In this 5th 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 Horde of The Great Old One
Grand Marshall Mortoth only leads one of four armies that invaded the Bandit Kingdoms. One was designated to invade the western lands, one headed to the Heartlands and the Rift Canyon region. At the same time, another was tasked with trying to clear out the giant forest of the Fellreev, leaving Rookroost to Mortoth. Of these four armies that invaded, only two remain. The army that attacked the west was withdrawn after treaties with Chief Ulgun, head of the Hobgoblin confederation, secured their western border. The army tasked with the emptying of the Fellreev was annihilated, leaving only Mortoth's and the army lead by Cranzer, which destroyed the heartlands and is camped around the Rift Canyon.
Officially, Cranzer, a dark sorcerer, is the commander for all of the Bandit Kingdoms, but Mortoth pays the wizard no attention. With the departure of the demons that had been so effective in subduing the Free Lords now banished, Cranzer's forces are little more than a horde of unruly humanoids. Cranzer would love to beat Mortoth into submission or even crush him and his private army, but the rebels and freedom fighters in the Rift Canyon and the Fellreev keep him fully occupied.
In addition to bands of former bandits, Cranzer is dealing with insurgents from the lands of Furyondy, The Shield Lands, Urnst, and remnants of the Horned Society looking to undermine the region and deny the Great Old One the resources they plunder from it.
With Mortoth busy controlling Rookroost, his horde's running fell to his 2nd in command, Kostana. Staying with tradition, when it comes to assigning command of armies, Mortoth was paired with a power-hungry subordinate to keep him on his toes. Within the chaos that is the lands of the Great Old One, there is a firm belief that the best results come when fear is a motivator. Despite Kostana's ambition, Mortoth has no fear of her and has shown open contempt towards her, while fear of Mortoth undermines Kostana's attempts to sew dissension among its ranks.
Kostana has tried setting up a spy network within Rookroost to keep tabs on Mortoth, but those few she has been able to place without the Congress finding out about have given her minimal intelligence. The ambitious half-orc reports all that she thinks might be traitorous back to Dorakan; unfortunately, she has yet to hear anything back or be given permission to oust Mortoth. Not even Cranzer trusts in her ability to spy on Mortoth and refuses to join her in these attempts.
Kostana spends most of her time leading detachments of Mortoth's horde on various sorties into neighboring lands and putting down uprisings within the eastern half of the Free Lords' Lands. Toth has even sent her on several occasions into the Fellreev forest, missions that always lead to high casualties hoping that Kostana might fall to the rebels hiding there.
The Merchants League
The Merchants League of Rookroost lost much of the influence they once had, but their coin can still buy a lot, making them dangerous to cross. Many of the precautions they installed in the government to ensure their authority endured have eroded. Infiltration from the Congress and corruption from within was inevitable. Things have become so bad that most of the high-ranking guilds in the league hire their protection in the form of mercenary troops and spies instead of trusting the government they were instrumental in forming.
The Generalship had always been a staunch ally of the Merchant League, and the two worked hard to help counterbalance the power of the Congress. This tactic sometimes worked if the sitting General was like-minded, but not all were, and some preferred the easy coin of looking the other way. Despite the back and forth power struggle with the Congress, the thieves guild never strangled the Merchants League to the point that they were not profitable. The Congress always knew that they thrived when the Merchants League thrived.
The Merchants League, which is a collection of the most prosperous and merchant guilds in the city, has always been the destination of merchants looking to strike it rich. The wealth that one can make in Rookroost is well known, and it attracts thousands of merchants from neighboring and far off nations. Most of them end up destitute, and a fair amount end up dead, but the allure of fast money keeps a steady stream of them coming. The flow of these merchants slowed considerably during the war. Still, now that it's been over five years since the treaties were signed ending it, they have been coming in even higher numbers as the war created a more significant amount of desperate men and women looking to earn fortunes.
Merchants coming to Rookroost looking to strike it rich have first to find a guild willing to take them on or have enough resources of their own to start a guild and go freelance. The Merchants League funnels the ill-gotten goods from the bandits and brigands back into the very nations they plundered.
