In this 4th installment for the City of Rookroost we take another look at the power structure of the city and its power brokers. Many different factions vie for power within its walls, and outside of them. Once again thanks to everyone that have given me inspiration from Nigel Findley, Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining, Casey Brown, and all the fabulous BK authors and lastly Gygax himself.
The Bagmen (Tax Collectors)
By far, the most hated of all organizations in Rookroost are the Bagmen. They are called Bagmen because they always have several empty burlap or leather sacks on their persons for collecting valuables from the residents of those they visit. Bagmen report directly to the Lord of Brick, and only the Lord of Brick knows their true identities. Bagmen wear burlap sacks on their heads with eye holes cut into them when conducting official business to conceal their identities. Bagmen come from all walks of life, and there is no set type of person recruited into their ranks. The organization is mostly covert with the bulk of its members merely spying on targets to track assets and to make sure they know where and when to strike.
Among the Bagmen, a select group of thugs is tasked with the physical extraction of wealth from guilded citizens delinquent on their taxes. These goon squads are a mix of people and are chosen not just for their ability to crack skulls, but also their ability to be discreet. While forced tax collection is not uncommon, the dragging of a guild member's name through the mud because of tax evasion is avoided when possible.
Recruits to the Bagmen are also the most vetted of all the official organizations in the city. The Council of Lords realizing they need to keep infiltration from the Congress down to a minimum. Bagmen are meant to be impartial, and the collection of taxes is to be kept separate from current politics.
Bagmen generally wear no armor and carry nothing more than clubs and daggers as their primary goal is not to inflict bodily harm but to collect taxes. Each Bagman carries a unique silver coin with the Seal of their office as an official Tax Collector. Not a foolproof method of identification and counterfeit coins can be found, especially among those looking to impersonate Bagmen to rob others. Impersonation of a Bagman, however, carries the ultimate punishment in Rookroost, death.
The Red Guard
The Red Guard is a new addition to Rookroost and is the personal army of The Lord Marshall Mortoth. In the Great Old One's realms, Mortoth is a minor lord with lands and thus has his own army. Unlike the hoards of Iuz, they are well trained and wear a standardized uniform of red. Because of this, the Red Guard soldiers are easily distinguishable from the rabble that makes up the bulk of the Great Old One's army. Another difference between Mortoth's army and those of the Great Old One is that the vast majority are either human or half-orc. While humans are not unknown in the lands of Iuz, they are not the majority, and because of this, the bulk of Mortoth's Red Guard has been recruited from lands outside the kingdom of Iuz. Their weapons, armor, and fighting styles vary wildly, but all of them are loyal to Mortoth. In addition to the ranks of armed mercenaries in the Red Guard, Mortoth employs several wizards and a handful of priests of Hextor, a god of war and battle.
Members of the Red Guard realize their lord is a power player within the hierarchy of both the lands of Iuz and now Rookroost. Still, they have no loyalty to either of those organizations. The Red Guard is loyal to Mortoth and only Mortoth. There have been several attempts to infiltrate the tight-knit organization by the Congress. Each time, it has led to public hangings in Raven's Square. While a common sight in the city, the Red Guard does not get involved in city affairs unless ordered. They do not act as a secondary watch for the city and will not attempt to break up crimes if they see them being committed.
The Red Guard is stationed at The Slab, the old Rookroost army fortress just outside of Outwall. A smaller contingency of Red Guards and the bulk of the wizards, priests, and high ranking officers live inside The General's Tower in the Peak District, which they patrol and guard for Mortoth.
The Night Merchants
The night merchants is the name given to the teams of licensed collectors of the dead. So-called because they mainly ply their trade after dark when most deaths occur in the city.
To become a Night Merchant, the interested party much first buy a license, which costs between 10 to 15gp for a year. This gives the licensed individual the right to collect cadavers from the streets and turn them into the House of the Dead at a 1gp per corpse rate. Night Merchants also make spare coin from selling whatever they find on the bodies, which isn't much. Still, every now and again, some choice items are found.
The night merchants are feared like boogie men, and it is not totally untrue that some of them have been known to murder people simply to turn their bodies in for coin. The business is so good that competition between groups of Night Merchants is not uncommon, and the body of a licensed Night Merchant can be turned in for payment like any other.
While those who become Night Merchants don't have a uniform, most have taken to the habit of wearing masks. These masks are usually of skulls, demons and devils, and other scary creatures. The tradition goes back to the earliest of the Night merchants and their desire not to be recognized while doing their macabre work. Being known as a Night Merchant tends to have an ill effect on one's social life as they are considered murders and supernatural killers. At first, Night Merchants simply covered their faces with scarves, but over time the tradition evolved into masks playing off the natural uneasiness people have towards them. Night Merchants find that playing up their bad reputation keeps others from interfering in their work.
