In this 10th installment for the City of Rookroost we take our final look at the guilds of the city and the city districts themselves. 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 Smiths and Armorers Guild: The Smiths and Armorers guild has several forges and shops located throughout the city and provides everything from nails to brilliantly crafted swords. The only two forges allowed to operate outside of the guild belong to the Rookroost army, which is now used by Mortoth’s Red Guard and one used by the city guard, the Talons.
There was a time when many independent forges were in the city, but that changed with Ollie Clanless. The dwarven master smith climbed his way up the guild ladder until he was head of the organization, and he did so by any means necessary. Ollie soon started forcing unguilded smiths into the guild, and those that refused soon found themselves minus a hand as an example of what happens when you refuse Ollie.
The Council of Lords almost broke up the guild when Ollie fixed prices higher than most could afford after he'd established a monopoly, but Ollie relented and brought the prices back down. After Ollie's death, his son, Morley Clanless, took over the guild and is grooming his son, Targin, to eventually take his place. Morley is just as ruthless as his father was, but Targin takes after his mother and is more level headed dwarf.
Cost of Services – Good quality metalworking is not standard in Rookroost, and those who have some talent with it are snatched up and given positions right away within the city. Only a handful of stubborn smiths work outside of the guild, and because of this, all metal goods are 10% more expensive in Rookroost. Including items such as arrows, nails, carpentry tools in addition to the more apparent arms and armor. Selling metal items brings a higher price as well. While the standard amount given is usually 50% of resell value, metal items are purchased at 60% of the resell amount.
Other Groups of Note
The Thousand Faces:
The most powerful of the Outwall street gangs is the Thousand Faces. Like all street gangs from Outwall, the Thousand Faces got their start as a small-time gang known for wearing white handkerchiefs over their faces to hide their identities. They enacted this precaution for the gang's indifference of targeting guilded or unguilded citizens. These earlier members' skills are undeniable as they were able to avoid capture from the Talons and even privately hired mercenaries by some of the guilds. The gang's reputation grew, and so did the intensity of the Congress and guilds looking to put them out of action. Eventually, a deal was struck with the Congress, and the Thousand Faces were given the unprecedented freedom to target whomever they wished, so long as it remained within the Outwall district.
The white handkerchiefs that the gang wore evolved into featureless white masks, which quickly became the gang's trademark. The anonymity gained by members of the gang from hiding their identities added to the gang's mystique. Unlike most gangs in Outwall, the Thousand Faces had no claimed territory and didn't commit petty crimes. The Thousand Faces only took on large operations like stealing from merchants and robbing guild businesses located in outwall.
Also, unlike other gangs, one can not simply seek out membership by approaching gang members. Members are sought out by the Thousand Faces and approached secretly for recruitment.
Despite the change of leadership in the city, the Thousand Faces still conduct business as usual, but they have avoided targeting Mortoth's people or the Red Guard.
The Johrase Confederation: Many Kingdoms in the Bandit Kingdoms were smashed during the war, and those lucky enough to escape the slaughter found their way to Rookroost. Johrase, one of the oldest, proudest, and most recognized of the Bandit Kingdoms, was one of these unfortunate nations. This proud mercenary kingdom was beaten on the battlefield and their lands claimed by the Great Old One. Unlike other conquered territories, their army and the bulk of their nobility eluded total annihilation. The Johrase mercenaries soon regrouped and reformed, but instead of fighting a losing war, they became a people without a homeland.
With their king dead and lands lost, the Johrase mercenary confederation of lords became the most sought mercenaries in the Bandit Kingdoms. The Johrase Confederation was in Rookroost when it signed its treaty with Iuz's representatives. They were even at the table, and signed the treaty as well, agreeing not to pick up arms against Iuz's forces or allies in exchange for their continued existence.
