Friday, April 10, 2015

Bakers' Tower

Standing over the ruined city of Halyk, on the margin of the Plains of Lig, is the Bakers' Tower.

The tower, named for the guild militia formerly responsible for its upkeep and defense, is the only major structure remaining in the destroyed and razed city. Halyk's walls and companion towers were collapsed by a vengeful barbarian horde under the command of several battle-mages, leaving the massive "Baker" as the only complete tower standing. It stands alone, surrounded by the rubble and rot of the old city, with the burned remnants of the city stretching behind it.
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Baker's Tower is a fortified hive of structures and residences stacked upon each other and suspended within the shell of the burned-out tower. The structures are cobbled together from mismatched and salvaged materials gathered from the surrounding ruins.

Navigation through the Tower typically requires passage up multiple ladders, ramps and staircases, and across swaying rope bridges.  Because of the crowded, slum-like conditions, access is often through someone else's residence or business. Occasionally a tough will attempt to extort passage through a building, but this will tend to be thwarted by available detours, either existent or improvised.

In order to prevent the Tower interior from becoming waterlogged during periodic deluges, a complex series of gutters and catchments collect rainwater into rain-barrels and cisterns, including one large wooden cistern on the east interior wall. Likewise, a morning ritual of lowering buckets and chamber pots for collection and distribution into the nearby fields provides necessary sanitation.
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The old tower gate is long gone, replaced by reinforced planking moved into place on a pair of weighted ox-carts.  A remnant pair of the city's scorpion catapults are arrayed behind the planking to dissuade intruders.  The scorpions are smaller than ballista and may be more easily moved and aimed.  Reloading action is per heavy crossbow (1 per two rounds), damage 2d6, range 100 ft. The scorpions fire specially-made heavy darts or arrows. Because of the length of the darts and power of the prods, on a critical hit, the dart will penetrate its primary target and strike a second target standing behind for the same damage. The scorpion requires a minimum crew of two, however, three is preferable.
Scorpion
Any raiders attempting to invade the tower will be met with pugnacious resistance, finding themselves showered with rock, bolts, offal, and burning debris. Any entering the tower itself will receive more of the same, as the residents retreat upward, pulling ladders and ropes behind themselves. Attempts to fire the structures will be dowsed by deluges from the rain barrels.

Within the creaking nest of shacks, cabling, rope ladders and bridges, wobbly ramps, improvised elevators and fragmentary staircases, are a collection of former citizens of the town, desperate immigrants and refugees from the surrounding war, and opportunists seeking remnant marrow from the bones of the dead city.

Welcome to Baker's Tower

Approximately 116 individuals are wedged within the tower. The majority are human, but there are 6 half-elves, a pair of halflings, and 6 individual of other races. Town governance is by a rotating committee that changes half of its members every 6 months.



Citizens of note:

1)  Elsa Otasa is a self-proclaimed 'Witch' and seer. Agoraphobic and acrophobic, she lives in a hovel at the base of the tower, in a place of permanent shade. She casts augeries and predictions for customers. These are correct about 1/4 of the time.  Elsa has no real powers, her actual premonitions are generated by caged fairy who is getting fed up with the whole thing and is just throwing out random predictions at this point.

2) Ageos Zais is a sage and seller of books and maps.  A collector of written materials scrounged by his band of semi-literate street urchins, who bravely/foolishly ply the ghost-ridden ruins, he holds court in a former storehouse at the base of the tower.  Some documents are useful, and some no longer have value or relevancy (old ledgers, etc.).  Of the maps, 30% are accurate to some scale and the rest are counterfeits. There is a 5% chance that he will have scrounged up a spellbook containing spells new to an interested magic-user. Many of the books have a rotten stink to them from being scavenged from the dead city, being found under buildings, wet and swollen. He repeatedly makes jokes about having topics from A to Z.

