What better place to start in the greatest city of the new and ancient world than in a slum as a nobody?
This is the Rookery of Van Möldus, a borough of Cörpathium that you could probably use as a city all to itself if you really wanted to.
Sights, Smells, etc.
- Cold and damp, smells of fish rot and stinging salt.
- Makeshift shelters crowd alleys and cul-de-sacs.
- Purplish barnacles grow on buildings and side-walks, finding more nourishment in the squalor than the sea. They’ll attach to people if they stay still for long enough.
- Decrepit worn stone and rotting wood, roofs leak and wind whistles through the walls.
- Mostly two or three jettied stories, a mixture of stone and wood, many with basements that reach below sea level.
- No windows face the Hollow Sea, they only look inwards upon Cörpathium.
- No Deicidium.
Building: d4 storeys, d6 sub-levels (5-6 no sub-level).
Occupants: d10 x2 per storey, 0 = currently unoccupied.
Drunks waking in the street with barnacles clinging to their flesh, the occasional fog-bloated corpse, beggars and waremongers drifting off to Möldenghast Blvd, men dumping buckets of barnacles recently removed from the Dockmaw.
-2 to reaction rolls
Encounter chance 1 in 6 per hour
Overhear Rumour on a 6
Chance of Godless: 1%/Turn
(Unless someone is already running screaming to get them, Chance of Godless is rolled per Turn while something is happening in the open that shouldn’t be. Since there is no Deicidium in the Rookery and no one really cares about it chances are low, and there’s every possibility that even if they do show up, they’ll leave you to it. More on that later.)
Idle cutthroats, strangers slinking between houses and alleys.
-2 to reaction rolls
Encounter chance 1 in 6 per hour
Overhear Rumour on 6
Chance of Godless: 2%/Turn
Unaffiliated whores in doorways, drunks spilling from makeshift brewhouses, crumpled bodies thrown from fight dens, knives flashing in the dark.
-4 to reaction rolls
Encounter chance 2 in 6 per hour
Overhear Rumour on a 6
Chance of Godless: N/A
- Murder Loot: d100 cp (even) /10 sp (odd). Carrying Curio on a double.
- Barnacles: If the purple-hued barnacle Cthalamus Siren, commonly known as Siren of the Slums is consumed, save vs. Poison. Failure results in an overwhelming desire to walk into the sea which lasts for d8 days.
- Rats: Can’t help but eat the barnacles, subsequently drowning themselves without fail. Other boroughs tend to herd any infestations towards the Rookery.
- Crime & Violence: Those who dwell within the Rookery rarely turn on each other unless cheated, insulted, or involved in rivalry. Cutpursing is reserved for those who live in neighbouring boroughs.
- Family Van Möldus: Own near every building worth owning in the Rookery. Lodging houses, Our Lady Sacculina, The Foetid Babe, The Cuckoo’s Nest, all pay rent into the hands of Van Möldus.
Landmarks & Notable NPCs
Church of Dust & Ash
- Not all who dwell in the Rookery do so out of necessity. The Church of Dust & Ash is a small cult devoted to destitution and emptiness, and have established themselves in the Rookery to be closest to that which they preach.
- Hierophants travel all over Cörpathium to croon upon the ears of the wealthy.
- Those wishing to join the cult sell everything they own and bring its worth in gold to the Church to relinquish as proof of their devotion. Benedict, a son of Van Möldus, paid for his salvation by personally buying then burning the Church’s property title.
- It is not known what happens to this wealth after the initiate has taken residence within the Church.
(In the bowels of the Church lay decadent piles of tithing gold, gestating beings of soulless cruelty. If threatened they manifest in corpus golden, sharp and merciless. Gold conducts not only electricity, but magic, and any spell cast upon a child of the golden void will be stored, corrupted, and released in greater magnitude.)
– Slight, inconspicuous Morgen man of advanced years, there’s every chance you won’t notice him until he starts preaching into your ear.
– The grey pallor of his skin is draped in tattered layers of thin fabric like a burnt book, his voice is a penetrating dry whisper, dust motes seem to dance in the light as he passes.
The Fruiting Body
- An abandoned manor house re-purposed to cultivate a variety of fungi, mainly as a food source.