In addition to their masks, nearly all Night Merchants have a small cart. They either pull these carts themselves or have them drawn by pack animals. These carts have also evolved from simple wooden carts into elaborately decorated affairs with paintings and carvings, generally depicting the afterlife. Some of the carts are even enchanted with runes of protection against the undead.
Not surprisingly, a fair number of Night Merchants are followers of Nurell, and Wee Jas, two gods of death. There are rampant rumors of Night Merchants collecting bodies to raise them later as undead, but if such a thing were occurring, the city would put a quick stop to it.
Regardless of how or why a person becomes a Night Merchant, they are nearly always very competent individuals, at the least the ones that last are. Rookroost, after dark, is a perilous place even with their reputation to help protect them.
In this 3rd installment for the City of Rookroost we take a closer look at the power structure of the city and begin examining the power brokers that rule it. Once again thanks to everyone that have given me inspiration from Nigel Findley, Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining, Casey Brown, and all the fabulous BK authors and lastly Gygax himself.
Tips on Running Rookroost
Rookroost is a dangerous place and always has been. The home of bandits and brigands it was founded by hard men and women who wanted to enjoy their ill-gotten gains in peace. The most influential citizens and businessmen banded together to form guilds. From those guilds, a government was developed to ensure that everyone could do business in Rookroost. While this government system is sufficient for the guilds, it did little to protect those unaffiliated with them. This simple truth holds true even today. Rookroost is a city for its guilded members. Those who are not part of the system live without the benefits of citizenship.
The game master should keep this in mind whenever player characters interact with NPC's and when NPC's interact with each other. All citizens within the Peak, Inner-City, and Outer-City districts are supposed to be guilded members. Unguilded members can purchase a pass for the day to enter the Outer-City, but, only guilded members have access to the Inner-City and Peak districts. Outwall is a whole other story as this section of town is not patroled or policed and is lawless. If an unguilded citizen were to rob or assault, a guilded citizen, the penalty would be death. This helps to keep people from blatantly attacking others if they are unsure of their guild status.
Guilded citizens get special treatment in the city in the form of price breaks and the law's protection. This distinction should be made apparent to players right away. When shopping, looking for information, or selling items, not being a guilded citizen will be evident in the price differences.
Unless the players plan on only staying for a short period of time, mostly in Outwall, they should consider becoming members of a guild. Outwall is larger than the other three districts combined. Still, despite the size difference, the best shops and merchandise are found inside the city's walled sections.
Most people in Ravensrook are paranoid and cautious by nature. Taking someone just on their word is rare, and proof of one's intentions is paramount. The presence of Talons is not a guarantee that violence will not erupt if the violence is directed towards unguilded citizens. Squads of Talons have watched robberies, and even murders occur right in front of them if they knew the victims were ungilded.
During the day, Rookroost still has its share of disturbances and problems, but these mostly occur in Outwall, and to a lesser extent, the Outer-City. Violence in the Inner-City, and the Peak, is not tolerated even by guilded citizens. Only the wealthiest and most powerful guilded citizens can get away with it, and even then, it would draw a considerable amount of ire from the Council of Lords.
Rookroost, after dark, is an entirely different city, as outlined in that section. It should be made clear that no one likes to be caught out after dark alone. Businesses close sharply at dusk with only taverns staying open later. It is essential to impress upon players the change in the city's entire demeanor after dark. Even the Peak district is not unaffected by this change as no one travels by themselves after dark in Rookroost. Those that must be out after dark generally do so accompanied by two to three armed escorts or companions.
Another ever-present aspect of the city is the fact that the city is occupied by enemy forces. The Red Guard can be seen moving about the city in groups. Red Guards are treated with respect, but no one goes out of their way to be overly courteous. Red Guards are never seen in a group smaller than four, and they are always armed. Fortunately, Mortoth makes sure the Red Guard are well behaved, and those that get out of line are punished appropriately. The horde of humanoids that Mortoth commands is camped several miles outside of the city, but only a limited number of them are allowed into the city at any one time, and then only into Outwall.
Despite Mortoth's strict orders which keep his troops in line, there is still a large amount of violence and sabotage against his forces. These acts are usually performed by rebels and are outlined later. Because of this, citizens are uneasy anytime the Red Guard or the humanoids of Iuz are about.
Chartered Guilds and Organizations
While the top of the political food chain is the Council of Lords and the General, the foundation upon which it is built is the Chartered guilds. Becoming a chartered guild requires the interested party to pay a fee, and then the Council of Lords will vote on whether or not to grant them a charter. The cost is not refundable, even if the applicant is denied. The fee generally runs around one thousand gold pieces. The voting process is a miny powerplay because new guilds can erode the influence of existing guilds and bolster others' positions. Because of this, bribes are often paid to the Lords of the Council to help sway their vote. Bribes generally cost more than the application fee. If approved, the guild will be put into the annuals and gain the privileges of being a chartered guild. The most important benefit of being a chartered guild is the tax break on their goods and services, and access to the walled districts. Also, all of their guild members will now have protection under the law as guilded citizens.
Guilds generally charge a quarterly fee for membership. The benefits beyond membership vary greatly depending on the guild. Most provide work and resources to their members. However, there are some guilds that exist simply to grant members the benefits of being guilded.
The Power Brokers
While the guilds of Rookroost rule the city through the Council of Lords, some groups and organizations that are not guilds wield considerable influence. Members in these groups are treated like guilded citizens even though they are not simply because of their association with that group. Influential groups like these are few, as the city, and the guilds, dislike them being outside of the city's established power structure.
The Brae Clan – Halfings for Hire
The notorious Brae clan moved to Rookroost from Urnst roughly a hundred years ago, fleeing the kingdom's authorities. The Brae Clan were not unknown in the city as they had been funneling stolen goods to it for years before moving there. The clan's arrival was no surprise as they had made arrangements and sent gifts to the Congress, Rookroost's thieves guild, letting them know they were coming. When they arrived, however, no one expected the influence they would end up having. The Brae's as they are known are not your average Halflings. True, they like the finer things in life like most halflings, but they aren't willing to work for it if they can use their natural gifts to take it for themselves. Halfling thieves are not uncommon, but what is uncommon about the Brae's is their tenacity. Brae's are willing to fight anything or anyone that is in their way. Brae's are fearless, and when mixed with their race's natural luck, they can be deadly enemies, especially since there are so many of them. At last count, the Brae clan numbered nearly two hundred in Rookroost, with smaller branches of the clan found throughout the Bandit Kingdoms.
Once in Ravensrook, they went right to work, and their reputation as mercenaries grew quickly. The Brae's have never liked working for anyone except themselves, still, the clan elders knew they would have to relocate the clan again if they challenged Rookroost's power structure. As a result, a deal was struck with the Congress allowing the Brae Clan to operate freely. The agreement required that they not target Congress members and cleared questionable jobs through them first. The Brae's disliked the arrangement, but it quickly turned to their advantage as they became the Congress's number one contractor.
Most people assume that a Halfling in Ravensrook is a Brae, and most times, they are correct. Those halflings in the city that are not a Brae will eventually receive a visit from them, as the clan is always recruiting, and they only hire halflings. These meetings are always cordial, but the Brae's will let the halfling know that the only halflings that can work in town are Braes. The Brae's will keep an eye on the halfling to make sure they comply, and if they don't, it will trigger a less friendly visit from them.
The Brae Clan are currently on high alert because of the war and the occupation of the city. There is even talk amongst the elders about possibly moving back to their old stomping grounds down south. It's been so long they feel that it's likely no one will remember them, but they have yet to act on that plan.
The Congress - Rookroost's Thieves Guild
The first and oldest organization in Ravensrook is the thieves guild or the Congress as they call themselves after the term used for a ravens' flock. Besides the standard brigands and bandits that flocked to Rookroost, a fair number of individuals were skilled in more than just killing and beating a man over the head. These men and women would make up the backbone of what would eventually become the Congress.
Today the primary front for the Congress is the Benedict's Trading Company. The trading company is a legitimate chartered merchant guild and is staffed mostly by non-members of the Congress. Still, the back rooms hide the inner working of the criminal organization. Besides Benedict's the Congress has two dozen other safe-houses and storage facilities throughout the city.
The current boss of the Congress is Elara Mornstar. While she pretends that she is a simple merchant, everyone knows her real role within the city. The recent war and subsequent occupation of the city took Elara by surprise. In the end, it taught her just how unprepared the Congress was for large scale calamities. She realized that she needed allies, so she started looking for them within Rookroost and throughout the region. A tense but stable relationship has formed between Elara and Mortoth, both realizing neither are prepared if Iuz decides to change the current situation. Mortoth realizes the Congress is the glue that keeps the city together and functioning. Elara realizes that no one is coming to help them or liberate them from the current situation. Mortoth might have wrestled some power away from the Congress and the city, but he's still the enemy in the end.
