9th World -- Driftwood-on-the-Sea (7 posts)

thread created on 9/30/13 at 22:50

Driftwood-on-the-Sea - Plan B - Re: Plan B - Plan C? - plan b addition - Re: plan b addition - Day 1 evening

9thdm, 9/30/13 22:50

Day 1

After you wake you canvass the local area for information in 2 groups, Smith with Chocobo and Cook with Kek. In the light of day, the neighborhood's inhabitants look much less threatening and much more scruffy and poor. Asking around for general info in an attempt to get a sense of the town you learn some local lingo, as well as some of the current scuttlebutt. After your inquiries you meet up at the hovel where you spent the night to exchange information, and note that the sun is nearing the western horizon - you have two hours of daylight left at most.

Having spent the day gathering information in what you now know is the Land Ward, you have developed a rough picture of Driftwood-on-the-Sea. At its center is the Pool, a 200' x 200' square section open to the sea. Around this attraction are a variety of inns, bars, shops, and entertainments, including the Grey Market; this area is also patrolled by mercenary peacekeepers hired from the Plankmen, whose own ward begins just a block south of the Pool. The Land Ward covers the northernmost area of the town, and is home to the common laborers employed throughout Topside for a copper a day. Visiting ships dock along the three seaward sides of town, buying and selling commodities acquired throughout the Inner Kingdoms and beyond. From the sound of things, Cook estimates that the Land Ward has roughly 700 permanent adult residents, and the town as a whole about 1,200, with at least that much again in transient population. Wealth seems to be focused in the center of town, with the next wealthiest sections dispersed across its seaward rims, leaving a swathe of relative poverty and slums between the two.

The Land Ward is friendly enough during the day, but strangers are treated with caution and fear after sundown. On the whole the ward is filled with lean-tos and sheds which are separated by a maze of rickety alleys and byways. While many of these buildings seem of competent construction or better, they are largely made of trashwood and mud; you doubt the ability of most to withstand a strong storm. Many of the hatches in this ward are uncovered and open to the public, used as everything from wells to lavatories. There are also many families here, malnourished children staring out from dilapidated huts or darting mischievously amongst them.

You note that few here seem to have steady employment; most spend much of the day gathered around certain hovels or at temporary stands that serve cheap food and ale, waiting for employers to come by and hire them up for day work. Despite having wandered around the neighborhood a goodly bit over the course of the day, you've seen no obvious sign of where the ward's Boss, the Cobbler, might reside - no structure stands out or above the rest.

(Smith & Chocobo)

(DC 16/General) Most of the people in this neighborhood, which encompasses the huts on land and the first few landward blocks of Topside, are common laborers who compete for work from a man known as The Cobbler, who has a tight control on all artisans and common laborers in Driftwood. If something in Driftwood needs building or fixing, he's the one who does it.

(DC 32/General) It is rumored that one of the Bosses is seeking the legendary Greenwood, a single tree trunk amongst all the driftwood from the Isle of Martyrs that wasn't used as construction material and is supposedly always in bloom, but has not been seen by credible sources in over an Age.

(DC 16/Greenwood follow-up) The Greenwood is credited with a variety of mystical attributes; always attributed with a constant blooming of leaves and flowers, it's rumored that it also possessed the power to heal the sick and infirm, to produce fruit that could feed the whole town, and to ward off storms.

(DC 23/Decker) You learn nothing about Decker specifically, except that folk display a hardy recalcitrance in speaking about him; however, you do learn that the people to speak to for more information on him are Captain Goldsail and "the last of the trashmen."

(Cook & Kek)

(DC 7/General) The fine folk of Driftwood-on-the-Sea seem to have better things to do than to talk to a gentleman and his hobgoblin companion this morning, but perhaps further inquiry will yield results.

(DC 21/General) There are currently four prominent Bosses in Driftwood: the dwarf, Captain Doram Goldsail of the Sea Tor, who controls all high-end trade with something called the "Grey Market"; The Cobbler, a human who controls a union-like entity of artisans and laborers; Orgut Dol, a hobgoblin who commands a security force for hire known as "Plankmen"; and the tengu Captain Roberto Seawing of the Hardbeak, a fantastically wealthy pirate.

(DC 11/Hiring Plankmen) This can be done in the Plankmen's Ward where they are based. Rates tend to be high enough to dissuade common customers, and their business seems based on guard/bodyguard work rather than offensive employment/deployment.