- Owned by Family Van Möldus. The prices aren’t charitable, but other options aren’t exactly forthcoming.
- Rumour has it there’s a lower room where they grow special fungus on the bodies of the dead, and that they’ll pay handsomely for a fresh, discrete corpse.
Rosemary Khamer, Nurse of Decay
– A short Urgoth woman, startlingly hard of limb for her advanced age.
– She operates the Fruiting Body to get paid and she is paid well; looking for charity or empathy will leave you sorely disappointed.
– Unflinchingly dominant of presence, but her behaviour shows increasing cracks of erratic mental illness, which perhaps has something to do the growing copse of violet fungus she has been unable to remove from her neck.
The Plague Grounds
- A decrepit honeycombed building inhabited by a swarm of orphaned children.
- Most identify as members of the Vermintide; pickpockets and thieves, small sharp knives from behind.
- Led and governed by the Black Death, a fiercely intelligent Moorish boy of 12.
The Wild Hunt
- A series of interconnected buildings, housing the breeding and training of the finest dogs to be found in Cörpathium.
- Noise concerns that might be a problem in a more respectable borough count for nothing in the Rookery, and it gives them access to plenty of souls desperate enough to enter the Teething Pit to assist in training Mordhund – the life-maimers, the man-enders.
- Pay tribute to Family Van Möldus.
Packmaster Matthias Herzog
– Towering wall of muscle in the shape of a male Urgoth.
– Always wears a full suit of double-padded oiled leather armour, further exaggerating the commanding imposition of his presence. (As a child Matthias once cut himself and bled a bubbling black ooze, and has since taken every precaution to avoid injury.)
– Believes he is performing a great charity by raising dogs, and can relate endless stories from personal experience to support his attitude.
– Uninterestedly dismissive of your existence.
Brewhouse – Our Lady Sacculina
- Operated by Balentine Grothki, who has a secret way of cooking barnacles to make them safer to eat (+4 to save vs. Poison).
- Pays people to collect barnacles either dumped by the dockhands, or directly from the Dockmaw before they’ve had a chance (the dockhands would charge too much if they caught on).
- Serves a watered-down ale brewed in the basement, they call it Brine and they’re not far wrong.
- Pay tribute to Family Van Möldus.
– Middle-aged male Saxon, tallish with a hard round belly and limbs to match, scarred and calloused hands from handling barnacles.
– Red cheeks, red nose, cheerful and ready to gut you if you cause him grief.
Fight Den – Belly of the Whale
- Hollowed-out two-storey building, makeshift seating spider-webbed where the second floor used to be, overhanging a blood-stained floor. The decaying bones of a whale’s ribcage hang from the ceiling.
- Operated by the Pitch Eaters and their leader Möldus “Six-Fingers” Blacktongue.
- One of the few establishments that don’t pay tribute to Family Van Möldus.
Möldus “Six-Fingers” Blacktongue
– 30-ish male Saxon, short grey hair, heavily-lined eyes to match.
– His ring and little fingers were cut off by a gang leader when he was a boy. Möldus crept into his room the same night, to be found a few hours later by the rest of the gang, sitting in a nest of blood and entrails.
– No relation to family Van Möldus.
– Has a taste for opium.
Fight Den/Brewhouse – The Foetid Babe
- Questionable brewhouse up top, fight den down below, two levels to each. The entrance watched over by a corrosion-covered iron statue of a deforming infant.
- Operated by the Red Nails at the direct behest of Family Van Möldus.
- Cheap drinks, illicit substances, dangerous decisions, fixed fights, profit and insult.
– Youthful female Morgen leader of the Red Nails.
– Covers her short, hard body with close-fitting breeches and jackets, with deep purplish crimson sleeves and puffed shoulders, dripping with concealed blades and poisons. Tattooed esoterica crawls up her pale skin and the right side of her head is shaved bare, with the rest of her thick black hair collected into one hip-length braid on the other side.
– Falsely friendly, always thinking on more important matters. Sceptical about most anything you could tell her.
– Believes her association with Family Van Möldus will lead to her elevation in society and the restoration of her honour in the eyes of her own family.
– Sexually attracted to insects, and has even been able to communicate with some of them.
