Monday, May 24, 2010

On Ophir, The City of Slaves - Part 3

The first two parts of Ophir can be found here and here. For information on the pantheon of Ophir, click here.

Before I continue, I should mention that this work presents the concept of slavery as it has often appeared in pulp fiction. Slavery was fairly common in the ancient world, and thus appears often in fiction. The slave girls, gladiators and galley slaves of pulp fiction and sword & sandal movies, however, do not do justice to the suffering of real life slaves. Unfortunately, the crime of slavery and human trafficking is alive and well in the world. For a more serious take on the subject, you might want to visit this wikipedia page or this website. I hope nobody takes this work of fiction as belittling the plight of actual slaves. I know I promised no politics on this website, but I don't think taking a stand against slavery is too controversial.

D. Avenue of Lost Souls
The streets that surround the Temple of Lotan are paved with basalt tiles, several bearing brass holy symbols of Lotan (in the shape of an eel wound around a trident). They are usually quiet, people avoiding the temple whenever possible, and they are never profaned with laughter or other loud noises.

At night, the streets are all but deserted due to the priests being about, hunting for sacrificial victims. The streets are patrolled by wary guardsman during the day and servants of the nobles who live near the temple going about their business.

3. Beggars: A band of seven beggars dwell in this ramshackle, two-story brick building. Once a fine townhouse, it has fallen into disrepair, missing wooden shutters on the windows and its entryway, tiled with blue marble, now cracked and dingy. The beggars are lead by Jumbi, a mischevious and secretive young man with a scruffy beard and a crescent shaped scar on his cheeck (made by the signet ring of an aristocrat who meant to teach him humility. The building was left to Jumbi by his maternal aunt. Jumbi and his friends are religious beggars of Shedu who have taken a vow of poverty. They are less obnoxious than the average Ophirian beggar, but no less wily. They keep no treasure, spending all of their money on food for themselves and giving the remainder to the Temple of Shedu [56]. They are aware of the change that has come over the priests of the temple, and are on the lookout for adventurers who might be able to help. As religious beggars, they are capable of blessing those who give them coins. The blessing, once made, can be invoked by the blessed at any time, and then acts as the cleric spell of the same name. They are likewise capable of cursing those who abuse them or commit blasphemies in their presence.

4. Tapestry Weaver: Alulla’s work hangs in the palaces and temples of Ophir and other city-states. An elderly woman with a small, wrinkled face, long silver hair and a hunched back, Alulla is well read in history and mythology and has a 1 in 6 chance of answering obscure questions on these subjects. Her building is two stories tall and built of dark grey stone with a flat roof. The arched windows on her second floor are covered from within by tapestries, and two fine tapestries for sale (100 gp each) hang outside during the daytime. Alulla owns a pair of intelligent, talking ferrets (Zim and Yip) who keep her up-to-date on the goings on of the city-state. Alulla’s home is simple and neat. She keeps her loom near the window and her treasure (135 gp) under the floor boards. Most of her earnings go to the Temple of Shedu [56]. Alulla has a long-standing loathing of Hogo [8], whose family stole her father’s fortune and may have murdered him long ago.

6. Temple of Lotan: Lotan is the demonic god of the sea of the Ophirian pantheon. His temple is a large structure built of black stone and topped with a roof of grey slates. The entrance is barred by an iron gate night and day. During the day, a priest stands behind the gate to accept offerings to the temple and give Lotan’s blessing (a dab of blue paint on the bridge of the nose). At night, when the priests of Lotan hunt for victims, the streets around the temple are deserted.

The interior of the temple is covered in plaster and painted an amber color. A thick, purple carpet leads from the entrance to the great idol of Lotan, which appears as a massive merman with a curled, black beard, stern countenance, golden crown and trident (plated and too large to remove) and gem-encrusted breastplate (three sapphires worth 3,000 gp each, twelve garnets worth 500 gp each). To the left of the entrance is a thick, wooden door that leads to a four-story tower that contains the apartments of the priests and an observatory. Behind the idol there is a trap door that leads to a series of catacombs that run beneath much of the city, connecting (via secret door) to a number of cellars. The catacombs nearest the temple of Lotan house treasure vaults and tombs of former priests. Further away, the catacombs are used for storage of supplies. The very far catacombs are haunted by monsters and avoided by even Lotan’s grim priests.

The high priest of Lotan (and pontiff of the city-state of Ophir) is Aralla, a stately woman with pale, clammy skin and large, glassy eyes. Aralla is a sorcerer whose mother had congress with the demonic servants of Lotan. Aralla is served by Mugo, Harah, Jumbi, Says, Ibiq and Farba.

