City of Scoundrels

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That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

Reasons to be Fearful, Part 1
A non-exhaustive list of things you have Fucked Up

A dockside market district has required attention from a band of professional rat-catchers, a squadron of doctors from the Prince’s College of Surgeons, and a pair of Church exorcists recently after a spate of bizarre illnesses and strange occurrences. Everything from giant evil slugs to blood-crazed lunatics to a misplaced sense of ennui has been reported by those who drink the local water, and many are quick to blame it on the arrival of a mysterious foreign prince. They say he arrived hurling black curses, can turn himself into a swarm of bats at will, and that the ship that bore him sunk back into the briny ocean from whence it came.

A similar sense of fear at the new arrival has been felt in the upper levels of society, though for more prosaic reasons. Across the banks, treasure-rooms and counting-houses of the city, accountants are pulling double shifts to calculate compound interest, depreciating land value, and tax-deductible losses. Word has spread that despite all efforts to prevent him, the creditor has arrived, and he means to collect.

Meanwhile, the occult world are bracing for a wave of fiends and horrors to be unleashed. A hideous tome of black secrets, foul iconography and blasphemous writings is rumoured to have been found hidden amidst the common wares of a bookseller, and has already passed through a half-dozen hands. It is said to be searched for by powerful magicians, ambitious apprentices and daring treasure-hunters alike, although all may give up hope at the rumour that it has fallen into the hands of the King of Broken Glass himself. Who knows what evil that black heart might work with such knowledge?

Finally, half the city has been shocked to learn that the will of Mellanford Key’s premier criminal, the King of Eyes, has been defied by an impoverished nobleman. Though the very beams of his estate were rotten, and his silver tarnished, the tempered iron will of Mellanford nobility flashed again in his steely gaze, and the authority of generals past was found in his imperious bearing. With nothing more than a steady eye and commanding voice, he ordered twenty common ruffians to depart the hall of his ancient noble line, and finding their blood turned to water and their limbs to soup, they could only obey.

Bets are being taken on the exact manner of his upcoming horrible death.

Eye for an Eye

“I need them dealt with.”

The tall man raised a dark eyebrow at her. “It will cost you. You know the rates.”

“I can pay. Cash, or favour in kind. You know I’m good for it, Farrow.”

“I know. You’re pretty good for a quagger.” He glanced at her fading black eye. “That’s why I’m wondering why you’ve come to me, instead of doing it yourself.”

“They know my face. It will be too obvious if it’s me and I don’t want any connection. I need something a little more… subtle. That’s why I’ve come to you.”

“I see. I admire your taste.” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “What did you have in mind?”

“There are plenty of options, I’m sure you can think of something. A brawl in the lower parts of the city gone wrong, an altercation with some of Broken Glass’ thugs, bad encounters with streetwalkers, tragically falling masonry. They don’t have to die, I don’t need that much. I just want them out of commission. You can arrange it.” It was a statement, not a question.

“Do you have higher up approval for this? If this gets back and you don’t…”

“I’m acting on discretion. I need to blend in, Farrow, and if they recognise me in places where I shouldn’t be I’ll be screwed. It’s too early for things to get fucked up.”

He paused for a while and then grinned. “How would you feel about blinding? Then they’d never be able to see you in the wrong places.” He paused again. “They work for Eyes, it would have a certain irony to it. I like irony.”

“As long as it doesn’t lead back to me and it looks like an accident. I don’t want to know any more than necessary.”

“Of course.” He held out a large brown hand. “A favour for a favour, bog-child. I’ll collect at the right time, and you’d better be ready to pay.”

She shook his hand.

I say unto you... WELCOME!

“Loaded I tell you. The Stumble-Bum’s fortunes have returned.”

F. Dashwood slapped the fellow patron on the back and raised his glass of brandy in a toast to his own well-being. The inn was busy and full of life and sound. It had been a while since he had set foot in the Sunken Heifer but today was a day to celebrate. His manor was to be restored, the family’s coffers would so once more be over following and the honour of the Stumble-Bums was on the rise.

Oh and of course he had some new guests. Well, not guests, staff.

The morning had proven very bizarre indeed and a man of his stature should not have to put up with such organised chaos. The foreigner’s strange welcoming ritual had destroyed the last of the supplies of the onions in the cellar, not to mention stained the surfaces in the kitchen a rather unappealing shade of red. He’s always like the brown stains.

