You’ve all been living on the streets of Lankhmar in the Marsh District, commonly known as “The Warrens”, for about month or so. It is the smallest and poorest District. All the buildings are falling apart. A glazed window is considered a luxury here. Great holes open the walls in most buildings, and in a few places even the walls are missing. The spaces between the buildings are strung with dozens and dozens of tangled laundry lines.
Each 5-7story building is home to dozens of families. Small shacks and huts have been built onto their sides and rooftops… and many people just live on the streets with no roof over their heads at all.
City guards are rarely seen here. They let the “rabbits” of the Warren settle their own disputes, making way for gangs and ruffians to rule the streets.
Your first couple of weeks here have been spent learning where you can find food, where it is safe to sleep and how to avoid the paedophiles and sadists who prey on the weak that inhabit this District. And although you could get a meal in the Temple District you find this dangerous life preferable to all the praying and converting and serving and not swearing or being rude that comes along with the Temple meal.
As it is though, you’ve seen and experienced interesting and terrible things.
WITNESS EVENT 1 – Cevik & Runton
One night you creep into the basement of a ramshackle building where you’ve spent the last 2 nights in relative peace. As you sneak in you hear voices, the squeaky voices of teenagers and the rattle of dice. You quietly approach sticking to the shadows and peer over some broken crates. There’s a group of about half a dozen teenagers… some dicing, some sleeping. You recognize some of these guys… got a beating from one just a few days ago because he thought the rotten fish you found was his by rights. This is not worth it. You creep back out into the alley and nestle into a pile of garbage, nicely hidden. As you are drifting off some voices pull you awake. You see a familiar sight; a man has a woman up against the wall of the alley. There are smooching noises coming from the writhing couple… ewww gross. Just as you’re about to turn over and ignore the pair the moon comes out from behind a cloud and you see fangs as the man leans his head back then plunges them into the woman’s neck. You suck in your breath waiting for her to cry out but she just moans. Transfixed, you watch and after a moment she seems to panic and struggle but he holds her fast, hand over her mouth and his mouth still attached to her neck. Another moment and she is sliding down the wall making no sound at all. The man, or whatever he is, takes a quick look around as he wipes his mouth with a handkerchief. His eyes glowing red in the moonlight pause over your little pile of garbage and a small smirk forms on his lips. He takes a step and is suddenly surrounded by an unnatural fog and all you see is a bat fly off into the night.
WITNESS EVENT 2 – Zai & Tai’Vin
When you first arrived there was a family that helped you out a bit. They shared their food and gave you shelter from time to time in their tiny few rooms shared by over a dozen family members. As you have been finding your own way a little better lately their invitations have become less, although today you ran into one of the older women and she said that if you could catch a rat to add to the stew you could join them tonight, and they have a special treat… a fresh loaf of bread and a slab of butter (“…but don’t go blabbing about it!”). “Mmmmm” you say thinking of the meal infested bun you chocked down yesterday. “Piece of cake!” you tell her.
You head towards a shack (74) you know to be infested with vermin and if the brothers who sometimes live there are out you know this will be a “piece of cake”. You know that there’s a hole in the back of this shack and you head there. Before you can even sidle up to it you hear that you’re out of luck. The brothers are there and it sounds like more people too. Angry people.
“You have neglected to pay Mr. MacCombe the considerable amount you owe him.”
Another voice says “And after he was all nice and accommodating about you paying it in installements.”
One of the brothers, “We just need…”
“You need to know what this means. This means that Mr. MacCombe is having trouble paying Mr. Taltos. This is unacceptable. Now, your brother here is going to come with us and tomorrow you are going to meet us with ALL the money you owe Mr. MacCombe…”
The voices drone on as you see the fattest rat ever come waddling out of the hole in
the wall. You quietly take off your ragged shirt to use to catch it and not get bit by the filthy beast but the stupid rodent goes in the opposite direction and you don’t want to make any noise to attract the attention of those inside so you quietly follow it.
Damn that rat is quick for its size and it leads you on a merry chase. You see it
disappear down a hole to the sewers. You stop. You’ve heard the stories of the things that live down there but that was a fat rat [and there are the two of you]. Even if you don’t find that one you should be able to snag another without going too far down there.
As you creep down the smell hits you like a ton of bricks. Holding your shirts over your nose and mouths you make your way along the narrow ledge beside the festering river. You seem to be following the flow. It is dark… the only light filtering in from the occasional grate or hole above.
Ah! There is the big bugger! You manage to snag the rat and another besides when you hear some voices… weird voices. You look ahead to a branch in the tunnels and see two distorted shadows. Wait… that’s not right…the voices are coming from them but the shadows must be being cast from huge rats. As you watch, the shadows transform into human figures that walk out into your tunnel! But they turn and continue to walk away from you. You hear some conversation…
“I’m in. They accepted my reference from Ilthamar. Shouldn’t take too long to rise in the ranks. I’ll be able to get more of us into the guild then but for now we should concentrate on getting more of us into the sewers.”
