Saturday, August 14, 2010

On Ibis, City of Sorcerers - Part Three

This continues the preview of Ibis, City of Sorcerers.

Part One (with map), Part Two

C. The Souk
The Souk is both a street and a market that stretches across the enter of Ibis, beginning in the accom-panying map, and extending well to the east. Along the souk are factories, dozens of markets (i.e. armor market, animal market, cooper’s market, etc) and a few counting houses, not to mention a large guard tower with its own dungeon. The road is paved with limestone from start to finish.

Crowds: The Souk is always crowded with people. At any given time, most of the citizens of Ibis, at least those without servants, end up on the Souk shopping for necessities and luxuries. Water bearers are common, as are peddlers selling honey cakes, boiled eels, salted dates, candied scarabs and other delicacies. Entertainers perform with pipes or juggle or do bits of acrobatic daring in the middle of the street for copper scruples. Guardsmen are ever present, clad in ring mail and carrying light crossbows and pole arms and usually accompanied by a sergeant in a dashing yellow turban with an ostrich feather.

Random Encounters
1 Adventurers (see end of article for sample NPCs)
2 Guardsmen (1d6 + sergeant)
3 Mages (two, preparing to duel)
4 Pick Pocket (save or lose a wallet ot purse)
5 Noble Retinue (Aristocrat with bodyguards and slaves)
6 Priests (1d6+6 carrying an idol and chanting)

Guard Tower: The guard tower is a remnant of one of the gatehouses that guarded the entrance to the old city. In fact, it still has a gate, though it is always left open for the old wall has since been torn down and recycled into building material for newer buildings.

The guard tower consists of an east and west tower, both rising four stories in height and being 20-ft in length and width. The west tower has a cellar that is used as a temporary dungeon – a few manacles on the walls and a hot poker for troublesome prisoners. The top story of the west tower serves as an office of sorts for the captain of the guard, Khnemu, a surly old gentleman missing an eye and most of his teeth.

Khnemu can be seen from time to time passing from tower to tower (they connect on the third story, over the portcullis) or wandering the souk inspecting the activities of his men. He wears a shiny cuirasse over a scaret tunic and baggy pants of white or grey and carries a light mace and dagger. In tow is a taller man with narrow eyes and a long, waxed mustache. This is Khnemu’s lieutenant, Zahur, a fair man with an eye for the fairer sex and a plan to outlive his captain and eventually ascend to his vacant position.

The remainder of the towers is given over to basic supplies, weapons (light crossbows, bolts, pole arms) and barracks for the fifty men assigned to the Souk and the surrounding streets and alleys.

Merchant Stalls: There are nine merchant stalls on the portion of the Souk that appears on this map. It is rare that one is closed during the day (1 in 20 chance). In general, assume that a merchant has what a player is looking for on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6.

C1. Jamila (3 hp) runs a stall selling hot drinks (tea, from a rusty samovar) and rolls spiced with cinnamon. The quality is poor, but the food is cheap and thus the stall always attracts a large crowd, mostly of laborers and bearers. The men and women chatter away at the stall and a person who spends a little time a few coins will usually (90%) pick up a rumor or two. Jamila (2 hp) is an elderly woman with reddish-brown skin and thick, silver hair that hangs down to her waist and is usually clasped back in copper bands. She is helpful enough, but move slowly, so most of her regular customers help themselves.

C2. Nexu (5 hp) is a clumsy oaf who runs a fruit stand, selling dates, figs and almonds. He currently has a croopy cough, turning often from negotiation (he loves to barter) to cough into his sleeve.

C3. Nit (4 hp) is a painfully thin woman with yellowish, leathery skin and limp, black hair. She always wears a tattered black robe and sells religious scrolls (hymns, not spells) and incense. Her work is of low quality and her prices very cheap. Nit (3 hp) treats haggling with contempt, for she considers her wares to be sacred and, thus, worth every scruple she asks. Most folk find her unpleasant to deal with – her eyes are always flitting about nervously, and she never smiles.

C4. Serq the bubasti (a cat-woman, see NOD #3 for more information) runs a fragrant booth selling bottles of scent. Her perfumes are excellent, and she is capable of concocting scents to attract and repel all sorts of natural (and monstrous) creatures. The centerpiece of her stall is a wooden idol of Bast, the cat goddess of the Nabu, and her own three black cats. Serq is cheerful and mischievious, but a bit on the covetous side, especially when a handsome stranger is nearby. She enjoys chit-chat, and it can be difficult to get a word in edgewise once she starts gossiping.

C5. Ubad is a nervous man in thick blue robes and a blue veil. He explains his veil by claiming to be a nomad from the vast desert of Nabu, but a true nomad could see through this easily for his accent is wrong and his slang is gibberish. Ubad speaks with a hollow, raspy voice. He serves watery soups with bits of unidentifiable meat floating in it, and cold, sweet tea that he keeps packed in wet towels. While his drinks seem popular with customers, few eat the soup because they suspect that Ubad is a ghoul.

C6. Funsani (3 hp) is a mournful, sickly widower who sells fish pies and other pastries. His stall consists of three of four wicker chairs beneath a shade and a wooden cabinet (that he carries on his back when coming and going) containing his wares, which he bakes fresh each morning. Funsani is a soft-hearted man and very sentimental (he has a locket with a lock of his dead wife’s hair in it).

C7. Hathor (1 hp) is a middle-aged woman who sells robes, tunics and other bits of clothing, all of the finest quality and intended as formal wear. While she often has one or two objects pre-made (or never purchased by the person who ordered them), she makes most items from scratch, and can usually be found in her booth sitting cross-legged on a woven mat, sewing or embroidering. She keeps two or three bolts of cloth in her stand, but has more cloth in her home. She is a devout worshiper of her namesake and attends prayers daily.

C8. Sabola (6 hp) is sadistic old bastard who runs a booth selling talismans, herbs and holy water, all of it authentic and of high quality. His talismans have a 1 in 6 chance of granting a +1 luck bonus to any roll, but will only do this once. Sabola has six children who help in his booth and who often receive a sound cuffing from their father when they are lax in their duties. He gets his wares from a holy woman who lives on the outskirts of town, and who can perform faith healings for a price.

C9. Moswen (6 hp) is a callous and barbaric woman, a true chaotic with a cynical sense of humor. She is tall and broad shouldered, and most suspect (correctly) that she has ogre blood flowing in her veins. That said, Moswen is married to a (corrupt) guardsman and has born him five atheltic children, two or three of which are usually helping at her booth. She sells maps to the various ruins and sites in the Nabu Desert (with about a 15% accuracy rate) and also deals in poisons, but only with folk who speak the cant and know a pass-word they can get from the local thieves’ den.

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