The temple’s treasure is hidden in multiple vaults in the catacombs. Each vault is locked and guarded on the inside by an iron cobra and (10%) a mummy of a former priest. In total, the treasure consists of 500 ep, 2,300 gp and a lapis lazuli dolphin worth 125 gp.

• Aralla, Cambion Adept Lvl 7: HP 14; AC 9 [10]; Save 9; Special: Adept spells (2nd); Purple robes, golden torc (300 gp), silver dagger, potion of human control.

• Acolytes, Adepts Lvl 2: HP 2d6; AC 5 [14]; Save 13; Special: Adept spells (1st); Ring armor, shield, black robes lined with crimson, light mace.

7. Inn of One Thousand Delights: The best inn in town, it features two taverns (one for wine, one for dark ale), a restaurant specializing in goat cheese, spices and ground lamb on flat bread. The taverns consist of long tables and booths hidden by thick, velvet curtains. Besides the booze, one can shop for prostitutes and hookahs (black lotus is extra) in the taverns. They also have dancing girls and musicians most nights, and games of dice run by employees (usually assassins) of the inn.

The inn is owned by Ophir’s brotherhood of assassins, who occupy the top floor. The innkeeper, Hood, is in their employ. He is a wicked man, malevolent and overbearing, but unskilled in fighting or assassination. The rooms in the inn are sumptuous and expensive (5 gp per night). The inn has its own stables, and baths and a laundry service can be purchased.

The top floor consists of apartments and meeting/training rooms. The assassins are ultimately led by Prince Zargo, but day-to-day operations are overseen by Joram, his lieutenant. The assassins’ most proficient killed is the Black Lotus.

• Joram, Assassin Lvl 4: HP 16; AC 5 [14]; Save 12 (11 vs. death); Special: Cheat death, decipher script, diguise, sneak attack for double damage, stealth, poison; Short sword, dagger, darts (3), leather armor, black mask, 4d6 gp.

• Black Lotus, Assassin Lvl 8: HP 37; AC 4 [15]; Save 8 (7 vs. death); Special: Cheat death, decipher script, diguise, sneak attack for triple damage, stealth, poison; Short sword, +1 dagger, leather armor, disguise kit, vials of poison (2), vials of acid (2), burglars’ tools.

• Assassins: HD 2d6; AC 9 [10]; Atk 1 dagger (1d4 + poison) or 1 dart (1d3 + poison); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Sneak attack. Dagger, darts (3), black mask, 1d6 gp, vial of acid.

8. Noble: This is the manse of Hogo, an old, haggard-looking hedonist. Hogo lives in a large, two-story building of exposed brick. Ornamental metal works adorns the entrance and the windows. Hogo is a minor nobleman who lives by the old ways. He is cruel and sadistic and given to indulging his lusts. He keeps a small harem of five women (all slaves) and a small staff of slaves to cater to his every need. Hogo throws lavish orgies that are widely attended by the chaotic and evil aristocrats of the city-state. Hogo employs a large bodyguard from Lyonesse called Morgo the Black. Morgo guards the entrance to Hogo’s domicile when his master is in, and accompanies when he is out (usually carried by slaves on a sedan chair). Morgo is tall and lank, with thinning hair and a drooping black mustache. He is as wicked as his master, and would turn on him for the right price. Hogo keeps his treasure in the bank, though he is suspicious of the banker. Hogo has set his eyes on Ramma the dancer [18]. His entreaties have so far fallen on deaf ears, so he is planning to send Morgo and some thugs around to kidnap her.

• Morgo, Fighting-Man Lvl 3: HP 14; AC 4 [15]; Save SV 14; Chainmail, two-handed sword, dagger, 10 gp.

10. Bloody Bones Tavern: After a few years in the army, Nosir retired and purchased this tavern with his plunder. The walls of the tavern are decorated with weapons and shields (gifts, mostly) and is frequented by soldiers, guardsmen, mercenaries and fighting-men. Nosir is a cruel man and always on the lookout for an opportunity to profit off of another’s misery. He has lost three wives (the last under mysterious circumstances) and the wenches he employs would probably leave if they didn’t enjoy the protection of their clients. Nosir allows them the use of the back room to entertain for a cut. He has chambers above the tavern, but can no longer make it up the stairs. He now sleeps in the back room. He keeps his treasure (36 sp, 180 cp) in a locked strongbox under the bar.

• Nosir: Evil Human Fighting-Man 1, HP 10, AC 10, MV 9, ATK falchion +2 (1d6+1), SV 18, AB Str 10, Dex 9, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 7, EQ falchion, buckler (kept behind the bar). Wavy hair, birthmark on right arm, lewd and miserly.