(DC 21/Who else is hiring Plankmen) Commonly hired throughout Topside by visiting captains as well as local Bosses; their largest single employer is Captain Goldsail, who retains scores of their troops to maintain order at the Pool.

Driftwood - Evening 1

Together you make your way towards the center of town. The shanties and tents of the Land Ward thin and disappear over the course of two scant blocks, replaced by much larger timber and brick buildings which exhibit an equal state of disrepair; many look abandoned and are in stages of collapse, while some even lie scattered in ruin. Flickers of firelight may occasionally be seen through missing boards or open doorways, and glimpses of dim, dancing shadows suggest huddled individuals or small groups. The only people you see in the open give you a wide berth and seem furtive and lean, some fleeing from your presence, others eyeing you up as they continue past. You remain on your guard, and more than once you note that you are being trailed by one or more men. If any of these have nefarious intent, however, they apparently reconsider before slinking back into the lengthening shadows. Several blocks in you notice a fresh breeze from the East and realize that you had almost become used to the Land Ward's twin stagnant stenches: the unwashed masses at high tide, and the rotting reek from below at low tide.

After approximately ten blocks of this "No Man's Land" there is a strip two blocks wide that is all but bereft of buildings, the pier swept clean of everything but bird droppings and scattered bits of masonry, though whether by man or weather you cannot tell. The far side of this clear zone seems to be patrolled by gangs of lightly armed and armored men outfitted with secondhand equipment, bucklers and cudgels seeming to be their most prevalent armament. One of these groups, comprised of eight men, sizes you up as you approach, but does nothing more than wave you past without hassle or comment. The quality of the architecture in the neighborhood beyond them is noticeably improved, the buildings in decent repair and wide, well-defined thoroughfares cleared of much of the garbage and debris that seemed omnipresent to the north. In front of several buildings are boys and young men tending torchstands lit against the imminent sunset, calling out as you pass by with various offers of strong spirits, cheap women, fair gambling, good food, and the like; behind these places of business are clusters of small buildings with well-lit exteriors. You see fellow travelers on the streets, most of them obviously sailors or laborers, who tend to pass by with brisk strides and alert gazes. While this quarter seems to have some semblance of order, it seems fragile at best; Kek notes more than one dubious character lurking in alleyway shadows who think themselves hidden in the darkness, and you witness a brawl erupt from a building into the street, tough-looking men whose drunken hands are filled with bloodied steel hacking away at each other.

Soon you hear the din of crowds and music from the south, and there is a noticeable glow from that direction. The streets begin to have more and more people in them, and shortly you come upon a canvass wall. Stretched across metal framework, this 10' high burlap barrier crosses the street in front of you and continues down the byway in both directions. Wooden towers can be seen just past the wall, 40' tall and unevenly spaced anywhere from 50 to 300 feet apart, manned by archers and crossbowen. A 20' wide gap has been left in the middle of the street, and you see two men posted at this entrance who are rather more formidable than the gang you passed earlier, outfitted as they are with clean chain shirts, short bows, and long swords. Cook identifies them as Plankmen, not only by their soldierly demeanor but by the standard displayed on their chest, that of a solid blue half-circle with a rectangle cut out from the round bottom edge which stretches just shy of the top edge - the waters of the open sea, viewed from the eponymous plank.

These men give you hard stares but do not move to intercept you as you pass through into the ward of Poolside. Here there are veritable crowds in the streets, everything well-lit by oil lamps hung from posts and paper lanterns which hang from lines criss-crossing the street. Street performers entertain for the occasional tossed coin, and lone barkers shout out prices for the goods hanging from the insides of their prodigious cloaks and robes. Plankmen are posted at corners and walk the streets, alert for any disturbance or unfriendly commotion. The rapid shift from dangerous slum to prosperous mercantile district is somewhat surprising, but you soon settle in to exploring the streets and taverns.

This ward occupies exactly 89 blocks as paced by Cook and Kek, all of it encompassed by the guarded burlap barricade, though during the trip you've lost track of the locations of hatches. The most noticeable feature of Poolside is the Grey Market, a massive windowless building made of driftwood stretching 300' x 160', the top of its peaked roof looming 80' above your heads. The only entrance appears to be in the center of the southward facing side, a set of normal sized double doors a mere 50' from the edge of the Pool, guarded by six heavily armed and armored hobgoblin Plankmen. Inside is reputed to be the most trusted merchants with the most expensive wares, with a charge of 50 gold pieces merely to enter. Given the variety of goods for sale by the merchants who surround the building with their stalls and wagons crowded against its walls, those sold inside must be truly remarkable.