The Guard (Talons)
The third-oldest institution in Rookroost is the city guard, more commonly called Talons. The Talons are unlike guards found in other cities because their primary objective has never been to protect the citizens. Instead, the Talon's duty is to protect the property and persons of guilded citizens. Visitors to Ravensrook who feel they have been slighted, robbed or assaulted, are shocked to find out the guard unwilling to help and unsympathetic to those who are not guilded.
The Talons' ranks have never been filled by the most adept or well-trained individuals for the position. Mostly recruits have been those that received their job through association to high ranking guild members. Others gained their position through their reputation on the streets as someone to not be messed with. This mixture made them unpredictable when it came to their effectiveness. Corruption within their ranks was legendary and heavily infiltrated by Congress stooges. In the early days, the Congress members made it a point to cover up this connection, but things had grown so lax that members of the Congress no longer cared. The Talons were supposed to be the merchants' enforcement arm, but they never liked paying for it. So over the years, this led to an extremely corrupt institution even by Rookroost's standards.
If you ask citizens today if any good has come out of the city's occupation, most will say the reform of the city guard. Under Mortoth, the ranks of The Guard were purged and refilled mostly by ex-members of Rookroost's defunct army. In addition to purging the dead weight from its ranks, Mortoth changed the command structure and removed it from answering directly to the Council of Lords. A new Commandant was installed along with his own seat at the council table. The position of Commandant was filled from within, and not through election but by appointment from Mortoth. These moves have changed a once laughable city guard into a force that is respected and even feared to some extent.
The biggest loser in the reform of the Talons was the Congress. For the most part before Mortoth's reform, they could conduct business unhindered because the Talons were deep in their pocket. Little could be done about it unless the General mobilized the army. Now they must be careful of the Talons when conducting their nefarious work or run the risk of being arrested. Members of the Congress arrested by the Talons are almost always released, but being detained can ruin a job.
The Talons' mission hasn't changed, and their primary duty is still the protection of the persons and the goods of guilded citizens. Of course, they might break up a mugging or a fight to check and see if anyone can prove they are a guilded member, but then leave those participants alone if no one is. Talons live either in barracks at The Nest, as the Guard Keep is called, or have private housing subsidized by the city. The pay for Talons was also increased by Mortoth to ensure loyalty and to try and help prevent bribery. Each guard is outfitted with leather armor, a club/baton, and a spear. Before Mortoth reorganized them, guards, simply wore black armbands to distinguish themselves. Talons now wear a black surcoat with the city's raven insignia emblazoned on the front in silver thread.
In the first installment of my works on Rookroost We looked at and overview of the city and the first of the three heads of power in the city, The General. In part 2 we look at the Council of Lords.
The Council of Lords
The secret to Rookroost's success was their three tiers of government. The General is the figurehead of the city and the go-between for the marauding gangs that founded it. The thieves guild, or Congress as they call themselves, and is the only organization above the Council's authority. And lastly, the guilds that make up the Council of Lords. These three factions represent the most powerful groups in the city.
Unlike most cities, where the government tries to protect all their citizens, the Council of Lord's only objective is to protect the city's guilded members. The Guilds form the Council of Lords, and the Congress itself is a recognized guild. Guilds pay dues to the city to be acknowledged as chartered guilds, membership in one of these guilds are referred to as being guilded.
Only guilded citizens have protection under the law. Only guilded citizens can freely come and go, or live within, the Inner-City, or the Peak District. Only guilded members can own property in these districts. Only guilded citizens can engage in mercantile activities in these districts. Trafficking in certain controlled goods and services such as alcohol, drugs, and weapons, is also restricted to guilded citizens. Unguilded citizens caught trafficking these items in quantity are severely punished unless they buy writs of permission from the Council of Lords. This structure of government builds a type of controlled lawlessness within the city. It also allows the Council of Lords and the Congress to both operate and thrive within it.
Surprisingly, since the occupation, things have been running smoother than ever before, as Mortoth's steady hand leads the city. He has enacted changes that have all been unanimously approved by a Council too afraid to say no. Where corruption was rampant and driving up costs, new regulations have stifled these practices and increased productivity. Most notably, changing the Talons, as the city guard is called, from the guilds' personal guards into a legitimate peacekeeping force and giving the Commandant of the Guard a seat at the Council of Lords.
All laws are made by and passed by the Council of Lords. They can also strike down, amend, or change any laws that they find not working to their liking. This is done with a simple majority vote of the Council. The Council now has eight seats with the addition of the Lord of the Watch. So far, this has not led to any deadlocks since the majority vote in line with Mortoth.
The Council of Lords is untouchable except by fellow council members. If a council member is believed to have broken the law, other Lords of the council have to level charges against them. To physically harm or steal from a Lord is an automatic death sentence. This does not prevent Lords from being assassinated if the price is right.