Despite a burning desire to ride forth from Rookroost and continue the war against the forces of Iuz, the reality was simple, the confederation didn't have the manpower to take back their lands. Instead, the Johrasians decided it best to bide their time and see what would come next. The Johrasian lords fully intend to throw in with the first serious contender that should arise to fight the Iuz. Until then, they will continue to fill their war chests by contracting out their forces and recruiting those they feel meet their requirements in preparation for that day.
The Confederation has a permanent camp outside of Outwall, and while surrounded by defenses, there are no walls or stone fortifications as outlined in the treaty they signed. Johrasian mercenaries are a common sight in Outwall wearing surcoats with the yellow and white crest emblazoned with a black morningstar.
While Johrasian mercenary troops are in service throughout the Free Lords' remaining lands and even in some neighboring nations, they will never raise arms against a fellow Johrasian.
The Districts of the city
The city itself is situated on a hill surrounded by a relatively flat plain. The city radiates out in walled rings from its central location called the Peak, because it covers the top of the hill. While not high in elevation, only a mere hundred and fifty feet at its highest point, it still provides a commanding view of the surrounding country. The city walls are maned and patrolled night and day and act as an observation platform for the Talons. These Talons keep an eye out for flares that can be shot into the sky by the city's patrols if additional help is needed.
Starting from the Peak, the city's rings radiate outward, and the city becomes less affluent the further away from the Peak. There are three walled sections of the city, the Peak, the Inner-City, and the Outer-City. The sprawl outside the walls is known as Outwall. The total area of Outwall is larger than the Peak, Inner-City, and the Outer-City districts combined.
The materials used in constructing buildings change from mostly stone in the Peak to a mixture of stone and timber in the Inner-City. The Outer-City is mainly built with timber, while Outwall uses whatever can be found. Suitable building materials are hard to find and have to be transported into the city from forests to the north and quarries to the east and south.
The Peak under fifty square city blocks in size but packs into that area the most important places in Rookroost. The Peak is home to the Palace of the General, the Council Hall, and high-end housing and apartments. Other city buildings of note here are the old Generals Tower, which is now occupied by the Red Guard officers, and The Crystal Palace, the most elegant Inn and Tavern in the city.
The Peak has a special unit of city Talons stationed there made up of their best units. Before Mortoth took control of the city, even these Talons were Easily bribed, but since Mortoth revamped their ranks, they have become the most reliable Talons in the city.
Entry into the Peak is restricted to guilded citizens, and the gate is manned by sharp-eyed Talons that will stop and question anyone they think doesn't belong. After sundown, the peak gates are closed, and all traffic in and out of the district must have the doors opened for them. A set of smaller doors is inset into the larger gate doors to accommodate this traffic without swing the larger ones open every time someone needs to come or go.
The Lord of Brick has laborers who work in the district around the clock, picking up and removing all garbage, making it the city's cleanest.
The Peak has its own well that services only the Peak. A manual pump station operated by the same clan of Kobolds in charge of Rookroost's Undercity. This pump station provides water for all the Peak buildings, the only such system in the city.
With Mortoth and his Red Guard usurping power in the city, little has changed in the Peak beside the fact that the General's mansion is now the personal dwelling of Mortoth, and the general's Tower houses the Red Guards officers.
The Inner-City is the heart and soul of Rookroost. This is where the bulk of all the chartered guilds have their guildhalls. The average citizen who lives within the Inner-City is well-off and makes up the middle and upper-middle class. The mid-level bureaucrats, the Talons of the Guard, and guilded citizens are not just the common workers in guildhalls all live in the Inner City.
Entry into the Inner-City is not as strict as the Peak, but the guards here are vigilant about who is coming and going, and those that appear out of place will be stopped and questioned. A few coins can still smooth over most of the guards despite their vigilance. Patrols of guards are frequent inside the district, and the Talons generally move in squads of four while they make their rounds. Crime is not as prevalent in the Inner-City as in the Outer-City or Outwall, at least not on the surface.
The Inner-City has changed little under the occupation of Mortoth as he wishes to keep the city functioning as normal as possible.
