Kalimnell: The Life, Times and Death of Jeffrey Orton
Mastodon is a major trade city located in the Central Desert. It is the basis of The Mercantile. They receive and ship ore from Felcher, food from Cresthold, and assorted trade goods from Filordia. Its proximity to the region known as Dagon’s Palace makes it a frequent jump off point for enterprising adventuring parties into the ruins. Many do not often return, but those that do come back either laden with ancient artifacts and gold, or blathering madness before they are imprisoned in the cities sanitarium, The Depths. Glimpses of the ruins can be seen at a distance from both Mastodon and Reynard.
The city itself is comprised of two very distinct districts. The first that any visitor will reach through the Gold Gates is the “New Quarter” so called since all the the structures are of obviously contemporary style, cobbled streets and narrow alleys all abutting low dark stone buildings with obvious care taken in there construction to suit the image of a clean and immaculate city. The New Quarter runs in a wide band about the circumference of the city, hemming into the center of this ring the district known as the Stone Quarter. The Stone Quarter is a half-mile of dizzingly steep stone stair cases and buildings that were the basis of the city of Mastodon. The towers stretch hundreds of feet into the sky, and seem to have been carved from single spires of white granite that is not known to occur naturally in the region. The Stone Quarter existed long before the city of Mastodon, though how long ago and by whom it was built is a common matter of scholarly debate.
Craterside is often seen as a trade capital for those with the heart to go there, but in truth no city has a purer drive for trade and profit than Mastodon. Mastodon is ruled by the Nine, a council of prominent citizens that officiates the trade and municipal services of Mastodon. A position within the Nine cannot be held by any member of a prominent merchant family unless they are at least two generations removed from the families current head. The Nine serve for life or until they decide to step down. The title of being on the Council wields tremendous power but not without a price. The phrase “Its just business” is the Mastodon equivalent of the phrase “He had it coming” since those who stand in the paths of the merchant houses for too long will find the local thieves taking an undue interest in their livelihood.
The politics is a delicate interplay of three key players. The merchant families that control the trade in and out of Mastodon. The Council of Nine that govern the city and make sure that no one merchant family takes undue control of the trade that enters Mastodon. Last but not least are the Thieves. They are not a guild in any traditional sense, more of a collection of different, less than legitimate professions that each have their own front.
The Council of the Nine membership is a lifetime position. They are voted into power by a secret ballot taken from the ten highest ranking members of each major merchant family. To become a major merchant family, you must invest at least 5,000 gold per year into the economy and municipal services of the city of Mastodon. Consequently, the city is kept very clean, well lit within the Stone Quarter, and all the roads within the Market areas are paved or cobbled.
The Thieves have no leader because they have no real sense of camaraderie. The Midnighters do not see themselves as somehow equals or in league with the Beggars or the Thugs, and vice versa, but they all realize that if the city ever came together to eradicate the criminal element, then they would stand little chance alone, so an uneasy alliance runs through all the criminal professionals of the city. They might not drink together at the end of the day, but if Thugs see a guard giving a beggar a hard time, that guard likely wont make it out of the district.
The Beggars Guild are the eyes and ears of the city, any thing that can be learned is likely already in the hands of their leader Baldric. A one legged veteran, Baldric is the head of a group of hundreds of beggars, orphans and cut purses that wander the city listening, cajoling, intimidating and blackmailing their way into profit.
The Midnighters are the second story men and cat-burglars of Mastodon, a guild of self-described dashing rogues and buccaneers. Their membership attracts all those that wish to live the flashy, debonair lifestyle of the professional thief, or those who wish to drink and party with the thieves who truly live that life.
The Thugs are the largest and most brutal of the branches of the criminal enterprises of Mastodon. They are the leg-breakers and muscle bound strongarms of the underworld. Those not nimble enough to join the Beggars or savvy enough to become a Midnighter find there way to the only guild that accepts all applicants so long as they are cruel enough to do anything asked and dim enough not to ask questions. The Thugs most common politic members of the criminal underworld given they are common labor organizers, forming and enforcing the labor unions of the city. They use this power to systematically control those of the merchant and government by controlling the workforces of the city. Those that they cannot bribe or intimidate, they will occasionally kill. The Thugs are commonly employed by the merchants to undermine the activities of other houses without their names ever coming into the equation.