Who can be on the Council of Lords
When a vacancy opens on the Council of Lords, those interested in the position declare themselves to the Council. These names are then posted in Raven's Square, and after one week, a vote is held with all the guilded citizens in the city getting one vote. After the voting is done, the results are tallied, and the new council member is declared. Council members on the Council of Lords hold their position for life, or until they retire, so the vote is taken very seriously. Despite the seriousness of the event, there is a large amount of vote-buying, promise-making, and intimidation accompanying each election. Violence has broken out in the past, but the Talons are there to ensure that large scale riots or brawls are put down quickly.
The seats on the Council of Lords
The General: The General not only acts as the city's figurehead, but the General is also its chief ambassador. Most importantly, he oversees all the marauding gangs that are based out of Rookroost. In addition to these responsibilities, the Governor is the top military commander of the Rookroost army, which is now defunct. The army was a separate organization from the city guard.
The 1st Lord of Merchants: The 1st Lord of Merchants is simply a cover name for Rookroost's thieves guild, or as they call themselves, the Congress. The oldest institution in Rookroost the Congress makes sure that no illegal operations are being conducted against the Council of Lords or chartered guilds without council approval.
The 2nd Lord of Merchants: The 2nd Lord of Merchants is the actual Lord who oversees the merchant activity of Rookroost. They make sure that trade is flowing and that no one guild can put together a monopoly on trade within the city. The 2nd Lord of Merchants travels extensively to other countries. He has even been to the domains of The Great Old One to meet with their trade representatives.
The Lord of Arms: The lord of arms oversees the guilds and companies of sellswords and mercenaries that call Rookroost home. The Lord of Arms almost always comes from one of the established mercenary troops. This was a lesson learned the hard way. Once a Money Lender bought his way into the position, years ago, and was promptly killed in the street by guilded mercenaries.
The Lord of Brick: The rather unflattering title of the Lord of Brick, is very misleading as the Lord is one of the most influential and powerful members of the Council. The Lord of Brick oversees the infrastructure of the city itself. Called the hardest working Lord, the Lord of Brick has a steady list of projects that he must find funding for. The Lord of Brick's real power lies in the fact that the Bagmen, as the tax collectors are commonly called, all report to The Lord of Brick. With the mundane nature of the job and its need for bookkeeping, most people who end up filling this position come from the tradesman class.
The Lord of Letters: Another seat on the Council of Lords with a less than illustrious title is the Lord of Letters. In a city where the illiterate far outnumbers the literate, it might seem like a useless position, and it would be if all it had to do with were reading and signs. However, the Lord of Letters oversees all communications and correspondents on an official level. Still, more importantly, it manages the arcane practitioners of the city and the mighty Guild of Wizardry. The Lord of Letters is always a member of the Guild of Wizardry, although there has been an odd bard or priest in the past to hold the position. The Lord of Letters' main concerns is making sure that some fool wizard does not blow the place up or unleash a magical plague.
The Lord of Tradesmen: The backbone of the city is its tradesmen. These blacksmiths, fletchers, tanners, and a host of other tradesmen provide the necessary skills to make Rookroost more than just a collection of brigands and bandits looking to sell and trade ill-gotten gains. While the merchants move the goods, the tradesmen transform the booty brought back to Rookroost from raiding into things more easily sold in neighboring kingdoms. The smiths who operate smelting forges are incredibly adept at turning precious metal into bars. The Jewelers are highly skilled at cutting gems into smaller stones. While the brigands and the bandits of Rookroost could care less if their stolen merchandise is noticeable in neighboring markets, the buyers do.
The Lord of Temples: This Lord Councilor is elected exclusively from among the religious class's priests and clerics. Many of the city's temples have open grudges against each other, and some deities even have an open doctrine that is hostile to other religions. Despite this, there is one god that all are indifferent towards or actively acknowledge the divinity of, Istus, the goddess of fate. Since the beginning of the Council of Lords, the Lord of Temples' seat has been filled by a priest or priestess of Istus.
The Lord of the Watch: The Lord of the Watch is the newest seat on the Council of Lords and has upset many because it declawed the Council by taking away its muscle. While the city guard's mission has not changed, they are no longer under the command of the Council. The Lord of the Watch has his own position among them and can now interpret the laws and rulings of the Council as he sees fit. The city guard now has its own source of revenue derived from the taxes levied from entry tolls paid when entering the Inner-city and Peak districts. The city guard is no longer at the whim and mercy of what the Council decides to give them for outfitting and paying their guards.
