business like, but do not wish to gain "more power" or "more territory". They just want their own business concerns and to be left alone. If you have something interesting, profitable, and to their eyes, without risk, they will gladly do business with you.
The Family waundered into the criminal scene a few decades ago. Little is honestly known about them. Given their organization is in full bloom, they came from somewhere else (rumored to be on the other side of the Great Khanate Empire and Orcen tribes). They have the ability to move things. This make them smugglers without peer, both import and export. They are a tight lipped bunch, never talking much to anyone outside of their own organization. However, they tend to be exceptionally polite and seem almost bored by what is going on around them.
While a few guilds took offense by their moving in, most accepted them quickly. Especially since those that were aggressive against them, were never seen again.
The Family of Cleshedor specializes in moving people and things from one place to another, with near magical speed and ability. Big loads, small loads, ships or caravans worth of slaves, it makes no difference. They can make people disappear never to be found again, even with magics. How they achieve this, no one can say for sure... though many speculate. Some say they have access to a Gate Network that still works from Imperial times. Others say they use illusion and deception to make others miss their work. A few simply think they are just more organized than everyone else, utilizing carefully created tunnels and clamp carts (primitive railroads with pulley systems moving cars). While they seem to have some odd contraptions and odder magic items, no one can pin down the truth. All can agree that they are not from around here And that is fairly profitable to work with The Family.
Follow Free-Text Waunderers
An uncommon name for a business that is by all accounts, run by a very unusual individual, even by the shady standards of the Market. Located on the more obscure outskirts of the Market out of his paranoid fear that some nosy parker might develop an inclination to thwart his ambitions, the Horatio lurks in his cone shaped mud-hut like a hungry spider, keeping a constant vigil at the entrance for customers genuinely interested in the products he has to offer for sale.
And what truly exotic products they are. Peek into Horatio's hut and you will see hundreds of reed cages covering almost every inch of his modest dwelling. Horatio as any visitor will soon come to discover, is an avid breeder of insects. Yes, insects. A most accomplished keeper of slimy, little repulsive things, Horatio has managed through years of zealously forcing distantly related species of bugs to mate with one another, resulting in a bewildering variety of insects that possess rather interesting attributes which a thief would find very useful indeed. Want a bug that can noiselessly disable sturdy locks for you? His unique Cront roaches can pull off this trick, when the lock in question is smeared with traces of their favorite snack, decaying pig brain material, their beloved food item. Just let them get a whiff of it and then release them from their cage, to watch with satisfaction as they slobber all over the lock with their destructive vomit, a highly corrosive substance the shade of thick, putrid yellow that utterly dissolves and melts the metal. Or need a bug that unleashes powerful fumes capable of causing an entire posse of guards to swoon, while you make off with the loot? Horatio's Bulg Spider can do this very nicely. Just remember to swallow an antidote, and then happily see your plan unfold as the fist sized critter is provoked into unleashing its deadly load when one of its legs is ripped off. Oh, and if any guard is strong enough to endure the stench and come after you, just chuck the severed leg at any part of his exposed skin that you see. The numerous toxin-laced hairs sprouting from it, immediately cause blood poisoning upon coming into contact with naked skin. Feel like poisoning anyone to death? Simply grab a pair of gloves, and give a bloated Shar slug a gentle squeeze. A few of the sickly green drops that ooze from its pores are enough to kill a hundred men.
Yes, old Horatio can be very useful at times, or rather his hideous little creations are. They certainly earn him a handsome profit, the little beasties.
And yet, Horatio continues to live in a state of wretched poverty. The clothes that clad his thick, grotesque body are rags, while the food he eats would make a pig gag. Unlike your common black market trader, Horatio isn't keen on accumulating money. Most of what he earns, is spent on procuring ever more rare types of bugs to breed with his existing stock.
Horatio, you see, lives only to inflict his vengeance on those who wrecked his dreams. Once a respected researcher of natural history for the Royal Archives and a devoted observer of the marvelous mini-beasts known as insects, he dreamt of the day that the miraculous abilities of these tiny invertebrates could be harnessed to aid man-kind in all his endeavors. Only to be sacked from the position he occupied when he proposed to cross-breed into existence, a species of fast breeding silk spinning insect that would make silk a widespread commodity. Powerful nobles owning large cotton growing plantations, became concerned for their future profits in a world where silk was readily available, and insisted that the king discharge from his service, this man who was audacious enough to incur the wrath of God by tampering with His creations.