Pleasure House – The Cuckoo’s Nest
- Operated by Madame Nightingale.
- Tattered velvet drapery, stained hookahs puffing out acrid narcotic smoke, 8 in 12 chance of weeping sores and regret.
- They hold a tragic burlesque/opera show at every quarter moon, in mockery of what they imagine entertainment to be like in the fancy boroughs.
- Pay tribute to Family Van Möldus.
– 30-ish female Franc, plump and overly powdered, blackened teeth.
– Wears decayed lace ruffles and misshapen silks.
– Easily swayed by sweets.
-Has more secrets than you could ever know.
The Coal Tower
- A blackened six-storey tower in the middle of the Rookery, burnt out and abandoned, though none now remember why.
- Daring children say they’ve heard noises echoing from its iron-shuttered windows at night, grown men laugh it off as nonsense and look upon it in fear when no one is watching.
The Figurehead, The Wetnurse Eternal, Mother of Hunger
- A sombre-faced woman with three pairs of breasts lining her torso, arms outstretched towards the ground. Patches of verdigris mar her bronze exterior and her lower body, if it was ever sculpted, is now nothing more than a dais of long dead barnacles and their descendants.
- Prayed to by the desperate and the superstitious.
Sodom Van Möldus
– Vicious young son of Van Möldus in extravagant hand-me-downs.
– Primary tribute-collector in the company of the Red Nails, the rest of the family prefer to limit their exposure to the Rookery.
– Desperately in love with Aballisa la Mure of the Cuckoo’s Nest.
|1||The street is momentarily crowded by groups of people moving in different directions. Amid the passing one random PC finds that they have been stabbed with a hollow glass needle.
Strange people observe from afar as the disease progresses.
|2||Angus von Fettüs of the Pitch Eaters half-mockingly compliments a random PC's bearing and invites them to come fight in the Belly of the Whale tonight.|
|3||A Francish man is creating a large sculpture in the middle of the street full of strange angles and empty space, the clay and debris melds seamlessly and he moves over his makeshift scaffold with absolute calm. When asked what it is he simply replies, "You will see when it is done".|
|4||A bucket of innards and vomit is dumped on you from an overhead window, it is unclear if it was accidental.|
|5||A man climbs over the sea wall, purple barnacles still hanging from his lips, and drops into the sea.|
|6||A fight breaks out between two decrepit waremongers over turf rights. Neither has ever successfully sold anything here.|
|7||You find a battered book, bound with a leather thong. It is full of incredibly bad poetry extolling the virtues of Aballisa la Mure, a less-than-comely girl from the Cuckoo's Nest.|
|8||A swarm of rats flows in around the corners of buildings and drop from lower roofs, an infestation has been herded out of the neighbouring boroughs. They'll eventually eat their fill of barnacles and drown themselves in the sea, but for now you're ankle-deep in angry vermin.|
|9||A Mordhund bounds down the street after slipping out of the Wild Hunt, and takes a liking to your scent. The happy thing isn't much more than a pup, and could probably take off your hand while playing.|
|10||An old Saxon woman stops in the street and points a shaking arm at you, screaming that a curse is upon you. If you press her with questions or move towards her she flees, shrieking hysterically.|
|11||Sodom Van Möldus drags a Lodginglord into the street, whipping him with a short lash, screaming at the crowd to witness the repercussions of failed tribute. Without intervention the man will be force-fed the Siren of the Slums with the help of four Red Nails.
Later, Sodom's hysterical screams echo through the Rookery and he comes looking for you, believing you to have stolen something of his. He has lost a book.
|12||Asmodeus L'Anguise, of the Corvuscult family L'anguise, rides naked through the street on an enormous stag with gold-plated antlers, chortling and waving as he passes.|
|1||A Francish woman with exquisitely painted lips and an enormous ruffled white collar stops to speak to you, escorted by three severe men dressed in almost as much pomp. She speaks out of kindness and charity and invites you to accompany her home for a lavish meal and drinks, where you can tell her your story.