Hello and welcome into my dive into the most famous city in the Bandit Kingdoms, Rookroost. The work that you will see here is some of the work I did for my Stream Return to the Bandit Kingdoms, and what I kept elaborating on. Originally I intended to release this as a separate stand alone setting called Ravensrook, but I've changed my mind. I would prefer to release it all for general consumption and enjoyment. There will be a map coming for the city as I had envisioned it as well. Enjoy.
The History of Rookroost
The history of Rookroost goes back several hundred years to 329 CY, a time when the region was beginning to get its notorious reputation as the home of bandits and brigands. One of these bandits, Latavius, founded a camp where bandits could meet, barter, and sell goods they had plunder. The camp was an instant success, and Latavius soon found that he could make more gold through his camp than he ever did raiding. The camp quickly grew into a small town, and it took its name from a large congress of ravens that nested on a nearby rock outcropping. The descendants of those same ravens live in Rookroost till this day. A legend surrounding the ravens of Rookroost has grown as the city has, stating that so long as the ravens roost there, the city will never be conquered. This association with ravens has also given rise to legends of the race of magical beings that can take on either a raven or a birdlike humanoid form. It is considered bad luck to kill one of the Rookroost ravens because of the legends, and fear of reprisals from the bird people. Latavius never got to see Rookroost grow into a city having died only a few years after its founding under dubious circumstances.
Over the next couple of centuries, Ravensrook changed and evolved as did the lands around it. Soon petty bandit leaders and warlords were staking out their own claims and territories. At the same time, collectively, the region was referred to as the Lands of the Free Lords. Some areas grew into small kingdoms. In contrast, others remained lawless regions. During this time, Rookroost turned into a proper city with more residents living off the trade of banditry than actual raiding.
Until the Great Old One's invasion, the lands of the Free Lords enjoyed an unspoken alliance between each other. They would band together and help defend each other against hostile aggression from their neighbors when needed. While many united to fight the Great Old One, others afraid of his demonic power, allied with him. The Free Lords only stood a chance against Iuz united but fractured as they were the whole region soon fell. Fortunately, Rookroost avoided being sacked as the ruling factions decided to ally with the evil overlord to spare the city and themselves.
Once the fighting was over, life under the heel of an overlord began, something the Free Lords were unaccustomed to. Rookroost was forced to pay a quarterly tribute of coins and fight men or slaves to bolster Iuz's war machine. In addition to tribute, the city was occupied by forces of the Great Old One. Also, Rookroost was turned into a provincial capital, and Lord Marshall Arus Mortoth arrived with a garrison of Iuzian troops to watch over the city.
The final blow to Rookroost's authority came when General Pernevi was assassinated along with several members of the Council of Lords, the ruling elite of the city, during the Night of the Silent Death. The vacant seats on the Council were quickly filled, but the time-honored tradition of electing a new General was turned into a sham. Lord Marshall Mortoth ran for the Generalship of Rookroost unopposed. He won in the smallest margin of victory in Rookroost history.
With his new authority, Mortoth moved his personal troops into the city and disbanded the Rookroost army. His actions went unquestioned as the Council knew to do so was futile. Those foolish enough to speak out against Toth disappeared or turned up dead. The Rookroost thieves guild, called the Congress, watched quietly calculating their options. Alara Mornstar, the head of The Congress, had not the men, or the weapons to oppose Mortoth or the horde of evil humanoids bivouacked outside the city. Which lead to rumors of Mortoth and Mornstar possibly having come to an understanding. Overnight Rookroost became wholly under the control of the minions of The Great Old One.
While life has not returned to normal in Rookroost, it has fallen into a new pattern. Trade and smuggling have resumed in earnest with a cut of the profits being funneled back to Iuz. The raiding and marauding into neighboring lands have continued, but only on a smaller scale not to break the treaty that ended the Greyhawk Wars. The kingdoms of the Free Lords that were wiped out have been settled by humanoids and Iuz's allies to ensure that a military presence remains in the Bandit Kingdoms.
The current State of Rookroost
Lord marshall Mortoth has settled in comfortably as the new General of Rookroost and started mending fences with the locals. While he kept the city guard, known as Talons, intact, his own Red Guard took over the Army's role. Resistance towards Mortoth rule from the Council of Lords eroded as it became apparent, he wanted to keep the city's structures intact. Mortoth is shrewd and calculating and shows surprising restraint for a cambion.
The popular belief is that Mortoth plans to break away from Iuz and set himself up as the ruler of Rookroost and its surrounding lands. The Red Guard is made up exclusively of humans and half-orcs and is well trained. While many of Rookroost's army were released into the general public, a substantial amount was folded into the Red guard, helping to swell its numbers. The Red Guard is stationed inside of Rookroost while the horde Mortoth lead from the north is located several miles outside of the city.
