- 1 Ring 99
- 1.1 The Peerage Ward
- 1.2 Pauper Ponds
- 1.3 Ticker Square
The Peerage Ward
"Ho there, wanderer. The Ward of the most high Peers stands behind me, across this moat. Know this: you gaze upon the home of the most important servants to the King himself, for the Peers are delegated to rule in accordance with rules and rituals as old as the City itself. Serve, and you shall have your due.”
The following worldview is commonly held by the residents of The Peerage Ward, and can be gleaned by any who spend time among the estates.
The Peerage Ward is a dense island of mansions and towers surrounded by a sheer drop into polluted canals below. The Peers claim to be descended from the original nobles that served the King when the City was first built many, many years ago. The Peerage Ward itself was founded after a lizardfolk civilization occupying the City was finally overthrown by a small band of heroes calling themselves the Daring Swords.
The population of the Peerage Ward mostly consists of the lesser and major houses and their servants. The Peers are exclusively human, and hold to firm beliefs in human superiority that are by-and-large reflected in their servants. Non-humans experience extraordinary difficulties trying to live in the Peerage Ward, so they usually build lives in Ticker Square instead.
It is said that a Royal Archivist is delegated by the King to administer the City, resolve disputes, and take account of the status, holdings, and responsibilities of each of the Peers. The Peerage Ward’s exchanges of titles and lands most commonly occur through gambling in the Spinning Groat Casino, where many individuals and noble houses rise and fall. Some rumors suggest that the King long ago abandoned the Peerage in favor of other counsel, and that the Peers have grown decadent and out of touch as a result.
Although humans are usually treated as guests in the Peerage Ward, to gain recognition, acceptance and all-important prestige it is necessary to serve one of the noble houses – or more rarely, establish a new house. The five most significant houses of the Peerage Ward are House Orza, House Nephezar, House Velstra, House Sunpurse and House Glitt.
- Human Superiority – “I'm afraid we don't serve your kind here. Best move along… Why? Because you don’t belong here. The best food and drink are for humans, not for you. Humans founded the City, humans kept it good for years before you showed up, humans defeated the lizards. Look, we may have room in the cellar for you to sleep, but if you want a drink you will have to go to a lesser establishment.” – Drayson Sparrowbroth, Floor Manager of the Spinning Groat Casino
- Aristocratic – “By the order of the King, may he live forever, it was decreed many years ago that there should be a council of Peers to administer the Rings and Wards of this glorious City.” The Royal Archivist
- Lazy – “Bah! BAH! I’ve been waiting since noon for that cask to arrive. By the King’s royal arse, Skudge, hurry it up. We’re waiting. I’ll give a bloody knighthood for a damned drink around here! Bah!” – Lord Bernard Glitt, leader of House Glitt
- Ambitious - "We will prove the strength and honor of our House... the other families will learn to respect us as their superiors. We will restore the glory of the Peers and in time regain full authority over all of Ring 99." - Lord Orza, master of House Orza
- Traditional – Only by following the rules and laws established by our ancestors can we uncover the best ways to bring favour upon us and instil in us the enduring satisfactions of life. Pleasure is passing, and wealth does not follow us in the afterlife. So we shall build character worthy of our status, and find true joy in doing our duty for others and ourselves.
- Reputational – Power is about appearances. What matters is who you know, and who knows you. Anything else can be obtained with but a word if you have the necessary prestige, respect or fear. It is pointless to be concerned with such specifics as gold or magic or anything else. These are just the trappings of power, and will flow to him that stands above the rest.
- Decadent – There are few problems and initiatives left that are truly worthy of our attention, for the King’s rule is eternal, boundless, unchallenged. We have served this City for a long time, and we abide by unimaginable rules and hierarchy and tedium. Anyone with an occupation as difficult and overwrought as the Peerage deserves to let off steam and enjoy some small indulgences.