The doctor’s skill of medicine had come in very handy during the tidying up, fortuitously. It would be good to have a doctor on staff, he could help with Big Martha’s belching problem not to mention the green things between his own toes. It was the damp you see, gets in something terrible, well, used to.

The Manor was to be refurbished, no more damp there. Best of all it was to be paid for by the foreign merchant as a thank you for letting him stay. Sae was handling the money. A fine lad, good and trust worthy, though not much use in a fight.

Yes of course, those vagabonds, how dare they try to manhandle his staff. That was his job. Luckily for them they had known to depart before he had turned to violence. They respected the old order at least.

Yes things were certainly looking up. He had even noticed a spring in Sullivan’s step this morning. The people knew it to. He saw the way they looked at him and exchanged bags of money between themselves. Clearly collecting on some wager involving his fortunes.

“Yes my friends. The Stumble-Bums are on the rise.” He called triumphantly to the bar. A few people gave him an interested glance and more money was exchanged. He sighed happily, sipping his brandy.

“It’s so nice to have the support and faith of the common man.”


“Apply this to the affliction under the light of dawn, every morning for a week. If the ailment persists, seek me out at my clinic, at the Stumblebum manor. I have the equipment there for more… intense treatments.”

“Bless you, doctor.” The patient bowed. Azar Nejem returned the gesture, and the patient left.

Azar looked around. The sun was starting to set, and most people were heading home. He should do the same – there would be no more patients today, and darkness brought out the more… unsavoury types of citizens.

He packed up his supplies, and headed back towards the Stumblebum estate. A poor place to call home, but a home nonetheless. It would do, for the time being.

He stepped into his clinic and lit the lantern. It was not much of a clinic yet – still quite obviously a re-purposed stable with a some medical equipment. But it, like the estate and its master, had potential. If shaped and guided properly, they could be turned into something great.

With Lord Stumblebum’s funding, this stable could come to look like what the naive people of Mellanford Key expected a clinic to look like.

And underneath, we’ll have the real clinic.

Azar Nejem closed and barred the door, and dimmed the light of the lantern. He then pushed the heavy table to the side, and swept some of the remaining hay to the side. He used charcoal to draw the summoning circle, and filled it in with a mixture of pigs’ blood and various herbs.

The light seemed to dim even further as he spoke in a forgotten language, coaxing the walls between this world and the next to part, and let something through.

The creature, a thing made of shadows and draped in moth-eaten rags, rose up from the ground inside the summoning circle, and greeted Azar with an exaggerated bow.

Good evening, my dear Doctor. How was your journey?

“Watcher.” Azar nodded respectfully. “My journey was fine, thank you. No worse than the previous ones.”

Hmmmm. I’m not sure the same can be said for your lodgings.

“It’s true that its not much, but think of what it could be.”

Ever the visionary, Doctor. It’s what I admire the most about you.

But you didn’t call on me for pleasant conversation, I think. What can I do for you tonight?

“I need a place to perform my true craft, away from prying eyes.” He nodded towards the ground underneath the Watcher. “I don’t have the tools, nor the time to dig it out myself.”

Without tools of iron, you must rely on flesh and indefatigable purpose. I have access to plenty of both, Doctor, don’t you worry.

“And in return?”

Your true name.


Why do you insist on this game of nicknames? Why not just tell me your name?

“Why don’t you tell me yours?”

Touché. Very well. In this new room we will carve for you, I want you to place my idol, you know the way. I want an anchor.

“Very well. I swear it shall be so.”

Azar stretched out his hand. The Watcher stretched out an arm in kind, and from out of the ragged sleeve came a bony hand with fingers like the legs of spiders. The two grabbed each other’s hand, and the deal was sealed.

Reasons to be Fearful, Part 2
A non-exhaustive list of things you have Fucked Up

“You remember our venerable house… opulent and imperial. It is a festering abomination!”

The great mages and powers of the world sit aloof, exalted and unvexed by the tawdry affairs of plebian mankind. They spare no thought for the teeming, infected multitudes of Mellanford Key. Unless some hideous and unnameable power should attract their gaze….

A great eye is fixed upon Tumbledown Hill. Its vision will not break, or waver. The chittering terrors and gibbering homunculi that whisper in the ears of the great magi tell of a new specter, one that has made its home in the seat of House Stumblebum. An otherwordly apparition of such fabulous and unfathomable power that it must be stopped. Or harnessed. The cabal of the learned now send all the spies and servants that can be mustered against this ancient and venerable house.

