Thursday 1 October 2015

Random encounter tables: The Great Bazaar and surrounding districts

Second in a series of posts with random encounter tables for the Wicked City. This one is for the trade district that sprawls around the Grand Bazaar, at the foot of the Cobweb. As the area has a twenty-four-hour economy, the same table is used regardless of whether it is day or night. What with all the shadows cast by the Cobweb and all the smoke pumped out by the foundries it can often be difficult to tell the difference, in any case...

Random Encounters in the Grand Bazaar District (roll 1d12)

  1. A patrol of the King's Men, 3d6 strong, looking out for opportunities for extortion. PCs who look even vaguely prosperous will be given a thorough shaking-down, accused of violating various imaginary city ordinances and issued with on-the-spot fines, with confiscation of goods as the penalty for non-payment. If met with any kind of determined resistance, they'll settle for a small bribe and be on their way. Actual violence will send them scurrying for back-up. 
  2. A couple of miserable-looking teenage prostitutes plying their trade on a busy street corner, under the watchful gaze of their Murder Harlot overseer. Any attempts to hurt or help 'her' girls will be met with pretty much equal levels of violent, bladed-fan-based discouragement. She is, however, addicted to gambling and games of chance; a sufficiently skilled PC could probably win them off her in fairly short order, but the local Murder Harlots won't be very happy about it...
  3. A chain gang of slaves being marched into one of the foundries, there to begin another exhausting twelve-hour shift. They all look weak and ragged, and most of them have terrible burns from previous industrial accidents. If any wealthy-looking PCs show them any kind of pity, sympathy, or even attention, the slaves will all start clamouring to be bought and set free. Their owner, a thuggish and unimaginative man with a crude logician implant, knows perfectly well that this lot are on their last legs, and will happily liberate them if any PC is willing to pay the market price of a healthy new slave for each wretch they want to free. He'll then head straight back to the market and buy able-bodied replacements, congratulating himself on his good fortune.
  4. Two evangelical Steel Aspirants stand in a marketplace, haranguing the crowd about the glories of the Cogwheel Sage and the spiritual ecstasies of entering into closer communion with Her through radical steamborg surgery. Their main emphasis is on spiritual advancement through the purification of the body and soul, but they also drop lots of heavy hints about how much better their shiny new clockwork limbs are than the flesh and blood they have replaced. Anyone who shows an interest in learning more will be ushered into their foundry-temple and strapped down on the nearest operating table for 'ritual purification' (i.e. surgical mutilation and augmentation with clockwork body parts) before they have a chance to change their minds...
  5. Three foreign men, twitchy and furtive, are prowling around the streets, looking for opportunities to buy some kind of vice which is utterly illegal back home. (Roll 1d6: 1-3 means they're out to score some awful narcotic, 4-6 means they're looking to fulfil some kind of horrible sexual fetish.) They don't really know their way around, but their compulsive vices drive them on regardless; they are very suspicious of strangers, but will follow anyone who promises them what they're after with an almost pathetic eagerness. They each have quite a large sum of money hidden about their persons, and no-one will miss them if they disappear.
  6. A raucous band of off-duty Blood Men from the First Brigade, guzzling food and drinking prodigious quantities of alcohol in the street, to the consternation of nearby shopkeepers and pedestrians. Right now they're just being generally loud and obnoxious, but they've got themselves very nearly drunk enough to move onto the next stage of the night's entertainment, which is 'picking fights with people for no reason and beating them up for fun'. Any PC who looks especially tough (or just especially eye-catching) will be the recipient of a whole series of drunken challenges; but despite their belligerence, the Blood Men have no real interest in fighting to the death, and will not use lethal force unless it is used against them first.
  7. A gang of 2d4 foreign thieves who have come to the Wicked City with their latest score, knowing that no-one here will care that it's obviously stolen. (Roll 1d4 to see what they're trying to sell: 1 = a nobleman's family heirlooms, 2 = a famous work of art, 3 = a magical object, 4 = a valuable piece of prototype technology.) They are very jumpy, worried that they might be out of their depth, and constantly suspect everyone of trying to rip them off. 
  8. A lavish stall set out by a serpent woman druggist, complete with watchful guards and paid announcers drumming up custom from the passers-by. The announcers will make grand claims for her potions, drugs, and elixirs, claiming that she is the most accomplished alchemist of the age, blessed by the Sage of Gold himself, and that her concoctions can cure or accomplish just about anything. The druggist herself deals mostly in medicines, painkillers, and aphrodisiacs, although she also does a thriving trade in poisons and narcotics on the side. She will be only too happy to give out 'free samples' of various horribly addictive drugs to anyone who expresses an interest.
  9. A henchman from a distant city, whose villainous employer has sent him here in order to find people with the 'specialist skills' she needs to murder her way to the top. (Roll 1d4 to find what it is that she's trying to get to the top of: 1 = a government, 2 = a royal succession, 3 = a religious cult, 4= a powerful merchant guild.) The henchman is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, vicious and cunning, and is very much enjoying his stay in the Wicked City, spending (his employer's) money pretty freely as he networks with poisoners, assassins, and other criminal reprobates. He's not being particularly discrete about what he's looking for, and PCs willing to play along for a bit may rapidly find themselves entangled in the murky intrigues of a distant realm...
  10. A whole square has been taken over by the retinues of two wealthy merchants, whose guards are keeping everyone else out. A glance over their shoulders reveals the reason: in the square beyond, two teams of Logician accountants are working frantically to calculate the likely economic impact of recent market fluctuations, chalking rapid calculations all over the pavement and buildings in the process as they check and recheck one another's figures. Their impatient employers lounge nearby, sipping expensive drinks and waiting for a decision of whether or not one of them should buy the other's stock. Their appropriation of the square has caused a pile-up of traffic, and tempers are beginning to fray in the mob around the square's edges...
  11. The personal assistant of one of the Greater Ministers, who is stalking from shop to shop attended by a small flock of servants, an enormous shopping list trailing from his hands. Guards hurry ahead of him, turfing everyone else out of the way to clear his path as he moves from one trader to the next. His employer has decided to hold an impromptu party to celebrate the beheading of a particularly irksome rival, and has given him a list of things to buy for it: the list is incredibly long and incredibly detailed, and people will die if any part of the minister's order goes unfulfilled. 
  12. A couple of bored Murder Harlots are out pretending to be political dissidents, in the hope of tricking people into expressing disloyal views out where the statues can hear them. They will descend upon the PCs, viewing them as likely targets, and spin fantastical tales of secret resistance movements just waiting for a bit of outside help to bring the whole city's government crashing down. As soon as they've baited someone into saying something treasonous they'll make excuses and vanish, before creeping back to watch the PCs from a safe distance while waiting for the inevitable arrival of the Secret Police.

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