(She takes you up Corpusmilch Canal by private gondola and into a borough you have never seen, her home is beautiful and demoralising in its immensity, the drinks she offers drug you. You awake in restraints and torture for the exquisite pleasure of her god.)
|2||Something clutches softly at your ankle as you pass a darkened doorway. It's open but you can't see or hear anything inside. But something sees you.|
|3||An exhausted looking man stumbles past you, green tongue lolling from his mouth from exertion, staggering in the direction of the Mother of Hunger.|
|4||A drunken man tries to chase after three cackling children while holding up his pants. They seem to have cut his belt for a laugh.|
|5||Two blood-mad dogs emerge snarling and drooling foam and gore from a nearby alley.|
|6||Two men wearing the flaky, shedding robes of the Church of Dust & Ash start following you, crooning about the emptiness that awaits if you just, let, go.|
|7||A hurried woman looks over her shoulder and bumps into you, dropping a human hand from the bundle she is carrying.|
|8||A dazed man walks past you and straight into a nearby brewhouse. Moments later a group of eight Godless stalk through the street. They are searching for a sword-whore turned murderer due to the mind-controlling fungus he picked up in the Quenchless Mouth of Many.
When confronted inside the brewhouse, fruiting bodies begin to emerge from his face and neck, seeming almost to look about the room before his head explodes in a shower of infectious spores.
|9||Three Morgen women retrieve a body from the sea with corpsecatcher poles. If spoken to they are silent, pulling in the body and walking softly away with it, staring at you with bright clear eyes.|
|10||A man swaddled face-to-foot in rope-tied cloth hobbles past you, soon followed by four men in plague masks. He has escaped from the Citadelle de Contagion and they aim to bring him back.|
|11||A Moorish Bone Caster utters a rumbling greeting from a flotsam shelter by the street side, scaring the shit out of you. Practically all you can see in the dark are the whites of his eyes, he offers to cast your fortune, gratis.|
|1||Down at the Wild Hunt they interbreed with some of their bitches, that's where the Mordhund get their man-killing instincts, the kind of bloodlust only found in one man for another.|
|2||There is a mercenary in the Belly of the Whale, boasting that he will leave his entire fortune to anyone that can fell him in the Dance of the Knife.|
|3||Someone claims they saw the Yellow Queen alight from an ebony boat at the Dockmaw last night.|
|4||The best drugs can be bought just before midnight under a rotten tapestried shelter down a cul-de-sac near the Plague Grounds.|
|5||Young boys have been seen on roofs, staring at the moon, mouthing soundless chants.|
|6||One of the girls at the Cuckoo's Nest can see the future.|
|7||There is an old man that can grow hands from his flesh, grow them into wings, into horrors. Rumour has it the Red Nails have him trapped below The Foetid Babe in a secret room, torturing him for knowledge.|
|8||A girl living near the Cuckoo's Nest fancies herself a Maleficar and has been scraping together ritualistic components, but has failed to manifest anything so far.
(If you break in during the day you catch her just as she contacts an outer sphere and loses control, effect as Chaos Reigns. If you break in at night something crawls across the floor, confused and hungry.)
|9||A tunnel below the Cuckoo's Nest leads to the basement of a Merchant Priest who lives in the Wheel of Gold.|
|10||A runt gang is looking for conscripts for a big job they're planning.
(1-2 Stealing a Sporous Queen. 3-4 The Pitch Eater's stash. 5-6 A night shipment at the Dockmaw.)
|11||The butcher Orman von Molden has much better meat than he ever has before.
(You overhear people talking about trying to steal some. Later they disappear. Lots of people seem to be disappearing.)
|12||The Broken Sky are plotting to enter the Coal Tower to see what remains and establish a presence in the Rookery.|
|1||The roof has makeshift walkways leading to its neighbours and over the street.|
|2||Solid stone, bears gouges and old burn marks.
Utilitarian and siege-worthy. The basement has an entrance to the sewers.
|3||Curiously wet-looking limestone, still containing large skeletal fragments.|
|4||Moss-worn stone and repaired wood banded with iron. Contains a brewhouse, never unoccupied.|
|5||Defaced stone interior, like something has been scraped away. Secret rites are performed here.|
|6||Tarred wood, the roof rotted and fallen in.
