On the day the pirates came, the small colony you grew up in was destroyed. In a manner of minutes your loved ones were dead and your home going up in flames. Without any hope of victory, you put your faith in an old shuttle from the junk yard you worked in, hoping it would hold together long enough for an escape. It barely did, only now you found yourself alone in space, without a home or a family, but with a burning desire for vengeance. Only one group holds enough power to take on the dreaded pirate kings, and so you set out to build a new life for yourself and join the Salvager’s Guild… Continue reading
This post describes a fantasy location, for use in a roleplaying game. Welcome to The Silver Fist, a former whore house converted into a fighting pit, located in the port town of Bitton. Feel free to use this location, characters and story lines in your own game. Original artwork by Bobby Aquintania. Check out more of Bobby’s work!
He is a 50 year old bear of a man, almost 7′ tall and shoulders so broad, he enters sideways through most doors. His white hair is cropped short, revealing several old, long scars along the left side of his head. Five of his teeth are made of solid gold, and he is known to wear chains, rings and a poisoned dagger.
Torus was born a thrall but fought his way to freedom at the age of 20, in the fighting pits and arenas of the southern fiefdoms. Once freed, he spent a dozen years as a swordsman, first serving his former master, later joining a company of free riding henchmen named Harvest Moon, their banner sporting a blood red moon on black. Torus never had any dream of a glorious death, so when he felt age starting to slow him down, he left the warrior path behind and decided to settle down.
He moved to the port town of Bitton, close to where his family had originally been taken as thralls many years earlier. He found work at Good Cat Tankard, a rowdy tavern near the docks. “The Cat” was owned by a fat, old woman named Clara, a former whore who had done business there for years and inherited the place when its former owner died. The tavern doubled as a whorehouse, and Torus made sure all the clients paid and didn’t treat the girls too rough.
After three years a fire nearly destroyed the Good Cat Tankard. Eight people died that night, three of them Clara’s girls. Torus bought the half ruined tavern from Clara, but rebuilt it to suit his own purpose: his own fighting pit.
The Silver Fist
The old tavern was restructured to accomodate a fighting pit like the ones Torus fought in as a young man. The front room is small, holding only half a dozen tables and a bar with standing room. Patrons pay a small fee to enter the back, where the pit is located.
The pit is square and 8′ deep, surrounded by tiered benches on three sides. The side where the entrance is also has a betting station, where the featured fights are listed and patrons can bet on their favorites. If you win, you double your money, minus the 10% cut Torus takes.
Below the main room are the fighter’s quarters. This room is split in two by metal bars, so fighters do not start before they are supposed to. Each side has its own door leading into the pit itself. Once the fighters enter, these doors are barred from the other side. There is a separate exit from the fighter’s quarters, a staircase leading out into the street, next to the main tavern entry.
During off-season, when there are fewer merchants and traders in Bitton, the Silver Fist features fights two nights a week. During markets and other peak times, it will be twice as often. Torus would host fights every night if he could, but as it is the town is too small for such extravaganza.
Fighters are a mix of strong men who like the challenge, to thralls fighting for their masters’ entertainment (or wagers). The winning fighter is typically paid a 10% cut of the house takings. During peak times, this can amount to a lot of coin in a single night.
The fights are rarely to the death. If one fighter is knocked out, or otherwise incapacitated, the other wins. If one fighter yields, the crowd is usually consulted by the pit master, who then renders his verdict. If a yield is denied, the fight will resume. It rarely happens that someone refuses to fight, usually a thrall who did not enter the ring voluntarily. In such cases the loser is allowed to leave unharmed, only to face whatever punishment their master might have in store.
Besides the pit master and the bet master, there are 6 guards in the pit room. Two are stationed by the betting station, guarding the silver and gold deposited there by the patrons. The remaining guards are scattered throughout the crowd, ready to step in where necessary.
Two guards recently decided to steal from Torus Freeman, taking a full night’s profit and skulking off into the night. Needless to say, Torus is not happy about this. He is trying to keep the scandal quiet, so as not to make others think of his operation as an easy target, while at the same time doing everything possible to track down the two traitors. One theory is that they were working with Clara, the former owner. She has been heard saying, she feels Torus took advantage of her state of mind after the fire, and bought her out well under value.
A few people have also voiced their opinions against the fighting pit, claiming that it draws an unsavory, dangerous element to Bitton that is neither needed nor wanted. So far though, most of these are dismissed as patrons who lost more than they would like, or relatives of fighters who were maimed or killed in the pit. The local authorities have turned a blind eye to whatever goes on at The Silver Fist, because of the bribes Torus hands them, but if enough voices speak out against the pit, sooner or later they will have to get involved. Torus aims to ensure this never happens, and has started collecting information about those who seek to take his business from him.
This post describes a detailed location in my homespun fantasy setting, Norkol. The illustration was provided by Ethan Myerson, an avid gamer and all round cool dude (he didn’t make me say that, either). If you decide to use the lighthouse in your game, I would love to know about it.