E. Square of Ineffable Damnation
Named for the many slaves that travel through this square weekly from the harbor to the slave pens [16]. The alleys here are reddish dirt and overgrown with weeds, but the square itself is tiled with reddish marble. The southern part of the square has a large fountain, and it is believed to be lucky to throw a copper coin in (retrieved by the priests of Adonis and Astarte each night and used as alms for the poor).

Crowds here consist of prospective slave buyers and those who wish to watch the auction, laborers moving from one place to another and peddlers selling bits of roasted meat on kabobs (often rat), salted dates and clay pots of beer.

14. Slaver: Muta is a wicked elven slaver. He is a mature elf, remembering well the days when the Purple Kings still ruled the coast. Muta is immaculate in dress, loquacious in speech and forceful in personality. His home is built of white stone and has a green door covered with brass tracery. Muta has been a member of the Brotherhood of Slavers for several decades, rising up through the ranks as a slave driver. He has a keen intellect and expects that he will one day run the show (which is highly unlikely). Muta employs a ogrillon bodyguard called Jaroom. Jaroom has purple skin and flaming red hair, and dresses in a black leather jerkin and mail kilt. He carries a curved two-handed sword called a zulf-i-khar and wears a necklace of rat skulls. Muta’s household is run by an old slave called Mumba. He suspects Ramma the dancer [18] of being involved in sneaking slaves out of Ophir, but does not feel ready to move against her, especially because he fears the involvement of the Temple of Shedu. His treasure consists of 10,000 cp, 1,000 sp and 100 gp.

• Muta, Elf Slaver: HD 3 (12 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 long sword (1d8); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Elf abilities. Chainmail, curved long sword, dagger, 3d6 gp.

• Jaroom, Ogrillon: HD 2 (8 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 sword (1d10+2) or 1 dart (1d3+2); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

16. Slave Market: This mini-fortress contains the city-state’s slave pens. The building consists of three stories of barred cells along the perimeter, with an empty space in the middle that serves as a barracks and stables for the slavers. The building has a flat roof that is patrolled by archers in azure cloaks.

In front of the fortress is a broad plaza and a large wooden platform shaded by a blue tarp. Every day, 4d6 slaves are auctioned off here by Aliq, the auctioneer. Aliq and his unfortunate charges are always under the watchful eye of the archers and their amazonian Cushite commander, Hova.

• Aliq, Talking Weasel (treat as halfling) Thief Lvl 3: HP 9; AC 9 [10]; Save 13; Special: Back stab for double damage; Thick saffron robes, dagger, darts (3), platinum ring worth 100 gp, ring of keys, 3d10 gp. In play, Aliq ended up sounding like Joe Pesci. This struck one of my younger players so funny that I got requests to “do the weasel voice” almost every session.

• Archers: HD 3; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 long bow or curved long sword (1d8); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None. Chainmail, shield, long sword, long bow, 10 arrows, 1d6 gp.

• Hova, Fighting-Woman Lvl 5: HP 32; AC 5 [14]; Save 12; Special: Immense strength (+1); Two-handed sword, longbow, 10 arrows, ring armor, gold hoop earrings worth 50 gp, 5d6 gp.

Random Slaves
1-5. Bearer (20 gp)
6. Courtesan (60 gp)
7. Entertainer (60 gp)
8. Eunuch (40 gp)
9. Gladiator (60 gp)
10. House servant (40 gp)
11-19. Laborer (20 gp)
20. Specialist* (600 gp)

* Specialists may be animal trainers, sages, etc. or adventurer-types, in which case the price is per level.

17. Barber: Visits to the barber should be relaxing, but such is rarely the case with Lathiq. Lathiq is a rough looking customer with thick eyebrows and several chins, but he is also a skilled storyteller and surgeon. The ground floor of his shop is given over to his operating room, where he gives haircuts, bleedings and tooth extractions. The second floor consists of living quarters for himself and his two “wives” (Gala, a raven-haired beauty, and Aneth, an elven slave girl). He keeps his money in a locked chest trapped with a poisoned needle. The chest contains 700 gp and an onyx worth 30 gp.

• Lathiq, Bard Lvl 8: HP 43; AC 7 [12]; Save 9; Special: Decipher, inspiration, legend lore, fascinate; Leather apron stained with blood, silver dagger, three darts, razor, shears.

18. Dancer: This is the home of Ramma, a beautiful dancer who plies her trade in the Inn of One Thousand Delights. She has caught the eye of some dangerous folk, but feels herself capable of handling them. Ramma lives in a one-story, flat-roofed, adobe building near the Slave Market. She is a member of the “underground railroad” in Ophir. Her treasure consists of 85 gp kept in a locked iron box. If things get too hot in Ophir, she may try to join a band of adventurers on their way out. She has two small caches, large enough to hide humans, hidden beneath her home’s tiled floor.