A house that has become black with tales of horror. The common folk of the city fear to approach it. The windows teem with the phantoms of the departed dead, the vaulted halls groan with the weight of centuried spirits. It is rumoured that deep in the salted cellars and cursed earth a damned portal of antediluvian evil is awakening. The walls between worlds become weak. Who will stand the gate, when the last seal fails?

For certain it will be not the Dark Lord Stumblebum himself. The clutching ravening shadows have claimed his heart. To reign from such a house of death and madness he can only be a devil made flesh. The locals tell tales of his voice, laughing and wailing through the blackened arcades of his estate, as monstrous shadows dance and cackle in an unearthly light. For such unholy times to fall upon his house, he must not only be complicit, but the genesis of this demoniacal horror.

Meanwhile, by night, safe in a circle of salt, lit by the flickering gloom of all the candles he can find, Lord Eddan Blackheath praises the Incarnate and passes the ammunition. For a man who has made it a life rule never to tangle in the affairs of anyone more powerful than he is, he is beginning to think he has made a huge mistake.

And tonight's entertainment is....

And thus began the part he always loathed. The seemingly long walk through makeshift corridors comprised of wagons and tents. There were peasants that lived in finer housing than his master, still – not the title makes the man, man fills the title with fear. The agent had served under many Gates but this one was special. He always laughed about the rumours the common folk would spread about the Caliph’s elite – offspring of the gods, witches, demons; all powerful, immortal and awe abiding. A fun story over a good beer usually but this time he wasn’t too sure if he shouldn’t join the peasants in their naïve fear, after all it kept them alive and he always has been fond of remaining breathing.

This lust for life was what had made him one of the best in his craft. Even though well aged by now, he was looking back at a glorious past of fearlessness, bravery and commitment. The visions of his past were utterly disrupted by the tremble in his hands. He nearly had made it to the main tent and fear was shacking him like a young tree in a storm. Walking these simple halls had the same grandeur he would feel when walking through the enormous temples of his childhood. This, however, was a cursed temple of shadows – its incense the vicious smell of the back alleys, its gold the dirt on rotting fabric, its divinity soaked in death.

He took a deep breath and steadied his mind. His hands produced the invitation from his robes and with the decisive step that was so typical for him he entered. As was caliphate court protocol there would never be a source of light, any direct conversation and no eye contact with the Gate of the West. Swiftly upon brushing through the veils and cloths that separated the hall and the main tent he would sit in a humble position and bow as deep as his nimble but broken body would allow him to. He always has been curious, it was his nature and – as has been tradition – he took yet another well concealed look into the darkness whilst bowing.

He filled his research with the nonsensical and strenuous greeting that was so loved by everyone at home. His people loved titles. Then he saw it – the silhouette in absolute darkness, the silhouette that seemed to devour the black around it, shift in its form and be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Struggling to keep his composure he began his report. “The ambassador has received his instructions. He has already been very useful. He is a fool but he will be of service.” he said whilst unrolling the invitation to the Stumble-Bum fete.

Silence befell the scene. He had done his reporting but it did not feel like he was done. He knew he was waiting, they all had for years now. Impatience was messing with his posture and he was fighting his body to remain still. In the swirling of anticipation and restlessness he almost forgot where he was when a voice cut through the silence. It was a sweet female tone though it resembled nothing of the nurturing, motherly nature one would expect to hear carrying with it.

“It is time. Tell the others.” the voice whispered and the room sank back into black silence. He could feel the darkness bending into a malicious smile. Leaving as the shaken tree that he had arrived as he made his way back through the unholy halls of this foul temple. Mumbling, he recalled his earlier thought “not the title makes the man, man fills the title with fear.” And by the gods, how afraid he was.
Only a few hours later the Stumble-Bum Manor’s request for exotic evening entertainment had a satisfying response. Sallah, to honour the arrival of His Excellency Azrael al-Ahmad, had procured Madame Desdemona and assured the good Lord Stumble-Bum that her show had never failed to absolutely dazzle. Furthermore, for the purpose of service and wellbeing of the many guests, Sallah offered the helping hand of a dozen of his most trusted and capable servants.

Late night mussings


He walked allow the corridor, candle holder in hand, nightcap on head. His slippers muffled the sound of his footsteps but not the creaking of the floorboards as he slowly advanced through his home, looking for the source of the noise. Over the last few days he had begun to notice more and more voices in the Manor. At first he’d put it down to the patients in the doctor’s clinic and the workmen busily repairing and refurbishing the home. At night though, when there was no-one around after everyone had gone to their beds he still heard them.

