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April 4, 2007, 8:01 pm

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Cheka Man
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Bassage Market


Once a place where the great merchants of the city met, this decrepit square has become a thriving marketplace for the poor and the unwanted.  Many a shady deal has been made among its stalls and hidden recesses.

When the old burghers’ hall was first built, inns and guildhalls lined the streets leading to Ambassage Court.  Grave and somber men came daily to discuss the business of the city there, inspired by monuments of the city’s founders.  In the warm sunlight around the great fountain, merchants and guildmasters planned the business of the great city.

Now, of course, that day has long passed.  Only the most wizened of ancients remembers the great plague that swept through the city and inspired its leaders to move their halls from the city centre out to the new “Palace District”.  As far as most of the quarter’s denizens recall, it’s always been the decayed, half-ruined labyrinth that they call “Bassage Market”.  Nonetheless, it’s still one of the city’s great centres of business; just not business on such a grand scale…

The once-wide boulevards now are crowded with the stalls of raucous costermongers, merchants dealing in “questionable” goods, and hawkers urging passerby to taste mysterious pleasures.  Ancient Gypsy crones, unwelcome in many parts of the city, here boldly offer to foretell one’s future and offer mysterious charms and elixirs to guarantee true love and doom to their clients’ foes.  Helpful lads offer to show slumming nobles ‘entertainments’ that they’d not soon find elsewhere.  Crowds gather to see the tricks of trained bears and monkeys and the narrow paths between the booths are often blocked by the carts of vendors and entertainers. 

Rarely is the Watch seen in the market’s mazes.  The meager handful of watchmen willing to enter the district are brutal men from a hard school, with little room for compassion or sympathy. Little better than the ruffians they arrest, only fools and the truly desperate call for their aid.

The marble halls of the great guilds are still home to aristocrats… of a sort.  The smiling saints that decorate the faded façade of the Whitesmith’s Hall now beam down on the faces of passing mendicants as they enter.  This once-grand structure is now home to the “Temperate Brethren of St. Lucia the Charitable”, a minor religious order that seeks to do good works and give shelter to the impoverished.  Of course, those familiar with the city know that most locals refer to it as the “Cripples’ Guildhouse”.  Inside, the woman called “One Leg Petra” rules the local beggars with an iron fist.  Any of the quarter’s beggars that refuse to offer her fealty will soon have cause to regret it.  The demoralized monastics of the Temperate Brethren have discovered that they too are pawns in “Dame Petra’s” games of control.  They learned too late how she had twisted the charity they offered into a way to cement her control of the local poor. The situation has defeated them: If they go to the Watch for aid, those most in need will shun them, but if they allow the situation to remain, then Petra and her henchmen decide who gets any charity they can provide. Afraid that the order would lose the meager funding its patrons allow, the Abbot has chosen the lesser of two evils and prays daily for deliverance from his dilemma.

Across the square from the Whitesmith’s Hall, the “Free and Notable Sisterhood of Courtesans” hold their guild meetings in the carefully maintained halls that once held the city’s moneychangers.  They make little effort to control non-guild prostitution, instead trying to ensure that their customers get only what was asked for.  Diseased strumpets (if obvious) and disguised men are rapidly sent packing.  The careful attention of the “Sisterhood” guarantees that the local bordellos treat their girls properly;  they have enough “dirt” on local authorities to guarantee that a procurer who mistreats his staff is visited by the Watch on one of their infrequent rounds.  If lesser measures fail them, the guild’s members will certainly ask a few of their “admirers” to set matters right.

Several gangs of thugs share an uneasy truce in the quarter.  All agree that the market square is “neutral ground”, but the winding paths in and out of the area are often the site of vicious brawls among rival groups.  The swaggering rogues that lead these gangs are a colorful (if threatening) sight, as they wander through the market, each surrounded by goons and hangers-on.  The most violent of these gangs, the “Mud Dogs”, is well known for the wild parties held in their lair, where dogfights are held to enliven the festivities.  The locals don’t dare even speak against them, as many an unfortunate has been fed to their vicious mastiffs as the “guest of honor” at one of their revels.