3) Bartleby the Butcher has his shop suspended above Ageos Zais' bookshop.  Early each morning, he winches up his product, often still alive, to his shop for processing. The abattoir, with an iron grate in the floor, drains to the floor of tower below, often spilling down the exterior wall of Zais' shop. This leads to constant friction between the men, as well as anyone else caught in the splash of offal.

4) Ormel Saghage: Herbalist/apothecary: Carries goods derived from native plants.  Unfortunately, the herbal mixes and extracts include odd mutated variants found growing in the ruins, altered by fallout of the spell-effects of the battle's wizard-fire. There is a 20% chance that the product will have a side effect.

1-5. 50% intended effect
6-8. 2x intended effect
8-10. Reversed effect
11. Somehow bursts into flame upon removal from its container
12. Spontaneously rots prior to use
13. Stinks to high heaven, and so will the person using it (1 day)
14. Temporary giantism (2x normal size, lasts 1d4 days, probably just long enough to get re-kitted)
15. Hallucinations (1d4+1 hours)
16. Random fireballs (1 day, 2d6 dmg)
17. Electric shock to anything/anyone touched (1 day, 1d3 dmg)
18. User scares animals, including riding mount (1d4 days)
19. Burning rash or weeping sores (1 week)
20. Character falls into a coma for 1 day and plane-walks - awakens with a premonition or foretelling

5) Tavern, the Twisted Boar. Cockeyed and with a bowed floor, this place of business somehow remains intact, as if by suspended disbelief.  The tilt of the floor means that most of the patrons tend to end up in the southeast corner by the end of the evening. The tavern is furnished with crude tables and benches, many nailed to the floor. It is dimly lit by the hearth and a few torches. The innkeeper is a somewhat extravagant human named Mosray, dressed in decaying finery from the city's apex times.

The tavern serves a limited selection of local ale and cider. The menu is modest and includes:
Mutton and Mashed Turnips (3 sp)
Vegetable Stew (1 sp)
Stewed Beets (5 cp)
Mosray will provide woolen blankets near the hearth for those who can't make it out, or for occasional travelers seeking rough lodging. Exiting is very hazardous when drunk.

6) The largest complex within the Tower is the Hanging Market, a two-story collection of shacks and stalls for merchants and tinkers, improbably affixed to the south interior of the tower. Barrel elevators carry people and goods up to the buildings, bulging with scavenged, imported, and grown goods. The Market is a shared space, filled with squabbling, competitive sellers wedged cheek by jowl. Merchants include a few surviving local shopkeepers, a couple of local farmers, and somehow, one goblin, who sells finely-knitted socks. Available goods include typical exploration gear (50% availability), and miscellaneous fresh and preserved foods. Due to the local scarcity of goods, costs will be 4x normal. A couple of tinkers, a cobbler, and a tailor, are located in or near the Market, and sell their skills for light repair at 2x normal rates.

7) Prester Nerod, the Mad Cleric (6th level): A delusional former religious leader, he believes abandonment by his deity doomed the city, and it is somehow either his fault, or the fault of the followers and citizens. Due to his madness and subsequent disconnection from his divine powers, he has an aberrant spell-set (33% chance normal cleric spells, remainder will be randomly-selected from other spell sets). His alignment has been forcibly realigned to chaotic neutral. He often stands precariously on the roof of his shelter, raving and preaching, typically while naked. For lack of a better option, he is still the locals' spiritual leader.

8) Ian Polskel is the sole surviving member of the city's formerly influential and numerous Baker's Guild.  He tends to several brick ovens arrayed at ground surface near the Tower gate. He has taken in a number of orphans as apprentice bakers, and the group bakes and sells bread to the community and travellers.  Ian is also the commander of the Tower militia, a ragtag group of veterans and able citizens, and assigns guard duty. (Ftr 5, AC 5/14, heavy crossbow, +1 sword (hums in the presence of lycanthropes)). When drunk, he will, with shaking voice, retell the final moments of the city, as the walls were breached, and flames engulfed his redoubt.

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