Furious at their greed, Horatio vowed to punish them for it. And so he vanished from the sight of all academia, choosing to forge a new path for himself in the shadowy world of crime..
Twenty years have passed since then, and Horatio revels in the satisfaction that his creations bring him. That, and the knowledge that they now assist in emptying the vaults of the ones who halted his progress for their own narrow, selfish interests. However, a part of him lives in constant fear that his old oppressors are aware of what he is up to, and conspire to put an end to his research for once and all. Terrified of this prospect, Horatio avoids the other criminal traders of the Market as he is suspicious of their true identities, keeping to himself as much as possible. They in turn, think him a crazy, insect obsessed loon, and dismiss him as such. It's an arrangement that works for everyone, Horatio included.
It looks like a normal market day stall. Rigging supplies of all types; ropes of all types, coil wraps (some are retractable, a feature that is unique to his shop and something he is quite proud of), pullies and tackles, winches, koge gloves and shoes (hooked gloves and shoes to make rigging easier to climb), waterproof bags and gear (for rain while on the deck), sticky gloves (for ease of climbing), and a variety of pitch for climbing and waterproofing. Normally this is a maritime shop, but it is selling things to this rarified clientel to pick up a few silver.
Kramer is a bit nervous being here. He is not a thief, nor even that shady of a character. However, since most of the drydocks and warfs are closing in his town, there has been nobody else to buy his gear. He never asked what the occasional shady character was buying boat gear for when business was good. Now that they are most of his business, he desperately is trying not to think about what they are doing with it.
This is a very nice place in a very bad part of town. This is where the upper echelons of the criminal society dine. An occassional noble or merchant might find their way here, either on a dare or having a secretive meeting. The fare is a bit expensive for the neighborhood (heck most of the city actually), but the house sauce is Xoct sauce.
Here, they are selling the Bounder's Special which consists of a bowl of noodles, rice batter fried chicken, and Xoct Sauce. (Note: Bounder is the current slang for a cat burgler. It comes from bounding from roof to roof. ) They are also selling small bottles of the sauce that they are making locally.
Perlin is a traveler, though no one knows where he goes to. But wherever it is he comes back with many different trinkets and the like. They say he makes his own potions, using materials procured on his travels, but no one knows really.
Powders- His biggest seller by far has to be his "Huemag," a samll distraction of excellent quality. It's a galss bottle with a black liquid, and some sort of ground metal at the bottom of it. It's thrown and when it hits something it produces a large cloud of black, noxious smoke. It also tends to burn whatever it breaks open on, much to the dismay of many a city guard. Another of his big sellers is a brownish powder that when burned removes the user's feeling of pain.
Potions- While his potions are no where near the quality of any decent herbalist, his poisons more than make up for it. He also sells some of the strongest acids avalible on the street, some capable of eating through two inches of iron in half a minute. But one of his more requested potions is a black liquid, extremely bitter, that increases ones reflexes three, sometimes even four, fold, and allowing one to remain awake for long periods of time.
Perennials- The main seller here are plants that are near impossible to cut through, also possessing vicious thorns. Some of these are rumored to have poison in them, but with the restrictions on poisons within many cities you won't hear him telling you this. He also sells some vicious, man-eating plants; a vine that chokes living creatures and puts their bodies on its roots, a massive fly-trapesque monster that'll eat anything that moeves. He also sells an interesting weapon, a slightly magical, extremely fast growing vine. You simply throw it at something, preferably organic, and yell the command word and a plant will grow before your very eyes. It's a vicious thistle that'll shoot it's roots into the first thing it hits. The plant grows rapidly then, sucking all the avilible nutrients out of their substrate and growing to cover areas easily 20-30 feet wide.
A failed wizards apprentice, Carravi is a genial and well spoken man and one of the few tailors who frequents the Black Market. While his wares are not illegal, they are valuable to the criminal intent, and are quite pricey. He flashes a black cloak and tells that he took a swatch of midnight sky and sewed it into the lining. Once worn, the Thief gets bonuses to hide. nother gray cloak was woven from cloth that was drawn from mist and fog and woven into physical form.
A consumate socialite, Carravi is possibly the most friendly face to be seen at the market.