“hehe… Krovas won’t know what hit him.”
“Patience! He’s smart. Don’t underestimate him. Time is on our side… we need to use it and be smart!”
The voices and figures fade… Feeling the limp bodies hanging in your shirts you turn and head towards the way you came… “Mmmm this is gonna be a good dinner!”
WITNESS EVENT 3 – Mauger
It’s dark in the Warrens but at least your belly is more full than it has been in days thanks to that old lady you helped up when she fell and dropped her bag of food. Guess she didn’t notice you pocketing that sausage since she invited you to share her dinner. Now it is later and darker than you like it to be while looking for a place to sleep.
It’s kind of quiet on the streets as the gangs of the Warrens are probably just getting started drinking for the night but there are rabbits on the streets, scuttling from one place to another.
You see a rare sight for the Warrens. A man in the uniform of the city watch. He’s peering down the street beyond you then he quickly ducks into an alley. A heartbeat later, from the direction the guard was looking, you see a guy in dark leathers round the corner. As soon as he does so he breaks into a run in your direction and you can hear the rattle of armed men following. Deciding to make yourself scarce you also duck into an alley and slink into the shadows to let this trouble pass.
Unfortunately the man in leathers also picks your alley to duck into. You huddle deeper into your shadows trying to become very small and still. The man takes a quick look around and makes his way to one of the many laundry ropes hanging down. He grabs one, gives it a good yank, then incredibly quickly uses it to scale the wall. As soon as he reaches the top a shadow appears in front of him and you hear the familiar crunch of a fist slamming into a jaw. The man in leathers topples into a pile of garbage on the alley floor unconscious. The shadow from the top of the building expertly descends the rope the man in leathers seconds ago ascended and you see it is the guard you saw who had ducked into an alley, a dirty blonde with a small pointy nose, blue eyes, pockmarks scar his cheeks and he has a generally nervous look to him.
The other guards are running by the alley mouth but this guard shouts to them “uh… Captain! Uh, Over here!” Three more guards enter the alley and approach the one standing over the man in leathers. The one in front says “Well done, Private! You two, “ he gestures to the two behind him, “take this filth back to the station house.” The other two guards snap to it and as they leave with the now stupouros man hanging between them the Captain speaks quietly to the Private. “That was well played, son. How’d you manage that, then?”
“Uh, well, sir, Captain, sir, you see I, uh, I grew up in the Warrens and I, uh, as a boy, I kind of well, I knew or, uh, knew OF some of the unsavoury type characters and I uh, kind of, uh, I uh kind of accidentally uh learned some of their ways. I had uh, a feeling, that he might make for this alley and it paid off… but really sir, it uh, could easily not have sir… you know there’s a reason its called the Warrens…hehe… uh, sir.”
“Your instincts were spot on, son, and you seem to have some skills that we could put to better use than you just walking the beat. I have an idea for you Private. It’s a dangerous, long road but you will be doing this great city a great service. If the Overlord is too tangled up in the Guilds to do what is right then it is up to us as the City Guard to do what he…”
Their voices trail off as they head out of the alley. Looking up at the walls of the buildings making this alleyway with their myriad of laundry lines you notice that some of them seem much more secure than others and those all seem to have some red chalk somewhere on them. Huh. Anyway… time to find somewhere to sleep!
The Rabbits Go to Market
You’ve made a tenuous friendship after eyeing each other for a while. You’ve helped each other a bit with finding safe places to sleep and food hawkers who will give you leftover food at the end of the day. Now with the feeling of safety in numbers you’ve decided to branch out of your comfort zone… the Warrens. You’ve heard of a big market square way down on Carter Street between Festival and Plaza Districts where you should be able to make some coin begging and you want to try your luck there.
Carter and Festival Streets converge into a large open area (approx. 100’ sq) around the tallest structure in Lankhmar. 25 feet wide at its base The Spire of Rhan rises 10 stories into the air. There are weathered runes covering the entire surface of it.
To the east run two streets, Plaza West running into the heart of the Plaza of Dark Delights and further south Festival Street. Strange scents come wafting from these streets. Plaza West is narrow and so even in the bright of day it is covered in shadow, each building’s front window glowing with a different colour lamp. Although there is activity it seems slightly subdued at this early hour. Festival Street also runs to the west and true to it’s name, it seems, with many people about in costume. And to the southwest through a stone arch declaring “City Market” at the top is a bustling city market. There is movement and noise everywhere. Hawkers at their stalls crying out to the constant stream of customers. The customers are varied; obvious festival goers in costume, native Lankhmarts with accents evident, and many people with the bewildered look on their face like the one you had when you first arrived Lankhmar. These often have large backpacks and dirt on their boots. There are also holy men and women preaching to those who will listen, performers trying to catch attentions with dancing and juggling and fire-eating, and of, course there are some beggars. Old and young in various states of decaying health with outstretched hands and cries of woe at a lame limb or blind eye.
