In this 13th installment for the City of Rookroost we take a look at the third installment of places of interest with Outwall, and the beginning of People of Interest. 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.
31) The City Bazaar: While the Outwall district of Rookroost is the most chaotic and dangerous part of the city, the city bizarre is the exception. During the day, the bazaar is crawling with Talons, and the Congress has made it well known that they will accept no interference with the legendary Rookroost bazaar.
The bazaar predates the city itself and is where the ill-gotten goods pilfered by bandits and brigands eventually end up after being sold to local merchants. As the bazaar grew, it drew the interest of morally flexible merchants willing to travel to Rookroost and partake in the great deals the bazaar offered. You can't find everything for sale there all the time, but what you do find will be at the best prices.
In the beginning, wares were sold by the same bandits and brigands that stole them, but men of action are ill-suited to such work, which lead to the rise of the merchant class to take on that trade. These merchants bought their goods, then stockpiled them to haul to foreign markets. Today The Merchants League has a stranglehold on the local merchants. It is fully supported by the city, and the other guilds, as the bazaar is the lifeblood of Rookroost's economy.
Many were unsure how the new overlords would treat the bazaar, and during and after the war, the foreign merchants had stopped coming. Still, only a few years afterward, it was evident that the minions of Iuz, or at least Mortoth, had no intention of interfering with it. With regular tribute needing to be sent back north to feed the horde and the evil empire that belongs to the Great Old One, great pains have been taken by Mortoth to ensure that the bazaar continues to thrive.
The grounds upon which the bazaar is held is a great expanse of open ground that erupts into a tent city at the break of dawn as merchants and the guilds open up for business. Then, as quickly as it is erected every morning, the entire thing is pulled down an hour before nightfall, and the merchants and guild members hurry back home before darkness falls.
32) The Slave Pens: Slavery is legal in Rookroost, like most of the Free Lords' lands. One of the most lucrative trades in the city is the slave trade, especially since the war has driven up demand. The Slave Pens is where slavers bring their wares in the morning to show them off to potential buyers. Each morning slaves are marched out of their stockades and holding cells into the slave pens to wait their turn on the auction block. During the day, the slave pens are packed with people, and at night, the area is devoid of life as unsold slaves are taken back to the Slavemasters homes.
A detachment of Talons is stationed here during the day, but not to protect citizens from the slaves but to ensure the rowdier of the slavers don't disrupt the slave market. Slavers are notorious for shaking down rivals, and some even make a practice of waylaying slave trains and seizing their stock before it reaches Rookroost.
33) The Fish Mongers: While Rookroost doesn't have much in the way of local produce, the fishmongers bring in wagon loads of fish from the nearby Artonsamy River daily. The fishmongers have a regular spot just outside of the bazaar where they sell their fish, but it is rarely fresh unless it is winter or autumn. During warmer months, the fish that is brought up is already salted and or dried. Sometimes, it is still alive and in barrels.
34) The Black Swan Inn: The most notorious inn and tavern in the city, the Black Swan is the place to go when you're looking to either join or recruit a marauding band going raiding into the neighboring kingdoms. Even before the refugees and the war, the Black Swan was a place to find the roughest and meanest bandits and brigands in the city. The Black Swan is owned by a former marauding half-orc named Beltran and his partner, a half-ogre named Gevin. They employ a squad of roughnecks to make sure the place doesn't get broken up in addition to the regular staff.
35) Seltin’s Livery Stables: Seltin's stables are located on the outskirts of Outwall and are the one-stop-shop for all your horse and tack needs. They sell all kinds of horses and repurchase them at a discounted price if they are still serviceable. They sell wagons, and all your caravan needs as well. In addition to horses and wagons, Seltrins also has the finest guides and scouts in all the Bandit Kingdoms available for hire. These guides and scouts can lead your caravan or your marauding party as well. Seltin is also one of the most informed men, outside of the messenger's service, as has his guides and scouts regularly bring back news to him. Seltin knows so much that he periodically supplies information to the Congress for a small fee and added protection.
36) Last Chance Tavern and Inn: On the main road, called the Western Road, out of Rookroost heading into the heartlands is the Last Chance Tavern and Inn. Run by a personable ex adventurer named Chance Lucas, his place is considered the last chance to turn around before heading into Outwall. Many merchants stay here while conducting their business at the bazaar, so they don't have to stay in the city. In addition to merchants, many adventurers making their way to Rookroost stop at the Last Chance. Chance is known for being on good terms with nearly everyone in Rookroost and is a personal friend of Elara Mornstar. Chance's connections are usually enough to keep the riff-raff out of his place, that and the guards he has on the payroll.
37) The Dregs: Outwall has always been where the poorest of Rookroost's citizens end up. Even here, the division between the haves and the have nots is apparent. The lowest of these citizens live in the Dregs. This shantytown has no real borders as its growth and population is in constant flux. Fire, disease, and just the hard living in the Dregs keeps it that way. Talons never patrol here, and the only authority recognized there are the gangs. Divided up amongst ever changing numbers of gangs. The gangs of the Dregs are the least influential in Outwall and Rookroost.
38) Fountain Number One: Besides bars, taverns, and drug dens, Outwall has little in the way of clean water except for Fountain Number one. All the fountains in the city have a number designation to them, and the only one in Outwall being the largest. The fountain is more than just a place to gather water; it's also a place to relax catch up with neighbors.
