The Frozen City
This is where much of the city’s commerce takes place. Most local guilds have their headquarters here in the Guildsman District, full of the city’s largest breweries, tanneries, the Foundry, and the Stockyards. It also contains such strange places as the Darkbirth Madhouse and the Midden Heaps.
The Guildsman District is a large section of Ptolus located in the southeastern portion of the city, bounded by the Cliffs of Lost Wishes to the east, the city wall to the south, Iron Street to the north, and Carriage Row to the west. In this industrial area, ore is smelted, livestock are slaughtered, and artisans ply their trades.
Population: About 10,000
Primary Function: Industrial
Primary Social Class: Low
The Flavor of the Guildsman District
“This is where the work gets done,” is a frequent saying by those who live in the Guildsman District. Powerful whistles and bells ring here in the mornings and evenings to mark the start and close of each workday but in some places, where labor continues around the clock, the sound only marks the change of shift. Grime-covered men and soot-laden women and children make their way to and from their jobs morning and night, filling the streets. At other times, while the tanneries, foundries, mills, and breweries are in operation, the streets remain mostly vacant.
Sawmills, flour mills, paper mills, textile dying works, ironworks, leatherworks, brickworks, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, copper- smiths, tinsmiths, weaponsmiths, armorers, lock- smiths, clockmakers, carvers, potters, masons, glassblowers, porcelain makers, carpenters, cabinet makers, coopers, wheelwrights, plowwrights, wainwrights, printers, gemcutters, cigar makers, coffin makers, cord makers, soap makers, chain makers, slaughterhouses, and dozens of similar establishments employ a great percentage of Ptolus’ lower classes and some of the middle class (the skilled craftspeople and administrators). Most of these workers belong to one guild or another. They have learned to stick together and use the power of assembly and organization to avoid exploitation (although some would say that many workers are still exploited).
As ever-present as the manufactures, smithies, and mills are around here, much of the Guildsman District is filled with warehouses, storehouses, granaries, and livestock pens. Despite all the activity, about one in five buildings is vacant. Though prosperous, the district was even more so at the height of the Empire before the frost.
The shadows of the Empire’s past are no more clearly visible in Ptolus than in the Guildsman District. Old smokestacks from manufactories that sported massive steam boilers to power the inner workings stand like undead towers over the other structures. These spectres of days gone by are cold and still for the most part; some are used for storage but most just serve as lairs for nesting cormorants and gulls. Of course, here and there a few still belch smoke powering the industry left in Ptolus.
The streets are dirty, and many buildings show signs of neglect. Though this district is no slum like the Warrens, squatters live in abandoned warehouses and mills, and muggers lurk in alleyways to prey upon workers. Most people who actually live in the district reside in the eastern portion, along the top of the cliffs overlooking the bay. Were it not for the Warrens, this would be known as the most dangerous and impoverished residential section of the city.
As the name of the area itself suggests, the Guildsman District is where most of the members of various local guilds work and spend their time. Most of the low-ranking guild members also live here, though wealthier members move to Midtown or Rivergate, some even move to the Nobles’ Quarter.
Guild members, virtually without exception, wear badges, ribbons, or patches that display not only their membership affiliation but their rank. These badges are a prized possession for many of them they provide a sense of camaraderie, solidarity, and pride.
The guilds encompass low, middle, and high social classes. The folk of the lower class join a guild to learn a trade and benefit from the organization. Skilled, well-trained artisans (as opposed to simple laborers) in any guild earn enough money and respect to make it into the middle class. In a large guild, the craftspeople may not even associate with the laborers, journeymen, and apprentices.
Guildsman District Locations
Madhouse Street (#302, J7)
Ptolus boasts not one, but two asylums. While Mahdoth’s Asylum in the South Market deals specifically with mad spellcasters, the Darkbirth Madhouse is the home for all other insane individuals. About a hundred years ago, a young half-elf physicker named Derrin Darkbirth began treating the mentally deficient and the insane. As one of the few people in the city who would do so, he soon found himself overwhelmed with patients. He appealed to the commissar at the time and, because he had connections with some of the noble houses, he was eventually granted facilities and funding to establish the Darkbirth Madhouse.
Years later, investigators from the Conciliators discovered that Derrin Darkbirth used his position and the facilities to perform inhuman experiments on some of the truly mad inmates, efforts that were backed by Houses Sadar and Vladaam, although this was never proven. Despite the fact that Darkbirth himself was sent to prison for his crimes, the madhouse continued under new management.
Darkbirth Madhouse today holds ninety-two inmates and employs a staff of twenty physickers, assistants, orderlies, and clerks. The administrator of the asylum these days is Kolister Mahaven (human male expert12), a doddering old man well past his prime, both physically and mentally.
Although the staff at the madhouse attempts to treat patients, it should be noted that the institution is first and foremost designed to hold the dangerously insane, not help them become sane. Some speculate that one in twenty of the inmates may actually be possessed by demons or malevolent ghosts.