Despite Mortoth's efforts, Rookroost is still a powder keg waiting to blow. The flood of refugees now living in there includes troublemakers and rebels from many different factions. Fortunately, for Mortoth, old rivalries still run deep between Rookroost's old guard, keeping them from banding together to challenge him.
While in charge of Rookroost, Lord Marshall Mortoth is not in charge of the Bandit Kingdoms, that command falls to Cranzer with resides in the fortress of Riftcrag at the lip of the Rift Canyon. The Lesser Boneheart wizard has his hands full with rebels in the Rift Cayon, The Tangels Forest, and the Fellreev Forest, giving him little time to be worried about other portions of the Bandit Kingdoms. Mortoth has taken full advantage of this and has even gone as far as to completely ignore Cranzer. While it infuriates the wizard, Cranzer can do little about it.
Night of Silent Death
On the night of the 12th of Sunsebb, many citizens of Rookroost were assassinated. Nearly all, save a handful, were assassinated with poison. All of those slain were also high-ranking members of well-established chartered guilds and even a few Lords from the Council of Lords. The most prominent of the murders was General Pernevi, the Lord of Arms, and the Lord of Letters. While no one took credit for the assassinations, the blame was laid squarely at the feet of Lord Marshall Mortoth. Mortoth quickly and publicly addressed the remaining Council of Lords and the heads of the chartered guilds stating that he, nor any of his men, had a role in the killings. Of course, this was ignored as little more than talk, but those remaining Lords and heads of the respective chartered guilds couldn't help but notice that none of those killed were from The Congress, Ravensrook's thieves guild. Elara Mornstar has never denied or confirmed any of these rumors. Instead, uses the uncertainty of it to her advantage. The truth is that the Congress was paid, and paid well, for committing the murders for Mortoth.
The importance and long-lasting effects of this night cannot be understated. Before the Night of Silent Deaths, Mortoth and his occupying force, while not opposed openly, were opposed by every other means the leading citizens of Rookroost had. After the Night of Silent Deaths, that opposition evaporated, and all those that remained sought to win his favor. Even when he dismantled the army and reformed the city guard into an organization not under the direct control of the Council of Lords, it drew little more than grumblings.
The Power Structure of Rookroost
As the lands of the Bandit Kingdoms evolved, so did Rookroost. The power structure within the city initially was focused around Latavius and his men, until he was overthrown and replaced by another strong-armed brigand. This became the blueprint of the succession of power for the next hundred years. Still, eventually, the city became a more complicated place. It could not support such a drastic shake-up of its power structure every handful of years. The Guilds and the strongest of the marauding gangs worked out a compromise that saw the birth of the Council of Lords and the formation of the first city guard.
After the Council and the city guard's creation, an election system was designed to elect a new Generals for the city and its surrounding lands. Those that sought the position would petition the Council of Lords for approval. Those that were approved could then run for the Generalship. The General was given authority over all matters of the state outside of Rookroost. The General oversaw the cities defense and became the primary diplomat for the city toward all other organizations and kingdoms. The day to day workings of the city itself was transferred over to the new Council of Lords and Rookroost as we know it today was born.
When the General's position becomes vacant, the Council of Lords declares a time for Making of Announcements has begun. All those wishing to run for the position have one week to appear before the Council and say so. The next phase lasts for thirty days and is called The Rally. The Rally is for those who have officially entered consideration to be the new General to rally their support. Nothing is off the table during this 30 days except open violence on the streets. All attempts to influence those on the Council for their votes and efforts to eliminate their rivals are encouraged. After the Rally Period has ended, the Council of Lords elects the next General of the city.
Currently, the ruling elite that makes up the Council of Lords is wondering what might come next. Since the purge of the Council of Lords, and the city's army, Rookroost has fallen into its old ways once more, but for how long? The current structure will only remain intact so long as Mortoth is in command. Iuz is notorious for having truly evil and chaotic people working for him, which makes Mortoth an anomaly. The Lord Marshall, who is far from chaotic and needlessly evil, could get replaced by a bloodthirsty tyrant without warning. Any new overlord appointed by Iuz might strip everything away from guilded members of Rookroost, which are what the city's real citizens are called. This uncertianty has forced the ruling elite of Rookroost to rally around Mortoth, including Elara Mornstar and The Congress.
