D&D: The Other Half Of Lankhmar – City Of Adventure
Join us as we finish our tour of Lankhmar, the City of Adventure, keeping an eye out for thieves and the company of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser…
When last we left, we had visited the first few districts of Lankhmar, the City of Adventure, situated as a jewel in the heart of Nehwon, a world of adventure (because sometimes just having a city won’t do). Now, we’re looking at the rest of the infamous city–a city so big you could run an entire campaign in it without exploring everywhere.
Home to the dregs of the city, the Tenderloin District is not a place to be found unless you intend to be. Perhaps fittingly accompanied by Wall Street, the Tenderloin District is home to ruffians, ne’er-do-wells, and worse besides. Only a fool or a native of the district walks at night, and even the natives do so only in dire need. Naturally, this is where Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser spend most of their time, thriving on the underworld atmosphere like a pair of adventurous remora.
In the Tenderloin District you’ll find the heart of the city’s black market and many other wonders, including:
The Grand Playhouse, which is like a run-down Fantasy version of the Globe is the city’s main Playhouse. Guildhouse to the Society of Joyous and Sorrowful Comedians, Rapturous Playactors, Graceful Dancers, and Melodious Songsters. Most people just call it the Society, though, because they all have somewhere to be, and the longer you spend in the district not doing something, the more likely you are to have something done to you. This reputation comes perhaps because the Sorcerer’s Guild House is located here.
The Mercantile District, unsurprisingly is the center of trade (non-black market trade, that is) in Lankhmar. CGathering around the imaginatively named Craft Street, this is where merchants, toursits and other patrons gather to buy and sell whatever they may need. Here you can find some thing for just about any taste, as well as a number of fine shops like The Needle’s Point which is both a jewelry shop, poisoners, AND tattoo parlor (occasionally). You can also find a Toy Shop run by a sweet, good-hearted woman who donates many toys (which are otherwise quite expensive) to the poor children of the city. She is loved and respected by all.
So naturally she is also a diabolical assassin who creates clockwork devices that are designed to carry out burglaries and assassinations at her whim. City of Adventure indeed.
The River district is where trade flows like water–though no mere marketplace buying. This is where merchants operate, where the lifeblood of the city, the commerce, beats. In many ways it is the beating heart of the city, and the river that carries the grain from its “famous silos” (Lankhmar, home of the Silos) out into the world. The northern part of this district is owned by the Navy, though they do not dock their ships at the port owing to its small size.
Here are the various aquatic-themed guilds, including the Steersman and Navigator’s Guild House, which is incredibly lavish and decadent mostly due to a guildmaster squandering its fortunes to build the house. Similarly, the Mariners’ Guild House is there, along with the Shipwright’s guild and the City Jail which sits in “Punishment Square” lovingly called The Pit by the citizens. This is where any public punishments or executions takes place, so there’s almost always a crowd, hoping to catch some kind of spectacle.
The Temple District is an iconic part of Lankhmar and gaming in general. If you’ve ever been in a fantasy City and encountered the district where the various shrines all feud with each other ostensibly for the purpose of gathering more followers, but really for getting the best placement and the most money (which of course determines a temple’s popularity) then you’ve been to the Temple District in some shape or form.
In addition to the myriad temples that litter the district, there’s also a famous fence who lives around here, operating a religious relic and curio shop that doubles as a location for shady underworld deals.
Sandwiched between the Temple District and the Mercantile District is the Street of Free Thinkers (also called Atheists Street) which is where you’ll find the various philosophy guilds and consortiums.
Home to the Rich and Famous, the Noble District is a super tight-knit gated community. Here is where the very rich dwell. You have to be a titled member of the nobility (granted by the Overlord of the city) in order to even live here. And most of the titles are inherited. So good luck getting in–you’ll have to wait for one of the current residents to screw up and get kicked out (though it won’t take long) and then there’s a veritable feeding frenzy to try and lay claim to their title.
This is the most exclusive gated community you’ll ever come across. Even walking through the Noble District without explicit permission is against the law–and as night falls in the city, the guards get more and more wary, looking for any who don’t belong so as to keep out the riff-raff. Naturally this makes the district a perfect target for the Thieves’ Guild and other criminal types.
And finally we come to the Overlord’s Citadel district. Massive enough to be a district unto itself, the Citadel is home to the North Barracks, the Rainbow Palace, and the royal docks. If the Noble District was rich, this place is wealthy. The grounds are exquisitely groomed, a whole village of servants are hidden away on the grounds near the royal docks, while the Overlord’s Citadel surveys the entire city from its spot on the hill.
The guards here are practically incorruptible (for Lankhmar) which translates to a 25% chance, per guard, of being able to be bribed, etc.
And there you have it. The City of Adventure–one of the most influential (if not well known) pieces of gaming real estate out there. There’s so much that can be traced back to this place–and going through the districts its not hard to see why. If Pelinore felt like a real city, this one feels like the archetypal Fantasy City. It exists for adventures to happen in–it has a life and character all its own, and you can even get a sense of what the populace is like.
Now it’s time to go see about how to convert the city over to Blades in the Dark…