DM Notes 1.05 (Blackmoor Supplement)
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The Nineteenth Seat
There are eighteen districts recognised in Blackmoor and each has a clan of Right Folk that are recognised as being responsible for a district. Rarely when matters of great importance are recognised, tradition holds that the council meets in a secret chamber in the heart of government and decide the fate of the city. The council is called the Score and there are twenty seats at the table, one for each district, one for the Justice and one that is known as the Nineteenth Seat and is by tradition unassigned.
Since no records are kept, and the matters discussed often very secret, the origins of this tradition are lost. In fact the nineteenth seat was reserved for a representative of Wunderland, often a resident of Keyhole, a district whose name comes, not from its shape as is commonly thought, but from being the gateway to the city beneath.
It is the nineteenth seat that Tvaris of the Seven Stars cryptically referred to when he offered the huge payment for the resolution of the blockage of The Dormouse, and his meaning was not lost on Molly Flint. She means to build up The Mollies and take that seat for herself. Whilst these ambitions are not known the rapid ascendancy of the clan has been noted by both The Masons and the Squires and these troublesome neighbours will present the early obstacles.
The Cheese Brothers
Padrone cheese is a rich hard cheese manufactured in the city by the Padrone brothers in the Stoney Manor district. The two brothers are well known for their mutual dislike and often very public spats. Mercillo Padrone manages the ageing and the sales of the cheese, he is often thought of as the brains of the operation and is certainly the most public. Salis is responsible for crafting the cheese and managing the dairy and it's considerable staff. The Padrone Cheese is a significant luxury item in the city and the Masons take a sizeable income from business.
Over the past few years, Salis has made about five cheese rounds per week, but Mercillo has only sold three, holding the best back to age them further and sell them as Grand Padrone at a higher margin. Where he ages the cheese is unknown but he now has a hidden cellar with four hundred rounds of cheese, each of which sells for about 8 Sovereigns. He has decided that with this hoard he could stay in business for the rest of his life and so he has decide to cast his brother adrift.
Salis has suspected that his brother has been salting away some of the stock but has been unable to find a way out of the situation. Now cast adrift he has decided to make and sell his own cheese but without support from The Masons he has decided to try and find somewhere where the tax burden is less onerous. The Padrone Dairies are on Festival Street, a road that divides Keyhole from Stoney Manor. By moving across the street to a vacant commercial property on the other side he moves out of the Masons' manor and into the Mollies', but are they able to defend such a prize.
The Masons' first tactic is to ignore the Mollies and imagine that their authority extends to the other side of the road, they move in on the new business and demand their usual protection, which is 300 Shillings per week. Salis has spent most of his savings in moving to the Keyhole district and has anticipated that there will be trouble. The Mollies might choose to be there with him or they might chose to watch and see what happens.
The Mason’s next approach will be to arrive in the night and smash up the dairy, this is a standard practice for them - not so much damage as to put the business out of commission but enough to cause hardship. Kidnap would be the next step, and Salis has a wife with three young children but he also has an illegitimate daughter, Peony, who works in the dairy and she will be the target. His wife does not know about the girl and Salis would prefer it to stay that way but he will do anything to get her back.
Resolution of the situation is going to be tricky, the Mason’s do not want to lose face here but they do not have a strong hand - too much noise and the Squires will pay attention and demand to know what they are doing in Keyhole - off limits to both clans. That attention however might also raise the profile of the Mollies too soon and cause them to lose political capital.
In all of the conflict any death’s will escalate matters significantly, better that there are only broken bones and bruises.
One possible solution is to find where Mercillo has hidden his store of cheeses in the Stoney Manor district - reveal that and deliver it to the Masons and they can get their tax from him instead. This will be difficult however, Mercillo has four heavily armed guards with him most of the time and keeps the location of the stash hidden from everyone.
Following Mercillo will first reveal that he also employs a thief to follow him and let him know when he is observed - if he spots this then he will employ a group of street thugs to ambush his pursuers as he leads them a merry chase.
The stash is actually under the Fish Brothers moneylenders which he visits at the end of every day. Here he picks up the new stock when he deposits his cash. The following morning is a pantomime where he visits various possible locations for the stash all the while carrying his product with him which was picked up the day before.
Mercillo is non-combatant, but his guards are well drilled professionals able to keep him close and protect him and themselves. Mercillo will immediately be calling to the guard and throwing cash to the crowd in search of succor.
Idlers and rogues that are easily rounded up for a few cons, these guys will attempt a rather lame ambush to get in close but will rely on numbers for protection. It is likely that Mercillo’s agent can set up a dozen of these ruffian’s. If they win they are likely to leave their target stripped and unconscious rather than dead.
The Mason’s will generally come armed with billy clubs and pick axe handles on a sabotage mission unless the enemy has drawn blood in a previous encounter.
The leader of this endeavour is Pikestaff and he commands about twenty Right Folk though between engagements he might pick up a few reinforcements.
Usually, in a standing fight the Masons will try and neutralise most of the target and then gang up on a loner. They are not shy of going for the most heavily armoured, they are extremely confident and are not easily intimidated.
Steiner Mason is the member of the Masons who is bargaining with the Mollies.
The Prince of Cats
The Fish Brothers moneylenders is in one of the oldest quarters of the district, Auld Twist is named for the rug makers that still dominate the small collection of alleyways and squares. It is ruled, though few know it, by the Caspian Prince of Cats, a were-cat that marks his territory such that no dog will cross its threshold and all cats him pay court. The prince will not necessarily be helpful unless there is something in it for him but bringing him around will unlock a great ally.
The Fish Brothers storage is a large moneylenders, pawn shop and sometime auction house, it is in a formidable stone faced building that stands separate from the terraces of commercial properties to either side. Access is through heavy steel doors at the front, of the building or a small but extremely well made door behind. There is are windows but they are extremely narrow - a cat might pass through one but not a human.
Within the building there are display cases for the more impressive wares that have been hocked and are for sale, and a safe room within that contains the safes themselves and the office space. Also within the room are concealed trap doors that lead down to a cellar that holds larger but less valuable items. There is a second floor that holds art pieces and small items of valuable furniture.
Below the cellar is a second cellar, originally built to hold wine it now also holds Mercillo’s four hundred rounds of Padrone cheese. The entrance is behind a secret door that lies behind a welsh dresser - notable for the fact that the crockery on display is glued in place to prevent it falling off as the hinged dresser is opened.
The Fish Brothers pay their dues to the Mason Gang and do not expect trouble but they nevertheless maintain a nightwatch of four guards three of whom will be on awake at any time. They will raise the alarm via a church bell at in the roof of the building with a rope that runs into the main space.