The Knotworker is a retired guildmaster, who's true name once instilled fear in merchants and travellers far and wide. His infamous career ended when he was cursed by the priests of Tupu the Metal-Mind, after the Knotworker brazenly attempted to rob the treasury of the Smiths' god. Now, the Knotworker is a living pretzel. A man of misshapen and twisted limbs. Unable to work his trade, constantly in pain, and sadly, no longer able to command respect from subordinates, the Knotworker has found a new niche. He is the giver of advice and answerer of queries. His booth is empty and featureless. The Knotworker is the Dear Abby of the Black Market. Thieves from all walks of life, stop here to ask the Knotworker questions. Any question...from the best way to pick a particular lock, to shipping lanes schedules, to the whereabouts of some specific item, the Knotworker is well-respected and sought out often, for he has truly become a font of all information, treasured by thieves. The Knotworker will answer any question to your satisfaction, or he'll return your coin! But its a gold coin per question, so dont waste his time.
Bring him your "knot"...he'll untie it.
This is a small, neat booth with many small bottles displayed on the counter, run by a genial man by the name of Johnathan. He's tall and thin, and usually covered in residue from his work. He's also apparently accident prone: he's missing the little finger on his right hand, the result of an accidental explosion, and another unspecified accident has rendered him mute. He communicates by the aid of a small slate and chalk, or, in the event his customers can't read, his assistant Lis translates. Lis is a taciturn young woman, and tends to be antisocial almost to the point of rudeness.
The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, for the proprietor Johnathan is not an alchemist in the traditional sense; he is a chemist. This shop sells not only some commonly requested potions, medicines, and other items, but custom recipes. Tell Johnathan what effect you want a particular formula to have, and he'll compound it for you. Needless to say, custom orders are much more expensive.
Both Johnathan and Lis have very strong veiws on killing, and as such, they won't sell anything that is meant to kill. This does not mean that they don't sell anything that can kill, but their products are only fatal if misused.
Though they do not sell poisons, they do a steady business in antidotes, both common and rare. In fact, Lis has an almost uncanny ability to diagnose a particular poison based on the symptoms alone, and rumor suggests that she is a former assassin.
That one restriction aside, Johnathan will sell anything, legal or illegal, and has been known to sell his share of placebos and fake "wonder products."
This ramshackle little stall is surprisingly popular. It is run by the Cassinos family, three siblings (Riisha, Laren, and Derris) and their aging father Malachai. It's a tiny little construction, and looks as if it will fall down at any moment (and occasionally does.)
Despite this, they do a fairly brisk business, for there is no finer source of liquor and wine to be had. They sell all of the commonly seen spirits, and a few things not so common. The house specialty is the incredibly strong Gypsy Wine that Malachai brews himself. Illegal in many places, it can send a man unused to it into a drunken stupor after only a glassful. This makes it popular among thieves, spies, and those engaged in illicit affairs of other types. Also popular is what Malachai calls Nectar, which is a sweet liquor that acts as a mild aphrodesiac.
The stall is barely big enough to house the shelves of bottles and a tiny desk where Riisha takes the customers' money. Big, hulking Laren stands outside, keeping an eye on the clients to make sure they don't trouble his sister or try to make off with the merchandise. Derris is kept busy delivering orders of liquor for parties, and Malachai can usually be found sitting outside, conversing with passers-by in a state of affable drunkeness.
Still, it is not odd to find Derris minding the till, or that Laren has taken a crate to be delivered, or that Malachai is watching his shop with unusual attentiveness. This is, after all, the Black Market, and the Cassinos thieves have their own purchases to make.
Small, locked display cases are arranged around the sides of this quiet little stall located away from the main thoroughfare. It is owned by a perpetually amused young woman named Mona Emerald (although there are those who question if that is her real name). The display cases are filled with what looks like a wide array of jewels of every description: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, opals, pearls, and, of course, emeralds.
However, the displays are substantially less valuable than they appear. Mona deals in high quality false gems, and her products are usually made of glass or porcelain. These are mostly bought by clever thieves who wish to replace the real thing or unscrupulous jewelers who wish to cheat their customers, although occasionally someone more upstanding will purchase her wares to use as costume jewels. Most of her gems are unset, but she always has a few in various settings. She also usually has one or two hollow gems, for those interested in them for the novelty value or more sinister purposes.