The last ring of walls encompasses the Outer-City. The inhabitants of the Outer-City are the common workers and citizenry that don't hold influential positions within their guilds but are still guilded. The second-largest district in Rookroost, the Outer-City, is where the lawlessness that is Outwall mingles with the law and order in the cities' guilded system. The Outer-City is a mix of residential and guild shops and even a few guildhalls, along with the more high-end brothels, gambling halls, and taverns that cater to the brigands and bandits that the city is known for.
Most of the roads in the Outer-City are paved, and four wells provide the district with its water, wells that have a full-time complement of Talons on duty to make sure the water is shared. Gangs of ruffians in the past used to shake down the more genital citizens for a few coins for access to the wells, forcing the detachments of Talons to be stationed there. That post is assigned to the lucky Talons that find themselves not in favor with their current commanders. The large Rookroost Bizarre is also situated here and is where the bulk of the goods taken in raids are sold to visiting merchants from neighboring lands from late spring to early fall. Unlike the Inner-City and the Peak, the Outer-city has no sewer system, and refuse is thrown into the allies and the streets. During the spring and summer, the stench here is nearly as putrid as in Outwall. It is prevalent for individuals to carry scented handkerchiefs with them to block out particularly strong odors.
Raven's Square, the cities' largest place for the public to gather after the bizarre, is where the city's gallows are also found. Cages for those sentenced to death by prolonged exposure dangling from hooks around the perimeter of the square. Executions are carried out on the weekends and serve as a sort of sick entertainment with large turnouts. This is one of the few rare times that the Night Merchants of the city can be seen doing their jobs during the day as they whisk away bodies of those executed.
Patrols of Talons are frequent in the district during the day, usually in groups of four, with their main priority being to keep the flow of goods and commerce from being interrupted. The gates in and out of the district are manned by a garrison of Talons at all hours of the day and is considered a choice assignment. Those looking to enter the Outer-City must pay a tax of one copper day or night, but in the evening, it's not uncommon for the Talons on duty to be lax and or unwilling to confront large groups. Exiting from the Outer-City to Outwall has no fee, and those leaving are rarely stopped. Those pulled aside can easily forgo any sort of delay by paying a bribe or producing guilded credentials. If neither is provided, then the unfortunate souls are in store for at least a good ten minutes of pointless questions before being let go.
Much like the Inner-City, the Outer-City remains mostly unchanged since the occupation. The only difference here is that some of the army's higher-ranking officers bivouacked outside of the city can be found in this district. However, none of them are in the city for long as Mortoth makes sure to continually rotate out those units into the field on various assignments.
While many consider the districts inside the walls of Rookroost to be the seat of power of the city, Outwall, the city that sprawls out all around it, is larger than all three of the walled districts combined. Since the war, it has grown even larger with waves of refugees coming to the city. Looking for the most competent brigands for your raids, they can be found here. Looking for out-of-work craftsmen, you can find them here. There is an old saying that everyone ends up in Rookroost, but not everyone leaves. Outwall has always been full of brigands, bandits, humanoids, and all manner of nasty people, but the bulk of those that live here are just average citizens looking to make a living.
Parts of Outwall appear to be like your typical city neighborhood, while other parts are full of hovels and shacks and is little more than a shantytown. The only guild of any importance in Outwall is the Beggars guild, where it exclusively operates. Because of this chaos, Outwall has experienced several major fires over the years that have burned down large district sections. Only those buildings situated in and around the irrigation canals that bring in water diverted from the Artonsamay River surviving.
Outwall is a wild and semi-lawless area as the Talons are only present in a few places, and they do not patrol the district except to make sure the roads leading into the city remain clear for traffic to come and go. Gangs of mercenaries, bandits, brigands, street thugs, and street urchins are plentiful in Outwall, and very few people move about the district on their own. Out wall is a patchwork of these different gangs claiming territory in a constant chess game to stay on top. Regular citizens who live in the city are left alone for the most part if they pay tribute to the gang currently running their neighborhood. This doesn’t have to be always in coin either, but services and goods can take its place. Not all gangs are oppressive either, and some areas are fiercely loyal to their gang overlords.
