The Frozen City
To a native, “Undercity” means the parts of Ptolus that happen to lie underground. In other words, the Undercity consists of locations below the city, like the Prison and the Undercity Market—that are relatively safe and “settled” by surface folk. It refers only to locations that are wholly underground; so, for example, the Longfingers Guild headquarters is a part of the Undercity, but Mahdoth’s Asylum is not.
Primary Function: Criminal/Residential
Primary Social Class: Low/The Unwanted
The Nature of the Undercity
The Undercity is almost like its own district, it may even be a district one day. For now, that idea seems a bit far-fetched, but the flourishing Undercity Market proves that at least some folks are willing to adapt to a subterranean lifestyle. In many ways, Ptolusites look on the areas beneath the city as a wilderness. The Undercity comprises those portions of the wilderness that people have claimed and settled. As opposed to other areas beneath Ptolus, the Undercity seems relatively clean. The key word, however, is “relatively.” Areas beneath the ground are still areas beneath the ground, and that means they are damp, grimy, cold, and dark. Most places down here are lit by torches in sconces or hanging lanterns. Everburning torches are common, too. Staircases in certain public squares lead down to the Undercity, and some large buildings also have known access points. As time passes, more and more businesses and residents are moving to the Undercity to escape the high rents and crowded conditions of the surface. Many of these businesses cater to races such as dwarves and gnomes, who enjoy spending time underground. The gnomes of Fairbriar are also clearing out a residential area called Deepbriar beneath their Midtown neighborhood. The city has not established a subterranean Watchhouse, though, so policing these areas is up to the residents.
The Delver’s Guild established the Undercity Market only a few years ago. The master delvers saw it as a launching point for expeditions into the Dungeon. They found a likely underground chamber, cleared and cleaned the place, and sealed off unwanted passages. Of course, they ensured that some major pathways connecting to both the city sewers and Ghul’s Labyrinth were available to those headed off to explore or reach other underground sites. The Undercity Market consists of the Great Hall—a vast chamber used in a similar fashion to the open areas of the North Market—and a number of side chambers that serve as more permanent shops and similar locations.
The Undercity Market is interesting because the goods sold here are aimed almost exclusively at delvers and adventurers. Torches, rope, mining picks, weapons, alchemical items, and so on are the order of the day for shoppers.
The entrance to the Undercity Market is a wide staircase leading down from Delver’s Square in Midtown. Originally, the entire area was the lair of Kagrisos, the Ghost-Lich, carved out of the earth by magic. The Great Hall was his personal chamber, which he had filled with undead guardians to protect himself and his various treasures. Kagrisos hated the living with every flicker of negative energy within him and set about to destroy the city above with a magical plague. He was stopped by the hero Abesh Runihan, a statue of whom stands guard over the entrance to the market in the square above.
Despite the lack of sunlight, Undercity Market shops stay open approximately the same hours as surface stores and marketplaces (from sunup to sundown). The following are some of the more permanent locations visitors will find in the Undercity Market.
Delvers Guild Office
The Delver’s Guild’s main office, where members interact with guild representatives, is located just off the surface entrance to the Undercity Market. Gorti Jurgen (female human) is the Delver’s Guild’s chief representative in the office. Gorti is a pleasant, attractive, middle-aged woman with short blond hair. She dresses smartly and always carries a pad of paper and an ink pen. Gorti greets every member and potential member, every situation and problem, with a smile and an indefatigable optimism. She and her staff handle new memberships, member questions and concerns, and other administrative details. Gorti answers directly to the Guildmaster Delver.
In addition to the offices of Gorti and her fifteen staff members, this location also features the guild’s Gathering Hall. Members may spend as much time in this open hall as they like, interacting with other members. Light refreshments are served all day long. The purpose of the hall is to allow delvers to connect with each other to work together on missions. While a few would-be delvers looking for a mission hang around here at any given time, the room is mostly used to post notices. These posted bills either announce the availability of a delver (or group of delvers) or advertise positions open for delvers to go on a specific mission (posted by a potential patron) or join a group preparing for one.
Great Hall Vendors
Sometimes a retiring delver or the relatives of a slain adventurer will set up a table in the Undercity Market’s Great Hall to sell used equipment, maps, and so forth. Sometimes such sales even include minor magic items. Most sell for 75 percent of normal value—any less, and they could just sell them to a shop for half value; any more, and the buyer might as well purchase the gear new. Likewise, merchants sometimes set up a temporary table or booth to sell some limited quantity of goods. This could be a vendor who comes to Ptolus only occasionally, or one that usually sells his wares elsewhere (such as the North Market). The following section describes the regular vendors found in the Great Hall. Most set up nicely decorated tables and booths to attract customers. They have well-staked claims on their locations, so their customers always know where to find them. Most do not have signs or names for their businesses but simply use their own names.