Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crux: Urban Fantasy Campaign Seed (Part Eight T-U)

The position of Guild Warden is a difficult one. Wardens enforce Guild rules, laws and strictures on all members within a given area. The Guild provides resources to its wardens in the form of scribes, assistants and money. However a Warden must balance his zeal with the importance of maintaining stability in an area. Abandon rose up through the ranks of the Guild through slow, careful accrual of gains. In most ways he was unremarkable, save one. He doggedly pursued back anyone who had cheated him even slightly in his trade. In most cases, this was not intended to punish (unless he could), but instead to send a message that this would not happen again. His pursuit of these matters led him back to certain discrepancies in the current Guild Warden’s accounts, which ended with that Warden’s death. Though he had not intended it, Guild assigned Abandon to take his place. He has a reputation for careful and contentious work, something which makes many people nervous. He has only held the Warden position for a year and a half and it is unclear who is allied with and against him.

Tepet Lindros, Master of Ropes
Movement between the various quarters of Crux is a vital and lucrative business. The King of Cascading Flowers reserves the ultimate right to assign and regulate those who handle this vital matter. To administer this, he appoints an officer, usually to a three year term, to make sure that elevator operators, freight loaders, and stair wardens all handle themselves properly and pay over a certain portion of their profits. The Master of Ropes cannot be a member of the Guild and the King attempts to appoint someone with solid social and financial status, to help maintain order. Currently, Tepet Lindros, an unExalted member of his house, holds this office. Middle aged and wealthy from investments in the kingdom, Lindros, handles the office in a workmanlike way. His concern lies with anyone causing disruptions or creating noise that will get back to the king. Operators understand that accidents will draw Lindros’ wrath, but they have a certain leeway in upkeep and fee charges. The Tepet is coming close to the end of his term and many people are bucking for the position. Most elevator operators and permanent franchises, at the discretion of the Master of Ropes, but there are always a few spots that open up. By law, only half of the elevator operations may be Guild controlled, by in practice, nearly all are beholden to them in some way.

Thieves’ Gate: Popular term for the Burning Stair. (Place)
Three Wisdoms Towers: School in Numina Gate. (Place)
Thunderous Haven: Disputed border town between Carta Mallus and Blossoming Pearl. (Place)
Tidesent: The Docks district at the North of Day Quarter. (Place)
The Tilt: The bazaar and associated areas at the center of Day Quarter. (Place)
Tilted Bazaar: Great bazaar at the heart of Day Quarter. (Place)

Tonas Sabar, Master of the Three Wisdoms Towers
Many nobles and patricians of Cascading Flowers Kingdom employ private tutors and scholars to train their children, some few manage to send their children to the Blessed Isle for primary education. While other academies exist in the Threshold at Lookshy, The Lap and previously at Thorns, the Kingdom itself has two notable places of secondary education. The first is the Unimpeachable Fortress of Thoughts at Blossoming Pearl, essentially the Royal Academy of the nation. The second, less famous and more harried school is the Three Wisdoms Towers in Crux. Located in the Numina Gate district of the Day Quarter, the school was originally three separate institutions, each led by a notable philosopher, built next to one another to promote debate and competition. Over the years, this mandate and the original principles of the three have fallen away. The towers themselves have been surrounded at the base by a jumble of stone and wooden buildings that make up the campus. A framework of iron and wood connects the towers at their tops, making for passages and walkways students must traverse to reach classes. These walkways are notoriously dangerous and under constant repair.

Tonos Sabar, the venerable master of Three Wisdoms Towers, denies these accusations along with most others. He is notable for his swift and deft hand alternating between painful slaps and an iron headed cudgel to make his point to lesser who would question the school’s works. He claims a second cousin who serves as one of the great Merchant Princes of the Guild, but most believe this is simply an accident of similar names that Tonas has laid claim to. He takes a firm hand with those who approach the Towers seeking admittance for their offspring, but is nauseatingly fawning when it comes to dealing with the Dragon Blooded. Some few are taught here, the children of the least of the families who either need short term schooling for their sons and daughters or else have already had them expelled from real schools on the isle. These students have free run of the place and use it to cower and control anyone else. Tonas has heard the complaints and dismissed them, just as he dismisses accusations of theft by his students from nearby businesses, the grumblings of the Watch as they drag home drunken children on the weekends and the shouts of parents who arrive to find their offspring missing and presumed lost somewhere in the interior of the Towers. Despite all this, Tonas considers himself an educator and manages to keep this image throughout Crux. Students continue to be sent there and will be for some time.