Down a dark and gloomy alley leading from the marketplace is an ominous structure, the manse of “Doctor Mirabilus”.  He is the secretive head of the city’s “resurrection men”.  These grave robbers provide cadavers for any who ask, with no questions asked.  While only a handful ply this ghoulish trade, their reputation for necromantic power keeps the credulous local thieves at bay.  While their mysterious powers are subject to debate, it is certain that the good doctor knows many things that others believe hidden.  He can often be seen through the large windows of his home’s upper floors, apparently conversing with the empty air.  Some have even reported hearing the spirits of the long dead whispering secrets to the cadaverously pale doctor.

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Comments ( 12 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Murometz
September 8, 2006, 16:24
Nice work Wulfhere. It doesnt read like your typical city quadrant. I like your style of writing. The details and "dropped hints" of future, possible follow-up submissions are great!

Its strange, there is nothing super-unique or original here, but I enjoyed every line!

Liked all the names too. They all fit snugly together.

Great first post and welcome! Its easy to tell from this piece, that I for one, will enjoy your future submissions.

oh and I think (not sure) there is a Moon Hunter Codex or Scroll, which you can attach/link this "slice of a city".
Voted MoonHunter
September 8, 2006, 17:37
Consider it linked to the Neighborhoods Codex

As these things go, the neighborhood is well done. Your writing style is straightforward and flows well. Your piece has a history (and shows how it changes over time) and strong versimilitude. It has nice detail, enough to help the quarter become "alive" in the mind of the players.

As a first submission goes, you are a breath of fresh air in Los Angeles. I am looking forward to your future submissions.
Voted Cheka Man
September 8, 2006, 18:27
I think that this is well done. 5/5
Voted valadaar
September 8, 2006, 20:17
Voted Ancient Gamer
September 8, 2006, 21:22
This has got to be the finest write up of (among other things) a beggar guild that I ever saw. Truly remarkable, there is nothing I can do but to love it.

One question:
So this Petra has crashed in the temple of a god of charity, right? Why doesn't the city guard intervene when a beggar, albeit a queen among beggars, crash in a respectable temple? Is this some sort of impoverished guild that has no standing with the watch?

At first I believed the "brotherhood of charity" was a front for the beggars, but your words made me doubt that. Please explain.
September 9, 2006, 3:04
Updated: I added more information about the Temperate Brethren and their dealings with Petra, and explained why the Watch is seldom advised of what goes on within the market.
Voted manfred
September 9, 2006, 3:44
Little is left for me to say, it is a great neighbourhood post. One of those I would add into a city just because it is so good.
September 10, 2006, 10:02
I have given it the freetext 'Bassage Market', for all related posts to be together. You may also want to link them directly - via Suggesting a submission. We'll be glad to see more!
Voted Scrasamax
September 11, 2006, 9:13
Well, nothing to say that hasn't already been said. Top marks for this jewel.
Voted Ouroboros
November 9, 2007, 5:41
This and its sister piece, Dovecote Rookery, are two of the best posts ever on this site, IMHO. It deserves another HoH. Amazing work, Wulf!
Voted Kuseru Satsujin
March 16, 2008, 11:35
Truly an awe-inspiring masterpiece, fit for easy placement within anything from a well-written fantasy novel, to the latest sourcebook for a fantasy game. Just reading it inspires me to create new material.
Voted axlerowes
March 23, 2013, 20:19
I agree with Muro for the most part. Overall there is rapid fire laundry list of places but I enjoyed that you didn't present them as a list-lists are the the citadel's greatest vice-and stuck to single narrative flow. You have a created vibrant and energetic setting. Thanks

Link Backs


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

The Writing's on the Floor

       By: Scrasamax

The PCs encounter a strange set of artistic drawings done on the ground as they pass through a city. It has been done in chalks and no one saw who did it. Wizards might recognize the writing within the colored square as an obscure and dead language with a message stating that a prominent wizard and a retired bard have discovered how to populate Arcadia with the spirits of the dead!

Is it a local hoax, or are the PCs crossing the path of a very deranged and possibly dangerous mage?

Ideas  ( Plots ) | May 12, 2006 | View | UpVote 2xp

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