One of the most prominent structures in Outwall is the Arena. The Arena is where many different competitive sports are held, but the gladiatorial fights are the most popular. Over the years, it has become organized, and several schools now train and recruit gladiators. These professional gladiators mix with the slaves that are brought back by raiders and sold to the Arena. There is a lot of money that exchanges hands at the bookies for the Arena, and performances are held twice a week. The Arena has become so popular and makes so much money that the City stepped in and took control of it. A fulltime regiment of Talons is stationed there to ensure the peace and to transport winnings and sales to the city coffers.
Also located in Outwall, and another of the city's main revenue streams is the Slave Pens. Slaves are brought back regularly from raiders and stocked with offenders from the Rookroost courts. Those who find the mselves unable to pay off fines or debts through the courts are often sold into slavery if there is no room for them in the forced labor gangs or if their sentences were life imprisonment. Gaining one’s freedom happens in one of two ways, the owner lets them go, or the owner dies before they are sold off to another party.
Of all the districts in Rookroost, Outwall has changed the most since the war. The bulk of the refugees that flooded into Rookroost ended up here. These refugees injected new blood into all levels of the city's social structure, but the majority of them were not skilled enough or had enough coin to join most guilds. Even the Beggers Guild, the traditional guild of the poor, found themselves inundated with membership applications. The shantytowns and poorest sections doubled in population overnight. This influx led to violence as the traditional lawlessness of Outwall was put to the test.
The number of armed and out of work was turning the streets into chaos. The city had to do something about it as the violence was affecting the legitimate businesses that were significant contributors to the city's coffers, mainly the Marketplace, the Arena, and the Slave Pens. Detachments of Talons were increased at all of these places, and the main thoroughfares saw regular patrols for the first time in the city's history. Despite this increased presence of Talons, their job remains the same: to protect the city's interests and property of guilded citizens only.
Several large riots also have erupted in Outwall, riots that could not be ignored. These riots were so large in fact that Mortoth deployed his own Red Guard to put them down. Even the Congress has found it harder to ply their trade in Outwall since the war with such an influx of unaffiliated swords looking to make quick coin. Outwall had always been a dangerous place, but it has become even more so since the end of the war.
The hill upon which Rookroost was built has been honeycombed with a labyrinth of tunnels, passages, and secret rooms by many different people. From the Congress to smugglers and a host of others looking to make their way about the city unseen. The first tunnels were part of the first sewer system, but others quickly added onto them, creating the tangled mess beneath the city. The digging of tunnels became so common that a building collapsed into a hole due to a lack of proper support on more than one occasion. Eventually, the Council of Lords passed laws banning the digging of tunnels and bricked up most of the ones they could find. An agreement was worked out between the Council and the Congress, allowing them to continue using some of their tunnels, so long as they helped the city police what was now being called Under-City.
After bricking up of tunnels, a clan of Kobolds was introduced into the sewers to be their custodians in exchange for them being able to declare the Under-City their official domain. The kobolds keep the sewers clear enough so that when the spring thunderstorms occur, the sewers can handle the runoff. The kobolds have a love-hate relationship with the Congress, and it has erupted into small turf wars in the past forcing the Council of Lords to intervene and negotiate a peace between them.
Besides the kobolds, the Undercity is the home of Rookroost's Ratmen. Unlike wererats, the Ratmen of Rookroost are unique to the city and a handful of surrounding areas. They are small, halfling sized intelligent creatures. The Ratmen have their own language, which sounds little nothing more than click, growls, and squeaks to the untrained ear. Master scavengers that pilfer the city at night and have evolved into surprisingly good tinkerers and their warrens are littered with traps. The Ratmen have worked out a mutual peace with the kobolds, and while they still fight each other from time to time, they mostly live in peace. All of the sewers and official city tunnels are under the kobolds' control, while the Ratmen live in small tunnels systems they have dug out themselves.