The voices always seemed to be coming from the next room along. If he pressed his ear to the wall he could hear them more clearly but still couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. When he went to investigate who was hiding there the rooms were always empty. Someone was playing a game with him, either that or they had lodgers.

Everything really had gone downhill since those new people moved in. The doctor brought all manner of peasant through the front door with his work. A strange, unnerving man. When he looked at you you never felt that he saw you, rather, he saw your organs, your conditions. He saw possibilities. The foreigner made the place untidy and generally seemed to be taking over the manor with his own designs. He also had a strange manor to him. It was really no surprise that he had been sent to this manor. No other Noble would dare take him in. Then there was the new servant. That one was a problem. She was constantly around, getting in the way, preventing the proper running of the manor. She was up to something definitely. He’d have to keep an eye on her.

He preferred the way things used to be, when it was just the three of them. It was a quiet life, a poor life, but a quiet life, straight forward, with a nobility all of its own. Easily managed. No-one takes notice, No one tries anything. They can just live out their last days happy and quiet. But no, instead these new people came along and-


Lord Stumble-Bum’s voice boomed throughout the house. Sullivan sighed and turned, shuffling back down the corridor clutching his candle holder.

“Coming sir.” His lordship would be having more problems with his foot. “I’ll get the doctor.” Things were never simple anymore. This party was going to be a disaster.

Reasons to be Fearful, Part 3
Better late than never!

The night of Caliphate themed festivities on Tumbledown hill has kicked off a bit of a fad in the city. Street vendors hawk painted trinkets and bone idols they claim to be of ancient Sumerian origin, and real antiquities are moving off the shelves faster than they can be stocked. The stories of Lord Stumblebum’s party have been so outlandish, bizarre, and interesting that for the first time in a generation, people of the city are beginning to take a genuine interest in cultures outside their own.

Those who have managed to acquire genuine protective artifacts might find themselves better served than expected. Reports of a number of strange and brutal murders throughout the city are spreading through the fledgling public press, who will print stories on anything that bleeds. Just another aspect of the ongoing gang war? Some psychopathic serial killer? Or something out of this world entirely?

Certainly the city’s security services aren’t doing anything to catch the culprit. The sudden and unexpected disappearance of the Lord Goodheart, the King of Eyes and premier ruler of the underworld has thrown the usual groups of uniformed thugs into internecine chaos as they struggle to agree on a successor. Much of the city is still in disbelief, choosing to trust that the King will shortly return, and unwilling to support anyone else against him. But unless he returns quickly, a full-blown collapse in the precarious structure he built is likely.

And in a rare, happy story of rags to riches, the popular foreigner Oswaldo Fall seems to have come into a significant amount of money recently. Surely the society columns will be clamouring for an interview with this newly-eligible bachelor.

Get Out Alive

Lord Stumble-Bum did something he had not done for a very long time, not since he was a child. He ran. In two long strides he jumped from the carriage at the gates to his manor and ran up the path towards his home. The grounds were a mess. Burned tent still lay where it had fallen in the mud and blood. Boot prints, smashed flowers, discarded shoes and gloves. There was also still some bodies lying around and groups of police patrolling the grounds but he payed little attention to these, he was too busy panicking.

He bounded up the steps and barged through the front door with a crash.


He roared at the top of his voice, he did not have time to be subtle. He strode into the living room looking wildly around himself.


“My Lord, are you ok?” Big Martha had emerged from the kitchen, meat cleaver in hand. “We were not expecting you today.”

“You, cook woman, pack your bags now.”

“My Lord?”

“I said pack your bags, we’re leaving. Where the hell is Sullivan?!”

“He’s in the drawing room your Lordship.”

F. ran from the living room towards the drawing room, panting and sweating in his desperation. He found Sullivan shuffling through with a tray in his hands.

“You called sir?”

“Sullivan!” He grabbed each shoulder of the butler. “We’ve been deceived! The whole city is out to have me killed, I’m at war with the King of Eyes and I didn’t even know it, people think I’m some kind of sorcerer carrying out black magic and to top it all off those… those Vagabonds, those scoundrels and villains I called friends, who I took to my bosom and provided a haven for when all others wanted their heads, have tried to steal my land out from under my feet. Vipers, lairs, thieves.” He shook Sullivan so violently he dropped the tray.