Constantly wet, wind whistling through the cracks.
|7||Sheer exterior, strange markings still visible on numerous blocks of stone. Hidden rooms contain forgotten secrets.|
|8||Water damaged and weather-worn jettied exterior, each upper level overhanging more than the last.|
|9||Gutted by fire inside, makeshift upper levels are constructed out of stolen wood. One big room per storey.|
|10||The exterior was once lavishly decorated, but appears to have wasted away or been broken off.|
|11||Contains a fight den in the lower levels.|
|12||Three storeys higher than rolled.|
|1||The building is full of disinterested cats, lounging about on furniture and purring softly in the corners. If startled directly they make a disgruntled noise and patter away, but are otherwise unconcerned by your presence.
When you turn to leave the building they fill the hallway, sitting and staring at you with shining eyes.
|2||Bones still holding dry bits of gristle sit in a pile under a large worn table. Bigger than anything that belongs to a rat, or dog, that's concerning..|
|3||Lots and lots of candles, mostly lit, atop piles of melted wax. Flammable furnishings.|
|4||Heavy water damage, upper floors have a real chance of falling through due to rot.|
|5||Fish bones in cloudy jars and piles of filthy rags, and somehow the overwhelming scent of berries.|
|6||Barnacles have crept in from the street and attached themselves to the floor, walls, and ceiling of the building entrance, thinning out slowly as you move further inside.|
|7||Ramshackle furniture and scanty soiled linen.
The kitchen fire is lit with a bubbling iron pot over it, the shelves are covered with jars of varying amounts of dubious contents.
|8||Shoved into the corner of one room is a heavy banded iron chest, the wood looks as if blood had been rubbed into it for decades. It contains a corpse decayed down to the bone which looks as if it had grown and died within the box. Someone confined this Maleficar from birth to cultivate magic within its skull that was untouched by outside influence.|
|9||A confusing amount of torn books and strewn pages, with scrawled nonsensical writing in an unknown language on the walls.|
|10||Painted golden patterns nearly worn away from the walls, once-luxurious furniture beaten and knife-gouged.
Moth-eaten curtains still hang over the windows.
|11||One room contains a strange, decrepit Cabinet of Curiosities, evidently collected by a retired explorer.|
|12||A corpse has lain undisturbed in the lowest level for a decade, rife with fungus and plantlife.|
In the Belly of the Whale
It’s pretty obvious which of the above NPCs I made before I finished the NPC Birthing Sac, and which ones came after.
Turns out it works just as well for making den fighters.
So when the PCs decide to try their luck in a fight den here’s some classy competition courtesy of the NPC generator. Well, except for the baboon.
– 26 year old male Franc. 2nd Level Fighter.
– Wears puffy extravagant clothing that catches the attention of crowds but looks somewhat foppish entering a fight den. Beneath it he’s nothing but wired muscle.
– Constantly changes stance and pattern as he fights, +2 AC. Secretly arachnophobic.
– Extremely friendly, and very open about the fact that he plans to use his fists to win his fame. He’ll be your best friend until he shatters your skull within the den.
Odds 10 to 1
– 28 year old female Franc. 3rd Level Fighter.
– Impishly petite and nonchalant in her obvious disdain for everyone around her. She is here for the money. All of it.
– Has a slight lisp due to a split upper lip, drawn up by scarring to leave teeth exposed. Wears absurdly high ruffled collars and vibrant make-up of many hues to draw attention to her facial scars.
– Prefers the Dance of the Knife.
Odds 5 to 1
Shalmanasar Abu Rhain
– Young male Moor. 1st Level Fighter.
– Wears pants of rich purple velvet, gleaming gold jewellery hangs from his wiry naked torso and rings protrude from his lips and collarbone.
– Distracted and uninterested in most anything you have to say, he hopes to see the men who promised the return of his father’s books if he wins. He won’t see them and their promises are never kept.
– Will use a gleaming bronze flail if given the choice.
Odds 20 to 1
The White Ape
– That’s not a den fighter that’s a fucking baboon.
– Albino with green-flecked black eyes and raw lips, bronze-dipped claws and fangs, -1 AB, d8 damage, contested Strength roll after every successful hit to stop it latching on to your face.
– Utterly infested with parasites and ungodly bacteria, which is how that destitute-looking Morgen can afford to be holding its leash. -4 to Infection checks.