Tower of Feathers
Though a number of the more impressive wonders of the city have fallen into disrepair or have been plundered for use in other places, the Tower of Feathers remains, standing tall above all other nearby buildings (even taller than the famed Karascend Bastion). Perhaps two hundred hands tall, the tower has suites at the base, the mid-point and the top. Interior elevators allow passengers to come up and down at specified points in the day. At the base, the large open arched area shelters the famous Chail Menagerie of Perfection, a seller of rare animals, including beasts of the plains, fish of the sea and reptiles of the air. Chail specializes in careful training and management for his creatures, but only sells animals small enough to be lifted by a man. His grooming, cultivation of unusual interests and clean establishment have earned him a reputation far beyond the Day Quarter. On the other hand, atop the Tower, lies the House of Feathers. Here Grand Spice Fortune, originally from Arjuf, sells rare and unusual birds. 

Platforms reach out from the top of the tower and limbs and carefully crafted scaffolding is used to house his hundredsome cages. The craftsmanship of these cages is nearly as legendary as his birds. A trip, by appointment, to visit Fortune is said to be a mixed experience, between the loveliness of the birds and their songs and the vertiginous drops that the owner navigates through in showing his potential clients a rare specimen.

The Underguilds
The Guild is a constant presence in the Threshold, rivaling the Dragon Blooded for influence even in those areas under the control of the Scarlet Empress. In times past, the Blessed Isle kept close watch on how and when the Dynast families interacted with the Guild. Today, most of those restrictions have vanished. More than ever, the Guild is the mercantile backbone of more and more areas. In Crux, their influence has grown, though by charter, certain areas and portions of certain commerce are held away from the Guild, to maintain some balance. However, even in these cases money and a chain of influence means that at the very least the Guild has some control of most operations. Often this is for the better; the Guild maintains a system to check for quality, maintain reasonable prices and to distribute goods across the regions it trades with. In effect, most merchants must at the various least Guild a measure of approval from the Guild or risk being frozen out.

Legitimate Guild representation in Crux includes the Guild Warden, the Guild Factor . Nihlus Means, and a number of other posts. However a second set of groups exist as well, known as the Underguilds. They call themselves “fraternities,” “brotherhoods,” or “craft associations” but the Underguilds carry out little traditional trade. Instead they are shadowy groups that extort membership fees from those craftsmen and businesses that they believe fall under their auspices. The sums they take are minimal, but yet another drain on the pocket of the Guildsman. The Underguilds do provide some measure of return payment in the form of directing people to their businesses, a minimal degree of protection and in some cases an actual fraternity gathering for members. The Guild and in particular the Guild Wardens recognize the existence of these elements within the Guild itself and the reaction varies. For the most part, these groups are small and benign enough that pursuing them is cost prohibitive, especially since even the ring-leaders are Guild members. On occasion, however, an Underguild oversteps its mark or engages in violent competition with another Underguild. In these cases, the Guild will intervene.

It is believed that there are five or six Underguilds operating in Crux. The most notable of these is the Merciful Company of Fletchers, run by the Guild woman, Arexia Jadevine. This Underguild keeps itself in the open, rather than carrying out secret club meetings and ceremonies. As a result it has gained a certain degree of legitimacy that the other Underguilds lack. The Guild Warden of Crux still keeps a close eye on Jadevine, which may be her actual intent. Some say that by providing an open target, the activities of the other Underguilds and their battles with the local guild of thieves can slip past.

Unimpeachable Fortress of Thoughts: Secondary school at Blossoming Pearl. (Place)