General Attitudes toward the Nearby Settlements
- Ticker Square - (Contemptuous) Ticker Square imagine themselves as the historic victors in a sordid conflict between themselves and the Peerage. This is passing strange, for there was never any war, never any battle, not even a care among the Peers for these greedy, small minded breakaways. The Peerage eternally serves the King of this City, and through him the people. Duty. Service. Truth. Justice. These words burn like holy water on the flesh of these misers and cretins. Is it the destiny of man to screech lies in a market? Are we a City beholden to moneylenders and shopkeeps? No, there is no meaning in that. That is not what life is for. Once the Peerage ruled all Ring 99 directly, and that time will come again. The Merchants of Ticker Square will not long get away their insolence.
- Pauper Ponds - (Amused/Dismissive) The old pond district was the last nail in the coffin of Lord Desmond Sunpurse. After winning dominion over the ponds, the old lord thought to grow beautiful gardens and construct a country estate. As you can see, it all went terribly wrong. Now it has become a place of indigents and scum to dwell - so long as they stay well away from our estates.
"How, o how, did I end up here? What curse was it? What broken bonds? Weeds my pillow, frogs my sheets. How'd I end up in Pauper Ponds?”
The following worldview is commonly held by the residents of Pauper Ponds, and can be gleaned by any who spend time in the squalid gardens.
Pauper Ponds was once a stagnant pond of garbage and effluent where the canals drained into the Drips of Ring 99. Today it is the same in some ways and different in others: a muggy and foul-smelling pond with added shanty towns, sunken buildings, and abandoned gardens all encrusted on the swampy fringe lands. The story of Pauper Ponds begins when Lord Desmond Sunpurse of the Peerage Ward first won the deed to the land.
Lord Sunpurse started an ambitious project to turn the pond into a beautiful garden, complete with country estate. Fatefully, he hired a Groundskeeper to tend the place and grow the gardens. The Groundskeeper was a changeling who, the story goes, was caught shapeshifting into animals or beasts. House Sunpurse was forced to execute the man or face rebuke from the Peerage, because old superstitions in the City consider changelings an abomination.
After the execution of the Groundskeeper, an astonishing string of misfortunes completely ruined Lord Sunpurse’s project. His newly completed country manor was flooded by the canal. His servants were found dead, and the rest abandoned the project. The gardens grew wild, and squatters moved in. In the end, Lord Desmond Sunpurse ran up huge debts and was forced to give up the deeds for the land to the Spinning Groat Casino. Eventually, Lord Sunpurse himself drowned in the Ponds and his death has left the House in a state of crisis.
The Pondfolk themselves are made up of those who fall through the cracks of Ticker Square and the Peerage Ward. Poor and homeless people, criminals, monsters, and changelings are all thought to dwell in its shanties and sodden structures. Pauper Ponds is where such people are meant to stay, out of sight and out of mind.
- Hopeless – “Sorry to meet you.” – Phrase used to greet new faces in Pauper Ponds
- Hostile – “You don’t belong here.” - Common insult leveled at visitors to the park.
- Anarchy – “Get off me dirt, or me crush you!” - Hobgoblin
- Every man for himself – There are no apparent law enforcers or rulers in Pauper Ponds, and the Pondfolk seem to struggle to achieve mere subsistence. There are small families, gangs, and tribal groups that gather together to stay safe, make a living, and run scams. But those without any friends are easy prey in the Ponds.
- Subsistence – The Pondfolk can only dream of money or status enjoyed by the people of Ticker Square and the Peerage Ward. Almost everyone in the Ponds is working just to survive. Most spend their time sorting garbage, fishing, gardening, and making poor quality pottery and clothing. There is also a small but thriving blackmarket operating out of the Ponds.
- Sad – Many Pondfolk are trapped in dismal lives or are unwelcome in other settlements. They have little hope of improving their lot in life, so they are a very sad and mopey bunch who find perverse comfort in tearing down other peoples’ hopes and dreams.
General Attitudes toward the Nearby Settlements
- The Peerage Ward – (Don’t belong) Big important nobles don’t belong in the Ponds.
- Ticker Square - (Don’t belong) Rich merchants and adventurers don’t belong in the Ponds.