• Ramma, Bard Lvl 1: HP 8; AC 8 [11]; Save 16; Special: Decipher script, inspiration, legend lore. Costume jewelry worth 25 sp, long sword, dagger. Seductive, whispery voice, joking and sociable.

20. Alchemist: Nabe’ is a true alchemist. He is a middle-aged man with a paunch and thinning black hair. He is clean, obsessive and forceful in personality, a bachelor with a penchant for the bordellos and gambling dens of Ophir. Nabe’ keeps a shop and small laboratory on the ground floor, a larger laboratory and study on the second floor, and his bedroom on the third floor of is adobe building with its scattered blue tiles and blue doors and latticed windows. A failed experiment (a synthoid) is locked in the attic and fed through a small hole in the ceiling of Nabe’s bedroom. Nabe keeps his treasure in a lead-lined wooden chest. It consists of 1,000 sp and 200 gp.

• Synthoid: HD 2+2 (8 hp); AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 slam (1d4); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

21. Sage: Lathba the sage specializes in the subject of molds and fungi. He has an extensive collection of molds and oozes (including green slime and black pudding) kept in hermetically sealed glass globes displayed around his library. Lathba’s home is three stories tall, with a reception area on the ground floor, a library and den on the second floor and a bedchamber on the third. Lathba is currently single, but he has a penchant for elven men and is a terrible flirt. He has an impressive wine collection that he keeps in an old sarcophagus propped against one wall of his reception area. Several other artifacts, including a stone seal bearing the elder sign, hang from the walls of his reception area, which is also decorated with a soft couch covered in lion hide, an oak chair with blue cushions embroidered with star patterns, two wicker chairs that have seen better days and an amberglass globe with a permanent light spell cast on it (kept under a black velvet throw when not needed). In his youth, Lathba was quite the rake, and he still retains some fighting ability.

• Lathba: HD 3 (12 hp); AC 9 [10]; Atk 1 short sword (1d6+1); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None. Crisp speech, extroverted troublemaker, argumentative.

22. Renegade Monk: Ob once served the Monastery of Melkarth [39], but was cast out when his cruel, violent nature was revealed. He now works as an enforcer for the den of thieves [60] and as a part-time adventurer-for-hire. Ob’s house is a two-story affair and constructed of grey stone. The bottom floor is a patio of sorts, with vine-covered pillars and a small fountain. The upper floor consists of a living area and simple bedroom. Ob keeps no treasure, for the guild sees to his daily needs. He has a +1 shield (projects an aura of darkness once per day with the command word “F’taghn”) hanging over his mantle.

• Ob, Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5: HP 33; AC 7 [12]; Save 10; Special: Move 17, unarmed strikes deal 1d8 and 1d4 damage, stunning attack 5/day, deflect missile 1/rd, harm creatures only struck by +2 weapons, slow fall; Jade pendant of a coiled serpent worth 155 gp.

23. Boardinghouse: Ib is a wretched man with greasy, thinning hair, a bushy beard and lazy eye (right). He is flatulent, insensitive and irresponisble, and runs this decrepit three-story boarding house. The building is in disrepair and sparsely furnished. Rooms cost 1 sp for a night or 5 sp per week. Food is not served on the premises, and the smell that pervades the place would make it an unappetizing place to eat. A number of secret corridors exist between rooms, with secret doors and spy holes that allow Ib to do some business as a spy for the guild. Ib is married to a harridan called Zora. He has three children, all very shy girls between the ages of 5 and 10. Zora despises her husband, but remains with him for her daughters sake. Given the opportunity to move on (or throw him out), she would happily take it.

• Zora, Barbarian Lvl 2: HP 13; AC 9 [10]; Save 14; Special: Cannot be flanked or back stabbed, fears magic; Meat cleaver, 1d6 sp. Fat, imposing, crooked nose, wears too much make-up.

25. Ibhad the Mason: Ibhad is the finest mason in Ophir, though his appearance would mark him as a simple laborer. He owes much of his success to a +3 light hammer that he stole from a drunken dwarf many years ago. His home is a masterpiece of the mason’s art, the stone being unplastered to display Ibhad’s prowess. The interior is a mess. Ibhad’s has two wives, Lahi (age 38) and Ima (age 16), a maiden of Zinj purchased from a slave trader. Ibhad’s home is three stories tall, with a kitchen and work area on the ground floor, a den on the second floor and living quarters on the third floor. At night, Ima is kept chained in the kitchen when not entertaining her husband. Ibhad’s fortune in a stone chest. It consists of 100 gp and 10 pp. He knows of several secret entrances into the catacombs, including one that leads into the treasury!


One last part tomorrow.

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