Persistent explorers can find a passage from the cellars of the Darkbirth Madhouse all the way down to The Prison far below the Guildsman District, but this is known to absolutely no one alive today.
Smith Street (#305, J8)
A stronghold of the Shuul, local dwarves, and worshippers of the Iron God all in one, the Foundry is a central location in the Guildsman District and one of its largest structures. At the dawn of airships and their technology, the Foundry’s tower served as a mooring facility for airships. Now, such works as the landing and the docks have been competed high-placed skydocks are seldom use but still in place for the occasional Shuul craft. In the past five decades, the tower was redeveloped into a structure for working metal, specifically for pouring molten metals of all different kinds into molds. The Foundry is a large place and handles everything from tiny molds for clockwork gears to larger molds for girders, armor, weapons, pipe, chain links, and so forth. Just over one hundred people toil in the Foundry.
Lower Rachen Street (#294, I8)
Located near the center of the district, this large hall was originally built solely for the purpose of multi-guild meetings, which occur when representatives of two or more guilds must discuss business, a dispute, or some other matter. Once each year, all the guilds send representatives to the Grand Guild Assembly, where matters relating to all guilds and to the district are debated, discussed, and decided. These meetings lead some people think of the Guildsman District as a city within a city, since the assembly seems to rule the district as much as the Commissar
governs the city.
Dwarves comprise a significant portion of the Ironworkers’ membership. The guild has strong ties to both the Shuul and the Temple of the Iron God. When such large-scale meetings are not in session, a single guild can reserve the hall for a large function. For example, sometimes guilds sponsor events, dances, fairs, festivals, craft shows, and so on, for their members. The Grand Guildhall is big enough to accommodate large groups, with two large banquet/meeting halls and a number of side rooms, as well as a full kitchen and storage rooms filled with extra chairs, tables, party decorations, and so on.
Guildhouse of Iron
Iron Street (#285, H8)
Anyone coming into this building is likely to think it a social club or even a tavern rather than the headquarters of an organization. The Ironworkers’ Guild is a powerful group, effectively controlling all the other metalworking guilds (goldsmiths, silversmiths, tinsmiths, etc.) with its money and influence. It is, and always has been, a casual group that disdains formal airs or pretensions. Thus, the main room of its guildhouse is a wide open chamber filled with tables and chairs. At any given time of day, people sit here, drinking coffee and tea in the morning and ale and beer later in the afternoon or evening, discussing the affairs of the day. It’s an excellent place to come for information on virtually any topic pertaining to the city, but nonguild members are unwelcome unless they have a guilder along to vouch for them (and even then, they are watched closely).
Veda Medaris (female human), the head of the guild, has offices in the back; beneath them lies a well-guarded vault with the guild’s funds. She keeps a small force of heavies and thugs on hand in case of trouble.
Herbal Lane (#303, J7)
One of the most pleasing buildings in the district, the Herbalists’ Guildhall consists of three tall structures joined by a common wall. This wall surrounds a large open yard that the guild uses as a vast herb garden. The winding ivy pat- tern frieze on the buildings and surrounding wall gives the place an elvish feel, according to many visitors. Although this is unintentional, elves do make up one-fifth of the guild’s membership.
The Herbalists’ Guild encompasses not only herbalists but also physickers, dentists, healers, and even barbers. The guild has a strong rivalry with the Healers of the Sacred Heat, who are not members. The guildmaster is Delline Yashara (female half-elf Druid).
This is a typical small guildhall of the sort found throughout the district.
This guildhall is not open to the public; a person cannot bring the sick or injured here. Instead, the guildhall houses a large library full of medical texts and related works, and it sponsors various symposiums for its members on new healing techniques and herbal remedies.
Ring Road (#309, K9)
This three-story building of dark red brick has sharp corners and a severe appearance. Like its rival, the Ironworkers’ Guild, this guild of bricklayers and stoneworkers has a number of dwarves in its ranks. Unlike the Ironworkers’, however, the Masons’ Guild is a particularly corrupt group, its leadership long associated with organized crime (the Balacazars). This relationship often works to the guild’s advantage: People fear them. Don’t cross the Masons, folks say or, more subtly, Don’t try to break a brick. Members of the Masons’ Guild expect bribes and kickbacks in addition to their normal pay, making the affordable sounding standardized prices for their work not nearly so reasonable.
The guildmaster, Pared Cobart (male human), Pared Cobart is a short, ill- tempered man with brown
hair and a beard. employs a veritable army of thugs as guards for his fortress like guildhall and bodyguards for himself and other high-ranking members. They also act as enforcers to intimidate those unwilling to pay the Masons’ expected inducements. Pared pays a percentage of all guild jobs, as well as guild dues, to the Balacazars. While the Masons technically are a part of the criminal organization, the crime family never asks the guild for anything more than money.