Aside from the Grey Market, the Pool is free of permanent structures for a block from its edge, an area filled with small stalls, temporary stages upon which a variety of performers entertain the crowds, and crowds of revelers. Further out from the Pool are a variety of bars, inns, residences, and shops, the whole area exhibiting a fairly constant Plankmen presence. A block south from the Pool begins the Plankmen's Ward, with their main base of operations clearly visible through a large gap in the southern canvass wall: a large driftwood structure, approximately 120' x 120' and 20' tall.The building is covered in some sort of metal scaffolding, most probably to afford the attachment of the four rooftop ballistae stations clearly visible on the building's north face.

You wander through the Ward, in and out of the crowds and ale rooms, and attempt to glean some useful information.

(Smith & Chocobo)

(DC 21/The Last of the Trashmen) Known as "Shingles", this full-blooded elf appears Topside to sell his scavenged wares at the Grey Market, but only when the star Avillum is in the sky. Smith knows nothing about Avillum's cycles or religious import.

(Cook & Kek)

(DC25/Where to purchase 50 gallons of acid) You are directed to Hurtig Gale, an alchemical supply merchant who maintains a small shop in Poolside but stores all his wares onboard a ship at the docks. Now known as the best supplier of wholesale alchemical ingredients in Topside after his main (and much more successful) competitor, Alexander Farmer, was killed when his own seafaring warehouse exploded roughly eight months ago.

Driftwood, Day 2

For now, see Cook's Journal.

Driftwood, Evening 2 (rough draft - also see Smith and Kek's individual threads for info)

Just after Smith and Kek return to the Inn the party is visited by Goldsail's wizard, a heavyset "subject" (i.e. native of the Eastern Monarchies) of middling height who introduces himself as 'Geffren, Thaumaturge-Abjurist'. He is dressed in fine yellow silks and carries, with some obvious effort, a staff made of iron. He rents a private dining room and orders enough food for ten men, bidding the four adventurers to join him. He informs them that he and an apprentice of his are to accompany the four on a joint mission to destroy Decker and acquire all information about his organization available, and asks for all the information the party has relevant to Decker and his whereabouts. Quickly laying out a variety of strategies for the siege of Decker's base despite his near constant ingestion of meats and ale, he asks for a frank evaluation of everyone's capabilities, and informs the party of several facts which they had as of yet been unaware.

Firstly, he explains that divination magics work poorly or not at all in Driftwood-on-the-Sea, as the driftwood seems to block all such magics out to a short radius - at best, the range of such magics is decreased, as the spell finds a circuitous line of effect to bypass any interfering driftwood; this makes scrying 'down below' very troublesome and dangerous, if not flat out impossible. Furthermore, it is a common belief that something lethal lurks in the waters below the pier besides Decker and his outfit, something which even the trashmen of old believed in and feared. Geffren states that he has been unable to validate this theory, but warns to be as alert as possible - there is a reason that the people of Driftwood don't go swimming about under the pier. Lastly, he warns that while he and the Goldsails believe that Decker's organization is quite small compared to those of the other Bosses - perhaps only a score of permanent men in total - this low overhead very probably means that they are very well equipped, perhaps even more so than the Plankmen or even the Goldsails themselves.

That having been said, it is decided that Smith will furnish the enchantments necessary to allow his companions to move and breathe underwater, allowing Geffren to prepare magics for breaching the base and combat, while his apprentice will provide magics to afford them a stealthy entrance into Driftwood-in-the-Sea. The wizard does, however, give each man a magical token: a pearl which, when crushed between the teeth and swallowed, allows one to ignore all impediments to movement, magical or otherwise, for a short time - 'no longer than a minute'. He suggests that while it may make speaking more difficult, carrying it in one's mouth could come in quite useful if things go worse than expected in the water. He leaves it to the party to decide the timing of their excursion, stating that the darkness will not impede himself or his apprentice, but does state that he would prefer if they all remained at the inn until they set out - his apprentice, who will be along shortly, can fetch any sundries they might need from the markets. Now that a move is finally being made against Decker, he would prefer if no-one got stabbed to death in a brawl, or by one of the Underboss's spies.


Block - An area of Topside measuring 100 feet square, apparently measured by the posts, or pilings, which support the town.

Boss - An individual who wields enough power and authority to claim dominion over a section of Topside for themselves.

