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.