"Greetings, and good evening to you worthy friend. Welcome to Ticker Square, a place of enchantment and plenty where time stands still. No doubt you are on your way to the King to get your wish. Stay here a while and rest. It is safe, and you can find everything that you need."
The following worldview is commonly held by the residents of Ticker Square, and can be gleaned by any who spend time in the bustling markets.
In a city that holds timekeeping to be taboo, any history of Ring 99 is confused at best. However, it is understood that Ticker Square in its "formal" organization is a relatively recent addition to the Ring. A tale is told of a brave people that wanted more from life than to live under the boot and oppressive taxation of born-to-rule noblemen. The tales tell of industrious artisans, bold merchants, and industrious guild-masters leaving the Peerage Ward behind and founding Ticker Square along with the exiled races, where they found new wealth and prosperity beyond the reach of a lazy and parasitic aristocracy.
The people of Ticker Square at their most heroic have an earnest, optimistic spirit and work hard for the good things in life. The population is a mix of permanents and transients from all walks of life. Even strange people from other planes come and go in Ticker, as do the adventurers and ringrunners that stop in the square on their way into the deeper rings of the City.
The ruling power of Ticker Square is the Merchant’s Guild that oversees the business and disputes of all other guilds, and all the people who enter the square. Most people pay for protection from the Merchant’s Guild, granting them some legal rights. A few pay to become a Merchant’s Guild member, granting them further benefits including the privilege to own property. But it is the Guildmasters of the Merchant’s Guild who wield the most influence. The Guildmasters, a handful of powerful men and women, oversee the biggest rackets in town. Their dealings and quarrels are the heartbeat of Ticker Square.
The current Guildmasters are Walda Webber, of Webber's Wonders Clothiers, Silas Sparrowbroth, Innkeeper of the Open Door, Oscar Tchammorar, Owner of the Adamantine Vault Bank, Kur Uld, Baron of the Cheese Factory, and Priscilla Klink, Publisher and Proprietor of the Rumour Mill news pamphlet.
- Open – “Stricter philosophies prevail, but I personally believe that there is only one kind of creature so terrible, so irredeemable, so monstrous, so maniacal, so evil, so hateful, so cold blooded and miserable that it should not be welcome in Ticker Square. I speak, of course, about the nobles of the Peerage Ward.” – Guildmaster Silas Sparrowbroth, Innkeeper of the Open Door Inn
- Guild Rule – “Ticker Square was founded by extraordinary people who banded together in guilds to practice their crafts and protect their common interests. Bound by the laws of commerce and a fair deal, we will build a new society.” - Guildmaster Walda Webber
- Hard working – “Not just anyone can make it in this town. If I weren’t so smart and driven, I wouldn’t be the proud owner of the only Cheese Forge in the whole Ringed City. You want to know how I did it? I’ll tell you how. By being the best there is. No cheese is as good as my cheese. My cheese has been served on the King’s own plates. Don’t believe me? Go ask him.” – Guildmaster Kur Uld
- Pragmatic – Getting caught up in the traditions and schemes of the Peerage is a waste of time. Ticker Square exists to facilitate trade and make us rich.
- Monetary – Gold is the measure of all things. Wealth is the reward of hard work, industry, and cleverness. Rather than rely upon the deeds of your ancestors, you should prove your value by showing how rich you are.
- Opportunistic – The city is bursting with opportunity, and everyone should strike out to earn a generous slice of riches and glory. Everyone has their chance to find their skill and work hard to succeed; those who don't deserve whatever fate finds them.
General Attitudes toward the Nearby Settlements
- The Peerage Ward - (Hostile) Without their servants, the geriatrics and inbreds of the Peerage Ward wouldn’t be able to dress themselves. Do you know they still talk about forcing us to pay them taxes? We'll still sell them our goods but there will never be any question of the Peerage ruling we merchants again.
- Pauper Ponds - (Contemptuous) Why those people are content to live in a filthy park is a mystery. Many of them are exiled bandits or worse, and those that aren't should learn an honest trade so they can make a decent life for themselves.