Wednesday 16 August 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #214: The City of Gesshed

Two hexes southwest, seven northwest of Wahattu.


This dusty main city of southeast Wahattu seems improvised, a mosaic of villages, markets and encampments thrown together around a convenient river, lake, and string of wells. All is tied together by the immutable and ancient trajectory of Nama'a the Road of Flowers.

It was larger when the lake to the northwest was wet year-round, and now numbers 15,000 inhabitants, closer really to a large town. Despite this, Gesshed is the capital of the civil governor of East Wahattu -- Zakiti the Salty-Tongued, a nuanced and capable woman -- and of the military governor of that district -- the mighty swordsman, Bukhabar Shum, whose cedar-like physique is undeformed by age. Both maintain palaces near the center, although Bukhabar prefers the company of his army cronies in the Sun's Greeting Palace some distance southwest. 

As an informal peace force, two sections from Wahatti heavy infantry regiments have modest walled barracks in Gesshed -- the Cloud-Skimming Crescents, axemen whose legion split from the Earth-Skimming Crescents a century ago; and the Immovable Shoulders of the Wall of Garam, very touchy because their eponymous wall was torn down in the previous generation and they were moved to this frontier. Zakiti is smart enough to employ her own discreet force of skilled plainclothes police, and these do more than the aforementioned blunt instruments to strike fear into criminals and bring retribution when least expected.

The poor of Gesshed have tents, the secure have small houses of adobe brick, and the well-off have houses put together from the materials of other houses. Extremes of civilization and decadence alike are little known in this city. Temples are modest, mostly Mitraic or Setite. People go weekly, make offerings and pray for an hour, and mostly forget what the priests try to put in their heads. The place is built on chatter, trade, and dealings, with scant time for impractical pursuits. Some fixed points of interest are listed below:

1. Central Market. A busy, clamorous place that just keeps growing as a hub for trade in the normal sorts of goods. It is not enough to say you will meet someone there; you must also say which side and then even which third of that side, or you will surely never see each other.

2. Scrap Market. If things are needed at a reduced price, they can be found here, though the inferior quality or prior wear is taken for granted and offered without apology. Things of all origins are also eagerly bought here without questions being asked. There is a 1 in 6 chance each month that a careful search will turn up a trinket or relic rekated to a secret (GM's choice) within 25 miles. For the Band of Bronze it was a copper skink, clue to the mineral deposit, being sold roasted on a stick as an expensive snack or cheap medicine.

3. Bazaar of the Unexpected. The joke goes that these stalls offer Scrap third-hand at nine times the price. Most things here are billed as either rare, magical, religious, historical, or having some other superstitious merit. Some genuine magic items will nonetheless be on offer in various places; roll the results of three level 1, two level 3, and one level 5 magical trove, half refreshed each month.

4. Witch of the Crow. If you ask after her long enough, and show your money around (not always a good idea), soon an adolescent boy will dog your steps and when challenged, offer to lead you to the Witch's house. She sits in a darkened room with her crow. Her petitioners must stand on a box and speak to her through a window the size of a melon. She does not take cash, but rather unusual gifts (which must be of some value) for information on mystical matters. The Witch also can bestow and remove curses and diseases for gifts of unusual value or rarity, on a sliding scale depending on the petitioner's ability to pay. It is said that both the civil and military governors owe her favors for keeping them in power, and that this has been the way for four generations at least.

5. Nargwila's beer hut. Drinkers sit on benches under canopies outside, lit at night by stingy oil lamps. There must be a dozen places like this, but sooner or later, people who want connections, business, or trouble come to Nargwila's, while people avoiding these drink elsewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment