Approximate time to read: 5 minutes.
Yndaros has an organic element to it, a tendency to grow and transform on a daily basis. Built on the ruins of older settlements, the Ambrians have shaped the landscape, wrestled with the remains and built a majestic new capital from the wreckage of ages past. As with any old structure, cracks appear in the fabric. Most of these cracks remain innocuous – narrow gaps between buildings, odd divides between levels, divisions between districts. In the south-eastern corner of the city, the refugee camp presents a perfect example of this – a fissure in the cities defences that the displaced have filled.
Some of the voids in Yndaros fill on a surprisingly personal level – in the form of traders. While the Queen and her council have been assertive in installing the Guild structures in the past few years, not all manner and means of trade fall neatly within that arrangement. However briefly, tradespeople appear in the cracks and crevices of the city to sell their wares, until the authorities catch up and set them to rights. The Guilds subsume most, extracting the appropriate fees directly or as a skim off from their takings appropriated through chartered enforcement officers. Those unable or unwilling to pay end up on the outside of the walls, with a painful reminder of their infringement – the removal of their index finger above the knuckle. The Guild’s treat repeat offenders no different from thieves – the next step in punishment extending to severance of the whole hand,
Traders and Chancers of Yndaros
Un-Guilded traders can be found scattered across the expanse of Yndaros – and all the other major settlements, especially where the enforcement of the Guild system remains rudimentary and incomplete. Such traders attempt to remain mobile or find a way to hide, a rapid shutdown triggered by warning signs.
The Gamemaster can include such traders in a game of Symbaroum and may choose to make their continued existence important to plot. Player character alchemists, for example, could find one who seems the only source of a certain rare herb – that the trader happens to cultivate themselves or know the location of, akin to Mayor Nightpitch’s hold over the Twilight Thistle.
The options below relate to the location of the trader, outlining how they keep themselves out of harms way. In addition, the closing section after that provides a basic template for traders, in-line with the Adversaries section of the Monster Codex (page 122 – 139), to fill a gap amongst the Townsfolk described there.
Holes honeycomb the foundations of the city, old foundations, choked shafts and rough hewn caves. For many buildings, these spaces have become cellars, but the keen-witted traders have found another purpose for these half-sunken spots. To the unwary, these appear to be cellars with shutters or “pixie doors”, but a knock on the door calls on the attention of the occupants – and on opening, they reveal brimming stores. Often, ‘Neaths will have a stock of certain goods and nothing more, a niche item that they bring in and sell on. Others, perhaps more comfortable with their hidden location, establish more general stores. Whatever the case, they can shutdown quickly and keep the goods in such fashion as to make covering simple and effective, sufficient to ward off any cursory search.
Ambrian settlements maintain visible companies of dispossessed individuals and families, refugees of no fixed abode. Some function as cheap and readily available labour, essential in the ongoing expansion of the Ambrian realm. Others find their livelihood in thefts, violence, scavenging or the sale of their bodies. Associations – often Ambrian youths or goblins – function as the shelves of walking stores, each individual carrying specific items secreted in the folds and pockets of their clothes. Customers might pause to wander how they come by the items, but most won’t care if they can pick up a bargain. A few larger associations feel a little like proto-Guilds, loose organisations with some means of central control. Where such controlling forces exist, they’ll never sully themselves with the business of sales themselves – keeping behind the scenes. Discovery of an association leads to a chase as all members of the group scarper in different directions.
The alleyways that riddle Yndaros make travel from one place to another both complex and challenging. In practice you can go many ways, but some routes work better than others – whether due to the condition of the road, obstructions, local ne’er-do-wells or the temperament of the neighbourhood. Gripsacks provide another complication – merchants who trade from patches of cloth spread across the ground, set out with neat lines and rows of whatever they happen to sell. Some backroads of the city throng with them, turning any path through into a genuine acrobatic trial. From the gripsack’s perspective, their approach makes for an easy getaway – gather the corners of the cloth and run. They commonly trade in specific items and many keep hidden stores elsewhere with the surplus stock.
Haphazard construction around Yndaros means that building abut at odd angles or collide in ways that leaves queer spaces inbetween. In these spaces, clever (and dexterous) entrepreneurs string webs of rope or stud rough ladders and shelves of recovered timber. The traders – known as Cobs – live almost like Tricklesting in the forest, cocooning the crevices between building and guarding them jealously. The way they fill the space means they can access from top or bottom – and tend to complete their actual trade well away. The clever construction of their storehouse means that people passing rarely notice them – perhaps having a nagging suspicion of something odd or different – but, who keeps track of cracks and crannies?
Tucked away in snug corners of taverns and other gathering places, tending boxes with thick leather straps that allow carriage around on the back, Tinkers provide not only a valuable source of minor necessities and tools, but can also handle repairs. Tinkers have belts and pouches holding small selections of worn and well-loved tools, each of which they wield with skill and confidence. The items they sell often carry a mark-up of 5 or 10% over the odds, but the additional services they offer in completing minor repairs of tears, dings and scrapes come free with a purchase. Those who follow the profession keep mobile, never staying anywhere too long and favouring the floors and pallets offered by colleagues and associates over more traditional inns and dorms.
Plenty of carts and wagons wind their way between towns and through the streets of big cities, each carrying piles of common wares or loaded with heaps of fodders or bulging sacks. Some of these innocuous wagons serve as a plain-sight hiding place for more diverse goods, each retrieved with a deft plunge of the arm into a specific spot. Sometimes, the load actually contains nothing at all – the cart itself has drawers, false panels or concealed boxes beneath, each holding something of interest. Stackers apply the subterfuge to their outlook as much as to their carts, hiding openly in the guise of farmers, muck-rakers or common carters.
“I want twenty for that… Are you telling me that’s not worth twenty orteg?”
Manner Friendly, Reassuring
Race Human (Ambrian)
Traits Contacts (Displaced or Criminals or City Guard or Merchants)
Acc +5 Cun 0 Dis -1 Per -5 Qui -3 Res +1 Str +3 Vig 0
Abilities Cheap Shot (novice), Knife Play (novice), Quickdraw (novice), Wrestling (novice)
Boons/Burdens Dexterous, Fleet-footed, [roll 1D6 or choose; 1: False Identity, 2: Telltale, 3: Pack-Mule, 4: Con Artist, 5: Manipulator, 6: Hideouts], Wanted
Weapons [Quick – Short] Dagger 3 (short)
Armor Leather 2
Defense -1 (-3 w/o armor)
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 4
Equipment 2D4 thalers of trade goods, 2D6 shillings
Shadow Dull bronze dinged and scratched with long use
Tactics: Un-guilded traders will seek to distance themselves from conflict, using their knowledge of their surroundings, the assistance of friends and the clutter of the streets to their advantage. If they can gather their goods — or double back to retrieve them — all the better.