Traditionally the figurehead of the city, The General, was nearly always one of the high-ranking members of a guild or one of the power groups of Rookroost. With the position having become an actual job with responsibilities, the marauding gang' leaders had stopped vying for it long ago. These days, who will become the next General, is usually decided upon long before the Rally Period's spectacle begins. Those elected to the position are often nothing more than yes men, people who will not get in the way of business. All the Council od Lords wants from a General is a figurehead that the common rabble will listen to. Over the years, there have been plenty of men and women to sit in the General's palace, and not all of them were simple yes men, even if they started out that way. Despite usually coming from one of the factions within the city, the General gives up all property and rights to any guild memberships when accepting the position. This was done to give the impression of being unaffiliated, even if that was not the case.
Pernavi, the last General, was a competent man that had come up through the Merchants Guild before being voted into the General's office. Men of his caliber were usually given respect for the influence their coin afforded. Still, Pernavi was ruthless, and he outspent everyone when it came to eliminating his opponents. The Congress was more than happy to take his coin in exchange for removing serious competitors.
Ravensrook prospered under Pernavi, but despite the prosperity, no one saw the invasion coming. In the early stages of the Greyhawk Wars, the Free Lords began devising plans of how best they could benefit from it. Still, those plans quickly changed to ones of defense and how to survive the hoard that swept down upon them. The Council of Lords, with the urging from the General, accepted an offer of alliance from the Iuz, a decision that Pernavi would later come to regret.
Two weeks after the troops of the Great Old One camped outside of Rookroost, in a show of force, Pernevi died at the hands of assassins. The following week the notices for the coming election were posted seeking those interested in the position to come forward and announce their intention. Only Mortoth proclaimed his intention to run. The response from the city was unanimous and silent. They could not deny Mortoth the right to run as it would delegitimize their whole structure of government. No one wanted to run against him because they knew they would get no support from the city's traditional power players. That was the day that the citizens of Rookroost knew they had been conquered. The reins of power had been handed to the Great Old One's minions, and not one battle for the defense of Rookroost had been fought.
Despite being a half-fiend, Mortoth is not like most officers under the command of Iuz. Standing six and a half feet tall, he is massively built, and his skin is a deep crimson. Large ram-like horns curl out from the side of his head, and he has a mane of jet-black hair. Mortoth also has a pronounced under-bite with jutting tusks similar to a half-orc. He always dresses in pristine armor and suits almost entirely in shades of red. Mortoth hates humanoids, and demons even more, but tolerates them enough to work with them. While his voice is deep and resounding, he does not raise it without reason. While he seems a fair and even-minded man, he has been known to fly into fits of rage, rages that he sometimes regrets after he has calmed down. Mortoth fights with magic as well as melee prowess and prefers to use a short spear in combat.
Mortoth didn't wait long to begin exercising his authority as the new General. His first act was to disband the Rookroost army, putting many trained soldiers out of work. Then he marched his own personal troops, the Red Guard, into the city to enforce the disbandment. The Hilltop Keep, the traditional home of the officers of the army of Rookroost, now became the headquarters of the Red Guard. It was feared that the unemployed soldiers presented a serious threat to the stability of Rookroost, but Mortoth began hiring on the best of these candidates into the Red Guard to swell its ranks. Seemingly overnight, a large portion of men that had been dressed in the black uniforms of the Rookroost army now wore the red uniforms of the Red Guard.
Kostana, Mortoth's second in command of the horde he led to Rookroost for Iuz, began sending weekly reports of his activities to his superiors Dorakaa. Despite this, Mortoth still remains in power. Kostana has heard nothing from Dorakaa, or the Supreme Commander of the conquered Bandit Kingdoms, Cranzer. Despite his fiendish side, Mortoth hates chaos and despises the Iuz's empire. This leads to many questions of why he was chosen as a field commander. It's a well-known fact that The Great Old One's armies suffer nearly as many casualties from fighting amongst themselves as they do fighting the enemy. Many point to this as the reason Mortoth was given this command. The Wealth of Rookroost and the lands of the Free Lords are valuable to Iuz's long term goals. The resources that he pulls from these lands help to fuel his war machine on other fronts.
Seeking to strengthen his position, Mortoth has been in secret negotiations with Chief Ulgun, formerly of the Horned Society. Ulgun leads one of the largest and fiercest Hobgoblin tribes in the Horned Society's now-defunct lands. Using the confusion of the coup that overthrew the Hierarchs, Ulgun attacked rival Hobgoblin tribes catching them unaware. When the dust settled, Iuz was in control of the lands of the Horned Society, but Ulgun was the supreme commander of its hobgoblin armies. Not ready to take on the Great Old One's hordes, Ulgun made an alliance with him, an alliance he intends to break one day. Mortoth is close to convincing the orderly and efficient hobgoblins to move into his lands and become the backbone of his new kingdom. Until Mortoth has Ulgun's backing, however, the new General of Rookroost waits and bides his time.