The Midden Heaps
Midden Street (#310, J9)
This is a great trash dump backed up against the southern city wall. While sewage and a lot of other waste and trash flows into the King’s River and thus into the bay, a great deal gets dumped in the surprisingly large wasteyard of the Guildsman District. Other garbage heaps are located just outside of Ptolus on both the north and south ends of the city, but these are smaller than the Midden Heaps of the Guildsman District. Those outside the city are burned in the spring and autumn, but aside from a few small fires (some inadvertent, some not), the heaps within the city walls are left to rot. Much of the refuse in the Midden Heaps is slag and scoria from the foundries, scrap iron, and other bits of chaff and debris from the manufactories. Thus, while it’s an eyesore, the place doesn’t reek overmuch of organic waste. (It doesn’t really stink a lot worse than the rest of the district.)
Anyone visiting the Midden Heaps comes first to a pair of small wooden buildings that house the scrap merchants. These merchants collect small fees on behalf of the city from people who bring their trash here (these independent contractors often overcharge and skim off the excess). They also sell scrap metal and other junk that someone might want, although those who wander into the heaps to look for scrap do so at their own risk. A broken item costs about one quarter its normal price. Scrap of other kinds normally runs about 5 cp per pound. Choice bits found by the scrap merchants are kept in the small shed east of the office.
The chief scrap merchant is Delloch Bound-stone (male dwarf). There’s always at least one other agent with him, usually a human commoner they come and go frequently (no one stays at the job long). Delloch also, of course, has a guard dog: a hulking rottweiler with a vicious demeanor (use a dire wolf’s stats).
The majority of the Midden Heaps is just what it sounds like: great mounds of scrap, trash, and waste. Many of the heaps rise twenty or even thirty feet, which makes wandering among them something of a labyrinthine experience. A rusted winch-driven crane sits behind one of the buildings. Once used to raise massive hunks of rubbish to the tops of the heaps, it long ago fell into disuse.
The Skull and Sword
Iron Street (#293, I7)
One of the roughest bars in Ptolus lies on Iron Street, on the edge of Midtown and the Guildsman District. Smoke and the stench of stale ale and sweat welcome patrons to the Skull and Sword. This small place is located below street level; the owner, Themus Wuur (male half- orc) lives above. The bar has two
rooms, one below the other.
The taproom is above, where Themus or his only employee Mardun Narvesh (male human warrior) tends the bar. Mardun is a hulking ex-wrestler who competed professionally until he was found to be fixing his matches and retired in disgrace.
The lower room is filled with tables, and curtains cover the walls. Behind one is a concealed door leading into The Back Room (see below).
The Skull and Sword serves no food and precious little beyond hard ale from a pyramid of kegs stacked on the back wall of the taproom. It is well known that scour dealers do business at the Skull and Sword, giving Themus a cut of each transaction and free scour to feed his own addiction.
The Back Room
Behind the Skull and Sword is a sadomasochism club simply called the Back Room. This ill-kept, rank place consists of a single room filled with manacles, chains, and various implements of torture. This is one of the few places in the sur- face city where one can find dark elves. In fact, the proprietor and Themus’ partner is a half- dark-elf woman named Ressis Kal (wizard7, treat as a normal half-elf, although she also has SR 18). Ressis is a world-weary, depraved, and decadent individual addicted to a common dark elven depressant called spidereye. Her body is covered with scars from masochistic behavior, and her missing left eye is covered by a patch. She knows Urshanna of Madame Kaethea’s House well, although the two do not care for each other.
The Back Room is a fairly well-kept secret. Ressis pays a rogue (usually around 5th level) to watch the door leading down to the place from the bar above. She always hires particularly canny, discriminating guards who only allow in those they think are œright for the place. The half-dark- elf pays them not only in gold but in service as well. Of course, a hefty bribe (an œentrance fee of around 5 gp) can help get one in.
South Street (#289, I8)
In a district of bad smells, one of the worst centers upon the Stockyards, where herders once brought cattle, sheep, and other livestock to be sold or slaughtered. With the coming of the frost most livestock died or was eaten but a few hurds still exist and one of the largest is kept here, though it doesn’t come anywhere near filling this once crowded stockyard. The administrator of the yards is Narya Itlestein (female human),
older sister of high priest Helmut Itlestein. She is a sensitive woman with her hair cropped short around her thin face.
More than one rumor has gathered around the stock yards most concerning plague and undeath.
Stable Lane (#304, J7)
Frequented by ironworkers and other laborers, this small bar serves those who have finished their shift at the Foundry or wherever else they work. Those who are not working-class laborers find no welcome here, but for its intended patrons Tabby’s Den is a nice enough place with decent beer and other drinks”as long as you don’t mind the occasional cat hair in your mug. The owner, Tussi Moheath (female human) has a predilection for cats. She owns nine, all of which have free run of the bar. The plastered walls are covered in renderings of tabby cats, painted by Tussi herself.
Electricity: A near-mystical power generated by the most sophisticated of steam engines and sometimes stored in alchemical batteries.
Guilder: Member of a guild.
Guildmaster: Head of a guild.
Manufactory: Any of a number of places devoted to manufacturing large quantities of goods.
Physicker: Someone who looks upon the art of healing as a science, rather than as some- thing done with magic.