Odds 3 to 1
Time to Fend for Yourselves, Little Doves
Okay so roll up a character and get ready to slop around in the Rookery.
First, you get a knife, Quality as per Notches rules. Openly bearing large weapons isn’t a clever idea unless you have an exceptionally good reason, it’s just not done, but having a knife fight in the street is fine as long as your justification is convincing enough, that’s what all that Dance of the Knife stuff is about. A good blade is about the most important thing you can own in Cörpathium.
Then you get d6 Belongings and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get a Curio. And then you’re on your own.
|1||Knife of plain black iron, gouged and pitted at the base of the blade. It never rusts, never needs sharpening.
|2||Long sharp knife with a patch of pitted copper discolouring.
|3||Knife filed down over quite a long period from a much more unwieldy piece of metal.
|4||Dagger broken from self-congratulatory bronze mercenary statue. Partial finger attachment remains.
|5||Decaying knife swollen with rust, fragile but vicious.
|6||A blade with a deep fuller running down its length, dropped by a distracted old man. At the centre of the fuller is a decorative eye, which appears to blink every time you're not looking directly at it.
|1||A glass eye covered in ambiguous patterns of divots. The iris is dull and painted-on until seen under moonlight, where radiating veins of gold shimmer into its hidden depths.|
|2||An onyx idol the size of a fist, a vaguely androgynous woman with a distended pregnant belly and an expression either of agony or ecstasy.|
|3||A makeshift bottle terrarium containing a single vibrant yellow mushroom. When in darkness the softly thrumming vibrations that project from the glass sound almost like singing.|
|4||A make-up case inscribed with the name Evander van Rumphe.
Evander is the dolled-up leader of the Leaves of the Lotus and one of the deadliest men in Cörpathium.
|5||A stylised muscled breastplate, with floral gilding curling out from the centre sculpted to look like it was burst from within, leaving the heart exposed.|
|6||A rather large rat held in a lantern converted into a cage. You're getting closer to taming it, but it seems to have recently been infected by some manner of parasite, altering its behaviour strangely.|
|7||A black wood compass with copper mechanisms. It bears strange characters rather than directions, inlaid in ivory. It points a different direction when the moon is full, and spins haphazardly during the Black Moon.|
|8||A ceramic vial of acidic black bile.|
|9||An iron gorget that extends up to and over the chin decorated in baroque depictions of creatures from the briny sea. Thick flat studs cover the neck and needle-like spikes bristle down the throat.|
|10||A greying human skull. Strange patterns sprawl about its interior.|
|11||Two large dried half-opened purple flowers, so dark they're almost black, the bulbs still pliant and fresh.|
|12||A pouch of rune-carven finger bones.|
|13||A mouldy pocketbook of Pestilent Proverbs.|
|14||A small greasy specimen bottle full of some manner of venom.|
|15||A bottle of genuine Cuckold's Courage.|
|16||A wax-sealed glass pot of dark blue dye.|
|17||A mummified hand turned nearly black, it bears carven symbols on its fingertips and wicks protrude from under its nails.|
|18||A bundle of crow feathers tied together with human hair.|
|19||A signet ring carved from stone, depicting an antelope birthing an enormous fish from its mouth.|
|20||A cloth-wrapped golden ball.
Its surface is covered by tiny hooks, invisible to the naked eye, like shark skin but sharper. Just holding it will draw blood and start the process, it wants to be used.
The mechanism within whirs and clicks, gaining in speed and pitch, it shudders apart and spreads its pieces.. It is a gateway, there is a method to its madness, but until the pattern is learnt roll d6 for effect.
1. Effect as Summon for a duration of d20 Turns.
2. A suspended bubble of oil emerges from the ball and sucks in the activator like a body of water sucked into a cyclone.
3. A wave of mutation in a 30' radius.
4. Diseased green light bursts from the orb and causes time to decay to a crawl for those who saw it. After the light fades the area can be entered without effect. The flesh of those caught in the time sludge can be manipulated like clay.
5. A brood of creatures slops to the floor, gasping and dying. A plump cross between fish and newt, their dark metallic skin shimmers over their death spasms.
6. An open portal exuding the strong scent of vegetation and humidity.