The Docks - General term for the western, southern, and eastern edges of the pier, which are mostly bristling with docks. A very small number of these were originally constructed with the pier of Driftwood, and are referred to as "proper docks."

Dockside - Used to denote East, South, or West; refers to the nearest water-faced edge of Topside.

Down Below - Everything underneath the pier.

Driftwood - The wood from which the pier and some buildings are constructed, versus "trash wood", aka common driftwood.

Hatch - A 10 foot by 10 foot square opening in the pier to the water below, such as in the warehouse you assaulted. These are regularly spaced throughout Topside, always in the center of a block and 300' from the next hatches in the cardinal directions; can also loosely refer to the entirety of the nine blocks surrounding a hatch, more properly known as a 'square hatch.'

Landward - North.

The Land Ward - The northernmost ward, roughly 50 square hatches in size, and encompassing Mudtown as well. The Cobbler is Boss of this ward.

Mudtown - The portion of Driftwood-on-the-Sea which lies on the shore, comprised of 20 to 30 crude dwellings and generally accepted to be encompassed by the Land Ward.

The Pool - The center of Topside, a section measuring two blocks by two blocks open to the water; apparently a center of commerce and entertainment.

Poolside - The ward containing the Pool and its environs, controlled by Captain Goldsail and policed by Plankmen mercenaries.

Quarter - A decently sized contiguous area controlled by one group or individual, usually 4-8 square hatches; may also refer to a larger area that is only loosely controlled.

Seaward - South.

Square Hatch - A 300' x 300' foot section of topside with a hatch in it's center, comprised of nine blocks.

Topside - Driftwood-on-the-Sea proper, that being the main pier on which the town sits; does not refer to the dwellings on land nor to the docks which line three sides of it.

Ward - A large contiguous area controlled by a single group or individual, usually 10 or more square hatches in size; may also refer to a smaller area that is very strictly controlled.

Edited by: 9thdm on 1/10/14

cook, 10/2/13 18:29
Plan B

I don't know what "Plan A" should be ... but I have an idea for plan B: hire 2 squads of Plankmen to escort us around while Smith mind probes people through the walls of the buildings, until we find Decker.

Edited by: cook on 10/2/13

9thdm, 10/2/13 21:30
Re: Plan B

An interesting idea. My basic assumption is that you'll spend the next 5 hours making 2 Gather Info checks per group on topics that interest you; for instance, finding out where/how to hire Plankmen. This will put you into the late afternoon/early evening, giving you several hours before sundown.

Edited by: 9thdm on 10/2/13

doug, 10/10/13 18:10
Plan C?

One other possibility would be to inquire more specifically about the "Grey Market" run by Capt. Goldsail, possibly being so blunt as to simply approach him and ask who's been dealing in alchemical goods obtained from the Observatory. Not a subtle approach to be sure, that's why I suggest this be a possible Plan C. But assuming that Diplomacy checks to gather info don't get us anything more specific (is that Plan A?), and in case Plan B doesn't pan out, Goldsail sounds like the boss most likely to be involved. Whether he'd be cooperative or not I don't know... but it seems probable this Decker fellow would either be know to him already or, if he's a freelancer operating without Goldsail's knowledge/permission, someone Goldsail would very much like to know.
By the way, I'm fine with the Plan B notion of hiring some Plankmen. Sounds a sensible precaution. The only downside (aside from the cost) that I can see is that we'll be more conspicuous, and perhaps these Plankmen may stand aside if we run into trouble with some Driftwood V I P or even inform on us, but then I guess if the bosses have everything under such tight control this is pretty much a lost cause from the start. I'd prefer to believe that that's not the case, so I'll gladly chip in to hire these guards.

Dorgrim Kek, 10/14/13 10:26
plan b addition

As smith reads the peoples minds. I could use my scout gloves to check inside the buildings to view there faces. As well as other activity inside.

9thdm, 10/24/13 21:55
Re: plan b addition

Smith does not have sufficient magical prowess to enact a comprehensive probe of the general population's psyche. Other methods will be required to discover the whereabouts of Dean Augustan's stolen alchemical sundries.

cook, 10/25/13 20:56
Day 1 evening

I think that staying in one place too long is not a good idea, so I am in favor of one check plus finding a new place to stay.
I think finding out more about the trashman is a good idea, but I see Smith is already on that.
I think Cook will inquire into where he can buy moderate quantities of alchemical items, e.g. acid.

Driftwood-on-the-Sea - Plan B - Re: Plan B - Plan C? - plan b addition - Re: plan b addition - Day 1 evening