“And what do you intend to do my Lord?” Sullivan replayed impassively and composed.

“I am a general in an army, in a war I didn’t even know existed, and, like any sensible man in a war, we’re going to desert. Pack your bags, have the big carriage brought round, tell Bottle-berry or whatever his name is to go out into the street and let it be known that Lord Stumble-Bum is selling his manner. I cannot protect it when I’m not here and I am not staying to wait for another, literal dagger in my back.”

“What of the Vipers sir?”

“I will deal with them” He said with a face of thunder “now go, hurry we must be gone within the hour!”

He released Sullivan and ran for the stairs, galloping up them two at a time. He ran for his own room, flustered and distressed he didn’t stop to open the door and rather, went through it. Splitters scattered everywhere as he grabbed several bags and filled them with everything he thought he’d need, clothes, boots, papers what little coin he had, he threw it all into the bags in a hurry. He looked around his room, the room that had been his fathers and grandfathers, the room he now was forced to flee, all because of those damned dogs.

He strode from the room purposely, fists clenched, jaw tight. He reached the doctor’s room first. Putting his foot to the door it opened with a crash. He walked straight through the room and pushed open the window. Taking in hand everything he could he began tossing everything that belonged to the doctor through the window. He worked quickly, going through the draw and cupboards, looking under the bed, throwing everything he could find through the window into the mud below.

When he had sated his ire for the doctor he headed towards the Diplomat’s room. Again he forced the door and stormed through the room towards the window, flinging it open. He began to ransack the room, taking everything that looked valuable, shiny, gold, and stuffing it into his pockets, down his trousers, at one point he had to leave the room and return with another bag. His intention had been to fling everything that did not look valuable through the window and take the rest but when he had finished and the bed lay flipped and the cupboards laid bare, there was nothing really to throw through the window. Instead he took all the gold as recompense for the betrayal done to him.

Finally he headed for Grey’s room. It had not escaped his notice that the boy had eluded the authorities and not come to aid in their predicament. He put his weight behind his shoulder and crashed against the door only to find that it wasn’t locked or even closed. He fell through it onto the floor and was met with the site of an empty room. Nothing remained of the manservant, no trace at all. He pulled himself to his feet and left the room feeling unsatisfied that his anger had not found its outlet.

He met Sullivan in the main hallway, the butler was dressed for travel while Lord Stumble-bum was ladened down with bags full of his own possessions and all he’d liberated from the foreign devil.

“Sullivan, are we ready?”

“We are your Lordship, the carriage has been brought round.”

“Good, lets get out of here, who knows when these assassins might strike.”

He headed out through the main doors, he’s trusty servant in tow. Ahead of him, at the end of the pathway a large carriage strapped with luggage waited for him. He could make out Martha’s well-built forearm waiting within for himself and Sullivan. This sight was not what held his attention however. Standing between it and him in the middle of the pathway was a middle aged man with a beard. He was well dressed in a waist coat with his shirt shelves rolled up and his hands clasped behind his back. He stood straight and tall, a commanding figure.

Lord Stumble-Bum Stopped in his tracks and looked the man over.

“And who might you be?”
The man put his fingers to his lips and whistled. From the end of the pathway two large men emerged carrying between them a sizeable chest. They struggled with the weight as they walked, finally coming to a stop before the man and dropping the chest on the ground. Each of them grabbed the lid and flipped it open revealing a chest full of silver.

Lord Stumble-Bum gasped in awe and shock. The man waved one hand loosely and his two servants shut the lid and carried the chest towards the carriage. The gentleman in charge produced from within his waistcoat a piece of paper and advanced up the pathway, presenting it to Sullivan.

“My Lord, it’s a bill of Sale.”

The Lord looked at the man and smiled

“You could not have come at a better time.” The man did not respond, his features did not change as he produced a quill and handed it to Lord Stumble-Bum who eagerly signed. He did not wait for the ink to dry before he took off down towards the carriage with Sullivan behind. The Manor or the bodies in the grounds were no longer his concern.

He climbed into the carriage, pausing briefly to look back at his ancestral home. There had been many happy times here but now, he left the city a much richer man, if a lot less safe. He banged the side of the carriage.

“South Marford Driver, and don’t spare the whip.”

The carriage took off down the lane towards the city gates. As they left he heard another whistle ring out and what looked like 50 workers carrying sledge hammers appeared from side streets and headed towards tumbledown hill.


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