The Frozen City
When newcomers to the city hear people talk about “the Warrens,” they likely think that they refer to The Undercity, or even about a specific portion of The Undercity. Those well-schooled in history might even think it a reference to the Banewarrens. These assumptions are incorrect, although more than one person has commented that the Warrens district “might as well be under the city” due to the tunnel-like feel of the place.
Population: About 2,000
Primary Function: Residential
Primary Social Class: Low
The Flavor of the Warrens
The Warrens is the darkest, poorest, and in some ways the most dangerous portion of Ptolus. It is also the smallest of the wards, no larger than some neighborhoods elsewhere in the city. The district is bordered by Salt Street to the west, the Cliffs of Lost Wishes to the east, and Seamist Street to the north; it peters out a block or two north of Curtain Street to the south. Despite its small size, however, this slum differs enough from the rest of the city to merit its own distinction.
The Warrens is a maze of ramshackle wood and stone buildings with crudely constructed additions made of poor quality wood. Many tenements were once buildings with other purposes— originally this wasn’t a heavily residential district. Some doorways are nothing more than a piece of fabric or a wooden barricade. Windows are infrequent, and those that exist never have glass left in them. Many are boarded up. A few have iron or wooden bars over them.
The streets of the Warrens are as narrow as streets get in Ptolus, some only five or six feet across—a very narrow alleyway in the rest of the city—and most no more than ten to fifteen feet across. What’s more, throughout much of the slums, people have constructed rough building additions that stretch across a roadway from one building to another. Thus, many streets of singlestory buildings now have second stories stretching over the street. This turns the streets into tunnels that are dangerously dark even during the day and help give the Warrens its name and nature. These top levels frequently collapse onto the street below due to low-quality materials (boards stolen from fencing, rusted nails pulled out of other buildings, and so on) and unskilled, haphazard construction methods.
The Warrens stink of human waste, filth, and open cook-fires. The sewers beneath the district, never built to accommodate so dense a population, long since became plugged and frequently overflow.
Many residents of the Warrens keep dogs for protection against assailants and the slum’s THE WARRENS IN BRIEF CHAPTER 18: WARRENS surprisingly aggressive rats and dire rats. Many of those who live here walk around armed in some fashion. Most seem shabbily dressed and ill-mannered, but not all are evil by any means.
The crowded, dirty living conditions and the lack of money to pay for any kind of medical care makes the Warrens a breeding ground for disease. Conventional illnesses and death-dealing plagues run rampant here, far worse than elsewhere in the city. Those afflicted, too weak to earn money any other way, sit or stand along the side of the streets and beg. Of course, there is probably no worse place to expect handouts or charity than in the Warrens. Those who can do so beg in other portions of the city, but many of the diseased cannot make it that far.
Like disease, fire threatens the Warrens to a greater degree than the other districts of Ptolus. Makeshift housing built from discarded timbers flare like tindertwigs, given the opportunity. And without the City Watch or Fire Brigade—the Warrens has no Watchhouse or Firehouse— fighting fires becomes much harder, if not impossible. More than once, a potent blaze has taken out a large section of the slum. It never takes long for new, cheap buildings to replace those that burned away, however.
The Warrens host some extremely cheap and low-class brothels as well as a few drinkinghouses without names or signs (almost no places of business in the Warrens actually have signs).
The locales that appear starting on the next page are just a few of the interesting or important places found in the Warrens. Because the tangled streets here have no names, these locations do not include specific addresses.
Lackie is a male Harrow elf whose real name is Lakimos. Lackie’s is one of the small handful of unmarked pubs in the Warrens. Those who don’t know it’s there simply aren’t welcome. The clientele are somber, looking to get drunk quietly and without disturbance or annoyance. Lackie, as he’s called, sees to it that they get what they’re after. The drink is strong, but not as strong as his bodyguards/bouncers, who keep the peace (male and female human warriors). The patrons of the place don’t care that Lackie is a Harrow elf. Any newcomer who makes an issue of it usually doesn’t leave Lackie’s alive.
Madame Karthea’s House
To a native, the name “Madame Kaethea’s House” rings false. “Kaethea” is pretty clearly an Elvish name, but the title “Madame” is certainly human. A few might assume that the woman, if she exists, is a half-elf. In fact, she is not. She runs a small house where one can acquire almost anything though the prices can be shocking.