Because of the importance of Fountain Number One to Outwall, it is the only place in the district that has round the clock talons stationed there. The Talons' job is to ensure that no one attempts to foul the water or uses it as their personal bathroom. Being stationed at the fountain is considered a punishment assignment or reserved for those new to the Talons.
39) The Beggars Union: When it comes to large institutions in Outwall, there is only one, the Beggars Union. The guildhall that houses the union is often described as a perfect reflection of the guild itself, large and run-down. The building is brimming with people at all hours of the night and day, with members taking advantage of the services they provide. Violence between members on guildhall grounds is not tolerated, and those guilty of breaking that rule are thrown out of the guild.
40) The Slab (Prison): The prison known only as the Slab is an imposing building on Outwall's outskirts. Brooding and unadorned by statues or embellishments, the prison's exterior reflects the prisoners' hopelessness within. Besides the main keep, there are four large stone barracks and a dungeon below for prisoners not assigned to forced labor.
Columns of Shackled chain-gangs are lead out of the Slab to work surrounding fields or loaded into wagons and taken to locations throughout the city to work. These gangs are heavily guarded by the Talons.
41) Cemetery and the House of the Dead: Just north of the Outwall district lies the Rookroost cemetery and the House of the Dead. The cemetery has been in this location nearly as long as Rookroost has been a city. The House of the Dead started out as nothing more than a shack where death priests lived and has grown into a cathedral dedicated to death in all its forms. Most people from Ravensrook never visit the cemetery, and the rumors about the place are many.
42) The Pits: Outwall might be the slums, but it is also home to the city’s most popular entertainment, the gladiator fights. It is said that the pits originally were a way for the gangs of bandits and brigands to settle their disputes. As the city evolved, so did the gladiator pits, growing from simple pits dug into the ground into a stone arena with seating for thousands. Beneath the arena is a maze of living quarters for gladiators and holding pens for monsters to be used in the arena.
Besides gladiatorial bouts, the arena also holds fights between monsters, or monsters, and slaves. These slaves are usually poor slaves of less value, and then there are still the traditional Trails as they are called. Trials is where two sides can enter the arena to settle a disagreement with a trial by combat, just like the cities founders used to do. These can be to the death or first blood and can be fought between the two disgruntled opponents or professional stand-ins. While not an officially sanctioned form of justice through the magistrates, most in the city honor these matches' results and look down on those that don't honor them.
Below you will find a list of some of the important people in the city. This is far from a complete list, but instead a list of NPC's intended to give you an idea of the types of people that can be found in the city and inspire you to create your own memorable ones.
Elara Mornstar: (Leader of the Congress) Elara appears as an elf, but her features are not distinct enough to pin down what kind of elf. If ever asked this question, she responds with a wry smile and a comment about a girl not giving away all her secrets. Tall for an elf at 5'8” in height, Elara has raven hair, green eyes, and a dancers build. Many speculate that she is really a half-elf with dominant elven features. Of course, the truth is that Elara is actually a Greyhawk Dragon that has assumed this form to interact with the lesser races. Elara dresses for the occasion and is never seen wearing the same thing twice as she enjoys new clothes and being fashionable.
Elara has been a fixture in Rookroost for over 100 years now, and the Congress leader for 70 of those years. Before she assumed Elara's persona, she had lived in the city as a human warrior named Belara. She used this persona to get accustomed to her new home and then laid it to rest and took up Elara's identity. Of the inhabitants of Rookroost only Riziln, and Neros, her sometime lover, know of her true identity, but even they do not know her true name.
Elara stands out with her lighthearted demeanor and personality in a city full of bravado and hard men. She's always smiling and polite to all those that she meets. She has ordered assassinations and war upon other guilds, all the while smiling as if it was nothing. Elara enjoys her position as the most powerful person in the city, and all the excitement it gives her. Like all Greyhawk Dragons, she lives for the small moments and the interactions between these lesser beings.
Elara is protective of her city and her people and has genuine affection for them, much like one has for a beloved pet. She is very concerned about the current state of affairs since the war, and she is working hard to form a lasting bond between herself and Mortoth. She trusts Mortoth to act in his own self-interest, but she is happy that he is far more intelligent than most minions of the Great Old One. Elara knows that if he could, Mortoth would have her replaced with one of his own, but they both know that will never happen, so they work hard to form a working relationship that helps them both.
Elara is a mature dragon and an accomplished swords-women and caster in her elven form. She never wears armor; instead, she relies on her abilities and the fact that she is far stronger, faster, and tougher than nearly all that she encounters even in her elven form.
If Elara is said to have a weakness, it's her affection for Neros. Even though she does not know what it is about this human male that fascinates her, she spends what free time she can in his company. Their relationship is a well-known fact in the city, and some foolish individuals have tried to use Neros to get to Elara in the past, only to wind up dead by the swordsman's own hand.
Tips on Running Elara: In reality, adventurers might be able to catch glimpses of Elara from time to time at a distance, but until they are substantially high enough level to have a reputation that warrants her attention, they wouldn't have any contact with her. As adventurers gain levels and reputation, or if they are already of a high enough level, usually tenth level and above, she will request an audience with them when they arrive in the city. The reason for this is so that Elara can size them up and get her own opinion of them. If she likes what she sees, she will more than likely try to employ them, and if they are amiable to the idea, maybe even try to recruit them into the Congress.
Of course, if the characters are already members of the guild, Elara will start paying attention to the characters by the time they become 5th level. She may directly interact with them at that time as she believes in being a hands-on leader.