The power brokers within the Merchants League is in constant flux as merchants come, strike it rich, and leave. Merchants also tend to get killed in deals gone bad or merely rubbing people the wrong way. Even the most influential merchants are not immune to this, although it is rare.
While the Congress is always looking for muscle to employ, so is the Merchants League. The League funds expeditions and raiding parties if they feel like the return is worth it, and they are continually looking for guards for their caravans leaving Rookroost.
The Guild of Wizardry
One of the later additions to the power structure in Rookroost was the Guild of Wizardry. While there had always been the odd spellcaster in the city, the most famous being Uhltrix the Unwise, they had been more a motley collection of wizards and sorcerers looking out for themselves. Uhltrix worked with many of the brigand and bandit groups and regularly dealt with Valtavian. Uhltrix outlived Valtavian, though, and his original tower in the Peak is still standing and acts as the Guild of Wizardry's headquarters. No one knows what happened to Uhltrix, but his apprentices are the wizards that formed the Rookroost’s Guild of Wizardry.
Once Uhltrix disappeared, his apprentices soon found the respect they had enjoyed previously was because of the fear the brigands had of their master. Once enough time had passed, and everyone had become convinced Uhltrix wasn’t coming back, the pressure was put on his apprentices to join other guilds. Questions over ownership of Uhltrix's tower arose as many of the powerful guilds sought to claim it. The apprentices knew to ensure their freedom; they would need to stick together, so they declared themselves the Guild of Wizardry and began conducting business as such.
Elshore, Uhltrix's senior apprentice, took control of the guild, and began offering services at standard rates. Still, in a place like Rookroost, your credibility on the streets means everything, and the wizards at the new guild were more academic. Because none of the current members of the guild had fried anyone on the streets with magic, they were still hounded by those looking to get at the treasures supposedly in Uhltrix's tower. With so much attention targeting them, they rarely left the tower, and when they did, it was under heavy escort.
As word spread of the new Guild of Wizardry in Rookroost, the Bandit Kingdoms' wizards flocked to join a guild of like-minded individuals and have some semblance of safety. One of them was named Razohr the Grim. Not long after Razhor joined the ideas of pilfering the tower and bullying, the guild's members changed. Razohr was not just the most powerful wizard in the lands of the Free Lords; he was also one of its most notorious assassins. A deadly half-elven man with a reputation for being ruthless when paid, Razohr saw the value of an active Guild for Wizardry in Rookroost. When he became a member of the guild, the guild automatically got a degree of respect that the city's roguish types could understand and respect.
The Days of Elshore and Razohr are long gone, but Riziln, the head of the Guild of Wizardry and the Lord of letters, has led the guild for fifty years. Riziln has taken painful steps to ensure that the Guild of Wizardry remains neutral and above the everyday struggle that is life in Rookroost. The conquest of the city by Mortoth and the Great Old One's minions has tested this stance. Riziln was unsure if they would throw in with the city to defend it, or simply pick up and leave for other less volatile lands. Fortunately, they never had to make such a choice as the city agreed to sign a peace treaty. The peace treaty allowed her to begin making plans for a possible future departure if necessary.
Rizlin has been pleased with Mortoth's changes, and the two have a mutually beneficial relationship, much to the chagrin of Elara and the Congress. Riziln has taken all of these possibilities into consideration, and while she has not given her complete backing to Mortoth, she has allied with him in keeping the city safe.
The goal of the Guild of Wizardry is to become a place where practitioners of the arcane arts can gather and conduct their experiments and studies unhindered. Necromancy, mind control, and a list of other magics frowned upon in other lands are considered just different magic forms to be learned and studied at the guild. Wizards who desire this type of freedom, and camaraderie, still move to Rookroost to conduct their studies.
The Guild of Wizardry sells their spells to those who can afford them and are in good standings with them. Like most things in Rookroost, you need to be a guilded citizen for a request for a spell even to be entertained, and even then, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to purchase one.
*NOTE: Spells above level 4 can be acquired, but there are no set rates or prices. Spells of higher than 4th level need to be negotiated if allowed at all. The Lord of Letters having the last word on these transactions.