The Frozen City
Far below the level of the city streets, the Docks rest at the bottom of the Cliffs of Lost Wishes on a narrow, sandy strip of land. A few dozen ships moor in the once deep waters here now frozen in place by the ice that has claimed the water around them. Jutting from the cliffs above are a number of Airship landings, the shadows and cargo from these ships descend onto the district below. This is a particularly rough area of the city, thanks to the influx of sailors and the district’s remoteness from the rest of Ptolus.
The Flavor of the Docks
The smell of sea salt clings to everyone in the Docks. Sand and grit cover everything. Even the streets are nothing but hard-packed sand. The wooden buildings, stained with salt and grime, stand at odd angles from one another because each one is sinking slowly into the sand. Today, considering the sorry nature of the district’s foundations, any structures that collapse entirely or are taken by fire are not replaced.
The streets bustle from sunup until well after midnight with sailors and all manner of folk that support the shipping industry: dockworkers, aeronauts, carpenters, warehouse personnel, and so on. These are hardworking folk with rough demeanor. Most of them, particularly the sailors just off their airships, are looking for strong drink and entertainment when they’re not working. This is no place for the fastidious or the easily offended. It’s no coincidence that the Nobles’ Quarter is as far from the Docks as it can be, laterally as well as vertically.
All sorts of ships come into Ptolus Harbor. Most are merchant vessels, though airships of all kinds also come into the Docks carrying passengers and cargo. The largest of them dock on the landing above the district and transfer whatever they are carrying down via pules and cranes, but this is rare. Smaller ships will how ever just hover above their destination or even land atop a warehouse to off load its cargo.
The spit that serves as this district’s foundation was created in a massive feat of civil engineering by dwarves and humans after the defeat of Ghul three centuries ago. Workers dumped thousands of tons of rock and soil over the side of the cliffs to build up the area so they could build docks and support structures (ware- houses, and so forth). They also carved a sea wall built around the perimeter of the man-made strip of land the district is built upon and a path from the top of the Cliffs of Lost Wishes down to the new beach far below. The landing above its a more recent addition completed only 50 years ago but is a massive construct of steel and timber allowing for the docking of all but the largest airships.
Hazards of the Docks
In general, the people of the Docks are a rough bunch. They work hard, and they play hard. The Docks has more than its share of taverns, not to mention brothels and gambling dens. Because the movement of goods into and out of the city is so important, however, the Watchhouse here is well staffed, and the streets well patrolled. The guards choose to quietly ignore some of the illegal establishments because they help keep the peace.
The City Watch on the Docks spends much of its time clearing the district of lizardfolk (assarai), who come there to sleep at night or sun themselves during the day.
There are eleven piers at the Docks. Pier Five, however, is well known to all the district’s residents and to many sailors and captains who use the harbor. Pier Five is unlucky, cursed, and haunted, according to most people.
Fisherman Street (#229, M5)
The alchemist Larel Notan (male human) has created many devices to aid in voyages. These include compasses, a fire-resistant coating for sails and rigging, boots to aid in climbing ropes and rigging, and a paste for patching leaks quickly.
At his shop, Larel also sells charts, sextants, spyglasses, and alchemical substances like antitoxin, tindertwigs, and so on. He is middle aged and pudgy, with curly brown hair. His five- year-old son, Chol, is often in the shop with him, getting into mischief.
The Sailor’s Rest
Salt Spray Street (#227, M5)
Once an unmarked, nondescript hole in a wall (literally) whose patrons just had to know how to find it, today the Sailor’s Rest is the nicest place to get a drink and relax in the Docks. It’s sometimes called the captains’ bar and does cater to the district’s more well-off residents and visitors. The Sailor’s Rest offers nightly entertainment in the form of dancers (both males and females, but mostly females) and is frequented by prostitutes, some licensed from a nearby legal brothel called Esser’s and some unlicensed.
The owner of the Sailor’s Rest is a woman named Vala Ivansk (female human), but she is almost never present”she lives in the Nobles’ Quarter. Rumors abound about how she became wealthy, but most of them say she financed some adventurers’ mission to find a wrecked and lost Imperial ship laden with tax revenues; her share when they succeeded was many tens of thousands of gold.
The manager is Taran Mult (male human), a canny but dull fellow interested mainly in keeping the peace.
Wharf Road (#233, M6)
The Savage Shark, or just the Shark as it’s known to most people on the Docks, is everything that one might expect of a harborside tavern, and the owner, Hanthan Yan (male human), knows it. In fact, it’s intentional. Although he has the gold to make plenty of improvements to the establishment, or to serve better ale, he doesn’t do so, because he wants to give his patrons what they expect. Hanthan is of medium build, but thin. He has the dark complexion of someone hailing from Sarush, but his family has lived in Ptolus for three generations.
The Shark does not serve food but offers ale, whisky, rum, and cheap wine. Nights that pass by without some kind of brawl in this tavern are rare indeed. In fact, many count on it. It’s so late, we’ve likely missed the brawl down at the Shark, one sailor working late might say to another.
From time to time, Hanthan buys black-market liquor from smugglers and keeps it in the secret cellar beneath the Shark’s back room (Search, DC 20 to find the secret trap door). Sometimes he even lets the smugglers hide down there, for the right price.