After scouting the market and noticing an elven girl watching, the PC’s settled on a distraction plan to try a bit of thievery. Cevik punched Tia’Vin in the face knocking him out cold and sending him sprawling into a merchant’s stall. As soon as the other PC’s started pocketing some items they were accosted by Crazy Naph, a smelly beggar who came at them yelling and brandishing a rusty knife with which he managed to stab Mauger. The mysterious elven girl whistled to get their attention and beckoned them to follow her which they did, Mauger and Tia’Vin needing a bit of assistance. Following the girl into the Plaza District and into a hidey hole they managed to escape Crazy Naph’s pursuit.
The girl is maybe 13, a half-elf with chestnut brown hair cut short that curls around her ears. Her green eyes quickly appraise each of you then she says “A litter of rabbits fresh from the Warrens I’d wager…? It’s like throwing chum in the water for old Crazy Naph. Thinks he’s King of the Market and he’s not entirely wrong. You’re lucky… he’s a smelly old fool but he can hurt you bad with that knife of his. Anyway, I’m Dodger and I’m pleased to have come to your rescue.”
Dodger and Tia’vin bandaged Mauger’s wound. “I was thinking of a mutually appreciating back-scratching kind of scenario. I’ll teach you how to live on the streets of this city and live pretty well, for 70 per cent of each of your takes.” The PC’s talked her down to 60% and a beautiful friendship was made.
Dodger taught the PC’s the streets and basements of the Warrens, the Tenderloin, Plaza, and Festival districts earning them 2 ranks in District Geography Knowledge. She also taught them how to “Blend into Crowds” with 2 ranks (+1 to Raunton).
After much practising she says you are ready to assist her in a real job. She’s trusting that you won’t make her look a fool for doing so. Your part in it is simple enough… be look outs at a specific time and place and if the city guard comes into your zone then you are to create a diversion and lead the pigs away.
The PC’s scouted the area in the Festival District to make their plan… setting up two scenarios for the two streets they were responsible for.
Dodger waited by the well until she was approached by a human girl, maybe 16 or 17, with long black hair held back in a braid and two tough looking boys (a human and a half-orc) about the same age. The girl talked to Dodger for a moment, nodded her head and scanned the area. Then the 4 of them approached a fairly upscale eatery called the Golden Spoon. The 2 boys and the girl entered while Dodger sat on the ground by the door with her beggar’s cup in hand.
Raised voices and the sounds of glass being broken started coming from the Golden Spoon when 2 guards approached down one of the streets. Cevik threw a rock at a window of an apartment building right in their view and took off, the guards swearing and in pursuit, while Runton watched from his perch in the the vines above a doorway. Cevik led the guards away but they grew bored of the chase and headed back. Dodger entered the Golden Spoon and Tia’Vin heard her speaking common but making no sense to her comrades, who shortly left the restaurant and the area.
An angry man emerged from the apartments yelling about a rock through his window. The guards hearing this hesitated and when the man was led in the wrong direction by a ‘helpful’ PC (Tia’vin)they took off so they wouldn’t have to deal with the irate citizen. However, the door to the building was left open as was the man’s door to his apartment. A few of the PC’s entered and managed to pilfer a blade (Runton) and a decorative crystal and 5sp.
The next day Dodger found the PC’s and told them how pleased she was with their performance. After suggesting the crystal should be a gift to her and taking 3 of the 5sp’s she gifted the PC’s with very small sharp blades for cutting purses. She taught them the basics of Sleight of Hand (2 ranks).
The next few weeks are full of more ‘look-out’ jobs, general pick-pocketing and some message running. One day Dodger says she is busy and needs you to deliver a piece of paper to someone named Sira, ”…remember the girl from your first look-out assignment? Her name is Sira Kh’Sera, she’s in the Thieves Guild and moving up fast so show her some respect when you give this to her. She should be at the Last Chance around now. I’ve gotta go. Make sure she gets this and no one else.”
Fearing the message might be intercepted the PC’s created forgeries (1 rank Forgery for all who tried). The message was in common but made no sense. Entering the Last Chance gambling house the PC’s saw Sira at a back table with many chips in front of her. When they tried to approach her, Vic and Jak (the human and 1/2 orc with her at the Golden Spoon) intercepted them. Sira was not to be disturbed but they offered to deliver the message to her. The PC’s declined and approached the bar where they bribed the serving wench to deliver the message under the mug of Sira’s drink. Although they did not notice her reading it Sira approached the bar after she won the hand. “You’re Dodger’s rabbits aren’t you? I remember you from the Golden Spoon. You did alright. Dodger seems to think I should meet you officially soon. Hmmph. We’ll see. As it is, thanks for the message now fuck off.”
….. Next up… ADMIRAL’S DAY….