Off the coast of the Bay of Sighs stands a lighthouse. It is a lonely tower, standing on a tiny barren island, about a quarter mile from the Bitton harbor. Every night, the Keeper of the Flame lights the way for ships coming into Bitton, helping them steer away from the shallow waters where jagged rocks loom below the surface.
The lighthouse was constructed more than two centuries ago and is as sad a sight to behold at day, as it is welcome at night. From a distance, it looks like a pile of soot blackened rubble. The fire is lit in a giant stone cauldron with a silver plated steel lid. The cauldron is filled with a slow burning oil and tar mix, the light of which is strengthened by the polished lid. At sunrise the Keeper uses a mechanism of gears and levies to lower the lid and quench the flame, and before relighting it at dusk, he wipes down the silver before once again relighting the fire.
Yarik Eyestar is a sea captain in his early sixties who lost his leg two decades ago. He lives on the rock by himself. The only people Yarik speaks to, or even sees, is the crew of the supply boat that once a month delivers food and fresh fuel for the fires. Even to these men, Eyestar is terse and unpleasant. Despite their help in ensuring both his survival and the continued operation of the lighthouse, he never speaks more than needed, nor has he ever invited the crew inside the tower for a bite to eat or a taste of ale. Those who have met him speculate that solitude has made taken a toll on his mind, and the loss of his leg made him bitter.
Regardless of his moodiness, Yarik Eyestar is under lord Valharron’s protection as keeper of the lighthouse. Manning the fire is an appointment given in the lord’s name, to protect and guide ships wishing to dock in Bitton harbor, thus providing taxes and trade in lord Valharron’s town. As such, this position is regarded as an honor just short of knighthood.
Though he had an honorable and distinguished career in the lord’s navy, Eyestar is not without his secrets. The details of how he lost his leg have never been clear, and rumors say it was either a kraken that rose up and tore his ship and leg in half, or that he lost it after fighting down a mutiny aboard his last ship, The Purlpe Rose. He keeps detailed logs and journals of his life, but large portions are written in code. It is said the only visitor he ever gets is his old shipmate, Boyd Blackmast, once first mate on the Purple Rose, now an infamous and wanted pirate.
The Tower Interior
The tower has four levels above ground, but only very few windows. The bottom floor is always cold and is mainly used for storage. There is a primitive, tiny kitchen, a stack of three wine barrels and several crates of apples, dried ham and salted fish.
There is a staircase leading up around a central pillar of the tower, which doubles as a chimney. The pillar itself is made of large pieces of granite fitted so perfectly together, that it appears to be one solid pillar of stone. Each floor has a fireplace built into the pillar, but in the last several years only the one in Eyestar’s private quarters has been in use.
The main staircase makes up half the tower’s total height and is lit by torches along the outer wall. At closer examination, these torches are covered in cobwebs, and have not been lit in a long time.
The second floor holds the living quarters of the keeper. This is where Eyestar spends most of his days. The rooms are full of books and old sea charts, some of them his own, some left behind by the keepers that came before him, all of whom were picked from worthy sea captains in lord Valharron’s navy.
Captain Redwind, the keeper who preceded Eyestar was rumored to study the mystical forces of water, and some believe he hid rare spell books in the lighthouse library. Redwind died the same year, he retired from his post. When lighthouse keepers grow too old to do the hard physical labor that is filling the cauldron and polishing its large lid, they traditionally nominate their own successor. No one knows why Redwind picked Eyestar to follow in his footsteps, or how the two might have known each other.
The third floor holds the mechanism to raise and lower the heavy steel lid off the cauldron above. Barrels holding the oil and tar mix used to light the tower are stored nearby. The barrels hold about 10 gallons each, and are quite heavy. A series of chains and pulleys allow the barrels to be hoisted up and emptied into the cauldron. There is access to the roof where the cauldron itself sits.
The stone pot is half the height of a grown man and just as wide. When lit, yellow and orange flames dance lazily on its surface, some reaching as tall as three feet, before fading into the night. Neither water nor wind will extinguish these flames. A full cauldron may burn as long as a week before the fuel is gone, though Eyestar always makes sure to fill it when it reaches the half-way mark, so the flames always stay tall and bright.
Three days ago, and two days after the last shipment of supplies was delivered, the fire failed to light at dusk. That has never happened before. The next night, the fire was out again, and when the same thing happened on the third night, worry began to spread that something might have happened to the surly Keeper of the Flame. To find out, Lord Valharron sent a boat with two men to see what was going on. Dusk fell again, and neither fire nor men were seen. The next morning, another boat was sent to the lighthouse, this time with armed med aboard.
Maybe the keeper found something in one of those old maps, and has left the tower behind without telling anyone. Perhaps he left clues behind in a journal? Maybe there is a secret shaft, hidden beneath a crate of apples, leading down to some sinister place where unspeakable horrors await. Perhaps the shaft leads to an underground cave system, which Yarik decided to explore. Maybe he dug down there himself, or did he merely happen upon it? Is he lost? Is he dead? The party sent to explore will no doubt uncover the truth…