Although she certainly doesn't advertise it, she is also quite willing to fence real jewels that have been removed from their settings. (It's not a wise idea to try to pass a fake off as genuine to her. If there's one thing she knows, it's jewels, and anyone who tries to cheat her will soon find that their name has been passed to the authorities and any relevant guildmasters.) She travels from place to place, taking her wares with her, and finds it easy to find buyers for the real thing in places where they won't immediately be recognized.
Genuine jewels are hidden in plain sight, in the display cases amongst their less valuable replicas. Mona keeps a small double-locked case containing several fakes where she can appear to keep a close eye on it; she is not a fool, and understands that in a market frequented by thieves, real jewels would prove tempting.
This place doesn't have a sign to name it, but it's hard to miss. Every available surface is covered with books of every description. It's also a permanent building, a small shop located in the same general vicinity as the stalls of the Black Market. The proprietor, an exhuberent red-haired young man, is just called "Bookman" because he never seems to mention his name to anyone. He sells surprisingly useful items of all sorts, legal and illegal, from banned magical tomes to the Poisoner's Almanac to poetry to a truly astonishing selection of pornography (which, naturally, is quite popular even with the illiterate).
He has been known to boast that if it's been written down, he can get it, and backs it up with blueprints, tax records (which is more useful than you might think, if you're trying to pick the right target to rob), and the occasional bit of blackmail material. While the Knotworker gives an immediate answer to a single question, Bookman's books are meant to provide more in-depth and specialized information that can be frequently checked.
No one's really sure where Bookman came from, but most seem to get the impression he belongs in the Black Market, due in part to his evasiveness on the very subject. The fact that he will often disappear for weeks or months at a time with no explanation, leaving his shop in the care of his father (a bent, shrivelled, cantankerous old man who will also answer to Bookman) tends to solidify this belief. Rumors about young Bookman range from he's a literary-minded assassin, to a thief specializing in valuable books, to a spy for this power or that. Of course, the truth could easily be something quite different.
(This wouldn't really be aimed solely at thieves, of course, but it would have books thieves could use. And since he's quite willing to sell illegal books as well, the Black Market seems a good place for him.)
The Apothecary is a cliche name, but this noticeable little shop has a good clientel for it's specialized wares and it's 'special' inventories. The stall is broken into two parts - out on the outside of the shop is a series of thick bookshelves without backing. To the outside is glass, with signs painted on the outside pointing to products on the shelves. The shelves are as tall as the rood of the stall, and thick with various bottles. her 'public' selection is not to be scoffed at, but it is only fair.
If you give the female proprietor a double minted silver coin (fmr. counterfeit) with a specific flaw (which the assassin's/thives guild will give you), you will be welcomed with a copper coin (with a specific flaw)back out of a special purse she keeps from view.
Welcome to the real apothecary.
You now have access to the largest collection of poisons in the Capital, as well as the best selection of anti-poison's.
Each is prepared using recipes made by specialists, or recipes given to the Guild by a specialist, Spy or a Assassin wishing not to have their secrets lost(, perhaps seeking vengance from the grave.) For magical poisons, the guild will offer mages assistance in small ways. (As assassins are expected to be fair thieves as well.)
Special orders are not her forte, and she will need to have the guild look for the item in question (expect a three month delay with payment up front). Although if you have a special request you are probably insane, as the store already has every poison known to man. This may be a mark on your record with the guild, who prefers 'flexible' assassins. ('Flexible' when it comes to methodology, as the guild specializes in 'to order' assassinations.)
The rumor that a poison shop in the area of the city has 'everything' is well known. Hamlets will be searched for the shop by the royal army.
Where is the Myth?
The King is looking for the mythical shop because his assassins would benefit from such a shop. And putting it under royal watch would benefit his longevity. (The kind is cut from the same cloth as the Borgia's.) He hires your party to find that damned shop! Unfortunate for the king, the Assassin's guild/Theives' guild considers this shop a very very important secret. Expect them to try and stop the PC's.
The shack sells everything a budding thief might need, from lockpicks and needle-thin daggers, to contracts with hitmen and blackmail opportunities. But in the back of the store comes the real goods, explosives, acids, and anything that is extremely dangerous. The proprietor is never seen due to the fact that he never comes out of is small room but even then any thief that steals from him has a nasty accident later in the week. the shack is famous for the amazing amount of blackmail opportunities ceapt in one of the shelf's in the back, it is also known for the huge amount of explosives that the owner packs into the tiny place, the one time it went off it destroyed half the stalls at the black market that year and the owner disappeared, but the next year he was back with a new stock.