Shanteytown sees few patrols of the Watch, leaving its residents to keep order as best they can. They survive on piece work, rag picking, fish gutting, begging, scavenging and day labor at South Wharves, and on the handful of legitimate businesses in the district ... as well as preying on one another. At the marshy confluence of the Grand Canal and the Dragon’s Marsh, fevers are common, as are skin rashes and infections. Between diseases, malnutrition, overwork and the ever-present gang violence, most Shanteytowners do not live to see fifty.
Watchmen periodically sweep the place – in groups of no less than four, and always mounted – but most locals hold their tongues about organized (and unorganized) crime and their perpetrators, fearing reprisals ... for the gangs return almost as soon as the soldiers’ backs are turned, and hatred for the arrogance and cruelties of the Watch is rife. There are scarcely any shops, but there are personalities ...
Just about the only orc businessman in the City (and often pummeled for his presumption) Naseer is a terrible wheelwright, and gets business on nothing more than being one of the rare ones outside the Old City, given the surcharges on taking wagons out of the Gates. Even his fast work and willingness to repair wagons any time of the night might not save his reputation if people learn he is into bestiality with goats (which he then cooks and eats).
Yitzhak Gorni is a talented, charismatic, very handsome woodwind performer and troubadour, and few understand why he wastes his time here instead of at the glittering manors of the Old City. Gorni is one of the most conceited men of the City, having proclaimed freely in lurid and bombastic terms his irresistibility to women. That he seems to be right endears him to few men, and several gang members plan not merely to give him a beating, but make sure no woman finds him attractive ever again.
Lywyn Darkquill is a meltingly beautiful young priestess with glossy red hair and drowning violet-blue eyes, who radiates sanctity and works tirelessly for the poor; she is idolized by most in Shanteytown, and none dare touch her. She is, of course, a Black Ring Adept, one of the rising young stars of the hierarchy of evil. She relishes the challenge of corrupting as many souls as she can, and comports her duties with enthusiasm and verve. She has three acolytes, who pretend to be teenagers and young adults but who are all trained assassins of the Black Ring cult.
“Lady” Julia (her late night partisans insisting on the title) runs about the only honest tavern in the district. It opens an hour before dark and stays open late into the night, and is heavily patronized by late-shift workers at the various local industries. Any trouble, and the joke is that she’ll lop the ears off of a rowdy with a pair of orange-painted shears kept behind the counter. Known to few – except a couple of the key gang leaders – Julia is a wizard and ex-adventurer … and devoutly wants to keep clear of the local mages’ guild, with whom she had many a clash in the day. She keeps a raccoon named Lotor who lives in the rafters; he is actually quite intelligent and is her de facto familiar.
Jon Fonda is a drugrunner and smuggler who operates out of a ramshackle shop front. He runs one of the local gangs, but cannily pays out to three other key gangs so as to operate unmolested. He keeps two button men who serve as muscle with him at all times. Jon is short and fat, and lecherous beyond measure – he'll always find time to take a lady in the backroom to “pay down” a drug debt, and any absences he has from the front of the shop is almost certainly connected with backroom gruntings.
Hal the Debased was once the powerful wizard known as “Halar the Purple,” but his downfall came when certain improprieties with apprentices came to light. The mages’ guild defrocked him, and he crawled into the bottle. Now he is in Shanteytown, a broken shell of the feared adventurer of old. Sometimes he scrapes up enough sobriety to cast a spell or three for those who can pay, but he fails more often than he succeeds.
“Snarf” – Joco earned this unfortunate nickname partially for the wheezing honk he makes when he sniffles, which he does constantly – is a sailor down on his luck. Through no fault of his own, the last four ships he’s sailed on have foundered or been lost at sea, and he can get no more berths from the superstitious ship captains. He’s no killer, and is by inclination no thief, but he’s down to his last couple pennies, and would do an awful lot for silver to cross his hand.